All Chinese languages use symbols, or "characters," for written communication. Originally, characters were pictures of the things they represented. In later versions one may notice similarities; however, as the language developed, characters became more and more abstract. In addition, characters have been simplified to make them easier to learn.
There are several Chinese languages. The most common is Mandarin, which is also the most-spoken language in the world. It is also the official language of Mainland China and Taiwan. While the various Chinese languages are sometimes referred to as dialects, because they all share the same writing system with the same characters, they are actually spoken very differently.