Travel through China with a Book

The Approaching China Book Series

Executive Editor:

Zhang Wei

Price: RMB 98 x 11

Published by New Star Press, Beijing.


China is a mystery. Few countries have larger territory and none can rival its population. Among the cradles of civilization, many of which have unfortunately disappeared, only China has survived centuries of vicissitudes, and is closing its gap with the West in a dramatic fashion.

But China is also a country that is eager to be understood, for its mystery to be unraveled. In spite of problems brought about by the rapid development of its economy. Today’s China is more self-confident and open-minded than ever before, ready to shoulder greater global responsibilities and face challenges.

The Approaching China book series, published by New Star Press since 2006, covers a large number of China themes, including painting, photography, film, dance, drama, music, opera, sculpture, architecture, and travel. With vivid pictures and vibrant language, the books are especially designed for foreign readers. In times of constant change, it demands courage and patience to fulfill the ongoing task of documenting China’s cultural DNA; but this is exactly what Approaching China has done and continues to do.

From Infancy to Maturity – The Growth of the Documentary in China may well have been the most demanding compilation of the series. Even among Chinese books, it is not easy to find any of such exhaustive details and rich information on the history of local documentaries. In China, the genre of the documentary started out much later than other filmmaking practices, since it demanded freedom of public discourse along with financial support and advanced technology. The book starts in the late 1970s, which was the beginning of China’s reform and opening-up. The documentary in China immediately entered a golden age following a booming economy. The book is presented according to a method known as historiophoty in academia, which is the representation of history in visual images and filmic discourse. Nearly 80 Chinese documentaries from the last three decades are represented in the book. They are divided into units of diverse subjects including human heritage, life, people, land and industry, environment, adventures and major events. The book chronicles the development of the documentary in China as well as the nation’s pivotal moments of change. Both the documentaries and the stories behind them serve up a rich description of China.

Across China: Travelogues is a record of journeys made by individual travelers rather than a guidebook. The contributors comprise a dozen amateur travelers of various ages, hailing from different parts of China. Each explores a distinctive Chinese landscape from perspectives of nature and environmental protection, humanity, urban dwellings, rural life, historical sites, and modern buildings. Readers are taken on a journey through time and across Chinese territory.

China in the Movies (1978-2006) narrates the growth in popularity of and changes in Chinese movies. Through this window, stories from all walks of life and the Chinese people’s quests and longings are truly reflected.

Paintings in China introduces the modern arts of China to the Western world, displaying masterpieces by artists who passionately embrace their social responsibilities and historical missions and create art in an innovative way that fully expresses their reflections on nature, society and life.

Approaching China through Its Architecture presents the archetypal Chinese architecture style, the only one among the three schools of world architecture featuring completely wooden structures. In the long process of its development, Chinese architecture persistently maintains its own characteristics; meanwhile, ethnic minorities boast a heritage of buildings in various styles.

Appreciating Traditional Chinese Opera is another highlight in the series, since Chinese opera is known as one of the three age-old operas in the world, along with ancient Greek comedy and tragedy and Indian Sanskrit drama. Chinese opera originated in a comprehensive art form with a long history, integrating Chinese literature, music, dance, painting, martial arts, acrobatics, and performance.

The series also includes Modern Chinese Drama, Chinese Sculptures, Contemporary Chinese Music, Contemporary Chinese Dance, and a photography volume called Get to Know China through Photos.

The renowned Canadian publisher Howard Astor highly praises the Approaching China series, from its enthralling content to its refreshing design, and looks forward to future volumes of the series. He won’t have to wait long: At the end of this year new books on Chinese cuisine, calligraphy and traditional medicine enter the market.

A line in the film Roman Holiday (1953) goes: “You can either travel or read, but either your body or soul must be on the way.” In China we have a similar ancient saying that can be literally translated as “Reading 10,000 books is like traveling 10,000 miles.” Traveling in its truest sense is a soul-searching activity and the utmost happiness lies in living as local people do. Approaching China opens the window that lets foreigners feel the breeze from China, through which to experience its unique landscapes and get to know the people living in this wonderland.


Dr. LIU HONGMEI is a teacher at the Institute of Communication Studies, Communication University of China.