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China, officially the People's Republic of China ( PRC), is a country in . It is the world's most populous country, with a population exceeding 1.4 billion, slightly ahead of . China spans the equivalent of five and borders fourteen countries by land, the most of any country in the world, tied with . China also has a narrow maritime boundary with the disputed . Covering an area of approximately , it is the world's third largest country by total land area. The country consists of 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four municipalities, and two Special Administrative Regions ( and ). The national capital is , and the most populous city and is .

Modern Chinese trace their origins to a cradle of civilization in the fertile basin of the in the North China Plain. The semi-legendary in the 21st century BCE and the well-attested and dynasties developed a bureaucratic political system to serve hereditary monarchies, or dynasties. , , and the Hundred Schools of Thought emerged during this period and influenced China and its neighbors for centuries to come. In the third century BCE, Qin's wars of unification created the first Chinese empire, the short-lived . The Qin was followed by the more stable (206 BCE – 220 CE), which established a model for nearly two millennia in which the Chinese empire was one of the world's foremost economic powers. The empire expanded, fractured and re-unified, was conquered and reestablished, absorbed foreign religions and ideas, and made world-leading scientific advances, such as the Four Great Inventions: , , the , and . After centuries of disunion following the fall of the Han, the (581–618) and (618–907) dynasties reunified the empire. The multi-ethnic Tang welcomed foreign trade and culture that came over the and adapted to Chinese needs. The (960–1279) became increasingly urban and commercial. The civilian used the examination system and the doctrines of to replace the military aristocrats of earlier dynasties. The established the in 1279, but the (1368–1644) re-established Han Chinese control. The -led nearly doubled the empire's territory and established a multi-ethnic state that was the basis of the modern Chinese nation, but suffered heavy to foreign in the 19th century.

The Chinese monarchy collapsed in 1912 with the Xinhai Revolution, when the Republic of China (ROC) replaced the Qing dynasty. In its early years as a republic, the country underwent a period of instability known as the before mostly reunifying in 1928 under a Nationalist government. A civil war between the nationalist (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began in 1927. Japan invaded China in 1937, starting the Second Sino-Japanese War and temporarily halting the civil war. The surrender and expulsion of Japanese forces from China in 1945 left a in the country, which led to renewed fighting between the CCP and the Kuomintang. The civil war ended in 1949 with the ; the CCP established the People's Republic of China on the while the Kuomintang-led ROC government retreated to the island of Taiwan. Both claim to be the sole legitimate government of China, although the has recognized the PRC as the sole representation since 1971. From 1959 to 1961, the PRC implemented an economic and social campaign called the Great Leap Forward, that resulted in a sharp economic decline and an estimated 15 to 55 million deaths, mostly through man-made famine. From 1966 to 1976, the turbulent period of political and social chaos within China known as the Cultural Revolution led to greater economic and educational decline, with millions being or subjected to either persecution or politicide based on categories. Since then, the Chinese government has rebuked some of the earlier policies, conducting a series of political and economic reforms since 1978, which has greatly raised Chinese standards of living, and increased life expectancies.

China is currently governed as a Marxist–Leninist socialist republic by the CCP. China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a founding member of several multilateral and regional cooperation organizations such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund, the New Development Bank, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and the RCEP, and is a member of the , the G8+5, the G20, the APEC, and the East Asia Summit. It ranks among the lowest in measurements of , government transparency, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and ethnic minorities. The Chinese authorities have been criticized by human rights activists and non-governmental organizations for human rights abuses, including political repression, mass censorship, mass surveillance of their citizens, and violent suppression of protests.

Making up around one-fifth of the world economy, China is the world's largest economy by GDP by purchasing power parity, the second-largest economy by nominal GDP, and the second-wealthiest country. The country is one of the fastest growing major economies and is the world's largest manufacturer and exporter. China is a recognized nuclear-weapon state with the world's largest standing army by military personnel and second-largest defense budget. China is considered to be a potential superpower due to its large markets, high innovation, economic potential, growing military strength, and influence in international affairs.

The word "China" has been used in English since the 16th century; however, it was not a word used by the Chinese themselves during this period. Its origin has been traced through Portuguese, Malay, and back to the word Chīna, used in . "China" appears in Richard Eden's 1555 translation of the 1516 journal of the Portuguese explorer . Barbosa's usage was derived from Chīn (), which was in turn derived from Sanskrit ()." China". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000). Boston and New York: Houghton-Mifflin. Cīna was first used in early scripture, including the Mahābhārata (5th century BCE) and the Laws of Manu (2nd century BCE).Wade, Geoff. " The Polity of Yelang and the Origin of the Name 'China'". Sino-Platonic Papers, No. 188, May 2009, p. 20. In 1655, suggested that the word China is derived ultimately from the name of the (221–206 BCE).Martino, Martin, Novus Atlas Sinensis, Vienna 1655, Preface, p. 2. Although usage in Indian sources precedes this dynasty, this derivation is still given in various sources.
(1978). 9780521243278 .
The origin of the Sanskrit word is a matter of debate, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Alternative suggestions include the names for and the Jing or Chu state.
(1866). 9788120619661 .
The official name of the modern state is the "People's Republic of China" (). The shorter form is "China" () from ("central") and ("state"), a term which developed under the dynasty in reference to its . It was then applied to the area around (present-day Luoyang) during the and then to China's Central Plain before being used as an occasional synonym for the state under the . It was often used as a cultural concept to distinguish the people from perceived "barbarians". The name Zhongguo is also translated as in English.
(2022). 9780739135341, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. .
China (PRC) is sometimes referred to as when distinguishing the ROC from the PRC.


China is regarded as one of the world's oldest civilisations. Archaeological evidence suggests that early inhabited the country 2.25 million years ago. The hominid fossils of , a who used fire, were discovered in a cave at near ; they have been dated to between 680,000 and 780,000 . The fossilized teeth of Homo sapiens (dated to 125,000–80,000 years ago) have been discovered in in , . Chinese existed in around 6600 BCE, at around 6000 BCE, (2000) Chinese Writing English translation of 文字學概論 by Gilbert L. Mattos and Jerry Norman Early China Special Monograph Series No. 4. Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China and the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley. from 5800 to 5400 BCE, and dating from the 5th millennium BCE. Some scholars have suggested that the (7th millennium BCE) constituted the earliest Chinese writing system.

Early dynastic rule
According to Chinese tradition, the first dynasty was the , which emerged around 2100 BCE.
(2022). 9780872209152, Hackett Publishing. .
The Xia dynasty marked the beginning of China's political system based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, which lasted for a millennium.Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project by People's Republic of China The Xia dynasty was considered mythical by historians until scientific excavations found early sites at , Henan in 1959. It remains unclear whether these sites are the remains of the Xia dynasty or of another culture from the same period.
(2022). 9789629371401, City University of HK Press. .
The succeeding is the earliest to be confirmed by contemporary records.
(2022). 9781615301812, Britannica Educational Publishing. .
The Shang ruled the plain of the in eastern China from the 17th to the 11th century BCE.
(2022). 9781845191726, Sussex Academic Press. .
Their oracle bone script (from BCE)William G. Boltz, Early Chinese Writing, World Archaeology, Vol. 17, No. 3, Early Writing Systems (February 1986) pp. 420–436 (436)David N. Keightley, "Art, Ancestors, and the Origins of Writing in China", Representations No. 56, Special Issue: The New Erudition. (Autumn 1996), pp.68–95 68 represents the oldest form of Chinese writing yet found and is a direct ancestor of modern Chinese characters.
(2022). 9780199585847, Oxford University Press. .

The Shang was conquered by the , who ruled between the 11th and 5th centuries BCE, though centralized authority was slowly eroded by feudal warlords. Some principalities eventually emerged from the weakened Zhou, no longer fully obeyed the Zhou king, and continually waged war with each other during the 300-year Spring and Autumn period. By the time of the Warring States period of the 5th–3rd centuries BCE, there were only seven powerful states left.

Imperial China
The Warring States period ended in 221 BCE after the state of Qin conquered the other six kingdoms, reunited China and established the dominant order of . King Zheng of Qin proclaimed himself the of the . He enacted Qin's legalist reforms throughout China, notably the forced standardization of Chinese characters, , road widths (i.e., the cart axles' length), and currency. His dynasty also conquered the Yue tribes in , , and .Sima Qian, Translated by Burton Watson. Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty I, pp. 11–12. . The Qin dynasty lasted only fifteen years, falling soon after the First Emperor's death, as his harsh authoritarian policies led to widespread rebellion.Bodde, Derk. (1986). "The State and Empire of Ch'in", in The Cambridge History of China: Volume I: the Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 B.C. – A.D. 220. Edited by Denis Twitchett and Michael Loewe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. .
(2022). 9780674024779, Belknap Press. .

Following a widespread civil war during which the imperial library at was burned, the emerged to rule China between 206 BCE and CE 220, creating a cultural identity among its populace still remembered in the ethnonym of the . The Han expanded the empire's territory considerably, with military campaigns reaching Central Asia, Mongolia, South Korea, and Yunnan, and the recovery of Guangdong and northern Vietnam from . Han involvement in Central Asia and helped establish the land route of the , replacing the earlier path over the 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 , Qin's legalist institutions and policies continued to be employed by the Han government and its successors.

(2022). 9781135088224, Routledge. .
After the end of the Han dynasty, a period of strife known as followed,Whiting, Marvin C. (2002). Imperial Chinese Military History. iUniverse. p. 214 whose central figures were later immortalized in one of the of Chinese literature. At its end, was swiftly overthrown by the Jin dynasty. The Jin fell to civil war upon the ascension of a developmentally disabled emperor; the then invaded and ruled northern China as the . The unified them as the , 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 . The various successors of these states became known as the Northern and Southern dynasties, with the two areas finally reunited by the in 581. The Sui restored the Han to power through China, reformed its agriculture, economy and imperial examination system, constructed the Grand Canal, and patronized Buddhism. However, they fell quickly when their conscription for public works and a failed war in provoked widespread unrest.Ki-Baik Lee (1984). A new history of Korea. Harvard University Press. . p.47.David Andrew Graff (2002). Medieval Chinese warfare, 300–900. Routledge. . p.13.

Under the succeeding and dynasties, Chinese economy, technology, and culture entered a golden age.Adshead, S. A. M. (2004). T'ang China: The Rise of the East in World History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 54 The retained control of the and the Silk Road, which brought traders to as far as and the Horn of Africa, and made the capital Chang'an a cosmopolitan urban center. However, it was devastated and weakened by the An Lushan Rebellion in the 8th century.

(2022). 9789629371401, City University of HK Press.
In 907, the Tang disintegrated completely when the local military governors became ungovernable. The Song dynasty ended the separatist situation in 960, leading to a balance of power between the Song and . The Song was the first government in world history to issue paper money and the first Chinese to establish a permanent standing navy which was supported by the developed shipbuilding industry along with the sea trade.Paludan, Ann (1998). Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors. London: Thames & Hudson. . p. 136. Between the 10th and 11th centuries, the population of China doubled in size to around 100 million people, mostly because of the expansion of rice cultivation in central and southern China, and the production of abundant food surpluses. The Song dynasty also saw a , in response to the growth of Buddhism during the Tang,
(1999). 9780313264498, Greenwood Publishing Group. .
and a flourishing of philosophy and the arts, as and were brought to new levels of maturity and complexity. However, the military weakness of the Song army was observed by the Jin dynasty. In 1127, Emperor Huizong of Song and the capital were captured during the Jin–Song Wars. The remnants of the Song retreated to southern China.
(1962). 9780804707206, Stanford University Press. .

The Mongol conquest of China began in 1205 with the gradual conquest of by , who also invaded Jin territories. In 1271, the established the , which 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.Ping-ti Ho. "An Estimate of the Total Population of Sung-Chin China", in Études Song, Series 1, No 1, (1970). pp. 33–53. A peasant named Zhu Yuanzhang led a rebellion that overthrew the Yuan in 1368 and founded the as the . 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 admiral led the Ming treasure voyages throughout the , reaching as far as .

In the early years of the Ming dynasty, China's capital was moved from to Beijing. With the budding of capitalism, philosophers such as further critiqued and expanded Neo-Confucianism with concepts of and equality of . The stratum became a supporting force of industry and commerce in the tax boycott movements, which, together with the famines and defense against Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598) and Manchu invasions led to an exhausted treasury. In 1644, Beijing was captured by a coalition of peasant rebel forces led by . The Chongzhen Emperor committed suicide when the city fell. The Manchu , then allied with Ming dynasty general , overthrew Li's short-lived and subsequently seized control of Beijing, which became the new capital of the Qing dynasty.

The Qing dynasty, which lasted from 1644 until 1912, was the last imperial dynasty of China. Its conquest of the Ming (1618–1683) cost 25 million lives and the economy of China shrank drastically.John M. Roberts (1997) A Short History of the World Oxford University Press p. 272 After the ended, the further conquest of the added Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang to the empire.The Cambridge History of China: Volume 10, Part 1, by John K. Fairbank, p.37 The centralized autocracy was strengthened to suppress anti-Qing sentiment with the policy of valuing agriculture and restraining commerce, the ("sea ban"), and ideological control as represented by the literary inquisition, causing social and technological stagnation.

(2022). 9787510800627, 九州出版社.
(1996). 9787536023208, 花城出版社.

Fall of the Qing dynasty
In the mid-19th century, the Qing dynasty experienced Western imperialism in the with Britain and . China was forced to pay compensation, open treaty ports, allow extraterritoriality for foreign nationals, and cede to the British
(1997). 9781563242656, M.E. Sharpe. .
under the 1842 Treaty of Nanking, the first of the . The First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) resulted in Qing China's loss of influence in the , as well as the cession of Taiwan to . The Qing dynasty also began experiencing internal unrest in which tens of millions of people died, especially in the White Lotus Rebellion, the failed Taiping Rebellion that ravaged southern China in the 1850s and 1860s and the Dungan Revolt (1862–1877) in the northwest. The initial success of the Self-Strengthening Movement of the 1860s was frustrated by a 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 1876–1879, in which between 9 and 13 million people died. The drafted a reform plan in 1898 to establish a modern constitutional monarchy, but these plans were thwarted by the Empress Dowager Cixi. The ill-fated anti-foreign of 1899–1901 further weakened the dynasty. Although Cixi sponsored a program of reforms, the Xinhai Revolution of 1911–1912 brought an end to the Qing dynasty and established the Republic of China.Li, Xiaobing. 2007 (2007). A History of the Modern Chinese Army. University Press of Kentucky. , . pp. 13, 26–27. , the last Emperor of China, abdicated in 1912.

Establishment of the Republic and World War II
On 1 January 1912, the Republic of China was established, and of the (the KMT or Nationalist Party) was proclaimed provisional president.Eileen Tamura (1997) China: Understanding Its Past. Volume 1. University of Hawaii Press p.146 On 12 February 1912, Empress Dowager Longyu sealed the imperial abdication decree on behalf of 4 year old , the last emperor of China, ending 5,000 years of monarchy in China. In March 1912, the presidency was given to , a former Qing general who in 1915 proclaimed himself Emperor of China. In the face of popular condemnation and opposition from his own , he was forced to abdicate and re-establish the republic in 1916.Stephen Haw (2006) Beijing: A Concise History. Taylor & Francis, p.143

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.Bruce Elleman (2001) Modern Chinese Warfare Routledge p.149Graham Hutchings (2003) Modern China: A Guide to a Century of Change Harvard University Press p.459 In the late 1920s, the Kuomintang under , 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 maneuverings, known collectively as the Northern Expedition.Peter Zarrow (2005) China in War and Revolution, 1895–1949 Routledge p.230M. Leutner (2002) The Chinese Revolution in the 1920s: Between Triumph and Disaster Routledge p.129 The Kuomintang moved the nation's capital to and implemented "political tutelage", an intermediate stage of political development outlined in Sun Yat-sen's program for transforming China into a modern democratic state.Hung-Mao Tien (1972) Government and Politics in Kuomintang China, 1927–1937 (Volume 53) Stanford University Press pp. 60–72 (2000) China and Democracy: Reconsidering the Prospects for a Democratic China Routledge p.43 The political division in China made it difficult for Chiang to battle the communist-led People's Liberation Army (PLA), against whom the Kuomintang had been warring since 1927 in the Chinese Civil War. This war continued successfully for the Kuomintang, especially after the PLA retreated in the , until Japanese aggression and the 1936 Xi'an Incident forced Chiang to confront .David Ernest Apter, Tony Saich (1994) Revolutionary Discourse in Mao's Republic Harvard University Press p.198

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. "Nuclear Power: The End of the War Against Japan". BBC — History. Retrieved 14 July 2013. An estimated 40,000 to 300,000 Chinese in the city of Nanjing alone during the Japanese occupation. "Judgement: International Military Tribunal for the Far East". Chapter VIII: Conventional War Crimes (Atrocities). November 1948. Retrieved 4 February 2013. During the war, China, along with the UK, the United States, and the , were referred to as "trusteeship of the powerful"

(2022). 9780847694167, Rowman & Littlefield. .
and were recognized as the Allied "" 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.Hoopes, Townsend, and Douglas Brinkley FDR and the Creation of the U.N. (Yale University Press, 1997)
(1972). 9780231122399, Columbia University Press. .
After the surrender of Japan in 1945, Taiwan, including the , was . However, the validity of this handover is controversial, in that whether Taiwan's sovereignty was legally transferred and whether China is a legitimate recipient, due to complex issues that arose from the handling of Japan's surrender, resulting in the unresolved political status of Taiwan, which is a flashpoint of potential war between China and Taiwan. China emerged victorious but war-ravaged and financially drained. The continued distrust between the Kuomintang and the Communists led to the resumption of civil war. Constitutional rule was established in 1947, but because of the ongoing unrest, many provisions of the ROC constitution were never implemented in mainland China.
(1991). 9780873328807, M.E. Sharpe.

Civil War and the People's Republic
Before the existence of the People's Republic, the CCP had declared several areas of the country as the Chinese Soviet Republic (Jiangxi Soviet), a predecessor state to the PRC, in November 1931 in , . The Jiangxi Soviet was wiped out by the KMT armies in 1934 and was relocated to Yan'an in where the concluded in 1935. It would be the base of the communists before major combat in the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949. Afterwards, the CCP gain control of most of , and the Kuomintang retreating offshore to Taiwan, reducing its territory to only Taiwan, , and their surrounding islands.

On 1 October 1949, CCP Chairman formally proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China at the new nation's founding ceremony and inaugural military parade in , Beijing. In 1950, the People's Liberation Army captured Hainan from the ROC and incorporated Tibet. However, remaining Kuomintang forces continued to wage an insurgency in western China throughout the 1950s.

(1997). 9780765600257, M.E. Sharpe. .

The government consolidated its popularity among the peasants through land reform, which included the execution of between 1 and 2 million landlords.Busky, Donald F. (2002) Communism in History and Theory Greenwood Publishing Group. p.11 China developed an independent industrial system and its own nuclear weapons. The Chinese population increased from 550 million in 1950 to 900 million in 1974.

(2022). 9780786432882, McFarland. .
However, the Great Leap Forward, an idealistic massive reform project, resulted in an estimated 15 to 55 million deaths between 1959 and 1961, mostly from starvation.Holmes, Leslie Communism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press 2009) p. 32 "Most estimates of the number of Chinese dead are in the range of 15 to 30 million" In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, sparking a decade of political recrimination and social upheaval that 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.Michael Y.M. Kao. "Taiwan's and Beijing's Campaigns for Unification" in Harvey Feldman and Michael Y. M. Kao (eds., 1988): Taiwan in a Time of Transition New York: Paragon House p.188 This UN action also created the problem of the political status of Taiwan and the issue. See Cross-Strait relations and "Taiwan, China".

Reforms and contemporary history
After Mao's death, the Gang of Four was quickly arrested by and held responsible for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. took power in 1978, and instituted significant economic reforms. The CCP loosened governmental control over citizens' personal lives, and the communes were gradually disbanded in favor of working contracted to households. This marked China's transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy with an increasingly open-market environment.Hart-Landsberg, Martin; and Burkett, Paul "China and Socialism: Market Reforms and Class Struggle" Retrieved 30 October 2008 China adopted its current constitution on 4 December 1982. In 1989, the suppression of student protests in Tiananmen Square brought condemnations and sanctions against the Chinese government from various foreign countries.

, and 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 11.2%. British Hong Kong and returned to China in 1997 and 1999, respectively, as the and special administrative regions under the principle of One country, two systems. The country joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and maintained its high rate of economic growth under and 's leadership in the 2000s. However, the growth also severely impacted the country's resources and environment, and caused major social displacement. China: Migrants, Students, Taiwan Migration News January 2006

CCP general secretary has ruled since 2012 and has pursued large-scale efforts to reform China's economy (which has suffered from structural instabilities and slowing growth), and has also reformed the and penal system, as well as instituting a vast anti corruption crackdown. In 2013, China initiated the Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure investment project. Since 2017, the Chinese government has been engaged in a in Xinjiang, with an estimated one million people, mostly but including other ethnic and religious minorities, in internment camps. In 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) passed a national security law in Hong Kong that gave the Hong Kong government wide-ranging tools to crack down on dissent.

The global COVID-19 pandemic originated in and was first identified from an outbreak in December 2019. The Chinese government response has included a strategy, making it one of few countries to pursue this approach. The country's economy continued to broaden recovery from the recession during the pandemic, with stable job creation and record international trade growth, although retail consumption was still slower than predicted.

China's landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from the and Taklamakan Deserts in the arid north to the forests in the wetter south. The , , and mountain ranges separate China from much of and . The and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, respectively, run from the to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China's coastline along the is long and is bounded by the , , East China and South China seas. China connects through the Kazakh border to the which has been an artery of communication between East and West since the Neolithic through the – the ancestor of the terrestrial Silk Road(s).

The territory of China lies between 18° and 54° N, and 73° and 135° E. The geographical center of China is marked by the Center of the Country Monument at . China's landscapes vary significantly across its vast territory. In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, there are extensive and densely populated , while on the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, broad predominate. Southern China is dominated by hills and low mountain ranges, while the central-east hosts the of China's two major rivers, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. Other major rivers include the , , Brahmaputra and . To the west sit major mountain ranges, most notably the Himalayas. High feature among the more arid landscapes of the north, such as the Taklamakan and the Gobi Desert. The world's highest point, (8,848 m), lies on the Sino-Nepalese border. The country's lowest point, and the world's third-lowest, is the dried lake bed of (−154 m) in the Turpan Depression.

China's climate is mainly dominated by and wet , 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.
(2022). 9783540792420, Springer. .

A major environmental issue in China is the continued , particularly the Gobi Desert. Although barrier tree lines planted since the 1970s have reduced the frequency of , prolonged drought and poor agricultural practices have resulted in plaguing northern China each spring, which then spread to other parts of East Asia, including Japan and Korea. China's environmental watchdog, SEPA, stated in 2007 that China is losing per year to desertification. Water quality, , and pollution control have become important issues in China's relations with other countries. Melting in the Himalayas could potentially lead to for hundreds of millions of people. According to academics, in order to limit climate change in China to electricity generation from coal in China without carbon capture must be phased out by 2045. Official government statistics about Chinese agricultural productivity are considered unreliable, due to exaggeration of production at subsidiary government levels.Chow, Gregory (2006) Are Chinese Official Statistics Reliable? CESifo Economic Studies 52. 396–414. 10.1093/cesifo/ifl003 Much of China has a climate very suitable for agriculture and the country has been the world's largest producer of rice, wheat, tomatoes, eggplant, grapes, watermelon, spinach, and many other crops.

China is one of 17 megadiverse countries, lying in two of the world's major biogeographic realms: the and the Indomalayan. 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 and . Countries with the Highest Biological Diversity . 2004 data. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 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), IUCN Initiatives – Mammals – Analysis of Data – Geographic Patterns 2012 . IUCN. Retrieved 24 April 2013. Data does not include species in Taiwan. 1,221 species of birds (eighth), Countries with the most bird species . 2004 data. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 424 species of reptiles (seventh) Countries with the most reptile species. 2004 data. Retrieved 24 April 2013. and 333 species of amphibians (seventh). IUCN Initiatives – Amphibians – Analysis of Data – Geographic Patterns 2012 . IUCN. Retrieved 24 April 2013. Data does not include species in Taiwan. Wildlife in China shares habitat with, and bears acute pressure from, the world's largest population of humans. 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. Top 20 countries with most endangered species IUCN Red List . 5 March 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2013. Endangered wildlife is protected by law, and , the country has over 2,349 nature reserves, covering a total area of 149.95 million hectares, 15 percent of China's total land area. Most wild animals have been eliminated from the core agricultural regions of east and central China, but they have fared better in the mountainous south and west. The was confirmed extinct on 12 December 2006.

China has over 32,000 species of vascular plants, Countries with the most vascular plant species . 2004 data. Retrieved 24 April 2013. and is home to a variety of forest types. Cold forests predominate in the north of the country, supporting animal species such as and Asian black bear, along with over 120 bird species. The of moist forests may contain thickets of . In higher montane stands of and , the bamboo is replaced by . forests, which are predominate in central and southern China, support a high density of plant species including numerous rare endemics. Tropical and seasonal , though confined to and , contain a quarter of all the animal and plant species found in China.

(2022). 9781843530190, . .
China has over 10,000 recorded species of ,
(2022). 9781118679814, John Wiley & Sons. .
and of them, nearly 6,000 are .

In the early 2000s, China has suffered from environmental deterioration and pollution due to its rapid pace of industrialization.
(2022). 9780847693993, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. .
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. China is the country with the second highest death toll because of air pollution, after India. There are approximately 1 million deaths caused by exposure to ambient air pollution. Although China ranks as the highest CO2 emitting country in the world, it only emits 8 tons of CO2 per capita, significantly lower than developed countries such as the (16.1), Australia (16.8) and South Korea (13.6).

In recent years, China has clamped down on pollution. In March 2014, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping "declared war" on pollution during the opening of the National People's Congress. After extensive debate lasting nearly two years, the parliament approved a new environmental law in April. The new law empowers environmental enforcement agencies with great punitive power and large fines for offenders, defines areas which require extra protection, and gives independent environmental groups more ability to operate in the country. In 2020, Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping announced that China aims to peak emissions before 2030 and go carbon-neutral by 2060 in accordance with the Paris climate accord. According to Climate Action Tracker, if accomplished it would lower the expected rise in global temperature by 0.2 – 0.3 degrees – "the biggest single reduction ever estimated by the Climate Action Tracker". In September 2021 Xi Jinping announced that China will not build "coal-fired power projects abroad". The decision can be "pivotal" in reducing emissions. The Belt and Road Initiative did not include financing such projects already in the first half of 2021.

The country also had significant problems: 8.2% of China's rivers had been polluted by industrial and agricultural waste in 2019. "China's decade plan for water" . The Earth Institute. Columbia University. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011. China had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 7.14/10, ranking it 53rd globally out of 172 countries. In 2020, a sweeping law was passed by the Chinese government to protect the ecology of the Yangtze River. The new laws include strengthening ecological protection rules for hydropower projects along the river, banning chemical plants within 1 kilometer of the river, relocating polluting industries, severely restricting sand mining as well as a complete fishing ban on all the natural waterways of the river, including all its major tributaries and lakes.

China is also the world's leading investor in and its 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. "China's big push for renewable energy". Scientific American. 4 August 2008. Retrieved 24 September 2011. By 2015, over 24% of China's energy was derived from renewable sources, while most notably from hydroelectric power: a total installed capacity of 197 makes China the largest hydroelectric power producer in the world. China also has the largest power capacity of installed solar photovoltaics system and wind power system in the world. 2016 Snapshot of Global Photovoltaic Markets, p.7, International Energy Agency, 2017 Greenhouse gas emissions by China are the world's largest, as is renewable energy in China. Despite its emphasis on renewables, China remains deeply connected to global oil markets and next to India, has been the largest importer of Russian in 2022.

Political geography
The People's Republic of China is the second-largest country in the world by land area after . China's total area is generally stated as being approximately . Specific area figures range from according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, to according to the UN Demographic Yearbook, and the CIA World Factbook.

China has the longest combined land border in the world, measuring and its coastline covers approximately from the mouth of the (Amnok River) to the Gulf of Tonkin. China borders 14 nations and covers the bulk of East Asia, bordering , , and in Southeast Asia; , , , , and in South Asia; , and in Central Asia; and Russia, , and in and . Additionally, China shares maritime boundaries with , , Vietnam, and the . It is narrowly separated from and to the southwest and south.

The Chinese constitution states that the People's Republic of China "is a socialist state governed by a people's democratic dictatorship that is led by the working class and based on an alliance of workers and peasants," and that the state institutions "shall practice the principle of democratic centralism." The PRC is one of the world's only governed by a communist party. The Chinese government has been variously described as communist and socialist, but also as and , 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, and freedom of religion.

Although the Chinese Communist Party describes China as a "socialist consultative democracy", the country is commonly described as an authoritarian surveillance state and a .

(2022). 9789888208937, Hong Kong University Press.
Its current political, ideological and economic system has been termed by its leaders as a "consultative democracy" "people's democratic dictatorship", "socialism with Chinese characteristics" (which is adapted to Chinese circumstances) and the "socialist market economy" respectively.

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. A 2020 survey from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research also had most Chinese expressing satisfaction with the government on information dissemination and delivery of daily necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chinese Communist Party
The main body of the Chinese constitution declares that "the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)." China is a one-party Marxist–Leninist state,"Xi Jinping is making great attempts to 'Sinicize' Marxist–Leninist Thought 'with Chinese characteristics' in the political sphere," states Lutgard Lams, "Examining Strategic Narratives in Chinese Official Discourse under Xi Jinping" Journal of Chinese Political Science (2018) volume 23, pp. 387–411 at p. 395 wherein the CCP general secretary (party leader) holds ultimate power and authority over state and government and serves as the informal . The current general secretary is , who took office on 15 November 2012, and was re-elected on 25 October 2017. According to the CCP constitution, its highest body is the National Congress held every five years. The National Congress elects the Central Committee, who then elects the party's Politburo, Politburo Standing Committee and general secretary, the top leadership of the country.

Since both the CCP and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) promote according to seniority, it is possible to discern distinct generations of Chinese leadership.The landmark study of military generations and factions is William Whitson's The Chinese High Command, Praeger, 1973 In official discourse, each group of leadership is identified with a distinct extension of the ideology of the party. Historians have studied various periods in the development of the government of the People's Republic of China by reference to these "generations".

+ Generations of Chinese leadership ! Generation ! Paramount Leader ! Start ! End ! Ideology
Second19781989Deng Xiaoping Theory
Fourth20022012Scientific Outlook on Development
Fifth2012 Xi Jinping Thought

The National People's Congress in 2018 altered the country's constitution to remove the two-term limit on holding the Presidency of China, permitting the current leader, , to remain president of China (and general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party) for an unlimited time, earning criticism for creating governance.
(2022). 9780198837404, Oxford University Press. .
(2022). 9780190080242, Oxford University Press. .
The president is the ceremonial head of state, elected by the National People's Congress. The premier 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 Chinese Communist Party and the chairman of the Central Military Commission, making him China's paramount leader. The incumbent premier is , who is also a senior member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee, China's de facto top decision-making body.

The electoral system is pyramidal. Local People's Congresses are , 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. Another eight political parties, have representatives in the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). China supports the Leninist principle of "democratic centralism", but critics describe the elected National People's Congress as a "rubber stamp" body.

Administrative divisions
The People's Republic of China is officially a divided into 23 provinces, five autonomous regions (each with a designated minority group), and four municipalities—collectively referred to as ""—as well as the special administrative regions (SARs) of and . Geographically, all 31 provincial divisions of mainland China can be grouped into six regions: , , , South Central China, , and .
(2022). 9781137281593, Macmillan International Higher Education – University of Sydney. .

China considers to be its 23rd province, although Taiwan is governed by the Republic of China (ROC), which rejects the PRC's claim. Conversely, the ROC constitution claims sovereignty over all divisions governed by the PRC.

Foreign relations
The PRC has diplomatic relations with 175 countries and maintains embassies in 162. In 2019, China had the largest diplomatic network in the world. 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, with a population of more than 1.4 billion. 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.Chang, Eddy (22 August 2004). Perseverance will pay off at the UN , The Taipei Times. 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 group of emerging major economies and hosted the group's third official summit at , in April 2011.

Under the , 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 '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 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 United Nations Security Council.

Trade relations
China became the world's largest trading nation in 2013 as measured by the sum of imports and exports, as well as the world's largest commodity importer. comprising roughly 45% of maritime's . By 2016, China was the largest trading partner of 124 other countries. China is the largest trading partner for the nations, with a total trade value of $345.8 billion in 2015 accounting for 15.2% of ASEAN's total trade. ASEAN is also China's largest trading partner. In 2020, China became the largest trading partner of the for goods, with the total value of goods trade reaching nearly $700 billion. China, along with ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, is a member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world's largest free-trade area covering 30% of the world's population and economic output. China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. In 2004, it proposed an entirely new East Asia Summit (EAS) framework as a forum for regional security issues.Dillon, Dana; and Tkacik, John, Jr.; China's Quest for Asia. Policy Review. December 2005 and January 2006. Issue No. 134. Retrieved 22 April 2006. The EAS, which includes ASEAN Plus Three, India, Australia and New Zealand, held its inaugural summit in 2005.

China has had a long and complex trade relationship with the United States. In 2000, the 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 with the United States, its most important export market. Economists have argued that the is undervalued, due to currency intervention from the Chinese government, giving China an unfair trade advantage. In August 2019, the United States Department of the Treasury designated China as a "currency manipulator", later reversing the decision in January 2020.

Since the turn of the century, China has followed a policy of engaging with African nations for trade and bilateral co-operation; in 2019, Sino-African trade totalled $208 billion, having grown 20 times over two decades. According to Madison Condon "China finances more infrastructure projects in Africa than the World Bank and provides billions of dollars in low-interest loans to the continent's emerging economies." China maintains extensive and highly diversified trade links with the European Union. China has furthermore strengthened its trade ties with major South American economies, and is the largest trading partner of Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, and several others.

China's Belt and Road Initiative has expanded significantly over the last six years and, as of April 2020, includes 138 countries and 30 international organizations. In addition to intensifying foreign policy relations, the focus here is particularly on building efficient transport routes. The focus is particularly on the maritime Silk Road with its connections to East Africa and Europe and there are Chinese investments or related declarations of intent at numerous ports such as , , , and . However many of these loans made under the Belt and Road program are unsustainable and China has faced a number of calls for from debtor nations.Harry G. Broadman "Afrika's Silk Road" (2007); Wolf D. Hartmann, Wolfgang Maennig, Run Wang: Chinas neue Seidenstraße. Frankfurt am Main 2017, pp 59; Marcus Hernig: Die Renaissance der Seidenstraße (2018), p 112; Harry de Wilt: Is One Belt, One Road a China crisis for North Sea main ports? in World Cargo News, 17. December 2019; Guido Santevecchi: Di Maio e la Via della Seta: «Faremo i conti nel 2020», siglato accordo su Trieste in Corriere della Sera: 5. November 2019.

Territorial disputes

Ever since its establishment after the Chinese Civil War, the PRC has claimed the territories governed by the Republic of China (ROC), a separate political entity today commonly known as Taiwan, as a part of its territory. It regards the island of Taiwan as its Taiwan Province, and as a part of and islands the ROC controls in the South China Sea as a part of and Guangdong Province. These claims are controversial because of the complicated Cross-Strait relations, with the PRC treating the One-China Principle as one of its most important diplomatic principles.

Land border disputes
China has resolved its land borders with 12 out of 14 neighboring countries, having pursued substantial compromises in most of them.
(2022). 9780691136097, Princeton University Press.
As of 2022, China currently has a disputed land border with and .

Maritime border disputes
China is additionally involved in maritime disputes with multiple countries over the ownership of several small islands in the East and South China Seas, such as , the Senkaku Islands and the entirety of South China Sea Islands, along with the EEZ disputes over East China Sea.

Sociopolitical issues and human rights
China uses a massive espionage network of cameras, facial recognition software, sensors, and surveillance of personal technology as a means of social control of persons living in the country. The Chinese democracy movement, social activists, and some members of the Chinese Communist Party believe in 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 . However, in practice, these provisions do not afford significant protection against criminal prosecution by the state.
(2022). 9781594032844, . .
Although some criticisms of government policies and the ruling Communist Party are tolerated, censorship of political speech and information, most notably on the Internet, "China Requires Internet Users to Register Names". via My Way News. 28 December 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. are routinely used to prevent collective action.

A number of foreign governments, foreign press agencies, and have criticized China's human rights record, alleging widespread violations such as detention without trial, , forced confessions, , restrictions of fundamental rights, and excessive use of the death penalty. The government suppresses popular protests and demonstrations that it considers a potential threat to "social stability", as was the case with the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.Christian Göbel and Lynette H. Ong, "Social unrest in China." Long Briefing, Europe China Research and Academic Network (ECRAN) (2012) p 18.

China is regularly accused of large-scale repression and human rights abuses in Tibet and , including violent police crackdowns and religious suppression. In Xinjiang, At least one million and other ethnic and religion minorities have been detained in mass detention camps, officially termed "Vocational Education and Training Centers", aimed at changing the political thinking of detainees, their identities, and their religious beliefs. According to the U.S. Department of State, actions including political , , and psychological abuse, forced sterilization, , and are common in these facilities. The state has also sought to control offshore reporting of tensions in Xinjiang, intimidating foreign-based reporters by detaining their family members. According to a 2020 report, China's treatment of Uyghurs meets the UN definition of genocide, and several groups called for a UN investigation. Several countries have recognized China's actions in Xinjiang as a genocide.

Global studies from Pew Research Center in 2014 and 2017 ranked the Chinese government's restrictions on religion as among the highest in the world, despite low to moderate rankings for religious-related social hostilities in the country. The Global Slavery Index estimated that in 2016 more than 3.8 million people were living in "conditions of modern slavery", or 0.25% of the population, including victims of human trafficking, forced labor, forced marriage, child labor, and state-imposed forced labor. The state-imposed forced system was formally abolished in 2013, but it is not clear to which extent its various practices have stopped. The Chinese penal system includes labor prison factories, detention centers, and re-education camps, collectively known as ("reform through labor"). The Laogai Research Foundation in the United States estimated that there were over a thousand slave labor prisons and camps in China.

In 2019, a study called for the mass retraction of more than 400 scientific papers on organ transplantation, because of fears the organs were obtained unethically from Chinese prisoners. While the government says 10,000 transplants occur each year, a report by the -linked IETAC alleged that between 60,000 and 100,000 organs are transplanted each year and claimed that this gap was being made up by executed prisoners of conscience.

With nearly 2.2 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). China has the second-largest military reserve force, only behind . The PLA is considered one of the world's most powerful militaries, and has rapidly modernized in the recent decades. The PLA consists of the Ground Force (PLAGF), the Navy (PLAN), the Air Force (PLAAF), the Rocket Force (PLARF) and the Strategic Support Force (PLASSF). According to the Chinese government, military budget for 2022 totalled US$230 billion (1.45 trillion Yuan), constituting the world's second-largest military budget, although the military expenditures-GDP ratio with 1.3% of GDP is below world average. However, many authorities – including and the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense claim that China hides its real level of military spending, which is allegedly much higher than the official budget. Annual Report To Congress – Military Power of the People's Republic of China 2009 (PDF) . Retrieved 27 November 2011. The PLA additionally holds the world's third-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, and the world's second-largest navy by tonnage.

Since 2010, China has had the world's second-largest economy in terms of nominal GDP, totaling approximately US$18 trillion (114.3 trillion Yuan) as of 2021. In terms of purchasing power parity (GDP PPP), China's economy has been the largest in the world since 2014, according to the World Bank. China is also the world's fastest-growing major economy. According to the World Bank, China's GDP grew from $150 billion in 1978 to $14.28 trillion by 2019. China's economic growth has been consistently above 6 percent since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978. China is also the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. Between 2010 and 2019, China's contribution to global GDP growth has been 25% to 39%. It is the largest engine of global growth for the world economy, accounting for 25–30% global total expansion since the financial crisis of 2008–2009.
(2022). 9781509547357 .
As of 2021, China accounts for 18% of the world economy by GDP nominal.

China had one of the largest economies in the world for most of the ,

(2022). 9780191647581, Oxford University Press. .
during which it has seen cycles of prosperity and decline. Since economic reforms began in 1978, China has developed into a highly diversified economy and one of the most consequential players in international trade. Major sectors of competitive strength include manufacturing, retail, mining, steel, textiles, automobiles, energy generation, green energy, banking, electronics, telecommunications, real estate, e-commerce, and tourism. China has three out of the ten largest stock exchanges in the world—Shanghai, Hong Kong and Shenzhen—that together have a market capitalization of over $15.9 trillion, as of October 2020. China has four (, , , and ) out of the world's top ten most competitive financial centers, which is more than any country in the 2020 Global Financial Centres Index. By 2035, China's four cities (Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen) are projected to be among the global top ten largest cities by according to a report by Oxford Economics.

China has been the world's No. 1 manufacturer since 2010, after overtaking the US, which had been No. 1 for the previous hundred years. China has also been No. 2 in high-tech manufacturing since 2012, according to US National Science Foundation. China is the second largest retail market in the world, next to the United States. China leads the world in e-commerce, accounting for 40% of the global market share in 2016 and more than 50% of the global market share in 2019. China is the world's leader in electric vehicles, manufacturing and buying half of all the plug-in electric cars (BEV and PHEV) in the world in 2018. China is also the leading producer of batteries for electric vehicles as well as several key raw materials for batteries. China had 174 GW of installed solar capacity by the end of 2018, which amounts to more than 40% of the global solar capacity.

Foreign and some Chinese sources have claimed that official Chinese government statistics overstate China's economic growth. However, several Western academics and institutions have stated that China's economic growth is higher than indicated by official figures.

(2022). 9781442240841, Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Others, such as the Economist Intelligence Unit, state that while there's evidence China's GDP data is "smoothed", they believe that China's nominal and real GDP data are broadly accurate.

China has a large informal economy, which arose as a result of the country's economic opening. The informal economy is a source of employment and income for workers, but it is unrecognized and suffers from lower productivity.

Wealth in China
As of 2020, China was second in the world, after the , in total number of billionaires and total number of millionaires, with 698 Chinese billionaires and 4.4 million millionaires. In 2019, China overtook the US as the home to the highest number of people who have a net personal wealth of at least $110,000, according to the global wealth report by . According to the Global Rich List 2020, China is home to five of the world's top ten cities (, , , , and in the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 10th spots, respectively) by the highest number of billionaires, which is more than any other country. China had 85 female billionaires as of January 2021, two-thirds of the global total, and minted 24 new female billionaires in 2020.

However, it ranks behind over 60 countries (out of around 180) in per capita economic output, making it an upper-middle income country. According to the IMF, on a per capita income basis among countries with a large population of over 100 million as of 2021, China ranked 3rd by GDP per capita (nominal) and 5th by GDP per capita (PPP). Additionally, its development is highly uneven. Its major cities and coastal areas are far more prosperous compared to rural and interior regions. China brought more people out of extreme poverty than any other country in history

(2022). 9781464818783, World Bank Publications.
—between 1978 and 2018, China reduced extreme poverty by 800 million. China reduced the extreme poverty rate—per international standard, it refers to an income of less than $1.90/day—from 88% in 1981 to 1.85% by 2013. According to the World Bank, the number of Chinese in extreme poverty fell from 756 million to 25 million between 1990 and 2013. The portion of people in China living below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day (2011 PPP) fell to 0.3% in 2018 from 66.3% in 1990. Using the lower-middle income poverty line of $3.20 per day, the portion fell to 2.9% in 2018 from 90.0% in 1990. Using the upper-middle income poverty line of $5.50 per day, the portion fell to 17.0% from 98.3% in 1990.

Economic growth
From its founding in 1949 until late 1978, the People's Republic of China was a Soviet-style centrally . Following Mao's death in 1976 and the consequent end of the Cultural Revolution, and the new Chinese leadership began to reform the economy and move towards a more market-oriented 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 . "Communism Is Dead, But State Capitalism Thrives". Vahan Janjigian. . 22 March 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2013. "The Winners And Losers In Chinese Capitalism". Gady Epstein. Forbes. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2013. The state still dominates in strategic "pillar" sectors such as energy production and , but private enterprise has expanded enormously, with around 30 million private businesses recorded in 2008.John Lee. "Putting Democracy in China on Hold". The Center for Independent Studies. 26 July 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2013. In 2018, private enterprises in China accounted for 60% of GDP, 80% of urban employment and 90% of new jobs.

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. China's GDP was slightly larger than Germany's in 2007; however, by 2017, China's $12.2 trillion-economy became larger than those of Germany, UK, France and Italy combined. In 2018, the IMF reiterated its forecast that China will overtake the US in terms of nominal GDP by 2030. Economists also expect China's middle-class to expand to 600 million people by 2025.

China was the only major economy in the world to grow in 2020, recording a 2.3% growth due to its success in containing the coronavirus within its borders. However, by April 2022, China's debt-to-GDP ratio had grown to 270%.

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$4.62 trillion in 2018. Its foreign exchange reserves reached US$3.1 trillion as of 2019, 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 $62.4 billion in 2012, and a number of major takeovers of foreign firms by Chinese companies. China is a major owner of US public debt, holding trillions of dollars worth of U.S. . "Washington learns to treat China with care". 29 July 2009. China's undervalued exchange rate has caused friction with other major economies, and it has also been widely criticized for manufacturing large quantities of goods. Intellectual Property Rights. Asia Business Council. September 2005. Retrieved 13 January 2012.

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Largest economies by nominal GDP in 2022

Following the 2007–08 financial crisis, Chinese authorities sought to actively wean off of its dependence on the U.S. dollar as a result of perceived weaknesses of the international monetary system. To achieve those ends, China took a series of actions to further the internationalization of the Renminbi. In 2008, China established the dim sum bond market and expanded the Cross-Border Trade RMB Settlement Pilot Project, which helps establish pools of offshore RMB liquidity."RMB Settlement", Kasikorn Research Center, Bangkok, 8 February 2011 This was followed with bilateral agreements to settle trades directly in renminbi with Russia, , , , 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, an emerging international , and a component of the IMF's special drawing rights; however, partly due to capital controls that make the renminbi fall short of being a fully convertible currency, it remains far behind the Euro, Dollar and Japanese Yen in international trade volumes.

Class and income inequality
China has had the world's largest middle-class population since 2015, and the middle-class grew to a size of 400 million by 2018. In 2020, a study by the Brookings Institution forecasted that China's middle class will reach 1.2 billion by 2027 (almost 4 times the entire U.S. population today), making up one-fourth of the world's total.

From 1978 to 2018, the average standard of living multiplied by a factor of twenty-six. Wages in China have grown a lot in the last 40 years—real (inflation-adjusted) wages grew seven-fold from 1978 to 2007. Per capita incomes have risen significantly – when the PRC was founded in 1949, per capita income in China was one-fifth of the world average; per capita incomes now equal the world average itself. By 2018, median wages in Chinese cities such as Shanghai were about the same as or higher than the wages in Eastern European countries. China has the world's highest number of billionaires, with nearly 878 as of October 2020, increasing at the rate of roughly five per week. China has a high level of economic inequality, which has increased in the past few decades. In 2018 China's was 0.467, according to the .

Science and technology

China was a world leader in science and technology until the .Tom (1989), 99; Day & McNeil (1996), 122; Needham (1986e), 1–2, 40–41, 122–123, 228. Ancient Chinese discoveries and inventions, such as , printing, the , and (the Four Great Inventions), became widespread across East Asia, the Middle East and later Europe. Chinese mathematicians were the first to use negative numbers.Struik, Dirk J. (1987). A Concise History of Mathematics. New York: Dover Publications. pp. 32–33. " In these matrices we find negative numbers, which appear here for the first time in history." By the 17th century, the Western hemisphere surpassed China in scientific and technological advancement.
(1996). 9780792334637, Kluwer Academic Publishers. .
The causes of this early modern continue to be debated by scholars.

After repeated military defeats by the European colonial powers and Japan in the 19th century, Chinese reformers began promoting modern science and technology as part of the Self-Strengthening Movement. After the Communists came to power in 1949, efforts were made to organize science and technology based on the model of the , in which scientific research was part of central planning.

(1999). 9781567203325, Greenwood Publishing Group. .
After Mao's death in 1976, science and technology were promoted as one of the Four Modernizations,
(2022). 9780674055445, Harvard University Press.
and the Soviet-inspired academic system was gradually reformed.

Modern era
Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, China has made significant investments in scientific research and is quickly catching up with the US in R&D spending. In 2017, China spent $279 billion on scientific research and development. According to the , China spent 2.11% of its GDP on research and development (R&D) in 2016. Science and technology are seen as vital for achieving China's economic and political goals, and are held as a source of national pride to a degree sometimes described as "techno-nationalism". According to the World Intellectual Property Indicators, China received 1.54 million patent applications in 2018, representing nearly half of patent applications worldwide, more than double the US. In 2019, China was No. 1 in international patents application. China was ranked 11th, 3rd in Asia & Oceania region and 2nd for countries with a population of over 100 million in the Global Innovation Index in 2022, it has increased its ranking considerably since 2013, where it was ranked 35th.
(2022). 9789280534320, World Intellectual Property Organization. .
China ranks first globally in the important indicators, including patents, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs, and creative goods exports and it also has 2 (Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou and in the 2nd and 3rd spots respectively) of the global top 5 science and technology clusters, which is more than any other country.
(2022). 9789280532494, World Intellectual Property Organization. .
Chinese tech companies and were the top 2 filers of international patents in 2017. Chinese-born academicians have won the Nobel Prize in Physics four times, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and once respectively, though most of them conducted their prize-winning research in western nations.

China is developing its education system with an emphasis on ; in 2009, China graduated over 10,000 PhD engineers, and as many as 500,000 graduates, more than any other country. China also became the world's largest publisher of scientific papers since 2016. Chinese technology companies such as Huawei, Xiaomi and have become world leaders in telecommunications, consumer electronics and personal computing, and Chinese are consistently ranked among the world's most powerful. China has been the world's largest market for industrial robots since 2013 and will account for 45% of newly installed robots from 2019 to 2021.

The Chinese space program is one of the world's most active. In 1970, China launched its first satellite, Dong Fang Hong I, becoming the fifth country to do so independently. In 2003, China became the first country in Asia and the third country in the world to independently send humans into space, with 's spaceflight aboard Shenzhou 5; , fourteen Chinese nationals have journeyed into space, including two women. In 2007, China became the third country to successfully destroy its own satellite. In 2011, China launched its first space station testbed, Tiangong-1. In 2013, China successfully landed the Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover onto the lunar surface. In 2016, the first quantum science satellite was launched in partnership with dedicated to testing the fundamentals of quantum communication in space. In 2019, China became the first country to land a probe—Chang'e 4—on the Far side of the Moon. In 2020, the first experimental 6G test satellite was launched and Chang'e 5 successfully returned moon samples to the Earth, making China the third country to do so independently after the United States and the Soviet Union. In 2021, China became the second nation in history to independently land a rover (Zhurong) on Mars, joining the United States.

China constructed its own modular , the Tiangong, in low Earth orbit. The space station was completed on 3 November 2022 with the launch and transpositioning of the last module.

After a decades-long infrastructural boom, China has produced numerous world-leading infrastructural projects: China has the world's largest bullet train network, the most supertall skyscrapers in the world, the world's largest power plant (the Three Gorges Dam), the largest energy generation capacity in the world, a with the largest number of satellites in the world, and has initiated the Belt and Road Initiative, a large global infrastructure building initiative with funding on the order of $50–100 billion per year. The Belt and Road Initiative could be one of the largest development plans in modern history.

China is the largest telecom market in the world and currently has the largest number of active cellphones of any country in the world, with over 1.5 billion subscribers, as of 2018. It also has the world's largest number of internet and broadband users, with over 800 million Internet users —equivalent to around 60% of its population—and almost all of them being mobile as well. By 2018, China had more than 1 billion 4G users, accounting for 40% of world's total. China is making rapid advances in 5G—by late 2018, China had started large-scale and commercial 5G trials.

, and , are the three large providers of mobile and internet in China. China Telecom alone served more than 145 million broadband subscribers and 300 million mobile users; China Unicom had about 300 million subscribers; and China Mobile, the largest of them all, had 925 million users, as of 2018. Combined, the three operators had over 3.4 million 4G base-stations in China. Several Chinese telecommunications companies, most notably and , have been accused of spying for the Chinese military.

China has developed its own satellite navigation system, dubbed Beidou, which began offering commercial navigation services across Asia in 2012 as well as global services by the end of 2018. Upon the completion of the 35th Beidou satellite, which was launched into orbit on 23 June 2020, Beidou followed GPS and as the third completed global navigation satellite in the world.

Since the late 1990s, China's national road network has been significantly expanded through the creation of a network of national highways and expressways. In 2018, China's highways had reached a total length of , making it the longest highway system in the world. China has the world's largest market for automobiles, having surpassed the United States in both auto sales and production. A side-effect of the rapid growth of China's road network has been a significant rise in traffic accidents, though the number of fatalities in traffic accidents fell by 20% from 2007 to 2017. In urban areas, bicycles remain a common mode of transport, despite the increasing prevalence of automobiles – , there are approximately 470 million bicycles in China. China's railways, which are state-owned, are among the busiest in the world, handling a quarter of the world's rail traffic volume on only 6 percent of the world's tracks in 2006. "Chinese Railways Carry Record Passengers, Freight" Xinhua 21 June 2007 As of 2017, the country had of railways, the second longest network in the world. The railways strain to meet enormous demand particularly during the Chinese New Year holiday, when the takes place.

China's high-speed rail (HSR) system started construction in the early 2000s. By the end of 2020, high speed rail in China had reached of dedicated lines alone, making it the longest HSR network in the world. Services on the Beijing–Shanghai, Beijing–Tianjin, and Chengdu–Chongqing Lines reach up to , making them the fastest conventional high speed railway services in the world. With an annual ridership of over 2.29 billion passengers in 2019 it is the world's busiest. The network includes the Beijing–Guangzhou–Shenzhen High-Speed Railway, the single longest HSR line in the world, and the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway, which has three of longest railroad bridges in the world. The Shanghai Maglev Train, which reaches , is the fastest commercial train service in the world. "Top ten fastest trains in the world" 29 August 2013 Since 2000, the growth of rapid transit systems in Chinese cities has accelerated. , 44 Chinese cities have urban mass transit systems in operation and 39 more have metro systems approved. As of 2020, China boasts the five longest metro systems in the world with the networks in , , , and being the largest.

There were approximately 229 airports in 2017, with around 240 planned by 2020. China has over 2,000 river and seaports, about 130 of which are open to foreign shipping. In 2017, the Ports of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Guangzhou, Qingdao and Tianjin ranked in the Top 10 in the world in container traffic and cargo tonnage. "Top 50 World Container Ports" World Shipping Council Accessed 2 June 2014

Water supply and sanitation
Water supply and sanitation infrastructure in China is facing challenges such as rapid urbanization, as well as water scarcity, contamination, and pollution. According to data presented by the Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation of and in 2015, about 36% of the rural population in China still did not have access to improved sanitation. The ongoing South–North Water Transfer Project intends to abate water shortage in the north.

The national census of 2020 recorded the of the People's Republic of China as approximately 1,411,778,724. According to the 2020 census, about 17.95% of the population were 14 years old or younger, 63.35% were between 15 and 59 years old, and 18.7% were over 60 years old. The population growth rate for 2013 is estimated to be 0.46%. China used to make up much of the world's poor; now it makes up much of the world's middle-class. Although a middle-income country by Western standards, China's rapid growth has pulled hundreds of millions—800 million, to be more precise—of its people out of poverty since 1978. By 2013, less than 2% of the Chinese population lived below the international poverty line of US$1.9 per day, down from 88% in 1981. From 2009 to 2018, the unemployment rate in China has averaged about 4%.

Given concerns about population growth, China implemented a two-child limit during the 1970s, and, in 1979, began to advocate for an even stricter limit of one child per family. Beginning in the mid-1980s, however, given the unpopularity of the strict limits, China began to allow some major exemptions, particularly in rural areas, resulting in what was actually a "1.5"-child policy from the mid-1980s to 2015 (ethnic minorities were also exempt from one child limits). The next major loosening of the policy was enacted in December 2013, allowing families to have two children if one parent is an only child. In 2016, the one-child policy was replaced in favor of a . A three-child policy was announced on 31 May 2021, due to population aging, and in July 2021, all family size limits as well as penalties for exceeding them were removed. According to data from the 2020 census, China's total fertility rate is 1.3, but some experts believe that after adjusting for the transient effects of the relaxation of restrictions, the country's actual total fertility rate is as low as 1.1.

According to one group of scholars, one-child limits had little effect on population growth or the size of the total population. However, these scholars have been challenged. Their own counterfactual model of fertility decline without such restrictions implies that China averted more than 500 million births between 1970 and 2015, a number which may reach one billion by 2060 given all the lost descendants of births averted during the era of fertility restrictions, with one-child restrictions accounting for the great bulk of that reduction. The policy, along with traditional preference for boys, may have contributed to an imbalance in the sex ratio at birth. According to the 2010 census, the sex ratio at birth was 118.06 boys for every 100 girls, "Chinese mainland gender ratios most balanced since 1950s: census data". Xinhua News Agency. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011. which is beyond the normal range of around 105 boys for every 100 girls. The 2010 census found that males accounted for 51.27 percent of the total population. However, China's sex ratio is more balanced than it was in 1953, when males accounted for 51.82 percent of the total population.

Ethnic groups
China legally recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups, who altogether comprise the . The largest of these nationalities are the ethnic Chinese or "Han", who constitute more than 90% of the total population. The Han Chinese – the world's largest single ethnic group – outnumber other ethnic groups in every provincial-level division except Tibet and .
(2022). 9780742567849, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. .
Ethnic minorities account for less than 10% of the population of China, according to the 2010 census. Compared with the 2000 population census, the Han population increased by 66,537,177 persons, or 5.74%, while the population of the 55 national minorities combined increased by 7,362,627 persons, or 6.92%. The 2010 census recorded a total of 593,832 foreign nationals living in China. The largest such groups were from South Korea (120,750), the United States (71,493) and Japan (66,159). "Major Figures on Residents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and Foreigners Covered by 2010 Population Census". National Bureau of Statistics of China. 29 April 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2015.

There are as many as 292 in China. Languages of China – from Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. The languages most commonly spoken belong to the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family, which contains (spoken by 70% of the population),
(2022). 9781847690951, Multilingual Matters. .
and other varieties of : (including and ), (including and ), (including , and ), , and . Languages of the Tibeto-Burman branch, including , , and , are spoken across the and Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau. Other ethnic minority languages in include , , Dong and of the Tai-Kadai family, and of the Hmong–Mien family, and of the Austroasiatic family. Across northeastern and northwestern China, local ethnic groups speak including , Mongolian and several : , , , and Western Yugur. is spoken natively along the border with . Sarikoli, the language of Tajiks in western Xinjiang, is an Indo-European language. Taiwanese aborigines, including a small population on the mainland, speak Austronesian languages. "Languages". 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2015.

Standard Mandarin, a variety of Mandarin based on the , is the official national language of China and is used as a in the country between people of different linguistic backgrounds.

(2022). 9781405388849, Rough Guides. .
Mongolian, Uyghur, Tibetan, Zhuang and various other languages are also regionally recognized throughout the country.

Chinese characters have been used as the for the Sinitic languages for thousands of years. They allow speakers of mutually unintelligible Chinese varieties to communicate with each other through writing. In 1956, the government introduced simplified characters, which have supplanted the older traditional characters in mainland China. Chinese characters are using the . Tibetan uses an based on an . Uyghur is most commonly written in -based Uyghur Arabic alphabet. The and the are both derived from the Old Uyghur alphabet. uses both an official and a traditional .

China has significantly in recent decades. The percent of the country's population living in urban areas increased from 20% in 1980 to over 60% in 2019. It is estimated that China's urban population will reach one billion by 2030, potentially equivalent to one-eighth of the world population.

China has over 160 cities with a population of over one million, including the 17 as of 2021 (cities with a population of over 10 million) of , , , , , , , Xi'an, , , , , , , , and . Among them, the total permanent population of Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu is above 20 million. Shanghai is China's most populous urban area

(2015). 9789264230033, OECD. .
while Chongqing is its largest city proper, the only city in China with the largest permanent population of over 30 million. By 2025, it is estimated that the country will be home to 221 cities with over a million inhabitants. The figures in the table below are from the 2017 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;Francesco Sisci. "China's floating population a headache for census". The Straits Times. 22 September 2000. the figures below include only long-term residents.

Since 1986, compulsory education in China comprises and , which together last for nine years. In 2021, about 91.4 percent of students continued their education at a three-year senior secondary school. The , China's national university entrance exam, is a prerequisite for entrance into most higher education institutions. In 2010, 24 percent of secondary school graduates were enrolled in higher education. This number increased significantly over the last decades, reaching a tertiary school enrolment of 58.42 percent in 2020. Vocational education is available to students at the secondary and tertiary level. More than 10 million Chinese students graduated from vocational colleges nationwide every year.

China has the largest education system in the world, with about 282 million students and 17.32 million full-time teachers in over 530,000 schools. In February 2006, the government pledged to provide completely free nine-year education, including textbooks and fees. "China pledges free 9-year education in rural west". China Economic Net. 21 February 2006. Retrieved 18 February 2013. Annual education investment went from less than US$50 billion in 2003 to more than US$817 billion in 2020. However, there remains an inequality in education spending. In 2010, the annual education expenditure per secondary school student in Beijing totalled ¥20,023, while in , one of the poorest provinces in China, only totalled ¥3,204. Free compulsory education in China consists of primary school and junior secondary school between the ages of 6 and 15. In 2020, the graduation enrollment ratio at compulsory education level reached 95.2 percent, exceeding average levels recorded in high-income countries, and around 91.2% of Chinese have received secondary education.

China's literacy rate has grown dramatically, from only 20% in 1949 and 65.5% in 1979.

(2022). 9781442236226, Rowman & Littlefield. .
to 97% of the population over age 15 in 2018. In the same year, China (Beijing, Shanghai, , and ) was ranked the highest in the world in the Programme for International Student Assessment ranking for all three categories of Mathematics, Science and Reading. As of 2022, China ranks first in the all-time medal count at the International Mathematical Olympiad with 174 goal medals since its first participation in 1985. China also ranks first in the all-time medal count at the International Physics Olympiad, the International Chemistry Olympiad, and the International Olympiad in Informatics.

As of 2021, China has over 3,000 universities, with over 44.3 million students enrolled in mainland China and 240 million Chinese citizens have received high education, making China the largest higher education system in the world. As of 2021, China had the world's second-highest number of top universities (the highest in Asia & Oceania region). Currently, China trails only the United States in terms of representation on lists of top 200 universities according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). China is home to the two of the highest ranking universities (Tsinghua University and Peking University) in and according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. As of 2022, two universities in Mainland China rank in the world's top 15, with Peking University (12th) and Tsinghua University (14th) and three other universities ranking in the world's top 50, namely , Zhejiang, and Shanghai Jiao Tong according to the QS World University Rankings. These universities are members of the C9 League, an alliance of elite Chinese universities offering comprehensive and leading education.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission, together with its counterparts in the local commissions, oversees the health needs of the Chinese population. An emphasis on public health and preventive medicine has characterized Chinese 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 treating and preventing several diseases. Diseases such as , and , which were previously rife in China, were nearly eradicated by the campaign.

After began instituting economic reforms in 1978, the health of the Chinese public improved rapidly because of better nutrition, although many of the free public health services provided in the countryside disappeared along with the People's Communes. Healthcare in China became mostly privatized, and experienced a significant rise in quality. In 2009, the government began a 3-year large-scale healthcare provision initiative worth US$124 billion. By 2011, the campaign resulted in 95% of China's population having basic health insurance coverage. In 2011, China was estimated to be the world's third-largest supplier of , but its population has suffered from the development and distribution of counterfeit medications.

, the average life expectancy at birth in China is 76 years, and the rate is 7 per thousand. Both have improved significantly since the 1950s. Rates of , a condition caused by , have declined from 33.1% in 1990 to 9.9% in 2010. Despite significant improvements in health and the construction of advanced medical facilities, China has several emerging public health problems, such as respiratory illnesses caused by widespread air pollution, hundreds of millions of , and an increase in among urban youths. "Serving the people?". 1999. Bruce Kennedy. CNN. Retrieved 17 April 2006. "Obesity Sickening China's Young Hearts". 4 August 2000. People's Daily. Retrieved 17 April 2006. 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. "China's latest SARS outbreak has been contained, but biosafety concerns remain". 18 May 2004. World Health Organization. Retrieved 17 April 2006. In 2010, air pollution caused 1.2 million premature deaths in China.

The COVID-19 pandemic was first identified in in December 2019. Further studies are being carried out around the world on a possible origin for the virus. The Chinese government has been criticized for its handling of the epidemic and accused of concealing the extent of the outbreak before it became an international pandemic.

The government of the People's Republic of China officially espouses state atheism, and has conducted antireligious campaigns to this end.
(2014). 9781317815006, .
Religious affairs and issues in the country are overseen by the State Administration for Religious Affairs. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by China's constitution, although religious organizations that lack official approval can be subject to state persecution. "China bans religious activities in Xinjiang". . 2 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012. Constitution of the People's Republic of China. Chapter 2, Article 36.

Over the millennia, Chinese civilization has been influenced by various religious movements. The "", including , , and (), historically have a significant role in shaping Chinese culture,

(2022). 9781847064752, A&C Black.
pp. 9–11.
(2022). 9781851096268, ABC-CLIO.
p. 57.
enriching a which harks back to the early and . Chinese popular or folk religion, which is framed by the three teachings and other traditions,Tam Wai Lun, "Local Religion in Contemporary China", in
(2022). 9780754656487, Ashgate Publishing.
p. 73.
consists in allegiance to the shen (), a character that signifies the "energies of generation", who can be of the environment or of human groups, concepts of civility, , many of whom feature in Chinese mythology and history.. Extracts in The Chinese Cosmos: Basic Concepts. Among the most popular cults are those of Mazu (goddess of the seas), (online), (print). p. 7: "...while provincial leaders in Fujian nod to Taoism with their sponsorship of the Mazu Pilgrimage in Southern China, the leaders of Shanxi have gone further with their promotion of worship of the Yellow Emperor ()". (one of the two divine patriarchs of the Chinese race), pp. 80–81. (god of war and business), (god of prosperity and richness), and many others. China is home to many of the world's tallest religious statues, including the tallest of all, the Spring Temple Buddha in .

Clear data on religious affiliation in China is difficult to gather due to varying definitions of "religion" and the unorganized, diffusive nature of Chinese religious traditions. Scholars note that in China there is no clear boundary between religions and local folk religious practice. A 2015 poll conducted by Gallup International found that 61% of Chinese people self-identified as "convinced atheist", though it is worthwhile to note that Chinese religions or some of their strands are definable as and religions, since they do not believe that divine creativity is completely transcendent, but it is inherent in the world and in particular in the human being. According to a 2014 study, approximately 74% are either non-religious or practice Chinese folk belief, 16% are Buddhists, 2% are Christians, 1% are Muslims, and 8% adhere to other religions including and folk salvationism.China Family Panel Studies 2014 survey. See release #1 ( archived) and release #2 ( archived). The tables also contain the results of CFPS 2012 and Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) results for 2006, 2008 and 2010. In addition to Han people's local religious practices, there are also various ethnic minority groups in China who maintain their traditional autochthone religions. The various folk religions today comprise 2–3% of the population, while Confucianism as a religious self-identification is common within the intellectual class. Significant faiths specifically connected to certain ethnic groups include and the Islamic religion of the , , Kazakh, Kyrgyz and other peoples in Northwest China. The 2010 population census reported the total number of Muslims in the country as 23.14 million.

A 2021 poll from and the Policy Institute at King's College London found that 35% of Chinese people said there was tension between different religious groups, which was the second lowest percentage of the 28 countries surveyed.

Since , Chinese culture has been heavily influenced by . For much of the country's dynastic era, opportunities for social advancement could be provided by high performance in the prestigious imperial examinations, which have their origins in the Han dynasty. The literary emphasis of the exams affected the general perception of cultural refinement in China, such as the belief that calligraphy, poetry and were higher forms of art than dancing or drama. Chinese culture has long emphasized a sense of deep history and a largely inward-looking national perspective. Examinations and a remain greatly valued in China today.

The first leaders of the People's Republic of China were born into the traditional imperial order but were influenced by the May Fourth Movement and reformist ideals. They sought to change some traditional aspects of Chinese culture, such as rural land tenure, , and the Confucian system of education, while preserving others, such as the family structure and culture of obedience to the state. Some observers see the period following the establishment of the PRC in 1949 as a continuation of traditional Chinese dynastic history, while others claim that the Communist Party's rule has damaged the foundations of Chinese culture, especially through political movements such as the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, where many aspects of traditional culture were destroyed, having been denounced as "regressive and harmful" or "vestiges of ". Many important aspects of traditional Chinese morals and culture, such as Confucianism, art, literature, and performing arts like , were altered to conform to government policies and propaganda at the time. Access to foreign media remains heavily restricted.

Today, the Chinese government has accepted numerous elements of traditional Chinese culture as being integral to Chinese society. With the rise of Chinese nationalism and the end of the Cultural Revolution, various forms of traditional Chinese art, literature, music, film, fashion and architecture have seen a vigorous revival, and folk and variety art in particular have sparked interest nationally and even worldwide.

China received 55.7 million inbound international visitors in 2010, and in 2012 was the third-most-visited country in the world. It also experiences an enormous volume of ; an estimated 740 million Chinese holidaymakers traveled within the country in October 2012. China hosts the world's second-largest number of World Heritage Sites (56) after Italy, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world (first in the Asia-Pacific).

Chinese literature is based on the literature of the . Concepts covered within the Chinese classic texts present a wide range of thoughts and subjects including , military, astrology, herbology, geography and many others. Some of the most important early texts include the and the Shujing within the Four Books and Five Classics which served as the Confucian authoritative books for the state-sponsored curriculum in dynastic era. Inherited from the Classic of Poetry, classical Chinese poetry developed to its during the Tang dynasty. and opened the forking ways for the poetic circles through romanticism and realism respectively. Chinese historiography began with the , the overall scope of the historiographical tradition in China is termed the Twenty-Four Histories, which set a vast stage for Chinese fictions along with Chinese mythology and . Pushed by a burgeoning citizen class in the Ming dynasty, Chinese classical fiction rose to a boom of the historical, town and gods and demons fictions as represented by the Four Great Classical Novels which include , Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West and Dream of the Red Chamber. Along with the fictions of and , it remains an enduring source of popular culture in the East Asian cultural sphere.

In the wake of the New Culture Movement after the end of the Qing dynasty, Chinese literature embarked on a new era with written vernacular Chinese for ordinary citizens. and were pioneers in modern literature. Various literary genres, such as , , young adult fiction and the , which is influenced by , emerged following the Cultural Revolution. , a xungen literature author, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012.

Chinese cuisine is highly diverse, drawing on several millennia of culinary history and geographical variety, in which the most influential are known as the "Eight Major Cuisines", including , Cantonese, , , , , , and cuisines. All of them are featured by the precise skills of shaping, heating, and flavoring. Chinese cuisine is also known for its width of cooking methods and ingredients, as well as food therapy that is emphasized by traditional Chinese medicine. Generally, China's staple food is rice in the south, wheat-based breads and noodles in the north. The diet of the common people in pre-modern times was largely grain and simple vegetables, with meat reserved for special occasions. The bean products, such as and , remain as a popular source of protein. Pork is now the most popular meat in China, accounting for about three-fourths of the country's total meat consumption. While pork dominates the meat market, there is also the vegetarian and the pork-free Chinese Islamic cuisine. Southern cuisine, due to the area's proximity to the ocean and milder climate, has a wide variety of seafood and vegetables; it differs in many respects from the wheat-based diets across dry northern China. Numerous offshoots of Chinese food, such as Hong Kong cuisine and American Chinese food, have emerged in the nations that play host to the .

Chinese music covers a highly diverse range of music from traditional music to modern music. Chinese music dates back before the pre-imperial times. Traditional Chinese musical instruments were traditionally grouped into eight categories known as bayin (八音). Traditional Chinese opera is a form of musical theatre in China originating thousands of years and has regional style forms such as and . Chinese pop (C-Pop) includes and . , Chinese hip hop and Hong Kong hip hop have become popular in contemporary times.

Cinema was first introduced to China in 1896 and the first Chinese film, Dingjun Mountain, was released in 1905. China has the largest number of movie screens in the world since 2016, China became the largest cinema market in the world in 2020. The top 3 highest-grossing films in China currently are Wolf Warrior 2 (2017) , Ne Zha (2019), and The Wandering Earth (2019).

is the historical clothing of the Han people in China. The or cheongsam is a popular Chinese female dress. The has been popular in contemporary times and seeks to revitalize Hanfu clothing.

China has one of the oldest sporting cultures in the world. There is evidence that ( shèjiàn) was practiced during the Western Zhou dynasty. Swordplay ( jiànshù) and , a sport loosely related to association football
(2022). 9780810871885, Scarecrow Press. .
date back to China's early dynasties as well.

is widely emphasized in Chinese culture, with morning exercises such as and t'ai chi ch'uan widely practiced, and commercial and private fitness clubs are gaining popularity across the country. Basketball is currently the most popular spectator sport in China. The Chinese Basketball Association and the American National Basketball Association have a huge following among the people, with native or ethnic Chinese players such as and held in high esteem. China's professional football league, now known as Chinese Super League, was established in 1994, it is the largest football market in Asia. Other popular sports in the country include martial arts, , , swimming and . such as go (known as wéiqí in Chinese), , , and more recently , are also played at a professional level. "Chinese players dominate at Malaysia open chess championship". Toronto Star. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2011. In addition, China is home to a huge number of , with an estimated 470 million bicycles . Many more traditional sports, such as racing, Mongolian-style wrestling and are also popular.Qinfa, Ye. "Sports History of China". About.Com. Retrieved 21 April 2006.

China has participated in the Olympic Games since 1932, although it has only participated as the PRC since 1952. China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where its athletes received 48 gold medals – the highest number of gold medals of any participating nation that year. China also won the most medals of any nation at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, with 231 overall, including 95 gold medals. In 2011, in Guangdong, China hosted the 2011 Summer Universiade. China hosted the 2013 East Asian Games in Tianjin and the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in ; the first country to host both regular and Youth Olympics. Beijing and its nearby city of collaboratively hosted the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, making Beijing the first dual olympic city in the world by holding both the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics.

See also
  • Outline of China


Further reading
  • Farah, Paolo (2006). "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. Abstract.
  • Heilig, Gerhard K. (2006/2007). China Bibliography – Online .
  • (2009). . Penguin Books. Rev. ed. (28 August 2012).
  • Jaffe, Amy Myers, "Green Giant: Renewable Energy and Chinese Power", , vol. 97, no. 2 (March / April 2018), pp. 83–93.
  • Johnson, Ian, "What Holds China Together?", The New York Review of Books, vol. LXVI, no. 14 (26 September 2019), pp. 14, 16, 18. "The ... had in conquered the last ethnic Chinese empire, the and... The Manchus expanded the empire's borders northward to include all of , and westward to and ." p. 16. "China's rulers have no faith that anything but force can keep this sprawling country intact." p. 18.
  • (2022). 9789888028047, University of Hong Kong Press. .
  • (2022). 9789814332354, Silkroad Press.
  • (2022). 9780520245143, University of California Press.
  • (1979). 9780853455325, Monthly Review Press. .
  • (2022). 9780520254923, University of California Press. .

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