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People's Republic of China

People's Republic of China

Overview
China officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is the most populous country
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres (3.7 million square miles). It is the world's second-largest country by land area, and the third- or fourth-largest in total area, depending on the definition of total area.

The People's Republic of China is a single-party state
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

 governed by the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 (CPC).
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Timeline

781 BC   The first historic solar eclipse is recorded in China.

202 BC   coronation ceremony of Liu Bang as Emperor Gaozu of Han takes place, initiating four centuries of the Han Dynasty's rule over China

141 BC   Liu Che, posthumously known as Emperor Wu of Han, assumes the throne over the Han Dynasty of China.

221   Liu Bei, a Chinese warlord and member of the Han royal house, declares himself emperor of Shu-Han and claims his legitimate succession to the Han Dynasty.

607   Ono no Imoko is dispatched as envoy to the Sui court in China (Traditional Japanese date: July 3, 607).

618   Li Yuan becomes Emperor Gaozu of Tang, initiating three centuries of Tang Dynasty rule over China.

626   Li Shimin, posthumously known as Emperor Taizong of Tang, assumes the throne over the Tang Dynasty of China.

631   Emperor Taizong of Tang, the Emperor of China, sends envoys to the Xueyantuo bearing gold and silk in order to seek the release of enslaved Chinese prisoners captured during the transition from Sui to Tang from the northern frontier; this embassy succeeded in freeing 80,000 Chinese men and women who were then returned to China.

706   In China, Emperor Zhongzong of Tang inters the bodies of relatives in the Qianling Mausoleum, located on Mount Liang outside Chang'an.

755   An Lushan revolts against Chancellor Yang Guozhong at Fanyang, initiating the An Shi Rebellion during the Tang Dynasty of China.

960   The coronation of Zhao Kuangyin as Emperor Taizu of Song, initiating the Song Dynasty period of China that would last more than three centuries.

971   In China, the war elephant corps of the Southern Han are soundly defeated at Shao by crossbow fire from Song Dynasty troops.

1126   Emperor Huizong abdicates the Chinese throne in favour of his son Emperor Qinzong.

 
Encyclopedia
China officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is the most populous country
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres (3.7 million square miles). It is the world's second-largest country by land area, and the third- or fourth-largest in total area, depending on the definition of total area.

The People's Republic of China is a single-party state
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

 governed by the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 (CPC). The PRC exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four directly controlled municipalities (Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, Tianjin
Tianjin
' is a metropolis in northern China and one of the five national central cities of the People's Republic of China. It is governed as a direct-controlled municipality, one of four such designations, and is, thus, under direct administration of the central government...

, Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, and Chongqing
Chongqing
Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...

), and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (SARs), Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 and Macau
Macau
Macau , also spelled Macao , is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China...

. Its capital city is Beijing. The PRC also claims the island of Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, controlled by the government of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 (ROC), as its 23rd province, a claim controversial due to the complex political status of Taiwan
Political status of Taiwan
The controversy regarding the political status of Taiwan hinges on whether Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu should remain effectively independent as territory of the Republic of China , become unified with the territories now governed by the People's Republic of China , or formally declare...

 and the unresolved Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

.

China’s landscape is vast and diverse, with forest steppes
Mongolian-Manchurian grassland
The Mongolian-Manchurian grassland ecoregion, also known as the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe, in the temperate grassland Biome, is found in Mongolia, the Chinese Autonomous region of Inner Mongolia and northeastern China.-Setting:...

 and the Gobi
Gobi Desert
The Gobi is a large desert region in Asia. It covers parts of northern and northwestern China, and of southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Hexi Corridor and Tibetan Plateau to the...

 and Taklamakan deserts occupying the arid north and northwest near Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 and Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, and subtropical forests being prevalent in the wetter south near Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. The terrain of western China is rugged and elevated, with the towering Himalaya, Karakorum
Karakorum
Karakorum was the capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, and of the Northern Yuan in the 14-15th century. Its ruins lie in the northwestern corner of the Övörkhangai Province of Mongolia, near today's town of Kharkhorin, and adjacent to the Erdene Zuu monastery...

, Pamir
Pamir Mountains
The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range in Central Asia formed by the junction or knot of the Himalayas, Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains and since Victorian times they have been known as the "Roof of the World" a probable...

 and Tian Shan
Tian Shan
The Tian Shan , also spelled Tien Shan, is a large mountain system located in Central Asia. The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Victory Peak , ....

 mountain separating China from South
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 and Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. The world’s apex, Mt. Everest (8,848 m), and second-highest point, K2
K2
K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth, after Mount Everest...

 (8,611 m), lie on China's borders, respectively, with Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. The country’s lowest and the world’s third-lowest point, Lake Ayding (-154 m), is located in the Turpan Depression. The Yangtze
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 and Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

s, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, have their sources in the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 and continue to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China’s coastline along the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 is 14500 kilometres (9,009.9 mi) long (the 11th-longest in the world), and is bounded by the Bohai
Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of Northeastern and North China. It is approximately 78,000 km2 Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of...

, Yellow
Yellow Sea
The Yellow Sea is the name given to the northern part of the East China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its name comes from the sand particles from Gobi Desert sand storms that turn the surface of the water golden...

, East
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

 and South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

s.

The ancient Chinese civilization—one of the world's earliest—flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 in the North China Plain
North China Plain
The North China Plain is based on the deposits of the Yellow River and is the largest alluvial plain of eastern Asia. The plain is bordered on the north by the Yanshan Mountains and on the west by the Taihang Mountains edge of the Shanxi plateau. To the south, it merges into the Yangtze Plain...

. China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, known as dynasties
Dynasties in Chinese history
The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they...

, beginning with the semi-mythological Xia
Xia Dynasty
The Xia Dynasty is the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles such as Bamboo Annals, Classic of History and Records of the Grand Historian. The Xia Dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great after Shun, the last of the Five Emperors gave his throne to him...

 of the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 basin (approx. 2000 BC) and ending with the fall of the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 in 1912. Since 221 BC, when the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the country has fractured and been reformed numerous times. The Republic of China (ROC), founded in 1912 after the overthrow of the Qing, ruled the Chinese mainland
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

 until 1949. In the 1946–1949 phase of the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

, the Chinese Communists defeated the Chinese Nationalists (Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

) on the mainland and established the People's Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949. The Kuomintang relocated the ROC government to Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 with its capital in Taipei
Taipei
Taipei City is the capital of the Republic of China and the central city of the largest metropolitan area of Taiwan. Situated at the northern tip of the island, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River, and is about 25 km southwest of Keelung, its port on the Pacific Ocean...

. The ROC's jurisdiction is now limited to Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen
Kinmen
Kinmen , also known as Quemoy , is a small archipelago of several islands administered by the Republic of China : Greater Kinmen, Lesser Kinmen, and some islets. Administratively, it is Kinmen County of Fujian Province, ROC. The county is claimed by the People's Republic of China as part of its...

, Matsu
Matsu Islands
The Matsu Islands are a minor archipelago of 19 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait administered as Lienchiang County , Fujian Province of the Republic of China . Only a small area of what is historically Lienchiang County is under the control of the ROC...

 and several outlying islands. Since then, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (subsequently became known as "Taiwan") have remained in dispute over the sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 of China and the political status of Taiwan
Political status of Taiwan
The controversy regarding the political status of Taiwan hinges on whether Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu should remain effectively independent as territory of the Republic of China , become unified with the territories now governed by the People's Republic of China , or formally declare...

, mutually claiming each other's territory and competing for international diplomatic recognition
Diplomatic recognition
Diplomatic recognition in international law is a unilateral political act with domestic and international legal consequences, whereby a state acknowledges an act or status of another state or government in control of a state...

. In 1971, the PRC gained admission to United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and took the Chinese seat
China and the United Nations
China's seat in the United Nations and membership of the United Nations Security Council was originally occupied by the Republic of China since October 24, 1945. During the Chinese Civil War, the Communist Party of China repelled the government of the ROC from Mainland China to the island of...

 as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

. The PRC is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS
BRICS
BRICS is an international political organisation of leading emerging economies, arising out of the inclusion of South Africa into the BRIC group in 2010. As of 2011, its five members are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa...

, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the G-20. As of September 2011, all but 23 countries
Foreign relations of the Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan, is recognized by sovereign states. The course of the foreign relations of the ROC is dominated by maintaining diplomatic relations with these countries, as well as unofficial relations with other countries via its de facto embassies and...

 have recognized the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China
One-China policy
The One-China policy refers to the policy or view that there is only one state called "China", despite the existence of two governments that claim to be "China"....

.

Since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1978
Chinese economic reform
The Chinese economic reform refers to the program of economic reforms called "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" in the People's Republic of China that were started in December 1978 by reformists within the Communist Party of China led by Deng Xiaoping.China had one of the world's largest...

, China has become the world's fastest-growing major economy, and the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. It is the world's second-largest economy, after the United States, by both nominal GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP). On per capita terms, however, China ranked only 90th by nominal GDP and 91st by GDP (PPP) in 2011, according to the IMF. China is a recognized
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

 nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, with the second-largest defense budget. In 2003, China became the third nation in the world, after the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the United States, to independently launch a successful manned space mission
Chinese space program
The space program of the People's Republic of China is directed by the China National Space Administration . Its technological roots can be traced back to the late 1950s, when the People's Republic began a rudimentary ballistic missile program in response to perceived American threats...

. China has been characterized as a potential superpower
Potential superpowers
A potential superpower is a state or a political and economic entity that is speculated to be, or to be in the process of becoming, a superpower at some point in the 21st century. Previously, it was considered by many sources that only the United States fulfilled the criteria to be considered a...

 by a number of academics, military analysts, and public policy and economics analysts.

Etymology


The word "China" is derived from Cin (چین), a Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 name for China popularized in Europe by the account of the 13th-century explorer Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

. The first recorded use in English dates from 1555. The Persian word is, in turn, derived from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 word Cīna
Chinas
The Chinas or Chīnaḥ are a people mentioned in ancient Indian literature from the first millennium BC, such as the Mahabharata, Laws of Manu, as well the Puranic literature...

 (चीन), which was used as a name for China as early as AD 150. There are various scholarly theories regarding the origin of this word. The traditional theory, proposed in the 17th century by Martino Martini
Martino Martini
Martino Martini was an Italian Jesuit missionary, cartographer and historian, mainly working on ancient Imperial China.-Early years:Martini was born in Trento, in the Bishopric of Trent...

, is that "China" is derived from "Qin" , the westernmost of the Chinese kingdoms during the Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

, or from the succeeding Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 (221–206 BC). The word Cīna is used in two Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 scriptures – the Mahābhārata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

 of the 5th century BC and the Laws of Manu of the 2nd century BC – to refer to a country located in the Tibetan-Burman borderlands east of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

In China, common names for the country include Zhōngguó and Zhōnghuá , although the country's official name has been changed numerous times by successive dynasties and modern governments. The term Zhongguo appeared in various ancient texts, such as the Classic of History
Classic of History
The Classic of History is a compilation of documentary records related to events in ancient history of China. It is also commonly known as the Shàngshū , or simply Shū...

 of the 6th century BC, and in pre-imperial times it was often used as a cultural concept to distinguish the Huaxia
Huaxia
Huaxia is a name often used to represent China or Chinese civilization.-Etymology:According to the historical record, Zuo Zhuan, the ancient Xia Dynasty of central China was a state that held propriety and justice in high esteem...

 from the barbarians. Sometimes Zhongguo, which can be either singular or plural, referring to the group of states in the central plain. The Chinese were not unique in regarding their country as "central", since other civilizations had the same view.

Prehistory


Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest hominids
Hominidae
The Hominidae or include them .), as the term is used here, form a taxonomic family, including four extant genera: chimpanzees , gorillas , humans , and orangutans ....

 in China date from 250,000 to 2.24 million years ago. A cave in Zhoukoudian
Zhoukoudian
Zhoukoudian or Choukoutien is a cave system in Beijing, China. It has yielded many archaeological discoveries, including one of the first specimens of Homo erectus, dubbed Peking Man, and a fine assemblage of bones of the gigantic hyena Pachycrocuta brevirostris...

 (near present-day Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

) has fossils dated at somewhere between 300,000 to 780,000 years. The fossils are of Peking Man
Peking Man
Peking Man , Homo erectus pekinensis, is an example of Homo erectus. A group of fossil specimens was discovered in 1923-27 during excavations at Zhoukoudian near Beijing , China...

, an example of Homo erectus
Homo erectus
Homo erectus is an extinct species of hominid that lived from the end of the Pliocene epoch to the later Pleistocene, about . The species originated in Africa and spread as far as India, China and Java. There is still disagreement on the subject of the classification, ancestry, and progeny of H...

 who used fire
Fire
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition....

.

The earliest evidence of a fully modern human in China comes from Liujiang County, Guangxi
Guangxi
Guangxi, formerly romanized Kwangsi, is a province of southern China along its border with Vietnam. In 1958, it became the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, a region with special privileges created specifically for the Zhuang people.Guangxi's location, in...

, where a cranium has been found and dated at approximately 67,000 years old. Controversy persists over the dating of the Liujiang remains (a partial skeleton from Minatogawa in Okinawa).

Early dynastic rule




Chinese tradition names the first dynasty
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 Xia
Xia Dynasty
The Xia Dynasty is the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles such as Bamboo Annals, Classic of History and Records of the Grand Historian. The Xia Dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great after Shun, the last of the Five Emperors gave his throne to him...

, but it was considered mythical until scientific excavations found early Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 sites at Erlitou
Erlitou culture
The Erlitou culture is a name given by archaeologists to an Early Bronze Age urban society that existed in China from 2000 BCE to 1500 BCE. The culture was named after the site discovered at Erlitou in Yanshi, Henan Province...

 in Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 Province in 1959. Archaeologists have since uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs in locations cited as Xia's in ancient historical texts, but it is impossible to verify that these remains are of the Xia without written records from the period.


The first Chinese dynasty that left historical records, the loosely feudal Shang
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 (Yin), settled along the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 in eastern China from the 17th to the 11th century BC. The oracle bone script
Oracle bone script
Oracle bone script refers to incised ancient Chinese characters found on oracle bones, which are animal bones or turtle shells used in divination in Bronze Age China...

 of the Shang Dynasty represent the oldest forms of Chinese writing found and the direct ancestor of modern Chinese characters used throughout East Asia. The Shang were invaded from the west by the Zhou
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

, who ruled from the 12th to the 5th century BC, until their centralized authority was slowly eroded by feudal warlords. Many independent states eventually emerged out of the weakened Zhou state, and continually waged war with each other in the Spring and Autumn Period, only occasionally deferring to the Zhou king. By the time of the Warring States Period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

, there were seven powerful sovereign states, each with its own king, ministry and army.

Imperial China


The first unified Chinese state was established by Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang , personal name Ying Zheng , was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC...

 of the Qin state in 221 BC. Qin Shi Huang proclaimed himself the "First Emperor" (始皇帝), and imposed many reforms throughout China, notably the forced standardization of the Chinese language, measurements, length of cart axles, and currency. The Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 lasted only fifteen years, falling soon after Qin Shi Huang's death, as its harsh legalist and authoritarian policies led to widespread rebellion.

The subsequent Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 ruled China between 206 BC and 220 AD, and created a lasting Han cultural identity
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 among its populace that extends to the present day. The Han Dynasty expanded the empire's territory considerably
History of the Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty , founded by the peasant rebel leader Liu Bang ,From the Shang to the Sui dynasties, Chinese rulers were referred to in later records by their posthumous names, while emperors of the Tang to Yuan dynasties were referred to by their temple names, and emperors of the Ming and Qing...

 with military campaigns reaching Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 and Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, and also helped establish the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 in Central Asia. China was for a large part of the last two millennia the world's largest economy. However, in the later part of the Qing Dynasty, China's economic development began to slow and Europe's rapid development during and after the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 enabled it to surpass China.

After the collapse of Han, another period of disunion followed, including the highly chivalric period of the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

. Independent Chinese states of this period such as Wu opened diplomatic relations with Japan, introducing the Chinese writing system there. In 580 AD, China was reunited under the Sui
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

. However, the Sui Dynasty was short-lived after a failure in the Goguryeo-Sui Wars
Goguryeo-Sui Wars
The Goguryeo–Sui Wars were a series of campaigns launched by the Sui Dynasty of China against the Goguryeo of Korea between 598 and 614. It resulted in the defeat of Sui and contributed to the eventual downfall of the dynasty in 618.-Background:...

 (598–614) weakened it.
Under the succeeding Tang
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 and Song
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 dynasties, Chinese technology and culture reached its zenith. The Tang Empire was at its height of power until the middle of the 8th century, when the An Shi Rebellion
An Shi Rebellion
The An Lushan Rebellion took place in China during the Tang Dynasty from CE December 16, 755 to CE February 17, 763, beginning when general An Lushan declared himself emperor, establishing the rival Yan Dynasty in Northern China...

 destroyed the prosperity of the empire. The Song Dynasty was the first government in world history to issue paper money and the first Chinese polity
Polity
Polity is a form of government Aristotle developed in his search for a government that could be most easily incorporated and used by the largest amount of people groups, or states...

 to establish a permanent standing navy. Between the 10th and 11th centuries, the population of China doubled in size. This growth came about through expanded rice cultivation in central and southern China, and the production of abundant food surpluses.

Within its borders, the Northern Song Dynasty had a population of some 100 million people. The Song Dynasty was a culturally rich period for philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 and the arts. Landscape art
Landscape art
Landscape art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still...

 and portrait
Portrait
thumb|250px|right|Portrait of [[Thomas Jefferson]] by [[Rembrandt Peale]], 1805. [[New-York Historical Society]].A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness,...

 painting
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 were brought to new levels of maturity and complexity after the Tang Dynasty, and social elites gathered to view art, share their own, and trade precious artworks. Philosophers such as Cheng Yi
Cheng Yi (philosopher)
Cheng Yi , courtesy name Zhengshu , also known as Mr. Yichuan , was a Chinese philosopher born in Luoyang during the Song Dynasty. He worked with his older brother Cheng Hao . Like his brother, he was a student of Zhou Dunyi, a friend of Shao Yong, and a nephew of Zhang Zai...

 and Chu Hsi reinvigorated Confucianism with new commentary, infused Buddhist ideals, and emphasized a new organization of classic texts that brought about the core doctrine of Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism is an ethical and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and Li Ao in the Tang Dynasty....

.

In 1271, the Mongol leader and fifth Khagan
Khagan
Khagan or qagan , alternatively spelled kagan, khaghan, qaghan, or chagan, is a title of imperial rank in the Mongolian and Turkic languages equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a khaganate...

 of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 established the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

, with the last remnant of the Song Dynasty falling to the Yuan in 1279. Before the Mongol invasion
Mongol invasion of China
The Mongol invasion of China lasted over 6 decades and particularly involved the defeat of the Jin Dynasty, Western Xia, the Dali Kingdom, and the Southern Song, which finally fell in year 1276. The Mongols under Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty in China and crushed the last Song resistance...

, Chinese dynasties reportedly had approximately 120 million inhabitants; after the conquest was completed in 1279, the 1300 census reported roughly 60 million people.

Late dynastic rule


A peasant named Zhu Yuanzhang overthrew the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 in 1368 and founded the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

. Ming Dynasty thinkers such as Wang Yangming
Wang Yangming
Wang Yangming was a Ming Chinese idealist Neo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general. After Zhu Xi, he is commonly regarded as the most important Neo-Confucian thinker, with interpretations of Confucianism that denied the rationalist dualism of the orthodox...

 would further critique and expand Neo-Confucianism with ideas of individualism
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

 and innate morality that would have tremendous impact on later Japanese thought. Chosun Korea
Joseon Dynasty
Joseon , was a Korean state founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul...

 also became a nominal vassal state of Ming China and adopted much of its Neo-Confucian bureaucratic structure.

Under the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, China had another golden age, with one of the strongest navies in the world, a rich and prosperous economy and a flourishing of the arts and culture. It was during this period that Zheng He
Zheng He
Zheng He , also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from...

 led explorations throughout the world, possibly reaching America. During the early Ming Dynasty China's capital was moved from Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 to Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

. In 1644 Beijing was sacked by a coalition of rebel forces led by Li Zicheng, a minor Ming official turned leader of the peasant revolt. The last Ming Chongzhen Emperor
Chongzhen Emperor
The Chongzhen Emperor was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He reigned from 1627 to 1644, under an era name that means "honorable and auspicious".- Early years :...

 committed suicide when the city fell. The Manchu Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 then allied with Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 general Wu Sangui
Wu Sangui
Wu Sangui was a Ming Chinese general who was instrumental in the succession of rule to the Qing Dynasty in 1644...

 and overthrew Li's short-lived Shun Dynasty
Shun Dynasty
The Shun Dynasty was an imperial dynasty created in the brief lapse from Ming to Qing rule in China. The dynasty was founded in Xi'an on 8 February 1644, the first day of the lunar year, by Li Zicheng, the leader of a large peasant rebellion. Li, however, only went by the title of King, not Emperor...

, and subsequently seized control of Beijing, which became the new capital of the Qing Dynasty.

The Qing Dynasty, which lasted until 1912, was the last dynasty in China. In the 19th century the Qing Dynasty adopted a defensive posture towards European imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

, even though it engaged in imperialistic
Imperialism in Asia
Imperialism in Asia traces its roots back to the late 15th century with a series of voyages that sought a sea passage to India in the hope of establishing direct trade between Europe and Asia in spices. Before 1500 European economies were largely self-sufficient, only supplemented by minor trade...

 expansion into Central Asia. At this time China awoke to the significance of the rest of the world, the West in particular. As China opened up to foreign trade and missionary activity, opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

 produced by British India was forced onto Qing China. Two Opium Wars
Opium Wars
The Opium Wars, also known as the Anglo-Chinese Wars, divided into the First Opium War from 1839 to 1842 and the Second Opium War from 1856 to 1860, were the climax of disputes over trade and diplomatic relations between China under the Qing Dynasty and the British Empire...

 with Britain weakened the Emperor's control. European imperialism proved to be disastrous for China:
The Arrow War (1856–1860) [2nd Opium War] saw another disastrous defeat for China. The subsequent passing of the humiliating Treaty of Tianjin in 1856 and the Beijing Conventions of 1860 opened up more of the country to foreign penetrations and more ports for their vessels. Hong Kong was ceded over to the British. Thus, the "unequal treaties system" was established. Heavy indemnities had to be paid by China, and more territory and control were taken over by the foreigners.


The weakening of the Qing regime, and the apparent humiliation of the unequal treaties in the eyes of the Chinese people had several consequences. One consequence was the Taiping Civil War
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

, which lasted from 1851 to 1862. It was led by Hong Xiuquan
Hong Xiuquan
Hong Xiuquan , born Hong Renkun, style name Huoxiu , was a Hakka Chinese who led the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty, establishing the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom over varying portions of southern China, with himself as the "Heavenly King" and self-proclaimed brother of Jesus Christ.-Early...

, who was partly influenced by an idiosyncratic interpretation of Christianity. Hong believed himself to be the son of God and the younger brother of Jesus. Although the Qing forces were eventually victorious, the civil war was one of the bloodiest in human history, costing at least 20 million lives (more than the total number of fatalities in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

), with some estimates of up to two hundred million. Other costly rebellions followed the Taiping Rebellion, such as the Punti-Hakka Clan Wars
Punti-Hakka Clan Wars
Punti–Hakka Clan Wars or Hakka–Punti Clan Wars refer to the conflict between the Hakka and Punti in Guangdong, China between 1855 and 1867. The wars were particularly fierce in around the Pearl River Delta, especially in Taishan of the Sze Yup counties...

 (1855–67), Nien Rebellion
Nien Rebellion
The Nien Rebellion was an armed uprising that took place in northern China from 1851 to 1868, contemporaneously with Taiping Rebellion in South China...

 (1851–1868), Miao Rebellion (1854–73), Panthay Rebellion (1856–1873) and the Dungan revolt (1862–1877).

These rebellions resulted in an estimated loss of several million lives each and led to disastrous results for the economy and the countryside. The flow of British opium hastened the empire's decline. In the 19th century, the age of colonialism was at its height and the great Chinese Diaspora began. About 35 million overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

 live in Southeast Asia today. The famine in 1876–79 claimed between 9 and 13 million lives in northern China. From 108 BC to 1911 AD, China experienced 1,828 famines, or one per year, somewhere in the empire.

While China was wracked by continuous war, Meiji Japan succeeded in rapidly modernizing its military and set its sights on Korea and Manchuria. At the request of the Korean emperor, the Chinese government sent troops to aid in suppressing the Tonghak Rebellion in 1894. However, Japan also sent troops to Korea, leading to the First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of Korea...

, which resulted in Qing China's loss of influence in the Korean Peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

 as well as the cession of Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 to Japan.

Following this series of defeats, a reform plan
Hundred Days' Reform
The Hundred Days' Reform was a failed 104-day national cultural, political and educational reform movement from 11 June to 21 September 1898 in late Qing Dynasty China. It was undertaken by the young Guangxu Emperor and his reform-minded supporters...

 for the empire to become a modern Meiji-style constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 was drafted by the Guangxu Emperor
Guangxu Emperor
The Guangxu Emperor , born Zaitian of the Aisin-Gioro clan, was the eleventh emperor of the Manchurian Qing Dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China. His reign lasted from 1875 to 1908, but in practice he ruled, under Empress Dowager Cixi's influence, only from 1889 to 1898...

 in 1898, but was opposed and stopped by the Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi1 , of the Manchu Yehenara clan, was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China for 47 years from 1861 to her death in 1908....

, who placed Emperor Guangxu under house arrest in a coup d'état. Further destruction followed the ill-fated 1900 Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

 against westerners in Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

.

By the early 20th century, mass civil disorder had begun, and calls for reform and revolution were heard across the country. The 38-year-old Emperor Guangxu died under house arrest on 14 November 1908, suspiciously just a day before Cixi's own death. With the throne empty, he was succeeded by Cixi's handpicked heir, his two year old nephew Puyi
Puyi
Puyi , of the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan, was the last Emperor of China, and the twelfth and final ruler of the Qing Dynasty. He ruled as the Xuantong Emperor from 1908 until his abdication on 12 February 1912. From 1 to 12 July 1917 he was briefly restored to the throne as a nominal emperor by the...

, who became the Xuantong Emperor. Guangxu's consort became the Empress Dowager Longyu
Empress Dowager Longyu
Empress Xiao Ding Jing ; is better known as the Empress Dowager Longyu , . Also , she had the nickname was Xizi (喜子). Empress Xiao Ding Jing was the Qing Dynasty Empress Consort of the Guangxu Emperor who ruled China from 1875 till 1908...

. In another coup de'tat, Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai was an important Chinese general and politician famous for his influence during the late Qing Dynasty, his role in the events leading up to the abdication of the last Qing Emperor of China, his autocratic rule as the second President of the Republic of China , and his short-lived...

 overthrew the last Qing emperor, and forced empress Dowager Longyu to sign the abdication decree as regent in 1912, ending two thousand years of imperial rule in China. She died, childless, in 1913.

Republic of China (1912-1949)



On 1 January 1912, the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 was established, heralding the end of the Qing Dynasty. Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen was a Chinese doctor, revolutionary and political leader. As the foremost pioneer of Nationalist China, Sun is frequently referred to as the "Father of the Nation" , a view agreed upon by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China...

 of the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 (the KMT or Nationalist Party) was proclaimed provisional president of the republic. However, the presidency was later given to Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai was an important Chinese general and politician famous for his influence during the late Qing Dynasty, his role in the events leading up to the abdication of the last Qing Emperor of China, his autocratic rule as the second President of the Republic of China , and his short-lived...

, a former Qing general, who had ensured the defection of the entire Beiyang Army
Beiyang Army
The Beiyang Army was a powerful, Western-style Chinese military force created by the Qing Dynasty government in the late 19th century. It was the centerpiece of a general reconstruction of China's military system. The Beiyang Army played a major role in Chinese politics for at least three decades...

 from the Qing Empire to the revolution. In 1915, Yuan proclaimed himself Emperor of China but was forced to abdicate and return the state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 to a republic when he realized it was an unpopular move, not only with the population but also with his own Beiyang Army and its commanders.

After Yuan Shikai's death in 1916, China was politically fragmented, with an internationally recognized but virtually powerless national government seated in Beijing. Warlords in various regions exercised actual control over their respective territories. In the late 1920s, the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

, under Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

, was able to reunify the country under its own control with a military campaign and deft political maneuverings known as the "Northern Expedition". The Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 moved the nation's capital to Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 and implemented "political tutelage", an intermediate stage of political development outlined in Sun Yat-sen's program for transforming China into a modern, democratic state. Sun had outlined this program with his "San Min Zhu Yi" Doctrine. Effectively, political tutelage meant one-party rule by the Kuomintang, but the party was politically divided into competing cliques. This political division made it difficult for Chiang
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 to battle the Communists, which the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 had been warring against since 1927 in the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

. This war continued successfully for the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

, especially after the Communists were forced to retreat in the Long March
Long March
The Long March was a massive military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China, the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army, to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang army. There was not one Long March, but a series of marches, as various Communist armies in the south...

, until the Xi'an Incident
Xi'an Incident
The Xi'an Incident of December 1936 is an important episode of Chinese modern history, taking place in the city of Xi'an during the Chinese Civil War between the ruling Kuomintang and the rebel Chinese Communist Party and just before the Second Sino-Japanese War...

 and Japanese aggression
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 forced Chiang
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 to confront Imperial Japan.

The Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 (1937–1945) (part of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

) forced an uneasy alliance between the Nationalists
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 and the Communists as well as causing around 20 million Chinese civilian deaths. The Japanese "three-all policy
Three Alls Policy
The Three Alls Policy was a Japanese scorched earth policy adopted in China during World War II, the three alls being: "Kill All", "Burn All" and "Loot All" . In Japanese documents, the policy was originally referred to as...

" in north China—"kill all, burn all and destroy all", was one example of wartime atrocities
Japanese war crimes
Japanese war crimes occurred during the period of Japanese imperialism, primarily during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. Some of the incidents have also been described as an Asian Holocaust and Japanese war atrocities...

 committed on a civilian population. With the surrender of Japan
Surrender of Japan
The surrender of Japan in 1945 brought hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy was incapable of conducting operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent...

 in 1945, China emerged victorious but financially drained. The continued distrust between the Nationalists and the Communists led to the resumption of the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

. In 1947, constitutional rule was established, but because of the ongoing Civil War many provisions of the ROC constitution
Constitution of the Republic of China
The Constitution of the Republic of China is the fundamental law of the Republic of China . Drafted by the Kuomintang as part of its third stage of national development , it established a centralized Republic with five branches of government...

 were never implemented in mainland China.

1949 to present


Major combat in the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

 ended in 1949 with the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 in control of mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

, and the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 (KMT) retreating to Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, reducing the ROC territory to only Taiwan and surrounding islands. On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 proclaimed the People's Republic of China. "Communist China" and "Red China" were two common names for the PRC.


Mao encouraged population growth and China's population
Demographics of China
This article is about the demographic features of the population of China, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population....

 almost doubled from around 550 to over 900 million during the period of his leadership. The economic and social plan known as the Great Leap Forward
Great Leap Forward
The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China was an economic and social campaign of the Communist Party of China , reflected in planning decisions from 1958 to 1961, which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a modern...

 resulted in an estimated 45 million deaths. In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, which would last until Mao's death a decade later. The Cultural Revolution, motivated by power struggles within the Party and a fear of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, led to a major upheaval in Chinese society. In 1972, at the peak of the Sino-Soviet split
Sino-Soviet split
In political science, the term Sino–Soviet split denotes the worsening of political and ideologic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Cold War...

, Mao and Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

 met Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 in Beijing to establish relations with the United States. In the same year, the PRC was admitted to the United Nations in place of the Republic of China for China's membership of the United Nations, and permanent membership of the Security Council.

After Mao's death in 1976 and the arrest of the Gang of Four
Gang of Four
The Gang of Four was the name given to a political faction composed of four Chinese Communist Party officials. They came to prominence during the Cultural Revolution and were subsequently charged with a series of treasonous crimes...

, blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician, statesman, and diplomat. As leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng was a reformer who led China towards a market economy...

 quickly wrested power from Mao's anointed successor Hua Guofeng
Hua Guofeng
Su Zhu, better known by the nom de guerre Hua Guofeng , was Mao Zedong's designated successor as the Paramount Leader of the Communist Party of China and the People's Republic of China. Upon Zhou Enlai's death in 1976, he succeeded Zhou as the second Premier of the People's Republic of China...

. Although he never became the head of the party or state himself, Deng was in fact the Paramount Leader
Paramount leader
Paramount leader literally "the highest leader of the party and the state ", in modern Chinese political science, unofficially refers to the political leader of the People's Republic of China....

 of China at that time, his influence within the Party led the country to significant economic reforms
Chinese economic reform
The Chinese economic reform refers to the program of economic reforms called "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" in the People's Republic of China that were started in December 1978 by reformists within the Communist Party of China led by Deng Xiaoping.China had one of the world's largest...

. The Communist Party subsequently loosened governmental control over citizens' personal lives and the communes
People's commune
The people's commune was the highest of three administrative levels in rural areas of the People's Republic of China during the period of 1958 to 1982-85 until they were replaced by townships. Communes, the largest collective units, were divided in turn into production brigades and production teams...

 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 with an increasingly open market environment, a system termed by some "market socialism
Market socialism
Market socialism refers to various economic systems where the means of production are either publicly owned or cooperatively owned and operated for a profit in a market economy. The profit generated by the firms system would be used to directly remunerate employees or would be the source of public...

", and officially by the Communist Party of China "Socialism with Chinese characteristics". The PRC adopted its current constitution
Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is the highest law within the People's Republic of China. The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982 with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Three previous state constitutions—those of...

 on 4 December 1982.

The death of pro-reform official Hu Yaobang
Hu Yaobang
Hu Yaobang was a leader of the People's Republic of China who served as both Chairman and Party General Secretary. Hu joined the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s, and rose to prominence as a comrade of Deng Xiaoping...

 helped to spark the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

, during which students and others campaigned for several months, speaking out against corruption and in favour of greater political reform, including democratic rights and freedom of speech. However, they were eventually put down on 4 June when PLA
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

 troops and vehicles entered and forcibly cleared the square, resulting in numerous casualties. This event was widely reported and brought worldwide condemnation and sanctions against the government. The "Tank Man
Tank Man
Tank Man, or the Unknown Rebel, is the nickname of an anonymous man who stood in front of a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks the morning after the Chinese military forcibly removed protestors from in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. The man achieved widespread international...

" incident in particular became famous.

CPC General Secretary, President Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

 and Premier Zhu Rongji
Zhu Rongji
Zhū Róngjī is a prominent Chinese politician who served as the Mayor and Party chief in Shanghai between 1987 and 1991, before serving as Vice-Premier and then the fifth Premier of the People's Republic of China from March 1998 to March 2003.A tough administrator, his time in office saw the...

, both former mayors of Shanghai, led post-Tiananmen PRC in the 1990s. Under Jiang and Zhu's ten years of administration, the PRC's economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty and sustained an average annual gross domestic product growth rate of 11.2%. The country formally joined the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

 in 2001.

Although the PRC needs economic growth to spur its development, the government has begun to worry that rapid economic growth has negatively impacted the country's resources and environment. Another concern is that certain sectors of society are not sufficiently benefiting from the PRC's economic development; one example of this is the wide gap between urban and rural areas. As a result, under current CPC General Secretary, President Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang...

 and Premier Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao is the sixth and current Premier and Party secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, serving as China's head of government and leading its cabinet. In his capacity as Premier, Wen is regarded as the leading figure behind China's economic policy...

, the PRC has initiated policies to address these issues of equitable distribution of resources, but the outcome remains to be seen. More than 40 million farmers have been displaced from their land, usually for economic development, contributing to the 87,000 demonstrations and riots across China in 2005. For much of the PRC's population, living standards have seen extremely large improvements, and freedom continues to expand, but political controls remain tight and rural areas poor.

Geography


Political geography


The People's Republic of China is the second-largest country in the world by land area after Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and is either the third- or fourth-largest by total area, after Russia, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and, depending on the definition of total area, the United States. China's total area is generally stated as being approximately 9600000 km² (3,706,580.7 sq mi). Specific area figures range from 9572900 km² (3,696,117.4 sq mi) according to the Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

, 9596961 km² (3,705,407.4 sq mi) according to the UN Demographic Yearbook, to 9596961 km² (3,705,407.4 sq mi) according to the CIA World Factbook, and 9640011 km² (3,722,029.1 sq mi) including Aksai Chin
Aksai Chin
Aksai Chin is one of the two main disputed border areas between China and India, and the other is South Tibet, which comprises most of India's Arunachal Pradesh. It is administered by China as part of Hotan County in the Hotan Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, but is also claimed by India...

 and the Trans-Karakoram Tract
Trans-Karakoram Tract
The Trans-Karakoram Tract is an area of nearly along both sides of the Shaksgam River, is entirely administered by the People's Republic of China as a part of Kargilik County and Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County in the Kashgar Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, but claimed by Pakistan...

, which are controlled by China and claimed by India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. None of these figures include the 1000 sqkm of territory ceded to China by Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

 following the ratification of a Sino-Tajik border agreement in January 2011.

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the total area of the United States, at 9522055 km² (3,676,486 sq mi), is slightly smaller than that of China. Meanwhile, the CIA World Factbook states that China's total area was greater than that of the United States until the coastal waters of the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 was added to the United States' total area in 1996.

China has the longest combined land border in the world, measuring 22117 km (13,742.9 mi) from the mouth of the Yalu River
Yalu River
The Yalu River or the Amnok River is a river on the border between North Korea and the People's Republic of China....

 to the Gulf of Tonkin
Gulf of Tonkin
The Gulf of Tonkin is an arm of the South China Sea, lying off the coast of northeastern Vietnam.-Etymology:The name Tonkin, written "東京" in Hán tự and Đông Kinh in romanised Vietnamese, means "Eastern Capital", and is the former toponym for Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam...

. China borders 14 nations, more than any other country except Russia, which also borders 14. China extends across much of the East Asian continent, bordering Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, and Burma in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

; India, Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

, Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

; Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

 and Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

; a small section of Russian Altai
Altai Republic
Altai Republic is a federal subject of Russia . Its capital is the town of Gorno-Altaysk. The area of the republic is . Population: -Geography:...

 and Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 in Inner Asia
Inner Asia
Inner Asia has a range of meanings among different researchers and in different countries. Denis Sinor defined Inner Asia broadly as the homelands of the Altaic peoples and the Uralic peoples .German makes a distinction between "Zentralasien", meaning Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, and...

; and the Russian Far East
Russian Far East
Russian Far East is a term that refers to the Russian part of the Far East, i.e., extreme east parts of Russia, between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean...

 and North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 in Northeast Asia
Northeast Asia
Northeast Asia and Northeastern Asia refers to the northeastern subregion of Asia. Though the precise definition of Northeast Asia changes according to context, it always includes Japan and the Korean Peninsula, and is sometimes used to refer to these two regions exclusively.-Definitions:The...

.

Additionally, China shares maritime boundaries with South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. The PRC and the Republic of China (Taiwan) make mutual claims over each other's territority and the frontier between areas under their respective control is closest near the islands of Kinmen
Kinmen
Kinmen , also known as Quemoy , is a small archipelago of several islands administered by the Republic of China : Greater Kinmen, Lesser Kinmen, and some islets. Administratively, it is Kinmen County of Fujian Province, ROC. The county is claimed by the People's Republic of China as part of its...

 and Matsu
Matsu Islands
The Matsu Islands are a minor archipelago of 19 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait administered as Lienchiang County , Fujian Province of the Republic of China . Only a small area of what is historically Lienchiang County is under the control of the ROC...

, off the Fujian
Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

 coast, but otherwise run through the Taiwan Strait
Taiwan Strait
The Taiwan Strait or Formosa Strait, formerly known as the Black Ditch, is a 180-km-wide strait separating Mainland China and Taiwan. The strait is part of the South China Sea and connects to East China Sea to the northeast...

. The PRC and ROC assert identical claims over the entirety of the Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
The Spratly Islands are a group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines and Malaysia , about one third of the way from there to southern Vietnam. They comprise less than four square kilometers of land...

 in the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

, and the southern-most extent of these claims reach Zengmu Ansha (James Shoal), which would form a maritime frontier with Malaysia.

Landscape and climate


The territory of China lies between latitude
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

s 18°
18th parallel north
The 18th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 18 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 54° N
54th parallel north
The 54th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 54 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitude
Longitude
Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

s 73°
73rd meridian east
The meridian 73° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 135° E
135th meridian east
The meridian 135° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Australasia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. The country's vast size gives it a wide variety of landscapes. In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea
Yellow Sea
The Yellow Sea is the name given to the northern part of the East China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its name comes from the sand particles from Gobi Desert sand storms that turn the surface of the water golden...

 and the East China Sea
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

, there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains
Alluvium
Alluvium is loose, unconsolidated soil or sediments, eroded, deposited, and reshaped by water in some form in a non-marine setting. Alluvium is typically made up of a variety of materials, including fine particles of silt and clay and larger particles of sand and gravel...

, while on the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, broad grassland
Grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

s are visible. Southern China is dominated by hill country and low mountain ranges, while the central-east hosts the deltas
River delta
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river...

 of China's two major rivers, the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 and the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

. Other major rivers include the Xi, Mekong
Mekong
The Mekong is a river that runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the world's 10th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is , and it drains an area of , discharging of water annually....

, Brahmaputra
Brahmaputra River
The Brahmaputra , also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and one of the major rivers of Asia. It is the only Indian river that is attributed the masculine gender and thus referred to as a in Indo-Aryan languages and languages with Indo-Aryan influence...

 and Amur. To the west, major mountain ranges, most notably the Himalayas, and high plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

s feature among the more arid landscapes of the north, such as the Taklamakan and the Gobi Desert
Gobi Desert
The Gobi is a large desert region in Asia. It covers parts of northern and northwestern China, and of southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Hexi Corridor and Tibetan Plateau to the...

. China's highest point, Mt. Everest (8848m), lies on the Sino-Nepalese border. The country's lowest point is the dried lake bed of Ayding Lake (-154m) in the Turpan Depression.

A major environmental issue in China is the continued expansion of its deserts
Desertification
Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands. Caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems.-Definitions:...

, particularly the Gobi Desert, which is currently the world's fifth-largest desert. Although barrier tree lines planted since the 1970s have reduced the frequency of sandstorms, prolonged drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

 and poor agricultural practices have resulted in dust storms
Asian Dust
Asian Dust is a seasonal meteorological phenomenon which affects much of East Asia sporadically during the springtime months...

 plaguing northern China each spring, which then spread to other parts of East Asia, including Korea and Japan. According to China's environmental watchdog, Sepa, China is losing a million acres (4,000 km²) per year to desertification. Water quality, erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

, and pollution control have become important issues in China's relations with other countries. Melting glaciers in the Himalayas could potentially lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

China's climate is mainly dominated by dry season
Dry season
The dry season is a term commonly used when describing the weather in the tropics. The weather in the tropics is dominated by the tropical rain belt, which oscillates from the northern to the southern tropics over the course of the year...

s and wet monsoons, which lead to a pronounced temperature differences between winter and summer. In the winter, northern winds coming from high-latitude areas are cold and dry; in summer, southern winds from coastal areas at lower latitudes are warm and moist. The climate in China differs from region to region because of the country's extensive and complex topography
Topography
Topography is the study of Earth's surface shape and features or those ofplanets, moons, and asteroids...

.

Biodiversity




One of 17 megadiverse countries
Megadiverse countries
The megadiverse countries are a group of countries that harbor the majority of the Earth's species and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse...

, China lies in two of the world's major ecozone
Ecozone
An ecozone is the broadest biogeographic division of the Earth's land surface, based on distributional patterns of terrestrial organisms.Ecozones delineate large areas of the Earth's surface within which organisms have been evolving in relative isolation over long periods of time, separated from...

s: the Palearctic
Palearctic
The Palearctic or Palaearctic is one of the eight ecozones dividing the Earth's surface.Physically, the Palearctic is the largest ecozone...

 and the Indomalaya
Indomalaya
The Indomalaya ecozone is one of the eight ecozones that cover the planet's land surface. It extends across most of South and Southeast Asia and into the southern parts of East Asia....

. In the Palearctic zone, mammals such as the horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

, camel
Camel
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as humps on its back. There are two species of camels: the dromedary or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the bactrian has two humps. Dromedaries are native to the dry desert areas of West Asia,...

, tapir
Tapir
A Tapir is a large browsing mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile snout. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. There are four species of Tapirs: the Brazilian Tapir, the Malayan Tapir, Baird's Tapir and the Mountain...

, and jerboa
Jerboa
The jerboa form the bulk of the membership of the family Dipodidae. Jerboas are hopping desert rodents found throughout Asia and Northern Africa. They tend to be found in hot deserts....

 can be found. Among the species found in the Indomalaya region are the Leopard Cat
Leopard Cat
The leopard cat is a small wild cat of South and East Asia. Since 2002 it has been listed as Least Concern by IUCN as it is widely distributed but threatened by habitat loss and hunting in parts of its range...

, bamboo rat
Bamboo rat
The bamboo rats are four species of rodents of the subfamily Rhizomyinae. They are the sole living representatives of the tribe Rhizomyini. All are found in the eastern half of Asia.The species are:...

, treeshrew
Treeshrew
The treeshrews are small mammals native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. They make up the families Tupaiidae, the treeshrews, and Ptilocercidae, the pen-tailed treeshrews, and the entire order Scandentia. There are 20 species in 5 genera...

, and various monkey
Monkey
A monkey is a primate, either an Old World monkey or a New World monkey. There are about 260 known living species of monkey. Many are arboreal, although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent. Unlike apes, monkeys...

 and ape
Ape
Apes are Old World anthropoid mammals, more specifically a clade of tailless catarrhine primates, belonging to the biological superfamily Hominoidea. The apes are native to Africa and South-east Asia, although in relatively recent times humans have spread all over the world...

 species. Some overlap exists between the two regions due to natural dispersal and migration; deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

, antelope
Antelope
Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Antelopes comprise a miscellaneous group within the family Bovidae, encompassing those old-world species that are neither cattle, sheep, buffalo, bison, nor goats...

, bear
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

s, wolves, pig
Pig
A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives...

s, and numerous rodent species can all be found in China's diverse climatic and geological environments. The famous giant panda
Giant Panda
The giant panda, or panda is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the panda's diet is 99% bamboo...

 is found only in a limited area along the Yangtze River. China suffers from a continuing problem with trade in endangered species, although there are now laws to prohibit such activities.

China also hosts a variety of forest types. Cold coniferous forests predominate in the north of the country, supporting animal species such as moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

 and the Asian black bear, along with over 120 bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 species. Moist conifer forests can have thickets of bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 as an understorey, replaced by rhododendron
Rhododendron
Rhododendron is a genus of over 1 000 species of woody plants in the heath family, most with showy flowers...

s in higher montane stands of juniper
Juniper
Junipers are coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae. Depending on taxonomic viewpoint, there are between 50-67 species of juniper, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, from the Arctic, south to tropical Africa in the Old World, and to the...

 and yew
Taxus
Taxus is a genus of yews, small coniferous trees or shrubs in the yew family Taxaceae. They are relatively slow-growing and can be very long-lived, and reach heights of 1-40 m, with trunk diameters of up to 4 m...

. Subtropical forests, which dominate central and southern China, support as many as 146,000 species of flora. Tropical and seasonal rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s, though confined to Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 and Hainan Island, contain a quarter of all the plant and animal species found in China.

Environment


In recent decades, China has suffered from severe environmental deterioration and pollution. While regulations such as the 1979 Environmental Protection Law are fairly stringent, enforcement of them is poor, as they are frequently disregarded by local communities and government officials in favour of rapid economic development.

Environmental campaigners such as Ma Jun
Ma Jun (environmentalist)
Ma Jun is a Chinese environmentalist, non-fiction writer, environmental consultant, and journalist. He is a director with the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs ....

 have warned of the danger that water pollution poses to Chinese society. According to the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources
Ministry of Water Resources of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of Water Resources of the People's Republic of China is the executive government agency of the Central People's Government responsible for managing the water resources in China....

, roughly 300 million Chinese do not have access to safe drinking water. According to Vice Minister for Water Resources Jiao Yong, 40% of China’s rivers had been polluted by industrial and agricultural waste by late 2011. This crisis is compounded by the perennial problem of water shortages, with 400 out of 600 surveyed Chinese cities reportedly short of drinking water.

However, China is the world's leading investor in renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 technologies, with $34.6 billion invested in 2009 alone. China produces more wind turbine
Wind turbine
A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used to produce electricity, the device may be called a wind generator or wind charger. If the mechanical energy is used to drive machinery, such as for grinding grain or...

s and solar panels than any other country, and renewable energy projects, such as solar water heating
Solar water heating
Solar water heating or solar hot water systems comprise several innovations and many mature renewable energy technologies that have been well established for many years...

, are widely pursued at the local level. By 2009, over 17% of China's energy was derived from renewable sources – most notably hydroelectric power plants, of which China has a total installed capacity of 197 GW.
In 2011, the Chinese government announced plans to invest four trillion yuan (US$618.55 billion) in water infrastructure projects over a ten-year period, and to complete construction of a flood prevention and anti-drought system by 2020.

Politics


The PRC is regarded by several political scientists
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 as one of the world's five remaining Communist state
Communist state
A communist state is a state with a form of government characterized by single-party rule or dominant-party rule of a communist party and a professed allegiance to a Leninist or Marxist-Leninist communist ideology as the guiding principle of the state...

s (along with Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, and Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

), but simple characterizations of PRC's political structure
Political structure
Political structure is a term frequently used in political science.The term political structure, used in a general sense, refers to institutions or groups and their relations to each other, their patterns of interaction within political systems and to political regulations, laws and the norms...

 since the 1980s are no longer possible. The PRC government has been variously described as communist and socialist, but also as authoritarian, with heavy restrictions remaining in many areas, most notably on the Internet
Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China
Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China is conducted under a wide variety of laws and administrative regulations. There are no specific laws or regulations which the censorship follows...

, the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

, freedom of assembly
Freedom of assembly
Freedom of assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests...

, reproductive rights
Reproductive rights
Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive health. The World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as follows:...

, and freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

. Its current political/economic system has been termed by its leaders as "Communism with Chinese characteristics".

Compared to its closed-door policies until the mid-1970s, the liberalization of the PRC has resulted in the administrative climate being less restrictive than before. The PRC is far different from liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

 or social democracy
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 that exists in most of Europe or North America, and the National People's Congress
National People's Congress
The National People's Congress , abbreviated NPC , is the highest state body and the only legislative house in the People's Republic of China. The National People's Congress is held in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, capital of the People's Republic of China; with 2,987 members, it is the...

 (highest state body) has been described as a "rubber stamp
Rubber stamp (politics)
A rubber stamp, as a political metaphor, refers to a person or institution with considerable de jure power but little de facto power; one that rarely disagrees with more powerful organs....

" body. The PRC's incumbent President
President of the People's Republic of China
The President of the People's Republic of China is a ceremonial office and a part of State organs under the National People's Congress and it is the head of state of the People's Republic of China . The office was created by the 1982 Constitution...

 is Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang...

 who is also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China , officially General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, is the highest ranking official within the Communist Party of China, a standing member of the Politburo and head of the Secretariat...

 and his Premier
Premier of the People's Republic of China
The Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China , sometimes also referred to as the "Prime Minister" informally, is the Leader of the State Council of the People's Republic of China , who is the head of government and holds the highest-ranking of the Civil service of the...

 is Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao is the sixth and current Premier and Party secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, serving as China's head of government and leading its cabinet. In his capacity as Premier, Wen is regarded as the leading figure behind China's economic policy...

 who is also a member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee.


The country is ruled by the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 (CPC), whose power is enshrined in China's constitution
Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is the highest law within the People's Republic of China. The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982 with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Three previous state constitutions—those of...

. The political system is very decentralized with limited democratic processes internal to the party and at local village levels, although these experiments have been marred by corruption. There are other political parties in the PRC, referred to in China as democratic parties, which participate in the National People's Congress
National People's Congress
The National People's Congress , abbreviated NPC , is the highest state body and the only legislative house in the People's Republic of China. The National People's Congress is held in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, capital of the People's Republic of China; with 2,987 members, it is the...

 (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference [], shortened as 人民政协, Rénmín Zhèngxié, i.e. "People's PCC"; or just 政协, Zhèngxié, i.e. "The PCC"), abbreviated CPPCC, is a political advisory body in the People's Republic of China...

 (CPPCC).

There have been some moves toward political liberalization, in that open contested elections are now held at the village and town levels, and that legislatures have shown some assertiveness from time to time. However, the Party retains effective control over government appointments: in the absence of meaningful opposition, the CPC wins by default most of the time. Political concerns in the PRC include lessening the growing gap between rich and poor and fighting corruption within the government leadership.

The level of support to the government action and the management of the nation is among the highest in the world, with 86% of people who express satisfaction with the way things are going in their country and with their nation's economy according to a 2008 Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 survey.

Administrative divisions


The People's Republic of China has administrative control over 22 provinces, and considers Taiwan to be its 23rd province, although Taiwan is currently governed by the Republic of China, which disputes the PRC's claim. China also has five autonomous regions
Autonomous regions of China
An autonomous region is a first-level administrative subdivision of People's Republic of China. Like Chinese provinces, an autonomous region has its own local government, but an autonomous region theoretically has more legislative rights. An Autonomous Region is a minority entity which has a...

, each with a designated minority group; four municipalities
Direct-controlled municipality
A direct-controlled municipality is the highest level classification for cities used by unitary state, with status equal to that of the provinces in the respective countries...

; and two Special Administrative Regions, which enjoy a degree of political autonomy. These 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities can be collectively referred to as "mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

", a term which usually excludes the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 and Macau
Macau
Macau , also spelled Macao , is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China...

.

Foreign relations




The PRC has diplomatic relations with 171 countries and maintains embassies in 162. Its legitimacy is disputed by the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 and a few other countries; it is thus the largest and wealthiest state with limited recognition. Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 was the first western country to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic on 9 May 1950. In 1971, the PRC replaced the Republic of China as the sole representative of China in the United Nations and as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

. The PRC was also a former member and leader of the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

, and still considers itself an advocate for developing countries.

Under its interpretation of the One-China policy
One-China policy
The One-China policy refers to the policy or view that there is only one state called "China", despite the existence of two governments that claim to be "China"....

, the PRC has made it a precondition to establishing diplomatic relations that the other country acknowledges its claim to Taiwan and severs official ties with the government of the Republic of China. PRC officials have protested on numerous occasions when foreign countries have made diplomatic overtures to Taiwan, especially in the matter of armament sales. Political meetings between foreign government officials and the 14th Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

 are also opposed by the PRC, as it considers Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 to be formally part of China.

Much of China's current foreign policy is reportedly based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence
Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence
The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known in India as the Panchsheel, are a set of principles to govern relations between states. Their first formal codification in treaty form was in an agreement between by China and India in 1954...

 of Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

—non-interference in other states' affairs, non-aggression, peaceful coexistence, equality and mutual benefits. China's foreign policy is also driven by the concept of "harmony without uniformity", which encourages diplomatic relations between states despite ideological differences. This policy has led China to support states that are regarded as dangerous
Rogue state
Rogue state is a controversial term applied by some international theorists to states they consider threatening to the world's peace. This means meeting certain criteria, such as being ruled by authoritarian regimes that severely restrict human rights, sponsor terrorism, and seek to proliferate...

 or repressive by Western nations, such as Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Conflicts with foreign countries have occurred at times in China's recent history, particularly with the United States; for example, the US bombing of the Chinese embassy
NATO Bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade
On May 7, 1999, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia , five US JDAM bombs hit the People's Republic of China embassy in the Belgrade district of New Belgrade, killing three Chinese reporters and outraging the Chinese public. President Bill Clinton later apologized for the bombing, stating it was...

 in Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

 during the Kosovo conflict
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

 in May 1999 and the US-China spy plane incident
Hainan Island incident
On April 1, 2001, a mid-air collision between a United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals intelligence aircraft and a People's Liberation Army Navy J-8II interceptor fighter jet resulted in an international dispute between the United States and the People's Republic of China called the Hainan...

 in April 2001. The PRC's foreign relations with many Western nations suffered for a time following the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

, although in recent years China has improved its diplomatic links with the West.

Trade relations


In recent decades, the PRC has played an increasing role in calling for free trade area
Free trade area
A free trade area is a trade bloc whose member countries have signed a free trade agreement , which eliminates tariffs, import quotas, and preferences on most goods and services traded between them. If people are also free to move between the countries, in addition to FTA, it would also be...

s and security pacts amongst its Asia-Pacific neighbors. In 2004, the PRC proposed an entirely new East Asia Summit
East Asia Summit
The East Asia Summit is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian region. Membership will expand to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011. EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings...

 (EAS) framework as a forum for regional security issues, pointedly excluding the United States. The EAS, which includes ASEAN Plus Three, India, Australia and New Zealand, held its inaugural summit in 2005. The PRC is also a founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), along with Russia and the Central Asian republics.

In 2000, the U.S. Congress approved "permanent normal trade relations" (PNTR) with China, allowing Chinese exports in at the same low tariffs as goods from most other countries. Both Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 and George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 asserted that free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

 would gradually open China to democratic
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 reform. Bush was furthermore an advocate of China's entry into the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

 (WTO). China has a significant trade surplus with the United States, its most important export market. In the early 2010s, U.S. politicians argued that the Chinese yuan
Chinese yuan
The yuan is the base unit of a number of modern Chinese currencies. The yuan is the primary unit of account of the Renminbi.A yuán is also known colloquially as a kuài . One yuán is divided into 10 jiǎo or colloquially máo...

 was significantly undervalued, giving China an unfair trade advantage.

Sinophobic attitudes often target Chinese minorities and nationals living outside of China. Sometimes, such anti-Chinese attitudes turn violent, as occurred during the 13 May Incident in Malaysia in 1969 and the Jakarta riots of May 1998
Jakarta Riots of May 1998
The May 1998 Riots of Indonesia were incidents of mass violence that occurred throughout Indonesia, mainly in Medan in the province of North Sumatra , the capital city of Jakarta , and Surakarta in the province of Central Java...

 in Indonesia, in which more than 2,000 people died. In recent years, a number of anti-Chinese riots and incidents have also occurred in Africa and Oceania. Anti-Chinese sentiment is often rooted in socio-economics.

Sino-Japanese relations



The relationship between China and Japan has been strained at times by Japan's perceived refusal to acknowledge its wartime
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 past to the satisfaction of the PRC. Revisionist
Historical revisionism
In historiography, historical revisionism is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event...

 comments made by prominent Japanese officials and some Japanese history textbooks
Japanese history textbook controversies
Japanese history textbook controversies refers to controversial content in government-approved history textbooks used in the secondary education of Japan...

 regarding the 1937 Rape of Nanking have been a focus of particular controversy. Sino-Japanese relations warmed considerably after Shinzo Abe
Shinzo Abe
was the 90th Prime Minister of Japan, elected by a special session of the National Diet on 26 September 2006. He was Japan's youngest post–World War II prime minister and the first born after the war. Abe served as prime minister for nearly twelve months, before resigning on 12 September 2007...

 became the Prime Minister of Japan
Prime Minister of Japan
The is the head of government of Japan. He is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office...

 in September 2006, and a joint historical study conducted by the PRC and Japan released a report in 2010 which pointed toward a new consensus on the issue of World War 2-era atrocities
Japanese war crimes
Japanese war crimes occurred during the period of Japanese imperialism, primarily during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. Some of the incidents have also been described as an Asian Holocaust and Japanese war atrocities...

. However, in the early 2010s, relations cooled once more, with Japan accusing China of withholding its reserves of valuable rare earth elements.

Territorial disputes


China has been involved in a number of international territorial disputes, mostly resulting from the legacy of unequal treaties imposed on China during the historical period of New Imperialism
New Imperialism
New Imperialism refers to the colonial expansion adopted by Europe's powers and, later, Japan and the United States, during the 19th and early 20th centuries; expansion took place from the French conquest of Algeria until World War I: approximately 1830 to 1914...

. Since the 1990s, the PRC has been entering negotiations to resolve its disputed land borders, usually by offering concessions and accepting less than half of the disputed territory with each party. The PRC's only remaining land border disputes are a disputed border with India
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

 and an undefined border with Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

. China is additionally involved in more minor multilateral disputes over the ownership of several small islands in the East
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

 and South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

s.

China and the developing world


China is heavily engaged, both politically and economically, with numerous nations in the developing world. Most notably, they have followed a policy of engaging with African nations
Involvement of the People's Republic of China in Africa
Chinese involvement in Africa, which began centuries ago, continues through the present day through exploration, trade, and the settlement of Chinese people in Africa...

 for trade and bilateral co-operation. Xinhua, China's official news agency, states that there are no less than 750,000 Chinese nationals working or living in Africa. China has furthermore strengthened its ties with larger developing economies, becoming the largest trading partner of Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and building strategic links with Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

. Along with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, China is a member of the BRICS
BRICS
BRICS is an international political organisation of leading emerging economies, arising out of the inclusion of South Africa into the BRIC group in 2010. As of 2011, its five members are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa...

 group of emerging major economies, and hosted the group's third official summit
2011 BRICS summit
The 2011 BRICS summit took place in Sanya on the island of Hainan, China, on 14 April 2011. This was the third BRICS summit since 2009. The meeting took place between the five heads of state/heads of government from the BRICS states following bilateral meetings in the prior days.-Theme and...

 at Sanya
Sanya
Sanya is the southernmost city in China and is a part of Hainan Province. In 2006, it had a population of 536,000, making it, after the provincial capital , the second most populous city on the island. The city is renowned for its tropical climate and has emerged as a popular tourist destination,...

 in Hainan Province in April 2011.

Emerging superpower


China is regularly cited as a potential new superpower, with certain commentators pointing out that its rapid economic progress, military might, very large population, and increasing international influence could see it attain a prominent global role in the 21st century
Chinese Century
The Chinese Century is a neologism referring to the possibility that the 21st century will be dominated by the People's Republic of China, similarly to how the 20th century is often called the American Century, and the 19th century the British Century...

. Others, however, warn that economic bubbles and demographic imbalances could slow China's growth as the century progresses.

Sociopolitical issues and reform


The Chinese democracy movement
Chinese democracy movement
The Chinese democracy movement refers to a series of loosely organized political movements in the People's Republic of China against the continued one-party rule by the Communist Party. One such movement began during the Beijing Spring in 1978 and was taken up again in the Tiananmen Square...

, social activists, and some members of the Communist Party of China have all identified the need for social and political reform. While economic and social controls have been greatly relaxed in China since the 1970s, political freedom is still tightly restricted. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China
Constitution of the People's Republic of China
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is the highest law within the People's Republic of China. The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982 with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Three previous state constitutions—those of...

 states that the "fundamental rights" of citizens include freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

, freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

, the right to a fair trial
Right to a fair trial
The right to fair trial is an essential right in all countries respecting the rule of law. A trial in these countries that is deemed unfair will typically be restarted, or its verdict voided....

, freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

, universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

, and property rights
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

. However, in practice, these provisions do not afford significant protection against criminal prosecution by the State.

As the Chinese economy expanded following Deng Xiaoping's 1978 reforms, tens of millions of rural Chinese who have moved to the cities find themselves treated as second-class citizen
Second-class citizen
Second-class citizen is an informal term used to describe a person who is systematically discriminated against within a state or other political jurisdiction, despite their nominal status as a citizen or legal resident there...

s by China's hukou household registration system, which controls state benefits
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

. Property rights are often poorly protected, and eminent domain
Eminent domain
Eminent domain , compulsory purchase , resumption/compulsory acquisition , or expropriation is an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent...

 land seizures have had a disproportionate effect on poorer peasants. In 2003, the average Chinese farmer paid three times more taxes than the average urban dweller, despite having one-sixth of the annual income. However, a number of rural taxes have since been reduced or abolished, and additional social services provided to rural dwellers.

Censorship
Censorship in the People's Republic of China
Censorship in the People's Republic of China is implemented or mandated by the PRC's ruling party, the Communist Party of China . The special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau have their own legal systems and are largely self-governing, so these censorship policies do not apply...

 of political speech and information, most notably on the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

, is openly and routinely used in China to silence criticism of the government and the ruling Communist Party. In 2005, Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders is a France-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press. It was founded in 1985, by Robert Ménard, Rony Brauman and the journalist Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Jean-François Julliard has served as Secretary General since 2008...

 ranked the PRC 159th out of 167 states in its Annual World Press Freedom Index, indicating a very low level of perceived press freedom. The government has suppressed demonstrations by organizations that it considers a potential threat to "social stability", as was the case with the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

. The Communist Party has had mixed success in controlling information: a powerful and pervasive media control system faces equally strong market forces, an increasingly educated citizenry, and technological and cultural changes that are making China more open to the wider world, especially on environmental issues. However, attempts are still made by the Chinese government to control public access to outside information, with online searches for politically sensitive material being blocked by the so-called Great Firewall.

A number of foreign governments and NGOs routinely criticize the PRC's human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 record, alleging widespread civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 violations, including systematic use of lengthy detention without trial, forced confessions, torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

, mistreatment of prisoners, and restrictions of freedom of speech, assembly
Freedom of assembly
Freedom of assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests...

, association
Freedom of association
Freedom of association is the individual right to come together with other individuals and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests....

, religion, the press, and labor rights
Labor rights
Labor rights or workers' rights are a group of legal rights and claimed human rights having to do with labor relations between workers and their employers, usually obtained under labor and employment law. In general, these rights' debates have to do with negotiating workers' pay, benefits, and safe...

. China executes more people than any other country
Capital punishment in the People's Republic of China
Capital punishment in the People's Republic of China is currently administered for a variety of crimes, but the vast majority of executions are for cases of either aggravated murder or large scale drug trafficking...

, accounting for 72% of the world's total in 2009, though it is not the largest executioner per capita
Per capita
Per capita is a Latin prepositional phrase: per and capita . The phrase thus means "by heads" or "for each head", i.e. per individual or per person...

.

The PRC government has responded to foreign criticism by arguing that the notion of human rights should take into account a country's present level of economic development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

, and focus more on the people's rights to subsistence and development in poorer countries. The rise in the standard of living
Standard of living
Standard of living is generally measured by standards such as real income per person and poverty rate. Other measures such as access and quality of health care, income growth inequality and educational standards are also used. Examples are access to certain goods , or measures of health such as...

, literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

, and life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 for the average Chinese in the last three decades is seen by the government as tangible progress made in human rights. Efforts in the past decade to combat deadly natural disasters, such as the perennial Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 floods, and work-related accidents are also portrayed in China as progress in human rights for a still largely poor country.

The PRC government remains divided over the issue of political reform. Some high-ranking politicians have spoken out in favor reforms, while others remain more conservative. In 2010, Premier Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao is the sixth and current Premier and Party secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, serving as China's head of government and leading its cabinet. In his capacity as Premier, Wen is regarded as the leading figure behind China's economic policy...

 stated that the PRC needs "to gradually improve the democratic election system so that state power will truly belong to the people and state power will be used to serve the people." Despite his status, Wen's comments were later censored by the government.

As the social, cultural and political consequences of economic growth and reform become increasingly manifest, tensions between the conservatives and reformists in the Communist Party are sharpening. Zhou Tianyong, the vice director of research of the Central Party School
Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
The Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, also known as the Central Party School, is the highest institution to train new officials for the Communist Party of China. As of October 03, 2007, it has about 1,300 students...

, argues that gradual political reform as well as repression of those pushing for overly rapid change over the next thirty years will be essential if China is to avoid an overly turbulent transition to a democratic, middle-class-dominated polity. Some Chinese look back to the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution, and fear chaos if the Communist Party should lose control of the domestic situation.

Military



With 2.3 million active troops, the People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

 (PLA) is the largest standing military force in the world, commanded by the Central Military Commission (CMC). The PLA consists of the People's Liberation Army Ground Force
People's Liberation Army Ground Force
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force is the land-based service branch of the People's Liberation Army. Its regular forces consist of 1.7 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of...

 (PLAGF), the People's Liberation Army Navy
People's Liberation Army Navy
The People's Liberation Army Navy is the naval branch of the People's Liberation Army , the military of the People's Republic of China. Until the early 1990s, the navy performed a subordinate role to the PLA Land Forces. Since then, it has undergone rapid modernisation...

 (PLAN), the People's Liberation Army Air Force
People's Liberation Army Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Air Force is the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army, the military of the People's Republic of China...

 (PLAAF), and a strategic nuclear force, the Second Artillery Corps. The official announced budget
Military budget of the People's Republic of China
The military budget of the People's Republic of China is the portion of the overall budget of China that is allocated for the funding of the military of the People's Republic of China...

 of the PLA for 2009 was $70 billion. However, the United States government has claimed that China does not report its real level of military spending, which is allegedly much higher than the official budget. The Defense Intelligence Agency
Defense Intelligence Agency
The Defense Intelligence Agency is a member of the Intelligence Community of the United States, and is the central producer and manager of military intelligence for the United States Department of Defense, employing over 16,500 U.S. military and civilian employees worldwide...

 estimated that the real Chinese military budget for 2008 was between US$105 billion and US$150 billion. According to SIPRI
SIPRI
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament...

, China's military expenditure in 2010 totalled US$114.3 billion (808 billion yuan), constituting the world's second-largest military budget.

As a recognised nuclear weapons state, China is considered both a major regional military power and an emerging military superpower
Potential superpowers
A potential superpower is a state or a political and economic entity that is speculated to be, or to be in the process of becoming, a superpower at some point in the 21st century. Previously, it was considered by many sources that only the United States fulfilled the criteria to be considered a...

. As of August 2011, China's Second Artillery Corps is believed to maintain at least 195 nuclear missiles, including 75 ICBMs. Nonetheless, China is the only member of the UN Security Council to have relatively limited power projection capabilities. To offset this, it has begun developing power projection assets, such as aircraft carrier
Future Chinese aircraft carrier
Since the 1970s, the People's Liberation Army Navy has expressed interest in operating an aircraft carrier as part of its blue water aspirations, and press reports have frequently quoted senior Chinese military officials as expressing an intention to build aircraft carriers...

s, and has established a network of foreign military relationships that has been compared to a string of pearls
String of Pearls (China)
The String of Pearls refers to the Chinese sea lines of communication which extend to Port Sudan. The sea lines run through the strategic choke points Strait of Mandab, Strait of Malacca, Strait of Hormuz and Strait of Lombok as well as other strategic naval interest such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka,...

.

The PRC has made significant progress in modernizing its military since the early 2000s. It has purchased state-of-the-art Russian fighter jets, such as the Sukhoi Su-30
Sukhoi Su-30
The Sukhoi Su-30 is a twin-engine, two-seat military aircraft developed by Russia's Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.The Su-30 started out as an internal development project in the Sukhoi Su-27 family...

s, and has also produced its own modern fighters, most notably the Chinese J-10s
Chengdu J-10
The Chengdu J-10 is a multirole fighter aircraft designed and produced by the People's Republic of China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation for the People's Liberation Army Air Force...

 and the J-11s
Shenyang J-11
The Shenyang J-11 with NATO reporting name: Flanker B+ is a single-seat, twin-engine jet fighter based on the Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-27 air superiority fighter produced by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation...

. China is furthermore engaged in developing an indigenous stealth aircraft
Stealth aircraft
Stealth aircraft are aircraft that use stealth technology to avoid detection by employing a combination of features to interfere with radar as well as reduce visibility in the infrared, visual, audio, and radio frequency spectrum. Development of stealth technology likely began in Germany during...

, the Chengdu J-20
Chengdu J-20
The Chengdu J-20 is a purported fifth-generation, stealth, twin-engine fighter aircraft prototype developed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group for the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force . In late 2010, the J-20 underwent high speed taxiing tests. The J-20 made its first flight on 11...

. The PRC's ground forces have also undergone significant modernisations, replacing its ageing Soviet-derived tank inventory
Main battle tank
A main battle tank , also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the heavy direct fire role of many modern armies. They were originally conceived to replace the light, medium, heavy and super-heavy tanks. Development was spurred onwards in the Cold War with the development...

 with numerous variants of the modern Type 99
Type 99
The Type 99, also known as ZTZ-99 and WZ-123, developed from the Type 98G , is a third generation main battle tank fielded by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. It is made to compete with other modern tanks...

 tank, and upgrading its battlefield C3I
C4ISTAR
In military usage, a number of abbreviations in the format C followed by additional letters are used, based on expanded versions of the abbreviation C2 - command and control.C2I stands for command, control, and intelligence....

 systems to enhance its network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare, also called network-centric operations, is a military doctrine or theory of war pioneered by the United States Department of Defense in the 1990's....

 capabilities.

China has also acquired and improved upon the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

 system, which is considered to be among the most effective aircraft-intercepting systems in the world. Russia has since produced the next-generation S-400 Triumf system, with China reportedly having spent $500 million on a downgraded export version of it. A number of indigenous missile technologies have also been developed – in 2007, China conducted a successful test
2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test
The 2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test was conducted by China on January 11, 2007. A Chinese weather satellite—the FY-1C polar orbit satellite of the Fengyun series, at an altitude of , with a mass of 750 kg—was destroyed by a kinetic kill vehicle traveling with a speed of 8 km/s in...

 of an anti-satellite missile
Anti-satellite weapon
Anti-satellite weapons are designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Currently, only the United States, the former Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China are known to have developed these weapons. On September 13, 1985, the United States destroyed US...

, and its first indigenous land-attack cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

, the CJ-10, entered service in 2009. In 2011, the Pentagon
Pentagon
In geometry, a pentagon is any five-sided polygon. A pentagon may be simple or self-intersecting. The sum of the internal angles in a simple pentagon is 540°. A pentagram is an example of a self-intersecting pentagon.- Regular pentagons :In a regular pentagon, all sides are equal in length and...

 reported that China was believed to be testing the JL-2
JL-2
The JL-2 is a Chinese second-generation intercontinental-range submarine-launched ballistic missile which has a two-stage, solid–liquid-fuelled propulsion design. Accurate specifications of the new missile are hard to obtain and substantiate due to the secretive nature of the program...

 missile, a new submarine-launched nuclear ICBM with multiple-warhead delivery capabilities.

In recent years, much attention has been focused on enhancing the blue-water
Blue-water navy
The term blue-water navy is a colloquialism used to describe a maritime force capable of operating across the deep waters of open oceans. While what actually constitutes such a force remains undefined, there is a requirement for the ability to exercise sea control at wide ranges...

 capabilities of the People's Liberation Army Navy. In August 2011, China's first aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

, the refurbished Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 vessel Varyag
Chinese aircraft carrier ex-Varyag
China's first aircraft carrier is the unfinished former Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag. The carrier was purchased from Ukraine in 1998 by the PRC, reportedly for use as an amusement park, and moved to China...

, began sea trials. China furthermore maintains a substantial fleet of submarines, including several nuclear-powered
Nuclear submarine
A nuclear submarine is a submarine powered by a nuclear reactor . The performance advantages of nuclear submarines over "conventional" submarines are considerable: nuclear propulsion, being completely independent of air, frees the submarine from the need to surface frequently, as is necessary for...

 attack and ballistic missile
Ballistic missile submarine
A ballistic missile submarine is a submarine equipped to launch ballistic missiles .-Description:Ballistic missile submarines are larger than any other type of submarine, in order to accommodate SLBMs such as the Russian R-29 or the American Trident...

 submarines. On 13 March 2011, the PLAN missile frigate
Frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

 Xuzhou was spotted off the coast of Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, marking the first time in history a Chinese warship sailed into the Mediterranean. The ship's entrance into the Mediterranean was officially part of a humanitarian mission to rescue PRC nationals from the 2011 Libyan civil war
2011 Libyan civil war
The 2011 Libyan civil war was an armed conflict in the North African state of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government. The war was preceded by protests in Benghazi beginning on 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security...

, though analysts such as Fareed Zakaria
Fareed Zakaria
Fareed Rafiq Zakaria is an Indian-American journalist and author. From 2000 to 2010, he was a columnist for Newsweek and editor of Newsweek International. In 2010 he became Editor-At-Large of Time magazine...

 viewed the mission as also being an attempt to increase the PRC's global military presence.

Little information is available regarding the motivations supporting China's military modernization. A 2007 report by the US Secretary of Defense noted that "China's actions in certain areas increasingly appear inconsistent with its declaratory policies". For its part, China claims it maintains an army purely for defensive purposes.

Economy




From its founding in 1949 until late 1978, the People's Republic of China was a Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

-style centrally planned economy
Planned economy
A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency...

, without private businesses
Private sector
In economics, the private sector is that part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the state...

 or capitalism. To propel the country towards a modern, industrialized communist society, Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 instituted the Great Leap Forward
Great Leap Forward
The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China was an economic and social campaign of the Communist Party of China , reflected in planning decisions from 1958 to 1961, which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a modern...

 in the early 1960s, although this had decidedly mixed economic results. Following Mao's death in 1976 and the consequent end of the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician, statesman, and diplomat. As leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng was a reformer who led China towards a market economy...

 and the new Chinese leadership began to reform the economy and move towards a more market-oriented mixed economy
Mixed economy
Mixed economy is an economic system in which both the state and private sector direct the economy, reflecting characteristics of both market economies and planned economies. Most mixed economies can be described as market economies with strong regulatory oversight, in addition to having a variety...

 under one-party rule. Collectivization
Collective farming
Collective farming and communal farming are types of agricultural production in which the holdings of several farmers are run as a joint enterprise...

 of the agriculture
Agriculture in China
Agriculture is an important economic sector of China, employing over 300 million farmers. China ranks first in worldwide farm output, primarily producing rice, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed, pork, and fish.-History:...

 was dismantled and farmlands were privatized to increase productivity. In 1978, China and Japan began normalized diplomatic relations, and China started borrowing money from Japan in soft loan
Soft loan
A soft loan is a loan with a below-market rate of interest. This is also known as soft financing. Sometimes soft loans provide other concessions to borrowers, such as long repayment periods or interest holidays. Soft loans are usually provided by governments to projects they think are worthwhile...

s. Since 1978, Japan has been China's most significant foreign donor. Modern-day China is mainly characterised as having a market economy based on private property ownership, and is one of the leading examples of state capitalism
State capitalism
The term State capitalism has various meanings, but is usually described as commercial economic activity undertaken by the state with management of the productive forces in a capitalist manner, even if the state is nominally socialist. State capitalism is usually characterized by the dominance or...

.

Under the post-Mao market reforms, a wide variety of small-scale private enterprises were encouraged, while the government relaxed price controls and promoted foreign investment. Foreign trade was focused upon as a major vehicle of growth, leading to the creation of Special Economic Zone
Special Economic Zone
A Special Economic Zone is a geographical region that has economic and other laws that are more free-market-oriented than a country's typical or national laws...

s (SEZs), first in Shenzhen
Shenzhen
Shenzhen is a major city in the south of Southern China's Guangdong Province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. The area became China's first—and one of the most successful—Special Economic Zones...

 and then in other Chinese cities. Inefficient state-owned enterprises
Government-owned corporation
A government-owned corporation, state-owned company, state-owned entity, state enterprise, publicly owned corporation, government business enterprise, or parastatal is a legal entity created by a government to undertake commercial activities on behalf of an owner government...

 (SOEs) were restructured by introducing western-style management systems, with unprofitable ones being closed outright, resulting in massive job losses. By the latter part of 2010, China was reversing some of its economic liberalization initiatives, with state-owned companies buying up independent businesses in the steel, auto and energy industries.


Since economic liberalization began in 1978, the PRC's investment- and export-led economy has grown 90 times bigger and is the fastest growing major economy in the world. According to the IMF, the PRC's annual average GDP growth between 2001 and 2010 was 10.5%, the Chinese economy is predicted to grow at an average annual rate of 9.5% between 2011 and 2015.Between 2007 and 2011, China's economic growth rate was equivalent to all of the G7 countries' growth combined. According to the Global Growth Generators
3G (countries)
3G countries or Global Growth Generators countries are 11 countries economies which have been identified as sources of growth potential and of profitable investment opportunities.-Background:...

 index announced by Citigroup
Citigroup
Citigroup Inc. or Citi is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Citigroup was formed from one of the world's largest mergers in history by combining the banking giant Citicorp and financial conglomerate...

 in February 2011, China has a very high 3G growth rating. As of 2010, China has the world's second-largest nominal GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

, at 40.1 trillion yuan (US$6.05 trillion), although its GDP per capita
Per capita
Per capita is a Latin prepositional phrase: per and capita . The phrase thus means "by heads" or "for each head", i.e. per individual or per person...

 of US$4,300 puts the PRC behind ninety countries(out of 183 countries on the IMF list) in global GDP per capita rankings. China's primary, secondary, and tertiary industries contributed 10.6%, 46.8%, and 42.6% respectively to its total GDP in 2009. If PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

 is taken into account, the PRC's economy is again second only to the US, at $10.085 trillion, corresponding to $7,518 per capita.

The PRC is the third-most-visited country in the world, with 55.7 million inbound international visitors in 2010. It is a member of the WTO
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

 and is the world's second-largest trading power behind the US, with a total international trade value of US$2.97 trillion–1.58 trillion in exports (#1) and US$1.39 trillion in imports (#2). Its foreign exchange reserves have reached US$2.85 trillion at end of 2010, an increase of 18.7% over the previous year, making its reserves by far the world's largest. The PRC owns an estimated $1.6 trillion of US securities
Security (finance)
A security is generally a fungible, negotiable financial instrument representing financial value. Securities are broadly categorized into:* debt securities ,* equity securities, e.g., common stocks; and,...

. The PRC, holding US$1.16 trillion in US Treasury bonds, is the largest foreign holder of US public debt. China is the world's third-largest recipient of inward FDI
Foreign direct investment
Foreign direct investment or foreign investment refers to the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor.. It is the sum of equity capital,other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown in...

, attracting US$92.4 billion in 2008 alone, and China increasingly invests abroad, with a total outward FDI of US$52.2 billion in 2008 making it the world's sixth-largest outward investor. In 2010, China's inward FDI was $106 billion, marking a 16% increase over 2009.
The PRC's success has been primarily due to manufacturing as a low-cost producer. This is attributed to a combination of cheap labor, good infrastructure, relatively high productivity, favorable government policy, and a possibly undervalued exchange rate. The latter has been sometimes blamed for the PRC's huge trade surplus (US$262.7 billion in 2007) and has become a major source of dispute between the PRC and its major trading partners—the US, EU, and Japan—despite the yuan having been de-pegged and having risen in value by 20% against the US dollar since 2005.

The state still dominates in strategic "pillar" industries (such as energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 and heavy industries
Heavy industry
Heavy industry does not have a single fixed meaning as compared to light industry. It can mean production of products which are either heavy in weight or in the processes leading to their production. In general, it is a popular term used within the name of many Japanese and Korean firms, meaning...

), but private enterprise (composed of around 30 million private businesses) has expanded enormously; in 2005, it accounted for anywhere between 33% to 70% of national GDP, while the OECD estimate for that year was over 50% of China's national output, up from 1% in 1978. Its stock market in Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, the SSE
Shanghai Stock Exchange
The Shanghai Stock Exchange , abbreviated as 上证所/上證所 or 上交所, is a stock exchange that is based in the city of Shanghai, China. It is one of the two stock exchanges operating independently in the People's Republic of China, the other is the Shenzhen Stock Exchange...

, has raised record amounts of IPOs
Initial public offering
An initial public offering or stock market launch, is the first sale of stock by a private company to the public. It can be used by either small or large companies to raise expansion capital and become publicly traded enterprises...

 and its benchmark Shanghai Composite index
SSE Composite
The SSE Composite Index is an index of all stocks that are traded at the Shanghai Stock Exchange.-Weighting and calculation:...

 has doubled since 2005. SSE's market capitalization
Market capitalization
Market capitalization is a measurement of the value of the ownership interest that shareholders hold in a business enterprise. It is equal to the share price times the number of shares outstanding of a publicly traded company...

 reached US$3 trillion in 2007, making it the world's fifth-largest stock exchange.
China now ranks 29th in the Global Competitiveness Index, although it is only ranked 135th among the 179 countries measured in the Index of Economic Freedom
Index of Economic Freedom
The Index of Economic Freedom is a series of 10 economic measurements created by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Its stated objective is to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world's nations....

. 46 Chinese companies made the list in the 2010 Fortune Global 500
Fortune Global 500
The Fortune Global 500 is a ranking of the top 500 corporations worldwide as measured by revenue. The list is compiled and published annually by Fortune magazine....

 (Beijing alone with 30). Measured using market capitalization
Market capitalization
Market capitalization is a measurement of the value of the ownership interest that shareholders hold in a business enterprise. It is equal to the share price times the number of shares outstanding of a publicly traded company...

, four of the world's top ten most valuable companies are Chinese. Some of these include first-ranked PetroChina
PetroChina
PetroChina Company Limited is a Chinese oil company and is the listed arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation , headquartered in Dongcheng District, Beijing. It is China's biggest oil producer, and was the world's most valuable company by market value as of September 28th 2010...

, third-ranked Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. is the largest bank in the world by profit and market capitalization. It is one China's 'Big Four' state-owned commercial banks .It was founded as a limited company on January 1, 1984...

 (the world's most valuable bank), fifth-ranked China Mobile
China Mobile
China Mobile Limited is a Chinese state-owned telecommunication company that provides mobile voice and multimedia services through its nationwide mobile telecommunications network, the largest of its kind in the world...

 (the world's most valuable telecommunications company) and seventh-ranked China Construction Bank
China Construction Bank
China Construction Bank is one of the 'big four' banks in the People's Republic of China. To date, it is ranked as the nation's second largest and the second largest bank in the world by market capitalization and 12th largest company in the world. The bank has approximately 13,629 domestic branches...

.

Although a middle-income country by Western standards, the PRC's rapid growth has pulled hundreds of millions
Poverty in China
Poverty in People's Republic of China refers to the state of relative or absolute material deprivation that affects hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens, particularly those living in rural areas....

 of its people out of poverty since 1978. Today, about 10% of the Chinese population live below the poverty line of US$1 per day (down from 64% in 1978), while life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 has increased to 73 years. More than 93% of the population is literate, compared to only 20% in 1950. Urban unemployment
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

 in China reportedly declined to 4% by the end of 2007, although true overall unemployment may be as high as 10%.

China's middle-class population (defined as those with annual income of at least US$17,000) has reached more than 100 million as of 2011, while the number of super-rich individuals worth more than 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) is estimated to be 825,000, according to Hurun Report. Based on the Hurun rich list, the number of US dollar billionaires in China doubled from 130 in 2009 to 271 in 2010, giving China the world's second-highest number of billionaires. China's retail market was worth RMB 8.9 trillion (US$1.302 trillion) in 2007, and is growing at 16.8% annually. China is also now the world's second-largest consumer of luxury goods behind Japan, with 27.5% of the global share.


The PRC's growth has been uneven, with some geographic regions growing faster than others, and a pronounced urban-rural income gap contributing to a national Gini coefficient
Gini coefficient
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" ....

 of 46.9%. Development has been mainly concentrated in the heavily urbanised eastern coastal regions, while the remainder of the country has lagged behind. To counter this, the government has promoted development in the western
China Western Development
China Western Development , also China's Western Development, Western China Development, Great Western Development Strategy, or the Open Up the West Program is a policy adopted by the People's Republic of China to boost its less developed western regions.The policy covers 6 provinces , 5 autonomous...

, northeastern
Revitalize Northeast China
Revitalize The Old Northeast Industrial Bases , also Revitalize Northeast China or Northeast China Revitalization, is a policy adopted by the People's Republic of China in 2003 to rejuvenate industrial bases in Northeast China...

, and central regions of China.

In recent years, China's rapid economic growth has contributed to severe consumer inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

, causing the prices of basic goods to rise steeply. Food prices in China increased by over 21% in the first four months of 2008 alone. To curb inflation and moderate rising property prices
Real estate
In general use, esp. North American, 'real estate' is taken to mean "Property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this; an item of real property; buildings or...

, the Chinese government has instituted a number of fiscal regulations and amendments, raising interest rates and imposing limits on bank loans. In September 2011, consumer prices rose by 6.1% compared to a year earlier, marking a reduction in inflation from the peak of 6.5% in July 2011. A side-effect of increased economic regulation was a slowdown in overall growth – China's quarterly GDP growth fell to 9.1% in October 2011, down from 9.5% in the previous quarter.

The Chinese economy is highly energy-intensive and inefficient—on average, industrial processes in China use 20%–100% more energy than similar ones in OECD countries. China became the world's largest energy consumer
World energy resources and consumption
]World energy consumption in 2010: over 5% growthEnergy markets have combined crisis recovery and strong industry dynamism. Energy consumption in the G20 soared by more than 5% in 2010, after the slight decrease of 2009. This strong increase is the result of two converging trends...

 in 2010, but still relies on coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 to supply about 70% of its energy needs. Coupled with lax environmental regulations, this has led to massive water and air pollution, leaving China with 20 of the world's 30 most polluted cities. Consequently, the government has promised to use more renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

, planning to make renewables constitute 30% of China's total energy production by 2050. In 2010, China became the largest wind energy
Wind energy
Wind energy is the kinetic energy of air in motion; see also wind power.Total wind energy flowing through an imaginary area A during the time t is:E = ½ m v2 = ½ v 2...

 provider in the world, with a total installed wind power capacity of 41.8 GW. In January 2011, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 began scheduled oil shipments to China, pumping 300,000 barrels of oil per day via the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean oil pipeline.

Science and technology


Ancient Chinese inventors were responsible for pioneering a vast number of technologies. These included papermaking
Papermaking
Papermaking is the process of making paper, a substance which is used universally today for writing and packaging.In papermaking a dilute suspension of fibres in water is drained through a screen, so that a mat of randomly interwoven fibres is laid down. Water is removed from this mat of fibres by...

, woodblock printing
Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....

 and movable type
Movable type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....

 printing, the early lodestone
Lodestone
A lodestone or loadstone is a naturally magnetized piece of the mineral magnetite. They are naturally occurring magnets, that attract pieces of iron. Ancient people first discovered the property of magnetism in lodestone...

 and needle compass
Compass
A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west. Intermediate directions are also defined...

, gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

, toilet paper, early seismological
Seismometer
Seismometers are instruments that measure motions of the ground, including those of seismic waves generated by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other seismic sources...

 detectors, matches, pound locks, the double-action piston pump
Piston pump
A piston pump is a type of positive displacement pump where the high-pressure seal reciprocates with the piston. Piston pumps can be used to move liquids or compress gases.-Types:* Axial piston pump* Radial piston pump...

, blast furnace
Blast furnace
A blast furnace is a type of metallurgical furnace used for smelting to produce industrial metals, generally iron.In a blast furnace, fuel and ore and flux are continuously supplied through the top of the furnace, while air is blown into the bottom of the chamber, so that the chemical reactions...

 and cast iron
Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

, the iron plough, the multi-tube seed drill
Seed drill
A seed drill is a sowing device that precisely positions seeds in the soil and then covers them. Before the introduction of the seed drill, the common practice was to plant seeds by hand. Besides being wasteful, planting was very imprecise and led to a poor distribution of seeds, leading to low...

, the suspension bridge
Suspension bridge
A suspension bridge is a type of bridge in which the deck is hung below suspension cables on vertical suspenders. Outside Tibet and Bhutan, where the first examples of this type of bridge were built in the 15th century, this type of bridge dates from the early 19th century...

, natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 as a fuel, the differential gear for the South Pointing Chariot
South Pointing Chariot
The south-pointing chariot was an ancient Chinese two-wheeled vehicle that carried a movable pointer to indicate the south, no matter how the chariot turned. Usually, the pointer took the form of a doll or figure with an outstretched arm...

, the hydraulic-powered armillary sphere
Armillary sphere
An armillary sphere is a model of objects in the sky , consisting of a spherical framework of rings, centred on Earth, that represent lines of celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features such as the ecliptic...

 and trip hammer
Trip hammer
A trip hammer, also known as a helve hammer, is a massive powered hammer used in:* agriculture to facilitate the labor of pounding, decorticating and polishing of grain;...

, the mechanical chain drive
Chain drive
Chain drive is a way of transmitting mechanical power from one place to another. It is often used to convey power to the wheels of a vehicle, particularly bicycles and motorcycles...

 and belt drive
Belt (mechanical)
A belt is a loop of flexible material used to link two or more rotating shafts mechanically. Belts may be used as a source of motion, to transmit power efficiently, or to track relative movement. Belts are looped over pulleys. In a two pulley system, the belt can either drive the pulleys in the...

, the raised-relief map
Raised-relief map
A raised-relief map or terrain model is a three-dimensional representation, usually of terrain. When representing terrain, the elevation dimension is usually exaggerated by a factor between five and ten; this facilitates the visual recognition of terrain features.-History:In his 1665 paper for the...

, the propeller
Propeller
A propeller is a type of fan that transmits power by converting rotational motion into thrust. A pressure difference is produced between the forward and rear surfaces of the airfoil-shaped blade, and a fluid is accelerated behind the blade. Propeller dynamics can be modeled by both Bernoulli's...

, the crossbow
Crossbow
A crossbow is a weapon consisting of a bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles, often called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a torsion engine resembling a crossbow in appearance.Historically, crossbows played a...

, the cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

, and the multistage rocket
Multistage rocket
A multistage rocket is a rocket that usestwo or more stages, each of which contains its own engines and propellant. A tandem or serial stage is mounted on top of another stage; a parallel stage is attached alongside another stage. The result is effectively two or more rockets stacked on top of or...

.

Chinese astronomers
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 were among the first to record observations of a supernova
Supernova
A supernova is a stellar explosion that is more energetic than a nova. It is pronounced with the plural supernovae or supernovas. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months...

. Chinese mathematics
Chinese mathematics
Mathematics in China emerged independently by the 11th century BC. The Chinese independently developed very large and negative numbers, decimals, a place value decimal system, a binary system, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry....

 evolved independently of Greek mathematics
Greek mathematics
Greek mathematics, as that term is used in this article, is the mathematics written in Greek, developed from the 7th century BC to the 4th century AD around the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Greek mathematicians lived in cities spread over the entire Eastern Mediterranean, from Italy to...

 and is therefore of great interest in the history of mathematics
History of mathematics
The area of study known as the history of mathematics is primarily an investigation into the origin of discoveries in mathematics and, to a lesser extent, an investigation into the mathematical methods and notation of the past....

. Moreover, the Chinese were keen on documenting all of their technological achievements, such as in the Tiangong Kaiwu encyclopedia
Encyclopedia
An encyclopedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding a summary of information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge....

 written by Song Yingxing
Song Yingxing
Song Yingxing , born in Yichun of Jiangxi, was a Chinese scientist and encyclopedist who lived during the late Ming Dynasty . He was the author of an encyclopedia that covered a wide variety of technical subjects, including the use of gunpowder weapons...

 (1587–1666).

Despite its earlier sophistication, China's grasp of science and technology had fallen behind that of Europe by the 17th century. Political, social and cultural reasons have been given for this, although recent historians focus more on economic causes, such as the high level equilibrium trap
High level equilibrium trap
The high level equilibrium trap is a concept developed by Mark Elvin to explain why China never underwent an indigenous Industrial Revolution, despite its wealth, stability, and high level of scientific achievement...

. Since the beginning of Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician, statesman, and diplomat. As leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng was a reformer who led China towards a market economy...

's market reforms, China has grown increasingly connected to the global economy and information sphere, and the government has placed a heavy emphasis on the development of science and technology.

After the Sino-Soviet split
Sino-Soviet split
In political science, the term Sino–Soviet split denotes the worsening of political and ideologic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Cold War...

 of the 1960s and '70s, China started to develop its own nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s and delivery systems, successfully detonating its first surface nuclear test
Nuclear testing
Nuclear weapons tests are experiments carried out to determine the effectiveness, yield and explosive capability of nuclear weapons. Throughout the twentieth century, most nations that have developed nuclear weapons have tested them...

 in 1964 at Lop Nur. A natural outgrowth of this was a satellite launching program, which culminated in 1970 with the launching of Dong Fang Hong I
Dong Fang Hong I
Dong Fang Hong I , also known as China 1, was the People's Republic of China's first space satellite, launched successfully on April 24, 1970 as part of the PRC's Dong Fang Hong space satellite program. At 173 kg , it was heavier than the first satellites of other countries. The satellite carried...

, the first Chinese satellite. This made the PRC the fifth nation to independently launch a satellite. China has the world's second-largest research and development
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

 budget, and invested over $136 billion in science and technology in 2006, an increase of more than 20% over 2005. Stem cell
Stem cell
This article is about the cell type. For the medical therapy, see Stem Cell TreatmentsStem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells...

 research and gene therapy
Gene therapy
Gene therapy is the insertion, alteration, or removal of genes within an individual's cells and biological tissues to treat disease. It is a technique for correcting defective genes that are responsible for disease development...

, which some in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 see as controversial, face minimal regulation in China. China has an estimated 926,000 researchers, second only to the 1.3 million in the United States.

In 1992, the Shenzhou
Shenzhou spacecraft
Shenzhou is a spacecraft developed and operated by the People's Republic of China to support its manned spaceflight program. The name is variously translated as "Divine Craft," "Divine Vessel of God," "Magic Boat" or similar and is also homophonous with an ancient name for China...

 manned spaceflight program was authorized. After four unmanned tests, Shenzhou 5
Shenzhou 5
Shenzhou 5  — was the first human spaceflight mission of the People's Republic of China , launched on October 15, 2003. The Shenzhou spacecraft was launched on a Long March 2F launch vehicle. There had been four previous flights of unmanned Shenzhou missions since 1999...

 was launched on 15 October 2003, using a Long March 2F
Long March 2F
The Long March 2F , also known as the CZ-2F, LM-2F and Shenjian, is a Chinese manned orbital carrier rocket, part of the Long March rocket family. Designed to launch manned Shenzhou spacecraft, the Long March 2F is a man-rated two-stage version of the Long March 2E rocket, which in turn was based...

 launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
In spaceflight, a launch vehicle or carrier rocket is a rocket used to carry a payload from the Earth's surface into outer space. A launch system includes the launch vehicle, the launch pad and other infrastructure....

 and carrying Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei
Yang Liwei
Yáng Lìwěi is a Chinese major general and military pilot and a CNSA astronaut. He was the first man sent into space by the Chinese space program and his mission, Shenzhou 5, made China the third country to independently send people into space.-Background:...

, making the PRC the third country to put a human being into space through its own endeavors. In 2008, China successfully completed the Shenzhou 7
Shenzhou 7
- Backup crew :Of the back-up crew, only Chen Quan had not previously flown in space.- Mission highlights :The Long March 2F rocket launched the Shenzhou 7 into an initial elliptical orbit of 200 x 330 kilometres inclined at 42.4 degrees on 25 September 2008. About seven hours later the spacecraft...

 mission, making it the third country to have the capability to conduct a spacewalk
Extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth, and outside of a spacecraft. The term most commonly applies to an EVA made outside a craft orbiting Earth , but also applies to an EVA made on the surface of the Moon...

. China maintains an active lunar exploration program
Chinese Lunar Exploration Program
Chinese Lunar Exploration Program , also known as the Chang'e program, is a program of robotic and human missions to the Moon undertaken by the China National Space Administration , the space agency of the People's Republic of China...

 – it successfully launched the Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2
Chang'e 2
Chang'e 2 is a Chinese unmanned lunar probe that was launched on 1 October 2010. It was a follow-up to the Chang'e 1 lunar probe, which was launched in 2007. Chang'e 2 was part of the first phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, and conducted research from a 100-kilometer-high lunar orbit...

 lunar survey probes in 2007 and 2011 respectively, and is planning to launch a lunar rover
Chang'e 3
Chang'e 3 is a Chinese lunar exploration mission, incorporating a robotic lander and rover. Scheduled for launch in 2013 as part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, it will be China's first lunar rover, and the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon since the...

 in 2013, as a precursor to a possible manned lunar landing in the 2020s. In September 2011, the first Chinese space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 module, Tiangong-1, was successfully launched, marking the first step in a decade-long project
Project 921-2
Tiangong is a space station program of the People's Republic of China, with the goal of creating a third generation space station, comparable to MIR. This program is autonomous and unconnected to any other international space-active countries...

 to construct a large manned space station. China is furthermore considering a manned mission to Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

, and made its first attempt at robotic
Robotic spacecraft
A robotic spacecraft is a spacecraft with no humans on board, that is usually under telerobotic control. A robotic spacecraft designed to make scientific research measurements is often called a space probe. Many space missions are more suited to telerobotic rather than crewed operation, due to...

 exploration of Mars
Exploration of Mars
The exploration of Mars has been an important part of the space exploration programs of the Soviet Union, the United States, Europe, and Japan. Dozens of robotic spacecraft, including orbiters, landers, and rovers, have been launched toward Mars since the 1960s...

 in November 2011.

China is also actively developing its software, semiconductor
Semiconductor
A semiconductor is a material with electrical conductivity due to electron flow intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. This means a conductivity roughly in the range of 103 to 10−8 siemens per centimeter...

 and energy
Energy industry
The energy industry is the totality of all of the industries involved in the production and sale of energy, including fuel extraction, manufacturing, refining and distribution...

 industries, including renewable energies
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 such as hydroelectric, wind and solar power
Solar power
Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available...

. In an effort to reduce pollution from coal-burning power plants, China has been pioneering the deployment of pebble bed nuclear reactors
Pebble bed reactor
The pebble bed reactor is a graphite-moderated, gas-cooled, nuclear reactor. It is a type of very high temperature reactor , one of the six classes of nuclear reactors in the Generation IV initiative...

, which run cooler and safer than conventional nuclear reactors, and have potential applications for the hydrogen economy
Hydrogen economy
The hydrogen economy is a proposed system of delivering energy using hydrogen. The term hydrogen economy was coined by John Bockris during a talk he gave in 1970 at General Motors Technical Center....

. In 2010, China developed Tianhe-I
Tianhe-I
Tianhe-I, Tianhe-1, or TH-1 , in English, "Milky Way Number One", is a supercomputer capable of an Rmax of 2.566 petaFLOPS...

A, for a time the world's fastest supercomputer
Supercomputer
A supercomputer is a computer at the frontline of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.Supercomputers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as problems including quantum physics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling A supercomputer is a...

, at the National Supercomputing Center of Tianjin
National Supercomputing Center of Tianjin
The National Supercomputing Center of Tianjin is located at the National Defense Science and Technology University in Tianjin, China. The currently the second fastest supercomputer in the world , Tianhe-1A, is located at the facility.-History:The Tianjin Computer Institute had been active as far...

. China also operates the Nebulae supercomputer, which was also among the world's top 10 supercomputers in 2010.

Communications



China currently has the most cellphone users of any country in the world, with over 800 million users as of July 2010. It also has the world's largest number of internet and broadband users. By December 2010, China had around 457 million internet users, an increase of 19% over the previous year, and by July 2011 the number of internet users had reached 485 million. According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China's average internet connection speed is 100.9 kbit/s, less than half of the global average of 212.5 kbit/s.

China Telecom
China Telecom
China Telecom Corp. Ltd. is a Chinese state-owned telecommunication company. It is the largest fixed line service and 3rd largest mobile telecommunication provider in the People's Republic of China.-Sectors:...

 and China Unicom
China Unicom
China Unicom or China United Netcom Ltd , is a Chinese state-owned telecommunications operator in the People's Republic of China.-History:...

, the country's two largest broadband providers, accounted for 20% of global broadband subscribers, whereas the world's ten largest broadband service providers combined accounted for 39% of the world's broadband customers. China Telecom alone serves 55 million broadband subscribers, while China Unicom serves more than 40 million. The massive rise in internet use in China continues to fuel rapid broadband growth, whereas the world's other major broadband ISPs operate in the mature markets of the developed world, with high levels of broadband penetration and rapidly slowing subscriber growth.

Transport


Transportation in mainland China has been prioritised by the government in recent decades, and has undergone intense state-led development since the late 1990s. The national road network has been massively expanded through the creation of a network of expressways
Expressways of China
The Expressway Network of the People's Republic of China is one of the longest in the world. The network is also known as National Trunk Highway System . The total length of China's expressways was at the end of 2010, the world's second longest only after the United States and slightly longer...

, known as the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS). By 2011, China's expressways had reached a total length of 74000 km (45,981.6 mi), second only to the road network of the United States.

China possesses the world’s longest high-speed rail network
High-speed rail in China
High-speed rail in China refers to any commercial train service in the China with an average speed of or higher. By that measure, China has the world's longest high-speed rail network with about of routes in service as of June 2011 including of rail lines with top speeds of...

, with over 4618 mi (7,431.9 km) of service routes. Of these, 601 mi (967.2 km) serve trains with top speeds of 220 mi/h.

Private car
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

 ownership is growing rapidly, with China surpassing the United States as the largest automobile market in the world in 2009, with total car sales of over 13.6 million.

Domestic air travel has also increased significantly, but remains too expensive for most. Long-distance transportation is dominated by railways and charter bus systems. Railways are the vital carrier in China; they are monopolized by the state, divided into various railway bureaux in different regions. Due to huge demand, the system is regularly subject to overcrowding, particularly during holiday seasons, such as Chunyun
Chunyun
Chunyun, , also referred to as Spring Festival travel season, or Chunyun period, is a period of travel in China with extremely high traffic load around the time of the Chinese New Year. The period usually begins 15 days before the Lunar New Year's Day and lasts for around 40 days...

 during the Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year – often called Chinese Lunar New Year although it actually is lunisolar – is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is an all East and South-East-Asia celebration...

.

Rapid transit
Rapid transit
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway, metro or metropolitan railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with a high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically located either in underground tunnels or on...

 systems are also rapidly developing in China's major cities, in the form of networks of underground or light rail
Light rail
Light rail or light rail transit is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems...

 systems. Hong Kong
Transport in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has a highly developed and sophisticated transport network, encompassing both public and private transport. Over 90% of the daily journeys are on public transport, making it the highest rate in the world....

 has one of the most developed transport systems in the world, while Shanghai has a high-speed maglev
Shanghai Maglev Train
The Shanghai Maglev Train or Shanghai Transrapid is a magnetic levitation train, or maglev line that operates in Shanghai, China. It is the first commercially operated high-speed magnetic levitation line in the world...

 rail line connecting the city to its main international airport, Pudong International Airport
Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Shanghai Pudong International Airport is the primary international airport serving Shanghai, China, and a major aviation hub in Asia. The other major airport in Shanghai, Hongqiao, mainly serves domestic flights...

.

Demographics


As of July 2010, the People's Republic of China has an estimated total population of 1,338,612,968. About 21% of the population (145,461,833 males; 128,445,739 females) are 14 years old or younger, 71% (482,439,115 males; 455,960,489 females) are between 15 and 64 years old, and 8% (48,562,635 males; 53,103,902 females) are over 65 years old. The population growth rate for 2006 was 0.6%.

By end of 2010, the proportion of mainland Chinese people aged 14 or younger was 16.60%, while the number aged 60 or older grew to 13.26%, giving a total proportion of 29.86% dependents
Dependency ratio
In economics and geography the dependency ratio is an age-population ratio of those typically not in the labor force and those typically in the labor force...

. The proportion of the population of workable age was thus around 70%.

With a population of over 1.3 billion and dwindling natural resources, the PRC is very concerned about its population growth
Population growth
Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement....

 and has attempted, with mixed results, to implement a strict family planning
Family planning
Family planning is the planning of when to have children, and the use of birth control and other techniques to implement such plans. Other techniques commonly used include sexuality education, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections, pre-conception counseling and...

 policy. The government's goal is one child per family
One-child policy
The one-child policy refers to the one-child limitation applying to a minority of families in the population control policy of the People's Republic of China . The Chinese government refers to it under the official translation of family planning policy...

, with exceptions for ethnic minorities and a degree of flexibility in rural areas. It is hoped that population growth in China will stabilize in the early decades of the 21st century, though some projections estimate a population of anywhere between 1.4 billion and 1.6 billion by 2025. China's family planning minister has indicated that the one-child policy will be maintained until at least 2020.
The one-child policy is resisted, particularly in rural areas, because of the need for agricultural labour and a traditional preference for boys (who can later serve as male heirs). Families who breach the policy often lie during the census. Official government policy opposes forced sterilization or abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

, but allegations of coercion continue as local officials, who are faced with penalties for failing to curb population growth, may resort to forcible measures, 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. Data from the 2010 census
Sixth National Population Census of the People's Republic of China
The Sixth National Population Census of the People's Republic of China, also referred to as the 2010 Chinese Census, was conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics of the People's Republic of China with a zero hour of November 1, 2010....

 implies that the total fertility rate
Total Fertility Rate
The total fertility rate of a population is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime if she were to experience the exact current age-specific fertility rates through her lifetime, and she...

 may now be around 1.4. The government is particularly concerned with the large imbalance in the sex ratio
Human sex ratio
In anthropology and demography, the human sex ratio is the sex ratio for Homo sapiens . Like most sexual species, the sex ratio is approximately 1:1. In humans the secondary sex ratio is commonly assumed to be 105 boys to 100 girls, an assumption that is a subject of debate in the scientific...

 at birth, apparently the result of a combination of traditional preference for boys and family planning pressure, which led to a ban on using ultrasound
Ultrasound
Ultrasound is cyclic sound pressure with a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing. Ultrasound is thus not separated from "normal" sound based on differences in physical properties, only the fact that humans cannot hear it. Although this limit varies from person to person, it is...

 devices in an attempt to prevent sex-selective abortion.

According to the 2010 census, there were 118.06 boys born for every 100 girls, which is 0.53 points lower than the ratio obtained from a population sample survey carried out in 2005. However, the gender ratio of 118.06 is still beyond the normal range of around 105 percent, and experts warn of increased social instability should this trend continue. For the population born between the years 1900 and 2000, it is estimated that there could be 35.59 million fewer females
Missing women of Asia
The phenomenon of the missing women of Asia is a shortfall in the number of women in Asia relative to the number that would be expected if there was no sex-selective abortion or female infanticide or if the newborn of both sexes received similar levels of health care and nutrition.The phenomenon...

 than males. Other demographers argue that perceived gender imbalances may arise from the underreporting of female births. A recent study suggests that as many as three million Chinese babies are hidden by their parents every year. According to the 2010 census
Sixth National Population Census of the People's Republic of China
The Sixth National Population Census of the People's Republic of China, also referred to as the 2010 Chinese Census, was conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics of the People's Republic of China with a zero hour of November 1, 2010....

, males accounted for 51.27 percent of the total population, while females made up 48.73 percent of the total.

Ethnic groups



The PRC officially recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups, the largest of
which are the Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

, who constitute about 91.51% of the total
population. The Han Chinese outnumber the minority groups in every province, municipality and autonomous region except Tibet
Tibet Autonomous Region
The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

 and Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

, and are descended from ancient Huaxia
Huaxia
Huaxia is a name often used to represent China or Chinese civilization.-Etymology:According to the historical record, Zuo Zhuan, the ancient Xia Dynasty of central China was a state that held propriety and justice in high esteem...

 tribes living along the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

.

Ethnic minorities account for about 8.49% of the population of China, according to
the 2010 census
Sixth National Population Census of the People's Republic of China
The Sixth National Population Census of the People's Republic of China, also referred to as the 2010 Chinese Census, was conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics of the People's Republic of China with a zero hour of November 1, 2010....

. Compared with the 2000 population census, the Han population increased by 66,537,177 persons, or 5.74%, while the population of the 55 national
minorities combined increased by 7,362,627 persons, or 6.92%.

The 2010 census recorded a total of 593,832 foreign citizens living in China. The largest such groups were from South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 (120,750), the
United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 (71,493) and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 (66,159).

Languages



Most languages in China belong to the Sino-Tibetan language family, spoken by 29 ethnicities. There are also several major linguistic groups
Varieties of Chinese
Chinese comprises many regional language varieties sometimes grouped together as the Chinese dialects, the primary ones being Mandarin, Wu, Cantonese, and Min. These are not mutually intelligible, and even many of the regional varieties are themselves composed of a number of...

 within the Chinese language
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 itself. The most spoken varieties are Mandarin (spoken by over 70% of the population), Wu (includes Shanghainese
Shanghainese
Shanghainese , or the Shanghai language , is a dialect of Wu Chinese spoken in the city of Shanghai and the surrounding region. It is classified as part of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. Shanghainese, like other Wu dialects, is largely not mutually intelligible with other Chinese varieties...

), Yue (includes Cantonese
Cantonese
Cantonese is a dialect spoken primarily in south China.Cantonese may also refer to:* Yue Chinese, the Chinese language that includes Cantonese* Cantonese cuisine, the cuisine of Guangdong province...

 and Taishanese), Min (includes Hokkien
Hokkien
Hokkien is a Hokkien word corresponding to Standard Chinese "Fujian". It may refer to:* Hokkien dialect, a dialect of Min Nan Chinese spoken in Southern Fujian , Taiwan, South-east Asia, and elsewhere....

 and Teochew), Xiang, Gan, and Hakka. Non-Sinitic languages spoken widely by ethnic minorities include Zhuang, Mongolian
Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

, Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

, Uyghur
Uyghur language
Uyghur , formerly known as Eastern Turk, is a Turkic language with 8 to 11 million speakers, spoken primarily by the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of Western China. Significant communities of Uyghur-speakers are located in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and various other...

, Hmong
Hmong language
Hmong or Mong is the common name for a dialect continuum of the West Hmongic branch of the Hmong–Mien/Miao–Yao language family spoken by the Hmong people of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, northern Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos...

 and Korean
Korean language
Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing...

. Standard Mandarin
Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese, or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin or Putonghua, is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Republic of China , and is one of the four official languages of Singapore....

, a variety of Mandarin based on the Beijing dialect
Beijing dialect
Beijing dialect, or Pekingese , is the dialect of Mandarin spoken in the urban area of Beijing, China. It is the phonological basis of Standard Chinese, which is used by the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China , and Singapore....

, is the official national language of China and is used as a lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 between people of different linguistic backgrounds.

Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese or Literary Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese based on the grammar and vocabulary of ancient Chinese, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese...

 was the written standard in China for thousands of years, and allowed for written communication between speakers of various unintelligible languages and dialects in China. Written vernacular Chinese, or baihua, is the written standard based on the Mandarin dialect and first popularized in Ming Dynasty novels. It was adopted with significant modifications during the early 20th century as the national standard. Classical Chinese is still part of the high school curriculum and is thus intelligible to some degree to many Chinese. Since its promulgation by the government in 1956, Simplified Chinese characters have become the official standardized written script
Writing system
A writing system is a symbolic system used to represent elements or statements expressible in language.-General properties:Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that the reader must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to...

 used to write the Chinese language within mainland China, supplanting the use of Traditional Chinese characters used earlier there.

Urbanization


Since 2000, China's cities have expanded at an average rate of 10% annually. The country's urbanization rate increased from 17.4% to 46.8% between 1978 and 2009, a scale unprecedented in human history. Between 150 and 200 million migrant worker
Migrant worker
The term migrant worker has different official meanings and connotations in different parts of the world. The United Nations' definition is broad, including any people working outside of their home country...

s work part-time in the major cities, returning home to the countryside periodically with their earnings.

Today, the People's Republic of China has dozens of cities with one million or more long-term residents, including the three global cities
Global city
A global city is a city that is deemed to be an important node in the global economic system...

 of Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, and Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

. The figures in the table below are from the 2008 census, and are only estimates of the 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; the figures below do not include the floating population, only long-term residents.

Education


In 1986, China set the long-term goal of providing compulsory nine-year basic education to every child. As of 2007, there were 396,567 primary schools, 94,116 secondary schools, and 2,236 higher education institutions in the PRC. In February 2006, the government advanced its basic education goal by pledging to provide completely free nine-year education, including textbooks and fees. Free compulsory education in China consists of elementary school and middle school, which lasts for 9 years (ages 6–15); almost all children in urban areas continue with three years of high school.

, 93.3% of the population over age 15 are literate. In 2000, China's literacy rate among 15-to-24-year-olds was 98.9% (99.2% for males and 98.5% for females). In March 2007, the Chinese government declared education a national "strategic priority"; the central budget for national scholarships was tripled between 2007 and 2009, and 223.5 billion yuan (US$28.65 billion) of extra state funding was allocated between 2007 and 2012 to improve compulsory education in rural areas.

In 2009, Chinese students from Shanghai achieved the world's best results in mathematics, science and literacy, as tested by the Programme for International Student Assessment
Programme for International Student Assessment
The Programme for International Student Assessment is a worldwide evaluation in OECD member countries of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance, performed first in 2000 and repeated every three years...

 (PISA), a worldwide evaluation of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance.

The quality of Chinese colleges and universities varies considerably across the country. The consistently top-ranked universities in mainland China are:
  • Beijing: Peking University
    Peking University
    Peking University , colloquially known in Chinese as Beida , is a major research university located in Beijing, China, and a member of the C9 League. It is the first established modern national university of China. It was founded as Imperial University of Peking in 1898 as a replacement of the...

    , Tsinghua University
    Tsinghua University
    Tsinghua University , colloquially known in Chinese as Qinghua, is a university in Beijing, China. The school is one of the nine universities of the C9 League. It was established in 1911 under the name "Tsinghua Xuetang" or "Tsinghua College" and was renamed the "Tsinghua School" one year later...

    , Renmin University of China
    Renmin University of China
    Renmin University of China; RUC, also known as People's University of China , colloquially Renda , is a major research university in Haidian District, Beijing, China. Its campus neighbors those of Peking University and Tsinghua University....

    , Beijing Normal University
    Beijing Normal University
    Beijing Normal University , colloqiually known as 北师大 or Beishida, is a public research university located in Beijing with strong emphasis on basic disciplines of humanities and sciences...

  • Shanghai: Fudan University
    Fudan University
    Fudan University , located in Shanghai, is one of the oldest and most selective universities in China, and is a member of the C9 League. Its institutional predecessor was founded in 1905, shortly before the end of China's imperial Qing dynasty...

    , Shanghai Jiao Tong University
    Shanghai Jiao Tong University
    Shanghai Jiao Tong University or SJTU), sometimes referred to as Shanghai Jiaotong University , is a top public research university located in Shanghai, China. Shanghai Jiao Tong University is known as one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in China...

    , Tongji University
    Tongji University
    Tongji University , colloquially known as Tongji , located in Shanghai, has more than 30,000 students and 8,000 staff members . It offers degree programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels...

    , East China Normal University
    East China Normal University
    East China Normal University , was founded in October 1951 in western Shanghai, on the campus of Great China University. It is the first Normal University founded after the establishment of the People's Republic of China.-History:...

  • Harbin
    Harbin
    Harbin ; Manchu language: , Harbin; Russian: Харби́н Kharbin ), is the capital and largest city of Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China, lying on the southern bank of the Songhua River...

    : Harbin Institute of Technology
    Harbin Institute of Technology
    The Harbin Institute of Technology , or HIT, is colloquially known as Hagongda . It is a research university in the city of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China....

  • Tianjin: Nankai University
    Nankai University
    Nankai University , commonly known as Nankai, is a public research university based in Tianjin on mainland China. Founded in 1919 by educators Zhang Boling and Yan Fansun , Nankai University is a member of the Nankai serial schools. It is the alma mater of former Chinese Premier and key historical...

    , Tianjin University
    Tianjin University
    Tianjin University is a national university under the direct administration of the Ministry of Education of China. It is the first university in modern Chinese education history. It was part of Peiyang University in 1895...

  • Xi'an
    Xi'an
    Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

    : Xi'an Jiaotong University
    Xi'an Jiaotong University
    Xi'an Jiaotong University , also known as Xi'an Chiao Tung University, is a top Chinese university located in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, People's Republic of China. Xi'an Jiaotong University is located in Xi'an, the ancient capital of China...

  • Nanjing
    Nanjing
    ' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

    : Nanjing University
    Nanjing University
    Nanjing University , or Nanking University, is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning in China...

  • Hefei
    Hefei
    Hefei is the capital and largest city of Anhui Province in Eastern China. A prefecture-level city, it is the political, economic, and cultural centre of Anhui...

    : University of Science and Technology of China
    University of Science and Technology of China
    The University of Science and Technology of China is a national research university in Hefei, People's Republic of China. It is a member of the C9 League formed by nine top universities in China...

  • Hangzhou
    Hangzhou
    Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

    : Zhejiang University
    Zhejiang University
    Zhejiang University , sometimes referred to as Zheda, is a national university in China. Founded in 1897, Zhejiang University is one of China's oldest institutions of higher education...

  • Wuhan
    Wuhan
    Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, People's Republic of China, and is the most populous city in Central China. It lies at the east of the Jianghan Plain, and the intersection of the middle reaches of the Yangtze and Han rivers...

    : Wuhan University
    Wuhan University
    Wuhan University is a university located in Wuchang, Hubei, China. It is directly under the administration of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China. It is regarded as one of the top ten universities in China, and its history dates back to 1893, making it one of China's...

  • Guangzhou
    Guangzhou
    Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

    : Sun Yat-sen University
    Sun Yat-sen University
    Sun Yat-sen University, also unofficially referred to as Zhongshan University , is a prominent university located mainly in Guangzhou, China. The University is named after Dr...

     (aka Zhongshan University)

Health


The Ministry of Health, together with its counterparts in the provincial health bureaux, oversees the health needs of the Chinese population. An emphasis on public health and preventive medicine has characterized health policy since the early 1950s. At that time, the Communist Party started the Patriotic Health Campaign
Patriotic Health Campaign
The Patriotic Health Campaign, first started in the 1950s, are campaigns aimed to improve sanitation, hygiene, as well as attack diseases in the People's Republic of China.-External links:* BBC news.** in China....

, which was aimed at improving sanitation and hygiene, as well as treating and preventing several diseases. Diseases such as cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

, typhoid and scarlet fever
Scarlet fever
Scarlet fever is a disease caused by exotoxin released by Streptococcus pyogenes. Once a major cause of death, it is now effectively treated with antibiotics...

, which were previously rife in China, were nearly eradicated by the campaign.

After Deng Xiaoping began instituting economic reforms in 1978, the health of the Chinese public improved rapidly due to better nutrition, although many of the free public health services provided in the countryside disappeared along with the People's Communes. Healthcare in China became mostly privatised
Private healthcare
Private healthcare or private medicine is healthcare and medicine provided by entities other than the government. The term is generally used more in Europe and other countries which have publicly-funded health care, to differentiate the arrangement from the usual system.Ethical issues relating to...

, and experienced a significant rise in quality. The national life expectancy at birth rose from about 35 years in 1949 to 73.18 years in 2008, and infant mortality decreased from 300 per thousand in the 1950s to around 23 per thousand in 2006. Malnutrition stood at 12% of the population, according to United Nations FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

 sources.
Despite significant improvements in health and the construction of advanced Western-style medical facilities, China has several emerging public health problems, such as respiratory illnesses caused by widespread air pollution
Environment of China
The environment in the People's Republic of China has traditionally been neglected as the country concentrates on its rise as an economic power. Chasing the political gains of economic development, local officials in China often overlook environmental pollution, worker safety and public health...

 and hundreds of millions of cigarette smokers
Tobacco smoking
Tobacco smoking is the practice where tobacco is burned and the resulting smoke is inhaled. The practice may have begun as early as 5000–3000 BCE. Tobacco was introduced to Eurasia in the late 16th century where it followed common trade routes...

, a possible future HIV/AIDS epidemic, and an increase in obesity
Obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

 among urban youths. China's large population and densely populated cities have led to serious disease outbreaks in recent years, such as the 2003 outbreak of SARS
Severe acute respiratory syndrome
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is a respiratory disease in humans which is caused by the SARS coronavirus . Between November 2002 and July 2003 an outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong nearly became a pandemic, with 8,422 cases and 916 deaths worldwide according to the WHO...

, although this has since been largely contained.

Estimates of excess deaths in China from environmental pollution (apart from smoking) are placed at 760,000 people per annum from air and water pollution (including indoor air pollution
Indoor air quality
Indoor air quality is a term referring to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants....

). In 2007, China overtook the United States as the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

. Some 90% of China's cities suffer from some degree of water pollution
Water pollution
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies . Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds....

, and nearly 500 million people lacked access to safe drinking water in 2005. Reports by the World Bank and the New York Times have claimed industrial pollution, particularly of the air, to be a significant health hazard in China.

Religion


In mainland China, the government allows a degree of religious freedom to members of state-approved religious organizations. An accurate number of religious adherents is hard to obtain because of a lack of official data, but there is general consensus that religion has been enjoying a resurgence over the past 20 years. A survey by Phil Zuckerman on Adherents.com
Adherents.com
Adherents.com is a website that aims to collect and present information about religious demographics, established in 1998. It is the largest pool of such data freely available on the internet. As of January 2010, the site contains approximately 44,000 references on over 4,300 faith groups...

 found that in 1998, 59% (over 700 million) of the population was irreligious. A later survey, conducted in 2007, found that there are 300 million believers in China, constituting 23% of the population, as distinct from an official figure of 100 million.

Despite the surveys' varying results, most agree that China's traditional religions—Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

, and Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

s—are the dominant faiths. According to a number of sources, Buddhism in China
Buddhism in China
Chinese Buddhism refers collectively to the various schools of Buddhism that have flourished in China since ancient times. Buddhism has played an enormous role in shaping the mindset of the Chinese people, affecting their aesthetics, politics, literature, philosophy and medicine.At the peak of the...

 accounts for between 660 million (~50%) and over 1 billion (~80%) while Taoists number 400 million (~30%). However, because of the fact that one person may subscribe to two or more of these traditional beliefs simultaneously and the difficulty in clearly differentiating Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese folk religions, the number of adherents to these religions can be overlaid. In addition, subscribing to Buddhism and Taoism is not necessarily considered religious by those who follow the philosophies in principle but stop short of believing in any kind of deity or divinity.
Most Chinese Buddhists are merely nominal adherents, because only a small proportion of the population (around 8% or 100 million) may have taken the formal step of going for refuge
Refuge (Buddhism)
Buddhists "take refuge" in, or to "go for refuge" to, the Three Jewels . This can be done formally in lay and monastic ordination ceremonies.The Three Jewels general signification is: * the Buddha;* the Dharma, the teachings;...

. Even then, it is still difficult to estimate accurately the number of Buddhists because they do not have congregational memberships and often do not participate in public ceremonies. Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 (大乘, Dacheng) and its subsets Pure Land
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

 (Amidism), Tiantai
Tiantai
Tiantai is an important school of Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In Japan the school is known as Tendai, and in Korea it is known as Cheontae. Tiantai is also called the "Lotus School", due to its emphasis on the Lotus Sūtra as its doctrinal basis...

 and Chán
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

 (better known in the west by its Japanese pronunciation Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

) are the most widely practiced denominations of Buddhism. Other forms, such as Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 and Tibetan
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, are practiced largely by ethnic minorities along the geographic fringes of the Chinese mainland.

Christianity was first introduced to China
Christianity in China
Christianity in China is a growing minority religion that comprises Protestants , Catholics , and a small number of Orthodox Christians. Although its lineage in China is not as ancient as the institutional religions of Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism, and the social system and ideology of...

 during the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

, with the arrival of Nestorian Christianity in 635 CE. This was followed by Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 missionaries in the 13th century, Jesuits in the 16th century, and finally Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 in the 19th century. Of China's minority religions, Christianity is one of the fastest-growing. The total number of Christians is difficult to determine, as many belong to unauthorized house church
House church
House church, or "home church", is used to describe an independent assembly of Christians who gather in a home. Sometimes this occurs because the group is small, and a home is the most appropriate place to gather, as in the beginning phase of the British New Church Movement...

es, but estimates of their number have ranged from 40 million (3% of the total population) to 54 million (4%) to as many as 130 million (10%). Official government statistics put the number of Christians at 16 million, but these count only members of officially sanctioned church bodies. China is believed to now have the world's second-largest evangelical Christian population—behind only the United States—and if current growth rates continue, China will become a global center of evangelical Christianity in coming decades.

Islam in China
Islam in China
Throughout the history of Islam in China, Chinese Muslims have influenced the course of Chinese history. Chinese Muslims have been in China for the last 1,400 years of continuous interaction with Chinese society...

 dates to a mission in 651, only 18 years after Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

's death. Muslims came to China for trade, becoming prominent in the trading ports of the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

. They became influential in government circles, including Zheng He
Zheng He
Zheng He , also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from...

, Lan Yu
Lan Yu (general)
Lan Yu was a Chinese general who contributed to the founding of the Ming Dynasty. His ancestral home was in present-day Dingyuan County, Anhui. In 1393 Lan was suspected and accused of plotting a rebellion and eventually put to death by the Hongwu Emperor...

 and Yeheidie'erding
Yeheidie'erding
Yeheidie'erding , also known as Amir al-Din , was a Muslim architect who help designed and led the construction of the capital of the Yuan Dynasty, Khanbaliq, located in present-day Beijing, the current capital of the People's Republic of China.-Construction of Khanbaliq:Yeheidie'erding learned...

. Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 became an important center of Islamic study. Statistics are hard to find, and most estimates give a figure of between 20 and 30 million Muslims (1.5% to 2% of the population).

China also plays host to numerous minority religions, including Hinduism
Hinduism in China
Hinduism is a minor religion in The People's Republic of China, with roughly about 130,000 followers and composing only of 0.01% of China's total population.-Early Hindu influence:...

, Dongbaism, Bön, and a number of more modern religions and sects (particularly Xiantianism). In July 1999, the Falun Gong
Falun Gong
Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline first introduced in China in 1992 by its founder, Li Hongzhi, through public lectures. It combines the practice of meditation and slow-moving qigong exercises with the moral philosophy...

 spiritual practice was officially banned by the authorities, and many international organizations have criticized the government's treatment of Falun Gong that has occurred since then."The US State Department, US Congress, the United Nations and human rights groups such as Amnesty say persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China is a continuing abuse of human rights." There are no reliable estimates of the number of Falun Gong practitioners in China, although informal estimates have given figures as high as 70 million.

Culture


Since ancient times, Chinese culture has been heavily influenced by Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 and conservative philosophies. For centuries, opportunities for social advancement could be provided by high performance in the prestigious Imperial examination
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

s, which were instituted in 605 AD to help the Emperor select skilful bureaucrats. The literary emphasis of the exams affected the general perception of cultural refinement in China, such as the belief that calligraphy
East Asian calligraphy
East Asian calligraphy is a form of calligraphy widely practised and revered in the Sinosphere. This most often includes China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The East Asian calligraphic tradition originated and developed from China. There is a general standardization of the various styles of...

 and literati painting were higher forms of art than dancing or drama.

A number of more authoritarian and rational
Rationalism
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

 strains of thought were also influential, with Legalism
Legalism (Chinese philosophy)
In Chinese history, Legalism was one of the main philosophic currents during the Warring States Period, although the term itself was invented in the Han Dynasty and thus does not refer to an organized 'school' of thought....

 being a prominent example. There was often conflict between the philosophies – for instance, the individualistic Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 neo-Confucians
Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism is an ethical and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and Li Ao in the Tang Dynasty....

 believed that Legalism departed from the original spirit of Confucianism. Examinations and a culture of merit
Meritocracy
Meritocracy, in the first, most administrative sense, is a system of government or other administration wherein appointments and responsibilities are objectively assigned to individuals based upon their "merits", namely intelligence, credentials, and education, determined through evaluations or...

 remain greatly valued in China today. In recent years, a number of New Confucians
New Confucianism
New Confucianism is an intellectual movement of Confucianism that began in the early 20th century in Republican China, and revived in post-Mao era contemporary China. It is deeply influenced by, but not identical with, the Neo-Confucianism of the Song and Ming dynasties...

 have claimed that modern democratic ideals and human rights are compatible with traditional Confucian values.

The first leaders of the People's Republic of China were born into the traditional imperial order, but were influenced by the May Fourth Movement
May Fourth Movement
The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement growing out of student demonstrations in Beijing on May 4, 1919, protesting the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, especially the Shandong Problem...

 and reformist ideals. They sought to change some traditional aspects of Chinese culture, such as rural land tenure, sexism
Sexism
Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is the application of the belief or attitude that there are characteristics implicit to one's gender that indirectly affect one's abilities in unrelated areas...

, and the Confucian system of education, while preserving others, such as the family structure and culture of obedience to the state.

Some observers see the period following the establishment of the PRC in 1949 as a continuation of traditional Chinese dynastic history, while others claim that the Communist Party's rule has damaged the foundations of Chinese culture, especially through political movements such as the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

 of the 1960s, where many aspects of traditional culture were destroyed, having been denounced as 'regressive and harmful' or 'vestiges of feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

'. Many important aspects of traditional Chinese morals and culture, such as Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

, Chinese art
Chinese art
Chinese art is visual art that, whether ancient or modern, originated in or is practiced in China or by Chinese artists or performers. Early so-called "stone age art" dates back to 10,000 BC, mostly consisting of simple pottery and sculptures. This early period was followed by a series of art...

, literature, and performing arts like Peking opera, were altered to conform to government policies and propaganda at the time.

Today, the Chinese government has accepted numerous elements of traditional Chinese culture as being integral to Chinese society. With the rise of Chinese nationalism
Chinese nationalism
Chinese nationalism , sometimes synonymous with Chinese patriotism refers to cultural, historiographical, and political theories, movements and beliefs that assert the idea of a cohesive, unified Chinese people and culture in a unified country known as China...

 and the end of the Cultural Revolution, various forms of traditional Chinese art, literature, music, film, fashion and architecture have seen a vigorous revival, and folk and variety art in particular have sparked interest nationally and even worldwide.

Prior to the beginning of maritime Sino-European trade in the 16th century, medieval China and the European West were linked by the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

, which was a key route of cultural as well as economic exchange. Artifacts from the history of the Road, as well as from the natural history of the Gobi desert
Gobi Desert
The Gobi is a large desert region in Asia. It covers parts of northern and northwestern China, and of southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Hexi Corridor and Tibetan Plateau to the...

, are displayed in the Silk Route Museum
Silk Route Museum
The Silk Route Museum is located in Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China along the Silk Road, which connected Rome to China and was used by Marco Polo. It is built over the tomb of the Xiliang King in Gansu Province....

 in Jiuquan
Jiuquan
- Suzhou town :The administrative center of the "prefecture-level city" of Jiuquan is the "District" of Suzhou , which occupies 3,386 square km in the eastern part of Jiuquan "prefecture-level city", and had a population of 340,000 as of 2002....

.

Cuisine


Chinese cuisine is highly diverse, drawing on several millennia of culinary history. The dynastic emperors
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

 of ancient China were known to host banquets with over 100 dishes served at a time, employing countless imperial kitchen staff and concubines to prepare the food.

Over time, many royal dishes became part of everday Chinese culture. Numerous foreign offshoots of Chinese food, such as Hong Kong cuisine and American Chinese food, have emerged in the various nations which play host to the Chinese diaspora.

Sports


China has one of the oldest sporting cultures
Sport in the People's Republic of China
Although China has long been associated with the martial arts, sport in China today consists of a small variety of competitive sports played in China, including mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau...

 in the world. There is evidence that a form of association football was played in China around 1000 AD. Besides football, some of the most popular sports in the country include martial arts
Chinese martial arts
Chinese martial arts, also referred to by the Mandarin Chinese term wushu and popularly as kung fu , are a number of fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China. These fighting styles are often classified according to common traits, identified as "families" , "sects" or...

, table tennis
Table tennis
Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net...

, badminton
Badminton
Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two opposing players or two opposing pairs , who take positions on opposite halves of a rectangular court that is divided by a net. Players score points by striking a shuttlecock with their racquet so that it passes over the net and lands in their...

, swimming, basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 and snooker
Snooker
Snooker is a cue sport that is played on a green baize-covered table with pockets in each of the four corners and in the middle of each of the long side cushions. A regular table is . It is played using a cue and snooker balls: one white , 15 worth one point each, and six balls of different :...

. Board game
Board game
A board game is a game which involves counters or pieces being moved on a pre-marked surface or "board", according to a set of rules. Games may be based on pure strategy, chance or a mixture of the two, and usually have a goal which a player aims to achieve...

s such as Go
Go (board game)
Go , is an ancient board game for two players that originated in China more than 2,000 years ago...

 (Weiqi), Xiangqi
Xiangqi
Xiangqi is a two-player Chinese board game in the same family as Western chess, chaturanga, shogi, Indian chess and janggi. The present-day form of Xiangqi originated in China and is therefore commonly called Chinese chess in English. Xiangqi is one of the most popular board games in China...

, and more recently chess
Chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

 are also played at a professional level.

Physical fitness
Physical fitness
Physical fitness comprises two related concepts: general fitness , and specific fitness...

 is widely emphasized in Chinese culture
Culture of China
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest and most complex. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces...

. Morning exercises are a common activity, with elderly citizens encouraged to practice qigong
Qigong
Qigong or chi kung is a practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation...

 and t'ai chi ch'uan. Young people in China are also keen on basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

, especially in urban centers with limited space and grass areas. The American National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 has a huge following among Chinese youths, with Chinese players such as Yao Ming
Yao Ming
Yao Ming is a retired Chinese professional basketball player who last played for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association...

 being held in high esteem.

Many more traditional sports are also played in China. Dragon boat
Dragon boat
A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft traditionally made, in the Pearl River delta region of southern China - Guangdong Province, of teak wood to various designs and sizes. In other parts of China different woods are used to build these traditional watercraft...

 racing occurs during the annual nationwide Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Festival
Duanwu Festival, also known as Dragon Boat Festival and the Double Fifth, is a traditional and statutory holiday originating in China and associated with a number of East Asian and Southeast Asian societies...

, and has since gained popularity abroad. In Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

, sports such as Mongolian-style wrestling
Mongolian wrestling
Mongolian wrestling, known as Bökh , is the folk wrestling style of Mongols in Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and other regions...

 and horse racing
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

 are popular. In Tibet
Tibet Autonomous Region
The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

, archery
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

 and equestrianism
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

 are a part of traditional festivals.

China has participated at the Olympic Games
China at the Olympics
The People's Republic of China first competed at the Olympic Games in 1952, at the Summer Games in Helsinki, although they only arrived in time to participate in one event...

 since 1932, although it has only participated as the PRC since 1952. China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

 in Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, and received 51 gold medals – the highest number of gold medals of any participating nation that year. China will host the 2013 East Asian Games
2013 East Asian Games
The 2013 East Asian Games, officially known as the VI East Asian Games, is an international multi-sport event that will take place in Tianjin, China, between 6 October and 15 October, 2013...

 in Tianjin
Tianjin
' is a metropolis in northern China and one of the five national central cities of the People's Republic of China. It is governed as a direct-controlled municipality, one of four such designations, and is, thus, under direct administration of the central government...

 and the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

.

See also


  • International rankings of the People's Republic of China
    International rankings of the People's Republic of China
    The following are international rankings of the People's Republic of China.-Agriculture:-Communications and Technology:-Consumption:-Demographics:-Economics:-Energy and Environment:-Geography:-Globalization:-Industry:...



Further reading


  • Farah, Paolo, 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. Abstract.
  • Heilig, Gerhard K., China Bibliography – Online. 2006, 2007.


External links


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