Tuesday, April 03, 2007

China Post

中国邮政集团公司

Chinese post officeBefitting the Middle Kingdom, China Post has a long history.

According to its English-language site, archeological records argue that inscriptions dating from the Yin-Shang Dynasty (14th-11th centuries B.C.) point to the existence of “communication activities” similar to postal delivery.

In the Zhou Dynasty, there were two methods of communication: drum and fire and, second, postal delivery by carriage or on foot. For the second type, delivery was categorized into “routine” and “emergency.”

The post office as we know it today however was formally set up during the Qing Dynasty.

Going back a bit, the "Post Delivery Law" of the Qin Dynasty is believed to be the first attempt at unifying postal service. It had various functions: delivery of government documents and edicts; military instruction; and so on. In order to accomplish this, road construction became a priority.

Modern Era

When China was forced to open up to the world in 1840, as a result of the Opium War, there was of course an impact on mail service. At this time, Western powers set up what came to be known as "Guest Post," which China considered a violation of its sovereignty.

Primarily, this was a system of mail boxes and offices that were set up on piers for use by foreign traders. The British set up a post office in 1834 in Guangzhou. In 1842, the head of the British troops announced the creation of the Hong Kong British Post Office.

China stampAccording to a treaty signed in 1858 foreign envoys could receive and deliver documents and baggage—that could not be unpacked without permission. Other powers—France, the USA, Japan, and Germany—enjoyed the same rights and created their own post offices, with their own stamps and regulations.

The Qing post office was set up in 1896, but had difficulty competing with the existing post offices run by foreign powers.

After the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, in 1911, the post office of the Republic of China was founded the following year. It was renamed the Post of Republic of China, or China Post.

China Post gradually expanded until the 1931 invasion by Japan, which blocked post coming in and out of Manchuria. Problems continued until the war ended in 1945. Following the defeat of Japan, in 1945, the French withdrew from the postal business in 1946 thus ending the "Guest Post" system. In 1949, with the creation of the People’s Republic, a national postal service was created.

For a complete overview of the history of China post, click here.

For the visitor, the post office is a window into the society. Though the neighborhood postal office (pictured above) is unlikely to have many English-speakers, it is easy enough to send a letter or post card. With nearly 80,000 branches nationwide, finding a post office is fairly simple.

Postal rates

Current rates.

Post offices in central Beijing and near tourist areas should have someone who can help you in English.

Hotels in Beijing

Books on China & Beijing

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