Simplified Chinese characters

Simplified Chinese
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ISO 15924
ISO 15924Hans (501), ​Han (Simplified variant)
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and  , see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.
Simplified Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese简化字[note 1]
Traditional Chinese簡化字
Alternative rendering
Simplified Chinese简体字
Traditional Chinese簡體字

Simplified characters are one of two standardized character sets widely used to write contemporary Chinese languages, along with traditional characters. Their development during the 20th century was part of an initiative by the People's Republic of China to promote literacy, and their use in ordinary circumstances on the mainland has been encouraged by the Chinese government since the 1950s.[1] They are the official forms used in mainland China, Malaysia and Singapore, while traditional characters are officially used in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

In Chinese, simplified characters are referred to by their official name 简化字; Jiǎnhuàzì, or colloquially as 简体字; Jiǎntǐzì. The latter term refers broadly to all character variants featuring simplifications of character form or structure,[note 2] a practice which has always been present as a part of the Chinese writing system. The official name tends to refer to the specific, systematic set published by the Chinese government, which includes not only simplifications of individual characters, but also a substantial reduction in the total number of characters through the merger of formerly distinct forms.[note 3][3]

Simplification of a component—either a character or a sub-component called a radical—usually involves either a reduction in its total number of strokes, or an apparent streamlining of which strokes are chosen in what places—for example, the 'WRAP' radical used in the traditional character is simplified to 'TABLE' to form the simplified character .[4] By systematically simplifying radicals, large swaths of the character set are altered. Some simplifications were based on popular cursive forms that embody graphic or phonetic simplifications of the traditional forms. In addition, variant characters with identical pronunciation and meaning were reduced to a single standardized character, usually the simplest amongst all variants in form. Finally, many characters were left untouched by simplification and are thus identical between the traditional and simplified Chinese orthographies.

The Chinese government has never officially announced the completion of the simplification process after the bulk of characters were introduced by the 1960s. In the wake of the Cultural Revolution, a second round of simplified characters was promulgated in 1977—largely composed of entirely new variants intended to artificially lower the stroke count, in contrast to the first round—but was massively unpopular and never saw consistent use. The second round of simplifications was ultimately retracted officially in 1986, well after they had largely ceased to be used due to their unpopularity and the confusion they caused.[5]

In August 2009, China began collecting public comments for a revised list of simplified characters.[6][7][8][9] This Table of General Standard Chinese Characters consists of 8,105 characters, both unchanged and newly revised, was implemented for official use by China's State Council on 5 June 2013.[10]



Before 1949[edit]

Although most simplified Chinese characters in use today are the result of the work carried out by Chinese government during the 1950s and 1960s, the use of many of these forms predates the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Caoshu, cursive written text, was the inspiration of some simplified characters, and for others, some are attested as early as the Qin dynasty as either vulgar variants or original characters.

The first batch of simplified characters, introduced in 1935 and retracted in 1936, totaled 324 entries

One of the earliest proponents of character simplification was Lufei Kui, who proposed in 1909 that simplified characters should be used in education. In the years following the May Fourth Movement in 1919, many anti-imperialist Chinese intellectuals sought ways to modernise China as quickly as possible. Traditional culture and values such as Confucianism were challenged and subsequently blamed for their problems. Soon, people in the movement started to cite the traditional Chinese writing system as an obstacle in modernising China and therefore proposed that a reform be initiated. It was suggested that the Chinese writing system should be either simplified or completely abolished. Lu Xun, a renowned Chinese author in the 20th century, stated that, "If Chinese characters are not destroyed, then China will die" (漢字不滅,中國必亡). Recent commentators have claimed that Chinese characters were blamed for the economic problems in China during that time.[11]

In the 1930s and 1940s, discussions on character simplification took place within the Nationalist government, and a large number of the intelligentsia maintained that character simplification would help boost literacy in China.[12] In 1935, 324 simplified characters collected by Qian Xuantong were officially introduced as the table of first batch of simplified characters, but they were suspended in 1936 due to fierce opposition within the party.

After 1949[edit]

Work throughout the 1950s resulted in the 1956 promulgation of the Chinese Character Simplification Scheme. In 1965, the PRC published the List of Commonly Used Characters for Printing [zh] (hereafter Characters for Printing) revising the Chinese Character Simplification Scheme, which included standardized printed forms for 6196 characters.

Within the country, further character simplification became associated with the radical left-wing of Chinese society and with the Cultural Revolution. Efforts culminated with a second round of simplified characters promulgated in 1977. In part due to the shock and unease felt as the Cultural Revolution had wound down, and with Mao's death, the second round of simplifications was poorly received.[citation needed] In 1986, authorities retracted the second round completely, but they had been largely out of use only a year after they were first introduced. Later in the same year, the authorities promulgated a final list of simplifications, which is identical to the 1964 list except for six changes (including the restoration of three characters that had been simplified in the first round: , , ; the form is used instead of in regions using traditional Chinese).

There had been simplification initiatives aimed at eradicating characters entirely and establishing the Hanyu Pinyin romanisation as the official written system of the PRC, but the reform never gained quite as much popularity as many on the Chinese left had hoped.[citation needed] After the retraction of the second round of simplification, the PRC stated that it wished to keep Chinese orthography stable. Years later in 2009, the Chinese government released a major revision list which included 8,300 characters. No new simplifications were introduced. However, six characters previously listed as "traditional" characters that have been simplified, as well as 51 other "variant" characters, were restored to the standard list. In addition, orthographies (e.g. stroke shape) for 44 characters were proposed to be modified slightly to fit traditional calligraphic rules. Also, the practice of unrestricted simplification of rare and archaic characters by analogy using simplified radicals or components is now discouraged. A State Language Commission official cited "oversimplification" as the reason for restoring some characters. The language authority declared an open comment period until August 31, 2009, for feedback from the public.[9] The proposed orthographic changes to 44 characters were not implemented due to overwhelmingly negative public opinion.[13]

The 2013 Table of General Standard Chinese Characters contained 45 newly recognized standard characters that were previously considered variant forms, as well as official approval of 226 characters that had been simplified by analogy and had seen wide use but were not explicitly given in previous lists or documents.

Singapore and Malaysia[edit]

Singapore underwent three successive rounds of character simplification, eventually arriving at the same set of simplified characters as mainland China.[14]

The first round was promulgated by the Ministry of Education in 1969, consisting of 498 simplified characters derived from 502 traditional characters. A second round of 2287 simplified characters was promulgated in 1974. The second set contained 49 differences from the mainland China system; these were removed in the final round in 1976. In 1993, Singapore adopted the 1986 mainland China revisions. Unlike in mainland China, Singapore parents have the option of registering their children's names in traditional characters.

Malaysia also promulgated a set of simplified characters in 1981, though completely identical to the mainland Chinese set. They are used in Chinese-language schools.

In both countries, traditional characters are often used in calligraphy, are still seen on shop signs and in some newspapers.

Hong Kong[edit]

A small group called 导字社; 導字社; dou6zi6se5 (or 导字会; 導字會; dou6zi6wui6) attempted to introduce a special version of simplified characters using romanizations in the 1930s. Today, however, traditional characters remain dominant in Hong Kong.[citation needed]


After World War II, Japan introduced simplified forms of kanji known as shinjitai with the promulgation of the tōyō kanji List. The number of characters in circulation was also reduced, and formal lists of characters to be learned during each grade of school were established. The overall effect was to standardize teaching and the use of kanji in modern literature and media. Compared to in China, Japanese reform was more limited, only simplifying a few hundred commonly-used characters individually, not with exhaustive systematic rules. Analogous systematic simplifications of non-listed characters (extended shinjitai) are not approved—instead, standard practice is to use the traditional forms.


Structural simplification of characters
All characters simplified this way are enumerated in Charts 1 and 2 of the 1986 Complete List of Simplified Characters [zh] (hereafter the Complete List).
Chart 1 lists all 350 characters that are used by themselves, and can never serve as 'simplified character components'.
Chart 2 lists 132 characters that are used by themselves as well as utilized as simplified character components to further derive other simplified characters. Chart 2 also lists 14 'components' or 'radicals' that cannot be used by themselves, but can be generalized for derivation of more complex characters.
Derivation based on simplified character components
Chart 3 lists 1,753 characters which are simplified based on the same simplification principles used for character components and radicals in Chart 2. This list is non-exhaustive, so if a character is not already found in Charts 1–3, but can be simplified in accordance with Chart 2, the character should be simplified.
Elimination of variants of the same character
Series One Organization List of Variant Characters [zh] accounts for some of the orthography differences in mainland China versus in Hong Kong and Taiwan. These are not simplifications of character structures, but rather reduction in number of total standard characters. For each set of variant characters that share the identical pronunciation and meaning, one character (usually the simplest in form) is elevated to the standard character set, and the rest are obsoleted. After rounds of revisions, by 1993, some 1,027 variant characters have been declared obsolete by this list. Amongst the chosen variants, those that appear in the 1986 Complete List are also simplified in character structure accordingly.
Adoption of new standardized character forms
New standardized character forms originated from the 1965 Characters for Publishing list containing 6,196 characters. These tend to be vulgar variant forms for most of its characters. The 1988 List of Commonly Used Characters in Modern Chinese (hereafter Common Modern Characters) contains 7,000 characters, and replaces the 1965 list. Since the new forms take vulgar variants, many characters now appear slightly simpler compared to old forms, and as such are often mistaken as being structurally simplified.

Structural simplification of characters[edit]

All characters simplified this way are enumerated in Chart 1 and Chart 2 in the 1986 Complete List. Characters in both charts are structurally simplified based on similar set of principles. They are separated into two charts to clearly mark those in Chart 2 as 'usable as simplified character components', based on which Chart 3 is derived.[note 4]

Merging usually-homophonous characters:

蒙、懞、濛、矇; 復、複、覆、复; 乾、幹、榦、干; 髮、發; etc.

Using printed adaptations of cursive shapes (草書楷化):

; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; etc.

Replacing a component with a simple arbitrary symbol (such as and ):

; ; ; ; ; ; ; etc.

Omitting entire components:

; 广; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; → 气; etc.

Omitting components, then applying further alterations:

; ; ; ; ; etc.

Structural changes that preserve the basic shape

; ; 齿; ; ; ; etc.

Replacing the phonetic component of phono-semantic compounds:

; ; ; ; ; etc.

Replacing an uncommon phonetic component with a more common one:

; ; 歷、曆; ; etc.

Replacing entirely with a newly coined phono-semantic compound:

; ; ; ; etc.

Removing radicals

; ; 裡/裏; ; 關/関; etc.

Only retaining single radicals

广; ; ; ; ; ; etc.

Replacing with ancient forms or variants:[note 5]

; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; etc.

Adopting ancient vulgar variants:[note 5]

; ; ; ; ; etc.

Readopting abandoned phonetic-loan characters:

; ; 裡/裏; etc.

Copying and modifying another traditional character:

义(乂); 髮、發发(友); 龙(尤); 头(大) etc.

Derivation based on simplified components[edit]

Based on 132 characters and 14 components listed in Chart 2 of the Complete List, the 1,753 derived characters found in Chart 3 can be created by systematically simplifying components using Chart 2 as a conversion table. While exercising such derivation, the following rules should be observed:

  • The Complete List employs character components, not traditional radicals. A component refers to any conceivable part of a character, regardless of its position within the character, or its relative size compared to other components in the same character. For instance, in the character , not only is (a traditional radical) considered a component, but so is .
    • Each of the 132 simplified characters in Chart 2, when used as a component in compound characters, systematically simplify compound characters in exactly the same way the Chart 2 character itself was simplified. For instance, is simplified in Chart 2 to . Based on the same principle, these derivations can be made: ; ; ; etc.
    • The 14 simplified components in Chart 2 are never used alone as individual characters. They only serve as components. Example of derived simplification based on the component 𦥯, simplified to 𰃮 (), include: ; ; ; etc.
  • Chart 1 collects 352 simplified characters that generally cannot be used as components. Even in rare cases where a Chart 1 character is found as a component in a compound character, the compound character cannot be simplified in the same way. For instance, is simplified in Chart 1 to , but cannot be simplified to ⿰衤习.
  • A character that is already explicitly listed as simplified character in the "Complete List of Simplified Characters" cannot be alternatively simplified based on derivation. For instance, and are simplified in Chart 1 to and respectively, thus they cannot be simplified alternatively by derivation via and in Chart 2 to 𢧐 and ⿰讠夸. is simplified in Chart 2 to , thus it cannot be alternatively derived via in Chart 2 as 𬨨.

Sample Derivations:

𦥯𰃮 (), thus ; ; ; etc.
, thus ; ; ; etc.
, thus ; ; ; ; etc.
, thus ; ; ; etc.
𩙿, thus ; ; ; ; etc.
, thus ; ; ; etc.

Elimination of variants of the same character[edit]

The Series One List of Variant Characters reduces the number of total standard characters. First, amongst each set of variant characters sharing identical pronunciation and meaning, one character (usually the simplest in form) is elevated to the standard character set, and the rest are made obsolete. Then amongst the chosen variants, those that appear in the "Complete List of Simplified Characters" are also simplified in character structure accordingly. Some examples follow:

Sample reduction of equivalent variants:

; ; ; ; 虖、嘑、謼; etc.

In choosing standard characters, often ancient variants with simple structures are preferred:

; ; 災、烖、菑; etc.

Vulgar forms simpler in structure are also chosen:

; ; ; 獃、騃; etc.

The chosen variant was already simplified in Chart 1:

; ; 唘、啓; 鬦、鬪、鬭; 厤、暦; ; etc.

In some instances, the chosen variant is actually more complex than eliminated ones. An example is the character which is eliminated in favor of the variant form . The "hand" radical , with three strokes, on the left of the eliminated is now "seen" as more complex, appearing as the "tree" radical , with four strokes, in the chosen variant .

Not all characters standardised in the simplified set consist of fewer strokes. For instance, the traditional character , with 11 strokes is standardised as , with 12 strokes, which is a variant character. Such characters do not constitute simplified characters.

New standardized forms[edit]

The new standardized character forms shown in the Characters for Publishing and revised through the Common Modern Characters list tend to adopt vulgar variant character forms. Since the new forms take vulgar variants, many characters now appear slightly simpler compared to old forms, and as such are often mistaken as structurally simplified characters. Some examples follow:

The traditional component becomes :

; ; etc.

The traditional component becomes :

; ; etc.

The traditional "Break" stroke becomes the "Dot" stroke:

; ; etc.

The traditional components and become :

; ; etc.

The traditional component becomes :

; ; etc.


A commonly cited example of the irregularity of simplification involves characters that share the "hand" component , which is used in many simplified characters. While there is an observable pattern involving the replacement of 𦰩 with 又 as seen in , , , , , etc., when observing that , , , (not simplified) and (not simplified), an inconsistency arises. This is due to the fact that in the Complete List of Simplified Characters, appears in Chart 1 while is listed in Chart 2 and as a derived character in the non-exhaustive list in Chart 3. Therefore, is defined as a 'simplified character component' according to the standard, while is not. Based on , is simplified to , and to . Since both and appear in Chart 1, they are not defined as derived characters. There are therefore no characters or components found in Chart 2 usable for derivation of and . Further investigation reveals that these two characters do not appear in Chart 1 nor in "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters". Thus they remain unchanged from traditional forms in the Common Modern Characters list.

Distribution and use[edit]

The slogan 战无不胜的毛泽东思想万岁!; Zhàn wúbù shèng de Máo Zédōng sīxiǎng wànsuì!; 'Long live the invincible Mao Zedong Thought!' written in simplified characters on Xinhua Gate in Beijing

The People's Republic of China and Singapore generally use simplified characters. They appear very sparingly in texts originating in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and overseas Chinese communities, although they are becoming more prevalent as mainland China becomes more integrated globally. Conversely, the mainland is seeing an increase in the use of traditional forms[citation needed] on signs and in logos, blogs, dictionaries, and scholarly works.

Mainland China[edit]

The Law of the People's Republic of China on the National Common Language and Characters implies that simplified Chinese characters are the country's standard script, with traditional Chinese being used for purposes such as ceremonies, cultural purposes such as calligraphy, for decoration, in publications and books on ancient literature and poetry, and for research purposes. Traditional characters remain ubiquitous on buildings that predate the promotion of simplified characters, such as former government buildings, religious buildings, educational institutions, and historical monuments. Traditional characters are also often used for commercial purposes, such as in shopfront displays and advertisements.

As part of the one country, two systems model, the PRC has not attempted to force Hong Kong or Macau into using simplified characters. The PRC tends to print material intended for people in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, and overseas Chinese in traditional characters. For example, versions of the People's Daily are printed in traditional characters, and both People's Daily and Xinhua have traditional character versions of their website available, using Big5 encoding. Mainland companies selling products in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan use traditional characters in order to communicate with consumers; the inverse is equally true as well.

Dictionaries published in mainland China generally show both simplified and their traditional counterparts. In digital media, many cultural phenomena imported from Hong Kong and Taiwan into mainland China, such as music videos, karaoke videos, subtitled movies, and subtitled dramas, use traditional Chinese characters.

Hong Kong[edit]

Textbooks, official statements, and newspapers show no signs of moving to simplified Chinese characters, including state-funded media. However, for example, Hong Konger students sometimes opt to write with simplified characters when taking notes or while taking exams, in order to write faster.

It is common for Hong Kongers to learn traditional Chinese characters in school, as well as some simplified characters incidentally, usually by consuming media produced on the mainland. For use on computers, however, people tend to type Chinese characters using an IME with a traditional character set, such as Big5. In Hong Kong, as well as elsewhere, it is common for people to use both sets, due to the ease of conversion between the two sets.[clarification needed]


Simplified Chinese characters are not officially used in governmental and civil publications in Taiwan. However, it is legal to import simplified character publications and distribute them. Certain simplified characters that have long existed in informal writing for centuries also have popular usage, while those characters simplified originally by the Taiwanese government are much less common in daily appearance.

In all areas, most handwritten text will include informal simplifications which are not the same as the simplifications officially promulgated by the PRC, often ones influenced instead by 新字体, shinjitai characters that originated in Japan.[citation needed] For example, the informal simplification of the first character of "Taiwan" rivals its orthodox form in commonality, even in publications and academic contexts. In part, this is due to the simplification process adopting existing variants already in use, rather than inventing new simplifications as was done in the unsuccessful second round.[15][16] This is because the adoption of simplified characters has been gradual and predates the Chinese Civil War by several decades and some are used beyond mainland China to some extent.[17]

Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia[edit]

In Singapore, where Mandarin Chinese is one of the official languages, simplified characters are the official standard and are generally used in most of official publications as well as the government-controlled press.

While simplified characters are taught exclusively in schools and are generally used in most of official publications, the government does not officially discourage the use of traditional characters and still allow parents to choose whether to have their child's Chinese name registered in simplified or traditional characters.

Traditional characters are widely used by older Singaporeans, and are widespread on billboards, stall menus, and decorations, as well as in newspapers and on television.

Chinese is not an official language in Malaysia, but over 90% of ethnic-Chinese students in the country are educated in Chinese schools, which have been teaching in simplified characters since 1981. Traditional characters are also widely used by older people and are likewise widespread on billboards, to a greater extent than in Singapore. Most of Malaysia's Chinese-language newspapers compromise by retaining traditional characters in article headlines, but opting to use simplified characters for the bodies of articles.

There is no restriction on the use of traditional characters in mass media, and television programs, books, magazines and music imported from Hong Kong and Taiwan are widely available, almost always using traditional characters. Many shop signs and menus in hawker centres and coffee shops continue to be written with traditional characters.[18]

In Indonesia, Chinese is not an official language. However, the country is also home to a sizable ethnic-Chinese community, and similarly to Malaysia, ethnic-Chinese students typically receive their education in Chinese-language schools that almost exclusively use simplified characters. Traditional characters are seldom used, typically only for stylistic purposes.


In general, schools in mainland China, Malaysia and Singapore use simplified characters exclusively, while schools in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan use traditional characters exclusively.

Today, simplified Chinese characters predominate among college and university programs teaching Chinese as a foreign language outside of China,[19] such as those in the United States.[20]

Mainland China[edit]

In December 2004, Ministry of Education authorities rejected a proposal from a Beijing Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) political conference member that called for elementary schools to teach traditional Chinese characters in addition to the simplified ones. The conference member pointed out that many, especially young people, have difficulties with traditional Chinese characters; this is especially important in dealing with non-mainland communities such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. The educational authorities did not approve the recommendation, saying that it did not fit in with the "requirements as set out by the law" and it could potentially complicate the curricula.[21] A similar proposal was delivered to the first plenary session of the 11th CPPCC in March 2008.[22]

Hong Kong[edit]

Most, if not all, Chinese language textbooks in Hong Kong are written in traditional characters. Before 1997, the use of simplified characters was generally discouraged by educators. After 1997, while students are still expected to be proficient and utilize traditional characters in formal settings, they may sometimes adopt a hybrid written form in informal settings to speed up writing. With the exception of open examinations, simplified Chinese characters are considered acceptable by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority for their speed.[citation needed]

Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia[edit]

Chinese textbooks in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are written exclusively in simplified characters, and only simplified characters are taught in school. Traditional characters are usually only taught to those taking up calligraphy as a co-curricular activity or Cantonese as an elective course at school.

Chinese as a foreign language[edit]

The majority of textbooks teaching Chinese are now based on simplified characters and Hanyu Pinyin – although there are textbooks originating in China which have a traditional version. For practical reasons, universities and schools prepare students who will be able to communicate with mainland China, so their obvious choice is to use simplified characters.

In places where a particular set is not locally entrenched, such as Europe and the United States, instruction is now mostly simplified, as the economic importance of mainland China increases, and also because of the availability of textbooks printed in mainland China. Teachers of international students often recommend learning both systems.


In the United Kingdom, universities mainly teach Mandarin Chinese at the undergraduate level using the simplified characters coupled with pinyin. However, they will require the students to learn or be able to recognise the traditional forms if they are studying in Taiwan or Hong Kong (such as taking Cantonese courses). In Australia and New Zealand, schools, universities and TAFEs use predominantly simplified characters.

Russia and most East European nations are traditionally oriented on the education of the PRC's system for teaching Chinese, which uses simplified characters but exposes the learners to both systems.

East Asia[edit]

In South Korea, universities have used predominantly simplified characters since 1990s. In high school, Chinese is one of the selective subjects. By the regulation of the national curricula standards, MPS I and traditional characters had been originally used before (since the 1940s), but by the change of regulation, pinyin and simplified characters have been used to pupils who enter the school in 1996 or later. Therefore, MPS I and traditional characters disappeared after 1998 in South Korean high school Chinese curriculum.

In Japan there are two types of schools. Simplified Chinese is taught instead of traditional Chinese in pro-mainland China schools. They also teach Pinyin, a romanization system for standard Chinese, while the Taiwan-oriented schools teach Zhuyin, which uses phonetic symbols. However, the Taiwan-oriented schools are starting to teach simplified Chinese and Pinyin to offer a more well-rounded education.[23]

Southeast Asia[edit]

In the Philippines, the use of simplified characters has become increasingly popular. Before the 1970s, Chinese schools in the Philippines were under the supervision of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China. Hence, most books were using traditional characters. Traditional characters remained prevalent until the early 2000s. Institutions like the Confucius Institute, being the cultural arm of the People's Republic of China, are strong proponents of the use of simplified characters. Also, many schools are now importing their Mandarin textbooks from Singapore instead of Taiwan.

Public universities such as the Linguistics and Asian Languages Department of the University of the Philippines use simplified characters in their teaching materials. On the other hand, private schools such as Chiang Kai Shek College and Saint Jude Catholic School remain major proponents of the usage of traditional characters. Some private universities, such as the Ateneo de Manila University, also use simplified characters.

Computer encoding and fonts[edit]

In computer text applications, the GB encoding scheme most often renders simplified Chinese characters, while Big5 most often renders traditional characters. Although neither encoding has an explicit connection with a specific character set, the lack of a one-to-one mapping between the simplified and traditional sets established a de facto linkage.[7]

Since simplified Chinese conflated many characters into one and since the initial version of the GB encoding scheme, known as GB 2312-80, contained only one code point for each character, it is impossible to use GB 2312 to map to the bigger set of traditional characters. It is theoretically possible to use Big5 code to map to the smaller set of simplified character glyphs, although there is little market for such a product. Newer and alternative forms of GB have support for traditional characters. In particular, mainland authorities have now established GB 18030 as the official encoding standard for use in all mainland software publications. The encoding contains all East Asian characters included in Unicode 3.0. As such, GB 18030 encoding contains both simplified and traditional characters found in Big-5 and GB, as well as all characters found in Japanese and Korean encodings.

Unicode deals with the issue of simplified and traditional characters as part of the project of Han unification by including code points for each. This was rendered necessary by the fact that the linkage between simplified characters and traditional characters is not one-to-one. While this means that a Unicode system can display both simplified and traditional characters, it also means that different localisation files are needed for each type.

In font filenames and descriptions, the acronym SC is used to signify the use of simplified Chinese characters to differentiate fonts that use TC for traditional characters.[24]

Web pages[edit]

The World Wide Web Consortium's Internationalization working group recommends the use of the language tag zh-Hans as a language attribute value and Content-Language value to specify web-page content in simplified Chinese characters.[25]


There are ongoing disputes among users of Chinese characters related to the introduction of simplified Chinese characters.

Author Liu Shahe was an outspoken critic of the simplification of Chinese characters. He wrote a dedicated column entitled "Simplified Characters are Unreasonable" in the Chinese edition of the Financial Times.[26]

Criticism of the simplifications does not necessarily imply sympathy for restoration of the traditional spelling since alternative simplifications are possible.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Refer to official publications: zh:汉字简化方案, zh:简化字总表 etc.
  2. ^ The Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian defines the term as "Chinese characters that have undergone simplification" (经过简化的汉字).[2]
  3. ^ As stated by then-Chairman Mao Zedong in 1952
  4. ^ All examples listed here are sourced from 简化字#字型結構簡化#簡化方法 where all entries are associated with proper references.
  5. ^ a b This is very similar to the 'elimination of variants of the same character' in "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters", except that these eliminations happen in Chart 1 and Chart 2 of "Complete List of Simplified Characters". Characters simplified in Chart 2 can be further used for derivation of Chart 3, but those chosen in "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters" cannot.


  1. ^ "Jiàoyù bù jiù "hànzì jiǎnhuà fāng'àn" děng fābù 50 zhōunián dá jìzhě wèn" 教育部就《汉字简化方案》等发布50周年答记者问. (in Chinese (China)). 2006-03-22.
  2. ^ Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian, 3rd edition (Beijing: Foreign Language and Teaching Press, 2015), s.v. "简体字".
  3. ^ 書同文 :《漢字簡化方案》制訂始末,黄加佳,新华网. Detailed account of the Chinese simplification effort. (Wayback Machine 2018-08-19)
  4. ^ Ideographic Data "Unihan data for U+6C92". Retrieved 2023-09-30.
    "Unihan data for U+6CA1". Retrieved 2023-09-30.
  5. ^ "Simplified Chinese Characters". Retrieved 2016-03-16.
  6. ^ "Guānyú "tōngyòng guīfàn hànzì biǎo" gōngkāi zhēngqiú yìjiàn de gōnggào" 关于《通用规范汉字表》公开征求意见的公告. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2009-08-15. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
  7. ^ a b Renmin ribao (2009-04-09). "Hànzì, gāi fán háishì jiǎn?" 汉字,该繁还是简?. Xīnhuá wǎng 新华网 (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2009-04-10.
  8. ^ Xin jing bao (2009-04-09). "Zhuānjiā chēng huīfù fántǐ zì dàijià tài dà xīn guīfàn hànzì biǎo jiāng gōngbù" 专家称恢复繁体字代价太大 新规范汉字表将公布. Xīnhuá wǎng 新华网 (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2009-04-12. Retrieved 2009-04-10. Syndicated from 新京报, 2009-04-09. Accessed 2009.04.10.
  9. ^ a b Wu, Jing; Guo, Likun (August 12, 2009). "China to Regulate Use of Simplified Characters". China View. Archived from the original on 2009-08-16. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
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Further reading[edit]

  • Bergman, Peter M. (1980). The Basic English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary: Using Simplified Characters (with an Appendix Containing the Original Complex Characters) Transliterated in Accordance with the New, Official Chinese Phonetic Alphabet. New York, N.Y.: New American Library. ISBN 0-451-09262-7.
  • Bökset, Roar (2006). Long Story of Short Forms: The Evolution of Simplified Chinese Characters. Stockholm East Asian Monographs, No. 11. Stockholm: Dept. of Oriental Languages, Stockholm University. ISBN 91-628-6832-2.
  • Chen, Huoping (1987). Simplified Chinese Characters. Torrance, CA: Heian. ISBN 0-89346-293-4.

External links[edit]