So many strange and random stories come out of China, but these weird China facts take the cake.
Did you know that China has a Dwarf Theme Park called “Kingdom of the Little People”? It’s true. The park employs over 100 Chinese dwarves to sing and dance, including some interesting breakdancing and Swan Lake ballet.
Below is a simple collection of the most random and strange facts about China that you won’t find anywhere else.
Strange Facts About Modern China
China has made incredible advancements over the past few decades, but not everything is “modern”. Check out these interesting and weird China facts.
Some 35 million Chinese people still live in caves. In his book “Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China”, Paul Theroux writes, ” There is no government program to remove these troglodytes, but there is a scheme to give them better caves. It seemed to me a kind of lateral thinking. Why rehouse or resettle these cave-dwellers? The logical solution was to improve their caves. That was very Chinese.”
[ “Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China”, Paul Theroux, 2001 ]
The first vending machine to sell live crabs debuted in 2010 in a subway station near Nanjing. The machine sells an average of 200 live crabs a day—with prices ranging from 15 to 50 yuan (about $2-7 depending on size). A sign next to the machine guarantees each crab will come out alive, offering compensation of three live crabs for every dead one that pops out.
[ Wall Street Journal online “Hard Sell for China Vending Machine?” Oct. 25, 2010 ]
Chinese entrepreneurs rent out “traffic jam” stand-ins to wait in traffic for busy motorists who are whisked away by motorcyclists. Another employee then drives their cars to their destination.
[The Globe and Mail UK “Beating the traffic jam blues” Feb.25, 2011 ]
Did you know Beijing once had an 11-day long traffic jam?
China has the world’s biggest mall, … but it’s been 99% vacant since opening in 2005. The New South China Mall in Dongguan (Guangdong province) –spearheaded by an instant noodle billionaire– has seven zones modeled on international regions (Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Venice, California, Egypt, and the Caribbean). It includes a 25m replica of the Arc de Triomphe, a 2.1km canal with gondolas, and an indoor-outdoor roller coaster.
[Source: Daily Mail UK, Wikipedia “New South China Mall” ]
Random Facts From Chinese History
You can trace Chinese history back almost 5000 years. With so much time, it was easy to find a handful of weird China facts from the history books.
Wear a Manchu pigtail…or die. After conquering China, the non-Chinese Manchurians (Qing Dynasty) made the Queue (Manchu pigtail) hairstyle mandatory for all males. The law was enforced by the death penalty, resulting in the popular slogan of the time: “Keep your hair and lose your head. Or lose your hair and keep your head.”
In ancient China, warriors would cannibalize their enemies by eating their heart and liver. It was also sometimes done as both an official punishment and as a private vengeance.
[ “China’s Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang Dynasty” C. Benn, 2002 ]
Cannibalism also occurred in China during the great famines of the Great Leap Forward, which resulted in tens of millions of deaths.
[ Wikipedia “Cannibalism” ]
Did you know China invited gunpowder, printing, and the compass?
Strange Facts About Chinese Children
From clothing choices to name choices, here are a few unbelievably weird China facts about children within the country. This next generation is going to be an interesting one…
In 2007, a Chinese couple seeking a distinctive name for their child settled on the e-mail ‘at’ symbol (@). A government official cited it as an example of citizens bringing bizarre names into the Chinese language.
[ NBCNews “Bizarre names not where it’s @?” Aug. 16, 2007 ]
More than 4,000 Chinese children are named Aoyun, meaning “Olympic Games”, according to Chinese officials in charge of identity cards. It is not uncommon for Chinese children to be given names of common events and popular slogans – such as Defend China, Build the Nation and Space Travel. There are 290,798 registered “Civilizations”.
[ BBC News “Chinese babies named ‘Olympic Games” June 11, 2008 ]
Traditionally, Chinese babies wear “kaidangku” (literally “open-crotch pants”) instead of diapers. However, disposable diapers sales continue to rise dramatically—around 20 to 40 percent each year.
[ China Daily “Open-crotch pants’ make way for disposable diapers” July 16, 2004 ]
Weird China Facts: Animals
As with any country, China has its fair share of interesting animal facts that you can add to the list of weird China facts.
Chinese researchers wear panda suits to fool cubs. Workers at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda dressed up to minimize contact with humans and prepare captive-born cubs to live in the wild.
[New York Magazine “To Fool Baby Panda, Human-Shaped Chinese Scientists Sport Panda Suits” Dec. 6, 2010 ]
China’s military is training 10,000 pigeons as part of a “”reserve pigeon army” to serve as a back-up communication system. Messenger pigeons have been used in China for more than a thousand years. In 1937, pigeons were brought to China by the Flying Tigers—a US volunteer air force—to repel the Japanese invasion.
[ Time Mag. “China’s Most Secret Weapon: The Messenger Pigeon” March 2, 2011 ]
In 2011, a Chinese man paid US$200,000 for a racing pigeon, setting a new world record. Pigeon racing—with a long history in Europe—is also one of the most popular betting sports in China.
[ The Wall Street Journal blog “Chinese Buyer Pays $200,000 for a Pigeon” Jan. 13, 2011 ]
The ultimate in diva dogs, a miniature pinscher named Lu Lu prefers to walk upright on her back legs while carrying a teddy bear-shaped purse that holds her own waste bags wherever she goes. Her owner taught her to walk upright when she was just four months old. A celebrity in Zhumadian, Henan Province, Lu Lu attracts local fans during her daily walks with her owner every morning.
[ The Daily Mail UK “The diva dog Lu Lu which walks on her hind legs and carries her own handbag” Oct. 23, 2010; Weird Asia News]
A 6,400-seat bullfighting ring was built in Beijing in advance of a plan to introduce bullfighting with Spanish matadors to China. One newspaper headline read: “”Local Promoters Salivate Over the Prospect of Bloodthirsty Crowds.” The plan was de-railed by animal activist and environmental groups.
[ The Los Angeles Times “Ole? No Way, Say Chinese” May 11, 2004 ]
Strange Internet and Technology Facts
China has military-style Internet addiction boot camps. One Beijing camp—run by an army colonel— costs about 10,000 yuan ($1,290) a month and boasts a 70 percent success rate. The camp combines “sympathy with discipline”.
[ The New York Times “Chinese boot camps tackle Internet addiction” March 12, 2007 ]
In 2010, fourteen youth—aged 14 to 22—escaped from an Internet addiction boot camp, only to be caught a short time later. The penniless youth– still dressed in military-style fatigues–were unable to pay their taxi driver, who tipped off police. They cited mean staff, bad food, and “monotonous work and intensive training” as reasons for fleeing.
[ Wall Street Journal “Brief Escape From Internet-Addiction Boot Camp” June 9, 2010; Weird News Asia ]
Strange Facts About Chinese People
With a population of more than 1.38 billion people, you shouldn’t be surprised by some of these weird China facts.
China has a Dwarf Theme Park called “Kingdom of the Little People” that employs over 100 Chinese dwarves to sing and dance (including breakdancing and Swan Lake). The 13,000-acre and US$115 million park also features tiny dogs and tiny fruit trees.
[ The New York Times “A Miniature World Magnifies Dwarf Life” March 3, 2010; ABC News “Chinese Flock to Dwarf Theme Park” April 12, 2010]
Even crooks in China get ripped off. When investigators searched the house of Shenyang’s former mayor, they found US$6m worth of gold bars, 150 Rolex watches and what they thought was a treasure-trove of antiques, which turned out to be fakes.
[“China Fever” F. Fang 2007 ]
Until 2009, the world’s tallest man was Chinese. Bao Xishun—nicknamed Xi Shun or “the Big Guy” – is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as 2.47m (8 ft 1 in) tall. In December 2006, he helped veterinarians by reaching into the stomachs of dolphins that had accidentally swallowed plastic shards. He was overtaken as the world’s tallest living man in 2009 by Sultan Kosen.
[ Wikipedia “Bao Xishun” ]
Until recently, the world’s tallest living woman was also Chinese. The Guinness Book of Records list Yao Defen as 2.33m (7 ft 8 in ) tall. When she was eleven years old, she was about six feet, two inches tall. At age fifteen, she stood at six feet nine inches. Yao Defen passed away at the age of 40 in 2012 due to medical complications.
[ Wikipedia “Yao Defen” ]
The Chinese have their own Bigfoot–Yeren (“Wild man”)—who is rumored to live in the mountainous forested regions of the remote Hubei province. In 2010, the Hubei Wild Man Research Association—made up of more than 100 scientists and explorers—announced a global recruitment drive seeking members for a high-profile search team.
[ Wikipedia “Yeren”; Xinhua News “Chinese to hunt for ‘Bigfoot’ search team members” October 9, 2010]
Final Thoughts | Weird China Facts
China is an absolutely fascinating country. From internet addiction boot camps to naming children after the Olympics and $200,000 racing pigeons, there are so many weird facts and stories about China!
While China may not always make sense, at least it’s always entertaining?