Check out the Country Profiles page and Other Travel Links to find websites where you can browse lots of information on most any country in the world - including China.
To learn the ins and outs of Chinese culture and how it differs from our own, visit the incredibly detailed Countries and their Cultures. You'll find information on everything from national symbols and ethnic relations to etiquette and food. Another great site is Kwintessential, which gives insight into some of the basics in terms of cultural attitudes and values.
For coverage of all things Chinese, ChinaCulture.org may be your best resource. It has pages on art, festivals, sports, ethnic minorities and much more. Another general resource that covers an amazing array of cultural, historic and artistic topics, along with pages on the top tourist destinations and city guides, is China Highlights. The China in Brief pages give details on daily life in China, from average income to a history of the country, along with photos. The Official Chinese Tourism site gives another take on sites, geography, history and more from a uniquely Chinese perspective.
Thinkquest gives insight into the Culture of China, from traditional arts to modern values. For a take on the latest happenings in China (and around the world, from a Chinese perspective), visit China.org.
"Frontline," the PBS program, has an "intimate look into the lives of nine young Chinese, coming of age in a society that's changing at breathtaking speed." You can watch segments on individuals or the entire "Young and Restless in China" program.
For a look at the cities you'll visit, check out the city guide of ChinaTravelGuide.com. You can also browse pages on the provinces of China on this same site. Other news sources include the "China Daily" and the English version of the "People's Daily."
For an up-close look at the Bund area, with lots of pictures, browse this Anniebee.com page.
Xian Tourism has a wealth of information on the city, including the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and, of course, the famous terra cotta soldiers.
The Beijing City Guide gives a quick overview of the city, while the official website of the Beijing Government has coverage on a range of topics, from culture and the Olympics to business and government. For varied perspectives on the city, watch some of the films made by international directors for CCTV in preparation for the Olympics. To learn about the architectural wonders of the Olympic venues, check the Beijing Olympics website. Other sites you might want to explore include the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City (an excellently detailed site) and the Great Wall of China.
The Chengdu Government site has coverage on various topics, and is a great place to start. You can find information on the Thatched Cottage Du Fu and Mt. Emei on Chinadiscover.net. And don't miss the pictures and information available at Panda Research Base in Chengdu.