Feb 08 2019

10 Most Iconic Chinese exports

Henry Yu looks at 10 iconic Chinese exports that have reached and had an impact on foreign shores...

1. Dockless shared Bikes

When I came to China for the first time, I had never seen so many of these bikes clustered around urban environments in my entire life. It’s an image that I’ll never forget. I felt like a little boy again, bike riding was fun.

Sure enough, I gave it a go, and what an amazing way it was to explore a city!

When I went back to Australia, a familiar image came to my eyes six months later. I saw Ofo and Mobikes clustered around city streets. The nostalgia was real. It was like China had followed me home.

You can now see them in every corner of the globe.

2. High Speed Rail

Built on a low cost quick delivery framework. China’s High speed railway comprises of 60% of the worlds high speed railway infrastructure, Chinese high speed railway is at the top of the game. The trains run at 250km/hr to 350km/hr.

Since 2008, China’s high speed railway network has grown at 30% per year growth on average in passenger numbers.

It’s not stopping there. They’ve now spread to Turkey and Russia.

In 2014, they completed a High-speed train in Turkey, and in 2015 they built a high-speed rail network from Kazan to Moscow.

There are also plans in Indonesia and a Thailand-China rail network.

Watch this space.

3. Mobile and online payment systems

Cashless society, think about that for a second. Wait a minute, china already has one.

China has truly embraced Wechat pay and Alipay. I don’t doubt this won’t become the norm across the rest of the world soon!

Recently, I remember seeing some places in Melbourne, Australia accepting Alipay and Wechat Pay.

4. Manufacturing and cheap exports

After Italy, China truly embraced the title across the world for creating cheap knockoffs of popular goods. After opening trade through the major economic reforms in the 1980s and 1990s China truly became the world’s “manufacturing factory”.If you’ve see a “made in china” label, it’s probably because it was built in the world manufacturing factory.

5. Gunpowder

Boom Boom pow, when we think of guns, we think of the mighty forces of the French, the British and the Spanish in the 1600s. Before these countries amassed their brutal military forces, China was the country that discovered the key ingredient to all guns.

That Special ingredient was, gunpowder.

6. Tea

When we think of tea, we think of British tea and scones. A true delicacy.

However, the tea we know and love today, originated out of China in 59BC.

The British commercialized it in the later 17th century and this is the same period where it gained its wider popularity.

Fun fact! While tea is often associated with milk, the Chinese don’t usually associate milk with tea. You can thank the British then for creating Milk-Tea.

7. Noodles

Everyone thinks pasta came from Italy.

This isn’t true. There is legend that Marco Polo imported the first pasta to China, which originated from the macaroni journal.

Who knew our amazing tasting Italian carbs had Chinese origins.

8. Paper

Think about this for a moment. How would you get your message to someone with no internet, or even more prehistoric, no paper?

Back in the day, Chinese people had to spread the development of their civilization on bamboo, bones, tortoise shells and many other kinds of surfaces.

Fast forward to 105AD, Chai Lun invented paper from worn fishnet, bark and cloth.

Where would we be without paper?

9. Compass

Compasses were pivotal for much of world exploration during the big expeditions set out by the French, British, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese. They would have got lost if they didn’t have them!

In Chinese, they were called Si Nan. A ladle like magnet on a plate with the handle of the ladle pointing to the south. In the 11th century, tiny needles made of magnetized steel were invented. One of the needles points north and the other needle pointing south.

10. Printing

The last of our inventions of china, the earliest form of printing came in the form of a woodblock print. China also later discovered moveable type printing, this was a more efficient form of printing. A much more flexible form of printing instead of hand copying or block typing.

While china didn’t create the revolutionary printing press, they built the foundations to it, and therefore they should deserve credit.

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