Traditional Chinese characters

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Traditional Chinese characters is one of the two commonly used forms of writing Chinese languages. As its name shows, it is the traditional written form of the Chinese language. The name Traditional Chinese characters is used for contrast to Simplified Chinese characters.

Traditional Chinese characters as we know them today emerged during the Han Dynasty shortly after the Qin Dynasty in 206 BC. Court officials in the Han Dynasty believed that Xiaozhuang characters, which were standardized under Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi with the unification of China, were too time consuming and difficult to write, since Chinese characters at the time were written using curved lines instead of more angular lines. So Han officials decided to simplify writing Chinese characters by using multiple strokes, or lines, to form characters and radicals, rather than long curved lines. The new simplifications of Xiaozhuang characters, which became what is known today as Han characters (Simplified Chinese: 汉字 / Traditional Chinese: 漢字), that emerged from the Han Dynasty would become the standard writing system of Chinese. These Chinese characters are known today as Traditional Chinese characters, and they would largely remain unchanged (aside from a few simplifications of certain characters overtime) until the introduction of Simplified Chinese characters in the People's Republic of China (PRC) by the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the 1950's, in which anywhere between 20-30% of all the Chinese characters used in daily life were replaced by simpler characters. This move by the CPC was made in order to make education more accessible to common people, especially farmers.

Traditional Chinese characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, while Chinese living in Mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia use Simplified Chinese characters for their writings. Despite the introduction of simplified characters in Mainland China, most political bodies with Chinese as the official language would continue to use Traditional Chinese as the official script to this day, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and many immigrant communities of Chinese overseas. The only nation other than the PRC that would adopt Simplified Chinese as an official script is Singapore. The Chinese community in Malaysia has also adopted simplified characters as their standard script.

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