China

Useful informations
LocationEastern Asia
NeighborhoodNorth Korea, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, China Sea, Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea
Area9.596.961 km2
Density145 persons/km2
CapitalBeijing
CurrencyYuan ¥ (CNY)

China covers an area of 9.596.961 km2, has a density of about 145 persons/km2 and has its capital in the city of Beijing, which hosts about 24.900.000 people (at the metropolitan level). The country’s national anthem is called 义勇军进行曲, which is translated as “March of the Volunteers” and was written by Tian Han, while the music was made by Nie Er. The country is organized as a unitary socialist one-party state and is divided into 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities, 2 special administrative regions and 1 claimed province. China’s total population counts about 1.376.050.000 persons, which ranks the country as 1st in the world by population. Other Chinese population living abroad can be found in countries like: Thailand (9.392.792), Indonesia (7.670.000), Malaysia (6.650.000), the United States of America (3.794.673) or Singapore (2.547.300). The official currency in China is the Yuan (CNY). The national day of China is celebrated on 1 October every year.

China had the largest economy in the world for most of the past two thousand years, during which it has seen cycles of prosperity and decline. Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies. As of 2014, it is the world’s second-largest economy by nominal GDP and largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). China is also the world’s largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world’s largest standing army and second-largest defense budget. The PRC is a member of the United Nations, as it replaced the ROC as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council in 1971. China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the BCIM and the G-20.

The national flag of the Republic of China is a red flag with five yellow stars arranged near the flagpole, at the top. One of the stars, the nearest one to the flagpole is the biggest of all and it is surrounded by four smaller stars arranged in a semicircle. The flag has a ratio of 2:3 between width and length. The red colour represents the Communist revolution, while the five stars represent the unity of the Chinese people under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Sometimes, the flag is called “The red flag with five stars”, Wǔ Xīng Hóng Qí.

 

The first Chinese dynasty that left historical records, the semi-feudal Shang, was positioned along the Yellow River in eastern China from the 18th century BC until the 11th century BC. Divinatory inscriptions on the bones during the Shang Dynasty is the oldest form of Chinese writing, found to date and is a direct predecessor of modern Chinese characters. Shang was conquered by Zhou, who ruled between the 12th and 5th centuries BC, until the centralized authority was slowly eroded by feudal warlords. Many independent belligerent states appeared due to the weakening authority of Zhou, entering a period of 300 years of springs and autumns, interrupted only occasionally by the Zhou Kings. Until the Warring States Period, from the 5th to 3rd century BC, there were only seven powerful sovereign states, across nowadays China, each state having its own king, ministries and armies.

The subsequent Han Dynasty ruled China between 206 BC and 220 AD, creating a durable cultural identity, which has been stored until today in the Chinese population. The Han Dynasty has expanded considerably due to military campaigns initiated within the Empire, reaching the Korean Peninsula, Vietnam, Mongolia and Central Asia and also helped create the Silk Road in Central Asia. Han China has gradually become the largest economy of the ancient world. The Dynasty adopted Confucianism, a philosophy developed during the Spring and Autumn Period, as the official state ideology. Despite official abandonment of the Legalism, the official ideology of the Qin Dynasty, the legalistic institutions and policies remained and were at the basis of Han governing.

Major military campaigns were launched to weaken the nomadic Xiongnu Empire, limiting its influence north of the Great Wall. Along with diplomatic efforts led by Zhang Qian, Han Empire’s sphere of influence has expanded to the states in the Tarim Basin, opening the Silk Road that connected China to the West, stimulating a prosperous bilateral commerce and cultural exchange. To the south, several small kingdoms, from the extreme south of the Yangtze River valley, were formally incorporated into the empire.

The Eastern Han Dynasty was one of the most prolific periods for science and technology in ancient China, especially for the historical invention of papermaking by Cai Lun (50 AD – 121 AD), and for the numerous contributions of polymath, Zhang Heng.

After the collapse of the Han Dynasty, there was a period of strife, known as the Three Kingdoms Period. In 581 AD, China was reunified under the Sui Dynasty. However, the dynasty crashed early, mainly due to its defeat in the Goguryeo-Sui War (598-614). Sui reunified (socio-political) China and set up many institutions that were to be adopted by his successor, the Tang dynasty. These reforms included the government system formed of “Three Departments and Six Ministries”, a standard currency, defense improving, expanding the Great Wall and official support for Buddhism. But as Qin, Sui overburdened resources at its disposal and crashed.

The Tang Dynasty was founded by Emperor Gaozu on 18 June 618. It was the golden age of Chinese civilization with significant developments in art, literature (especially poetry) and technology. Buddhism was the dominant religion for the common people. Chang’an (today’s Xi’an), the national capital, was the largest city in the world at that time.

The period of political disunity between the Tang and Song dynasties, known as the period of “Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms”, lasted little more than half a century, between 907 and 960. During this short period, when China was in all respects a multi-state, five regimes succeeded one after another in rapid nucleus old imperial control of northern China. In the same period, southern and western parts of China were occupied by ten regimes, politically stable, so the period is also referred to as the “Ten Kingdoms”.

In the 13th century, China was conquered gradually by the Mongol Empire. In 1271, Mongol leader, Kublai Khan founded the Yuan dynasty. This dynasty has won the last bastion of the Song Dynasty in 1279. Before the Mongol invasion, the Song population was of about 120 million citizens. The population was reduced to 60 million by the 1300 Census.

A peasant named Zhu Yuanzhang overthrew the Yuan Dynasty in 1368 and founded the Ming Dynasty. Under the Ming dynasty, China has enjoyed another golden age, developing one of the most powerful naval army in the world, with a rich and prosperous economy in the midst of a flourishing of art and culture. This was the period when Zheng He led explorations on sea, reaching all the way to Africa. In the early Ming Dynasty, China’s capital was moved from Nanjing to Beijing. During the Ming Dynasty, philosophers such as Wang Yangming, analyzed and extended the neo-Confucianism, formulating concepts of individualism and innate morality.

The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was the last imperial dynasty of China. Founded by the Manchus, previously known as “Jurchen”, they came from the north-eastern Ming territory, from outside the Great Wall. They have emerged as a major threat at the end of the Ming Dynasty, after Nurhaci united all the Jurchen tribes and established an independent state. In 1644, Beijing has been captured by a coalition of rebel forces led by Li Zicheng, a minor Ming official, who led a peasant revolt. The Last Ming Emperor, Chongzhen, committed suicide when the city fell. The Manchurian Qing dynasty formed an alliance with the Ming Dynasty general. Wu Sangui overthrew the short-lasted Shun dynasty, founded by Li, proceeding subsequently in taking over political control in Beijing, the city that became the new capital of the Qing Dynasty. The decades of Manchu conquest have caused enormous losses of lives, drastically reducing China’s economy. In total, the Manchu conquest of China (1618-1683) cost up to 25 million lives. However, the Manchus adopted the Confucian norms of the traditional Chinese government and were considered as a Chinese dynasty.

Xinjiang, Tibet and Mongolia were formally included in the Chinese territory. Between 1673 and 1681, Emperor Kangxi suppressed the revolt of the three generals, in southern China, to which they were denied the status of their extensive hereditary fiefs granted by the former Emperor. In 1683, Qing organized an assault in southern Taiwan, stifling the rebellion of the “Grand Duchy of Tungning”, which was founded by loyalist Ming Koxinga in 1662, after the fall of Southern Ming and served as the basis for a continue Ming resistance in southern China. By the end of the reign of Qianlong, the Qing Empire was at its peak. China led more than a third of the world’s population and had one of the strongest economies in the world. If the surface is taken into consideration, this was one of the greatest empires in history.

In the 19th century, the Qing dynasty experienced the Western imperialism, following the Opium Wars (1839-1842 and 1856-1860) against the UK. China was forced to sign unequal treaties, pay reparations, allow extraterritoriality for foreigners and cede Hong Kong the British. The Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) led to the loss of influence in the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan being ceded to Japan.

In 1898, Emperor Guangxu drafted a reform plan to establish a modern constitutional monarchy, but was prevented by Empress Dowager Cixi, through a coup. The nefarious anti-Western Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1901, has further weakened the Qing Dynasty. The Xinhai Revolution of 1911-1912 ended the Qing dynasty and established the Republic of China.

The government in Beijing was internationally recognized but practically, it was powerless because since the late 1920’s, the regional military leaders controlled most of the territory of the republic. In the late 1920’s, the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-Shek, was able to reunify the country under its control, with a series of military maneuvers and skillful policy, known collectively as the “Northern Expedition”. The Kuomintang moved the nation’s capital in Nanjing and has implemented the “tutelage policy”, an intermediate stage of political development presented in the San-Min Doctrine of Sun Yat-Sen, a plan for transforming China into a modern democratic state.

The Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945, a theater of the Second World War has forced an uneasy alliance between the Kuomintang and the Communists. The Japanese forces have committed numerous atrocities against civilians; more than 20 million Chinese civilians losing their lives in total. Chinese sources claim that the total casualties, military and civilian dead, wounded or missing amounted to 35 million people between 1931 and 1945. An estimated 200.000 Chinese were massacred in the city of Nanjing, only during the Japanese occupation. Japan surrendered unconditionally in 1945.

Major battles of the Chinese civil war ended in 1949, when the Communist Party took control of most of the mainland and the Kuomintang withdrew offshore, reducing the Chinese Republic territory only to Taiwan, Hainan and the small islands surrounding them. On 1 October 1949, Communist Party Chairman, Mao Zedong, proclaimed the establishment of the Republic of China. In 1950, the People’s Liberation Army has managed to capture Hainan from the Nationalists and to occupy Tibet. However, the remaining nationalist forces continued to start riots in western China over the 1950’s.

Mao encouraged the population growth, and under his leadership, China’s population almost doubled, from about 550 million to 900 million. However, the Great Leap Forward of Mao, an economic and social project reform of large scale, resulted in an estimated 45 million deaths between 1958 and 1961, mostly due to starvation. Between 1 and 2 million landowners were executed, being stigmatized as “counterrevolutionaries”. In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, which brought a period of political criminalizing and social upheavals that lasted until Mao’s death in 1976. In October 1971, the Popular Republic of China was replaced by the Republic of China in the United Nations and took its place as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

President Jiang Zemin and Premier, Zhu Rongji led the nation in the 1990’s. Under their administration, China’s economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty and sustained an average annual GDP growth of 11,2%. The country officially joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, maintaining its high rate of growth even under President Hu Jintao in 2000. However, the rapid growth has had a severe impact on the country’s resources and environment, and caused major human migration. Living standards continued to improve, despite the recession in late 2000’s, but the centralized political control remains tight.

At the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, in November 2012, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao have replaced, as president and prime minister, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, officially taking the office in 2013. Under the leadership of Xi, the Chinese government has initiated efforts to reform the economy on a large scale, which had suffered from structural instability and slow growth. Xi’s administration announced also major reforms of the “only child” and the prison system politics.

Landforms

With 9,71 million square kilometers, China is the 3rd country in the world by extension, after Russia and Canada and therefore offers a great variety of climates and landscapes. The point on the globe as far away as possible from the sea, at about 2.600 km is located in China, in the desert region of Xinjiang-Uygur. The south is divided between the plateau of Yunnan-Guizhou, with an altitude of between 2.000 meters to 550 meters, and the basins of the major rivers flowing through it. Ideally, China can be split into six major regions: the northwest, Inner Mongolia, the northeast, northern China, southern China and the extreme south-western region.

China is home to a large number of rivers and the three largest are: Huang He 黄河 (or the Yellow River), the Chang Jiang 长江 (or “Blue River”) and Xi Jiang 西江 (or “West River”), which in the middle and lower parts of their course divide three major orographic axes of eastern China and have their origins in the Tibetan plateau.

About half of China’s rivers, including the longest three (Yangtze River, Yellow River and Xi Jiang), are flowing from west to east and they end in the Chinese seas open to the Pacific Ocean. A lesser amount of rivers are flowing into the Sea of Japan, while others are deprived of access to the sea and then they reach in the arid western and northern basins, where the water seeps into the ground, forming deep and important water reserves. The floods of the large rivers often bring disastrous consequences on human settlements or crops.

Climate

China is located in Eastern Asia. To the East, China is washed by the western seas of the Pacific Ocean. In mainland China, there are many types of climate. China’s maritime coast is stretching from the border with North Korea in the north to the Vietnamese border in the south and has a total length of 14.500 km. China is bordered by the East China Sea, the Korean Gulf, the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea. Taiwan is separated from the mainland by the Taiwan Strait.

Most of China is located in a moderate area with distinct seasons. There are many climate differences due to the monsoon climate, the extension of the dry surfaces and also because of the considerable differences in altitude. While in central and South-East China, the climate is generally warm and humid, in the north and northeast it is relatively dry. China reaches up to 35° latitude, which produces a large variation in terms of the regional climate. In many areas, summer is hot and rainy, with a high degree of moisture, while the winter is dry. In northern China, more than 80% of the precipitation falls in the summer months, but only 40% of the annual precipitation in southern China are occurring during the same period. In southeastern China, during the rainy season between July and September, typhoons occur frequently. North of Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) the winter is extremely cold.

The north-east parts have hot dry summers and long and cold winters. Summers in the desert areas of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia are also hot and dry, while the winters are cold dry. In central China, summers are hot and humid, with lots of rainfall in the last summer months. In the lower regions of the Yangzi, winter is somehow milder than in the central areas of China, due to the loess mountains, or in Sichuan, which is surrounded by mountains. In the regions around Beijing, Xi’an and Zhenghou, there can arise sandstorms during winter and spring.

In the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an average altitude of 4.000 m, the summer is short, moderate and warm, while winters can be very cold: there is little rainfall during the year and differences between day and night temperatures are high. A mild climate with warm summers and cool winters generally prevails in the high Plateau Yunnan-Guizhou. Here, there is little rainfall and frosts are rare. Central China has a subtropical climate. Regular rains fall throughout the year, summers are long, hot and humid, while winters are short, with low temperatures.

Flora

In China there is a great variety of forests. Both in the north-eastern areas and in the north-western ones, there are rising mountains covered with icy coniferous forests where animals such as elks and black bears live, in addition to about 120 species of birds. In the more humid coniferous forests, bamboo groves often develop, which are replaced, at higher elevations, by thickets of rhododendrons, junipers and yews. The subtropical forests, which dominate the central and southern China regions, are the kingdom of about 146.000 plant species, but also of the famous giant panda, the golden monkey and the South China tiger. Tropical rainforests and the monsoon, confined to Yunnan and Hainan, contain about a quarter of all plant and animal species in China.

The Chinese territory, the 3rd country in the world by extension, varies in altitude from the sea level to the east, to the summit of Everest (the highest mountain in the world), on the border with Nepal. The southern regions bordering Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar are covered with tropical rain forests, while in Inner Mongolia on the permafrost of Da Hinggan Mountains grows something similar to the tundra vegetation. China is also home to the most important wetlands in the Far East, the longest river, the Yangtze River and the headwaters of two rivers of inestimable importance for hundreds of millions of people in South Asia and Southeast Asia, which are the Ganges and the Mekong. However, 1/5 of China is covered by deserts, regions that can’t be touched by the monsoon coming either from the south-west and blocked by the Tibetan plateau, or from the south-east, where it doesn’t reach the area because of the considerable distance from the sea. This great diversity of topography and habitat has led to a remarkable development of plant and animal life.

The grasslands cover about a third of China’s total area. The less tall wet coniferous forests may contain bamboo thickets. At higher mountain altitudes, the juniper and yew can be found, while the bamboo is being replaced by the rhododendron. The subtropical forests that predominates central and southern China are supporting more than 146.000 species of flora. Tropical humid and seasonal forests, although limited to Yunnan and the Hainan Island, contain a quarter of all species of animals and plants found in China. China has recorded more than 10.000 species of fungi, and of these, nearly 6.000 belong to the Dikarya Subkingdom.

Fauna

China is one of the 17 megadiverse countries, located in two of the world’s major ecological zones: Palearctic and Indomalaya. By an estimation, China has over 34.687 species of animals and vascular plants, making it the 3rd most biodiverse in the world after Brazil and Colombia. China signed the Rio de Janeiro Convention on Biological Diversity on 11 June 1992 and became part of the Convention on 5 January 1993. It later developed a national biodiversity strategy and action plan with a review, that were accepted by the Convention on 21 September 2010.

China’s fauna is very rich and varied. For the protection of the rare flora and fauna elements, throughout China there are over 100 parks. Among the protected animals, the best known is the Great Panda. The fauna that lives in forests is rare and adapted to the cold: thick furry mammals, especially brown bear, herbivorous animals that come  in the winter out of the tundra, summer birds arriving from the south, ants and many mosquitoes in summer. The Taiga is rich in animals with fur like: the sable, squirrel, fox or ermine. It’s the house of many bears, musk rats and wolves.

Language

The most commonly spoken languages in China belong to the Sino-Tibetan language family. There are also several major linguistic groups within the Chinese language itself. The most spoken dialects are Mandarin (spoken by 70% of the population), Wu (including Shanghainese), Yue (including Cantonese and Taishanese), Min (including Hokkien and Teochew), Xiang, Gan and Hakka. Other languages spoken widely by ethnic minorities include: Zhuang, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, Hmong and Korean. Standard Mandarin, a dialect based on the Beijing dialect is the national and official language of China and is used as “lingua franca” between people coming from different linguistic backgrounds.

The writing of the Chinese is based on a system of characters whose origin dates back to engravings on oracle bones dating back to before the Bronze Age. The writing system was standardized for the first time in the 3rd century BC, during the time of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. Despite having undergone a natural evolution over the centuries, the writing system based on characters remained largely intact over the years. In the 1950’s, China introduced a reform of the writing system with the adoption of the so-called simplified characters. This writing system is used in the People’s Republic of China and Singapore. Taiwan and Hong Kong still use traditional characters. Each Chinese character may have different pronunciations depending on the speaker’s language, but its meaning does not change.

Religion

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Chinese constitution, although religious organizations which do not have a formal approval from the government may be subject to persecution by the state. Religious demographic estimates in China may vary. A 2007 survey showed that 31,4% of the Chinese over 16 years were religious, while a 2006 study found out that 46% of China’s population was religious.

The officially recognized religions, and managed at the state level, are in a number of five types of doctrinal religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Protestantism, Catholicism and Islam. Taoism developed in China since the 1st and 2nd centuries. Buddhism spread throughout the country and was introduced from India, starting from the 6th century. Christianity and Islam are found in China as minority religions, the second being most prominent among some non-Han ethnic groups, the most numerous being the Hui and the Uyghur. Orthodox Christianity was not recognized as an official religion because of the government’s fear that external policies from Russia might gain influence within the country. The religious framework of the country, however, is more complex, once you look at the situation outside the official recognition.

Over the millennia, the Chinese civilization was influenced by different religious movements. The Chinese concept of “San Jiao” (“three doctrines” or “three religions”) includes Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, and historically speaking, they had a significant impact in shaping the Chinese culture. Elements from these systems of belief are often embedded in popular religious traditions and folklore.

World Heritage

On UNESCO’s list there can be found 35 cultural objectives, 11 natural objectives and 4 mixed objectives in the People’s Republic of China:

   Cultural Objectives:

  • Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains
  • Ancient City of Ping Yao
  • Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun
  • Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom
  • Classical Gardens of Suzhou
  • Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces
  • Dazu Rock Carvings
  • Fujian Tulou
  • Historic Centre of Macao
  • Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa
  • Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in “The Centre of Heaven and Earth”
  • Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang
  • Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties
  • Kaiping Diaolou and Villages
  • Longmen Grottoes
  • Lushan National Park
  • Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor
  • Mogao Caves
  • Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System
  • Mount Wutai
  • Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples, Chengde
  • Old Town of Lijiang
  • Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian
  • Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor
  • Site of Xanadu
  • Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing
  • Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu
  • Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing
  • The Grand Canal
  • The Great Wall
  • Tusi Sites
  • West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou
  • Yin Xu
  • Yungang Grottoes
  • Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape

   Natural Objectives:

  • Chengjiang Fossil Site
  • China Danxia
  • Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area
  • Hubei Shennongjia
  • Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area
  • Mount Sanqingshan National Park
  • Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries – Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains
  • South China Karst
  • Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas
  • Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area
  • Xinjiang Tianshan

   Mixed Objectives:

  • Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area
  • Mount Huangshan
  • Mount Taishan
  • Mount Wuyi

 

Demographics

The birth rate is 12.3 ‰, but in comparison to all European countries, it is one of the lowest in the world, while the death rate stands at 7.1 ‰. The fertility rate is 1,55 children/woman, one of the lowest values worldwide as well. Because of the one child policy, China now has the highest rate of population aging in the world. Although the law of the second child policy was adopted since 1 January 2016, a survey showed that only about 1 million Chinese couples want a second child. For the coming years, the population will decrease. By 2100, the population will decrease by more than 400 million. As the Chinese economy is growing bigger, the birth rate will decrease more. The vast majority of Chinese couples want only one child.

Approximately 16,60% of the population is under 14, 70,14% are aged between 15 and 59 years and 13,26% are over 60 years. The population growth rate for 2013 was estimated at 0,46%. Although a middle-income country according to Western standards, China’s rapid economic growth has brought hundreds of millions out of poverty since 1978. Today, only about 10% of the Chinese population lives below the poverty line, surviving on less than 1 US $ a day, a rate that fell down a lot from 64% in 1978. Unemployment in urban areas in China fell to 4% by the end of 2007. Currently, the unemployment rate in urban areas is about 4,1%.

China has over 160 cities with populations of over one million, including 7 megacities (cities with a population of over 10 million inhabitants): Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Wuhan. By 2025, it is estimated that the country will have 221 cities with over one million inhabitants.

Economy

Since 2013, China is the 2nd largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP, the total amount being about 9.3253 trillion $, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of China. If the purchasing power parity (PPP) (worth 12.405 billion $ in 2012; 14.9614 trillion $ in 2013) is considered, then China’s economy is again second only to the US economy. In 2013, the GDP per capita was of about 10.253 $, while the nominal GDP per capita was of 6.853 $. In both cases, China is positioned after 90 countries out of 183 listed by IMF, in the global ranking of GDP per capita.

The inefficient SOE’s have been restructured and the unprofitable ones were closed immediately, resulting in a massive loss of jobs. Modern China is mainly characterized as having a market economy based on private property and is one of the most important examples of state capitalism. The state still dominates the “column” strategic sectors like the heavy industry or energy production. Yet the number of private companies has expanded greatly, with about 30 million private businesses registered in 2008.

In the online sector, the e-commerce industry in China grew more slowly than in the EU and the US with a significant development occurred since around 2009. According to Credit Suisse, the total online transactions in China rose from an insignificant amount in 2008 to around 4000 billion RMB (660 billion $) in 2012. “Alipay” has the largest market share in China with over 300 million users and had less than half of the Chinese market for online payments in February 2014, while the share of “TenPay” is about 20%, and “China UnionPay” has slightly more than 10%.

Tourism has become an important factor in improving the international competitiveness of the country. The tourism sector has increased significantly in recent years and in 2007 it accounted for 6,1% of the GDP and it is estimated that in 2020 it will contribute with 11%. In addition, in 2012, the government doubled the number of visas, to reach 500.000 issued visas in order to enable an increase in tourism. In 2010, China was the 3rd most visited country in the world with over 55,7 million foreign visitors. In addition, in 2012, about 740 million Chinese traveled within the country’s borders. China is the second country in the world with the most places declared as part of the UNESCO World Heritage, with 45 behind Italy. The main tourist destinations are: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum, the Mountain Guilin, Yangtze River, the Potala Palace, the Jiuzhaigou Valley and others.

Transportation

Since the late 1990’s, China’s national road network has been expanded significantly by creating a network of highways, known as the “National System of Main Highways” (SNAP). In 2011, the highways in China reached a total length of 85.000 km, being the longest highway system in the world. Car ownership of personal property is growing rapidly, surpassing the US as the largest car market in the world in 2009, with a total car sales of over 13,6 million units. Analysts predict that the annual automobile sales could rise to 40 million by 2020. A side effect of the rapid growth of the road network in China has been a significant increase of road accidents, as a possible reason some citing the poor implementation of traffic laws. Only in 2011, about 62.000 Chinese died in car accidents. In urban areas, bicycles remain a common way of transportation, despite the increasing prevalence cars. In 2012, there were about 470 million bicycles in China.

Railways in China, state-owned, are the busiest in the world, manipulating a quarter of the freight and passengers transportation in the world. Due to high demands, the system is regularly subjected to overcrowding, especially during holidays and festive periods such as “Chunyun” during the Chinese New Year. The Chinese railway network transported an estimated total of 1,68 billion passengers only in 2010. The high-speed railway in China, built since the early 2000’s, in 2013 had a network of 11.028 km and was the longest high-speed rail network in the world. The Shanghai Maglev Train, which reaches 431 km/h, is the fastest commercial train service in the world.

In 2013, more than two thirds of airports under construction worldwide were in China and Boeing expects that the Chinese fleet of commercial aircraft assets to increase from 1.910 in 2011 to 5.980 until 2031. However, 80% of China’s airspace remains limited for military use only, while 8 of the 10 worst performing airlines in terms of delays from Asia were Chinese. According to statistics from 2011, Beijing International Airport is not only the busiest airport in the country but also the second busiest in the world, with a passenger traffic of 78.675.058 people. The second most important one is the Hong Kong International Airport, the 10th most transited international airport with 53.328.613 passengers.

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 110.000 kilometers of navigable rivers, streams, lakes, and canals, more than any country in the world. In 2015, the traffic on the inland waterways has grown to 3.459 billion tonnes, a cargo turnover of 1.331 trillion tkm. It has trebled since 2006. The main navigable rivers are: the Heilong Jiang, Yangtze River, Xiang River, Pearl River; Huangpu River, Lijiang River and Xi Jiang.

 

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Culinary

Discover some of the traditional receips from China.

Tea (Green Tea is given as an example)

Tea (Green Tea is given as an example)

Green tea is a type of tea that is made from Camellia sinensis leaves that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong and black tea. Green tea originated in China, but its production has spread to many countries in Asia. The Kissa Yojoki (喫茶養生記 Book of Tea), written by […]

Mango Pudding

Mango Pudding

Ingredients: 150 ml tapioca pearls 165 ml Coconut milk 450 ml cow milk 1 lime 1 mango 1 vanilla pod Brown sugar (to taste) Mint (for decoration)   Steps: Grate the zest of a lime and set aside. Squeeze the juice and collect it in a bowl. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod. Choose […]

Chao Fan

Chao Fan

Ingredients: 2 spring onions (finely chopped) 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon salt Pepper 2 or 3 tablespoons oil 2 cups of cooked rice (at least one day ago) 2 tablespoons soy sauce Ham or any type of meat finely chopped   Steps: Remove by hand the pelleted rice that were made by the boiling and […]

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