Thursday, September 5, 2013

The People's Republic of China; the Middle Kingdom

The People's Republic of China- The Flag
China ( i/ˈtʃaɪnə/; Chinese: 中国; pinyin: Zhōngguó), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC) (Urdu: چین) (Arabic: الصين) (Persian: جمہوری خلق چین), is a sovereign state located in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of over 1.35 billion. The PRC is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party, with its seat of government in the capital city of Beijing. It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). The PRC also claims Taiwan – which is controlled by the Republic of China (ROC), a separate political entity – as its 23rd province, a claim controversial due to the complex political status of Taiwan and the unresolved Chinese Civil War. 

Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres, China is the world's second-largest country by land area, and the third or fourth-largest by total area, depending on the definition of total area. China's landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from forest steppes and the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts in the arid north to subtropical forests in the wetter south. The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from South and Central Asia. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometres (9,000 mi) long, and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East and South China Seas. 

National Emblem of China
The ancient Chinese civilization – one of the world's earliest – flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, known as dynasties, beginning with the semi-mythological Xia of the Yellow River basin (c. 2000 BCE). Since 221 BCE, when the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the country has expanded, fractured and been reformed numerous times. The Republic of China overthrew the last dynasty in 1911, and ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949. After the defeat of the Empire of Japan in World War II, the Communist Party defeated the nationalist Kuomintang in mainland China and established the People's Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949, while the Kuomintang relocated the ROC government to its present capital of Taipei.Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become the world's fastest-growing major economy. As of 2013, it is the world's second-largest economy by both nominal total GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP), and is also the world's largest exporter and importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, with the second-largest defense budget. The PRC has been a United Nations member since 1971, when it replaced the ROC as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the BCIM and the G-20. China has been characterized as a potential superpower by a number of academics, military analysts, and public policy and economics analysts. 

Qin empire 210 BCE
Etymology:

The word "China" is derived from Persian Cin (چین), which is from Sanskrit Cīna (चीन). It is first recorded in 1516 in the journal of the Portuguese explorer Duarte Barbosa. It first appears in English in a translation published by Richard Eden in 1555. It is commonly thought that the word is derived from the name of the Qin (秦) Dynasty. In China, common names for the present country include Zhōngguó (Chinese: 中国) and Zhōnghuá (Chinese: 中华), 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 of the 6th century BCE, and in pre-imperial times it was often used as a cultural concept to distinguish the Huaxia tribes from perceived "barbarians". The term, which can be either singular or plural, referred to the group of states or provinces in the central plain, but was not used as a name for the country as a whole until the nineteenth century. The Chinese were not unique in regarding their country as "central", since other civilizations had the same view of themselves. 

History Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations. The written history of China can be found as early as the Shang Dynasty (c. 1700–1046 BC), although ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian (ca. 100 BC) and Bamboo Annals assert the existence of a Xia Dynasty before the Shang. Much of Chinese culture, literature and philosophy further developed during the Zhou Dynasty (1045–256 BC). The Zhou Dynasty began to bow to external and internal pressures in the 8th century BC, and the kingdom eventually broke apart into smaller states, beginning in the Spring and Autumn Period and reaching full expression in the Warring States period. This is one of multiple periods of failed statehood in Chinese history (the most recent of which was the Chinese Civil War). 

In between eras of multiple kingdoms and warlordism, Chinese dynasties have ruled parts or all of China; in some eras, including the present, control has stretched as far as Xinjiang and/or Tibet. This practice began with the Qin Dynasty: in 221 BC, Qin Shi Huang united the various warring kingdoms and created the first Chinese empire. Successive dynasties in Chinese history developed bureaucratic systems that enabled the Emperor of China to directly control vast territories. 

The conventional view of Chinese history is that of alternating periods of political unity and disunity, with China occasionally being dominated by steppe peoples, most of whom were in turn assimilated into the Han Chinese population. Cultural and political influences from many parts of Asia, carried by successive waves of immigration, expansion, and cultural assimilation, are part of the modern culture of China. 

Prehistory

Paleolithic 

What is now China was inhabited by Homo erectus more than a million years ago. Recent study shows that the stone tools found at Xiaochangliang site are magnetostratigraphically dated to 1.36 million years ago. 

The archaeological site of Xihoudu in Shanxi Province is the earliest recorded use of fire by Homo erectus, which is dated 1.27 million years ago. The excavations at Yuanmou and later Lantian show early habitation. Perhaps the most famous specimen of Homo erectus found in China is the so-called Peking Man discovered in 1923–27. 

Neolithic 

The Neolithic age in China can be traced back to about 10,000 BC. 

Early evidence for proto-Chinese millet agriculture is radiocarbon-dated to about 7000 BC. Farming gave rise to the Jiahu culture (7000 to 5800 BC). At Damaidi in Ningxia, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to 6000–5000 BC have been discovered, "featuring 8,453 individual characters such as the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing." These pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters confirmed to be written Chinese. Excavation of a Peiligang culture site in Xinzheng county, Henan, found a community that flourished in 5,500–4,900 BC, with evidence of agriculture, constructed buildings, pottery, and burial of the dead. With agriculture came increased population, the ability to store and redistribute crops, and the potential to support specialist craftsmen and administrators. In late Neolithic times, the Yellow River valley began to establish itself as a center of Yangshao culture (5000 BC to 3000 BC), and the first villages were founded; the most archaeologically significant of these was found at Banpo, Xi'an. Later, Yangshao culture was superseded by the Longshan culture, which was also centered on the Yellow River from about 3000 BC to 2000 BC. 

The early history of China is obscured by the lack of written documents from this period, coupled with the existence of later accounts that attempted to describe events that had occurred several centuries previously. In a sense, the problem stems from centuries of introspection on the part of the Chinese people, which has blurred the distinction between fact and fiction in regards to this early history. Ancient China 

Xia Dynasty (c. 2100 – c. 1600 BC) 

Major site(s): possibly Erlitou The Xia Dynasty of China (from c. 2100 to c. 1600 BC) is the first dynasty to be described in ancient historical records such as Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian and Bamboo Annals. 

Although there is disagreement as to whether the dynasty actually existed, there is some archaeological evidence pointing to its possible existence. Sima Qian, writing in the late 2nd century BC, dated the founding of the Xia Dynasty to around 2200 BC, but this date has not been corroborated. Most archaeologists now connect the Xia to excavations at Erlitou in central Henan province, where a bronze smelter from around 2000 BC was unearthed. Early markings from this period found on pottery and shells are thought to be ancestral to modern Chinese characters. With few clear records matching the Shang oracle bones or the Zhou bronze vessel writings, the Xia era remains poorly understood. According to mythology, the dynasty ended around 1600 BC as a consequence of the Battle of Mingtiao. 

Shang Dynasty (c. 1700–1046 BC) Archaeological findings providing evidence for the existence of the Shang Dynasty, c. 1600–1046 BC, are divided into two sets. The first set – from the earlier Shang period – comes from sources at Erligang, Zhengzhou, and Shangcheng. The second set – from the later Shang or Yin (殷) period – is at Anyang, in modern-day Henan, which has been confirmed as the last of the Shang's nine capitals (c. 1300–1046 BC). The findings at Anyang include the earliest written record of Chinese past so far discovered: inscriptions of divination records in ancient Chinese writing on the bones or shells of animals – the so-called "oracle bones", dating from around 1200 BC. The Shang Dynasty featured 31 kings, from Tang of Shang to King Zhou of Shang. In this period, the Chinese worshipped many different gods – weather gods and sky gods – and also a supreme god, named Shangdi, who ruled over the other gods. Those who lived during the Shang Dynasty also believed that their ancestors – their parents and grandparents – became like gods when they died, and that their ancestors wanted to be worshipped, too, like gods. Each family worshipped its own ancestors. 

The Records of the Grand Historian states that the Shang Dynasty moved its capital six times. The final (and most important) move to Yin in 1350 BC led to the dynasty's golden age. The term Yin Dynasty has been synonymous with the Shang dynasty in history, although it has lately been used to specifically refer to the latter half of the Shang Dynasty. Chinese historians living in later periods were accustomed to the notion of one dynasty succeeding another, but the actual political situation in early China is known to have been much more complicated. Hence, as some scholars of China suggest, the Xia and the Shang can possibly refer to political entities that existed concurrently, just as the early Zhou is known to have existed at the same time as the Shang. Although written records found at Anyang confirm the existence of the Shang dynasty, Western scholars are often hesitant to associate settlements that are contemporaneous with the Anyang settlement with the Shang dynasty. For example, archaeological findings at Sanxingdui suggest a technologically advanced civilization culturally unlike Anyang. The evidence is inconclusive in proving how far the Shang realm extended from Anyang. The leading hypothesis is that Anyang, ruled by the same Shang in the official history, coexisted and traded with numerous other culturally diverse settlements in the area that is now referred to as China proper. 

Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC) The Zhou Dynasty was the longest-lasting dynasty in Chinese history, from 1066 BC to approximately 256 BC. By the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the Zhou Dynasty began to emerge in the Yellow River valley, overrunning the territory of the Shang. The Zhou appeared to have begun their rule under a semi-feudal system. The Zhou lived west of the Shang, and the Zhou leader had been appointed "Western Protector" by the Shang. The ruler of the Zhou, King Wu, with the assistance of his brother, the Duke of Zhou, as regent, managed to defeat the Shang at the Battle of Muye. The king of Zhou at this time invoked the concept of the Mandate of Heaven to legitimize his rule, a concept that would be influential for almost every succeeding dynasty. Like Shangdi, Heaven (tian) ruled over all the other gods, and it decided who would rule China. It was believed that a ruler had lost the Mandate of Heaven when natural disasters occurred in great number, and when, more realistically, the sovereign had apparently lost his concern for the people. In response, the royal house would be overthrown, and a new house would rule, having been granted the Mandate of Heaven. 

The Zhou initially moved their capital west to an area near modern Xi'an, on the Wei River, a tributary of the Yellow River, but they would preside over a series of expansions into the Yangtze River valley. This would be the first of many population migrations from north to south in Chinese history. Spring and Autumn Period (722–476 BC) In the 8th century BC, power became decentralized during the Spring and Autumn period, named after the influential Spring and Autumn Annals. In this period, local military leaders used by the Zhou began to assert their power and vie for hegemony. The situation was aggravated by the invasion of other peoples from the northwest, such as the Qin, forcing the Zhou to move their capital east to Luoyang. This marks the second major phase of the Zhou dynasty: the Eastern Zhou. The Spring and Autumn Period is marked by a falling apart of the central Zhou power. In each of the hundreds of states that eventually arose, local strongmen held most of the political power and continued their subservience to the Zhou kings in name only. Some local leaders even started using royal titles for themselves. China now consisted of hundreds of states, some of them only as large as a village with a fort.

The Hundred Schools of Thought of Chinese philosophy blossomed during this period, and such influential intellectual movements as Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism and Mohism were founded, partly in response to the changing political world. Warring States Period (476–221 BC) After further political consolidation, seven prominent states remained by the end of 5th century BC, and the years in which these few states battled each other are known as the Warring States period. Though there remained a nominal Zhou king until 256 BC, he was largely a figurehead and held little real power. As neighboring territories of these warring states, including areas of modern Sichuan and Liaoning, were annexed, they were governed under the new local administrative system of commandery and prefecture (郡縣/郡县). This system had been in use since the Spring and Autumn Period, and parts can still be seen in the modern system of Sheng & Xian (province and county, 省縣/省县).

The final expansion in this period began during the reign of Ying Zheng, the king of Qin. His unification of the other six powers, and further annexations in the modern regions of Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi in 214 BC, enabled him to proclaim himself the First Emperor (Qin Shi Huang). Imperial China Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC) Capital: Xianyang Historians often refer to the period from Qin Dynasty to the end of Qing Dynasty as Imperial China. Though the unified reign of the First Qin Emperor lasted only 12 years, he managed to subdue great parts of what constitutes the core of the Han Chinese homeland and to unite them under a tightly centralized Legalist government seated at Xianyang (close to modern Xi'an). The doctrine of Legalism that guided the Qin emphasized strict adherence to a legal code and the absolute power of the emperor. This philosophy, while effective for expanding the empire in a military fashion, proved unworkable for governing it in peacetime. The Qin Emperor presided over the brutal silencing of political opposition, including the event known as the burning of books and burying of scholars. This would be the impetus behind the later Han synthesis incorporating the more moderate schools of political governance. 

The Qin Dynasty is well known for beginning the Great Wall of China, which was later augmented and enhanced during the Ming Dynasty. The other major contributions of the Qin include the concept of a centralized government, the unification of the legal code, development of the written language, measurement, and currency of China after the tribulations of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods. Even something as basic as the length of axles for carts had to be made uniform to ensure a viable trading system throughout the empire. Han Dynasty (202 BC–AD 220) Western Han The Han Dynasty was founded by Liu Bang, who emerged victorious in the civil war that followed the collapse of the unified but short-lived Qin Dynasty. 

A golden age in Chinese history, the Han Dynasty's long period of stability and prosperity consolidated the foundation of China as a unified state under a central imperial bureaucracy, which was to last intermittently for most of the next two millennium. 

During the Han Dynasty, territory of China was extended to most of the China proper and to areas far west. Confucianism was officially elevated to orthodox status and was to shape the subsequent Chinese Civilization. 

Art, Culture and Science all advanced to unprecedented heights. 

With the profound and lasting impacts of this period of Chinese history, the dynasty name "Han" had been taken as the name of the Chinese people, now the dominant ethnic group in modern China, and had been commonly used to refer to Chinese language and written characters. 

After the initial Laissez-faire policies of Emperors Wen and Jing, the ambitious Emperor Wu brought the empire to its zenith. To consolidate his power, Confucianism, which emphasizes stability and order in a well-structured society, was given exclusive patronage to be the guiding philosophical thoughts and moral principles of the empire. Imperial Universities were established to support its study and further development, while other schools of thoughts were discouraged. 

Major military campaigns were launched to weaken the nomadic Xiongnu Empire, limiting their influence north of the Great Wall. Along with the diplomatic efforts led by Zhang Qian, the sphere of influence of the Han Empire extended to the states in the Tarim Basin, opened up the Silk Road that connected China to west, stimulating prosperous bilateral trades and cultural exchange. To the south, various small kingdoms far beyond the Yangtze River Valley were formally incorporated into the empire. 

Emperor Wu also dispatched a series of military campaigns against the Baiyue tribes. The Han annexed Minyue in 135 BC and 111 BC, Nanyue in 111 BC, and Dian in 109 BC. 

Migration and military expeditions led to the cultural assimilation of the south. It also brought the Han into contact with kingdoms in Southeast Asia, introducing diplomacy and trade. 

After Emperor Wu, the empire slipped into gradual stagnation and decline. 

Economically, the state treasury was strained by excessive campaigns and projects, while land acquisitions by elite families gradually drained the tax base. 

Various consort clans exerted increasing control over strings of incompetent emperors and eventually the dynasty was briefly interrupted by the usurpation of Wang Mang. 

Xin Dynasty In AD 9, the usurper Wang Mang claimed that the Mandate of Heaven called for the end of the Han dynasty and the rise of his own, and he founded the short-lived Xin ("New") Dynasty. 

Wang Mang started an extensive program of land and other economic reforms, including the outlawing of slavery and land nationalization and redistribution. 

These programs, however, were never supported by the landholding families, because they favored the peasants. The instability of power brought about chaos, uprisings, and loss of territories. 

This was compounded by mass flooding of the Yellow River; silt buildup caused it to split into two channels and displaced large numbers of farmers. Wang Mang was eventually killed in Weiyang Palace by an enraged peasant mob in AD 23. 

Eastern Han Emperor Guangwu reinstated the Han Dynasty with the support of landholding and merchant families at Luoyang, east of the former capital Xi'an. Thus, this new era is termed the Eastern Han Dynasty. With the capable administrations of Emperors Ming and Zhang, former glories of the dynasty was reclaimed, with brilliant military and cultural achievements. The Xiongnu Empire was decisively defeated. The diplomat and general Ban Chao further expanded the conquests across the Pamirs to the shores of the Caspian Sea., thus reopening the Silk Road, and bringing trade, foreign cultures, along with the arrival of Buddhism. With extensive connections with the west, the first of several Roman embassies to China were recorded in Chinese sources, coming from the sea route in AD 166, and a second one in AD 284. The Eastern Han Dynasty was one of the most prolific era of science and technology in ancient China, notably the historic invention of papermaking by Cai Lun, and the numerous contributions by the polymath Zhang Heng. 

By the 2nd century, the empire declined amidst land acquisitions, invasions, and feuding between consort clans and eunuchs. The Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out in AD 184, ushering in an era of warlords. In the ensuing turmoil, three states tried to gain predominance in the period of the Three Kingdoms. This time period has been greatly romanticized in works such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Wei and Jin Period (AD 265–420) After Cao Cao reunified the north in 208, his son proclaimed the Wei dynasty in 220. Soon, Wei's rivals Shu and Wu proclaimed their independence, leading China into the Three Kingdoms Period. This period was characterized by a gradual decentralization of the state that had existed during the Qin and Han dynasties, and an increase in the power of great families. Although the Three Kingdoms were reunified by the Jin Dynasty in 280, this structure was essentially the same until the Wu Hu uprising. 

Wu Hu Period (AD 304–439) Taking advantage of civil war in the Jin Dynasty, the contemporary non-Han Chinese (Wu Hu) ethnic groups controlled much of the country in the early 4th century and provoked large-scale Han Chinese migrations to south of the Yangtze River. In 303 the Di people rebelled and later captured Chengdu, establishing the state of Cheng Han. Under Liu Yuan, the Xiongnu rebelled near today's Linfen County and established the state of Han Zhao. Liu Yuan's successor Liu Cong captured and executed the last two Western Jin emperors. Sixteen kingdoms were a plethora of short-lived non-Chinese dynasties that came to rule the whole or parts of northern China in the 4th and 5th centuries. Many ethnic groups were involved, including ancestors of the Turks, Mongols, and Tibetans. Most of these nomadic peoples had, to some extent, been "sinicized" long before their ascent to power. In fact, some of them, notably the Qiang and the Xiongnu, had already been allowed to live in the frontier regions within the Great Wall since late Han times. 

Southern and Northern Dynasties (AD 420–589) Signaled by the collapse of East Jin Dynasty in 420, China entered the era of the Southern and Northern Dynasties. The Han people managed to survive the military attacks from the nomadic tribes of the north, such as the Xianbei, and their civilization continued to thrive. In southern China, fierce debates about whether Buddhism should be allowed to exist were held frequently by the royal court and nobles. Finally, near the end of the Southern and Northern Dynasties era, both Buddhist and Taoist followers compromised and became more tolerant of each other. In 589, Sui annexed the last Southern Dynasty, Chen, through military force, and put an end to the era of Southern and Northern Dynasties. 

Medieval China Sui Dynasty (AD 589–618) The Sui Dynasty, which managed to reunite the country in 589 after nearly four centuries of political fragmentation, played a role more important than its length of existence would suggest. The Sui brought China together again and set up many institutions that were to be adopted by their successors, the Tang. These included the government system of Three Departments and Six Ministries, standard coinage, improved defense and expansion of the Great Wall, and official support for Buddhism. Like the Qin, however, the Sui overused their resources and collapsed. The official capital of Sui Dynasty was Daxing (Chang’an) and secondary capital of that was Dongdu (Luoyang). Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907) Tang Dynasty was founded by Emperor Gaozu on 18 June 618. It was a golden age of Chinese civilization with significant developments in art, literature, particularly poetry, and technology. Buddhism became the predominant religion for common people. Chang'an (modern Xi'an), the national capital, was the largest city in the world of its time. 

Started by the second emperor, Taizong, military campaigns were launched to dissolve threats from nomadic tribes, extend the border, and submit neighboring states into a tributary system. Military victories in the Tarim Basin kept the Silk Road open, connecting Chang'an to Central Asia and areas far to the west. In the south, lucrative maritime trade routes began from port cities such as Guangzhou. There was extensive trade with distant foreign countries, and many foreign merchants settled in China, boosting a vibrant cosmopolitan culture. The Tang culture and social systems were admired and adapted by neighboring countries like Japan. Internally, the Grand Canal linked the political heartland in Chang'an to the economic and agricultural centers in the eastern and southern parts of the empire. Underlying the prosperity of the early Tang Dynasty was a strong centralized bureaucracy with efficient policies. The government was organized as "Three Departments and Six Ministries" to separately draft, review, and implement policies. These departments were run by royal family members as well as scholar officials who were selected from imperial examinations. These practices, which matured in the Tang Dynasty, were to be inherited by the later dynasties with some modifications. 

The Tang land policy – the "Equal-field system" – claimed all lands as imperially owned, and were granted evenly to people according to the size of the households. The associated military policy – the "Fubing system" – conscripted all men in the nation for a fixed duty period each year in exchange for their land rights. These policies stimulated rapid growth of productivity, while boosting the army without much burden on the state treasury. However, lands gradually fell into the hands of private land owners, and standing armies were to replace conscription towards the middle period of the dynasty. The dynasty continued to flourish under Empress Wu Zetian, the only empress regnant in Chinese history, and reached its zenith during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong, who oversaw an empire that stretched from the Pacific to the Aral Sea with at least 50 million people. At the zenith of prosperity of the empire, the An Lushan Rebellion from 755 to 763 was a watershed event that devastated the population and drastically weakened the central imperial government. Regional military governors, known as Jiedushi, gained increasingly autonomous status while formerly submissive states raided the empire. Nevertheless, after the An Lushan Rebellion, the Tang civil society recovered and thrived amidst the weakened imperial bureaucracy. 

From about 860, the Tang Dynasty declined due to a series of rebellions within China itself and in the former subject Kingdom of Nanzhao to the south. One warlord, Huang Chao, captured Guangzhou in 879, killing most of the 200,000 inhabitants, including most of the large colony of foreign merchant families there. In late 880, Luoyang surrendered to Huang Chao, and on 5 January 881 he conquered Chang'an. The emperor Xizong fled to Chengdu, and Huang established a new temporary regime which was eventually destroyed by Tang forces. Another time of political chaos followed. Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (AD 907–960) The period of political disunity between the Tang and the Song, known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, lasted little more than half a century, from 907 to 960. During this brief era, when China was in all respects a multi-state system, five regimes rapidly succeeded one another in control of the old Imperial heartland in northern China. During this same time, sections of southern and western China were occupied by ten, more stable, regimes so the period is also referred to as the Ten Kingdoms. 

Song, Liao, Jin, and Western Xia Dynasties (AD 960–1234) In 960, the Song Dynasty gained power over most of China and established its capital in Kaifeng (later known as Bianjing), starting a period of economic prosperity, while the Khitan Liao Dynasty ruled over Manchuria, present-day Mongolia, and parts of Northern China. In 1115, the Jurchen Jin Dynasty emerged to prominence, annihilating the Liao Dynasty in 10 years. Meanwhile, in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi, and Ningxia, there emerged a Western Xia Dynasty from 1032 to 1227, established by Tangut tribes. The Jin Dynasty took power over northern China and Kaifeng from the Song Dynasty, which moved its capital to Hangzhou (杭州). The Southern Song Dynasty also suffered the humiliation of having to acknowledge the Jin Dynasty as formal overlords. In the ensuing years, China was divided between the Song Dynasty, the Jin Dynasty and the Tangut Western Xia. Southern Song experienced a period of great technological development which can be explained in part by the military pressure that it felt from the north. This included the use of gunpowder weapons, which played a large role in the Song Dynasty naval victories against the Jin in the Battle of Tangdao and Battle of Caishi on the Yangtze River in 1161. Furthermore, China's first permanent standing navy was assembled and provided an admiral's office at Dinghai in 1132, under the reign of Emperor Renzong of Song. 

The Song Dynasty is considered by many to be classical China's high point in science and technology, with innovative scholar-officials such as Su Song (1020–1101) and Shen Kuo (1031–1095). There was court intrigue between the political rivals of the Reformers and Conservatives, led by the chancellors Wang Anshi and Sima Guang, respectively. By the mid-to-late 13th century, the Chinese had adopted the dogma of Neo-Confucian philosophy formulated by Zhu Xi. Enormous literary works were compiled during the Song Dynasty, such as the historical work of the Zizhi Tongjian ("Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government"). Culture and the arts flourished, with grandiose artworks such as Along the River During the Qingming Festival and Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute, along with great Buddhist painters like the prolific Lin Tinggui. Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271–1368) The Jurchen-founded Jin Dynasty was defeated by the Mongols, who then proceeded to defeat the Southern Song in a long and bloody war, the first war in which firearms played an important role. During the era after the war, later called the Pax Mongolica, adventurous Westerners such as Marco Polo travelled all the way to China and brought the first reports of its wonders to Europe. In the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongols were divided between those who wanted to remain based in the steppes and those who wished to adopt the customs of the Chinese. 

Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, wanting to adopt the customs of China, established the Yuan Dynasty. This was the first dynasty to rule the whole of China from Beijing as the capital. Beijing had been ceded to Liao in AD 938 with the Sixteen Prefectures of Yan Yun. Before that, it had been the capital of the Jin, who did not rule all of China. Before the Mongol invasion, Chinese dynasties reportedly had approximately 120 million inhabitants; after the conquest was completed in 1279, the 1300 census reported roughly 60 million people. While it is tempting to attribute this major decline solely to Mongol ferocity, scholars today have mixed sentiments regarding this subject. Scholars such as Frederick W. Mote argue that the wide drop in numbers reflects an administrative failure to record rather than an actual decrease; others such as Timothy Brook argue that the Mongols created a system of enserfment among a huge portion of the Chinese populace, causing many to disappear from the census altogether; other historians like William McNeill and David Morgan argue that the Bubonic Plague was the main factor behind the demographic decline during this period. 

In the 14th century, China suffered additional depredations from epidemics of plague. The Black Death is estimated to have killed 25 million people or 30% of the population of China. Early modern Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644) Throughout the Yuan Dynasty, which lasted less than a century, there was relatively strong sentiment among the populace against the Mongol rule. The frequent natural disasters since the 1340s finally led to peasant revolts. The Yuan Dynasty was eventually overthrown by the Ming Dynasty in 1368. Urbanization increased as the population grew and as the division of labor grew more complex. Large urban centers, such as Nanjing and Beijing, also contributed to the growth of private industry. In particular, small-scale industries grew up, often specializing in paper, silk, cotton, and porcelain goods. For the most part, however, relatively small urban centers with markets proliferated around the country. Town markets mainly traded food, with some necessary manufactures such as pins or oil. 

Despite the xenophobia and intellectual introspection characteristic of the increasingly popular new school of neo-Confucianism, China under the early Ming Dynasty was not isolated. Foreign trade and other contacts with the outside world, particularly Japan, increased considerably. Chinese merchants explored all of the Indian Ocean, reaching East Africa with the voyages of Zheng He. Zhu Yuanzhang or Hong-wu, the founder of the dynasty, laid the foundations for a state interested less in commerce and more in extracting revenues from the agricultural sector. Perhaps because of the Emperor's background as a peasant, the Ming economic system emphasized agriculture, unlike that of the Song and the Mongolian Dynasties, which relied on traders and merchants for revenue. Neo-feudal landholdings of the Song and Mongol periods were expropriated by the Ming rulers. Land estates were confiscated by the government, fragmented, and rented out. Private slavery was forbidden. Consequently, after the death of Emperor Yong-le, independent peasant landholders predominated in Chinese agriculture. These laws might have paved the way to removing the worst of the poverty during the previous regimes. 

The dynasty had a strong and complex central government that unified and controlled the empire. The emperor's role became more autocratic, although Zhu Yuanzhang necessarily continued to use what he called the "Grand Secretaries" (内阁) to assist with the immense paperwork of the bureaucracy, including memorials (petitions and recommendations to the throne), imperial edicts in reply, reports of various kinds, and tax records. It was this same bureaucracy that later prevented the Ming government from being able to adapt to changes in society, and eventually led to its decline. The Yong-le Emperor strenuously tried to extend China's influence beyond its borders by demanding other rulers send ambassadors to China to present tribute. A large navy was built, including four-masted ships displacing 1,500 tons. A standing army of 1 million troops (some estimate as many as 1.9 million was created. The Chinese armies conquered Vietnam for around 20 years, while the Chinese fleet sailed the China seas and the Indian Ocean, cruising as far as the east coast of Africa. The Chinese gained influence in eastern Moghulistan. Several maritime Asian nations sent envoys with tribute for the Chinese emperor. Domestically, the Grand Canal was expanded and proved to be a stimulus to domestic trade. Over 100,000 tons of iron per year were produced. Many books were printed using movable type. The imperial palace in Beijing's Forbidden City reached its current splendor. It was also during these centuries that the potential of south China came to be fully exploited. New crops were widely cultivated and industries such as those producing porcelain and textiles flourished. 

In 1449 Esen Tayisi led an Oirat Mongol invasion of northern China which culminated in the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor at Tumu. In 1542 the Mongol leader Altan Khan began to harass China along the northern border. In 1550 he even reached the suburbs of Beijing. The empire also had to deal with Japanese pirates attacking the southeastern coastline; General Qi Jiguang was instrumental in defeating these pirates. 

The deadliest earthquake of all times, the Shaanxi earthquake of 1556 that killed approximately 830,000 people, occurred during the Jiajing Emperor's reign. During the Ming dynasty the last construction on the Great Wall was undertaken to protect China from foreign invasions. While the Great Wall had been built in earlier times, most of what is seen today was either built or repaired by the Ming. The brick and granite work was enlarged, the watch towers were redesigned, and cannons were placed along its length.
Qing Dynasty (AD 1644–1911) The Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) was the last imperial dynasty in China. Founded by the Manchus, it was the second non-Han Chinese dynasty. The Manchus were formerly known as Jurchen, residing in the northeastern part of the Ming territory outside the Great Wall. They emerged as the major threat to the late Ming Dynasty after Nurhaci united all Jurchen tribes and established an independent state. However, the Ming Dynasty would be overthrown by Li Zicheng's peasants rebellion, with Beijing captured in 1644 and the last Ming Emperor Chongzhen committing suicide. The Manchu allied with the Ming Dynasty general Wu Sangui to seize Beijing, which was made the capital of the Qing dynasty, and then proceeded to subdue the remaining Ming's resistance in the south. The decades of Manchu conquest caused enormous loss of lives and the economic scale of China shrank drastically. Nevertheless, the Manchus adopted the Confucian norms of traditional Chinese government in their rule and were considered a Chinese dynasty. 

The Manchus enforced a 'queue order,' forcing the Han Chinese to adopt the Manchu queue hairstyle and Manchu-style clothing. The traditional Han clothing, or Hanfu, was also replaced by Manchu-style clothing Qipao (bannermen dress and Tangzhuang). The Kangxi Emperor ordered the creation of Kangxi Dictionary, the most complete dictionary of Chinese characters ever put together at the time. The Qing dynasty set up the "Eight Banners" system that provided the basic framework for the Qing military organization. The bannermen were prohibited from participating in trade and manual labour unless they petitioned to be removed from banner status. They were considered a form of nobility and were given preferential treatment in terms of annual pensions, land and allotments of cloth. Over the next half-century, all areas previously under the Ming Dynasty were consolidated under the Qing. Xinjiang, Tibet, and Mongolia were also formally incorporated into Chinese territory. Between 1673 and 1681, the Emperor Kangxi suppressed an uprising of three generals in Southern China who had been denied hereditary rule to large fiefdoms granted by the previous emperor; he also put down a Ming restorationist invasion from Taiwan, called the Revolt of the Three Feudatories. In 1683, the Qing staged an amphibious assault on southern Taiwan, bringing down the rebel Grand Duchy of Tungning, which was founded by the Ming loyalist Koxinga in 1662 after the fall of the Southern Ming, and had served as a base for continued Ming resistance in Southern China.
By the end of Qianlong Emperor's long reign, the Qing Empire was at its zenith. China ruled more than one-third of the world's population, and had the largest economy in the world. By area of extent, it was one of the largest empires ever in history. In the 19th century, the empire was internally stagnated and externally threatened by imperialism. The defeat by the British Empire in the First Opium War (1840) led to the Treaty of Nanking (1842), under which Hong Kong was ceded and opium import was legitimized. Subsequent military defeats and unequal treaties with other imperial powers would continue even after the fall of the Qing Dynasty. Internally, the Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864), a quasi-Christian religious movement led by the "Heavenly King" Hong Xiuquan, raided roughly a third of Chinese territory for over a decade until they were finally crushed in the Third Battle of Nanking in 1864. Arguably one of the largest wars in the 19th century in terms of troop involvement, there was massive loss of life, with a death toll of about 20 million. A string of rebellions followed, which included the Punti–Hakka Clan Wars, Nien Rebellion, Muslim Rebellion, and Panthay Rebellion. Although all rebellions were eventually put down at enormous cost and with many casualties, the central imperial authority was seriously weakened. 

In response to calamities within the empire and threats from imperialism, the Self-Strengthening Movement was an institutional reform in the second half of the 1800s. The aim was to modernize the empire, with prime emphasis on strengthening the military. However, the reform was undermined by corrupt officials, cynicism, and quarrels within the imperial family. As a result, the "Beiyang Fleet" were soundly defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895). Guangxu Emperor and the reformists then launched a more comprehensive reform effort, the Hundred Days' Reform (1898), but it was shortly overturned by the conservatives under Empress Dowager Cixi in a military coup. At the turn of the 20th century, a conservative anti-imperialist movement, the Boxer Rebellion, violently revolted against foreign suppression over vast areas in Northern China. The Empress Dowager, probably seeking to ensure her continual grip on power, sided with the Boxers as they advanced on Beijing. In response, a relief expedition of the Eight-Nation Alliance invaded China to rescue the besieged foreign missions. Consisting of British, Japanese, Russian, Italian, German, French, US, and Austrian troops, the alliance defeated the Boxers and demanded further concessions from the Qing government. 

The early 1900s saw increasing civil disorder, despite reform talk by Cixi and the Qing government. Slavery in China was abolished in 1910. The Xinhai Revolution in 1911 overthrew the Qing's imperial rule. Modern China Historians agree that the fall of the Qing dynasty demarcated the modern era in Chinese history. Scholars, however, are studying the reasons for that fall in the previous 130 years. Keith Schoppa, the editor of The Columbia Guide to Modern Chinese History argues, "A date around 1780 as the beginning of modern China is thus closer to what we know today as historical 'reality."' It also allows us to have a better baseline to understand the precipitous decline of the Chinese polity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries." 

Republic of China (1912–1949) Frustrated by the Qing court's resistance to reform and by China's weakness, young officials, military officers, and students began to advocate the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty and the creation of a republic. They were inspired by the revolutionary ideas of Sun Yat-sen. When Sun Yat-sen was asked by one of the leading revolutionary generals to what he ascribed the success, he said, "To Christianity more than to any other single cause. Along with its ideals of religious freedom, and along with these it inculcates everywhere a doctrine of universal love and peace. These ideals appeal to the Chinese; they largely caused the Revolution, and they largely determined its peaceful character." A revolutionary military uprising, the Wuchang Uprising, began on 10 October 1911, in Wuhan. The provisional government of the Republic of China was formed in Nanjing on 12 March 1912. Sun Yat-sen was declared President, but Sun was forced to turn power over to Yuan Shikai, who commanded the New Army and was Prime Minister under the Qing government, as part of the agreement to let the last Qing monarch abdicate (a decision Sun would later regret). Over the next few years, Yuan proceeded to abolish the national and provincial assemblies, and declared himself emperor in late 1915. Yuan's imperial ambitions were fiercely opposed by his subordinates; faced with the prospect of rebellion, he abdicated in March 1916, and died in June of that year. 

Yuan's death in 1916 left a power vacuum in China; the republican government was all but shattered. This ushered in the Warlord Era, during which much of the country was ruled by shifting coalitions of competing provincial military leaders. In 1919, the May Fourth Movement began as a response to the terms imposed on China by the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I, but quickly became a protest movement about the domestic situation in China. The discrediting of liberal Western philosophy amongst Chinese intellectuals was followed by the adoption of more radical lines of thought. This in turn planted the seeds for the irreconcilable conflict between the left and right in China that would dominate Chinese history for the rest of the century. 

In the 1920s, Sun Yat-sen established a revolutionary base in south China, and set out to unite the fragmented nation. With assistance from the Soviet Union (themselves fresh from a socialist uprising), he entered into an alliance with the fledgling Communist Party of China. After Sun's death from cancer in 1925, one of his protégés, Chiang Kai-shek, seized control of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party or KMT) and succeeded in bringing most of south and central China under its rule in a military campaign known as the Northern Expedition (1926–1927). Having defeated the warlords in south and central China by military force, Chiang was able to secure the nominal allegiance of the warlords in the North. In 1927, Chiang turned on the CPC and relentlessly chased the CPC armies and its leaders from their bases in southern and eastern China. In 1934, driven from their mountain bases such as the Chinese Soviet Republic, the CPC forces embarked on the Long March across China's most desolate terrain to the northwest, where they established a guerrilla base at Yan'an in Shaanxi Province. During the Long March, the communists reorganized under a new leader, Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung). 

The bitter struggle between the KMT and the CPC continued, openly or clandestinely, through the 14-year long Japanese occupation of various parts of the country (1931–1945). The two Chinese parties nominally formed a united front to oppose the Japanese in 1937, during the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), which became a part of World War II. Following the defeat of Japan in 1945, the war between the KMT and the CPC resumed, after failed attempts at reconciliation and a negotiated settlement. By 1949, the CPC had established control over most of the country. When Chiang was defeated by CPC forces in mainland China in 1949, he retreated to Taiwan with his government and his most disciplined troops, along with most of the KMT leadership and a large number of their supporters; Chiang Kai-shek had taken effective control of Taiwan at the end of WWII as part of the overall Japanese surrender, when Japanese troops in Taiwan surrendered to Republic of China troops.
People's Republic of China (1949–present) Major combat in the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with Kuomintang (KMT) pulling out of the mainland, with the government relocating to Taipei and maintaining control only over a few islands. The Communist Party of China was left in control of mainland China. On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China. "Communist China" and "Red China" were two common names for the PRC. The PRC was shaped by a series of campaigns and five-year plans, with mixed success. The economic and social plan known as the Great Leap Forward resulted in an estimated 45 million deaths. In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, 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, led to a major upheaval in Chinese society.
In 1972, at the peak of the Sino-Soviet split, Mao and Zhou Enlai met Richard Nixon 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. A power struggle followed Mao's death in 1976. The Gang of Four were arrested and blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, marking the end of a turbulent political era in China. Deng Xiaoping outmaneuvered Mao's anointed successor chairman Hua Guofeng, and gradually emerged as the de facto leader over the next few years. Deng Xiaoping was the Paramount Leader of China from 1978 to 1992, although he never became the head of the party or state, and his influence within the Party led the country to significant economic reforms. The Communist Party subsequently loosened governmental control over citizens' personal lives and the communes were disbanded with many peasants receiving multiple land leases, which greatly increased incentives and agricultural production. This turn of events marked China's transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy with an increasingly open market environment, a system termed by some as "market socialism", and officially by the Communist Party of China as "Socialism with Chinese characteristics". The PRC adopted its current constitution on 4 December 1982. 

In 1989, the death of former general secretary Hu Yaobang helped to spark the Tiananmen Square protests of 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 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" incident in particular became famous. CPC general secretary and PRC President Jiang Zemin and PRC Premier Zhu Rongji, 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 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 former CPC general secretary and President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, 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 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 China stretches some 5,026 kilometres (3,123 mi) across the East Asian landmass. China is bordered by seas and waters eastward, with the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, Taiwan Strait, and South China Sea, and bordered by landmasses on its 3 other sides, from North Korea to Vietnam. China has been officially and conveniently divided into 5 homogeneous physical macro-regions: Eastern China (subdivided into the northeast plain, north plain, and southern hills), Xinjiang-Mongolia, and the Tibetan-highlands. Its physical features are multiples. The eastern and southern half of the country, its seacoast fringed with offshore islands, is a region of fertile lowlands and foothills with most of the agricultural output and human population. The western and northern half of China is a region of sunken basins (Gobi, Taklamakan), rolling plateaus, and towering massifs, including a portion of the highest tableland on earth (Tibetan Plateau) with lower agricultural possibilities and thus, far less populated. 

Traditionally, the Chinese population centered around the Chinese central plain and oriented itself toward its own enormous inland market, developing as an imperial power whose center lay in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River on the northern plains. More recently, the 18,000-kilometers coastline have been used extensively for export-oriented trade, making a power shift, with the coastline provinces becoming the leading economic center. With an area of about 9.6 million km², the People's Republic of China is the 3rd largest country in total area behind Russia and Canada, and very similar to the United States. This figure is sometimes challenged by border disputes, most notably about Taiwan, Aksai Chin, the Trans-Karakoram Tract, and South Tibet. 

Political geography The People's Republic of China is the second-largest country in the world by land area after Russia and is either the third- or fourth-largest by total area, after Russia, Canada and, depending on the definition of total area, the United States. China's total area is generally stated as being approximately 9,600,000 km2 (3,700,000 sq mi). Specific area figures range from 9,572,900 km2 (3,696,100 sq mi) according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, 9,596,961 km2 (3,705,407 sq mi) according to the UN Demographic Yearbook, to 9,596,961 km2 (3,705,407 sq mi) according to the CIA World Factbook, and 9,640,011 km2 (3,722,029 sq mi) including Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract, which are controlled by China and claimed by India. None of these figures include the 1,000 square kilometres (386.1 sq mi) of territory ceded to China by Tajikistan following the ratification of a Sino-Tajik border agreement in January 2011. China has the longest combined land border in the world, measuring 22,117 km (13,743 mi) from the mouth of the Yalu River to the Gulf of Tonkin. China borders 14 nations, more than any other country except Russia, which also borders 14. China extends across much of East Asia, bordering Vietnam, Laos, and Burma in Southeast Asia; India, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan in South Asia; Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in Central Asia; a small section of Russian Altai and Mongolia in Inner Asia; and the Russian Far East and North Korea in Northeast Asia. China's border with India is disputed, and was a key cause of the 1962 Sino-Indian War. 

Additionally, China shares maritime boundaries with South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan. The PRC and the Republic of China (Taiwan) make mutual claims over each other's territory and the frontier between areas under their respective control is closest near the islands of Kinmen and Matsu, off the Fujian coast, but otherwise run through the Taiwan Strait. The PRC and ROC assert identical claims over the entirety of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, and the southernmost extent of these claims reaches James Shoal, which would form a maritime frontier with Malaysia. Landscape and climate The territory of China lies between latitudes 18° and 54° N, and longitudes 73° and 135° E. China's landscapes vary significantly across its vast width. In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains, while on the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, broad grasslands predominate. Southern China is dominated by hills and low mountain ranges, while the central-east hosts the deltas of China's two major rivers, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. Other major rivers include the Xi, Mekong, Brahmaputra and Amur. To the west, major mountain ranges, most notably the Himalayas, and high plateaus feature among the more arid landscapes of the north, such as the Taklamakan and the Gobi Desert. The world's highest point, Mount Everest (8,848m), lies on the Sino-Nepalese border. The country's lowest point, and the world's fourth-lowest, 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, 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 and poor agricultural practices have resulted in dust storms 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, 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 seasons and wet monsoons, which lead to 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 highly complex topography. 

Biodiversity China is one of 17 megadiverse countries, lying in two of the world's major ecozones: the Palearctic and the Indomalaya. By one measure, China has over 34,687 species of animals and vascular plants, making it the third-most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil and Colombia. The country signed the Rio de Janeiro Convention on Biological Diversity on 11 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 5 January 1993. It later produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with one revision which was received by the convention on 21 September 2010. China is home to at least 551 species of mammals (the third-highest such number in the world), 1,221 species of birds (eighth), 424 species of reptiles (seventh) and 333 species of amphibians (seventh). China is the most biodiverse country in each category outside of the tropics. Wildlife in China share habitat with and bear acute pressure from the world's largest population of homo sapiens. At least 840 animal species are threatened, vulnerable or in danger of local extinction in China, due mainly to human activity such as habitat destruction, pollution and poaching for food, fur and ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine. Endangered wildlife is protect by law and the country has over 360 nature reserves. 

China has over 32,000 species of vascular plants and is home to a variety of forest types. Cold coniferous forests predominate in the north of the country, supporting animal species such as moose and the Asian black bear, along with over 120 bird species. Moist conifer forests can have thickets of bamboo as an understorey, replaced by rhododendrons in higher montane stands of juniper and yew. Subtropical forests, which dominate central and southern China, support as many as 146,000 species of flora. Tropical and seasonal rainforests, though confined to Yunnan and Hainan Island, contain a quarter of all the animal and plant species found in China. The number of species of fungi recorded in China, including lichen-forming species, is not known with precision, but probably exceeds 10,000. More than 2,400 species were listed by the mycologist S.C. Teng in the first modern treatment of Chinese fungi in the English language, which was published in 1996. More than 5,000 species of "higher fungi" – mainly basidiomycetes with some ascomycetes – were reported in 2001 for tropical China alone, and nearly 4,000 species of fungi were reported in 2005 for northwestern China. The issue of fungal conservation, long overlooked in China, was first addressed in the early 2010s, with pioneer publications evaluating the conservation status of individual species. 

Environmental issues In recent decades, China has suffered from severe environmental deterioration and pollution. While regulations such as the 1979 Environmental Protection Law are fairly stringent, they are poorly enforced, as they are frequently disregarded by local communities and government officials in favour of rapid economic development. Urban air pollution is a severe health issue in the country; the World Bank estimates that 16 of the world's most-polluted cities are located in China. Environmental campaigners have warned that water pollution is becoming a severe threat to Chinese society. According to the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources, roughly 300 million Chinese do not have access to safe drinking water, and 40% of China's rivers had been polluted by industrial and agricultural waste by late 2011. This crisis is compounded by increasingly severe water shortages, particularly in the north-east of the country. 

However, China is the world's leading investor in renewable energy commercialisation, with US$52 billion invested in 2011 alone; it is a major manufacturer of renewable energy technologies and invests heavily in local-scale renewable energy projects. 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 and desalination projects over a ten-year period, and to complete construction of a flood prevention and anti-drought system by 2020. In 2013, China began a five-year, US$277 billion effort to reduce air pollution, particularly in the north of the country.

Politics: The politics of the People's Republic of China take place in a framework of the single-party socialist republic. The leadership of the Communist Party is stated in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. State power within the People's Republic of China (PRC) is exercised through the Communist Party of China, the Central People's Government and their provincial and local counterparts. Under the dual leadership system, each local Bureau or office is under the coequal authority of the local leader and the leader of the corresponding office, bureau or ministry at the next higher level. People's Congress members at the county level are elected by voters. These county level People's Congresses have the responsibility of oversight of local government, and elect members to the Provincial (or Municipal in the case of independent municipalities) People's Congress. The Provincial People's Congress in turn elects members to the National People's Congress that meets each year in March in Beijing. The ruling Communist Party committee at each level plays a large role in the selection of appropriate candidates for election to the local congress and to the higher levels. 

Overview The PRC's population, geographical vastness, and social diversity frustrate attempts to rule from Beijing. Economic reform during the 1980s and the devolution of much central government decision making, combined with the strong interest of local Communist Party officials in enriching themselves, has made it increasingly difficult for the central government to assert its authority. Political power has become much less personal and more institutionally based than it was during the first forty years of the PRC. For example, Deng Xiaoping was never the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China or President, Premier of China, yet he was the leader of China for a decade. Today the authority of China's leaders is much more tied to their institutional base. Central government leaders must increasingly build consensus for new policies among party members, local and regional leaders, influential non-party members, and the population at large. However, control is often maintained over the larger group through control of information. The Chinese Communist Party considers China to be in the initial stages of socialism. Many Chinese and foreign observers see the PRC as in transition from a system of public ownership to one in which private ownership plays an increasingly important role. Privatization of housing and increasing freedom to make choices about education and employment severely weakened the work unit system that was once the basic cell of Communist Party control over society. China's complex political, ethnic and ideological mosaic, much less uniform beneath the surface than in the idealized story of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, resists simple categorization. 

As the social, cultural and political as well as economic consequences of market reform become increasingly manifest, tensions between the old—the way of the comrade—and the new—the way of the citizen—are sharpening. Some Chinese scholars such as Zhou Tianyong, the vice director of research of the Central Party School, argue 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 middle class dominated polity. Some Chinese look back to the Cultural Revolution and fear chaos if the Communist Party should lose control due to domestic upheavals and so a robust system of monitoring and control is in place to counter the growing pressure for political change. Communist Party The more than 80 million-member Communist Party of China (CPC) continues to dominate government. In periods of relative liberalization, the influence of people and groups outside the formal party structure has tended to increase, particularly in the economic realm. Under the command economy system, every state owned enterprise was required to have a party committee. The introduction of the market economy means that economic institutions now exist in which the party has limited or no power. 

Nevertheless, in all governmental institutions in the PRC, the party committees at all levels maintain a powerful and pivotal role in administration, especially when related to politics and related aspects. 

Central party control is tightest in central government offices and in urban economic, industrial, and cultural settings; it is considerably looser over government and party establishments in rural areas, where the majority of Mainland Chinese people live. The CPC's most important responsibility comes in the selection and promotion of personnel. 

They also see that party and state policy guidance is followed and that non-party members do not create autonomous organizations that could challenge party rule. Particularly important are the leading small groups which coordinate activities of different agencies. Although there is a convention that government committees contain at least one non-party member, a party membership is a definite aid in promotion and in being in crucial policy setting meetings. 

Constitutionally, the party's highest body is the Party Congress, which is supposed to meet at least once every 5 years. Meetings were irregular before the Cultural Revolution but have been periodic since then. The party elects the Central Committee and the primary organs of power are formally parts of the central committee. The primary organs of power in the Communist Party include: • The General Secretary, which is the highest-ranking official within the Party and usually the Chinese Paramount leader. • The Politburo, consisting of 22 full members (including the members of the Politburo Standing Committee); • The Politburo Standing Committee, which currently consists of seven members; • The Secretariat, the principal administrative mechanism of the CPC, headed by the General Secretary; • The Central Military Commission; • The Central Discipline Inspection Commission, which is charged with rooting out corruption and malfeasance among party cadres. 

Government The primary organs of state power are the National People's Congress (NPC), the President, and the State Council. Members of the State Council include the Premier, a variable number of vice premiers (now four), five state councilors (protocol equal of vice premiers but with narrower portfolios), and 29 ministers and heads of State Council commissions. During the 1980s there was an attempt made to separate party and state functions, with the party deciding general policy and the state carrying it out. The attempt was abandoned in the 1990s with the result that the political leadership within the state are also the leaders of the party, thereby creating a single centralized locus of power. At the same time, there has been a convention that party and state offices be separated at levels other than the central government, and it is unheard of for a sub-national executive to also be party secretary. Conflict has been often known to develop between the chief executive and the party secretary, and this conflict is widely seen as intentional to prevent either from becoming too dominant. Some special cases are the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau where the Communist Party does not function at all as part of the governmental system, and the autonomous regions where, following Soviet practice, the chief executive is typically a member of the local ethnic group while the party general secretary is non-local and usually Han Chinese. 

Under the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the NPC is the highest organ of state power in China. It meets annually for about 2 weeks to review and approve major new policy directions, laws, the budget, and major personnel changes. Most national legislation in China is adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC). Most initiatives are presented to the NPCSC for consideration by the State Council after previous endorsement by the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee. Although the NPC generally approves State Council policy and personnel recommendations, the NPC and its standing committee has increasingly asserted its role as the national legislature and has been able to force revisions in some laws. For example, the State Council and the Party have been unable to secure passage of a fuel tax to finance the construction of freeways. 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 subdivisions officially termed autonomous regions, each with a designated minority group; four municipalities; and two Special Administrative Regions (SARs), which enjoy a degree of political autonomy. These 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities can be collectively referred to as "mainland China", a term which usually excludes the SARs of Hong Kong and Macau. None of these divisions are recognized by the ROC government, which claims the entirety of the PRC's territory. 

Local government Currently, local government in the People's Republic of China is structured in a hierarchy on four different levels. With the village being the grassroots (usually a hundred or so families), and not considered part of the hierarchy, local government advances through the township, county, prefecture or municipality, and the province as the geographical area of jurisdiction increases. Each level in the hierarchy is responsible for overseeing the work carried out by lower levels on the administrative strata. At each level are two important officials. A figure that represents the Communist Party of China, colloquially termed the Party chief or the Party Secretary, acts as the policy maker. This figure is appointed by their superiors. The head of the local People's Government, is, in theory, elected by the people. Usually called a governor, mayor, or magistrate, depending on the level, this figure acts to carry out the policies and most ceremonial duties. The distinction has evolved into a system where the Party Secretary is always in precedence above the leader of the People's Government. 

After Deng Xiaoping took power in 1978 greater autonomy has been given to provinces in terms of economic policy implementation as well as other areas of policy such as education and transportation. As a result, some provincial authorities have evolved tendencies of operating on a de facto federal system with Beijing. Prominent examples of greater autonomy are seen in the provinces of Guangdong and Zhejiang, where local leaders do little to adhere to the strict standards issued by the Central Government, especially economic policy. In addition, conflicts have arisen in the relations of the central Party leaders with the few provincial-level Municipalities, most notably the municipal government of Shanghai and the rivalry between former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong and Jiang Zemin. The removal of Shanghai Municipality Party Secretary Chen Liangyu in September 2006 is the latest example. China's system of autonomous regions and autonomous prefectures within provinces are formally intended to provide for greater autonomy by the ethnic group majority that inhabits the region. In practice, however, power rests with the Party secretary. Beijing will often appoint loyal party cadres to oversee the local work as Party secretary, while the local Chairman of the region's government is regarded as its nominal head. Power rests with the Party secretary. To avoid the solidification of local loyalties during a cadre's term in office, the central government freely and frequently transfers party cadres around different regions of the country, so a high ranking cadre's career might include service as governor or party secretary of several different provinces. 

People's Liberation Army The Communist Party of China created and leads the People’s Liberation Army. After the PRC was established in 1949, the PLA also became a state military. The state military system inherited and upholds the principle of the Communist Party’s absolute leadership over the people’s armed forces. The Party and the State jointly established the Central Military Commission that carries out the task of supreme military leadership over the armed forces. The 1954 PRC Constitution provides that the State Chairman (President) directs the armed forces and made the State Chairman the chair of the Defense Commission (the Defense Commission is an advisory body, it does not lead the armed forces). On September 28, 1954, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party re-established the Central Military Commission as the leader of the PLA and the people’s armed forces. From that time onwards, the system of joint Party and state military leadership was established. The Central Committee of the Communist Party leads in all military affairs. The State Chairman directs the state military forces and the development of the military forces managed by the State Council. 

In December 1982, the fifth National People’s Congress revised the State Constitution to provide that the State Central Military Commission leads all the armed forces of the state. The chair of the State CMC is chosen and removed by the full NPC while the other members are chosen by the NPC Standing Committee. However, the CMC of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China remained the Party organization that directly leads the military and all the other armed forces. In actual practice, the Party CMC, after consultation with the democratic parties, proposes the names of the State CMC members of the NPC so that these people after going through the legal processes can be elected by the NPC to the State Central Military Commission. That is to say, that the CMC of the Central Committee and the CMC of the State are one group and one organization. However, looking at it organizationally, these two CMCs are subordinate to two different systems – the Party system and the State system. Therefore the armed forces are under the absolute leadership of the Communist Party and are also the armed forces of the state. This is a unique Chinese system that ensures the joint leadership of the Communist Party and the state over the armed forces. 

Elections No substantial legal political opposition groups exist, and the country is mainly run by the Communist Party of China (CPC), but there are other political parties in the PRC, called "democratic parties", which participate in the People's Political Consultative Conference but mostly serve to endorse CPC policies. Even as there have been some moves in the direction of democratization as far as the electoral system at least, in that openly contested People's Congress elections are now held at the village and town levels, and that legislatures have shown some assertiveness from time to time, the party retains effective control over governmental appointments. This is because the CPC wins by default in most electorates. The CPC has been enforcing its rule by clamping down on political dissidents as well as simultaneously attempting to reduce dissent by improving the economy and allowing public expression of people's personal grievances, provided that it is not within the agenda of any NGO or other groups openly or covertly opposing CPC ideals. Current political concerns in Mainland China include countering the growing gap between the wealthy and the poorer and fighting corruption within the government leadership and its institutions. The support that the Communist Party of China has among the Chinese population in general is unclear because national elections are mostly CPC dominated, as there are no opposition political parties and independent candidates elected into office aren't organised well enough to realistically challenge CPC rule. Also, private conversations and anecdotal information often reveal conflicting views. However, according to a survey conducted in Hong Kong, where a relatively high level of freedom is enjoyed, the current CPC leaders have received substantial votes of support when its residents were asked to rank their favourite Chinese leaders from Mainland and Taiwan. 

The eight registered minor parties have existed since before 1950. These parties all formally accept the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and their activities are directed by the United Front Work Department of the CPC. Their original function was to create the impression that the PRC was being ruled by a diverse national front, not a one-party dictatorship. The major role of these parties is to attract and subsequently muzzle niches in society that have political tendencies, such as the academia. Although these parties are tightly controlled and do not challenge the Communist Party, members of the parties often individually are found in policy-making national institutions, and there is a convention that state institutions generally have at least one sinecure from a minor political party. The minor parties include the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Guomindang, founded in 1948 by dissident members of the mainstream Kuomintang then under control of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek; China Democratic League, created in 1941 by intellectuals in education and the arts; China Democratic National Construction Association, formed in 1945 by educators and national capitalists (industrialists and business people); China Association for Promoting Democracy, started in 1945 by intellectuals in cultural, education (primary and secondary schools), and publishing circles; Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party, originated in 1930 by intellectuals in medicine, the arts, and education; China Party for Public Interest (China Zhi Gong Dang), founded in 1925 to attract the support of overseas Chinese; Jiusan Society, founded in 1945 by a group of college professors and scientists to commemorate the victory of the "international war against fascism" on September 3; and Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League, created in 1947 by "patriotic supporters of democracy who originated in Taiwan and now reside on the mainland." 

Coordination between the eight registered minor parties and the Communist Party of China is done through the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference which meets annually in Beijing in March at about the same time that the National People's Congress meets. In addition, there are a few minor parties which either lack official recognition or are actively suppressed by the government, such as the China Democracy Party and China New Democracy Party, which have their headquarters outside of the Mainland China. Legal system The Chinese legal code is a complex amalgam of custom and statute, largely focused on criminal law, though a rudimentary civil code has been in effect since January 1, 1987 and new legal codes have been in effect since January 1, 1980. Continuing efforts are being made to improve civil, administrative, criminal, and commercial law. 

The government's efforts to promote rule of law are significant and ongoing. After the Cultural Revolution, the PRC's leaders aimed to develop a legal system to restrain abuses of official authority and revolutionary excesses. In 1982, the National People's Congress adopted a new state constitution that emphasized the concept of rule of law by which party and state organizations are all subject to the law. (The importance of the rule of law was further elevated by a 1999 Constitutional amendment.) Many commentators have pointed out that the emphasis on rule of law increases rather than decreases the power of the Communist Party of China because the party, in its position of power, is in a better position to change the law to suit its own needs. Since 1979, when the drive to establish a functioning legal system began, more than 301 laws and regulations, most of them in the economic area, have been promulgated. (After China's entry into the WTO, many new economically related laws have been put in place, while others have been amended.) The use of mediation committees - informed groups of citizens who resolve about 90% of the PRC's civil disputes and some minor criminal cases at no cost to the parties - is one innovative device. There are more than 800,000 such committees in both rural and urban areas. 

Legal reform became a government priority in the 1990s. Legislation designed to modernize and professionalize the nation's lawyers, judges, and prisons was enacted. The 1994 Administrative Procedure Law allows citizens to sue officials for abuse of authority or malfeasance. In addition, the criminal law and the criminal procedures laws were amended to introduce significant reforms. The criminal law amendments abolished the crime of "counter-revolutionary" activity (and references to "counter-revolutionaries" disappeared with the passing of the 1999 Constitutional amendment), while criminal procedures reforms encouraged establishment of a more transparent, adversarial trial process. The PRC Constitution and laws provide for fundamental human rights, including due process, although those laws also provide for limitations of those rights. Although the human rights situation in mainland China has improved markedly since the 1960s (the 2004 Constitutional amendments specifically stressed that the State protects human rights), the government remains determined to prevent any organized opposition to its rule. Amnesty International estimates that the PRC holds several thousand political prisoners. Although illegal, there have been reports of torture by civil authorities. 

Nationality and ethnicity Nationality is granted at birth to children with at least one Chinese-national parent, with some exceptions. In general, naturalization or the obtainment of People's Republic of China nationality is difficult. The Nationality Law prescribes only three conditions for the obtainment of PRC nationality (marriage to a PRC national is one, permanent residence is another). If a PRC citizen voluntarily obtains a foreign nationality, he or she loses Chinese nationality automatically. If the citizen then wishes to resume PRC nationality, the foreign nationality is no longer recognized. For more details, see Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China. The PRC is officially a multi-ethnic state providing ethnic autonomy in the form of autonomous administrative entities in accordance with Section 6 of Chapter 3 (Articles 111-122) of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, and with more detail under the Law of the People's Republic of China on Regional National Autonomy. By law, ethnic minorities receive advantages in areas such as population control, school admissions, government employment, and military recruitment. The PRC refers to all 56 official nationalities as equal members of the Chinese nation. However, separatist sentiment has occasionally flared in Tibet and Xinjiang. As such, independence groups and foreign human rights groups are critical of the PRC's policies in ethnic areas, and have bemoaned the presence of Han Chinese (the main ethnic group of China) in Xinjiang and Tibet.

4th Dalai Lama
Foreign Relations

The PRC has diplomatic relations with 171 countries and maintains embassies in 162. Its legitimacy is disputed by the Republic of China and a few other countries; it is thus the largest and most populous state with limited recognition. 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. China was also a former member and leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, and still considers itself an advocate for developing countries. Along with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, China is a member of the BRICS group of emerging major economies, and hosted the group's third official summit at Sanya, Hainan in April 2011. 

Under its interpretation of the One-China policy, Beijing 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. Chinese 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 are also opposed by China, as the latter considers Tibet to be formally part of China. 

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

Much of the current foreign policy is based on the concept of China's peaceful development. Nonetheless, crises in relations with foreign countries have occurred at various times in its recent history, particularly with the United States; e.g., the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo conflict in May 1999 and the Hainan Island incident in April 2001. 

China's foreign relations with many Western nations suffered for a time following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. A much troubled foreign relationship is that between China and Japan, which has been strained at times by Japan's refusal to acknowledge its war-time past to the satisfaction of the PRC, such as revisionistic comments made by prominent Japanese officials, and insufficient details given to the Nanjing Massacre and other atrocities committed during World War II in Japanese history textbooks. Another point of conflict between the two countries is the frequent visits by Japanese government officials to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors not only Japanese World War II dead but also many convicted World War II war criminals, including 14 Class A convictions. 

East Asia Summit 2011 in Indonesia
Trade Relations 

In recent decades, China has played an increasing role in calling for free trade areas and security pacts amongst its Asia-Pacific neighbors. In 2004, it proposed an entirely new East Asia Summit (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. China is also a founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), along with Russia and the Central Asian republics. 

In 2000, the United States 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 and George W. Bush asserted that free trade would gradually open China to democratic reform. Bush was furthermore an advocate of Chinese entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). China has a significant trade surplus with the United States, its most important export market. In the early 2010s, US politicians argued that the Chinese yuan was significantly undervalued, giving China an unfair trade advantage.


Map Depicting Territorial disputes Between PRC & other states
International Disputes 

The PRC is in a number of international territorial disputes, several of which involved the Sino-Russian border. Although the great majority of them are now resolved, China's territorial disputes have led to several localized wars in the last 50 years, including the Sino-Indian War in 1962, the Sino-Soviet border conflict in 1969 and the Sino-Vietnam War in 1979. In 2001, the PRC and Russia signed the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, which ended the conflict. Other territorial disputes include islands in the East and South China Seas, and undefined or disputed borders with India and North Korea. 

Emerging Superpower Status 

China is regularly hailed as a potential new superpower, with certain commentators citing its rapid economic progress, growing military might, very large population, and increasing international influence as signs that it will play a prominent global role in the 21st century. Others, however, warn that economic bubbles and demographic imbalances could slow or even halt China's growth as the century progresses. Some authors also question the definition of "superpower", arguing that China's large economy alone would not qualify it as a superpower, and noting that it lacks the military and cultural influence of the United States. 

Hukou Household Certificate of China
Sociopolitical Issues and Reforms

The Chinese democracy movement, 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 states that the "fundamental rights" of citizens include freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion, universal suffrage, and property rights. However, in practice, these provisions do not afford significant protection against criminal prosecution by the state. Rural migrants to China's cities often find themselves treated as second-class citizens by the hukou household registration system, which controls access to state benefits. Property rights are often poorly protected, and taxation disproportionately affects poorer citizens. However, a number of rural taxes have been reduced or abolished since the early 2000s, and additional social services provided to rural dwellers. 

Head Office of Reporters Without Borders, Paris
Censorship of political speech and information, most notably on the Internet, is openly and routinely used in China to silence criticism of the government and the ruling Communist Party. In 2005, Reporters Without Borders ranked China 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. 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. 

A number of foreign governments and NGOs also routinely criticize China's human rights record, alleging widespread civil rights violations such as detention without trial, forced confessions, torture, restrictions of fundamental rights, and excessive use of the death penalty. In particular, the Chinese state is regularly accused of large-scale repression and human rights abuses in Tibet and Xinjiang, including violent police crackdowns and religious suppression. 

View of Yangtze River from Baidicheng
The Chinese 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, and focus more on the people's rights to subsistence and development in poorer countries. It emphasizes the rise in the standard of living, literacy, and life expectancy for the average Chinese since the 1970s, as well as improvements in workplace safety and efforts to combat natural disasters such as the perennial Yangtze River floods. It has also responded to allegations of state repression by accusing Western media of supporting and justifying terrorist acts in Xinjiang. Furthermore, some Chinese politicians have spoken out in support of democratization, although others remain more conservative. Although the Chinese government is increasingly tolerant of NGOs which offer practical, efficient solutions to social problems, such "third sector" activity remains heavily regulated. 

Economy

As of 2013, China has the world's second-largest economy in terms of nominal GDP, totalling approximately US$8.227 trillion according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). If PPP is taken into account, China's economy is again second only to the United States – in 2012, its PPP GDP reached $12.405 trillion, corresponding to $9,161 per capita. However, China's 2012 nominal GDP per capita of US$6,075 puts it behind around ninety countries (out of 183 countries on the IMF list) in global GDP per capita rankings.

Pudong District, a SEZ in Shangai, China
From its founding in 1949 until late 1978, the People's Republic of China was a Soviet-style centrally planned economy, without private businesses or capitalism. To propel the country towards a modern, industrialized communist society, Mao Zedong instituted the Great Leap Forward 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, Deng Xiaoping and the new Chinese leadership began to reform the economy and move towards a more market-oriented mixed economy under one-party rule. Agricultural collectivization was dismantled and farmlands privatized, while foreign trade became a major new focus, leading to the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Inefficient state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were restructured and unprofitable ones were closed outright, resulting in massive job losses. Modern-day China is mainly characterized as having a market economy based on private property ownership, and is one of the leading examples of state capitalism. The state still dominates in strategic "pillar" sectors such as energy production and heavy industries, but private enterprise has expanded enormously, with around 30 million private businesses recorded in 2008.

A Graph Comparing the 2012 GDPs of Major Economies
Since economic liberalization began in 1978, China's investment- and export-led economy has grown more than a hundredfold and is the fastest-growing major economy in the world. According to the IMF, China's annual average GDP growth between 2001 and 2010 was 10.5%. 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 index announced by Citigroup in February 2011, China has a very high 3G growth rating. Its high productivity, low labor costs and relatively good infrastructure have made it a global leader in manufacturing, but its undervalued exchange rate has caused friction with other major economies, and it has also been widely criticised for manufacturing large quantities of counterfeit goods. In the early 2010s, China's economic growth rate began to slow amid domestic credit troubles, changing government priorities and global economic turmoil.

China is a member of the WTO and is the world's largest trading power, with a total international trade value of US$3.87 trillion in 2012. Its foreign exchange reserves reached US$2.85 trillion by the end of 2010, an increase of 18.7% over the previous year, making its reserves by far the world's largest. China owns an estimated $1.6 trillion of US securities. China, holding over 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 foreign direct investment (FDI), attracting $115 billion in 2011 alone, marking a 9% increase over 2010. China also increasingly invests abroad, with a total outward FDI of $68 billion in 2010, and a number of major takeovers of foreign firms by Chinese companies.

Shanghai 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. In 2011, 61 Chinese companies were listed in the Fortune Global 500. Measured by total revenues, three of the world's top ten most valuable companies are Chinese, including fifth-ranked Sinopec Group, sixth-ranked China National Petroleum and seventh-ranked State Grid (the world's largest electric utilities company).

China's middle-class population (defined as those with annual income of at least US$17,000) had reached more than 100 million by 2011, while the number of individuals worth more than 10 million Yuan (US$1.5 million) was estimated to be 1.02 million in 2012, according to the Hurun Report. Based on the Hurun rich list, the number of US dollar billionaires in China increased from 130 in 2009 to 251 in 2012, giving China the world's second-highest number of billionaires. China's domestic retail market was worth over 20 trillion Yuan (US$3.2 trillion) in 2012 and is now growing at over 12% annually, while the country's luxury goods market has expanded immensely, with 27.5% of the global share. However, in recent years, China's rapid economic growth has contributed to severe consumer inflation, leading to increased government regulation.

A Renewable Energy Power Plant in China
The Chinese economy is highly energy-intensive and inefficient; China became the world's largest energy consumer in 2010, and still relies on coal to supply over 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, planning to make renewables constitute 30% of China's total energy production by 2050. Efforts have also been made to streamline bureaucracy and reduce wastefulness by government enterprises.

Currency System 

The Renminbi ("people's currency") is the currency of China, denominated as the Yuan, subdivided into 10 jiao or 100 fen. The Renminbi is issued by the People's Bank of China, the monetary authority of the PRC. The ISO 4217 abbreviation is CNY, although also commonly abbreviated as "RMB". The Latinised symbol is ¥. The Yuan is generally considered by outside observers to be undervalued by about 30-40%.

Renminbi Banknotes of the 2005 Series
The Renminbi is held in a floating exchange-rate system managed primarily against the US dollar. On July 21, 2005, China revalued its currency by 2.1% against the US dollar and, since then has moved to an exchange rate system that references a basket of currencies and has allowed the Renminbi to fluctuate at a daily rate of up to half a percent. The rate of exchange (Chinese Yuan per US$1) on July 31, 2008, was RMB 6.846, in mid-2007 was RMB 7.45, while in early 2006 was RMB 8.07:US $1=8.2793 Yuan (January 2000), 8.2783 (1999), 8.2790 (1998), 8.2898 (1997), 8.3142 (1996), 8.3514 (1995).

There is a complex relationship between China's balance of trade, inflation, measured by the consumer price index and the value of its currency. Despite allowing the value of the Yuan to "float", China's central bank has decisive ability to control its value with relationship to other currencies. Inflation in 2007, reflecting sharply rising prices for meat and fuel, is probably related to the worldwide rise in commodities used as animal feed or as fuel. Thus rapid rises in the value of the Yuan permitted in December 2007 are possibly related to efforts to mitigate inflation by permitting the Renminbi to be worth more.
A Chinese Farmer in village of Puduo, Yunnan, China
Agriculture 

China is the world's largest producer and consumer of agricultural products – and some 300 million Chinese farm workers are in the industry, mostly laboring on pieces of land about the size of U.S farms. Virtually all arable land is used for food crops. China is the world's largest producer of rice and is among the principal sources of wheat, corn (maize), tobacco, soybeans, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, oilseed, pork, and fish. Major non-food crops, including cotton, other fibers, and oilseeds, furnish China with a small proportion of its foreign trade revenue. Agricultural exports, such as vegetables and fruits, fish and shellfish, grain and meat products, are exported to Hong Kong. Yields are high because of intensive cultivation, for example, China's cropland area is only 75% of the U.S. total, but China still produces about 30% more crops and livestock than the United States, (notwithstanding the State of California, which outproduces even the most productive Chinese farmlands by a three to one ratio.) China hopes to further increase agricultural production through improved plant stocks, fertilizers, and technology.

A Crop Harvest in China
According to the government statistics issued in 2005, after a drop in the yield of farm crops in 2000, output has been increasing annually. According to the United Nations World Food Program, in 2003, China fed 20 percent of the world's population with only 7 percent of the world's arable land. China ranks first worldwide in farm output, and, as a result of topographic and climatic factors, only about 10–15 percent of the total land area is suitable for cultivation. Of this, slightly more than half is unirrigated, and the remainder is divided roughly equally between paddy fields and irrigated areas. Nevertheless, about 60 percent of the population lives in the rural areas, and until the 1980s a high percentage of them made their living directly from farming. Since then, many have been encouraged to leave the fields and pursue other activities, such as light manufacturing, commerce, and transportation; and by the mid-1980s farming accounted for less than half of the value of rural output. Today, agriculture contributes only 13% of China's GDP.

Livestock in China
Animal husbandry constitutes the second most important component of agricultural production. China is the world's leading producer of pigs, chickens, and eggs, and it also has sizable herds of sheep and cattle. Since the mid-1970s, greater emphasis has been placed on increasing the livestock output. China has a long tradition of ocean and freshwater fishing and of aquaculture. Pond raising has always been important and has been increasingly emphasized to supplement coastal and inland fisheries threatened by overfishing and to provide such valuable export commodities as prawns.

Environmental problems such as floods, drought, and erosion pose serious threats to farming in many parts of the country. The wholesale destruction of forests gave way to an energetic reforestation program that proved inadequate, and forest resources are still fairly meagre. The principal forests are found in the Qin Mountains and the central mountains and on the Sichuan–Yunnan plateau. Because they are inaccessible, the Qinling forests are not worked extensively, and much of the country's timber comes from Heilongjiang, Jilin, Sichuan, and Yunnan.

A Rice fields in China
Western China, comprising Tibet, Xinjiang, and Qinghai, has little agricultural significance except for areas of floriculture and cattle raising. Rice, China's most important crop, is dominant in the southern provinces and many of the farms here yield two harvests a year. In the north, wheat is of the greatest importance, while in central China wheat and rice vie with each other for the top place. Millet and kaoliang (a variety of grain sorghum) are grown mainly in the northeast and some central provinces, which, together with some northern areas, also provide considerable quantities of barley. Most of the soybean crop is derived from the north and the northeast; corn (maize) is grown in the center and the north, while tea comes mainly from the warm and humid hilly areas of the south. Cotton is grown extensively in the central provinces, but it is also found to a lesser extent in the southeast and in the north. Tobacco comes from the center and parts of the south. Other important crops are potatoes, sugar beets, and oilseeds.

There is still a relative lack of agricultural machinery, particularly advanced machinery. For the most part the Chinese peasant or farmer depends on simple, nonmechanized farming implements. Good progress has been made in increasing water conservancy, and about half the cultivated land is under irrigation.

Production of Wheat in China from 1961 to 2004
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, economic reforms were introduced. First of all this began with the shift of farming work to a system of household responsibility and a phasing out of collectivized agriculture. Later this expanded to include a gradual liberalization of price controls; fiscal decentralization; massive privatization of state enterprises, thereby allowing a wide variety of private enterprises in the services and light manufacturing; the foundation of a diversified banking system (but with large amounts of state control); the development of a stock market; and the opening of the economy to increased foreign trade and foreign investment.

Energy and Mineral Resources 

Since 1980, China's energy production has grown dramatically, as has the proportion allocated to domestic consumption. Some 80 percent of all power generated from fossil fuel at thermal plants, with about 17 percent at hydroelectric installations; only about two percent is from nuclear energy, mainly from plants located in Guangdong and Zhejiang. Though China has rich overall energy potential, most have yet to be developed. In addition, the geographical distribution of energy puts most of these resources relatively far from their major industrial users. Basically the northeast is rich in coal and oil, the central part of north China has abundant coal, and the southwest has immense hydroelectric potential. But the industrialized regions around Guangzhou and the Lower Yangtze region around Shanghai have too little energy, while there is relatively little heavy industry located near major energy resource areas other than in the southern part of the northeast.

Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant, Longgang, Shenzhen, China
China, due in large part to environmental concerns, has wanted to shift China's current energy mix from a heavy reliance on coal, which accounts for 70–75% of China's energy, toward greater reliance on oil, natural gas, renewable energy, and nuclear power. China has closed thousands of coal mines over the past five to ten years to cut overproduction. According to Chinese statistics, this has reduced coal production by over 25%.

Since 1993, China has been a net importer of oil, a large portion of which comes from the Middle East. Imported oil accounts for 20% of the processed crude in China. Net imports are expected to rise to 3.5 million barrels (560,000 m3) per day by 2010. China is interested in diversifying the sources of its oil imports and has invested in oil fields around the world. China is developing oil imports from Central Asia and has invested in Kazakhstani oil fields. Beijing also plans to increase China's natural gas production, which currently accounts for only 3% of China's total energy consumption and incorporated a natural gas strategy in its 10th Five-Year Plan (2001–2005), with the goal of expanding gas use from a 2% share of total energy production to 4% by 2005 (gas accounts for 25% of U.S. energy production). Analysts expect China's consumption of natural gas to more than double by 2010.

A Coal Power Plant in China
The 11th Five-Year Program (2006–10), announced in 2005 and approved by the National People's Congress in March 2006, called for greater energy conservation measures, including development of renewable energy sources and increased attention to environmental protection. Guidelines called for a 20% reduction in energy consumption per unit of GDP by 2010. Moving away from coal towards cleaner energy sources including oil, natural gas, renewable energy, and nuclear power is an important component of China's development program. Beijing also intends to continue to improve energy efficiency and promote the use of clean coal technology. China has abundant hydroelectric resources; the Three Gorges Dam, for example, will have a total capacity of 18 gigawatts when fully on-line (projected for 2009). In addition, the share of electricity generated by nuclear power is projected to grow from 1% in 2000 to 5% in 2030. China's renewable energy law, which went into effect in 2006, calls for 10% of its energy to come from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Mining 

Outdated mining and ore-processing technologies are being replaced with modern techniques, but China's rapid industrialization requires imports of minerals from abroad. In particular, iron ore imports from Australia and the United States have soared in the early 2000s as steel production rapidly outstripped domestic iron ore production. Also China has become increasingly active in several African countries to mine the reserves it requires for economic growth, particularly in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon.

Three Gorges Dam, China
The major areas of production in 2004 were coal (nearly 2 billion tons), iron ore (310 million tons), crude petroleum (175 million tons), natural gas (41 million cubic meters), antimony ore (110,000 tons), tin concentrates (110,000 tons), nickel ore (64,000 tons), tungsten concentrates (67,000 tons), unrefined salt (37 million tons), vanadium (40,000 tons), and molybdenum ore (29,000 tons). In order of magnitude, produced minerals were bauxite, gypsum, barite, magnesite, talc and related minerals, manganese ore, fluorspar, and zinc. In addition, China produced 2,450 tons of silver and 215 tons of gold in 2004. The mining sector accounted for less than 0.9% of total employment in 2002 but produced about 5.3% of total industrial production.

Hydroelectric Resources 

China has an abundant potential for hydroelectric power production due to its considerable river network and mountainous terrain. Most of the total hydroelectric capacity is situated in the southwest of the country, where coal supplies are poor but demand for energy is rising swiftly. The potential in the northeast is fairly small, but it was there that the first hydroelectric stations were built—by the Japanese during its occupation of Manchuria. Due to considerable seasonal fluctuations in rainfall, the flow of rivers tends to drop during the winter, forcing many power stations to operate at less than normal capacity, while in the summer, on the other hand, floods often interfere with generation.

China is also the World's Largest Coal Producer
Thirteen years in construction at a cost of $24 billion, the immense Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River was essentially completed in 2006 and will revolutionize electrification and flood control in the area.

Coal 

China is well endowed with mineral resources, the most important of which is coal. China's mineral resources include large reserves of coal and iron ore, plus adequate to abundant supplies of nearly all other industrial minerals. Although coal deposits are widely scattered (some coal is found in every province), most of the total is located in the northern part of the country. The province of Shanxi, in fact, is thought to contain about half of the total; other important coal-bearing provinces include Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Hebei, and Shandong. Apart from these northern provinces, significant quantities of coal are present in Sichuan, and there are some deposits of importance in Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, and Guizhou. A large part of the country's reserves consists of good bituminous coal, but there are also large deposits of lignite. Anthracite is present in several places (especially Liaoning, Guizhou, and Henan), but overall it is not very significant.

Coal Mine in Inner Mongolia, China
To ensure a more even distribution of coal supplies and to reduce the strain on the less than adequate transportation network, the authorities pressed for the development of a large number of small, locally run mines throughout the country. This campaign was energetically pursued after the 1960s, with the result that thousands of small pits have been established, and they produce more than half the country's coal. This output, however, is typically expensive and is used for local consumption. It has also led to a less than stringent implementation of safety measures in these unregulated mines, which cause several thousands of deaths each year. Coal makes up the bulk of China's energy consumption (70% in 2005), and China is the largest producer and consumer of coal in the world. As China's economy continues to grow, China's coal demand is projected to rise significantly.

Although coal's share of China's overall energy consumption will decrease, coal consumption will continue to rise in absolute terms. China's continued and increasing reliance on coal as a power source has contributed significantly to putting China on the path to becoming the world's largest emitter of acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide and greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.

Oil Well in Tsaidam, Qinghai, China
Oil and Natural Gas 

China's onshore oil resources are mostly located in the Northeast and in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Shandong, and Henan provinces. Oil shale is found in a number of places, especially at Fushun in Liaoning, where the deposits overlie the coal reserves, as well as in Guangdong. Light oil of high quality has been found in the Pearl River estuary of the South China Sea, the Qaidam Basin in Qinghai, and the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang. The country consumes most of its oil output but does export some crude oil and oil products. China has explored and developed oil deposits in the South and East China Seas, the Yellow Sea, the Gulf of Tonkin, and the Bohai Sea.

The total extent of China's natural gas reserves is unknown, as relatively little exploration for natural gas has been done. Sichuan accounts for almost half of the known natural gas reserves and production. Most of the rest of China's natural gas is associated gas produced in the Northeast's major oil fields, especially Daqing oilfield. Other gas deposits have been found in the Qaidam Basin, Hebei, Jiangsu, Shanghai, and Zhejiang, and offshore to the southwest of Hainan Island.

Piles of Iron Ore in Shanghai, China
Metals and Nonmetals 

Iron ore reserves are found in most provinces, including Hainan. Gansu, Guizhou, southern Sichuan, and Guangdong provinces have rich deposits. The largest mined reserves are located north of the Yangtze River and supply neighboring iron and steel enterprises. With the exception of nickel, chromium, and cobalt, China is well supplied with ferroalloys and manganese. Reserves of tungsten are also known to be fairly large. Copper resources are moderate, and high-quality ore is present only in a few deposits. Discoveries have been reported from Ningxia. Lead and zinc are available, and bauxite resources are thought to be plentiful. China's antimony reserves are the largest in the world. Tin resources are plentiful, and there are fairly rich deposits of gold. China is the world's fifth largest producer of gold and in the early 21st century became an important producer and exporter of rare metals needed in high-technology industries. The rare earth reserves at the Bayan Obi mine in Inner Mongolia are thought to be the largest in any single location in the world.

Nice Fluorite Crystal from China
China also produces a fairly wide range of nonmetallic minerals. One of the most important of these is salt, which is derived from coastal evaporation sites in Jiangsu, Hebei, Shandong, and Liaoning, as well as from extensive salt fields in Sichuan, Ningxia, and the Qaidam Basin. There are important deposits of phosphate rock in a number of areas. Pyrites occur in several places; Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong, and Shanxi have the most important deposits. China also has large resources of fluorite (fluorspar), gypsum, asbestos, and cement.

Industry and Manufacturing 

Industry and construction account for 46.8% of China's GDP. In 2009 around 8% of the total manufacturing output in the world came from China itself and China ranked third worldwide in industrial output that year (first was EU and second United States). Research by IHS Global Insight states that in 2010 China contributed to 19.8% of world's manufacturing output and became the largest manufacturer in the world that year, after the US had held that position for about 110 years.

China Railways HXD1B Manufacture Factory
In November, 2012 the State Council of the People's Republic of China mandated a "social risk assessment" for all major industrial projects. This requirement followed mass public protests in some locations for planned projects or expansions.

Major industries include mining and ore processing; iron and steel; aluminium; coal; machinery; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemical; fertilizers; food processing; automobiles and other transportation equipment including rail cars and locomotives, ships, and aircraft; consumer products including footwear, toys, and electronics; telecommunications and information technology. China has become a preferred destination for the relocation of global manufacturing facilities. Its strength as an export platform has contributed to incomes and employment in China.

A Factory in China at Yangtze River
Since the founding of the People's Republic, industrial development has been given considerable attention; as of 2011 46% of China's national output continued to be devoted to investment; a percentage far higher than any other nation. Among the various industrial branches the machine-building and metallurgical industries have received the highest priority. These two areas alone now account for about 20–30 percent of the total gross value of industrial output. In these, as in most other areas of industry, however, innovation has generally suffered at the hands of a system that has rewarded increases in gross output rather than improvements in variety, sophistication and quality. China, therefore, still imports significant quantities of specialized steels. Overall industrial output has grown at an average rate of more than 10 percent per year, having surpassed all other sectors in economic growth and degree of modernization. Some heavy industries and products deemed to be of national strategic importance remain state-owned, but an increasing proportion of lighter and consumer-oriented manufacturing firms are privately held or are private-state joint ventures.

Fertilizer Production in China
The predominant focus of development in the chemical industry is to expand the output of chemical fertilizers, plastics, and synthetic fibers. The growth of this industry has placed China among the world's leading producers of nitrogenous fertilizers. In the consumer goods sector the main emphasis is on textiles and clothing, which also form an important part of China's exports. Textile manufacturing, a rapidly growing proportion of which consists of synthetics, account for about 10 percent of the gross industrial output and continues to be important, but less so than before. The industry tends to be scattered throughout the country, but there are a number of important textile centers, including Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Harbin.

Steel Industry 

In 2011 China was the largest producer of steel in the world producing 45% of the world's steel, 683 million tons, an increase of 9% from 2010. 6 of 10 of largest steel producers in the world are in China. Profits are low despite continued high demand due to high debt and overproduction of high end products produced with the equipment financed by the high debt. The central government is aware of this problem but there is no easy way to resolve it as local governments strongly support local steel production. Meanwhile, each firm aggressively increases production. Iron ore production kept pace with steel production in the early 1990s but was soon outpaced by imported iron ore and other metals in the early 2000s. Steel production, an estimated 140 million tons in 2000 increased to 419 million tons in 2006. Much of the country's steel output comes from a large number of small-scale producing centers, one of the largest being Anshan in Liaoning.

A Pile of Steel Tubing in Wuhan of Hubei Province, China
China was the top exporter of steel in the world in 2008. Export volumes in 2008 were 59.23 million tons, a 5.5% fall over the previous year. The decline ended China's decade-old steel export growth. As of 2012 steel exports faced widespread anti-dumping taxes and had not returned to pre-2008 levels. Domestic demand remained strong, particularly in the developing west where steel production in Xinjiang was expanding. On April 26, 2012 a warning was issued by China's bank regulator to use caution with respect to lending money to steel companies who, as profits from the manufacture and sale of steel have fallen, have sometimes used borrowed money for speculative purposes. According to the China Iron and Steel Association the Chinese steel industry lost 1 billion Rmb in the first quarter of 2012, its first loss since 2000.

Chery QQ, a China Made Car
Automotive Industry 

By 2006 China had become the world's third largest automotive vehicle manufacturer (after US and Japan) and the second largest consumer (only after US). Automobile manufacturing has soared during the reform period. In 1975 only 139,800 automobiles were produced annually, but by 1985 production had reached 443,377, then jumped to nearly 1.1 million by 1992 and increased fairly evenly each year up until 2001, when it reached 2.3 million. In 2002 production rose to nearly 3.25 million and then jumped to 4.44 million in 2003, 5.07 million in 2004, 5.71 million in 2005, 7.28 million in 2006, 8.88 million in 2007, 9.35 million in 2008 and 13.83 million in 2009. China has become the number-one automaker in the world in 2009. Domestic sales have kept pace with production. After respectable annual increases in the mid- and late 1990s, passenger car sales soared in the early 2000s. In 2006, a total of 7.22 million automobiles were sold, including 5.18 million units of passenger cars and 2.04 million units of commercial vehicles.

In 2010, China became the world's largest automotive vehicle manufacturer as well as the largest consumer ahead of the United States with an estimated 18 million new cars sold. However, new car sales grew only by an estimated 1% between 2011 and 2012 due to the escalation in the Spratly Islands dispute which involved Japan, the world's third largest producer of vehicles.

Honda Car Factory: Guangzhou, China
China's automotive industry has been so successful that it began exporting car parts in 1999. China began to plan major moves into the automobile and components export business starting in 2005. A new Honda factory in Guangzhou was built in 2004 solely for the export market and was expected to ship 30,000 passenger vehicles to Europe in 2005. By 2004, 12 major foreign automotive manufacturers had joint-venture plants in China. They produced a wide range of automobiles, minivans, sport utility vehicles, buses, and trucks. In 2003 China exported US$4.7 billion worth of vehicles and components. The vehicle export was 78,000 units in 2004, 173,000 units in 2005, and 340,000 units in 2006. The vehicle and component export is targeted to reach US$70 billion by 2010.

The market for domestically produced cars, under a local name, is likely to continue to grow both inside China and outside. Companies such as Geely and Chery are constantly evaluating new international locations, both in developing and developed countries.

Other Industries 

Substantial investments were made in the manufacture of solar panels and wind generators by a number of companies, supported by liberal loans by banks and local governments. However, by 2012 manufacturing capacity had far outstripped domestic and global demand for both products, particularly solar panels which were subjected to anti-dumping penalties by both the United States and Europe. The global oversupply has resulted in bankruptcies and production cutbacks both inside and outside China. China has budgeted $50 billion to subsidize production of solar power over the two decades following 2015 but, even at the sharply reduced price resulting from oversupply, as of 2012 cost of solar power in China remained three times that of power produced by conventional coal-fired power plants.

China is the world's biggest sex toy producer and accounts for 70% of the worldwide sex toys production. In the country, 1,000 manufacturers are active in this industry, which generates about two billion dollars a year.

As of 2011, China was the world's largest market for personal computers.

Services 

The output of China's services in 2010 ranks third worldwide—after the US and Japan—and high power and telecom density has ensured that the country has remained on a high-growth trajectory over the long-term. In 2010 the services sector produced 43% of China's annual GDP, second only to manufacturing. However, its proportion of GDP is still low compared with the ratio in more developed countries, and the agricultural sector still employs a larger workforce.

Prior to the onset of economic reforms in 1978, China's services sector was characterized by state-operated shops, rationing, and regulated prices—with reform came private markets, individual entrepreneurs, and a commercial sector. The wholesale and retail trade has expanded quickly, with numerous shopping malls, retail shops, restaurant chains and hotels constructed in urban areas. Public administration remains a main component of the service sector, while tourism has become a significant factor in employment and a source of foreign exchange.

As of July 2013, the world's largest building the New Century Global Center is located in the city. At 328 feet (100 m) high, 1,640 feet (500 m) long, and 1,312 feet (400 m) wide, the Center houses retail outlets, a 14-theater cinema, offices, hotels, the Paradise Island waterpark, an artificial beach, a 164 yards (150 m)-long LED screen, skating rink, pirate ship, fake Mediterranean village, 24-hour artificial sun, and 15,000-spot parking area.

Telecommunications 

China possesses a diversified communications system that links all parts of the country by Internet, telephone, telegraph, radio, and television.

China's number of Internet users or netizens topped 137 million by the end of 2006, an increase of 23.4% from a year before and 162 million by June 2007, making China the second largest Internet user after the United States, according to China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII). China's mobile phone penetration rate is 34% in 2007. In 2006, mobile phone users sent 429 billion text messages, or on average 967 text messages per user. For 2006, the number of fixed-lines grew by 79%, mainly in the rural areas.

Tourism 

China's tourism industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the national economy and is also one of the industries with a very distinct global competitive edge. The total revenue of China's tourism industry reached USD 67.3 billion in 2002, accounting for 5.44% of the GDP. The total number of inbound tourists was 91.66 million in 2003. International tourism receipts were USD 17.4 billion in 2003.

China's domestic tourism market makes up more than 90% of the country's tourism traffic, and contributes more than 70% of total tourism revenue. In 2002, domestic tourists reached 878 million and tourism revenue was USD 46.9 billion.

A large middle class population with strong consumption power is emerging in China, especially in major cities. China's outbound tourists reached 20.22 million in 2003, overtaking Japan for the first time.

It is forecast by the WTO that China's tourism industry will take up to 8.6% of world market share to become the world's top tourism industry by 2020.

Chinese business-travel spend is also forecast to be the highest in the world by 2014, overtaking the United States. According to a Global Business Travel Association study, total business-travel spend is expected to reach US$195 billion in 2012.

Luxury Goods 

A factor that often goes overlooked is the extent of luxury spending the Chinese citizenry are undertaking. There is no greater indication of the newfound wealth of the Chinese than the amount of money now spent on goods and services that were once inaccessible. Foremost among these is the shift towards bottled water. The Chinese bottled water manufacturing industry is forecast to more than double in size in 2008, becoming a $10.5 (US dollars) billion industry in the process. Meanwhile, as those who once had no recourse but poor-quality tap water take advantage of its availability in supermarkets, those who had little or no running water are now capitalizing on its availability. The tap water production and supply industry is expected to grow by 29.3% in 2008, to $11.9 billion.

The country's motor vehicle production industry is expected to expand by 29.5% to nearly $200 billion, as many Chinese eschew traditional modes of transport, such as bicycles, for the comforts of modern cars. Also, consumption of chocolate and other confectionery is set to increase by 24.3%, as the industry expands to $4.6 billion, in order to keep up with China's collective sweet tooth. Couple with this is 20.8% growth in China's fast food industry, as major players such as McDonald's enter the country with vigour. Also, the LVMH Group, who own major luxury brands including Louis Vuitton apparel, Moët & Chandon wines and champagne and Hennessy cognacs, reported earnings growth of over 25% in 2007 in China, the region now accounting for around 16% of their global business.

Following a ban instituted in October, 2012 on government agencies purchasing luxury goods, often used as "gifts", sales of luxury goods in China remained strong, but slowed, even falling slightly for some luxury retailers in the 4th quarter of 2012, with sales of shark fins and edible swallow nests, staples of lavish government banquets, down sharply.

Retail sales in China account for only 7% of global retail sales of luxury consumer goods; however, Chinese buyers account for 25% of global retail sales of luxury consumer goods. Many shops in international travel destinations have specialized staff devoted to Chinese customers.

Cybercrime 

Computer crime is an important sector of the Chinese economy, directly employing 90 thousand people and impacting the lives of 110 million.Even more important in the United States.

Labor and Welfare 

One of the hallmarks of China's socialist economy was its promise of employment to all able and willing to work and job-security with virtually lifelong tenure. Reformers targeted the labor market as unproductive because industries were frequently overstaffed to fulfill socialist goals and job-security reduced workers' incentive to work. This socialist policy was pejoratively called the iron rice bowl.

In 1979–1980, the state reformed factories by giving wage increases to workers, which was immediately offset by sharply rising inflation rates of 6–7%. The reforms also dismantled the iron rice bowl, which meant it witnessed a rise in unemployment in the economy. In 1979 there were 20 million unemployed people. Official Chinese statistics reveal that 4.2% of the total urban workforce was unemployed in 2004, although other estimates have reached 10%. As part of its newly developing social security legislation, China has an unemployment insurance system. At the end of 2003, more than 103.7 million people were participating in the plan, and 7.4 million laid-off employees had received benefits.

China's estimated employed labor force in 2005 totaled 791.4 million persons, about 60% of the total population. During 2003, 49% of the labor force worked in agriculture, forestry, and fishing; 22% in mining, manufacturing, energy, and construction industries; and 29% in the services sector and other categories. In 2004 some 25 million persons were employed by 743,000 private enterprises. Urban wages rose rapidly from 2004 to 2007, at a rate of 13 to 19% per year with average wages near $200/month in 2007. The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) was established in 1925 to represent the interests of national and local trade unions and trade union councils.

The ACFTU reported a membership of 130 million, out of an estimated 248 million urban workers, at the end of 2002. Chinese trade unions are organized on a broad industrial basis. Membership is open to those who rely on wages for the whole or a large part of their income, a qualification that excludes most agricultural workers.

In 2010, the issues of manufacturing wages caused a strike at a Honda parts plant. This resulted in wage increases both at the struck plant and other industrial plants.

The 2010 census found that the PRC was now half urban and rapidly aging due to the one child policy. This is expected to lead to increased demand for labor to take care of an elderly population and a reduced supply of migrant labor from the countryside.

A law approved February 2013 will mandate a nationwide minimum wage at 40% average urban salaries to be phased in fully by 2015.

External Trade 

International trade makes up a sizeable portion of China's overall economy. Being a Second World country at the time, a meaningful segment of China's trade with the Third World was financed through grants, credits, and other forms of assistance. The principal efforts were made in Asia, especially to Indonesia, Burma, Pakistan, and Ceylon, but large loans were also granted in Africa (Ghana, Algeria, Tanzania) and in the Middle East (Egypt). However, after Mao Zedong's death in 1976, these efforts were scaled back. After which, trade with developing countries became negligible, though during that time, Hong Kong and Taiwan both began to emerge as major trading partners.

Since economic reforms began in the late 1970s, China sought to decentralize its foreign trade system to integrate itself into the international trading system. On November 1991, China joined the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, which promotes free trade and cooperation the in economic, trade, investment, and technology spheres. China served as APEC chair in 2001, and Shanghai hosted the annual APEC leaders meeting in October of that year. After reaching a bilateral World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement with the EU and other trading partners in summer 2000, China worked on a multilateral WTO accession package. China concluded multilateral negotiations on its accession to the WTO in September 2001.

The completion of its accession protocol and Working Party Report paved the way for its entry into the WTO on December 11, 2001, after 16 years of negotiations, the longest in the history of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. However, U.S. exporters continue to have concerns about fair market access due to China's restrictive trade policies and U.S. export restrictions.

China's global trade exceeded $2.4 trillion at the end of 2008. It first broke the $100 billion mark in 1988, $200 billion in 1994, $500 billion in 2001 and $1 trillion mark ($1.15 trillion) in 2004.

The vast majority of China's imports consists of industrial supplies and capital goods, notably machinery and high-technology equipment, the majority of which comes from the developed countries, primarily Japan and the United States. Regionally, almost half of China's imports come from East and Southeast Asia, and about one-fourth of China's exports go to the same destinations. About 80 percent of China's exports consist of manufactured goods, most of which are textiles and electronic equipment, with agricultural products and chemicals constituting the remainder. Out of the five busiest ports in the world, three are in China. The U.S. trade deficit with China reached $232.5 billion in 2006, as imports grew 18%. China's share of total U.S. imports has grown from 7% to 15% since 1996.

Trade volume between China and Russia reached $29.1 billion in 2005, an increase of 37.1% compared with 2004. A spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, Van Jingsun, said that the volume of trade between China and Russia could exceed 40 billion dollars in 2007. China's export of machinery and electronic goods to Russia grew 70%, which is 24% of China's total export to Russia in the first 11 months of 2005. During the same time, China's export of high-tech products to Russia increased by 58%, and that is 7% of China's total exports to Russia. Also in this time period border trade between the two countries reached $5.13 billion, growing 35% and accounting for nearly 20% of the total trade. Most of China's exports to Russia remain apparel and footwear. Russia is China's eighth largest trade partner and China is now Russia's fourth largest trade partner, and China now has over 750 investment projects in Russia, involving $1.05 billion. China's contracted investment in Russia totaled $368 million during January–September 2005, twice that in 2004.

Chinese imports from Russia are mainly those of energy sources, such as crude oil, which is mostly transported by rail, and electricity exports from neighboring Siberian and Far Eastern regions. In the near future, exports of both of these commodities are set to increase, as Russia is building the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline with a branch to Chinese border, and Russian power grid monopoly UES is building some of its hydropower stations with a view of future exports to China. Export growth has continued to be a major component supporting China's rapid economic growth. To increase exports, China pursued policies such as fostering the rapid development of foreign-invested factories, which assembled imported components into consumer goods for export and liberalizing trading rights.

In its 11th Five-Year Program, adopted in 2005, China placed greater emphasis on developing a consumer demand-driven economy to sustain economic growth and address imbalances.

Labor Force 

In 2012, for the first time, according to statistics released by China's National Bureau of Statistics in January, 2013, the size of the labor force, people aged 15 to 59, in China shrank slightly to 937.27 million people, a decrease of 3.45 million from 2011. This trend, resulting from China's successful one-child policy of population control, is anticipated to continue for at least the next 20 years, to 2030.

Science and Technology:


Historical 

China was a world leader in science and technology until the Ming Dynasty. Ancient Chinese discoveries and inventions, such as papermaking, printing, the compass, and gunpowder (the Four Great Inventions), later became widespread in Asia and Europe. Chinese mathematicians were the first to use negative numbers. However, Chinese scientific activity entered a prolonged decline in the fourteenth century, as an increasing concentration on literature, the arts and public administration led to a neglect of science and technology. The causes of this Great Divergence continue to be debated.

After repeated military defeats by Western nations in the 19th century, Chinese reformers began promoting modern science and technology as part of the Self-Strengthening Movement. After the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, efforts were made to organize science and technology based on the model of the Soviet Union. However, Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution of 1966–76 had a catastrophic effect on Chinese research, as academics were persecuted and the training of scientists and engineers was severely curtailed for nearly a decade. After Mao's death in 1976, science and technology was established as one of the Four Modernizations, and the Soviet-inspired academic system was gradually reformed.

Modern Era 

Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, China has become one of the world's leading technological powers, spending over US$100 billion on scientific research and development in 2011 alone. Science and technology are seen as vital for achieving economic and political goals, and are held as a source of national pride to a degree sometimes described as "techno-nationalism". Chinese-born scientists have won the Nobel Prize in Physics four times and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry once to date.

China is rapidly developing its education system with an emphasis on science, mathematics and engineering; in 2009, it produced over 10,000 Ph.D. engineering graduates, and as many as 500,000 BSc graduates, more than any other country. China is also the world's second-largest publisher of scientific papers, producing 121,500 in 2010 alone, including 5,200 in leading international scientific journals. Chinese technology companies such as Huawei and Lenovo have become world leaders in telecommunications and personal computing, and Chinese supercomputers are consistently ranked among the world's most powerful. China is furthermore the world's largest investor in renewable energy technology.

The Chinese space program is one of the world's most active, and is a major source of national pride. In 1970, China launched its first satellite, Dong Fang Hong I. In 2003, China became the third country to independently send humans into space, with Yang Liwei's spaceflight aboard Shenzhou 5; as of June 2013, ten Chinese nationals have journeyed into space. In 2011, China's first space station module, Tiangong-1, was launched, marking the first step in a project to assemble a large manned station by 2020. The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program includes a planned lunar rover launch in 2013, and possibly a manned lunar landing in 2025. Experience gained from the lunar program may be used for future programs such as the exploration of Mars and Venus. However, some foreign analysts have accused China of covertly using its civilian space missions for military purposes, such as the launch of surveillance satellites.

Infrastructure:


Communications 

China currently has the largest number of active cellphones of any country in the world, with over 1 billion users as of May 2012. It also has the world's largest number of internet and broadband users, with over 591 million internet users as of 2013, equivalent to around 44% of its population. According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China's average internet connection speed in 2011 was 100.9 kbit/s, less than half of the global average of 212.5 kbit/s. However, a 2013 report also confirms the national average speed as 3.14 MB/s As of July 2013, China accounts for 24% of the world's internet-connected devices.

China Telecom and China Unicom, 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. Several Chinese telecommunications companies, most notably Huawei and ZTE, have become highly profitable in overseas markets, but have also been accused of spying for the Chinese military.

Transport


Transport in China has experienced major growth and expansion in recent years. Airports, roads, and railway construction will provide a massive employment boost in China over the next decade.

Rail, which is the primary mode of transport, has doubled in length since the mid-twentieth century, and an extensive network provides service to the entire nation. The larger cities have metro systems in operation, under construction, or in the planning stage. The highway and road system also has gone through rapid expansion, resulting in a rapid increase of motor vehicle use throughout China. Although China's transport system comprises a vast network of transport nodes across its huge territory, the nodes tend to concentrate in the more economically developed coastal areas and inland cities along major rivers. The physical state and comprehensiveness of China's transport infrastructure tend to vary widely by geography. While remote, rural areas still largely depend on non-mechanized means of transport, a modern maglev train system was built in China to connect the city center of Shanghai with its international airport.

Much of contemporary China's transport systems have been built since the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. Prior to 1950, there were only 21,800 km (13,546 mi) of railway lines. In 2010, the railway network has since been expanded to 91,000 km (56,545 mi). Rail travel remained the most popular form of transport, although air travel has also experienced significant growth since the late 1990s. The government-led effort — that began in the 1990s — to connect the country by expressways via the "National Trunk Highway System" has expanded the network to about 97,000 km (60,273 mi) by the end of 2012 making China's the longest expressway network in the world (in front of the United States).

Rail 

Rail is the major mode of transport in China. In 2011 China's railways carried 2,947 billion tonne-kilometers of freight and 961.23 billion Passenger-km, both traffic volumes are the highest in the world. The high volume of traffic that China's railway system carries makes it critical to its economy. Carrying some 24% of the world's railway transport volume on only 6% of the world's railways, the national rail system is modernizing and expanding rapidly and is efficiently within the limits of all available resources. China has the world's third largest rail network, as of 2010 it is 91,000 km (56,545 mi) long, an increase of some 5,000 km (3,107 mi) of track from 2009. About 47% of the network is electrified.

In 2011 China's railway inventory included 19,431 locomotives owned by the national railway system. The inventory in recent times included some 100 steam locomotives, but the last such locomotive, built in 1999, is now in service as a tourist attraction while the others have been retired from commercial service. The remaining locomotives are either diesel or electric powered. Another 352 locomotives are owned by local railroads and 604 operated by joint-venture railways. National railway freight cars numbered 622,284 and passenger coaches 52,130.

Because of its limited capital, overburdened infrastructure, and need to continuously modernize, the national rail system, which is controlled by the Ministry of Railways through a network of regional divisions, operates on an austere budget. Foreign capital investment in the freight sector was allowed beginning in 2003, and international public stock offerings opened in 2006. In another move to better capitalize and reform the rail system, the Ministry of Railways established three public shareholder-owned companies in 2003: China Railways Container Transport Company, China Railway Special Cargo Service Company, and China Railways Parcel Express Company.

High Speed Rail 

The high speed service is mainly operated by China Railway High-speed. As of October 2010, China has 7,000+ km of rail track capable for 250+ km/h running.

Maglev Train 

China also has the world's first commercial high-speed maglev (magnetic levitation) train service (the first being opened at Birmingham International Airport, UK in 1984, however, it was not high-speed). The Chinese project was a Sino-German joint venture, 38-km long route between downtown Shanghai and the Pudong airport opened in 2003. The project cost US$1.2 billion.

In 2004 the first Chinese-made maglev train made its debut in Dalian, a major port city in Northeast China's Liaoning Province. The 10.3 km long train has a top speed of just under 110 kilometers per hour. Although the cost to build was high at US$6 million per kilometer, China's outlay was still only one-sixth of the world average.

Regional Development 

In 1992, a new large-scale rail project was launched in China, called the "New Silk Road" or "Eurasian Continental Bridge" project. The project involved the modernization and infrastructure development of a 4,131 km (2,567 mi) railroad route starting in Lianyungang, Jiangsu, and traveling through central and northwestern China to Urumqi, Xinjiang, to the Alataw Pass into Kazakhstan. From that point, the railroad links to some 6,800 km (4,225 mi) of routes that end in Rotterdam.

China also has established rail links between seaports and interior export-processing zones. For example, in 2004 Chengdu in Sichuan was linked to the SheSpecial Economic Zones of the People's Republic of Chinanzhen Special Economic Zone in coastal Guangdong; exports clear customs in Chengdu and are shipped twice daily by rail to the seaport at Shenzhen for fast delivery.

Tibet 

A 1,080 km (671 mi) section of the Qingzang railway has been completed from Golmud to Lhasa. The 815 km (506 mi) section from Xining to Golmud in Qinghai opened to traffic in 1984. The railway's highest point, the Tanggula Mountain Pass, is 5,072 m above sea level, making it the highest railway in the world. More than 960 km (597 mi), or over four-fifths of the railway, is at an altitude of more than 4,000 m, and over half of it was laid on frozen earth. Because of the high altitudes, carriages are supplied with supplemental oxygen. Linking Lhasa and Shigatse together in Tibet, the construction of a 254 km (158 mi) extension line of the Qingzang railway started in 2009 with completion expected by 2014.

Railway Links with Adjoining Countries 

The only railway link China has with a neighboring country that does not have a break of gauge is with North Korea. It also has a links with Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia, which all use the 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 5⁄6 in) gauge and with Vietnam, where the 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge is still in use.

China does not have a direct rail link with Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan or Tajikistan, but is currently planning links with Laos and India (via Burma).

Variable gauge axle trains are sometimes used to overcome the break of gauge with neighboring countries. The mainland is also linked to the Hong Kong, but not with the Macau, which is currently being planned.

Trans-Siberian Railway 

The Trans-Siberian Railway, which crosses Russia, has a branch that sweeps down from Ulan-Ude, across Mongolia, and on to Beijing.

Potential Link of Qinghai-Tibet Railway to India 

As India has been extending its railway near the Nathu La pass with China, and China has plans to extend the Qinghai-Tibet railway to near its border with Nathu La, a petition was set up to promote the idea that both countries could link up their respective proportions for direct train services between the two countries. As of 6 September 2011, the petition had 81 members.

Metro 

Currently there are 15 rapid transit systems in mainland China. A further 18 systems are under construction and 20 more metros are planned. With the ¥4 trillion economic stimulus package all current existing subway systems are under going massive expansion, with many new systems being under construction or planned. The Beijing Subway, which opened in 1969, currently has 15 lines, 218 stations and 372 km (231 mi) of subway track and will grow to about 1,000 km (621 mi) by 2020. The Tianjin Metro was begun in 1970 as a planned network of 153.9 km (96 mi) on seven lines, the current existing system contains 2 lines and 26.18 km (16 mi) of track with 22 stations.

Shanghai Metro, which opened in 1995, as of end of 2010 has twelve lines, 233 stations, and 420 km (261 mi) of track in operation, making it the longest metro system in the world. Further expansion plans call for a network of 887 km (551 mi) of track. The Guangzhou Metro, which opened in 1997 has five lines (as of 2010), 144 stations and has 236 km (147 mi) with an additional 400 km (249 mi) planned to be completed by 2020. The Shenzhen Metro opened in 2004, initially with two lines, 19 stations, and 21.8 km (14 mi) of track, after 2010 it had over 70 km (43 mi), by June 2011 it has expanded to 177 km (110 mi) of operational metro.

Road 

Motor Vehicles 

During the war with Japan, in the 1930s, China built many roads, the most famous of which is the Burma Road that leads southwest from Kunming to the city of Lashio. Since it came into power, the Communist government initiated a large effort into building highways that extend across China and beyond its borders.

Today, China is linked by a still evolving network of roads (China National Highways) and expressways (Expressways of China). In the past few years, China has been rapidly developing its highway system. China National Highways stretch to all four corners of mainland China. Expressways reach the same destinations as China National Highways, except for the rugged terrain of Tibet. An expressway link is already at the planning stage.

In 2005 China had a total road network of more than 3.3 million km, although approximately 1.47 million km of this network are classified as "village roads". Paved roads totaled 770,265 km (478,620 mi) in 2004; the remainder were gravel, improved earth standard, or merely earth tracks.

Highways (totaling 130,000 km) were critical to China's economic growth as it worked to mitigate a poor distribution network and authorities sought to spur economic activity directly. All major cities are expected to be linked with a 108,000 km interprovince expressway system by 2020. The highway and road systems carried nearly 11.6 billion tons of freight and 769.6 trillion passenger/kilometers in 2003. The importance of highways and motor vehicles, which carry 13.5% of cargo and 49.1% of passengers, was growing rapidly in the mid-2000s. Road usage has increased significantly, as automobiles, including privately owned vehicles, rapidly replace bicycles as the popular vehicle of choice in China. Car ownership is still low in comparison to the other members of the BRIC group of countries, being exceeded by Russia and Brazil. Indeed the rate of car ownership in China is only expected to meet the 1960s level of car ownership of some developed countries in 2015.

In 2002, excluding military and probably internal security vehicles, there were 12 million passenger cars and buses in operation and 8.1 million other vehicles. In 2003 China reported that 23.8 million vehicles were used for business purposes, including 14.8 million passenger vehicles and 8.5 million trucks. The latest statistics from the Beijing Municipal Statistics Bureau show that Beijing had nearly 1.3 million privately owned cars at the end of 2004 or 11 for each 100 Beijing residents. Beijing currently has the highest annual rate of private car growth in China.

Some 270,000 km (167,770 mi) of rural highways will be built and upgraded in 2008. By comparison, 423,000 km (262,840 mi) of countryside highways were built or upgraded in 2007, a record high. According to China's Transport Ministry, as of the end of 2007, 98.54 percent of villages and towns had already been connected by highways. The 2008 construction plan comprises five north-south highway trunk roads and seven east-west trunk roads and eight inter-provincial roads. Meanwhile, the central and local governments have continued to allocate funds to support the countryside highway build-up and step up construction quality supervision. By the end of 2010, China's highways extends 74,000 Kilometers, with the total length of all public roads reaching 3,984,000 km.

Electric Bicycles 

China is the world's leading producer of electric bicycles. According to the data of the China Bicycle Association, a government-chartered industry group, in 2004 China's manufacturers sold 7.5 million electric bicycles nationwide, which was almost twice 2003 sales; domestic sales reached 10 million in 2005, and 16 to 18 million in 2006. By 2007, electric bicycles were thought to make up 10 to 20 percent of all two-wheeled vehicles on the streets of many major cities. A typical unit requires 8 hours to charge the battery, which provides the range of 25–30 miles (40–50 km), at the speed of around 20 km/h (12 mph). A large number of such vehicles is exported from China as well (3 million units, worth 40 billion Yuan ($5.8 billion), in 2006 alone)

Air 

As a result of the rapidly expanding civil aviation industry, by 2007 China had around 500 airports of all types and sizes in operation, about 400 of which had paved runways and about 100 of which had runways of 3,047 m or shorter. There also were 35 heliports in 2007, an increasingly used type of facility. With the additional airports came a proliferation of airlines.

Airlines 

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), also called the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, was established as a government agency in 1949 to operate China's commercial air fleet. In 1988 CAAC's operational fleet was transferred to new, semiautonomous airlines and has served since as a regulatory agency.

In 2002 the government merged the nine largest airlines into three regional groups based in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, respectively: Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines, which operate most of China's external flights.

By 2005 these three had been joined by six other major airlines: Hainan Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, and Sichuan Airlines. Together, these nine airlines had a combined fleet of some 860 aircraft, mostly Boeing from the United States and Airbus from Europe.

To meet growing demands for passenger and cargo capacity, in 2005 these airlines significantly expanded their fleets with orders placed for additional Boeing and Airbus aircraft expected to be delivered by 2010. In June 2006, it was announced that an Airbus A320 assembly plant would be built in the Binhai New Area of Tianjin, with the first aircraft to be delivered in 2008.

Air China owns 17.5% of Cathay Pacific (second largest shareholder) and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), an administrative agency of the State Council, owns majority and controlling stakes in China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and Air China.

The total number of planes of all mainland Chinese carriers combined will be near 1,580 by 2010, up from 863 in 2006. By 2025, the figure is estimated to be 4,000.

The twenty seven airlines in the Chinese mainland handled 138 million passengers, and 22.17 million tons of cargo in 2005.

Airports 

In 2007 China has 467 airports. Of China's major airports, Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), located 27 km (17 mi) northeast of central Beijing, has the greatest flow of passengers annually.

Shanghai has the 2nd largest amount of air traffic in China through its two airports combined, the Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG), which is located 30 km (19 mi) southeast of central Shanghai, and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA), which is located 13 km (8 mi) west of central Shanghai. Both are under control of the Shanghai Airport Authority.

The new Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), which opened in August 2004 and is located 28 km (17 mi) from downtown Guangzhou.

Other major airports are located at Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hohhot, Kunming, Qingdao, Shenyang, Tianjin, Urumqi, Xiamen, and Xi'an. China is served both by numerous major international flights to most countries of the world and a host of domestic regional airlines. Air traffic within mainland China is often connected through Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou. They are, respectively, the main hubs for Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines. In 2003 China's civil aviation sector carried nearly 2.2 million tons of freight and 126.3 trillion passenger/kilometers.

Passenger flights to Taiwan and other places under administration of the Republic of China must follow special rules. Flights between mainland China and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and Macao Internatioanl Airport (MFM) are considered international.

China, however, is planning to build a new airport in Nagqu, Tibet in 2011. It will surpass Qamdo Bangda Airport as being the world's highest airport once completed.

China is also currently in the process of constructing the new Beijing Daxing International Airport, which is scheduled to be completed and operational by 2015. It will become the country's biggest airport with nine runways and it will become the World's busiest airport by international passenger traffic surpassing London-Heathrow and will have more passengers than Atlanta, which is currently the world's busiest airport.

Ports and Shipping 

China has more than 2,000 ports, 130 of which are open to foreign ships. The major ports, including river ports accessible by ocean-going ships, are Beihai, Dalian, Dandong, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Hankou, Huangpu, Jiujiang, Lianyungang, Nanjing, Nantong, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Rizhao, Sanya, Shanghai, Shantou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Weihai, Wenzhou, Xiamen, Xingang, Yangzhou, Yantai, and Zhanjiang.

China has sixteen "major" shipping ports with a capacity of over 50 million tons per year. Combined China's total shipping capacity is in excess of 2,890 million tons. By 2010, 35% of the world's shipping is expected to originate from China. The seven largest port terminals are Dalian, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai. Additionally, Hong Kong is a major international port serving as an important trade center for China. In 2005 Shanghai Port Management Department reported that its Shanghai port became the world's largest cargo port, processing cargo topping 443 million tons and surpassing Singapore's port. The Port of Shanghai is presently undergoing significant upgrades. Shanghai Model Port Alliance is responsible for many of the upgrades that are expected to make Shanghai's port more automated, minimizing the loss of goods and time while helping Customs collect more accurate tariffs. If the Shanghai project is successful, there is interest in replicating the process in other Chinese ports.

As of 2004, China's merchant fleet had 3,497 ships. Of these, 1,700 ships of 1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or more totaled 20.4 million tons. Ships by type: barge carrier 2, bulk carrier 325, cargo ship 840, chemical tanker 21, combination bulk carrier 11, combination ore/oil 1, container ship 125, liquified gas 20, multi-functional large load carrier 5, passenger ship 8, passenger/cargo ship 46, oil tanker 251, refrigerated cargo ship 24, roll-on/roll-off 21, short-sea passenger 43, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 1 (1999 est.)

In 2003 China's major coastal ports handled 2.1 billion tons of freight.

As of 2007, China's merchant fleet had 1,775 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 22,219,786 GRT/33,819,636 metric tons deadweight (DWT) by type: barge carrier 3, bulk carrier 415, cargo ship 689, carrier 3, chemical tanker 62, combination ore/oil 2, container ship 157, liquefied gas 35, passenger 8, passenger/cargo ship 84, oil tanker 250, refrigerated cargo ship 33, roll-on/roll-off 9, specialized tanker 8, vehicle carrier 17.
  • foreign-owned: 12 (Ecuador 1, Greece 1, Hong Kong 6, Japan 2, South Korea 1, Norway 1) (2007) 
  • registered in other countries: 1,366 (Bahamas 9, Bangladesh 1, Belize 107, Bermuda 10, Bolivia 1, Cambodia 166, Cyprus 10, France 5, Georgia 4, Germany 2, Honduras 3, Hong Kong 309, India 1, Indonesia 2, Liberia 32, Malaysia 1, Malta 13, Marshall Islands 3, Mongolia 3, Norway 47, Panama 473, Philippines 2, Sierra Leone 8, Singapore 19, St Vincent and The Grenadines 106, Thailand 1, Turkey 1, Tuvalu 25, unknown 33) (2007) 

Two important rail ferry crossings operate off the China coast. The Bohai Train Ferry allows freight trains to shortcut from Liaoning to Shandong, while the Guangdong–Hainan Ferry connects Hainan Island with China's mainland. There are also passenger and vehicle ferry lines connecting China with South Korea and Japan, as well as with the R.O.C.-controlled Kinmen Island.

Waterways 

China has 110,000 kilometers of navigable rivers, streams, lakes, and canals, more than any country in the world. In 2003 these inland waterways carried nearly 1.6 trillion tons of freight and 6.3 trillion passenger/kilometers to more than 5,100 inland ports.

The main navigable rivers are the Heilong Jiang; Yangtze River; Xiang River, a short branch of the Yangtze; Pearl River; Huangpu River; Lijiang River; and Xi Jiang.

Ships of up to 10,000 tons can navigate more than 1,000 km (621 mi) on the Yangtze as far as Wuhan. Ships of 1,000 tons can navigate from Wuhan to Chongqing, another 1,286 km (799 mi) upstream. The Grand Canal is the world's longest canal at 1,794 km (1,115 mi) and serves 17 cities between Beijing and Hangzhou. It links five major rivers: the Haihe, Huaihe, Huanghe, Qiantang, and Yangtze.

Construction of new railways and highways has diminished the utility of China's rivers for passenger transport. Nonetheless, passenger boats are still popular in some mountainous regions, such as Western Hubei and Chongqing (the Three Gorges area), where railways are few and road access to many towns is inconvenient.

Pipelines 

As of 2006, China had 22,664 km (14,083 mi) of gas pipelines, 15,256 km (9,480 mi) of oil pipelines, and 6,106 km (3,794 mi) for refined products. Due to the growing dependence on oil and gas, the total length of oil and gas pipelines in China has risen to 70 000 km (0 mi) from 22 000 km (0 mi) in 1997, stretching from oil and gas fields in western and northeastern regions to densely populated coastal areas in the east. By the end of 2010, the network could exceed 90 000 km (0 mi).

China's pipelines carried 219.9 million tons of petroleum and natural gas in 2003. As a major oil and gas consumer, China is searching for more external supples. Construction of a 4,200-km-long pipeline from Xinjiang to Shanghai (West–East Gas Pipeline) was completed in 2004. The government hopes that the use of natural gas will assist to reduce the use of coal which is responsible for much air pollution.

Demographics:

The national census of 2010 recorded the population of the People's Republic of China as approximately 1,338,612,968. About 21% of the population (145,461,833 males; 128,445,739 females) were 14 years old or younger, 71% (482,439,115 males; 455,960,489 females) were between 15 and 64 years old, and 8% (48,562,635 males; 53,103,902 females) were 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. The proportion of the population of workable age was thus around 70%.

Although a middle-income country by Western standards, China's rapid growth has pulled hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty since 1978. Today, about 10% of the Chinese population lives below the poverty line of US$1 per day, down from 64% in 1978. Urban unemployment in China reportedly declined to 4% by the end of 2007, although true overall unemployment may be as high as 10%.

With a population of over 1.3 billion and dwindling natural resources, China is very concerned about its population growth rate and has attempted, with mixed results, to implement a strict family planning policy, known as the "one-child policy." This seeks to restrict families to one child each, 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. Families who breach the policy often lie during the census.

The decreasing reliability of Chinese population statistics since family planning began in the late 1970s has made evaluating the effectiveness of the policy difficult. Data from the 2010 census implies that the total fertility rate may now be around 1.4. The government is particularly concerned with the large imbalance in the sex ratio at birth, apparently the result of a combination of traditional preference for boys and family planning pressure, which led to a ban on using ultrasound devices for non-emergency applications, 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 2005f. 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 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, males accounted for 51.27 percent of the total population, while females made up 48.73 percent of the total.

Ethnic Groups 

China officially recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Han Chinese, who constitute about 91.51% of the total population. The Han Chinese – the world's largest single ethnic group – outnumber other ethnic groups in every provincial-level division except Tibet and Xinjiang, and are descended from ancient Huaxia tribes living along the Yellow River.

Ethnic minorities account for about 8.49% of the population of China, according to the 2010 census. 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 (120,750), the United States (71,493) and Japan (66,159).

Religions 

The Chinese government has implemented state atheism since 1949, which makes it difficult to ascertain data on the religious population figures. Thus making the relation between Government and religions was not smooth in the past. But in fact, the people are still holding private worship of traditional religions (Buddhism/Taoism) at home. In recent years, the Chinese government has opened up to religion, especially traditional religions such as Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism because the Government also continued to emphasize the role of religion in building a "Socialist Harmonious Society," which was a positive development with regard to the Government's respect for religious freedom.

According to the old Chinese government estimate, there were "over 100 million followers of various faiths" in China. Other estimates put about 100 million or about 8% Chinese who follow Buddhism, with the second largest religion as Taoism (no data), Islam (19 million or 1.5%) and Christianity (14 million or 1%; 4 million Roman Catholics and 10 million Protestants). According to the 1993 edition of The Atlas of Religion, the number of atheists in China is between 10% and 14%.

Additionally, the BBC reported in February 2007 that "a poll of 4,500 people by Shanghai university professors found 31.4% of people above the age of 16 considered themselves as religious", a figure that represents 300 million people. Among those surveyed, about 2/3 were "Buddhists, Taoists or worshipers of legendary figures such as the Dragon King and God of Fortune." Other religions represented significantly in that survey were Christianity (40 million) and Islam. China is also known to have small numbers of people who follow Hinduism, Dongbaism, Bon and a number of new religions and sects (particularly Xiantianism and Falun Gong). The official China Daily called the Shanghai professors' research "the country's first major survey on religious beliefs".

Today, according to different surveys, local ethnic religions, which sometimes fall under the label of Taoism or are administered by the Taoist clergy, are the dominant, being practiced by over 30% of the Chinese population. Buddhism is practiced by between 10.85% and 18% of the Chinese. Christianity is practiced by 3.2%, 4% to 5% of the population, while Islam by 2% of the population.

Some of the ethnic minorities of China practice their indigenous religions, for example Dongbaism is the traditional religion of the Nakhi people, Moism that of the Zhuang people, and Ruism that of the Qiang people. The traditional indigenous religion of Tibet is Bön, while most of Tibetans follow Tibetan Buddhism, a form of Vajrayana. However, Tibetan Buddhism has also spread to other areas of China adopted by many Han Chinese.

Mahayana Buddhism (Dacheng) and its subsets Pure Land (Amidism), Tiantai and Chán (better known in English by its Japanese pronunciation Zen) are the most widely practiced denominations of Buddhism. Theravada is practiced largely by ethnic minorities along the Southern geographic fringes of the Chinese mainland.

China also has numerous minority religions, including Hinduism, and a number of more modern religions and sects, such as Xiantiandao (Yiguandao), Zailiism and Deism.

According to the surveys of Phil Zuckerman on Adherents.com; in 1993, 59% (over 700 million) of the Chinese population was irreligious but in the newest survey (same author) in 2005, it was only 14% (over 180 million). There are intrinsic logistical difficulties in trying to count the number of religious people anywhere, as well as difficulties peculiar to China. According to Phil Zuckerman, "low response rates," "non-random samples," and "adverse political/cultural climates" are all persistent problems in establishing accurate numbers of religious believers in a given locality. Similar difficulties arise in attempting to subdivide religious people into sects. These issues are especially pertinent in China for two reasons. First, it is a matter of current debate whether several important belief systems in China constitute "religions." As Daniel L. Overmeyer writes, in recent years there has been a "new appreciation...of the religious dimensions of Confucianism, both in its ritual activities and in the inward search for an ultimate source of moral order". Many Chinese belief systems have concepts of a sacred and sometimes spiritual natural world yet do not always invoke a concept of personal god (with the exception of Heaven worship).

The constitution affirms religious toleration subject to several important restrictions. The government places limits on religious practice outside officially recognized organizations. Only two Christian organizations, a Catholic church without ties to the Holy See in Rome and the "Three-Self-Patriotic" Protestant church, are sanctioned by the PRC Government. Unauthorized churches have sprung up in many parts of the country, and unofficial religious practice is flourishing. In some regions authorities have tried to control activities of these unregistered churches. In other regions registered and unregistered groups are treated similarly by authorities, and congregates worship in both types of churches. On 20 July 1999, the Chinese authorities banned and initiated a crackdown on Falun Gong in mainland China.

The Basic Law of Hong Kong protects freedom of religion as a fundamental right. There are a large variety of religious groups in the Hong Kong: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity including Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism all have a considerable number of adherents.

The Macau Basic Law similarly recognizes freedom of religion though the Religious Freedom Ordinance requires registration of religious organizations. The major religions practiced in Macau are Buddhism and traditional beliefs with a smaller minority claiming no religious belief. A small minority of Christians, mostly Catholic, exists.

Notable Religions 

Chinese Ethnic 

Religion Chinese folk religion or Shenism are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been the majority belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for the most part of the civilization's history till today. Shenism comprises Chinese mythology and includes the worship of shens which can be nature deities, clan deities, city deities, national deities, cultural heroes and demigods, dragons and ancestors.

It is sometimes considered a brand of Taoism, a Folk Taoism, since over the centuries institutional Taoism has been attempting to assimilate or administrate local religions; actually and more accurately Taoism can be defined as a branch of Shenism, since it sprang out of folk religion and Chinese philosophy. Chinese folk religion is sometimes seen as a constituent part of Chinese traditional religion, but more often, the two are regarded as synonymous. Unlike Taoism, the religious aspects found in Confucianism (worship of Confucius and his disciples, worship of Tian, rituals and sacrifices) never took independent form and have thus remained for centuries part of Shenism.

With around 400 million adherents Chinese folk religion is one of the major religions in the world, comprising about 6% of world population. In China over 30% of the population adheres to Shenism or Taoism.

Despite being heavily suppressed during the last two centuries of the history of China, from the Taiping Movement to the Cultural Revolution, it is now experiencing a revival and is supported by the Government of the People's Republic of China, particularly in the forms of Mazuism in southern China (officially, about 160 million Chinese are Mazuists), Huangdi worship, Black Dragon worship in Shaanxi, and Caishen worship.

Scholars have studied how Chinese folk religion-inspired society, elastic and polytheistic in spirit, provided the groundwork for the development of dynamic grassroots Chinese-style pre-modern capitalism in Song Dynasty China and modern capitalism in contemporary Taiwan. Chinese folk religion with its ritual economy is also the key of the contemporary economic development in rural Mainland China.

Religious Confucianism 

Religious Confucianism is relatively new and still numerically small phenomenon, limited to the Chinese intelligentsia. Nevertheless, being well embedded in the Chinese academia, in recent years it has become very influential.

Whether Confucianism is a religion or not has been debated for more than one hundred years. Religious aspects promoted by Confucianism include the establishment of temples for ancestral worship of Confucius and his disciples, knowledge and worship of Tian, ritual and sacrifice; however, over the centuries Confucianism never developed an official institutional structure as Taoism did, and its religious aspects never completely detached from Chinese folk religion.

Since 2003 the debate seems to have taken a turn. Large numbers of intellectuals and students are converting to Confucianism, making it a strong intellectual force. A more and more influent movement among them is working to turn Confucianism into a religion (and a movement of its own, independent from the Chinese folk religion), to obtain recognisation by the Chinese government, and even make Confucianism the official state religion of China. Scholar Fenggang Yang calls this movement Confucian Fundamentalism.

In 2003 the Confucian intellectual Kang Xiaoguang published a cultural nationalist manifesto in which he made four suggestions: Confucian education must enter official education at any level, from elementary to high school; the state must establish Confucianism as the state religion by law; Confucian religion must enter the daily life of ordinary people through standardization and development of doctrines, rituals, organisations, churches and activity sites; the Confucian religion must be spread through NGOs.

All the suggestions appear to be being gradually implemented. Since the Jiashen Manifesto published in 2004, intellectuals are calling for a return to the Chinese traditional culture. The Government has since then supported the revival of the Chinese traditional religions, holidays and celebrations. In 2005 the Center for the Study of Confucian Religion was established, and scholars who criticised Confucianism as a religion lost their influence. Also in 2005 Guoxue education started to be implemented in schools of any level. Being well received by the population, even Confucian "televangelists" started to appear on television since 2006.

The most enthusiast and cultural nationalist and conservatist Confucian Fundamentalists proclaim the uniqueness and superiority of Confucian Chinese culture, and have generated some popular sentiment against Western cultural influences in China. In January 2011 a statue of Confucius was unveiled on Tiananmen Square.

Taoism 

Taoism refers to a variety of related philosophical and religious traditions and concepts, born in China itself in the 6th century BCE and it's traditionally traced to the composition of the Tao Te Ching attributed to the sage Laozi, a person who subsequently came to be venerated by Taoist as Daode Tianjun in the Three Pure Ones. Taoist thought focuses on health, longevity, immortality, wu wei (non-action) and spontaneity. These traditions have influenced East Asia for over two thousand years and some have spread internationally.

Reverence for nature and ancestor spirits is common in popular Taoism. Organized Taoism distinguishes its ritual activity from that of the folk religion, which some professional Taoists (Daoshi) view as debased. Chinese alchemy, astrology, cuisine, several Chinese martial arts, Chinese traditional medicine, fengshui, and many styles of qigong breath training disciplines are intertwined with Taoism throughout history.

Taoism was established as a religion in the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220). During the Northern and Southern Dynasties (386–589), Neo-Taoism adopted concepts and methods from its rival, Buddhism. Some emperors supported it for political reasons while many educated men and women were attracted by its beauty and power. Taoism experienced its silver age from the Tang Dynasty (618–907) to the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127). Many sects arose during this period. Taoist temples and Taoist masters spread throughout China. After the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), Taoism divided into two main sects: Quanzhen and Zhengyi Dao.

Taoism gradually developed with the support of the rulers. However, during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), national conflicts sapped the energy and support for Taoism. In the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), the Manchu rulers adopted Tibetan Buddhism and lost interest in Taoism. After 1949, The People's Republic of China found Taoism detrimental to socialist reconstruction while permitting some practical arts linked to Taoism, such as the use of traditional herbal medicines. In 1956 a national organization, the Chinese Taoist Association (with chapters in every province and city) was set up to administer Taoist activities.

Banned during the Cultural Revolution (along with all other religions), Taoism is undergoing a major revival today. Both the Beijing Taoist Association and the Shanghai Taoist Association (local chapters of the Chinese Taoist Association) report their own membership to number over 100 million individuals. Shenism, which includes Taoism, is estimated to be the largest religion in China with 20–30% of the total population worshiping Shenist ethnic deities or adhering to Taoist institutions.

In April 2007, China took place the International Forum on the Daodejing, during which celebrities and government officials expressed will to support Taoism as one of the foundations of Chinese culture. Chinese Taoist clergy is organizing missionary systems to spread the spirituality around the world.

Buddhism 

Buddhism was introduced from India during the Han Dynasty, traditionally in the 1st century. It became very popular among Chinese of all walks of life, admired by commoners, and sponsored by emperors in certain dynasties. It is estimated that by the 9th century Buddhist institutions had become the most powerful of China, surpassing the Taoist ones and challenging the authority of the government.

This led to the so-called Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution, which saw Buddhism repressed. Although the persecution was heavy, Buddhism survived and reflourished in the following centuries. It experienced important developments at the time of some Chinese dynasties, such as Southern and Northern Dynasties, Sui Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, Song Dynasty, and others. Buddhism is deeply embedded in the culture of China, Chinese philosophy, and in Chinese pop culture today.

The entry of Buddhism into China was marked by interaction and syncretism with Taoism in particular. Originally seen as a kind of "foreign Taoism", Buddhism's scriptures were translated into Chinese using the Taoist vocabulary. Chan Buddhism was particularly shaped by Taoism, integrating distrust of scripture, text and even language, as well as the Taoist views of embracing "this life", dedicated practice and the "every-moment". In the Tang period Taoism incorporated such Buddhist elements as monasteries, vegetarianism, prohibition of alcohol, the doctrine of emptiness, and collecting scripture into tripartite organisation. During the same time, Chan Buddhism grew to become the largest sect in Chinese Buddhism.

Buddhism was not universally welcomed, particularly among the gentry. The Buddha's Dharma seemed alien and amoral to conservative and Confucian sensibilities. Confucianism promoted social stability, order, strong families, and practical living, and Chinese officials questioned how a monk's monasticism and personal attainment of nirvana benefited the empire. However, Buddhism and Confucianism eventually reconciled after centuries of conflict and assimilation.

With the rise of People's Republic of China in 1949 Buddhism was banned and many temples and monasteries destroyed. Restrictions lasted until the 1980s. The Buddhist Association of China was founded in 1953. In recent times, Buddhism has recovered popularity and it is returned to be the largest organized faith in the country. While estimates of the number of Buddhists in China range widely, Chinese government statistics estimates the number of Buddhists at 100 million.

Today the most popular form of Buddhism in China is a mix of the Pure Land and Chán schools. The most recent surveys put the total number of Chinese Buddhists at a growing 18% to 20% of the total population, or around 300 million people, thus making China the country with the most Buddhist adherents in the world, followed by Japan.

Buddhism is growing fast among successful urban professional people. The vast majority of Chinese Buddhists are Mahayana; while minority are Vajrayana, among them Tibetans, Mongols, and Manchu who traditionally follow their Tibetan Buddhism, and small communities of Theravada also exist among the minority ethnic groups live in southern provinces as Yunnan and Guangxi which border Burma, Thailand and Laos. Buddhism is supported by the government. The 108-metre-high Guanyin Statue of Hainan was enshrined on 24 April 2005 with the participation of 108 eminent monks from various Buddhist groups in Hong Kong, Macao and Mainland China, and tens of thousands of pilgrims. The delegation also included monks from the Theravada and Vajrayana traditions. China is one of the countries which own many of the world's highest Buddhist statues.

In April 2006 China organized the World Buddhist Forum and in March 2007 the government banned mining on Buddhist sacred mountains. In May of the same year, in Changzhou, the world's tallest pagoda was built and opened. In March 2008 the Taiwan-based Tzu Chi Foundation was approved to open a branch in China.

In 2010 remains of the skull of Gautama Buddha have been unveiled and enshrined as relics (sarira) at Qixia Temple in Nanjing. A famed historical pagoda-tower destroyed a century and a half ago is being rebuilt to host the relic. In 2009, a fingerbone relic of Gautama Buddha was enshrined in the world's tallest stupa recently built within the domains of Famen Temple, in Shaanxi.

However, some restrictions of Tibetan Buddhism are due to controversies about its hierarchy, and the issue of the succession of Tenzin Gyatso the current 14th Dalai Lama (who wasn't invited to the World Buddhist Forum). Tenzin Gyatso – who was not only the spiritual leader of Gelug Buddhism, the major branch of Tibetan Buddhism, but also the reputed traditional political ruler of Tibet – is in exile, and China currently intends to elect its own 15th Dalai Lama. In August 2007 China has prohibited the reincarnation of Tibetan living buddhas without permission of the government, thus limiting the influence of Tenzin Gyatso on new Gelug Buddhist monks.

Non-Han Indigenous Religions 

Besides Han Chinese practicing their ethnic Shenism, various Chinese non-Han minority ethnicities have retained their own ethnic religions. An estimate puts the number of followers of these tribal religions at roughly 60 million, or 4% of the whole Mainland Chinese population (it's not clear whether the figure includes Tibetan and Theravada Buddhists). The Government of the People's Republic of China promotes and protects the tribal religions of minority nations as pivotal expression of their cultural identity.

Numerically, the most significant tribal religion is that of the Zhuang, a people inhabiting the Zhuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi. About 80–90% out of 18 million of the Zhuang follow their ethnic faith, Moism. It is a polytheistic, animistic and shamanic system codified into a mythology and a sacred scripture, the Buluotuo Epic. A very similar religion of the same name is adhered to by the Zhuang-related Buyei people.

Bon is the oldest spiritual tradition of Tibet, dominant before the introduction of Buddhism. The Bonpo religion is traditionally considered founded by the mythical figure of Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche. With the spread of Buddhism, Bon incorporated styles, iconography and clergy system of the new religion, whereas remaining a distinguished tradition. Simultaneously, Bonpo elements combined with original Buddhism gave origin to Tibetan Buddhism. An estimated 10% of Tibetans follow Bon.

The traditional religion of the Qiang people (200.000, most residing in north-western Sichuan) has been recently systematised into the so-called Ruism following competition by institutional Taoism and Buddhism. Nowadays most of the Qiang follow it, a system which is mainly animistic and pantheistic, focusing on the worship of nature. In the Ruist religion white stones are symbols of the Qiang gods, particularly the God of Heaven, the God of Earth, the God of the Mountains, the God of the Trees and the Goddess of the Mountains.

Dongbaism is the primary religion of the Nakhi people. About two-thirds of today Nakhis (200.000 on 300.000) are Dongbaists. Although it has remained exclusive to the Nakhis, the Dongbaist religion is not considered native by scholars. Deep similarities between Dongbaist practices and the Bönpo ones seem to prove that Dongbaism arose roughly during the 11th or 12th century. Bönpos are considered to have settled among the Nakhis spreading their religion; Dongbaism eventually originated by the combination of Bön with Nakhi native beliefs. Dongbaists worship nature, personified by human-snake-chimera creatures called Shv or Shu.

In the Moist, Ruist and Dongbaist religions, as well as in the tribal religions of other minorities, structures similar to those of Taoism are identifiable, particularly in the clergy system. Ritual specialists of these religions are very similar in social function to Taoist masters. This is because in imperial times, the Chinese central governments sent Taoist missionaries to national minorities in Southern China in order to incorporate their religions into official institutional Taoism, expanding and establishing governmental power. Manchu Shamanism, which is polytheistic, is practiced by some Manchu people.

Abrahamic Religions

Christianity

Christianity in China comprises Protestants, Catholics, and a small number of Orthodox Christians. Christianity has been a growing minority religion for over 200 years.

Growth has been more significant since the loosening of restrictions on religion after the 1970s within the People's Republic. Religious practices are still often tightly controlled by government authorities.

Currently, Chinese over age 18 in the PRC are permitted to be involved with officially sanctioned Christian meetings through the "Three-Self Patriotic Movement" or the "Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association". Many Chinese Christians who want to avoid the state-controlled religious movements meet in unregistered house churches – "risking fines, imprisonment, torture, and even, in some cases, death."

Christianity had existed in China as early as the 7th century AD, having multiple cycles of strong presence for hundreds of years at a time, disappearing for hundreds of years, and then being re-introduced. The arrival of the Persian missionary Alopen in 635, during the early part of the Tang dynasty, is considered by some to be the first entry of the Christian religion into China. What Westerners referred to as Nestorian Christianity flourished for hundreds of years, until Emperor Wuzong of the Tang dynasty adopted anti-religious measures in 845, expelling Buddhism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism and confiscating their considerable assets. Christianity again came to China in the 13th century during the Mongol-established Yuan dynasty, when the Mongols brought Nestorianism back to the region, and contacts began with the Papacy, such as Franciscan missionaries in 1294. When the native Chinese Ming dynasty overthrew the Yuan dynasty in the 14th century, Christians were again expelled from China.

At the end of the Ming dynasty in the 16th century, Jesuits arrived in Beijing via Guangzhou. The most famous of the Jesuit missionaries was Matteo Ricci, an Italian mathematician who came to China in 1588 and lived in Beijing in 1600. Ricci was welcomed at the imperial court and introduced Western learning into China. The Jesuits followed a policy of accommodation to the traditional Chinese practice of ancestor worship, but this doctrine was eventually condemned by the Pope. Roman Catholic missions struggled in obscurity for decades afterwards.

Christianity began to take root in a significant way in the Chinese Empire during the Qing Dynasty, and although it has remained a minority religion in China, it has had significant recent historical impact. Further waves of missionaries came to China in the Qing Dynasty as a result of contact with foreign powers. Russian Orthodoxy was introduced in 1715 and Protestants began entering China in 1807. The pace of missionary activity increased considerably after the First Opium War in 1842. Christian missionaries and their schools, under the protection of the Western powers, went on to play a major role in the Westernization of China in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Taiping Rebellion was influenced to some degree by Christian teachings, and the Boxer Rebellion was in part a reaction against Christianity in China. Christians in China established the first modern clinics and hospitals, and provided the first modern training for nurses. Both Roman Catholics and Protestants founded numerous educational institutions in China from the primary to the university level. Some of the most prominent Chinese universities began as religious-founded institutions. Missionaries worked to abolish practices such as foot binding, and the unjust treatment of maidservants, as well as launching charitable work and distributing food to the poor. They also opposed the opium trade and brought treatment to many who were addicted. Some of the early leaders of the Chinese Republic, such as Sun Yat-sen were converts to Christianity and were influenced by its teachings. By 1921, Harbin, Manchuria's largest city, had a Russian population of around 100,000, feeding the growth of Christianity in the city.

The subject of China's Christian population is controversial. The government of the People's Republic of China census reported 4 million Roman Catholics and 10 million Protestants.

Islam 

Islam (called 伊斯兰教, Yisilanjiao or 回教 Huijiao) traditionally dates to a mission in 651, eighteen years after Muhammad's death, by an envoy led by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, the uncle of Muhammad himself. The Gaozong Emperor is said to have showed esteem for Islam and established the Huaisheng Mosque, or Memorial Mosque, in memory of the Prophet.

Muslims went to China to trade, virtually dominated the import and export industry by the time of the Song Dynasty, while the office of Director General of Shipping was consistently held by a Muslim. Larger immigration began when hundreds of thousands of Muslims were relocated to help to administer China during the Yuan Dynasty. A Muslim, Yeheidie'erding led the construction of the Yuan capital of Khanbaliq, in present-day Beijing.

During the Ming Dynasty, Muslims continued their influence on government. Six of the founder of Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang's most trusted generals were Muslim, including Lan Yu who led a decisive victory over the Mongols, effectively ending the Mongol dream to re-conquer China. Zheng He lead seven expeditions to the Indian Ocean. The Hongwu Emperor composed The Hundred-word Eulogy in praise of Muhammad. Muslims who were descended from earlier immigration began to assimilate by speaking Chinese dialects and by adopting Chinese names and culture. They developed their own cuisine, architecture, martial arts and calligraphy. This era, sometimes considered the Golden Age of Islam in China, also saw Nanjing become an important center of Islamic study.

The rise of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) saw numerous rebellions including the Panthay Rebellion, which occurred in Yunnan province from 1855 to 1873, and the Dungan revolt, which occurred mostly in Xinjiang, Shensi and Gansu, from 1862 to 1877. The Manchu government ordered the execution of all rebels killing a million people in the Panthay rebellion, several million in the Dungan revolt However, many Muslims like Ma Zhan'ao, Ma Anliang, Dong Fuxiang, Ma Qianling, and Ma Julung defected to the Qing dynasty side, and helped the Qing general Zuo Zongtang exterminate the Muslim rebels. These Muslim generals belonged to the Khafiya sect, and they helped Qing defeat Jahariyya rebels. In 1895, another Dungan Revolt (1895) broke out, and loyalist Muslims like Dong Fuxiang, Ma Anliang, Ma Guoliang, Ma Fulu, and Ma Fuxiang suppressed and massacred the rebel Muslims led by Ma Dahan, Ma Yonglin, and Ma Wanfu. A Muslim army called the Kansu Braves led by General Dong Fuxiang fought for the Qing dynasty against the foreigners during the Boxer Rebellion.

After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Sun Yat Sen, proclaimed that the country belonged equally to the Han, Manchu, Mongol, Tibetan and Hui people. In the 1920s the provinces of Qinhai, Gansu and Ningxia came under the control of Muslim Governors/Warlords known as the Ma clique, who served as generals in the National Revolutionary Army. During Maoist rule, in the Cultural Revolution, mosques were often defaced, destroyed or closed and copies of the Quran were destroyed by the Red Guards.

Today Islam is experiencing a revival. There is an upsurge in Islamic expression and many nation-wide Islamic associations have organized to co-ordinate inter-ethnic activities among Muslims. Muslims are found in every province in China. Of China's 55 officially recognized minorities, ten groups are predominately Muslim. Accurate statistics on China's current Muslim population are hard to find; the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) states there are more than 21 million Muslims in the country (1.5%–2% of the total population). According to SARA there are approximately 36,000 Islamic places of worship, more than 45,000 imams, and 10 Islamic schools in the country. In 2006 a record number of Chinese traveled to Mecca for the hajj, up 40 percent from the previous year.
Judaism 

Judaism was introduced during the Tang Dynasty (between the 7th and the 10th century) or earlier, by small groups of Jews settled in China. The most prominent early community was at Kaifeng, in Henan province (Kaifeng Jews). In the 20th century many Jews arrived in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Harbin during those cities' periods of economic expansion in the first decades of the century, as well as for the purpose of seeking refuge from anti-Semitic pogroms in Russian Empire (the early 1900s), the communist revolution and civic war in Russia (1917–1918), and anti-Semitic Nazi policy in Central Europe, chiefly in Germany and Austria (1937–1940), and the last wave from Poland and other Eastern European countries (the early 1940s).

Shanghai was particularly notable for its volume of Jewish refugees (Shanghai Ghetto), most of whom left after the war, the rest relocating prior to or immediately after the establishment of the People's Republic. Today, the Kaifeng Jewish community is functionally extinct. Many descendants of the Kaifeng community still live among the Chinese population, mostly unaware of their Jewish ancestry. Meanwhile, remnants of the later arrivals maintain communities in Shanghai and Hong Kong. In recent years a community has also developed in Beijing, especially by Chabad-Lubavitch.

More recently, since the late 20th century, along with the study of religion in general, the study of Judaism and Jews in China as an academic subject has begun to blossom (i.e. Institute of Jewish Studies (Nanjing), China Judaic Studies Association).

Other Religions 

Heaven Worship 

The Heaven worship was the imperial belief system of most of the dynasties of China from the Shang and the Zhou until the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty. It was a pantheistic and panentheistic belief, centering on the worship of Shangdi (literally "Lord Above"), later merged with Tian (the "Heaven" or "Sky") conceived as a divine force or power. This religious system predated Taoism, Confucian thought and the introduction of Buddhism and Christianity; it constituted the foundations of the imperial hierarchy as the legitimate and righteous emperor was considered "Son of Heaven", endowed with the Mandate of Heaven. Its roots can perhaps be traced back to Tengrism-related ancient cults of the Mongolic peoples.

Shangdi was not represented in iconography and was not worshipped directly by ordinary people, but through the intercession of lesser gods and ancestors. Only the royals prayed and made offerings directly to Shangdi in special temples, the greatest being the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Heaven was believed to manifest itself through the powers of the weather and victory. Emperors who favoured Taoism and Buddhism neglecting the worship of Heaven were often seen as anomalous.

Confucianism inherited scholarship and the sacred books from the Shang and Zhou. In the theology of Confucianism, Shangdi is the Logos (principle) which is the divine path of God. Rites are the Logos of Shangdi.

In the tradition of New-Text School, Confucius is a "throne-less king" of Shangdi and a savior of the world. But Old-text school persisted that Confucius is a sage of Shangdi who had given new interpretation to the heritage from previous three great dynasties. In Taoism Shangdi is venerated with the extended title of August Heavenly Celestial Emperor and identified as the Jade Lord.

With the fall of the Chinese Empire, imperial Heaven worship disappeared, but remained within Taoism and Chinese folk religion. The concept of the Heaven as a force remained in popular expressions. Where an Anglophone would say "Oh my God" or "Thank God", a Chinese person might say "Oh Heaven" or "Thank the heavens and the earth".

Manichaeism

Manichaeism, an Iranian religion, entered China between the 6th century and the 8th century due to contacts between the Tang Dynasty and states of Central Asia, particularly Tokharistan. In 731, a Manichaean priest was asked by the Chinese Emperor to realize a summary of the religion's teachings. He wrote the Compendium of the Teachings of Mani the Buddha of Light. The Tang government approved Manichaeism to be practiced by foreigners but prohibited preaching among Chinese people.

A turning point occurred in 762 with the conversion of Bogu Khan of the Uyghurs. Since 755, the Chinese Empire had been weakened by the An Shi Rebellion, and the Uyghurs had become the only fighting force serving the Tang Dynasty. Bogu Khan encouraged Manichaeism to spread in China. Manichaean temples were established in the two capitals, Chang'an and Luoyang, as well as in several other cities in the Northern and Central China.

The decay of Uyghur power in 840 brought the closure of many Manichaean institutions. Emperor Wuzong of Tang started the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution, which was not exclusively against Buddhism but extended to all foreign religions. The religion was severely suppressed, but didn't die out. During the period of the Five Dynasties, it re-emerged as a popular underground phenomenon, particularly in Southern China.

In 1120, a rebellion led by Fang Xi was believed to be caused by adherents of underground religious communities, whose meeting places were said to host political protests. This event brought crackdowns of unauthorized religious congregations and destruction of scriptures. In 1280, the Mongol rule gave a century of freedom to Manichaeism, but, in 1368, the Ming Dynasty started new persecutions. The religion gradually collapsed, eventually dying out during the following centuries.

Hinduism 

There was a small Hindu community in China, mostly situated in southeastern China. A late 13th-century bilingual Tamil and Chinese-language inscription has been found associated with the remains of a Shiva temple in Quanzhou. This was one of possibly two south Indian-style Hindu temples that were built in the southeastern sector of the old port, where the foreign traders' enclave was formerly located. Presently there are temples of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in China.

Zoroastrianism 

Zoroastrianism expanded in Northern China during the 6th century via the Silk Road. It gained the status of an official religion in some Chinese regions. Zoroastrian fire temples have been found in Kaifeng and Zhenjiang. According to some scholars, they remained active until the 12th century, when the religion started to fade from the Chinese landscape.

Languages 

The languages most spoken in China belong to the Sino-Tibetan language family. There are also several major linguistic groups within the Chinese language itself. The most spoken varieties are Mandarin (the first language of over 70% of the population), Wu (includes Shanghainese), Yue (includes Cantonese and Taishanese), Min (includes Hokkien and Teochew), Xiang, Gan, and Hakka. Non-Sinitic languages spoken widely by ethnic minorities include Zhuang, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, Hmong and Korean. Standard Mandarin, a variety of Mandarin based on the Beijing dialect, is the official national language of China and is used as a lingua franca between people of different linguistic backgrounds. Classical 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 their promulgation by the government in 1956, Simplified Chinese characters have become the official standardized written script used to write the Chinese language within mainland China, supplanting the use of the earlier Traditional Chinese characters.

Urbanization 

Since 2000, China's cities have expanded at an average rate of 10% annually. It is estimated that China's urban population will increase by 400 million people by 2025, when its cities will house a combined population of over one billion. The country's urbanization rate increased from 17.4% to 46.6% between 1978 and 2009, a scale unprecedented in human history. Between 150 and 200 million migrant workers work part-time in the major cities, returning home to the countryside periodically with their earnings.

Today, China has dozens of cities with one million or more long-term residents, including the three global cities of Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai; by 2025, the country will be home to 221 cities with over a million inhabitants. 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.

Education:


Education in China is a state-run system of public education run by the Ministry of Education. All citizens must attend school for at least nine years. The government provides primary education for six to nine years, starting at age six or seven, followed by six years of secondary education for ages 12 to 18. Some provinces may have five years of primary school but four years for middle school. There are three years of middle school and three years of high school. The Ministry of Education reported a 99 percent attendance rate for primary school and an 80 percent rate for both primary and middle schools. In 1985, the government abolished tax-funded higher education, requiring university applicants to compete for scholarships based on academic ability. In the early 1980s the government allowed the establishment of the first private school, increasing the number of undergraduates and people who hold doctoral degrees fivefold from 1995 to 2005. In 2003 China supported 1,552 institutions of higher learning (colleges and universities) and their 725,000 professors and 11 million students (see List of universities in China). There are over 100 National Key Universities, including Peking University and Tsinghua University. Chinese spending has grown by 20% per year since 1999, now reaching over $100bn, and as many as 1.5 million science and engineering students graduated from Chinese universities in 2006. China published 184,080 papers as of 2008.

Laws regulating the system of education include the Regulation on Academic Degrees, the Compulsory Education Law, the Teachers Law, the Education Law, the Law on Vocational Education, and the Law on Higher Education.

History 

Since the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), the education system in China has been geared toward economic modernization. In 1985, the national government ceded responsibility for basic education to local governments through the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party's "Decision on the Reform of the Educational Structure." In unveiling the education reform plan in May 1985, the authorities called for nine years of compulsory education and the establishment of the State Education Commission (created the following month). Official commitment to improved education was nowhere more evident than in the substantial increase in funds for education in the Seventh Five-Year Plan (1986–90), which amounted to 72 percent more than funds allotted to education in the previous plan period (1981–85). In 1986 some 16.8 percent of the state budget was earmarked for education, compared with 10.4 percent in 1984. Since 1949, education has been a focus of controversy in China. As a result of continual intraparty realignments, official policy alternated between ideological imperatives and practical efforts to further national development. But ideology and pragmatism often have been incompatible.

The Great Leap Forward (1958–60) and the Socialist Education Movement (1962–65) sought to end deeply rooted academic elitism, to narrow social and cultural gaps between workers and peasants and between urban and rural populations, and to eliminate the tendency of scholars and intellectuals to disdain manual labor. During the Cultural Revolution, universal fostering of social equality was an overriding priority.

The post-Mao Zedong Chinese Communist Party leadership viewed education as the foundation of the Four Modernizations. In the early 1980s, science and technology education became an important focus of education policy. By 1986 training skilled personnel and expanding scientific and technical knowledge had been assigned the highest priority. Although the humanities were considered important, vocational and technical skills were considered paramount for meeting China's modernization goals. The reorientation of educational priorities paralleled Deng Xiaoping's strategy for economic development. Emphasis also was placed on the further training of the already-educated elite, who would carry on the modernization program in the coming decades. Renewed emphasis on modern science and technology led to the adoption, beginning in 1976, of an outward-looking policy that encouraged learning and borrowing from abroad for advanced training in a wide range of scientific fields.

Beginning at the Third Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee in December 1978, intellectuals were encouraged to pursue research in support of the Four Modernizations and, as long as they complied with the party's "Four Cardinal Principles" they were given relatively free rein. But when the party and the government determined that the strictures of the four cardinal principles had been stretched beyond tolerable limits, they did not hesitate to restrict intellectual expression.

Literature and the arts also experienced a great revival in the late 1970s and 1980s. Traditional forms flourished once again, and many new kinds of literature and cultural expression were introduced from abroad.

Development 

Since the 1950s, China has been providing a nine-year compulsory education to what amounts to a fifth of the world's population. By 1999, primary school education had become generalized in 90% of China, and mandatory nine-year compulsory education now effectively covered 85% of the population. While the central and provincial governments provide some funding for education, this varies from province to province, and funding in the rural areas is notably lower than in major urban municipalities. Families must supplement monies provided to school by government with tuition fees, which means that some children have much less education than others. However, parents place a very high value on education, and make great personal sacrifices to send their children to school and to university. Illiteracy in the young and mid-aged population has fallen from over 80 percent down to five percent. The system trained some 60 million mid- or high-level professionals and near 400 million laborers to junior or senior high school level. Today, 250 million Chinese get three levels of school education, (elementary, junior and senior high school) doubling the rate of increase in the rest of the world during the same period. Net elementary school enrollment has reached 98.9 percent, and the gross enrollment rate in junior high schools 94.1 percent.

China's educational horizons are expanding. Ten years ago the MBA was virtually unknown but by 2004 there were 47,000 MBAs, trained at 62 MBA schools. Many people also apply for international professional qualifications, such as EMBA and MPA; close to 10,000 MPA students are enrolled in 47 schools of higher learning, including Peking University and Tsinghua University. The education market has rocketed, with training and testing for professional qualifications, such as computer and foreign languages, thriving. Continuing education is the trend, once in one's life schooling has become lifelong learning. International cooperation and education exchanges increase every year. China has more students studying abroad than any other country; since 1979, there have been 697,000 Chinese students studying in 103 countries and regions, of whom 185,000 have returned after finishing their studies. The number of foreign students studying in China has also increased rapidly; in 2004, over 110,000 students from 178 countries were studying at China's universities.

Investment in education has increased in recent years; the proportion of the overall budget allocated to education has been increased by one percentage point every year since 1998. According to a Ministry of Education program, the government will set up an educational finance system in line with the public finance system, strengthen the responsibility of governments at all levels in educational investment, and ensure that their financial allocation for educational expenditure grows faster than their regular revenue. The program also set out the government's aim that educational investment should account for four percent of GDP in a relatively short period of time.

For non-compulsory education, China adopts a shared-cost mechanism, charging tuition at a certain percentage of the cost. Meanwhile, to ensure that students from low-income families have access to higher education, the government has initiated effective ways of assistance, with policies and measures as scholarships, work-study programs, subsidies for students with special economic difficulties, tuition reduction or exemption and state stipends. The government has committed itself to markedly raising educational levels generally, as evidenced in a Ministry of Education program; by 2020, of every 100,000 people, 13,500 will have had junior college education or above and some 31,000 will have had senior high school schooling; rates for illiteracy and semi-literacy rate will fall below three percent; and average schooling duration across the population will increase from today's eight years to nearly 11.

In the 2009 test of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide evaluation of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Chinese students from Shanghai achieved the best results in mathematics, science and reading. The OECD also found that even in some of the very poor rural areas the performance is close to the OECD average. However, controversy has surrounded the high scores achieved by the Chinese students due to the unusual spread of the numerical data, with suggestions that schools were 'gaming' students for the exams.

Education Policy: 

The overthrow of the Kuomintang regime in 1949 ended China's "feudal capitalist" system in which education was effectively closed to workers, peasants, and generally females in practical terms despite Sun Yat-Sen's support of general education in principle.

However, the Marxist ideology of the post-1949 government, in reacting to the overly literary and classical tradition of China, overstressed in turn "practical applications" and the superior wisdom of the worker and peasant, whose hand-skill was assumed to be the "base" to the "superstructure" of science and learning in general. This resulted in various experiments in which peasants and industrial workers were made "teachers" overnight but were unable to gain respect or communicate their tacit knowledge.

The new Communist government created wide access to some form of education for all, except children of people under suspicion for "landlordism" and other bourgeois crimes. The possibility however of re-education and service to the "masses" was held out to bourgeois families as long as they proved their good faith by service to the workers and peasants. This meant that even before the Cultural Revolution, there was a continuum, in China, between the prison, the re-education camp, and the school, a continuum which also exists in the West. Formally speaking, the opportunity was extended to all classes to join China's project on its Leninist terms.

The education provided was practical and made accessible, for example by simplifying many characters for quick learning and by training people in skills they could use, including the basic medical training provided "barefoot doctors", actually paramedics that provided medical care, midwifery and instruction on the evils of footbinding and female infanticide in such rural areas where those practices still existed.

Like most serious Communist and socialist governments before and since, the Chinese Communist government provided "the goods" to the bottom of society in good faith and for this reason received broad support before the Cultural Revolution from the people at the bottom. The general populace was unaware of, and indifferent to, the fate of intellectuals during the Great Leap Forward and the Hundred Flowers epochs of the late 1950s, but seems on balance that for the first time in Chinese history, something was being done for his children's education and welfare, as it was being done contemporaneously in Russia and in the 1960s in Cuba.

Some of the practices taught were adopted by Westerners without much acknowledgement including the Lamaze method of drug-free childbirth and the training of paramedics: American emergency medicine in particular owes much, not only to military "medevac" procedures refined during the Vietnam War, but a Chinese-influenced break in the hold of the medical profession has over practitioner qualification, which allowed nurses and paramedics to fill in for doctors at straightforward procedures.

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