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Li (unit)
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{{hatnote|Li may also refer to a Chinese unit of weight; see cash (unit).}}{{refimprove|date=September 2011}}The li ({{zh|}}, lÇ, or }}, shÃ¬lÇ), also known as the Chinese mile, is a traditional Chinese unit of distance. The li has varied considerably over time but was usually about one third of an English mile and now has a standardized length of a half-kilometer ({{convert|500|m|ft|sp=us|lk=on|sigfig=3|disp=or|abbr=off}}). This is then divided into 1,500 chi or "Chinese feet".The character (wikt:é‡Œ|é‡Œ) combines the characters for "field" ((wikt:ç”°|ç”°), tiÃ¡n) and "earth" ((wikt:åœŸ|åœŸ), tÇ”), since it was considered to be about the length of a single village. As late as the 1940s, a "li" did not represent a fixed measure but could be longer or shorter depending on the effort required to cover the distance.BOOK, Byron R. Winborn, Wen Bon: a Naval Air Intelligence Officer behind Japanese lines in China,weblink 1994, University of North Texas Press, 978-0-929398-77-8, 63, There is also another li (Traditional: (wikt:é‡|é‡), Simplified: (wikt:åŽ˜|åŽ˜), lÃ­) that indicates a unit of length {{Fraction|1000}} of a chi, but it is used much less commonly. This li is used in the People's Republic of China as the equivalent of the centi- prefix in metric units, thus limi ((wikt:åŽ˜ç±³|åŽ˜ç±³), lÃ­mÇ) for centimeter. The tonal difference makes it distinguishable to speakers of Chinese, but unless specifically noted otherwise, any reference to li will always refer to the longer traditional unit and not to either the shorter unit or the kilometer. This traditional unit, in terms of historical usage and distance proportion, can be considered the East Asian counterpart to the Western league unit.

Changing values

| Xia| 2100â€“1600 BCE| 405 m
| Western Zhou| 1045â€“771 BCE| 358 m
| Eastern Zhou| 770â€“250 BCE| 416 m
| Qin| 221â€“206 BCE| 415.8 m
| Han
Common era>CE| 415.8 m
| Tang| 618â€“907 CE| 323 m
| Qing| 1644â€“1911 CE| 537â€“645 m
| ROC| 1911â€“1984| 500â€“545 m
| PRC| 1984â€“present| 500 m
Under the Tang Dynasty (AD 618â€“907), the li was approximately 323 meters.{{Citation needed|date=June 2011}}In the late Manchu or Qing Dynasty, the number of chi was increased from 1,500 per li to 1,800. This had a value of 2115 feet or 644.6 meters. In addition, the Qing added a longer unit called the tu, which was equal to 150 li (96.7 km).These changes were undone by the Republic of China of Chiang Kai-shek, who adopted the metric system in 1928. The Republic of China (now also known as Taiwan) continues not to use the li at all but only the kilometer (Chinese: }}, gongli, lit. "common li").Under Mao Zedong, the People's Republic of China reinstituted the traditional units as a measure of anti-imperialism and cultural pride before officially adopting the metric system in 1984. A place was made within this for the traditional units, which were restandardized to metric values. A modern li is thus set at exactly half a kilometer (500 meters). However, unlike the jin which is still frequently preferred in daily use over the kilogram, the li is almost never used. Nonetheless, its appearance in many phrases and sayings means that "kilometer" must always be specified by saying gongli in full.

Cultural use

File:Anping Bridge - west-central part - looking west - DSCF9094.JPG|thumb|A section of the Song-era Anping Bridge in FujianFujianAs one might expect for the equivalent of "mile", li appears in many Chinese sayings, locations, and proverbs as an indicator of great distances or the exotic:
• One Chinese name for the Great Wall is the "Ten-Thousand-Li Long Wall" (traditional , simplified , Pinyin WÃ nlÇchÃ¡ngchÃ©ng). As in Greek, the number "ten thousand" is used figuratively in Chinese to mean any "immeasurable" value and this title has never provided a literal distance. Nonetheless, the actual length of the modern Great Wall is around 13,000 modern li {{ndash}} 3,000 more than the name's proverbially "immeasurable" length.
• The Chinese proverb appearing in s:Laozi (Wikisource translation)Chapter 64|chapter 64]] of the Tao Te Ching and commonly rendered as "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" in fact refers to a thousand li: åƒé‡Œä¹‹è¡Œï¼Œå§‹äºŽè¶³ä¸‹ (QiÄnlÇzhÄ«xÃ­ng, shÇyÃºzÃºxiÃ ).
• The greatest horses of Chinese history {{ndash}} including Red Hare and Hua Liu {{ndash}} are all referred to as "thousand-li horses" (, qiÄnlÇmÇŽ), since they could supposedly travel a thousand li in a single day.
• Li is sometimes used in location names, for example: Wulipu (Chinese: äº”é‡Œé“ºé•‡), Hubei; Ankang Wulipu Airport (Chinese: å®‰åº·äº”é‡Œé“ºæœºåœº), Shaanxi.
{{anchor|Korea}}

Ri in Japan and Korea

{{Further information|Japanese units of measurement|Korean units of measurement}}The present day Korean ri (ë¦¬, é‡Œ) and Japanese ri (é‡Œ) are units of measurements that can be traced back to the Chinese li (é‡Œ).Although the Chinese unit was unofficially used in Japan since the Zhou Dynasty, the countries officially adopted the measurement used by the Tang Dynasty (618â€“907 AD). The ri of an earlier era in Japan was thus true to Chinese length, corresponding to six chÅ (ca. 500â€“600 m), but later evolved to denote the distance that a person carrying a load would aim to cover on mountain roads in one hour. Thus, there had been various ri of 36, 40, and 48 chÅ. Tokugawa shogunate of Edo period officially defined 36 chÅ be 1 ri, allowing other variants, and the Japanese government in 1891 adopted this last definition. The Japanese ri was, at that time, fixed upon the metric system, {{Fraction|216|55}} â‰ˆ 3.93 kilometres or about 2.44 miles. Therefore, one must be careful about the correspondence between chÅ and ri. See KujÅ«kuri Beach (99-ri beach) for a case.In South Korea, the ri currently in use is a unit taken from the Han dynasty (206 BCâ€“220 AD) li. It has a value of approximately 392.72 meters, or one tenth of the ri. The Aegukga, the national anthem of South Korea, and the Aegukka, the national anthem of North Korea, both mention 3,000 ri, which roughly corresponds to 1,200 km, the approximate longitudal span of the Korean peninsula.In North Korea the Chollima Movement, a campaign aimed at improving labour productivity along the lines of the earlier Soviet Stakhanovite movement, gets its name from the word "chollima" which refers to a thousand-ri horse.

References

{{Reflist}}

Sources

• Homer H. Dubs (1938): The History of the Former Han Dynasty by Pan Ku. Vol. One. Translator and editor: Homer H. Dubs. Baltimore. Waverly Press, Inc.
• Homer H. Dubs (1955): The History of the Former Han Dynasty by Pan Ku. Vol. Three. Translator and editor: Homer H. Dubs. Ithaca, New York. Spoken Languages Services, Inc.
• HulsewÃ©, A. F. P. (1961). "Han measures". A. F. P. HulsewÃ©, T'oung pao Archives, Vol. XLIX, Livre 3, pp. 206â€“207.
• Needham, Joseph. (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Physics and Physical Technology, Part 3, Civil Engineering and Nautics. Taipei: Caves Books Ltd.

{{systems of measurement}}

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