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History The Chinese language


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Legend: Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    China

For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, his successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight.
   Geography    China

Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam
Geographic coordinates:

35 00 N, 105 00 E
Map references:

total: 9,596,960 sq km
land: 9,326,410 sq km
water: 270,550 sq km
Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than the US
Land boundaries:

total: 22,117 km
border countries: Afghanistan 76 km, Bhutan 470 km, Burma 2,185 km, India 3,380 km, Kazakhstan 1,533 km, North Korea 1,416 km, Kyrgyzstan 858 km, Laos 423 km, Mongolia 4,677 km, Nepal 1,236 km, Pakistan 523 km, Russia (northeast) 3,605 km, Russia (northwest) 40 km, Tajikistan 414 km, Vietnam 1,281 km
regional borders: Hong Kong 30 km, Macau 0.34 km

14,500 km
Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north

mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east
Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Turpan Pendi -154 m
highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m
Natural resources:

coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest)
Land use:

arable land: 15.4%
permanent crops: 1.25%
other: 83.36% (2001)
Irrigated land:

525,800 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:

frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts; land subsidence
Environment - current issues:

air pollution (greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide particulates) from reliance on coal produces acid rain; water shortages, particularly in the north; water pollution from untreated wastes; deforestation; estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1949 to soil erosion and economic development; desertification; trade in endangered species
Environment - international agreements:

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:

world's fourth largest country (after Russia, Canada, and US); Mount Everest on the border with Nepal is the world's tallest peak;
   People    China
  Rank Order
1,298,847,624 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:

0-14 years: 22.3% (male 153,401,051; female 135,812,993)
15-64 years: 70.3% (male 469,328,664; female 443,248,860)
65 years and over: 7.5% (male 46,308,923; female 50,747,133) (2004 est.)
Median age:

total: 31.8 years
male: 31.5 years
female: 32.2 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:

0.57% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
  Rank Order
12.98 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
  Rank Order
6.92 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:

-0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
  Rank Order
total: 25.28 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 21.84 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 29.14 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
  Rank Order
total population: 71.96 years
male: 70.4 years
female: 73.72 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
  Rank Order
1.69 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
  Rank Order
0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
  Rank Order
840,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
  Rank Order
44,000 (2003 est.)

noun: Chinese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese
Ethnic groups:

Han Chinese 91.9%, Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%

Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Muslim 1%-2%, Christian 3%-4%
note: officially atheist (2002 est.)

Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.9%
male: 95.1%
female: 86.5% (2002)
   Government    China
Country name:

conventional long form: People's Republic of China
conventional short form: China
local long form: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo
local short form: Zhong Guo
abbreviation: PRC
Government type:

Communist state
Administrative divisions:
23 provinces (sheng, singular and plural), 5 autonomous regions (zizhiqu, singular and plural), and 4 municipalities (shi, singular and plural)
: provinces: Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang
: autonomous regions: Guangxi, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Xizang (Tibet)
: municipalities: Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Tianjin
note: China considers Taiwan its 23rd province; see separate entries for the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau

221 BC (unification under the Qin or Ch'in Dynasty); 1 January 1912 (Manchu Dynasty replaced by a Republic); 1 October 1949 (People's Republic established)
National holiday:

Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China, 1 October (1949)

most recent promulgation 4 December 1982
Legal system:

a complex amalgam of custom and statute, largely criminal law; rudimentary civil code in effect since 1 January 1987; new legal codes in effect since 1 January 1980; continuing efforts are being made to improve civil, administrative, criminal, and commercial law

18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:

chief of state: President HU Jintao (since 15 March 2003) and Vice President ZENG Qinghong (since 15 March 2003)
head of government: Premier WEN Jiabao (since 16 March 2003); Vice Premiers HUANG Ju (since 17 March 2003), WU Yi (17 March 2003), ZENG Peiyan (since 17 March 2003), and HUI Liangyu (since 17 March 2003)
cabinet: State Council appointed by the National People's Congress (NPC)
elections: president and vice president elected by the National People's Congress for five-year terms; elections last held 15-17 March 2003 (next to be held mid-March 2008); premier nominated by the president, confirmed by the National People's Congress
election results: HU Jintao elected president by the Tenth National People's Congress with a total of 2,937 votes (4 delegates voted against him, 4 abstained, and 38 did not vote); ZENG Qinghong elected vice president by the Tenth National People's Congress with a total of 2,578 votes (177 delegates voted against him, 190 abstained, and 38 did not vote); 2 seats were vacant
Legislative branch:

unicameral National People's Congress or Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui (2,985 seats; members elected by municipal, regional, and provincial people's congresses to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held December 2002-February 2003 (next to be held late 2007-February 2008)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - NA
Judicial branch:

Supreme People's Court (judges appointed by the National People's Congress); Local Peoples Courts (comprise higher, intermediate and local courts); Special Peoples Courts (primarily military, maritime, and railway transport courts)
Political parties and leaders:

Chinese Communist Party or CCP [HU Jintao, General Secretary of the Central Committee]; eight registered small parties controlled by CCP
Political pressure groups and leaders:

no substantial political opposition groups exist, although the government has identified the Falungong spiritual movement and the China Democracy Party as subversive groups
International organization participation:

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador YANG Jiechi
chancery: 2300 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 328-2500
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2582
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Clark T. RANDT, Jr.
embassy: Xiu Shui Bei Jie 3, 100600 Beijing
mailing address: PSC 461, Box 50, FPO AP 96521-0002
telephone: [86] (10) 6532-3831
FAX: [86] (10) 6532-6929
consulate(s) general: Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenyang
Flag description:

red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner
   Economy    China
Economy - overview:

In late 1978 the Chinese leadership began moving the economy from a sluggish, inefficient, Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented system. Whereas the system operates within a political framework of strict Communist control, the economic influence of non-state organizations and individual citizens has been steadily increasing. The authorities switched to a system of household and village responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprises in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment. The result has been a quadrupling of GDP since 1978. Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis, China in 2003 stood as the second-largest economy in the world after the US, although in per capita terms the country is still poor. Agriculture and industry have posted major gains especially in coastal areas near Hong Kong, opposite Taiwan, and in Shanghai, where foreign investment has helped spur output of both domestic and export goods. The leadership, however, often has experienced - as a result of its hybrid system - the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy and lassitude) and of capitalism (growing income disparities and rising unemployment). China thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. The government has struggled to (a) sustain adequate jobs growth for tens of millions of workers laid off from state-owned enterprises, migrants, and new entrants to the work force; (b) reduce corruption and other economic crimes; and (c) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises, many of which had been shielded from competition by subsidies and had been losing the ability to pay full wages and pensions. From 80 to 120 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time, low-paying jobs. Popular resistance, changes in central policy, and loss of authority by rural cadres have weakened China's population control program, which is essential to maintaining long-term growth in living standards. Another long-term threat to growth is the deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table especially in the north. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. Beijing says it will intensify efforts to stimulate growth through spending on infrastructure - such as water supply and power grids - and poverty relief and through rural tax reform. Accession to the World Trade Organization helps strengthen its ability to maintain strong growth rates but at the same time puts additional pressure on the hybrid system of strong political controls and growing market influences. China has benefited from a huge expansion in computer internet use. Foreign investment remains a strong element in China's remarkable economic growth. Growing shortages of electric power and raw materials will hold back the expansion of industrial output in 2004.
  Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $6.449 trillion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
  Rank Order
9.1% (official data) (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
  Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $5,000 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 14.8%
industry and construction: 52.9%
services: 32.3% (2003)
Investment (gross fixed):
  Rank Order
43.4% of GDP (2003)
Population below poverty line:
10% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.4%
highest 10%: 30.4% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:

40 (2001)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
  Rank Order
1.2% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
  Rank Order
778.1 million (2003 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture 50%, industry 22%, services 28% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
  Rank Order
10.1% urban unemployment roughly 10%; substantial unemployment and underemployment in rural areas (2003 est.)
revenues: $265.8 billion
expenditures: $300.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2003)
Public debt:
  Rank Order
30.1% of GDP (2003)
Agriculture - products:
rice, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed, pork, fish
iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, textiles and apparel, petroleum, cement, chemical fertilizers, footwear, toys, food processing, automobiles, consumer electronics, telecommunications
Industrial production growth rate:
  Rank Order
30.4% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production:
  Rank Order
1.42 trillion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
  Rank Order
1.312 trillion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
10.3 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
1.8 billion kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
  Rank Order
3.3 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
  Rank Order
4.57 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
  Rank Order
151,200 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
  Rank Order
1.207 million bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
  Rank Order
26.75 billion bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
  Rank Order
30.3 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
  Rank Order
27.4 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
  Rank Order
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
  Rank Order
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
  Rank Order
1.29 trillion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance:
  Rank Order
$31.17 billion (2003)
  Rank Order
$436.1 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, textiles and clothing, footwear, toys and sporting goods, mineral fuels
Exports - partners:

US 21.1%, Hong Kong 17.4%, Japan 13.6%, South Korea 4.6%, Germany 4% (2003)
  Rank Order
$397.4 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, plastics, iron and steel, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Japan 18%, Taiwan 11.9%, South Korea 10.4%, US 8.2%, Germany 5.9% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold:
  Rank Order
$412.7 billion (2003)
Debt - external:
  Rank Order
$197.8 billion (2003 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:


yuan (CNY)
note:: also referred to as the Renminbi (RMB)
Currency code:

Exchange rates:

yuan per US dollar - 8.277 (2003), 8.277 (2002), 8.2771 (2001), 8.2785 (2000), 8.2783 (1999)
Fiscal year:

calendar year
   Communications    China
Telephones - main lines in use:
  Rank Order
263 million (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
  Rank Order
269 million (2003)
Telephone system:
general assessment: domestic and international services are increasingly available for private use; unevenly distributed domestic system serves principal cities, industrial centers, and many towns
domestic: interprovincial fiber-optic trunk lines and cellular telephone systems have been installed; a domestic satellite system with 55 earth stations is in place
international: country code - 86; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific and Indian Ocean regions); several international fiber-optic links to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Russia, and Germany (2000)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 369, FM 259, shortwave 45 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
3,240 (of which 209 are operated by China Central Television, 31 are provincial TV stations and nearly 3,000 are local city stations) (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
  Rank Order
160,421 (2003)
Internet users:
  Rank Order
94 million (2004)
   Transportation    China
  Rank Order
total: 70,058 km
standard gauge: 68,000 km 1.435-m gauge (18,668 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 3,600 km 1.000-m and 0.750-m gauge local industrial lines
dual gauge: 22,640 km (not included in total) (2003)
  Rank Order
total: 1,402,698 km
paved: 314,204 km (with at least 16,314 km of expressways)
unpaved: 1,088,494 km (2000)

121,557 km (2002)

gas 15,890 km; oil 14,478 km; refined products 3,280 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:

Dalian, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Huangpu, Lianyungang, Nanjing, Nantong, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shantou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wenzhou, Xiamen, Xingang, Yantai, Zhanjiang (2001)
Merchant marine:

total: 1,850 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 18,724,653 GRT/27,749,784 DWT
by type: barge carrier 2, bulk 355, cargo 822, chemical tanker 28, combination bulk 10, combination ore/oil 2, container 165, liquefied gas 28, multi-functional large load carrier 8, passenger 6, passenger/cargo 46, petroleum tanker 272, rail car carrier 1, refrigerated cargo 27, roll on/roll off 25, short-sea/passenger 39, specialized tanker 10, vehicle carrier 4
foreign-owned: Cambodia 1, Greece 2, Hong Kong 12, Japan 1, South Korea 2, Liberia 1, Malaysia 1, Panama 1, Taiwan 2, Tanzania 1
registered in other countries: 790 (2004 est.)

507 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:

total: 332
over 3,047 m: 49
2,438 to 3,047 m: 97
1,524 to 2,437 m: 129
914 to 1,523 m: 22
under 914 m: 35 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 175
over 3,047 m: 23
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 36
914 to 1,523 m: 40
under 914 m: 66 (2003 est.)

15 (2003 est.)
   Military    China
Military branches:

People's Liberation Army (PLA): comprises ground forces, Navy (including naval infantry and naval aviation), Air Force, and II Artillery Corps (strategic missile force), People's Armed Police Force (internal security troops, nominally a state security body but included by the Chinese as part of the "armed forces" and considered to be an adjunct to the PLA), militia
Military manpower - military age and obligation:

18 years of age for compulsory military service, with 24-month service obligation; no minimum age for voluntary service; 17 years of age for women who meet requirements for specific military jobs (2004)
Military manpower - availability:

males age 15-49: 379,524,688 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:

males age 15-49: 208,143,352 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:

males: 12,494,201 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
  Rank Order
$60 billion (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
  Rank Order
3.5-5.0% (FY03 est.)
   Transnational Issues    China
Disputes - international:

involved in complex dispute with Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding "code of conduct" desired by several of the disputants; most of the rugged, militarized boundary with India is in dispute, but the two sides are committed to begin resolution with discussions on the least disputed Middle Sector; Kashmir remains the world's largest and highly militarized territorial dispute with portions under the de facto administration of China (Aksai Chin), India (Jammu and Kashmir), and Pakistan (Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas), but recent discussion and confidence-building measures among parties are beginning to defuse tensions, India does not recognize Pakistan's ceding lands to China in a 1964 boundary agreement; China and Taiwan continue to assert their claims to the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Tai) with increased media coverage and protest actions; certain islands in Yalu and Tumen rivers are in an uncontested dispute with North Korea and a section of boundary around Mount Paektu is indefinite - China has been attempting to manage illegal migration of North Koreans into northern China; China and Russia in 2004 resolved their last border dispute over islands in the Amur and Argun Rivers, but details on demarcation have not yet been worked-out; boundary delimitation agreements signed in 2002 with Tajikistan cedes 1,000 sq km of Pamir Mountain range to China in return for China's relinquishing claims to 28,000 sq km, but demarcation has not commenced; agreements with Vietnam demarcating maritime boundaries and fisheries cooperation in the Gulf of Tonkin were ratified in June, and demarcation of the land boundary continues; China occupies some of the Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; in response to groups in Burma and Thailand expressing concern over China's plans to construct 13 hydroelectric dams on the Nu River in Yunnan Province (Salween River in Burma), Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao suspended the project to conduct an environmental impact assessment, a smaller scale version of only 4 dams is now scheduled to move forward
Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 299,287 (Vietnam) (2004)
Illicit drugs:

major transshipment point for heroin produced in the Golden Triangle; growing domestic drug abuse problem; source country for chemical precursors and methamphetamine

This page was last updated on 10 February, 2005


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