China: Did You Know?
- China has 1.3 billion people, making it the most populous nation on the planet, occupying a territory roughly the same size as the United States. China’s population is 4x the size of the US population.
- China has 20% of the world’s population, yet only about 7% of the world’s arable land and 7% of the world’s fresh water. Half of China’s territory is uninhabitable.
- According to recent estimates by the World Bank which reflect a new way to calculate Gross Domestic Product (GDP with Purchasing Power Parity), China’s economy ranks second in the world behind the United States, and ahead of Japan, the UK, and Germany. If current trends persist, China in 2036 will have the biggest economy in the world. However, it ranks 88 in the world in GDP/PPP per capita, with the average share of total GDP/PPP per person roughly one-third of the US figure. This means, despite its powerful economy, most of its citizens remain poor, as China’s wealth must be divided among 1.3 billion people.
- The World Bank estimates that 400 million people have been lifted out of poverty in China since economic reforms began in 1978. Life expectancy in China doubled between 1950 and 2003 (from an average of 35 years to 71 years). Infant mortality (percent of children who die before their fifth birthday) declined from 20% to 2.5%.
- Today, 90% of all Chinese children receive at least 9 years of school. That is up from 20% in 1949. The adult literacy rate in China is 91%.
- Currently, 60% of China’s population lives in rural areas (750 million). Between 2000 and 2030, it is estimated that 400 million Chinese will move from the rural to urban areas to occupy and work in what will amount to 50% of all buildings constructed in the world during that time. Currently, 15% of China’s workforce, or 150 million people, are migrant laborers traveling from rural to urban areas in search of jobs.
- It would take a Chinese factory worker 6 months to earn enough money to buy a Thomas the Tank Engine Set, one of the toys made in China and recalled in 2007 for safety concerns over lead paint used on the toys (100% of recalled toys in the US that year were made in China).
- Sixteen of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in China. Two-thirds of all Chinese cities do not meet Chinese standards for air quality, standards which are less stringent than those in the US or EU. Two-thirds of China’s rural population has access only to contaminated water. Only 10% of China’s environmental laws are enforced. Cancer rates across China have risen dramatically as pollution has increased. It is estimated that up to 750,000 Chinese people die prematurely from cancer and respiratory diseases linked to pollution.
- Between 1995 and 2005, China’s energy consumption rose 80%. The amount of energy used to produce one unit of output in China is double the world’s average.
- Two million peasants are forced off their land every year to make room for China’s expanding infrastructure (dams, roads, railroads).
- By 2040, fully one-quarter of the world’s elderly will live in China.
- The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) maintains dominance over this one-party state, and has since 1949. The 73 million members of the CCP are comprised of both the Central Party apparatus and local/provincial officials. All domestic and foreign policy is coordinated through the CCP system which controls the legal system and media as well.
- In addition to technological mechanisms, the Chinese Communist Party employs up to 50,000 human monitors and censors charged with blocking access by Chinese citizens to information on the Internet considered to be critical of the government and/or threatening to state security.
- The Chinese court system has a 99% conviction rate.
- The protests that began in Tiananmen Square in 1989 ultimately spread to 132 cities and involved millions of people over a period of 6 weeks before they were crushed by government forces.
- Protests in China grew from 8,700 annually to 74,000 between 1993 and 2004. There are now an estimated 200 protests, largely rural, each day involving 3.76 million people annually.
- In 2007, the Committee to Protect Journalists named China as the world’s number one jailer of journalists for the ninth consecutive year.
- China’s population is 92% Han Chinese, and 8% ethnic minorities. Ethnic minorities such as Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims and others occupy 60% of China’s land, including high quality land on critical international borders.
China in the World: Did You Know?
- China is quickly surpassing the United States, Japan, and European countries as the largest trading partner of nations all over the world. It is a member of the World Trade Organization and party to numerous regional free trade agreements.
- Morgan Stanley has estimated that Chinese imports have saved US consumers $1 trillion since reforms began in 1978.
- US, European, and Japanese companies lose an estimated $60 billion per year through piracy of technology and intellectual property in China.
- There are up to 35 million Chinese immigrants and nationals living outside China, responsible for up to 65% of all Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in China.
- China is a net energy importer, which means it must obtain its oil and natural gas supplies primarily from sources outside the country. These energy needs are growing exponentially and make China increasingly more dependent on relations with Central Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and Latin American countries each year.
- China’s diplomatic corps is among the best trained in the world. The Chinese Foreign Ministry sends it best and brightest to study and live in the societies of their future postings; and once assigned, diplomats generally spend their entire careers in their area of specialty.
- China has the most international borders (13 land neighbors and multiple close maritime neighbors), and some of the longest in the world. Despite this, China has largely settled most of its border disputes peacefully over the past 30 years, often to its territorial disadvantage. Negotiations are underway on others, primarily maritime disputes in and around the South and North China Seas.
- The 2008 Olympic Games will be hosted by China in Beijing beginning August 8, amid protests over human rights abuses, treatment of ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang, and China’s role in supporting the government of Sudan throughout the Darfur conflict. The Olympic Logo is described by the Chinese government as “designed to portray the feelings of friendly and hospitable Chinese people and express the sincerity of the city.”
Next: Introduction: Issue Summary