People's Republic of China

For the Chinese civilization, see China.
Not to be confused with the Republic of China.
中华人民共和国
中華人民共和國
Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó

People's Republic of China (PRC)
Flag of the People's Republic of China
Flag National Emblem
Anthem: Yìyǒngjūn Jìnxíngqǔ  (义勇军进行曲)
March of the Volunteers
Location of the People's Republic of China
Capital Beijing
Largest city Shanghai
Official language Standard Mandarin Chinese1 (Putonghua)
Government Socialist republic2
 - President Hu Jintao
 - Premier Wen Jiabao
Establishment  
 - Shang Dynasty 1766 BC 
 - Imperial China 221 BC 
 - Republican China October 10, 1911 AD 
 - PRC declared October 1, 1949 AD 
Area
 - Total 9,596,960 km² (3rd3)
3,704,4272 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 2.82
Population
 - 2006 estimate 1,315,844,0004 (1st)
 - 2000 census 1,242,612,226
 - Density 140/km² (72nd (2))
363(2)/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $8.859 trillion2 (2nd)
 - Per capita $7,2042 (84th)
GDP (nominal) 2005 estimate
 - Total $2.224 trillion (4th)
 - Per capita $1,709 (110th)
HDI  (2004) 0.768 (medium) (81st)
Currency Renminbi Yuan5, 2 (CNY)
Time zone (UTC+8)
 - Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+8)
Internet TLD .cn2
Calling code +862
1 In addition to Standard Mandarin, Cantonese is co-official in both Flag of Hong Kong Hong Kong and Flag of Macau Macau. English is co-official in Hong Kong (SAR); correspondingly, Portuguese in Macau (SAR). Similarly, several minority languages are also co-official with Standard Mandarin in minority areas, viz. Uyghur in Xinjiang, Mongolian in the classical alphabet in Inner Mongolia, Tibetan in Tibet, and Korean in Yanbian, Jilin.
2 Information for mainland China only. Hong Kong, Macau and territories under administration of the Republic of China Republic of China (R.O.C) on Taiwan (Matsu, Kinmen, Spratly Islands etc) are excluded.
3 Area rank is disputed with the U.S. and is sometimes ranked 3rd or 4th (see #Geography and climate).
4 Midyear.
5 (RMB¥)

The People's Republic of China (PRC), commonly known as China (Simplified Chinese: 中华人民共和国, Traditional Chinese: 中華人民共和國; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó listen), is the largest country in East Asia, with a smaller proportion of its area located in Central Asia. Due to its huge and stable population, its rapidly growing economy, its large research and development investments and military spending, and other capabilities,[1] the PRC is often considered by analysts and commentators as an emerging superpower.

At over 9.5 million km² (over 3.7 million sq. miles), the PRC is the third or fourth largest country by area. The PRC's landscape is extremely varied, with mostly desert in the north, high humidity and mountains in the east, and dry arid environments in the west. It is also the world's most populous nation, with over 1.3 billion citizens. The present-day location of PRC was the birthplace of the Chinese civilization that dates back to at least 18th century BC. The PRC was officially founded as a state on October 1, 1949 in Beijing, its capital, during the closing stages of the Chinese Civil War.

The PRC is currently the world's fourth largest economy and second largest at purchasing power parity, third largest exporter and importer, consumes a third of the world's steel and almost half of the world's concrete, and represents China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and APEC. China is the largest trading partner of every country in East Asia.[2][3][4][5]

Contents

[edit]

Background

Around the time it was officially founded, the Republic of China (ROC), retreated to the island of Taiwan, where it currently remains. Since then, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and some nearby islands, which are administered by the ROC, and asserts that the PRC has supplanted the ROC in its legitimacy to govern all of China. The ROC rejects these claims, and administers itself as a sovereign country with a democratically elected government and president. Until 1991, the ROC also claimed to be the sole leader of all of China, as well as Mongolia. The term "mainland China" is sometimes used to denote the area under PRC rule, but usually excludes the two Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong and Macau. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has led the PRC under a one-party system since the country's establishment in 1949. Despite this, nearly half of the PRC's economy has been privatized in the past three decades under "Socialism with Chinese characteristics."

Market-based economic reforms started since 1978 helped lift millions of people out of poverty, bringing the poverty rate down from 53% of population in 1981 to 8% by 2001.[6] Today, China is the world's largest producer of steel and concrete, and consumes a third of the world's steel, over half of the world's concrete,[7] and is the second largest importer and consumer of world oil.[8]

However, due to this mixing of market and planned economies, the PRC is faced with a number of problems associated with each, including unemployment and an increasing rural/urban income gap. Despite these shortcomings, greater prosperity has led to growing Chinese influence in global, economic, political, military, scientific, technological, and cultural affairs.

[edit]

History

3rd century BC buried Terracotta Army discovered in 1974.
3rd century BC buried Terracotta Army discovered in 1974.

The Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with the Communist Party of China in control of the mainland, and the Kuomintang (KMT) retreating to Taiwan and some outlying islands of Fujian. On October 1, 1949 Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China, declaring "the Chinese people have stood up."[9]

Following a series of dramatic economic failures, like the famous Great Leap Forward, Mao stepped down from his position as chairman in 1959, with Liu Shaoqi, elected by the National People's Congress, as successor. Mao still had a huge influence over the Party, but was removed from day-to-day management of economic affairs, which came under the control of a more moderate leadership consisting of Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, and others who initiated economic reforms.

In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, which is viewed by many analysts and historians as an attempt to purge the moderate leadership and strike-back at Mao's rivals by mobilizing the population in support of his thought. Mao's sympathizers argued it as an experiment in direct democracy and a genuine attempt at fighting corruption and other negative influences within Chinese society. However, Mao's personality cult at the time and the hierarchical structure of the "Red Guard," as well as the economic reconstruction needed after these events, tend to contradict this interpretation. Extreme disorder followed in the wake of the Cultural Revolution, but premier Zhou Enlai mediated its destructive impacts and helped the moderate forces regain influence.

After Mao's death in 1976 and the arrest of the Gang of Four, Deng Xiaoping quickly wrested power from Mao's anointed successor Hua Guofeng. Although Deng never became the head of the Party or State himself, his influence within the Party led the country to economic reforms, exemplified by one of his favorite sayings: "It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice."[10] The Communist Party subsequently loosened governmental control over people's personal lives and the communes were disbanded with many peasants receiving multiple land leases, which greatly increased incentives and agricultural production. This turn of events marked China's transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy. The PRC adopted its current constitution on December 4, 1982.

Despite market reforms, the Communist Party of China remains in sole control, requiring the registration and supervision of all civic organizations. The CPC suppresses groups that it claims are threats to social stability and national unity, such as Falun Gong and the separatist movement in Tibet. Supporters of these policies claim that they safeguard stability in a society that was torn apart by class differences and rivalries, has no tradition of civil participation, and limited rule of law. Opponents claim that these policies severely curtail human rights and that they have resulted in a police state, creating an atmosphere of fear and ignorance.

In 1989 the death of the pro-reform official, Hu Yaobang, helped to spark the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, during which students and others campaigned for democratic reform and freedom. The protests were soon put down on June 4 when PLA troops entered and forcibly cleared the square, resulting in hundreds of casualties. This event was famously videotaped and brought worldwide condemnation and sanctions against the PRC government. The June 4th incident has been a taboo subject within the government, though the Party did defend its actions by saying that it was necessary for the continued stability and economic development of the country.

President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji, both former mayors of Shanghai, led post-Tiananmen China in the 1990s, bringing unprecedented wealth and international standing to the country. Under Jiang Zemin's ten years of administration, China pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty and sustained an average annual GDP growth rate of 11.2%. The country formally joined the WTO in 2001.[11][12]

Although China needs economic growth to spur its development, the government has begun to worry that rapid economic growth could negatively impact the country's resources and environment. Another concern is that many people are not benefiting from China's economic miracle. As a result, the PRC, under current President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, have initiated policies to address these issues, but the outcome remains to be seen.[13] For much of China's population, living standards have seen extremely large improvements, and freedom continues to expand, but political controls remain tight.

[edit]

Government and politics

While the PRC is regarded as a communist state by many political scientists, attempts to characterize the nature of China's political structure into a single, simple category are typically seen as lacking sufficient depth to be satisfactory.[14] The PRC government has been variously described as authoritarian, communist, and socialist, with heavy restrictions remaining in some areas, most notably on the internet and in the press. At the same time, China is slowly becoming capitalist in its economic system.[15]

The country is mainly run by the Communist Party of China (CPC), but there are other political parties in the PRC, referred to in China as "democratic" parties (民主党派), which participate in the People's Political Consultative Conference, while serving mainly to endorse CPC policies. There have been some moves toward political liberalisation, in that open contested elections are now held at the village and town levels,[16] and that legislatures have shown some assertiveness from time to time; however, the Party retains effective control over governmental appointments. This is because, in the absence of meaningful opposition, the CPC wins by default in most electorates.[17] The CPC has been enforcing its rule by clamping down on political dissidents while simultaneously attempting to reduce dissent by improving the economy and allowing public expression of personal grievances so long as they are not organized. Current political concerns in China include lessening the growing gap between rich and poor, and fighting corruption within the government leadership.[18] The support that the Communist Party of China has among the Chinese population in general is unclear because there are no consistently contested national elections.[19] Also, private conversations and anecdotal information often reveal conflicting views. However, according to a survey conducted in Hong Kong, where a relatively high level of freedom is enjoyed, the current CPC leaders have received substantial votes of support when residents were asked to rank their favourite Chinese leaders from the mainland and Taiwan.[20]

For much of China's history, the state had been ruled by some form of centralized imperial monarchy, which was followed by a chaotic succession of largely authoritarian Chinese Nationalist governments as well as warlord-held administrations since the last few years of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.

[edit]

Foreign relations

The PRC maintains diplomatic relations with most major countries in the world. In 1971, the PRC replaced the Republic of China as the sole representative for "China" in the United Nations and as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.[21] It is considered a founding member of the UN, though the PRC was not in control of China at the time. (See China and the United Nations). The PRC was also a former member and leader of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Under the One-China policy, the PRC has made it a precondition to establishing diplomatic relations that the other country acknowledges its claim to Taiwan and sever any official ties with the Republic of China (ROC) government. The government actively opposes foreign travels by former and present Taiwanese officials, such as Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, and other politically controversial figures, such as Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama of Tibet, in an official context.

China has been playing an increasing role in calling for free trade areas and security pacts amongst its Asia-Pacific neighbors. In 2004, China proposed an entirely new East Asia Summit (EAS) framework as a forum for regional security issues that pointedly excluded the United States.[22] The EAS, which includes ASEAN Plus Three, India, Australia and New Zealand, held its inaugural summit in 2005. China is also a founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with Russia and the Central Asian republics.

Much of the current foreign policy is based on the concept of China's peaceful rise. However, conflicts with foreign countries have occurred at various times in its recent history, particularly with the United States; e.g., the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo conflict in May 1999 and the U.S.-China spy plane incident in April 2001. Also, its foreign relations with many other Western nations suffered for a time following the Tiananmen Square Incident in 1989, sometimes referred to as the Tiananmen Square Massacre or June 4th Incident. The relationship between China and Japan has been strained at times by Japan's refusal to acknowledge its war-time past to the satisfaction of the PRC, e.g. revisionist comments made by prominent Japanese officials, and insufficient attention paid to the Nanjing Massacre and other atrocities committed during World War II in some Japanese history textbooks. Another point of conflict between the two countries is the frequent visits by Japanese government officials to the Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines thousands of World War II war criminals, including 14 Class A convicts. Relations with China and Japan also have been strained by the Anti-Japanese Riots that occurred in spring of 2005. However, Sino-Japanese relations have warmed considerably since Shinzo Abe became the new Japanese Prime Minister in September 2006. A joint historical study to be completed by 2008 of WWII atrocities is currently being conducted by China and Japan.

Bordering the most countries in the world, the PRC is in a number of international territorial disputes. China's territorial disputes have led to several localized wars in the last 50 years, including the Sino-Indian War in 1962, the Sino-Soviet border conflict in 1969 and the Sino-Vietnam War in 1979. In 2001, the PRC and Russia signed the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation,[23] which paved the way in 2004 for Russia to transfer Yinlong Island as well as one half of Heixiazi Island to China, ending a long-standing Sino-Russian border dispute. Other territorial disputes include islands in the East and South China Seas, and undefined or disputed borders with India, Tajikstan and North Korea.

While accompanying a rapid economic rise, the PRC seeks to maintain a policy of quiet diplomacy with its neighbors. Steady, economic growth, while participating in regional organizations and cultivating bi-lateral relations will ease suspicion over China's burgeoning military capabilities.

[edit]

Population policy

With a population of over 1.3 billion, the PRC is very concerned about its population growth and has attempted with mixed results to implement a strict family planning policy. The government's goal is one child per family, with exceptions for ethnic minorities and flexibility in rural areas, where a family can have a second child if the first is a girl or physically disabled. The government's goal is to stabilize population growth early in the 21st century, though some current projections estimate a population of anywhere ranging from 1.4 billion to 1.6 billion by 2025.

The policy is resisted, particularly in rural areas, because of the need for agricultural labour and a traditional preference for boys. Families who breach the policy often lie during the census. Official government policy opposes forced abortion or sterilization, but allegations of coercion continue as local officials, who are faced with penalties for failing to curb population growth, may resort to forced abortion or sterilization, or manipulation of census figures.

The decreasing reliability of PRC population statistics since family planning began in the late 1970s has made evaluating the effectiveness of the policy difficult. Estimates by Chinese demographers of the average number of children for a Chinese woman vary from 1.5 to 2.0. The government is particularly concerned with the large imbalance in the sex ratio at birth, apparently the result of a combination of traditional preference for boys, family planning pressure, and the wide availability of ultrasound, which led to its ban for the purpose of sex-selective abortion.

[edit]

Human rights

The Constitution of the People's Republic of China guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion, universal suffrage, and property rights.[24] However, censorship of political speech and information is openly and routinely used to protect what the government considers national security interests.[25] The government has a policy of suppressing most protests and organizations that it considers a threat to social stability and national unity, as was the case with the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. However, there are limits to the methods that the Party is willing or able to use as the media have become increasingly active in publicizing social problems, and exposing corruption and inefficiency at lower levels of government.[citation needed] The Party has also been rather unsuccessful at controlling information, and in some cases has had to change policies in response to public outrage.[citation needed] Although organized opposition against the Party is not accepted, demonstrations over local issues are frequently and increasingly tolerated.[citation needed]

At times, the PRC is faced with criticism from foreign governments and NGOs concerning allegations of gross human rights violations. These criticisms allege that there existed a widespread practice of lengthy detentions without trial, forced confessions, torture, mistreatment of prisoners, as well as allegations of restrictions on freedoms of speech, assembly, association, religion, the press, and workers' rights.[25] Furthermore, China leads the world in capital punishment, accounting for roughly 90% of total death-penalty executions in 2004,[26] These issues remain one of the driving forces behind independence movements in Tibet and Xinjiang. The PRC government responds to these criticisms by arguing that the notion of human rights should factor in standards-of-living. It views the rise in China's standard-of-living as an indicator of improvement in the human rights issue.[27]

In Reporters Without Borders' Annual World Press Freedom Index of 2005,[28] the PRC ranked 159 out of 167 places. This is an indication that Reporters Without Borders considers the PRC one of the countries in the world with the strictest media control.

[edit]

Political divisions

The People's Republic of China has administrative control over twenty-two provinces (省); the government of the PRC considers Táiwān (台湾) to be its twenty-third province.[29] (See Political status of Taiwan for more information). Apart from provinces, there are five autonomous regions (自治区), each with a designated minority group; four municipalities (直辖市); and two Special Administrative Regions (特别行政区) that enjoy considerable autonomy.

The twenty-two provinces, five autonomous regions and four municipalities can be collectively referred to as "mainland China", a term which usually excludes Hong Kong and Macau.

Province-level divisions of the People's Republic of China.
Province-level divisions of the People's Republic of China.

The following are a list of administrative divisions of areas under the control of the People's Republic of China.

Provinces (省)

  • Ānhuī (安徽)
  • Fújiàn (福建)
  • Gānsù (甘肃)
  • Guǎngdōng (广东)
  • Guìzhōu (贵州)
  • Hǎinán (海南)
  • Héběi (河北)
  • Hēilóngjiāng (黑龙江)
  • Hénán (河南)
  • Húběi (湖北)
  • Húnán (湖南)
  • Jiāngsū (江苏)
  • Jiāngxī (江西)
  • Jílín (吉林)
  • Liáoníng (辽宁)
  • Qīnghǎi (青海)
  • Shaanxi (Shǎnxī) (陕西)
  • Shāndōng (山东)
  • Shānxī (山西)
  • Sìchuān (四川)
  • (Táiwān) (台湾)[30]
  • Yúnnán (云南)
  • Zhèjiāng (浙江)

Autonomous regions (自治区)

  • Guǎngxī (广西壮族自治区)
  • Inner Mongolia (Nèi Měnggǔ) (内蒙古自治区)
  • Níngxià (宁夏回族自治区)
  • Xīnjiāng (新疆维吾尔自治区)
  • Tibet (Xīzàng) (西藏自治区)

Municipalities (直辖市)

Special Administrative Regions (特别行政区)

  • Flag of Hong Kong Hong Kong (Xiānggǎng) (香港特别行政区)
  • Flag of Macau Macau (Àomén) (澳门特别行政区)
[edit]

Geography and climate

Grasslands of Chengde, Hebei Province, North China.
Grasslands of Chengde, Hebei Province, North China.

The PRC is the largest country in area in East Asia (excluding Russia) and the third or fourth largest[31] in the world by land-and-sea area. The dispute over size is due to both the validity of claims by the PRC on territories such as Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract(both territories also claimed by India), and a recent change in the method used by the United States to calculate its surface area.[32] It borders 14 nations (counted clockwise from south): Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan,[33] Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and North Korea.

The territory of the PRC contains a large variety of landscapes. In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains, while on the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, grasslands can be seen. Southern China is dominated by hill country and low mountain ranges. In the central-east are the deltas of China's two major rivers, the Huang He and Yangtze River (Chang Jiang). Other major rivers include the Xijiang River, Mekong, Brahmaputra and Amur.

To the west, major mountain ranges, notably the Himalayas with China's highest point Mount Everest, and high plateaus feature among the more arid landscapes such as the Taklamakan and the Gobi Desert.

A major issue is the continued expansion of deserts, particularly the Gobi Desert.[34] Although barrier tree lines planted since the 1970s have reduced the frequency of sandstorms, prolonged drought and poor agricultural practices result in dust storms plaguing northern China each spring, which then spread to other parts of East Asia, including Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Dust from the northern plains has been tracked to the West Coast of the United States. Water, erosion, and pollution control have become important issues in China's relations with other countries.

China has some relevant environmental regulations: the 1979 Environmental Protection Law, which was largely modelled on U.S. legislation. But the environment continues to deteriorate.[35] While the regulations are fairly stringent, the are frequently disregarded by local communities while seeking economic development. Twelve years after the law, only one Chinese city was making an effort to clean up its water discharges.[36] This indicates that China is about 20 years behind the U.S. schedule of environmental regulation and 20 to 30 years behind Europe.

Water pollution has increased as an issue along with industrial production. The Chinese government has chosen a discharge standard measuring the concentration of a pollutant rather than the total pollutant load (as is done in the USA and many western countries). As a result many industrial dischargers in China simply dilute the effluent with river water taken from the same source as the receiving waters. Consequently the outcome has been to create considerable water pollution in many of the country's rivers.

With regard to carbon emissions, China was exempted from the Kyoto Protocol, and since that treaty was signed, China has become one of the world's top emitters of carbon gases, adding to the threat of global warming.

See also: Environment of China
[edit]

Military

PLA recruit training. The PLA has been rapidly modernizing, but reducing the size of its military force.
PLA recruit training. The PLA has been rapidly modernizing, but reducing the size of its military force.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA), with its 2.25 million active troops, is currently the largest military in the world.[37] The PLA consists of an army, navy, air force, and strategic nuclear force. The official budget of the PLA for 2005 is $30 billion,[38] possibly excluding foreign weapons purchases, military research and development, and the People's Armed Police, a paramilitary force.

The PRC, despite possession of nuclear weapons and delivery systems, is widely seen by military researchers both within and outside of China as having only limited power projection capability, so it is not yet considered to be a true superpower, though it is widely regarded as a major regional power and an emerging superpower.[39] This is due to the limited effectiveness of its navy, which has no aircraft carriers.

Much progress has been made in the last decade and the PRC continues to make efforts to modernize its military. It has purchased state-of-the-art fighter jets from Russia, such as the Su-30s, and has also produced its own modern fighters, specifically the Chinese J-10s and the J-11s.[40] It has also acquired and improved upon the Russian S-300 Surface-to-Air missile systems, which are considered to be among the best aircraft-intercepting systems in the world.[41] The PRC's armoured and rapid-reaction forces have been updated with enhanced electronics and targeting capabilities. In recent years, much attention has been focused on building a navy with blue-water capability.[42]

[edit]

Economy

Beginning in late 1978, the Chinese leadership has been reforming the economy from a Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented economy that is still within a rigid political framework under Party control. The reforms replaced collectivization with privatization of farmlands, increased the responsibility of local authorities and industry managers, allowed a wide variety of small-scale enterprises to flourish, and promoted foreign investment. Price controls were also relaxed. These changes resulted in mainland China's shift from a planned economy to a mixed economy. China became a member of the World Trade Organization in 2001.[43] China’s accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO) represents a desirable outcome for the worldwide market. It is a milestone not only for China, but for the entire global economy, and it is a goal achieved after nearly fifteen years of exhausting negotiations carrying many legal, political and social implications for all parties. China was finally able to convince WTO members that without China, the WTO is only partially a worldwide trade organization. The road to the signature of the final agreement of accession was long, but these difficulties pale in comparison to the problems that have not yet been tackled in terms of achieving real implementation of its provisions throughout the territory of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). China’s accession surely presents the world trading system with opportunities, but also poses the challenge of integrating a market with strong structural, behavioural and cultural constraints. [44]

The government emphasizes personal income and consumption by introducing new management systems to help increase productivity. The government also focuses on foreign trade as a major vehicle for economic growth, which led to 5 Special Economic Zones (SEZ: Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, Xiamen, Hainan Province) where investment laws are relaxed so as to attract foreign capital. Since the 1990s, SEZs and similar concepts have been expanded to other major Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Beijing. The result has been a 6-fold increase of GDP since 1978. Chinese economic development is among the fastest in the world, and has been growing at an average annual GDP rate of 9.4% for the past 25 years.[45] At the end of 2005, the PRC became the fourth largest economy in the world by exchange rate, and the second largest in the world after the United States by purchasing power parity at US$8,158 trillion.[46] But with its large population this still gives an average GDP per person of only an estimated US$8,000 (2006), about 1/5th that of the United States.

Mainland China has a reputation as being a low-cost manufacturer, which caused notable disputes in global markets. This is largely because Chinese corporations can produce many products far more cheaply than other parts of Asia or Latin America, and because expensive products produced in developed countries like the United States are in large part uncompetitive compared to European or Asian goods. Another factor is the unfavorable exchange rate between the Chinese yuan and the United States dollar to which it was pegged.

On July 21, 2005 the People's Bank of China announced that it would move to a floating peg, allowing its currency to move against the United States dollar by 0.3% a day, while 3% a day against other currencies.[47] Many high-tech American companies have difficulty exporting to China due to US federal government restrictions, which exacerbated the trade gap between the PRC and the US, and perceived low quality of US goods. On the other hand, China runs a trade deficit with Taiwan and South Korea, importing more from those nations than exports. China runs a large but diminishing trade surplus with Japan. [4] (Slight deficit if Hong Kong is included). With the elimination of clothing quotas, China stands to take over a large chunk of the worldwide textile industry.[48][49]

Preferential tax incentives are also given as a direct fiscal incentive to manufacture in China, whether for export or for domestic sales. China is attempting to harmonize the system of taxes and duties it imposes on enterprises, domestic and foreign alike. As a result, preferential tax and duty policies that benefit exporters in special economic zones and coastal cities have been targeted for revision.

There is a large wealth disparity between the coastal regions and the remainder of the country. To counter this potentially destabilizing problem, the government has initiated the China Western Development strategy (2000), the Revitalize Northeast China initiative (2003), and the Rise of Central China policy (2004), which are all aimed at helping the interior of China to catch up.

There has been a significant rise in the Chinese standard of living in recent years. Today, a rapidly declining 10 percent of the Chinese population is below the poverty line. 98.9% of the youth population is literate, compared to 69.9% in the 1980s. The life expectancy in China is the third highest in East Asia, after Japan and South Korea. All of these statistics have been attributed partly to the Chinese economy, and toward the government, who has earned much praise in the 2000s. But though statistics say that 10 percent of the Chinese population is in poverty, this is only relevent to poverty in its own borders, not poverty as compared with other industialized countries. Were the poverty/standard of living measured on a scale similar to western industrialized countries, a much larger portion of the population would be classified as 'living in poverty'.

[edit]

Science and technology

The newly opened Shanghai Museum of Science and Technology. High-tech industries and R&D are becoming increasingly emphasized in the Chinese economy.
The newly opened Shanghai Museum of Science and Technology. High-tech industries and R&D are becoming increasingly emphasized in the Chinese economy.

After the Sino-Soviet split, China started to develop its own indigenous nuclear deterrent and delivery systems, successfully detonating its first surface nuclear test in 1964 at Lop Nor. A natural outgrowth of this was a satellite launching program, which culminated in 1970 with the launching of Dongfang Hong I, the first Chinese satellite. This made the PRC the fifth nation to independently launch a satellite. In 1992, the Shenzhou manned spaceflight program was authorized.[50] After four tests, Shenzhou 5 was launched on October 15, 2003, using a Long March 2F rocket and carrying Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei, making the PRC the third country to put a human being into space through its own endeavors.[51] With the successful completion of the second manned mission, Shenzhou 6 in October 2005, the country plans to build a Chinese Space Station in the near future and achieve a lunar landing in the next decade.[52]

China is the world's second biggest spender on research and development, and is expected to invest over $136 billion this year after growing more than 20% in the past year.[53] The Chinese government continues to place heavy emphasis on research and development by creating greater public awareness of innovation, and reforming financial and tax systems to promote growth in cutting-edge industries. President Hu Jintao in January 2006 called for China to make the transition from a manufacturing-based economy to an innovation-based one, and this year's National People's Congress has approved large increases in research funding. Stem-cell research and gene therapy, which some in the Western world see as controversial, face minimal regulation in China. China has an estimated 926,000 researchers, second in number only to the 1.3 million in the United States.[54]

China is also actively developing its software, semiconductor and energy industries, including renewable energies such as hydro, wind and solar power.[55] In an effort to reduce pollution from coal-burning power plants, China has been pioneering the deployment of pebble bed nuclear reactors, which run cooler and safer, and have potential applications for the hydrogen economy.[56]

The 863 Program is also part of China's science and technology focus. This program led to the development of the Godson computer processor.

[edit]

Transportation

G030 northbound in Hebei province. There are currently 45,000�km (28,000�mi) of expressways in China, half that of the US and the world's 2nd longest.
G030 northbound in Hebei province. There are currently 45,000 km (28,000 mi) of expressways in China, half that of the US and the world's 2nd longest.

Transportation in the mainland of the People's Republic of China has improved remarkably since the late 1990s as part of a government effort to link the entire nation through a series of expressways known as the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS).The total length of expressway is 45,000 km at the end of 2006, second only to the United States.

Private car ownership is increasing at an annual rate of 15%, though it is still uncommon due to government policies that make car ownership expensive, such as taxes and toll roads.[57]

Air travel has increased, but remains too expensive for most. Long distance transportation is still dominated by railways and charter bus systems. The railways are still the vital carrier in China, and until this year steam locomotives were still a common sight. It is thought that some are still in use, especially on industrial networks.

Cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are building subways or light rail systems. Hong Kong has one of the most developed transport systems in the world. Shanghai already has a Maglev system connecting downtown Shanghai to Pudong International Airport

[edit]

Demographics

Window cleaner on one of thousands of skyscrapers in Shanghai. Chinese society has been rapidly modernizing in the last two decades, spawning the largest urban migration within a generation in human history.
Window cleaner on one of thousands of skyscrapers in Shanghai. Chinese society has been rapidly modernizing in the last two decades, spawning the largest urban migration within a generation in human history.

As of July 2006, there are 1,313,973,713 people in the PRC. About 20.8% (male 145,461,833; female 128,445,739) are 14 years old or younger, 71.4% (male 482,439,115; female 455,960,489) are between 15 and 64 years old, and 7.7% (male 48,562,635; female 53,103,902) are over 65 years old. The population growth rate for 2006 is 0.59%.[58] The PRC officially recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups, the largest of which are Han Chinese, who constitute about 91.9% of the total population.[59] Large ethnic minorities include the Zhuang (16 million), Manchu (10 million), Hui (9 million), Miao (8 million), Uyghur (7 million), Yi (7 million), Tujia (5.75 million), Mongolians (5 million), Tibetans (5 million), Buyi (3 million), and Koreans (2 million).[60]

In the past decade, China's cities expanded at an average rate of 10% annually. The country's urbanization rate increased from 17.4% to 41.8% between 1978 and 2005, a scale unprecedented in human history.[61] Caught between urban and rural are the 80 to 120 million migrant workers who work part-time in the major cities of China and return home to the countryside periodically with their earnings.[62]

Today, the People's Republic of China has dozens of major cities with one million or more long-term residents, including the three global cities of Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Major cities in China play key roles in national and regional identity, culture and economics.

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Largest cities

The figures below are the 2001 estimates for the ten largest urban populations within administrative city limits; a different ranking exists when considering the total municipal populations (which includes suburban and rural populations). The large floating populations of migrant workers make conducting censuses in urban areas difficult;[63] the figures below do not include the floating population, only long-term residents.

Beijing
Hong Kong
Rank City urban area Type/location Population
(2001 est)[64]
millions
Density
(2001 est)[65]
per km²
Municipality limits
(2000 census)[66]
Region
millions density (/km²)
1 Shanghai municipality 9.838 34,700 16.74 2,640 East
2 Beijing municipality 7.441 29,800 13.82 822 North
3 Hong Kong SAR 6.112 76,200 7.01 6,294 South Central
4 Tianjin municipality 5.095 10,500 10.01 803 North
5 Wuhan Hubei province 4.489 12,950 8.31 947 South Central
6 Guangzhou Guangdong province 4.155 11,600 10.15 1,337 South Central
7 Shenyang Liaoning province 3.981 9,250 7.20 557 Northeast
8 Chongqing municipality 3.934 23,500 30.90 378 Southwest
9 Nanjing Jiangsu province 2.822 13,250 6.40 970 East
10 Harbin Heilongjiang province 2.672 11,350 9.35 174 Northeast

See also: List of cities in the People's Republic of China by population

[edit]

Education

A public school classroom in the western region of Xinjiang.
A public school classroom in the western region of Xinjiang.

In 1986, China set the long-term goal of providing compulsory nine-year basic education to every child. As of 1997, there were 628,840 primary schools, 78,642 secondary schools and 1,020 higher education institutions in the PRC.[67] In February 2006, the government advanced its basic education goal by pledging to provide completely free nine-year education, including textbooks and fees, in the poorer western provinces.[68] As of 2002, 90.9% (male: 95.1%; female: 86.5%) of the population over age 15 are literate.[58] China's youth (age 15 to 24) literacy rate is 98.9% (99.2% for males and 98.5% for females) in 2000.[69]

The quality of Chinese colleges and universities varies considerably across the country. The consistently top-ranked universities in mainland China include Tsinghua and Peking in Beijing, Fudan and Shanghai Jiaotong University in Shanghai, Nanjing University in Nanjing, the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Wuhan University in Wuhan,and Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.[70][71]

Many parents are highly committed to their children's education, often investing large portions of the family's income on education. Private lessons and recreational activities, such as in foreign languages or music, are popular among the middle-class families who can afford them.[72]

[edit]

Public health

The Ministry of Health, together with its counterparts in the provincial health bureaus, oversees the health needs of the Chinese population.[73] An emphasis on public health and preventative treatment characterized health policy since the early 1950s. At that time, the party started the Patriotic Health Campaign, which was aimed at improving sanitation and hygiene, as well as attacking several diseases. This has shown major results as diseases like cholera, typhoid, and scarlet fever were nearly eradicated.

With economic reform after 1978, the health of the Chinese public improved rapidly due to better nutrition despite the disappearance, along with the People's Communes, of much of the free public health services provided in the countryside. Health care in China became largely private fee-for-service. By 2000, when the World Health Organization made a large study of public health systems throughout the world, The World Health Report 2000 Health Systems: Improving Performance the Chinese public health system ranked 144 of the 191 UN member states ranked.

The country's life expectancy jumped from about 32 years in 1950 to almost 73 years in 2006,[74] and infant mortality went down from 300 per thousand in the 1950s to about 23 per thousand in 2006.[58][75] Malnutrition as of 2002 stood at 12 percent of the population according to United Nations FAO sources [5].

Despite significant improvements in health and the introduction of western style medical facilities, the PRC currently has several emerging public health problems, which include respiratory problems as a result of pollution and millions of cigarette smokers,[76] a possible future HIV-AIDS epidemic, and an increase in obesity among urban youths.[77][78] China's large population and close living quarters has led to some serious disease outbreaks in recent years, such as the 2002 outbreak of SARS (a pneumonia-like disease) which has since been largely contained.[79]

[edit]

Culture

A Cold Fairyland concert performance. The band combines traditional Chinese instruments and musical elements with rock music.
A Cold Fairyland concert performance. The band combines traditional Chinese instruments and musical elements with rock music.

For centuries, opportunity for economic and social advancement in China could be provided by high performance on imperial examinations. The literary emphasis of the exams affected the general perception of cultural refinement in China, such as the view that calligraphy and literati painting were higher forms of art than dancing or drama. China's traditional values were derived from various versions of Confucianism and conservatism. A number of more authoritarian strains of thought have also been influential, such as Legalism. There was often conflict between the philosophies, such as the individualistic Song Dynasty neo-Confucians, who believed Legalism departed from the original spirit of Confucianism. Examinations and a culture of merit remain greatly valued in China today. In recent years, a number of New Confucians have advocated that democratic ideals and human rights are quite compatible with traditional Confucian "Asian values".[80]

The first leaders of the People's Republic of China were born in the old society but were influenced by the May Fourth Movement and reformist ideals. They sought to change some traditional aspects of Chinese culture, such as rural land tenure, sexism, and a Confucian education, while preserving others, such as the family structure and obedience to the state. Many observers believe that the period following 1949 is a continuation of traditional Chinese dynastic history, while others say that the CPC's rule has damaged the foundations of Chinese culture, especially through political movements such as the Cultural Revolution, where many aspects of traditional culture were labeled 'regressive and harmful' or 'vestiges of feudalism' by the regime. They further argue that many important aspects of traditional Chinese morals and culture, such as Confucianism, Chinese art, literature, and performing arts like Beijing opera, were altered to conform to government policies and communist propaganda. The institution of the Simplified Chinese orthography reform is controversial as well.

Today, the PRC government has accepted much of traditional Chinese culture as an integral part of Chinese society, lauding it as an important achievement of the Chinese civilization and emphasizing it as vital to a Chinese national identity. Modern Chinese art, literature, music, film, fashion and architecture have become increasingly ready to incorporate various degrees of traditional Chinese culture into their works.

[edit]

Religion

The majority of Chinese officially identify themselves as non-religious, which constitute about 59% of the population, or about 767 million people.[81] However, religion and rituals play a significant part in the lives of many, especially the traditional beliefs of Confucianism and Taoism. About 33% of the population follow a mixture of beliefs usually referred to by statisticians as "Traditional Beliefs" or just "Other".

About 6% of the Chinese population are avowed Buddhists, with Mahayana Buddhism (大乘) and its subsets Pure Land (净土宗) and Zen (禅宗) being the most widely practiced. With an estimated 100 million adherents, Buddhism is the country's largest organized religion. Other forms of Buddhism, such as Theravada Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism, are practiced largely by ethnic minorities along the geographic fringes of the Chinese mainland.[82] Official figures indicate that there are currently about 20 million Muslims (mostly Hui), more than 15 million Protestants, and 5 million Catholics in the country.[83]

Falun Gong, developed in the 1990s, has attracted great controversy after the Chinese government labeled it a malicious cult and attempted to eradicate it. The Falun Gong itself denies that it is a cult or a religion, but rather a "spiritual practice." Falun Gong claims approximately 70-100 million followers, a number which is rejected by foreign independent groups and the Chinese government, though exact numbers are unknown.

[edit]

Sports and recreation

China has one of the oldest sporting cultures in the world, spanning the course of several millennia. There is, in fact, evidence that a form of football was first played in China around 1000 AD, leading many historians to believe that the popular sport originated from China.[84] Besides soccer, some of the most popular sports in the country include martial arts, table tennis, badminton, basketball, rugby, and more recently, golf. Board games such as Chess, Go (Weiqi), and Xiangqi (Chinese chess) are also commonly played and have organised competitions.

Physical fitness is widely emphasized in Chinese culture. Morning exercises are a common activity and often one can find the elderly practicing qigong in parks or students doing stretches on school campuses. Young people are especially keen on basketball, especially in urban centres with limited space and grass areas. The NBA has a huge following among Chinese youths, with Yao Ming being the idol of many. The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, will be held in Beijing, China.

Many traditional sports are also played. The popular Chinese dragon boat racing (龙舟) occurs during the Duan Wu festival. In Inner Mongolia, sports such as Mongolian-style wrestling and horse racing are popular. In Tibet, archery and equestrian sports are a part of traditional festivals.[85]

[edit]

See also

[edit]

Notes and references

Overviews
Documentaries

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  2. China Passes U.S. In Trade With Japan
  3. Trade Policy Outlook for Second-term Bush Administration
  4. China - Taiwan Economic Ties
  5. Beijing's Growing Politico-Economic Leverage Over Ulaanbaatar
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  7. [1] China’s Building Boom. Retrieved December 2, 2006.
  8. [2] An Energy Summary of China. Retrieved December 2, 2006.
  9. THE CHINESE PEOPLE HAVE STOOD UP!. UCLA Center for East Asian Studies. Retrieved April 16, 2006.
  10. Zwaan, Herman de. "I4": Oneliners and proverbs It-Jz. Retrieved April 16, 2006.
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  12. China's Average Economic Growth in 90s Ranked 1st in World (March 1, 2000). People's Daily Online.
  13. "China worried over pace of growth". BBC. Accessed 16 April, 2006.
  14. Boum, Aomar (1999). Journal of Political Ecology: Case Studies in History and Society. Retrieved April 18, 2006.
  15. China's Capitalist Revolutions (Winter 1997). Proletarian Revolution.
  16. [3]
  17. "Does China’s Land-Tenure System Discourage Structural Adjustment?" by Bryan Lohmar and Agapi Somwaru. 1 May 2006. USDA Economic Research Service. URL accessed 3 May 2006.
  18. China sounds alarm over fast-growing gap between rich and poor. Retrieved April 16, 2006.
  19. [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/en/doc/2003-12/08/content_288018.htm
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  21. Eddy Chang (Aug 22, 2004). Perseverance will pay off at the UN The Taipei Times.
  22. Dillon, Dana and John Tkacik Jr, "China’s Quest for Asia", Policy Review, December 2005 and January 2006, Issue No. 134. Accessed 22 April 2006.
  23. Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation (March 21, 2006). Retrieved April 16, 2006.
  24. China Constitution. 16 March 2004. Accessed 28 April 2006.
  25. 25.0 25.1 China Human Rights Fact Sheet (March 1995). Retrieved April 16, 2006.
  26. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0405-07.htm 5 April 2005. Accessed 23 June 2006. The Independent/UK article, republished.
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  28. http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=554
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  30. The PRC considers Táiwān (台湾) to be its twenty-third province.
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  32. "Rank Order - Area" (March 29, 2006). CIA World Factbook.
  33. China's border with Pakistan falls in the disputed Kashmir province. The area under Pakistani-administration is claimed by India.
  34. "Beijing hit by eighth sandstorm". BBC news. Accessed 17 April, 2006.
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  36. Sinkule, Barbara J., Implementing Environmental Policy in China, Praeger Publishers, 1995, ISBN 0-275-94980-X
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  38. Ang, Khen. China Defends Military Budget. VOA Khmer. Retrieved April 15, 2006.
  39. Nolt, James H. ANALYSIS: The China-Taiwan military balance. Asia Times. Retrieved April 15, 2006.
  40. SinoDefence: Fighter Aircraft. Accessed 15 April, 2006
  41. SinoDefence: Surface-to-air Missile System (2006). Accessed 15 April, 2006.
  42. SinoDefence: Aircraft carrier programme (2006). Accessed 15 April, 2006
  43. Five Years of China’s WTO Membership. EU and US Perspectives on China’s Compliance with Transparency Commitments and the Transitional Review Mechanism, Legal Issues of Economic Integration, Kluwer Law International, Volume 33, Number 3, pp. 263-304, 2006. by Paolo Farah
  44. Ibid
  45. Malik, Khalid (December 16, 2005). "Launch of the China Human Development Report 2005".
  46. CIA Factbook
  47. China widens yuan, non-dollar trading range to 3% (September 23, 2005). Retrieved April 15, 2006.
  48. The New York Times.
  49. The New York Times.
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  51. Wade, Mark. Shenzhou (6 January 2006). Retrieved April 16, 2006.
  52. Wade, Mark. (30 March 2005)Project 921-2. Retrieved April 16, 2006.
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  54. OECD: China to spend $136 billion on R&D BusinessWeek. Retrieved 3 December 2006.
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  56. "China leading world in next generation of nuclear plants"Robert J. Saiget. DAGA. 5 October 2004. Accessed 16 April 2006.
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  58. 58.0 58.1 58.2 CIA World Factbook. 20 April 2006. URL accessed 3 May 2006.
  59. CIA factbook (29 March 2006). Retrieved April 16, 2006.
  60. Stein, Justin J (Spring 2003). Taking the Deliberative in China. Retrieved April 16, 2006.
  61. Zhou Qun, Lin Yanhua. China's urbanization encounters "urban disease", Chinanews.cn (中国新闻网), November 11, 2005. Accessed 21 April 2005.
  62. China 2004 Migrant Workers, CBC Radio One, December 2004. Accessed: 21 April 2006
  63. Francesco Sisci, "China's floating population a headache for census", The Straits Times, 22 September 2000.
  64. City Population, compiled by Thomas Brinkhoff, data from official PRC estimates for 2001. Retrieved: 20 April 2006.
  65. Demographia World Urban Areas, data from PRC estimates for 2001. Retrieved 21 April 2006.
  66. Tabulation on the 2000 population census of the People's Republic of China, compiled by the Population Census Office under the PRC State Council & Department of Population, Social, Science and Technology Statistics, Beijing: China National Bureau of Statistics Press, 2002. All data in column obtained from this reference except for Hong Kong, which uses the 2005 estimate from United Nations DESA.
  67. Education (2002). Orasia co.,ltd.
  68. China pledges free 9-year education in rural west (February 21, 2006). China Economic Net.
  69. Where And Who Are The World’s Illiterates: China
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  71. All-around Ranking (2003). Retrieved April 17, 2006.
  72. "China's graft: Tough talk, old message" by Mary Hennock. 27 September 2004. BBC News. Accessed 2 May 2006.
  73. China Ministry of Health (MOH). 2003. China Aids Survey. Accessed 18 April 2006.
  74. "Incentives, Ideology, or Other Initiatives?- Why China’s Health Reforms Falter" by Tana Johnson. 18 April 2006. University of Chicago's East Asia Workshop. URL accessed 3 May 2006.
  75. China’s Infant Mortality Rate Down. 11 September 2001. CHINA.ORG.CN. URL accessed 3 May 2006.
  76. "Smoking 'will kill one third of young Chinese men'". 16 August 2001. Honolulu Community College. Accessed 17 April 2006.
  77. "Serving the people?". 1999. Bruce Kennedy. CNN. Accessed 17 April 2006.
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  79. "China’s latest SARS outbreak has been contained, but biosafety concerns remain". 18 May 2004. World Health Organization. Accessed 17 April 2006.
  80. Bary, Theodore de. "Constructive Engagement with Asian Values". Columbia University.
  81. World Desk Reference. D K Publishing. ISBN 0-7566-1099-0
  82. Macintosh, R. Scott. China's prosperity inspires rising spirituality (March 09, 2006). Retrieved April 15, 2006.
  83. "China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)". 2004. International Religious Freedom Report 2004 - U.S. Department of State. URL accessed 30 May 2006.
  84. Origins of the Great Game. 2000. Athleticscholarships.net. Accessed 23 April 2006.
  85. Qinfa, Ye. Sports History of China. About.com. Retrieved April 21, 2006.
[edit]

Further reading

[edit]

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