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Dibao (ancient Chinese gazette)

Dibao , literally "reports from the [official] residences", were a type of publications issued by central and local governments in imperial China. While closest in form and function to gazettes in the Western world, they have also been called "palace reports" or "imperial bulletins". Different sources place their first publication as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) or as late as the Tang Dynasty (June 18, 618–June 4, 907). They contained official announcements and news, and were intended to be seen only by bureaucrats (and a given Dibao might only be intended for a certain subset of bureaucrats). Selected items from a gazette might then be conveyed to local citizenry by word of mouth and/or posted announcements. Frequency of publication varied widely over time and place. Before the invention of moveable type printing they were hand-written or printed with engraved wooden blocks. The introduction of European-style Chinese language newspapers, along with the growing intersection of Chinese and global affairs generally, applied pressure for the Dibao to adapt, and circulation of the Beijing Gazette was in the tens of thousands by the time publication ceased altogether with the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. The gazettes from Beijing at this time were known as Jingbao , literally "reports from the capital".


Dibao'' (ti-pao''), sometimes called headmen or constables, were local officials in Qing and early Republican China, typically selected from among the prominent landowners. Working in communities of around 100 households, they were charged with overseeing boundaries and land disputes. He notarized all real estate deeds on a commission basis and collected the land tax, as well as overseeing minor punishment such as the cangue.

As foreign missionaries and businessmen gained the right to hold property in China from the unequal treaties, the local headmen could be caught between them and their superiors in the Chinese hierarchy, for instance during the construction of the Woosung Road.

The dibao administered villages under the ordinary Chinese administrative system. A similar office called the shoubao (shou-pao) was established under the Qing in 1725 to manage the Banner system.

The dibao were the successors of the Qin and Han tingzhang, the Sui and Tang lizheng, and Song baozheng. They were occasionally also known as baozheng or as dijia

After 1900, they began to be replaced by less autonomous cunzheng, although this transition wasn't completed until the Republican era.