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It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
In addition, many of the smaller languages are spoken in mountainous areas that are difficult to reach, and are often also sensitive border zones.
In reaction, central governments have repeatedly sought to promulgate a unified standard.
Scholars have attempted to reconstruct the phonology of Old Chinese by comparing later varieties of Chinese with the rhyming practice of the Classic of Poetry and the phonetic elements found in the majority of Chinese characters.
The royal courts of the Ming and early Qing dynasties operated using a koiné language (Guanhua) based on Mandarin dialects.
Standard Chinese was adopted in the 1930s, and is now the official language of both the People's Republic of China and Taiwan.
Qieyun, a rime dictionary, recorded a compromise between the pronunciations of the north and the south.