Click for Home Page Click for Contact Us Page Click for FAQ's Page Click for About Us Page Click for Sitemap Navigation
Main Menu
Image: Hu Jin Tao

Image: Wen Jiabao

Image: Shenzhou V1 lifts off

Image: Jumping Through Hoops

Image: Chinese Car - A Piece of Cloud

Image: Chinese Girl

Image: National Emblem of China

Image: Zhaoqing at Night - Seen from 7-Stars Lake and Crags

Image: Ancient and Modern Mix in Foshan City

Image: Bruce Lee

Image: Chinese Art Moon Disc

Image: Deng Xiao Ping

Image: Mongol Army

The Art of Chinese Motorcycle Zen, as practiced by a Motorcycle Taxi. Complete with Rider Taking-5. This Machine Appears to Feature the Latest in Ergonomic Design

Image: Caroline and Chris

Chinese Silk Fan

A Chinese Medicine Pot without lid fitted
Chinese Weights and Measures

Main Headings:


Click above to go directly to our tables of equivalent measures.

Some Chinese units for length and weight have been in existence for more than 2, 000 years, whilst others have been unified into a nationwide system during the last millennium. Both the Traditional Chinese and the Imperial measuring systems are based upon useful sizes for peoples daily lives. The Metric system emulates this, but is not based upon this premise. However, you will most likely want to know how Chinese people use measurements today.

During the 1980's China adopted the International Metric Standard (SI) as the de facto system of measurements, as taught in schools. It is virtually the same as the International Standard in use, but has some Chinese quirks. However, traditional Chinese measurements are still used in shops, like when buying loose sugar. They are also used for official area calculations. The British Imperial system is also widely used, especially in Hong Kong of course, but also in neighbouring greater Guangdong Province.

Most Cantonese people will understand how to use all three systems - as it relates to their work and daily lives. Therefore all you need to do is specify which measuring system you are using when dealing with them. However, we recommend Expats learn the basics of Chinese measurements and use them in daily life.

This is a sensible guide giving you a sound understanding and how to convert between all three systems. It is not exhaustive by any means - but then do you really need to know how many rods, poles, or perches there are in a Chinese Li?

The three measuring systems are identified as follows:
• Chinese = shì zhì = 市制 (literally "market system")
• Imperial = ying = Prefix 英 (Means English)
• Metric = gong = Prefix 公 (Means SI or common/standard)

The word for size is: 'da xiao' Mandarin, 'dai siu' Cantonese, chars 大小 meaning = 'big / small?'

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

Unit Imperial Metric Mandarin Cantonese Char
Chinese Inch 1.463 inches 3.175 mm cun t’sun
UK inch 1 inch     tien or cyun
Chinese Foot 1.29 feet 33 cm chi chek
Chinese Yard     ma
Chinese Mile 0.31 miles 500 meters li waa lAi 華里
The Mandarin system of Length:
Length = d’zhit 節
1 Yin = 10 Zhang
1 Zhang = 10 Chi
1 Chi = 10 Cun
1 Cun = 10 Fen
1 Fen is now the equivalent of 0.231 cm.
Unit Imperial Metric Mandarin Cantonese Char
Catty 1.33 Pounds     gan
A Catty is the basic Hong Kong Pound unit of weight, formerly:
16 liang = 1 jin = 604.79 g
Chinese Gram 0.04 oz 1 gram ke gung fan 公分
Tael 1.3 oz 37.8 grams   Tael leung
Chinese Kilo 1.1 lbs 500 grams   jin: See ‘Catty’ above
Hundredweight 110 lbs 50 kilos   dan
      bong bong  
The Mandarin system of Weights is:
1 Dan = 4 Jun
1 Jun = 30 Jin
1 Jin= 16 Liang
1 Liang = 24 Zhu (Cantonese = loeng両)
1 Jin is equivalent to the current 253 grams. 磅
Unit Imperial Metric Mandarin Cantonese Char
Chinese Litre 0.22 Gallons 1 litre   sheng
Chinese Gallon 2.2 Gallons 10 Litres   dou
The Mandarin system of Volume is:
Volume = Zhong d’zhik 容積
1 Hu = 10 Dou
1 Dou = 10 Sheng
1 Sheng is equivalent to the present 200 ml.
British Imperial measures are also prevalent in Guangdong Province, and especially used by default in Hong Kong.
Pint 1 Pint 454 Liters   ban yut 品脫
Unit Imperial Metric Mandarin Cantonese Char
Chinese Acre 0.16 acres 666.66 square meters mu mo
Ready Reckoner:
15, 000 Mu 2, 500 Acres 1, 000 Hectares      
15万亩 2500英亩 1万公顷      
The Chinese system of area is a bit of a quagmire, as all professionals and governments use Traditional Chinese measurements. This is because all land in China is controlled using these measurements; which are often at rural village level where formal education may be a little lacking in depth .Changing this system would cause chaos at best, even were it to be implemented by local users.

In contrast, modern developers often use Imperial measurements within Hong Kong and Guangdong Province. This is being superceded by the additional use of the SI Metric units throughout the rest of China.

Regarding foreigners living their everyday lives in China, fortunately units of area are not often required. You will find them when renting or buying property; and in this case all property is priced per square meter. Regards things such as paper; A2, A3, A4, and A5 are widely used and understood. However, Chinese paper sizes are slightly different for each set size, but for instance, printers will print A4 to the Imperial, USA, or Metric equivalent if you ask them too.

 Traditional Chinese measurements are seldom used today, and many are based on the number 16 (Like British Ounces) ; although bases 8, 12, and 20 are also common. However, they are used (Or their Metric or Imperial rough equivalents) in local shops, village shops, and virtually all wet markets. You need to know some of these, and understand their usage and meanings

For a lot more information and specific units, please visit wapedia
o (3 pages)
 We make no apologies if this is confusing:
o Sometimes the same sound and character has different meanings in combination
o Sometimes the same sound has different characters
o Sometimes the measurments have changed locally
o Hong Kong and Mainland measurements were different until 1986
 Guangdong Cantonese use their own versions and words for both systems!

This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
Search this Website
Search Query
Our Friends
Image: ChinaBiz21 logo
Professional Visa Services
Company Formation Packages

Hollywood in China
Link to: Steinlein Productions
Traveling Workshops:
Film Production, Acting, Makeup, Modeling, Dance/Yoga, and Voice.
Sacred Rainbow Tour spectacular China 2010
Martinos Cafe - The Best Western Restaurant in Foshan
Link to: British Foreign & Commonwealth Office
British Foreign Office

Advice for Travellers
Personal Email Updates
Link to: Chinese Embassy in UK
Chinese Embassy in UK

Information About China
International Relations
Visa & Consular
Link to: British Consulate General in China
UK Embassy in China

Information About UK
International Relations
Visa & Consular
Down The
How We Traded Our Ordinary Lives For a Global Bicycle Touring Adventure
Link to: - Tim and Cindie Travis: How We Traded Our Ordinary Lives For a Global Bicycle Touring Adventure
See Us in China
Excellent & Free Online Chinese Language Portal
Link to: - Free Online Language Resources
Thousands of free print-friendly Chinese reference sheets, tests and revision aids.
Easy Learning format &
Listen to Spoken Words
Link to: - Dedicated to Promoting International Languages, Cultural Exchange, and Understanding between Peoples Excel Education
Languages Courses
Study Abroad
Summer Camps
Information for Teachers
Link to: - Your First Call for Holidays and Information about China. Free Community resources, including City guides written by Foreigners who have been there
Based in Xi'an,
China's Premiere Travel Agency and International Travel Community -
Committed to providing:
Best travel deals & current information for all International Travellers
Link to: China Exploration and Research Society
Based in Shangri-la,
Yunnan Province
Dedicated to Exploring Remote Areas of China
Committed to Nature Conservation and Preserving Ethnic Cultures & Traditions
Link to: The Dreamscheme - A Place where all disadvantaged children can be empowered to make a difference to: Themselves, Their Local Community, and The World!
Empowering Underprivileged Children & Their Communities = Worldwide
Link to: Yangshuo Outside Inn Hotel, near Guilin, Guangxi Province, China
Excellent and relaxing base to explore beautiful of regions in all China! 
Large Tourist Resources and Galleries
Pearl Dragon
Vast Online Trading and Information Resource
Link goes to Chinese Tourism and Galleries Section
Music Highlights
Image: Anon
Image: Erhu player supporting above singer

Image: Tien Chau San

Image: Shin
Page Navigation: Top of Page
Link to: - Excellent Hosting and Support Services
Image for Decoration only
    Copyright Webmaster @ ChinaExpats Links