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date: 16 April 2021


The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance
Nancy GuyNancy Guy

With a recorded history of more than 4,000 years, China's longevity as a discrete politico-cultural entity far surpasses that of most countries. Though its domain has waxed and waned over the centuries, China is the world's third largest nation in terms of area and the first in population with about one-fifth of humanity residing within its borders. About 92 per cent of Chinese belong to the Han ethnicity; the rest are divided among 55 different national minorities. While students across China are taught to read the same language and to speak the national language (that is, Mandarin, or putong hua, which is based on Beijing dialect), significant linguistic and cultural differences exist from region to region. Even among Han Chinese there are many mutually unintelligible dialects commonly spoken in addition to the national language. Performing conventions and musical styles tend to parallel linguistic groupings.... ...

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