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When I use Iceweasel (Debian version of Firefox), I can see Chinese characters found on this page, but not when using Chromium. I instead see rectangles. This is on Debian 7 (Wheezy).

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Firefox's rendering engine will substitute glyphs from other installed fonts (if it can find one with the required glyph) instead of displaying broken glyphs. Chromium will stick to the specified font(s) instead, and will display a "missing glyph" character if the glyph is not found.

For Chromium and possibly other programs, you need to install Chinese fonts. I usually use arphic fonts: fonts-arphic-ukai, fonts-arphic-uming.

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wots the difference between those 2... Kaiti vs. Mingti –  Tshepang May 29 '12 at 21:05
    
I just install both. Can't read anyway :P –  phunehehe May 30 '12 at 3:14
    
"Firefox ships with some fonts of its own". Could you provide one reference for this statement? I am experience this problem OP posted, and the final conclusion lies on this bug. After removing Droid font, installed in Linux by default, Firefox can't display Chinese properly, either, so I believe that Firefox doesn't have builtin fonts. –  Albert Netymk Jan 27 at 1:47
    
@AlbertNetymk back then I didn't really know certain things. I have updated the answer with my current understandings :) –  phunehehe Jan 27 at 6:35
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There's a description of different font styles at jiromaiya.wordpress.com, @Tshepang. Kaiti looks more like calligraphy, and Mingti looks like printing. –  Don Kirkby Jul 16 at 20:17
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