The word "China" has been used in English since the 16th century; however, it was not a word used by the Chinese themselves during this period. Its origin has been traced through
Laws of Manu (2nd century BCE). In 1655, Martino Martini suggested that the word China is derived ultimately from the name of the Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE). Although usage in Indian sources precedes this dynasty, this derivation is still given in various sources. The origin of the Sanskrit word is a matter of debate, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Alternative suggestions include the names for Yelang and the Jing or Chu state.
The official name of the modern state is the "People's Republic of China" (
first dynasty was the Xia, which emerged around 2100 BCE. The Xia dynasty marked the beginning of China's political system based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, which lasted for a millennium. The Xia dynasty was considered mythical by historians until scientific excavations found early Bronze Age sites at Erlitou, Henan in 1959. It remains unclear whether these sites are the remains of the Xia dynasty or of another culture from the same period. The succeeding Shang dynasty is the earliest to be confirmed by contemporary records. The Shang ruled the plain of the Yellow River in eastern China from the 17th to the 11th century BCE. Their oracle bone script (from c. 1500 BCE) represents the oldest form of Chinese writing yet found and is a direct ancestor of modern Chinese characters.
The Shang was conquered by the Zhou, who ruled between the 11th and 5th centuries BCE, though centralized authority was slowly eroded by feudal warlords. Some principalities eventually emerged from the weakened Zhou, no longer fully obeyed the Zhou king, and continually waged war with each other during the 300-year Spring and Autumn period. By the time of the Warring States period of the 5th–3rd centuries BCE, there were only seven powerful states left.
The Warring States period ended in 221 BCE after the
conquered the Yue tribes in Guangxi, Guangdong, and Vietnam. The Qin dynasty lasted only fifteen years, falling soon after the First Emperor's death, as his harsh authoritarian policies led to widespread rebellion.
Yunnan, and the recovery of Guangdong and northern Vietnam from Nanyue. Han involvement in Central Asia and Sogdia helped establish the land route of the Silk Road, replacing the earlier path over the Himalayas to India. Han China gradually became the largest economy of the ancient world. Despite the Han's initial decentralization and the official abandonment of the Qin philosophy of Legalism in favor of Confucianism, Qin's legalist institutions and policies continued to be employed by the Han government and its successors.
Khitan Liao. The Song was the first government in world history to issue paper money and the first Chinese polity to establish a permanent standing navy which was supported by the developed shipbuilding industry along with the sea trade.
Between the 10th and 11th centuries, the population of China doubled in size to around 100 million people, mostly because of the expansion of rice cultivation in central and southern China, and the production of abundant food surpluses. The Song dynasty also saw a
In the early years of the Ming dynasty, China's capital was moved from
Manchu invasions led to an exhausted treasury. In 1644, Beijing was captured by a coalition of peasant rebel forces led by Li Zicheng. The Chongzhen Emperor committed suicide when the city fell. The Manchu Qing dynasty, then allied with Ming dynasty general Wu Sangui, overthrew Li's short-lived Shun dynasty and subsequently seized control of Beijing, which became the new capital of the Qing dynasty.
After Yuan Shikai's death in 1916, China was politically fragmented. Its Beijing-based government was internationally recognized but virtually powerless; regional warlords controlled most of its territory.
Pescadores, was handed over to Chinese control. However, the validity of this handover is controversial, in that whether Taiwan's sovereignty was legally transferred and whether China is a legitimate recipient, due to complex issues that arose from the handling of Japan's surrender, resulting in the unresolved political status of Taiwan, which is a flashpoint of potential war between China and Taiwan. China emerged victorious but war-ravaged and financially drained. The continued distrust between the Kuomintang and the Communists led to the resumption of civil war. Constitutional rule was established in 1947, but because of the ongoing unrest, many provisions of the ROC constitution were never implemented in mainland China.
In 1989, the country saw large pro-democracy protests, eventually leading to the Tiananmen Square massacre by the leadership, bringing condemnations and sanctions against the Chinese government from various foreign countries, though the effect on external relations was short-lived.
Between 2001 and 2002, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao succeeded Jiang and Zhu as paramount leader and premier respectively; Jiang attempted to remain CMC chairman for longer before giving up the post entirely between 2004 and 2005. Under Hu and Wen, China maintained its high rate of economic growth, overtaking the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan to become the world's second-largest economy. However, the growth also severely impacted the country's resources and environment, and caused major social displacement. Hu and Wen also took a relatively more conservative approach towards economic reform, expanding support for SOEs.: 217 Additionally under Hu, China hosted the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang succeeded Hu and Wen as paramount leader and premier respectively between 2012 and 2013; Li Keqiang was later succeeded by Li Qiang in 2023. Shortly after his ascension to power Xi launched a vast anti-corruption crackdown , that prosecuted more than 2 million officials by 2022.: 171 Leading many new Central Leading Groups to bypass traditional bureaucracy, Xi consolidated power further than his predecessors. Xi has also pursued changes to China's economy, supporting SOEs and making eradicating extreme poverty through "targeted poverty alleviation" a key goal. In 2013, Xi launched the Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure investment project. Xi has also taken a more assertive stance on foreign and security issues. Since 2017, the Chinese government has been engaged in a harsh crackdown in Xinjiang, with an estimated one million people, mostly Uyghurs but including other ethnic and religious minorities, in internment camps. The National People's Congress in 2018 amended the constitution to remove the two-term limit on holding the Presidency, allowing for a third and further terms. In 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) passed a national security law that authorize the Hong Kong government wide-ranging tools to crack down on dissent. From December 2019 to December 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic leads the government to enforce strict public health measures indented to completely eradicate the virus called zero-COVID, a goal that was eventually abandoned.
Amur. To the west sit major mountain ranges, most notably the Himalayas. 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 (8,848 m), lies on the Sino-Nepalese border. The country's lowest point, and the world's third-lowest, is the dried lake bed of Ayding Lake (−154 m) in the Turpan Depression.
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.
A major environmental issue in China is the continued
water shortages for hundreds of millions of people. According to academics, in order to limit climate change in China to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) electricity generation from coal in China without carbon capture must be phased out by 2045. Official government statistics about Chinese agricultural productivity are considered unreliable, due to exaggeration of production at subsidiary government levels. Much of China has a climate very suitable for agriculture and the country has been the world's largest producer of rice, wheat, tomatoes, eggplant, grapes, watermelon, spinach, and many other crops.
better source needed] Most wild animals have been eliminated from the core agricultural regions of east and central China, but they have fared better in the mountainous south and west. The Baiji was confirmed extinct on 12 December 2006.
In the early 2000s, China has suffered from environmental deterioration and pollution due to its rapid pace of industrialization. Regulations such as the 1979 Environmental Protection Law are fairly stringent, though they are poorly enforced, as they are frequently disregarded by local communities and government officials in favor of rapid economic development. China is the country with the second highest death toll because of air pollution, after India, with approximately 1 million deaths caused by exposure to ambient air pollution. Although China ranks as the highest CO2 emitting country in the world, it only emits 8 tons of CO2 per capita, significantly lower than developed countries such as the United States (16.1), Australia (16.8) and South Korea (13.6).Greenhouse gas emissions by China are the world's largest.
In recent years, China has clamped down on pollution. In March 2014, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping "declared war" on pollution during the opening of the National People's Congress. After extensive debate lasting nearly two years, the parliament approved a new environmental law in April. The new law empowers environmental enforcement agencies with great punitive power and large fines for offenders, defines areas which require extra protection, and gives independent environmental groups more ability to operate in the country. In 2020, Xi announced that China aims to peak emissions before 2030 and go carbon-neutral by 2060 in accordance with the Paris Agreement, which, according to Climate Action Tracker, if accomplished it would lower the expected rise in global temperature by 0.2 – 0.3 degrees – "the biggest single reduction ever estimated by the Climate Action Tracker". In September 2021 Xi Jinping announced that China will not build "coal-fired power projects abroad". The decision can be "pivotal" in reducing emissions. The Belt and Road Initiative did not include financing such projects already in the first half of 2021.
The country also had significant water pollution problems; only 84.8% of China's national surface water was graded between Grade I-III by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment in 2021, which indicates that they're suitable for human consumption. China had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 7.14/10, ranking it 53rd globally out of 172 countries. In 2020, a sweeping law was passed by the Chinese government to protect the ecology of the Yangtze River. The new laws include strengthening ecological protection rules for hydropower projects along the river, banning chemical plants within 1 kilometer of the river, relocating polluting industries, severely restricting sand mining as well as a complete fishing ban on all the natural waterways of the river, including all its major tributaries and lakes.
China is also the world's leading investor in
$546 billion invested in 2022; it is a major manufacturer of renewable energy technologies and invests heavily in local-scale renewable energy projects. In 2022, 61.2% of China's electricity came from coal (largest producer in the world), 14.9% from hydroelectric power (largest), 9.3% from wind (largest), 4.7% from solar energy (largest), 4.7% from nuclear energy (second-largest), 3.1% from natural gas (fifth-largest), and 1.9% from bioenergy (largest); in total, 30.8% of China's energy came from renewable energy sources. Despite its emphasis on renewables, China remains deeply connected to global oil markets and next to India, has been the largest importer of Russian crude oil in 2022.
The People's Republic of China is a one-party Marxist–Leninist state governed solely by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), making it one of the world's last countries governed by a communist party. The Chinese constitution states that the PRC "is a socialist state governed by a people's democratic dictatorship that is led by the working class and based on an alliance of workers and peasants," and that the state institutions "shall practice the principle of democratic centralism." The main body of the constitution also declares that "the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)."
The PRC officially terms itself as a
Democracy Index, ranking at 156th out of 167 countries in 2022.
Political concerns in China include the growing gap between rich and poor and government corruption. Nonetheless, the level of public support for the government and its management of the nation is high, with 80–95% of Chinese citizens expressing satisfaction with the central government, according to a 2011 Harvard University survey. A 2020 survey from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research also had most Chinese expressing satisfaction with the government on information dissemination and delivery of daily necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Harvard University survey published in July 2020 found that citizen satisfaction with the government had increased since 2003, also rating China's government as more effective and capable than ever before in the survey's history.
Since both the CCP and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) promote according to seniority, it is possible to discern distinct generations of Chinese leadership. In official discourse, each group of leadership is identified with a distinct extension of the ideology of the party. Historians have studied various periods in the development of the government of the People's Republic of China by reference to these "generations".
The nearly 3,000 member National People's Congress (NPC) is constitutionally the "highest state organ of power", though it has been also described as a "rubber stamp" body. The NPC meets annually, while the NPC Standing Committee, around 150 member body elected from NPC delegates, meets every couple of months. In what China calls the "people's congress system", local people's congresses at the lowest level[z] are officially directly elected, with all the higher-level people's congresses up to the NPC being elected by the level one below. However, the elections are not pluralistic, with nominations at all levels being controlled by the CCP. The NPC is dominated by the CCP, with another eight minor parties having nominal representation in the condition of upholding CCP leadership.
united front" system, which aims to gather non-CCP voices to support the CCP. Similar to the people's congresses, CPPCC's exist at various division, with the National Committee of the CPPCC being chaired by Wang Huning, one of China's top leaders.
Many other countries have switched recognition from the ROC to the PRC since the latter replaced the former in the United Nations in 1971. The PRC officially maintains the one-China principle, which holds the view that there is only one sovereign state in the name of China, represented by the PRC, and that Taiwan is part of that China. The unique status of Taiwan has led to countries recognizing the PRC to maintain unique "one-China policies" that differ from each other; some countries explicitly recognize the PRC's claim over Taiwan, while others, including the US and Japan, only acknowledge the claim. Chinese officials have protested on numerous occasions when foreign countries have made diplomatic overtures to Taiwan, especially in the matter of armament sales.
China became the world's largest trading nation in 2013 as measured by the sum of imports and exports, as well as the world's largest commodity importer. comprising roughly 45% of maritime's dry-bulk market.
By 2016, China was the largest trading partner of 124 other countries.
ASEAN Plus Three, India, Australia and New Zealand, held its inaugural summit in 2005.
China has had a long and complex trade relationship with the United States. In 2000, the
Since the turn of the century, China has followed a policy of
engaging with African nations for trade and bilateral co-operation; in 2022, Sino-African trade totalled $282 billion, having grown more than 20 times over two decades. According to Madison Condon "China finances more infrastructure projects in Africa than the World Bank and provides billions of dollars in low-interest loans to the continent's emerging economies." China maintains extensive and highly diversified trade links with the European Union, and became its largest trading partner for goods, with the total value of goods trade reaching nearly $700 billion. China has furthermore strengthened its trade ties with major South American economies, and is the largest trading partner of Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, and several others.
In 2013, China initiated the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a large global infrastructure building initiative with funding on the order of $50–100 billion per year. BRI could be one of the largest development plans in modern history. It has expanded significantly over the last six years and, as of April 2020[update], includes 138 countries and 30 international organizations. In addition to intensifying foreign policy relations, the focus here is particularly on building efficient transport routes. The focus is particularly on the maritime Silk Road with its connections to East Africa and Europe and there are Chinese investments or related declarations of intent at numerous ports such as Gwadar, Kuantan, Hambantota, Piraeus and Trieste. However many of these loans made under the Belt and Road program are unsustainable and China has faced a number of calls for debt relief from debtor nations.
Although some criticisms of government policies and the ruling CCP are tolerated, censorship of political speech and information are amongst the harshest in the world and routinely used to prevent collective action. China also has the most comprehensive and sophisticated Internet censorship regime in the world, with numerous websites being blocked. The government suppresses popular protests and demonstrations that it considers a potential threat to "social stability", as was the case with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre. China additionally uses a massive espionage network of cameras, facial recognition software, sensors, and surveillance of personal technology as a means of social control of persons living in the country.
Global studies from Pew Research Center in 2014 and 2017 ranked the Chinese government's restrictions on religion as among the highest in the world, despite low to moderate rankings for religious-related social hostilities in the country. The Global Slavery Index estimated that in 2016 more than 3.8 million people were living in "conditions of modern slavery", or 0.25% of the population, including victims of human trafficking, forced labor, forced marriage, child labor, and state-imposed forced labor. The state-imposed forced system was formally abolished in 2013, but it is not clear to which extent its various practices have stopped. The Chinese penal system includes labor prison factories, detention centers, and re-education camps, collectively known as laogai ("reform through labor"). The Laogai Research Foundation in the United States estimated that there were over a thousand slave labor prisons and camps in China.
SIPRI estimates that its real expenditure that year was US$292 billion. According to SIPRI, its military spending from 2012 to 2021 averaged US$215 billion per year or 1.7 per cent of GDP, behind only the United States at US$734 billion per year or 3.6 per cent of GDP. The PLA is commanded by the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the party and the state; though officially two separate organizations, the two CMCs have identical membership except during leadership transition periods and effectively function as one organization. The chairman of the CMC is the commander-in-chief of the PLA, with the officeholder also generally being the CCP general secretary, making them the paramount leader of China.
China has been the world's largest manufacturing nation since 2010, after overtaking the US, which had been the largest for the previous hundred years. China has also been the second largest in high-tech manufacturing country since 2012, according to US National Science Foundation. China is the second largest retail market in the world, next to the United States. China leads the world in e-commerce, accounting for over 37% of the global market share in 2021. China is the world's leader in electric vehicle consumption and production, manufacturing and buying half of all the plug-in electric cars (BEV and PHEV) in the world as of 2022[update]. China is also the leading producer of batteries for electric vehicles as well as several key raw materials for batteries. Long heavily relying on non-renewable energy sources such as coal, China's adaptation of renewable energy has increased significantly in recent years, with their share increasing from 26.3 percent in 2016 to 31.9 percent in 2022.
China accounted for 17.9% of the world's total wealth in 2021, second highest in the world after the US. It ranks at 64th at GDP (nominal) per capita, making it an upper-middle income country. China brought more people out of extreme poverty than any other country in history—between 1978 and 2018, China reduced extreme poverty by 800 million. China reduced the extreme poverty rate—per international standard, it refers to an income of less than $1.90/day—from 88% in 1981 to 1.85% by 2013. The portion of people in China living below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day (2011 PPP) fell to 0.3% in 2018 from 66.3% in 1990. Using the lower-middle income poverty line of $3.20 per day, the portion fell to 2.9% in 2018 from 90.0% in 1990. Using the upper-middle income poverty line of $5.50 per day, the portion fell to 17.0% from 98.3% in 1990.
From 1978 to 2018, the average standard of living multiplied by a factor of twenty-six. Wages in China have grown a lot in the last 40 years—real (inflation-adjusted) wages grew seven-fold from 1978 to 2007. Per capita incomes have risen significantly – when the PRC was founded in 1949, per capita income in China was one-fifth of the world average; per capita incomes now equal the world average itself. China's development is highly uneven. Its major cities and coastal areas are far more prosperous compared to rural and interior regions. It has a high level of economic inequality, which has increased in the past few decades, though has decreased significantly in the 2010s. In 2019 China's Gini coefficient was 0.382, according to the World Bank.
As of April 2023[update], China was second in the world, after the US, in total number of billionaires and total number of millionaires, with 495 Chinese billionaires and 6.2 million millionaires. In 2019, China overtook the US as the home to the highest number of people who have a net personal wealth of at least $110,000, according to the global wealth report by Credit Suisse. According to the Hurun Global Rich List 2020, China is home to five of the world's top ten cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou in the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 10th spots, respectively) by the highest number of billionaires, which is more than any other country. China had 85 female billionaires as of January 2021[update], two-thirds of the global total, and minted 24 new female billionaires in 2020. China has had the world's largest middle-class population since 2015, and the middle-class grew to a size of 400 million by 2018.
Following the 2007–08 financial crisis, Chinese authorities sought to actively wean off of its dependence on the U.S. dollar as a result of perceived weaknesses of the international monetary system.
internationalization of the Renminbi. In 2008, China established the dim sum bond market and expanded the Cross-Border Trade RMB Settlement Pilot Project, which helps establish pools of offshore RMB liquidity. This was followed with bilateral agreements to settle trades directly in renminbi with Russia,Japan,Australia,Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Canada. As a result of the rapid internationalization of the renminbi, it became the eighth-most-traded currency in the world by 2018, an emerging international reserve currency, and a component of the IMF's special drawing rights; however, partly due to capital controls that make the renminbi fall short of being a fully convertible currency, it remains far behind the Euro, Dollar and Japanese Yen in international trade volumes. As of 2022[update], Yuan is the world's fifth-most traded currency.
China was a world leader in science and technology until the
negative numbers. By the 17th century, the Western hemisphere surpassed China in scientific and technological advancement. The causes of this early modern Great Divergence continue to be debated by scholars.
Japan in the 19th century, Chinese reformers began promoting modern science and technology as part of the Self-Strengthening Movement. After the Communists came to power in 1949, efforts were made to organize science and technology based on the model of the Soviet Union, in which scientific research was part of central planning. After Mao's death in 1976, science and technology were promoted as one of the Four Modernizations, and the Soviet-inspired academic system was gradually reformed.
Headquarters of Tencent in Shenzhen, one of the largest technology and entertainment companies in the world
Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, China has made significant investments in scientific research and is quickly catching up with the US in R&D spending. China officially spent around 2.4% of its GDP on R&D in 2020, totaling to around $377.8 billion. According to the World Intellectual Property Indicators, China received more applications than the US did in 2018 and 2019 and ranked first globally in patents, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs, and creative goods exports in 2021. It was ranked 11th in the Global Innovation Index in 2022, a considerable improvement from its rank of 35th in 2013. Chinese supercomputers have been ranked the fastest in the world on a few occasions; however, these supercomputers rely on critical components—namely processors—imported from outside of China. China has also struggled with developing several technologies domestically, such as the most advanced semiconductors and reliable jet engines.
China is developing
mathematics, although most of them had conducted their winning research in Western nations.[aa][improper synthesis?
Dong Fang Hong I, which made China the fifth country to do so independently. In 2003, China became the third country in the world to independently send humans into space with Yang Liwei's spaceflight aboard Shenzhou 5. As of 2023, eighteen Chinese nationals have journeyed into space, including two women. In 2011, China launched its first space station testbed, Tiangong-1. In 2013, a Chinese robotic rover Yutu successfully touched down on the lunar surface as part of the Chang'e 3 mission. In 2019, China became the first country to land a probe—Chang'e 4—on the far side of the Moon. In 2020, Chang'e 5 successfully returned moon samples to the Earth, making China the third country to do so independently after the United States and the Soviet Union. In 2021, China became the second nation in history to independently land a rover (Zhurong) on Mars, after the United States. China completed its own modular space station, the Tiangong, in low Earth orbit on 3 November 2022. On 29 November 2022, China performed its first in-orbit crew handover aboard the Tiangong.
China is the largest telecom market in the world and currently has the largest number of active cellphones of any country in the world, with over 1.69 billion subscribers, as of February 2023[update]. It also has the world's largest number of internet and broadband users, with over 1.05 billion Internet users since 2021[update]—equivalent to around 73.7% of its population—and almost all of them being mobile as well. By 2018, China had more than 1 billion 4G users, accounting for 40% of world's total. China is making rapid advances in 5G—by late 2018, China had started large-scale and commercial 5G trials. As of March 2022[update], China had over 500 million 5G users and 1.45 million base stations installed.
China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, are the three large providers of mobile and internet in China. China Telecom alone served more than 145 million broadband subscribers and 300 million mobile users; China Unicom had about 300 million subscribers; and China Mobile, the largest of them all, had 925 million users, as of 2018[update]. Combined, the three operators had over 3.4 million 4G base-stations in China. Several Chinese telecommunications companies, most notably Huawei and ZTE, have been accused of spying for the Chinese military.
China has developed its own satellite navigation system, dubbed BeiDou, which began offering commercial navigation services across Asia in 2012 as well as global services by the end of 2018. Upon the completion of the 35th Beidou satellite, which was launched into orbit on 23 June 2020, Beidou followed GPS and GLONASS as the third completed global navigation satellite in the world.
features the world's largest single-building airport terminal.
Since the late 1990s, China's national road network has been significantly expanded through the creation of a network of national highways and expressways. In 2018, China's highways had reached a total length of 161,000 km (100,000 mi), making it the longest highway system in the world. China has the world's largest market for automobiles, having surpassed the United States in both auto sales and production. The country has also become a large exporter of automobiles, being the world's second-largest exporter of cars in 2022 after Japan. A side-effect of the rapid growth of China's road network has been a significant rise in traffic accidents, though the number of fatalities in traffic accidents fell by 20% from 2007 to 2017. In urban areas, bicycles remain a common mode of transport, despite the increasing prevalence of automobiles – as of 2012[update], there are approximately 470 million bicycles in China.
A 2009 population density map of the People's Republic of China, with territories not under its control in blue. The eastern coastal provinces are much more densely populated than the western interior.
The national census of 2020 recorded the population of the People's Republic of China as approximately 1,411,778,724. According to the 2020 census, about 17.95% of the population were 14 years old or younger, 63.35% were between 15 and 59 years old, and 18.7% were over 60 years old. Between 2010 and 2020, the average population growth rate was 0.53%. China used to make up much of the world's poor; now it makes up much of the world's middle-class. Although a middle-income country by Western standards, China's rapid growth has pulled hundreds of millions—800 million, to be more precise—of its people out of poverty since 1978. By 2013, less than 2% of the Chinese population lived below the international poverty line of US$1.9 per day, down from 88% in 1981. From 2009 to 2018, the unemployment rate in China has averaged about 4%.
Given concerns about population growth, China implemented a two-child limit during the 1970s, and, in 1979, began to advocate for an even stricter limit of one child per family. Beginning in the mid-1980s, however, given the unpopularity of the strict limits, China began to allow some major exemptions, particularly in rural areas, resulting in what was actually a "1.5"-child policy from the mid-1980s to 2015 (ethnic minorities were also exempt from one child limits). The next major loosening of the policy was enacted in December 2013, allowing families to have two children if one parent is an only child. In 2016, the one-child policy was replaced in favor of a two-child policy. A three-child policy was announced on 31 May 2021, due to population aging, and in July 2021, all family size limits as well as penalties for exceeding them were removed. According to data from the 2020 census, China's total fertility rate is 1.3, but some experts believe that after adjusting for the transient effects of the relaxation of restrictions, the country's actual total fertility rate is as low as 1.1. In 2023, National Bureau of Statistics estimated that the population fell 850,000 from 2021 to 2022, the first decline since 1961.
According to one group of scholars, one-child limits had little effect on population growth or the size of the total population. However, these scholars have been challenged. Their own counterfactual model of fertility decline without such restrictions implies that China averted more than 500 million births between 1970 and 2015, a number which may reach one billion by 2060 given all the lost descendants of births averted during the era of fertility restrictions, with one-child restrictions accounting for the great bulk of that reduction. The policy, along with traditional preference for boys, may have contributed to an imbalance in the sex ratio at birth. According to the 2020 census, the sex ratio at birth was 105.07 boys for every 100 girls, which is beyond the normal range of around 105 boys for every 100 girls. The 2020 census found that males accounted for 51.24 percent of the total population. However, China's sex ratio is more balanced than it was in 1953, when males accounted for 51.82 percent of the total population.
China legally recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups, who altogether comprise the
Zhonghua Minzu. The largest of these nationalities are the Han Chinese
, who constitute more than 91% 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. Ethnic minorities account for less than 10% of the population of China, according to the 2020 census. Compared with the 2010 population census, the Han population increased by 60,378,693 persons, or 4.93%, while the population of the 55 national minorities combined increased by 11,675,179 persons, or 10.26%. The 2020 census recorded a total of 845,697 foreign nationals living in mainland China.
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 in the country between people of different linguistic backgrounds. Mongolian, Uyghur, Tibetan, Zhuang and various other languages are also regionally recognized throughout the country.
China has urbanized significantly in recent decades. The percent of the country's population living in urban areas increased from 20% in 1980 to over 64% in 2021. It is estimated that China's urban population will reach one billion by 2030, potentially equivalent to one-eighth of the world population.
Since 1986, compulsory education in China comprises primary and junior secondary school, which together last for nine years. In 2021, about 91.4 percent of students continued their education at a three-year senior secondary school. The Gaokao, China's national university entrance exam, is a prerequisite for entrance into most higher education institutions. As of 2020[update], 58.42 percent of secondary school graduates were enrolled in higher education. Vocational education is available to students at the secondary and tertiary level. More than 10 million Chinese students graduated from vocational colleges nationwide every year.
China has the largest education system in the world, with about 282 million students and 17.32 million full-time teachers in over 530,000 schools. In February 2006, the government pledged to provide completely free nine-year education, including textbooks and fees. Annual education investment went from less than US$50 billion in 2003 to more than US$817 billion in 2020. However, there remains an inequality in education spending. In 2010, the annual education expenditure per secondary school student in Beijing totalled ¥20,023, while in Guizhou, one of the poorest provinces in China, only totalled ¥3,204. Free compulsory education in China consists of primary school and junior secondary school between the ages of 6 and 15. In 2021, the graduation enrollment ratio at compulsory education level reached 95.4 percent, and around 91.4% of Chinese have received secondary education.
China's literacy rate has grown dramatically, from only 20% in 1949 and 65.5% in 1979. to 97% of the population over age 15 in 2020. In the same year, Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang, amongst the most affluent regions in China, were ranked the highest in the world in the Programme for International Student Assessment ranking for all three categories of Mathematics, Science and Reading.
After Deng Xiaoping began instituting economic reforms in 1978, the health of the Chinese public improved rapidly because of better nutrition, although many of the free public health services provided in the countryside disappeared along with the People's Communes. Healthcare in China became mostly privatized, and experienced a significant rise in quality. In 2009, the government began a 3-year large-scale healthcare provision initiative worth US$124 billion. By 2011, the campaign resulted in 95% of China's population having basic health insurance coverage. By 2022, China had established itself as a key producer and exporter of pharmaceuticals, with the country alone producing around 40 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients in 2017.
As of 2020[update], the average life expectancy at birth in China is 78 years,
SARS, although this has since been largely contained. In 2010, air pollution caused 1.2 million premature deaths in China.
The COVID-19 pandemic was first identified in Wuhan in December 2019. Further studies are being carried out around the world on a possible origin for the virus. Beijing says it has been sharing Covid data in "a timely, open and transparent manner in accordance with the law". According to U.S. officials, the Chinese government has been concealing the extent of the outbreak before it became an international pandemic.
Clear data on religious affiliation in China is difficult to gather due to varying definitions of "religion" and the unorganized, diffusive nature of Chinese religious traditions. Scholars note that in China there is no clear boundary between
] The 2010 population census reported the total number of Muslims in the country as 23.14 million.
A 2021 poll from Ipsos and the Policy Institute at King's College London found that 35% of Chinese people said there was tension between different religious groups, which was the second lowest percentage of the 28 countries surveyed.
ancient times, Chinese culture has been heavily influenced by Confucianism. Chinese culture, in turn, has heavily influenced East Asia and Southeast Asia. For much of the country's dynastic era, opportunities for social advancement could be provided by high performance in the prestigious imperial examinations, which have their origins in the Han dynasty. The literary emphasis of the exams affected the general perception of cultural refinement in China, such as the belief that calligraphy, poetry and painting were higher forms of art than dancing or drama. Chinese culture has long emphasized a sense of deep history and a largely inward-looking national perspective. Examinations and a culture of merit remain greatly valued in China today.
The first leaders of the People's Republic of China were born into the traditional imperial order but were influenced by the May Fourth Movement and reformist ideals. They sought to change some traditional aspects of Chinese culture, such as rural land tenure, sexism, and the Confucian system of education, while preserving others, such as the family structure and culture of obedience to the state. Some observers see the period following the establishment of the PRC in 1949 as a continuation of traditional Chinese dynastic history, while others claim that the CCP's rule under Mao Zedong damaged the foundations of Chinese culture, especially through political movements such as the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, where many aspects of traditional culture were destroyed, having been denounced as "regressive and harmful" or "vestiges of feudalism". Many important aspects of traditional Chinese morals and culture, such as Confucianism, art, literature, and performing arts like Peking opera, were altered to conform to government policies and propaganda at the time. Access to foreign media remains heavily restricted.
Today, the Chinese government has accepted numerous elements of traditional Chinese culture as being integral to Chinese society. With the rise of Chinese nationalism and the end of the Cultural Revolution, various forms of traditional Chinese art, literature, music, film, fashion and architecture have seen a vigorous revival, and folk and variety art in particular have sparked interest nationally and even worldwide.
Chinese architecture varies widely based on status or affiliation, such as whether the structures were constructed for emperors, commoners, or for religious purposes. Other variations in Chinese architecture are shown in vernacular styles associated with different geographic regions and different ethnic heritages,such as the Stilt houses in the south, the Yaodong buildings in the northwest, the yurt buildings of nomadic people, and the Siheyuan buildings in the north.
^China's border with Pakistan is disputed by India, which claims the entire Kashmir region as its territory.
^The total area ranking relative to the United States depends on the measurement of the total areas of both countries. See List of countries and dependencies by area for more information.
The following two primary sources (non-mirrored) represent the range (min./max.) of estimates of China's and the United States' total areas.
Both sources (1) excludeTaiwan from the area of China; (2) exclude China's coastal and territorial waters.
However, the CIA World Factbook includes the United States coastal and territorial waters, while Encyclopædia Britannica excludes the United States coastal and territorial waters.
The CIA World Factbook lists China as the fourth-largest country (after Russia, Canada and the United States) with a total area of 9,596,960 km2, and the United States as the third-largest at 9,833,517 km2.
Notably, the Encyclopædia Britannica specifies the United States' area (excluding coastal and territorial waters) as 9,525,067 km2, which is less than either source's figure given for China's area. Therefore, while it can be determined that China has a larger area excluding coastal and territorial waters, it is unclear which country has a larger area including coastal and territorial waters.
The United Nations Statistics Division's figure for the United States is 9,833,517 km2 (3,796,742 sq mi) and China is 9,596,961 km2 (3,705,407 sq mi). These closely match the CIA World Factbook figures and similarly include coastal and territorial waters for the United States, but exclude coastal and territorial waters for China.
Further explanation of disputed ranking: The dispute about which is the world's third-largest country arose from the inclusion of coastal and territorial waters for the United States. This discrepancy was deduced from comparing the CIA World Factbook and its previous iterations against the information for United States in Encyclopædia Britannica, particularly its footnote section. In sum, according to older versions of the CIA World Factbook (from 1982 to 1996), the U.S. was listed as the world's fourth-largest country (after Russia, Canada, and China) with a total area of 9,372,610 km2 (3,618,780 sq mi). However, in the 1997 edition, the U.S. added coastal waters to its total area (increasing it to 9,629,091 km2 (3,717,813 sq mi)). And then again in 2007, U.S. added territorial water to its total area (increasing it to 9,833,517 km2 (3,796,742 sq mi)). During this time, China's total area remained unchanged. In other words, no coastal or territorial water area was added to China's total area figure. The United States has a coastal water area of 109,362 km2 (42,225 sq mi), and a territorial water area of 195,213 km2 (75,372 sq mi), for a total of 304,575 km2 (117,597 sq mi) of additional water space. This is larger than entire countries like Italy, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Adding this figure to the U.S. will boost it over China in ranking since China's coastal and territorial water figures are currently unknown (no official publication) and thus cannot be added into China's total area figure.
^Although this is the present meaning of guó, in Old Chinese (when its pronunciation was something like /*qʷˤək/) it meant the walled city of the Chinese and the areas they could control from them.
ritual bronze vessel He zun, where it apparently refers to only the Shang's immediate demesne conquered by the Zhou.
Huangtian bestowed the lands and the peoples of the central state to the ancestors" (皇天既付中國民越厥疆土于先王).
^China is larger than Canada and the United States in terms of land area.
^According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the total area of the United States, at 9,522,055 km2 (3,676,486 sq mi), is slightly smaller than that of China. Meanwhile, the CIA World Factbook states that China's total area was greater than that of the United States until the coastal waters of the Great Lakes was added to the United States' total area in 1996. From 1989 through 1996, the total area of US was listed as 9,372,610 km2 (3,618,780 sq mi) (land area plus inland water only). The listed total area changed to 9,629,091 km2 (3,717,813 sq mi) in 1997 (with the Great Lakes areas and the coastal waters added), to 9,631,418 km2 (3,718,711 sq mi) in 2004, to 9,631,420 km2 (3,718,710 sq mi) in 2006, and to 9,826,630 km2 (3,794,080 sq mi) in 2007 (territorial waters added).
^China's border with Pakistan and part of its border with India falls in the disputed region of Kashmir. The area under Pakistani administration is claimed by India, while the area under Indian administration is claimed by Pakistan.
^Meaning cities that are not divided into districts (不设区的市), counties (县), city districts (市辖区), towns (镇), townships (乡), or ethnic townships (民族乡)
^The national life expectancy at birth rose from about 31 years in 1949 to 75 years in 2008, and infant mortality decreased from 300 per thousand in the 1950s to around 33 per thousand in 2001.
^"Xi Jinping is making great attempts to 'Sinicize' Marxist–Leninist Thought 'with Chinese characteristics' in the political sphere," states Lutgard Lams, "Examining Strategic Narratives in Chinese Official Discourse under Xi Jinping" Journal of Chinese Political Science (2018) volume 23, pp. 387–411 at p. 395
on 25 October 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2020. Mr. Xi's most important title is general secretary, the most powerful position in the Communist Party. In China's one party system, this ranking gives him virtually unchecked authority over the government.
^Harry G. Broadman "Afrika's Silk Road" (2007); Wolf D. Hartmann, Wolfgang Maennig, Run Wang: Chinas neue Seidenstraße. Frankfurt am Main 2017, pp 59; Marcus Hernig: Die Renaissance der Seidenstraße (2018), p 112; Harry de Wilt: Is One Belt, One Road a China crisis for North Sea main ports? in World Cargo News, 17. December 2019; Guido Santevecchi: Di Maio e la Via della Seta: «Faremo i conti nel 2020», siglato accordo su Trieste in Corriere della Sera: 5. November 2019.
(PDF) from the original on 9 October 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2015. Our central theoretical finding is that, contrary to much research and commentary, the purpose of the censorship program is not to suppress criticism of the state or the Communist Party.
Department of the Treasury (Australia). Archived from the original
on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 22 October 2013. Direct trading between the two currencies will commence on the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) and the Australian foreign exchange market on 10 April 2013.
^"2021年全国铁路营业里程突破15万公里 高铁超4万公里" [The national railway operating mileage has exceeded 150,000 kilometers in 2021]. China News (in Chinese). 5 January 2022. Archived from the original on 14 April 2022. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
^"Religions in China" (Map). Narody Vostochnoi Asii [Ethnic Groups of East Asia]. 1965. Archived from the original on 27 April 2017. Zhongguo Minsu Dili [Folklore Geography of China], 1999; Zhongguo Dili [Geography of China], 2002.
^Gao 高, Wende 文德, ed. (1995). "Religions in China" (Map). 中国少数民族史大辞典 [Chinese Dictionary of Minorities' History] (in Chinese). Changchun: Jilin Education Press (吉林教育出版社). Archived from the original on 27 April 2017.
^Yin 殷, Haishan 海山; Li 李, Yaozong 耀宗; Guo 郭, Jie 洁, eds. (1991). "Religions in China" (Map). 中国少数民族艺术词典 [Chinese Minorities' Arts Dictionary] (in Chinese). Beijing: National Publishing House (民族出版社). Archived from the original on 27 April 2017.
^Dillon, Michael (2001). Religious Minorities and China. Minority Rights Group International.
. Subsequently, a new China was found on the basis of Communist ideology, i.e. atheism. Within the framework of this ideology, religion was treated as a 'contorted' world-view and people believed that religion would necessarily disappear at the end, along with the development of human society. A series of anti-religious campaigns was implemented by the Chinese Communist Party from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. As a result, in nearly 30 years between the beginning of the 1950s and the end of the 1970s, mosques (as well as churches and Chinese temples) were shut down and Imams involved in forced 're-education'.
(print). p. 7: "...while provincial leaders in Fujian nod to Taoism with their sponsorship of the Mazu Pilgrimage in Southern China, the leaders of Shanxi have gone further with their promotion of worship of the Yellow Emperor (黃帝; Huáng Dì)".