The fictional country of Xing in Fullmetal Alchemist is heavily inspired by the real-life country of China. From the weapons, food, flora, fauna, clothing, architecture and art, we can see the Chinese influence.
Xing is a country made of 50 clans, ruled by an Emperor. Similarly, China is a country made of 56 different ethnic groups, and had a monarchy for thousands of years until the end of the Qing dynasty in 1912. In Fullmetal Alchemist, we know three of the clans: Yao, Han, and Chang. The Yao (瑶族)is an acutal ethnicity in China that lives in the South and Southwest, with a population of 2 million. The Han (汉族)
is also an ethnicity, who are the majority of the Chinese, with a population of 1.2 billion and making up 92% of China’s population. The Chang clan is fictitious, however, from the Chinese translation, the clan’s name is “张”, a common Chinese last name, commonly transliterated as Zhang.
The form of alchemy, called alkahestry, in Fullmetal Alchemist is also likewise based on Chinese alchemy. Chinese alchemy is similar to Western alchemy as both seek to create gold from common base metals and finding the elixir of life. The elixifir of life was thought to be created from gold and cinnabar (mercuric sulfide). There is also a focus on herbal and medicinal treatments in Chinese alchemy.
Other forms of Chinese culture influencing the country of Xing is Ling’s dao sword, Xiao Mei the panda (pandas are only found in China), and Fu and Lan Fan’s masks, which resemble the masks used in Beijing Opera.
“If I continue to make films about New York, they will probably be set in the past. The “new” New York I don’t know much about. It’s not that I’m against contemporary film. I’m open to it in general, but I find the new colors of the city, the new Times Square, kind of shocking. I guess I’m stuck in a time warp.”