People's Republic of China
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The People's Republic of China (PRC), commonly known as China, is the most populous state in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, it is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party of China (CPC). The PRC exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four directly-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and two highly autonomous special administrative regions (SARs) – Hong Kong and Macau. Its capital city is Beijing.
Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres (3.7 million square miles), the PRC is the world's third- or fourth-largest country by total area, depending on the definition of what is included in that total, and the second largest by land area. Its landscape is diverse, with forest steppes and deserts (the Gobi and Taklamakan) in the dry north near Mongolia and Russia's Siberia, and subtropical forests in the wet south close to Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. The terrain in the west is rugged and elevated, with the Himalaya and Tian Shan mountain ranges forming China's natural borders with India, Nepal and Central Asia. In contrast, mainland China's eastern seaboard is low-lying and has a 14,500-kilometre (9,000 mi)-long coastline (the 11th longest coastline in the world), bounded to the southeast by the South China Sea and to the east by the East China Sea, beyond which lie Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.
The ancient Chinese civilization—one of the world's earliest—flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River which flows through the North China Plain. China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies (also known as dynasties) from the time of the Xia (approx. 2000 BC). However, it was the Qin Dynasty that first unified China as a nation in 221 BC. The last dynasty, the Qing, ended in 1911 with the founding of the Republic of China (ROC) by the Kuomintang (KMT), the Chinese Nationalist Party. The first half of the 20th century saw China plunged into a period of disunity and civil war that divided the country into two main political camps – the Kuomintang and the communists. Major hostilities ended in 1949, when the communists essentially won the civil war and established the People's Republic of China in mainland China. The KMT-led Republic of China relocated their capital to Taipei on Taiwan; its jurisdiction is now limited to Taiwan, Kinmen, Matsu and several outlying islands. Since then, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has been involved in political disputes with the Republic of China over issues of sovereignty, the political status of Taiwan, and the battle for international diplomatic recognition.
Since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1978, China has become the world's fastest-growing major economy, the world's largest exporter and second largest importer of goods. It is the world's second largest economy by both nominal GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP). PRC has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since 1971. It is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRIC, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and G-20. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army with the second-largest defense budget. China has been characterized as a potential superpower by a number of academics, military analysts, and public policy and economics analysts.
Prior to 1949
The first unified Chinese state was established in 221 BC by Qin Shi Huang who declared himself the "First Emperor". From this time until the collapse of the Qing dynasty in the beginning of the twentieth century, China was governed by a series of imperial dynasties. In the 19th century the Qing Dynasty adopted a defensive posture towards European imperialism, even though it engaged in imperialistic expansion into Central Asia. At this time China awoke to the significance of the rest of the world, the West in particular. As China opened up to foreign trade and missionary activity, opium produced by British India was forced onto Qing China. Two Opium Wars with Britain weakened the Emperor's control. European imperialism proved to be disastrous for China.
The weakening of the Qing regime, and the apparent humiliation of the unequal treaties in the eyes of the Chinese people lead to the Taiping Rebellion, which lasted from 1851 to 1862. Although the Qing forces were eventually victorious, the rebellion further weakened the regime. The Taiping Rebellion was followed by several more rebellions which were disastrous for the Chinese economy.  Following this series of defeats, the Hundred Days' Reform which would turn the empire into a modern Meiji-style constitutional monarchy was drafted by the Guangxu Emperor in 1898, but was opposed and stopped by the Empress Dowager Cixi, who placed Emperor Guangxu under house arrest in a coup d'état. Further destruction followed the ill-fated 1900 Boxer Rebellion against westerners in Beijing.
By the early 20th century, mass civil disorder had begun, and calls for reform and revolution were heard across the country. The 38-year-old Emperor Guangxu died under house arrest on 14 November 1908, suspiciously just a day before Cixi's own death. With the throne empty, he was succeeded by Cixi's handpicked heir, his two year old nephew Puyi, who became the Xuantong Emperor. Guangxu's consort became the Empress Dowager Longyu. In another coup d'etat, Yuan Shikai overthrew the last Qing emperor, and forced empress Dowager Longyu to sign the abdication decree as regent in 1912, ending two thousand years of imperial rule in China. She died, childless, in 1913.
On 1 January 1912, the Republic of China was established, heralding the end of the Qing Dynasty. Sun Yat-sen of the Kuomintang (the KMT or Nationalist Party) was proclaimed provisional president of the republic. However, the presidency was later given to Yuan Shikai, a former Qing general, who had ensured the defection of the entire Beiyang Army from the Qing Empire to the revolution. In 1915, Yuan proclaimed himself Emperor of China but was forced to abdicate and return the state to a republic when he realized it was an unpopular move, not only with the population but also with his own Beiyang Army and its commanders.
After Yuan Shikai's death in 1916, China was politically fragmented, with an internationally recognized but virtually powerless national government seated in Peking (Beijing). Warlords in various regions exercised actual control over their respective territories. In the late 1920s, the Kuomintang, under Chiang Kai-shek, was able to reunify the country under its own control, moving the nation's capital to Nanking (Nanjing) and implementing "political tutelage", an intermediate stage of political development outlined in Sun Yat-sen's program for transforming China into a modern, democratic state. Effectively, political tutelage meant one-party rule by the Kuomintang.
The Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) (part of World War II) forced an uneasy alliance between the Nationalists and the Communists as well as causing around 20 million Chinese civilian deaths. The Japanese 'three-all policy' in north China — "kill all, burn all and destroy all", was one example of wartime atrocities committed on a civilian population. With the surrender of Japan in 1945, China emerged victorious but financially drained. The continued distrust between the Nationalists and the Communists led to the resumption of the Chinese Civil War. In 1947, constitutional rule was established, but because of the ongoing Civil War many provisions of the ROC constitution were never implemented in mainland China.
1949 to present
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1961-1966 history, regarding Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi.
Major combat in the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with the Communist Party of China in control of mainland China, and the Kuomintang (KMT) retreating to Taiwan, reducing the ROC territory to only Taiwan and surrounding islands. 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 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.
After Mao's death in 1976 and the arrest of the Gang of Four, blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping quickly wrested power from Mao's anointed successor Hua Guofeng. Although he never became the head of the party or state himself, Deng was in fact the Paramount Leader of China at that time, 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 "market socialism", and officially by the Communist Party of China "Socialism with Chinese characteristics". The PRC adopted its current constitution on 4 December 1982.
The death of pro-reform official 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, President Jiang Zemin and 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 current CPC General Secretary, 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 the 87,000 demonstrations and riots across China in 2005. For much of the PRC's population, living standards have seen extremely large improvements, and freedom continues to expand, but political controls remain tight and rural areas poor.
The People's Republic of China is the second largest country in the world by land area and is considered the third or fourth largest in respect to total area. The uncertainty over size is related to (a) the validity of claims by China on territories such as Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract (both territories also claimed by India), and (b) how the total size of the United States is calculated: The World Factbook gives 9,826,630 km2 (3,794,080 sq mi), and the Encyclopædia Britannica gives 9,522,055 km2 (3,676,486 sq mi). The area statistics do not include the 1,000 square kilometres (386.1 sq mi) of territory ceded to the PRC by the Parliament of Tajikistan on 12 January 2011, which ended a centuries-long dispute.
China borders 14 nations, more than any other country (shared with Russia); counted clockwise from south: Vietnam, Laos, Burma, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and North Korea. Additionally the border between the PRC and the ROC is located in territorial waters. China has a land border of 22,117 km (13,743 mi), the largest in the world.
The territory of China lies between latitudes 18° and 54° N, and longitudes 73° and 135° E. It contains a large variety of landscapes. 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, grasslands can be seen. Southern China is dominated by hill country and low mountain ranges. In the central-east are the deltas of China's two major rivers, the Yellow River and Yangtze River (Chang Jiang). Other major rivers include the Xi, Mekong, Brahmaputra and Amur. To the west, major mountain ranges, notably the Himalayas, with China's highest point at the eastern half of Mount Everest, and high plateaus feature among the more arid landscapes such as the Taklamakan and the Gobi Desert.
A major issue is the continued expansion of deserts, particularly the Gobi Desert. Although barrier tree lines planted since the 1970s have reduced the frequency of sandstorms, prolonged drought and poor agricultural practices result 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, erosion, and pollution control have become important issues in China's relations with other countries. Melting glaciers in the Himalayas could also lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people.
China has a climate mainly dominated by dry seasons and wet monsoons, which leads to temperature differences between winter and summer. In winter, northern winds coming from high latitude areas are cold and dry; in summer, southern winds from sea areas at lower latitude are warm and moist. The climate in China differs from region to region because of the country's extensive and complex topography.
One of 17 megadiverse countries, China lies in two of the world's major ecozones, the Palearctic and the Indomalaya. In the Palearctic zone are found such mammals as the horse, camel, tapir, and jerboa. Among the species found in the Indomalaya region are the Leopard Cat, bamboo rat, treeshrew, and various species of monkeys and apes. Some overlap exists between the two regions because of natural dispersal and migration, and deer or antelope, bears, wolves, pigs, and rodents are found in all of the diverse climatic and geological environments. The famous giant panda is found only in a limited area along the Yangtze. There is a continuing problem with trade in endangered species, although there are now laws to prohibit such activities.
China contains also a variety of forest types. Both northeast and northwest reaches contain mountains and cold coniferous forests, supporting animal species which include moose and Asiatic black bear, along with some 120 types of birds. 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 an astounding 146,000 species of flora. Tropical rainforest and seasonal rainforests, though confined to Yunnan and Hainan Island, actually contain a quarter of all the plant and animal species found in China.
China has some relevant environmental regulations: the 1979 Environmental Protection Law, which was largely modeled on US legislation. But the environment continues to deteriorate. While the regulations are fairly stringent, enforcement of them is poor as they are frequently disregarded by local communities or governments while seeking economic development. 12 years after the law, only one Chinese city was making an effort to clean up its water discharges.
Part of the price China is paying for increased prosperity is damage to the environment. Leading Chinese environmental campaigner Ma Jun has warned that water pollution is one of the most serious threats facing China. According to the Ministry of Water Resources, roughly 300 million Chinese are drinking unsafe water. This makes the crisis of water shortages more pressing, with 400 out of 600 cities short of water.
Yet, with $34.6 billion invested in clean technology in 2009, China is the world's leading investor in renewable energy technologies. China produces more wind turbines and solar panels each year than any other country.
The PRC is regarded by several political scientists as one of the last five Communist states (along with Vietnam, North Korea, Laos, and Cuba), but simple characterizations of PRC's political structure since the 1980s are no longer possible. The PRC government has been variously described as communist and socialist, but also as authoritarian, with heavy restrictions remaining in many areas, most notably on the Internet, the press, freedom of assembly, reproductive rights, and freedom of religion.
Compared to its closed-door policies until the mid-1970s, the liberalization of the PRC has resulted in the administrative climate being less restrictive than before. The PRC is far different from liberal democracy or social democracy that exists in most of Europe or North America, and the National People's Congress (highest state body) has been described as a "rubber stamp" body. The PRC's incumbent President is Hu Jintao who is also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and his Premier is Wen Jiabao who is also a member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee.
The country is ruled by the Communist Party of China (CPC), whose power is enshrined in China's constitution. The political system is very decentralized with limited democratic processes internal to the party and at local village levels, although these experiments have been marred by corruption. There are other political parties in the PRC, referred to in China as democratic parties, which participate in the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
There have been some moves toward political liberalization, in that open contested elections are now held at the village and town levels, and that legislatures have shown some assertiveness from time to time. However, the Party retains effective control over government appointments: in the absence of meaningful opposition, the CPC wins by default most of the time. Political concerns in the PRC include lessening the growing gap between rich and poor and fighting corruption within the government leadership.
The level of support to the government action and the management of the nation is among the highest in the world, with 86% of people who express satisfaction with the way things are going in their country and with their nation's economy according to a 2008 Pew Research Center survey.
The People's Republic of China has administrative control over 22 provinces and considers Taiwan to be its 23rd province, despite not having control over Taiwan which is currently administered by the Republic of China. The PRC's claim is disputed by the Republic of China. There are also five autonomous regions, each with a designated minority group; four municipalities; and two Special Administrative Regions that enjoy some degree of autonomy. The 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities can be collectively referred to as "mainland China", a term which usually excludes Hong Kong and Macau.
|†Taiwan is claimed by the PRC but administered by the Republic of China|
China maintains diplomatic relations with most major countries in the world. China has diplomatic relations with 171 countries and maintains embassies in 162. Its legitimacy is disputed by Republic of China and a few other countries; it is thus the largest state with limited recognition. Sweden was the first western country to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic on 9 May 1950. In 1971, the PRC replaced the Republic of China as the sole representative of China in the United Nations and as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. The PRC was also a former member and leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, and still considers itself an advocate for developing countries.
Under its interpretation of the One-China policy, the PRC has made it a precondition to establishing diplomatic relations that the other country acknowledges its claim to Taiwan and severs official ties with the Republic of China government; it has protested when any country shows signs of diplomatic overture, or sells armaments to Taiwan. It also opposes political meetings between foreign government officials and the 14th Dalai Lama.
The PRC has been playing an increasing 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. The PRC is also a founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), with Russia and the Central Asian republics.
In 2000 the U.S. Congress approved "permanent normal trade relations" (PNTR) with China, allowing Chinese exports in at the same low tariffs as goods from most other countries. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush asserted that free trade would gradually open China to democratic reform. Bush was an advocate of China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). China has a significant trade surplus with the United States, its most important export market. U.S. politicians have recently argued that the Chinese yuan is undervalued, giving China an unfair trade advantage.
Sinophobic attitudes often target Chinese minorities and nationals living outside of China. Sometimes the anti-Chinese attitudes turn violent, such as the 13 May Incident in Malaysia in 1969 and the Jakarta riots of May 1998 in Indonesia, in which more than 2,000 people died. In recent years, a number of anti-Chinese riots and incidents have also occurred in Africa and Oceania. Anti-Chinese sentiment is often rooted in socio-economics.
Much of the current foreign policy is based on the concept of Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence of Zhou Enlai – non-interference in other states' affairs, non-aggression, peaceful coexistence, and equality and mutual benefits. China's foreign policy is also driven by the concept of "harmony without uniformity" which encourages diplomatic relations between states despite ideological differences. This has led China to support states that are regarded as dangerous by Western nations, such as Zimbabwe, North Korea, or Iran. Conflicts with foreign countries have occurred at times in its recent history, particularly with the United States; for example, the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo conflict in May 1999 and the US-China spy plane incident in April 2001. Its foreign relations with many Western nations suffered for a time following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, though they have since recovered.
The relationship between China and Japan has been strained at times by Japan's refusal to acknowledge its wartime past to the satisfaction of the PRC; take for instance revisionist comments made by prominent Japanese officials and in some Japanese history textbooks. Another point of conflict between the two countries is the frequent visits by Japanese government officials to the Yasukuni Shrine. However, Sino-Japanese relations have warmed considerably since Shinzo Abe became the new Japanese Prime Minister in September 2006. A joint historical study conducted by the PRC and Japan released a report in 2010 which pointed toward a new consensus on the issue of WWII atrocities.
Equally bordering the most countries in the world alongside Russia, China was party to a number of international territorial disputes resulting from the legacy of unequal treaties imposed on China during the historical period of New Imperialism. Since the 1990s, the PRC has been entering negotiations to resolve its disputed land borders, usually by offering concessions and accepting less than half of the disputed territory with each party. The PRC's only remaining land border disputes are a disputed border with India and an undefined border with Bhutan. China is a party in multilateral disputes over the ownership of several small islands in the East and South China Seas.
While accompanying a rapid economic rise, the PRC since the 1990s seeks to maintain a policy of quiet diplomacy with its neighbors. It does so by keeping economic growth steady and participating in regional organizations and cultivating bi-lateral relations in order to ease suspicion over China's burgeoning military capabilities. The PRC has started a policy of wooing African nations for trade and bilateral co-operation. Xinhua, China's official news agency, states that there are no less than 750,000 Chinese nationals working or living in Africa. There are some discussions about whether China will become a new superpower in the 21st century, with certain commentators pointing out its economic progress, military might, very large population, and increasing international influence but others noting the dangers posed by the bubbles that exist in the mainland Chinese economy.
With 2.3 million active troops, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the largest military in the world, commanded by the Central Military Commission (CMC). The PLA consists of an army, navy (PLAN), air force, and strategic nuclear force. The official announced budget of the PLA for 2009 was $70 billion. However, the United States government has claimed that China does not report its real level of military spending, which is allegedly much higher than the official budget. The Defense Intelligence Agency estimated that the real Chinese military budget for 2008 was between US$105 billion and US$150 billion.
As a recognised nuclear weapons state, China is considered both a major regional military power and an emerging military superpower. China is the only member of the UN Security Council to have limited power projection capabilities. To offset this, it has begun developing power projection assets, such as aircraft carriers, and has established a network of foreign military relationships that has been compared to a string of pearls.
The PRC has made significant progress in modernizing its military since the early 2000s. It has purchased state-of-the-art Russian fighter jets, such as the Sukhoi Su-30s, and has also produced its own modern fighters, most notably the Chinese J-10s and the J-11s. China is furthermore engaged in developing an indigenous stealth aircraft, the Chengdu J-20.
China has also acquired and improved upon the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile system, which is considered to be among the most effective aircraft-intercepting systems in the world. Russia has since produced the next-generation S-400 Triumf system, with China reportedly having spent $500 million on a downgraded export version of it. The PRC's armored and rapid-reaction forces have been updated with enhanced electronics and targeting capabilities. In recent years, much attention has been focused on building a navy with blue-water capabilities. In August 2011, China's first aircraft carrier, the refurbished Soviet vessel Varyag, began sea trials.
Little information is available regarding the motivations supporting China's military modernization. A 2007 report by the US Secretary of Defense notes that "China's actions in certain areas increasingly appear inconsistent with its declaratory policies". For its part, China claims it maintains an army purely for defensive purposes.
On March 13, 2011, the PLAN missile frigate Xuzhou was spotted off the coast of Libya, making it the first time in history a Chinese warship sailed into the Mediterranean. The entrance into the Mediterranean was part of a humanitarian mission to rescue PRC nationals from the 2011 Libyan civil war, though analysts such as Fareed Zakaria viewed the mission as an attempt to increase the PRC's global military presence.
Sociopolitical issues and reform
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.
As the Chinese economy expanded following Deng Xiaoping's 1978 reforms, tens of millions of rural Chinese who have moved to the cities find themselves treated as second-class citizens by China's hukou household registration system, which controls state benefits. Property rights are often poorly protected, and eminent domain land seizures have had a disproportionate effect on poorer peasants. In 2003, the average Chinese farmer paid three times more taxes than the average urban dweller, despite having one-sixth of the annual income. However, a number of rural taxes have since been reduced or abolished, and additional social services provided to rural dwellers.
Censorship 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 the PRC 159th out of 167 states in its Annual World Press Freedom Index, indicating a very low level of perceived press freedom. The government has suppressed demonstrations by organizations that it considers a potential threat to "social stability", as was the case with the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. The Communist Party has had mixed success in controlling information: a powerful and pervasive media control system faces equally strong market forces, an increasingly educated citizenry, and technological and cultural changes that are making China more open to the wider world, especially on environmental issues. However, attempts are still made by the Chinese government to control public access to outside information, with online searches for politically sensitive material being blocked by the so-called Great Firewall.
Human rights issues
A number of foreign governments and NGOs routinely criticize the PRC's human rights record, alleging widespread civil rights violations, including systematic use of lengthy detention without trial, forced confessions, torture, mistreatment of prisoners, and restrictions of freedom of speech, assembly, association, religion, the press, and labor rights. China executes more people than any other country, accounting for 72% of the world's total in 2009, though it is not the largest executioner per capita.
The PRC government has responded 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. The rise in the standard of living, literacy, and life expectancy for the average Chinese in the last three decades is seen by the government as tangible progress made in human rights. Efforts in the past decade to combat deadly natural disasters, such as the perennial Yangtze River floods, and work-related accidents are also portrayed in China as progress in human rights for a still largely poor country.
Pressure for reform
The PRC government remains divided over the issue of political reform. Some high-ranking politicians have spoken out in favor reforms, while others remain more conservative. In 2010, Premier Wen Jiabao stated that the PRC needs "to gradually improve the democratic election system so that state power will truly belong to the people and state power will be used to serve the people." Despite his status, Wen's comments were later censored by the government.
As the social, cultural and political as well as economic consequences of market reform become increasingly manifest, tensions between the conservative and reformists in the party 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.
From its founding in 1949 to 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. 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. Collectivization of the agriculture was dismantled and farmlands were privatized to increase productivity. In 1978, China and Japan began normalized diplomatic relations, and China started borrowing money from Japan in soft loans. Since 1978, Japan has been China's most significant foreign donor. Modern-day China is mainly characterised as having a market economy based on private property ownership, and is one of the leading examples of state capitalism.
Under the post-Mao market reforms, a wide variety of small-scale private enterprises were encouraged, while the government relaxed price controls and promoted foreign investment. Foreign trade was focused upon as a major vehicle of growth, leading to the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), first in Shenzhen and then in other Chinese cities. Inefficient state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were restructured by introducing western-style management systems, with unprofitable ones being closed outright, resulting in massive job losses. By the latter part of 2010, China was reversing some of its economic liberalization initiatives, with state-owned companies buying up independent businesses in the steel, auto and energy industries.
Since economic liberalization began in 1978, the PRC's investment- and export-led economy has grown 90 times bigger and is the fastest growing major economy in the world. According to IMF that PRC's annual average GDP growth for the period of 2001–2010 was 10.5 percent and predicted to grow with 9.5 percent for the period of 2011–2015. From 2007 to 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. As of September 2011, China has the world's second largest nominal GDP, at 39.8 trillion yuan (US$6.05 trillion), although its GDP per capita of US$4,300 is still low, and puts the PRC behind roughly a hundred countries in global GDP per capita rankings. China's primary, secondary, and tertiary industries contributed 10.6%, 46.8%, and 42.6% respectively to its total GDP in 2009. If PPP is taken into account, the PRC's economy is again second only to the US, at $10.085 trillion, corresponding to $7,518 per capita.
The PRC is the fourth-most-visited country in the world, with 50.9 million inbound international visitors in 2009. It is a member of the WTO and is the world's second largest trading power behind the US, with a total international trade value of US$2.21 trillion – US$1.20 trillion in exports (#1) and US$1.01 trillion in imports (#2). Its foreign exchange reserves have reached US$2.85 trillion at end of 2010, an increase of 18.7 percent over the previous year, making its reserves by far the world's largest. The PRC owns an estimated $1.6 trillion of US securities. The PRC, holding US$1.16 trillion in US Treasury bonds, is the largest foreign holder of US public debt. China is the world's third-largest recipient of inward FDI, attracting US$92.4 billion in 2008 alone, and China increasingly invests abroad, with a total outward FDI of US$52.2 billion in 2008 making it the world's sixth-largest outward investor. In 2010, China's inward FDI was $106 billion, marking a 16% increase over 2009.
The PRC's success has been primarily due to manufacturing as a low-cost producer. This is attributed to a combination of cheap labor, good infrastructure, relatively high productivity, favorable government policy, and a possibly undervalued exchange rate. The latter has been sometimes blamed for the PRC's huge trade surplus (US$262.7 billion in 2007) and has become a major source of dispute between the PRC and its major trading partners – the US, EU, and Japan – despite the yuan having been de-pegged and having risen in value by 20% against the US dollar since 2005.
The state still dominates in strategic "pillar" industries (such as energy and heavy industries), but private enterprise (composed of around 30 million private businesses) has expanded enormously; in 2005, it accounted for anywhere between 33% to 70% of national GDP, while the OECD estimate for that year was over 50% of China's national output, up from 1% in 1978. Its stock market in Shanghai, the SSE, has raised record amounts of IPOs and its benchmark Shanghai Composite index has doubled since 2005. SSE's market capitalization reached US$3 trillion in 2007, making it the world's fifth largest exchange.
China now ranks 29th in the Global Competitiveness Index and ranked 135th among the 179 countries measured in the Index of Economic Freedom. 46 Chinese companies made the list in the 2010 Fortune Global 500 (Beijing alone with 30). Measured using market capitalization, four of the world's top ten most valuable companies are Chinese. Some of these include first-ranked PetroChina, third-ranked Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (the world's most valuable bank), fifth-ranked China Mobile (the world's most valuable telecommunications company) and seventh-ranked China Construction Bank.
Although a middle-income country by Western standards, the PRC's rapid growth has pulled hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty since 1978. Today, about 10% of the Chinese population live below the poverty line of US$1 per day (down from 64% in 1978), while life expectancy has increased to 73 years. More than 93% of the population is literate, compared to only 20% in 1950. Urban unemployment declined to 4 percent in China by the end of 2007, although true overall unemployment may be as high as 10%.
China's middle-class population (defined as those with annual income of at least US$17,000) has reached more than 100 million as of 2011, while the number of super-rich individuals worth more than 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) is estimated to be 825,000, according to Hurun Report. Based on the Hurun rich list, the number of US dollar billionaires in China doubled from 130 in 2009 to 271 in 2010, giving China the world's second-highest number of billionaires. China's retail market was worth RMB 8.9 trillion (US$1.302 trillion) in 2007, and is growing at 16.8% annually. China is also now the world's second-largest consumer of luxury goods behind Japan, with 27.5% of the global share.
The PRC's growth has been uneven, with some geographic regions growing faster than others, and a pronounced urban-rural income gap contributing to a national Gini coefficient of 46.9%. Development has been mainly concentrated in the heavily urbanised eastern coastal regions, while the remainder of the country has lagged behind. To counter this, the government has promoted development in the western, northeastern, and central regions of China.
The Chinese economy is highly energy-intensive and inefficient – on average, industrial processes in China use 20%–100% more energy than similar ones in OECD countries. China became the world's largest energy consumer in 2010, but still relies on coal to supply about 70% of its energy needs. Coupled with lax environmental regulations, this has led to massive water and air pollution, leaving China with 20 of the world's 30 most polluted cities.
Consequently, the government has promised to use more renewable energy, planning to make renewables constitute 30% of China's total energy production by 2050. In 2010, China became the largest wind energy provider in the world, with a total installed wind power capacity of 41.8 GW. In January 2011, Russia began scheduled oil shipments to China, pumping 300,000 barrels of oil per day via the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean oil pipeline.
Science and technology
After the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s and '70s, China started to develop its own nuclear weapons and delivery systems, successfully detonating its first surface nuclear test in 1964 at Lop Nur. A natural outgrowth of this was a satellite launching program, which culminated in 1970 with the launching of Dong Fang Hong I, the first Chinese satellite. This made the PRC the fifth nation to independently launch a satellite.
In 1992, the Shenzhou manned spaceflight program was authorized. After four unmanned tests, Shenzhou 5 was launched on 15 October 2003, using a Long March 2F launch vehicle and carrying Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei, making the PRC the third country to put a human being into space through its own endeavors. China completed its second manned mission with a crew of two, Shenzhou 6 in October 2005. In 2008, China successfully completed the Shenzhou 7 mission, making it the third country to have the capability to conduct a spacewalk. In 2007, the PRC successfully sent the Chang'e spacecraft, named after the ancient Chinese moon goddess, to orbit and explore the moon as part of their Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. China has plans to build a space station in the near future and to achieve a lunar landing in the next decade. There are also plans for a manned mission to planet Mars.
China has the world's second largest research and development budget, and invested over $136 billion in science and technology in 2006, an increase of more than 20% over 2005. The Chinese government continues to place heavy emphasis on research and development by creating greater public awareness of innovation, and reforming financial and tax systems to promote growth in cutting-edge industries.
In 2006, Premier Hu Jintao called for China to make the transition from a manufacturing-based economy to an innovation-based one, and the National People's Congress have since approved large increases in research funding. Stem cell research and gene therapy, which some in the Western world see as controversial, face minimal regulation in China. China has an estimated 926,000 researchers, second only to the 1.3 million in the United States.
China is also actively developing its software, semiconductor and energy industries, including renewable energies such as hydroelectric, wind and solar power. In an effort to reduce pollution from coal-burning power plants, China has been pioneering the deployment of pebble bed nuclear reactors, which run cooler and safer than conventional nuclear reactors, and have potential applications for the hydrogen economy.
In 2010, China developed Tianhe-IA, for a time the world's fastest supercomputer, at the National Supercomputing Center of Tianjin. The system is intended to process seismic data for oil exploration, conduct bio-medical computing and help design aerospace vehicles. China also operates the Nebulae supercomputer, which was also among the world's top 10 supercomputers in 2010.
China currently has the most cellphone users in the world, with over 800 million users as of July 2010. It also has the world's largest number of internet and broadband users. By December 2010, China had around 457 million internet users, an increase of 19% over the previous year, and by the end of March 2011 the number of internet users had reached 477 million. According to China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China's average internet connection speed is 100.9 kbit/s, less than half of the global average of 212.5 kbit/s.
China Telecom 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 accounted for 39% of the world's broadband customers. China Telecom serves 55 million broadband subscribers, while China Unicom serves more than 40 million. The massive growth of 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.
Transportation in mainland China has been prioritised by the government in recent decades, and has undergone intense state-led development since the late 1990s. The national road network has been massively expanded through the creation of a network of expressways, known as the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS). By 2011, China's expressways had reached a total length of 74,000 km (46,000 mi), second only to the road network of the United States.
Domestic air travel has also increased significantly, but remains too expensive for most. Long-distance transportation is dominated by railways and charter bus systems. Railways are the vital carrier in China; they are monopolized by the state, divided into various railway bureaux in different regions. Due to huge demand, the system is regularly subject to overcrowding, particularly during holiday seasons, such as Chunyun during the Chinese New Year.
Rapid transit systems are also rapidly developing in China's major cities, in the form of networks of underground or light rail systems. Hong Kong has one of the most developed transport systems in the world, while Shanghai has a high-speed maglev rail line connecting the city to its main international airport, Pudong International Airport.
As of July 2010, the People's Republic of China has an estimated total population of 1,338,612,968. About 21% of the population (145,461,833 males; 128,445,739 females) are 14 years old or younger, 71% (482,439,115 males; 455,960,489 females) are between 15 and 64 years old, and 8% (48,562,635 males; 53,103,902 females) are over 65 years old. The population growth rate for 2006 was 0.6%.
By end of 2010, the proportion of mainland Chinese people aged 14 or younger was 16.60%, while the number aged 60 or older grew to 13.26%, giving a total proportion of 29.86% dependents. The proportion of the population of workable age was thus around 70%.
With a population of over 1.3 billion and dwindling natural resources, the PRC is very concerned about its population growth and has attempted, with mixed results, to implement a strict family planning policy. The government's goal is one child per family, with exceptions for ethnic minorities and a degree of flexibility in rural areas. It is hoped that population growth in China will stabilize in the early decades of the 21st century, though some projections estimate a population of anywhere between 1.4 billion and 1.6 billion by 2025. China's family planning minister has indicated that the one-child policy will be maintained until at least 2020.
The one-child policy is resisted, particularly in rural areas, because of the need for agricultural labour and a traditional preference for boys (who can later serve as male heirs). Families who breach the policy often lie during the census. Official government policy opposes forced sterilization or abortion, but allegations of coercion continue as local officials, who are faced with penalties for failing to curb population growth, may resort to forcible measures, or manipulation of census figures.
The decreasing reliability of PRC population statistics since family planning began in the late 1970s has made evaluating the effectiveness of the policy difficult. Data from the 2010 census 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 in an attempt to prevent sex-selective abortion.
According to the 2010 census, there were 118.06 boys born for every 100 girls, which is 0.53 points lower than the ratio obtained from a population sample survey carried out in 2005. However, the gender ratio of 118.06 is still beyond the normal range of around 105 percent, and experts warn of increased social instability should this trend continue. For the population born between the years 1900 and 2000, it is estimated that there could be 35.59 million fewer females 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 population, while females made up 48.73 percent of the total in 2010.
The PRC officially recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Han Chinese, who constitute about 91.9% of the total population. Large ethnic minorities include the Zhuang (16 million), Manchu (10 million), Hui (9 million), Miao (8 million), Uyghur (7 million), Yi (7 million), Tujia (5.75 million), Mongols (5 million), Tibetans (5 million), Buyei (3 million), and Koreans (2 million).
Since 2000, China's cities have expanded at an average rate of 10% annually. The country's urbanization rate increased from 17.4% to 46.8% between 1978 and 2009, a scale unprecedented in human history. Between 150 and 200 million migrant workers work part-time in the major cities, returning home to the countryside periodically with their earnings.
Today, the People's Republic of China has dozens of cities with one million or more long-term residents, including the three global cities of Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. The figures in the table below are from the 2008 census, and are only estimates of the urban populations within administrative city limits; a different ranking exists when considering the total municipal populations (which includes suburban and rural populations). The large "floating populations" of migrant workers make conducting censuses in urban areas difficult; the figures below do not include the floating population, only long-term residents.
|Leading Urban Centers of the People's Republic of China|
|Rank||Core City||Division||Urban Population||Prefecture Population||Region|
|3||Hong Kong||Hong Kong SAR||6,985,200||6,985,200||South|
|5||Wuhan||Hubei Province||6,660,000||9,100,000||South Central|
|2008 Estimated - suburban and rural area excluded on urban population|
In 1986, China set the long-term goal of providing compulsory nine-year basic education to every child. As of 2007, there were 396,567 primary schools, 94,116 secondary schools, and 2,236 higher education institutions in the PRC. In February 2006, the government advanced its basic education goal by pledging to provide completely free nine-year education, including textbooks and fees. Free compulsory education in China consists of elementary school and middle school, which lasts for 9 years (age 6–15); almost all children in urban areas continue with 3 years of high school.
As of 2007[update], 93.3% of the population over age 15 are literate. China's youth (age 15 to 24) literacy rate was 98.9% (99.2% for males and 98.5% for females) in 2000. In March 2007, China announced the decision of making education a national "strategic priority"; the central budget of the national scholarships will be tripled in two years and 223.5 billion Yuan (US$28.65 billion) of extra funding will be allocated from the central government in the next 5 years to improve the compulsory education in rural areas.
In 2009, Chinese students from Shanghai achieved the world's best results in mathematics, science and reading, as tested by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide evaluation of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance.
- Beijing: Peking University, Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China, Beijing Normal University
- Shanghai: Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tongji University, East China Normal University
- Harbin: Harbin Institute of Technology
- Tianjin: Nankai University, Tianjin University
- Xi'an Jiaotong University (Xi'an)
- Nanjing University (Nanjing)
- University of Science and Technology of China (Hefei)
- Zhejiang University (Hangzhou)
- Wuhan University (Wuhan)
- Guangzhou: Sun Yat-sen University (aka Zhongshan University)
The Ministry of Health, together with its counterparts in the provincial health bureaux, oversees the health needs of the Chinese population. An emphasis on public health and preventive medicine has characterized health policy since the early 1950s. At that time, the Communist Party started the Patriotic Health Campaign, which was aimed at improving sanitation and hygiene, as well as attacking several diseases. Diseases such as cholera, typhoid and scarlet fever, which were previously rife in China, were nearly eradicated by the campaign.
After Deng Xiaoping began instituting economic reforms in 1978, the health of the Chinese public improved rapidly due to better nutrition, although many of the free public health services provided in the countryside disappeared along with the People's Communes. Healthcare in China became mostly privatised, and experienced a significant rise in quality. The national life expectancy at birth rose from about 35 years in 1949 to 73.18 years in 2008, and infant mortality decreased from 300 per thousand in the 1950s to around 23 per thousand in 2006. Malnutrition as of 2002[update] stood at 12% of the population, according to United Nations FAO sources.
Despite significant improvements in health and the construction of advanced Western-style medical facilities, China has several emerging public health problems, such as respiratory illnesses caused by widespread air pollution and hundreds of millions of cigarette smokers, a possible future HIV/AIDS epidemic, and an increase in obesity among urban youths. China's large population and densely-populated cities have led to serious disease outbreaks in recent years, such as the 2003 outbreak of SARS, although this has since been largely contained.
Estimates of excess deaths in China from environmental pollution (apart from smoking) are placed at 760,000 people per annum from air and water pollution (including indoor air pollution). In 2007, China overtook the United States as the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide. Some 90% of China's cities suffer from some degree of water pollution, and nearly 500 million people lacked access to safe drinking water in 2005. Reports by the World Bank and the New York Times have claimed industrial pollution, particularly of the air, to be a significant health hazard in China.
In mainland China, the government allows a limited degree of religious freedom, but official tolerance is only extended to members of state-approved religious organizations, and not to those who worship underground, such as members of house churches. An accurate number of religious adherents is hard to obtain because of a lack of official data, but there is general consensus that religion has been enjoying a resurgence over the past 20 years. A survey by Phil Zuckerman on Adherents.com found that in 1998, 59% (over 700 million) of the population was irreligious. A later survey, conducted in 2007, found that there are 300 million believers in China, constituting 23% of the population, as distinct from an official figure of 100 million.
Despite the surveys' varying results, most agree that the traditional religions – Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese folk religions – are the dominant faiths. According to a number of sources, Buddhism in China accounts for between 660 million (~50%) and over 1 billion (~80%) while Taoists number 400 million (~30%). However, because of the fact that one person may subscribe to two or more of these traditional beliefs simultaneously and the difficulty in clearly differentiating Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese folk religions, the number of adherents to these religions can be overlaid. In addition, subscribing to Buddhism and Taoism is not necessarily considered religious by those who follow the philosophies in principle but stop short of believing in any kind of deity or divinity.
Most Chinese Buddhists are merely nominal adherents, because only a small proportion of the population (around 8% or 100 million) may have taken the formal step of going for refuge. Even then, it is still difficult to estimate accurately the number of Buddhists because they do not have congregational memberships and often do not participate in public ceremonies. Mahayana (大乘, Dacheng) and its subsets Pure Land (Amidism), Tiantai and Chán (better known in the west by its Japanese pronunciation Zen) are the most widely practiced denominations of Buddhism. Other forms, such as Theravada and Tibetan, are practiced largely by ethnic minorities along the geographic fringes of the Chinese mainland.
Christianity was first introduced to China during the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century with the arrival of Nestorian Christianity in 635 CE. This was followed by Franciscan missionaries in the 13th century, Jesuits in the 16th century, and finally Protestants in the 19th century. Of the minority religions, Christianity has been particularly noted as one of the fastest-growing. The total number of Christians is difficult to determine, as many belong to unauthorized house churches, but estimates of their number have ranged from 40 million (3%) to 54 million (4%) to as many as 130 million (10%). Official government statistics put the number of Christians at 16 million, but these count only members of officially-sanctioned church bodies. China is believed to now have the world's second-largest evangelical Christian population — behind only the United States — and if current growth rates continue, China will become a global center of evangelical Christianity in coming decades.
Islam in China dates to a mission in 651, 18 years after Muhammad's death. Muslims came to China for trade, dominating the import/export industry during the Song Dynasty. They became influential in government circles, including Zheng He, Lan Yu and Yeheidie'erding. Nanjing became an important center of Islamic study. The Qing Dynasty waged war and genocide against Muslims in the Dungan revolt and Panthay rebellion. Statistics are hard to find, and most estimates figures that there are 20 to 30 million Muslims (1.5% to 2% of the population).
There are also followers of minority religions including Hinduism, Dongbaism, Bön, and a number of new religions and sects (particularly Xiantianism). In July 1999, the Falun Gong spiritual practice was officially banned by the authorities, and many international organizations have criticized the government's treatment of Falun Gong that has occurred since then. There are no reliable estimates of the number of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
For centuries, opportunity for economic and social advancement in China could be provided by high performance on Imperial examinations. The literary emphasis of the exams affected the general perception of cultural refinement in China, such as the belief that calligraphy and literati painting were higher forms of art than dancing or drama. China's traditional values were derived from various versions of Confucianism and conservatism.
A number of more authoritarian and rational strains of thought have also been influential, such as Legalism. There was often conflict between the philosophies, such as the individualistic Song Dynasty neo-Confucians, who believed Legalism departed from the original spirit of Confucianism. Examinations and a culture of merit remain greatly valued in China today. In recent years, a number of New Confucians have advocated that democratic ideals and human rights are quite compatible with traditional Confucian "Asian values."
The first leaders of the People's Republic of China were born in the old society 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 a Confucian education, while preserving others, such as the family structure and obedience to the state.
Many observers believe that the period following 1949 is a continuation of traditional Chinese dynastic history, while others say that the CPC's rule has damaged the foundations of Chinese culture, especially through political movements such as the Cultural Revolution, where many aspects of traditional culture were labeled 'regressive and harmful' or 'vestiges of feudalism' by the regime and thus, were destroyed. They further argue that many important aspects of traditional Chinese morals and culture, such as Confucianism, Chinese art, literature, and performing arts like Beijing opera, were altered to conform to government policies and propaganda at the time.
Today, the Chinese government has accepted a great deal of traditional Chinese culture as an integral part of Chinese society, lauding it as an important achievement of the Chinese civilization and emphasizing it as vital to a Chinese national identity. Since the Cultural Revolution ended, 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 gained a new found respectability, and sparked interest nationally and even worldwide.
Chinese culture and the West were linked by the Silk Road. Artifacts from the history of the silk route, as well as from the natural history of the Gobi desert, are displayed in the Silk Route Museum.
The overwhelmingly large variety of Chinese cuisine comes mainly from the practice of dynastic period emperors hosting banquets with 100 dishes per meal. A countless number of imperial kitchen staff and concubines were involved in the food preparation process.
Over time, many dishes became part of the everyday-citizen culture. Some of the highest quality restaurants with recipes close to the dynastic periods include Fangshan[disambiguation needed] restaurant in Beihai Park, Beijing and the Oriole Pavilion. Arguably all branches of Hong Kong eastern style or even American Chinese food are in some ways rooted from the original dynastic cuisines.
China has one of the oldest sporting cultures in the world, spanning the course of several millennia. There is, in fact, evidence that a form of association football was played in China in ancient times. Besides football, some of the most popular sports in the country include martial arts, table tennis, badminton, swimming, basketball and snooker. Board games such as Go (Weiqi), and Xiangqi (Chinese chess) and recently chess are also commonly played and have organized competitions.
Physical fitness is widely emphasized in Chinese culture. Morning exercises are a common activity and often one can find the elderly practicing qigong and tai chi chuan in parks or students doing stretches on school campuses.
Young people are also keen on basketball, especially in urban centers with limited space and grass areas. The NBA has a huge following among Chinese youths, with Yao Ming being the idol of many. Major sporting events were also held in Beijing such as the 1990 Asian Games and the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Many traditional sports are also played. The popular Chinese dragon boat racing occurs during the Dragon Boat Festival. In Inner Mongolia, sports such as Mongolian-style wrestling and horse racing are popular. In Tibet, archery and equestrianism are a part of traditional festivals.
Additional, more specific, and related topics may be found at:
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"The US State Department, US Congress, the United Nations and human rights groups such as Amnesty say persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China is a continuing abuse of human rights."
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- Further reading
- Chang, Jung (1992). Wild Swans. Doubleday. ISBN 0385425473.
- Farah, Paolo, Five Years of China’s WTO Membership. EU and US Perspectives on China’s Compliance with Transparency Commitments and the Transitional Review Mechanism, Legal Issues of Economic Integration, Kluwer Law International, Volume 33, Number 3, pp. 263–304, 2006. Abstract.
- Heilig, Gerhard K., China Bibliography – Online. 2006, 2007.
- Lynch, Michael (1998). People’s Republic of China 1949–90. Trafalgar Square Publishing. ISBN 0-340-68853-X.
- Sang Ye (2006). China Candid: The People on the People's Republic. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-24514-8.
- Selden, Mark (1979). The People's Republic of China: Documentary History of Revolutionary Change. New York: Monthly Review Press. ISBN 0853455325.
- Terrill, Ross (2003). The New Chinese Empire, And What It Means For The United States. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-08412-5.
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- China at a Glance People's Daily
- BBC News – Country Profile: China
- China entry at The World Factbook
- Modern China: A Primer — slideshow by Life magazine
- "Rethinking ‘Capitalist Restoration’ in China" by Yiching Wu
- "China on the Rise" PBS Online NewsHour. October 2005.
- China in the Red, 1998–2001. PBS Frontline.
- China From the Inside A documentary series co-produced by KQED Public Television and Granada Television.
- The Central People's Government of People's Republic of China (English)
- China Internet Information Center (China.org.cn) (English) – Authorized government portal site to China
- Assertive Pragmatism: China's Economic Rise and Its Impact on Chinese Foreign Policy – analysis by Minxin Pei, IFRI Proliferation Papers n°15, 2006
- The Dragon's Dawn: China as a Rising Imperial Power 11 February 2005.
- History of The People's Republic of China Timeline of Key Events since 1949.
- Media, advertising, and urban life in China.
- Google Maps – China
- Google Maps – China Interesting locations
- Wikimedia Atlas of the People's Republic of China