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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of China

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    China
Definition Field Listing
For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences. But in the 19th and early 20th centuries, China was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established a dictatorship that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, his successor DENG Xiaoping gradually introduced market-oriented reforms and decentralized economic decision making, and output quadrupled by 2000. Political controls remain tight even while economic controls continue to be relaxed.
   Geography    China
Definition Field Listing
Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
35 00 N, 105 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
total: 9,596,960 sq km
land: 9,326,410 sq km
water: 270,550 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than the US
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 22,147.34 km
border countries: Afghanistan 76 km, Bhutan 470 km, Burma 2,185 km, Hong Kong 30 km, India 3,380 km, Kazakhstan 1,533 km, North Korea 1,416 km, Kyrgyzstan 858 km, Laos 423 km, Macau 0.34 km, Mongolia 4,677 km, Nepal 1,236 km, Pakistan 523 km, Russia (northeast) 3,605 km, Russia (northwest) 40 km, Tajikistan 414 km, Vietnam 1,281 km
Definition Field Listing
14,500 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
territorial sea: 12 NM
Definition Field Listing
extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north
Definition Field Listing
mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Turpan Pendi -154 m
highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m (1999 est.)
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest)
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 13.31%
permanent crops: 1.2%
other: 85.49% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
525,800 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts; land subsidence
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
air pollution (greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide particulates) from reliance on coal, produces acid rain; water shortages, particularly in the north; water pollution from untreated wastes; deforestation; estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1949 to soil erosion and economic development; desertification; trade in endangered species
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
world's fourth-largest country (after Russia, Canada, and US); Mount Everest on the border with Nepal, is the world's tallest peak; soybean, one of the oldest of cultivated crops, is believed to have originated in China
   People    China
Definition Field Listing
1,284,303,705 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 24.3% (male 163,821,081; female 148,855,387)
15-64 years: 68.4% (male 452,354,428; female 426,055,713)
65 years and over: 7.3% (male 43,834,528; female 49,382,568) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.87% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
15.85 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
6.77 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-0.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing
27.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 71.86 years
female: 73.86 years (2002 est.)
male: 70.02 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.82 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
less than 0.2% (2000-01 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
1.25 million (January 2001)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
17,000 (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Chinese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Han Chinese 91.9%, Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%
Definition Field Listing
Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Muslim 1%-2%, Christian 3%-4%
note: officially atheist (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 81.5%
male: 89.9%
female: 72.7% (1995 est.)
   Government    China
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: People's Republic of China
conventional short form: China
local short form: Zhong Guo
abbreviation: PRC
local long form: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
Communist state
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
23 provinces (sheng, singular and plural), 5 autonomous regions* (zizhiqu, singular and plural), and 4 municipalities** (shi, singular and plural); Anhui, Beijing**, Chongqing**, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi*, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol*, Ningxia*, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanghai**, Shanxi, Sichuan, Tianjin**, Xinjiang*, Xizang* (Tibet), Yunnan, Zhejiang; note - China considers Taiwan its 23rd province; see separate entries for the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau
Definition Field Listing
221 BC (unification under the Qin or Ch'in Dynasty 221 BC; Qing or Ch'ing Dynasty replaced by the Republic on 12 February 1912; People's Republic established 1 October 1949)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China, 1 October (1949)
Definition Field Listing
most recent promulgation 4 December 1982
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
a complex amalgam of custom and statute, largely criminal law; rudimentary civil code in effect since 1 January 1987; new legal codes in effect since 1 January 1980; continuing efforts are being made to improve civil, administrative, criminal, and commercial law
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Hu Jintao (since 15 March 2003) and Vice President ZENG Qinghong (since 15 March 2003)
elections: president and vice president elected by the National People's Congress for five-year terms; elections last held 16-18 March 1998 (next to be held NA March 2003); premier nominated by the president, confirmed by the National People's Congress
head of government: Premier WEN Jiabao (since 16 March 2003); Vice Premiers QIAN Qichen (since 29 March 1993), LI Lanqing (29 March 1993), WU Bangguo (since 17 March 1995), and WEN Jiabao (since 18 March 1998)
cabinet: State Council appointed by the National People's Congress (NPC)
election results: JIANG Zemin reelected president by the Ninth National People's Congress with a total of 2,882 votes (36 delegates voted against him, 29 abstained, and 32 did not vote); HU Jintao elected vice president by the Ninth National People's Congress with a total of 2,841 votes (67 delegates voted against him, 39 abstained, and 32 did not vote)
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
unicameral National People's Congress or Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui (2,979 seats; members elected by municipal, regional, and provincial people's congresses to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held NA December 1997-NA February 1998 (next to be held late 2002-NA March 2003)
election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats - NA
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
Supreme People's Court (judges appointed by the National People's Congress); Local Peoples Courts (comprise higher, intermediate and local courts); Special Peoples Courts (primarily military, maritime, and railway transport courts)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Chinese Communist Party or CCP [HU Jintao, General Secretary of the Central Committee]; eight registered small parties controlled by CCP
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
no substantial political opposition groups exist, although the government has identified the Falungong sect and the China Democracy Party as potential rivals
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador YANG Jiechi
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2582
telephone: [1] (202) 328-2500
chancery: 2300 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Clark T. RANDT, Jr.
embassy: Xiu Shui Bei Jie 3, 100600 Beijing
mailing address: PSC 461, Box 50, FPO AP 96521-0002
telephone: [86] (10) 6532-3431
FAX: [86] (10) 6532-6929
consulate(s) general: Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenyang
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner
   Economy    China
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
In late 1978 the Chinese leadership began moving the economy from a sluggish Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented system. Whereas the system operates within a political framework of strict Communist control, the economic influence of non-state organizations and individual citizens has been steadily increasing. The authorities have switched to a system of household and village responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprise in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment. The result has been a quadrupling of GDP since 1978. In 2002, with its 1.28 billion people but a GDP of just $4,600 per capita, China stood as the second largest economy in the world after the US (measured on a purchasing power parity basis). Agriculture and industry have posted major gains, especially in coastal areas near Hong Kong and opposite Taiwan, where foreign investment has helped spur output of both domestic and export goods. On the darker side, the leadership has often experienced in its hybrid system the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy and lassitude) and of capitalism (windfall gains and growing income disparities). Beijing thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. The government has struggled to (a) collect revenues due from provinces, businesses, and individuals; (b) reduce corruption and other economic crimes; and (c) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises many of which had been shielded from competition by subsidies and had been losing the ability to pay full wages and pensions. From 80 to 120 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time low-paying jobs. Popular resistance, changes in central policy, and loss of authority by rural cadres have weakened China's population control program, which is essential to maintaining long-term growth in living standards. Another long-term threat to growth is the deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table especially in the north. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. Beijing will intensify efforts to stimulate growth through spending on infrastructure - such as water control and power grids - and poverty relief and through rural tax reform aimed at eliminating arbitrary local levies on farmers. Access to the World Trade Organization strengthens China's ability to maintain sturdy growth rates, and at the same time puts additional pressure on the hybrid system of strong political controls and growing market influences. Although Beijing has claimed 7%-8% annual growth in recent years, many observers believe the rate, while strong, is more like 5%.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $6 trillion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
8% (official estimate) (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $4,600 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 18%
industry: 49%
services: 33% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
10% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 30% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
40 (2001)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
-0.8% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
706 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 50%, industry 23%, services 27% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
urban unemployment roughly 10%; substantial unemployment and underemployment in rural areas (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $161.8 billion
expenditures: $191.8 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000)
Definition Field Listing
iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, textiles and apparel, petroleum, cement, chemical fertilizers, footwear, toys, food processing, automobiles, consumer electronics, telecommunications
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
13.5% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
1.308 trillion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 82%
hydro: 17%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 1%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
1.206 trillion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
10.25 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
400 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
rice, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed; pork; fish
Definition Field Listing
$312.8 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment; textiles and clothing, footwear, toys and sporting goods; mineral fuels
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 20.4%, Hong Kong 17.5%, Japan 16.9%, South Korea 4.7%, Germany 3.7%, Netherlands 2.7%, UK 2.6%, Singapore 2.2%, Taiwan (2001)
Definition Field Listing
$268.6 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, plastics, iron and steel, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Japan 17.6%, Taiwan 11.2%, US 10.8%, South Korea 9.6%, Germany 5.7%, Hong Kong 3.9%, Russia 3.3%, Malaysia 2.5% (2001)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$149.4 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
yuan (CNY)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
yuan per US dollar - 8.2767 (January 2002), 8.2771 (2001), 8.2785 (2000), 8.2783 (1999), 8.2790 (1998), 8.2898 (1997)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    China
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
135 million (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
65 million (January 2001)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: domestic and international services are increasingly available for private use; unevenly distributed domestic system serves principal cities, industrial centers, and many towns
domestic: interprovincial fiber-optic trunk lines and cellular telephone systems have been installed; a domestic satellite system with 55 earth stations is in place
international: satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific and Indian Ocean regions); several international fiber-optic links to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Russia, and Germany (2000)
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 369, FM 259, shortwave 45 (1998)
Definition Field Listing
417 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
3,240 (of which 209 are operated by China Central Television, 31 are provincial TV stations and nearly 3,000 are local city stations) (1997)
Definition Field Listing
400 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
3 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
45.8 million (2002)
   Transportation    China
Definition Field Listing
total: 67,524 km (including 5,400 km of provincial "local" rails)
standard gauge: 63,924 km 1.435-m gauge (13,362 km electrified; 20,250 km double-track)
narrow gauge: 3,600 km 0.750-m and 1.000-m gauge local industrial lines (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
total: 1.4 million km
paved: 271,300 km (with at least 16,000 km of expressways)
unpaved: 1,128,700 km (1999)
Definition Field Listing
110,000 km (1999)
Definition Field Listing
crude oil 9,070 km; petroleum products 560 km; natural gas 9,383 km (1998)
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Dalian, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Huangpu, Lianyungang, Nanjing, Nantong, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shantou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wenzhou, Xiamen, Xingang, Yantai, Zhanjiang (2001)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1,764 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 16,915,047 GRT/25,366,296 DWT
ships by type: barge carrier 2, bulk 328, cargo 822, chemical tanker 25, combination bulk 10, combination ore/oil 1, container 134, liquefied gas 26, multi-functional large-load carrier 6, passenger 7, passenger/cargo 45, petroleum tanker 263, refrigerated cargo 26, roll on/roll off 23, short-sea passenger 42, specialized tanker 3, vehicle carrier 1
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Croatia 1, Germany 1, Hong Kong 16, Japan 2, Panama 2, South Korea 1, Spain 1, Taiwan 9, Tanzania 1, Turkey 1 (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
489 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 324
over 3,047 m: 27
2,438 to 3,047 m: 88
1,524 to 2,437 m: 147
914 to 1,523 m: 30
under 914 m: 32 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 165
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 29
914 to 1,523 m: 56
under 914 m: 78 (2002)
   Military    China
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
People's Liberation Army (PLA): comprises ground forces, Navy (including naval infantry and naval aviation), Air Force, and II Artillery Corps (strategic missile force), People's Armed Police Force (internal security troops, nominally a state security body but included by the Chinese as part of the "armed forces" and considered to be an adjunct to the PLA), militia
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 370,087,489 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 203,003,036 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 10,089,458 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$20.048 billion (2002); note - this is the officially announced figure, but actual defense spending more likely ranges from $45 billion to $65 billion for 2002
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
1.6% (2002); note - this is the officially announced figure, but actual defense spending is more likely between 3.5% to 5.0% of GDP for 2002
   Transnational Issues    China
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
in 2000, China joined ASEAN discussions towards creating a South China Sea "code of conduct" - a non-legally binding, confidence-building measure; much of the rugged, militarized boundary with India is in dispute, but talks to resolve the least contested middle sector resumed in 2001; ongoing talks with Tajikistan have failed to resolve the longstanding dispute over the indefinite boundary; Kazakhstan is working rapidly with China to delimit its large open borders to control population migration, illegal activities, and trade; 2001 Treaty of Good Neighborliness, Friendship, and Cooperation commits Russia and China to seek peaceable unanimity over disputed alluvial islands at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri rivers and a small island on the Argun; involved in a complex dispute over the Spratly Islands with Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei; maritime boundary agreement with Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin awaits ratification; Paracel Islands occupied by China, but claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; claims Japanese-administered Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Tai), as does Taiwan; demarcation of the land boundary with Vietnam has commenced, but details of the alignment have not been made public; 33-km section of boundary with North Korea in the Paektu-san (mountain) area is indefinite
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
major transshipment point for heroin produced in the Golden Triangle; growing domestic drug abuse problem; source country for chemical precursors and methamphetamine

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

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