Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó
|Flag||Coat of Arms|
|Language||Mandarin Chinese (official)|
|Area||3,704,427 sq mi|
|GDP per capita||$7,600 (2007)|
China (formally, The People's Republic of China), is the world's largest country by population, with a rapidly growing economy. With thousands of years of continuous traditions, in three decades it has dramatically changed itself from a poor backward nation to a world power, and is one of the world's top economies. It has emerged as a major regional power in East Asia, averaging over 9% economic growth per year since 1978 when it introduced a market-based economic system with many elements of capitalism, to replace its old socialism. Foreign businesses have flocked to invest in China, Americans and others rush to buy its cheap factory output, Chinese exports flooded the world. It has vast reserves of dollar holdings. China is modernizing its military, has joined numerous regional and international institutions, and plays an increasingly visible role in international politics.
The nation is under control from the Chinese Communist Party, which encompasses mainland China, albeit with many border disputes. The PRC claims Taiwan, the Republic of China, as its own province, but the ROC maintains its sovereignty.
Hong Kong was transferred back to Chinese control by the United Kingdom in 1997, and Macau was handed over by Portugal in 1999. Both territories are now Special Administrative Regions and have autonomy over local affairs. Since the 1950s China has increasingly asserted brutal control over Tibet.
The next 5 years represent a critical period in China's development. To investors and firms, particularly since China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, China represents a vast market that has yet to be fully tapped and a low-cost base for export-oriented production. Educationally, China is forging ahead as partnerships, and exchanges with foreign universities have helped create new research opportunities for its students. China used the Summer Olympics in 2008 to showcase to the world its amazing gains of the past two decades. The new leadership is committed to generating greater economic development in the interior and providing more services to those who do not live in China's coastal areas, goals that form the core of President Hu's concepts of a "harmonious society" and a "spiritual civilization." However, there is still much that needs to change in China.
For more information on China, see World History Lecture Three.
- 1 People
- 2 Religion
- 3 Population Policy
- 4 Government
- 5 Political Conditions
- 6 Military
- 7 Economy
- 8 History
- 9 Human Rights
- 10 Further reading
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
China officially recognizes 56 distinct ethnic groups. The largest ethnic group is the Han Chinese, who constitute about 91.9% of the total population. The remaining 8.1% are Zhuang (16 million), Manchu (10 million), Hui (9 million), Miao (8 million), Uighur (7 million), Yi (7 million), Mongolian (5 million), Tibetan (5 million), Buyi (3 million), Korean (2 million), and other ethnic minorities.
In July 2009 large scale rioting erupted as the Uighur minority fought Chinese riot police in major cities in China's western Xinjiang province. Hundreds are dead.. Uighurs are angry at political, cultural and religious persecution as well as the growing presence in the region of Han Chinese - China's main ethnic group. Han now predominate in the cities, and Uighurs in the countryside. This is the first major violent unrest in China in two decades.
There are seven major Chinese dialects and many subdialects. Mandarin (or Putonghua), the predominant dialect, is spoken by over 70% of the population. It is taught in all schools and is the medium of government. About two-thirds of the Han ethnic group are native speakers of Mandarin; the rest, concentrated in south and southeast China, speak one of the six other major Chinese dialects. Non-Chinese languages spoken widely by ethnic minorities include Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur and other Turkic languages (in Xinjiang), and Korean (in the northeast).
All Chinese dialects use the same written character sets. In mainland China, the Simplified characters have been in use since 1949.
The Pinyin System of Romanization
On January 1, 1979, the Chinese Government officially adopted the pinyin system for spelling Chinese names and places in Roman letters. A system of Romanization invented by the Chinese, pinyin has long been widely used in China on street and commercial signs as well as in elementary Chinese textbooks as an aid in learning Chinese characters and for common character input systems. Variations of pinyin also are used as the written forms of several minority languages.
Pinyin has now replaced other conventional spellings in China's English-language publications. The U.S. Government also has adopted the pinyin system for all names and places in China. For example, the capital of China is now spelled "Beijing" rather than "Peking."
In 2008 the anti-Communist government of Taiwan finally adopted the pinyin system, replaces the old Wade-Giles system which was increasingly ignored by the Chinese diaspora.
A February 2007 survey concluded that 31% of Chinese citizens ages 16 and over, representing 300 million persons, are religious believers.
There are reportedly more than 100,000 officially recognized sites for religious activities, 300,000 officially recognized clergy, and more than 3,000 officially recognized religious organizations.
The Government officially recognizes five main religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. There are five state-sanctioned "Patriotic Religious Associations" (PRAs) that manage the activities of the recognized faiths. The Russian Orthodox Church operates in some regions, particularly those with large populations of Russian expatriates or with close links to Russia. Foreign residents in the country who belonged to religious faiths not officially recognized by the Government were generally permitted to practice their religions.
It is difficult to estimate the number of Buddhists and Taoists, because they do not have congregational memberships and many practice exclusively at home.
The Government estimated that there are 16,000 Buddhist temples and monasteries, 200,000 Buddhist monks and nuns, more than 1,700 reincarnate lamas, and 32 Buddhist schools. Most believers, particularly ethnic Han Buddhists, practice Mahayana Buddhism, while the majority of Tibetans and ethnic Mongolians, as well as a growing number of ethnic Chinese, practice Tibetan Buddhism, a Mahayana adaptation. Some ethnic minorities in southwest Yunnan Province practice Theravada Buddhism, the dominant tradition in parts of neighboring Southeast Asia.
There are more than 25,000 Taoist priests and nuns, more than 1,500 Taoist temples, and 2 Taoist schools. Traditional folk religions (worship of local gods, heroes, and ancestors) are practiced by hundreds of millions of citizens and are often affiliated with Taoism, Buddhism, or ethnic minority cultural practices.
The government says there are twenty million Muslims. Independent estimates range as high as fifty million or more. There are more than 40,000 Islamic places of worship (more than half of which are in the XUAR), more than 45,000 imams nationwide, and 10 Islamic schools. The country has ten predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, the largest of which is the Hui, estimated to number more than ten million. The Hui are centered in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, but there are significant concentrations of Hui throughout the country, including in Gansu, Henan, Qinghai, Yunnan, and Hebei Provinces, as well as in the TAR and the XUAR. Hui Muslims slightly outnumber Uighur Muslims, who live primarily in the XUAR. According to an official 2005 report, the XUAR had 23,900 mosques and 27,000 clerics at the end of 2004, but fewer than half of the mosques were authorized to hold Friday prayer and holiday services. The country also has more than one million Kazakh Muslims and thousands of Dongxiang, Kyrgyz, Salar, Tajik, Uzbek, Baoan, and Tatar Muslims.
Officials from the Three-Self Patriotic Movement/China Christian Council (TSPM/CCC), the state-approved Protestant religious organization, estimated that at least twenty million citizens worship in official churches. Government officials stated that there are more than 50,000 registered TSPM churches and 18 TSPM theological schools. The Pew Research Center estimates that between 50 million and 70 million Christians practice without state sanction. The World Christian Database estimates that there are more than 300 unofficial house church networks.
The Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) reports that 5.3 million persons worship in its churches and it is estimated that there are an additional 12 million or more persons who worship in unregistered Catholic churches that do not affiliate with the CPA. According to official sources, the government-sanctioned CPA has more than 70 bishops, nearly 3,000 priests and nuns, 6,000 churches and meeting places, and 12 seminaries. There are thought to be approximately 40 bishops operating "underground," some of whom are in prison or under house arrest. During the reporting period, at least three bishops were ordained with papal approval. In September 2007 the official media reported that Liu Bainian, CPA vice president, stated that the young bishops were to be selected to serve dioceses without bishops and to replace older bishops. Of the 97 dioceses in the country, 40 reportedly did not have an acting bishop in 2007, and more than 30 bishops were over 80 years of age.
The Government restricts legal religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered religious groups and places of worship, and seeks to control the growth and scope of the activity of both registered and unregistered religious groups, including "house churches." Government authorities limit proselytism, particularly by foreigners and unregistered religious groups, but permit proselytism in state-approved religious venues and private settings.
In 2008, the Government's repression of religious freedom intensified in some areas, including in Tibetan areas and in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Unregistered Protestant religious groups in Beijing reported intensified harassment from government authorities in the lead up to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Media and China-based sources reported that municipal authorities in Beijing closed some house churches or asked them to stop meeting during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. During the reporting period, officials detained and interrogated several foreigners about their religious activities and in several cases alleged that the foreigners had engaged in "illegal religious activities" and cancelled their visas. Media reported that the total number of expatriates expelled by the Government due to concerns about their religious activities exceeded one hundred. Officials in the XUAR, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and other Tibetan areas tightly controlled religious activity. The Government sought the forcible return of several Uighur Muslims living abroad, some of whom had reportedly protested restrictions on the Hajj and encouraged other Muslims to pray and fast during Ramadan. Followers of Tibetan Buddhism, including those in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region and most Tibetan autonomous areas, faced more restrictions on their religious practice and ability to organize than Buddhists in other parts of the country. "Patriotic education" campaigns in the TAR and other Tibetan regions, which required monks and nuns to sign statements personally denouncing the Dalai Lama, and other new restrictions on religious freedom were major factors that led monks and nuns to mount peaceful protests at a number of monasteries on March 10, 2008. The protests and subsequent security response gave way to violence in Lhasa by March 14 and 15.
"Underground" Roman Catholic clergy faced repression, in large part due to their avowed loyalty to the Vatican, which the Government accused of interfering in the country's internal affairs. The Government continued to repress groups that it designated as "cults," which included several Christian groups and Falun Gong.
Religious and ethnic minority groups such as Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims experienced societal discrimination not only because of their religious beliefs but also because of their status as ethnic minorities with distinct languages and cultures. After the March 2008 protests in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas there were reports of increased tensions between Tibetan Buddhists and Hui Muslims.
The Falun Gong is a self-described spiritual movement that blends aspects of Taoism, Buddhism, and the meditation techniques and physical exercises of qigong (a traditional Chinese exercise discipline), with the teachings of Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi. There are estimated to have been at least 2.1 million adherents of Falun Gong before the Government banned the group in 1999. Hundreds of thousands may practice Falun Gong privately.
For a more detailed treatment, see One-child Policy.
With a population officially just over 1.3 billion and an estimated growth rate of about 0.6%, China is very concerned about its population growth and has attempted with mixed results to implement a strict birth limitation policy. The government permits one child per family, with allowance for a second child under certain circumstances (such as twins), especially in rural areas, and with guidelines looser for ethnic minorities with small populations. Enforcement varies, and relies largely on "social compensation fees" to discourage extra births. Official government policy opposes forced abortion or sterilization, but in some localities there are instances of forced abortion. The government's goal is to stabilize the population in the first half of the 21st century, and current projections are that the population will peak at around 1.6 billion by 2050. Boys are highly prized, and because screening of fetuses is done to determine gender, selective abortion has resulted in 119 boys born for every 100 girls. By 2020, 24 million men of marrying age will find themselves without wives.
The People's Republic of China is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) constitutionally is the paramount source of power. Party members hold almost all top government, police, and military positions. Ultimate authority rests with the 25-member political bureau (Politburo) of the CCP and its nine-member standing committee. Hu Jintao holds the three most powerful positions as CCP general secretary, president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.
Chinese Communist Party
The 71 million member CCP, authoritarian in structure and ideology, continues to dominate government. Nevertheless, China's population, geographical vastness, and social diversity frustrate attempts to rule by fiat from Beijing. Central leaders must increasingly build consensus for new policies among party members, local and regional leaders, influential non-party members, and the population at large.
In periods of greater openness, the influence of people and organizations outside the formal party structure has tended to increase, particularly in the economic realm. This phenomenon is most apparent today in the rapidly developing coastal region. Nevertheless, in all important government, economic, and cultural institutions in China, party committees work to see that party and state policy guidance is followed and that non-party members do not create autonomous organizations that could challenge party rule. Party control is tightest in government offices and in urban economic, industrial, and cultural settings; it is considerably looser in the rural areas, where the majority of the people live.
Theoretically, the party's highest body is the Party Congress, which traditionally meets at least once every 5 years. The 17th Party Congress is expected to take place in the fall of 2007. The primary organs of power in the Communist Party include:
- The Politburo Standing Committee, which currently consists of nine members (one seat is vacant following the June 2, 2007 death of Huang Ju);
- The Politburo, consisting of 24 full members, including the members of the Politburo Standing Committee;
- The Secretariat, the principal administrative mechanism of the CCP, headed by the General Secretary;
- The Central Military Commission;
- The Discipline Inspection Commission, which is charged with rooting out corruption and malfeasance among party cadres.
The Chinese Government has always been subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); its role is to implement party policies. The primary organs of state power are the National People's Congress (NPC), the President (the head of state), and the State Council. Members of the State Council include Premier Wen Jiabao (the head of government), a variable number of vice premiers (now four), five state councilors (protocol equivalents of vice premiers but with narrower portfolios), and 22 ministers and four State Council commission directors.
Under the Chinese constitution, the NPC is the highest organ of state power in China. It meets annually for about 2 weeks to review and approve major new policy directions, laws, the budget, and major personnel changes. These initiatives are presented to the NPC for consideration by the State Council after previous endorsement by the Communist Party's Central Committee. Although the NPC generally approves State Council policy and personnel recommendations, various NPC committees hold active debate in closed sessions, and changes may be made to accommodate alternate views.
When the NPC is not in session, its permanent organ, the Standing Committee, exercises state power.
Principal Government and Party Officials
- President--Hu Jintao
- Vice President--Zeng Qinghong
- Premier, State Council--Wen Jiabao
- NPC Chair--Wu Bangguo
- Vice Premiers--Wu Yi, Zeng Peiyan, Hui Liangyu
- Politburo Standing Committee--Hu Jintao (General Secretary), Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Zeng Qinghong, Wu Guanzheng, Li Changchun, Luo Gan
- Other Politburo Members--Cao Gangchuan, Guo Boxiong, He Guoqiang, Hui Liangyu, Liu Qi, Liu Yunshan, Wang Lequan, Wang Zhaoguo, Wu Yi, Yu Zhengsheng, Zeng Peiyan, Zhang Dejiang, Zhang Lichang, Zhou Yongkang, Wang Gang (alternate)
- Alternate Politburo Members--Wang Gang
- Chairman, Central Military Commission--Hu Jintao
- Foreign Minister--Yang Jiechi
- Minister of Commerce--Bo Xilai
- Minister of Finance--Jin Renqing
- Minister of Agriculture--Sun Zhengcai
- Minister of Information Industry--Wang Xudong
- Governor, People's Bank of China--Zhou Xiaochuan
- Minister, State Development and Reform Commission--Ma Kai
- Ambassador to U.S.--Zhou Wenzhong
- Ambassador to UN--Wang Guangya
Since its establishment, the People's Republic has worked vigorously to win international support for its position that it is the sole legitimate government of all China, including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. In the early 1970s, Beijing was recognized diplomatically by most world powers. Beijing (Pekin) assumed the China seat in the United Nations in 1971 and has since become increasingly active in multilateral organizations. Japan established diplomatic relations with China in 1972, and the United States did so in 1979. As of July 2007, the number of countries that have diplomatic relations with Beijing had risen to 167, while 24 maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
After the founding of the P.R.C., China's foreign policy initially focused on solidarity with the Soviet Union and other communist countries. In 1950, China sent the People's Liberation Army into North Korea to help North Korea halt the UN offensive that was approaching the Yalu River. After the conclusion of the Korean conflict, China sought to balance its identification as a member of the Soviet bloc by establishing friendly relations with Pakistan and other Third World countries, particularly in Southeast Asia.
In the 1960s, Beijing competed with Moscow for political influence among communist parties and in the developing world generally. Following the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and clashes in 1969 on the Sino-Soviet border, Chinese competition with the Soviet Union increasingly reflected concern over China's own strategic position.
In late 1978, the Chinese also became concerned over Vietnam's efforts to establish open control over Laos and Cambodia. In response to the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, China fought a brief border war with Vietnam (February-March 1979) with the stated purpose of "teaching Vietnam a lesson."
Chinese anxiety about Soviet strategic advances was heightened following the Soviet Union's December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. Sharp differences between China and the Soviet Union persisted over Soviet support for Vietnam's continued occupation of Cambodia, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and Soviet troops along the Sino-Soviet border and in Mongolia--the so-called "three obstacles" to improved Sino-Soviet relations.
In the 1970s and 1980s China sought to create a secure regional and global environment for itself and to foster good relations with countries that could aid its economic development. To this end, China looked to the West for assistance with its modernization drive and for help in countering Soviet expansionism, which it characterized as the greatest threat to its national security and to world peace.
China maintained its consistent opposition to "superpower hegemony," focusing almost exclusively on the expansionist actions of the Soviet Union and Soviet proxies such as Vietnam and Cuba, but it also placed growing emphasis on a foreign policy independent of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. While improving ties with the West, China continued to follow closely economic and other positions of the Third World nonaligned movement, although China was not a formal member.
In the immediate aftermath of Tiananmen crackdown in June 1989, many countries reduced their diplomatic contacts with China as well as their economic assistance programs. In response, China worked vigorously to expand its relations with foreign countries, and by late 1990, had reestablished normal relations with almost all nations. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991, China also opened diplomatic relations with the republics of the former Soviet Union.
In recent years, Chinese leaders have been regular travelers to all parts of the globe, and China has sought a higher profile in the UN through its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and other multilateral organizations. Closer to home, China has made efforts to reduce tensions in Asia, hosting the Six-Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, cultivating a more cooperative relationship with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and participating in the ASEAN Regional Forum. China has also taken steps to improve relations with countries in South Asia, including India. Following Premier Wen's 2005 visit to India, the two sides moved to increase commercial and cultural ties, as well as to resolve longstanding border disputes. The November 2006 visit of President Hu was the first state visit by a Chinese head of state to India in 10 years.
China has likewise improved ties with Russia, with Presidents Putin and Hu exchanging visits to Beijing and Moscow in April 2006 and March 2007. A second round of Russia-China joint military exercises is scheduled for fall 2007. China has played a prominent role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional grouping that includes Russia and the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Beijing has resolved many of its border and maritime disputes, notably including a November 1997 agreement with Russia that resolved almost all outstanding border issues and a 2000 agreement with Vietnam to resolve differences over their maritime border, though disagreements remain over islands in the South China Sea. Relations with Japan improved following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's October 2006 visit to Beijing, although longstanding and emotionally charged disputes over history and competing claims to portions of the East China Sea remain sources of tension.
While in many ways Sudan's primary diplomatic patron, China has played a constructive role in support of peacekeeping operations in Southern Sudan and pledged to contribute an engineering unit in support of UN operations in Darfur. China has stated publicly that it shares the international community's concern over Iran's nuclear program and has voted in support of UN sanctions resolutions on Iran. Set against this has been an effort on the part of China to maintain close ties to countries such as Iran, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Venezuela, which are sources of oil and other resources and which welcome China's non-conditional assistance and investment.
The government's efforts to promote rule of law are significant and ongoing. After the Cultural Revolution, China's leaders aimed to develop a legal system to restrain abuses of official authority and revolutionary excesses. In 1982, the National People's Congress adopted a new state constitution that emphasized the rule of law under which even party leaders are theoretically held accountable.
Since 1979, when the drive to establish a functioning legal system began, more than 300 laws and regulations, most of them in the economic area, have been promulgated. The use of mediation committees--informed groups of citizens who resolve about 90% of China's civil disputes and some minor criminal cases at no cost to the parties--is one innovative device. There are more than 800,000 such committees in both rural and urban areas.
Legal reform became a government priority in the 1990s. Legislation designed to modernize and professionalize the nation's lawyers, judges, and prisons was enacted. The 1994 Administrative Procedure Law allows citizens to sue officials for abuse of authority or malfeasance. In addition, the criminal law and the criminal procedures laws were amended to introduce significant reforms. The criminal law amendments abolished the crime of "counter-revolutionary" activity, although many persons are still incarcerated for that crime. Criminal procedures reforms also encouraged establishment of a more transparent, adversarial trial process. The Chinese constitution and laws provide for fundamental human rights, including due process, but these are often ignored in practice. In addition to other judicial reforms, the Constitution was amended in 2004 to include the protection of individual human rights and legally-obtained private property, but it is unclear how those provisions will be implemented. Although new criminal and civil laws have provided additional safeguards to citizens, previously debated political reforms, including expanding elections to the township level, and other legal reforms, including the reform of the reeducation through labor system, have been put on hold.
Establishment of a professional military force equipped with modern weapons and doctrine was the last of the "Four Modernizations" announced by Zhou Enlai and supported by Deng Xiaoping. In keeping with Deng's mandate to reform, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), which includes the strategic nuclear forces, army, navy, and air force, has demobilized millions of men and women since 1978 and introduced modern methods in such areas as recruitment and manpower, strategy, and education and training.
Following the June 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, ideological correctness was temporarily revived as the dominant theme in Chinese military affairs. Reform and modernization appear to have since resumed their position as the PLA's priority objectives.
The Chinese military is in the process of transforming itself from a land-based power, centered on a vast ground force, to a smaller, mobile, high-tech military eventually capable of mounting limited operations beyond its coastal borders.
China's power-projection capability is limited but has grown over recent years. China has acquired some advanced weapons systems from abroad, including Sovremmeny destroyers, SU-27 and SU-30 aircraft, and Kilo-class diesel submarines from Russia, and continued to develop domestic production capabilities, such as for the domestically-developed J-10 fighter aircraft. However, much of its air and naval forces continues to be based on 1960s-era technology. As the Defense Department's Quadrennial Defense Review, released February 2006, noted, the U.S. shares with other countries a concern about the pace, scope, and direction of China's military modernization. We view military exchanges, visits, and other forms of engagement are useful tools in promoting transparency, provided they have substance and are fully reciprocal. Regularized exchanges and contact also have the significant benefit of building confidence, reducing the possibility of accidents, and providing the lines of communication that are essential in ensuring that episodes such as the April 2001 EP-3 aircraft incident do not escalate into major crises. During their April 2006 meeting, President Bush and President Hu agreed to increase officer exchanges and to begin a strategic nuclear dialogue between STRATCOM and the Chinese military's strategic missile command. U.S. and Chinese militaries are also considering ways in which we might cooperate on disaster assistance relief.
Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Policy
In 1955, Mao Zedong's Chinese Communist Party decided to proceed with a nuclear weapons program; it was developed with Soviet assistance until 1960. After its first nuclear test in October 1964, Beijing deployed a modest but potent ballistic missile force, including land- and sea-based intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
China became a major international arms exporter during the 1980s. Beijing joined the Middle East arms control talks, which began in July 1991 to establish global guidelines for conventional arms transfers, but announced in September 1992 that it would no longer participate because of the U.S. decision to sell F-16A/B aircraft to Taiwan.
China was the first state to pledge "no first use" of nuclear weapons. It joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1984 and pledged to abstain from further atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in 1986. China acceded to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1992 and supported its indefinite and unconditional extension in 1995. In 1996, it signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and agreed to seek an international ban on the production of fissile nuclear weapons material. To date, China has not ratified the CTBT.
In 1996, China committed not to provide assistance to un-safeguarded nuclear facilities. China became a full member of the NPT Exporters (Zangger) Committee, a group that determines items subject to IAEA inspections if exported by NPT signatories. In September 1997, China issued detailed nuclear export control regulations. China began implementing regulations establishing controls over nuclear-related dual-use items in 1998. China also has committed not to engage in new nuclear cooperation with Iran (even under safeguards), and will complete existing cooperation, which is not of proliferation concern, within a relatively short period. In May 2004, with the support of the United States, China became a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Based on significant, tangible progress with China on nuclear nonproliferation, President Clinton in 1998 took steps to bring into force the 1985 U.S.-China Agreement on Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation.
Although it is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the multinational effort to restrict the proliferation of missiles, in March 1992 China undertook to abide by MTCR guidelines and parameters. China reaffirmed this commitment in 1994, and pledged not to transfer MTCR-class ground-to-ground missiles. In November 2000, China committed not to assist in any way the development by other countries of MTCR-class missiles. However, in August 29, 2003, the U.S. Government imposed missile proliferation sanctions lasting two years on the Chinese company China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) after determining that it was knowingly involved in the transfer of equipment and technology controlled under Category II of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Annex that contributed to MTCR-class missiles in a non-MTCR country.
In December 2003, the P.R.C. promulgated comprehensive new export control regulations governing exports of all categories of sensitive technologies.
China's economy, based on rice and wheat farming, was generally prosperous until the 18th century. Population pressures, and failure to adopt new technology led to an impoverished nation by 1900.
After Mao's death the policy of modernization along Western lines has led to a remarkable rate of economic growth in the industrial cities, which have pulled in millions of peasants from the still poor rural areas. Slack environmental standards have led to serious pollution problems.
The modern Chinese economy has benefited from investments from Taiwan and Hong Kong. They jumped far ahead of China by 1970 in terms of technology, and in recent years have invested in mainland industries.
These two factors have changed Chinese economy, from a command economy to a more socialist state, with the Chinese economy increasingly in the hands of privately-owned businesses, not state- or military-run enterprises. The 2001 declaration by Jiang Zemin (former leader of the Communist Party) of the "theory of three represents" -- that the CCP represents not only workers, but also intellectuals and entrepreneurs -- was an explicit affirmation of what had been a trend for the previous years
Since 1980 China has enjoyed the highest economic growth rates in the world. Suddenly in mid-2008, the growth rate slowed sharply from 11% a year to only 5.5%. Much of the economy was geared to exports, and building factories for exports to the United States and Japan. When the Financial Crisis of 2008 hit, exports fell off and prices for industrial products like steel fell in half. Many factories were shut down. The decline has especially hit steel, cement and the construction industry. The government in November 2008 announced a $586 billion stimulus program to build roads, dams, electric grids and other infrastructure projects that are designed to supplement the international market.
Since 1979, China has largely rejected socialism and embraced capitalism, while maintaining Communist party rule. Private ownership of the means of production has dramatically reduced poverty and increased wealth, especially in the cities but also in rural areas. Nationally the GDP (in 2007 prices) has exploded from 2 trillion yuan in 1980 to 25 trillion in 2007.
As late as 1980 60% of the people in rural China lives in poverty; by 2007 fewer than 5% did. Grain production has grown 300 to 500 tons per person, and rural income per person has soared from a few hundred yuan in 1980 to over 4000.
The reforms reformed and opened its economy. The Chinese leadership has adopted a more pragmatic perspective on many political and socioeconomic problems, and has reduced the role of ideology in economic policy. China's ongoing economic transformation has had a profound impact not only on China but on the world. The market-oriented reforms China has implemented over the past two decades have unleashed individual initiative and entrepreneurship. The result has been the largest reduction of poverty and one of the fastest increases in income levels ever seen. China today is the fourth-largest economy in the world. It has sustained average economic growth of over 9.5% for the past 26 years. In 2006 its $2.76 trillion economy was about one-fifth the size of the U.S. economy.
In the 1980s, China tried to combine central planning with market-oriented reforms to increase productivity, living standards, and technological quality without exacerbating inflation, unemployment, and budget deficits. China pursued agricultural reforms, dismantling the commune system and introducing a household-based system that provided peasants greater decision-making in agricultural activities. The government also encouraged nonagricultural activities such as village enterprises in rural areas, and promoted more self-management for state-owned enterprises, increased competition in the marketplace, and facilitated direct contact between Chinese and foreign trading enterprises. China also relied more upon foreign financing and imports.
During the 1980s, these reforms led to average annual rates of growth of 10% in agricultural and industrial output. Rural per capita real income doubled. China became self-sufficient in grain production; rural industries accounted for 23% of agricultural output, helping absorb surplus labor in the countryside. The variety of light industrial and consumer goods increased. Reforms began in the fiscal, financial, banking, price-setting, and labor systems.
By the late 1980s, however, the economy had become overheated with increasing rates of inflation. At the end of 1988, in reaction to a surge of inflation caused by accelerated price reforms, the leadership introduced an austerity program.
China's economy regained momentum in the early 1990s. During a visit to southern China in early 1992, China's paramount leader at the time, Deng Xiaoping, made a series of political pronouncements designed to reinvigorate the process of economic reform. The 14th Party Congress later in the year backed Deng's renewed push for market reforms, stating that China's key task in the 1990s was to create a "socialist market economy." The 10-year development plan for the 1990s stressed continuity in the political system with bolder reform of the economic system.
China's economy grew at an average rate of 10% per year during the period 1990-2004, the highest growth rate in the world. China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 10.0% in 2003, and even faster, 10.1%, in 2004, and 9.9% in 2005 despite attempts by the government to cool the economy. China's total trade in 2006 surpassed $1.76 trillion, making China the world's third-largest trading nation after the U.S. and Germany. Such high growth is necessary if China is to generate the 15 million jobs needed annually--roughly the size of Ecuador or Cambodia--to employ new entrants into the job market.
Nevertheless, serious imbalances exist behind the spectacular trade performance, high investment flows, and high GDP growth. High numbers of non-performing loans weigh down the state-run banking system. Inefficient state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are still a drag on growth, despite announced efforts to sell, merge, or close the vast majority of SOEs.
Social and economic indicators have improved since reforms were launched, but rising inequality is evident between the more highly developed coastal provinces and the less developed, poorer inland regions. According to World Bank estimates, more than 152 million people in China in 2003--mostly in rural areas of the lagging inland provinces--still live in poverty, on consumption of less than U.S. $1 a day.
Following the Chinese Communist Party's Third Plenum, held in October 2003, Chinese legislators unveiled several proposed amendments to the state constitution. One of the most significant was a proposal to provide protection for private property rights. Legislators also indicated there would be a new emphasis on certain aspects of overall government economic policy, including efforts to reduce unemployment (now in the 8-10% range in urban areas), to rebalance income distribution between urban and rural regions, and to maintain economic growth while protecting the environment and improving social equity. The National People's Congress approved the amendments when it met in March 2004. The Fifth Plenum in October 2005 approved the 11th Five-Year Economic Program aimed at building a "harmonious society" through more balanced wealth distribution and improved education, medical care, and social security.
China is the world's most populous country and one of the largest producers and consumers of agricultural products. Roughly half of China's labor force is engaged in agriculture, even though only 10% of the land is suitable for cultivation and agriculture contributes only 13% of China's GDP. China's cropland area is only 75% of the U.S. total, but China still produces about 30% more crops and livestock than the U.S. because of intensive cultivation, China is among the world's largest producers of rice, corn, wheat, soybeans, vegetables, tea, and pork. Major non-food crops include cotton, other fibers, and oilseeds. China hopes to further increase agricultural production through improved plant stocks, fertilizers, and technology. Incomes for Chinese farmers are stagnating, leading to an increasing wealth gap between the cities and countryside. Government policies that continue to emphasize grain self-sufficiency and the fact that farmers do not own--and cannot buy or sell--the land they work have contributed to this situation. While this was the case in China before Communism, many other countries have since embrace individual ownership while China has not. In addition, inadequate port facilities and lack of warehousing and cold storage facilities impede both domestic and international agricultural trade.
Industry and construction account for about 46% of China's GDP. Major industries are mining and ore processing; iron; steel; aluminum; coal, machinery; textiles and apparel; armaments; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizers; consumer products including footwear, toys, and electronics; automobiles and other transportation equipment including rail cars and locomotives, ships, and aircraft; and telecommunications.
China has become a preferred destination for the relocation of global manufacturing facilities. Its strength as an export platform has contributed to incomes and employment in China. The state-owned sector still accounts for about 40% of GDP. In recent years, authorities have been giving greater attention to the management of state assets--both in the financial market as well as among state-owned-enterprises--and progress has been noteworthy.
Though China's economy has expanded rapidly, its regulatory environment has not kept pace. Since Deng Xiaoping's open market reforms, the growth of new businesses has outpaced the government's ability to regulate them. This has created a situation where businesses, faced with mounting competition and poor oversight, will be willing to take drastic measures to increase profit margins, often at the expense of consumer safety. This issue has recently acquired more prominence, with a number of restrictions being placed on problematic Chinese exports by the U.S. The Chinese Government recognizes the severity of the problem, recently concluding that up to 20% of the country's products are substandard or tainted.
Together with strong economic growth, China's demand for energy is surging rapidly. In 2003, China surpassed Japan to become the second-largest consumer of primary energy, after the United States. China is the world's second-largest consumer of oil, after the United States, and for 2006, China's increase in oil demand represented 38% of the world total increase in oil demand. China is also the third-largest energy producer in the world, after the United States and Russia. China's electricity consumption is expected to grow by over 4% a year through 2030, which will require more than $2 trillion in electricity infrastructure investment to meet the demand. China expects to add approximately 15,000 megawatts of generating capacity a year, with 20% of that coming from foreign suppliers.
Coal makes up the bulk of China's energy consumption (70% in 2005), and China is the largest producer and consumer of coal in the world. As China's economy continues to grow, China's coal demand is projected to rise significantly. Although coal's share of China's overall energy consumption will decrease, coal consumption will continue to rise in absolute terms. China's continued and increasing reliance on coal as a power source has contributed significantly to putting China on the path to becoming the world's largest emitter of acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide and green house gases, including carbon dioxide.
The 11th Five-Year Program, announced in 2005, calls for greater energy conservation measures, including development of renewable energy sources and increased attention to environmental protection. Moving away from coal towards cleaner energy sources including oil, natural gas, renewable energy, and nuclear power is an important component of China's development program. China has abundant hydroelectric resources; the Three Gorges Dam, for example, will have a total capacity of 18 gigawatts when fully on-line (projected for 2009). In addition, the share of electricity generated by nuclear power is projected to grow from 1% in 2000 to 5% in 2030. China's renewable energy law, which went into effect in 2006, calls for 10% of its energy to come from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Since 1993, China has been a net importer of oil, a large portion of which comes from the Middle East. Net imports are expected to rise to 3.5 million barrels per day by 2010. China is interested in diversifying the sources of its oil imports and has invested in oil fields around the world. Beijing also plans to increase China's natural gas production, which currently accounts for only 3% of China's total energy consumption. Analysts expect China's consumption of natural gas to more than double by 2010.
In May 2004, then-Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) that launched the U.S.-China Energy Policy Dialogue. The Dialogue has strengthened energy-related interactions between China and the United States, the world's two largest energy consumers. The U.S.-China Energy Policy Dialogue builds upon the two countries' existing cooperative ventures in high energy nuclear physics, fossil energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy and energy information exchanges. The NDRC and the Department of Energy also exchange views and expertise on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technologies, and we convene an annual Oil and Gas Industry Forum with China.
One of the serious negative consequences of China's rapid industrial development has been increased pollution and degradation of natural resources. China is widely expected to surpass the United States as the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases sometime in 2007 or 2008. A World Health Organization report on air quality in 272 cities worldwide concluded that seven of the world's 10 most polluted cities were in China. According to China's own evaluation, two-thirds of the 338 cities for which air-quality data are available are considered polluted--two-thirds of them moderately or severely so. Respiratory and heart diseases related to air pollution are the leading cause of death in China. Almost all of the nation's rivers are considered polluted to some degree, and half of the population lacks access to clean water. By some estimates, every day approximately 300 million residents drink contaminated water. Ninety percent of urban water bodies are severely polluted. Water scarcity also is an issue; for example, severe water scarcity in Northern China is a serious threat to sustained economic growth and the government has begun working on a project for a large-scale diversion of water from the Yangtze River to northern cities, including Beijing and Tianjin. Acid rain falls on 30% of the country. Various studies estimate pollution costs the Chinese economy 7%-10% of GDP each year.
China's leaders are increasingly paying attention to the country's severe environmental problems. In 1998, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) was officially upgraded to a ministry-level agency, reflecting the growing importance the Chinese Government places on environmental protection. In recent years, China has strengthened its environmental legislation and made some progress in stemming environmental deterioration. In 2005, China joined the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development, which brings industries and governments together to implement strategies that reduce pollution and address climate change. During the 10th Five-Year Plan, China plans to reduce total emissions by 10%. Beijing in particular is investing heavily in pollution control as part of its campaign to host a successful Olympiad in 2008. Some cities have seen improvement in air quality in recent years.
China is an active participant in climate change talks and other multilateral environmental negotiations, taking environmental challenges seriously but pushing for the developed world to help developing countries to a greater extent. It is a signatory to the Basel Convention governing the transport and disposal of hazardous waste and the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, as well as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and other major environmental agreements.
The question of environmental impacts associated with the Three Gorges Dam project has generated controversy among environmentalists inside and outside China. Critics claim that erosion and silting of the Yangtze River threaten several endangered species, while Chinese officials say the dam will help prevent devastating floods and generate clean hydroelectric power that will enable the region to lower its dependence on coal, thus lessening air pollution.
The United States and China are members of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP). The APP is a public-private partnership of six nations--Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States--committed to explore new mechanisms to meet national pollution reduction, energy security and climate change goals in ways that reduce poverty and promote economic development. APP members have undertaken cooperative activities involving deployment of clean technology in partner countries in eight areas: cleaner fossil energy, renewable energy and distributed generation, power generation and transmission, steel, aluminum, cement, coal mining, and buildings and appliances.
The United States and China have been engaged in an active program of bilateral environmental cooperation since the mid-1990s, with an emphasis on clean energy technology and the design of effective environmental policy. While both governments view this cooperation positively, China has often compared the U.S. program, which lacks a foreign assistance component, with those of Japan and several European Union (EU) countries that include generous levels of aid.
Science and Technology
Science and technology have always preoccupied China's leaders; indeed, China's political leadership comes almost exclusively from technical backgrounds and has a high regard for science. Deng called it "the first productive force." Distortions in the economy and society created by party rule have severely hurt Chinese science, according to some Chinese science policy experts. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, modeled on the Soviet system, puts much of China's greatest scientific talent in a large, under-funded apparatus that remains largely isolated from industry, although the reforms of the past decade have begun to address this problem.
Chinese science strategists see China's greatest opportunities in newly emerging fields such as biotechnology and computers, where there is still a chance for China to become a significant player. Most Chinese students who went abroad have not returned, but they have built a dense network of trans-Pacific contacts that will greatly facilitate U.S.-China scientific cooperation in coming years. The U.S. space program is often held up as the standard of scientific modernity in China. China's small but growing space program, which successfully completed their second manned orbit in October 2005, is a focus of national pride.
The U.S.-China Science and Technology Agreement remains the framework for bilateral cooperation in this field. A 5-year agreement to extend the Science and Technology Agreement was signed in April 2006. The Agreement is among the longest-standing U.S.-China accords, and includes over eleven U.S. Federal agencies and numerous branches that participate in cooperative exchanges under the S&T Agreement and its nearly 60 protocols, memoranda of understanding, agreements and annexes. The Agreement covers cooperation in areas such as marine conservation, renewable energy, and health. Biennial Joint Commission Meetings on Science and Technology bring together policymakers from both sides to coordinate joint science and technology cooperation. Executive Secretaries meetings are held biennially to implement specific cooperation programs. Japan and the European Union also have high profile science and technology cooperative relationships with China.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has criticized Chinese censorship and restrictions on the Intrernet, and China is pushing back since the Communist Party considers Internet control essential if it is to keep power and avoid elections. The government has denied suggestions by Google that a major, sophisticated assault on Google in late 2009 was sponsored by the government. The attack targeted email accounts used by dissidents, the weak point in China's political dictatorship. Google is threatening to ignore the censorship policies demanded by the government, and perhaps leave the country. The Communist Party promotes Internet use for commerce, but heavily censors content it deems pornographic, anti-social or politically subversive and blocks many foreign news and social media sites, including Twitter Facebook, and YouTube.
Poor Medical care
China, like most Communist countries, gives low priority to medicine and medical care. China only spends 1% of GDP on health care, ranking #156 out of 196 nations surveys by the World Health Organization. Many people rely on traditional practitioners, having more faith in acupuncture than modern science. In any case few have the opportunity to receive modern drugs or treatment with advanced devices. The local clinic has only a thermometer and stethoscope for instrumentation, and very few modern drugs. Only one in six medical personnel have a college degree, and those degrees are not high quality. The ordinary people want more medical care but that hardly matters, for in a dictatorship violence matters, but not public opinion. 
China's merchandise exports totaled $969.3 billion and imports totaled $791.8 billion in 2006. Its global trade surplus surged from $32 billion in 2004 to $177.5 billion in 2006. China's primary trading partners include Japan, the EU, the United States, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. According to U.S. statistics, China had a trade surplus with the U.S. of $232.6 billion in 2006.
China has taken important steps to open its foreign trading system and integrate itself into the world trading system. In November 1991, China joined the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, which promotes free trade and cooperation in the economic, trade, investment, and technology spheres. China served as APEC chair in 2001, and Shanghai hosted the annual APEC leaders meeting in October of that year.
China formally joined the WTO in December 2001. As part of this far-reaching trade liberalization agreement, China agreed to lower tariffs and abolish market impediments. Chinese and foreign businessmen, for example, gained the right to import and export on their own, and to sell their products without going through a government middleman. By 2005, average tariff rates on key U.S. agricultural exports dropped from 31% to 14% and on industrial products from 25% to 9%. The agreement also opens up new opportunities for U.S. providers of services like banking, insurance, and telecommunications. China has made significant progress implementing its WTO commitments, but serious concerns remain, particularly in the realm of intellectual property rights protection.
While accession does not guarantee smaller trade deficits, full implementation of all WTO commitments would further open China's markets to--and help level the playing field for--U.S. exports. China is now one of the most important markets for U.S. exports: in 2006, U.S. exports to China totaled $55.2 billion, almost triple the $19 billion when China joined the WTO in 2001 and up 32% over 2005. U.S. agricultural exports have increased dramatically, making China our fourth-largest agricultural export market (after Canada, Japan, and Mexico). Over the same period (2001-2006), U.S. imports from China have risen from $102 billion to $287.8 billion.
Export growth continues to be a major driver of China's rapid economic growth. To increase exports, China has pursued policies such as fostering the rapid development of foreign-invested factories, which assemble imported components into consumer goods for export, and liberalizing trading rights. In its eleventh Five-Year Program, adopted in 2005, China placed greater emphasis on developing a consumer demand-driven economy to sustain economic growth and address global imbalances.
The United States is one of China's primary suppliers of power generating equipment, aircraft and parts, computers and industrial machinery, raw materials, and chemical and agricultural products. However, U.S. exporters continue to have concerns about fair market access due to strict testing and standards requirements for some imported products. In addition, a lack of transparency in the regulatory process makes it difficult for businesses to plan for changes in the domestic market structure. The April 11, 2006 U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) produced agreements on key U.S. trade concerns ranging from market access to U.S. beef, medical devices, and telecommunications; to the enforcement of intellectual property rights, including, significantly, software. The JCCT also produced an agreement to establish a U.S.-China High Technology and Strategic Trade Working Group to review export control cooperation and facilitate high technology trade.
China's investment climate has changed dramatically in 24 years of reform. In the early 1980s, China restricted foreign investments to export-oriented operations and required foreign investors to form joint-venture partnerships with Chinese firms. Foreign direct investment (FDI) grew quickly during the 1980s, but stalled in late 1989 in the aftermath of Tiananmen. In response, the government introduced legislation and regulations designed to encourage foreigners to invest in high-priority sectors and regions. Since the early 1990s, China has allowed foreign investors to manufacture and sell a wide range of goods on the domestic market, and authorized the establishment of wholly foreign-owned enterprises, now the preferred form of FDI. However, the Chinese Government's emphasis on guiding FDI into manufacturing has led to market saturation in some industries, while leaving China's services sectors underdeveloped. China is now one of the leading recipients of FDI in the world, receiving almost $80 billion in 2005 according to World Bank statistics.
As part of its WTO accession, China undertook to eliminate certain trade-related investment measures and to open up specified sectors that had previously been closed to foreign investment. New laws, regulations, and administrative measures to implement these commitments are being issued. Major remaining barriers to foreign investment include opaque and inconsistently enforced laws and regulations and the lack of a rules-based legal infrastructure.
Opening to the outside remains central to China's development. Foreign-invested enterprises produce about half of China's exports, and China continues to attract large investment inflows. Foreign exchange reserves were $1.1 trillion at the end of 2006, and have now surpassed those of Japan, making China's foreign exchange reserves the largest in the world.
Despite fears that China may be outpacing the United States in turning out engineers, the number of college students in China who study engineering is on the decline, according to Global Times, a Chinese newspaper. Fewer than one in 10 college graduates in 2009 majored in engineering. Instead, students are turning to economics, finance, and management, which pay more and carry more social status. "Engineering usually makes people think of factories, while factories often give people an impression of hard work, low wages, and layoffs," the newspaper quoted one professor as saying.
Meanwhile China is building universities overnight, and sending graduate students to the U.S. for PhD's so they can become professors.
The exodus of Chinese undergraduate and graduate students continues; as 180,000 left in 2008, about 25% percent more than in 2007, as more families were able to pay overseas tuition. For every four students who left in the past decade, only one returned; those with American PhDs in science or engineering the least likely to return. The intellectual vitality, quality of science, pay scales and political climate is much more attractive in the West. Those who return to China risk being shunned as "foreigners".
The Chinese in Africa
China has been spending huge amounts of money and time buying influence in various African countries. China has given 45 Afriacn countries $115 billion, a figure which is growing at 44% every year. Africa has many desirable resources such as diamonds, oil, and rare earth metals such as Indium which is used to make the touch screens for new high-tech devices such as Apple's iPad and iPhone, often under sweat shop conditions.
China's aim in Africa seems to be to buy up the emerging markets of the developing nations there. China has a big population, but does not have many of the resources (see above) that they will need to improve themselves. When countries go through industrialization they need to use a lot more resources, and China does not have them. By buying up Africa they get these natural resources cheaply. They will also be able to use these resources as poker chips against the west. US ambassador Johnnie Carson believes "China has no morals" in Africa, which may be true given their communist ideology.
For a more detailed treatment, see History of China.
Dynasty followed dynasty, as old regimes would lose the "mandate of heaven;" it was believed that each emperor ruled only with the approval of heaven, and a ruler who was unfit to rule would curse the nation until replaced. In addition, the Chinese capital would occasionally be overrun by "barbarians," who invariably would start a new dynasty in the Chinese capital, integrating their nations into the former dynasty.
Chinese had an advanced artistic culture and well-developed science and technology. However, its science and technology stood still after 1700 and in the 21st century very little survives outside museums, except in for the popular forms of traditional medicine.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by large-scale civil wars, major famines, military defeats by Britain and Japan, regional control by powerful warlords and foreign intervention such as the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. In 1911 the revolution deposed the Qing Dynasty and a republic was proclaimed.
Under the leadership of the KMT (Kuomintang), headed by Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975), the central government finally suppressed the local warlords who effectively controlled many provinces. The KMT tried to destroy the Communists under Mao Zedong, but they escaped in the "Long March" of 1934-35. Japan seized Manchuria in 1931, and in 1937 invaded all of China, seizing the coast, the major cities, and setting up a puppet government that controlled most of the population. China was allied with the U.S. and Britain against Japan, and at war's end joined the United Nations as a permanent member of the 5-nation Security Council, with a veto.
In 1945-46, the U.S. attempted to force a negotiated settlement between the KMT and the Communists, but failed. In the face of economic collapse the Communists won the civil war in 1949 under Mao Zedong established a dictatorship, driving the KMT to Taiwan. Taiwan is recognized as an integral part of China in theory, but in practice has been independent since 1949.
Mao liquidated millions of opponents, fought the United States in the bloody Korean War (1950-53), and around 1960 broke bitterly with the Soviet Union over the issue of who best represented the Marxist orthodoxy. Mao's regime imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people.
After 1978, Mao's successor Deng Xiaoping focused on market-oriented economic development, and by 2000 output had quadrupled, population growth ended (by imposing a one-child policy), and good relations were secured with the West. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls and Internet censorship remain tight.
China's economy during the last quarter century has changed from a centrally planned system that was largely closed to international trade, to a more market-oriented economy that has a rapidly growing private sector and is a major player in the global economy.
Under Mao millions of Chinese were killed by famines or government action against the middle classes. The "Cultural Revolution" in the 1960s was a counterattack against intellectuals endorsed by Mao; it set back China by decades until his death in 1975.
After the mid-1980s the new leader Deng Xiaoping promoted rapid modernization. While Mao's memory was still revered, most of his brutal policies were ended and much economic freedom--and a dash of political liberalization--was allowed. Intellectuals were encouraged to speak out again and to share in a new spirit of "democratization." However Communist party leaders in 1986 warned that modernization must not be used as an excuse to introduce "bourgeois philosophies and social doctrines." By late 1986 student groups began to demonstrate demanding more student participation in local government, a greater degree of democracy, and better living conditions. As demonstrations escalated Hu Yaobang, the general secretary of the party, resigned, confessing that he had made major mistakes and would take responsibility for them. It was a setback to political and economic liberalization, though Hu remained, out of office, a symbol of the potential for democracy. Hu's death in April 1989, sparked widespread public rallies in favor of broad social changes in Beijing, Shanghai, and other major cities. Tens of thousands of students defied a government clampdown to demonstrate in May in Tiananmen Square central Beijing. The Party moved to kill dissent, sending uneducated rural troops into square on June 3-4; hundreds of demonstrators were killed, wounded, or arrested. The world was appalled. Following the savage repression of democrats in all major cities Deng Xiaoping appeared to be even more firmly in control.
The China country reports in the U.S. State Department's 2009 Human Rights Practices and International Religious Freedom Reports noted China's well-documented and continuing abuses of human rights in violation of internationally recognized norms, stemming both from the authorities' intolerance of dissent and the inadequacy of legal safeguards for basic freedoms. Reported abuses have included arbitrary and lengthy incommunicado detention, forced confessions, torture, and mistreatment of prisoners as well as severe restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, privacy, worker rights, and coercive birth limitation. In 2006, China continued the monitoring, harassment, intimidation, and arrest of journalists, Internet writers, defense lawyers, religious activists, and political dissidents. The activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), especially those relating to the rule of law and expansion of judicial review, continue to be restricted.
In 2008 China loosened its restrictions somewhat for the Summer Olympics. The government arbitrarily closes down Internet access to prevent the people from learning about the world.
Human rights failures remain a major concern. Abatement of pollution and improvements in systems to ensure food, drug, and product safety are major concerns, especially after notorious episodes of exporting poisoned pet food, toothpaste and infant formula.
Repression in 2008
In 2008 China's human rights record remained poor and worsened in some areas. During the year the government increased its severe cultural and religious repression of ethnic minorities in Tibetan areas and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), increased detention and harassment of dissidents and petitioners, and maintained tight controls on freedom of speech and the Internet. Abuses peaked around high-profile events, such as the Olympics and the unrest in Tibet. As in previous years, citizens did not have the right to change their government. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), both local and international, continued to face intense scrutiny and restrictions. Other serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings, torture and coerced confessions of prisoners, and the use of forced labor, including prison labor. Workers cannot choose an independent union to represent them in the workplace, and the law does not protect workers' right to strike. The government continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest, and imprison journalists, writers, activists, and defense lawyers and their families, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under the law.
In December 2009, China executed a man named Akmal Shaikh for drug smuggling. There is evidence that Shaikh was mentally ill, but he was not given a psychological exam of any sort before the trial. He was not given an examination because the Chinese government declared that neither Shaikh or his family could prove he was mentally ill through documentation or family history. The British government made many requests for clemency, including at an eleventh-hour meeting with the Chinese ambassador, but they were consistently ignored.
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- See Wrik Eckholm, "China Points to Another Leader in Exile," New York Times July 6, 2009
- This is approximately three times the official figure reported by the Government in April 2005.See U.S. State Department "International Religious Freedom Report 2008"
- David Barboza, "Great Engine of China Slows ," New York Times Nov. 25, 2008
- See Economist Dec. 13, 2008
- Gordon Fairclaugh, "In China, Rx for Ailing Health System," Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15, 2009
- Sharon LaFraniera, "Fighting Trend, China Is Luring Scientists Home," New York Times Jan. 6. 2010
- See U.S. State Department, 2008 Human Rights Report: China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau) Feb. 25, 2009
- See U.S. State Department, 2008 Human Rights Report: China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau) Feb. 25, 2009
- All About China
- People's Daily: China at a Glance
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