Simplified Chinese characters are officially known as 简化字 ( ), and colloquially called 简体字 ( ). Mao Zedong said in 1952, at the start of the simplification movement, that the process of simplification should embody both structural simplification of character forms as well as substantial reduction in the total number of standardized Chinese characters, concisely stating the two parallel goals of simplification.
Traditional Chinese characters are currently used in the Hong Kong, Macau, and Republic of China (Taiwan). Overseas Chinese communities generally use traditional characters, but simplified characters are often used among mainland Chinese immigrants.
Simplified character forms were created by decreasing the number of strokes and simplifying the forms of a sizable proportion of traditional Chinese characters. Some simplifications were based on popular cursive forms embodying graphic or phonetic simplifications of the traditional forms. Some characters were simplified by applying regular rules, for example, by replacing all occurrences of a certain component with a simplified version of the component. Variant characters with same pronunciation and identical meaning were reduced to one single standardized character, usually the simplest amongst all variants in form. Finally, many characters were left untouched by simplification, and are thus identical between the traditional and simplified Chinese orthographies.
Some simplified characters are very dissimilar to and unpredictable from traditional characters, especially in those where a component is replaced by an arbitrary and simplistic symbol. This often leads opponents not well-versed in the method of simplification to conclude that the 'overall process' of character simplification is also arbitrary. In reality, the methods and rules of simplification are few and internally-consistent. On the other hand, proponents of simplification often flaunt a few choice simplified characters as ingenious inventions, when in fact these have existed for hundreds of years as ancient variants. The debate over the use of traditional versus simplified Chinese characters continues in Chinese-speaking countries.
A second round of simplifications was promulgated in 1977, but was later retracted for a variety of reasons. However, the Chinese government never officially dropped its goal of further simplification in the future. In August 2009, the PRC began collecting public comments for a modified list of simplified characters.