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The dictionary lists both Middle East and Eastern China for 中东. Is one of these meanings more common? What would be a native speaker's first impression of the word? Does the meaning vary from mainland, Taiwan, S'pore etc?

UPDATE: I have since removed the meaning "Eastern China" from CC-CEDICT

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+1 Interesting question :D – Alenanno Feb 9 '12 at 9:43
up vote 10 down vote accepted
  1. In all the news reports in Mainland China, "中东" refers to Middle East. This can be seen as a convention -- as a native speaker, if I hear "中东", I will definately think of the Middle East. You can take a look at the Wikipedia Page of 中东, and the Baidu Baike Page of 中东. Only one meaning is referred on both pages -- Middle East.

  2. If anyone wants to refer to Eastern China, they will say "中国东部(地区)". The dictionary lists Eastern China for "中东", which looks like a result from translation software... So the dictionary makes a mistake.

I don't know if 中东 has any other meaning in Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc. But when I search for 中东, I also noticed that in Japanese, the combination of these two Characters also refers to Middle East.

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okay cool.. If might submit an edit to CC-CEDICT then (removing Eastern China) – jsj Feb 9 '12 at 6:17
I think the dictionary makes a mistake as I can't find any clue of using 中东 to describe East China... I personally have never heard anyone using the word like this... – coolcfan Feb 9 '12 at 6:23
I edited the dictionary accordingly – jsj Feb 9 '12 at 10:50

When you only see "中东", that means "the Middle East".

When you want to express the "middle east area of China", you should say"中东部" or "中东部地区", never say "中东". “部”here means "part", so "中东部" gets the meaning of "the middle east part[of this country, China]".

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And 中东部地区 != Eastern China. So the dictionary made a mistake. – coolcfan Feb 9 '12 at 6:29
Another word for eastern China, in the narrower sense of the area around Shanghai, is 华东. – Bathrobe Feb 9 '12 at 7:18

"中东" means "the Middle East", and "华东" means "Eastern China”

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This phrase is invented by European, east means east from Europe,so the 中东 means middle east from Europe,that is Iraq and some countries ……

There is some other words like 中东,eg,近东(seldom used),远东(referred to Korea,the area between China and Japan.),

远东 is more often replaced by “东亚”。

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