I have been reading The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester. It is a biography of Joseph Needham, an English biochemist who fell in love with China, learned to speak and write the language fluently, and decided, on a three-year tour around China, to write an encyclopaedia called Science and Civilization in China. His original aim was to answer what was later called the "Needham question": Why had China been overtaken by the West in science and technology, despite once being the world's most technologically advance nation ?

Needham was the first person to realise and to tell the Western world that China had invented the compass, gunpowder, paper-making and printing (the so-called Four Great Inventions of ancient China) before Europe or any other place in the world. This was not known before Needham popularised the idea in the 1950's.

Although these four inventions are undeniably important, China has hundreds of other inventions to be proud of. My question is : which one do you think are the most important for the rest of the world (besides these four) ?

Here are lists of Chinese inventions and Chinese discoveries to help you choose. Other contributions are welcome too (e.g. food, arts, ideas, influential people).

You can review the list of greatest contributions of other countries and civilizations as comparisons :

Ancient Egypt,
Ancient Greece,
Ancient Rome,