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China, officially the People's Republic of China PRC, is a unitary sovereign state in East Asia With a population of over 1381 billion, it is the world's most populous state The state is governed by its vanguard Communist Party based in the capital of Beijing It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing, two mostly self-governing special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, and claims sovereignty over Taiwan The country's major urban areas include Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Hong Kong China is a great power and a major regional power within Asia, and has been characterized as a potential superpower

Covering approximately 96 million square kilometers, China is the world's second largest state by land area, and either the third or fourth-largest by total area, depending on the method of measurement China's landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from forest steppes and the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts in the arid north to subtropical forests in the wetter south The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from much of South and Central Asia The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third and sixth longest in the world, respectively, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard China's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometers 9,000 mi long, and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East China, and South China seas

China is one of the cradles of civilization, with its known history beginning with an ancient civilization – one of the world's earliest – that flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies known as dynasties Since 221 BC, when the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the state has expanded, fractured and reformed numerous times The Republic of China ROC replaced the last dynasty in 1912, and ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949, when it was defeated by the Communist Party of China in the Chinese Civil War The Communist Party established the People's Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949, while the ROC government relocated to Taiwan with its present de facto temporary capital in Taipei Both the ROC and PRC continue to claim to be the legitimate government of all China, though the latter has more recognition in the world and controls more territory

Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become one of the world's fastest-growing major economies As of 2014, it is the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP and largest by purchasing power parity PPP China is also the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army and second-largest defense budget The PRC is a member of the United Nations, as it replaced the ROC as a permanent member of the UN Security Council in 1971 China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization SCO, the BCIM and the G-20


  • 1 Names
  • 2 History
    • 21 Prehistory
    • 22 Early dynastic rule
    • 23 Imperial China
    • 24 End of dynastic rule
    • 25 Republic of China 1912–49
    • 26 People's Republic of China 1949–present
  • 3 Geography
    • 31 Political geography
    • 32 Landscape and climate
    • 33 Biodiversity
    • 34 Environmental issues
  • 4 Politics
    • 41 Communist Party
    • 42 Government
    • 43 Administrative divisions
    • 44 Foreign relations
      • 441 Trade relations
      • 442 Territorial disputes
      • 443 Emerging superpower status
    • 45 Sociopolitical issues, human rights, and reform
  • 5 Military
  • 6 Economy
    • 61 Economic history and growth
    • 62 China in the global economy
    • 63 Class and income equality
    • 64 Internationalization of the renminbi
  • 7 Science and technology
    • 71 Historical
    • 72 Modern era
  • 8 Infrastructure
    • 81 Telecommunications
    • 82 Transport
    • 83 Water supply and sanitation
  • 9 Demographics
    • 91 Ethnic groups
    • 92 Languages
    • 93 Urbanization
    • 94 Education
    • 95 Health
    • 96 Religion
  • 10 Culture
    • 101 Literature
    • 102 Cuisine
    • 103 Sports
  • 11 See also
  • 12 Footnotes
  • 13 References
  • 14 Further reading
  • 15 External links


Main article: Names of China
"China" in Simplified top and Traditional bottom Chinese characters
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 中国
Traditional Chinese 中國
Literal meaning Middle or Central State
People's Republic of China
Simplified Chinese 中华人民共和国
Traditional Chinese 中華人民共和國
Tibetan name
Tibetan ཀྲུང་ཧྭ་མི་དམངས་སྤྱི
Zhuang name
Zhuang Cunghvaz Yinzminz Gunghozgoz
Mongolian name
Uyghur name
Uyghur جۇڭخۇا خەلق جۇمھۇرىيىت

The English name "China" is first attested in Richard Eden's 1555 translation of the 1516 journal of the Portuguese explorer Duarte Barbosa The demonym, that is, the name for the people, and adjectival form "Chinese" developed later on the model of Portuguese chinês and French chinois Portuguese China is thought to derive from Persian Chīn چین, and perhaps ultimately from Sanskrit Cīna चीन Cīna was first used in early Hindu scripture, including the Mahābhārata 5th century BC and the Laws of Manu 2nd century BC The traditional theory, proposed in the 17th century by Martino Martini and supported by many later scholars, is that the word "China" and its earlier related forms are ultimately derived from the state of Qin 秦, Old Chinese: Dzin, the westernmost of the Chinese states during the Zhou dynasty which unified China to form the Qin dynasty There are, however, other suggestions for the derivation of "China"

The official name of the modern state is the "People's Republic of China" Chinese: 中华人民共和国; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó The shorter form is "China" Zhōngguó 中国, from zhōng "central" or "middle" and guó "state, nation-state", a term which developed under the Zhou Dynasty in reference to its royal demesne It was then applied to the area around Luoyi present-day Luoyang during the Eastern Zhou and then to China's Central Plain before being used as an occasional synonym for the state under the Qing It was often used as a cultural concept to distinguish the Huaxia tribes from perceived "barbarians" and was the source of the English name "Middle Kingdom" A more literary or inclusive name, alluding to the "land of Chinese civilization", is Zhōnghuá 中华 It developed during the Wei and Jin dynasties as a contraction of "the central state of the Huaxia" During the 1950s and 1960s, after the defeat of the Kuomingtang in the Chinese Civil War, it was also referred to as "Communist China" or "Red China"


Main articles: History of China and Timeline of Chinese history
Neolithic c 8500 – c 2070 BC
Xia dynasty c 2070 – c 1600 BC
Shang dynasty c 1600 – c 1046 BC
Zhou dynasty c 1046 – 256 BC
 Western Zhou
 Eastern Zhou
   Spring and Autumn
   Warring States
Qin dynasty 221–206 BC
Han dynasty 206 BC – 220 AD
  Western Han
  Xin dynasty
  Eastern Han
Three Kingdoms 220–280
  Wei, Shu and Wu
Jin dynasty 265–420
  Western Jin
  Eastern Jin Sixteen Kingdoms
Northern and Southern dynasties
Sui dynasty 581–618
Tang dynasty 618–907
  Second Zhou dynasty 690–705
Five Dynasties and
Ten Kingdoms

Liao dynasty
Song dynasty
  Northern Song Western Xia
  Southern Song Jin
Yuan dynasty 1271–1368
Ming dynasty 1368–1644
Qing dynasty 1644–1911
Republic of China 1912–1949
People's Republic
of China

Republic of
China Taiwan

Related articles 
  • Chinese historiography
  • Timeline of Chinese history
  • Dynasties in Chinese history
  • Linguistic history
  • Art history
  • Economic history
  • Education history
  • Science and technology history
  • Legal history
  • Media history
  • Military history
  • Naval history
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Main article: Chinese prehistory

Archaeological evidence suggests that early hominids inhabited China between 224 million and 250,000 years ago The hominid fossils of Peking Man, a Homo erectus who used fire, were discovered in a cave at Zhoukoudian near Beijing; they have been dated to between 680,000 and 780,000 years ago The fossilized teeth of Homo sapiens dated to 125,000–80,000 years ago have been discovered in Fuyan Cave in Dao County, Hunan Chinese proto-writing existed in Jiahu around 7000 BC, Damaidi around 6000 BC, Dadiwan from 5800–5400 BC, and Banpo dating from the 5th millennium BC Some scholars have suggested that the Jiahu symbols 7th millennium BC constituted the earliest Chinese writing system

Early dynastic rule

Further information: Dynasties in Chinese history Yinxu, the ruins of an palace ascribed to the Shang Dynasty 14th century BC

According to Chinese tradition, the first dynasty was the Xia, which emerged around 2100 BC The 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 BC Their oracle bone script from c 1500 BC represents the oldest form of Chinese writing yet found, and is a direct ancestor of modern Chinese characters The Shang were conquered by the Zhou, who ruled between the 11th and 5th centuries BC, though centralized authority was slowly eroded by feudal warlords Many independent states eventually emerged from the weakened Zhou state and continually waged war with each other in the 300-year Spring and Autumn Period, only occasionally deferring to the Zhou king By the time of the Warring States period of the 5th–3rd centuries BC, there were seven powerful sovereign states in what is now China, each with its own king, ministry and army

Imperial China

China's First Emperor is famed for having united the Warring States' barriers to form the first Great Wall of China Most of the present structure, however, dates to the Ming Dynasty The Terracotta Army c 210 BC discovered outside the tomb of the First Emperor in modern Xi'an

The Warring States period ended in 221 BC after the state of Qin conquered the other six kingdoms and established the first unified Chinese state Its King Zheng proclaimed himself the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty Qín Shǐhuáng or Shǐ Huángdì He enacted Qin's legalist reforms throughout China, notably the forced standardization of Chinese characters, measurements, road widths ie, cart axles' length, and currency His dynasty also conquered the Yue tribes in Guangxi, Guangdong, and northern 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

Following a widespread civil war during which the imperial library at Xianyang was burned, the Han dynasty emerged to rule China between 206 BC and AD 220, creating a cultural identity among its populace still remembered in the ethnonym of the Han Chinese The Han expanded the empire's territory considerably, with military campaigns reaching Central Asia, Mongolia, Korea, and 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

After the collapse of Han, a period of strife known as Three Kingdoms followed, whose central figures were later immortalized in one of the Four Classics of Chinese literature At its end, Wei was swiftly overthrown by the Jin dynasty The Jin fell to civil war upon the ascension of a developmentally-disabled emperor; the Five Barbarians then invaded and ruled northern China as the Sixteen Kingdoms The Xianbei unified them as the Northern Wei, whose Emperor Xiaowen reversed his predecessors' apartheid policies and enforced a drastic sinification on his subjects, largely integrating them into Chinese culture In the south, the general Liu Yu secured the abdication of the Jin in favor of the Liu Song The various successors of these states became known as the Northern and Southern dynasties, with the two areas finally reunited by the Sui in 581 The Sui restored the Han to power through China, reformed its agriculture and economy, constructed the Grand Canal, and patronized Buddhism However, they fell quickly when their conscription for public works and a failed war with Korea provoked widespread unrest

A detail from Along the River During the Qingming Festival, a 12th-century painting showing everyday life in the Song dynasty's capital, Bianjing present-day Kaifeng

Under the succeeding Tang and Song dynasties, Chinese economy, technology, and culture entered a golden age The Tang Empire returned control of the Western Regions and the Silk Road, and made the capital Chang'an a cosmopolitan urban center However, it was devastated and weakened by the An Shi Rebellion in the 8th century In 907, the Tang disintegrated completely with the local military governors being ungovernable The Song Dynasty ended the separatist situation in 960, as a result the balance of power appeared between Song and 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 revival of Confucianism, in response to the growth of Buddhism during the Tang, and a flourishing of philosophy and the arts, as landscape art and porcelain were brought to new levels of maturity and complexity However, the military weakness of the Song army was observed by the Jurchen Jin dynasty In 1127, Emperor Huizong of Song and the capital Bianjing were captured during the Jin–Song Wars, remnants of the Song retreated to southern China

In the 13th century, China was gradually conquered by the Mongol Empire In 1271, the Mongol leader Kublai Khan established the Yuan dynasty; the Yuan conquered the last remnant of the Song dynasty in 1279 Before the Mongol invasion, the population of Song China was 120 million citizens; this was reduced to 60 million by the time of the census in 1300 A peasant named Zhu Yuanzhang overthrew the Yuan Dynasty in 1368 and founded the Ming dynasty Under the Ming Dynasty, China enjoyed another golden age, developing one of the strongest navies in the world and a rich and prosperous economy amid a flourishing of art and culture It was during this period that Zheng He led voyages throughout the world, reaching as far as Africa In the early years of the Ming Dynasty, China's capital was moved from Nanjing to Beijing With the budding of capitalism, philosophers such as Wang Yangming further critiqued and expanded Neo-Confucianism with concepts of individualism and equality of four occupations The scholar-official stratum became a supporting force of industry and commerce in the tax boycott movements, which, together with the famines and the wars against Japanese invasions of Korea and Manchu invasions led to an exhausted treasury

In 1644, Beijing was captured by a coalition of peasant rebel forces led by Li Zicheng The last Ming Chongzhen Emperor committed suicide when the city fell The Manchu Qing dynasty then allied with Ming dynasty general Wu Sangui and overthrew Li's short-lived Shun dynasty, and subsequently seized control of Beijing, which became the new capital of the Qing Dynasty

End of dynastic rule

A 19th-century depiction of the Taiping Rebellion 1850–1864

The Qing dynasty, which lasted from 1644 until 1912, was the last imperial dynasty of China Its conquest of the Ming 1618–1683 costed 25 million lives and the economic scale of China shrank drastically After the Southern Ming ended, the further conquest of the Dzungar Khanate adds Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang into the empire The centralized autocracy were strengthened to crackdown on anti-Qing sentiment with the practicing of the policy of valuing agriculture and restraining commerce, the Haijin "sea ban" and the ideological control as represented by the literary inquisition, causing social and technological stagnation In the 19th century, the dynasty experienced Western imperialism following the First Opium War 1839–42 and the Second Opium War 1856–60 with Britain and France China was forced to sign unequal treaties, pay compensation, open treaty ports, allow extraterritoriality for foreign nationals, and cede Hong Kong to the British under the 1842 Treaty of Nanking The First Sino-Japanese War 1894–95 resulted in Qing China's loss of influence in the Korean Peninsula, as well as the cession of Taiwan to Japan

The Eight-Nation Alliance invaded China to defeat the anti-foreign Boxers and their Qing backers

The Qing dynasty also began experiencing internal unrest in which tens of millions of people died, especially for the failed Taiping Rebellion that ravaged southern China in the 1850s and 1860s and the Dungan Revolt 1862–77 in the northwest The initial success of the Self-Strengthening Movement of the 1860s was frustrated by the series of military defeats in the 1880s and 1890s

In the 19th century, the great Chinese Diaspora began Losses due to emigration were added to by conflicts and catastrophes such as the Northern Chinese Famine of 1876–79, in which between 9 and 13 million people died In 1898, the Guangxu Emperor drafted a reform plan to establish a modern constitutional monarchy, but these plans were thwarted by the Empress Dowager Cixi The ill-fated anti-Western Boxer Rebellion of 1899–1901 further weakened the dynasty Although Cixi sponsored a program of reforms, the Xinhai Revolution of 1911–12 brought an end to the Qing dynasty and established the Republic of China

Republic of China 1912–49

Main articles: Republic of China 1912–49 and History of the Republic of China See also: Taiwan and Taiwan after World War II Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China seated on right, and Chiang Kai-shek, later President of the Republic of China Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong toasting together in 1946 following the end of World War II

On 1 January 1912, the Republic of China was established, and Sun Yat-sen of the Kuomintang the KMT or Nationalist Party was proclaimed provisional president However, the presidency was later given to Yuan Shikai, a former Qing general who in 1915 proclaimed himself Emperor of China In the face of popular condemnation and opposition from his own Beiyang Army, he was forced to abdicate and reestablish the republic

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 In the late 1920s, the Kuomintang, under Chiang Kai-shek, the then Principal of the Republic of China Military Academy, was able to reunify the country under its own control with a series of deft military and political manoeuvrings, known collectively as the Northern Expedition The Kuomintang moved the nation's capital to Nanjing and implemented "political tutelage", an intermediate stage of political development outlined in Sun Yat-sen's San-min program for transforming China into a modern democratic state The political division in China made it difficult for Chiang to battle the Communists, against whom the Kuomintang had been warring since 1927 in the Chinese Civil War This war continued successfully for the Kuomintang, especially after the Communists retreated in the Long March, until Japanese aggression and the 1936 Xi'an Incident forced Chiang to confront Imperial Japan

The Second Sino-Japanese War 1937–1945, a theater of World War II, forced an uneasy alliance between the Kuomintang and the Communists Japanese forces committed numerous war atrocities against the civilian population; in all, as many as 20 million Chinese civilians died An estimated 200,000 Chinese were massacred in the city of Nanjing alone during the Japanese occupation During the war, China, along with the UK, the US and the Soviet Union, were referred to as "trusteeship of the powerful" and were recognized as the Allied "Big Four" in the Declaration by United Nations Along with the other three great powers, China was one of the four major Allies of World War II, and was later considered one of the primary victors in the war After the surrender of Japan in 1945, Taiwan, including the Pescadores, was returned to Chinese control 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 In 1947, constitutional rule was established, but because of the ongoing unrest, many provisions of the ROC constitution were never implemented in mainland China

People's Republic of China 1949–present

Main article: History of the People's Republic of China Mao Zedong proclaiming the establishment of the PRC in 1949

Major combat in the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with the Communist Party in control of most of mainland China, and the Kuomintang retreating offshore, reducing the ROC's territory to only Taiwan, Hainan, and their surrounding islands On 1 October 1949, Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China In 1950, the People's Liberation Army succeeded in capturing Hainan from the ROC and incorporating Tibet However, remaining Nationalist forces continued to wage an insurgency in western China throughout the 1950s

Mao's regime consolidated its popularity among the peasants through the land reform with between 1 and 2 million landlords executed Under its leadership, China developed an independent industrial system and its own nuclear weapons The Chinese population almost doubled from around 550 million to over 900 million However, Mao's Great Leap Forward, a large-scale economic and social reform project, resulted in an estimated 45 million deaths between 1958 and 1961, mostly from starvation In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, sparking a decade of political recrimination and social upheaval which lasted until Mao's death in 1976 In October 1971, the PRC replaced the Republic of China in the United Nations, and took its seat as a permanent member of the Security Council

In 1976, Mao died The Gang of Four was quickly arrested and held responsible for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution In 1978 Deng Xiaoping took power and instituted significant economic reforms The Communist Party loosened governmental control over citizens' personal lives, and the communes were gradually disbanded in favor of private land leases This marked China's transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy with an increasingly open market environment China adopted its current constitution on 4 December 1982 In 1989, the violent suppression of student protests in Tiananmen Square brought condemnation and sanctions against the Chinese government from various countries

Jiang Zemin, Li Peng and Zhu Rongji led the nation in the 1990s Under their administration, China's economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty and sustained an average annual gross domestic product growth rate of 112% The country formally joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and maintained its high rate of economic growth under Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao's leadership in the 2000s However, rapid growth also severely impacted the country's resources and environment, and caused major social displacement Living standards continued to improve rapidly despite the late-2000s recession, but centralized political control remained tight

Preparations for a decadal Communist Party leadership change in 2012 were marked by factional disputes and political scandals During China's 18th National Communist Party Congress in November 2012, Hu Jintao was replaced as General Secretary of the Communist Party by Xi Jinping Under Xi, the Chinese government began large-scale efforts to reform its economy, which has suffered from structural instabilities and slowing growth The Xi–Li Administration also announced major reforms to the one-child policy and prison system


Main article: Geography of China A composite satellite image showing the topography of China Longsheng Rice Terrace in Guangxi The Li River in Guangxi Köppen climate types of China

Political geography

Main articles: Borders of China and Territorial changes of the People's Republic of China

The People's Republic of China is the second-largest country in the world by land area after Russia, and is either the third- or fourth-largest by total area, after Russia, Canada and, depending on the definition of total area, the United States China's total area is generally stated as being approximately 9,600,000 km2 3,700,000 sq mi Specific area figures range from 9,572,900 km2 3,696,100 sq mi according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, 9,596,961 km2 3,705,407 sq mi according to the UN Demographic Yearbook, to 9,596,961 km2 3,705,407 sq mi according to the CIA World Factbook

China has the longest combined land border in the world, measuring 22,117 km 13,743 mi from the mouth of the Yalu River to the Gulf of Tonkin China borders 14 nations, more than any other country except Russia, which also borders 14 China extends across much of East Asia, bordering Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar Burma in Southeast Asia; India, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in South Asia; Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in Central Asia; and Russia, Mongolia, and North Korea in Inner Asia and Northeast Asia Additionally, China shares maritime boundaries with South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines

Landscape and climate

The South China Sea coast at Hainan Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan

The territory of China lies between latitudes 18° and 54° N, and longitudes 73° and 135° E China's landscapes vary significantly across its vast width In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains, while on the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, broad grasslands predominate Southern China is dominated by hills and low mountain ranges, while the central-east hosts the deltas of China's two major rivers, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River Other major rivers include the Xi, Mekong, Brahmaputra and Amur To the west 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 8,848m, 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 −154m in the Turpan Depression

China's climate is mainly dominated by dry seasons and wet monsoons, which lead to pronounced temperature differences between winter and summer In the winter, northern winds coming from high-latitude areas are cold and dry; in summer, southern winds from coastal areas at lower latitudes are warm and moist The climate in China differs from region to region because of the country's highly complex topography

A major environmental issue in China is the continued expansion of its 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 have resulted in dust storms plaguing northern China each spring, which then spread to other parts of east Asia, including Korea and Japan China's environmental watchdog, SEPA, stated in 2007 that China is losing a million acres 4,000 km² per year to desertification Water quality, erosion, and pollution control have become important issues in China's relations with other countries Melting glaciers in the Himalayas could potentially lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people


Main article: Wildlife of China A giant panda, China's most famous endangered and endemic species, at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan

China is one of 17 megadiverse countries, lying in two of the world's major ecozones: the Palearctic and the Indomalaya By one measure, China has over 34,687 species of animals and vascular plants, making it the third-most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil and Colombia The country signed the Rio de Janeiro Convention on Biological Diversity on 11 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 5 January 1993 It later produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with one revision that was received by the convention on 21 September 2010

China is home to at least 551 species of mammals the third-highest such number in the world, 1,221 species of birds eighth, 424 species of reptiles seventh and 333 species of amphibians seventh China is the most biodiverse country in each category outside the tropics Wildlife in China share habitat with and bear acute pressure from the world's largest population of homo sapiens At least 840 animal species are threatened, vulnerable or in danger of local extinction in China, due mainly to human activity such as habitat destruction, pollution and poaching for food, fur and ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine Endangered wildlife is protected by law, and as of 2005, the country has over 2,349 nature reserves, covering a total area of 14995 million hectares, 15 percent of China's total land area

China has over 32,000 species of vascular plants, and is home to a variety of forest types Cold coniferous forests predominate in the north of the country, supporting animal species such as moose and Asian black bear, along with over 120 bird species The understorey of moist conifer forests may contain thickets of bamboo In higher montane stands of juniper and yew, the bamboo is replaced by rhododendrons Subtropical forests, which are predominate in central and southern China, support as many as 146,000 species of flora Tropical and seasonal rainforests, though confined to Yunnan and Hainan Island, contain a quarter of all the animal and plant species found in China China has over 10,000 recorded species of fungi, and of them, nearly 6,000 are higher fungi

Environmental issues

Main article: Environmental issues in China See also: Water resources of China Wind turbines in Xinjiang The Dabancheng project is one of Asia's largest wind farms

In recent decades, China has suffered from severe environmental deterioration and pollution While regulations such as the 1979 Environmental Protection Law are fairly stringent, they are poorly enforced, as they are frequently disregarded by local communities and government officials in favor of rapid economic development Urban air pollution is a severe health issue in the country; the World Bank estimated in 2013 that 16 of the world's 20 most-polluted cities are located in China China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter The country also has significant water pollution problems: 40% of China's rivers had been polluted by industrial and agricultural waste by late 2011 In 2014, the internal freshwater resources per capita of China reduced to 2,062m3, and it was below 500m3 in the North China Plain, while 5,920m3 in the world

However, China is the world's leading investor in renewable energy commercialization, with $52 billion invested in 2011 alone; it is a major manufacturer of renewable energy technologies and invests heavily in local-scale renewable energy projects By 2009, over 17% of China's energy was derived from renewable sources – most notably hydroelectric power plants, of which China has a total installed capacity of 197 GW In 2011, the Chinese government announced plans to invest four trillion yuan US$619 billion in water infrastructure and desalination projects over a ten-year period, and to complete construction of a flood prevention and anti-drought system by 2020 In 2013, China began a five-year, US$277 billion effort to reduce air pollution, particularly in the north of the country


Main article: Politics of the People's Republic of China Tiananmen with a portrait of Mao Zedong

China's constitution states that The People's Republic of China "is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants," and that the state organs "apply the principle of democratic centralism" The PRC is one of the world's few remaining socialist states openly endorsing communism see Ideology of the Communist Party of China The Chinese government has been variously described as communist and socialist, but also as authoritarian and corporatist, with heavy restrictions in many areas, most notably against free access to the Internet, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, the right to have children, free formation of social organizations and freedom of religion Its current political, ideological and economic system has been termed by its leaders as the "people's democratic dictatorship", "socialism with Chinese characteristics" which is Marxism adapted to Chinese circumstances and the "socialist market economy" respectively

Communist Party

China's constitution declares that the country is ruled "under the leadership" of the Communist Party of China CPC The electoral system is pyramidal Local People's Congresses are directly elected, and higher levels of People's Congresses up to the National People's Congress NPC are indirectly elected by the People's Congress of the level immediately below The political system is decentralized, and provincial and sub-provincial leaders have a significant amount of autonomy Other political parties, referred to as democratic parties, have representatives in the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference CPPCC

Compared to its closed-door policies until the mid-1970s, the administrative climate is less restrictive than before China supports the Leninist principle of "democratic centralism", but critics describe the elected National People's Congress as a "rubber stamp" body


Main article: Government of China The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where the National People's Congress convenes Monument in Tiananmen Square marking the 90th anniversary of the CPC

The President of China is the titular head of state, serving as the ceremonial figurehead under National People's Congress The Premier of China is the head of government, presiding over the State Council composed of four vice premiers and the heads of ministries and commissions The incumbent president is Xi Jinping, who is also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, making him China's paramount leader The incumbent premier is Li Keqiang, who is also a senior member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee, China's de facto top decision-making body

There have been some moves toward political liberalization, in that open contested elections are now held at the village and town levels 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 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 survey

Administrative divisions

Main articles: Administrative divisions of China, Districts of Hong Kong, and Municipalities of Macau

The People's Republic of China has administrative control over 22 provinces and considers Taiwan to be its 23rd province, although Taiwan is currently and independently governed by the Republic of China, which disputes the PRC's claim China also has five subdivisions officially termed autonomous regions, each with a designated minority group; four municipalities; and two Special Administrative Regions SARs, which enjoy a degree of political autonomy These 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities can be collectively referred to as "mainland China", a term which usually excludes the SARs of Hong Kong and Macau None of these divisions are recognized by the ROC government, which claims the entirety of the PRC's territory

Foreign relations

Main article: Foreign relations of China Chinese President Xi Jinping holds hands with fellow BRICS leaders at the 2014 G20 Brisbane summit in Australia

The PRC has diplomatic relations with 173 countries and maintains embassies in 162 Its legitimacy is disputed by the Republic of China and a few other countries; it is thus the largest and most populous state with limited recognition In 1971, the PRC replaced the Republic of China as the sole representative of China in the United Nations and as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council China was also a former member and leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, and still considers itself an advocate for developing countries Along with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, China is a member of the BRICS group of emerging major economies and hosted the group's third official summit at Sanya, Hainan in April 2011

Under its interpretation of the One-China policy, Beijing has made it a precondition to establishing diplomatic relations that the other country acknowledges its claim to Taiwan and severs official ties with the government of the Republic of China Chinese officials have protested on numerous occasions when foreign countries have made diplomatic overtures to Taiwan, especially in the matter of armament sales

Much of current Chinese foreign policy is reportedly based on Premier Zhou Enlai's Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and is also driven by the concept of "harmony without uniformity", which encourages diplomatic relations between states despite ideological differences This policy may have led China to support states that are regarded as dangerous or repressive by Western nations, such as Zimbabwe, North Korea and Iran China has a close economic and military relationship with Russia, and the two states often vote in unison in the UN Security Council

Chinese President Xi Jinping with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, 14 May 2013

Trade relations

In recent decades, China has played an increasing role in calling for free trade areas and security pacts amongst its Asia-Pacific neighbours In 2004, it proposed an entirely new East Asia Summit EAS framework as a forum for regional security issues The EAS, which includes ASEAN Plus Three, India, Australia and New Zealand, held its inaugural summit in 2005 China is also a founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization SCO, along with Russia and the Central Asian republics China became a member of the World Trade Organization WTO on 11 December 2001

In 2000, the United States Congress approved "permanent normal trade relations" PNTR with China, allowing Chinese exports in at the same low tariffs as goods from most other countries China has a significant trade surplus with the United States, its most important export market In the early 2010s, US politicians argued that the Chinese yuan was significantly undervalued, giving China an unfair trade advantage In recent decades, China has followed a policy of engaging with African nations for trade and bilateral co-operation; in 2012, Sino-African trade totalled over US$160 billion China has furthermore strengthened its ties with major South American economies, becoming the largest trading partner of Brazil and building strategic links with Argentina

Territorial disputes

Map depicting territorial disputes between the PRC and neighbouring states For a larger map, see here Main article: Foreign relations of China § International territorial disputes See also: List of wars involving the People's Republic of China and One-China policy

Ever since its establishment after the second Chinese Civil War, the PRC has been claiming the territories governed by the Republic of China ROC, a separate political entity today commonly known as Taiwan, as a part of its territory, which includes the island of Taiwan as Taiwan Province, Kinmen and Matsu as a part of Fujian Province and islands the ROC controls in the South China Sea as a part of Hainan Province and Guangdong Province These claims are controversial because of the complicated Cross-Strait relations, and has been one of the most important principles in Chinese diplomacy

In addition to Taiwan, China is also involved in other international territorial disputes Since the 1990s, China has been involved in negotiations to resolve its disputed land borders, including a disputed border with India and an undefined border with Bhutan China is additionally involved in multilateral disputes over the ownership of several small islands in the East and South China Seas, such as the Senkaku Islands and the Scarborough Shoal On 21 May 2014 President Xi, speaking at a conference in Shanghai, pledged to settle China's territorial disputes peacefully "China stays committed to seeking peaceful settlement of disputes with other countries over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests", he said

Emerging superpower status

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

Sociopolitical issues, human rights, and reform

See also: Human rights in China, Hukou system, Social welfare in China, Elections in the People's Republic of China, Censorship in China, and Feminism in China Protests in support of Cantonese media localization in Guangzhou, 2010

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 significantly 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 Although some criticisms of government policies and the ruling Communist Party are tolerated, censorship of political speech and information, most notably on the Internet, are routinely used to prevent collective action In 2005, Reporters Without Borders ranked China 159th out of 167 states in its Annual World Press Freedom Index, indicating a very low level of press freedom In 2014, China ranked 175th out of 180 countries

Rural migrants to China's cities often find themselves treated as second-class citizens by the hukou household registration system, which controls access to state benefits Property rights are often poorly protected, and taxation disproportionately affects poorer citizens However, a number of rural taxes have been reduced or abolished since the early 2000s, and additional social services provided to rural dwellers

A number of foreign governments, foreign press agencies and NGOs also routinely criticize China's human rights record, alleging widespread civil rights violations such as detention without trial, forced abortions, forced confessions, torture, restrictions of fundamental rights, and excessive use of the death penalty The government has suppressed popular protests and demonstrations that it considers a potential threat to "social stability", as was the case with the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989

Falun Gong was first taught publicly in 1992 In 1999, when there were 70 million practitioners, the persecution of Falun Gong began, resulting in mass arrests, extralegal detention, and reports of torture and deaths in custody The Chinese state is regularly accused of large-scale repression and human rights abuses in Tibet and Xinjiang, including violent police crackdowns and religious suppression

The Chinese government has responded to foreign criticism by arguing that the right to subsistence and economic development is a prerequisite to other types of human rights, and that the notion of human rights should take into account a country's present level of economic development It emphasizes the rise in the Chinese standard of living, literacy rate and average life expectancy since the 1970s, as well as improvements in workplace safety and efforts to combat natural disasters such as the perennial Yangtze River floods Furthermore, some Chinese politicians have spoken out in support of democratization, although others remain more conservative Some major reform efforts have been conducted; for an instance in November 2013, the government announced plans to relax the one-child policy and abolish the much-criticized re-education through labour program, though human rights groups note that reforms to the latter have been largely cosmetic During the 2000s and early 2010s, the Chinese government was increasingly tolerant of NGOs that offer practical, efficient solutions to social problems, but such "third sector" activity remained heavily regulated


Main articles: Military history of China before 1911 and People's Liberation Army A PLAAF Chengdu J-10 fighter aircraft The Lanzhou DDG170, a Type 052C destroyer of the PLAN

With 23 million active troops, the People's Liberation Army PLA is the largest standing military force in the world, commanded by the Central Military Commission CMC The PLA consists of the Ground Force PLAGF, the Navy PLAN, the Air Force PLAAF, and the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force PLARF According to the Chinese government, China's military budget for 2014 totalled US$132 billion, constituting the world's second-largest military budget However, many authorities – including SIPRI and the US Office of the Secretary of Defense – argue that China does not report its real level of military spending, which is allegedly much higher than the official budget

As a recognized nuclear weapons state, China is considered both a major regional military power and a potential military superpower According to a 2013 report by the US Department of Defense, China fields between 50 and 75 nuclear ICBMs, along with a number of SRBMs However, compared with the other four UN Security Council Permanent Members, China has relatively limited power projection capabilities To offset this, it has developed numerous power projection assets since the early 2000s – its first aircraft carrier entered service in 2012, and it maintains a substantial fleet of submarines, including several nuclear-powered attack and ballistic missile submarines China has furthermore established a network of foreign military relationships along critical sea lanes

China has made significant progress in modernising its air force in recent decades, purchasing Russian fighter jets such as the Sukhoi Su-30, and also manufacturing its own modern fighters, most notably the Chengdu J-10, J-20 and the Shenyang J-11, J-15, J-16, and J-31 China is furthermore engaged in developing an indigenous stealth aircraft and numerous combat drones Air and Sea denial weaponry advances have increased the regional threat from the perspective of Japan as well as Washington China has also updated its ground forces, replacing its ageing Soviet-derived tank inventory with numerous variants of the modern Type 99 tank, and upgrading its battlefield C3I and C4I systems to enhance its network-centric warfare capabilities In addition, China has developed or acquired numerous advanced missile systems, including anti-satellite missiles, cruise missiles and submarine-launched nuclear ICBMs According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's data, China became the world's third largest exporter of major arms in 2010–14, an increase of 143 per cent from the period 2005–09


Main articles: Economy of China, Agriculture in China, and List of Chinese administrative divisions by GDP China and other major developing economies by GDP per capita at purchasing-power parity, 1990–2013 The rapid economic growth of China red is readily apparent The Shanghai Stock Exchange building in Shanghai's Lujiazui financial district Shanghai has the 25th-largest city GDP in the world, totalling US$304 billion in 2011

As of 2014, China has the world's second-largest economy in terms of nominal GDP, totalling approximately US$10380 trillion according to the International Monetary Fund If purchasing power parity PPP is taken into account, China's economy is the largest in the world, with a 2014 PPP GDP of US$17617 trillion In 2013, its PPP GDP per capita was US$12,880, while its nominal GDP per capita was US$7,589 Both cases put China behind around eighty countries out of 183 countries on the IMF list in global GDP per capita rankings

Economic history and growth

Main article: Economic history of China 1949–present

From its founding in 1949 until late 1978, the People's Republic of China was a Soviet-style centrally planned economy Following Mao's death in 1976 and the consequent end of the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping and the new Chinese leadership began to reform the economy and move towards a more market-oriented mixed economy under one-party rule Agricultural collectivization was dismantled and farmlands privatized, while foreign trade became a major new focus, leading to the creation of Special Economic Zones SEZs Inefficient state-owned enterprises SOEs were restructured and unprofitable ones were closed outright, resulting in massive job losses Modern-day China is mainly characterized as having a market economy based on private property ownership, and is one of the leading examples of state capitalism The state still dominates in strategic "pillar" sectors such as energy production and heavy industries, but private enterprise has expanded enormously, with around 30 million private businesses recorded in 2008

Nanjing Road, a major shopping street in Shanghai

Since economic liberalization began in 1978, China has been among the world's fastest-growing economies, relying largely on investment- and export-led growth According to the IMF, China's annual average GDP growth between 2001 and 2010 was 105% Between 2007 and 2011, China's economic growth rate was equivalent to all of the G7 countries' growth combined According to the Global Growth Generators index announced by Citigroup in February 2011, China has a very high 3G growth rating Its high productivity, low labor costs and relatively good infrastructure have made it a global leader in manufacturing However, the Chinese economy is highly energy-intensive and inefficient; China became the world's largest energy consumer in 2010, relies on coal to supply over 70% of its energy needs, and surpassed the US to become the world's largest oil importer in September 2013 In the early 2010s, China's economic growth rate began to slow amid domestic credit troubles, weakening international demand for Chinese exports and fragility in the global economy

In the online realm, China's e-commerce industry has grown more slowly than the EU and the US, with a significant period of development occurring from around 2009 onwards According to Credit Suisse, the total value of online transactions in China grew from an insignificant size in 2008 to around RMB 4 trillion US$660 billion in 2012 The Chinese online payment market is dominated by major firms such as Alipay, Tenpay and China UnionPay

China in the global economy

China is a member of the WTO and is the world's largest trading power, with a total international trade value of US$387 trillion in 2012 Its foreign exchange reserves reached US$285 trillion by the end of 2010, an increase of 187% over the previous year, making its reserves by far the world's largest In 2012, China was the world's largest recipient of inward foreign direct investment FDI, attracting $253 billion In 2014, China's foreign exchange remittances were $US64 billion making it the second largest recipient of remittances in the world China also invests abroad, with a total outward FDI of $624 billion in 2012, and a number of major takeovers of foreign firms by Chinese companies In 2009, China owned an estimated $16 trillion of US securities, and was also the largest foreign holder of US public debt, owning over $116 trillion in US Treasury bonds China's undervalued exchange rate has caused friction with other major economies, and it has also been widely criticized for manufacturing large quantities of counterfeit goods According to consulting firm McKinsey, total outstanding debt in China increased from $74 trillion in 2007 to $282 trillion in 2014, which reflects 228% of China's GDP, a percentage higher than that of some G20 nations

Graph comparing the 2014 nominal GDPs
of major economies in US$ billions IMF

China ranked 29th in the Global Competitiveness Index in 2009, although it is only ranked 136th among the 179 countries measured in the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom In 2014, Fortune's Global 500 list of the world's largest corporations included 95 Chinese companies, with combined revenues of US$58 trillion The same year, Forbes reported that five of the world's ten largest public companies were Chinese, including the world's largest bank by total assets, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

Class and income equality

See also: Income inequality in China

China's middle-class population if defined as those with annual income of between US$10,000 and US$60,000 had reached more than 300 million by 2012 According to the Hurun Report, the number of US dollar billionaires in China increased from 130 in 2009 to 251 in 2012, giving China the world's second-highest number of billionaires China's domestic retail market was worth over 20 trillion yuan US$32 trillion in 2012 and is growing at over 12% annually as of 2013, while the country's luxury goods market has expanded immensely, with 275% of the global share However, in recent years, China's rapid economic growth has contributed to severe consumer inflation, leading to increased government regulation China has a high level of economic inequality, which has increased in the past few decades In 2012, China's Gini coefficient was 0474

Internationalization of the renminbi

Main article: Internationalization of the renminbi

Since 2008 global financial crisis, China realized the dependency of US Dollar and the weakness of the international monetary system The RMB Internationalization accelerated in 2009 when China established dim sum bond market and expanded the Cross-Border Trade RMB Settlement Pilot Project, which helps establish pools of offshore RMB liquidity

In November 2010, Russia began using the Chinese renminbi in its bilateral trade with China This was soon followed by 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 in 2013

Science and technology

Main articles: Science and technology in China and Chinese space program