Chinese units of measurement

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Chinese units of measurement (Chinese: 市制; pinyin: Shìzhì; literally "market system") are the customary and traditional units of measure used in China. In the People's Republic of China, the units were re-standardised during the late 20th century to make them approximate SI (metric) units. Many of the units were formerly based on the number 16 instead of 10. On the other hand, Hong Kong, under the influence of the British Imperial system, was formed Hong Kong units of measurement, and now the traditional Chinese units and Imperial units are used alongside metric units. The Taiwanese units of measurement, which appeared under the colonial influences of the Dutch and the Japanese, for the most part may have similar names but are different from the Chinese units of measurement.

The Chinese name for most SI units is based on that of the closest traditional unit. When it is necessary to emphasize which system is used, the words "market" (市 shì) for traditional units or "common/standard" (公 gōng) for SI units may be added in front of the name. SI is the official system of units, but traditional units are still ubiquitously used in everyday life.

Note: The names (厘) and fēn (分) for small units are the same for length, area, and mass; however, they refer to different kinds of measurements.



According to the Liji, the legendary Yellow Emperor created the first measurement units. The Xiao Erya and Kongzi jiayu state that length units were derived from the human body. According to the Records of the Grand Historian, these human body units caused inconsistency, and Yu the Great, another legendary figure, unified the length measurements. Rulers with decimal units have been unearthed from Shang Dynasty tombs.

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