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General Information of China

Great Wall of ChinaLocation: 35 00 N, 105 00 E -- Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam

Description: red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner.


Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam

Geographic coordinates: 35 00 N, 105 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total area: 9,596,960 sq km
Land area: 9,326,410 sq km
Comparative area: slightly larger than the US

Land boundaries total: 22,143.34 km

Border countries: Afghanistan 76 km, Bhutan 470 km, Burma 2,185 km, Hong Kong 30 km, India 3,380 km, Kazakstan 1,533 km, North Korea 1,416 km, Kyrgyzstan 858 km, Laos 423 km, Macau 0.34 km, Mongolia 4,673 km, Nepal 1,236 km, Pakistan 523 km, Russia (northeast) 3,605 km, Russia (northwest) 40 km, Tajikistan 414 km, Vietnam 1,281 km

Coastline: 14,500 km
Maritime claims continental shelf: claim to shallow areas of East China Sea and Yellow Sea
Territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: boundary with India in dispute; disputed sections of the boundary with Russia remain to be settled; boundary with Tajikistan in dispute; short section of the boundary with North Korea is indefinite; involved in a complex dispute over the Spratly Islands with Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei; maritime boundary dispute with Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin; Paracel Islands occupied by China, but claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; claims Japanese-administered Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Tai), as does Taiwan

Climate: extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north
Terrain: mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east
Lowest point: Turpan Pendi -154 m
Highest point: Mount Everest 8,848 m

Natural resources: coal, iron ore, petroleum, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest)

Land use:
Arable land: 10%
Permanent crops: 0%
Meadows and pastures: 31%
Forest and woodland: 14%
Other: 45%
Irrigated land: 478,220 sq km (1991)


Current issues: air pollution from the overwhelming use of high-sulfur coal as a fuel, produces acid rain which is damaging forests; water shortages experienced throughout the country, particularly in urban areas; future growth in water usage threatens to outpace supplies; water pollution from industrial effluents; much of the population does not have access to potable water; less than 10% of sewage receives treatment; deforestation; estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1957 to soil erosion and economic development; desertification; trade in endangered species

Natural hazards: frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts

International agreements: party to - Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Desertification, Law of the Sea.

Geographic note: world's third-largest country (after Russia and Canada)


Population: 1,210,004,956 (July 1996 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26% (male 167,448,148; female 151,601,650)
15-64 years: 67% (male 421,455,418; female 393,913,510)
65 years and over: 7% (male 35,056,409; female 40,529,821) (July 1996 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.98% (1996 est.)
Birth rate: 17.01 births/1,000 population (1996 est.)
Death rate: 6.92 deaths/1,000 population (1996 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.34 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1996 est.)

Sex ratio:
At birth:
1.11 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
All ages: 1.06 male(s)/female (1996 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 39.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1996 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
Total population:
69.62 years
Male: 68.33 years
Female: 71.06 years (1996 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.81 children born/woman (1996 est.)

Noun: Chinese (singular and plural)
Adjective: Chinese

Ethnic divisions: Han Chinese 91.9%, Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%

Religions: Daoism (Taoism), Buddhism, Muslim 2%-3%, Christian 1% (est.)
Note: officially atheist, but traditionally pragmatic and eclectic

Languages: Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic divisions entry)

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1995 est.)
Total population: 81.5%
Male: 89.9%
Female: 72.7%


Name of country:
conventional long form: People's Republic of China
Conventional short form: China
Local long form: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo
Local short form: Zhong Guo
Abbreviation: PRC
Data code: CH
Type of government: Communist state
Capital: Beijing

Administrative divisions: 23 provinces (sheng, singular and plural), 5 autonomous regions* (zizhiqu, singular and plural), and 3 municipalities** (shi, singular and plural); Anhui, Beijing**, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi*, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol*, Ningxia*, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanghai**, Shanxi, Sichuan, Tianjin**, Xinjiang*, Xizang* (Tibet), Yunnan, Zhejiang

Note: China considers Taiwan its 23rd province

Independence: 221 BC (unification under the Qin or Ch'in Dynasty 221 BC; Qing or Ch'ing Dynasty replaced by the Republic on 12 February 1912; People's Republic established 1 October 1949)

National holiday: National Day, 1 October (1949)
Constitution: most recent promulgated 4 December 1982

Legal system: a complex amalgam of custom and statute, largely criminal law; rudimentary civil code in effect since 1 January 1987; new legal codes in effect since 1 January 1980; continuing efforts are being made to improve civil, administrative, criminal, and commercial law

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch

Chief of state: President JIANG Zemin (since 27 March 1993) and Vice President RONG Yiren (since 27 March 1993) elected by the National People's Congress; election last held 27 March 1993 (next to be held NA 1998); results - JIANG Zemin was nominally elected by the Eighth National People's Congress

Head of government: Premier LI Peng (Acting Premier since 24 November 1987, Premier since 9 April 1988) nominated by the president, decided by the National People's Congress; Vice Premiers ZHU Rongji (since 8 April 1991), ZOU Jiahua (since 8 April 1991), QIAN Qichen (since 2 9 March 1993), LI Lanqing (29 March 1993), WU Bangguo (since 17 March 1995), and JIANG Chunyun (since 17 March 1995) nominated by the president, decided by the National People's Congress

Cabinet: State Council appointed by the National People's Congress (NPC)

Legislative branch: unicameral
National People's Congress (Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui): elections last held NA March 1993 (next to be held NA March 1998); results - CCP is the only party but there are also independents; seats - (2,977 total) (elected at county or xian level)

Judicial branch: Supreme People's Court, judges appointed by the National People's Congress

Political parties and leaders: Chinese Communist Party (CCP), JIANG Zemin, general secretary of the Central Committee; eight registered small parties controlled by CCP

Other political or pressure groups: such meaningful opposition as exists consists of loose coalitions, usually within the party and government organization, that vary by issue

International organization participation: AfDB, APEC, AsDB, CCC, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, LAIA (observer), Mekong Group, MINURSO, NAM (observer), PCA, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNOMIL, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Flag: red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner


100 Yuan (equivalent to $12)
Economic overview: Beginning in late 1978 the Chinese leadership has been trying to move the economy from a sluggish Soviet-style centrally planned economy to one that is more market-oriented, but still within a rigid political framework of Communist Party control. To this end the authorities switched to a system of household responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprise in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment. The result has been a strong surge in production. Agricultural output doubled in the 1980s, and industry also posted major gains, especially in coastal are as near Hong Kong and opposite Taiwan, where foreign investment and modern production methods helped spur output of both domestic and export goods. GDP has more than tripled since 1978. On the darker side, the leadership has often experienced in its hybrid system the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy, lassitude, corruption) and of capitalism (windfall gains and stepped-up inflation). Beijing thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. In 1992-95 annual growth of GDP accelerated, particularly in the coastal areas - averaging more than 10% annually according to official figures. In late 1993 China's leadership approved additional long-term reforms aimed at giving still more play to market-oriented institutions and at strengthening the center's control over the financial system; state enterprises would continue to dominate many key industries in what was now termed "a socialist market economy." In 1995 inflation dropped sharply, reflecting tighter monetary policies and stronger measures to control food prices. At the same time, the government struggled to (a) collect revenues due from provinces, businesses, and individuals; (b) reduce extortion and other economic crimes; and (c) keep afloat the large state- owned enterprises, most of which had not participated in the vigorous expansion of the economy. From 60 to 100 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time low-pay jobs. Popular resistance , changes in central policy, and loss of authority by rural cadres have weakened China's population control program, which is essential to the nation's long-term economic viability. One of the most dangerous long-term threats to continued rapid economic growth is the deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table especially in the north. The amount of arable land continues to decline because of erosion and economic development, the cumulative loss since the Communist takeover in 1949 being more than 15%. The next few years will witness increasing tensions between a highly centralized political system and an increasingly decentralized economic system.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $3.5 trillion (1995 estimate as extrapolated from World Bank estimate with use of official Chinese growth figures for 1993-95; the result may overstate China's GDP by as much as 25%)

GDP real growth rate: 10.3% (1995 est.)
GDP per capita: $2,900 (1995 est.)
GDP composition by sector:
Agriculture: 19%
Industry: 48%
Services: 33% (1994 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10.1% (December 1995 over December 1994)
Labor force: 583.6 million (1991)

By occupation: agriculture and forestry 60%, industry and commerce 25%, construction and mining 5%, social services 5%, other 5% (1990 est.)

Unemployment rate: 5.2% in urban areas (1995 est.); substantial underemployment

Industries: iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, textiles and apparel, petroleum, cement, chemical fertilizers, consumer durables, food processing, autos, consumer electronics, telecommunications

Industrial production growth rate: 13.4% (1995 est.)

162,000,000 kW
Production: 746 billion kWh
Consumption per capita: 593 kWh (1993)

Agriculture: rice, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, other fibers, oilseed; pork and other livestock products; fish
Illicit drugs: major transshipment point for heroin produced in the Golden Triangle; growing domestic drug abuse problem

Exports: $148.8 billion (f.o.b., 1995)
Commodities: garments, textiles, footwear, toys, machinery and equipment (1994)
Partners: Hong Kong, Japan, US, Germany, South Korea, Singapore (1994)
Imports: $132.1 billion (c.i.f., 1995)

Commodities: industrial machinery, textiles, plastics, telecommunications equipment, steel bars, aircraft (1994)

Partners: Japan, Taiwan, US, Hong Kong, South Korea, Germany (1994)
External debt: $92 billion (1994 est.)

Economic aid:
Donor: to less developed countries (1970-89) $NA
Recipient: ODA, $1.977 billion (1993)
Currency: 1 yuan (? = 10 jiao

Exchange rates: yuan (? per US$1 - 8.3186 (January 1996), 8.3514 (1995), 8.6187 (1994), 5.7620 (1993), 5.5146 (1992), 5.3234 (1991)

beginning 1 January 1994, the People's Bank of China quotes the midpoint rate against the US dollar based on the previous day's prevailing rate in the interbank foreign exchange market

Fiscal year: calendar year

Most Popular Form of Transportation: Bicycle
Railways total: 58,399 km

Standard gauge: 54,799 km 435-m gauge (7,174 km electrified; more than 11,000 km double track)
Sarrow gauge:
3,600 km 0.762-m gauge local industrial lines (1995)

1.029 million km
Paved: 170,000 km
Unpaved: 859,000 km (1990 est.)
Waterways: 138,600 km; about 109,800 km navigable

crude oil 9,700 km; petroleum products 1,100 km; natural gas 6,200 km (1990)
Ports: Aihui, Changsha, Dalian, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Huangpu, Nanning, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shantou, Tanggu, Xiamen, Xingang, Zhanjiang

Merchant marine:

1,700 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 16,663,260 GRT/25,026,090 DWT
Ships by type: barge carrier 2, bulk 316, cargo 876, chemical tanker 15, combination bulk 11, container 103, liquefied gas tanker 4, multifunction large-load carrier 3, oil tanker 227, passenger 24, passenger-cargo 28, refrigerated cargo 22, roll-on/roll-off cargo 24, short-sea passenger 45

Note: China owns an additional 267 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 9,044,039 DWT operating under the registries of Panama, Hong Kong, Malta, Liberia, Vanuatu, Cyprus, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, The Bahamas, Marshall Islands, and Singapore (1995 est.)

Airports total: 204
with paved runways over 3 047 m: 17
with paved runways 2 438 to 3 047 m: 69
with paved runways 1 524 to 2 437 m: 89
with paved runways 914 to 1 523 m: 9
with paved runways under 914 m: 7
with unpaved runways 1 524 to 2 437 m: 7
with unpaved runways 914 to 1 523 m: 3
with unpaved runways under 914 m: 3 (1994 est.)


Telephones: 20 million (1994 est.)
Telephone system: domestic and international services are increasingly available for private use; unevenly distributed domestic system serves principal cities, industrial centers, and most townships
Domestic: telephone lines are being expanded; interprovincial fiber-optic trunk lines and cellular telephone systems have been installed; a domestic satellite system with 55 earth stations is in place
International: satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean Region) and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific and Indian Ocean Regions); several international fiber-optic links to Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong

Radio broadcast stations: AM 274, FM NA, shortwave 0
Radios: 216.5 million (1992 est.)
Television broadcast stations: 202 (repeaters 2,050)
Televisions: 75 million


Branches: People's Liberation Army (PLA), which includes the Ground Forces, Navy (includes Marines and Naval Aviation), Air Force, Second Artillery Corps (the strategic missile force), People's Armed Police (internal security troops, nominally subordinate to Ministry of Public Security, but included by the Chinese as part of the "armed forces" and considered to be an adjunct to the PLA in wartime)

Manpower availability:
males age 15-49: 352,506,948
males fit for military service: 194,589,216
males reach military age (18) annually: 9,763,916 (1996 est.)

Defense expenditures: the officially announced but suspect figure is 70.2 billion yuan, NA% of GDP (1995 est.)

- conversion of the defense budget into US dollars using the current exchange rate could produce misleading results

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