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People's Republic of China

Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo

CAPITAL: Beijing (Peking)

FLAG: The flag is red with five gold stars in the upper left quadrant; one large star is near the hoist and four smaller ones are arranged in an arc to the right.

ANTHEM: March of the Volunteers.

MONETARY UNIT: The renminbi, or "people's money," denominated in yuan (y), is equivalent to 10 jiao or 100 fen. There are coins of 1, 2, and 5 fen, 1, 2, and 5 jiao, and 1 yuan, and notes of 1, 2, and 5 fen, 1, 2, and 5 jiao, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, and 100 yuan. y1 = $0.12210 (or $1 = y8.19) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some Chinese units remain in common use.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), from the 1st to the 3d day of the first moon of the lunar calendar, usually in February; International Women's Day, 8 March; May Day, 1 May; Army Day, 1 August; Teachers' Day, 9 September; and National Day, 12 October.

TIME: 8 pm = noon GMT.


The People's Republic of China (PRC), the third-largest country in the world after the former USSR and Canada and the largest nation in Asia, claims an area of 9,596,960 sq km (3,705,406 sq mi), including Taiwan, which the PRC claims as a province; the major administrative divisions, excluding Taiwan and the offshore islands, cover 9,444,292 sq km (3,646,448 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by China is slightly larger than the United States. If the area of Taiwan is excluded, China is the fourth-largest country in the world, after Russia, Canada, and the United States. The mainland has an extension of 4,845 km (3,011 mi) enewsw and 3,350 km (2,082 mi) ssennw. The mainland's 5,774 km (3,588 mi) coastline, extending from the mouth of the Yalu River in the northeast to the Gulf of Tonkin in the south, forms a great arc, with the Liaodong and Shandong peninsulas in the north protruding into the Yellow Sea and the Leizhou Peninsula in the south protruding into the South China Sea. China's territory includes several large islands, the most important of which is Hainan, off the south coast. Other islands include the reefs and islands of the South China Sea, extending as far as 4° n. These reefs and islands include Dongsha (Pratas), to which Taiwan has also laid claim. China's claims to the Xisha (Paracel) and Nansha (Spratly) archipelagoes are also in dispute. In 1986, the United Kingdom agreed to transfer Hong Kong to the PRC in 1997; in March 1987, the PRC and Portugal reached an agreement for the return of Macau to the PRC on 20 December 1999.

China is bordered on the n by Mongolia (Mongolian People's RepublicMPR) and Russia; on the ne by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK); on the e by the Yellow and the East China seas; along the southern border are Hong Kong, Macau, the South China Sea, the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam, and Laos; on the sw by Myanmar, India, Bhutan, and Nepal; on the w by India, Jammu and Kashmir (disputed areas), Pakistan (west of the Karakoram Pass), and Afghanistan; and on the nw by Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. China's total boundary length, including the coastline (14,500 km/9,010 mi) is 36,647 km (22,771 mi). China's capital city, Beijing, is located in the northeastern part of the country.


China may be divided roughly into a lowland portion in the east, constituting about 20% of the total territory, and a larger section consisting of mountains and plateaus in the west. The principal lowlands are the Manchurian (Dongbei) Plain, drained by the Songhua (Sungari) River, a tributary of the Amur (Heilongjiang), and by the Liao River, which flows to the Yellow Sea; the North China Plain, traversed by the lower course of the Yellow (Huang He) River; the valley and delta of the Yangtze (Chang Jiang) River; and the delta of the Pearl (Zhu) River surrounding Guangzhou (Canton). West of these lowlands, the country's topography rises to plateaus of 1,2001,500 m (about 4,0005,000 ft): the Shanxi and Shaanxi loess plateaus, in central China, and the Mongolian Plateau, in the north.

Beyond lie the high plateaus of Tibet, with an average elevation of 4,600 m (15,000 ft), and the great mountain ranges. The highest mountains are the Kunluns and the Himalayas. North of Tibet are two plateau basins of Central Asia, the Tarim and the Junggar, which are separated from each other by the Tian Mountains. The Chinese portion of the Tian range, which also extends into the former USSR, rises above 7,000 m (23,000 ft).

The great rivers of China flow eastward toward the Pacific. In the northeast, the Amur drains a great part of the Manchurian Basin as it winds along its 4,350 km (2,719 mi) course. Other north-eastern rivers include the Liao, the Tumen, and the Yalu, the last two both rising in Mt. Paaktu, flowing respectively northeast and southwest, and forming the boundary between China and the DPRK. The main river of north China, and the second-largest in the country, is the Yellow River (Huang He). From Gansu it winds about 4,671 km (2,903 mi) eastward to Shandong Province, where it empties into Bo Hai (Gulf of Zhili, or Chihli). The valley of the Yellow River covers an area of 1,554,000 sq km (600,000 mi).

Central China is drained mainly by the Yangtze and its tributaries. The largest river in China, the Yangtze travels 5,525 km (3,434 mi) and drains 1,808,500 sq km (698,300 sq mi) of land. As China's only long river with no natural outlet, the Huai River, flowing between the Yangtze and the Yellow (Huang He) and roughly parallel to them, is subject to frequent flooding. To the southwest are the upper courses of the Mekong (Lancang) and Brahmaputra (Yarlung Zangbo) rivers.

Northern China is in a major earthquake zone with some of the most destructive earthquakes on record. On 28 July 1976, a tremor measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale struck the city of Tangshan (145 km/90 mi east of Beijing), causing widespread devastation and the deaths of over 650,000 people. On 3 February 1996, a 6.6 magnitude quake occurred at Yunnan causing death for 322 people and injury to over 16,000. About 358,000 homes were completely destroyed and over 654,000 others were damaged. On 24 February 2003, a 6.4 magnitude quake in Southern Xinjiang killed at least 260 people and injured 4,000. It was recorded as the deadliest earthquake of the year worldwide.


Although most of China lies within the temperate zone, climate varies greatly with topography. Minimum winter temperatures range from -27°c (-17°f) in northern Manchuria to -1°c (30°f) in the North China Plain and southern Manchuria, 4°c (39°f) along the middle and lower valleys of the Yangtze, and 16°c (61°f) farther south. Although summer temperatures are more nearly uniform in southern and central China, with a July mean of about 27°c (81°f), northern China has a shorter hot period and the nights are much cooler.

Rain falls mostly in summer. Precipitation is heaviest in the south and southeast, with Guangzhou receiving more than 200 cm (80 in), and diminishes to about 60 cm (25 in) in north and northeast China, and to less than 10 cm (4 in) in the northwest. Approximately 31% of the total land area is classified as arid, 22% as semiarid, 15% as sub-humid, and 32% as humid.


Much of China's natural vegetation has been replaced or altered by thousands of years of human settlement, but isolated areas still support one of the world's richest and most varied collections of plants and animals. Nearly every major plant found in the tropical and temperate zones of the northern hemisphere can be found there. In all, more than 7,000 species of woody plants have been recorded, of which there are 2,800 timber trees and over 300 species of gymnosperms. The rare gingko tree, cathaya tree, and metasequoia, long extinct elsewhere, can still be found growing in China. Among flowering plants, 650 of the 800 known varieties of azalea occur in China, while 390 of the 450 known varieties of primrose and about 230 of the 400 known varieties of gentian are also found there. The tree peony, which originated in Shandong Province, appears in 400 varieties.

The richest and most extensive needle-leaf forests occur in the Greater Hinggan Ling (Khingan) Mountains of the northeast, where stands of larch, Asian white birch, and Scotch pine flourish, and in the Lesser Hinggan Ling (Khingan) Mountains, with stands of Korean pine and Dahurian larch. In the Sichuan (Szechuan) Basin, vegetation changes with altitude to embrace a variety of conifers at high levels, deciduous trees and cypresses at middle elevations, and bamboo in lower elevations. Farther south, in subtropical Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, broadleaf evergreen forests predominate. Forests give way to natural grasslands and scrub in drier western and northwestern areas, especially in the semiarid regions of Shanxi and Shaanxi, in the steppes of Inner Mongolia, and along the desert margins of the Tarim and Junggar basins.

China's most celebrated wild animal is the giant panda, a rare mammal now found in the wild only in remote areas of Sichuan, Gansu, and Shanxi provinces; as of 1994, just over 500 wild pandas were still in their natural state. Other fauna unique to China include the golden-haired monkey, found in remote parts of Shaanxi, Gansu, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Yunnan; the northeast China tiger, found in the Lesser Hinggan Ling and Changbai mountains along the Korean border; the Chinese river dolphin and Chinese alligator, both found along the middle and lower Yangtze River; the rare David's deer and the white-lipped deer, the latter found mainly in Qinghai Province and Tibet; a rare kind of white bear found in Hubei Province; and the lancelet, an ancient species of fish representing a transitional stage between invertebrate and vertebrate development, now found only in Fujian Province. In addition, more than 1,000 species of birds have been recorded. Among the rarer kinds are the mandarin duck, the white-crowned long-tailed pheasant, golden pheasant, Derby's parakeet, yellow-backed sun-bird, red-billed leiothrix, and red-crowned crane.


It is estimated that China has lost one-fifth of its agricultural land since 1957 due to economic development and soil erosion. Since 1973, China has taken significant steps to rectify some of the environmental damage caused by rampant use of wood for fuel, uncontrolled industrial pollution, and extensive conversion of forests, pastures, and grasslands to grain production during the Cultural Revolution. Reforestation, including construction of shelter belts, has emphasized restoration of the erosionprone loesslands in the middle reaches of the Yellow River. In 1979, the Standing Committee of the Fifth National People's Congress adopted an Environmental Protection Law and a Forestry Law. In 1989, China began a nationwide program called the Great Green Wall of China which began to accelerate the rate of reforestation. In 2000, about 17.5% of the total land area was forested.

Water supplies are limitedper capita consumption in China's cities is about 34 gallons a day, less than half that in many developing countriesand conservation, reclamation, and redistribution of water constitute major national priorities. Safe drinking water is unavailable to much of the population (as much as one-third, according to some estimates). By 1989, 436 of 532 rivers were polluted. In 1994, the World Health Organization reported that Chinese cities pollute water supplies more than those of any other country in the world. Legislation provides for the protection of aquatic resources, including water quality standards for farmland irrigation and fisheries.

To alleviate water shortages in the heavily populated Beijing-Tranjin region, a massive water transfer project began in 1994 by construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. The project aroused considerable controversy. Project managers faced technological problems and higher-than-expected costs. Completion of the project (scheduled for 2009) will create a reservoir that will flood prime farm land and leave the ecology of the river area damaged. By early 2005, one million people had already been displaced by construction. An additional 900,000 people were expected to be displaced by completion of the project.

The use of high-sulfur coal as a main energy source causes air pollution and contributes to acid rain. In the mid-1990s, China had the world's second-highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, totaling 2.67 billion metric tons per year, a per capita level of 2.27 metric tons per year. In 2000, the total increased to 2.7 billion metric tons. Investment in pollution-reducing technology is required of all industrial enterprises. Penalties are imposed for noncompliance and incentives, in the form of tax reductions and higher allowable profits, are available for those enterprises that meet environmental standards. Beijing has implemented programs for controlling discharges of effluents, smoke and soot emissions, and noise pollution. Special success has been claimed for the recovery of oil from effluents of the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang, refineries, and other oil-processing establishments; use of electrostatic precipitators and bag collectors by the cement and building industries; recovery of caustic soda and waste pulp from effl uents of the pulp and paper industries; introduction of nonpolluting processes into the tanning and depilating of hides; use of nonmercuric batteries; recovery of fine ash from coal-burning power plants for use in the manufacture of bricks, tiles, cement, and road-surfacing materials; and development of new methodologies for recycling coal wastes and marine oil discharges.

To protect the nation's botanical and zoological resources, a program was adopted in 1980 to establish 300 new reserves, with a total area of 9.6 million ha (23.7 million acres). That goal was achieved by the end of 1985, one year ahead of schedule. In 2003, about 7.8% of the total land area of China was protected. The largest reserve, covering 800,000 ha (1,980,000 acres), is the Changbai Mountain Nature Reserve, in the northeast. Others include the Wolong reserve in Sichuan Province, covering 200,000 ha (494,000 acres) and famous for its research on the giant panda; the Dinghu Mountain reserve in Guangdong Province, where a subtropical evergreen broadleaf monsoon forest that has remained virtually untouched for four centuries provides opportunities for ecological studies; and the Nangun River area in Yunnan Province, where the principal focus of protection is the tropical rain forest. There are 30 Ramsar wetland sites and eight natural and mixed properties designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 80 types of mammals, 82 species of birds, 31 types of reptiles, 86 species of amphibians, 47 species of fish, 1 type of mollusk, 3 other invertebrates, and 443 species of plants. Endangered species in China include Elliot's pheasant, Cabot's tragopan, yarkand deer, Shansi sika deer, South China sika, North China sika, the Chinese alligator, the Amur leopard, Javan rhinoceros, Thailand brow-antlered deer, the white-lipped deer, Bactrian camel, the giant panda, and the Siberian white crane. There are about nine extinct species, including the Yunnan box turtle and the wild horse.


The population of China in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 1,303,701,000, which ranked first in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 8% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 22% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 106 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 0.6%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The government has emphasized family planning since the 1970s, and has accomplished a significant reduction in population growth. The projected population for the year 2025 was 1,476,000,000. The population density was 136 per sq km (353 per sq mi), but the distribution of the population throughout China is extremely uneven. The most densely populated areas near the coast have a population density of more than 154 people per sq km (400 per sq mi), while the western plateaus are sparsely populated.

China, as the most populous country in the world, accounts for 21% of the estimated world population. Until 2001, it was also the only country to have attained the status of demographic billionaire, but in March that year, India also reached a one billion population. The government policy, launched in the 1990s calling for an extensive family planning program to limit population growth, has been successful.

The UN estimated that 37% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 2.79%. Government policy has sought to limit the growth of the large eastern cities, especially the capital city, Beijing (Peking), Shanghai, and Tianjin, and to promote the growth of smaller cities away from the coast. China has over 60 metropolitan areas with populations greater than 750,000. As of 2005, the largest urban centers were Shanghai, 12,665,000; Beijing, 10,849,000; and Tianjin, 9,346,000. Other large metropolitan areas included Wuhan, 6,003,000; Chongqing, 4,975,000; Shenyang, 4,916,000; Guangzhou, 3,881,000; Chengdu, 3,478,000; Xi'an, 3,256,000; Changchun, 3,092,000; Harbin, 2,898,000; Dalian, 2,709,000; Jinan, 2,654,000; Hangzhou, 1,955,000; and Qingdao, 1,452,000.


The overseas migration of millions of Chinese reached its peak in the 1920s when thousands of farmers and fishermen from the southeastern coastal provinces settled in other countries of South-east Asia. Chinese constitute a majority in Singapore, are an important ethnic group in Malaysia, and make up a significant minority in the Americas. In 1949, after the Communist victory, some two million civilians and 700,000 military personnel were evacuated to Taiwan.

Since in many places abroad the Chinese population has been growing at a rate faster than that of the local non-Chinese population, most countries have been trying to curtail the entrance of new Chinese immigrants. Emigration from China under the PRC government was once limited to refugees who reached Hong Kong, but is now denied only to a few political dissidents, if the state is reimbursed for postsecondary education costs. Immigration is for the most part limited to the return of overseas Chinese. At the end of 1999, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported 285,000 Vietnamese refugees in China, 91% of whom are of Chinese ancestry.

During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, more than 60 million students, officials, peasant migrants, and unemployed were sent "down to the countryside" in a gigantic rustication movement. The goals of this program were to relocate industries and population away from vulnerable coastal areas, to provide human resources for agricultural production, to reclaim land in remote areas, to settle borderlands for economic and defense reasons, and, as has been the policy since the 1940s, to increase the proportion of Han Chinese in ethnic minority areas. Another purpose of this migration policy was to relieve urban shortages of food, housing, and services, and to reduce future urban population growth by removing large numbers of those 1630 years of age. However, most relocated youths eventually returned to the cities.

Efforts to stimulate "decentralized urbanization" have characterized government policy since the late 1970s. Decentralized urbanization and the related relocation of industries away from established centers has also been promoted as a way for China to absorb the increasing surplus labor of rural areas, estimated at 100 million in 2000. However, China's economic boom of the 2000s led to rapid growth of coastal provinces attracting inland rural males for construction and females to work in factories. This contrast extends to how children are perceived. Urban parents call their only child "little sun" (as in "center of the universe"), compared with rural parents, who call their child or children "left behind," (with their grandparents, as parents travel distances for work). For rural areas another split has developed: migrant work for the young and farming for the old.

On 1 July 1997, the sovereignty of Hong Kong reverted back to China. As of 1999, some 1,562 refugees and screened-out nonrefugees still remained in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). In 2004, there were 299,305 refugees living in China, all but 135 in camps. In addition, 44 people sought asylum in China. The main countries to which Chinese emigrated in 2004 were the United States, Canada, South Africa, France, and the United Kingdom. Chinese sought asylum in India, the United States, Germany and Canada. In 2005, the net migration rate for China was estimated as -0.4 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


According to the latest estimates, the largest ethnic group, accounting for 91.9% of the total population, is the Han. The Han form a majority in most of the settled east and south but remain a minority, despite continuing immigration, in the west.

The remaining 8.1% of the population is comprised of minority groups. Because of their predominance in strategically sensitive border areas, they hold a political and economic importance disproportionate to their numbers. The largest minority, at last estimate was the Zhuang, a Buddhist people, related to the Thai, who are primarily concentrated in Guangxi, Yunnan, and Guangdong. Other large minorities were the Manchu, concentrated in Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning; the Hui, a Chinese-speaking Muslim people concentrated in Ningxia, Gansu, Henan, and Hebei; the Uygur, a Muslim Turkic people of Xinjiang; the Yi, formerly called Lolo, a Buddhist people related to the Tibetans and concentrated in Yunnan, Sichuan, and Guizhou; the Miao, in Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, and Guangxi; and the Tibetans, concentrated in Xizang (Tibet), Qinghai, and Sichuan. Other minority nationalities, with estimated populations of more than one million, included the Mongolians; Tujia; Buyi; Koreans; Dong; Yao; Bai; Hani; Li; and the Kazaks, concentrated in Xinjiang, Gansu, and Qinghai.


Chinese, a branch of the Sino-Tibetan linguistic family, is a monosyllabic tone language written by means of characters representing complete words. The Chinese script is not phonetic and remains constant throughout China, but the spoken language has regional phonetic differences. Spoken Chinese falls into two major groups, separated roughly by a northeast-southwest line running from the mouth of the Yangtze River to the border of Vietnam. North and west of this line are the socalled Mandarin dialects, based on the Beijing dialect and known as putonghua ("common language"). The most important dialect south of the linguistic divide is that of Shanghai, the Wu dialect spoken in the Yangtze River Delta. Hakka and Hokkien are dialects of the southeastern coastal province. Cantonese, the Yue dialect spoken in southern China, is the language of the majority of Chinese emigrants. Others include the Minbei or Fuzhou dialect, the Xiang, and Gan dialects. Mandarin Chinese was adopted as the official language of China in 1955.

To communicate in written Chinese, thousands of Chinese characters must be memorized. Since the establishment of the PRC in 1949, reform of the written language has been a major priority. A simplified system of writing, reducing the number of strokes per character, has been adopted, and the language restructured so that anyone familiar with the basic 2,0003,000 characters is functionally literate (defined as being able to read a newspaper).

A number of systems have been developed to transcribe Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet. The principal romanization scheme was the Wade-Giles system until 1979, when the PRC government adopted Pinyin, a system under development in China since the mid-1950s. Inside China, Pinyin is used in the schools to facilitate the learning of Chinese characters, in minority areas where other languages are spoken, and on commercial and street signs. Pinyin has replaced the Wade-Giles system in all of China's English-language publications and for the spelling of place names. In general, pronunciation of Pinyin follows standard American English, except that among initial sounds, the sound of q is like the sound of ch as in chart, the sound of x like the sound of sh as in ship, and the sound of zh like the sound of j as in judge, and among final sounds, the sound of e is like the sound of oo as in look, the sound of eng like the sound of ung as in lung, the sound of ui like the sound of ay as in way, and the sound of uai like the sound of wi as in wide.

Of the 55 recognized minority peoples in China, only Hui and Manchus use Chinese as an everyday language. More then 20 minority nationalities have their own forms of writing for their own languages. Minority languages are used in all state institutions in minority areas and in all newspapers and books published there.


Three faithsConfucianism, Buddhism, and Taoismhave long been established in China and the religious practice of the average Chinese traditionally has been an eclectic mixture of all three. Confucianism has no religious organization but consists of a code of ethics and philosophy; filial piety, benevolence, fidelity, and justice are among its principal virtues. Taoism, a native Chinese religion that evolved from a philosophy probably founded in the 6th century bc by Laotzu (Laozi), and Buddhism, imported from India during the Han dynasty, both have elaborate rituals. Tradition-minded Chinese base their philosophy of life on Confucianism, but such old habits of thought came under strong attack during the Cultural Revolution.

Suppression of religion and the introduction of programs of antireligious indoctrination began in 1949 and intensified, with the closure of temples, shrines, mosques, and churches, from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s. Overt antireligious activity eased in 1976, and the government reactivated its Bureau of Religious Affairs. The constitution of 1982 provides for freedom of belief and worship; however, the government restricts religious practices and maintains a great deal of control over the growth of various religious organizations. The State Administration for Religious Activities and the United Front Work Department monitor religious organizations and supervise the implementation of government regulations for religious groups and activities. All groups are required to register with the government in order to legally participate in worship. Many groups refuse to register, however, either out of protest for government policies and control over religion or from fear of providing the names of religious leaders to government authorities.

As of 2004, the country had five officially recognized religions, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. About 8% of the population were Buddhists, 1.4% were Muslims, 1.2% were Protestants, and less than 1% were Catholics. Nearly all of the nation's Muslims are members of the ethnic minority nationalities; most belong to the Sunni branch, but the Tajiks are Shias. The tiny Jewish minority has virtually disappeared through emigration and assimilation. A majority of the population does not claim official religious affiliation.

"House churches," a term that typically applies to unregistered Christian groups that meet in homes or businesses for prayer meetings and Bible studies, are somewhat common. Small groups of a dozen or so members are usually allowed to gather without registration as long as the meetings are small, private, and unobtrusive. As membership grows however, these house churches face difficulties in finding ways to continue conducting religious activities without attracting the notice and control of the government. Tensions between the Vatican and the Chinese government have caused difficulties for the nation's Catholics. The state forbids the official Catholic church from recognizing the authority of the Papacy and in matters where government policy and traditional Catholic faith differ, such as abortion, the state takes precedence. This has had a major impact on recruiting, appointing, and retaining the Catholic clergy within the country.

Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is a combination of Taoism, Buddhism, meditation techniques, and the physical exercises of quigong. Though spiritual in content, it is considered more of a general practice than a religion, since there are no clergy and no places of worship. The group has been considered a heretical cult by the Chinese government and reports indicate that thousands of adherents have been arrested and imprisoned since 1999. It is believed that several hundred have died while in detention.


Railways, roads, and inland waterways all play an important role in China's transportation system, which has undergone major growth since the 1940s. China's rail network forms the backbone of the transportation system. Chinese railways increased in length from 21,989 km (13,663 mi) in 1949, to 71,898 km (44,721 mi) in 2002, of which 18,115 km (11,267 mi) were electrified. In the rush to expand rail facilities during the "Great Leap Forward," the Chinese laid rails totaling 3,500 km (2,175 mi) in 1958, with some 4,600 km (2,900 mi) added in 1959. Many major projects had been completed by the 1970s, including double-tracking of major lines in the east; the electrification of lines in the west, including the 671 km (417 mi) Baoji-Chengdu link; and the addition of several new trunk lines and spurs, many providing service to the country's more remote areas. While the total rail network is more than twice what it was in 1949, the movement of freight is more than 25 times that of 1949. Increased freight volumes have been achieved by loading freight cars up to 20% over their rated capacity and by containerization. Shortages of freight and tank cars continue to delay deliveries of coal and other industrial raw materials to their destinations. In 1991, China invested $8 billion for infrastructure improvements, including the upgrade of 309 km (192 mi) of double-track railway and the electrification of 849 km (528 mi) of track.

Road transportation has become increasingly important. Motor roads grew from about 400,000 km (249,000 mi) in 1958 to 550,000 km (342,000 mi) in 1964 and to 1,809,829 km (1,125,714 mi) by 2003. About 1,447,682 km (900,458 mi) were paved, including at least 29,745 km (18,501 mi) of expressways. Major roads completed in the 1970s included the 2,413 km (1,499 mi) Sichuan-Tibet Highway, the 2,100 km (1,305 mi) Qinghai-Tibet Highway, and the 1,455 km (904 mi) Xinjiang-Tibet Highway. Between 1981 and 1985, 50,000 km (31,000 mi) of highways and more than 15,000 bridges were built. By 2003, an estimated 6,789,000 passenger automobiles used the highway system, up from 50,000 in 1949. In addition, there were some 17,222,000 commercial vehicles operating in the same year. Bicycles are the chief mode of transport in large cities. In Beijing, there are an estimated eight million bicycles, accounting for 83.5% of the city's road traffic.

As of 2002, China had 121,557 km (75,608 mi) of navigable inland waterways. About 25% of the waterways are navigable by modern vessels, while wooden junks are used on the remainder. The principal inland waterway is the Yangtze River. Much work was done in the early 1980s to dredge and deepen the river, to improve navigational markers and channels, and to eliminate the treacherous rapids of the Three Gorges section east of Yibin. Steamboats can now travel inland throughout the year from Shanghai, at the river's mouth, upstream as far as Yibin, and 10,000ton oceangoing vessels can travel inland as far as Wuhan in the high-water season and Nanjing in the low-water season. Major ports on the river include: Chongqing, the principal transportation hub for the southwest; Wuhan, its freight dominated by shipments of coal, iron, and steel; Wuhu, a rice-exporting center; Yuxikou, across the river from Wuhu and the chief outlet for the region's coal fields; Nanjing; and Shanghai. The Pearl River is navigable via a tributary as far as Nanning. The ancient Grand Canal, rendered impassable by deposits of silt for more than 100 years, has been dredged and rebuilt; it is navigable for about 1,100 km (680 mi) in season and 400 km (250 mi) year-round.

China's merchant fleet expanded from 402,000 gross registered tonnage (GRT) in 1960 to over 10,278,000 GRT in 1986, and to 18,724,653 GRT in 2005. China's 1,649 merchant ships of 1,000 GRT or over can accommodate most of the country's foreign trade. The balance is divided among ships leased from Hong Kong owners and from other foreign sources. The principal ports are Tianjin, the port for Beijing, which consists of the three harbors of Neigang, Tanggu, and Xingang; Shanghai, with docks along the Huangpu River channel; Lüda, the chief outlet for the northeast and the Daqing oil field; and Huangpu, the port for Guangzhou, on the right bank of the Pearl River. Other important ports include Qinhuangdao; Qingdao; Ningbo, the port for Hangzhou; Fuzhou; Xiamen; and Zhanjiang.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) operates all domestic and international air services. Operations have grown significantly with the purchase, since the 1970s, of jet aircraft from the United States, United Kingdom, and other Western sources. In 2004, there were an estimated 472 airports. As of 2005, a total of 389 had paved runways and there were also 30 heliports. Principal airports include Capital at Beijing, Shuangliu at Chengdu, Hongqiao at Shanghai, Baiyun at Guangzhou, Wujiaba at Kunming, and Gaoqi at Xiamen. From Beijing there are scheduled daily flights to Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu, Shenyang, Changchun, Changsha, Wuhan, Zengzhou, and Harbin. The total scheduled international and domestic service performed in 2003 included 5,651 million freight tonkm, as well as 86.041 million passengers carried.


Fossils attest to hominid habitation in China more than 500,000 years ago, and Paleolithic cultures appeared in the southwest by 30,000 bc. Neolithic peoples appeared before 7000 bc; by 3000 bc there were millet-growing settlements along the Yellow River (Huang He). The original home of the Chinese (Han) people is probably the area of the Wei, Luo (Lo), and middle Yellow rivers. According to tradition, the Xia (Hsia) dynasty (c.2200c.1766 bc) constituted the first Chinese state. Its successor, the Shang, or Yin, dynasty (c.1766c.1122 bc), which ruled over the valley of the Yellow River, left written records cast in bronze or inscribed on tortoiseshell and bone. The Shang was probably conquered by the Western Zhou (Chou) dynasty (c.1122771 bc), which ruled a prosperous feudal agricultural society. Fleeing foreign attack in 771 bc, the Western Zhou abandoned its capital near the site of Xi'an and established a new capital farther east at Luoyang (Loyang). The new state, known as the Eastern Zhou dynasty (771256 bc), produced the great Chinese philosophers including Confucius (K'ung Futzu or Kong Fuzi) and the semi-historical figure, Lao Tzu (Lao Zi). Between 475 and 221 bc, the Qin (Ch'in) dynasty (221207 bc) gradually emerged from among warring, regional states to unify China. Shi Huangdi (Shih Huang Ti, r.221210 bc), the first Qin emperor (the outer edges of whose tomb, opened in the 1970s, were discovered to contain stunningly lifelike terracotta armies), ended the feudal states and organized China into a system of prefectures and counties under central control. For defense against nomadic proto-Mongolian tribes, Shi Huangdi connected walls of the feudal states to form what was later to become known as the Great Wall. By this time, the Yellow River had an irrigation system, and cultivation had begun in the Yangtze Valley; at the end of Shi Huangdi's reign, China probably had close to 40 million people. During the period of the Han dynasties (206 bcad 8, ad 25220), China expanded westward, nomadic tribes from the Mongolian plateau were repelled, and contacts were made with Central Asia, the West, and even Rome. The Han saw the invention of paper. Under the later Han, Buddhism was introduced into China. After the Han period, the Three Kingdoms (Wei, Shu, and Wu) contended for power, and nomadic tribes from the north and west raided northern China. From the 4th century ad on, a series of northern dynasties was set up by the invaders, while several southern dynasties succeeded one another in the Yangtze Valley, with their capital at Nanjing (Nanking). Buddhism flourished during this period, and the arts and sciences were developed. The empire was reunited by the Sui (589618) dynasty, which built the Grand Canal, linking the militarily strategic north with the economic wealth of the south and laying the basis for the Tang (T'ang, 618907) dynasty.

Under the early Tang, especially under Emperor Taizong (T'aitsung, r.62749), China became powerful. The bureaucratic system, begun by the Han, was further developed, including the regular use of an examination system to recruit officials on the basis of merit. Handicrafts and commerce flourished, a system of roads radiated from the capital (at the site of Xi'an), successful wars were fought in Central Asia, and China became the cultural and economic center of Asia. Poetry and painting flourished, particularly under Emperor Xuan-Zong (Hsüantsung, r.71256). Civil wars and rebellion in the late Tang led to a period of partition under the Five Dynasties (r.90760) which was followed by the Northern and Southern Song (Sung) dynasties (9601127, 11271279), distinguished for literature, philosophy, the invention of movable type (using clay and wood), the use of gunpowder in weapons, and the improvement of the magnetic compass. However, Mongol and Tatar tribes in the north forced the Song to abandon its capital at Kaifeng in 1126 and move it to Hangzhou (Hangchow). In 1279, Kublai Khan (r.127994) led the Mongols to bring all of China under their control and became the first ruler of the Mongols' Yuan dynasty (12791368). The Mongols encouraged commerce and increased the use of paper money. The Grand Canal was reconstructed, and a system of relay stations ensured safe travel. Many European missionaries and merchants, notably Marco Polo, came to the Mongol court.

After a long period of peasant rebellion, Mongol rule was succeeded by the native Chinese Ming dynasty (13681644). The famous Ming admiral, Zheng He (Cheng Ho, 13711433) led seven naval expeditions into the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean between 1405 and 1433, reaching as far as the east coast of Africa. The Portuguese reached China in 1516, the Spanish in 1557, the Dutch in 1606, and the English in 1637. The Ming dynasty was overthrown by the Manchus, invaders from the northeast, who established the last imperial dynasty, the Qing (Ch'ing or Manchu, 16441911). The first century and a half of Manchu rule was a period of stability and expansion of power, with outstanding reigns by Kang xi (K'anghsi, 16621722) and Qian long (Ch'ienlung, 173696). Although the Manchus ruled as conquerors, they adopted indigenous Chinese culture, administrative machinery, and laws. Under Manchu rule, Chinese territories included Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet, Taiwan, and the Central Asian regions of Turkestan. The population of over 300 million by 1750 grew to over 400 million a century later.

By the close of the 18th century, only one port, Guangzhou (Canton), was open to merchants from abroad, and trade was greatly restricted. Demands by the British for increased trade, coupled with Chinese prohibition of opium imports from British India, led to the Opium War (183942), which China lost. By the Treaty of Nanjing (1842), the ports of Guangzhou, Xiamen (Amoy), Fuzhou (Foochow), Ningbo, and Shanghai were opened, and Hong Kong Island was ceded to Britain. The T'aiping Rebellion (185064), nearly overthrew the Manchus and cost 30 million lives. A second war (185660) with Britain, joined by France, resulted in the opening of Tianjin (Tientsin) to foreign trade. The West's interest then turned from trade to territory. Russia acquired its Far Eastern territories from China in 1860. China's defeat in the Sino-French War (188485), in which it came to the defense of its tributary, Vietnam, resulted in the establishment of French Indo-China. In the First Sino-Japanese War (189495), Japan obtained Taiwan, the opening of additional ports, and the independence of Korea (which Japan subsequently annexed in 1910). This was a major turning point and led to the "scramble for concessions." In 1898, Britain leased Weihai in Shandong and the New Territories (for 99 years) of Hong Kong, Germany leased part of Shandong, Russia leased Port Arthur at the tip of Liaedong Peninsula, and France leased land around Guangzhou Bay in the south. The Boxer Rebellion, an uprising in 18991901 by a secret society seeking to expel all foreigners and supported by the Manchu court, was crushed by the intervention of British, French, German, American, Russian, and Japanese troops.

A revolution that finally overthrew Manchu rule began in 1911 in the context of a protest against a government scheme that would have handed Chinese-owned railways to foreign interests. City after city repudiated the Manchus, and in February 1912, the dowager empress, Ci Xi (Tz'u Hsi), signed an abdication document for the infant emperor, Puyi (P'uyi). The Chinese republic, ruled briefly by Sun Zhongshan (Sun Yatsen), followed by Yuan Shikai (Yuän Shihkai), entered upon a period of internal strife. Following Yuan's death in 1916, the Beijing regime passed into the hands of warlords. The Beijing regime joined World War I on the Allied side in 1917. In 1919, the Versailles Peace Conference gave Germany's possessions in Shandong to Japan, sparking the May Fourth Movement as student protests grew into nationwide demonstrations supported by merchants and workers. This marked a new politicization of many social groups, especially those intellectuals who had been emphasizing iconoclastic cultural change.

Meanwhile, civil war grew more intense. In the south, at Guangzhou, the Nationalists (Guomindang, Kuomintang) led by Sun Zhongshan in alliance with the Communists (whose party was founded in Shanghai in 1921) and supported by Russia, built a strong, disciplined party. After Sun Zhongshan's death in 1925, his successor, Chiang Kaishek (Jiang Jieshi), unified the country under Nationalist rule in 1928 with the capital in Nanjing. In 1927, the Nationalists began a bloody purge of the Communists, who sought refuge in southern Jiangxi Province. Their ranks severely depleted by Nationalist attacks, the Communists embarked on their arduous and now historic Long March during 193435. The Communists eventually reached Shaanxi Province in north-western China, where, under the leadership of Mao Zedong (Tsetung), they set up headquarters at Yan'an (Yenan). Japan, taking advantage of Chinese dissension, occupied Manchuria (Dongbei) in 1931.

Increasing Japanese pressure against northern China led, in July 1937, to the second Sino-Japanese war, which continued into World War II and saw Japanese forces occupy most of China's major economic areas. Nationalist China, established in the south-western hinterland with its capital at Chongqing, resisted with US and UK aid, while the Communists fought the Japanese in the northwest. Japan evacuated China in 1945 and both Communist and Nationalist forces moved into liberated areas. The rift between the two factions erupted into civil war. Although supported by the United States, whose mediation efforts had failed, the Nationalists steadily lost ground through 1948 and 1949, were expelled from the mainland by early 1950, and took refuge on Taiwan.

The People's Republic

The Communists, under the leadership of Mao, as chairman of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), proclaimed the People's Republic of China (PRC) on 1 October 1949, with the capital at Beijing. A year later, China entered the Korean War (195053) on the side of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). In the fall of 1950, China entered Tibet, which had asserted its independence after the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty, despite formal claims to it by all subsequent Chinese governments. In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to India during a Tibetan revolt against Chinese rule. Tibet became an autonomous region in 1965. The Nationalists held, in addition to Taiwan, islands in the Taiwan (Formosa) Strait: the Pescadores, Quemoy (near Xiamen), and the Matsu Islands (near Fuzhou).

In domestic affairs, a rapid program of industrialization and socialization up to 1957 was followed in 195859 by the Great Leap Forward, a crash program for drastic increases in output and the development of completely collectivized agricultural communes. The program ended in the "three bad years" of famine and economic crisis (195961), which produced 20 million deaths above the normal death rate, followed by a period of restoration and retrenchment in economics and politics. In the early 1960s, Chinese troops intermittently fought with Indian border patrols over conflicting territorial claims in Ladakh and the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Mediation attempts failed, but in 1963, the Chinese withdrew from the contested areas that they had occupied, and war prisoners were repatriated. Meanwhile, growing discord between China and the former Soviet Union had become more open, and in 1960, the USSR withdrew its scientific and technical advisers from China. Public polemics sharpened in intensity in the succeeding years, as the two powers competed for support in the world Communist movement.

After the Chinese economy recovered in 1965, Mao again steered the country onto the revolutionary path, and gradually built up momentum for the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, one of the most dramatic and convulsive periods in modern Chinese history. It continued until Mao's death in 1976, but the most tumultuous years were from 1966 to 1969, during which the cities witnessed a chaotic and violent pattern of factional fighting, accompanied by attacks on bureaucrats, intellectuals, scientists and technicians, and anyone known to have overseas connections.

Increasing confrontation between Mao and the party establishment, beginning in the fall of 1965, culminated in August 1966 with the CCP Central Committee's "16Point Decision" endorsing Mao's Cultural Revolution policy of criticizing revisionism. In response to Mao's initiative, high levels of urban protest demonstrated widespread dissatisfaction with bureaucracies and privilege. In the latter half of 1966, the Red Guard movement of radical students attacked educational and state authorities and split into competing factions. Amid the rising conflict, the party institution collapsed in major cities. Liu Shaoqi, second to Mao in the political hierarchy and Chairperson of the People's Republic, was ousted from power as the chief target of the Cultural Revolution. In 1968, Liu was formally dismissed from all positions and expelled from the party. He died at the end of 1969. From January 1967 through mid-1968, the discredited political establishment was replaced by Revolutionary Committees, comprised of the new radical organizations, the officials who remained in power, and representatives of the army. Finally, the army was told to restore order. In 1968 and 1969, students were sent out of the cities into the countryside. Colleges did not reopen until 1970. At the Ninth Party Congress in April 1969, the military's role was confirmed when Lin Biao, the Minister of Defense, was named Mao's successor.

Estimates place the number of dead as a direct result of the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1969 at 400,000. Much of the countryside, however, was unaffected and the economy, despite a setback in 1968, suffered little. The remaining years of the Cultural Revolution decade, up to 1976, were marked by a legacy of struggles over policies and over political succession to the aging Mao (83 at his death in 1976). In September 1971, Lin Biao died in a plane crash, allegedly while fleeing to the former USSR following an abortive coup. The decade from 1966 to 1976 left persistent factionalism in Chinese politics and a crisis of confidence, particularly among the young.

These years of domestic upheaval also brought profound changes in international alignments. In 1969, Chinese and Soviet forces clashed briefly along the Amur River frontier of eastern Heilongjiang Province. Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, China played a major role in supporting the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) in the Vietnamese conflict. In November 1971, the PRC government replaced Taiwan's Nationalist government as China's representative at the UN and on the Security Council, following a General Assembly vote of 7635, with 17 abstentions, on 25 October. Following two preliminary visits by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Richard M. Nixon journeyed to China on 21 February 1972 for an unprecedented state visit, and the two countries took major steps toward normalization of relations as the two nations sought common ground in their mutual distrust of Soviet intentions. In the period following the Nixon visit, US-China trade accelerated and cultural exchanges were arranged. In May 1973, the two countries established liaison offices in each other's capital and full diplomatic relations were established by 1979.

In 1975 at the Fourth National People's Congress, Zhou Enlai (Chou Enlai) announced a reordering of economic and social priorities to achieve the Four Modernizations (of agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology). Factional strife reminiscent of the late 1960s emerged between radical party elements led by Mao's wife, Jiang Qing (Chiang Ch'ing), and three associates (later collectively dubbed the Gang of Four), who opposed the modernization plans, and veteran party officials, such as Deng Xiaoping (previously associated with Liu Shaoqi and restored to power in 1973), who favored them. When Zhou died on 8 January 1976, the radicals moved to block the appointment of Deng (Zhou's heir apparent) as premier, with Mao resolving the impasse by appointing Hua Guofeng, a veteran party official and government administrator, as acting premier. Attacks on Deng continued until he was blamed for spontaneous disorders at a Beijing demonstration honoring Zhou on the Festival of the Dead, 5 April 1976, and, for the second time in his career, Deng was removed from all official positions.

After Mao

When Mao Zedong died on 9 September 1976, Hua Guofeng was quickly confirmed as party chairman and premier. A month later, the Gang of Four was arrested, and in early 1977, the banished Deng Xiaoping was again "reinstated." By 1978, Deng Xiaoping had consolidated his political dominance, and a new era of economic reforms began. The Third Party Plenum and the Fifth National People's Congress in 1978 adopted a new constitution and confirmed the goals of the Four Modernizations. Another new constitution in 1982 again confirmed policies of economic reform and emphasized legal procedure. The Cultural Revolution was officially condemned and Mao's historical role reevaluated. After a show trial from November 1980 to January 1981, the Gang of Four, together with Mao's former secretary and five others associated with Lin Biao, were convicted of crimes of the Cultural Revolution. Jiang Qing, whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, committed suicide in 1991 after being diagnosed with cancer.

In 1980, Zhao Ziyang, a protégé of Deng Xiaoping, replaced Hua Guofeng as premier, and Hu Yaobang, another Deng protégé, became general secretary of the CCP while Hua resigned as party chairperson (a position which was abolished) in 1981. The 1980s saw a gradual process of economic reforms, beginning in the countryside with the introduction of the household responsibility system to replace collective farming. As the rural standard of living rose, reforms of the more complex urban economy began in the mid-1980s in an attempt to use the economic levers of the market instead of a command system of central planning to guide the economy. These included, with varying degrees of success, reforms of the rationing and price system, wage reforms, devolution of controls of state enterprises, legalization of private enterprises, creation of a labor market and stock markets, the writing of a code of civil law, and banking and tax reforms. At the same time, the Chinese pursued a policy of opening toward the outside world, establishing Special Economic Zones, and encouraging joint ventures and foreign investment.

In the 1980s and 1990s, China attempted to settle its relations with neighboring states. After a border clash with Vietnam in 1979, there were agreements with Great Britain in 1984 for the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and with Portugal in 1987, for the return of Macaua Portuguese colony since the 16th centuryin 1999. In May 1989, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev visited Beijing in the first Sino-Soviet summit since 1959. Top Vietnamese leaders came to China in 1991, normalizing relations between the two countries after a gap of 11 years. In the early 1990s, China and South Korea established regular relations, with China also maintaining a relationship with North Korea.

Until 1989, economic reforms were accompanied by relatively greater openness in intellectual spheres. A series of social and political movements spanning the decade from 1979 to 1989 were critical of the reforms and reacted to their effects. In the Democracy Wall movement in Beijing in the winter of 197879, figures like Wei Jingsheng (imprisoned from 1979 to 1994 and subsequently reimprisoned) called for democracy as a necessary "fifth modernization." A student demonstration in Beijing in the fall of 1985 was followed in the winter of 198687 with a larger student movement with demonstrations of up to 50,000 in Shanghai, Beijing, and Nanjing, in support of greater democracy and freedom. In June 1987, blamed for allowing the demonstrations, Hu Yaobang was dismissed as party General Secretary, and several important intellectuals, including the astrophysicist Fang Lizhi and the journalist Liu Binyan, were expelled from the party. At the 15th Party congress of November 1987, many hardline radicals failed to retain their positions, but Zhao Ziyang, who was confirmed as General Secretary to replace Hu, had to give up his position as Premier to Li Peng. By the end of 1988, economic problems, including inflation of up to 35% in major cities, led to major disagreements within the government, resulting in a slowdown of reforms. In December 1988, student disaffection and nationalism were expressed in a demonstration against African students in Nanjing.

On 15 April 1989, Hu Yaobang died of a heart attack. Students in Beijing, who had been planning to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, responded with a demonstration, ostensibly in mourning for Hu, demanding a more democratic government and a freer press. Student marches continued and spread to other major cities. The urban population, unhappy with high inflation and the extent of corruption, largely supported the students and, by 17 May, Beijing demonstrations reached the size of one million people, including journalists, other salaried workers, private entrepreneurs and a tiny independent workers' organization, as well as students. On 19 May, martial law was imposed to no effect, and the government attempted to send troops to clear Beijing's Tiananmen Square, where demonstrators were camped, on 1920 May and 3 June. Finally, in the early hours of 4 June 1989, armed troops, armored personnel carriers, and tanks, firing on demonstrators and bystanders, managed to reach the Square. Firing continued in the city for several days and estimates of the total number killed range from 200 to 3,000. The events of 4 June sparked protests across the country, and thousands were arrested as the movement was suppressed. On 24 June, Zhao Ziyang was dismissed as General Secretary and Jiang Zemin, the mayor of Shanghai, was named in his place.

Following 4 June 1989, economic reforms were curtailed and some private enterprises closed down as the leadership launched an anticorruption drive. Ideological expression, higher education, and the news media were more tightly controlled in the ensuing years. The move toward a market oriented economy began again, with increased speed, after Deng Xiaoping made a publicized visit in the spring of 1992 to the most developed areas in southern China. China's economy became one of the most rapidly growing in the world but continued to be plagued by inflation, corruption, and a growing disparity among the provinces. With a high rate of tax evasion, state revenues were shrinking and one-third went to subsidize state enterprises. Having been at the forefront of change in the early 1980s, peasants in the early 1990s were being left behind. In 1993 and 1994, there were peasant protests and riots over receiving IOUs for their produce and over local corruption. There were workers' disputes and strikes (250,000 between 1988 and 1993) in response to low pay and poor working conditions.

Labor unrest continued into 1997 as thousands of workers in several impoverished inland provinces rioted when promises of back pay went unfulfilled. A March 1997 labor protest involving 20,000 workers in Nanchong was the largest since the Communist revolution. China's uneven economic development also led to the growth of a migrant worker class. By 2005, it was estimated that some 100150 million peasants left their homes in northern and western provinces in search of menial work along the coast. The unemployment in urban areas was 9.8% for 2004 with an overall unemployment rate of 20%; the unemployment rate does not include underemployment which also is a serious problem.

Parallel to but separate from the student and labor movements were ongoing demonstrations by ethnic minorities; there are 56 officially recognized minority groups in China. The most visible were those of the Tibetans (Buddhists), due to their international connections, but there have also been protests by other minorities, such as the Uyghurs (Muslims) in Xinjiang province. Violent Tibetan demonstrations in the fall of 1987 and spring of 1988 were forcibly suppressed, and from March 1989 to April 1990, martial law was imposed in Lhasa, Tibet. A Uyghur uprising in Xinjiang was met with force by the Chinese military in February 1997, leaving an estimated 100 ethnic Uyghur and 25 Chinese dead. But the situation in Tibet posed the most difficulty for Beijing. China's efforts to control Tibet and dilute its culture led in 1995 to the indefinite detention of the six-year-old boy chosen by the exiled Dalai Lama as his reincarnation, or Panchen Lama. Beijing selected another six-year-old and forced Tibetan leaders to accept him. According to the CCP the Panchen Lama and his family are living in 'protective custody,' however, no international organization has been able to visit the family to verify their whereabouts since he was taken in 1995.

In September 1997, the CCP's 15th National Congress elected a Central Committee, which selected the 22member Politburo. Jiang Zemin became the General Secretary of the party in addition to his title of president. Li Peng was appointed prime minister, and Zhu Rongji, deputy prime minister. During this Congress, political power was consolidated in the triumvirate, with Jiang Zemin officially taking the deceased Deng Xiaoping's position.

As the government prepared for the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the People's Republic of China, it witnessed the return of Hong Kong (1 July 1997) and Macau (20 December 1999). Both former colonies were designated Special Administrative Regions (SAR) and Jiang stated that each SAR would continue to operate with a considerable degree of economic autonomy.

Also in 1999, Chinese nationalism increased with the US bombings of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in May as an outpouring of government-sanctioned anti-American demonstrations took place in Beijing. Despite rising nationalism, the political leadership felt threatened by a small but rapidly growing religious sect, the Falun Gong. On 22 July 1999, Chinese authorities banned the sect and arrested its leaders despite international human rights watch groups' criticism. The country celebrated its 50th anniversary on 1 October 1999 with a 500,000person military parade showcasing its new technological achievements in armaments.

In February and March 1996, China testfired missiles near Taiwan's two main ports, which caused the United States to send two aircraft carrier groups to the Taiwan Strait. It was the largest US naval movement in the Asia-Pacific region since the Vietnam War. The missile firings and accompanying military exercises were considered to be responses to Taiwan's presidential elections of March 1996, which President Lee Tenghui, whom China accused of supporting Taiwanese independence, won.

In the runup to Taiwanese presidential elections in March 2000, Chen Shuibian of the Democratic Progressive Party, the eventual winner, issued proindependence campaign speeches advocating "one country on each side," contradicting China's "one-country, two systems" policy. In March 2000, Zhu Rongji, the deputy prime minister, warned Taiwan and the United States that Taiwanese independence could lead to armed conflict. A Chinese newspaper also quoted a government white paper stating that war with the United States is inevitable in the future and that if the United States intervened on behalf of Taiwan, the Chinese may use nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, China began construction of military bases on the mainland across the Taiwan Strait. In 1996, China had fewer than 50 shortrange missiles within striking distance of Taiwan. In April 2002, it was estimated that China's military forces had more than 350 missiles in the region and by 2005 the number had escalated to 700.

On 1 April 2001, a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft survived a midair collision with a Chinese F-8 fighter jet over the South China Sea. The Chinese fighter pilot was lost. The EP-3 conducted an emergency landing on Hainan Island, and the 24-member crew was detained there for 11 days in a standoff between the two countries. The United States and China blamed each other's aircraft for the crash. The EP-3 was later disassembled for transport back to the United States.

China expressed deep sympathy toward the United States following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. It has backed the Americanled war on terrorism, and cited its own problems with what it considers to be terrorist activities led by ethnic Uyghurs fighting for an independent homeland in the northwest Xinjiang province. China has detained thousands of Uyghurs since 11 September 2001. China voted in favor of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 on 8 November 2002, which required Iraq to immediately disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons), to allow UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arms inspectors into the country, and to comply with previous UN resolutions regarding Iraq.

On 11 December 2001, China formally became a member of the World Trade Organization, representing international recognition of China's growing economic power. Several nongovernmental organizations and individuals worldwide protested China's accession to the body, due to its record on human rights violations. Another formidable problem for China, in regards to acceptance of WTO regulations, is the lack of adherence to intellectual property rights which involves industries as different as films to computer software. Most concerning is the availability of counterfeit medicine; thousands of Chinese are reported to have died from the ill effects of fake medicine. WTO regulations forbid counterfeiting although this has not yet affected China's membership in the organization.

In November 2002, China and the ten members of ASEAN signed an accord to resolve any conflicts over the Spratly Islands without armed force. The Spratlys are claimed by China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, and are home to some of the world's busiest shipping lanes; they are also believed to be rich in oil and natural gas. Signatories to the accord agreed to cease further occupation of the islands, to help anyone in distress in the area, to exchange views with one another on defense issues, and to give advance warning of military exercises.

At the 16th Communist Party Congress held 814 November 2002, what is considered to be a "fourth generation" of Chinese leaders emerged, led by Hu Jintao, Jiang Zemin's replacement as Communist Party General Secretary. In addition to Hu, the other eight members of the 9-member Politburo Standing Committee were new appointees. In 2005 Hu advised the CCP not to focus solely on economic growth and instead integrate social and environmental factors into decision making. Hu also took a number of high profile trips to the poorer areas of China as well as made the minutes of the Politburo Standing Committee meetings public.


On 4 December 1982, China adopted its fourth constitution since 1949, succeeding those of 1954, 1975, and 1978. In theory, the highest organ of state power is the National People's Congress (NPC), in which legislative power is vested. The constitution stipulates, however, that the congress is to function under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party, headed by the general secretary. The NPC meets annually for about two weeks to review major new policy directions, to adopt new laws, and to approve the national budget submitted to it by the state council. Each congress consists of more than 3,000 deputies elected indirectly for a term of five years. The NPC elects a standing committee as its permanent working organ between sessions. The state council, the executive organ of the NPC, consists of a premier (the head of government), five vicepremiers, ministers, and heads of other major government agencies. The state council issues administrative regulations and both formulates and executes economic policy and the state budget. The 1982 constitution restored the largely ceremonial post of state chairman, or president, a position abolished by Mao Zedong in 1968. The eighth National People's Congress in March 1993 elected Jiang Zemin as president and reelected Li Peng, first elected in 1988, to a second five-year term as premier. At the ninth National People's Congress in March 1998, Li Peng was elected chairman of the NPC standing committee, and Zhu Rongji became premier. Since the 1980s, the NPC has slowly increased its function as a locus for discussion of issues instead of merely being a rubber stamp. The 1992 debate on the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang) dam project is an example of this.

The death of Communist Party patriarch Deng Xiaoping in February 1997 brought to a head the infighting between Jiang Zemin, Li Peng, and Zhu Rongji. At the 15th National People's Congress, Jiang was chosen to succeed Deng Xiaoping. The political leadership settled into one of shared leadership. At the 16th party congress held in November 2002, Jiang Zemin, Li Peng and Zhu Rongji resigned their posts in the Politburo standing committee, and the three gave up their positions as president and general secretary, chairman of the NPC standing committee, and premier, respectively, at the 10th NPC held in March 2003. Hu Jintao was named president (he had already been named general secretary of the Communist Party) and Wen Jiabao was named premier.

Democratic elections are held at the village level, but are forbidden above that level. The one lone opposition party, China Democratic Party, is acknowledged by the CCP, but it exists in theory only. Corruption, embezzlement, and bribery are all aspects of contemporary Chinese political life. The government owns all forms of media, including television, radio stations, and most newspapers. However, access to the Internet is widespread, especially in large cities and Western news outlets can be reached.


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been the ruling political organization in China since 1949. Eight other minor parties have existed since 1949 as members of a United Front, but their existence has been purely nominal. The party, with 55 million members (1999 estimate), plays a decisive role in formulating broad and detailed government policies and supervising their implementation at all levels of administration. Party supervision is maintained not only through placement of CCP members in key government posts, but also through specialized organs of the central committee of the CCP, which focus their attention on given subjects (e.g., propaganda or rural work). The CCP also forms branches within individual government units, as well as in factories, communes, schools, shops, neighborhoods, and military units.

Theoretically, the highest organ of party power is the National Party Congress, which usually meets once every five years. At each party congress a central committee is elected to oversee party affairs between sessions. The central committee (356 members198 full members and 158 alternate members) meets annually in a plenary session to elect a political bureau, or Politburo (with 24 members as of 2006), and its standing committee, the party's most powerful organ (9 members in 2006). Directing day-to-day party affairs at the highest level is the secretariat, headed by Hu Jintao as general secretary since November 2002. In 1982, the post of party chairman, formerly the most powerful in the nation, was abolished; the title had been held by Mao Zedong until his death in 1976, by Hua Guofeng from 1976 until his ouster in 1981, and by Hu Yaobang thereafter.

Deng Xiaoping, China's acknowledged political leader since 1977, retired from the central committee in 1987, retired as chairperson of the party's central military commission in 1989, and retired as chairperson of the state's central military commission, his last formal position, in 1990. A new CCP charter adopted at the 12th Communist Party congress in September 1982 forbids "all forms of personality cult" and, in an implicit criticism of Mao, decrees that "no leaders are allowed to practice arbitrary individual rule or place themselves above the party organization." A major purge of party members in the early 1980s sought to exclude elements opposed to Deng's modernization policies. The 13th party congress, convened in October 1987, affirmed Deng's reform policies and the drive for a younger leadership.

In the wake of the June Fourth massacre in 1989, Deng Xiaoping declared that Jiang Zemin, former mayor of Shanghai, should be the "core" of collective leadership after Deng's death. The Politburo announced prohibitions, largely ineffectual, against some forms of party privileges and nepotism, the corruption that had sparked the 1989 protests. The 14th party congress in October 1992 removed Yang Shangkun, state president (198893), from the Politburo, weakening the power of his clique in the military. In 1993, the National People's Congress reelected Jiang Zemin, already party general secretary, as chairperson of the central military commission and elected him as state president. This was the first time since the late 1970s that top, formal positions in the party, government, and military were concentrated in one leader's hands.

After the 15th Communist Party congress, a highly publicized anticorruption drive resulted in the execution of several prominent cases. In addition, Jiang began to remove the Communist Party from state-owned enterprises through an aggressive privatization strategy. In 2000, Jiang introduced a theory revamping the image of the Communist Party. Called the "three represents," it was written into the party constitution at the 16th party congress in November 2002. Seen as a reorientation of the party away from its sole mission to serve the proletariat, the theory of the "three represents" emphasizes the importance of the middle class, stating that the party will represent not only workers and peasants, but the "advanced productive forces, advanced culture, and the broad masses of the people." Jiang resigned as chairman of the Central Military Commission in September 2004, his last official post.

Hu, who became state president at the National People's Congress in March 2003, was a protégé of Deng Xiaoping, chosen as the "core" of the younger generation. Seen as moderate and cautious, he was expected to proceed with Jiang's slow but steady policy of economic liberalization, and perhaps to introduce some administrative and political reform. Soon into his tenure, the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) crisis broke out and Hu was criticized for not taking action quickly enough. Hu also chose to move China away from a policy of favoring rapid economic growth and toward a more balanced view of growth, most notably by establishing a "green" GDP, taking into consideration the degradation of both natural resources and the environment.


The People's Republic of China (PRC) consists of 22 provinces (sheng the PRC claims Taiwan as its 23rd province), five autonomous regions (zizhiqu ), and four centrally administered municipalities (zhixiashi ). Provinces and autonomous regions, in turn, are divided into "special districts," counties (xian ), and cities (shi ) under provincial jurisdiction, as well as into autonomous minor regions (zhou ) and autonomous counties (zizhixian ), where non-Han Chinese minority groups reside. Counties, autonomous counties, and autonomous zhou are divided into townships (xiang ), autonomous townships (for small minority groups), towns, and rural communes. Hong Kong and Macau are designated as Special Administrative Regions (SAR).

From 195882, local administrative authority formerly held by the xiang was transferred to the communes and their local people's councils. In 1988, Hainan Island, formerly part of Guangdong, was made China's newest province. The 1982 constitution returned local administrative control to the xiangs as the communes began to be disbanded. Local revolutionary committees, which replaced the local people's councils during the Cultural Revolution and under the 1975 constitution, were abolished in 1980. The restored local people's councils have the power to formulate local laws and regulations. The local people's governments are administrative organs of the state and report to the State Council.

In the 1980s an emphasis was placed on recruiting and promoting younger and better-educated officials in local party and government posts. Many provinces along the coastal regions have adopted more decentralized forms of administration while interior provinces remain highly beholden to the central party. Local elections involving multiple candidates have taken place, especially in the more urbanized coastal areas. Elections began on a trial basis in 1987, and in over 730,000 villages, peasants were scheduled to go to the polls every three years to elect local committees.


China's legal system, instituted after the establishment of the PRC in 1949, is largely based on that of the former USSR. However, after 1957, Mao Zedong's government consistently circumvented the system in its campaign to purge the country of rightist elements and "counter-revolutionaries." The Ministry of Justice was closed down in 1959, not to reopen until 1979, and the excesses of the Cultural Revolution wrought havoc on legal institutions and procedures. Efforts to reestablish a credible legal system resumed in 1977 (when there were no lawyers in China), as party moderates came to power. These efforts were accelerated in the early 1980s as China sought to provide the legal protection required by foreign investors.

The highest judicial organ is the Supreme People's Court, which, with the Supreme People's Procuratorates, supervises the administration of justice in the basic people's courts and people's tribunals (courts of first instance), intermediate people's courts, and higher people's courts. The judiciary is independent but subject to the Communist Party's policy guidance. The legal profession was still in an incipient stage of development in the mid-1980s. Over 25 law departments at universities and four special schools for training legal officials were in operation in 1987, when China had 26,000 lawyers. By 2000, there were 112,000 lawyers with plans to increase this number to 200,000 by 2010.

A major anticrime campaign during the autumn of 1983 resulted in public executions at the rate of at least 200 a month; capital punishment may be meted out for 65 offenses, including embezzlement and theft. Under the Chinese criminal codes, as revised in 1979, local committees may sentence "hoodlums" to terms in labor camps of up to four years, in proceedings that grant the suspect no apparent opportunity for defense or appeal. Government records for 1990 indicated that nearly 870,000 persons were assigned to such camps during the 1980s. In 2003, there were 250,000 people reported to be incarcerated in these camps. China does not permit international observation of prisons or labor camps. Since 1990, sentences to labor camps may be judicially challenged under the Administrative Procedures Law. In practice the review of such a sentence is rarely sought.

Due process rights are afforded in the 1982 constitution, but they have limited practical import. The Criminal Procedural Law requires public trials, with an exception for cases involving state secrets, juveniles, or personal privacy. Cases are rapidly processed and conviction rates are about 99%. The 1976 Criminal Code contained 26 crimes punishable by death. A 1995 law raised this number to 65, including financial crimes such as passing fake negotiable notes and letters of credit, and illegal "pooling" of funds. Appeal is possible but with little chance of success. However in 1996, the National Peoples' Congress passed new legislation to reform criminal procedure and the legal profession. The new legislation recognized for the first time that lawyers represent their clients, not the state. Under the new system lawyers may establish private law firms. Defendants may also ask near relatives or guardians to provide additional defense.

Amendments to the criminal procedure became effective in January 1997. The amendments state that suspects may retain a lawyer after being first interrogated by an investigative organ. Attorneys may conduct limited investigation, call defense witnesses, and argue their client's cases in open court. According to the amendments, defendants will enjoy a presumption of innocence.

Beginning in 1998, the government began a comprehensive "internal shakeup" of the judiciary, resulting in the punishment or dismissal of over 4,200 judicial branch employees. In January 1999, the former head of the Anticorruption Bureau of the Supreme People's Procuratorate was dismissed for corruption.

China is party to many international organizations such as the UN, the ICC, ASEAN, and most recently the World Trade Organization. China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001 has caused China to undertake a full-scale revision of its laws and regulations in order to adhere to WTO rules. In opening its market up to sectors involving finance, insurance, telecommunications, commerce, transportation, construction, tourism, and other services, China will require its judicial system to perform in accordance with international standards. As of 2003, China's lawyers were adhering to a new policy to wear black suits in court, in an attempt to promote professionalism and as a step toward integration with international practices.

Independent trade unions are illegal. Striking is also illegal although there have been increased use of strikes as a method of bargaining with mixed results. Sometimes leaders are arrested but other times not.

The oft misunderstood "one-child policy" has been clarified in recent years. The Population and Family Planning Law requires couples to employ birth control measures and technically limits the couple to only one child. This is well enforced in the cities, but less so in more rural areas. However, there are many avenues through which couples may have a second child. Two examples are as follows: ethnic minorities and farming families are able to have more than one child and couples in urban areas that are both the product of a one child family are entitled to produce a second child.

In March 2005, the State Council passed the Regulation on Religious Affairs which human rights groups believe sharply curtailed both freedom of religious belief and freedom to express one's belief. However, Chinese officials claimed that the regulation safeguards "normal" religious activities, places of religious worship, and religious believers. At the same time religious believers are expected to abide by the government's laws. Religious activities that are banned if deemed "nonnormal" include publishing and distributing texts, selecting leaders, raising funds and managing finances, organizing training, inviting guests, independently scheduling meetings and choosing venues, and communicating freely with other organizations.


In 2005, China's active military forces totaled 2,255,000 personnel, with around 800,000 reservists. China has been modernizing its military at a rapid pace even as it reduces personnel. The Army had 1,600,000 personnel, whose major weaponry included more than 7,580 main battle tanks, 1,000 light tanks, 1,000 armored infantry fighting vehicles, over 3,500 armored personnel carriers, and over 17,700 artillery pieces (14,000 towed). The Army's air arm included 31 attack helicopters and eight assault helicopters. The Army is deployed over seven regions. The Chinese Navy in 2005 consisted of an estimated 255,000 personnel, including an estimated 10,000 Marines and a naval aviation arm of 26,000 personnel. Major naval units include 68 tactical submarines including 5 nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), 21 destroyers, 42 frigates, 331 patrol/coastal craft, 130 mine warfare vessels, and various types of amphibious craft and logistics/support vesels. The Navy's aviation arm had 436 combat capable aircraft including 68 bombers, 74 fighters, and 274 fighter ground attack aircraft. Chinese naval forces are deployed into three fleets. The air-force had a total of 400,000 personnel including 210,000 assigned to air defense and 40,000 assigned to China's strategic forces. The Air Force's arsenal had 2,643 combat capable aircraft, including up to 222 bombers, 1,252 fighters, and 1,169 fighter ground attack aircraft.

Chinese military strength also includes a nuclear capability. It is suspected that China possesses 410 strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons. There are more than 100,000 personnel assigned to the nation's Strategic Missile Forces.

China's paramilitary forces in 2005 had about 1.5 million active personnel, which made up the People's Armed Police; these forces are under the Ministry of Public Security. In addition, there are over 100,000 border defense and 69,000 communications personnel. There are also an estimated 800,000 Internal Security personnel. The Chinese are involved in UN peacekeeping missions in 10 countries or regions around the world.

China's defense budget for 2005 was reported to be $29.5 billion. However, that figure may be misleading. In 2004, the defense budget totaled $25 billion, but actual defense spending was estimated at $62.5 billion.


China has held a seat in the United Nations since 24 October 1945. After the Communist victory in 1949, UN representation was exercised by the Republic of China (ROC) government on Taiwan until November 1971, when the PRC replaced the ROC in the world organization and its member agencies. As of January 1988, the PRC belonged to ESCAP and several nonregional specialized agencies. The PRC displaced the ROC in the World Bank and IMF in 1980. China acceded to WTO membership on 11 December 2001. China also participates in APEC, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and G-77. The country is an observer in the OAS and the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA), a nonregional member of the Caribbean Development Bank, and a dialogue partner in ASEAN.

The United States extended recognition to China on 15 December 1978 and resumed full diplomatic relations as of 1 January 1979. Continued US links with Taiwan in the 1980s, however, remained an irritant in USPRC relations. The future of Hong Kong, for which part of the lease (the New Territories) expired in 1997, dominated UK-Chinese discussions, and in 1984, an agreement to give Hong Kong back to China in 1997 was formally signed. Relations with the USSR, severed during the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s, improved somewhat in the 1980s but remained strained over China's support of anti-Soviet forces in Cambodia and Afghanistan. By the end of 1985, more than 130 nations had extended full diplomatic recognition to the PRC, with a parallel drop to about 10 in the number recognizing Taiwan's government. By the mid-1980s, the PRC had achieved normal relations with most of its Asian neighbors, including Japan, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore.

Relations with Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos (all allies of the former USSR) were tense after the late 1970s, but improved in the 1990s. At the Eighth Summit of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations held in November 2002, China forgave the debts of Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991, China established diplomatic relations with the republics of the former Soviet Union. China normalized relations with the Republic of Korea in 1992. At an "ASEAN+3" (China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea) summit meeting held in November 2000, the three countries agreed to promote human and cultural exchanges between them. As of January 2003, a proposed ASEAN-China Free Trade Area was being planned, to begin in 2010.

China is part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), the Zangger Committee, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and participates as an observer in the Nonaligned Movement. In 2001, China joined with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to establish the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a cooperative security partnership focused on combating terrorism, extremism, and separatism. China is also a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

In environmental cooperation, China is part of the Antarctic Treaty, the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Whaling, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, International Tropical Timber Agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Traditional China was predominantly agricultural. Adhering to farming patterns developed over a score of centuries, China could sustain a harsh level of self-sufficiency, given surcease from natural calamities. For almost three decades prior to 1949, the incessant ravages of civil disorder, foreign (principally Japanese) invasion, and gross economic neglect virtually decimated China's frail abilities to sustain itself. The first task of the new PRC government thus was to restore the flow of natural resources to prewar levels. By the early 1950s, the government had succeeded in halting massive starvation. Almost all means of production and distribution were brought under state control, and vast parcels of land were redistributed to the peasantry. During 195357, China's first five-year plan stressed heavy industry. Economic development was aided by imports of machinery and other industrial equipment from the former USSR and East European countries. In return, China exported agricultural produce to them. A major geological prospecting drive resulted in the discovery of mineral deposits that provided a major thrust toward industrialization.

The Great Leap Forward of 195859 initially produced sharp gains in industry and agriculture, but the zeal for increased quotas quickly resulted in undue strain on resources and quality. The Great Leap was followed by "three bitter years" of economic crisis brought on by bad harvests and the economic dislocation of the previous period. By 1961, the GNP had fallen to an estimated $81 billion, roughly the level reached in 1955. By 1965, however, a readjustment of expectations, coupled with a careful program of industrial investment, helped the economy to recover. China's trade patterns, meanwhile, had shifted radically away from the USSR and toward Japan and Western Europe.

During the late 1960s, in the Cultural Revolution period, long-range central economic planning was abandoned in favor of policies promoting local self-reliance. Self-sufficiency in grain production was particularly stressed. The negative impact of this emphasis on agricultural development, together with the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, resulted in a drop in industrial production of 1020%, while agricultural output, aided by good weather, improved only marginally.

Centralized planning resumed in 1970 with Zhou Enlai's announcement of key goals for the fourth five-year plan (197175), including an increase in grain output. The fifth five-year plan (197680), disrupted during the political upheaval that followed the deaths of Mao and Zhou in 1976, was restructured in 1978 to embody the Four Modernizations, with the use of Western technology as necessary. At the same time, a 10-year plan (197585) calling for the traditional expansion of agriculture and heavy industry was revamped to emphasize the growth of light industries and the accelerated development of industrial raw materials. Trade with the United States expanded after full diplomatic relations were restored in 1979, and four special economic zones were established as centers for foreign investment. The sixth five-year plan (198185), adopted in 1982, reflected this new pragmatic approach to economic development by emphasizing agriculture, light industry, energy, and improved transportation facilities. During the 1980s, the Chinese economy underwent a major restructuring under the leadership of Zhao Ziyang. Rural reforms launched in 1979, which linked remuneration to output and centered on household responsibility, had a profound and beneficial impact on the rural economy, and output and income rose to record levels for rural residents. The commune system was disbanded in 198384 and replaced by a system of townships, and the household or family became the main unit of rural production. In the wake of the success of these rural reforms, the CCP Central Committee published "A Decision on the Reform of the Economic Structure" in October 1984, with the goal of totally overhauling the national economy and bringing urban industrial organization in line with rural practice. The main points of the decision were that all urban enterprises would be responsible for their own profits and losses, managers would have greater decisionmaking authority, and national and local governments would relinquish direct control over enterprises and assume a regulatory and supervisory position. Remuneration would be based on productivity, subsidies would be abolished, wages and prices would find their own level, and private and collective enterprises would be encouraged.

The seventh five-year plan (198690) made reform its paramount concern. The reforms put forth in 1984 and firmly anchored in the 1988 Enterprise Law proved remarkably successful, leading to much higher rates of industrial and general economic growth than previously expected. Real GNP grew by an average of 9.6% annually between 197988, reaching 11% in 1988. By this time, however, indicators of a seriously overheated economy were also clearly emerging; inflation accelerated to 20.7% and shortages in raw material and energy supply, as well as transportation capacity, rapidly worsened. Growth fell to only 4% in 1989 before austerity measures initiated by the government brought inflation to below 10% and eventually restored growth to double digit levels.

Infrastructure development was given special priority in the China's eighth plan covering 199195. During this period economic growth accelerated, averaging more than 10% annually, giving China one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With growth came rising inflation and infrastructural bottlenecks, which highlighted the need for further improvements in macroeconomic management. The 19962000 economic plan, which called for economic growth of 910% through 2000, reaffirmed the importance of the private sector and opening the economy to the outside world. To attract and maintain foreign investors China needed to reform its legal and financial institutions. Despite the government's endorsement of market reforms, the plan continued to affirm the role of state-owned enterprises, which still accounted for more than one-third of total industrial output. In 1996, China committed two-thirds of fixed-asset investment to state-owned enterprises even though most were heavily in debt. By propping up the state sector China risked continuing budget deficits and the higher debt service that came with the borrowing necessary to pay for those expenditures. Investment in the state sector accounted for nearly all of the new investment in 1998, in the form of a special infrastructure-spending package forwarded by the government, supporting a GDP growth rate of 7% in 1999. Economic growth, which slowed during the late 1990s, recovered after China gained entrance to the WTO in 2002.

International analysts warn that reports of the GDP issued by the government may be suspect, pointing to historical inconsistencies between government-reported GDP statistics and those reported by other economic analysts. Mid-way through 2005, the Economist Intelligence Unit's estimates of a GDP increase of 9.3% appeared to be accurate. Also in that year, draft proposals for the eleventh five-year plan specified several objectives, including the promotion of energy efficiency, doubling percapita GDP, and encouraging "harmonious development."


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2002 China's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $6 trillion. The per capita GDP was estimated at $4,600. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 8%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was -0.8%. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 18% of GDP, industry 49%, and services 33%.

According to the United Nations, in 2000 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $556 million, accounting for approximately 0.1% of GDP. Worker remittances in 2001 totaled $912 million. Foreign aid receipts amounted to about $1 per capita.

The World Bank reports that in 2001 per capita household consumption (in constant 1995 US dollars) was $399. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the same period private consumption grew at an annual rate of 5%. The richest 10% of the population accounted for approximately 30.4% of household consumption and the poorest 10% approximately 2.4%. It was estimated that in 2001 about 10% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2005, China's labor force was estimated at 791.4 million. As of 2003, an estimated 49% of civilian employment was in agriculture, 22% in industry, and 29% in services. Although unemployment in urban areas was officially put at 4.2% in 2004, there was substantial unemployment and underemployment in rural areas. In 2003, it was estimated by an official Chinese journal that unemployment overall, which included the country's rural areas, was 20%.

Although workers in China are legally allowed the freedom of association, as of 2005, in reality they cannot organize or join a union of their own choosing. Instead, workers are represented by the AllChina Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and is headed by a top party official. The ACFTU controls all union activities and organizations, including those at the enterprise level. Independent unions are illegal. As of the end of 2004, it was reported by the ACFTU that its membership totaled 136.9 million, or 53% of the country's 264 million workers in urban areas. A total of 38% of all corporate units and 25% of private firms in China are thought to be registered with the ACFTU. Union officials working outside the official confines of the ACFTU have reported being harassed and detained by authorities.

Unlike their urban counterparts, China's estimated 540 million rural labor force (including 300 million primary sector workers) were unorganized, with no similar organization to represent the nation's farmers. In addition, only a small number of the 130 million rural residents that work in village and township enterprises were unionized.

While collective bargaining for workers in all enterprise types is legal, in reality it falls way short of international standards.

Although forced and compulsory labor is prohibited by law, it was a serious problem in penal institutions. Those held in reeducation-through-labor facilities were frequently forced to work often with no or little remuneration. In some cases they were contracted to nonprison enterprises to the profit of the facilities and their respective managers.

There is a minimum working age of 16, but compliance with this is irregular, especially in the burgeoning and unregulated private economy. The huge surplus of adult labor reduces the incentive to employ children. Children are most often found working on farms in poorer, isolated areas. Those between the ages of 16 and 18 are considered "juvenile workers" and were prohibited from certain types of physical work, including laboring in mines. The minimum wage varies depending on the area of the country. There is no set national minimum wage rate. It generally provides a decent standard of living for a family. The Labor Law provides that the standard workweek is 40 hours, with a mandatory 24-hour rest period weekly.


With some 50% of the economically active population engaged in farming, agriculture forms the foundation of China's economy. Limitations in topography, soil, and climate, however, have restricted cultivation to only about 15% of the total land area. Despite recent advancesgrain crops totaling an estimated 377 million tons were produced in 2003 (18.2% of the world's total)the enormous pressures of feeding and clothing China's vast and growing population remain among the country's most compelling concerns. From 1980 to 1990, agricultural output grew at an average annual rate of 5.9%, above the population growth rate and the first sustained expansion of agriculture since 1966; output increased at an average annual rate of 4.1% from 1990 to 2000. By 2003, agricultural production was up another 9% from 19992001.

The PRC government expropriated large landholdings in a land reform carried out in 195152, redistributing the land among poor peasants. By the end of 1954, 11.5% of all peasant households had been collectivized; by 1955, 65%; and by 1965, 99%. The Chinese collective farms had virtually no mechanical equipment, but the peasants pooled their labor in various projects, such as water management, which were beyond the capacity of individual peasants. In 1958, the collective farms were merged into larger units as people's communes. The communes were concerned not only with agricultural output but also with subsidiary farm activities, such as light industry and handicrafts, usually produced for local consumption.

Far-reaching changes in the organization of communes took place during 196162. Formerly, the production brigade (the major division of a commune), of which there were about 719,438 in 1982, was regarded as the commune's "basic accounting unit." In 1962, however, the production team (the subdivision of a commune) became the commune's basic organizational element. The average production team consisted of 33 households and cultivated about eight hectares (20 acres). Production teams functioned almost autonomously, making basic decisions on production and distribution of income, while the commune mainly exercised the functions of a township government. Households, the final link in the system, were permitted the use of private plots, which made up about 5% of the arable land assigned to a team. In the early 1980s, these private holdings accounted for 19% of total agricultural output and the bulk of the country's production of vegetables, fruits, hogs, and poultry. Under the "responsibility system," which was introduced in 1978 and by 1983 was operating in 90% of rural China, all production in excess of assigned levels could be sold on the open market to yield a profit for individual production teams. In 1982, in addition to the rural communes, which provided most of China's agricultural output, there were 2,078 state farms working approximately 4.5% of all farmland. These farms, under the Ministry of State Farms and Reclamation, generally served as commodity production centers and as research units for the improvement of crop and livestock yields.

In 198384, a major reform of the agricultural system was launched. The 50,000 communes were disbanded and replaced by 92,000 townships, and the six million production brigades were broken up. Production decisions were now made by the household, which sets production targets in contracts with the government; households could sell their surpluses in the open market for cash. Crop diversification was encouraged. By the late 1980s, 60% of agricultural output was free of state controls, and most of China's peasants practiced the household responsibility system.

Grains are the chief crop, accounting for 70% of the total value of crop output and occupying 80% of all land under cultivation. Shandong, Jiangsu, and Henan together account for about 25% of the total crop value.

The main food crops are rice, wheat, and corn, followed by kaoliang (a type of sorghum), millet, potatoes, and soybeans. China is the world's leading producer of rice, with production increasing from 106.6 million tons in 1970 to an estimated 177.4 million tons (29% of the world's total) in 2004. Over 90% of all rice is produced in southern China, with two (and in the far south, three) crops being grown each year where irrigation facilities permit. Early rice is planted in April and harvested in July; single-crop rice is planted in May and harvested in September; and late double-cropped rice is planted in June and harvested in October. The total wheat crop in 2004 amounted to 91.3 million tons, more than double the 1970 output. Wheat is cultivated throughout the country, often as a dry-season crop in the rice-growing south, with specialized production centered in the Yangtze Valley and North China Plain. Output of other coarse grains, including corn in the southwest and drought-tolerant millet and kaoliang in northern and north-eastern China, exceeded 140.6 million tons in 2004. Production of roots and tubers, including sweet potatoes grown as a second crop in areas south of the Yellow River (Huang He) and white potatoes in cooler areas north of the Great Wall, totaled 181.4 million tons in 2004. In 2004, China's agricultural exports (including fish and forestry products) were valued at $28 billion, with 24% shipped from the port of Qingdao, 13% from Dalian, and 13% from Shanghai.

Industrial crops occupy only 89% of the cultivated areas. Among the most important are cotton (the chief raw material for the important textile industry), various oil-bearing crops, sugar, tobacco, silk, tea, and rubber. Cotton output totaled 6.3 million tons in 2004, up from 5.6 million tons in 1991, with production concentrated along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the plains of the Yellow and Huai rivers. Oilseed output in 2004 was derived from a diverse assortment of widely grown industrial crops, including sunflower seeds (1,750,000 tons) and rapeseed (13,040,000 tons). Other oilseed products included 250,000 tons of castor beans, 650,000 tons of sesame seeds, and 460,000 tons of linseed in 2004. Sugar production reached 90.6 million tons in 2004; an estimated 84% of all sugar is derived from sugarcane grown in the south, and the remaining 16% from sugar beets grown in the north and northeast. Production of tea, also an important traditional export, increased from 120,000 tons in 1956 to 861,000 tons in 2004 (26% of world production), with most of the tea grown in hilly regions of the south and southeast. Most tobacco is produced as a sideline by commune householders working private plots; output was 2.4 million tons in 2004 (37% of world production). Most natural rubber is produced on specialized state farms; production totaled 600,000 tons in 2004.

The irrigated area is estimated to have increased from about 15.3 million hectares (37.8 million acres) in 1950 to 55 million hectares (137 million acres) in 1998, making China the world's leader in irrigated land. The expansion of fertilizer production is viewed as a key to major growth in the agricultural sector. Toward this end, China during 197274 contracted for the purchase of 13 large urea plants from Japan, the United States, and Western Europe. China's use of chemical fertilizers increased from 184 kg per hectares in 1984 to about 258 kg per hectares in 2002. Farm machinery in 2002 included 926,031 tractors and 197,000 combines.


Except in outlying areas, nearly all of China's arable land is devoted to crops. Most agricultural units, however, also support the raising of large quantities of hogs and poultry. Natural grasslands for the grazing of sheep and cattle occupy 4 million sq km (1.5 million sq mi), or 43% of China's total area; the four major pasture areas are Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, and Inner Mongolia. In an effort to improve these pastures, 303 million hectares (749 million acres) were planted with improved forage seed strains from 1976 to 1980. Nonetheless, animal husbandry continues to be the weak link in the agricultural economy.

China leads the world in swine production, the total number of hogs reaching about 472.9 million as of 2004 (55% of the world's total), as compared with 89.8 million in 1952. The provinces with the largest hog populations are Sichuan, Hunan, Henan, and Shandong. Pig raising, often pursued as a private sideline by peasants, is the fastest-growing sector of the livestock industry, and hogs and pork products are becoming valuable export earners.

The number of sheep expanded from 36.9 million in 1952 to nearly 155.7 million in 2004. Most sheep are raised by pastoral herders, mostly the ethnic minorities, in the semiarid lands of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, and Sichuan (Szechuan). Goats, also raised primarily in semiarid areas but increasingly promoted throughout China as a profitable household sideline for milk and dairy production, increased in number from 24.9 million in 1952 to 183.4 million in 2004. Provinces with the greatest numbers of sheep and goats include Shandong, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Itenan. In 2004 there were also 128 million head of cattle and buffalo, up from 66.6 million in 1965; 7.9 million horses (792,000 in 1965); and 265,000 camels (448,000). Chickens and ducks are raised throughout China on private plots and constitute, together with fish and pork, China's chief sources of dietary protein. The provinces with the largest cattle populations are Itenan, Shandong, Sichuan, and Guangxi. China produced 306,000 tons of honey in 2004, more than any other nation. China also led the world in silk production in 2004, at some 95,000 tons (75% of world production).

In 2004, China produced 74.4 million tons of meat, ranking first in the world with 27% of the total. Some 14.7 million tons consisted of poultry, second only to the United States and accounting for 18% of world production. Pork production in 2005 amounted to 50 million tons (first in the world), equivalent to 49% of global production.


With a coastline of some 6,500 km (4,000 mi) adjoining a broad continental shelf, China has excellent coastal fisheries. A vast number of inland lakes and ponds, covering a total area of about 300,000 sq km (116,000 sq mi), are also used for fish culture, and a 30 km (19 mi) section of the Yangtze below Gezhouba Dam at Yichang is a designated sturgeon preserve. The principal marine fisheries are located on the coast of southern and southeastern China, in the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, and Zhejiang. The total catch in 2003 was 16,755,653 tons, the highest in the world and 18% of global production. China typically accounts for about 10% of the world's catch, but per capita Chinese consumption of fish amounts to only 9.3 kg (20.5 lb) per year (live weight equivalent), one of the lowest amounts in Asia. China's leading aquacultural products are carp, kelp, oysters, and scallops. Chinese aquaculture produced 28,892,005 tons of fish products in 2003, valued at $31.4 billion, 68% of world aquacultural production by weight and 52% by value.

Exports of fisheries products in 2003 accounted for 8.3% of the commodity's world exports, and were valued at over $5.2 billion (second after Thailand). Regulations for the protection of aquatic resources were enacted in 1979.


Forest cover has grown from 8.6% of the land base in 1949 to over 18.2% in 2005. Mature stands are decreasing, however, while the share of plantation and commercial forests continues to rise in response to government policies. Coniferous forest accounts for 47%; deciduous, 50%; and mixed, 3%. Most of the forests are in remote regions, however, and lack of transportation limits exploitation. China has three major forest areas: the northeast (Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Inner Mongolia); the southwest (Sichuan and Yunnan); and the southeast (Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Jiangxi, and Hainan). Fujian, Zhejiang, Anhui, and Guangdong together account for about 30% of the total value of the forestry sector. Coniferous stands, which yield the most valuable commercial timber, are found mainly in the northeast and adjoining parts of Inner Mongolia. Deciduous trees are felled in Sichuan and Yunnan. Between 1990 and 1995, however, the northeast's share of production fell from 38% to 30%, as production shifted from state-owned forests in the north to plantation forests in the south. While China is a major producer of softwood logs and lumber, virtually all of its production is domestically consumed. Paper production, which has benefited from the substitution of rice-straw and other non-wood materials for wood pulp, nearly tripled during the 1980s. Special forestry products originating in southwestern China include tung oil, cassia oil, and aniseed oil. Wood imports can vary widely from year to year. China is the largest timber importer in the worldimports of timber and related products reached $17 billion in 2003. China's domestic industrial round-wood production is divided into two partsstate quota production accounting for about 50 million cu m, and production from illegal over-quota logging, which contributes an additional 40 million cu m. About 60% of state quota timber production comes from plantations. Private mills dominate China's wood processing sector. There are more than 200,000 mills in China (located mostly in Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong, and Fujian), of which more than 90% are private.

Deforestation has been a persistent and serious problem in China, leading to massive erosion and desertification. The government has, from the start of its first five-year plan in 1953, given high priority to campaigns for afforestation. By 1980, 26 million hectares (64 million acres) of new forests had been planted, and during the 1980s, afforestation proceeded at the rate of 4.55 million hectares (11.24 million acres) per year. However, cutting of trees for fuel continued in rural areas, and many of the trees planted as part of afforestation efforts were lost because of neglect after planting. During 19902000, the forested area grew by an annual average of 1.2%. In its tenth five-year plan commencing in January 2001, the Ministry of Forestry set the annual allowable timber cut at 223.1 million cu m (7.88 billion cu ft), however illegal logging remains a considerable problem, with annual logging exceeding the quota by 75.54 million cu m (2.67 billion cu ft), or 34%.


China produced more than 70% of the world's tungsten, was the largest producer and exporter of rare earths, the largest producer of cement, tin, and steel, and a world leader in the production of antimony. Intensive geologic exploration has yielded greatly expanded mineral reserves. This increase in known subsurface resources was reflected in production rises for China's most important mineral productscoal, petroleum, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, mercury, antimony, tin, molybdenum, barite, fluorspar, magnesite, and rare earths. In 2000, China produced a total of 7.51 million tons of 10 nonferrous metals, 14.6% more than in 1999; production in all 10 metals increased. The production of iron and steel was China's leading industry in 2002, coal production ranked second, and petroleum, cement, and chemical fertilizers were among the top eight. Mineral fuels ranked fifth among export commodities.

Iron ore production in 2004 (gross weight) was 310 million metric tons, up from 261 million metric tons in 2003. Virtually all iron mining was carried out north of the Yangtze River, and the country's total resources totaled 55,000 million tons, the largest reserves being in Liaoning, Hebei, and Sichuan. The largest producersAnshan Mining Co. (in Liaoning, Anshan) and Shoudu (Capital) Mining Co. (Beijing)had annual capacities of 30 million tons and 20 million tons, respectively. As domestic iron deposits were of a low ore grade (less than 35% on the average) and required concentration, China has imported more than 50 million tons of ore in the past several years, and steel enterprises continued to look for jointventure possibilities for iron mines in other countries.

Tungsten output in 2004, mainly from Jiangxi, was 67,000 metric tons (metal content), up from a revised figure of 55,500 metric tons in 2003.

Copper output (metal content) was 610,000 metric tons in 2004, unchanged from 2003, but up from 568,000 metric tons in 2002.

Other metallic ore outputs in 2004 were: tin (chiefly in Yunnan), 110,000 metric tons, up from 102,000 metric tons in 2003; antimony (from Guangxi, Guizhou, and Hunan), 110,000 metric tons; bauxite (gross weight), 15 million metric tons, 13 million metric tons in 2003; lead (metal content), 950,000 metric tons, down from 955,000 metric tons in 2003; molybdenum, 29,000 metric tons; mercury, 425 metric tons, down from 610 metric tons in 2003; and zinc, 2.1 million metric tons, up from 2.03 million metric tons in 2003. China also mined alumina, bismuth, cobalt, gallium, germanium, gold, indium, manganese, nickel, platinum-group metals, silver, uranium, and vanadium. Henan geologists discovered a bauxite deposit in western Hunan Province that could contain reserves of 50 million tons and a significant amount of gallium. Another bauxite discovery, in Jingxi County, Guangxi Province, could contain reserves of 82 million tons (37 million tons of which could be economically developed), 100,00 tons of gallium, and a significant amount of niobium, scandium, and titanium.

The government since 2002 has eased restrictions on its gold market, allowing gold producers to sell their gold through the Shanghai Gold exchange, instead of to the Central Bank at a fixed price. However, imports and exports of gold ingot were still controlled by the government. The establishment of gold mining companies that were wholly owned by foreign investors was not permitted. Shandong province was the leading gold-producing province in China, followed by Henan, Fujain, Shaanxi, Liaoning, and Hebei provinces.

The output of rare-earth oxide content60% from Nei Mongol, 18% from Sichuan, and 17% from Jiangxiwas 98,000 metric tons in 2004, up from 92,000 metric tons in 2003. Major portions were exported to France, Japan, and the United States. In Nei Mongol, rare-earth concentrate, known as Baotou rare-earth concentrate, was the by-product of producing iron concentrates, and contained oxides of the light rare-earth grouplanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, samarium, europium, and gadolinium. In Mianning and Dechang (Sichuan), rare earths were mainly bastnasite, and, in Ganzhou (Jiangxi), the rare earths were of the ionic absorption type. A joint venture in Jiangsu province was to produce vanillin. The largest producersGansu Rare Earths Co. (in Jiangxi, Nanchang) and Baotou Iron and Steel and Rare Earths Corp. (in Nei Mongol, Baotou)had capacities of 32,000 and 25,000 metric tons, respectively. China's rare-earth processing capacity expanded from 50,000 metric tons per year in 1995 to 130,000 metric tons per year in 2000. Rare earths remained a highly controlled sector, and a rare-earth quota was introduced in 1999 to control exports.

Hydraulic cement production in 2004 was 970 million metric tons, up from 862 million metric tons in 2003. Other industrial mineral production in 2004 included: fluorspar, 2.7 million metric tons; barite, 3.9 million metric tons (2.39 million metric tons of barium sulfate was exported, worth $77.8 million); magnesite, 4.65 million metric tons; gypsum, 7 million metric tons, up from 6.8 million metric tons in 2003; graphite, 700,000 metric tons, down from 710,000 in 2003 (451,735 metric tons exported, for $67,041,000); talc and related materials, 3 million metric tons, unchanged from 2003 (640,000 metric tons exported, for $65,954,000); mine boron (boron oxide equivalent), 135,000 metric tons, up from 130,000 metric tons in 2003; asbestos, 510,000 metric tons; and bromine, 4,300 metric tons, down from 42,000 metric tons in 2003. China also produced diamond, diatomite, dolomite, kyanite and related materials, lithium minerals, nitrogen, phosphate rock and apatite, potash, salt, sodium compounds, and sulfur.

The government in 2000 approved the opening of a diamond exchange market in Shanghai. China in 2000 became the world's eighth-largest consumer of precious stones (actual figures were difficult to ascertain because of smuggling and overseas purchases), and "Greater China," which included Hong Kong and Taiwan, was believed to be the world's third-largest diamond market, after the United States and Japan.

In 2000, the government issued several laws and regulations to improve the country's investment environment and foreign investors' confidence. The laws and regulations dealt with, among other things, mineral resource exploitation planning, land exploitation, mine ownership transfer, customs law, gold mining, Sinoforeign contractual joint ventures, foreign capital enterprises, and mineral-resource deposit size classification standards. The government continued its efforts to restructure the mining and metal sectors, abolishing nine bureaus, transferring responsibilities to industrial associations, dissolving three state-owned nonferrous enterprises, and, to help the industry become more efficient, ceding management to provincial and city governments. The government also offered incentives to companiesexemption from income tax, tariffs, and import value-added tax (VAT)to invest in the poorer western provinces. It also began to phase out the preferential taxes for foreign enterprises, prepared to draft a "zero tariff rate" policy for exports, issued guidelines to allow foreign enterprises to conduct mineral exploration in China, and agreed to eliminate import quotas and dismantle export subsidies. China planned to increase production of cement, copper, fertilizer, iron, lead, nickel, salt, soda ash, and zinc, and expected to retain its dominance in the world market for antimony, barite, fluorspar, magnesite, rare earths, and tungsten.


China's petroleum resources are a key to its industrial development. In 2004, it became the world's second-largest consumer of petroleum products, surpassing Japan. Crude oil production increased from 102,000 barrels per day in 1960 to 3.3 million per day as of 2002, and to an estimated 3.62 million barrels per day in 2004. In 1998, China had proven reserves of 24 billion barrels. As of 1 January 2005, its proven reserves were estimated at 18.3 billion barrels. In 2004, consumption was estimated at 6.53 million barrels per day, with net oil imports estimated at 2.91 million barrels per day in 2004. The major producing centers are the Daqing field in Heilongjiang, which came into production in 1965 and the Liaohe field, located in northeastern China. Although nearly 85% of China's oil production capacity is onshore, and in addition to numerous other mainland finds, China has potential offshore reserves in the Bo Hai area (thought to have reserves of over 1.5 billion barrels) and the South China Sea, especially in the vicinity of Hainan Island.

By the mid-1970s, China no longer had to rely on oil imports; petroleum exports had, in fact, emerged as a major source of foreign exchange earnings. More than 9,740 km (6,050 mi) of long-distance pipelines transport the oil from fields to refineries and other points of consumption and export. China, however, became a net importer of oil in 1996, because rapid increases in oil demand from high economic growth rates outpaced the slower increases in oil production.

After rising dramatically in the early 1980s, owing largely to the discovery and exploitation of vast deposits in Sichuan Province during the late 1950s and early 1960s, natural gas output stagnated somewhat in the late 1980s. As of 2003, natural gas supplied only an estimated 2.6% of the country's energy. However, with proven reserves totaling an estimated 53.3 trillion cu ft, as of 1 January 2005, it was expected that consumption would double by 2010. In 2000, total national production reached 960 billion cu ft. By 2003, that figure had risen to an estimated 1.21 trillion cu ft. A pipeline to transport natural gas from the Xinjiang province in the west to Shanghai in the east was planned, with Shell chosen to lead a consortium of development companies.

Although China's rivers provide a vast hydroelectric potential (an estimated 378 million kW), only a small part has been developed. In the late 1990s, after economic growth slowed due to the Asian economic crisis, the government declared a two- to three-year moratorium on construction of new power plants due to an oversupply problem. The main hydroelectric projects include Ertan in Sichuan Province, Yantan in Guangsxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Manwan in Yunan Province, Geheyan in Hubei Province, Wuqiangxi in Hunan Province, Yamzho Yumco in Xizang Autonomous Region, and Lijia Xia in Qinghai Province. In April 1992, the government approved the construction of the largest hydropower project in Chinathe Three Gorges Project on the middle reaches of the Chang Jiang. Construction began in 1996, and as of August 2005, was still underway with completion in 2009. The Three Gorges Project will include 26 hydropower generating units, at 700 MW each, producing a total of 18.2 GW of power. The Three Gorges Project will require the relocation of millions of people just in Sichuan Province alone. A second major hydroelectric project, consisting of a series of dams on the upper portion of the Yellow River, was also underway as of August 2005. Plans for this project call for 25 generating stations to be built, having a combined 15.8 GW of installed capacity.

China's electrical generating capacity was estimated as of 1 January 2003 to stand at 338.3 GW, up from 115.5 million kW in 1988. Total output of electricity increased during the 198898 period from 545 billion to 1,098 billion kWh. Output in 2000 was 1,288 billion kWh, of which 81.8% was from fossil fuels, 16.8% from hydropower, and 1.2% from nuclear power. In 2003, electrical power output was estimated at 1,807 billion kWh, of which 1,484 billion kWh hours are from thermal sources, 279 billion kWh from hydroelectric sources, and 42 billion kWh from nuclear sources. Electricity consumption in 2000 was 1,206 trillion kWh. In 2002, consumption rose to 1,452.048 billion kWh. Electric power consumption is forecast to increase at an annual rate of 4.3% through 2025.

Traditionally, coal has been China's major energy source, with auxiliary biomass fuels provided by brushwood, rice husks, dung, and other noncommercial materials. The abundance of coal continues to provide cheap thermal power for electric plants. In 2000, China was both the world's largest coal producer, at 1.27 billion short tons, and the leading consumer of coal, at 1.31 billion short tons. In 2003, China produced an estimated 1.63 billion short tons of coal and consumed an estimated 1.53 billion short tons for the same year. Coal comes from over two dozen sites in the north, northeast, and southwest; Shanxi Province is the leading producer. Recoverable reserves as of 2003, were estimated at over 126.2 billion short tons. In 1996, China accounted for 11.1% of the world's proven reserves of coal. Large thermal power plants are situated in the northeast and along the east coast of China, where industry is concentrated, as well as in new inland industrial centers, such as Chongqing, Taiyuan, Xi'an, and Lanzhou. As of August 2005, it was reported that coal accounted for 65% of primary energy consumption.

The development of nuclear power has become a major factor within China's electricity sector. The 279 MW Qinshan nuclear power plant near Shanghai began commercial operation in 1994. That same year, two 944 MW reactors at the Guangdong facility at Daya Bay also started commercial service. In 1995, Chinese authorities approved the construction of four more reactors. In May 2002, the 1 GW first unit of the Lingao nuclear power plant came online while a second 1 GW unit began operating in January 2003. An additional 600 MW generating unit also came online at Qinshan in February 2002. Net capacity for China's three nuclear reactors was estimated at 2,167,000 kW in 1996. At the start of 2002, installed capacity for nuclear power was placed at 2 GW. By mid-2005, that capacity had risen to 15 GW and further construction is being planned. A 6 GW complex is being planned for Guangdong province at Yangjiang (slated to begin commercial operation in 2010), while a second facility is being planned for Daya Bay. By 2020, plans call for the completion of 27 GW of additional nuclear power generating capacity. Although China touts nuclear power as a way to cut its dependence upon fossil fuels and as a source of clean energy, by 2020 nuclear power will account for less than 5% of the nation's installed electric generating capacity.


China achieved a rapid increase in the gross value of industrial output (used before China switched to GNP accounting in 1986), which, according to official Chinese statistics, rose by 13.3% annually between 1950 and 1979. The greatest sustained surge in growth occurred during the first decade, with the rate averaging 22% annually during 194960. During 196174, the yearly growth rate fell to about 6%, partly as a result of the disruptions brought on by the collapse of the Great Leap Forward (which accompanied the withdrawal of Soviet technicians in mid-1960) and of work stoppages and transportation disruptions during the Cultural Revolution. Growth averaged 10% from 1970 to 1980 and 10.1% from 1979 to 1985. Major policy reforms of 1984 further accelerated the pace of industrial growth, which reached 20.8% by 1988. After a brief retrenchment period in 198990 as government policies prioritized inflation control over other concerns, expansion of the country's industrial sector resumed apace, exceeding 20% in 1992 and 18% in 1994. Industrial output was officially up 13.4% in 1995, with state enterprises contributing the majority.

While approximately 50% of total industrial output still derives from the state-owned factories, a notable feature of China's recent industrial history has been the dynamic growth of the collectively owned rural township and village enterprise as well as private and foreign jointventure sectors. Also apparent has been the spatial unevenness of recent industrial development, with growth concentrated mainly in Shanghai, the traditional hub of China's industrial activity, and, increasingly, a number of new economic centers along the southern coast. The coastal provinces of Jiangsu, Guangdong, Shandong, Shanghai, and Zhejiang together account for close to 33% of the country's total industrial output and most of its merchandise exports. One key factor in this industrial geography has been the government's establishment of several Special Economic Zones in Guangdong, Fujian, and Hainan provinces, and its designation of over 14 "open coastal cities" where foreign investment in export-oriented industries was actively encouraged during the 1980s.

Before the first five-year plan (195357), China had only one major steel centerAnshan, in the northeastand several minor ones. All these produced 1.93 million tons of pig iron and 1.35 million tons of steel in 1952. By 1995, China was producing 92,970 million tons of crude steel and 101,700 million tons of pig iron. Anshan continues to be the hub of the industry, but other huge steel complexes have been constructed at Baotou, Benxi (about 50 km/30 mi east of Anshan), Taiyuan, Wuhan, and Ma'anshan (near Nanjing).

China's cotton textile industry is the largest in the world, producing yarn, cloth, woolen piece goods, knitting wool, silk, jute bags, and synthetic fibers. Laborintensive light industries played a prominent role in the industrial boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s, accounting for 49% of total industrial output, but heavy industry and high technology took over in the late 1990s. In addition to garments and textiles, output from light industry includes footwear, toys, food processing, and consumer electronics. Heavy industries include iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, petroleum, cement, chemical fertilizers, and autos. High technology industries produce high-speed computers, 600 types of semiconductors, specialized electronic measuring instruments, and telecommunications equipment.

Since 1961, industry has been providing agriculture with farm machines, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, means of transportation, power, building materials, and other essential commodities. Handicraft cooperatives also have been busy making hand-operated or animal-drawn implements. Production of a variety of industrial goods has expanded, increasingly in order to supply the country's own expanding industrial base. In addition to fertilizers, the chemicals industry produces calcium carbide, ethylene, and plastics. Since 1963, great emphasis has been placed on the manufacture of transportation equipment, and China now produces varied lines of passenger cars, trucks, buses, and bicycles. In 1995, output included 1,452,697 motor vehicles (more than double the 1991 figure). Output for 1997 was over 1.6 million units. The industry underwent a major overhaul in the late 1990s in order to stimulate efficiency and production.

From 19932002, the growth in manufacturing was 11.4% each year. Contributing to this growth in the early 1990s was an increase in agriculture-related industry, as promoted by local governments in town and village enterprises (TVEs) in which agricultural surpluses were invested in low-tech and labor-intensive manufacturing processes. By the end of the 1990s, during an economic slowdown, TVEs began to employ fewer rural workers. Foreign and private enterprises (FIEsforeign-invested enterprises) became increasingly important to industry, while the state-controlled sector declined.

At the end of the 1970s, 80% of manufacturing output was attributed to state-owned enterprises (SOEs); by 2004, SOEs contributed only 35% of gross industrial output. Whereas there were 118,000 recorded SOEs in 1995, the number had decreased to 31,750 in 2004; those that exist are plagued by outdated equipment and a lack of skilled workers.

High-tech manufacturing gained ground, supplanting the low-technology, assembly-line production of the early 1990s. Though textiles still contribute largely to China's production output, industrial growth is increasingly in sectors producing advanced electronic goods such as cell phones, integrated circuits, and cars.


Modern China is the heir to a remarkably inventive civilization that pioneered in the development of the abacus (the first mechanical calculating device), paper (and paper money), printing by movable type, gunpowder, the magnetic compass, and the rocket. Contact with the West during the 19th century however, revealed how technologically backward China had become, and it is only in recent decades that the nation has begun to catch up.

China detonated its first fission device in 1964 and its first hydrogen bomb in 1967; the nation now possesses a variety of nuclear weapons mounted on missiles, bombers, submarines, and other delivery systems. Its first satellite was launched in 1970. By 1992, the PRC had launched an INTELSAT satellite on a Chinese launch vehicle. Other priorities have been the development of high-energy physics, laser research, powerful computer memory chips, color television broadcasting technology, and laser infrared devices, although the PRC still relies heavily on outside investment and technology transfer. Major advances have also been claimed in rice hybridization, insecticides, fertilizers, biogas digesters for rural electrification, and pollution control technology.

Two scientific exchange agreements between the United States and China were signed in January 1984 during Premier Zhao Ziyang's visit to Washington, D.C. China has proposed to several Western nations that it provide long-term storage facilities in remote provinces for radioactive wastea proposal that Western observers believed would provide China not only with hard currency but also with nuclear materials for possible reprocessing.

China's principal technological handicap is lack of skilled personnel. Only 1% of the PRC's 127 million 22-year-olds receive a university degree. However, 37% of all Chinese degrees are in engineering, the highest ratio in Asia. Part of China's response to this shortage has been to send tens of thousands of students overseas for advanced study, especially in the United States. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 43% of college and university enrollments. China had 454 scientists and engineers and 200 technicians per million people engaged in research and development (R&D) during the same period. By 2002, the number of scientists and engineers per million people had risen to 633 (excluding Hong Kong). Scientific research is coordinated by the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences, founded in 1949 and headquartered in Beijing. China in 1996 had 90 specialized learned societies in the fields of agriculture, medicine, science, and technology. Most are affiliated members of the China Association for Science and Technology, founded in 1958. International science and technology cooperation is also increasing. However, concerns over human rights issues have had the effect of cooling USPRC science and technology exchanges. In 1996, China had 105 universities and colleges offering courses in basic and applied science.

In 1998, high-technology exports were valued at $23.3 billion and accounted for 15% of manufactured exports. By 2002, high technology exports (excluding Hong Kong) had risen to $68.182 billion, accounting for 23% of manufactured exports. In 2002, R&D expenditures totaled $72.014 billion, or 1.23% of GDP. In 2000, the biggest spender on R&D was business at 57.6%, followed by government at 33.4%, and foreign sources at 2.7%. The remainder was undistributed.


Three types of retail trade outletsthe periodic market, the peddler, and the urban shopconstituted the basis of the traditional commercial structure. In the early 1950s, however, a number of state trading companies were established for dealing in commodities such as food grains, cotton, textiles, coal, building materials, metals, machinery, and medicines. These companies, under the control of the Ministry of Commerce, have established branch offices and retail stores throughout the country.

In the 1960s, the establishment of state-owned department stores and cooperative retail outlets virtually replaced private trade. There was a resurgence of periodic open markets and private traders when domestic trading regulations were relaxed in 1978. In addition, the government has progressively loosened or eliminated many of its former price controls; an estimated 90% of all retail sales are no longer controlled.

In 2003, about 50% of the work force was employed in agriculture, keeping the country basically self-sufficient in grain production, even though only about 15% of the land is arable. Farm-lands and the agricultural industry, however, remain under state control.

The China Export Commodities Fair, usually held each spring and fall in Guangzhou, was for more than 20 years an important point of contact for Westerners doing business with China. Though still important as an initial introduction to the full range of China's potential suppliers, the decentralization of trading activities in recent years has greatly reduced the fair's role in mediating sustained contact between producers and buyers.

Local foreign trade commissions in various industrial centers of the country have taken on a much more active role in organizing many of the services associated with the commodities fair, while any domestic enterprise with foreign trading rights may now participate directly in all events related to trade promotion. Guangzhou still hosts two annual trade fairs, though on a reduced scale. In the major cities, Friendship Stores and other restaurants, hotels, service bureaus, and taxis cater exclusively to foreign visitors; payment is made in foreign exchange certificates.

By the mid-1980s, international credit cards could be used to obtain cash advances in selected outlets and for direct purchases in Friendship Stores. Internet commerce was initiated in China in the late 1990s, and by 2005, there were more than 100 million computer Internet users.


Though China has only recently become a major trading nation, its enormous trading potential is attracting great attention by both

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 438,227.8 412,759.8 25,468.0
United States 92,626.3 33,944.2 58,682.1
China, Hong Kong SAR 76,274.4 11,118.7 65,155.7
Japan 59,408.7 74,148.1 -14,739.4
Korea, Republic of 20,094.8 43,128.1 -23,033.3
Germany 17,442.1 24,291.9 -6,849.8
Netherlands 13,501.2 1,933.1 11,568.1
United Kingdom 10,823.7 3,570.3 7,253.4
Other Asia nes 9,004.5 49,360.6 -40,356.1
Singapore 8,863.8 10,484.9 -1,621.1
France-Monaco 7,329.7 6,102.6 1,227.1
() data not available or not significant.

advanced and newly industrializing nations, shown by the world's interest in China's membership in the WTO. Trade has performed important functions within the economy, providing needed capital goods and modern technology to abet development, as well as primary commodities (such as grains) to supplement local supply in slack years. Foreign trade is under the direction of a single Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, created in 1982 through the merger of the former ministries of Foreign Trade and Foreign Economic Relations with the Export-Import and Foreign Investment commissions. A major issue since the early 1980s, however, has been the decentralization of trade management and greater reliance on currency devaluation (major devaluations were implemented in 1989 and 1991) and market incentives rather than direct export and import controls to promote desired trade patterns. After the Asian financial crisis of 1997, officials were tempted to devalue the currency once more; instead the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economics (MOFTEC) spent massive sums of money on state industry, while dismantling trade barriers in anticipation of WTO membership.

Prior to 1949, some three-fourths of China's exports were agricultural products. This proportion ebbed to a low of 13% during the agricultural crisis of 1961. Foodstuffs and other primary products including crude nonfood raw materials, minerals and fuels averaged about 4350% of exports through 1985, after which the proportion declined steadily to reach only 6% in 1998, as manufactured exports expanded rapidly. Textiles (excluding garments) accounted for 10% of all exports in 1994 and clothing for about 19.7% (up from 7.5% in 1985). However, China's efforts to emulate the success of Japan, British Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the ROK in basing economic expansion on textile and clothing exports encountered protectionist resistance from major potential markets in the United States and European Union.

The textile and clothing industry created the large majority of China's commodity exports in 1998. China's special administrative region of Hong Kong also produces clothes, averaging 12.1% of the world's total clothes exports. Other exports include electrical parts (16%), watches and clocks (2.6%), telecommunications equipment (6.7%), and footwear (3.0%). Hong Kong produces 28% of the world's exports in watches and clocks.

Food imports, which made up only about 2% of the import volume in the 1950s, averaged 20% of the total in 1973 and 1974 but, as total imports rose, fell to less than 4% by 1985 and remained at 2.4% in 1994 and 5% in 1998.

The direction of China's trade has followed three major patterns since the 1930s. Prior to World War II, Japan, Hong Kong, the United States, and the United Kingdom together made up about three-fourths of the total trade volume. With the founding of the PRC in 1949, trade shifted in favor of the former USSR and Eastern Europe. During 195255, more than 50% of China's trade was with the former USSR; during 195660, the proportion averaged about 40%. As Sino-Soviet relations deteriorated during the 1960s, trade exchanges steadily declined, reaching a bare 1% of China's total volume in 1970 (3.6% in 1986). By the early 1980s, most of China's leading trade partners were industrialized non-Communist countries, and China's trade pattern overall reflected a high degree of multilateralism.

In recent years, as China has rapidly enlarged its role on the international market, the importance of Hong Kong as an entrepot and major source of revenue has increased. In 1992, Hong Kong accounted for close to 35% of China's total trade (up from about 21% in 1986). Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, but because of its enormous trade activity, Hong Kong's trade is often measured separate from China. During the 1990s, Japan ranked as the second-largest trading partner, importing oil and other raw material and claiming 15% of China's total trade. The most dramatic change in the mid-1980s was the emergence of the United States as China's third-largest trading partner; by 2000 the United States was China's second-largest trading partner, and the largest importer of Chinese goods.

As of 2005, China exported $752.2 billion in goods, 21.1% of which went to the United States, 17% to Hong Kong, 12.4% to Japan, 4.7% to South Korea, and 4% to Germany. That year, China imported an estimated $631.8 billion in goods, 16.8% from Japan, 11.4% from Taiwan, 11.1% from South Korea, 8% from the United States, and 5.4% from Germany.


Both foreign trade and international financing in China are state monopolies, with policies and transactions administered by the People's Bank of China (PBC). Among its various functions, the PBC sets exchange rates for foreign currencies. The PBC releases foreign exchange to the Bank of China, which plays a major payments role through its branches in Hong Kong, Singapore, and other overseas financial centers. The government has, overall, maintained a record of financial stability, linked to a policy of stringent controls over its international transactions. Adhering generally to a principle of self-reliance, it has resorted to the use of commercial credit at certain junctures but until the 1970s avoided falling into long-term indebtedness as a means of financing major development goals. In the period 195860, the Great Leap Forward and the succeeding years of economic crisis caused a sharp deterioration in China's international payments position. In 1960,

Current Account 17,401.0
     Balance on goods 34,017.0
         Imports -232,058.0
         Exports 266,075.0
     Balance on services -5,933.0
     Balance on income -19,175.0
     Current transfers 8,492.0
Capital Account -54.0
Financial Account 34,832.0
     Direct investment abroad -6,884.0
     Direct investment in China 44,241.0
     Portfolio investment assets -20,654.0
     Portfolio investment liabilities 1,249.0
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets 20,813.0
     Other investment liabilities -3,933.0
Net Errors and Omissions -4,732.0
Reserves and Related Items -47,447.0
() data not available or not significant.

large negative clearing account balances with Communist countries (-$625 million) were even more than the foreign exchange reserves of $415 million. By the end of 1964, however, the negative balance with Socialist nations had been reduced to $55 million, and China's net international financial resources stood at a surplus of $345 million, owing to monetary gold holdings of $215 million and foreign exchange balances from trade with non-Communist countries amounting to $185 million. By 1965, the Chinese had completely cleared their long-term debt to the former USSR, and by 1968, China had redeemed all national bonds and was free of all long-term external and internal debts. Publication of official balance-of-payments statistics was discontinued during the Cultural Revolution and not resumed until September 1985.

According to Western analyses, the period 197881 saw a continuing surplus in current accounts, as rising levels of imports were generally matched or exceeded by increases in exports over the same period. In addition, transfers of an estimated $1.1 billion in 1978 and $1 billion in 1980, derived from increased earnings in tourism, shipping, and remittances from Hong Kong and other sources, resulted in overall current accounts surpluses of $900 million and $1.2 billion in 1978 and 1980, respectively. China's drive to industrialize under the Four Modernizations policy resulted in an unprecedented deficit on capital accounts of $1.1 billion in 1978. The subsequent unilateral decisions to cancel $2.6 billion in contracts with Japan (1979) and $2 billion with Japan and Western nations (1981) were interpreted by some observers as an indication of acute cash-flow problems and a reordering of investment priorities at the highest levels. The trade account was helped by the slow but steady devaluation that occurred after China went to a managed float exchange rate system in January 1991. Tourism receipts and visitor figures also continued to grow, passing pre-Tiananmen levels.

Foreign investment boomed in the 1990s, with a total of nearly $45 billion committed in 1998 alone. Approximately half of China's loans came from the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and Japan; external debt reached $159 billion in 1998. A usually positive current account balance stockpiled China's reserves. In 1998, China had some $147 billion in official reserves, but state industries had accumulated a huge amount of what was called triangular debt with the state banks and other lending agencies. Government infrastructure and industrial projects received funding for goods that could not be sold domestically in 1999 due to lower demand, losing money for each party involved. In effect, external trade plays a secondary role in China's economy because of normally high, unsatisfied domestic demand. Agreements with the WTO threaten to increase China's dependence on foreign trade. China's external debt stood at $149.4 billion in 2002.

The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that China's total exports increased from $249 million in 2000 to $593 million in 2004, with an average annual increase of $86 million. Total imports increased from $214 million in 2000 to $534 million in 2004 with an average annual increase of $80 million.


Economic reforms under the Four Modernizations program adopted in 1978 brought major changes in China's highly centralized and tightly controlled banking system. In 1982, the People's Bank of China (PBC) became the central bank and turned over its commercial operations to the new Industrial and Commercial Bank. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) helps set foreign exchange policy. Other specialized agencies include the People's Construction Bank, the Agricultural Bank of China, the Bank of China, the Bank of Communications, the China Development Bank, and the Export-Import Bank of China. The China Construction Bank (CCB) makes payments for capital construction according to state plans and budgets. The Agricultural Bank of China finances agricultural expansion, grants rural loans, supervises agricultural credit cooperatives, and assists in the modernization of agriculture. The Bank of China (BOC) handles foreign exchange and international settlements for the PBC. It has branches throughout China as well as in Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris, London, Luxembourg, New York, and Tokyo. The BOC is charged with financing China's foreign trade and also acquiring and channeling into appropriate areas the foreign capital needed for imports of industrial equipment and other items for modernization.

The foreign-owned Standard Chartered Bank maintains long-established offices in China. Over 90 foreign banks, representing Japan, the United States, France, Italy, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom, received permission to establish offices in Beijing in the early 1980s. In 1985, for the first time, foreign banks were allowed to do business in the four special economic zones (established to attract foreign investment) in foreign currency. In mid-1997, 10 foreign banks were given permission to operate outside of the special zones; and in 1996, foreign banks were given limited authority to do business in rembi (the local currency at the time). The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $745.3 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $1,889.7 billion. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 3.24%.

In 1987, stock exchanges opened in Shanghai and several other cities, and several stock and bond issues were floated domestically. Securities exchanges are controlled by the PBC, and trading in securities is very limited. In 1997, China accelerated stock-market listings of about 50 large and medium-sized state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and considered raising the number of enterprises piloting group holding structures from 57 to 100. In November 1996, the Shanghai Stock Exchange President, Yang Xianghai, predicted that China's two exchanges (Shanghai and Shenzhen) would number in excess of 1,000 companies by 2000. At the time he was speaking, there were 472 companies listed on the stock exchanges. By 2003, there were 746 listed companies and 871 listed securities being traded on the exchange. In 2004, the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges listed a combined total of 1,384 companies. Market capitalization of all exchanges in 2004 amounted to $639.765 billion. In that same year, the Shanghai Stock Exchange stood at 1,266.5, down 15.4% from the previous year. China's stock market is split into two sections, the "A" share market and the "B" share market. Foreigners may only participate in the Bshare market, denominated in foreign currencies and consisting predominantly of foreign private companies. The Ashare market is reserved for domestic investors (who are not allowed to participate in the Bshare market) and dominated by state enterprises.


The People's Insurance Co. of China (PICC), formed in 1949, is authorized to handle all kinds of insurance, including the insurance of China's foreign trade and foreign insurance operations in China. In 2001, the People's Insurance Co. of China controlled 78% of China's property/casualty insurance industry, with 4,200 branches and a workforce of 110,000. Two newer domestic Insurance Companies, China Pacific and Ping An, have 11% and 8%, respectively, of the market. Two additional state enterprises, the China Insurance Co. and the Tai Ping Insurance Co., are in operation, and several foreign insurance companies have established representative offices in Beijing. Demand for insurance projects is predicted to grow as economic reforms limit the social security benefits provided by state enterprises. By 2001, life insurance premiums were growing at an average rate of nearly 70% per year, with nonlife premiums growing at around 15% per year. As of 2003, the value of direct premiums written totaled $46.911 billion, of which life premiums accounted for the largest portion at $32.442 billion. PICC was China's top nonlife insurer, with $7,095.6 million in gross nonlife premiums written. China Life was the country's top life insurer, with $19,583.3 million of gross life premiums written in 2003.

Motor-vehicle third-party liability for foreigners and for citizens in certain provinces, workers' compensation (in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone), old age pension, unemployment insurance, and property (fire) in Shenzhen for commercial risks are compulsory.


The annual state budget is prepared by the Ministry of Finance and approved by the National People's Congress. A major reform in public finance, introduced in 1980, was a new system of allocating revenues and expenditures between local and national levels of government. Previous revenue-sharing procedures allowed the central government to fix maximum spending levels for each

Revenue and Grants 921.2 100.0%
     Tax revenue 811.7 88.1%
     Social contributions
     Grants 59.1 6.4%
     Other revenue 50.4 5.5%
Expenditures 1,381.6 100.0%
     General public services 945.4 68.4%
     Defense 143 10.4%
     Public order and safety 28.4 2.1%
     Economic affairs 189.6 13.7%
     Environmental protection 0.2 0.0%
     Housing and community amenities 6.1 0.4%
     Health 2.1 0.2%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 5 0.4%
     Education 20.9 1.5%
     Social protection 40.8 3.0%
() data not available or not significant.

province, autonomous region, and centrally administered municipality. The new system fixed for a five-year period the proportion of local income to be paid to the central government and (except for emergency appropriations for floods and other such disasters) the level of subsidies to be provided by the central government, as well as the proportion of local income to be retained by local governments. Autonomous regions receive proportionately greater state subsidies than the provinces and centrally administered municipalities, and they are entitled to keep all revenues from local industrial and commercial taxes. During the 1990s, the Chinese consolidated budget deficit grew at a rapidly increasing rate. According to the IMF, the 1998 budget deficit amounted to 4% of GDP, due to rising expenditures and tax evasion. Deficits are largely financed by domestic debt issuance rather than by money creation. In 1999, the central government performed an audit of embezzlement, finding that some $2.4 billion in state funds had been diverted into private bank accounts, and that a total equaling one-fifth of the central government's tax revenues were misused. In all, the government's liabilities were equal to 100% of GDP in 2000, according to some sources. Annual tax revenues equal 13% of GDP, one-fifth of which goes annually to paying interest on government debts.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 China's central government took in revenues of approximately $392.1 billion and had expenditures of $424.3 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$32.2 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 28.8% of GDP. Total external debt was $242 billion.

Government outlays by function in 2001 were as follows: general public services, 68.4%; defense, 10.4%; public order and safety, 2.1%; economic affairs, 13.7%; housing and community amenities, 0.4%; health, 0.2%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.4%; education, 1.5%; and social protection, 3.0%.


China's standard corporate tax rate is 33%, and includes a 3% local corporate income tax. It is applicable to resident as well as those business operations that involve foreign investments, or socalled foreign investment enterprises (FIEs). In addition, local authorities are allowed to collect certain license and registration fees, as well as levy a surcharge. FIEs typically pay taxes at concessional rates, depending upon the type of business and location. Capital gains incurred by companies are generally considered income and are taxed as such.

On 1 January 1994, the PRC Individual Income Tax law came into effect in China. As of 2005, China's individual income tax was progressively rated up to 45% for residents and foreigners, although foreigners listed as nonresidents (those living in China for less than one year) are taxed only on income sourced from China. People resident in China for five or more years are considered residents and are taxed on worldwide income. Capital gains claimed by individuals are taxed at 20%. However, the sale of a private dwelling is exempt from the capital gains tax, if the seller lived in it for at least five years. Nonresidents are subject to a 10% withholding tax. The sale or importation of goods and services are subject to a valueadded tax (VAT) at a standard rate of 17% or at a lower rate of 13%. The lower rate applies to water, grain, edible oils, certain agricultural products such as fertilizers, and books. Small firms are subject to a 6% VAT. The VAT applies to a broad range of services including the sale of immovable property, construction, insurance and entertainment, the latter of which is subject to a 20% rate. Consumption/excise taxes also apply to goods, including cigarettes, motor vehicles, cosmetics, jewelry and alcoholic beverages.


Although China is in the process of aligning its trade system with international standards, prohibitively high tariffs and quotas discourage many imports. It uses the Harmonized System for tariff classification. A minimum tariff rate is granted to countries that have special agreements with China, including the United States. Tariff rates range from 3100% with the highest rates reserved for goods such as automobiles. Raw materials are exempt. In 1996, as a step toward WTO compliance, China reduced tariffs on more than 4,000 products by an average of 30%, and then reduced tariffs even further in 2001 in preparation for WTO accession. In 2000, the USChina Trade Relations Working Group successfully opened trade relations with China, with such agreements as: reducing the automobile tariff from a maximum of 100% to a maximum of 25%; reducing auto parts tariffs from 23.4% to 10%; and eliminating quotas by 2005. In addition, China agreed to a reduction in chemical tariffs from about 15% to 7% and a reduction in textile tariffs from 25% to 12% by 2005 (but a quota safeguard would be available in the event that the industry failed). Steel tariffs were to be reduced from 10% to 6% by 2003. These reductions would be implemented on a sliding yearly basis. Most other tariffs have been scheduled for reduction by more than 50%, to an average of 9.4% on industrial tariffs and an average of 17% on agricultural tariffs. China acceded to the World Trade Organization on 11 December 2001.

Official PRC policy is that direct trade with Taiwan is interregional, rather than international, since Taiwan is considered a province of China and, therefore, no customs duties are levied. There are free trade zones in Shanghai, Tianjin, Dalian, Haikov, the Hainan Island Special Economic Zone, and within the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. Smuggling, reportedly well organized along the coasts of Guangdong, Fujian, and Zhejiang provinces and in the frontier regions of Tibet and Yunnan, is a major governmental concern.


China strongly emphasizes attracting foreign investment in projects that will enhance the nation's economic development. Beginning in the early 1970s, China contracted for the construction of a substantial number of complete plants, notably for iron and steel, automobile, fertilizer manufacture, and power generation, including nuclear power. Such agreements, often made with private firms from Japan, Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as with agencies of the Communist states, all called for direct purchase of materials and services. Residual ownership by foreigners and remittance of profits from production were expressly disallowed. In 1979, China established the Foreign Investment Control Commission to attract and coordinate foreign investment, and the first four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in southern China at Shenzhen, Xiamen, Shantou, and Zhuhai to attract foreign investment (the fifth SEZ was established on Hainan Island in 1988).

In the 1980s, foreign investment was restricted to export-oriented businesses, and foreign investors were required to enter into joint ventures (JVs) with Chinese counterparts in order to enter the market. Under the Joint Ventures Law, enacted in 1979 and revised in 1982, the development of joint ventures for the production of exports has been particularly stressed as a means of securing for China the foreign exchange needed to pay for purchases of advanced technology. Foreign investment in products for the domestic market, other than those needed for modernization, was discouraged. In 1984, further foreign investment opportunities were created with the designation of 14 open coastal citiesShanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Fuzhou, Dailan, Qinhuangdao, Yantai, Qingdao, Lianyungan, Nantong, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Zhanjiang, and Beihaiwhere preferential incentives could also be offered. Since then, 52 state approved economic and technology zones have come into existence, and most provinces, regions, and major municipalities have their own international and trust investment corporations, of which the one in Shanghai is the largest. Special corporations for the attraction of investment by overseas Chinese have been established in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.

In the early 1990s, the government began allowing foreign investors to manufacture and sell an increasingly wide variety of goods in the domestic market. From the mid-1990s, wholly foreign owned enterprises (WFOEs) have been allowed to operate. In 2000 and 2001, China revised its laws on JVs and WFOEs to eliminate requirements for foreign exchange balancing, to eliminate domestic sales ratio requirements, to eliminate or adjust advanced technology and export performance requirements, and to modify provisions on domestic procurement of raw materials. With China's accession to the WTO in December 2001, foreign investment opportunities were further expanded with the removal of financial and distribution services from the restricted list. Only the production of arms and the mining and processing of certain minerals are currently off limits to foreign investment.

China attracts capital in four ways: (1) by soliciting loans and credits from foreign governments and international financial institutions; (2) by floating bonds and debentures on international capital markets; (3) by promoting direct foreign investment through joint ventures and other cooperative enterprises; and (4) by accumulating trade surpluses from export sales.

From 1979 to 2000, according to Chinese government figures, FDI totaled $350 billion. This figure includes investment from the Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macao as well as from Taiwan. On an annual basis, this not very-foreign proportion of FDI has dropped from over two-thirds to an average of 45.5% for 1999 and 2000. (Analysts have also estimated that 1030% of FDI from Hong Kong actually comes from Chinese mainland companies looking for a tax break.) From 1979 to 1990, double digit annual growth rates in the early years (55% in 1984 and 38% in 1985) declined to a low of 2.7% in 1990, the year after the Tiananmen Square violence. However, in 1991, FDI increased 25% and then soared by triple digits in 1992 (152%) and 1993 (150%). By the end of 1995, over 258,000 foreign invested enterprises had registered in China. In 1996 a World Bank study found that China attracted more than one-third of all investment in factories and other manufacturing plants in developing nations. Growth rates, of course, moderated after their early surge, but it was not until the Asian financial crisis of 199798, precipitated by China's reabsorption of Hong Kong in July 1997, that annual FDI levels stagnated, with a 0.45% growth rate in 1998, and then declined, with an 11.1% fall in 1999 from $45.46 billion to $40.4 billion annual FDI. In 1999 foreign invested firms numbered 300,000 and accounted for almost 50% of exports. In 2000, FDI only grew 0.9%, to $40.77 billion, but in 2001, a 14.6% increase sent annual FDI to a record $46.8 billion.

China continues to have no mergers and acquisitions law that would permit the involuntary takeover of a company. A company can be bought outright but the sale requires specific government approval, as do all investments in China. Indirect foreign (or portfolio) investment (FII) is limited to those willing to invest to the mainland companies listed on the Chinese stock exchange. Mainland companies raised about $22 billion in 2000. This fell to about $12 billion in 2001, reflecting the near 50% drop in foreign investment worldwide following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Until the early 1980s, the flow of Chinese funds abroad was confined to assistance to developing countries and to investment in Hong Kong real estate. In 1983, however, China began making direct investments overseas, in the United States, Canada, the Solomon Islands, and Sri Lanka. China has been a significant supplier of development aid to other countries. Recipients of Chinese military and economic assistance have included the DPRK, Vietnam, Egypt, Pakistan, and Tanzania.


A profound restructuring of China's economy began in 1949 following the founding of the PRC. Adhering to orthodox models borrowed wholesale from the former USSR, the PRC brought all major industrial, infrastructure, and financial enterprises directly under state ownership. Agriculture was collectivized. Management of the economy was closely controlled by central authorities, whose powers extended to the allocation of basic commodities and the basic division of resources into investment, consumption, and defense channels. Centralized planning for economic development was introduced in the form of five-year economic plans.

The first five-year plan (195357), belatedly announced in 1957, pursued rapid industrialization along Soviet lines, with a special emphasis on increases in steel and other heavy industries. The plan reportedly achieved its goals of a 5% gain in gross value of agricultural output and a 4% gain in grain production, and exceeded the 19% growth target in gross value of industrial output.

The second five-year plan (195862) was voided at its start by the social and economic upheavals of the Great Leap Forward. At the heart of the Great Leap was the establishment of the self-sufficient rural commune; decentralization of industry was stressed, and the rural unemployed put to work in "backyard steel furnaces" and other industrial enterprises of dubious efficiency. Incomes were determined by need, and coercion and revolutionary enthusiasm replaced profit as the motivation for work. Publication of economic data ceased at this time, but Western observers estimated a 1% decline in agriculture for the 195860 period, an increase in GNP of only 1%, and no more than a 6% increase in industrial output. After the bad harvests of 1960 and 1961, an "agriculture first" policy was adopted under which large areas of semiarid steppe and other marginal lands in the north and west were converted to agricultural use.

A third five-year plan (196670), formulated by governmental pragmatists and calling for rapid growth of all sectors, was aborted by the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution. In 1969, the government published a report calling for a more open approach to foreign assistance and trade. Domestically, it confirmed the use of the "mass line"the system of calling upon workers and peasants to take responsibility and initiative, and to work without material incentives. It favored the simultaneous use of modern and traditional employment methods (the "walking on two legs" policy), and recommended expansion of industry through investment of profits derived from the sale of agricultural and light industrial products. At the heart of the 1969 policy was a reversion to the commune system of 1958a program to make the countryside self-sufficient, with every commune not only growing its own food but also producing its own fertilizer and tools, generating its own electricity, and managing its own small handicrafts factories, health schemes, and primary schools. In contrast to the hastily organized communes of 195860, however, the new units frequently adhered to the traditionaland more manageablestructure of Chinese rural life.

Long-range economic planning resumed in 1970 with the announcement of a fourth five-year plan, for 197175. In late 1975, Premier Zhou Enlai proclaimed the plan successful. Agricultural output was reported to have grown by 51% during the 196474 period, while gross industrial output was said to have increased by 190%. Specifically, the following growth rates (196474) for mining and industry were reported: petroleum, 660%; coal, 92%; steel, 120%; cotton yarn, 86%; tractors, 540%; chemical fertilizers, 350%; and electric power, 200%.

A fifth five-year plan (197680), announced in 1975, gave priority to modernization of the economy and, for the first time, emphasized the development of light rather than heavy industry. Implementation of this new departure was, however, delayed by the deaths of Mao and Zhou in 1976 and did not occur until 1978, by which time the economic pragmatists, led by Deng Xiaoping, had emerged victorious from the subsequent political and ideological struggles.

The sixth five-year plan (198185) reemphasized China's commitment to the pragmatic line and to the Four Modernizations. Approximately $115 billion was allocated for capital construction, and another $65 billion for renovation of existing infrastructure. GNP increased by an annual average of 10%, industrial output by 12%, and agricultural output by 8.1%.

The seventh five-year plan (198690), announced in March 1986 and called by Deng Xiaoping "The New Long March," featured the following major goals: increasing industrial output 7.5% annually (to $357 billion); increasing agricultural output 4% annually (to $95.4 billion); increasing national income 6.7% annually (to $252.7 billion); increasing foreign trade 40% (to $83 billion); spending $54 billion on 925 major development projects in energy, raw materials, transportation, and postal and telecommunications; and investing $74.6 billion in technological transformation of state enterprises. The goal for rural per capita income was $151 annually.

Concerns about the unevenness of China's economic development progress, both in geographic and sectoral terms, shaped the country's eighth five-year plan (199195). To ameliorate potentially crippling bottlenecks in the supply of raw materials, energy, transportation, and communications capacity, the government prioritized the financing of infrastructure investments. Streamlining of inefficient state industrial enterprises was targeted as well, with the setting up of an unemployment security fund planned in order to assist laid off workers make the transition to employment in nonstate industry and the services sector. Direct foreign investment in industry, services, and infrastructure (especially energy and communications development) were promoted. The plan also emphasized better distribution of the country's development momentum. Inland cities, especially along the Russian, Mongolian, and North Korean borders were targeted for development as export-oriented special economic zones in addition to coastal areas. Particular emphasis was given to developing major infrastructure projects to link Hong Kong, Macao, and the Pearl River delta area of Guangdong province into an integrated economic area and major export base for the 21st century.

The ninth five-year plan (19962000) called for a shift from a centrally planned economy to a "socialist market economy." It also stressed resource allocation to achieve higher efficiency. The goals included continuing progress toward quadrupling the 1980 GNP by the year 2000 (a goal that had already been met by 1996) and doubling the 2000 GNP by the year 2010, a goal carried over into tenth five-year plan (200105). By the end of 2002, the Chinese economy had come through two major external shocks (the Asian financial crisis of 199798 and the global economic slowdown of 200102) without seriously faltering, at least according to official government figures. Real GDP growth registered 8% in 2000 and dipped to 7.3% in 2001. Inflation has held near zero or below, with a slight deflation in consumer prices (-0.8% in 1998, -1.4% in 1999, and -0.4% in 2002). In 2000 and 2001 inflation was below 1%, at 0.4% and 0.7%, respectively.

The tenth five-year plan (200105) called for a continuance of these trends: average GDP growth rates of 7% with a goal of reaching a GDP of $1.5 trillion by 2005 in the context of stable prices. The government estimated that the labor force would increase 40 million by 2005, and that there would also be 40 million surplus rural laborers to be transferred, as the proportion of the labor force in agriculture dropped from an estimated 50% in 2001 to a planned 44% by 2005. Under the tenth five-year plan the government sought to improve its "socialist market economy." Priorities include establishing a "modern enterprise system" in the stateowned enterprises (SOEs), improving social security, and increasing the depth and breadth of participation in the international economy. Registered urban unemployment, at 3.6% in 2001 and below 4% in 2002, was to be controlled at about 5% under the tenth plan. The CIA estimated that total urban unemployment was about 10% in 2001, and that there was substantial underemployment in rural areas; Chinese sources put unemployment overall at 20% in 2003. The tenth five-year plan foresaw agriculture's share in the GDP decreasing to 13% by 2005 from 17.7% in 2001, while industry's share was expected to increase from 49.3% to 51%, and the share of services, from 33% to 36%, across the planning period. Educational goals include attaining gross enrollments of 90% at the junior high school level, 60% in high school, and 15% in higher education. Environmental targets included attaining 18.2% forest coverage, 35% urban green rate, and an overall 10% reduction over 2000 levels in pollutants discharged.

In 2005, China's history of incrementalist economic restructuring for increased efficiency gains led to a GDP ten times higher than that recorded in the late 1970s. Such advances helped make China the second-largest economy in the world (in terms of purchasing power parity) after the United States. However, despite the country's economic advances as a whole, the low per capita income and millions of citizens living below the poverty line still placed China in a lower middle-income range. Economic development continued to be disproportionate, with more advances occurring in the eastern coastal provinces than in the rest of the country. Also, as stateowned enterprises (SOEs) have decreased, the government has been challenged to find work for the millions of former SOE employees who were unemployed as a result. Also challenging the government are charges to reduce corruption and economic crimes and to reduce environmental damage (air pollution, soil erosion, and the fall of the water table in the north) and social strife in the face of economic transformation. In July 2005, China revalued the yuan (y) by 2.1%, and benefited from foreign investment and increased involvement in world trade and increasing employment in urban jobs, despite electricity shortages in the summer of 2005.

Also, in 2005, the draft of the eleventh five-year plan was approved. The plan included provisions to reduce energy consumption (per unit GDP) by 20% and increase GDP by 45% by 2010. It also included a resource conservation and environmental protection package supplementing the other policies and reforms.


China does not yet have national social security legislation. Old age provisions in rural areas is tied to family support and community and state programs. According to the Labor Law, male workers and professional women are eligible to retire at age 60, female nonsalaried workers at 55, and other women at age 50. The amount of the pension is decided by the local or city government based on the standard of living in that area. The urban medical insurance program covers employees in urban enterprises. Local governments and employers adapt the guidelines and base rates according to local conditions. There are some local programs to provide for needy families.

Workers may receive six months' sick leave at 60100% of salary. For work-related total disability, workers are entitled to lifetime compensation of 7590% of the standard wage. Maternity leave at full pay is provided for up to 90 days. In addition, numerous health, daycare, and educational benefits are provided free of charge. In urban areas, housing rentals rarely exceed 5% of the monthly wage.

Despite constitutional provisions, women may face discrimination in the workplace. Women continue to report that unfair dismissal, sexual harassment, demotions, and wage disparity are significant problems. In addition, some enterprises are reluctant to hire women because of the additional costs of maternity leave. Sexual harassment was an ongoing problem and the first court cases were heard in 2003. Most women earn less than men, and are twice as likely to be illiterate. Violence against women remains a serious problem, and spousal abuse goes largely unreported. The suicide rate among women is three times the global average. Women are subject to pressure and sometimes physical coercion to submit to abortion or sterilization. The trafficking of women for the sex trade is a pervasive problem.

A serious human rights problem is female infanticide by families wishing for sons. The imbalance of sex ratios in the country has led to a shortage of women of marriageable age and a dramatic increase in the abduction of women for this purpose.

China's human rights record continued to draw international censure. Ongoing human rights abuses include arbitrary and lengthy detention, forced confessions, torture, and the mistreatment of prisoners. Repression of political dissent continues. Prison conditions are poor and China does not allow any independent monitoring of its prisons. Widespread human rights abuses have also been reported in Chinese occupied Tibet. The government does not tolerate any political dissent or proindependence movements in Tibet.


A revamping of China's health system was underway in the late 1990s to manage serious diseases. The Ministry of Public Heath's ninth five-year plan on the control of serious diseases outlined major reforms to be reached by the year 2000. These include strengthening epidemic prevention management systems and facilities. National health practices, including the provision of both Western and traditional Chinese health services are under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. The ministry has emphasized preventive medicine and general improvement of sanitary conditions.

Since the early 1950s, mass campaigns have been mounted to deal with major public health problems. These have included nationwide cleanup campaigns and mass educational programs in the sanitary preparation of food, the treatment of drinking water, personal hygiene, and waste disposal. The entire population was mobilized to eradicate the four pestsrats, sparrows, flies, and mosquitoeswith mixed results. Epidemic prevention centers were established to carry out massive immunizations, while parasitic diseases, affecting hundreds of millions in China, were also attacked. As a result, schistosomiasis, malaria, kalaazar, and hookworm are thought to have been largely brought under control.

Approximately 90% of inhabitants had access to health care services. In 2000, 75% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 38% had adequate sanitation.

There were 62,000 hospitals and total beds numbered 2.6 million, a rate of 2.33 per 1,000. As of 2004, there were an estimated 164 physicians, 104 nurses, 29 pharmacists, and 4 midwives per 100,000 people.

During the Cultural Revolution in an effort to even out the disparity between rural and urban health services, medical personnel from hospitals (as much as 3050% of a hospital's medical staff) were sent to the countryside and the number of locally trained paramedical personnel, called barefoot doctors, expanded. These paramedical personnelyoung peasants or middle school graduateswere trained on the job by township doctors or in two-month courses at township health clinics. "Barefoot doctors" and brigade health stations were still the major deliverers of health care in the countryside.

An estimated 83% of married women (ages 1549) used contraception. The infant mortality rate was reduced from as high as 200 per 1,000 live births before 1949 to an estimated 24.18 per 1,000 in 2005. The maternal mortality rate was estimated at 55 per 100,000 live births. In the mid-1990s, China vaccinated a high percentage of its children up to one year of age: tuberculosis, 94%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 93%; polio, 94%; and measles, 89%. Despite the high immunization rates, diseases still persist. China had the greatest number of tuberculosis cases of any UN member state. According to the World Health Organization, cholera was reported in 10,344 individuals in 1995. In China, which accounts for 20% of the world's tetanus cases, over 90,000 a year die from neonatal tetanus.

Average life expectancy in 2005 was 72.27 years, up from an average of 45 years in 1950. Major causes of death were recorded as: communicable diseases and maternal/perinatal causes, noncommunicable diseases, and injuries. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 840,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 44,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


China has an acute shortage of housing, attributable not only to the large annual increases in population (over 10 million a year), but also to the longstanding policy of directing investment funds into heavy industry rather than into housing and other social amenities. In the mid-1990s, the total number of housing units in China stood at 276,502,000. Approximately 400,000 new dwellings were completed per year and 90.6% of all homes had piped water. By the end of 2002, an additional 19.25 million sq m (207.21 million sq ft) of commercial housing had been completed, representing a 10.5% increase from the previous year. The government expects to build 486 million sq m (5,231.26 million sq ft) to 549 million sq m (5,909.39 million sq ft) of floor space each year for the first 20 years of the 21st century. In 2002, the annual investment for housing was at about us$97 billion.

During the 1990s, the government began a program of transferring ownership of stateowned housing into private hands at fairly low costs and with subsidized mortgages. As a result, an estimated 73% of families own their own residence. In 2002, the average living space was at 23.5 sq m (252.95 sq ft). In rural areas, homes tend to be smaller. Some newer rural homes are at about 50 sq m (538.2 sq ft) in size with households of about three to six people. Though many rural homes are constructed with wood and earthen walls and tile or thatched roofs, some newer homes, such as those built by Habitat for Humanity, include red brick, stone, and compressed earth blocks.


The Cultural Revolution affected education more than any other sector of society. Schools were shut down in mid-1966 to give the student Red Guards the opportunity to "make revolution" on and off campus. The Cultural Revolution touched off purges within the educational establishment. Upper- and middle level bureaucrats throughout the system were removed from office, and virtually entire university faculties and staffs dispersed. Although many lower schools had begun to reopen during 1969, several universities remained closed through the early 1970s, as an estimated 10 million urban students were removed to the countryside to take part in labor campaigns. During this period and its aftermath, revolutionary ideology, and local conditions became the principal determinants of curriculum. A nine-year program of compulsory education (compressed from 12 years) was established for youths 715 years of age.

Education was reoriented in 1978 under the Four Modernizations policy, which restored the pre-1966 emphasis on competitive examinations and the development of special schools for the most promising students. The most striking changes were effected at the junior and senior high school levels, in which students were again streamed, according to ability, into an estimated 5,000 high-quality, well-equipped schools, or into lower-quality high schools, or into the technical and vocational schools, which were perceived as the least prestigious. In addition, 96 universities, 200 technical schools, and 7,000 primary schools were designated as "key" institutions. Universities were reopened, with a renewed emphasis given to science and technology. By 1998, there were 628,840 primary schools with 5,794,000 teachers and 139,954,000 students. At the secondary level, there were 4,437,000 teachers and 718,883,000 students.

As of 2006, the nine years of compulsory education was still in effect. This consists of a six-year primary education and a three-year junior secondary program. A senior secondary program continues for another three years. The academic year runs from September to July. The primary language of instruction is Chinese.

In 2001, about 27% of children between the ages of three and six were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2001 was estimated at about 94.6% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 67% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 98% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 21:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 19:1.

There are over 1,000 colleges and universities in China. Among the largest and most prestigious institutions were Beijing University and Qinghua University, both in Beijing; Zhongshan University, in Guangzhou; Nanjing University and Nanjing Institute of Technology; Nankai University and Tianjin University, in Tianjin; and Fudan University, in Shanghai. In 2003, about 16% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 90.9%, with 95.1% for men and 86.5% for women.

Tuition has traditionally been free in vocational secondary schools, and in training schools for elementary teachers, as well as in colleges and universities; students in need of food, clothing, and textbooks receive state grantsinaid. Primary and general secondary school students pay a nominal tuition fee. Parttime primary and secondary schools, evening universities, and correspondence schools exist for adult workers and peasants.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 2.1% of GDP, or 13% of total government expenditures.


The National Library in Beijing (founded in 1909) is the largest in China, with over 22 million volumes, including more than 291,000 rare ancient Chinese books and manuscripts. The Chinese Academy of Sciences Central Library, in Beijing, has a collection of 6.2 million volumes, with branches in Shanghai, Lanzhou, Wuhan, and Chengdu. The Capital Library in Beijing (2.6 million volumes) is the city's public library and operates lending, reference, and children's services. The Shoudou Library, also in Beijing, has 2.35 million volumes. Shanghai Central Library System, established in 2001 with support from the municipal government, includes about 36 branch libraries.

Small lending libraries and reading rooms can be found in factories, offices, and rural townships. The library of Beijing University, with over four million volumes, is the largest university library. Other important university collections are at Nanjing University in Nanjing (3.2 million volumes), Fudan University in Shanghai (3.6 million volumes), and Qinghua University in Beijing (2.5 million volumes). The Central Institute of Nationalities in Beijingone of dozens of private institutions with librarieshas a collection of 800,000 volumes, including 160 foreign-language journals. The Library Association of China was founded in Peiping (modern-day Beijing), China, in 1925 and reorganized in T'aipei in 1953. The Hong Kong Library Association was founded in 1958.

China has a wealth of about 1,000 museums, most of them cultural in nature. The Imperial Palace Museum in Beijing houses collections of art, sculpture, silk fabric, and furniture. The Museum of the Chinese Revolution on Tiananmen Square has exhibits of the revolutionary movement in China from the Opium War to the founding of the PRC. In Shanghai is the Museum of Art and History, with some of the country's outstanding archaeological and art collections. Many museums are memorials to Chinese artists and writers, and house collections of their work. China also has 500 historical sites with exhibitions. With the return of Hong Kong to China, the country gained the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the University Museum and Art Gallery, the Hong Kong Museum of History, and the Hong Kong Space Museum.


Postal service and telecommunications facilities fall under the authority of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. In 2003, there were an estimated 209 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people.

The same year, there were approximately 215 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people. Figures for Hong Kong alone were much higher, with 559 mainline telephones and 1,079 mobile phones for every 1,000 people.

Television broadcasting began in 1958, and color transmissions in 1973. As of 1998 China had 369 AM and 259 FM radio broadcasting stations. In 1997, China Central Television operated 209 government-owned television stations. There were also 31 provincial stations and almost 3,000 city stations. The most important station is Beijing's Central People's Broadcasting Station (CPBS); from there, programs are relayed by local stations. CPBS broadcasts daily on several channels using a variety of languages, including Mandarin (or standard Chinese), the Hokkien and Hakka dialects, Cantonese, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uigur, Kazakhi, and Korean. In 2005, there were about 2,100 television channels available through staterun Chinese Central TV, provincial, and municipal stations. Approximately 75 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. In 2003, there were an estimated 339 radios and 350 television sets for every 1,000 people. Many of the TV sets are installed in public meeting places and in government and economic enterprises, although increasingly a television set has become a muchprized private acquisition. Since large segments of the rural population are as yet without radios and television sets, the government operates a massive wired broadcast network linked to over 100 million loudspeakers. Again, figures for Hong Kong alone were much higher, with 686 radios and 504 television sets for every 1,000 people.

Despite controls, a rapidly growing number of Chinese have access to satellite television and the Internet. The government regulates access of the Internet through the Ministry of Information Industry and the Ministries of Public and State Security. In 2003, there were 27.6 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 63 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 293 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

The press is closely controlled by the government, the CCP, or the various political and mass organizations associated with the CCP. Minority newspapers are published in Mongolian, Uygur, Tibetan, Korean, and other languages. The main news agencies are the official New China (Xinhua) News Agency; the China News Service, which supplies information to overseas Chinese newspapers and journals; and China Feature, which supplies articles to magazines and newspapers worldwide.

The Cultural Revolution caused substantial upheaval in the Chinese press establishment. Many publications closed down, and others underwent purges of editorial staffs. Publication of Hongqi (Red Flag ), the most authoritative of the CCP publications, resumed in 1968.

The major newspapers, with their locations and circulations in 2002, are: Gongren Ribao (Worker's Daily ), Beijing, 2,500,000; Renmin Ribao (People's Daily ), Beijing, 2,150,000; Xin Min Wanbao (Xin Min Evening News ), Shanghai, 1,800,000; Wenhui Bao (Wenhui Daily ), Shanghai, 1,700,000; Yangcheng Wanbao (Yangcheng Evening News ), Guangzhou, 1,300,000; Jiefang Ribao (Liberation Daily ), Shanghai, 1,000,000; and Jiefangjun Bao (Liberation Army Daily ), Beijing, 800,000.

Jiefangjun Bao, the army news, played a leading role in the Cultural Revolution. China's first English-language newspaper, the China Daily, founded in 1981, is published in Beijing and had a circulation of 150,000 in 1999. The most authoritative publication for foreigners is the multilingual weekly Beijing Review, which distributed in China and abroad with a 1995 circulation of more than 100,000.

In 2002, Hong Kong had over 75 daily newspapers in circulation, some of which are Englishlanguage papers from other countries, such as the Toronto Star, the Boston Globe, and The Australian. Major Hong Kong dailies and their 2002 circulations were Tin Tin Yat Pao, 199,260; Sing Tao Wan Pao, 125,000; Wah Ku Yat Po, 125,000; Ching Pao, 120,000; Hong Kong Commercial Daily, 110,000; South China Morning Post, 104,000; and Hong Kong Daily News, 101,815.

The largest daily newspaper in Macau is Ou Mun Iat Pou (Macau Daily News, 2002 circulation 100,000).

Government-approved publishing houses are the only legal book publishers.

Though China's constitution states that freedom of speech and of the press are fundamental rights, in practice the Communist Party and the government control all print and electronic media, which are compelled to propagate the current ideological line. All media are under explicit, public orders to guide public opinion as directed by the authorities.


Prior to 1966, the leading mass organizations, all closely tied to the regime, were the Communist Youth League, the Women's Federation, the Federation of Literary and Art Circles, the Federation of Scientific Societies, and the Federation of Industry and Commerce. These bodies were to some extent eclipsed by the Cultural Revolution, which spawned a host of new groups. After the Cultural Revolution passed its peak, many of the new organizations lost ground, while local Communist Youth League organizations, including the Young Pioneers, gained prestige. By the mid-1980s, the preCultural Revolution groups were once again ascendant.

There are professional and trade organizations representing a wide variety of professional fields. The All China Federation of Industry and Commerce promotes international trade. The All China Federation of Trade Unions serves as an advocate for worker's rights and benefits, particularly for women. The Asia Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organization (APOSHO) is located in Hong Kong. Labor organizations in Hong Kong include the Employers' Federation of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, and the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions. The International Labour Organization has an office in Beijing.

Educational and cultural organizations include the China National Association of Literature and Fine Arts based in Taiwan. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences promotes research in philosophy and the social sciences. The Hong Kong Arts Festival Society sponsors an international arts festival. The Royal Asiatic Society, dedicated to the history and culture of China, Hong Kong, and Asia, has a branch in Hong Kong. There are also several organizations dedicated to research and education in various fields of medicine and science. There are also many associations for hobbyists.

National women's organizations include the Association for the Advancement of Feminism (AAF), based in Hong Kong and the All China Women's Federation, based in Beijing. The largest youth association is the umbrella organization the AllChina Youth Federation (ACYF), which is led by the Communist Party of China. Member organizations include the Rural Young Entrepreneurs Association, the Association for Young Journalists, the Communist Youth League (CYL) of China, the AllChina Students Federation (ACSF), the YMCA and YWCA, and the Chinese Young Entrepreneurs Association (CYEA). Scouting groups exist in Hong Kong and Macau. A wide variety of sports organizations are active throughout the country, including the Chinese Table Tennis Association, which has gained international recognition.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (Hong Kong) is a multinational organization for human rights. There are national chapters of the Red Cross, Greenpeace, Habitat for Humanity, and Amnesty International.


Chinese restrictions on tourism were eased to allow access by foreigners on group tours in 1976 and further relaxed in 1983, when the ban on individual travel was lifted. By 1985, there were 244 Chinese cities and scenic spots open to foreign tourists and a number of resorts specifically designed for foreigners were in operation. China was opened to tourists from Taiwan in 1987. All visitors to China must have a valid passport and visa; personal interviews may also be required upon entry.

The most famous tourist attraction in China is the Great Wall, the construction of which began in the 3rd century bc as a barrier against northern invaders. Other leading tourist attractions include the Forbidden City, or Imperial Palace, in Beijing; the nearby tombs of the Ming emperors; historic Hangzhou, with its famous West Lake and gardens; busy Shanghai, with its well-stocked stores and superb cuisine; Xi'an, the site of monumental Qin dynasty excavations; and Guangzhou, the center of Cantonese cooking, with an extensive Cultural Park.

Sports activities in China are coordinated by the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission and the AllChina Sports Federation. Active sports, represented by national associations, include gymnastics, diving, basketball, football (soccer), tennis, cycling, swimming, volleyball, weight lifting, and mountain climbing. The 2008 Summer Olympics were scheduled to be held in Beijing, the first Olympic Games to be held in China.

Distinctively Chinese pastimes include wushu, a set of ancient exercises known abroad as gonfu (kung fu) or the "martial arts"; taijiquan, or shadow boxing, developed in the 17th century; and liangong shibafa, modern therapeutic exercises for easing neck, shoulder, back, and leg ailments. Qigong (literally "breathing exercises") is also widely practiced both as a sport and as physical therapy. A popular traditional spectator sport is Chinese wrestling. Traditional pastimes for the national minorities are horse racing, show jumping, and archery among the Mongolians; the sheep chase (in which the winner successfully locates and defends possession of a slaughtered sheep) among Uigurs and Kazaks; and yak and horse racing among Tibetans.

In 2003, about 11,403,000 tourists arrived in China. Total receipts from tourism that year were estimated at $18.7 billion, a decrease of 15% from 2002. There were 992,804 hotel rooms with 1,887,740 beds and a 56% occupancy rate.

The costs of traveling in China vary from city to city. In 2005, the US Department of state estimated the daily cost of staying in Shanghai at $320 and in Beijing at $241.


Confucius (K'ung Futzu or Kong Fuzi, 551479 bc) is generally regarded as the most important historical figure, as well as the greatest scholar, of ancient China. His philosophy and social ideas include observance of filial piety, the sanctity of the family, and social responsibility. Other early philosophers were Laotzu (Laozi; Li Erh, 604?531 bc), the traditional founder of Taoism; Mencius (Mengtzu or Mengzi, 385289 bc), who stressed the essential goodness of human nature and the right of subjects to revolt against unjust rulers; and Mo Ti (Di, 465?390? bc), who stressed the theme of universal love. Among the principal early poets was Chu (Chü) Yuan, (340278 bc), whose Li Sao, a melancholy rhapsody, is among the world's great poems. Sima Qian (Ssuma Ch'ien, 14587 bc) produced the monumental Shiji (Shihchi; Historical Records), the first general history of China. Ban Gu (Pan Ku, ad 3292) wrote Qian Hanshu (Ch'ienHan shu; History of the Former Han Dynasty), a continuation of Sima Qian's work. Zhang (Chang) Heng (78139), an astronomer, is credited with having invented the first seismograph. Zhang Zhongjing (Chang Chungching, 152219) was a celebrated physician, and Zu Zhongzhi (Tsu Chungchih, 429500) calculated the figure 3.14159265 as the exact value for pi. Three brilliant poets of the Tang dynasty were Li Bo (Po, 70162), Du (Tu) Fu (71270), and Bo Juyi (Po Chüyi, 772846). Li Shizhen (Shichen, 151893), an outstanding pharmacologist, wrote a monumental Materia Medica. Great authors of the Qing dynasty were Wu Jingzi (Chingtzu, 170154), who wrote Rulin Waishi (Julin waishih; Unofficial History of the Scholars), a superb satire on the civil service system, and Cao Xuequin (Ts'ao Hsüehch'in, 1715?63), who produced a remarkable novel, Honglou meng (Hunglou meng; The Dream of the Red Chamber). Lu Xun or Lu Hsun (Zhou Shuren or Chou Shujen, 18811936) is generally regarded as China's greatest writer of the modern period. Mao Dun (Shen Yanbing, 18961981) and Ba Jin (Li Feigan, b.1904) are leading novelists. Lin Yutang (Yut'ang, 18951976) popularized Chinese culture in the West. Ha Jin (b.1956) is a contemporary Chinese American novelist born in Liaoning, China. His novel Waiting (1999) won the US National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award, and War Trash (2004) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Maxine Hong Kingston (b.1940), born in California, is a ChineseAmerican writer whose The Woman Warrior (1976) won the National Book Critics Award for Nonfiction.

Political Figures

Sun Yatsen (Zhongshan or Chungshan, 18661925) planned the revolution against the Manchus and became the first president (191112) of the republic. Mao Zedong (Tsetung, 18931976), the foremost figure of post-revolutionary China, served as chairman of the Central Committee of the CCP from 1956 to 1976. Other prominent Chinese Communist leaders include Zhu De (Chu Teh, 18861976), who became commander in chief of the Red Army in 1931 and chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC; Zhou Enlai (Chou Enlai, 18981976), first premier of China's State Council; Liu Shaoqi (Shaoch'i, 18981969), who became China's head of state in 1959 and was purged during the Cultural Revolution but posthumously rehabilitated in 1985; and Lin Biao (Piao, 190871), who became deputy premier and minister of defense in 1959 and who, prior to his death and subsequent political vilification, had been certified as Mao's successor in the constitution drawn up in 1969. Women in the political hierarchy have included Song Qingling (Soong Ch'ingling, 18921981), Sun Zhongshan's wife, and Jiang Qing (Chiang Ch'ing, 191391), Mao's fourth wife, who emerged as a radical leader during the Cultural Revolution. Jiang, with other prominent radicals, was purged in the wake of the ascension of Hua Guofeng (b.1920) as CCP chairman in 1976. Deng Xiaoping (190497), twice disgraced (196673 and 1976) by radical administrations, reemerged in 1977 to become China's most powerful political figure, albeit without major office, and a major figure in its modernization drive; he officially retired in 1987. A protégé, Hu Yaobang (191589), was party secretary until his ouster in 1987. Another protégé was Zhao Ziyang (19192005), who became general secretary of the CCP in 1987; he was purged in 1989 for his support of student demonstrators in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and spent the last 15 years of his life under house arrest. Li Peng (b.1928) was chairman of the standing committee of the National People's Congress from 19982003. For his support of the violent suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, he remains unpopular with a large part of the Chinese population. Jiang Zemin (b.1926), is part of the "third generation" of Chinese leaders (after those surrounding Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping); he served as general secretary of the CCP from 19892002, as president from 19932003, and as chairman of the military from 19892004. Hu Jintao (b.1942) is the fourth president of the People's Republic of China, general secretary of the CCP, and chairman of the central military commission, succeeding Jiang Zemin in those posts. He ushers in a "fourth generation" of leaders.


Hong Kong

Hong Kong consists of 237 small islands off the southeast coast of the mainland of China and a small peninsula adjoining Guangdong Province on the mainland between 22°29 and 22°37 n and 113°52 and 114°30 e. With a total area, including reclamation, of 1,068 sq km (412 sq mi), it comprises the island of Hong Kong and adjacent islands, 79 sq km (30 sq mi); the Kowloon Peninsula, 11 sq km (4 sq mi); and the New Territories (a leased section of the Chinese mainland) and the remaining islands, 978 sq km (377 sq mi). Most of Hong Kong territory is rocky, hilly, and deeply eroded. The climate is subtropical, with hot and humid summers. Rainfall is heavy and there are occasional typhoons.

Total population, which was under 600,000 in 1945, was approximately 7.3 million in 2002. Some 60% of Hong Kong's residents in 1996 were born there. The phenomenal increase since World War II (193945) resulted primarily from a large influx of mainland Chinese. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, hundreds of thousands of "boat people" arrived from Vietnam. Most have been resettled in other countries, and by mid-1987 only 8,500 remained in camps. In summer 1987, however, Hong Kong faced another influx of Vietnamese, most of them ethnic Chinese. These peoplemore than 6,000 of themhad fled to China after the Vietnam War but found it difficult to assimilate there.

The overall population density in 2002 was 5,800 per sq km (14,500 per sq mi). About 95% of the inhabitants are Chinese and about 95% of the people live in metropolitan areas. Chinese (Cantonese dialect) is the principal spoken language; both Chinese and English are official languages. Taoists, Confucianists, and Buddhists constitute a majority of the population. The Christian population (10%) is split about evenly between Roman Catholics and Protestants. There are also Muslim and Hindu communities (1%). The capital is Victoria, commonly known as Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has regular shipping, air, cable, and wireless services to every part of the world. Government-maintained roads span more than 1,830 km (1,135 mi). The milelong Cross Harbour Road Tunnel connecting Hong Kong Island to Kowloon was opened in 1972, and the Lion Rock Tunnels link Kowloon with Sha Tin; the Aberdeen Tunnel beneath Hong Kong Island entered service in 1982. The governmentowned Mass Transit Railway, a 38.6-km (24-mi) subway system, was begun in November 1975 and started operations in October 1979. The government also owns and operates a 56-km (35-mi) rail line, known as the KowloonCanton Railway. The railroad links up with the rail system of Guangdong Province and constitutes a major land-entry route to China; passenger service, suspended in 1949, was resumed in 1979. The KowloonCanton Railway operates a 34-km (21-mi) light rail system for the New Territories; as of 2001, it connected to the China railway system.

Hong Kong has one of the finest natural harbors. There are deepwater berths in Kowloon Peninsula and in Hong Kong; a container terminal at Kwaichung in Kowloon handles some 60% of Hong Kong's exports. An extensive ferry service connects Hong Kong's islands; hydrofoils provide service to Macau. The Hong Kong airport, Kai Tak, is the world's fourth-largest in terms of passenger traffic; it can handle upwards of 27 million passengers a year. A new airport, Chep Lap Kok, a us$20 billion project that included bridges, highways, tunnels, and a highspeed railway, opened in 1998. The first phase of the airport project, the West Kowloon expressway connecting the airport to Hong Kong Island, opened in February 1997. In April that year, another linkthe Tsing Ma Bridge, the longest suspension bridge for road and rail travel in the worldopened with lavish ceremonies. Three days later, a tunnel with capacity for 180,000 cars a day opened to provide another link between Hong Kong Island and the West Kowloon expressway.

A bleak fisherman's island for most of its early history, Hong Kong was occupied in 1841 by the British. Formal cession by China was made in 1842 by the Treaty of Nanking. The Kowloon Peninsula and adjacent islands were added in 1860, and in 1898, the New Territories were leased from China for 99 years. Hong Kong fell under Japanese occupation from 25 December 1941 to 30 August 1945. Negotiations between the United Kingdom and China culminated in an agreement on 26 September 1984 under which sovereignty over the entire colony would be transferred to China as of 1 July 1997. For a 50-year period, Hong Kong would be a Special Administrative Region and would retain its capitalist economy, its political rights, and its general way of life. A Basic Law, forming a constitution for this period, took effect in 1990.

In the interim, the colony was ruled by a UKappointed governor, with an advisory Executive Council headed by the local commander of UK forces, and an appointed Legislative Council presided over by the governor. Chris Patten, appointed governor in 1992, held the post until the transfer of control to China 1 July 1997. The Urban Council of 30 members (15 elected and 15 appointed by the governor) dealt primarily with municipal affairs, and the government secretariat was responsible for the work of some 40 executive departments. The public sector's share of GDP decreased steadily after 1973. Under a 1981 defense agreement, about three-fourths of the cost of the maintenance of a garrison of 8,945 troops (including four Gurkha battalions) in Hong Kong was borne by the Hong Kong government. The currency unit is the Hong Kong dollar; exchange rates as of 2005 were hk$1 = us$7.7773; us$1 = hk$0.1286).

Located at a major crossroads of world trade, Hong Kong has become a center of commerce, shipping, industry, and banking. Rapid industrialization, accelerated by the influx of new labor, skills, and capital, changed the pattern of the economy after World War II. While heavy industries, such as shipbuilding and ship repairing, iron, and steel, remain important, light industriesespecially watches, clocks, toys, and electronicshave developed more rapidly in recent years. The service sector has also experienced growth; as of 2005, approximately 90% of Hong Kong's GDP derived from services. In 2005, the gross domestic product (GDP) stood at us$172.6 billion, with annual growth that year of 7.3%.

Less than 10% of the total land area is used for farming, most of which is intensive vegetable cultivation. Agriculture does not represent a significant portion of Hong Kong's GDP and most of Hong Kong's agricultural produce is imported. Hong Kong is among the top export markets for US produce.

Electricity is supplied by two franchise companies. Water resources, for long a serious deficiency, have been increased by converting Plover Cove into a lake. About one-quarter of the water supply is purchased annually from China.

Imports in 2005 were estimated at us$291.6 billion, and exports and reexports at us$286.3 billion. As one of the world's largest banking centers, Hong Kong receives a continuous flow of outside capital. The Hong Kong Association of Banks was created in January 1981 to regulate charges and deposit interest rates and oversee banking standards. There is no central bank; currency is issued by two commercial banks. In addition to the licensed banks, many Chinese firms handle Chinese remittances from overseas.

Hong Kong is self-supportive except for external defense. Revenues in 2005 were estimated at us$31.31 billion, derived mainly from internal taxation and import duties. Government expenditures, including us$5.9 billion in capital expenditure, amounted to us$32.3 billion in 2005.

Tourism was an important industry prior to 1997, and remained so after the transfer of Hong Kong to China. About one-fourth of the total number of tourists travel to Hong Kong from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, with another one-fourth from Japan. Travel restrictions for tourists from mainland China were eased, resulting in growth in tourism in 200305.

Main line telephones numbered about 3.8 million in 2004; mobile cellular telephones numbered about 8.2 million that year. Broadcasting services are provided by a government station, Radio Television Hong Kong, and by commercial operators. Broadcasting services are in both Chinese and English. More than 90% of all households have one or more television sets. The Hong Kong press included 734 newspapers and periodicals. Almost all the newspapers are in Chinese; five are Englishlanguage dailies.

The infant mortality rate was 2.95 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, down from 5.73 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2002. The average life expectancy as of 2004 was 81.59 years (females, 84.5 years and males 78.9 years), up from 79.8 years in 2002. In 1995, there were 4.7 hospital beds per 1,000 population, and the daily cost of a hospital bed in a public hospital was $60.

The Hong Kong Housing Authority plans, builds, and manages public housing developments. About 40% of the population lived in public and aided housing as of the late 1990s.

In September 1980, education until the age of 15 was made compulsory; six years of primary and three years of secondary schooling are provided by the government free of charge. Schools are of three types: Chinese, English, and AngloChinese. Prevocational training was offered in more than a dozen government run institutions. Student enrollment in primary and secondary school is about a quarter of the population. Higher education is provided primarily by the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Hong Kong Polytechnic and the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong also provides postsecondary education for the colony's residents. As of 2002, approximately 93.5% of the population was literate (96.9% for men and 89.6% for women).


Macau (Macao) is situated on the south coast of China, at the mouth of the Pearl (Zhu) River, almost directly opposite Hong Kong, which is about 65 km (40 mi) away. Located at 22°6 to 22°13 n and 113°33 to 113°37 e, Macau consists of a peninsula, about 5 km (3 mi) long and 1.6 km (1 mi) wide, and two small islands, Taipa and Coloane. The total area is about 16 sq km (6 sq mi), and the total coastline is 41 km (25 mi). The climate is subtropical, with high humidity from April to October, when Macau receives most of its rainfall. Daily maximum temperatures average 29°c (84°f) during the summer; normal daily temperatures are less than 20°c (68°f) during the winter months.

Macau's population was estimated at 453,125 in mid-2006, down from 496,837 in mid-1996. The population density of over 29,000 per sq km (79,000 per sq mi) was among the highest in the world. Chinese, many of them refugees from the People's Republic of China (PRC) before Macau reverted to the PRC in 1999, constitute 95% of the total; the remaining 5% are Portuguese or of mixed Chinese Portuguese ancestry. Largescale movement of Chinese in and out of Macau has inevitably affected the economic and social life of the territory. The common language is Chinese, usually spoken in the Cantonese (87.9%), Hokkien (4.4%), or Mandarin (1.6%) dialect. As of 1997, Buddhism (50%) and Roman Catholicism (15%) were the dominant religions.

In 2003 there were about 345 km (215 mi) of highways. A causeway links Taipa and Coloane islands, and a 2.7-km (1.7-mi) bridge connects Macau and Taipa. Macau's main asset is its harbor; ferries, hydrofoils, and jetfoils offer shuttle service between Macau and Hong Kong. In 1994, a 240-km (149-mi) road connecting Macau and Hong Kong opened, running through Guangdong Province in the PRC.

Macau is the oldest European settlement in the Far East. The first Portuguese attempts to establish relations with China were made in the early 16th century. In 1557, the Chinese authorities agreed to Portuguese settlement of Macau, with leaseholder rights. The Portuguese, however, treated Macau as their possession and established a municipal government in the form of a senate of the local inhabitants. Disputes concerning jurisdiction and administration developed. In 1833, Macau, together with Timor, became an overseas province of Portugal under the control of the governor-general of Goa, and in 1849, Portugal succeeded in having Macau declared a free port. On 26 March 1887, China confirmed perpetual occupation and governance of Macau and its dependencies by Portugal, but the question of the delimitation of the boundaries was left unsettled.

As the only neutral port on the South China Sea during World War II (193945), Macau enjoyed a modicum of prosperity. In 1949, the government of the PRC renounced the "unequal treaty" granting Portuguese suzerainty over Macau. Civil disturbances in late 1966 between Macau police and Chinese leftist groups resulted in concessions to the territory's proChina elements. The 1974 military coup in Portugal led to a constitutional change in Macau's status from a Portuguese province to a "special territory." In January 1976, Portugal's remaining few hundred troops were withdrawn from Macau. China and Portugal established diplomatic ties in 1980. In March 1987, the PRC and Portugal reached an agreement for the return of Macau to the PRC on 20 December 1999. The PRC has guaranteed not to interfere in Macau's capitalist economy and way of life for a period of 50 years.

Until December 1999, Macau was ruled by a governor appointed by Portugal, although it was empowered to make its own laws, appoint and control its own civil service, and contract directly for foreign loans.

Prior to and immediately following Macau's transfer to PRC control, the unit of currency was the Macau pataca (p) of 100 avos; Hong Kong dollars also circulated freely. There are coins of 10, 20, and 50 avos and 1 and 5 patacas, and notes of 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 patacas. The pataca is linked to the Hong Kong dollar at the rate of hk$1= p1.03; as of 2005, the rate of exchange with US dollars was us$1= p8.011 or p1 = us$0.1248. Corporate taxes and import duties are important sources of revenue; major expenditures are for finance, security, education, and health and welfare.

Macau's economy is consumer-oriented. There is little agriculture and the territory is heavily dependent on imports from China for food, fresh water, and electricity. Important economic sectors are commerce, tourism, gambling, fishing, and light industry. There are small- and mediumscale enterprises concerned especially with the finishing of imported semi-manufactured goods, in particular the manufacture of clothing, ceramics, electronic equipment, toys, and fireworks, and the printing and dyeing of cloth and yarn.

Macau's historic role has been that of a gateway for southern China. It has close trade relations with neighboring Hong Kong, another free port. Gold trading, formerly a major facet in Macau's economy, virtually came to a halt in 197475 following Hong Kong's decision to lift its own restrictions on gold trading. The principal exports were clothing, textiles, footwear, toys, electronics, and machinery and parts. Principal export partners in 2004 were the United States, 48.7%; China, 13.9%; Germany, 8.3%, Hong Kong, 7.6%, and the United Kingdom, 4.4%. The principal imports were raw materials and semimanufactured goods, consumer goods (foodstuffs, beverages, and tobacco), capital goods, and mineral fuels and oil. Total imports in 2004 were valued at $3.478 billion, of which China provided 44.4%; Hong Kong, 10.6%; Japan, 9.6%; Taiwan, 4.9%; Singapore, 4.1%, and the United States, 4.1%.

Government schools are operated mainly for the children of civil servants and wealthier families, while poor Chinese students are educated in schools supported by China. Macau's University of East Asia opened in 1981. The Medical and Health Department, although critically understaffed, operates a 400-bed hospital. The 800-bed Kiang Vu Hospital has a largely Chinatrained staff.

There were 173,900 main telephone lines and 432,400 mobile cellular phone lines in use in 2004. Macau has two FM radio stations and has access to satellite communications. There are newspapers published in Chinese and Portuguese. Macau receives television broadcasts from Hong Kong.

With its varied gambling facilities, gambling provides about 70% of government revenue. Travelers must have a valid passport and a visa, which is generally purchased at the point of disembarkation. After the transfer of Macau to Chinese control in 1999, there was an increase in tourist arrivals from China.


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People's Republic of China

Major Cities:
Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang, Chengdu, Nanjing, Chongqing, Harbin, Wuhan

Other Cities:
Anshan, Cheng-chou, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Guilin, Guiyang, Hangzhou, Lüda, Suzhou, Tianjin, Xi'an, Yangshuo, Zibo

Macau, Tibet


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Reports dated December 1999 (Hong Kong) and December 1996. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


CHINA has the longest continuous historical and cultural tradition of any country on earth. The civilization which took shape in the Yellow River Valley of North China in the second millennium B.C. eventually came to dominate all of East Asia, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The products of that civilization bear the unmistakable stamp of the vast nation which today is the home of nearly one-fourth of the world's population.

The process of change in a society structured by more than 3,000 years of civilization has not been an easy one, and China in the 20th century has been exhausted by political, economic, and intellectual chaos. The Chinese Communist Party assumed control of the mainland in 1949, after almost a generation of war and social upheaval and, on October 1 of that year, formally proclaimed establishment of the People's Republic of China.

In the intervening years, and during the period of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, diplomatic relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) were interrupted. In the late 1960s, steps were taken toward relaxing tension between the two countries, and on March 1, 1979, the United States and the P.R.C. exchanged ambassadors and established embassies in Beijing and in Washington, DC.



Beijing is on the northern edge of the North China Plain. To the west and north are hills, rising to 11,000 feet, 60 miles to the west, while flat, fertile farmlands stretch to the south and east. In 2000, Beijing's population was approximately 12,033,000.

Beijing's modern architecture is undistinguished, but pockets of splendid old buildingsnotably the Forbidden City of the Ming and Qing Dynastiesstill preserve the charm of premodern Beijing. In the past 25 years, many new multistory buildings have been built along the broad east-west access, which passes through Tiananmen Square. In all sections of Beijing, new high-rise office buildings, hotels, shopping complexes, and apartment houses are either under construction or recently completed. The city is constantly changing, although certain sections are still largely characterized by narrow streets fronted by gray walls, beyond which gray roofs with slightly upturned gables mark courtyards and residences, intersected with blocks of brick apartments for workers. The city has three ring roads (some sections are raised highways) that allow for easier access around the city and to the outskirts. The six-lane airport expressway has recently been completed. While a fourth ring road is under construction, it is not expected to alleviate worsening overall traffic congestion, caused by a proliferation of taxicabs and privately owned vehicles on city streets.


With the increasing availability of Western products and their Chinese counterparts, it is now possible to find locally most of the components of a typical American diet. The drawbacks to the local scene are mainly price and lack of convenience: imported goods are still quite expensive, and food shopping outside the major hotel supermarkets is very time consuming. A summary of what is and isn't available is listed below.

All kinds of meat are available, both fresh and frozen, including beef, pork, and lamb. There are various delicatessens around town, as well as a German butcher who offers Western cuts. Frozen chickens (both whole and cutup), turkey, and duck are available at the Friendship stores and other outlets. Fresh and frozen seafood comes in many varieties, including such delicacies as scallops, squid, and some imported fish such as rainbow trout and salmon; prawns are available locally, but the quality varies. Also widely available are various cold cuts and sausages (some imported, some made locally) such as hot dogs, ham, and bacon as well as liver pate and caviar. Imported cheeses (at very high prices), deli meats, and fresh baked goods are also available widely at several hotel delicatessens and bakeries.

Dairy products are readily available. Fresh pasteurized, homogenized milk is sold almost everywhere for about 12 Yuan per liter. UHT (long-life) milk (low-fat and skim as well as full-fat) is widely available as well, imported mainly from Australia. A Swedish-Chinese joint venture company produces a heavy cream similar to creme fraiche, yogurt (plain and limited selections of flavors), cottage cheese, and sour cream. With the exception of yogurt, however, these items are expensive. Butter, margarine, and cheddar-style cheese are all available, in both locally made and imported varieties. An Italian cheese store that recently opened offers locally made fresh ricotta, mozzarella, and soft Italian cheeses, and lately, fresh pasta.

Fresh produce is abundant, and the availability of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables has increased dramatically over the past few years. Local produce markets dot the city, with some around the diplomatic compounds catering to Westerners and their tastes.

Produce available year-round includes cabbage, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, beets, carrots, garlic, bean sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, corn, eggplant, lettuce, green peppers, spinach, and string beans. The popularity of "hothouse farming" has made available such diverse items as fresh white and cremini mushrooms, Italian parsley, okra, zucchini, Japanese eggplant, and beautifully ripe tomatoes. Boutique fruit stands offer the likes of mangoes, lemons, imported apples, cherries, and Asian pears in addition to bananas, watermelon, peaches, lychees, strawberries, per-simmons, pineapples, plums, mandarin orangesall of which are available at different times of the year.

Frozen vegetables are available at several stores, although at considerably higher prices than in the U.S. Canned tomatoes, peas, asparagus, mushrooms, and carrots, as well as a variety of canned fruits are available; their quality may vary, but their prices are consistently high. If you cook a lot of Italian food, bring your own tomato paste as no acceptable substitute is available, and imported cans are expensive. A variety of juices are regularly available either fresh, canned, or in cartons: orange, grapefruit, pineapple, tomato juices, guava, grape, and various juice blends. All are expensive compared to prices in the U.S.

Some other items available in Beijing stores are grains (several varieties of rice, cornmeal, oatmeal, macaroni, spaghetti, millet), spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, coriander, noniodized salt, pepper, curry powder, chili powder, sesame seeds and paste, anise), chicken and duck eggs, nonegg noodles, sandwich bread, walnuts and pine nuts, granulated sugar, cooking oils, cookies, jams, honey, ice cream, rice vinegar, catsup, beer, wine (both imported and Chinese), soda water, mineral water, imported spirits, and many Western brands of candy and gum.


In July and August, the weather turns hot and humid similar to that of Washington, D.C., and rain showers are frequent. Autumn is the best time of the year, with warm, pleasant clear days and little wind. December through March is cold, extremely dry and windy, with occasional snow. Beijing spring is mostly dry, with frequent strong winds that stir up heavy dust storms. Prepare your wardrobe with these extremes in mind. In winter most buildings are overheated, but restaurants frequently have little or no heat.

The Chinese, both men and women, wear long winter underwear and trousers with a padded tunic in winter. A light open-necked shirt is the usual dress in the summer. Foreigners' clothing is informal and reflects prevailing fashions in Europe or the U.S. Daytime requires sturdy, practical, and washable items. Bring your deck shoes, tennis shoes, or hiking boots for climbing the Great Wall (it's steep).

Warm clothing, including boots, is needed during winter. Synthetic fabrics are a problem because they collect excessive electricity in the dry winter months. Static spray is a great help in controlling static electricity in clothing, and some consider it essential. Local department stores carry limited selections of men's underwear, sports and dress shirts, polo shirts, socks, and sweaters and down jackets for men, women, and children. A number of Western designers contract with Chinese firms to produce high-style items. Some of the items, often seconds, appear in the free markets at prices that are bargains compared to their U.S. equivalents.

For older children, Chinese clothing is adequate but has a distinctly Chinese look. Clothing for school should include sweatsuits for physical education class and sneakers. Dresses and trousers are available locally, though the styling may not be Western. Shoes of cloth and rubber are inexpensive and come in all sizes, but quality is poor.

Supplies and Services

Local toiletries and cosmetics differ widely from what Americans are used to, and Western products, available at selected shops, are limited in selection and quantity and priced exorbitantly. Bath oils and lotions, moisturizers, and creams are popular because skin becomes exceedingly dry and itchy in the dry winter climate. Dandruff shampoos and hair conditioners are also useful.

There are a few hotel laundry and dry-cleaning facilities. Service time varies, and cleaning is marginally satisfactory. Shrinkage of woolen suits is not unknown, and clothing has been lost or damaged. Simple tailoring and dressmaking can be done locally. Tailors can copy clothes from pictures, and with a fitting session or two, they do adequate work. Good silk, wool, linen, blended suit fabric, and brocades (inexpensive by U.S. standards) are available, but cotton, men's shirt, and wash-and-wear fabrics can be hard to find. Many people have been pleased with the clothes they have had made here.

There are men's barbers and women's beauty/barber salons in the hotels and the International Club, and if you speak Chinese, you can go to the generally improving local salons. Prices range from inexpensive to expensive. The Chinese have their own supplies, but some women may prefer to use their own hair spray, conditioners, coloring, shampoo, and equipment such as rollers.

Religious Activities

Catholic Mass is offered in English every Saturday night at the Canadian Embassy and every Sunday at the Philippine Embassy. A Catholic Mass is also offered Sunday morning at two Chinese cathedrals in Beijing; the churches are independent of Rome, and the service is in Latin.

Nondenominational Protestant services in Chinese are held Sundays at two local Protestant churches and in English at the Sino-Japanese Center.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds meetings in the homes of members.

Informal Jewish services are held for the major holidays, as are Passover Seders. These services are coordinated by longtime residents of Beijing. Weekly services are not available.

Information on religious services is available from American Citizen Services, American Embassy.


With the rapid growth of the foreign community, Beijing has experienced a deficit of educational opportunities for children.

Three new schools, all with programs limited so far to elementary and middle school grades, have also opened recently in Beijing: the Western Academy of Beijing (WAB), the New School for Collaborative Learning (NSCL), and the Beijing Singapore International School (BISS). The WAB and BISS both attract mostly children whose native tongue is not English, with extensive English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. The WAB's curriculum, developed by the European Council of International Schools (ECIS), is more British in its orientation as well.

It must be stressed that none of the schools in Beijing are equipped to handle children with anything but mild learning disabilities. If your child has special educational needs, be sure to have these assessed before you make the decision to come to Beijing.

International School of Beijing: Jiang Tai Road, Dongzhimenwai, Beijing 100004, People's Republic of China Tel: 86-10-6437-7119 Fax: 86-10-437-6989

The International School of Beijing, jointly sponsored by the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S., was established in 1980 as the successor to the American Educational Association and the former Australian, Canadian, and British schools. ISB is an independent, coeducational day school offering a program ranging from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 for government dependents and other citizens of the founding nations. As space is available, qualified children of citizens of other countries are also admitted. The school year extends from mid-August to mid-June.

Organization: The school is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors, 6 of whom are appointed by the sponsoring embassies, and 5 of whom are elected by the International School Association of Beijing. All parents of children who are registered for attendance in the school and members of the Board of Directors are automatically members of the Association.

Curriculum: The curriculum is based on, but not limited to, American models. Language arts and mathematics are emphasized. Social studies, science, computer studies, Chinese, French, art, music, drama, physical education, and health education are also taught. The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is also offered to students in grades 11 and 12, along with several advanced placement courses. All grades meet in regular classes, from self-contained elementary (pre-kindergarten through grade 5) through middle school (grades 6 to 8) to high school (grades 9 to 12). All students study about China within the regular subjects and through special field experiences. There are limited programs for ESL, resource, and English enrichment.

Accreditation: The ISB is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Faculty: There are about 80 full-time and 16 part-time professional staff members, many of whom are American.

Enrollment: Enrollment is about 1,000 students (50% Pre-K through grade 5, 25% grades 6 to 8, 25% grades 9 to 12).

Facilities: The school operates in 2 modern and 10 new buildings with 48 classrooms, 4 science labs, 5 music rooms, 2.5 art rooms, 3 computer labs, a learning Media Center, and a multipurpose room with stage, 14 language rooms, 8 resource and ESL classrooms, 2 gymnasiums, shower rooms, and 2 food-serving kitchens. It is located partly on the compound of the Lido Hotel Company Ltd., and partly on land leased from the Chinese Government. With the addition of 10 new buildings to the campus during the summer of 1994 to add needed enrollment capacity, the outdoor/play/sports places were cut back somewhat.

A new school facility for 1,500 students on a new 40-acre site is in the construction stages. Until the site is complete, students in grades K through 2 will attend a new "satellite" campus a short distance away from the Lido campus, accommodate the growing student.

Finances: About 95 percent of the school's income is derived from regular day school tuition. Annual tuition rates for 1996-1997 were as follows: Pre-K: $7,500; K-grade 5: $11,870; grades 6 to 8: $12,710; grades 9 to 12: $14,030; capital fee: kindergarten$1,500, grades 1 to 12$3,000. A mandatory building fee of $15,000 per student (refundable under certain terms and conditions upon withdrawal) was introduced for the 1996-97 school year to raise funds for the new campus. (All fees are quoted in U.S. dollars.)

The New School of Collaborative Learning: Shangdi West Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100085 PRC

The New School of Collaborative Learning is a cross-cultural international school sponsored by the Alliance for International Collaboration and Development (AICD), an American nonprofit educational corporation. Established in 1994, it offers, in English and Chinese, a program ranging from preprimary through 9th grade. An alternative school in the heart of Beijing's intellectual district, NSCL emphasizes immersion in Chinese and American cultures and languages and self-motivated learning through individualized education. The school sees its location in China as a positive benefit and seeks to have its students take full advantage of the unique opportunities afforded by this location. Administrators are actively involved in Chinese educational reform, with NSCL serving as a model school for the Haidian Reform Initiative.

Organization: The school year extends from the beginning of September through mid-June. The school is governed by a Board of Trustees composed of both American and Chinese educators, private sponsors, and parents. The administration has a Head of School, a Director of Education, a Director of Administration, and a Director of Outreach Programs.

Curriculum: The curriculum has been designed with the ongoing assistance of educators from Sidwell Friends School of Washington, D.C., and the bilingual program follows that of the Chinese American School of San Francisco. The best of both American and Chinese teaching is brought to the instruction of mathematics, science, social studies, and language arts. Western and Asian art, music, physical education, computer training, and a program of community service complete the curriculum. Wherever possible and appropriate, an active learning/integrated learning approach is used.

Accreditation: The NCSL is applying for accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Faculty: There are team teachers at every level.

Enrollment: During its first year, the school enrolled 25 students on three levels: primary, elementary, and middle school. The school in its second year enrolled approximately 60 pupils.

Facilities: The school operates in a new educational facility on 30,000 square meters, which includes the site for a track and a Chinese garden. It will share facilities with a Chinese elementary school until enrollment expands to fill the entire building. The school's 12 classrooms include a library and an assembly room. The track is soon to be completed. A science and library building and gymnasium are to be built in the next 3 years.

Finance: In the 1994-95 school year, about 95 percent of the school's income came from regular day school tuition. Annual tuition rates for 1995-96 are Pre-K: $7,000; Primary I: $8,000; Primary II: grades 3 and 4: $10,000; grades 5 to 9: $11,000.

Preschool Options: There are a variety of preschool options in Beijing, with two Montessori schools, several private preschool programs, and the American Community Preschool (ACP).

Adult Educational Opportunities

A number of interested students in Beijing have arranged to study the Chinese language or Chinese traditional art and music at Chinese institutions and universities. Occasionally American universities offer U.S.-led extension courses in Beijing. These latter opportunities vary with the composition of the American community at post at a given moment.


China presents limited participant sports and recreational opportunities.

Cycling, hiking, tennis, golf, and ice skating are enjoyed by some. Several private tennis clubs, in addition to the various embassy courts, have both indoor and outdoor (lighted) tennis courts with varying hourly fees. The International Club holds tournaments each year for members of the foreign community. Though local tennis equipment is generally adequate, tennis enthusiasts should bring a supply of balls.

Biking is a very popular mode of transportation in Beijing. Individuals find cycling a convenient way to exercise and sight-see at the same time. Chinese bicycles are heavy and have no gears, but are sturdily made and comfortable, and some people use them to commute to work. Recent to the marketplace are an increasing variety of made-for-export mountain bicycles and accessories, available at about 50 percent of the cost in the U.S. Since Beijing is flat, gears are not really necessary, but bicycles with gears have their advantages, especially for bike trips outside the city or on windy days. Imported bikes are subject to theft, so a good locking system is recommended.

Sports facilities include several golf courses in Beijing, and the cost is relatively affordable. There are roughly 6 weeks of ice skating in Beijing every year, with outdoor, unimproved rinks at the Summer Palace and Beihai Park.

Spectator sports in Beijing include basketball, volleyball, ping-pong, badminton, soccer, gymnastics, and hockey, but tickets are very hard to get.

Health clubs are now available in many of the better hotels, including such facilities as indoor swimming pools, tennis and squash courts, a range of aerobics equipment and weight machines, and sauna, steambath, and locker facilities. Membership fees vary, as does the equipment or facilities in each club, but there is generally something for everyone, from the hardcore to the occasional club goer, in terms of facility and budget.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Sight-seeing in and around Beijing and the rest of the PRC is a favorite activity.

Private groups also offer sight-seeing, but arrangements are often difficult. For a variety of reasonsthe language barrier, frequent delays, logistical difficultiestravel in China is a real adventure, more fun to accomplish in groups than on one's own. Fortunately, there are many fascinating sights in the PRC, which make the challenge of travel worth the effort, but travel is rarely relaxing or restful, and transportation and lodging costs are rising rapidly as well.


There are lots of interesting activities going on all over Beijingsymphonies, operas, acrobatics, theater groups, and sporting events. However, hearing about events in time to get tickets is often difficult. Events are often not publicized ahead of time, or ticket distribution is unknown.

There is a Chinese film series (with English subtitles) with weekly showings at a nearby hotel and a foreign film program at a downtown hotel, although the foreign films are not all that current.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is Cantonese for "fragrant harbor," a name inspired either by the incense factories that once dotted Hong Kong Island or by the profusion of scented pink Bauhinias, the national flower.

The island is a dazzling melee of human life and enterprise. Its animated nature seems all the more perplexing when you add in the mix of nationalities, languages, customs, and fashions. People came to this city for many reasons-to find a better life or to find freedom from restrictive governments-and enough have stayed to turn a once-quiet trading village into one of the world's busiest international business centers.

From the harbor the city's latest architectural wonders stand against a green-mountain backdrop, while on the other side of the island beaches and quieter villages slow the pace considerably. Hong Kong has the best shopping in the world. Although the thought of crowded streets and mind-boggling choices can be daunting, no place makes big spending easier than this center of international commerce.

It was in the late 1970s that Hong Kong began to focus on the issue of its future. The colony's officials and business people realized they could no longer put off the question of what would happen to the New Territories, which makes up more than 90 percent of Hong Kong's land area. The New Territories were leased to Britain by China in 1898, for 99 years. That lease was set to expire on July 1, 1997.

After months of negotiations, both sides agreed in 1984 to Beijing's proposal for a Joint Declaration-making Hong Kong a Special Administrative Region, with its own distinct laws, freedoms, and way of life. On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty amid intense interest from the international community.

So far, the transition has been smooth. Hong Kong has grown steadily more prosperous. While an estimated 387,000 citizens had emigrated over the past few years, many have been coming home as their confidence returns.


The landscape is one of contrast, marked by a mix of old and new types of architectural design. It is quite apparent from the old churches and government buildings that are a few stories high to the high-rise skyscraper office and apartment buildings that cover the landscape from the harbor's edge and climb dramatically to the Peak.

The developed areas consist of high-density, high-rise office buildings and apartments. Hong Kong has experienced a very ambitious building program during the past decade, and more is planned for the future. Incorporated into this scheme are plans to ensure that park areas remain part of the landscape. This setting complements the steep green hills that surround the city and provide a pleasantly spectacular visual background.


Electrical current is 220v, 50 cycle, AC. Power is dependable with little voltage fluctuation. Transformers are required for 110v appliances. Employees may purchase additional transformers locally. Synchronous 60-cycle appliances, such as electric clocks, record players, and tape recorders, will not function properly on 50 cycles without modification. American and Continental European plugs will not fit into the three-prong U.K. standard sockets used in Hong Kong,* but adapter plugs are available. Hong Kong has a wide variety of 220v appliances available at prices comparable to those in the U.S. Color TVs, video players, stereo components, and electric clocks with built-in converters for either 50 or 60 cycles and voltage adjusters from 120v to 220v are also readily available.


Food markets and supermarkets in Hong Kong provide a wide variety of fresh, processed, canned, and frozen foods catering to both the Western and Asian diet. It is possible to find almost everything here that one buys in the U.S. However, certain items will carry a premium price tag, and what is on the shelf today may not be there tomorrow. Food shopping in Hong Kong is perhaps best and most economically accomplished in the European fashion rather than American, i.e. going to different shops and markets for different foods. However, the larger outlets of the two major supermarket chains (Wellcome and Park N' Shop) are stocked to European tastes and carry standard products. American products are beginning to be seen on the shelves with more regularity. Credit cards are accepted at Wellcome and Park N' Shop. Most meats in the supermarket are imported from the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Phone/fax orders and delivery are available. Local markets sell fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, and seafood at prices somewhat less than in supermarkets. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are imported from both the northern and southern hemispheres and are available most of the year in Hong Kong. Specialty shops are popular in Hong Kong, providing an ever increasing selection of imported gourmet food and beverage items from around the world. Condiments and spices for Asian cooking are available in supermarkets and gourmet shops, as well as from vendors in the local markets. Coffees and teas from all over the world are sold here. Bakeries produce a variety of pastries, breads, and rolls. There are good quality butcher shops in addition to supermarket meat counters. Local dairies provide pasteurized milk and dairy products including yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese. Butter and cheeses are imported. Even health food stores have found a niche in this cosmopolitan city.


General: With its increasing prosperity, Hong Kong has become very fashion conscious in recent years. In central Hong Kong and the shopping arcades of Kowloon, more and more fashion boutiques, including the finest of European import houses, cater to the affluent tastes of this economically flourishing territory. The sophistication of conservative big-city business attire predominates, and Hong Kong "dresses up" not only for the office but also for teas, lunches, and dinners. On the other hand, designer label "casual wear" is also very common all over Hong Kong; and jeans and sneakers identify the tourist and resident alike, whether sightseeing or bargain shopping.

A varied wardrobe, similar to what you would wear in Washington, is appropriate for Hong Kong. Definite seasons call for summer lightweight garments most of the year with mediumweight or lightweight wool for the Hong Kong winter. The winter although short, December through March, can be cold with temperatures averaging 15 °C (59°F).

Three other general comments: 1) during the humid months, cotton is highly preferable to synthetic fabric for clothing as well as undergarments; 2) getting around Hong Kong requires considerable walking, uphill as well as down, therefore special attention should be given to comfortable footwear for all activities; and 3) if you wear an unusual or especially large size, you may have difficulty with some items such as shoes or underwear.

Men: Men need lightweight suits from April through November and lightweight wool suits for the cooler months.

American and British summer and winter suit materials are stocked locally, and getting a suit made to order is still one of the best deals in Hong Kong. Prices will vary depending on your tailor and the quality of material being used. Custom-made shirts are also quite popular and also vary in price according to design and material. Shoes can also be custom made to suit your taste. Most of the popular brands of shoes used for leisure activities are available at reasonable prices. You can also find many outlets that stock popular sweaters and ties. Hats are seldom worn for formal occasions, but you will see all the familiar logo caps and styles as you walk around Kowloon and Hong Kong.

Women: Women should bring a supply of summer cottons and other lightweight dresses. Women who plan to work in Hong Kong should bring suits and other professionally appropriate outfits such as one would wear in Washington. Although dry cleaning services are readily available, the costs are similar to the U.S., so many prefer to use wash and wear apparel.

Materials such as cotton and varieties of silks and woolens are stocked for tailor-made dresses, suits, and coats. Some fabrics are inexpensive, but tailoring of women's clothing is not and the finished product often leaves much to be desired.

An increasing number of shops carry imported American and European ready-to-wear sweaters, dresses, suits and coats but prices are higher than in the U.S. unless found at bargain factory outlets or markets. Locally manufactured clothing is also available but is very limited in sizes above U.S. size 12. Evening wear, both informal and formal, is more difficult to find and is more expensive in Hong Kong than in the U.S.

Lingerie, including British and U.S. brands, is available; however, it is more expensive than in the U.S. Cotton undergarments, which are preferred due to heat and humidity, are not easily found. The supply of U.S. or British hosiery items is very limited and very expensive; tall or queen-sized hosiery is virtually unavailable.

Lightweight coats or lined raincoats are often worn during the cooler months; unlined raincoats are desirable for the warmer, rainy season. If you have a fur jacket or stole, you will probably have an opportunity to wear it in the winter.

Some ready-made American and European shoes are available but expensive and usually come in wider widths. Narrow shoes and sizes above 7-1/2 are difficult to find. Once here, you may enjoy having shoes made by Hong Kong shoemakers whom many consider to be good. Because of the need for comfortable walking shoes and the level of fashion seen in the main shopping/business district, "smart-casual" (a British term) shoes are recommended.

Sports clothes, including bathing suits, are sold here but generally in small sizes and with price tags higher than in the U.S. Locally made, inexpensive knits are also available in the street markets. Women do not generally wear shorts on the streets in Hong Kong, but slacks and pantsuits are often worn. White is still the only color acceptable on most tennis courts.

Children: Children dress just as in the U.S. Parents can enjoy the fact that heavy winter wear is not needed and blue jeans are standard streetwear. Hong Kong street markets are full of clothing for toddlers and young children. Many children's shops have attractive clothes but prices are high.

With the exception of sports shoes, children's shoes cost more than in the U.S. and the choice is limited. It is hard to find shoes of correct size, proper fit, and desired styles. Orthopedic shoes are not readily available.

Supplies and Services

As with food and clothing, almost anything you want is available in Hong Kong; however, unless it is made locally, it may be hard to find, and, it will most probably be more expensive than in the U.S. American, British, French, and German toiletries, cosmetics, and hygiene products are available in Hong Kong, but are expensive. You may wish to bring an ample supply of cosmetics. French perfumes, however, can be purchased at a reasonable price as compared to prices in the U.S. Pharmacies in Hong Kong are good; however, bring any needed prescriptions with you. Most household products are available in several brands.

Hong Kong is renowned for its toys, but you have to be careful that what you purchase complies with U.S. safety standards. Toys "R" Us has two outlets in Hong Kong and Kowloon and carries approved brands that comply with U.S. standards, although the prices are higher than you will find in the U.S. In shopping for toys locally, you must remember that there is a great difference in quality between export quality and local quality. Both kinds are available on the local market.

There are many excellent bookstores in Hong Kong but be prepared for prices considerably higher than in the U.S. Most people mail order their reading material. It should be noted, however, that paperback editions of best sellers are often out in Hong Kong long before paperback. International magazines and newspapers are readily available.

Men's and women's hairdressers are located throughout Hong Kong and have generally high standards at reasonable to expensive prices. Many use the facilities located in major hotels located near the at which appointments can be made. Hong Kong has reliable dry cleaners, many using American methods and materials. The price is similar to that charged in the U.S. and several pick up and deliver. Good laun-dries are also available. Shoe repair services operate on the street, in stairways, or in alleys. The service is fair and reasonably priced. Car maintenance and repairs are moderately priced for locally-sold models. Parts and service for American cars are more difficult to obtain.

Domestic Help

Domestic help is available in Hong Kong but has become quite costly. Full-time Chinese cooks are almost a thing of the past and very expensive. Any live-in Chinese help is a rarity and extremely costly. Although part-time help is available, it is also expensive and difficult to arrange. Most families looking for domestic help choose to hire Filipina domestics who live in and are reasonably priced. By law, minimum wage for overseas domestic helpers (Filipinas, Thais, etc.) for 1998 was set at HK $3,860 per month. Additionally, the employer is required to provide either all food or a food allowance (usually about HK $400/Mo.), housing, uniforms, medical insurance, and one round trip to the home country every 2 years for home leave. By law, these domestics have eleven local holidays, 1 week of annual leave after 1 full year of successful performance, and home leave (2 weeks) every 2 years. All domestic helpers should have a medical examination including chest x-ray, blood serological, and stool examination. All costs are borne by the employer.

Religious Activities

Religious services are held in English by the following denominations: Assemblies of God, Bahai Faith, Baptist, Christian Missionary Alliance, Christian Science, Church of Christ, Church of England (Episcopal-Anglican), Iglesia de Christo, Jewish (Orthodox and Reform congregations), Latter-day Saints, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian/Congregational, Quakers, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, United Pentecostal, and others. Various Buddhist sects also have English speaking congregations in Hong Kong.


Hong Kong International School. The vast majority of American school-age children attend the Hong Kong International School (HKIS). It is recognized as one of the leading international schools and provides a U.S.-style education and U.S. curriculum. HKIS is sponsored by and operated under the auspices of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (USA). It is registered with the Office of Education of the Hong Kong Government and is associated with other American overseas schools in the Far East. Its accredited status by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges of the U.S. reflects its conformity with American educational standards. Half the staff is composed of trained teachers recruited in the U.S. through the Lutheran school system and appointed for a minimum of 3 years. The remainder of the staff, also professionally trained and experienced, consists of members of the American and European community in Hong Kong plus a few Chinese instructors.

HKIS serves a religiously diverse community. Although religious instruction is mandatory, course offerings may be selected that encompass Christian or Bible subjects as well as a variety of non-Christian topics such as existentialism and oriental religions. Chapel is voluntary for students in grades 7-12. For kindergarten through grade 6 there are weekly chapel services and 20-minute religious instruction classes.

Of its approximately 2,000 students, slightly more than half are U.S. citizens, while fewer than 100 are dependents of U. S. Government employees. Instruction is in English with emphasis on academic or college preparatory courses. Some advanced placement courses are offered. More than 90% of graduates enroll in American colleges and universities. In the recent years, HKIS has made great strides to include programs for special needs children. However, there is currently no school in Hong Kong, including HKIS, which is staffed or equipped to handle students with severe learning, physical, or emotional disabilities. Parents with special educational needs for their children should consult directly with the school to see how those needs can best be met.

The elementary school (K-5) in Repulse Bay is an air-conditioned "open space" facility consisting of six clusters of over 4,000 sq.ft. each. There is also a gymnasium, library, and swimming pool. Educational approaches range from self-contained classrooms to independent learning and team-teaching situations. The middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) are located together at Tai Tam, several miles from Repulse Bay. The multi-million dollar facility features an open air campus similar to schools found in many parts of the U.S. with classrooms, separate science laboratories, computer lab, music rooms, a cafeteria, gymnasium, swimming pool, audio visual center, bookstore, library, and guidance offices.

Sixth grade through High School students participate annually in an "Interim Program" which consists of a week of cultural explorations in Hong Kong or overseas. These programs are a prerequisite for graduation. The school offers approximately 37 interim trips each year with about 20 students enrolled in each. The cost of these trips must be borne by the parents. For example, the least expensive trip is US$350 (for 6th grade), and the most expensive is a High School trip for US$1,600. Parents/children are allowed to indicate their preferences but sometimes are not placed in their top choice.

A full program of American-type extracurricular activities is offered, including a broad selection of clubs, drama, choral and band groups, publications, scouts, and sports: badminton, baseball, basketball, bowling, cross-country, field hockey, gymnastics, rugby, soccer, squash, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and water polo. Inter-scholastic competition includes meets with other schools in Hong Kong as well as the International School Bangkok (ISB) and the Taipei American School (TAS). HKIS also hosts an invitational basketball tournament each December that attracts schools from other Asian cities. Some emphasis is placed on inter-cultural programs. Mandarin is taught in elementary school and is offered as an elective in middle school and high school. French and Spanish are offered in grades 6-12.

The school year normally runs from the third or fourth week in August until mid-June.

Since the school is normally at capacity enrollment, it is vital that application forms be requested and forwarded well in advance. Application forms can be requested, in writing, from the Admissions Office, Hong Kong International School, 6 South Bay Close, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong. It is particularly important that parents discuss well in advance any instances in which a student has poor academic records or special needs.

English Schools Foundation (ESF) (British Curriculum). This is an alternative to HKIS. Before an application can be submitted, the student must be a resident of Hong Kong. Admittance and decision as to grade level placement are based on age, the results of an entrance examination in English and mathematics, an interview and availability of space. A medical examination is also required. The city is zoned and children attend the ESF schools according to where they live. ESF schools previously used by Consulate General families and located in Mid-Levels where many employees are housed include Glenealy Junior School and Kennedy Road Junior School for children 5-10 and Island School for children 11-17.

Other specialized school options include the Chinese International School and Singapore International School, both providing bicultural English-Mandarin programs; the French International School which has both French and English streams; the German-Swiss School which has both German and English streams; the International Christian School which is based on Taiwan's American-based Morrison Academy; and the American International School, a Catholic Church sponsored school in Kowloon. Kellett School, the only private British Primary school in Hong Kong, is another alternative considered by American families. Good preschools are available on Hong Kong Island but are quite costly.

School websites:

Hong Kong International School

English Schools Foundation

German Swiss International School

Chinese International School

Parkview International Pre-school^pips

Carmel School Hong Kong

Special Educational Opportunities

Adult education courses conducted in English are available at both Hong Kong University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The courses cover literature, history, journalism, philosophy, architecture, pottery making and many other subjects. Entrance as a full-time student either to the University of Hong Kong or to the Chinese University is very difficult. The entrance examinations are based on a British educational background, and the universities generally only admit students who are permanent residents of Hong Kong, except as non-credit auditors. Elsewhere, there are excellent opportunities to study many phases of Chinese culture, especially Cantonese. Instruction in modern dance, ballet, voice, instrumental music, Western and Asian painting, and sports are available. The YWCA English Speaking Members Department, Island School, Towngas, Electric Co., and the American Women's Association also offer a good variety of adult education courses. Language classes are taught at the Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institute, and the Italian Cultural Society. The YMCA and YWCA offer adult language courses in Cantonese and Mandarin.

Recreation and Social Life

Recreation and social activities are plentiful in Hong Kong but one needs to be willing to seek out opportunities, especially for sports, since public venues are extremely crowded and private facilities (clubs) are beyond the financial means of most Consulate General personnel. In addition, waiting lists for membership in most clubs exceed the average tour in Hong Kong. On the other hand, facilities for entertainment and cultural activities are quite extensive and affordable.


Most sports facilities such as golf, tennis, squash, riding and swimming pools are available through private clubs only. The Consulate General has a tennis court located on the grounds of the Consul General's compound on Barker Road and a swimming pool located at the Shouson Hill compound which are available to employees and families.

The recent opening of two public golf courses in Hong Kong has made it affordable for non-club members to hit the links. Also, the Macau Golf and Country Club (one hour away by hydrofoil) features a challenging and fun course; and within a two hour bus or boat ride from Hong Kong, there are six courses in China that offer affordable golfing packages.

Sailing and yachting are popular and possible year round. Joining a sailboarding, kayak or rowing club often provides the opportunity for sport without the expense of a recreational club. There are some very nice beaches in the territory. Beaches on Hong Kong Island, especially on the South Side of the island, tend to be quite crowded. There is also a concern about pollution, and beach-goers need to pay attention to environmental reports in the media on pollution ratings. The more remote beaches in the New Territories and on Outlying Islands are more appealing; these beaches are reached by ferries, private "junks," and/or on foot.

If you are a runner or tri-athlete, there are numerous associations to join as well as several Hash House Harriers groups that meet weekly. There are many events sponsored by such groups throughout the year for competitors. One of the more popular means of recreation and exercise for both Chinese and expatriates is walking and hiking. The opportunities are endless and the territory has a multitude of very well-marked and maintained paths and trails that meet the needs of the leisurely stroller, the family on an outing, the casual hiker, and the ardent mountain trekker.

Tenpin bowling has been popular among Consulate General personnel.

Some Americans participate in the activities of the Hong Kong Softball Association which includes men's and women's softball teams. Because of the summer heat the softball teams are active only from September through April, and games are played at night. Some Americans entered teams in the Dragon Boat Festival held annually in June and for the 100 km Trail-walker event held in November. Popular spectator sports include soccer, cricket, rugby, softball, tennis, basketball, and horse racing (October-May).

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The Outlying Islands of Cheung Chau, Ping Chau, Lamina, and Lantau, which are accessible by ferry, offer hiking and browsing opportunities for day trips. Overnight "vacation rentals" are also available at reasonable prices. Macau is an interesting place to spend a day or weekend. This 400-year-old Portuguese colony (until December 1999), 40 miles west of Hong Kong, is a place of old and gentle Mediterranean charm on the one hand, and a city on the move on the other; bright lights, large construction sites and new high rises are rapidly changing its skyline. It is the oldest European settlement in Asia. Travel by high-speed ferry takes just about an hour. Cuisine, a mixture of Portuguese, English, and Chinese styles, is tasty and interesting. Antique shopping is another good excuse to make the trip to Macau. Hong Kong is a crossroads to most destinations in Asia. Vacations in Southeast Asia, Japan, and the Philippines are popular. Many use Hong Kong as a door to tourist travel in China. Travel agents are plentiful and are eager to assist you with package deals and self-determined itineraries.

Hong Kong itself has many interesting sights for tourists and photographers. Tourist agencies offer excellent tours. Among the more interesting excursions are the water tours of the island, tours of Kowloon, the New Territories, Hong Kong Island, the fishing village of junks and sampans at Aberdeen, and the ride to the top of the Peak by funicular cable car (Peak Tram). There are also heritage tours and opportunities to visit local housing areas and schools. Ocean Park is one of Hong Kong's most popular recreational attractions. Facilities include the world's largest aquarium, an ocean theater, a zoo, flower and water gardens, and oriental and Western restaurants. Middle Kingdom, a cultural village, portrays customs, costumes, architecture and entertainment from 13 dynasties of China. A visit to Ocean Park makes a pleasurable and interesting outing for the entire family. Water World, which is located adjacent to Ocean Park, has water slides and pools galore. A visit to Water World is a great way to escape the heat of summer.


Eating is the most popular form of entertainment in Hong Kong. About 1.5 million people eat in restaurants daily, the highest per capita rate in the world. The range of restaurants runs from world class to street vendors. All types of Western restaurants are available, and the choice of Asian cuisines is practically endless.

A variety of performing arts programs are presented throughout the year, including symphony concerts, recitals, ballet and dance performances, drama, and Western opera. The Hong Kong Cultural Center, the Academy for the Performing Arts, the Hong Kong Arts Center and City Hall are the centers of Hong Kong's cultural life. The Hong Kong Cultural Center includes a 2,085-seat concert hall, a 1,724-seat grand theater, and a flexible 300-to 500-seat studio theater for experimental drama. It is the home of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. The Cultural Center complex also houses the Hong Kong Museum of Art, with its collections of Chinese arts and antiquities, ethno-graphic materials and archaeological finds, and the Hong Kong Space Museum. The Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts (APA) is a professional degree granting institution providing training, education, and research in the performing arts and related fields. Students from the APA Schools of Dance and Drama give public performances throughout the year in the APA's theater. The Hong Kong Arts Center features a multi-purpose theater, a recital hall for music performances and films, and art galleries. It is a multi-disciplinary center, featuring contemporary work in the performing, visual, and cinematic arts. The Center also offers classes in painting, ceramics, and other art forms for children and adults. The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is the nucleus of Hong Kong's musical life. It has an 11-month season from April through February and season subscriptions are available. Guest artists of world renown appear regularly with the orchestra.

Other performing arts groups that perform at Hong Kong's cultural venues include the Hong Kong Repertory Theater, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the Hong Kong Dance Company, City Contemporary Dance Company, the Hong Kong Ballet, and the Chung Ying Theater Company. The American Community Theater (ACT) is Hong Kong's most active amateur theatrical group and produces several plays a year. It has an international membership and stages American theatrical productions, including musicals. The most active and best known choral groups are the Bach Choir, the Hong Kong Singers, and the St. Cecilia Singers. These non-professional groups present one or two cantatas, operettas, or musicals a year. Free lunch time concerts and recitals are held each Wednesday in St. John's Cathedral (Episcopal), which is located one-half block from the Consulate General. The program includes both sacred and secular music.

Social Activities

All travelers have the opportunity for a very active social life as they enjoy the wonderful restaurants of Hong Kong, theaters, school activities, wine tastings, food fairs, night spots.

The American Women's Association (AWA) has about 1,600 regular and associate members; by charter the membership is at least 51% American regular members with international members as associates. The Association has a number of popular monthly activities and several special membership luncheons/meetings/programs during the year. It supports many community projects and offers a wide variety of both social and charitable activities. Joining AWA is a good way to meet Americans outside the Consulate General and also to get to know women of other nationalities. The English Speaking Members' Department of the YWCA located near the Consulate General offers their members a vast number of day and evening activities including lectures on Asian Affairs, seminars on family issues, bridge, tennis, exercise, cooking and language classes, computer and other skill development sessions, and a variety of arts and crafts offerings. Their "At Home in Hong Kong" program is highly recommended for newcomers to the territory. The Rotary Clubs, American Chamber of Commerce, Lions Clubs, Toastmaster and Toast-mistress Clubs, the American University Club, League of Women Voters, Hong Kong, (an integral part of the League of Women Voters of the U.S.), and many other groups where individuals can meet local residents and expatriates are available. The Brownies, Cub Scouts, Girl Guides, and Little League baseball are active in Hong Kong. A public children's library is in City Hall. HKIS sponsors summer sports and skills programs. Various churches also have youth activities. The Welfare Handicrafts, Mother's Choice, the Red Cross, YMCA, and many other welfare agencies-some branches of U.S. organizations-offer a variety of opportunities for both men and women for volunteer service. Both civic and professional associations are numerous.

Geography and Climate

Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, covers an area of 404 square miles, about six times the size of Washington, DC. Hong Kong is a bustling, vibrant, very Chinese, and very international city. This colorful mix of East and West, old and new, is alive with an overwhelmingly entrepreneurial spirit. To the 6.8 million residents, the city represents the dream of prosperity and the opportunity for personal betterment. One has to admire the incomparable tenacity of the Hong Kong people-their strength of purpose and devotion to work and family are striking. The SAR consists of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and various surrounding islands.

Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 until June 30, 1997. On that date, which coincided with the expiration of the 99-year British lease on the New Territories, it became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Under a unique "one country, two systems" formula agreed to by Britain and China in the Joint Declaration of 1984, Beijing has granted Hong Kong people the right to govern Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy in all areas except defense and foreign affairs. In practice, this means that life in Hong Kong after the transition to Chinese sovereignty has changed very little.

From the small fishing villages of 150 years ago, Hong Kong has grown into one of the most important trading, industrial, and financial centers in Asia. Official representatives of most major countries reside in the territory, along with a host of international bankers, lawyers, and business people who participate in Hong Kong's booming trade and industry. Hong Kong Island, the site of most of the territory's governmental, commercial, and financial activities, is about 32 square miles in area. The island's population and business centers are located across the harbor from Kowloon and extend from Pok Fu Lam to North Point, encompassing the Central, Mid-Levels, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay areas of Hong Kong. The Consulate General office and official housing for American staff are located on the island. The seaward, or south side of Hong Kong Island, is made up of a rugged shoreline with high cliffs and sheltered bays. The interior is rough terrain with steep hills and small valleys. The highest area, known as the Peak, is 555 meters (1,830 ft.) above sea level and has a breathtaking view of the scenic harbor and Kowloon on one side and the offshore islands and South China Sea on the other. The Kowloon Peninsula is directly across the harbor from Hong Kong Island. It is separated from the New Territories by groups of hills, the highest of which rises to more than 3,000 feet. The Kowloon area, with its major subdivisions of Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui, is the leading industrial area of Hong Kong, as well as a major residential area and tourist center with many hotels and shops. The major railway station, Hunt Hom, serving Guangzhou, is also located in this densely populated area. The New Territories comprises an area of 355 square miles between Kowloon and the Chinese border and also includes some 235 small offshore islands. This area accounts for most of the territory's agricultural activity and a growing portion of its industrial and residential sectors. The topography is mostly steep hills and marshes, but many places are used for small farms. The only major agriculture on the offshore islands is on Lantau Island, the largest. The remaining islands are small, and, if inhabited, are primarily fishing bases. The rustic character of the New Territories has been transformed in recent years with the construction of major satellite towns such as Sha Tin and Tuen Mun, where large numbers of Hong Kong residents live.

Hong Kong's climate is governed by the monsoons. Although the territory lies within the Tropics, it enjoys a variety of weather because of these seasonal winds. The winter monsoon blows from the north or northeast from September to mid March, and the summer wind blows from the south or southwest from mid-March to September. During the summer monsoon, the weather is hot and humid; during the winter monsoon it is cool. Average temperatures range from 58°F in February (with lows in the 40s) to 82°F in July (with highs in the 90s). The mean relative humidity ranges from a low of 67% in November to 84% in May; many days the humidity approaches 100%, accompanied by heavy clouds. Late fall is the most pleasant time of year, generally with dry and sunny weather and high temperatures of 70° to 75°F. The average annual rainfall is 95 inches.


Hong Kong's population at the end of 1998 was approximately 6.8 million, with the overwhelming majority being ethnic Chinese. Most were born in Hong Kong, with others coming from China or other countries in Asia. The rest of the expatriate community includes mainly government officials and business people representing many nationalities. About 50,000 U.S. citizens (including 11,500 dual nationals) are resident in Hong Kong, representing a major foreign presence in the territory. The other major expatriate groups are from Canada, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese and English. Cantonese is the most common Chinese dialect spoken, and English is widely used in government and business. Most people follow traditional Chinese beliefs. The two main religions are Buddhism and Taoism. About 600,000 or 10% of the population are Christian. Hong Kong has about 50,000 followers of Islam, most of whom are Hong Kong Chinese. The Hindu community, which has been part of the territory since its earliest days, has increased to 12,000. Hong Kong's Jewish community numbers about 1,000.

Public Institutions

Hong Kong has retained almost the entire administrative structure put in place by the British. The Hong Kong Government is staffed by an effective civil service numbering more than 184,000 people.

Some 30 executive bureaus organized along functional lines constitute this administrative framework. The executive-led government is headed by the Chief Executive (who replaced the British Governor); he was selected by the Hong Kong people in late 1996 and serves for a five-year term. He is advised by the Executive Council, prominent local residents whom he appoints. The 60-member Legislative Council, whose powers are limited, consists of a mixture of directly and indirectly elected members. Beneath these bodies, the Urban Council is responsible for various local matters like recreation and sanitation for Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, while the Regional Council performs the same function for the New Territories. At the lowest level, 19 District Boards cover the entire territory, serving as grassroots advisory bodies for monitoring public opinion regarding government policies.


Due to its small size and location in the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong's environment is strongly influenced by the rest of China. A closely-packed city, Hong Kong suffers from smog on a regular basis. Air quality is continuously monitored by the government, and a report on the air quality is announced daily. The range is usually 60 to 80 or "moderate" which means fair. An index of over 100 (which occurred in the summer of 1997) is unhealthy. Air pollution from diesel vehicle emissions remains a priority concern. In November 1997, the Hong Kong government launched a trial of liquefied petroleum gas vehicles to address this problem, but it is unlikely that there will be a major shift away from diesel vehicles in the next 3-5 years. Quality of inshore water, particularly around the beaches, is also deteriorating. This will not improve until the major government infrastructure program to treat all raw sewage and waste before discharge into the ocean is completed around 2004.

Fresh water, mostly piped from China, is treated at several water treatment plants located in Hong Kong before being used. The quality of water meets current World Health Organization requirements. However, some people choose to use distilled water or use filters to remove sediment from water sources at home.

Arts, Science, and Education

Hong Kong has a rich cultural life that embraces the arts and traditions of both East and West. A variety of performing arts is presented, including symphony concerts, recitals, ballet and dance performances, drama, Western opera, and Chinese traditional stage arts. There are two professional orchestras, three full-time dance companies, a handful of professional drama groups, and scores of amateur orchestras, choirs, dance groups and drama clubs, plus overseas artists and groups who visit the territory throughout the year. Long-established performing companies like the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the Hong Kong Repertory Theater, and Hong Kong Ballet offer annual subscriptions for their performances. The primary venues for arts events are the Hong Kong Cultural Center, with a 2,085-seat concert hall and a 1,724-seat grand theater, the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, the Hong Kong Arts Center, City Hall, and the three major town halls in Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun.

The annual Hong Kong Arts Festival in February/March brings a wide array of well-known local and overseas groups and is the highlight of the cultural year. The Festival of Asian Arts is a biennial event featuring performing arts from Asian and Oceanic cultures. The International Arts Carnival in the summer aims to introduce children and young people to the performing arts. The annual Hong Kong International Film Festival is one of the world's major noncompetitive film festivals. The Fringe Festival in January/February is an open platform for the arts. Hong Kong has several museums and small galleries. The Hong Kong Museum of Art houses a collection of Chinese bronzes, ceramics, and paintings and stages major international loan exhibitions of Chinese and Western art. Its branch museum, the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, is devoted exclusively to Chinese tea ware. Both the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong have museums exhibiting Chinese art and cultural artifacts. The Tsui Museum of Art displays a privately-owned collection of Chinese fine art. Galleries at the Hong Kong Arts Center emphasize contemporary and Western arts. Small commercial galleries sell works by Chinese and overseas artists.

The Hong Kong Museum of History focuses on local and Chinese history. The Hong Kong Space Museum has visitor participatory exhibits and a planetarium to introduce visitors to astronomy and space science. Exhibits at the Hong Kong Science Museum cover basic science principles, mathematics, earth science, life science, the applications of technology, and high-tech areas such as computers and robotics.

Education is highly valued by the Government and people of Hong Kong; no other element takes a larger share of the government budget. Full-time education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 15. Instruction is mainly in Chinese in primary school and in Chinese and English in secondary school.

Ten degree-granting institutions are supported by the Hong Kong government's University Grants Committee. They all follow the British three-year system. The University of Hong Kong, founded in 1911, uses English as the language of instruction. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, a federated university composed of four colleges, uses both English and Chinese in teaching. Both universities offer academic as well as professional courses and include graduate and extension programs. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, opened in 1991, offers first and advanced degrees primarily in science, engineering and business management. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the City University of Hong Kong offer degree and diploma courses combined with work and vocational training programs. The Hong Kong Baptist University and Lingnan College Hong Kong offer degree programs, primarily in social sciences, business, and liberal arts. The Hong Kong Institute of Education was formed in 1994 by merging four colleges of education. It provides pre-service teacher education for primary and secondary school teachers. It enrolled its first degree program students in 1998. The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts offers comprehensive multidisciplinary professional training for performing and related technical and media arts, leading to diploma and first degree. The Open Learning Institute of Hong Kong provides the adult population with opportunities for further education in non-degree and degree programs.

Commerce and Industry

Hong Kong is a leading international manufacturing, trading, and financial center, as well as a strategically located regional entrepôt, especially for products originating from or destined for the People's Republic of China. Hong Kong maintains a free and open trading regime, and the government pursues a policy of minimum interference in the economy. These factors, together with Hong Kong's skilled and industrious work force and a legal framework that encourages business initiative, have contributed to the territory's success and have helped transform it into the world's 8th largest trading economy. An important Asian financial center, Hong Kong plays a leading role in regional banking, shipping, and communications. The local currency, the Hong Kong dollar, is freely convertible and fluctuates in a narrow band around 7.8 to the U.S. dollar. There is complete freedom of capital movement. At the end of 1998, 172 fully licensed banks operated in the SAR (14 are subsidiaries of U.S. Banks). U.S. firms are the third most numerous in the insurance industry with 22 wholly owned. Taxes are low. The current salary and corporate tax rates are 15% and 16%, respectively. There are no taxes on royalties, interest, or capital gains. Hong Kong imposes no import tariffs. Excise taxes are levied for revenue purposes on tobacco, cosmetics, alcoholic beverages, ethyl alcohol, methyl alcohol, and some petroleum products. Reflecting the growing importance of services in the economy, Hong Kong's visible trade is increasingly in deficit ($17.7 billion in 1996 and $20.5 billion for 1997).

With few natural resources, the territory must depend on imports. Principal imports consist of food, textile yarn and fabrics, iron and steel, plastic molding materials, consumer products, paper, and machinery. Principal exports consist of textiles and apparel, watches and clocks, electronic components, and other light industrial products. The value of domestic exports alone was equal to 14.6% of Hong Kong's gross domestic product (GDP) in 1998 (a declining percentage as labor intensive production moves across the border into China). Tourism constitutes a major industry for the economy with 10.4 million visitors passing through the territory in 1997 and 9.6 million in 1998.

The U.S. is the territory's second largest trading partner (after the PRC), with 14.4% of total trade. In 1998, the U.S. was the second largest market for domestic exports with a 29.1% share. The U.S. supplied 7.5% of imports and was the number two destination for re-exports with 22.4%. Principal imports from the U.S. are electrical machinery; computer and office machines; telecommunications, sound recording and reproducing equipment; plastic, meat, vegetables, and fruit. Principal domestic exports to the U.S. are textiles, apparel, electrical machinery, photographic equipment, watches and clocks, computer and office machines, textiles, yarn and fabric. Currently, about 1,100 U.S. firms operate here and U.S. direct investment was estimated at $20 billion in 1998. The American business community is well represented by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.


Driving in Hong Kong is on the left (right-hand-drive). Automobile insurance is expensive; however, substantial discounts can be obtained based on the length of accident-free or "no-claim" driving documented by presenting a letter from your previous insurance companies).

Parking throughout the territory, especially in the downtown areas, is extremely limited and costly (approx. US$3/HR). Parking fees often exceed the cost of travel by taxi. The Consulate General will assist you in registering your car and in obtaining a valid Hong Kong driving license. Driving tests are not required for those presenting a valid license from the U.S. or from other countries whose licenses are recognized by the Hong Kong Government.

Public transport (buses, taxis, subways, ferries, and trams) is readily available and reasonably priced. Carpools, shared taxis, or public transport are the most commonly used modes of transport between home and work.

Local. The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) subway system connects Hong Kong Island with Kowloon and nearby portions of the New Territories. Since opening in February 1980, it has become a highly efficient, reasonably priced mode of transportation. The Island Line, which connects much of the harbor side of Hong Kong Island to the existing system, opened in 1985. Streetcars (trams) operate only in urban areas of Hong Kong Island. Bus service, including minibuses, covers almost the entire island, Kowloon, and the New Territories. Buses and streetcars are quite crowded during peak hours. Taxi service is relatively inexpensive and generally available at all hours. Radio-dispatched taxis are available.

The Peak Tram is a very popular tourist attraction, providing a breathtaking view of Hong Kong and Kowloon as you climb to its terminus on the Peak. At the Peak, the view is spectacular and there are many shops and restaurants. The Peak is also served by bus, mini bus and taxi for easy transport back to the City or other locations on Hong Kong Island.

An extensive network of roads exists throughout the territory; however, most are narrow and many are steep and winding because of the terrain. Traffic, which moves on the left, is heavy, but well regulated. There are three cross-harbor tunnels connecting Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. For those with a more romantic bent, the Star Ferry operates a very efficient and inexpensive passenger service between Central on the Hong Kong side and Ocean Terminal in Kowloon. Ferries also operate from numerous points on Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula to many of the outlying islands.

Regional. In July 1998 Hong Kong's venerable Kai Tak Airport was replaced by a new airport at of Chek Lap Kok just north of Lantau Island. An impressive road, bridge, and tunnel link connects the airport to Hong Kong Island. In addition, a high speed rail link speeds passengers to the Central business district in Hong Kong. Departing passengers can obtain boarding passes and check their baggage at the new terminus in Central. Air service in and out of Hong Kong is excellent. About 50 airlines operate over 700 scheduled flights per week to Hong Kong. The U.S. carriers currently offering non-stop flights to Hong Kong are United and Northwest.

Hong Kong Harbor, one of Asia's busiest, handles more than 8,000 incoming ships a year, principally cargo ships but also a large number of cruise ships as well as U.S. Navy ships on port call. Trains run between Kowloon and Guangzhou (Canton), China. Hydrofoil and air transportation between Hong Kong and Guangzhou are also available, with connections there to other cities in China. Helicopter, hydrofoil and ferry transport between Hong Kong and Macau operate frequently throughout the day and evening.


Telephone, Fax, and Internet. Excellent local and international telephone and computer services are available throughout Hong Kong. Hong Kong was one of the first Asian cities to install fiberoptics (replacing copper) throughout its telephone and communications infrastructure. Other services, such as Internet, mobile phones, call waiting, call forwarding, and pagers, are available from Hong Kong Telecom and other local vendors. Many employees have found it convenient to utilize a U.S. calling card. Internet service costs vary depending upon which of the over 100 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) available in Hong Kong an employee decides to use. Compuserve and America On Line are also available in Hong Kong.

Mail. International mail service is reliable, and transit time to the west coast is 3-5 days.

Radio and TV. Hong Kong has 13 radio channels: seven operated by government-affiliated Radio Television Hong Kong. Cantonese, English, and Mandarin programming includes classical and popular music, BBC World Service, local news, and public affairs. Transistor radios and short-wave receivers are available in abundance at reasonable prices in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong uses the PAL 625 system for television broadcasts; a multi-system television set, readily available in Hong Kong, is the most convenient option. American NTSC sets are not compatible. Two local television stations each provide one Cantonese and one English channel. Most English-language programs are U.S. or U.K.-produced and present a variety of entertainment, including various U.S. news programs tailored for the Far East. Satellite and cable TV are available in many areas with such offerings as CNN, BBC, and HBO. The Consulate General commissary has a tape (NTSC format) rental program, and there are numerous video rental stores throughout Hong Kong that rent both video cassettes and laser disks. The most popular local cassette format is VHS-PAL System.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals. Hong Kong has vibrant media. It has one of the highest newspaper readerships in Asia, and is the world's largest center for Chinese-language publications. American, British, and other European periodicals are readily available in Hong Kong. American magazines and technical journals are expensive but are available. Both Time and Newsweek have Far Eastern editions on the newsstands weekly. There are two local English-language morning dailies, the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Standard. In addition, the Asian Wall Street Journal, the International Herald Tribune, and USA Today are available. There are numerous bookstores carrying a good selection of paperbacks and magazines, but prices are higher than in the United States.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities. The quality of medical care in Hong Kong is high. Hong Kong is the medical evacuation center for posts in China and Manila. Medications, from the UK and U.S., are readily available. The cost for medical (especially dental) care is high in comparison to U.S. prices. Dentists and physicians on the Consulate General's referral list speak English and are trained in the U.K., Australia, or the U.S. Nursing care is good. Although the majority of pregnant women elect to stay in Hong Kong for delivery, the Health Unit supports the M/MED world-wide policy which recommends that pregnant women return to the U.S. for delivery.

Community Health. Although the territory has more than doubled the reservoir capacity in the past few years, water shortages still occur when rainfall is below normal. Water sources are reported to be potable, adequately chlorinated and fluoridated. Water from taps can, at times, be discolored due to pipes in buildings. Filters can be purchased locally to improve the quality of the water. In September 1997, Hong Kong reported 290 patients with AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and 2000 HIV positive patients. The blood supply in Hong Kong is screened for the HIV virus and other communicable diseases by the Red Cross. Individuals requiring blood or blood products are advised to contact the Health Unit. Tuberculosis remains one of Hong Kong's major community health problems. However, an active anti-TB program has succeeded in reducing the morbidity and mortality rate.

Preventive Measures. Individuals are encouraged to have immunizations updated before traveling to Hong Kong. The yellow fever vaccine can be received (inconveniently) at a local clinic. Japanese B encephalitis vaccine is available only in Hong Kong. Children 6 years old and under are encouraged to have annual blood lead levels screenings for the prevention of lead poisoning. Do NOT put them in air freight. The following immunizations will be reviewed and updated as needed: typhoid, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, HIB, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.

Keep your immunization records with your passport. Individuals requiring daily medications are encouraged to bring an adequate initial supply. Don't pack your medications in your sea freight or checked luggage.

Notes for Travelers

Passage, Customs & Duties. Hong Kong is served by many of the world's major airlines including leading U.S. carriers. United and Northwest offer several flights a day including nonstop service from the west coast of the U.S. and Minneapolis-St. Paul and, seasonally, to Chicago. Continental Airlines provides services via Guam. Traveling via the Pacific can take a rest stop en route in several cities in the continental U.S., as well as Honolulu, Tokyo, or Guam.

Passports and evidence of onward/return transportation by sea/air are required. A visa is not required for tourist visits by U.S. citizens of up to 90 days. An extension of stay may be granted upon application to the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department. U.S. citizens must have passports with at least four months' validity for entry into Hong Kong. A departure tax of $80 HK (approximately $10.30 US), must be paid at the airport, unless this has been included in the traveler's airfare. Visas are required to work or study in Hong Kong. With approval from the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department, airlines began collecting an insurance surcharge from passengers in November 2001. The insurance surcharge ranges from $30 HK ($3.80 US) to $40 HK ($5.10 US) depending on the airlines. Effective November 5, 2001, travel agents in Hong Kong which are members of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC) are allowed to charge a service fee of $5.00 HK (approximately $0.64 US) per sector for each air ticket issued. Public transportation from Hong Kong's International Airport at Chek Lap Kok to Central Hong Kong (about 25 miles) is readily available, as are taxis. Travelers should exchange sufficient money for transportation at the airport exchange facility located immediately outside the baggage claim area. For the most current information concerning entry and exit requirements, travelers can consult the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong (tel. (852) 2829-3001, fax (852) 2824-1133, Internet Home Page:, or the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, 2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 328-2500. Internet home page:, or the Chinese consulates general in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, or San Francisco. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate.

A Hong Kong driver's license may be issued without a test to individuals who hold a valid U.S. driver's license, provided they have resided in the United States for not less than six months. American visitors who do not plan to stay in Hong Kong for more than twelve months can drive in Hong Kong on their valid U.S. driver's license.

Americans living in or visiting Hong Kong are encouraged to register at the U.S. Consulate General and to obtain updated information on travel and security conditions within the Hong Kong SAR. Americans can register on-line at, in person at the Consulate General or by fax or mail. The U.S. Consulate General is located at 26 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong. The mailing address is PSC 461, Box 5, FPO AP 96521-0006, tel. (852) 2523-9011, fax (852) 2845-4845; Internet:

Pets. Dogs and cats imported from any country other than the UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand must remain in quarantine for 1-4 months, depending on country of origin. One month is the standard quarantine period for pets imported from the U.S. if they are accompanied by appropriate certificates attesting that they come from rabies-free areas and that their inoculations are current. Pets that have been in the United State for 6 months or longer are sometimes granted immediate entry if certain, very specific veterinary and documentary requirements are met. Quarantine regulations are rigidly enforced. Boarding fees for animals for the quarantine period are expensive and are calculated according to the weight of the animal.

The Hong Kong Government requires that all animals arrive under an airway bill via air-freight, not as accompanied baggage. Airlines will require you to present a special import permit before accepting your pet as Hong Kong-bound cargo. You should apply for this special import permit in advance.

This application must include the appropriate fee in Hong Kong dollars by check or local bank draft to the Hong Kong Government and be sent to: Senior Veterinary Officer, Agriculture and Fisheries Department Room 819, 8/F 393 Canton Road Kowloon, Hong Kong. Tel No.: (852) 2733-2142, Fax No.: (852) 2311-3731 24 Hour Interactive Inquiry: (852) 2733-2452.

The current fee schedule and an upto-date form can be found at the Hong Kong Government web site:

The Hong Kong Government requires that all dogs brought into the territory receive a microchip identification device immediately upon entry. A tiny, encapsulated microchip is injected under the skin between the neck and the shoulders using a single-use needle. This device, which can be read by a scanner held close to the dog, is linked to ownership and vaccination records stored in government computers.

Animals under quarantine can only be housed in government kennels or the private Pok Fu Lam Kennel. It is extremely difficult to secure space at the government kennels. Reservations for the private kennel should be made well in advance.

Pok Fu Lam Kennels 698 Victoria Road Hong Kong, Tel. No.: (852) 2551-6661.

Local veterinarians and international moving firms can also provide excellent airport-to-kennel service.

Firearms and Ammunition. Possession of personally owned weapons is prohibited under the laws of Hong Kong. This restriction applies to the possession or importation of any firearms, sporting weapons (including spear guns, harpoons, etc.) or ammunition.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures. The local currency is the Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar and is freely convertible to other currencies. The value in relation to the U.S. dollar fluctuates slightly according to market conditions (usually around 7.8). Any currency may be brought into the territory.

For longer stays you may want to open a local checking account as most local shops and stores accept personal checks. A local account is also useful since many clubs, grocery stores, and service stations require payment by automatic monthly withdrawal from a local bank account. Automated teller machines on the Plus and Cirrus networks abound and accept most debit cards and credit cards. Major credit cards are accepted by most stores and restaurants.

Hong Kong is a major financial center and can provide most services that are typically found in the U.S. Checking accounts, savings accounts, travelers checks, and foreign exchange facilities are readily available. Minimum balances are common, and you should be aware of this before opening a new account. The time to clear checks drawn on banks in the U.S. is about four days.

Hong Kong has converted to the metric system, but pounds, inches and gallons still compete with grams, meters and liters. Local markets continue to use the catty, which is roughly 1-1/4 pounds. Temperature is recorded in Celsius.


Guangzhou (formerly Canton), the capital of Guangdong Province, is the gateway to southern China. Over 2,000 years old, Guangzhou is now the center of one of the world's fastest growing economic regions: the booming Pearl River Delta.

Lying just south of the Tropic of Cancer, Guangzhou is 1,150 miles south of Beijing and 80 miles northwest of Hong Kong. With a subtropical monsoon climate, the long summers are hot and humid. August is the hottest month, with an average temperature of 82°F. January, with an average of 55°F, is the coolest. Average annual rainfall is 77 inches; April and May are the rainiest months.

Metropolitan Guangzhou encompasses an area of over 4,500 square miles, with a population of over 3 million plus at least 1 million migrant workers. The city proper has an area of 21 square miles and an official population estimated over 3.8 million. In recent years, Guangzhou's industrial, commercial, and residential areas have greatly expanded, particularly to the south and east of the old city core. The surrounding Pearl River Delta is a fertile agricultural region supporting two rice crops yearly. Other agricultural mainstays are jute, sugarcane, oil-producing plants, pigs, chickens, ducks, and fish.

Goods from Guangzhou are marketed in nearly all countries. Light industrial manufacturing, including textiles, shoes, toys, furniture, and exportable consumer products, accounts for most of these exports. Principal heavy industries include shipbuilding, sugar refining equipment, and tool and motorcycle manufacturing.

Bustling food markets and busy restaurants are a big part of the Guangzhou street scene. Cantonese cuisine is renowned and local restaurants are packed daily with patrons. Local markets thrive and stores are stocked with both Chinese and foreign products. Brightly decorated storefronts and brisk trading in noisy markets contribute to the lively atmosphere. Buildings trimmed in lights and neon signs and billboards illuminate the city at night.


A fair range of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats is available most of the year, and these can usually be found at the famous Qing Ping market. There you can also stock up on Chinese herbal medicines, have a dog, cat, or some exotic animal slaughtered fresh for supper, and feast on a meal of snake, turtle, or scorpion.

Staple products and canned goods can be purchased from the duty-free Daily Living food store or at Park 'N Shop, a Hong Kong-based supermarket chain with several branches in Guangzhou, including one about a mile from Shamian Island. Some small shops near the Consulate are beginning to stock Western staples. Selection is often limited, and many employees make regular shopping trips to Hong Kong. Fresh milk (USDA standard), ice cream, breads, and a very limited selection of cheeses and cold cuts are available (at high prices) from the White Swan delicatessen next door to the Consulate.

Liquor and wine can be ordered from Hong Kong or purchased at Daily Living. China brews some good beers; those and some U.S. brands are readily available.

Environmental pollution and public sanitation are serious problems in Guangzhou. Fruits and vegetables must be thoroughly washed. All drinking water outside major hotels should be considered suspect. Unpeeled fruits and vegetables that are not to be cooked should be soaked in a bleach solution, then rinsed before eating. Although the variety of vegetables available is limited, the produce is organically grown without the use of night soil, so it does not have to be soaked in a sterilizing solution.


Because the climate of Guangzhou is hot and humid most of the year, lighter weight natural fiber garments and shoes are needed. Cottons, silks, and lightweight suits are best. During the cooler, rainier months, a light topcoat, raincoat, or sweater is essential. However, for a few weeks of the year the weather turns quite cold, and heavier sweaters and a winter coat are necessary.

Buying shoes and clothing on the local market is possible if you are petite. Sizes are generally too small for larger-than-average foreigners. Fabric is available and some tailoring and dressmaking can be done locally. Some adequate children's clothes can be found on the local market.

Supplies and Services

Laundry and dry-cleaning facilities are available major hotels, as are barber and beauty shops. Service is good and prices are reasonable. Haircuts at local area barbershops are inexpensive, but the quality of service is not always up to Western standards. Hygiene is also a consideration. The White Swan's salon offers facials and other beauty treatments.

Simple shoe repair can be done locally; more difficult repairs are easily handled in Hong Kong.

Religious Activities

The Guangzhou International Christian Fellowship holds ecumenical religious service at the American School for the expatriate community. The Guangzhou Chinese Catholic Cathedral and the Shamian Island Catholic Church hold Masses in Latin, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Protestant services in Cantonese are held at Christ Church, across the street from the Consulate, and at Dongshan Church and Zion Church. Huaisheng Mosque holds services at noon on Fridays.


The American School of Guangzhou (ASG) is located in the Tianhe district. ASG is fully accredited in grades K to 12. In 1995-96, the school had approximately 200 students from more than 20 countries. The teaching staff is recruited from the U.S., supplemented by several locally hired, accredited American teachers. The school offers an American curriculum, with classes in art, music, Chinese culture, and physical education. All instruction is in English, with an ESL program for nonnative English speakers. ASG's principal is Dr. Nancy Stephan.

ASG address:

American School of Guangzhou
PSC 461 Box 100
FPO AP 96521-0002
Tel: 86-20-758-0001
Fax: 86-20-758-0002
Two church-supported schools are operating in Guangzhou.

Guangzhou has several preschools accepting children from 2 to 5 years old. Half-day (morning) English-language preschools are located at the China Hotel, Garden Hotel, and Ramada Pearl Hotel. Fees of a few hundred dollars a month apply. Other international preschools plan to open in the future.

A Chinese-language, local government-sponsored preschool and kindergarten for children 3 to 5 years old operates half-day or full-day programs on Shamian Island. Care is very good. The school provides meals, or parents may provide their own. Most children without Chinese-language ability are able to adapt easily and interact with the Cantonese-speaking children. The language of instruction is Mandarin, though teachers often lapse into Cantonese. Full-day and half-day fees apply.

Sports and Outdoor Activities

Ping-pong, badminton, tennis, and tai chi are popular local sports. There are several health clubs near the Consulate and in the major hotels, some of which include swimming pools and squash and tennis courts. The city has several large, modern bowling facilities, as well as good quality indoor roller skating and ice skating rinks operating year round. Basketball and soccer games have been organized at local universities. Horseback riding is available.

Every other Saturday, joggers and walkers may join the local Hash House Harriers at various suburban locations. Guangzhou has several large parks, though they tend to be crowded on weekends. Nearby Baiyun Mountain Park has hiking trails. Guangzhou's sports complex, located near the American School, has hosted events for the Asian games, professional tennis matches, the 1995 world weightlifting championships, and the 1992 women's soccer World Cup. An 18-hole golf course is located in the northern part of the city. Shenzhen boasts a championship golf course; other golf clubs are planned.

Shamian Island is a reasonable location for jogging and is also home to an excellent tennis facility with nine indoor and outdoor lighted, hard-surface courts.


Traveling in China can be difficult (especially if you do not have some Chinese-language ability) but also rewarding. Popular trips from Guangzhou include Guilin, Macau, Hainan Island, and Kunming. A weekend of shopping and dining in Hong Kong can be expensive, but getting there is convenient via plane, overnight boat, high-speed catamaran, bus, or train. The train ride is about 2 hours one way; the bus takes about 3-1/2 hours. One can also drive as far as Shenzhen, leave the car in a parking lot, and use Hong Kong's public transportation the rest of the way. Bicycles can be rented for touring the city, and mountain bikes can be purchased at local factory outlets for outings to area villages and rice farms.

There are direct flights from Guangzhou to dozens of Chinese cities and many international destinations, including Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.


Theaters in Guangzhou occasionally show ballets, symphonies, and plays by touring musical or theatrical groups. Occasional concerts feature Chinese or foreign pop performers. Local movie theaters show dubbed films and some English-language. Private lessons in Cantonese and Mandarin language, music, traditional painting, and calligraphy for adults and children are easy to arrange.

Shopping and browsing are a favorite pastime in Guangzhou. The famous (some would say infamous) Qing Ping market, which sells many live and exotic animals for consumption, is just north of Shamian Island. The antique market, one of China's best, is also within walking distance of the Consulate. Beijing Road has dozens of upscale clothing and jewelry stores. The semiannual Canton Trade Fair provides an opportunity to examine and purchase products, including baskets and silk carpets, from all over China.

Social Activities

The growing international business community informally organizes fund-raisers and parties. The American School is a social gathering point, especially for those with children. The Guangzhou Women's International Club is one of the most active groups in the expatriate community, organizing a wide variety of events for its members and guests. The American Chamber of Commerce branch in Guangzhou holds monthly breakfast meetings, and occasional lunches and dinners, at the major hotels. Nightclubs and karaoke clubs have become popular night spots, creating new opportunities for Chinese and foreigners to socialize.

Eating Out

Guangzhou is famous for its cuisine, and eating out is a favorite pastime for local and foreign residents. Restaurants serving Cantonese cuisine abound, though many do not have menus in English. For those in search of a change, try one of the Sichuan or Beijing-style restaurants. There is a growing number of other Asian restaurants, including Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, and Thai. Western cuisine is unavailable except at the major hotels. Of course, Guangzhou has not been excluded from the invasion of Western fast-food establishments: Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Special Information

Before coming to Guangzhou, individuals should take care of all potential medical problems, including dental and eye care. Trips to Hong Kong for medical attention are costly.

In cases of accident or sudden illness, local medical facilities have been used, but they are not recommended for routine care and are considered to be a last resort option. Hospital outpatient clinics are busy and there are few private doctors. One local dental clinic comes close to meeting U.S. standards.


Although Shanghai is a young city by Chinese standards, with 13 million residents, it vies for the title of the most populous city in the world. The Shanghai metropolitan area (including the suburban counties) is China's most important industrial, commercial, and financial center, accounting for 5 percent of the Gross National Product. The Shanghainese, as the city's residents are known, speak their own distinctive dialect and are recognized as being among the country's most able businessmen. Today, Shanghai is a hub for several Chinese industries, including iron and steel, shipbuilding, textiles and garments, electronics, clocks, bicycles, automobiles, aircraft, pharmaceuticals, computers, publishing, and cinema. Shanghai is China's largest port and most important foreign trade center. Shanghai itself accounts for 8 percent of all Chinese exports but handles nearly two-thirds of China's total exports through its ports. Once the world's third-largest port, Shanghai remains China's principal shipping center. Shanghai is the most cosmopolitan of Chinese cities and its shops, restaurants, and night life reflect this. Shanghai-style food (seafood) is distinctive and elegantly presented. There are numerous night clubs, discos, and karaoke bars, but cultural entertainment for the expatriate family (movies, music, theater, etc.) is very limited.

Shanghai is acknowledged as the busiest and most exciting shopping center in China. From antiques to pottery, clothing to cotton goods, rugs, furniture, and jewelry, shoppers will find something for every taste in Shanghai's 24,000 stores, supplemented by shopping streets and free markets.


Thanks to the construction of new joint-venture shopping complexes, shopping for food in Shanghai is now almost as convenient as shopping in a supermarket in the U.S., although the cost is considerably higher and the selection more limited. Shanghai has numerous open-air markets where fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fowl, and fish and seafood are available. Most fresh produce is available year-round. The prices in these markets, where most Chinese shop, are much lower than in the upscale supermarkets. Locally produced and imported soft drinks (Coke, Sprite, Fanta), soda water, tonic water, and beer are available. In addition, a limited selection of local and imported liquor and wines is available at a duty-free shop at reasonable prices. However, at commercial outlets, whereas soft drink and beer prices are comparable or cheaper than those in the U.S., prices for liquor are somewhat higher.


Shanghai has four seasons, with weather slightly warmer than that of Washington, D.C. Except for joint-venture enterprises and places frequented by tourists, few other buildings in Shanghai are heated or air-conditioned. China exports numerous items of clothing, including wool sweaters and down clothing, which are available locally at reasonable prices. Prices of cashmere sweaters have increased substantially in the past few years, but are still below those in the U.S. Children's clothing is plentiful and inexpensive. In planning your Shanghai wardrobe, remember that the summers are hot and humid, while the winters can be cold and damp, with temperatures sometimes dropping below freezing. Most items of clothing can be purchased locally, although not always in the larger sizes. This is especially true for shoes, so be sure to bring an adequate supply.

Supplies and Services

Personal care and household cleaning and paper supplies can be purchased locally. Local equivalents are available but inferior in quality, while imported ones are considerably higher in price. Locally produced American brands are midrange in price and quality.

Religious Activities

Shanghai has Catholic and Protestant churches, Buddhist/Daoist temples, and Islamic mosques. The Catholic Patriotic Church is independent of Rome. Catholic services are conducted in Chinese, except for a small Sunday morning service for expatriates that is conducted in English. Protestant services are conducted in Chinese, although simultaneous interpretation/ear-phones are provided at the Sunday service of the International Community Church. Judaism is not one of the five religions recognized by the Chinese Government and no synagogues exist.


Utilizing a twin-campus design, the Shanghai American School offers a comprehensive educational program on both the east and west sides of Shanghai. Each campus includes pre-kindergarten through 12th grade on 25 to 30 acres, with approximately 30,000 square meters of building space. The west campus, completed the fall of 1996, is located in Zhu Di Township, about 3 km north and west of the Hong Qiao Airport. The east campus, completed the fall of 1997, is located in Pudong at the Shanghai Links residential community, approximately 18 km east of the Bund. The Shanghai American School can be reached at 86-21-6221-1445 (telephone) or 0-86-21-6221-1269 (fax).


Sports facilities are limited to a members-only golf club and several municipal tennis court complexes. Several hotels (as well as joint-venture housing complexes) offer health club memberships, most of which include indoor/outdoor pools, tennis/racquetball courts, weight/fitness rooms, and bowling alleys. There are occasional pickup softball, volleyball, and basketball games with members of the university and business communities.

Touring and Related Activities

Since Shanghai is an industrial and commercial center, sight-seeing in the city is relatively limited. The city has several picturesque temples and gardens, the oldest (Ming Dynasty) being in the recently renovated Old City Temple area, which has also been reconstructed in the Ming style. The countryside around Shanghai is flat and lends itself to hiking and long bicycle rides, although current traffic congestion and poor road conditions make this a bit of a trial. Short trips to the historic and scenic cities of Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Nanjing offer additional sight-seeing opportunities at relatively limited expense. Note, however, that travel outside of Shanghai is regulated. Travel by public transportation outside a 24-mile radius of Shanghai requires 48-hour notification to the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office.

Social Activities

An active Expatriate Association sponsors monthly luncheons, sightseeing, cultural activities, and social events such as the annual Christmas Ball. There is also a large and growing American Chamber of Commerce and a professional women's organization, both of which have monthly lectures and gettogethers centering on business-related activities. However, organized family-oriented social and recreational activities are very limited and most expatriates entertain at home.

Special Information

Like many large cities in developing countries, Shanghai has a problem with water and air pollution. The water has a high concentration of minerals and metals. Bottled distilled water is available for purchase locally. Those who suffer from hay fever and sinus-or bronchial-related allergies will find these conditions aggravated by the high level of suspended particulates (dust and coal dust) and carbon monoxide in the air.


Shenyang is the political, military, and economic capital of northeast China, the region once known as Manchuria. The northeast, composed of the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang, is home to over 100 million people.

A frontier land settled in the late 1800s, the northeast has for the past century been a strategic battleground and center of intrigue between Russia, Japan, Korea, and the forces of Chinese nationalism.

The two pillars of Manchuria's economy are heavy industry and agriculture. The region is home to some of China's largest state enterprises, including the massive Anshan Steel Works, the First Auto Works, and the Jilin Petrochemical Corporation. Efforts to reform ailing state enterprises remain a problematic but critical part of the nation's overall drive to achieve economic development with social stability. Jilin is China's largest exporter of corn and tobacco. Heilongjiang is known as "the king of soybeans," and Liaoning's apples, peaches, and pears are exported throughout Asia. In addition, ginseng from southern Jilin's Changbai mountain range has fortified Chinese traditional medicines for years.

The northeast is an extremely diverse part of China. Geographically, the region stretches from the magnificent natural harbor at Dalian, through the heavily populated Manchurian plain, east along the spectacularly rugged Sino-Korean border, and north to the wetlands and forests that characterize the Sino-Russian border.

The region is ethnically diverse as well, a unique blend of Han Chinese, Manchu, Mongolian, and Korean culture. In fact, the southern quarter of Jilin Province contains the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, known as "China's Korean Corner" and home to nearly 1 million ethnic Korean Chinese.

The city of Shenyang itself is a heavily polluted, industrial metropolis of about 5 million people in the midst of unprecedented economic growth. It is home to several of the region's largest state enterprises, but also contains several prominent universities and cultural attractions. For example, Shenyang is home to a smaller version of Beijing's Forbidden City, used by the Manchus before they captured the imperial capital in the 17th century and established their own dynastic rule. The founder of the Qing (as they called themselves) line is also buried in Shenyang.

The region's climate is mainly influenced by the continental landmass of central Asia. Shenyang's winter is a little longer than Beijing's and compares to that of Chicago without the Windy City's raw winter winds and is much drier. Traveling south to the ice-free port of Dalian on the southern tip of the Liaodong peninsula, the extremes of weather become less pronounced.


Pork, chicken, duck, mutton, some seafood (frozen fish and shrimp), and beef are normally available, but quality varies and only chicken is available in American-style cuts.

A variety of vegetables and fresh fruits, including excellent strawberries and peaches, are available in the market in season. Recently, at least three to four fresh vegetables and two to three fresh fruits have been available throughout the year.

Some imported foodstuffs are available, but many locally available substitutes are acceptable. Some imported beers, wines, and liquors are available at prices comparable to those in the U.S. Local beer is available.


Shenyang has a short, warm summer sandwiched between an extended spring and fall. The winter is long and cold, comparable to the northern Midwest in the U.S. Most buildings are heated but not to U.S. standard.

Supplies and Services

Toiletries, cosmetics, and household cleaning products are available locally but differ widely from similar American products. Shenyang's winters reduce the usual problems with cockroaches and insects found in developing countries, but moth infestation is a big problem.

Shenyang does not have the large international hotels found in China's major tourist centers. As a result, the usual services found in such establishments are generally unavailable. Barbers and beauticians at the few hotels provide a utilitarian if not high-fashion service. Local dry-cleaning services are of variable quality.

Winter outer garments and sweaters can sometimes be purchased locally. A wide range in size, style, and color of other garments is nonexistent.

Religious Activities

One nondenominational Protestant church in Shenyang conducts services in Chinese. Mass at the Chinese Catholic Church is in Latin. No synagogue exists, but Shenyang does have one mosque and several Buddhist and Daoist temples. Protestant services for foreigners are conducted at China Medical University and at Riverside Gardens.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Shenyang has some interesting parks and monuments. Nanhu and Lu Xun Parks provide good jogging paths during the less crowded times of day. Consulate General families have enjoyed picnicking at Dongling, the imperial tomb of the first Qing emperor, during the warmer months.


Three local TV stations broadcast in Chinese every evening, in color. One English-speaking channel, Star Plus, offers a variety of old movies and TV series. There are also up-to-date sportscasts on Star Sports. Liaoning Radio has recently begun offering a nightly English news program, and VOA, BBC, Radio Australia, and others can be picked up by shortwave radio.

Special Information

The facilities at local clinics are modest by U.S. standards. Individuals with serious medical problems should be evacuated to Hong Kong.


Chengdu is the capital of China's most populous province, Sichuan, and the traditional center of government and transportation in southwest China. The Chengdu consular district is made up of the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guizhou, as well as the Xizang Autonomous Region, more commonly known as Tibet.

As Chengdu serves as the air transport hub of southwest China, air service is provided to all major Chinese cities. Centrally located, Chengdu is between a 2-and 2 1/2-hour flight to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Lhasa. There is also a twice weekly flight to Hong Kong, which is Chengdu's sole international connection at this time. Chengdu also has rail service to all major destinations.

Chengdu has a moderate climate with fairly mild winters, early springs, rainy summers, and warm autumns. Though not uncomfortable in terms of temperature, there is a near-perpetual overcast. This condition is attributable to Chengdu's location in the Sichuan basin, one of the world's most productive agricultural plains. Pollution, caused primarily by the burning of coal in winter, is also an irritant.

Chengdu has been a governmental and cultural center since at least 400 B.C., undergoing numerous name changes over the years. During the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) it was known as the "City of Brocade," becoming so prosperous that it gained the nickname "Storehouse of Heaven." Under the Five Dynasties, the local warlord planted so much hibiscus on the city walls (since destroyed) that it was known as the "City of Hibiscus."

Present-day Chengdu has a population of 8.7 million, of whom about 3 million live in the city center. There has been a great deal of new and unimaginative high-rise construction over the past few years as is the case with most of China's major cities. Nonetheless, the city maintains a great deal of charm with several nice city parks and areas where old-style buildings have remained. These older smaller buildings have been central to the renaissance of small private businesses. In Chengdu's alleys, one can amble for hours, on foot or bicycle, going from small shop to small shop.

Chengdu's role as a regional center of government, transportation, and culture, as well as of electronic and other industries, has brought increasing numbers of foreigners. The tourist trade continues to increase, and one now frequently encounters American and other tourists, as well as expatriates employed as English teachers.


Chengdu is acknowledged as the center of authentic Sichuan cuisine. Several good Sichuan restaurants and countless "xiaochi" or traditional snack restaurants exist. The major hotels have Western restaurants. Chengdu has two fast-food restaurants.

There are a number of Chinese-produced canned and dry goods on the market. Some Western products, such as instant coffee, artificial creamer, and powdered whole milk, are widely available, and one can usually find American peanut butter and Australian dried pastas. Other than yogurt, fresh dairy products are not found. UHT milk is available but expensive (15 to 20 yuan per liter). Pork, beef, shrimp, and chicken are available, but quality and presentation vary.

On the positive side, there is an impressive array of fruits and vegetables available year round. There is a proper joint-venture bakery that sells French bread, wheat bread, croissants, cakes, and pies. Some foreign liquors are available, but the wine selection is almost exclusively Chinese. Hotel shops and major department stores also stock a small variety of Western goods at higher than U.S. prices.


Clothing and shoes of unreliable quality are available at both small stores and large department stores. Although winter temperatures are not extreme, it is nonetheless a damp and penetrating cold. Long underwear may be needed in the winter months.

Supplies and Services

Procter and Gamble hair care items and detergents are widely available, but not their toothpaste and other toiletries.

Barber and beauty facilities are available in hotels and elsewhere. These are adequate but not quite up to Western standards. Simple and inexpensive shoe repair is available. Personnel have used local tailors/dressmakers with varying results. The major hotels do dry-cleaning.

Religious Activities

Chengdu has two Protestant churches and one Chinese Catholic cathedral. All services are conducted in Chinese. Mass is said in Latin. There are two mosques. There is no synagogue nor are there any informal organized Jewish services.


There are no Western schools in Chengdu.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Most people ride bicycles both for practical and recreational purposes. Within Chengdu, a bicycle is actually more convenient than a car. Chinese-made bicycles can be purchased locally at reasonable prices. Basic one-speed bikes, tricycles, multispeed bikes, and export-standard mountain bikes are all available.

There are some close-by sights, such as the Du Fu Thatched Cottage, that make for a nice cycling outing. Sights of interest within a several hours' drive are Emei Shan, Le Shan, Dujiangyan Irrigation Works, and the Wolong Panda Reserve.


Occasionally there are visiting Western song or dance troupes brought in under the auspices of cultural exchange programs. There is almost no locally available English-language reading material.

Special Information

Calling cards with your name in English on one side and your Chinese name on the other are a must in both business and social circumstances. They can be obtained in Chengdu within a few days. The quality of those done in Beijing or Hong Kong is much better, but harder to arrange.


Nanjing (Nanking), the provincial capital of Jiangsu (Kiangsu) Province in eastern China, is a city of ancient culture that has several times, during 10 dynasties, been the capital of the country. Its history spans 2,400 years. The Treaty of Nanking, signed here in 1842, was the pact that opened China to foreign trade.

Industry has developed considerably since 1950, and Nanjing is now a production center for iron, steel, chemicals, machine building, optical instruments, textiles, and foodstuffs. The city is one of China's intellectual centers, having 18 universities and several other institutions of higher learning. Nanjing's population is over 2.4 million.

The Nanjing Bridge over the Chang Jiang (Yangtze) River is one of China's most spectacular spans. It is a double-deck bridge handling both rail and motor vehicles, making Nanjing a major transportation center for north-south traffic.

Scenic and historic spots abound throughout Nanjing. On the Purple Mountains east of the city is the Zijin Shab Observatory of the China Academy of Sciences, with its extensive collection of ancient astronomical instruments. Also here are the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum and Ming Xaio Tombs, both national historical monuments, and the Linggu Si (Soul Valley Temple). The Lantern Festival in the central marketplace and the zoo near the city gates are popular attractions. Lovely lakes and luxuriant greenery add to the charm of this famous tourist city.


Chongqing (Chungking), built on a rock promontory at the confluence of the Yangtze and Chia-ling Rivers, was once the headquarters of the Chinese National Armies and the political capital of the nation. In 1937, shortly before the capture of Nanking in the Second Sino-Japanese War, national administrative offices were moved here, where they remained until 1945. The city was also an American air base during World War II (1944-1945).

Chongqing is a misty, mountain city, encircled by rivers on three sides. Natives call it "fog city" because there are about 200 foggy days a year. It was opened in 1890 as a treaty port, and is the trade center for much of western China. It has textile mills, chemical plants, steel and cement factories, and several other smaller industries. Chongqing's population is 2.83 million.

Two of the city's interesting natural features are its north and south hot springs parks, Beiwenquan and Nanwenquan. The zoo, with its exhibits of rare animals and birds, and the beautifully landscaped Goose Peak Park are popular tourist spots. The Research Institute of Traditional Chinese Painting, where the area's top artists work and reside, is also located here.


Harbin (Ha-erh-pin) is one of the great trade marts and communication centers of the Far East. Located on the Sung-hua, or Sungari, River, almost at the exact midpoint of Manchuria, it is the capital of Heilungkiang (Black Dragon) Province, and has an estimated population of 2.9 million. Food processing, tractor and ball bearing manufacture, and wire and cable factories are its main industries.

Harbin was only a village until 1896, when the Russians contracted to build the Chinese Eastern Railway branch of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Wide avenues and European-style architecture are evidence of the strong Russian influence on the town in the years between the start of rail construction and the surrender of the Russian concession in 1924. A major influx of White Russian refugees after 1917 gave Harbin the largest European population in the Far East, but most of those who had fled the revolution left after the Chinese Communists rose to power.

The town was captured in 1932 by Japanese forces invading Manchuria, and fell again, in August 1945, to the Soviets. The Chinese Communists eventually took possession, and developed Harbin into a major industrial city.


Wuhan is a consolidation of three Han cities in Hubei (Hupei) Province of east central China. Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang came under one administration in 1950 and these cities, as a unit, now flourish as a commercial and industrial center and the transportation hub of central China. The city lies on the spot where the Han and Yangtze rivers meet, and is home to 5.2 million people.

It was in the place that is now Wuhan that the revolution against imperialist China took form in 1911.

Many industrial enterprises and commercial ventures have helped to build Wuhan into one of China's most important cities. Tea, silk, cotton, rice, oils, soap, timber, and steel are among the diverse products that are transferred through the bustling city port. Also, tourists are attracted to Wuhan to view the temples, the scenic landscape, and the ancient musical terrace called Guqintai.


ANSHAN is an industrial center of about 1,450,000 residents, situated 350 miles northeast of Beijing. The site of some of China's main iron and steel facilities, the city also relies on cement and chemical production. Iron smelting here dates to 100 B.C. and progressed until Manchu emperors shut down the operations. The Japanese, who occupied the vicinity early in the 20th century, resumed production. The steel works were founded here in 1918. Anshan was the scene of intense fighting in the Chinese civil war (1946-1949), with both sides taking control of the district 11 times. The city was rebuilt following the war and is now twice as large in area as it was sixty years ago. Two parks are noteworthy in Anshan. Tang-gangzi Park, a few miles south of the city limits, has two historic homesone that belonged to a Manchu warlord, and another to the last Qing emperor. The park's hot springs and sanitarium attract visitors from many parts of the country. The other park, Eryijiu Park, boasts three huge lakes and several walk-ways.

CHENG-CHOU (formerly spelled Zhengzhou and Chengchow), located about 40 miles southwest of Beijing in the east-central region, is the capital of Honan Province. This is a crucial railroad junction for both north-south and east-west lines. Cheng-chou has been inhabited since about 1500 B.C., and flourished as the terminus of the New Pien Canal from the seventh through the 10th centuries. The railway has been important to the city from the arrival of the Peking-Han-k'ou line 80 years ago. A tower in the center of town commemorates a 1923 workers' strike that began in Cheng-chou and extended along the rail line. The Communists changed the area from a strictly commercial and administrative center to an industrial hub when they took over in 1949. Today there are textile and flour mills, tobacco factories, locomotive repair plants, and a thermal generating station. Nearby countryside is irrigated by a pumping station erected in 1972. A major improvement project saw the planting of thousands of trees to cut down on the sand that was blown through the city by strong gusts. Cheng-chou's population is an estimated 2.1 million.

CHENGDU (also spelled Ch'engtu) is one of China's ancient cities. It dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), and in early times was an imperial capital. Chengdu is the administrative seat of China's most populous province, Szechwan (Sichuan), where the beautiful Shu embroidery is produced. Noted for its famous cuisine, and for its annual flower fair, the city is also the transportation and cultural center of southwest China. Chengdu was the site of an American air base in 1944-1945, during the Second World War. The city is located on the irrigation system of the Min River and is the center of a fertile region. It is the site of a university and technical college, and has a population of approximately 5.3 million. No western schools exist in Chengdu; preschoolers attend local Chinese kindergartens. Older children use Calvert correspondence courses. Martial arts and painting classes are available for children.

FUZHOU (also spelled Foochow), the capital of Fujien Province in southeast China, is a seaport on the Minjiang River midway between Hong Kong and Shanghai. This city of 1.4 million residents is known for its handicraft industries which produce horn combs, umbrellas, and lacquers. It became famous also for the export of black (Bohea) tea, named for the Chinese hills where it is grown. Fuzhou dates back to 202 B.C., in the Han Dynasty. The early city walls remain, and in the adjacent hills are many beautiful examples of architecture, among them the spectacular White and Black Pagodas. Fuzhou was one of the first ports opened to trade in 1842 by the Treaty of Nanking.

GUILIN (also spelled Kweilin), a city of spectacular scenic beauty, lies on the Lijiang River in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous province. The Chinese call it a "city of culture" because of the great numbers of celebrated artists and intellectuals who congregated here during the Japanese aggression. It is an ancient community, founded during the Qin Dynasty of the third century B.C. Silk is a major export of Guilin. During World War II, an American air base was established here, first in 1944 and, after a devastating attack by the Japanese, again in 1945. Today, Guilin is a city of more than 400,000. It has light industry as well as all of the byproducts of urban lifedust, noise, and traffic congestion.

GUIYANG (formerly spelled Kueiyang) lies on the Nan-ming Ho River, 200 miles south of Chongqing. With a population nearing 2,500,000, it is a provincial capital and industrial center. Industries here include iron, coal, and bauxite production, as well as the manufacture of mining equipment and automobile tires. Guiyang experienced great economic progress during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), when highway, railroad, and communications construction began. The city has a teacher-training college, medical school, and university.

HANGZHOU (also spelled Hang-chou and Hangchow) is located on the north bank of the lower reaches of Qiantang River. One of China's scenic spots and a major tourist center, it is said to have been called "the world's most beautiful and splendid city" by Marco Polo. Hangzhou is particularly famous for Xi Hu (West Lake), a mirrorlike body of water encircled by hills, and surrounded by terraces with flowers, trees, and pavilions. In addition to being the capital of Zhejiang Province, it is one of China's major silk-producing centers. Hangzhou silk is internationally famous. Light industry has also developed considerably in recent years. The city has 1.78 million residents.

LÜDA (also spelled Lüta, formerly called Dalian) is a leading port in the northeast, located on the south coast of Liao-tung Peninsula, about 300 miles from Beijing. The Russians first developed the region in 1898, calling it Dalny, but lost the city to the Japanese after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. Shipbuilding and other industries were introduced by the Japanese and have been growing since. The industrial base of Lüda is varied, including oil refining, paper and fertilizer production plants, and steel factories. Tourism here has a great economic impact. This is one of China's foremost summer resorts, known for its beaches and many hotels. The city has an engineering college. Lüda's population is an estimated 1,630,000.

SUZHOU (also spelled Soochow) is China's historic garden city and one of the oldest towns in the Chang Jiang River basin. It is a center for tourism, and many of its historic parks have been restored and reopened to the public. The Great Pagoda was built here in the year 1131. Suzhou is also famous for its silks and embroidery, a centuries-old tradition. Since 1950, the city has expanded its textiles and chemical industries, but its most famous products remain handicrafts. Sash has a current population of over 1.2 million.

TIANJIN (also spelled Tientsin) is a river port about 75 miles southeast of Beijing, and a major commercial and industrial city. It also is an educational center of long standing, and the site of the more recently inaugurated (1960) Hupei University. For centuries Tianjin was a military post, having become a garrison town in the second year of the Ming Dynasty. It was occupied for a few years by the British and French in the middle of the 19th century, and was seized during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. The city then came under direct control of the central government, and is one of only three Chinese cities which are thus administered. Tianjin has a metropolitan population of over 9 million.

XI'AN (also spelled Hsi'an and Sian), one of the most historically interesting of all of China's cities, is situated in the center of the Guanzhong Plain in east-central China. It is a significant origin of Chinese civilization and, as early as the third century B.C., was a focal point for international exchange between China and other countries. It was the starting point of the famous "Silk Road," the overland trade route to the West. Xi'an served as the capital of 10 dynasties over a period of 1,000 years. Many notable tombs and other ancient relics are preserved here and at Pei-lin, south of the city. In Xi'an's more recent history, it is also remembered as the scene of the communist kidnapping of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in 1936. The population of Xi'an is approximately 3.1 million.

YANGSHUO , a southern suburb of Guilin, is a market center and county seat on the Li River. It is known for its mountain scenery; tourists come to this small town regularly on the noted Li River boat tours. Four mountain peaks assure a dramatic setting for photographers: Dragon Head Hill, Crab Hill, House Hill, and Green Lotus Peak. Shopping and hotel accommodations are limited but the government tourist office here has been called the country's most helpful. There are boat and bus connections to Guilin; bicycles can be rented in Yangshuo.

The industrial city of ZIBO (also called Chang-tien) is located in a rich coal field, 175 miles south of Tianjin in the eastern region. As it is known today, Zibo was formed in 1949, when the counties of Tzuch'eng and Poshan merged. Historically, the city can be traced to the second century B.C.; the extensive mid-20th-century development started with completion of an important railway passing just north of town. Textile manufacturing and food processing are growing in significance. Zibo has an estimated population of 2,775,000.


Since 1999, MACAU has been officially designated as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, an agreement which allows the region a high degree of autonomy in just about every aspect of government except in foreign affairs and defense. The region is made up of two islands and a peninsula reaching off the Guangdong mainland into the South China Sea. The population is about 440,000 (2000 est.) Since it is a separate government entity, you will need a separate passport to enter and you should make certain that your China passport allows multiple entries for your return trip. The extra effort could be well worth it, since there is much to see and do in Macau.

One of the most famous historic sites is the Ruinas de São Paulo, the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, originally built in 1602 and rebuilt after major destruction from an 1835 typhoon. A museum in the former nave of the cathedral reportedly holds the tomb of the Cathedral's builder, Jesuit Father Alessandro Valignano, and an arm bone of St. Francis Xavier. On the hill overlooking the cathedral there are ruins of the fort that once protected the settlement of the cathedral, as well as a second museum and a metrological observatory.

There are seven major temple complexes in Macau. The oldest, A-Ma, is dedicated to the seafarers' goddess and dates from the early 16th century. The Kun Iam Tong complex is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. It was founded in the 13th century, but some of the present structure was built around 1627. It is the largest and wealthiest of the temples and contains several special halls dedicated to the Three Precious Buddhas, the Buddha of Longevity and Kun Iam herself.

Macau has several modern attractions as well. One of newest is the Macau Tower, a 338m tower which houses an entertainment and convention center. Located on the coast of the Nam Van Lakes, the tower is the 10th largest in the world. There are a total of ten casinos in Macau, mostly located in the Lisboa tourist complex. The Macau Cultural Center, opened in 1999, consists of two auditoriums for seminars, lectures and other cultural events and a second building housing three museum areas with exhibits on Macau culture, history and arts. There are ten other museums throughout Macau.

For nature lovers, Macau offers a variety of hiking trails and walking tours throughout the area. There are also 15 showcase gardens, the oldest one being the St. Francisco Garde, which was started in 1580 by the Castilian friars of the Franciscan order which founded a convent at the area.

Getting around is fairly easy, since there are buses throughout the region as well as plenty of taxis. If you'd like, you can try one of the three wheeled pedicabs along the waterfront.

Known as the "rooftop of the world," TIBET has long been considered a place of great beauty and mystery. Some of the mystery developed as China periodically restricted or prohibited travel to the area. There are an estimated 2.6 million people in Tibet (2000 est.). Since 1965, Tibet has been designated as an Autonomous Region linked to China, and though travel is still somewhat complicated, the scenery and culture are worth the trouble.

Lhasa, the "city of the gods," is the capital of Tibet and sits at an altitude of about 12,000 ft. The Potala, home to several past Dalai Lamas, is a main attraction. Built in the 7th century, this UNESCO World Heritage site now houses a unique museum which includes underground labyrinths and dungeons, large decorative statues of Buddha, and chapels decorated with human skulls and thigh bones. The tombs of past Dalai Lamas are also located in Lhasa, as is the Jokhang Temple.

Tibetan monasteries are located in Gyantse and Sakya. The one in Sakya contains a collection of religious relics that may be viewed by visitors with some restrictions by the monks.

Naturally, one of the most popular sites in Tibet is Mt. Everest. At 29,035 ft, it is the world's highest peak. In Tibet, the name of the mountain is Qoomolangma, which means "mother goddess of the universe." Its European name was given to honor Sir George Everest, the British surveyor-general of India who first accurately recorded the height and location of the mountain in 1865. Before then, it was known to the Western world as Peak 15. The Qoomolangma Nature Preserve surrounds the Tibetan base of the mountain and offers a variety of programs to protect and preserve the local environment and culture. A hike to the Everest Base Camp, the most famous starting point for trekkers, will take more than a few days of strenuous climbing. Or, you can find a tour with a 4-wheel-drive vehicle that takes you there for a visit.

It is possible to make travel arrangements to Tibet from outside of China. Once in China, travelers wishing to visit Tibet must join a group, which can be arranged by almost any Chinese travel agency. The travel agency will arrange for the necessary permits and collect any fees. The Chinese government requires foreigners (including U.S. citizens) wishing to visit Tibet to apply in advance for approval from the tourist administration of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. More information is available from the Chinese Embassy or one of the Chinese consulates in the United States, or, while in China, from the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. consulate general. (Please see the above section on Entry Requirements.) Recently, some Americans with long-term Chinese visas have experienced difficulty obtaining permits to visit Tibet


Geography and Climate

Occupying an area of about 3.7 million square miles, the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the third-largest country in the world, after Canada and Russia. It shares borders with North Korea, Russia, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Laos, and Vietnam. Hong Kong and Macau are situated on China's southern coast. Two-thirds of China's area is mountainous or semidesert; only about one-tenth is cultivated. Ninety percent of its people live on one-sixth of the land, primarily in the fertile plains and deltas of the east. The country lies almost entirely in the Temperate Zone. Only the southernmost portions of the Provinces of Yunnan and Guangdong, and the Shuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi, lie within the tropics. A monsoon climate is a major influence in the south, but the north and west have a typical continental climate, except that winters are extremely dry and summers quite rainy.

During summer, warm, moist, maritime airmasses bring heavy rains to eastern China, and hot, humid, summer weather is typical. Winter offers a sharp contrast when cold, dry Siberian air-masses dominate and often penetrate to the southern provinces. Little precipitation falls during the colder months; clear days with low humidity and low temperatures are the norm. During late winter and early spring, strong north winds sweep across northern China, and hazy days, caused by dust storms, are common.


A little more than 21% of all the world's people live in China. The Chinese Government estimates that the Chinese population has reached 1.26 billion. Population density varies strikingly, the greatest contrast being between the country's eastern and western halves. The high mountains, plateaus, and arid basins of the Tibetan Highlands and the Xinjiang-Mongolia Region comprise slightly more than half of China's area but contain only about 5% of the total population. In the eastern half of China, population density generally ranges upward from 130 people per square mile. Major heavily populated areasthose in excess of 520 people per square milecoincide with level-to-rolling alluvial plains on which intensive agriculture is centered.

Most Chinese inhabitants are of Mongoloid descent, and ethnic distinctions are largely linguistic and religious rather than racial. The Han people comprise about 92% of the population; the remaining 8%about 50 groupsare termed "minority nationalities" by Beijing. Although non-Han peoples are relatively few in number, they are politically significant. Most inhabit strategic frontier territory, and some in the southwest, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia have religious or ethnic ties with groups in adjoining nations. However, the preponderance of non-Han groups in many parts of western China is lessening, because Han Chinese have entered these regions in increasing numbers since 1950.

Although unified by tradition, written language, and many cultural traits, Han Chinese speak a score of mutually unintelligible tongues.

Most Han Chinese use the northern dialect, commonly called Mandarin, or one of its variants; a national vernacular based on the Beijing variant of this dialect ("putonghua") is in general use.

Religion plays a more significant role in daily life in southern China than it does in the north, but many mosques, temples, Daoist shrines, and churches have been reopened since the Cultural Revolution, and a great deal of restoration work is being done on ancient Buddhist temples. Ideology guides artistic expression and social behavior less than it used to, but despite artistic experiments with modern themes and techniques, China remains an austere and authoritarian state.

The dress of the average Chinese is increasingly colorful and stylish, particularly in urban areas. Chinese cuisine can be among the best and most varied in the world. The number of good restaurants is growing, and Western food is available in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, where private restaurants have sprung up to compete with those in the major hotels.

Public Institutions

The 48-million-member Communist Party of China (CCP) dominates or influences virtually all sectors of national society. Party policy guidance is implemented through utilizing the party structure present in all important government, economic, and cultural institutions. Nearly 70 percent of government employees are party members, and the percentage is even higher in the more senior ranks. Party control is the tightest in government offices and in urban settings; it is considerably looser in the rural and national minority areas where 80 percent of the Chinese people live and work.

The party is headed by a Politburo, which currently has 21 members. The Politburo itself is headed by a seven-member Standing Committee. The General Secretary, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, heads the Secretariat, which is responsible to the Politburo and helps handle the day-to-day work of the party center and its relations with regional and local party committees. The Politburo, aided by the Secretariat, also oversees the work of the Organization, International Liaison, Propaganda, and United Work Front Departments.

The Politburo is chosen by the Party Central Committee, which is elected every 5 years at a Party Congress. The Central Committee meets twice a year in formal plenary session and at other times holds informal work conferences on important topics. In addition to the Central Committee, the Party Congress also elects a Central Discipline Inspection Commission and a Central Advisory Commission. Provincial and local party groups are patterned on the central model.

A Party Central Military Commission, consisting of about a dozen top-level members, oversees the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The direct subordination of the PLA to the party underlines the special status and political importance of the PLA.

The party also uses such mass organizations as the Young Communist League, the Women's Federation, and the labor unions as conduits for policy directives. Disrupted by the Cultural Revolution, these organizations have been rebuilt and revitalized.

The National People's Congress (NPC) is formally the state's highest organ of power. A new NPC is elected every 5 years and meets in plenary session for about 2 weeks once a year to review and adopt major new policy directions, laws, the budget, and major personnel changes. The NPC Standing Committee and the deputies who participate in the NPC's specialized committees meet every 2 months for 10-day sessions to review and approve the lion's share (90%) of Chinese legislation. The State Council, an executive body corresponding to a cabinet, is nominally subordinate to the NPC, but in reality is the key player in the government structure and is charged with policy implementation. Members of the State Council include the premier, vice-premiers, state councilors, ministers, and heads of various commissions and special agencies. A court and a procuratorial system are also subordinate to the NPC.

The Chinese Constitution promulgated in 1982 guarantees freedom of speech, press, and assembly, but the government interprets the Communist Party's "leading role" as circumscribing those rights. Outright opposition to the government is not tolerated. Self-censorship is common. Nevertheless, criticism of official corruption and even ad hoc, small-scale protests against petty grievances have been allowed to take place. Foreign books and periodicalsand Chinese translations of those materialsare available in libraries and bookstores. Commercial Internet service has also been available since mid-1995, but the government has pledged to monitor and censor content.

Arts, Science, and Education

The Chinese Government's modernization-drive and its policy of "kaifang" (opening to the outside world) have combined to create a period of tremendous cultural ferment. Not since the early years of this century has China tried to assimilate such a rapid influx of foreign ideas. At the same time, conservative members of the old guard and bureaucratsthose wary of the onset of modernity, who cling to the paststill occupy key positions of power, thus creating a continuing tension between the new and the old, between the urge to rejoin the international community and the wish to protect China from its dangerous influences.

The impetus to modernize China culturally and economically stems, in part, from the desire to see China regain the position of influence it once held in Asia. The civilization and culture that developed in the Yellow River Valley of North China in the second millennium B.C. eventually came to dominate virtually all of East Asia, including Japan and Korea. Since 1949, however, many aspects of traditional Chinese culture have disappeared from the land of their origin or have been severely altered by the socialist transformation of China.

Prior to the violent suppression of the Democracy Movement in June 1989, China's international cultural exchanges had been flourishing. The PRC has signed formal cultural agreements with many nations, including the U.S. Private sector exchanges, such as those carried out by People to People, Sister City and Sister State programs, and U.S. universities, are too numerous to count. Hundreds of performing and visual artists; scholars of politics, economics, law, and literature; and interested citizens representing a full spectrum of professions came to China from the U.S. every month. Thousands of Chinese, too, traveled to the U.S. under government and private auspices to enhance their expertise and make contacts in the international cultural community. Since the Tiananmen incident Western cultural influence has been viewed skeptically by Chinese officials, and they have been very selective in their support for international exchange.

The cultural life of China takes place under the watchful eye of a variety of organizations, including the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, the Ministry of Culture, the All-China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, and the local offices of these national organizations. During the past 10 years, China has restored many cultural institutions damaged by the Cultural Revolution and rehabilitated many artists and writers. However, the government's once-substantial support for the arts has been sharply reduced in the last few years because of budget constraints and a policy of decentralization. Many cultural organizations, art schools, and performing arts groups have been told to become self-supporting. The full effect of the new policies is not yet apparent as cultural institutions must now grapple with financial and artistic problems they have not faced since before 1949.

Under the policy of opening to the outside world, international cultural exchanges are flourishing. Many countries, including the U.S., have signed formal cultural agreements with China, but it is the private sector that has shown the most rapid growth. Privately arranged cultural exchange activities are now too numerous to count. Through them, numerous foreign performers and teachers of art, music, dance, and drama visit China; art exhibits are exchanged; and many Chinese artists go abroad. This has had a profound impact on Chinese arts, but this Western influence is not without controversy. The interest of Chinese artists in Western literature and art is upsetting to those with traditional ideas. Some avantgarde or politically sensitive works continue to be banned and their authors silenced.

The Chinese cultural scene also includes a large number of art and history museums throughout the country. The museums include many important and exceptionally beautiful pieces. Particularly noteworthy are the museums in Liaoning, Xian, and Shanghai, along with the Beijing Historical Museum and the Palace Museum, which houses art treasures of the Qing Dynasty.

The Chinese film industry is at the forefront of Chinese creative arts. Mawkish socialist dramas have given way to serious films examining and questioning the political and ideological basis of Chinese society. A prominent group of young directors, known as the "5th Generation," has won international awards for its work.

For those who like to purchase artwork and handicrafts, China offers a wide variety. Antique ceramics, scrolls, carvings and hardwood furniture are available, but prices are high, and objects predating the 19th century cannot be taken out of the country. Export of antiques is subject to close scrutiny by the Cultural Relics Department, which must approve any item before packers are permitted to pack it. Modern copies are widely sold, though the quality varies. Contemporary Chinese paintingboth traditional watercolors and oilsis receiving increasing international recognition. The handicraft industry has flourished under the economic reforms and offers many regional specialties: Guizhou batik, Suzhou embroidery, carved chops, paper cuts, porcelain figurines, cloisonné, cinnabar, carved lacquer, wicker work, basketware, and others.

In an effort to overcome the ravages of the Cultural Revolution, China has made a large and continuing investment in science. Most scientific efforts are devoted to immediate developmental needs: defense, industrial technology, agriculture, and public health, but important advances are being made in basic science research. From 1949 to 1960, PRC science was heavily dependent on support from the Soviet Union, where many Chinese scientists and technicians were trained. In 1978, China decided to adopt Western technology and expertise for its modernization effort and sent thousands of scientists and teachers to Japan and the West (to the U.S. in particular) for training in science and technology specialties. Despite the ideological break with the U.S.S.R., science in China continues to be organized largely along Soviet lines, with research concentrated at the various institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Chinese scientists now participate actively at international conferences, and thousands of Chinese scientific periodicals are published. The largest U.S. bilateral science and technology exchange program, by far, is with China, and the largest Chinese program is with the U.S.

Compulsory education is mandated in China for the first 10 years of schooling, although many students drop out of every grade, particularly in rural areas. The literacy in China is about 82%. The current emphasis in Chinese educational policy is on improving secondary, technical, and vocational education and on extending educational opportunities to remote areas and undereducated populations. China is investing in teacher training to address a shortage of qualified secondary school educators. An educational television network and a TV university are broadcast throughout the country.

To develop a highly educated elite with the technological and managerial skills necessary for modernization, China has sent thousands of students abroadtwo-thirds of them to the U.S. Chinese-Foreign/Foreign-Chinese publishers have embarked on a massive book translation program. The study of English is booming in China, and interest in the U.S. is intense. The Voice of America has 150 million listeners in China.

Commerce and Industry

China's economy has grown at an average annual rate of about 9 percent since 1978. In that year, about 270 million Chinese lived in conditions of absolute poverty, while official PRC figures stated that the number had dropped to 70 million people by the end of 1994. Although growth has accelerated into double digits in recent years, the Chinese economy is marked by significant regional disparities. Heavy state-owned industries are concentrated in the northeast and Shanghai. Once poor agricultural regions in southern China, particularly Guangdong and Fujian Provinces, have emerged as dynamic light industry and trade bases. While rural areas near the coast and urban centers have in many cases joined in the country's rapid industrial growth, interior and western provinces lack the infrastructure to support rapid growth. The low tax base of the central government has constrained needed investment in the interior for roads, railways, electric power, and other infrastructure.

Agriculture remains key to China's economy, with roughly 80% of the population living in rural areas. China is the world's leading producer of many food crops, including rice, wheat, and sweet potatoes, and is also a major producer of many other crops such as soybeans and peanuts. Major cash crops include cotton, tobacco, and oil seeds. Reform policies encouraging peasants to diversify into vegetable farming, poultry and fish breeding, and animal husbandry have boosted the variety and quality of the Chinese diet.

The need to provide food for over a billion people, as well as industrial crops like cotton for rapidly expanding industries, is an unrelenting challenge. China has already achieved relatively high per-acre yields, but only about 10 percent of China's land is arable and is frequently ravaged by droughts and floods. After a series of record harvests in the early 1980s briefly propelled China into the ranks of net food exporters, grain production dipped slightly. Rising domestic demand has forced China to again increase grain imports from the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Beijing hopes to boost grain production through increased investment, wider dissemination of scientific techniques, and some added incentives to peasants, but limited government financial resources will constrain these options.

China's modernization drive has benefited from a rich natural resource base. China's coal reserves are virtually inexhaustible, but transportation bottlenecks and air pollution are major drawbacks to China's dependency on this fuel. China is the world's sixth-largest oil producer, but production at some of the largest oil fields has peaked and is beginning to decline. Offshore drilling by Western oil companies has so far produced mixed results. China probably has large untapped oil reserves in the far west, but developing these fields and transporting the oil to markets will require large investments.

China's other mineral resources include iron, tin, tungsten, and many rare earths. China produces a full range of industrial products, from light industrial consumer goods to satellite launch systems. Chinese products lag behind Western standards in quality and design, however, and there is considerable demand for imported consumer durables as well as high-technology products. The policy of "reform and opening" has promoted the growth of joint ventures, which produce a variety of products for both the domestic market and export.

While growth has been both rapid and impressive, it has also outstripped supplies of energy and raw materials. Efficiency has suffered from bottlenecks in transportation and telecommunications. Energy and transport bottlenecks in particular will persist through the 1990s, with electricity supplies likely to be an important concern for many enterprises.

Foreign trade has grown rapidly since China opened to the outside world. At the end of the last decade, textiles overtook oil and coal as the main foreign exchange earner. In 1995, exports of mechanical and electrical products exceeded textile exports for the first time. Other leading exports include footwear, toys, travel goods, plastic articles, and steel products. China imports grain, timber, essential raw materials, high-technology goods, petroleum, aircraft, and machinery.

While reforms have brought about tremendous growth and societal changes, concerns about social stability have inhibited the implementation of potentially painful reforms needed to sustain China's rapid economic growth. China will face enormous social and economic challenges during the remaining years of this century.



A well-developed rail system exists in the densely populated eastern half of the country. Passenger service, including sleeping car accommodations, is available between all major cities. Domestic air service is extensive, and routes are now serviced almost entirely by jets, many of them American made. On less important routes, one finds a mixture of Russian-built turboprops and Chinese or Russian propeller planes. Transportation costs are high.

Taxi stands with English-speaking dispatchers are widely available in Beijing, and taxis of all shapes and sizes congregate in areas frequented by Westerners in the hopes of getting a fare or can be hailed on the street.

In Beijing, most taxis are metered and charge about $1.45 at flag-down and $0.36 per kilometer. The fares are set, and passengers need not worry about being overcharged unless they enter a taxi without a meter in it. Receipts may be requested for payment. Taxi drivers normally do not expect tips, since tipping technically is illegal in China.


China follows a right-hand drive pattern, but a number of unique practices can make driving confusing for foreigners. Main roads are wide and in good repair, but the numerous pedestrians and bicycles make driving hazardous and often stressful. It snows in Beijing and Shenyang, but the streets are quickly cleared.

Nonstop international air service links Beijing with Japan and many cities in Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Northwest has recently begun nonstop service to Detroit.


Telephone and Telegraph

Many improvements in telephone service have been made in recent years. The Chinese telephone system is quickly becoming a system meeting U.S. standards. An example of this is the addition of IDD lines. However, the new arrival may experience some frustration when dealing with the Chinese system. The monthly rate for basic service is comparable to that in the U.S.

International calls may be made to most parts of the world and English-speaking operators are on duty 24 hours daily. Connections to the U.S. and other countries are good, and the cost is comparable to that in the U.S. Both AT&T and Sprint offer access to the U.S. telephone system via a direct-dial number that can be accessed from apartment telephones and many public telephones in Beijing.

Domestic and international telex and telegraphic service is quick and reliable but can be expensive.

Computer Telecommunications

Beijing is undergoing a telecommunications revolution. In June 1995, commercial vendors began offering full Internet access at 9,600 baud data rates. Service providers are user unfriendly, but with perseverance, it is possible to establish an electronic mail link through the Internet. Lines, however, are unreliable, and frequent interruptions are common. Despite these problems, given the current rate of development, it is likely that Internet connections from other parts of China will soon be available as well.

Radio and Television

In addition to Chinese-language programming, local AM and FM radio stations now have daily news and feature programs in English, and regularly broadcast Western classical and pop music. A short-wave radio will provide you with the opportunity to listen to VOA, BBC, Radio Australia, and other English-language broadcasts.

Two to five TV channels can be received in most cities, with virtually all programs in color. While most programs are in Chinese, the national network, CCTV, and municipal stations in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou broadcast English-language news programs six evenings a week. Popular American television programs are occasionally broadcast in Chinese.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Since 1981, the Chinese authorities have been publishing the English-language China Daily, which appears 6 days a week. This newspaper contains local and international news, business reports, a sports page with scores from around the world, and several local features.

The International Herald Tribune, the Asian Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, and some other American and European periodicals can be purchased in some hotels and bookstores in many major cities.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

While there are no expatriate hospitals, there are two expatriate clinics. The International Medical Center is a joint venture with a tie to the International SOS Assistance. There are several expatriate physicians at this clinic, which is open 24 hours. The Asia Emergency Assistance evacuation company also has a clinic near the Ta Yuan diplomatic compound. Like everything imported into China, the care at these clinics is expensive. They have had problems importing vaccines and medicines, and only time will tell if these problems will be solved.

The dental facilities in Beijing are adequate for minor procedures such as routine fillings. There are two small expatriate dental clinics in Beijing, but their capabilities are limited. Individuals should have their routine dental work done before coming to Beijing. While there are several U.S.-trained orthodontists in Beijing, there are some concerns about infection control, and customer satisfaction has been mixed at best.

Most hospitals in China will not accept medical insurance from the United States. Travelers will be asked to post a deposit prior to admission to cover the expected cost of treatment. Many hospitals in major cities may accept credit cards for payment. Even in the VIP/Foreigner wards of major hospitals, however, American patients have frequently encountered difficulty due to cultural and regulatory differences. Physicians and hospitals have sometimes refused to supply American patients with complete copies of their Chinese hospital medical records, including laboratory test results, scans, and x-rays. All Americans traveling to China are strongly encouraged to buy foreign medical care and medical evacuation insurance prior to arrival. Travelers who want a list of modern medical facilities in China can e-mail the United States Embassy's American Citizen Services unit at [email protected] and request a list by return e-mail.

Ambulances do not carry sophisticated medical equipment, and ambulance personnel generally have little or no medical training. Therefore, injured or seriously ill Americans may be required to take taxis or other immediately available vehicles to the nearest major hospital rather than waiting for ambulances to arrive. In rural areas, only rudimentary medical facilities are generally available. Medical personnel in rural areas are often poorly trained, have little medical equipment or availability to medications. Rural clinics are often reluctant to accept responsibility for treating foreigners, even in emergency situations.

Preventive Measures

Everyone should be current in their basic immunizations. In addition, the following are recommended for China: hepatitis B, Japanese B encephalitis (if staying more than 30 days), hepatitis A or gamma globulin, rabies for posts other than Beijing, and typhoid vaccines.

Overall, China is a healthier place than most countries in South Asia or Africa. Cholera, typhoid fever, and dysentery are not common, and most childhood diseases like measles and diphtheria are rare. Malaria prophylaxis is not needed except in Hainan Island and in areas near the Vietnam border.

Hepatitis is a major problem in China (types A, B, and E). Japanese encephalitis is still a threat during mosquito season. Since vaccines for these diseases require several series to provide full protection, please start them as soon as possible. Air pollution is bad in China and especially so in Beijing and Shenyang. Anyone with a chronic respiratory problem like asthma should not come to China. In the winter, severe dryness aggravates mucous membranes, and colds are common. Travelers should consult their doctor prior to travel and consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on them. Humidifiers are essential for winters in Beijing and Shenyang. Because of the high population density of people, pigs, and water-fowl, China is a breeding ground for influenza. Annual influenza vaccination is recommended, especially for those with chronic illnesses. Upper respiratory infection is the most common disease seen at the Medical Unit.

Most roads and towns in Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan are situated at altitudes over 10,000 feet. Travelers should seek medical advice in advance of travel, allow time for acclimatization to the high altitude, and remain alert to signs of altitude sickness. HIV has become a significant concern in China. Travelers should always ask doctors and dentists to use sterilized equipment and be prepared to pay for new syringe needles in hospitals or clinics.

Water must be boiled for drinking, and it is full of sediments and minerals. A water distiller is highly recommended for Beijing and Chengdu. Night soil is still used for vegetables, and all vegetables should be soaked in a chlorine solution. The fluoride level in China is low, and a supplement is necessary for young children.

Please bring plenty of over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol), cold medicines, and skin lotions or creams. These items are available locally but are more expensive. An extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses is recommended. The dusty atmosphere is especially hard on contact lenses.

Families with small children are advised to bring a cold mist vaporizer, which is helpful in dealing with the winter respiratory illnesses of the young. A heating pad may also be useful.


Passage, Customs & Duties

A valid passport and visa are required to enter China. Americans arriving without valid passports and the appropriate Chinese visa are not permitted to enter and will be subject to a fine and immediate deportation at the traveler's expense. Travelers should not rely on Chinese host organizations claiming to be able to arrange a visa upon arrival.

Visas are required to transit China. Persons transiting China on the way to and from Mongolia or North Korea or who plan to re-enter from the Hong Kong or Macau Special Administrative Regions should be sure to obtain visas allowing multiple entries. Permits are required to visit Tibet as well as many remote areas not normally open to foreigners.

For information about entry requirements and restricted areas, travelers may consult the Embassy of the People's Republic of China (PRC) at 2300 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Washington. D.C. 20008, or telephone (1-202) 328-2500, 2501 or 2502. For a list of services and frequently asked visa questions and answers, travelers can view the Chinese Embassy's web sites at, or [email protected]. There are Chinese Consulates General in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Americans traveling in Asia have been able to obtain visas to enter China from the Chinese visa office in Hong Kong and the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Seoul, South Korea.

Americans who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their Chinese visas will be subject to fines and departure delays and may be subject to detention. Travelers should note that international flights departing China are routinely overbooked, making reconfirmation of departure reservations and early airport check-in essential. Passengers must pay a RMB 100 airport user fee (approximately $12 US) when departing China on international flights and RMB 60 airport fee (approximately US $7.20) for all domestic flights.

Chinese customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from China of items such as antiquities, banned publications or vehicles not conforming to Chinese standards. Information concerning regulations and procedures governing items that may be brought into China is available through the Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the United States. Students may bring into China only a limited number of items that are considered necessary for study and daily life. Some U.S. citizens residing in China have been required to pay customs duty on certain high-value items when departing China because procedures were not followed when the items were originally brought into China.

Americans in China who are not staying at hotels, including Americans who are staying with friends or relatives, must register with local police. Americans who are questioned by police should immediately notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate. Foreigners detained for questioning may not be allowed to contact their national authorities until the questioning is concluded. Foreigners detained pending trial have often waited over a year for their trial to begin. Americans are rarely granted bail. Criminal punishments, especially prison terms, are more severe than in the United States. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Criminal penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect severe jail sentences and fines. Non-American foreigners have been executed for drug offenses. Several Americans currently incarcerated in China have been implicated in financial fraud schemes involving falsified banking or business documents, tax evasion schemes and assisting alien smuggling, including selling passports.

In the past, protesters detained for engaging in pro-Falun Gong activities have been deported quickly from China. Several of these protesters alleged they were physically abused during their detention. In addition, they alleged that personal property including clothing, cameras and computers had not always been returned to them upon their deportation. Chinese authorities report while they have deported these foreigners quickly after public demonstrations in favor of the Falun Gong, future adherents who intentionally arrive in China to protest against Chinese policy may receive longer terms of detention and possibly face prison sentences.

Chinese authorities have seized documents, literature, and letters that they deem to be pornographic, political in nature, or intended for religious proselytism. Persons seeking to enter China with religious materials in a quantity deemed to be greater than that needed for personal use may be detained and fined. Chinese customs authorities may seize books, films, records, tapes, and compact disks to determine if they violate Chinese prohibitions. Individuals believed to be engaged in religious proselytism or in conduct Chinese officials consider immoral or inappropriate have been detained and expelled.

PRC authorities occasionally confiscate passports and levy exit bans against persons involved in commercial or other disputes. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate General will make inquiries with local authorities to ensure that the U.S. citizen's rights under the U.S.-China Bilateral Consular Convention are honored. The individual usually is not taken into custody, but is sometimes confined to a hotel or other facility until the dispute is resolved. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate General will issue another passport to any U.S. citizen who applies for one under these circumstances; however, even with a new U.S. passport, Chinese authorities will often block departure by refusing to provide a visa for exit purposes.

U.S. citizens other than tourists at major hotels are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy or at one of the U.S. Consulates General in China. They may also obtain updated information on travel and security within the country at the Embassy or Consulates General. It is possible to register from the United States via the Internet through the U.S. Embassy's home page at

Beijing: The U.S. Embassy in China is located at 2 Xiu Shui Dong Jie, Beijing 100600, telephone: (86-10) 6532-3431, 6532-3831, and after-hours: (86-10) 6532-1910; fax (86-10) 6532-4153. The U.S. Embassy web site address is and the e-mail address is [email protected]. The Embassy consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, and Jiangxi.

Chengdu: The U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu is located at Number 4, Lingshiguan Road, Section 4, Renmin Nanlu, Chengdu 610041, telephone: (86-28) 558-3992, 555-3119; fax (86-28) 558-3520; after-hours (86-0) 1370016002102. This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Guizhou, Sichuan Xizang (Tibet), and Yunnan, as well as the municipality of Chongqing.

Guangzhou: The U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou is located at Number 1 South Shamian Street, Shamian Island 200S1, Guangzhou 510133; telephone: (86-20) 8121-8418; after-hours: (86-)139-0229-3169; fax: (86-20) 8121-8428. This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Fujian.

Shanghai: The U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai is located at 1469 Huaihai Zhonglu, Shanghai 200031 telephone: (86-21) 6433-6880, after-hours: (86-21) 6433-3936; fax: (86-21) 6433-4122, 6471-1148. This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang.

Shenyang: The U.S. Consulate General in Shenyang is located at No. 52, 14th Wei Road, Heping District, Shenyang 110003, telephone: (86-24) 2322-1198, 2322-0368; after-hours: (86-0) 1370016002110; fax (86-24) 2322-2374. This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Liaoning, Heilongjiang, and Jilin.

Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures

Chinese currency (yuan) may not be brought into or taken out of China. Travelers checks, Hong Kong dollars, and U.S. currency may be exchanged at international airports, hotels, and government shops operating exclusively for foreigners.

Most exchange points require an official exchange certificate to reconvert RMB to U.S. dollars. Be sure to save all receipts, therefore, when you change money upon arrival.

China's weights and measures are based on the metric system. However, a common unit of weight is the "jin," which is equivalent to one-half kilo.


Beijing: Starting May 1, 1995, the Beijing Municipal Government has implemented new regulations strictly controlling the registration of dogs in urban areas (limitations on size and breeds).

There are no similar restrictions against cats; however, there is a 1,000 RMB fee ($118) payable at customs, and a general rule holding that only one pet per employee may be imported. Cats also need proof of a rabies shot (within the last year) and a certificate of good health dated no more than 30 days before arrival. While Chinese regulations call for a 1-month quarantine for cats in Chinese-designated facilities, health officials at the airport so far are allowing owners to "quarantine" the cat at home, but admonish owners to keep the cat indoors at all times and inform owners that during the month health officials have the right to come to the apartment to "inspect" the cat. No cat owner so far has reported such inspection visits.

The China Travel Service will not send unaccompanied pets from Hong Kong. You must make arrangements to ship your pet on a direct air route to Beijing.

Guangzhou: Official Chinese policy varies by locality. Most hotels will not accept dogs or cats.

Shanghai: Dogs cannot be let out on the streets of Shanghai and are limited to the grounds of your house or apartment complex. Dogs and cats must have valid rabies and health certificates accompanying them and will be inspected on arrival by local health officials. Authorities currently do not impose a quarantine. After arrival, dogs must be registered with the Public Security Bureau, which will then issue individual identification cards. Cats are legal and do not have to be registered but are governed by the same regulations outlined for dogs. No facilities are available in Shanghai for boarding your pets. Pets should be shipped to Shanghai as check-in baggage.

Shenyang: Dogs and cats are available in the marketplace.

Chengdu: Pets are prohibited in Chengdu. There are no local kennels or veterinarians.

Disaster Preparedness

Some areas of China frequented by Americans, notably Yunnan Province, are prone to earthquakes. Coastal areas of Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, and Zhejiang provinces are subject to typhoons during the summer rainy season. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at Travelers should check weather conditions for cities and areas in China prior to departure. Winter weather and summer typhoons often cause the closure of airports in some parts of the country.


Jan.1 & 2 New Year's Day

Feb. Chinese New Year*

Feb. Spring Festival*

Apr. Qing Ming*

Mar. 8 Women's Day

May 1 Labor Day

May 4 Youth Day

May/June Dragon Boat Festival*

July 1 Communist Party Foundation

Aug. 1 People's Liberation Army Day

Aug. 25The Daughter's Festival (Chinese Valentines Day)

Sept/Oct. Mid-Autumn Festival

Oct. 1 P.R. China's Birthday

Oct. 2 National Day



These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Bao, Betty. Spring Moon. New York:Avon Books, 1981.

Barme, Geremie and John Minford. Seeds of Fire: Chinese Voices of Conscience. New York: Hill and Wang, 1988.

Behr, Edward. The Last Emperor. Futura, 1987.

Bernstein, Richard. From the Center of the Earth: The Search for the Truth about China. Boston: Little, Brown, 1982.

Biennendijk, Hans, ed. National Negotiating Styles. Washington, D.C.: Department of State. 1987.

Butterfield, Fox. China: Alive in the Bitter Sea. New York: Times Books, 1982.

Cheng, Nien. Life and Death in Shanghai. New York: State Books, 1986.

Fairbank, John K. The Great Chinese Revolution, 1800-1985. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.

Fraser, John. The Chinese: Portrait of a People. New York: Summit Books, 1980.

Garside, Roger. Coming Alive: China After Mao. New York: McGraw Hill, 1981.

Harding, Harry. China's Foreign Relations in the 1980s. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.

. China's Second RevolutionReform After Mao. Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1987.

Kane, Anthony J., ed. China Briefing, 1988. New York: The Asia Society, 1988.

Kao, Mayching, ed. 20th Century Chinese Painting. Hong Kong/New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Kaplan, Frederick M., et al. Encyclopedia of China Today. New York: Harper and Row, 1981.

MacFarquar, Roderick. The Origins of the Cultural RevolutionThe Great Leap Forward. Vols. 1 and 2. Columbia University Press, 1983.

Nagel's Encyclopedia Guide. China. Geneva: Nagel Publishers, 1987.

Orleans, Leo A. Chinese Students in America: Policies, Issues and Numbers. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1988.

Saltzman, Mark. Iron and Silk. New York: Random House, 1987.

Schell, Orville. Discos and Democracy: China in the Throes of Reform. New York: Pantheon Books, 1988.

Sivin, Nathan, ed. The Contemporary Atlas of China. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988.

Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China. W.W. Norton & Co., 1990.

. To Change China: Western Advisors in China 1620-1960. New York: Penguin, 1980.

Theroux, Paul. Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China. New York: Putnam, 1988.

Thubron, Colin. Behind the Wall: A Journey Through China. Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988.

Tiziano, Terzani. Behind the Forbidden Door: Travels in Unknown China. New York: H. Holt & Co., 1988.

Tuchman, Barbara. Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1971.

U.S. Government (DA pamphlet: 550-60). China: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1981.

Recommended Reading for Hong Kong

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on Hong Kong.


American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. Living In Hong Kong. (9th edition).

American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and The Institute of International Education. Returning to Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Employment Guide for Graduates of Overseas Universities. (annual editions)

Baker, Hugh. Hong Kong Images: People & Animals. Hong Kong University Press, 1990.

Cameron, Nigel. An Illustrated History of Hong Kong. Oxford University Press, 1991.

Cresswell, Colin M. The Taipans: Hong Kong's Merchant Princes. Oxford University Press, 1991.

Coates, Austin. Myself a Mandarin: Memoirs of a Special Magistrate. Oxford University Press, 1991.

Endacott, G.B. A History of Hong Kong. Oxford University Press, 1987.

Enright, M., Scott, E. & Dodwell, D. The Hong Kong Advantage. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Gershman, Suzy. Born to Shop: Hong Kong. MacMillan, 1997.

Hoe, Susana. Private Life of Old Hong Kong. Oxford University Press, 1991.

Hong Kong Government Information Services. Hong Kong 1997. Hong Kong Government Printing Department, 1997 (last in annual series under British administration).

Insight Guide to Hong Kong. APAProductions, 1998.

Lau Siukai and Kuan Hsinchi. The Ethos of the Hong Kong Chinese. Coronet Books, 1989.

Mo, Timothy. An Insular Possession. Random House, 1987.

Mo, Timothy. Monkey King. William Morrow, 1987.

Miners, Norman. The Government and Politics of Hong Kong. (5th ed. revised) Oxford University Press, 1996.

Morris, Jan. Hong Kong: Epilogue to an Empire (Vintage Departures). Vintage Books, 1997.

O'Reilly & Habegger, Travelers'Tales of Hong Kong. O'Reilly & Assts, Inc., 1996.

Rodwell, Sally. Historic Hong Kong. The Guidebook Co., 1991.

Schepel, Kaarlo. Magic Walks (vols. 1,2, &3). The Alternate Press, 1992.

Storey, Robert. Lonely Planet Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou Travel Survival Kit. Lonely Planet Publishing, 1997.

Wei, Betty Peh-Ti & Li, Elizabeth. Culture Shock! Hong Kong. Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co., 1994.

Welsh, Frank. A Borrowed Place: The History of Hong Kong. Kodansha, 1993.

Recommended Web Sites

Department of State

Consulate General Home Page

Hong Kong Government Official Information Site

Hong Kong Tourism Association

American Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong

Hong Kong Telecom

Hong Kong International School

English Schools Foundation

German Swiss International School

Chinese International School

Parkview International Pre-school

Carmel School Hong Kong Canadian Academy

Morrison Academy-Taichung

Brent School

University of the Sacred Heart

Chinese University of Hong Kong

City University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts

Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Lingnan College

Open University of Hong Kong

University of Hong Kong

South China Morning Post

Hong Kong Standard

Far East Economic Review

Asia Television (ATV)

Television Video Broadcasting (TVB)

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: People's Republic of China
Region: East & South Asia
Population: 1,261,832,482
Language(s): Chinese (Mandarin), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects
Literacy Rate: 81.5%
Academic Year: September-June
Number of Primary Schools: 628,840
Compulsory Schooling: 9 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 2.3%
Libraries: 2,600
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 139,954,000
  Secondary: 71,883,000
  Higher: 6,075,215
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 123%
  Secondary: 70%
  Higher: 6%
Teachers: Primary: 5,794,000
  Secondary: 4,437,000
  Higher: 516,400
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 24:1
  Secondary: 17:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 123%
  Secondary: 66%
  Higher: 4%

History & Background

By 2000 B.C., Chinese education had developed to the level of institutions specifically established for the purpose of learning. From 800 to 400 B.C. China had both guoxue (government schools) and xiangxue (local schools). Education in traditional China was dominated by the keju (civil service examination system), which began developing around 400 A.D. and reached its height during the Tang Dynasty (618-896). Essentially, the keju was a search program based on the Confucian notion of meritocracy. This civil service examination system remained almost the exclusive avenue to government positions for China's educated elite for more than 1,000 years.

Historically, formal education was a privilege of the rich. Mastering classical Chinese, which consisted of different written and spoken versions and lacked an alphabet, required time and resources most Chinese could not afford. As a result, for much of its history, China had an extremely high rate of illiteracy (80 percent). The result was a nation of mass illiteracy dominated by a bureaucratic elite highly educated in the Confucian classical tradition. The earliest modern government schools were created to provide education in subjects of Western strength such as the sciences, engineering, and military development to address Western incursion and to maintain the integrity of China's own culture and polity. The aim of these schools was to modernize technologically by imitating the West, while maintaining all traditional aspects of Chinese culture. These schools were never integrated into the civil service examination system.

In 1898, Emperor Guang Xu, supported by Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao, well-known reformers, issued a series of decrees to initiate sweeping reforms in Chinese education. The measures included the establishment of a system of modern schools accessible to a greater majority of the population, abolition of the rigid examination system for the selection of government officials, and the introduction of short and practical essay examinations.

Between 1901 and 1905, the Qing court issued a new series of education reform decrees. The old academies that had supported the civil service examinations were reorganized. A modern school system was built on their foundations with primary, secondary, and college levels reflective of Western models. Schools throughout China were organized into three major stages and seven levels. Elementary education was composed of kindergarten, lower elementary, and higher elementary; secondary education consisted of middle school; and higher education was divided into preparatory school, specialized college, and university. The Qing Court also instructed provincial, prefectural, and county governments to open new schools and start a compulsory education program. The civil examination system (keju ) was officially abolished in 1905, marking the end of the trademark of traditional Chinese education.

Six years later, China's dynastic tradition also came to an end when the new Nationalist Republic replaced it. With this political metamorphosis, China's educational system experienced further transformations. The search for modern nationhood and economic prosperity created the first golden age of education in modern China. Education in China enjoyed a rare interval of uninterrupted growth as the Beijing government enthusiastically pursued educational development in both the public and private sectors as an essential component of the Nationalists' nation-building program. In 1912 and 1913 the Republican government issued Regulations Concerning Public and Private Schools and Regulations Concerning Private Universities; these documents laid out the criteria for private schools and stipulated proper application and registration procedures, while calling for financial investment in education nationwide.

The eruption of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and rapid Japanese conquest of coastal areas in the months immediately following changed the educational situation dramatically. As a result of military operations, 70 percent of Chinese cultural institutions were destroyed. By November 1, 1937, no less than 24 institutions of higher learning had been bombed or demolished by the Japanese. Seventy-seven of China's institutions of higher learning were either closed down or literally uprooted and moved many hundreds of miles into the interior. Not all the students could follow their respective universities. As a result, the retaining rate of their original student bodies for these institutions ranged from 25 to 75 percent. The subsequent civil war (1946-1949) between the Nationalists and the Communists continued to subject China to a state of political turmoil in which education suffered drastically as a result.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the new Communist government pursued the movement to "learn from the Soviet Union" with all the enthusiasm that had characterized the Western imitation process in earlier decades. The entire national educational system was first reorganized to conform to the Soviet model in 1952-53. American-style liberal arts colleges were abolished, with arts and science facilities separated from the larger universities to form the core of Soviet style zonghexing (comprehensive) universities; about 12 of these were formed, in more or less even distribution around the country. The remaining disciplines of the old universities were reorganized into separate technical colleges or merged with existing specialized institutes. Also following the Soviet example, nationally unified teaching plans, syllabi, materials, and textbooks were introduced for every academic specialty or major.

The Great Leap Forward of 1958 introduced educational reforms as part of a comprehensive new strategy of mass mobilization for economic development. To end the continuing influence of such pre-revolutionary ideas as "education can only be led by experts" and "the separation of mental and manual labor," as well as to strengthen party leadership, the Ministry of Education (MOE) issued a directive on September 19, 1958, launching the educational reforms. It called universities to fill both academic and administrative leadership positions with party members. Productive labor became part of the curriculum in all schools at all levels. More specifically, the half-work/half-study schools were founded to meet the task of rapidly universalizing education for the masses, since these schools could be run on a self-supporting basis without financial aid from the state. The party directives also stipulated that no professional educational staff was necessary; anyone who could teach would suffice.

The Cultural Revolution further broke the power of the existing educational bureaucracy, the professional academics, and any party leaders who supported them. This represented a final abolition of the obstacles the Chinese intellectual establishment had always imposed against radical reform of the educational system as a whole. It ended the authority of education professionals, which led to a general lowering of academic standards, particularly in higher education. As a result of the experimentation in that area, the content of college curricula on the average was reduced by half. The policy of sending city youth to rural areas to be "re-educated by peasants" also produced many millions of dissatisfied young people who failed to adapt to the rural lifestyle.

After the death of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping's reform period began with a major national education conference in April 1978, which abandoned the Cultural Revolution's goals of class struggle and adopted modernization as the main goal for educational development. The nation witnessed a remarkable new era of rapid reconstruction and expansion of all levels of education, especially higher education. In both the formal and nonformal sectors, one of the goals of the reforms was that a college-level education was to be a prerequisite for all officials, including county-level leaders. This is a goal yet to be accomplished in the twenty-first century, but it is already underway in the political reintegration of China's intellectuals within the ruling class.

The scene in higher education in the PRC has changed rapidly since the 1990s. With the increasing drive to modernize China by integrating free-market forces, the government has introduced radical new reforms to privatize education. The most recent reforms include introduction of student fees, abolition of guaranteed job assignment after graduation, localization of institutions, and the development of private educational institutions.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The Chinese have always regarded education as a tool for strengthening the country instead of cultivating individuals, which dictates that learning for the sake of knowledge is not enough. Students are expected to develop, first, as patriotic Chinese with strong morals, then as individuals with the necessary skills to serve the country and people. Throughout the educational system, the ideal of a well-rounded, cultured person with a strong socialist consciousness is deeply embedded. Article 46 of the Constitution, adopted on December 4, 1982, stipulates that "citizens of the People's Republic of China have the duty as well as the right to receive education." It also states that minorities "have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages" (Article 4), and the blind, deaf-mute, and other handicapped citizens should receive help from the state to improve their education (Article 45). The most important provision of the 1982 Constitution on education is Article 19. It states that "the state develops socialist educational undertakings and works to raise the scientific and cultural level of the whole nation." It sets the nation's educational goal as "to wipe out illiteracy and provide political, cultural, scientific, technical, and professional education" for China's citizens, and "encourages people to become educated through self-study." These principles set the keynote for subsequent legislation in the 1980s and 1990s.

The document that led to the rehabilitation and expansion of education in post-Mao China was the 1985 Decision on the Reform of China's Educational Structure. It stated that the major goal of the reform was to develop education as a significant tool of socialist construction, economic expansion, and modernization. To this end, the reform document specifically called for a commitment to a compulsory nine-year cycle of primary and middle school education, diversifying high school education, expanding vocational education, improving teaching quality, granting more autonomy to higher educational institutions, reforming the job assignment system, and allocating more responsibility to education professionals over party officials.

In February 1993 the Central Committee of the Communist Party, together with the State Council, officially distributed the Outline for Reform and Development of Education in China. This document details strategic tasks to guide education reform in the 1990s and into the next century. The Outline calls the nation to make education a strategic priority because of its fundamental importance to China's modernization drive to raise the ideological and ethical standards of the entire population, as well as to raise its scientific and educational levels. The main tasks include gearing education to the needs of the future modernization efforts, improving the quality of the workforce, and establishing an educational system suited to a socialist market economy (Ashmore & Cao 1997).

Educational SystemOverview

China has one of the world's largest (in terms of numbers of students) educational systems: a total of approximately 289,859,000 students were enrolled in 1998. Sixty-seven percent of the students were in primary and junior secondary schools, grades one through nine (China Statistical Yearbook ). (Unfortunately though, statistics issued by the Chinese government should be used with caution; they best represent trends or the general picture.) These nine grades constitute China's formal basic education. Compulsory education has been very successful at the primary level (first through sixth grades), but not as impressive at the junior secondary level (seventh through ninth grades).

Although the quality of schools varies widely in China, there are standard textbooks and curricula for all subjects at all levels. The textbooks convey a strong nationalist message in content. Teaching style emphasizes the authority of the teacher and demands great amounts of memorization and recitation.

Higher education is merit-based and extremely competitive in China. The overall enrollment in 1998 was 3,409,000 in the formal higher education sector (China Statistical Yearbook 1999) and 74,967,300 in the nonformal sector (China Statistical Yearbook 1999). On average, formal higher education institutions admit about 50 percent of the graduates of general senior secondary schools (Agelasto & Adamson 1998).

Foreign influences on Chinese education manifested themselves through two main channels: foreign missionary schools and the Western-educated Chinese. Missionary education in China dates back to 1818 when British missionaries opened schools in Malacca for the children of overseas Chinese. Starting in the 1840s, missionary schools came under the protection of a series of "unequal treaties" between the Chinese government and the Western powers. The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed a steady rise in the number of mission schools due to missionaries' growing interests in education and a general advancement of Western powers in China. In many ways, mission schools were a catalyst for the educational reform in modern China.

The reform was initiated in the 1860s as a component of the Self-Strengthening Movement and sponsored by a few high-ranking officials involved in yiwu, (barbarian affairs). From the point of view of the Chinese court in Beijing, there was an urgent need to understand Western culture and Westerners. In 1903 the imperial government issued the Guidelines for Educational Affairs, which established an educational system modeled after that of the Japanese, who had successfully replicated the Western system.

During the Nationalist decade (1928-1937), Chinese education experienced a transition from the earlier Japanese model to the American model, partly because of the return of students from the West, especially the United States, and partly because of China's deteriorating relationship with Japan. China started a public school system patterned after that of the United States and adopted American textbooks in its 1922 educational system.

In addition to help from universities and colleges in the United States, American missionary colleges in China also played an important role in the Americanization of the Chinese educational system. By the 1930s there were 16 Christian colleges and universities in China. Three of them were sponsored by Catholic missions and 13 of them were by Protestants. Academically, they were the first to introduce relatively comprehensive programs in science, technology, and medicine. However, in spite of all their positive attributes and efforts to communicate with the Chinese populace, a huge gap always existed between mission schools and Chinese society at large. The factors that contributed to the distance included the unwillingness of the missionaries to learn Chinese and the unwillingness to address Chinese concerns about national sovereignty and China's cultural heritage.

Missionary institutions not only transformed the life of Chinese youth who enrolled in them, but also smoothed the way for those who desired to study abroad. For students who planned to go abroad to pursue graduate studies, a degree from a western missionary school was invaluable. The pro-Western attitude manifested itself most in universities and colleges in the 1920s and 1930s. By 1927, Western-educated men monopolized nearly all important posts in higher education. Returnees, especially those from the United States, also dominated the diplomatic corps, military forces, and top government positions. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Communist Party expelled all missionary schools from China and forbade Chinese from going to the West to study, except for a very few who were allowed to study Western languages for diplomatic purposes. These measures were intended to end all Western influences on Chinese education. Since 1949 there has not been any private school operated exclusively by foreigners in China.

According to the China Statistical Yearbook, by 1998, China had a total population of 1,248,100,000 people. Among those over age 15, an estimated 83.22 percent were literate (China Statistical Yearbook 1999). In 1998, about 139,538,000 Chinese were enrolled in primary school; 63,010,000 were in middle school, among them 9,380,000 were high school students; 3,409,000 were students attending a university; and 198,885 were graduate students (China Statistical Yearbook 1999).

Illiteracy in China still poses a big challenge. Of those age 15 and older, 16.78 percent of Chinese know fewer than the 1,500 characters needed for basic literacy. Illiterate male Chinese make up 9.01 percent of the total male population over age 15, while illiterate female Chinese account for 22.61 percent of the total female population over age 15 (China Statistical Yearbook 1999).

Another problem of educational attainment is the huge discrepancy between urban and rural areas. Generally, almost all urban residents are literate due to better funding of schools and the prohibition of child labor. The majority of Chinese illiterates live in rural area. The lack of teachers and schools, poor funding, and the necessity for children to participate in farm-work contributes to the long-term problem.

The Compulsory Education Law of 1986 mandates six years for primary education and three years of middle school. Compulsory education serves two purposes: to prepare students for employment and to enable them to lay a solid foundation for entering schools of higher level. Although the law says the nine-year compulsory education should be free for all children, schools, often driven by economic necessity, ask parents to pay many fees, such as examination paper fees, school construction fees, water fees, and after-school coaching fees. Sometimes due to the high fees charged by schools, rural parents have to pull their children out of school (Lin 1999).

In order to develop compulsory education nationwide, the Chinese government is assisting economically deprived areas. To further increase state education appropriations, the government established the Hope Project, a back-to-school fund for children in impoverished areas who had discontinued schooling. By the end of 1994, the government had collected more than 350 million yuan (US$42.7 million) in donations, and 1,000,000 children who had been forced to leave school because of their impoverished situation were able to resume their education (Ashmore & Cao 1997).

The academic year in China is comprised of a fall semester and a spring semester. Students have classes five days a week with much homework assigned over the weekend. The school year extends from September to July. The teaching language is Putonghua, (Mandarin Chinese). Occasionally, local dialects are used as the teaching language in remote minority areas; however, the teaching of Mandarin Chinese is strictly enforced and is mostly used alongside local minority languages.

The new orientation of the Chinese economy in the 1980s required many skilled and trained laborers. Private education proved to be a pragmatic solution to meet the challenges of China's burgeoning market economy. Various nongovernmental schools became established in urban areas. They emphasized vocational training and offered courses such as foreign languages, accounting, bookkeeping, home economics, architecture, tailoring, and industrial management. By 1998, the total enrollment in nonformal institutions had reached 74,967,300 students (China Statistical Yearbook 1999).

In 1987 and 1988, the State Education Commission issued a series of documents, including the Provisional Regulations Concerning Educational Institutions Run by Social Forces and Provisional Regulations on the Finance of Educational Institutions Run by Social Forces. With these documents, the government allowed state-owned enterprises and institutions, the democratic parties, popular organizations, economic collectives, and learned societies to set up educational institutions. Private citizens were also allowed to do so with special permission from the educational office at various levels of the government. Foreigners, overseas Chinese, educators, and businessmen from Hong Kong and Taiwan were invited as well.

The first pre-college private school since the economic reforms was Guangya school in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province. It opened in June 1992 by Qing Guangya. Three years later there were 20,780 private kindergartens, 3,159 private primary and secondary schools, and 672 private vocational and technical schools. In addition, there were 12,230 private colleges with an average enrollment of 2,400 students. Generally, there have been three types of private schools developed since the 1980s in terms of their funding and operation. The first type was founded and controlled by private investors, including former educators and businessmen. The second type of private schools was set up by Chinese individuals or business firms in collaboration with foreign investors. The third type included those founded and operated by Chinese enterprises and institutions in the tradition of the minban school, which are popularly-run schools supported by village funds in rural areas. Although the majority of minban schools are primary schools, there may be a few middle schools. Many private schools involved government officials or agencies in their administration or boards. In the 1990s, with strong financial support, private schools became much better equipped than most public schools. Computer labs, language labs, indoor gyms, swimming pools, and piano studios have enabled these schools to implement programs that prepared their students for the challenge of the market economy.

Although the future of private institutions remains uncertain, it seems that it is improving. More than ever before, the People's Republic of China is committed to economic reforms. Given the benefits of private universities, they are very likely to prosper in China's drive for modernization.

Although the philosophy of Communism dictates that women should enjoy equal rights with men, in educational life there have been consistently fewer females than males both overall and at each level of education throughout the history of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Females have consistently constituted a declining proportion of total students as one moves up the educational ladder. The obstacles of gender discrepancies at all levels of education stems in part from deeply embedded cultural sentiments. Female inferiority was enshrined in the Confucian ethic nan zun nu bei (male honorable, female inferior). This concept of female inferiority remains firmly entrenched in the basic social structure of modern Chinese society. Overt institutional discrimination occurs in the admission of females to both secondary and higher education. In the post-Mao Era, technical schools have been particularly active in this area, imposing quotas on the proportion of females enrolled. They argue that while girls mature faster intellectually than boys, they begin to fall behind at the later stage of junior middle school or in senior high school. More importantly, they use employment demands to justify gender discrimination. Since potential employers prefer male recruits, female graduates would have a hard time finding jobs. In addition women are considered less committed and are viewed as having less energy for their work because of their domestic responsibilities. Family attitudes and behavior also present obstacles to female education. Throughout the history of post-1949 China, the family has continued to favor the education of sons over daughters, especially in rural areas where both traditional attitudes and the virilocal family structure have persisted. Girls are often withdrawn from junior high school and even primary school to assist with domestic chores, accounting for their lower participation rates in education (Epstein 1991).

Despite the continuous disproportion of enrollment, female participation in education has increased over the period as a whole. Up to the mid-1980s, women's participation in formal higher education improved rapidly, from 23.4 percent in 1980 to 38.3 percent in 1998 (China Statistical Yearbook 1999). It is important to note, however, that free-market reforms have not always benefited women. Since the mid-1980s, female graduates have faced increasing discrimination in employment, as the centralized job allocation system has been modified to allow for greater autonomy on the part of employers. Because employers now have a choice, many choose to hire males over females to avoid paying maternity benefits. A new law protecting women's rights was passed by the national People's Congress in 1992, specifying that "schools and pertinent departments should ensure that females and males are treated equally when it comes to starting school, progressing from a lower-level school to a higher one, assigning jobs on graduation, awarding academic degrees, and selecting people for overseas study." But this is increasingly difficult to implement since educational institutions have less and less control over the employment of their graduates.

At the end of 1998, China had 55 minority groups with a population of 75,774,500. Although they constitute 6.07 percent of the total population, they are very unequally distributed among the 31 province-level territories. In 10 territories, their share of the total population is less than 1 percent. In 2 other territories, their share is between 10 and 20 percent (China Statistical Yearbook 1999). Because the Communist Party wanted to promote a unified country, it maintained that non-Han populations had the right to preserve their own languages, customs, and religions over a long period of time until all minorities would ultimately "melt together." In the meantime, the government also insisted that minorities were backward in their customs, economy, and political consciousness. Therefore, they needed assistance from the Han people to achieve a developed socialist country.

As a result of these contradictory policies, China has developed one of the oldest and largest programs of state-sponsored affirmative action for ethnic minorities. By 1950 the government had established 45 special minority primary schools and 8 provincial minority secondary schools. The minority students in these schools were provided free education, books, and school supplies and were subsidized for food and housing (Hansen 1990). For the long-term political goal, the government also focused on the education of minority cadres. An important institution to accomplish this goal is minzu xueyuan (special minority institutes), which trained minority cadres to work in minority regions as representatives of the Communist party and government. In college entrance examinations, minorities are given additional points to give them greater access to higher education20 points are automatically added to their scores if they apply to minority institutes, or 5 points are added if they apply to other schools. Also, in many cases, minority students are allowed to take the examinations in their indigenous languages and later enroll in classes taught in Mandarin. Many prominent universities now have minzu ban (ethnic classes or cohorts). Since the early 1980s, there have also been one-year yuke ban (preparatory courses) for minorities at key universities and minority institutes. These classes, which may be arranged by agreement between minority areas and universities, can serve students who failed to enter a university through the national enrollment system. Minority students also benefit from quotas that set aside a certain percentage of the spaces in classes for them. Furthermore, governments at different levels tried to strengthen the training of local teachers and re-establish bilingual education, particularly among Tibetans, Mongols, and Uygurs. The autonomous governments of minorities are allowed to decide which kinds of schools to establish, the length of schooling, whether a special curriculum is needed, which languages to teach in addition to Chinese, and how to recruit students. The central government also decided that minority students studying in cities should be allocated jobs in their home-counties after graduation in order to ensure that poor and underdeveloped rural minority areas would benefit from minority higher education. In exchange for the preferential policies, minorities are expected to support China's construction by providing more natural resources.

In spite of governmental preferential policies, many minority areas are still characterized by low levels of school enrollment and educational attainment. In 1990, the level of illiteracy of the national minorities as a whole (30.8 percent) is markedly higher than that of all Han combined at 21.5 percent. While minority students continue to do relatively well in terms of opportunities to enter higher education, they are increasingly disadvantaged in their access to the job market upon graduation. Furthermore, both minority men and women are highly disadvantaged in applying to enter graduate school, due to the foreign language requirement. It is not easy for them to reach an adequate level in a foreign language when they must master Chinese in addition to their own language and then learn the foreign language through the medium of Chinese. Nor is there much evidence of affirmative action for minority students at the graduate level. Also, the fact that many minority undergraduates intend to become cadres, rather than academics, contributes to the scarcity of minority graduate students. In 1993, only 3 percent of graduate students were minorities.

The use of instructional technology in China's classrooms remains inadequate. Many schools, particularly in rural area, still rely on blackboard and chalk as their major instructional media. Since the economic reforms in the 1980s, some schools in the cities have acquired limited audio-visual resources. Both key high schools and universities have the advantage of being equipped first due to funding priority from the state. Private schools are better equipped than most public schools due to their generous donors, usually overseas Chinese or the newly rich entrepreneurs. As for Internet access in classrooms, Chinese schools are behind most advanced Western countries. Only very few researchers at key universities, supported by outside funding, have unlimited access to Internet resources. Due to both high cost and the fear of influx of undesired information, the Chinese government hesitates to make the Internet a valuable teaching tool on campuses.

In using both radio and television as instructional media to provide educational opportunities for Chinese mass, however, China is ahead of many countries in the world. Even during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) when all schools were closed, Chinese Central People's Broadcast Station started to offer English lessons through radio broadcast in the 1970s. In February 1979 a television university was formed to offer different courses to Chinese citizens. In 1998 there were 45 radio and television universities with a enrollment of 484,400 students (China Statistical Yearbook 1999). Upon passing all required tests in a particular field, students can receive diplomas from the universities. The well-developed network presents lectures and classes in all major cities and regions throughout China. By presenting lectures of top experts in a given field, these radio and television universities provide educational opportunities to a large viewing audience who cannot attend formal college.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Unlike primary education in Chinese cities, kindergarten education is not offered on a universal basis. Nationwide, in 1998, approximately 24,030,000 children attended 181,368 kindergartens (China Statistical Yearbook 1999). The proportion of children who attend kindergartens in cities is higher, with more children spending at least some time in kindergarten between the ages of three and six when they enter primary school. It is a general principle that children who have attended a reputable kindergarten will more easily attain a spot in a good primary school. Consequently, despite the higher fees charged at the best kindergartens, places are often difficult to secure. Sometimes there are entrance examinations designed to test coordination, verbal development, simple counting, and the recognition of shapes. Despite the existence of formal selection procedures, access to guanxi (connections), or a "back door" may help with entry into a good kindergarten.

Factories, companies, universities, and government offices all operate nurseries for their own employees. Their quality varies, depending in part on the nature of the unit to which they are attached. Usually, the elite kindergartens are operated by local education bureaus. University kindergartens are renowned for their standards, and the admission criteria are very stringent. When choosing kindergartens for their children, however, closeness to the work place and opening hours coordinated with the working day make enterprise kindergartens a convenient choice. The majority of urban kindergartens are run by the residents' committees. These provide day care only. The equipment is simpler and their staff less highly trained than in the elite establishments.

Kindergarten activities have undergone significant changes in the 1990s. The popularization of a national kindergarten syllabus has produced a surprising degree of similarity in the children's day and in teaching methods used in kindergartens all over the country. The subjects taught include language, arithmetic, social studies, music, art, and physical education. The learning through play approach is much better established than in the past.

The status of kindergarten teachers has not risen very much since the days when the majority of staff were kindly but uneducated elderly women. Today, the qualified teachers are graduates from normal schools for kindergartens. They are called laoshi (teacher) as a mark of respect, rather than the familiar address form ayi (auntie) used in the past. However, their wages are poor, and kindergarten training tends to be taken by less competitive students whose grades are not good enough to get into any other college.

Moral and ideological education in kindergarten has changed a great deal in the years since Mao's death (1976). In the past, words like "revolution," "socialism," "communism," and "Chairman Mao's thought" were common in the kindergarten classroom. Today, although the government still requires kindergartens to instill a strong ideology and children are still taught to "love China and the communist Party," kindergartens also teach children to be modest, unselfish, tidy, and polite. Children also need to learn to distinguish between good and bad, care for their environment, and help one another. These values are important considering the fact that today's Chinese children are from one-child families, and most of them are spoiled by their parents and grandparents.

The most important document regarding primary education policy was The Government Administration Council Directive Concerning the Reorganization and Improvement of Primary School Education signed by Premier Zhou Enlai in 1953. It asked primary schools throughout China to have the same pedagogical plan and to develop the same systems of governing attendance, leave, and certification of attainment. Children begin primary school when they are seven-years-old or often six-years-old in urban areas. Primary education includes six-year programs, although in the past there were some five-year programs. There are three types of schools: full-time elementary, rural elementary, and simple elementary (Ashmore & Cao 1997). In 1998, about 139,538,000 students were enrolled in 609,626 primary schools (China Statistical Yearbook 1999).

Primary classes are large, the atmosphere is formal, and discipline is quite strict. Children are no longer required to sit with their hands clasped behind their backs as they were before the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), but they sit in straight rows, stand up to answer the teacher, and recite much of what they are required to learn in unison.

Two programs were developed to satisfy the need for education in less developed areas. One is the half-and-half agricultural secondary school. Students in this kind of school spend a half-day in study and a half-day in labor to support themselves. Their facilities are often primitive: a hastily erected shack or the floor of a barn. Another program is the part-time primary school, often called "simplified primary school." It usually offers a few daily classes taught by locally recruited teachers, usually themselves only primary school graduates. The classrooms are often located in old temples and the facilities are ill-suited for students. These are known as minban (popularly-run) schools, which are run communally by villages; they are solely supported by village funds and do not receive any financial support from the national government. Minban schools do not intend to prepare students for further education or for vocations different from those of their parents. The number of minban schools is unreported by Chinese authorities. Theoretically, every primary school teacher should be paid by the government. In reality, sometimes it is hard to find a teacher in rural areas. Villagers need to recruit teachers themselves, and the salary of the teacher is drawn from village funds.

The curriculum for primary schools is very much standardized in China. There are standard textbooks for curricula at all levels. The central theme of these uniformly written textbooks is that China is a unified, glorious country with a great past and a bright future. Despite considerable variation in geography, agriculture, climate, language, and local customs, nearly the same subjects are taught with the same materials throughout the country. The standardized curriculum dictates that 40 percent of class hours should be devoted to the study of Chinese (including reading, writing, composition, and speaking). A further 24 percent of class hours is devoted to arithmetic. The remaining class hours are absorbed by physical education, music, art, natural science, politics, geography, and history. Increasingly, foreign languages, particularly English, have become optional courses. The government planned to make English a mandatory course starting at the third year of primary school at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Secondary Education

The First National Conference on Secondary Education was held in Beijing in March 1951. Based on the conference, the Ministry of Education issued the "Temporary Rules for Middle Schools" in the next year. According to this directive, the task of middle schools was to educate a generation of young people for the new China, which meant to combine the theory of Marxism-Leninism with a concrete appreciation for Chinese society and to cultivate proletarian successors who loved the party, the people, and the country. In the early 1950s, a unified system of middle schools was set up in China. All private middle schools were eliminated, and all curriculum and textbooks were standardized.

General secondary schools include a 3-year junior secondary school and a 3-year senior secondary school. Some systems have a 4-year junior/3-year senior plan; a few others have a 2-year senior school structure. Secondary schools in China are divided into "key" and "ordinary" schools. Designated key schools are schools distinguished from ordinary schools by their academic reputation and are generally allocated more resources by the state. Their original purpose was to quicken the training of highly needed talent for China's modernization, but another purpose was to set up exemplary schools to improve teaching in all schools. This stratified structure has given key schools numerous privileges. They can select the best students through city-wide or region-wide examination and transfer the best teachers in the area to teach in their school. They receive much more funding from the government, and in getting funds for upgrading equipment or the purchase of expensive items such as computers, they always have priority. Because of these advantages, key schools often boast 90 to 99 percent admission rates to universities (Lin 1999).

In addition, key schools dominate the creation and distribution of secondary school education materials. Their best teachers are not only called upon to write and grade national examination test papers, but they are also publishing researchers who authoritatively resolve secondary school disputes through their domination of district education bureau publications. Some key schools are even affiliated with overseas alumni associations that are a source of prestige and hard currency. Such schools embody China's modernization goal of defining success in relationship to international standards. Admission into key schools often paves the way for entering elite colleges in China and abroad, perpetuating a syndrome of ever-increasing pressure on children to gain admission to the best secondary schools. Although the State Education Commission and local bureaus of education have attempted to reduce student work loads by banning excessive examinations, stipulating the number of hours secondary school pupils must sleep each night, restricting homework during semester breaks and holidays, and preventing merit pay for instructors who teach solely the top students, there is not much improvement.

Besides inequality between key and ordinary schools, there has been a huge discrepancy between urban areas and less-developed rural areas since the 1980s. Historically, the Chinese government's investment on education for peasants has always been meager. In rural areas 90 percent of secondary schools fail to meet national standards for such basic facilities as chairs, desks, and safe drinking water.

In 1998, among 13,948 regular senior secondary schools in China, only 20 percent (2,721) were in rural areas, serving 70 percent of Chinese population, not to mention the huge discrepancy in their equipment, government funding, and the quantity and quality of the teachers. In terms of student enrollment, rural pupils only constitute 14 percent (1,310,436) of senior secondary school students (China Statistical Yearbook 1999). Besides inadequate resources, the fact that many peasants believe that formal schooling is useless and irrelevant to their agrarian life is also responsible for the high illiteracy rate in rural areas. The poorest of China's counties are so behind in secondary school provision that the government implemented a prairie fire program to push rural educational efforts (Epstein 1991).

The academic year for junior secondary school consists of two 20-week terms, 11 to 12 holiday weeks, and one or two weeks for flexible use. Six classes are offered each day, Monday through Friday. Classroom instruction involves 28 to 30 hours each week. The core curriculum of secondary schools includes three fundamental subjects: Chinese, mathematics, and English. Each is taught for six years and together account for more than 50 percent of the total hours students spend in the classroom. Political study is required in each year of secondary school. It consists of political ideology and morality, the history of social development and dialectical materialism, political and legal knowledge, political philosophy, political economy, and review during the senior year. In addition, students study five years of physics, four years of chemistry and biology, three years of geography and history, and one year of computer science, which includes basic computer literacy and programming. Pupils also participate in physical education in each year of secondary school and two or three years of art and music. Many schools now teach typing in the second year of junior secondary school.

Besides the senior secondary schools that prepare students for going on to college, there are vocational and technical senior secondary schools (VTE) that train pupils in specialized fields and prepare them to enter the workforce immediately after graduation from secondary school. Full-time senior secondary school programs are commonly classified into specialized technical and teacher-training schools, technical and pre-service skilled worker schools, and, the largest sector, vocational and agricultural schools. The most prestigious VTE programs are offered by more than 4,109 specialized schools that train middle-level technical personnel and kindergarten and primary school teachers. These institutions, developed in the mid-1950s and directed by technical ministries as well as the State Education Commission, are managed directly by education, technical, and labor bureaus at the local, district, county, and provincial levels. Entering students are junior secondary school graduates who are selected through competitive state examinations administered by bureaus of higher education. The four-year study program includes nine broad specializations in technical fields (agriculture, art, economics, engineering, forestry, medicine, physical culture, politics and law, and a miscellaneous category that includes everything from the training of Buddhist monks and nuns to flight attendants) and one type in teacher training for secondary schools.

Less prestigious than specialized schools, technical schools are run by education bureaus and industrial units. They train technicians in steel, textile, petroleum, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and botanical enterprises, as well as middle-level workers in law, finance, health, art, and physical culture. These primarily three-year institutions recruit junior middle school graduates who are assigned to them by labor and personnel bureaus on the basis of entrance examination results and preferred choice of specialty. They are more successful than specialized schools in forging close and flexible ties with specific enterprises because their enrollment and curriculum are not controlled by national ministries. Like specialized schools, they have the advantage of high demand since students receive employment upon graduation.

Key and non-key vocational and agricultural schools, normally managed at the district and county level, have offered the least prestigious VTE programs because their graduates have not enjoyed secure employment opportunities and because graduates from these three-year programs are classified as skilled workers rather than technicians. Therefore, they provide the last chance for students hoping to pursue senior secondary schooling and have the highest level of dropouts. However, vocational and agricultural schools in relatively developed regions of China have managed to compensate for the lack of formal employment mechanisms by powerful local contacts with surrounding enterprises and capitalizing on economic demand for skilled labor. Job security, in turn, has raised the confidence of the public in such schools, which are attracting increasingly qualified junior high school graduates.

There are two kinds of examinations conducted in secondary schools. One kind is the graduation test. Every student is required to pass examinations for the following ten subjects in order to graduate from secondary school: Chinese, mathematics, foreign language, physics, chemistry, political study, history, geography, computer science, and biology. The examination for each subject is conducted in different years of secondary school. Each examination is graded on a 100-point scale and students receive grades curved from "A" to "E." All students take each test at the same time, and results become a matter of public record. Students who pass all classes receive a graduation certificate and are eligible for applying to take the college entrance examinations.

The second kind of test is college entrance examinations. All students who wish to enter college are also required to take a unified national examination in their last year of high school. The score on this examination is the main criteria for college, and almost the entirety of the last year of high school is devoted to preparation for this examination. It takes place from July 7 to July 9 annually and covers seven different subjects. During senior year all high school students need to declare whether they are on the humanities track or the science track, in accordance with the two specialties tested by the college entrance examination. This early specialization has been blamed for a premature narrowing of intellectual pursuit. In the college entrance examination, humanities students are tested in history and political study. Science students are tested in physics and chemistry. All students are also required to take examinations in Chinese, mathematics, and a foreign language regardless of their future majors. Nationally, only about 25 percent of high school graduates are able to pursue higher education directly through public support because of the extremely competitive nature of the college entrance examination. Those students whose examination scores are not high enough or who lack the resources to pursue higher education privately go straight into the workforce without further education.

While the establishment of schools for the physically disabled dates to the late nineteenth century, institutional expansion proceeded moderately until the Cultural Revolution and has increased substantially since the 1980s. In general, however, education for the disabled in China remains in its infancy, and serious improvement remains to be done to promote the social integration of disabled Chinese youth.

The first Chinese school for the blind and deaf was established in 1927 in Nanjing. After the founding of the PRC in 1949, the Chinese government reaffirmed its commitments to educate the disabled in a 1951 document published by the Ministry of Education. By 1998, there were 1,062 schools for the blind, hearing impaired, and mute, with a total student enrollment of 97,649. There were 21,415 full-time teachers out of a total staff of 30,868. Schools for retarded children date from as late as 1979 and numbered 90 by 1987. The best estimates indicate that 504 schools employ 14,400 special education teachers and staff, who served 52,800 children at the beginning of the 1990. But only six percent of China's 6,000,000 children and youth who suffer from disability are enrolled in any type of educational programs.

Basically, Chinese special schools only offer a primary-school level education, which emphasizes mastery of survival skills along with those manual skills traditionally performed by adults with specific disabilities. The curriculum follows a work-study structure. The goal of the work experience in these schools is to teach socialization and survival skills. The textbooks used in these schools are the ones used in primary schools with the translations of Braille. Recently, some colleges started to admit disabled students and even established special education majors and teacher training programs devoted to teaching disabled students.

China established reformatories and work-study schools since the late 1950s and early 1960s when urban and rural theft, fighting, and poor school discipline became noticeable problems. They are under the supervision of the public security apparatus. Based on early Chinese Communist practice in Yanan, reformatories were conceived as production units, and inmate labor would be used to make them self-sufficient and to make them contribute to the socialist economy. Work-study schools for delinquents, on the other hand, were founded for those guilty of less serious delinquent activity. They also emphasized the importance of offenders participating in productive labor. During the Cultural Revolution, the work of both reformatories and work-study schools was disrupted, as reformatories were viewed as overly coercive, and work-study schools were dismissed as ineffective and were shut down completely. During the 1980s when reformatories resumed, the Chinese government still emphasized the use of productive labor as a character-reforming device. Furthermore, the removal of youth from normal family environments, the use of drill and militaristic ritual within the institutional settings, and the display of offenders completing production tasks in public view reinforced the strong negative social labeling that is associated with reformatories and work-study schools. The quality of education provided at both reformatories and work-study schools is often substandard. In addition, they have no systematic counseling system; offenders are put together regardless of their specific offence and few preparations are made to facilitate their readjustment after their release.

Higher Education

The 1952 reorganization of higher education resulted in three types of government-controlled institutions. First, there were a small number of comprehensive universities with departments in the classical arts and science disciplines of the European tradition, as well as six national normal universities that had departments of education, fine arts, and music, which were established with the intention of training academic teachers for the secondary and tertiary level. Second, based on the Marxian concept of polytechnical education and a broad exposure to the applied sciences, several great polytechnical universities such as Qinghua and Jiaotong were reorganized with the broad range of engineering sciences included in their curricula. Finally, since some sectors of the society need special kinds of knowledge, some colleges were designed to train advanced personnel to meet these special demands. Thus, medical colleges and institutions of finance, economics, political science, and law were created for this purpose. At the head of the system was a new revolutionary university, People's University, which had the task of developing an authoritative Marxist, Leninist, and Maoist canon for the social sciences. By the end of 1953, all private institutions of higher learning had been taken over by the government.

The educational reform document of 1985 dictates that Chinese higher educational institutions are responsible for two main tasks: "training advanced personnel" and "developing science, technology, and culture." Abolishing the excessive government control of past policies, the State Education Commission promised new autonomy to universities, including freedom to develop "ties with productive units, scientific research institutions," and greater jurisdiction over the institution's curriculum and the use of state funds. As part of the scheme to make China a modernized country in the twenty-first century, a few private institutions have also been established either by social organizations or individuals. All universities are required to abide by the principles set forth in the Chinese Constitution. In 1998, approximately 3,409,000 students were enrolled in 1,020 higher education institutions.

Since 1949, owing to the different political and economic situations in China, the weighing of admissions criteria constantly shifted, depending on the political climate. Immediately following the Communists' rise to power, admissions criteria focused heavily on the background of a student's family: the "good" (red) classes included the workers, peasants, the former poor, Revolutionary cadres, and revolutionary martyrs; the "bad" (black) consisted of former capitalists, landlords, rich peasants, Nationalists, reactionaries, and criminals. Later, however, because China was in desperate need of professionals and engineers for socialist construction, academic achievement became more important than class background in admissions criteria. Deng Xiaoping's reforms abolished class background as a factor of consideration altogether. Instead, he instituted the national unified college entrance examinations taken by high school graduates in their last school year. Students are admitted to colleges according to two factors: their scores in the gaokao (unified college entrance examination) and the quotas of enrollment in specific institutions and specific majors. The quotas are assigned to an institution according to a national plan. Students obtain an average score in the gaokao, in a range that permits choices of specialties in institutions. Each major within a college sets up a fenshuxian (score mark), meaning cut-off score. Students whose score is below the cut-off point cannot be accepted by that institution. A prestigious university, usually a key institution, may require a score of 850 out of 900 for entrance. A second-rate institution may require only 600. Economic reforms have motivated institutions to admit zifeisheng (self-supported students) since 1995 in order to increase income. Zifeisheng are candidates below the cut-off point and hence outside the state plan.

Meanwhile, there is a direct entrance system that allows a tiny number of superior students who achieve outstanding examination results or win prizes in important academic contests to enroll directly in a designated postsecondary institution without sitting for the college entrance examination. Key universities allot several minge (positions) to appropriate key secondary schools, and students to fill them are normally selected by a school administrator and the student's homeroom teacher in consultation with the student and his or her parents. This process is extremely competitive except for students who choose to enter institutions, such as normal colleges and universities, which have trouble attracting highly qualified students.

The structure of Chinese higher education is still based on the Soviet pattern in which the arts and sciences are taught at comprehensive universities with separate institutions responsible for other fields. Academic departments within each institution still follow the Soviet example by offering a host of narrow specialties or majors, conforming to specific job requirements. Since the late 1980s, most Chinese universities have adopted the credit system, aiming to grant all undergraduates the opportunity to select courses in areas outside their own specialization. These courses are often in interesting new areas of the humanities and are offered as frequently in specialist engineering and agricultural universities as in comprehensive universities. However, students still have little freedom of choice among courses, and they choose not to study at their own pace because to graduate out of turn would disrupt the predetermined enrollment and job assignment plans.

A student's major is decided before entering college. After the college entrance examination, students, teachers, and parents meet based on the estimates of each student's entrance examination scores to choose a college and a major. Every college publicizes their standard cutoff point after the examination. The main purpose is to get into a college. Parents and students are realistic enough not to pick a good school whose cut-off point is above the estimated student's score. Once entering the college, students cannot change their majors. Each academic year is divided into spring and fall semesters. The former lasts from February to July while the latter is from September to January. University degree programs are usually either three or four years in length.

The degree system in China is still in quite an early stage in its development. Despite attempts to set up a degree system during the 1950s and 1960s, it was successfully established only after the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and first implemented on January 1, 1981. A complete undergraduate education consists of four years of study, at which time the student is granted a diploma, which is separate from the B.A. degree. Only those students who have successfully completed a senior thesis along with their four years of study are granted a B.A. degree. In the late 1980s, double major programs have been introduced to outstanding students, and major/minor programs have been arranged for students wishing to develop a second area of professional expertise.

Since the establishment of the Academics Degrees Committee under the State Council, graduate programs have been rapidly developed. Master's studies last for three years (full-time) with heavy coursework in the first two years and a thesis to follow. Doctoral studies are also normally full-time over three years, again with substantial coursework. It was only in the 1990s that institutions began to accept postgraduate studies in a part-time mode. Strict academic control has been maintained through a system whereby academic departments must be approved by the academic degree committee before they can enroll masters students, and only individual professors of high academic standing are accredited to supervise doctoral students. While expansion has been extremely rapid at the master's level, there has been much greater caution at the doctoral level. Graduate enrollments have grown from 21,604 students in 1980 to 198,885 students in 1998.

Until the 1980s college graduates' jobs were guaranteed. Under the old job assignment system, central and provincial authorities drew up the employment plans each year. The Communist Party of China (CPC) organization within each school then assigned their graduates to fill the slots. Since the mid-1990s the system has been in transition from centralized job assignment to allowing market mechanisms to determine job placement. In early 1988, the State Education Commission asked higher learning institutions in Guangdong Province to start experimenting on a new package of enrollment, tuition, and job assignment reforms. As a part of the design to institute aspects of the free market into China's centralized socialist system, the aims of this package of reforms are to abolish free higher education, to change the centralized system of enrollment (student enrollment quota to each school and each major from each province), and to abolish job assignment plans. This same set of reforms was extended in the autumn of 1989 to 36 institutions administered directly by the State Education Commission. The freshmen class in 1997 was the first to pay for their own college education and find jobs for themselves upon graduation through a "two-way selection," meaning both employers and college graduates can decide with whom they want to work without the interfering of the process from the party officials. At provincial and local levels, graduates were almost always expected to return to the place they had come from, though they were sometimes able to move to a slightly better location or situation. But for students who fail to find a work unit within the choices given them by the plan, the school must make the assignment as before. The state employment plan is used to place only a minority of China's college students as necessary for the hard-to-fill occupational quotas.

The main argument against the free-market approach to job placement was that only when the government can guarantee fair competition in the job market should the job assignment system be abandoned. Without a legal guarantee, the best opportunities are reserved for male students from big cities whose parents have many well-connected friends and relations. Other concerns include that the employers in remote and backward regions do not receive much needed graduates and that there are not enough opportunities waiting each year for all the graduates. The lack of attractive job openings generated a low student morale that became increasingly evident on many campuses. There even arose the feeling that "study is useless."

Deng Xiaoping's Open Door policy has brought an unprecedented exodus of both faculty and students to Western countries. The resulting increase in educational, scientific, and commercial contacts with the outside world brought China closer to its long-held goal of acquiring world-wide scientific and technical knowledge through Western educational institutions. From 1978 to 1998, some 147,000 students went abroad to study in Western institutions. China's "going abroad fever" is likely to continue. In academic year 1999-2000, there were 54,466 Chinese students in the United States, topping the number of any nationality of foreign students in that country.

On the other hand, with the unparalleled number of China's brightest students leaving the country, the government soon faced a "brain-drain" dilemma. Only 53,040 students, or less than 36 percent of those who left, eventually returned. To counter the "brain-drain" problem, Chinese officials have introduced specific regulations since the mid-1980s. First, Chinese students are supposed to work for a specified period at home before going abroad for further study. Any violators of the rule are punished financially. For example, a college graduate must work in China for five years before going abroad. Anybody who wants to leave China earlier must turn in money to the state, about 5,000 yuan for a year. A graduate student (MA degree holder) must serve three years before leaving China. For every unfulfilled year, the student needs to pay 6,000 to 7,000 yuan to the state. Second, in terms of visa restrictions, all state-sponsored students went to the United States on the more restrictive "J" visas. Upon completion of their studies, U.S. rules require such visa holders to return to their home countries for at least two years before being eligible to work in the United States. Third, all visa-extension requests must be forwarded to the State Education Commission; the U.S. Embassy in Beijing will not grant an extension without the Commission's approval. Finally, all students are required to sign contractual agreements with their Chinese employers before leaving China. These agreements should specify obligations on both sides, including what the employer needs and what the student will study, the posting of bonds, the guarantor's signature, and compensation if the student failed to return on schedule.

Visiting scholars, on the other hand, differ greatly in background from students that study abroad. In terms of their backgrounds, the vast majority of visiting scholars have been teaching at universities, although a significant percentage have been from government institutions. Visiting scholars make up the largest percentage of Chinese exchange visitors. They do not go abroad to enroll in specific degree programs but rather to conduct research and study on their own. In general, they must have an established reputation in China or a relatively long and successful academic career or research experience when selected for the program. Since the mid-1990s, the Chinese government has implemented a new policy to ensure the return of visiting scholars; basically, before leaving China they need to turn in a huge amount of money, about 100,000 yuan, to the government as a deposit. Upon their return to China, the money will be returned to them in full plus the interest earned during the period. Also, visiting scholars' decisions are linked to their colleagues' chances of going abroad. If one does not return, one's colleagues cannot go abroad. Besides the strict government policy and the pressures from colleagues, the possibilities for further professional development and for putting to use the new areas of knowledge acquired abroad motivate visiting scholars to go back to China. Usually, visiting scholars tend to be much older than students and, unlike students, have a high returning rate. Visiting scholars have been funded by both Western and Chinese sources. Studying abroad can be a significant turning point in Chinese professionals' lives, and it has opened up areas of research and teaching that would otherwise have been impossible.

With the crackdown of the student movement in June 1989, many graduate students abroad decided not to return. The outrage in the West over Chinese government action in the violent suppression of the students has led to several countries granting permanent residency to Chinese citizens. Even though it is more difficult for older visiting scholars to establish professional careers abroad, some of them have also decided not to return.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The educational system is almost entirely centralized in China. The first National Ministry of Education (MOE) was founded in 1952 and patterned closely on its Soviet counterpart. It experienced reorganization three times before 1966. When the Cultural Revolution broke out in 1966, the Red Guards, with the support of Mao Zedong, abolished the entire educational administration in China.

A single Ministry of Education was re-established in 1975. As the political situation in China became more stable, the MOE was consolidated by the State Council. On June 18, 1985, a major reorganization of central educational administration took place in China. The 11th Plenary of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress in China passed a resolution that called for the abolition of the Ministry of Education and the establishment of the State Education Commission (SEC), a multi-functional executive branch of the State Council. The SEC is the supreme administrative authority for the education system in China and is responsible for turning out personnel well-educated and well-trained in various subjects and fields for China. For the first time in China's history, those who have assumed direct command of the country's educational system have high positions in the State Council. The SEC formulates major educational policies, designs overall strategies for promoting education, coordinates educational undertakings supervised by various ministries, and directs education reform.

In terms of accountability, institutes of higher education in the PRC are divided into four categories:

  1. Those under the direct administration of the SEC
  2. Those under the non-educational central ministries
  3. Those under provincial and other local authorities
  4. Private institutions

Usually, those under the direct administration of the SEC are considered as zhongdian daxue (key universities). The concept of key universities was first introduced in 1954. It has never been abandoned by the Chinese government except from 1972 to 1977 when students were not selected by college entrance examinations. Since the economic reforms in the 1980s, Beijing has more than ever before emphasized the importance of key schools. In 2000, eleven universities were designated as key institutions nationwide, following the example of American-style comprehensive universities to become leading higher educational institutions in the world.

Besides the universities under the SEC, there are some universities under the non-educational central ministries. Those universities tend to specialize in certain areas. For example, the Beijing Institute of Forest is under the Ministry of Forest; the Beijing University of Agriculture is run by the Ministry of Agriculture. Another type of university is managed by provincial and other local education bureaus. The proliferation of provincial and city universities has been encouraged both in order to meet rising social demand and in order to produce the mid-level technical personnel greatly needed in China's modernization drive.

Before the reform, financing of higher education was characterized by a number of features. First, since the early 1950s when the enrollment and job assignment plans went into effect, the majority of Chinese universities have been funded by both national and provincial governments. Second, the central government was in absolute control of the education budget. Funds were channeled through the Ministry of Finance to various ministries and local governments, with the endorsement of the then Ministry of Education. Third, funds were calculated by "basic number plus development." The "basic number" referred to the student enrollment and staff size as dictated by the national plan. "Development" referred to the incremental changes, again as required by the national plan. Unspent funds were returned to the government. Fourth, the national student-stipend scheme was designed to help students from low-income families. However, the government's overall education budget is not enough and is mostly spent in urban areas. As a result of poor facilities and lack of qualified teachers, students in the countryside have little access to adequate education.

The application of the Guangdong experiment in 1988 drastically altered China's highly centralized, socialist education system by introducing tuition payments and abolishing strict enrollment quotas. In the meantime the national student-stipend scheme began to be phased out at the end of the 1980s, and the student loan program was introduced in 1986-1987 by state-financed loans. Among those exempt are students at teacher training and national minorities institutes, who continue to receive a monthly cost-of-living allowance.

The Guangdong experiment immediately was perceived as changing the egalitarian distribution system and adding to the burdens of poor students. Also, as a result of this reform, "out-of-province" students were reluctant to attend colleges in Guangdong. To address these concerns, the State Education Commission has directed that college students should be divided into two basic enrollment categories. One is zhilingxing jihua (directed or state-assigned plan), while the other is the more flexible zhiddaoxing jihua (guided plan). Students enrolled under the state-guided plan will generally be exempt from paying tuition, and their other expenses will be largely state-subsidized. In return, they must agree to major in one of several unpopular specialties, enrollment quotas for which are typically difficult to fill. They must also accept a state-assigned job in the area for which they have been trained. Other students, under the guided plan, will be responsible for their own tuition and living expenses and for repaying any loans incurred, but they will be free to apply for enrollment in more popular specialties that train for better-paying and more prestigious careers, and they will find employment on their own after graduation. The two functions of the division are allowing students from poorer families to attend college and guaranteeing enrollments in essential specialties that are unpopular. Usually, those fields include teacher training, agriculture, water conservancy, geology, petroleum engineering, and mining. In addition, a small number of dingxiang peiyang students (under contractual arrangements between the school and the locality) who are enrolled from border and mountain regions must return after graduation. They also belong to the category of directed plan.

The Outline of Reform (1993) and the Education Law of 1995 stipulated that the two major sources of income that an institution receives are state appropriation and other non-state income. The former is known as yusuannei (budgeted), the latter, yusuanwai (unbudgeted). Budgeted refers to those that are appropriated by the state. Basically, the state provides funding for salaries and the general operation of the institutions. The state also provides partial funding for capital investments. The principle for the management of government appropriation is "one-line budget, retention of surplus." This is to provide incentive for institutions to economize on the resources available. Unbudgeted income is not recorded in government accounts. The five main sources of unbudgeted income are: university-run enterprises; research services and consulting sponsored mainly by individual academic departments; selling teaching services (correspondence courses, refresher courses, adult evening classes, technical training programs); endowment/ donations; and student fees. The proceeds are used to supplement faculty salaries.

Since 1953, all college students received tuition-waiver scholarship and free dormitory. The food subsidies depend on the student's family income. Usually 80 percent of the students receive food subsidies from the national government. From 1997, all higher education institutions started charging student fees. Those students whose admission to college is based on their score have been required to pay 4,000 to 6,000 yuan per academic year while those zifeisheng are asked to pay 20,000 to 30,000 yuan per year.

Total World Bank loans to Chinese education have amounted to about US$1.2 billion since the 1980s. It has been managed in a bureaucratic way, with the Ministry of Finance having overall supervision, a loan office in the State Education Commission overseeing the disbursement of loans to all institutions at the national level, and similar offices in provincial education commissions responsible for the oversight of projects at the provincial level. In contrast to World Bank projects, cooperative projects funded by agencies such as UNESCO, UNDP, UNFPA, and UNICEF in China have been small in scale and focused on particular developmental goals related to their area of responsibility. These agencies have a fairly diffuse presence within many different governmental offices and provide a wide range of opportunities for university scholars to participate in regional or international projects of mutual learning and enhancement.

The restrictive policies of the Chinese government in the past have posed a major obstacle to qualitative and quantitative research regarding many aspects of Chinese society, including education. Since the institution of the Four Modernizations and the subsequent Open Door Policy, the leadership has been more lenient in permitting education research by both domestic and foreign scholars. Nevertheless, much of the material published on Chinese education immediately following the reform period are empirically and theoretically weak. Often, the only source for the assertions made are the writers' own impressions, and any data originates from state-arranged interviews with designated educational professionals and policy-makers. Since the 1980s, there has been steadily growing interest in domestic issues among Chinese intellectuals, fostered by the reform era and growing international interest in China. As a result, the increase in dissertation research, as well as the growing number of social science research institutes, indicates a promising future for education research in general.

Main research institutes in China include the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and eleven key universities. They may apply on an equal basis for research funding, with all applications judged by a peer review process. For applied research, institutes and universities are officially encouraged to seek support through contracts with productive ministries and enterprises in addition to traditional allocations available within the national plan. This enhanced flexibility and opportunity for the exercise of initiative has made possible a more significant research role for higher level institutions.

Nonformal Education

From 1949 to 1981 the Chinese term for nonformal education was worker-peasant education. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a campaign to improve worker-peasant literacy for the sake of economic reconstruction. Formal classroom instruction, distance instruction through correspondence, and radio instruction were utilized at factories, production brigades, and government agencies. By 1956, about 62,000,000 peasants had attended different types of literacy classes, representing about 30 percent of the age group of 14 years and older from the country's rural population. To prepare students for college and quickly produce a new kind of intellectual drawn directly from working-class ranks, the CCP also initiated the gongnong sucheng zhongxue (worker-peasant accelerated middle school) experiment in 1950. However, because these schools could not compete with formal educational institutions, and students did not produce good academic records, the experiment was declared a failure and abandoned in 1955.

The term "adult education" was introduced to China by a study team from the International Council for Adult Education. After the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government issued its first document regarding adult education on November 6, 1978, titled "Directives on the Issues of Literacy." It set up the standard to eradicate illiteracy among workers and peasants throughout the country; the ability of peasants to master 1,500 Chinese characters and of workers to master 2,000 characters; the capacity to read a newspaper; the ability to write simple letters and complete applications and appropriate forms; and the ability to complete a simple test measuring the above mentioned skills.

Adult education during the post-Mao period can be characterized by the restoration and re-establishment of institutions abolished during the Cultural Revolution. The 1980s witnessed a radical expansion of higher adult education institutions. Promotion and employment were more directly linked to one's academic rather than political background, increasing the demand for a college diploma. Because of the restrictive admissions policies of formal higher education institutions, the vast majority of high school graduates sought nonformal higher education training. By the end of 1998, approximately 661,705 schools of varied types of nonformal education produced 94,841,000 graduates.

Nonformal higher education is largely three years in length. It follows the curriculum for formal higher education in corresponding disciplines. Entrance to such programs usually requires passing the Adult Higher Education Entrance Examination, which is a national public examination. The State Education Commission now includes an adult educational department as do provincial, autonomous regional, municipal, and county-level education commissions, departments, and bureaus.

In addition to institutional nonformal higher education, open learning through the Self-Study Examination has attracted many candidates. Candidates may enroll in individual subjects and may accumulate their credentials over time. There is no entrance requirement for the self-study examination. The approach was first piloted in three major cities and one province in 1981 and was extended nationwide in 1983. This system was designed to expand the benefits of higher education with minimal investment. It appeals to many adults who do not want to sacrifice their jobs and family life to obtain a college diploma. With no limitation on age and formal education, it opens up higher education to an enormous number of Chinese citizens who would not have had a chance in regular colleges, and inspires great enthusiasm in higher learning.

The Self-Study Examination is offered twice each year. The National Examination Committee creates the tests, which are administered by local committees. Citizens can apply to take these examinations without having acquired previous course credit. Students who pass the examinations for four-year degree courses receive a bachelor's degree; those who pass three-year courses or single courses are issued certificates. At present, most of the provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions have set up their own local committees for self-study examinations, whose specializations include the liberal arts, science, engineering, agriculture, finance, economics, politics, and law. In the first examination in April 1995, enrollment reached 3.65 million. Of these candidates, 50 percent were students of adult education institutions in one form or another; the other 50 percent had undertaken private study.

Teaching Profession

The scope of the teacher education system in the People's Republic of China is extensive. In numerical terms, teachers in China form the largest teaching force in the world. In 1998, there were 229 training institutions at various levels with 138,745 education majors enrolled. Yet this massive training system has barely met the demand for the number of teachers required to sustain the even larger school system in terms of both quantity and quality. A range of serious policy problems, organizational barriers, and socioeconomic factors undermine the ability of the teacher education system to make adequate contributions to the nation.

There are two main categories of teachers in China, distinguished according to the source and structure of their pay. The first category is the gongban (state-paid) teachers who are regarded as state employees and earn a regular monthly salary comparable to other civil servants or workers in state-owned enterprises. The second category is the minban (community-paid) teachers who are paid by the local community. Their monthly income depends on the economic conditions of the local community.

The education of teachers is directly supervised by the State Education Commission. The Teacher Education Bureau is one of the 23 bureaus in the SEC and is immediately responsible for formulating policies on teacher education and supervising the development of the teacher training system, including the goals of teacher education, curriculum structure, recruitment of teacher trainees, and accreditation criteria. It also directly administers six key normal universities, namely those in Beijing, East China, Central China, Northeast China, Southwest China, and Shanxi. Provincial education commissions and education bureaus in the prefectures and counties are responsible for teacher education under their purview, and they are expected to implement the policies formulated by the central government.

The system of teacher education comprises two distinct subsystems: pre-service and in-service. Pre-service education is housed in monotechnic colleges or shifan xueyuan (specialized teacher education institutions), which enjoy a unique status within the overall education system. The lowest level of the pre-service subsystem recruits trainees from among junior secondary school graduates who are trained to be kindergarten and primary school teachers. This structure originated from the teacher education system that was first established in 1897 and heavily influenced by Japanese and German models. Because of the need for large numbers of teachers at various levels of schooling, the Chinese government, in different periods, still favored the hierarchical, monotechnic, and specialized teacher education system. In 1953, the Ministry of Education stipulated a three-tier system of pre-service teacher education: normal universities for the large administrative zones, teachers colleges in provinces and metropolitan cities, and junior colleges and secondary normal schools of various types at township and county levels.

The in-service teacher education is designed to provide unqualified teachers with appropriate training and education credentials. It is organized into four levels: provincial college of education; county or city college or teachers' advancement college; county teachers' school; and town and village teachers' supervisory center. Every level has specific target trainees. Provincial colleges are responsible for training senior high school teachers; county or city colleges for junior high school teachers; county teachers' school for primary and kindergarten teachers; and town and village teachers' center for teachers for their own geographic areas. The in-service courses are offered on a part-time basis and are more flexible in length and format. They also tend to accommodate the needs of individual groups of teachers. Sometimes, in-service institutions also organize research to address local problems.

The government maintains strict control over the teacher education curriculum and the SEC outlines the curriculum framework for all normal institutions, as well as specifies basic teaching hours and promotes the standardization of instructional materials by producing national course books for teacher trainees. The normal education curriculum is comprised of five major components: foundation courses, including politics, moral education, second languages and physical education; professional education courses, consisting of pedagogy, psychology, philosophy, history of education, sociology and so forth; subject matter specialization that replicates the major academic subjects in the secondary school curriculum; optional courses, such as art appreciation, computer literacy, counseling and extracurricular activities; and the teaching practicum, which is divided into a two-week and six-week block in the third and fourth year respectively. Besides setting development targets for the teaching training system, the Chinese Communist Party seeks to reaffirm the political and ideological orientation of teacher education, which is "to cultivate cultured persons as teachers with lofty ideals, high morality, strong discipline, and a sense of mission as educators, the engineers of the human soul and the gardeners of the nation's flowers" (Leung and Hui 2000).

Unlike the United States and many other countries, China traditionally has had no system of teacher certification. It was assumed, rather, that teachers were qualified by the professional training they received in their teacher education program. However, due to dramatic influx of untrained teachers in the Cultural Revolution decade, many teachers have not received pre-service preparation and have no claim to technical qualifications. Thus, in the mid-and-late 1980s, the government tried to directly reshape the teaching force through a system of teacher examinations and credentials.

The examinations are standardized for secondary teachers by the central government, while examinations for elementary teachers are the responsibility of each province. The system has a potentially powerful impact as it was designed to be coordinated with teacher ranking and salaries from 1989 on. Generally speaking, primary teachers should have at least graduated from the secondary normal schools or senior secondary schools; junior secondary schoolteachers should at least have a teaching diploma from the junior teachers colleges, while senior secondary teachers should be graduates of the normal universities and teachers colleges or degree holders from other tertiary institutions (Epstein 1991).

The state-paid teachers are categorized into grades according to their years of service and their standard of performance. In 1980, the Chinese government introduced a five-grade system. The highest grade is the super-grade teachers, who occupy 5 percent of the teaching force. The other grades, in descending order, are the senior, first, second, and third grade teachers. In 1990, only 6 percent of secondary teachers belonged to the senior grade, while the majority of secondary teachers were in the second grade. Most primary teachers were in the senior grade and first grade. This pattern of distribution of grades of teachers illustrates that the teaching force at the primary level is more experienced and older than that of secondary school teachers.

The lack of qualified teachers has been a serious problem in China since economic reforms started in the 1980s. Although the in-service teacher education system has contributed significantly to alleviating the problem, the national situation is far from satisfactory. There are two major factors accounting for the inconsistency in the demand for and supply of teachers. First, there is a general reluctance on the part of secondary school graduates to become teacher trainees since the reform of the Chinese economy opened up better paying opportunities for young people. Teacher remuneration became relatively unappealing in comparison with other state-paid occupations, not to mention the more lucrative jobs in the private sectors or foreign-invested enterprises. In 1991, the average annual income of state-paid occupations was 2,563 yuan, but the annual salary of the teaching profession averaged only 2,257 yuan and it ranked among the bottom third of the twelve major categories of occupations. Furthermore, it was not uncommon to see the delayed payment of teachers in the countryside and poor areas. Some villages and townships even paid teachers various factory or farm products instead of cash. Moreover, teachers were seriously deprived of fringe welfare benefits, such as good housing quarters, traveling, and medical care allowances that are critical in Chinese society.

The second factor accounting for the shortage of teachers is the internal efficiency of the school system and the teacher training system in general. The training capacity of the existing normal universities and teachers colleges has reached a maximum level, with an average of 28,000 trainees per institution. Most of these institutions are suffering from overcrowding and large class sizes, yet a proportion of the expansion in enrollment is taken up by non-normal specialties, as schools desperately try to attract more able students by offering more popular specialties such as finance, international trade, law, business management, accounting, and marketing.

The unique aspect of China's teacher training system is the rigid regulation of teacher education by the state and the Communist Party within the context of an economy and labor market that is experiencing a rapid reduction in the degree of state control. Because education remains a state-run business there has been a subtle change in terms of people's perception of teaching profession since the end of the twentieth century. Some young people started to view teaching as a guaranteed job with a stable income (although not very high), and it is better than facing uncertainties in private sectors. The teaching profession is gradually climbing up the occupational ladder. In the twenty-first century, China plans to implement system of teacher certification. After having their diploma and teaching experiences reviewed, current teachers should obtain their certificates quickly. For those who plan to choose teaching as their career, they will need to pass examinations on several educationrelated courses, such as education, psychology, and Mandarin.

Teacher education suffered severe setback during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 when anti-intellectualism reached its climax. With the death of Mao Zedong, Chinese leaders once again emphasized the importance of teacher education in order to achieve nine-year compulsory education and the nation's grand modernization scheme. In 1987 the Chinese government established a national Teachers' Day on September 10 to honor the teaching profession. Despite the fact that teachers experience the ups and downs and receive low pay for their job, they enjoy unquestionable authority when they deliver knowledge to their students. The universal assumption in Chinese society is that the teacher tells the single and absolute truth, and the job of the students is to absorb the knowledge conveyed by the teacher without question. While some subjects (such as English, geometry, or algebra) provide more opportunities for students to practice or to drill, the structure of the lessons, their pace, and the nature of questioning are all determined by the teachers, who control the nature of classroom interactions. The most common experience for students is to go through the forty-five minute period without talking once, without being called on individually, or without asking a question. Students are taught that important knowledge comes from teachers and textbooks; that learning involves listening, thinking, and silent practice; and that the knowledge espoused by teachers and textbooks is not to be challenged, despite the lack of connection between course material and the immediate lives of the students.


Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, education has been valued for the improvement of Chinese society rather than as a basic human right. Although the fundamental purpose or function of education has not changed, there have been some structural changes. Qualified personnel have been trained, and school conditions have improved. Education reform has progressed steadilythe nine-year compulsory education program has been implemented, primary education is becoming universal, and technical and vocational education has developed. Higher education also has developed quickly. Enrollments have increased, and a comprehensive system featuring a variety of disciplines is in place. Education for adults and minorities has been funded, and international exchange and studying abroad opportunities are also available. Most types of educational reforms in China since the 1980s have led to decentralization and the granting of semi-autonomy to lower administrative levels. In addition, college education has become a prerequisite for official bureaucratic positions.

However, much remains to be done in order to provide education to most Chinese citizens. Overall, education is insufficiently and unevenly developed. The discrepancy in the quality of education between rural areas and urban areas is overwhelming. There are no reliable sources of rural school financing. Investment in education also is inadequate. Teachers' salaries and benefits remain low, and working conditions often are poor. The elitist nature of key schools and the early determination of students' majors prevent students from discovering and developing their talents and imagination freely. The "brain-drain" problem goes beyond accommodating returned students from the West. Educational philosophy, teaching concepts, and methodologies are divorced from reality to varying degrees; practical and personal applications need to be emphasized over ideological and political work in the curriculum. Furthermore, the educational system and its management mechanism cannot meet the needs of the continual restructuring of the economy, politics, science, and technology. These problems are caused by variable combinations of politics, economics, and professional assumptions about how to develop modern education in China. As the economy expands and the reform deepens, serious efforts must be made to solve these educational problems.


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Ting Ni

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People's Republic of China

Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo



China is situated in the eastern part of Asia, on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean, in the southeastern part of the Eurasian continent, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam. Its border countries include Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, (Hong Kong), India, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, (Macau), Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. The land area consists of 9,596,960 square kilometers (3,696,000 square miles), the third largest in the world after Russia and Canada. The country's coastline is 14,500 kilometers (9,010 miles) long. China is divided into 22 provinces, 4 municipalities, 5 autonomous regions, and 2 special administration regions (Hong Kong and Macau). Beijing, the capital, is also the cultural and educational center of China. The city has an area of 65 square kilometers (25 square miles) and is partially surrounded by walls that were built in the 15th century.


The population of China was estimated at 1,262 million in July of 2000, an increase of 10.36 percent from the 1990 population of 1,143 million. In 2000 the population growth rate was estimated at 0.9 percent, the birth rate was 16.12 per 1,000, and the death rate was 6.73 per 1,000. With a projected annual population growth rate of 0.9 percent between 2000 and 2010, the population is expected to reach 1,392.5 million in 2010. A simulation study conducted by the China State Statistics Bureau indicates that country's total population will peak at 1,402 to 1,550 million in the 2030s or 2040s.

The population of China consists of 56 ethnic groups. Han Chinese make up 91.9 percent while Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other ethnic minorities make up 8.1 percent. The great majority, 68 percent of the population, is between ages 15 and 64; while 25 percent is at the age of 14 or below, 7 percent is at 65 or older. The life expectancy at birth in 2000 is estimated at 71.4 years (total population), 69.6 years (male) and 73.3 years (female). The country's high life expectancy and low infant mortality rates are envied by much richer nations.

In 1949, when China became a communist nation, the population was about 541 million. Over the following 10 years, it increased by another 118 million. It continued to rise through the 1960s. The government encouraged this increase so China could develop water control and communication infrastructures. The government also thought increased production could help produce more food and strengthen the nation's defense. Twenty years later, the millions born during that period contributed to another baby boom. By 1970, there were roughly 830 million Chinese. The over-growing population had generated serious problems and negatively affected the national economy.

To slow the population growth the government introduced a one-child-per-family policy in the late 1970s. The policy was created not only to deal with the huge population problem but as a prerequisite for the social and financial planning necessary in a socialist system. The policy is more strictly enforced in urban areas and is unpopular in the rural areas where male children are more important. However, it is enforced enough to make most couples obey it. With the introduction of the one-child policy, the population growth has slowed, with probably 250 million fewer births since 1979. Two types of obvious changes in population have taken place. First, the people are aging. The number of people 65 or older is estimated at 87.8 million in 2000 and is expected to be 167 million by 2020, compared with an elderly population of 66 million in 1990. Second, the population is becoming more urban. For instance, the urban population was at 297 million in 1990, up 90 million from 1982. During the same period, the populations of the 2 largest cities, Beijing and Shanghai, have increased 17 percent and 13 percent respectively.

Overpopulation is the number-one global problem. Many people question controlling population through legislation. Even after the 20 years that the Chinese civilization has trusted this solution to solve their problem, some still violate the policy. However, this does not imply that legislative control is wrong, especially when dealing with the extremes facing China. Backers of China's population policy say that such state-mandated birth control and family planning is necessary not only for the well-being of China but for that of the whole world.


China's economy has grown increasingly faster since the 1978 introduction of economic reforms. The Chinese official statistics show that real gross domestic product (GDP) from 1979 to 1999 was growing at an average annual rate of 9.7 percent, making China one the world's fastest growing economies. According to the World Bank, China's rapid development has raised nearly 200 million people out of extreme poverty.

Since its establishment in 1949 and until the end of 1978, China maintained a centrally planned, or command, economy. The state directed and controlled a large share of the country's economic output; the state set production goals, controlled prices, and allocated resources throughout most of the economy. By 1978, nearly three-fourths of the country's industrial production was produced by centrally controlled state-owned enterprises (SOEs) according to centrally planned output targets. There were almost no private enterprises or foreign invested firms in China. It was estimated that China's real GDP grew at an average annual rate of about 5.3 percent from 1960 to 1978. Because the central planning economic systems and government economic policies put little emphasis on profitability or competition, the country's economy was relatively stagnant and inefficient. As a result the Chinese living standards were substantially lower than those of many other developing countries. The Chinese government took steps to improve economic growth and raise living standards in the late 1970s.

The first of China's economic reforms started in 1978 when Den Xiaoping came into power again. The reforms concentrated on the agricultural production system in rural areas. The central government initiated price and ownership incentives for farmers; for the first time, farmers were able to sell a portion of their crops on the free market. In addition, the reforms tried to attract foreign investment, boost exports, and begin the importation of high technology products into the country. To do this, the government established 4 special economic zones (SEZs). Additional reforms followed in stages that sought to decentralize economic policymaking in several economic sectors, especially trade. As a part of the decentralization of economic policymaking, provincial and local governments took economic control of various enterprises, allowing them to operate and compete on free market principles.

The economic reforms had produced such promising economic growth that by the middle of 1980s the government selected additional coastal regions and cities as open cities and development zones to test more free market reforms and to offer tax and trade incentives to attract investment from overseas. Moreover, the state gradually eliminated the price controls on a wide range of products. Agricultural output doubled in the 1980s, and industry also demonstrated major gains, especially in coastal areas close to Hong Kong and opposite Taiwan, where foreign investment helped stimulate output of both domestic and export goods. Even more reforms were initiated in late 1993 when China's leadership approved additional long-term reforms which would allow the state enterprises to continue to dominate many key industries in what was now termed "a socialist market economy."

The transition of the country's economic system from a command to a market-based economy helped fuel a strong average growth. Between the start of an economic reform program in 1978 and 1995, the GDP growth was 8.0 percent a year. The growth remained strong from 1996 to 2000. In 1999 China became the second largest economy in the world, after the United States. But China's GDP per capita of US$3,800 was much less than the United States.

China's trade and investment reforms as well as its incentives led to a surge in foreign direct investment (FDI), which has served as a major source of China's capital growth. Annual utilized FDI in China grew from US$636 million in 1983 to US$45.6 billion in 1998 (but dropped to an estimated level of US$40.5 billion in 1999), making China, in the late 1990s, the second largest destination of FDI (after the United States). About two-thirds of FDI in China comes from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The United States is the third largest investor in China, accounting for 8.0 percent (US$24.6 billion) of total FDI in China from 1979 to 1999.

Since the reforms, China has made great strides in improving its social welfare. Both consumption and saving have more than doubled, and the poverty rate has declined. According to the World Bank, about 200 million Chinese who used to live in absolute poverty have been raised above the minimum poverty line. And only 10 percent of the country's population of 1.25 billion were illiterate.

Although the reforms were encouraging, the Chinese government experienced various difficulties. It struggled to collect revenues due from provinces, businesses, and individuals; to reduce corruption and other economic crimes coinciding with the reforms; and to maintain daily operations of the large state-owned enterprises. Many of the state-owned enterprises had not participated in the vigorous expansion of the economy, and some of them had lost the ability to pay full wages and pensions.


China's form of government is a communist state known as a People's Republic. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the leading political party in China. Unlike parties in Western democracies, CCP is a tightly organized political force that controls and leads society at all levels. The party sets policy and controls its execution through government officials who are required to be CCP members. It is organized as a hierarchy, with power concentrated at the top. Above the local units, or cells, is a pyramid-like structure of party congresses and committees at various levels, culminating in the National Party Congress.

Generally, CCP's national congress is supposed to meet every 5 years, though this has not always been the case. When it is not in session, direction of the party is in the hands of a Central Committee of about 200 members, which is symbolically elected by the congress according to the name list distributed by the congress board. The symbolically elected Central Committee, in turn, elects the Political Bureau. It is within the Political Bureau and its elite Standing Committee that power is concentrated, which make the state's highest-level decisions. There is also a secretariat, which carries on the day-today business of the party.

Theoretically, party membership is open to anyone over 18 years of age who accepts the party program and is willing to work actively in one of its organizations. In reality, only those who are deemed to be fellows of local CCP branch leaders will have the chance to be recruited into the party. Members are expected to abide by the party's discipline and to serve as model citizens. The backbone of the party consists of full-time paid workers known as cadres (Chinese, ganbu ). The term cadre is also used for public officials holding responsible positions, who may or may not be members of the party.

The People's Republic was first governed according to the "Common Program" and organic laws adopted in 1949. Since 1954, 4 constitutions followed, each reflecting shifts in policy and the balance of power among factions of the top leadership. The government structure forms a pyramid, ranging from local units such as residents' (urban) and villagers' committees through counties, prefectures, and then to the 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, and 4 special status municipalities (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Chongqing), each with its own people's congress and administrative organs, and 2 special administration regions (Hong Kong, Macau). At the top of the government structure is the national government in Beijing.

The chief of state is President Jiang Zemin, who has served as president since 1993. The president and vice-president are elected to 5-year terms by the National People's Congress. The head of government is Premier Zhu Rongji, who has served in his position since 1998. The president nominates the premier who is confirmed by the Congress.

The National People's Congress is the legislature of China and serves annual sessions with 5-year terms. The Standing Committee of the Congress exercises its functions between sessions. The highest administrative organ is the State Council (similar to the United States Cabinet), headed by the premier. The court system parallels the administrative system. However, the Chinese have traditionally tended to resolve conflicts through social rather than legal or judicial mediation, and the rule of law as it is known in Western countries is currently not well-known. The number of lawyers is very small compared with many Western countries, and legal methods are not familiar to most Chinese.

The judiciary is headed by the Supreme People's Court, which consists of 1 president and 1 vice president, who each serve 4-year terms. Other courts include Special People's Courts and Local People's Courts. Supreme People's Procuratorates and Local People's Procuratorates enforce laws.

Tax policies are administered by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the State Administration of Taxation (SAT). The SAT is the central tax authority at ministerial level. Tax policy is the exclusive domain of the central government although the local government may input some efforts in taxation. With the adoption of a new tax system in 1994, the country adopted a tax revenue-sharing system. This means that some taxes, mostly direct taxes , are assigned to local government, while other taxes, such as value-added tax (VAT), are shared between the central government (75 percent) and local government (25 percent). Shared taxes are levied on the same tax base and then allocated between different levels of governments at pre-determined ratios.

The ratio of the total tax revenue to GDP has declined over the 1990s, although the total tax revenue has increased substantially. The main reason for the decline is the rapid growth of the service sector, whose tax burden is lower than that of manufacturing, and an increase in foreign investment, mostly in special zones where very generous tax incentives have been granted. The 1994 tax reform emphasized taxation on consumption, and currently efforts are being made to fine tune these indirect taxes , particularly the administration and collection of VAT. The abuse of invoices is a serious, continuing tax fraud problem. The main tax types for business, citizens, foreign enterprises, and foreigners in China are value-added tax (VAT); consumption tax; business tax; foreign enterprises income tax ; individual income tax; customs duties ; urban estate tax ; vehicle and vessel usage and license plate tax; land appreciation tax; stamp duties; resources tax; and deed tax.


Infrastructure in China varies from fairly good to very poor. Resources for industry are currently heavily constrained by infrastructure shortages. The government

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
China N/A 333 272 40.0 19 1.6 8.9 0.50 8,900
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Japan 578 955 707 114.8 374 126.8 237.2 163.75 27,060
Russia 105 418 420 78.5 5 0.4 40.6 13.06 2,700
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

recognizes infrastructure as the key to achieving full-industrialized status and to offsetting a diminishing cheap labor advantage. Energy and transportation needs in particular have stalled growth and fueled inflation , while telecommunications is acknowledged as a requirement for further economic growth.


China has an estimated 69,412 kilometers (43,131 miles) of railroad. Every province-level administrative unit except Tibet was served by rail, and plans were being made to extend a line south from the Lanzhou-Urumqi line to Lhasa, in Xizang (Tibet). Railways have been the most important tools for transportation in China. For example, more than 50 percent of the country's traffic is moved by the railroad system. China's railway network consists of a series of north-south trunk lines, crossed by a few major east-west lines. Most of the large cities are served by these trunk lines, forming a nationwide network, with Beijing as its hub.


China has 1,209,800 kilometers (751,894 miles) of highway in total, among which 271,300 kilometers (168,586 miles) are paved (with at least 24,474 kilometers or 15,200 miles of expressways). The network of all-weather roads and highways is not a unified national system with consistent standards; the conditions of many of the roads are poor. Despite its shortcomings, the road network is probably adequate to meet the country's current needs. China has a small number of cars, trucks, and buses as compared with the United States or Japan. In the early 1990s there were about 7 million motor vehicles, two-thirds of which were trucks and buses. It produces about 200,000 trucks annually and limited automobiles. An increasing number of cars are owned privately, which will lead fast demand for qualified highways. The highway network accounts for only about 2 percent of total freight traffic.


China set up the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (GACAC) after 1949, which has continued to serve as the nation's domestic and international air carrier. Most major cities are served by domestic flights, and a few large cities like Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing have international service. GACAC planes fly to Europe, Japan, the United States, and South Asia. Some provincial and urban authorities operate intercity airlines that carry passengers and freight. There are 206 airports (1996 est.), among which 192 have paved runways.


China has 110,000 kilometers (68,354 miles) of navigable waterways and 1,746 ships (merchant marine). It has 9,070 kilometers (5,636 miles) of crude oil pipelines, 560 kilometers (348 miles) of petroleum products pipelines and 9,383 kilometers (5,830 miles) of natural gas pipelines (1999 est.).


China's power sector has performed impressively in support of economic growth during the past twenty years. Faced with the need to expand its power capacity, the state is investing heavily in the construction of new power plants and self-financing capability. Equally significant in the development of the national power sector are the establishment of regional power grids and the implementation of an electricity tariff reform to tackle the problems of inefficient power distribution and usage. Electrical power is supplied mainly by the state-owned enterprises. China has effectively restructured its power industry by closing a large number of small thermal power plants with high coal consumption, heavy pollution, and poor economic efficiency. According to the official statistics, the country generated 1.16 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in 2000, a 6 percent increase from the previous year; the country has made headway in building and renovating 87 urban power grid projects and 1,590 rural ones. China has also developed its enormous hydroelectric potential so that a larger share of its domestic demand for electric power can be met with renewable hydropower. Renewable hydropower is tapped from moving water such as waterfalls and fast-moving streams.

The reform and opening up policies have brought great leaps and bounds to the development of the country's nuclear power industry. Meanwhile, China attracts foreign funds to supplement the domestic shortage of funds in power construction and to upgrade the technological equipment of the power industry. According to the statistic communiqué of the PRC on the 1998 national economic and social development issued in February of 1999, the newly-increased annual production capacity in 1998 through capital construction projects included 16.9 million kilowatts of power generation by large and medium-sized generators and 47.26 million kilovolt-amperes of power transformer equipment (including 7.79 million kilovolt-amperes of updated power grid in urban and rural areas). China is the country to deliberate the biggest nuclear power station construction plan in the world. According to the central government's plan, by year 2020, China will possess 40,000,000 KM of nuclear power installed capacity.


Considerable effort has been expended on the postal and telecommunications systems in China since 1949, but they are still far from meeting Western standards of speed and efficiency. The mail is mainly carried by the nation's railroad. As is the case with transportation, the telecommunications system is sufficient enough to meet the needs of a growing economy. There were 110 million main lines in use (1999 est.) and 23.4 million mobile cellular phones in use (1998). Domestic and international services are increasingly available for private use; an unevenly distributed domestic system serves principal cities, industrial centers, and most small and middle-sized towns. Domestically, inter-provincial fiber-optic trunk lines and cellular telephone systems have been installed; a domestic satellite system with 55 earth stations is in place. Internationally, China has 5 Intelsat (4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region), and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific and Indian Ocean regions), as well as several international fiber-optic links to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Russia, and Germany. The country had 673 radio broadcast stations369 AM, 259 FM, 45 shortwaveand 417 million radios. In 1997, the country had 3,240 television broadcast stations, (of which 209 are operated by China Central Television, 31 are provincial TV stations and nearly 3,000 are local city stations), and 400 million televisions. In 1999, the country had 3 Internet service providers (ISPs).


Over the years, China has become gradually more industrialized. Like other modernizing countries, for instance, the contribution of China's agricultural sector to its GDP has kept decreasing, from 37.9 percent in 1965 to 28.4 percent in 1985 and then to 18.4 percent in 1998 a net decrease of 19.5 percent in the 3-decade period. At the same time, the contribution of the industrial sector to GDP has kept increasing, from 35.1 percent in 1965 to 43.1 percent in 1985 and then to 48.7 percent in 1998, a net increase of 14.6 percent in the 3-decade period. The contribution of tertiary industry (service) to the GDP has increased from 27.0 percent in 1965 to 28.5 percent in 1985 and then to 32.9 per cent in 1998, a total increase of only 5.9 percent in the same period.

The world's economic development history indicates that as a country heads toward modernization, the ratio of agriculture to its GDP is set to drop, the ratio of service to its GDP will go up, while the ratio of industry to its GDP will first go up and then drop. China's economic development followed the same patterns. For instance, the ratio of agriculture's value added to the world's GDP was 7 percent in 1980 and fell to 5 percent in 1998. The ratio of agriculture's value added to the GDP of developed countries is normally 2 to 3 percent. The popular development model also demonstrates that when the GDP annual per capita income stood between US$300 and US$500, the proportions of agricultural and industrial sectors were virtually similar in the GDP while the employment proportion was higher in agricultural sector; when the annual per capita income reached US$1,500, the proportions of the industrial sector and service sector were basically similar in the GDP while the employment proportion in agricultural sector fell to the lowest proportion. However, China's situation varies somewhat from the traditional development model. For instance, in 1999, the per capita income in China exceeded US$1,000 (using the purchasing power parity method), while the proportion of the employment in the agricultural sector was still as high as 50 percent.

As shown above, non-agricultural industries' value amounts to the main body of the national economy, but the proportion of employees in the agricultural sector dominates the workforce at present and will do so in the future. The conflict of a dual economic structure is still obvious. It is reflected in the enlarged income gap between industry and agriculture, rising from 2.12 in 1991 to 5.25 in 1995, and its estimated value will reach 5.62 in 2005. Obviously, the changes of the industrial structure and employment structures are not consistent with other developing countries. The Chinese government and scholars have noticed this phenomenon, and many efforts have been made to reshape the structure more properly.


In the thousands of years that farming has been practiced in China, the Chinese have refined and perfected their agricultural techniques. Traditional Chinese agriculture is labor intensive; the emphasis is on using many workers to increase the crop yield per unit of land rather than on increasing the productivity of the individual worker. Chinese agricultural practices have been shaped by the a shortage of farmland in the country, at least relative to the population.

Agriculture and rural activities are important in China for many reasons. First, farming provides the food and fiber needed for the sustenance of China's people. At the same time, nearly 65 percent of the people depend on agriculture or other rural economic activities for their livelihood. Second, agriculture has always provided the means of employment for most new workers entering the labor force . With between 12 and 16 million new workers entering the labor force annually since the 1980s, agriculture must continue to absorb tremendous numbers of new workers while continuing to find ways to use these workers productively. Finally, the agricultural sector has been an important source of investment money. If, through hard work, good management, and the application of sound, scientific farming, Chinese agriculture can be more productive, capital surpluses can be created and invested in other sectors of the economy, which could accelerate the rate of economic growth and ultimately benefit all of China's people.

China's grain output hit over 500 million tons in recent years, while current annual consumption is 463.5 million tons. Grain reserves now stand at historically high levels. However, it is true that the weak and fragile foundations of the agricultural system remain basically unchanged. Grain supply is still threatened by a series of unfavorable factors in production, circulation, consumption and foreign trade. A recent detailed estimate forecasts that the country's grain consumption requirements in the year 2030 would be between 632.8 and 725.8 million tons, with projected production at that time of 662.5 million tons. So even faced with the maximum shortfall of 63.3 million tons, the country would still be able to satisfy 90 percent of its own needs. Over the past decades, China has imported about 12 million tons annually, or 3 to 4 percent of consumption. Considering the trend of grain shortages in the medium and long term, China might need to import about 5 percent of its grain demand, or 20 million tons, in regular years.


China's principal food crops are rice, wheat, corn, gaoliang (Chinese sorghum), millet, barley, and sunflower seeds. China is the world's largest producer of rice, and rice accounts for almost half of the country's total food-crop output. Rice, wheat, and corn together make up more than 90 percent of China's total food grain production, and these crops occupy about 85 percent of the land under cultivation. Grain production has risen steadily since rural economic system reform started in 1978. There has also been a steady rise in the output of industrial crops, the most important of which are cotton, oil-bearing crops (such as peanuts and rapeseed), sugar (both cane sugar and beet sugar), tobacco, baste fiber (for cordage, matting, and similar uses), tea, and fruits. Poultry and livestock production, though rising, remains the weakest sector of Chinese agriculture. Livestock numbers are high, but the amount of meat produced per animal is low. Thus, China has 15 percent of the world's livestock and about 40 percent of its pigs, but it provides only 7 percent of the meat products and 15 percent of the pork.


Despite China's large land area, its forest resources are modest. Much of the western interior is too high or too dry to support dense forest stands. In the humid east, the forests were harvested for centuries for building material and firewood; limited effort was made to regenerate them. In 1949, it was estimated that about 8 percent of the total surface of the country was covered with forests. Since then, an active program of forestation has been undertaken, and it is estimated that the forested area has been increased to 12 to 13 percent. In recent years about 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) of forestland have been added annually. The state is aiming to have 20 percent of the country's surface in forest. In contrast, more than 30 percent of the United States is forested.


China has a long tradition of ocean and freshwater fishing and of aquaculture. Pond raising has always played an important role and has been increasingly emphasized to supplement coastal and inland fisheries threatened by over-fishing. China produces about 17.6 million tons yearly, first among the world's nations. More than 57 percent of the total catch is from the ocean. The remainder comes from rivers, canals, lakes, and ponds. China's coastal zone is rich in fish. All the coastal seas have extensive areas of shallow water over the continental shelf. In these seas, especially the Yellow River and East China River, cold and warm ocean currents mix, creating an environment that is particularly suitable for many species of ocean fish, including croakers, mackerels, tuna, herring, and sharks. Several varieties of shell-fish and specialties such as squid and octopus are also produced.


Since 1949 when the People's Republic of China was established, and especially since 1978, China's transformation from a traditional agricultural society to a modern industrial society has been greatly accelerated by a rapid industrial restructuring. China's industrial structure developed according to the objective of industrialization, which aimed at the proportion of agriculture being declined ceaselessly, the proportion of the industrial sector being ascended continually, and the proportion of the services sector being ascended greatly. The industrial goods produced in China all range from capital goods to consumption goods currently, though certain consumer products remain in short supply.

China's factory outputs extend from textiles to railway locomotives, jet planes, and computers. China is the largest producer of inexpensive cotton textiles in the world and exports large quantities of textiles and garments. Food processing is very important, and many agricultural goods are exported. China is one of the leaders of cement production in the world. Iron-and steel-making has declined recently, the production having dropped somewhat to about 44 million tons annually. Other industrial products include television sets, bicycles, cars, trucks, and washing machines. The product quality and production technology lag behind those made in Japan, the United States, and the European countries. The processing and manufacture of chemicals, including fertilizers, petroleum products, and pharmaceuticals, is another large and expanding segment of Chinese industry.

China has become an industrialized country to some extent. The pillar industries, such as the auto industry and the housing industry, in the interim of industrialization have developed by leaps and bounds. Iron and steel manufacturing are also major industries in China. The most important export products are machinery and electric equipment; while the most important import products are raw materials. In recent years, due to economic extro-version, China's industry has competed internationally, and as a result, the country's industrial development is increasingly influenced by international economic environments. On one hand, exporting becomes more difficult and export prices keep declining; on the other hand, market share of foreign products and foreign-invested enterprises' products keeps growing. The above 2 factors increase the difficulties for the country's domestic industry in terms of producing and selling; the state-owned enterprises are impacted particularly. In fact, textile and other light industries have slowed their growth since 1985. Since 1989, the production capability of durable consumption goods has become idle; after the mid-1990s, bottleneck sectors including steel, oil, and raw material began to fall into market saturation. Large-scale IC chips account for only 40 percent of all IC chips made in China; 80 percent of the Chinese telecom equipment and instrument market is taken by foreign enterprises.

Generally, China's industrial system has a low level of technology; the high-tech industries are simply in their starting periods. The technologies of major industrial sectors are poor and lack self-equipment capability. Average life cycle for more than 2000 kinds of Chinese leading products is 10.5 years, 3.5 times that of the same products in America. And fewer Chinese work in the information sector than do U.S. citizens, for example. About 45 percent of the American workforce is involved in information technology, but only 10 percent of the Chinese workforce is. Chinese technological level of industries needs to be raised, particularly high-tech oriented industries, so that the country's industries can be advanced toward a knowledge economy in the 21st century.


With one of the largest and richest stocks of minerals of any country, China has enough minerals to support a modern industrial state. Mining of all types of minerals is expanding rapidly. The most significant minerals are coal, iron, tin, copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum, tungsten, mercury, antimony, and fluorspar. China has the world's largest coal reserves, which are estimated at more than 600 billion tons. These reserves would keep the country supplied with coal for about 500 years, if usage were to continue at its present level.


The country also has substantial petroleum reserves, both on land and offshore. Offshore prospecting is under way in several locations, with a number of Western and Japanese petroleum companies assisting China. Such minerals as tungsten, aluminum, titanium, and copper have export possibilities. Extensive deposits and promising sites were located in 1960s. The main production centers are in the North China Plain and in the Northeast. For instance, Daqing petroleum production basis in Heilongjiang Province is one of the largest petroleum producers in the country. Since the mid-1970s, China has been ranked as one of the ten largest oil-producing countries in the world, with the capacity to produce more than 1 billion barrels yearly. A small quantity of this output has been exported for earning foreign currency.


Chief manufactured products include cement, rolled steel, chemical fertilizer, paper and paperboard, sulfuric acid, sugar, cotton yarn, cotton fabrics, cigarettes, television sets, and washing machines. Generally, the Chinese industrial structure has a higher level of manufacturing although it is far from high manufacturing in terms of productivity. Since 1978, the proportion has decreased, largely of output of low-level manufacturing sectors in light industry with agricultural products as raw material and mining sectors in heavy industry, but low-level expansion and repetitious construction in these sectors are still very serious. Product quality upgrade is still behind the demand of structures' upgrade, which in turn leads to the dependence on import of high-level manufactured goods for economic growth. The proportion of the 2 preceding sectors dropped from 34.1 percent and 8.19 percent in 1985 to27.16 percent and 5.97 percent in 1998, dropping in total by 7.03 percent and 2.22 percent respectively. Compared with the United States and other developed countries, the horizontal industrial expansion with low levels of manufacturing causes low-level malignant competition in the domestic manufacturing sector. The same effects can be found in high-level consumption of energy and raw materials. For this reason inflated demands bring about a large increase of sectors with low technology content and delay upgrade of industrial structures.


According to a State Development Planning Commission (SDPC) document entitled Report on China's National Economic Growth and Social Development for the Year 2000, China's fast growing service sector has become the country's key employer. Preliminary statistics indicate that the service sector created 5.71 million new jobs in 1999, making up 70 percent of China's total new employment in the year. The service sector employed the majority of the country's urban new labor force and at the same time rehired the redundant labor force from the other 2 sectors. The SDPC data show that employment in the service industry by the end of 1999 rose 0.6 percent from 1998 to 192.5 million people, accounting for 27.3 percent of the total national workforce.

The service industry has become a major factor in boosting national economic growth. The key growth areas for the service industry in recent years include community services, domestic tourism, higher and non-compulsory education, information, culture and other intermediary services. In the first 4 years of China's 9th 5-Year Plan (1996 to 2000), the average contribution of the service industry to the GDP was 40.8 percent, a 10.4 percentage point increase over the 8th 5-Year Plan (1990-95). The state aimed at encouraging more involvement by the private sector in the development of the service industry by channeling more private investment into the industry.


Dining out is one of the most important social activities for both personal and business reasons in China. The food service can be categorized as fine dining, family restaurants, neighborhood restaurants, quick-serve restaurants, street vendors, food courts, and cafeterias operated by the institutions or corporations. Since the 1980s, Western-style chain restaurants have been the driving force for the development of service, quality, value and distribution in the Chinese food service industry. A recent survey indicates that China has approximately 2.2 million restaurants and cafeterias. With the growth of China's economy, the changing life styles, and increased disposable incomes for the potentially largest group of middle-income families in the world, China is expected to be the new leader in the growth of the food service industry in the 21st century.


China is a world-class destination that offers several thousand years of history and brilliant cultural achievements. Tourism has been designated as an important growth area under the current national restructuring. Remarkable progress has been made in China's tourism since 1978, when it barely existed as an industry. In 1978, on the eve of the open-door policy, China received a mere 760,000 tourists and US$260 million in tourism-related foreign exchange earnings.

During the 1980s, the state council strengthened its management over tourism and adopted a policy of enlisting support from all quartersthe state, the collectives, related ministries or departments, individuals and foreign investors. China began the construction of a large number of tourist hotels by using foreign capital and also improved the ability of its travel agencies to solicit tourists. In 1988, the national tourism industry earned US$2.24 billion in foreign exchange, or 10 times the figure in 1978. Meanwhile, efforts have continued to open up new scenic spots, tap new visitor sources and improve tourism-related rules and laws. Drawing experience from developed countries, China improved its management skills and the overall quality of employees to optimize the environment for tourism expansion.

In the 1990s, the country began to design special tourism projects. The Visit China '97 program was a big success, with overseas visitors hitting 57.6 million and foreign exchange earnings reaching US$12.074 billion, thus catapulting China's place in world tourism earnings from 41st to 11th. At the same time domestic tourism also reached a new record with the number of tourists jumping to 644 million and earnings reaching US$27 billion. As a result, tourism income in the year totaled over US$38 billion, or 4.1 percent of the GDP. Massive infrastructure investments and rising living standards helped to stabilize the basic tourism market and improve the overall environment for tourism expansion. China's tourism earnings in the year 2000 were estimated as US$43.9 billion, or 5 percent of the GDP, with US$14 billion in foreign exchange earnings from overseas.


Retail was one of the fastest growing sectors in China in the earlier 1990s. Since retail industry reforms began in 1992, the government has adopted some new policies highlighted by the proclamation of the Provisional Rules on Retailing and Wholesaling in June 1999. These policies have propelled the retail industry through a process of fundamental transformation. While shopping in the past meant visiting a run-down department store and choosing from a limited range of low-quality products, currently the Chinese consumer is exposed to a growing number of sophisticated retail formats and wooed by a wide range of foreign and domestic products. The existing retail formats in China are warehouse/discount stores, supermarkets, department stores, convenience stores, franchised service or chain-store outlets, specialty stores, shopping centers, catalogue sales, TV home shopping, and recently developed e-commerce .

One eye-catching development is that local governments, in spite of central regulations, approved a large number of joint commercial ventures. Some Chinese retail stores in large cities are even beginning to hire foreign managers or are being contracted to a foreign management team. Large multinational corporations have made considerable inroads into China's consumer markets. They do so by forming joint ventures with domestic manufacturers to produce and sell their own brand-name products. By doing so they effectively take over the well-developed distribution channels of the domestic firms, and consequently their market shares improve steadily. In this area, Asian businesses (especially overseas Chinese ones) again enjoy an edge because of their familiarity with the Chinese consumption culture. They are not deterred by the lack of policy transparency and inadequate legal infrastructure. They thrive on personal connections cultivated with state officials and often regard these as a better guarantee for security. In 2000, the activities of foreign-invested retailers remained subject to tight regulation although the government took its first steps towards opening the retail sector to real foreign participation in 1992. A pilot program restricted Sino-foreign retail joint ventures to 11 cities, with only 2 such ventures allowed in each pilot site.


International trade has been used to bring in new equipment and technologies and to meet scarcities in the domestic economy since China has sought to modernize its economy. Exports have been used as a means of producing foreign earnings to pay for the imports. The state has sought to maintain an even balance of trade so that the country can pay for imports rather than buying on credit. With 1.2 billion people and the world's fastest growing major economy, China is hailed as potentially the "market of all markets," which has helped to attract investments from around the world at such a magnitude that China is now the second largest recipient of foreign capital (next only to the United States). However, it has also given the government more reasons to carefully guard its market. The issue of market entry has been a contentious one, bogging down its negotiations to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the World Trade Organization for over a decade.

The total volume of China's exports was US$232 billion ( f.o.b. , 2000), according to the CIA World Fact-book. The country's principal commodities are machinery and equipment, textiles and clothing, footwear, toys and sporting goods, and mineral fuels. The United States bought 21 percent of China's exports, Hong Kong 18 percent, and Japan 17 percent; Germany, South Korea, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Taiwan are other main export partners.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): China
Exports Imports
1975 7.689 7.926
1980 18.099 19.941
1985 27.350 42.252
1990 62.091 53.345
1995 148.797 129.113
1998 183.589 140.305
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

China exports agricultural commodities and goods (about one-third of total exports) and manufactured goods (about half), as well as mineral products such as oil and coal. Foodstuffs account for about 6 percent of total imports, and industrial supplies and materials such as crude steel and chemicals account for about 50 percent. The remainder consists chiefly of expensive capital goods such as machinery, precision instruments, and transportation equipment.

In 1998, machinery and transport equipment took the first place among the exports, amounting to 50.2 billion dollars. The proportion of it is 48.4 percent, much higher than the proportion of light and textile industrial products (26.5 percent). On the other hand, export structure of machinery and transport equipment is changing for the better. The proportion of more technologically-intensive products is growing up, and labor-intensive products are slowing down. Also, the interim structure of traditional export products, such as light and textile industrial products, changed tremendously. Resource and labor-intensive, low value-added, low-technological products declined, lower labor-extensive but higher technological and value-added products increased.

China imports a total volume of US$197 billion (2000). The principal commodities China imports are machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, plastics, iron and steel, and chemicals. Japan provides the main source (20 percent) of China's imports. The United States provides 12 percent, Taiwan 12 percent, and South Korea 10 percent. Other trading partners include Germany, Hong Kong, Russia, and Singapore.

The 5 top import products of China during the first semester in 1999 included mechanical and electrical products at US$35 billion (up 28 percent from 1998); plastics in primary form at US$4.1 billion (up 3.9 percent from 1998); steel products at US$3.4 billion (up 14.6 percent from 1998); computer parts at US$1.8 billion (up 18.7 percent from 1998); and crude petroleum oil at US$1.6 billion (down 23.6 percent from 1998). The commodities China imports are materials essential to modernizing China's economy and increasing export-oriented industries.


China embarked on its open-door economic policy in 1979 by reforming the agricultural sector and establishing several special economic zones (SEZs). The high export-led growth rates in the SEZs contributed to an annual inflation rate of over 10 percent in the 1980s. As a result the economy was overheating. The monetary authorities were ineffective in dealing with inflation. Fiscal revenues declined during the reform period and pressed the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to sell bonds to the central

Exchange rates: China
yuan per US$1
Jan 2001 8.2776
2000 8.2785
1999 8.2783
1998 8.2790
1997 8.2898
1996 8.3142
Note: Beginning January 1, 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.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

bank in exchange for currency to cover its budget deficit and to release aggravating inflationary pressures. By 1994, laws were passed to create a more consistent and more transparent tax system, which would reverse the steady decline in fiscal revenues. The new laws also banned fiscal overdrafts on the financial system. In reflecting tighter monetary policies and stronger measures to control food prices, inflation dropped sharply between 1995 and 1999.

Financial reform first appeared in 1984, when the People's Bank (monobank) discarded its commercial banking functions to become a central bank. The 3 specialized banks were reformed as commercial banks, passing on their policy lending to newly established policy banks. The banking system was decentralized, and inter-bank competition was allowed. Urban and rural credit cooperatives were established as alternative banking institutions. Interest rates remained under government control; preferential lending rates have been removed in certain sectors but continue in many others. Although lending rates are a highly political issue for the impact on state-owned enterprise (SOE) debt-servicing obligations, deregulating lending rates and deposit will be on the official agenda. Various ministries, including the monobank and the State Planning Commission, are in charge of a credit plan that involves a multi-step, highly negotiated process in which lending quotas are allocated to the state banks (lenders) based on their balance of deposits against borrowings. A re-lending facility allows the central bank to reallocate deposits from surplus to deficit ones at bank levels or regional levels. The mechanism is funded by reserves set at 20 percent of deposits; thus, deposit-poor lenders are assured that their allocated funding requirements will be covered by monobank loans.

Under the re-lending facility the loans are generally rolled over, which make up 30 percent of state banks' liabilities and are estimated to equal 3 to 4 percent of the GDP. The continuing injection of funds to SOEs under the credit plan allowed many profitless SOEs to remain in business, some SOEs even staying while making a net loss. Many of the loans to SOEs could not be called back and eventually became the bank's liabilities, which suggests that any financial sector reform and resolution of the SOE debt problem are intricately linked. Moreover, the continued reliance on state bank loans to support SOEs has also exacerbated the government's fiscal weakness, as it causes the lack of funds for much-needed enterprise and welfare reforms.

China used 2 systems of currency between 1979 and 1994: Renminbi and Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC). Foreign exchange could be obtained through either FEC exchange centers (FECs) or foreign exchange adjustment centers (FEACs) until the 1994 currency unification. There were over 100 FEACs, or swap centers, where foreign currency was exchanged at a floating rate that varied widely among the centers in the 1980s. By 1993, 80 percent of all foreign exchange transactions were handled by FEACs. With the currency unification of 1994 came the gradual, complete withdrawal of FECs altogether from foreign exchange. The yuan's exchange rate is determined by the swap centers. It is noticeable that the movements toward convertibility of the current account have allowed foreign firms to make their transactions through designated foreign exchange banks and through FEACs. However, the domestic firms must sell all of their foreign exchange holdings to designated banks.


The financial sector's main regulatory authority is the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the country's central bank. The PBOC controls the money supply, determines interest and deposit rates, and handles foreign exchange reserves through its division, the State Administration of Exchange Control. The PBOC also supervises banks' operations, uses the credit plan to administratively control overall lending, and oversees the People's Insurance Company of China as well as through its branches, trust and investment companies (TICs).

China has 4 state banks and eleven commercial banks. The state banks were created in 1984, when specialized banks and part of the monobank were transformed into commercial banks. The Agricultural Bank of China provides finance services in rural areas. The People's Construction Bank of China is responsible for medium- and long-term finance for capital construction. The Bank of China functions as the main international and foreign exchange bank, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the largest state bank, extends working capital loans to SOEs for fixed-asset investment. State banks with a network of branches, newly created affiliates, and special departments are responsible for implementing the credit plan.

More than 60,000 urban and rural credit cooperatives were established as an alternative to banks by 1999. Urban cooperative banks, small and manageable, are structured in a 2-tier system: the upper tier interfaces with capital markets and acts as a supervisor for the system, while the lower tier, a number of small-scale banks, handles deposits and loans. The rural or agricultural cooperative banks, acting under the guidance of the Agricultural Development Bank, have limited autonomy in management and lending decisions. Their clients are mainly rural townships and enterprises.

The state-owned People's Insurance Company of China (PICC) used to be a monopoly insurer. In 1993, it still handled over 95 percent of China's total insurance business. The new insurance law of 1995 limited the PICC to commercial insurance business and transferred its social insurance business to the Ministry of Labor. Currently, although the PICC and several government financial authorities own 17 regional life insurers, there are 3 other regional insurers and 2 independent national insurers. The market for life insurance and household casualty insurance is still small in China, and corporate customers purchase most casualty insurance. Most assets have to be deposited with domestic banks in interest-bearing accounts, while other investments need to be spread among safe investments and are limited to short-run commitments.


The Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges, China's only 2 stock exchanges currently, were established in 1990 and 1991, respectively. No cross listing exists between these 2 exchanges. Since their founding, securities markets have grown rapidly, especially in the later 1990s. Securities exchange centers, limited to government and corporate bond trading only, exist in 18 larger cities. Securities exchange centers were established in the mid-1980s when SOEs were allowed to sell bonds to employees, other companies, and, to some extent, to the public. Securities exchange centers are linked to the stock exchanges through electronic trading networks.

Chinese companies offer 2 types of shares: A shares, which are exclusively sold to Chinese nationals, and B shares, denominated in Renminbi but traded and purchased in foreign currency exclusively by foreigners originally. By March 2001, B shares could also be purchased by Chinese citizens using foreign currency. B shares are restricted to limited liability shareholding companies. To be qualified, companies must have been profitable for at least 2 consecutive years; must possess sufficient foreign exchange revenues to pay dividends and cash bonuses; must be able to provide financial statements and earning forecasts for 3 consecutive years and at the time of listing; and must have a price-earning ratio of less than 15.

The state planning commission formulates quotas for stock and debt listings, which sets a figure for the aggregate offering price of issuances in a given year. The formulated quotas are then allocated on a provincial level. This process generates some problems, such as politicized selection and approval process, lowered quality of issuer with a large number of small issuers, the lack of predictability in the schedule of announcements of annual quotas, and the fact that announced quotas change yearly according to market conditions. Furthermore, the quota system pushes non-quota activity into unofficial and semi-official channels such as the securities exchange centers. Because of these problems, it is widely agreed that the Chinese stock markets are far from formal and mature and, thus, are full of myth and risks.


Foreign banks are generally restricted to hard currency operations, although the government has announced its intention to partially open a local currency business to foreign banks in its bid to join the WTO. Foreign banks are allowed to set up branches and local subsidiaries and to establish joint venture banks with Chinese partners in selected cities and SEZs. However, their activities must be limited to wholesale banking and only a limited number of foreign exchange transactions such as foreign exchange deposits and loans for joint ventures, foreign exchange investments and guarantees, and the settlement of import and export accounts. Foreign non-bank financial institutions consist of 6 finance companies and 6 fully-licensed insurance companies. Generally, it takes about 3 years for foreign insurance companies to obtain a PBOC-issued insurance license.


In the early decades after the communist state was founded in 1949, incomes were low and roughly the same. However, according to a newly conducted investigation, economic reforms over the past 20 years have created a substantial class of very wealthy Chinese, with more than 5.3 million families boasting annual incomes of US$6,000 or more. The average annual urban income is about US$600, and the average earned by rural residents is about US$230. Private businessmen and managers make up the core of the newly affluent. Others include

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
China 138 168 261 349 727
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Japan 23,296 27,672 31,588 38,713 42,081
Russia 2,555 3,654 3,463 3,668 2,138
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: China
Lowest 10% 2.4
Lowest 20% 5.9
Second 20% 10.2
Third 20% 15.1
Fourth 20% 22.2
Highest 20% 46.6
Highest 10% 30.4
Survey year: 1998
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

scientists who own patents, teachers who tutor privately, consultants, securities traders, entertainers or advertising executives. There are roughly 30 million Chinese considered to be well off, which makes only a small fraction of China's population of 1.2 billion. Heavily concentrated in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the affluent Chinese represent a newly emerging market for all sorts of luxuries. China is counting on the desire of the well-to-do for better housing and consumer goods to help keep the economy growing.


Economic reforms have made substantial improvements in the living standards of rural residents. Since 1978, the farmers boosted their incomes by engaging in specialized agricultural activities such as animal husbandry, agriculture, and orchard production, in addition to raising traditional crops. Furthermore, township and village enterprises (TVEs) accounted for the bulk of increased wage income earned by the rural residents. As the result, the disposable income among rural residents has increased dramatically since the early 1980s. However, in spite of these improvements, the rise in income of rural residents is markedly small when compared to that of urban areas. The total rural incomes are only 40 percent of urban incomes in China when in most countries rural incomes are 66 percent or more of urban income. The gap in income between rural and urban residents has grown at an increasing rate since the late 1980s. In fact, such disparity has been the most important contributor to the problem of social equity in China, followed by inter-regional disparity.


Decades of strict central planning created serious disparities in incomes among citizens in different regions. The average annual income is high, for example, in Jiangsu province located in the eastern region, but Guizhou, located in the western region, has a low income level. The difference is quite enormous. For instance, in 1996, per capita annual income of Jiangsu was 2613.54 yuan while in Guizhou it was 609.80 yuan; the ratio between the two was 4.3:1. In the same year, per capita GDP and the total GDP of the eastern region were 1.9 times and 5.5 times larger, respectively, than those of the western region.


In addition to the gap between urban and rural areas, city dwellers also feel the income inequality among themselves. According to the Urban Socio-Economic Survey Organization of the State Statistics Bureau, in the middle 1990s the per capita income of the top 20 percent income earners was 4.2 times greater than the bottom 20 percent, worsened from 2.9 times in the later 1980s. Although many enterprises in urban areas have either stopped working or closed down, many of the idle employees who have been laid off are waiting for future employment that would provide them the minimum incomes to maintain the basic standard of living in the urban areas. Currently, many idle workers are either receiving low incomes or no incomes at all. The wage level of retired employees is also quite low, and, considering the effects of inflation, their living standard is falling.


About 10 percent of the Chinese population lives below the poverty line. One of the largest challenges in China is poverty alleviation and elimination. According to the World Bank, due to aggressive measures, China has achieved great success in its anti-poverty struggle in the past 2 decades. The impoverished population dropped from about 250 million in 1978 to 125 million in 1985 because rural areas experienced economic growth. The Chinese government has been planning and organizing a number of large-scale anti-poverty programs all over the country since 1986. By the end of 1992, the poverty population of rural China was reduced to 80 million, reducing the poverty rate to 8.8 percent.

In 1994, in order to accelerate the poverty alleviation and ultimately eliminate poverty by the end of last century, the Chinese government launched the "8-7 Plan," the main point of which was to eliminate absolute poverty in 7 years through the tax favorite policy, financial support, and social-economic development program. For the convenience of implementing the "8-7 Plan," the central government selected the 592 poorest counties from the more than 2000 counties nationwide and designated them as "national poor counties." It was estimated that more than 70 percent of the 80 million poor concentrated in these 592 counties had very bad natural environments and under-developed social-economic conditions.

After 4 years, the poor population of rural China was reduced to 42.1 million, and the poverty rate was 4.6 percent by the end of 1998. The Chinese government spent 24.8 billion yuan (US$3 billion) on poverty alleviation in 1999, 30 times more than in 1980. Rural per capita income among China's 870 million rural residents in 1999 was 2,210 yuan. Only 3 percent of the rural population remained impoverished or living below the 635-yuan standard, making China's rural poverty rate the lowest among developing nations. In 2000, China announced that it had eliminated "absolute poverty."


China has the largest labor force in the world. According to Chinese official data, over 700 million people were employed by the end of 1990s. More than half of its labor force is engaged in agriculture, although that sector accounts for less than 20 percent of China's GDP. In other words, China's agricultural labor force is over 100 times as large as its U.S. counterpart. By the middle of the 1990s, most of China's urban workers were employed in state-owned enterprises (SOEs). In the 1990s, China's increasingly dynamic service sector employed more workers than industrial enterprises for each of the last 3 years. Latest sources from the State Statistics Bureau show that 6.4 percent of labor force in rural China shifted to the country's secondary and tertiary industries in 1999. With 0.5 percent of its rural labor force having made a change in their life from agricultural to non-agricultural labor, the net shifting amount of rural labor force was placed at 5.9 percent of the rural total, up 0.4 percent over the same period in 1998. According to one official survey, as many as 50 million people leave rural areas in search of urban jobs every year. Of this number, approximately 30 million people leave their home provinces.

Shifting labor forces experienced a big rise in proportion on a provincial, regional, or municipal scale. About 79 percent of surplus labor force became locally employed in the industrial and service sectors in the country in 1999, up 11 percentage points over 1998. East China remains the hottest destination for drawing rural laborers, although more people began to focus on west China. Among the rural laborers leaving their native place to seek employment in other provinces, 79.8 percent headed for the East in 1999, down 2.5 percentage points compared with the same period of 1998. About 10 percent chose central China for employment, up 0.6 percentage points. More than 10.2 percent went to the country's west, up 1.9 percentage points over 1998. Most of the laborers are young or people in their prime. People ages 18 to 40 accounted for 77.3 percent. Of these, 57.9 percent were between 18 and 30 years of age.


Chinese labor has benefitted significantly from economic reforms. During the 8th 5-Year Plan (1991-95), real incomes increased by 7.7 percent annually in urban areas and 4.5 percent annually in the countryside. However some serious problems existed in the labor market, which threatened to impede economic reforms and to disrupt social stability. Increased lay-offs (officially labeled as "temporarily losing a job"), placing workers "off post" ( xiagang ), as well as delayed wage and pension payments, resulted in a number of demonstrations by workers and retirees in several Chinese cities. Within a certain period, typically 1 year, these "laid off" workers are usually encouraged to take other types of jobs, generally with less pay and/or status than their original positions. Many workers also take second jobs. Some continue to draw a basic salary and benefits from their previous employer for whom they do little or no real work. By 2001, the problems caused by the increasing lay-offs from SOEs, along with several other issues, became the first worries of the nation's leaders.

The official unemployment rate was officially reported to be 6 percent by the end of 1990s. Labor officials readily admitted that the official unemployment rate did not include 2 large and important groups that are effectively unemployed, redundant state sector workers and rural surplus laborers. By official estimate, the underemployed population in the countryside, defined as those with productive employment less than half of the year, exceeds 200 million people. Some probably more accurate estimates of urban unemployment vary anywhere between 10 and 23 percent. Even according to the official unemployment criteria, a report completed by China's State Commission for economic restructuring in early 1997 projected that China could have 15 to 20 million unemployed urban workers by 2000. Meanwhile, it is estimated that between the years 2000 and 2010 over 40 million new entrants will be brought into the urban workforce.


A national labor law effective 1 January 1995 codified earlier regulations and provides a framework for labor reform. New provisions in the law require workers at all types of businesses to sign labor contracts with the employers; establish arbitration and inspection divisions at all levels of government; set out a preliminary framework for collective bargaining at all types of enterprises; and empower managers to dismiss workers for economic reasons. However, the local governments are less effective in enforcing strict worker safety and overtime provisions of the Labor Law. As the result, industrial accidents, particularly in the mining sector, claim a high number of lives every year.

The Labor Law also requires localities to establish local minimum wages. For instance, the monthly minimum wage in Beijing at the end of 1996 was RMB 270 (approximately US$33); RMB 300 (approximately US$36) in Shanghai; RMB 398 (approximately US$48) in Shenzhen; and RMB 140 (approximately US$17) in Guizhou province. Other parts of China, including Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Shandong provinces, have created a sliding scale of minimum rates for different trades and localities. The minimum wage level determinations are generally higher than the local poverty relief ceiling but lower than the current wage level of the average worker.

Labor disputes, including delayed wages and strikes, have been increasing over the last several years in China. The upward trend has made some labor and union officials become defensive. The official media continuously pay attention to worker abuse, invariably at small, export-oriented foreign ventures with Asian (Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea) investment. However, many unofficial observers indicate that working conditions are generally worse in private Chinese enterprises and in domestic small town and village enterprises, which are often owned by local government. Most labor disputes are solved through arbitration and recently some cases reached the courts. According to official statistics, based on National Mediation Center and Labor Bureau records, 48,121 labor disputes occurred nationwide in China during 1996.


For the most part, unions in China maintain their primary function of enhancing production and sustaining labor discipline, rather than supporting worker rights. Local unions also perform a variety of social and welfare functions, such as handling disability benefits and housing funds and operating clubs, eating facilities, nurseries, and schools. The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), the country's only officially recognized workers' organization, remains focused on the state sector. There is still little evidence to suggest that ACFTU is being positioned to assume the new role of worker advocate mandated by article seven of the labor law, although some union officials at the working level may be increasingly interested in representing the interests of workers, particularly on safety issues.

For the ACFTU, improving labor discipline and mobilizing workers to achieve party and government goals are their primary objectives. However, since the early 1980s, additional objectives have been to increase productivity and encourage participation in, and support for, economic reforms. Generally, the membership is limited to the workers in SOEs. Over half of the country's non-agricultural workers are not members of the ACFTU, those who are outside the state industrial structure in collectives, private and individual enterprises, foreign-in-vested enterprises, and township and village enterprises.


The working conditions are generally poor in China, especially in the rural areas. The rate of industrial accidents had remained high until 1996 when, according to Ministry of Labor statistics, for the first time in many years the number of industrial accidents actually dropped. Total accidents stood at 18,181, 13.5 percent less than in 1995, with total fatalities at 17,231, a 13.9 percent drop from 1995. By 2001, there was no evidence to confirm whether this decline represents a permanent trend. The official media continue to criticize the overall high number of work-related accidents and fatalities. The majority of industrial accidents in China occur in mines, particularly in poorly regulated small-scale private, township, and village mines. For instance, in 1996 there were 7,695 mining accidents and 9,974 workers were killed.

Work safety issues attracted the attention of senior government leaders; occupational safety and health became the subject of constant campaigns. All work units are required to designate a safety officer. Since 1991, the Ministry of Labor has conducted an annual "industrial safety week" during May, to promote safety consciousness among managers and workers. As of mid-1997, the Ministry of Labor fulfilled new National Occupational Safety and Health legislation. Labor Ministry officials have also indicated that they have the responsibility of drafting improved National Mine Safety legislation. However, much evidence demonstrates that enforcement of existing regulations, rather than the drafting of new legislation, is what is needed most. Moreover, pressures for increased output, lack of financial resources to maintain equipment, lack of concern by management, poor enforcement of existing regulations, and a traditionally poor understanding of safety issues by workers, all make it difficult, if not impossible, to lower the high rate of accidents.

On 1 May 1995 China reduced the national standard workweek from 44 to 40 hours, excluding overtime. The Labor Law mandates a 24-hour rest period weekly and does not allow overtime work in excess of 3 hours a day or 36 hours a month. The Labor Law also sets forth a required scale of remuneration for overtime work that is set at no less than 150 percent of normal wages. Enforcement of these regulations varies according to region and type of enterprise. The official media regularly report cases of workers required to work long overtime hours at small-scale foreign-invested enterprises, particularly in special economic zones and other areas of Southeast China. Similar abuses in non-state sector enterprises are also widely acknowledged to occur.


Economic reforms have increased employment opportunities for both men and women in China. The growth of the less regulated non-state sector and the declining role of the government in job assignments has also increased the likelihood that women will face employment discrimination in China. In 1995 while hosting the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW), China pledged to pay more attention to the problems faced by women in the work-force. The state council promulgated the national program for Chinese Women's Development in August 1995 with the goal of increasing enforcement of the right to education and employment and asserting the status of women. Responding to the hesitancy demonstrated by government ministries to hire women at a Beijing job fair in early 1996, the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) called for stricter safeguards of women's rights.

In SOEs, women are more likely to be forced into early retirement or placed "off-post." A joint study of sample enterprises in 5 cities performed by the Ministry of Labor and the ILO in early 1995 indicated that 70 percent of workers described as "surplus" were women. According to an official survey completed in Shanghai in August 1996, women were the first to be affected by unemployment in the city because of their overall lower level of skills. The 1988 Women's Protection Law provides a minimum of 3 months of maternity leave and additional childcare benefits for women. The law also provides exclusion for breastfeeding mothers from certain categories of physical labor and night shifts. However, the regulations are designed to provide additional incentives to women workers of childbearing age to abide by family planning policies, which do not affect rural workers.


China perhaps is one of few countries that discriminates against middle aged and older workers in terms of re-entering employment after being laid off. Many employers will state openly in their job advertisements that they would not hire those who are over 45 years old. Older workers are also finding it increasingly difficult to compete. Some managers complain that older workers do not have the skills needed for the current marketplace; others note that older workers are in poor health. Older workers are likely to be the first to be affected by downsizing in the state sector. By all accounts, older women have an especially difficult time maintaining their employment. Many older women are poorly educated upon entry into the job force and receive little opportunity to upgrade their skills thereafter. While managers may want to keep on a certain number of experienced men, most view older women simply as a burden. Older women find the differences in China's statutory retirement age especially rankling. The retirement age for men is 60, while for women it is 50 in industry and 55 elsewhere. Although traditional views hold that women want to retire early to take care of grandchildren, women today, especially educated women, prefer to make this decision themselves and not be forced out of the workforce before they are ready.


In theory, child labor is forbidden in China. For instance, the 1995 National Labor Law specifies, "No employing unit shall be allowed to recruit juveniles under the age of 16." Administrative review, fines, and revocation of business licenses of those businesses that hire minors are specified in article 94 of the Labor Law. Chinese children are entitled to receive 9 years of compulsory education and to receive their subsistence from parents or guardians. Laborers between the ages of 16 and 18 are referred to as "juvenile workers" and are prohibited from engaging in certain forms of physical work including labor in mines. The Labor Law mandates the establishment of labor inspection corps at all administrative levels above county government. The rapid growth of China's non-state sector has outpaced the evolution of government inspection and enforcement regimes. However, in poorer, isolated areas, child labor in agriculture is widespread given the few options available to minors who have completed their primary school education at approximately 13 years of age. According to official statistics, 10 million children between the ages of 6 and 14, two-thirds of whom were girls, dropped out of Chinese primary schools during 1996. Presumably they ended up performing some type of labor to help the family's financial well-being.


2205-1783 B.C. Early Bronze Age occurs, as does use of metal.

1783-1134 B.C. Economy is based on agriculture, with some hunting and animal husbandry. More advanced bronze metallurgy appears. Silk fabric appears.

1134-770 B.C. Feudalistic society appears. Routine taxation on agriculture begins. Systematic irrigation, fertilization, and animal-drawn plows are used in farming. Iron tools appear in farming and mining. Cowry shells, silk, jade, pearls, leather, and pieces of silver are used in trading.

770-246 B.C. Commerce improves through coinage and technology.

246-206 B.C. Standardization of legal codes, bureaucratic procedures, coinage, writing, philosophical thought, and scholarship take place. Walls from warring states are combined to make a Great Wall. Public works projects begin, including an imperial road.

206-1 B.C. Merchant class grows wealthy due to agricultural enterprises (cereals and rice), cattle, fish farming, cloth mills, private foundries, lacquer factories, shops, and money lending. State foundries appear in most areas. Technological advances occur, noticeably in paper and porcelain.

1-88. Government supports free, no-interest loans to curb usury. Regional commissions set prices on staple goods. Granaries hold surplus food in case of famine. State Wine Monopoly is formed. State monopolies in iron and salt are abolished.

89-166. Embassies from various nations are established.

220-265. Advances in medicine, astronomy and cartography occur. State supports silk weaving workshops, each with thousands of workers. Gunpowder is introduced in fireworks.

300-399. Oil wick lamps and umbrellas appear. Coal is used in lieu of wood in making cart iron.

400-499. Harness with paddle-horse collar is invented. Fusion process is used in making steel. First true porcelain is made in China.

552. Byzantine emperor, Justinian, sends missionaries to China to smuggle out silk worms and mulberry leaves.

600. Man-powered paddle-wheel boat appears. Merchants from 27 different lands meet at Zhang-ye on silk road to discuss trade.

618-907. Tang Dynasty adopts function of state affairs over public administration, finances, rites, army, justice, and public works. A censorate ensures compliance of governmental performance with plans. Use of receipts of deposit, for exchange of commercial transactions, begins. Earlier restrictions on business activities are ignored. Tang dynasty recognizes middle class over peasants.

894-1300. Japan severs all relations with China; however, it allows informal commercial visits by private traders with luxury goods.

960-1126. K'ai-feng becomes a major city, under the Northern Song Dynasty, with broad roads, wide canals, all-day markets, eateries, and restaurants, merchants, vendors, and entertainers. Invention of navigational compasses, astronomical instruments, celestial globes, water-driven mechanical clocks, blast furnace using coke, and spinning wheel occurs. Government prints promissory notes. Civil servants manage state monopolies. The government recognizes association of merchants and artisans and "chambers of commerce." Silk working machinery aids production. Specialization in pottery occurs. Tea and cotton are major cultivated crops.

1000-99. Large-scale iron and steel complexes are built in the north using blast furnaces and employing some 3,000 workers. An industrial complex is built to mass-produce ceramic for imperial court.

1068-85. Under emperor Shen Tsung, provincial money taxes are substituted for labor obligation to reduce peas-ant's dependence on moneylenders. A financial bureau reduces budget by 40 percent. Government loans cash or grain to poor to protect usury on crop loans.

1100-99. Intaglio printing is used in money printing to prevent counterfeiting.

1260-94. Kublai Khan rules over the Mongol empire, Central Asia, Persia, North China, and Mongolia. He retains the salt and iron monopolies. Discrimination against the Huns begins. Three types of paper money are established: one based on silk and two based on silver. Fixed taxes are adopted and large levies of Song Dynasty are abolished. Government is reorganized to include a bureau of imperial manufactures (industrial matters), a secretariat (civilian matters), a privy council (military matters), a censorate (evaluating officials), and offices of personnel, revenue, rites, war, justice, and public works. Banners are used to advertise wine. Pawnshops are first seen.

1277. Marco Polo is appointed agent to the imperial council.

1287. Kublai Khan replaces paper money with new currency to fight against rapid inflation.

1295. Marco Polo returns to Italy, incites interest in trade with China.

1342. Weapons, fans, screens, laquerware, and books are traded during Japanese trading expeditions.

1368-1644. Ming Dynasty begins, and government is re-organized. Silk is reserved for imperial use. Nationwide tax system is implemented, and corrupt Mongols are replaced. Slavery is abolished. Large estates are confiscated and poor peasants rent land. The wealthy are taxed heavily. Contact with foreigners is restricted. Elementary school system is established.

1420. Ming navy produces combat vessels. More than 250 are capable of long-range voyages.

1421. Beijing becomes the capital. The imperial workshop employs more than 27,000 craftsmen in trade and foreign relations.

1557-97. Chinese allow Portuguese colonization and development on Macau.

1637. First English factory is established in Canton.

1644-1912. Manchu overthrow Ming Dynasty, and China enters Qing Dynasty.

1800. China produces 33.3 percent of the world manufacturing output. Foreign merchants exchange opium for goods.

1842. Treaty of Nanking is signed; Britain gets control of Hong Kong. Shanghai and other coastline cities are open to foreign settlements.

1873-90. Modern non-military enterprises begin to form, owned and operated by Chinese compradors and merchant middlemen.

1900-01. Boxer Rebellion tries to force foreigners out, suppressed by Britain, United States, France, and Japan. China pays US$330 million in restitution.

1916-31. Japanese receive commercial rights to Inner Mongolia and Southern Manchuria and create the puppet state of Manchuria.

1937. Japanese forces invade and eventually occupy Beijing.

1949. People's Republic of China is formed when Communists take over the government. A mass exodus of entrepreneurs to Hong Kong and nationalists to Taiwan occurs.

1958. Great Leap Forward begins by creating communes to increase production and increase collectivism. However, it fails to increase economic growth.

1966. Great Cultural Revolution is launched, attacking bourgeoisie ideology and capitalist thought, which leads to rioting and instability. These events have a devastating impact on the economy.

1976. The death of Mao Zedong and arrest of Gang of Four end Great Cultural Revolution.

1980. Special Economic Zones are extended for capitalist enterprises north of Hong Kong. The country's first management program is established and forms the Chinese National Center for Industrial Science and Technology at Dalian Institute of Technology.

1985. The development of consumer-based industry occurs. The first stockbroker in Shanghai trades with 10 corporations.

1989. The first Beijing International Fair opens, which is the first and the biggest international fair held independently by China. Growing student objections to official corruption lead to violence after a demonstration in Tiananmen Square.

1990. The 4th Asian Trade Promoting Meeting is held in Beijing. Official census counts 1 billion people. China is granted observer status in GATT.

1991. China Stock Association announces its establishment in Beijing.

1992. China announces that the goal of the economic reform is to set up a socialist market system.

1993. Electric power groups (North, East, Middle, Easter-North, and West-North) were permitted to be set up by the State Council.

1994. The launching ceremony of Yangtzi River Three Gorges is held and its construction started.

1995. The China Investment Association announces its establishment in Beijing.

1996. With sharp economic growth and controlled inflation under control, China achieves the goal of macro economic control.

1997. China decreases tariffs and promises to reduce the average tariff of the industrial products to 10 percent.

1998. In order to protect China's growing economy from the Asian economic crisis, Chinese government issues 1,000 billion national debts for the construction of domestic infrastructure and civil services.

1999. China resumes the collection of tax on the interest of personal savings.

2000. China successfully completes the 9th 5-Year Plan for economic growth; and the country's GDP reaches US$10,000 billion.


Since 1978, China's economic system has undergone a market-oriented reform and begun its open-door policy. In more than 20 years, although system devolvement and structural transformation were mostly driven by domestic factors, China has been increasingly influenced by economic globalization and worldwide industrial upgrade. In the 21st century, it is estimated that Chinese economic development will be influenced by world economy, especially the economy of the Asian area. The Chinese economy will depend on the attitude and strategy China will take toward being involved in the globalization process.


The long-term outlook for the Chinese economy remains unclear. China's commitment to join the WTO appears to represent a major commitment on the part of the Chinese government to significant economic reform and greater access to its domestic markets. Some observers believe that the Chinese government views accession to the WTO as an important, though painful, step towards making Chinese firms more efficient and competitive in the world market. In addition, the government hopes that liberalized trade rules will attract more foreign investment to China. It is expected that over the long run a more open market system would boost competition, improve productivity, and lower costs for consumers, as well as for firms using imported goods as inputs for production. Economic resources would be redirected towards more profitable ventures, especially those in China's growing private sector. As a result, China would likely experience more rapid economic growth than would occur under current economic policies. It is estimated that WTO membership would double China's trade and foreign investment levels by the year 2005 and raise real GDP growth by an additional 0.5 percent per year.

In the short run, due to increased foreign competition, widespread economic reforms (if implemented) could result in disruptions in certain industries, especially unprofitable SOEs. As a result, many firms would likely go bankrupt and many workers could lose their jobs. How the government handles these disruptions will greatly determine the extent and pace of future reforms. The central government appears to be counting on trade liberalization to boost foreign investment and spur overall economic growth; doing so would enable laid-off workers to be employed in higher growth sectors, especially in the growing private sector. However, the Chinese government is deeply concerned about maintaining social stability. If trade liberalization were followed by a severe economic slowdown, leading to widespread bankruptcies and layoffs, the central government might choose to halt certain economic reforms rather than risk possible political upheaval.

In February 1998 the officials announced their intentions to spend US$750 billion on infrastructure development over the next 3 years, although many analysts have questioned China's ability to obtain funding for such a massive financial undertaking in such a short period of time. It is likely that China intends to attract foreign investment for much of its infrastructure needs.

However, Chinese restrictions on ownership, profits, and operational control of major projects, China's demands for subsidized financing and sharing of technology, and uncertainties regarding obtaining approval from Chinese officials at the central and local levels have made foreign investors reluctant to invest in major Chinese infrastructure projects.


The central government has decided to accelerate the economic development in its west regions over the next few decades. China will build more highways in its western region, including 2 linking the heartland with the Tibet Autonomous Region, over the next 5 to 10 years. There are already 3 highways linking the inland areas with Tibet. China will also build another 14 main highways in the western region in the coming 10 years. China will have completed a modern highway network in the west by 2030. At the moment, roads in the western region are poor and insufficient. There are only 7.8 kilometers of highways per 100 square kilometers in the region, only half the national average. China has made the improvement of infrastructure the priority in its program to develop the vast western region. This development is expected to become one of the most dynamic forces in the country's economic growth.


The last 2 decades of rapid economic growth, urbanization, and industrialization have been accompanied by steady deterioration of the environment in China. The concentration of both air and water pollutants are among the highest in the world, causing damage to human health and lost agricultural productivity. Some major Chinese cities have particulate and sulfur levels from 2 to 5 times World Health Organization and Chinese standards. Soil erosion, deforestation, and damage to wetlands and grasslands have resulted in deterioration of the national ecosystems and pose a threat to future agricultural sustainability.

China has already taken some steps to reduce pollution and deforestation and has staved off an abrupt worsening of environmental conditions in general. A system of pollution control programs and institutional networks for environmental protection is being constructed at the national and local levels. As part of the recent government reorganization, China's environmental agency, the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), has been upgraded to full ministerial rank and its coverage expanded to include the "green" issues. For better urban and industrial pollution control, China has focused increasingly on river basin management, greater use of economic incentives, and increased use of public information campaigns. Issues of vehicle emissions in urban areas are being tackled through improved traffic management, public transport initiatives, changes in transport fees, and phasing out of leaded gas, which has already been implemented in the largest city centers. Coastal zone management has been introduced, and energy conservation efforts and the development of renewable sources of energy have been expanded.


China has no territories or colonies.


Cao Yuanzheng. "World Economic Restructuring and China's Economic Transformation." Paper Presented at 6th Meeting of the Trilateral Forum, Sponsored by Berkeley Roundtable on International Economy. Berkeley, California, 28-29 January 2000.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: China. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Financing Foreign Operation: China. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 1992.

Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States of America. <>. Accessed October 2001.

Han, Taejoon. "China: A Shared Poverty to Uneven Wealth?" The George Washington University. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Holmes, William D. "China's Financial Reforms in the Global Market." Paper presented at the Conference on Regulation of Capital Markets and Financial Services in the Pacific Rim, Washington. Georgetown University Law Center, 11-13 November 1996.

Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee. "Working Conditions in Chinese Factories Making Disney Products." Global Exchange. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Hu, Angang. "Employment and Deployment: China's Employment Problem and Employment Strategy." World Economy & China. Vol. 7, No. 1, January, 1999.

Khan, Azizur Rahman. "Issues in Development Discussion Paper 22: Poverty in China in the Period of Globalization: New Evidence on Trend and Pattern." International Labor Organization. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Lamble, Peter, and Robin Low. The Asia Pacific Insurance Handbook. Sydney, NWT: Coopers & Lybrand, 1995.

Liu Jintang, and Lin Fude. "Zero Growth: Long-Term Effect of China's Family Planning Program." <>. Accessed February 2001.

Liu Yingqiu. "Changes in China's Economic Growth Pattern and Domestic Demand Stimulation." World Economy & China. Vol. 7, No. 3-4, 5-6, 1999.

Maurice, Beryl. "Working Conditions in Chinese Factories Making Disney Products." Global Exchange. < eport.html>. Accessed February 2001.

Morrison, Wayne M. "IB98014: China's Economic Conditions." The National Council for Science and the Environment. <http://>. Accessed February 2001.

Rojas, Róbinson. "The Other Side of China Economic Miracle: Unemployment and Inequality." The Róbinson Rojas Archive. <>. Accessed February 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of the Treasury. National Treatment Study. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1994.

Robert Guang Tian

Camilla Hong Wang


Beijing (Peking).


Chinese Renminbi (in Chinese "Renminbi" means "People's Currency") Yuan (RMB). One yuan equals ten jiao; one jiao equals ten fen. Paper bills include 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 yuan; 1 jiao, 2 jiao, 5 jiao; 1 fen, 2 fen, 5 fen. There are coins of 1 yuan; 1 jiao, 2 jiao, 5 jiao; 1 fen, 2 fen, and 5 fen.


Crude oil, textile yarn, fabrics, chemicals, coal, soybeans, vegetable oil, rice, and small machinery.


Machinery, steel and other metals, wheat, chemicals, and fertilizers.


US$4.8 trillion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est).


Exports: US$194.9 billion (f.o.b., 1999). Imports: US$165.8 billion (c.i.f.,1999).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: People's Republic of China
Region (Map name): East & South Asia
Population: 1,273,111,290
Language(s): Standard Chinese or Mandarin, Yue, Minbei, Minnan, Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialect
Literacy rate: 81.5%
Area: 9,596,960 sq km
GDP: 1,079,948 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 816
Total Circulation: 50,000,000
Circulation per 1,000: 54
Number of Nondaily Newspapers: 1,344
Total Circulation: 138,000,000
Circulation per 1,000: 148
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 12,776 (Yuan Renminibi millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 32.50
Number of Television Stations: 3240
Number of Television Sets: 400,000,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 314.2
Number of Cable Subscribers: 77,138,750
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 61.1
Number of Radio Stations: 673
Number of Radio Receivers: 414,000,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 325.2
Number of Individuals with Computers: 20,600,000
Computers per 1,000: 16.2
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 22,500,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 17.7

Background & General Characteristics

As a monopolistic regime, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is committed to the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist emphasis on the central control of the press as a tool for public education, propaganda, and mass mobilization. The entire operation of China's modern media is based upon the foundation of "mass line" governing theory, developed by China's paramount head of state, Mao Zedong. Such a theory, upon which China's entire political structure hinges, provides for government of the masses by leaders of the Communist Party, who are not elected by the people and therefore are not responsible to the people, but to the Party. When the theory is applied to journalism, the press becomes the means for top-down communication, a tool used by the Party to "educate" the masses and mobilize public will towards socialist progress. Thus the mass media are not allowed to report any aspect of the internal policy-making process, especially debates within the Party. Because they report only the implementation and impact of resulting policies, there is no concept of the people's right to influence policies. In this way, the Chinese press has been described as the "mouth and tongue" of the Party. By the same token, the media also act as the Party's eyes and ears. Externally, where the media fail to adequately provide the public with detailed, useful information, internally, within the Party bureaucracy, the media play a crucial role of intelligence gathering and communicating sensitive information to the central leadership. Therefore, instead of serving as an objective information source, the Chinese press functions as Party-policy announcer, ideological instructor, intelligence collector, and bureaucratic supervisor.

China's modern media, which were entirely transplanted from the West, did not take off until the 1890s. Most of China's first newspapers were run by foreigners, particularly missionaries and businessmen. Progressive young Chinese students who were introduced to Western journalism while studying abroad also imported the principles of objective reporting from the West. Upon returning home, these students introduced the methods of running Western-style newspapers to China. The May Fourth Movement in 1919, the first wave of intellectual liberation, witnessed the publishing of Chinese books on reporting, as well as the emergence of the first financially and politically independent newspapers in China. However, the burgeoning Chinese media were suffocated by Nationalist censorship in the 1930s. Soon after the Kuomintang (KMT) gained control of China in 1927, it promulgated a media policy aimed at enforcing strict censorship and intimidating the press into adhering to KMT doctrine. But despite brutal enforcement measures, the KMT had no organized system to rein in press freedom, and when times were good, it was fairly tolerant toward the media. The KMT gave less weight to ideology than the CCP eventually would and therefore allowed greater journalistic freedom.

Chinese journalism under CCP leadership has gone through four phases of development. The first period started with the founding of New China in 1949 and ended in 1966, when the Cultural Revolution began. During those years, private ownership of newspapers was abolished, and the media was gradually turned into a party organ. Central manipulation of the media intensified during the utopian Great Leap Forward, wherein excessive emphasis on class position and the denunciation of objectivity produced distortions of reality. Millions of Chinese peasants starved to death partly as a result of media exaggeration of crop production.

During the second phase (1966-78), journalism in China suffered even greater damage. In the years of the Cultural Revolution, almost all newspapers ceased publication except 43 party organs. All provincial CCP newspapers attempted to emulate the "correct" page layout of the People's Daily and most copied, on a daily basis, the lead story, second story, number of columns used by each story, total number of articles, and even the size of the typeface. In secret and after the Cultural Revolution, the public characterized the news reporting during the Cultural Revolution as "jia (false), da (exaggerated), and kong (empty)."

The third phase began in December 1978, when the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party convened. Deng Xiaoping's open-door policy brought about nation-wide reforms that nurtured an unprecedented media boom. The top agenda of media reform included the crusade for freedom of press, the call for representing the people, the construction of journalism laws, and the emergence of independent newspapers. Cuts in state subsidies and the rise of advertising and other forms of financing pointed the way toward greater economic independence, which in turn promoted editorial autonomy.

The Tiananmen uprising in 1989 and its fallout marked the last phase. During the demonstrations, editors and journalists exerted a newly-found independence in reporting on events around them and joined in the public outcry for democracy and against official corruption, carrying banners reading "Don't believe uswe tell lies" while marching in demonstrations. The students' movement was suppressed by army tanks, and the political freedom of journalists also suffered a crippling setback. The central leadership accused the press of engaging in bourgeois activities such as reflecting mass opinion, maintaining surveillance on government, providing information, and covering entertainment. The once-hopeful discourse on journalism legislation and press freedom was immediately abolished. With the closing of the political door on media expansion, the post-Tiananmen era witnessed a dramatic turn towards economic incentives, allowing media commercialization to flourish while simultaneously restricting its freedom in political coverage. These developments produced "the mix of Party logic and market logic that is the defining feature of the Chinese news media system today" (Zhao 2).

The media expanded more rapidly after Mao's death than at any other time in Chinese history. As of October 1997, China had more than 27,000 newspapers and magazines. Chinese newspapers can be divided into several distinct categories. The first is the "jiguan bao" (organ papers). People's Daily and other provincial party newspapers are in this category. The second is the trade/professional newspapers, such as Wenhui Ribao (Wenhui Daily), Renmin Tiedaobao (People's Railroads), andZhongguo Shangbao (Chinese Business). The third is metropolitan organs (Dushibao), such as Beijing Qingnianbao (Beijing Youth Daily), Huaxi Dushibao (Western China Urban Daily), and other evening newspapers. The fourth is business publications, such as Chengdu Shang bao (Chengdu Business Daily) and Jingji Ribao (Economics Daily). The fifth is service papers; Shopping Guideand Better Commodity Shopping Guide are two examples. The sixth is digest papers, such as Wenzhaibao (News Digest), and finally, army papers: Jiefangjun Ribao (People's Liberation Army Dail) belongs to this category. Besides these types of formal newspapers, there are tabloids and weekend papers. The Chinese "jietou xiaobao" (small papers on the streets) are the equivalent of tabloids, which are synonymous with sensationalism in China. In addition to tabloids, major newspapers seeking a share of the human-interest market also created zhoumo ban (weekend editions). In 1981, Zhongguo Qingnianbao (China Youth News), the official organ of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League, published its first weekend edition in an attempt to increase readership. The paper was an instant success. By the end of 1994, one-fourth of all newspapers had weekend editions. Weekend editions sell well because they are usually more interesting than their daily editions, with more critical and analytical pieces on pressing social issues, as well as various entertainment components.

As of March 2000, China had 2,160 newspapers with a total annual circulation of 26 billion (Sun 369). However, these numbers are estimates because newspaper circulation is actually unknown in China. Except for several successful ones, most papers do not give real numbers thus discrepancies exist depending upon the source used. The numbers cited below can only be used as an indication of the general trends. Also, circulation does not necessarily reflect popularity or influence, due to mandatory subscription or larger populations in some areas. The following table lists the 10 largest newspapers with their circulations (Press Release Network, 2001).

  • Cankao Xiaoxi (Reference News) 9,000,000
  • Sichuan Ribao (Sichuan Dail) 8,000,000
  • Gongren Ribao (Workers Daily) 2,500,000
  • Renmin Ribao (People's Daily) 2,150,000
  • Xinmin Wanbao (Xinmin Evening News) 1,800,000
  • Wenhuibao (Wenhui Daily) 1,700,000
  • Yangcheng Wanbao (Yangcheng Evening News) 1,300,000
  • Jingji Ribao (Economic Daily) 1,200,000
  • Jiefang Ribao (People's Liberation Army Daily) 1,000,000
  • Nanfang Ribao (Nanfang Daily) 1,000,000
  • Nongmin Ribao (Farmer's Daily) 1,000,000
  • Zhongguo Qingnianbao (China Youth Daily) 1,000,000

The most popular newspaper appears to be Cankao Xiaoxi (Reference News), which is a collection of foreign wire service and newspaper reports in translation with a circulation of approximately 7 to 8 million. It contains international news, including commentary from media sources in Western countries, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. It gives a glimpse into behind-the-scenes domestic policy debates and factional struggles. Initially limited to cadres at or above the jiguan ganbu (agency level), it was as of 2002 available to the Chinese public.

In terms of influence, the next most important newspaper is People's Daily, whose huge circulation is benefited by the mandatory subscription of all Chinese working units. People's Daily runs five subsidiary newspapers, including its overseas edition, which is the official organ for propagating the Party line among the Chinese-reading public overseas. The other four editions include two editions covering economic news, a satire and humor tabloid, and an international news edition. Under Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms, Party and government media organs are no longer simple mouthpieces; they have become business conglomerates.

Beijing Youth News is one of the most influential newspapers among younger Chinese audiences. It began on March 21, 1949, as an official organ of the Beijing Communist Youth League. The paper has been able to make the most of opportunities created by reform and commercialization. Since the early 1980s, it has implemented a series of successful management reforms, refused to accept any "back door" job placements, pioneered the system of recruiting staff through open competition, and eliminated lifetime tenure. From 1994 to 2001, it changed from a daily broadsheet with eight pages to a daily broadsheet with 46 pages, including 14 pages of business information. Its circulation reached 400,000 in 2001, and its advertising income concurrently skyrocketed to 640 million in the same year. In the 1990s, the newspaper grew from a small weekly into a conglomerate that publishes four papers and runs 12 businesses in a wide range of areas.

As of 1997 there were 143 evening newspapers in China. Three of them have circulations of over 1 million. They are the Yangcheng Evening News, Yangzi Evening News, and Xinmin Evening News (China National Evening Newspaper Association). Local evening papers, usually general interest dailies, are among the best sellers. They are under the direct control of the municipal Party propaganda committee and with more soft news content closer to everyday urban life are aimed at urban families.

The huge gap between Chinese urban and rural areas in terms of living standards is reflected in the access to the media and information. Although the majority of the Chinese population are peasants (79%), Chinese media basically serve urban populations since they are more educated and enjoy greater consumption power. Because of high illiteracy rates and the rapid increase of radio and television sets among Chinese peasants, rural residents increasingly use television as their source of information rather than newspapers.

As of 2000, there were 14 English newspapers in China. They are perceived as reporting on China's problems with less propaganda. China Daily, published by thePeople's Daily, was the first English newspaper to appear in China. It serves as the CCP's official English organ, directed particularly at foreigners in China.

Nationwide, 6 percent of Chinese belong to 56 ethnic minority groups. Just as there are no privately owned newspapers in China, there is no minority-owned newspaper. The overwhelming majority of Chinese newspapers are published in the official Chinese language, Mandarin Chinese. But some government newspapers are published in minority languages, like Mongolian, Tibetan, and Uygur. Mongolian language newspapers are published in eight provinces and autonomous regions, including Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, etc. Tibet Daily, Tibet Youth DailyTibet Legal DailyTibet TV Broadcast Daily, Tibet Technology Daily are published in Tibet, in addition to a Chinese version of each. Similarly, some newspapers published in Xinjiang are also published in Uygur and Kazak. There is even a Uygur version of Reference News.

Between 1949 and 1990, almost all Chinese newspapers were distributed through the postal system. However, this changed when Luoyang Daily and Guangzhou Daily started their own distribution company in the late 1980s, followed by a host of other newspapers. As of the beginning of the twenty-first century, 800 newspapers among more than 2,000 distribute through their own networks. Others reach consumers through a variety of channels, such as post offices (both institutional and private subscription), street retail outlets, automatic newspaper dispensers, and occasionally, copies posted on public billboards. While institutional subscriptions provide newspapers to offices, street retail outlets are the major source of newspapers to private homes. In the office, reading free newspapers is considered legitimate political education as part of the job, but newspapers sold on the streets must compete not only among themselves but also with other commodities and for the urbanite's leisure time and cash.

Economic Framework

Because Chinese media have historically been under such strict control of the CCP, unsurprisingly, until the start of economic reform, almost every aspect of media operation was entirely subsidized by the state. Reform and opening gradually promoted financial independence so that at the end of 1992, one-third of the 1,750 registered newspapers were no longer reliant on state support. In 1994, the government began to implement plans to phase out virtually all newspaper subsidies, with the exception of a few central party organs. Several factors have made financial autonomy and commercialization an economic necessity for Chinese media. First, the opening up of China since the 1980s has created a growing demand by foreign and domestic enterprises for effective advertising channels. Second, Chinese governments at all levels have been relatively deprived since economic reform began, due to economic decentralization and the lack of effective tax laws. Finally, public demand for better media service also stimulated investment in new stations, in more newspapers, and in extended broadcasting hours.

Advertising is the most important form of commercialization in the new Chinese media. In 1992, the four major mediatelevision, newspapers, radio, and magazinesreceived RMB 4 billion in advertising income, or 64 percent of the total advertising revenue of RMB 6.78 billion. At the beginning of the twenty-first century there were 33 newspapers earning more than RMB 100 million from advertisement.

Commercial sponsorship of specific media content is another form of media commercialization. There are several ways of sponsoring news and information content. In the print media, a sponsor can put its stamp on news, photos, feature articles, and opinion pieces on every page by promoting some sort of competition, usually paying the paper for organizing the contest and providing the cash awards. Sponsors can also support regular newspaper columns or create special columns on chosen subjects under their own names. In the broadcast media, a common form of commercial sponsorship is joint production of feature and information programming. In these programs, government departments or businesses provide money and material while stations produce and broadcast the program.

The new dependence on advertising and sponsorship has had a significant impact on Chinese media. Rather than focusing on political topics, many newly established newspapers and broadcast channels are almost exclusively devoted to business and entertainment. Ratings systems also help advertisers target audiences more effectively. The commercialization of media has also caused the decline of national and provincial organs and the rise of metropolitan organs since the former have more responsibility to cover government policies and political issues while the latter can devote more space to issues of interest to the urban population.

Along with more financial freedom, commercialization has also brought journalistic corruption to China. Journalists, media officials, editorial departments, and the subsidiary businesses of the media often take advantage of their connections with news organizations to pursue their own financial gains. These range from relatively harmless exchanges such as paid travel and accommodations to encourage positive reporting about the news source, to crimes such as "paid journalism," in which journalists receive bribes for publishing promotional material disguised as news or features. Since the late 1980s, systemic journalistic corruption has developed rapidly, expanding from business clients to government clients, from an individual practice to a collective custom, and from small gifts to sizeable cash sums and negotiable securities. Studies comparing Chinese media over the past one hundred years to other Asian and Western media show that the particular connection between news and business in the Chinese media is unique. Chinese journalism corruption is a structural problem, rooted in the contradictions between the Party's ideology and the commercialized environment under which the modern press operates.

Press Laws

Article 35 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China (adopted on December 4, 1982) stipulates that "citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration." Although there has not been any law specifically ascribed as press law, many regulations and administrative orders have been issued to control publications and their distributions since 1949. In late 1994, the Propaganda Department's Six No's were circulated in top journalism and news media research institutions: no private media ownership, no shareholding of media organizations, no joint ventures with foreign companies, no discussion of the commodity nature of news, no discussion of a press law, and no openness for foreign satellite television. This kind of statement, by far the most important media policy statement made by the Party in the 1990s, illustrates the informal and reactive nature of media policy-making by the Chinese Communist Party.

The first step necessary for the Chinese government to control the media was a strict registration and licensing system. As stipulated by the 1990 Provisional Regulations on Newspaper Management, all applications for publishing newspapers must be approved by the State Press and Publications Administration (SPPA), the government's official media monitor. All newspapers must carry an official registration number. Moreover, with the exception of party organs, all must have an area of specialization and must have a "zhuguan bumen" (responsible department) that maintains leadership and control. Thus, even papers that are seemingly not related to the Party are actually controlled by ministries that are under Party control. This prevents the independent launching of a second general interest newspaper in an area to compete with the party organ. With the exception of party organs, all newspapers focus on specific subjects, like the economy, the legal system, health, education, or culture. They may also target specific audiences like intellectuals, workers, women, farmers, or youth. This focus effectively prevents newspapers from being independent civil institutions outside the Party/state apparatus.

Another powerful weapon that the CCP uses to check information flow is to classify an enormous range of information as "state secrets," including harmless information already in the public domain. The Notification on Forbidding Openly Citing Internal Publications of Xinhua News Agency (1998) states that "to maintain the secrecy of the internal publications concerns the Party's and national interests." It made it clear that news media are not allowed to cite any classified documents. This regulation has been conveniently used to imprison citizens who spread critical ideas and information outside of established channels.

Besides maintaining control of the media, the CCP authorities try to tackle the problem of journalistic corruption partly due to public pressure and partly due to concern for the party organ's reputation. A series of codes of ethics have been released since 1991. The first one was the Moral Code for Chinese Journalism Professionals, which emphasizes the principles of news objectivity and fairness. According to the code, journalists "should not publish any forms of 'paid journalism' should not put news and editorial spaces up for sale, nor accept nor extort money and gifts nor obtain private gain." It also pronounced that "journalism activities and business activities should be strictly separated. Reporters and editors should not engage in advertising and other business activities nor obtain private gain." In January of 2000, the "Chinese Newspaper Self-Discipline Agreement" was released, which stipulates that journalists must strictly follow all regulations and rules passed by the government and assume social responsibilities. Reporters should not "issue false numbers, make untruthful advertisement and groundless accusation, and mix news reporting with advertising activities." The Advertising Law of the People's Republic of China (February 1995) is yet another kind of code of ethics, calling for media institutions and journalists to adhere to the principle of truth, abide by the law and professional ethics, maintain honesty in performing their duties, and defend the reputation and image of the Chinese media. However, these codes of ethics are not binding at all. Enforcement of regulations is weak, often belated, and full of loopholes.

Since the 1980s reformist journalists, educators, and researchers have pushed for a press law that would safeguard journalists' professionalism beyond the vague "freedom of the press" provision in Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution. For different reasons, functionaries concerned with the news media's potential to hamper official business and harm reputations also pushed for such a law, hoping that it might restrain the press from excess zeal. The suppression of the 1989 Student Democracy Movement, however, killed all discussions on a press law. As of 2002, there was no sign that China would pass such a law.


Censorship defines the environment in which the Chinese press has operated since the late nineteenth century. The Communist Party, however, exerts the most rigorous and institutionalized forms of censorship in Chinese press history. Vertically, the CCP's Central Propaganda Department commands the propaganda departments of CCP committees at five government levels central, provincial, municipal, county, and township, as well as individual enterprises and institutions. Horizontally, it controls China's print and broadcast media, journals, books, television, movies, literature, arts, and cultural establishments.

As a matter of control, newspapers have a strict editing system. The Central Committee Secretariat inspects important manuscripts at the People's Daily and the provincial CCP secretary or the secretary in charge of supervising propaganda work inspects provincial newspaper articles. Shendu or shending (media monitoring) is usually performed by special teams of veteran Party ideologues. For editors and journalists, the danger of post-publication retribution is omnipresent. Punishment ranges from being forced to write self-criticism to imprisonment. Although pre-publication censorship is not prevalent, the threat of post-publication sanction results in fairly vigilant self-censorship.

However, China's news apparatus exhibits far more flexibility than a strictly totalitarian model would lead one to expect. In a nation as large and complex as China, authorities cannot hope bring every aspect of the media fully under control. Communication between the Party and the masses is subject to leaks, inference, and distortion. Press censorship cannot always achieve its purpose since the Chinese have learned the art of decoding newspaper messages over the years. For example, if some senior members of the Party are missing from the participants' list on an important CCP gathering, the public learns to interpret this as a sign of a factional struggle within the higher echelons of the CCP, and those missing names indicate a purge.

The fate of the Shijie Jingji Daobao (World Economic Herald) provides a case study of censorship in China. The Shanghai-based World Economic Herald was created in June 1980 as a result of Deng Xiaoping's economic-reform policies which allowed enterprises to start newspapers to promote the exchange of business information and to provide a means of advertising. In order to obtain relative freedom and autonomy in the newspaper's organization and to escape government control, Qin Benli, the founder of the World Economic Herald, established a board composed of prominent scholars and officials to formulate the Herald 's guidelines. He not only appointed some previous "rightists" but also recruited a group of talented young reporters and editors. The Herald had no government funding and started with RMB 20,000 of prepaid advertising money, but sound management led the paper to expand rapidly.

The principle of the paper was to serve as a "mouth-piece for the people" to promote reform and opening. Quickly, the newspaper became a yardstick for measuring the extent of political freedom in the country. In a sense, the paper was the harbinger of the 1989 Student Democracy Movement. Fearing the paper's growing political and financial autonomy, the government wanted to oust Qin Benli and take over the paper. Such efforts were twice defected by reformists at the top of the Party's hierarchy. But on April 24, 1989 the World Economic Herald published an article expressing sympathy for the former General Party Secretary, liberal Hu Yaobang, criticizing those who purged him in 1987. Two days later, Qin Benli was dismissed and the paper was taken over by the Shanghai Municipal Committee. Party officials in Shanghai announced that the World Economic Herald had never been an official newspaper and Qin had never received formal certification regarding his appointment.

State-Press Relations

Theoretically, Chinese citizens have the right to criticize the government. According to the 41st Article of the Constitution,

"Citizens of the People's Republic of China have the right to criticize and make suggestions regarding any state organ or functionary. Citizens have the right to make to relevant state organs complaints or charges against, or exposures of, any state organ or functionary for violation of the law or dereliction of duty, but fabrication or distortion of facts for purposes of libel or false incrimination is prohibited. The state organ concerned must deal with complaints, charges or exposures made by citizens in a responsible manner after ascertaining the facts. No one may suppress such complaints, charges and exposures or retaliate against the citizens making them. Citizens who have suffered losses as a result of infringement of their civic rights by any state organ or functionary have the right to compensation in accordance with the law."

This right is, however, by no means guaranteed. The Fifty-first Article indicates that national, societal, and collective interests cannot be damaged due to individuals' exercise of freedom and their rights. "Citizens of the People's Republic of China, in exercising their freedoms and rights, may not infringe upon the interests of the state, of society or of the collective, or upon the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens." The CCP General Party Secretary, Jiang Zemin (1997-2002), defines the relationship between the Party's leadership of the press and the people's rights in this way: "The news project of our country is a part of the cause of our Party. So in the press, we must adhere to the principles of keeping the Party's spirits, and maintaining a correct orientation for public opinion. It is not permitted to use so-called 'people's rights' to deny our Party's leadership over the news project." Thus, the Constitution leaves a significant loophole regarding citizens' right to criticize the government. Only the state can determine what national, societal, and collective interests are deemed important enough to override individual rights.

An apparatus for tightening administrative supervision of the press is the State Press and Publications Administration that was set up in January 1987. In addition to offices in charge of policies and regulations, copyrights, foreign affairs, newspaper, periodicals, books, distribution, audio-video, technology development, personnel, and planning and finance, it also governs about 20 publishing houses. It is a ministry-level agency with corresponding agencies at provincial and municipal levels. The Administration serves as the ideological police of every newspaper and magazine in China. It is also in charge of drafting and enforcing press laws, licensing publications, and monitoring texts. However, this agency is under the supervision of the Party's Propaganda Department and thus has no authority over central party newspapers, such as People's Daily and Guangming Daily.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

In both Nationalist and Communist China, foreign correspondents have never been provided information adequately by official sources. Foreign journalists must develop alternative sources, such as embassy personnel, the foreign community in China, and Chinese intellectuals, artists, and dissidents. Sometimes they even make an effort to meet officials under informal, off-the-record circumstances or to befriend the children of high-level officials. Foreign journalists must take extraordinary pains to protect their Chinese sources. In general, foreign correspondents are subjected to surveillance, including the monitoring of telephones and mail. Chinese staff, such as interpreters, drivers, cooks, and maids, are also instructed on their duty to keep an eye on foreign correspondents during their work.

After the Tiananmen student movement in 1989, three sets of regulations were announced for external reporters. The first two sets were for Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao reporters, issued respectively on September 16, 1989, and October 27, 1989. The third set, "Regulations Governing Foreign Reporters and Permanent Foreign News Apparatus," has been in effect since January 1990, and it delineates the procedure of accreditation and operation of foreign journalists in China. According to the regulations, the Information Department of the Foreign Ministry is in charge of foreign journalists. As for the accreditation process, any news organization must first register with its home government. The Chinese government then has the right to acknowledge or reject its status in China. Finally, foreign journalists must register with the Information Department in order to get "Foreign Correspondent Cards."

In 1991 the Chinese Foreign Ministry directed Chinese embassies abroad to impose stricter standards in screening foreign reporters' visa applications, including extensive background checks, and a review of the political content of each applicant's previous reporting. Chinese missions were held accountable for unfavorable stories by reporters that they cleared. The Chinese government also required special permission to visit areas of minorities.

Even in special economic zones, areas in which foreigners could expect a certain degree of leniency, control over communications has been tightened. In April of 1996, the government issued a 25-article regulation to centralize the distribution of business, economic, and financial news and data. It ordered foreign news providers and their subscribers to register with the state monopoly, Xinhua News Agency. Because business news items have become hot commodities, foreign news services such as Reuters and Dow Jones have developed networks worth tens of millions of dollars by selling up-to-minute stock market quotes and news to more than one thousand private and company clients in China. The regulations not only put strict curbs on foreign news services in reaping profits from this lucrative business but also allowed Xinhua to filter news that is "forbidden" or that "jeopardizes the national interest of China." The real-time information providers as well as news wire and online service providers are required to pay a certain amount of monitoring fees. Xinhua has the authority to decide how and at what price foreign-produced business news can be distributed.

According to Chinese law, no foreign capital can enter Chinese media. The only joint venture that is allowed by the Chinese government is the magazine, Jisuanji Shijie (Computer World), run by a Chinese and an American company. Although a Hong Kong company and a Swiss investor tried to invest in two Chinese newspapers secretly, they were soon discovered and forced to leave. Chinese sources indicated that the situation would remain the same even after China entered the World Trade Organization.

Overall, foreign reporting influence on China has been marginal. Reporters are restricted to urban areas and cannot communicate directly with peasants in the countryside or with industrial workers, partly due to language barriers and partly because of the Chinese government's restrictions. Common problems faced by foreign correspondents include isolation, being treated with distant respect, and being subjected to staged propagandistic events. Although foreign reporters of Chinese descent can be more resourceful and less recognizable in China than their non-Chinese counterparts, there is no evidence that they have been any more influential on China's development. So far, journalists, scholars, and government analysts have not penetrated central politics.

Nonetheless, external challenges to the Chinese media system have never been so strong since China started economic reforms in the 1980s. The news media of Hong Kong and Taiwan are increasingly influential with better economic integration and a common cultural background. Western media influences come in many technological forms, from short wave radio to satellite television to the Internet, and are driven by both political and commercial imperatives. More than 100 international media outlets have set up branch offices in China, including CNN, Reuters, Bloomberg, AP Dow Jones, Newsweek, FortuneNew York Times and many others. Therefore, morning news events in Beijing are likely to be picked up by international wire or TV networks in the afternoon and broadcast worldwide. Generally speaking, the foreign media in China go after political stories and sensitive, provocative issues such as Tibet, human rights and Taiwan's independence movement. And they tend to add a controversial touch or political twisteven in business reports.

Reprinted news dispatches of foreign journalists based in China have been widely perceived in China as more informative about internal developments than Chinese newspapers. Evidence shows that Western reporting on the Democracy Wall movement in 1978-1979 prompted Chinese authorities to halt the movement because the foreign media amplified the effect of the movement. Likewise, Western coverage of the 1983-1984 spiritual pollution campaign helped moderate the intensity of the campaign since the coverage raised foreign investors' concern over the Chinese investment environment.

In addition to international correspondents, foreign short wave radio has also become an important alternative source of news, particularly for intellectuals and university students. A 1990 survey found that 10.6 percent of the Beijing population frequently listened to nearly 20 foreign radio stations. As of 1993, some 27 outside broadcasters (including five in Taiwan) provided Chinese-language broadcasts, comprising a total of 185 channels. Influential foreign short wave stations, like the Voice of America (VOA) and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), have played a critical role in challenging the CCP's monopoly on information, especially with their reports about events in China during political upheavals such the Tiananmen movement.

Besides journalists and radio stations, direct satellite television broadcasting is also a threat to the CCP's monopolistic control of news and ideology. In addition to CNN and the BBC, more than twenty outside television channels broadcast by satellite to China, including both commercial and government-sponsored stations in such places as Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, France, Germany, and Russia. Although the Chinese government, out of fear of ideological influence from the West, generally forbids the reception of all external television, foreign satellite television has gained considerable inroads in China because the original business in satellite dish sales to business institutions quickly expanded to individual households: by late 1993, more than 11 million Chinese households had satellite dishes. The most wide-reaching outside television threat comes from Hong Kong-based Star TV offering MTV, sports, BBC World Service news (partially translated into Mandarin), family entertainment, and a channel of broadcasts in Mandarin, all on the air 24 hours a day. Star TV was originally controlled by the Hong Kong tycoon Li Jiacheng, who has many business interests in China and close ties with China's top leadership. But in July 1993, Li suddenly sold 64 percent of Star TV to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. This change of ownership from a friendly Hong Kong businessman to an international media tycoon further diminished the Chinese government's possibility of cutting off unwanted news. In late 1993, Star TV programs were seen in more than 30 million Chinese households.

Moreover, access to the Internet is expanding rapidly and the Party's Propaganda Department is again falling behind government departments that have technological and commercial interests in promoting it. China's first electronic mail message was sent through an international connection to a German mail gateway in September, 1987. Among the more than 190 national and regional computer networks registered in China in 1996 are two major academic networks, the China Education and Research Network (CERNET), and the China Academic Science Network (CASNET). These two networks link hundreds of Chinese universities and research institutions to the outside world. In addition, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications operates Chinanet, which began to provide commercial access to the Internet in May 1995. The Ministry of Electronic Industry is also installing an Internet service. By early 1996 about 100,000 people in China had logged onto the Internet. With the growing popularity of telephones and home computers, many more institutions and urban households will soon access the Internet, and the Propaganda Department will find it hard to restrict computer and telephone use without damaging the economy.

News Agencies

Xinhua News Agency enjoys a monopolistic position as the only CCP-mandated news agency in China. The Chinese Communist Party's news agency, the Red China News Agency, was established on November 7, 1931. Six years later, it was changed to New China (Xinhua) News Agency. The agency not only sent reports to the outside world but also used army radio to collect outside news, mainly dispatches of the Nationalist government's Central News Agency. These were edited and printed in Reference News, which was distributed to Party leaders. Xinhua's tradition of providing intelligence for high-level Party leaders continued as of 2002. By the end of the 1980s, Xinhua had become the largest news organization, with three major departments: domestic with bureaus in all provinces; international with more than 100 foreign bureaus; and the General Office with both domestic and international news editing bureaus, sports news bureau, photo editing bureau, news information center and Internet center. As of 2001, it puts out almost forty dailies, weeklies, and monthlies. Its important subsidiaries include Zhongguo Zhengquan Bao (China Security), a daily that specializes in business news and the stock market, and Xinhua Meiri Dianxun (Xinhua Daily Telegraph), a general interest daily that carries the agency's own news dispatches.

Although Xinhua belongs directly to the highest governmental body, the State Council, its daily operations rely heavily on instructions from various levels of the Party bureaucracy, from the Politburo to the central Propaganda Department. It has the largest and most articulated internal news system of any organization in China, which can be divided into three classes: secrecy, top secrecy, and absolute secrecy. It functions on a need-to-know basis. Those highest in the hierarchy get most fully briefed, while a stream trickles out to the lower level. The system creates a news privilege pyramid. The higher the privilege, the richer the news, the more comprehensive the secrets contained, and the more authoritative the ideas.

Broadcast Media

By the end of the 1980s, Central People's Broadcasting Station (CPBS) and China Central Television (CCTV) had monopolized the broadcast media. They are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Radio, Film, and Television, which serves as both a news organization and a broadcasting administrative bureaucracy. CPBS's 6:30 to 7:00 morning news and CCTV's 7:00 to 7:30 evening news are transmitted nationwide everyday, making them the most important news programs in the country.

The Central People's Broadcasting Station (CPBS) has established 34 stations nationwide and provides broadcasting and music programs to 34 countries. Popular programs include "Selections from News and Newspapers," "Local People's Broadcasting Stations' Programs," "Small Loudspeaker," "Reading and Appreciation," and "Hygiene and Health." Besides CPBS, every province has at least one radio station under the provincial government, with at least two different channels providing general interest, as well as original programming in specialized areas such as music and business news.

Radio Beijing is the only national station that broadcasts to the world. From 1947 to 1949 all its broadcasts were in English. Then Japanese language programming was added. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, it used 43 languages to broadcast to most countries in the world. After 1984, it opened programs to foreigners in Beijing, and twelve provinces followed suit. It provided programs to more than 20 countries (Zhongguo xinwen chuban dadian 619).

CCTV, the country's most powerful and influential station, went on the air in 1958. As a state-owned and party-controlled instrument of propaganda, television had limited penetration prior to the 1980s and thus figured insignificantly compared with newspapers and radios before the reform period. However, due partly to a more open political atmosphere and an emerging market economy, and partly to the Chinese Communist Party's intent to use television as an effective means for political and cultural propaganda, television programs became increasingly interesting and more relevant to Chinese daily life. This development resulted in an expansion of television stations, a growth of television-set ownership, and the emergence of an extensive cooperative relationship among stations, commercial financing institutions, and government agencies. CCTV now has 12 channels, including news, social economy and education, entertainment, film, opera, agricultural news, and western China development. CCTV has established relations with more than 120 stations within about 80 countries. As local stations strengthened their capacity for newsgathering and also for producing entertainment fare, they began to be a major program source for CCTV. In 1981, CCTV aired a total of 4,186 news stories; 44 percent of them were furnished by local stations. Of the 118 television dramas that CCTV broadcasted, 81 percent came from local stations.

With the introduction of cable in the mid-1980s, many municipalities and counties, as well as large government units and businesses with their own residential areas for employees, established local cable networks. Because cable stations charge monthly fees, they do not need government investment. As a result, they have developed at an explosive rate and have become highly decentralized. As of the first half of 1993, there were more than 2 thousand cable networks in the country reaching into 20 million households. Approximately 800 were full-scale cable stations, broadcasting videos or self-produced programming. Two hundred of these were run by large-scale state-owned business enterprises. At the end of 1995, the number of full-scale cable stations had reached 1,200, with an estimated audience of 200 million.

CCTV commenced international newscasts on April 1, 1980. The reception from foreign television news services, such as Visnews (Britain) and UPI Television News Service (The United States), broadened CCTV's world news coverage. China also joined Asiavision, a television consortium among Asian countries, and exchanged news with the African Broadcasting Union and World Television Network.

Electronic News Media

The Internet age undoubtedly poses major challenges to the Chinese propaganda authorities. With the advent of the Internet, an unlimited audience can access information. There is no need for licenses to launch electronic publications. The Internet has opened a system of two-way communication, which is the opposite of China's longstanding indoctrination-oriented propaganda system. The advent of chat rooms via Internet technology has provided the Chinese people with a channel for the free flow of information and opportunities for participants to speak their minds.

By 2000, China had 10 million Internet users. About 18 percent of households in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhou enjoy net access. Twenty-seven percent of China's Internet users chatted on AOL's messaging service. China now has 3,000-odd enterprises engaged in Internet-related and other value-added endeavors. As of June 2001 almost 1,000 Chinese newspapersnearly halfwere on online. Some well-known Internet press sites included People's Web, established by People's Daily in 1997 and one of the biggest Chinese news web. By providing easy access to a wide range of business information, photos and syndicated cartoons, has grown into an influential provider of information for people in and outside China. It was the only English-language newspaper Web site that made it into the country's top 10 news portal list. It was recommended by America Online as one of the global leading news websites. Another influential press site is the Qian Long Xin Wen Wang (Thousand Dragon Newsnet), which was formed by nine press institutions in Beijing on March 17, 2000. Its aim is to become the biggest newsnet for Chinese worldwide. A third popular newsnet is Saidi Wang (Saidi Net). It was started by eight information technology institutions in March of 2000. In the south, almost at the same time, Shanghai Liberation Daily, Wenhui-Xinmin Joint Newspaper Group, Dong Fang Radio Station and Dong Fang TV Station started to discuss the formation of Shanghai Dong Fang Net. Both Thousand Dragon Newsnet and Shanghai Dong Fang Net are based on joint efforts between the printed media and the broadcast media.

The Chinese government has issued a number of rules and regulations to control the content of the Internet. Regulations issued in January 2000, for example, stated that media must obtain a qualification certificate to disseminate information online. It also ruled that Internet users charged with violating China's strict security laws could face sentences of up to life in prison. In November 2000, Beijing issued "Temporary Regulations on Internet News Business Management," which stipulated that electronic news media have the right to report news while Internet business sites can only repeat news items that are reported by the news media.

At least seven people have been arrested for Internet-related journalism in China, and more arrests are likely. Lin Hai, the first person in China sentenced in connection with the Internet, was arrested due to his supply of 30,000 e-mail addresses to an overseas electronic newsletter. Huang Qi's website "" grew out of an electronic billboard for missing persons and developed into a discussion forum where people reported human rights abuses that were neglected by the official Chinese press. He was detained by the public security department in Chengdu, Sichuan in June 2000.

About twenty provinces were creating Internet "police" forces, according to Xinhua, with the task of "maintaining order" on the Internet. Meanwhile, criminal statutes were revised to allow for the prosecution of online subversion, limiting direct foreign investment in Internet companies and requiring companies to register with the information that might harm unification of the country, endanger national security, or subvert the government. Promoting "evil cults" (an obvious reference to Beijing's campaign against Falun Gong) was similarly banned, along with anything that "disturbs social order." The regulations also covered chat rooms, a popular feature of many Chinese sites, where the anonymity of cyberspace fosters discussion of democracy and the shortcomings of the ruling elite. Under the new rules, all service providers had to monitor content in the rooms and restrict controversial topics.

The explosion of electronic news media also creates copyright issues in China. In China's first Internet copyright lawsuit, a Beijing court ordered an Internet company to compensate six prominent writers for publishing their work without consent. The court ruled Century Internet Communications Technology Co. had violated copyright laws by putting the works on Beijing Online's Web site at The six writers sued the company in July 1999. They include Wang Meng, appointed culture minister in the 1980s but fired months after China's 1989 crackdown on dissent, Zhang Chengzhi, Bi Shumin, Liu Zhenyun, Zhang Jie and Zhang Kangkang. The Internet is becoming the latest battleground for press freedom in China. While the Chinese authorities intend to turn the Internet into nothing more than a vehicle for e-commerce and state-controlled information, Western enthusiasts are hopeful about the Internet as a powerful tool in political reform.

Education & TRAINING

Journalism is becoming an increasingly popular subject among Chinese youth. As of April of 2002, journalism studies were offered in 232 colleges and universities in China. The most popular subjects are TV-broadcast editing and news anchoring. The journalism departments at Beijing University, Wuhan University, and People's University are the most prominent in the country. Beijing University, which opened the first journalism course in China over 80 years ago, re-opened its School of Journalism and Communication in 2001. The new school consists of three departments and one institute. They are the Journalism Department, the Communication Department, the New-Media and Internet-Communication Department, and the Institute of Information and Communication Research. The curriculum and research fields cover journalism, communication, international communication, advertising, editing and publishing, Internet communication, and inter-cultural communication.

The Journalism Department of Wuhan University was founded in 1983. It became the College of Journalism and Communication in 1995. The college has six departments: Journalism, Broadcast Television, Advertisement, Print Communication, Packaging Design, and Internet and Communication. It also offers graduate journalism degrees.

The Journalism Department in People's University was established in 1955, and it became the School of Journalism in 1988. It is one of the two programs that offer Ph.D. degrees nationwide, and the only key subject under the State Education Commission. The department also publishes two magazines, Journalism Studies and International News Media.

In 1980 many young journalists started to take English-language journalism courses from foreigners who began teaching Western journalistic norms in several schools in Beijing and Shanghai. Chinese-language journalism departments, such as those at People's University and Sichuan University in Chengdu, also began expanding their curriculum and embracing the ideal of objectivity, using the American media as an example to be emulated.

However, compared to other subjects of study, journalism is still one of the most guarded. All journalism students are required to take political indoctrination courses on works by Marx, Lenin, and Mao on journalism, and Deng's ideas about the socialist market economy. Reporters and editors nationwide are being forced to attend refresher courses on the role of the media in China's Communist society. Also, anyone who wants to work for a government agency such as Xinhua must become a member of the Communist Party first.

There are four major journalistic organizations in China, and they are all government organizations. The All-China Journalists Association is the first professional organization for Chinese reporters. The organization has a domestic department and foreign affairs department. The former is responsible for training reporters, organizing newsgathering, and sponsoring discussions. The latter is in charge of exchanging programs with foreign journalists and holding press conferences.

China Radio and Television Society was founded in 1986. There are 36 subdivisions, seven offices and seven research committees nationwide. Its objectives are organizing members' research activities to improve the quality of broadcasting and TV programs, giving policy advice, organizing conferences, publishing society's reports, documents, and research results. China Newspaper Publishers' Association (CNPA), founded in 1988, is under the Press and Publication Administration, and affiliated with the People's Daily. It publishes a monthly magazine, Newspaper Management. Membership has reached more than 1,000.

Chinese Publishers Association was created in December, 1979. Besides ordinary functions assumed by other professional organizations, such as assisting government propaganda nationwide and promoting cultural exchanges with foreign counterparts, organizing academic activities is one of its major functions. It issues Taofen Prize, named after a famous Chinese journalist and writer, every two years. It also publishes China Publication Yearbook.


China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 undoubtedly brought changes to Chinese media and publication businesses. According to the State Press and Publication Administration, within one year after joining WTO, China would probably allow foreign media to set up joint book and newspaper retail stores in five special economic zones and eight cities. Mergers would also become increasingly prevalent in China's WTO era. Media conglomerates emerged in the mid-1990s at provincial level and in major cities. These newspaper giants published books, magazines, audio-video materials and newspapers, and they run radio, TV stations, and Internet sites. As of the beginning of 2000, there were 15 media giants in China. The two reasons for the merger fever are media heads' frequent visits to their counterparts in Western countries and the desire to combat increasingly intense competition on China's media market. In January, 1996, the Press and Publication Administration approved the creation of China's first newspaper group, Guangzhou Daily Newspaper Group, the richest Chinese newspaper at the time. By 1998, it had increased to ten newspapers and one magazine with a circulation of 920,000. The advertising income reached 1.5 billion. Based on the successful operations of Guangzhou Daily Newspaper Group, Beijing approved two other newspaper conglomerates in Guangzhou in May of 1998: Nanfang Daily Newspaper Group and Yangcheng Evening Newspaper Group. Guangming Daily and Economic Daily are the first two newspapers in Beijing that formed newspaper conglomerates. Some of the newspaper groups are now trying to enter the stock market overseas to obtain more funds for expansion. It is predicted that by 2010 China will develop 20-30 more newspaper conglomerates (Sun 327).

The goals that the Press and Publication Administration set for Chinese press to achieve in the first decade of the twenty-first century are:

  • double the publication volume of both newspaper and audio-video material
  • build 5-10 publishing groups with an income between RMB 1 billion and 10 billion and 20-30 of about RMB 1 billion
  • advertising income will make up 80% of total income of newspaper companies
  • promote newspaper retail by developing newspaper dispensers

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, in order to win press reform, undertake investigative journalism, and truly function as their society's watchdogs, Chinese media still have a long way to go. Since the start of reforms, the Chinese news media have been in the paradoxical situation of at once being changed and remaining the same. Economic reforms and an open-door policy introduced market logic into the party-controlled news media system. But the discourse on media democratization that emerged was suppressed in the crackdown on the democracy movement in 1989. Ironically, this promoted media liberalization by forcing the Chinese press to turn to market forces in a vacuum of political freedom. These developments produced the mix of party logic and market logic, forging the tension, contradiction, and uncertainty that is the unique hallmark of the Chinese media system.

Significant Dates

  • October 1997: The first English Edition Chinese newspaper, China Daily, Hong Kong Edition, is issued (Zhongguo Chuban Nianqian (China Publication Yearbook), 1999. Chinese Publication Yearbook (ed.), 1999: 41).
  • June 1998: The "three fixes" are implemented to streamline the administrative structure of the press. The three fixes mandate: "fix the number of employees, fix the workload and fix the post."
  • August 2000: China's first TV station, Sun TV, starts its program in Hong Kong.
  • January 2001: Shanghai begins China's first digital TV program. Other cities, such as Shenzhen, Qingdao, and Hangzhou, follow suit quickly.
  • December 2001: The largest Chinese media, China Broadcasting and Television Group, is created in Beijing.
  • December 2001: China Human Rights Web site ( goes online. A project of the China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS), it is the official Chinese human rights Web site, with reports of current human rights conditions, government documents and White Papers, relevant laws and regulations, and links to various state organizations, NGOs, and academic institutions.
  • January 2002: China's Ministry of Radio, Film and Television and American Time and Warner start broadcasting 24 hours daily CCTV English news (CCTV, Channel 9) in New York, Houston, and San Francisco. In return, China allows Time Warner's Mandarin programs (ETV) to broadcast in southeast China. This is the first foreign TV program to be shown in China.


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Ting Ni

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China, Mandarin Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo [central glorious people's united country; i.e., people's republic], officially People's Republic of China, country (2010 pop. 1,339,724,852), 3,691,502 sq mi (9,561,000 sq km), E Asia. The most populous country in the world, China has a 4,000-mi (6,400-km) coast that fronts on the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea. It is elsewhere bounded on the east by Russia and North Korea, on the north by Russia and Mongolia, on the west by Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and on the south by India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. China's capital is Beijing; Shanghai is its largest city.

See also the entries on Chinese architecture, Chinese art, Chinese literature, and Chinese music for aspects of Chinese culture that are not treated in this article.


China may be divided into the following geographic regions: the 12,000-ft-high (3,660-m) Tibetan plateau, bounded in the N by the Kunlun mountain system; the Tarim and Dzungarian basins of Xinjiang, separated by the Tian Shan; the vast Inner Mongolian tableland; the eastern highlands and central plain of Manchuria; and what has been traditionally called China proper. This last region, which contains some four fifths of the country's population, falls into three divisions. North China, which coincides with the Huang He (Yellow River) basin and is bounded in the S by the Qingling Mts., includes the loess plateau of the northwest, the N China plain, and the mountains of the Shandong peninsula. Central China, watered by the Chang (Yangtze) River, includes the basin of Sichuan, the central Chang lowlands, and the Chang delta. South China includes the plateau of Yunnan and Guizhou and the valleys of the Xi and Pearl rivers.

To the extent that a general statement about the climate of such a large country can be made, China may be described as wet in the summer and dry in the winter. Regional differences are found in the highlands of Tibet, the desert and steppes of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, and in China proper. There the Qingling Mts. are the major dividing range not only between semiarid N China and the more humid central and S China but also between the grain-growing economy of the north and the rice economy of the south.

China comprises 22 provinces (Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Gansu, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang, and, in the northeast (Manchuria), Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning), five autonomous regions (Tibet, the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region), and four government-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin). The country officially divides itself into 23 provinces, numbering Taiwan as its 23d. Hong Kong became a special administrative region of China in 1997, and Macao achieved this status in 1999.


The Han Chinese (so called for the Han dynasty) make up approximately 92% of the total population. They are linguistically homogeneous in the north, where they speak Mandarin (the basis of the national language, known as putonghua, of China), while in the south Cantonese, Wu, Hakka, and many other dialects are spoken (some 108 dialects are spoken in Fujian prov. alone). Putonghua is spoken as a first or second language by roughly half of the population. The written language is universal; Chinese ideographs are common to all the dialects.

Non-Chinese groups represent only about 8% of the population, but the interior regions in which they live constitute more than half of the total area of the country. Among the main non-Chinese minorities are the Zhuang, a Thai-speaking group, found principally in Guangxi; the Hui (Muslims), found chiefly in Ningxia; the Uigurs, who live mainly in Xinjiang; the Yi (Lolo), who live on the borders of Sichuan and Yunnan; the Tibetans, concentrated in Tibet and Qinghai; the Miao, widely distributed throughout the mountainous areas of S China; the Mongols, found chiefly in the Mongolian steppes; and the Koreans, who are concentrated in Manchuria.

The constitution of the People's Republic of China provides for religious freedom, but religious practice is not encouraged. Traditionally, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and ancestor worship were practiced in an eclectic mixture with varying appeals, and these religions have experienced a revival. Islam, the largest monotheistic sect, is found chiefly in the northwest. There is also a small but growing Christian minority. In recent years there have been some well-publicized confrontations between the Chinese government and religious groups. Places of worship for unregistered Christian churches and traditional sects have at times been destroyed, leaders of such groups have been sentenced to death on apparently trumped-up charges, and orthodox Islamic practices have been discouraged or suppressed out of fear that they would be a focus for Muslim-minority separatists. In 1999 the government banned the Falun Gong (Buddhist Law), a spiritual group with broad appeal that has organized public protests, and began an ongoing campaign to eradicate the religion. There also have been a number of attempts to assert government control over Tibetan Buddhism.

After the 1950s there was a steady migration of Chinese to growing industrial areas in outlying regions such as Xinjiang, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Qinghai, which at times has resulted in ethnic tensions and violence. In addition, there has been increased movement to urban areas since the late 1970s; urban dwellers outnumbered rural ones for the first time in 2011. Millions of workers who migrated from rural areas since the late 1990s were unable to obtain permanent jobs or government services in the cities because of the restrictions of the residency registration system, often called hukou. In 2001, under pressure from businesses, the government announced a gradual reform of the hukou system, but most aspects of it remain in place.


China has experienced tremendous economic growth since the late 1970s. In large part as a result of economic liberalization policies, the gross domestic product (GDP) increased tenfold between 1978 and 2006, and foreign investment soared during the 1990s. In 2007 China passed Germany to become the world's third-largest economy, and in 2010 it passed Japan to become the second-largest. These gains obscure, however, the fact that per capita wealth is still significantly less than that of many smaller economies. China's challenge in the early 21st cent. will be to balance its largely centralized political system with an increasingly decentralized economic system and increase domestic consumption to diminish its economy's great dependence on exports for growth.

Agriculture is by far the leading occupation, involving almost 50% of the population, although extensive rough, high terrain and large arid areas—especially in the west and north—limit cultivation to only about 15% of the land surface. Since the late 1970s, China has decollectivized agriculture, yielding tremendous gains in production. Even with these improvements, agriculture accounts for only 12% of the nation's GDP. Despite initial gains in farmers' incomes in the early 1980s, taxes and fees have increasingly made farming an unprofitable occupation, and because the state owns all land, farmers have at times been easily evicted when croplands are sought by developers. Additional land reforms adopted in 2008 allow farmers to transfer land use rights.

Except for the oasis farming in Xinjiang and Qinghai, some irrigated areas in Inner Mongolia and Gansu, and sheltered valleys in Tibet, agricultural production is restricted to the east. China is the world's largest producer of rice and wheat and a major producer of potatoes, corn, peanuts, millet, barley, apples, sweet potatoes, sorghum, and soybeans. In terms of cash crops, China ranks first in cotton and tobacco and is an important producer of tea, oilseeds, silk, ramie, jute, hemp, sugarcane, and sugar beets.

Livestock raising on a large scale is confined to the border regions and provinces in the north and west; it is mainly of the nomadic pastoral type. China ranks first in world production of red meat (including beef, veal, mutton, lamb, and pork). Sheep, cattle, and goats are the most common types of livestock. Horses, donkeys, and mules are work animals in the north, while oxen and water buffalo are used for plowing chiefly in the south. Hogs and poultry are widely raised in China, furnishing important export staples, such as leather and egg products. Fish, chicken, and pork supply most of the animal protein in the Chinese diet. Due to improved technology, the fishing industry has grown considerably since the late 1970s.

China is one of the world's major mineral-producing countries. Coal is the most abundant mineral (China ranks first in coal production). High-quality, easily mined coal is found throughout the country, but especially in the north and northeast; China nonetheless also imports a significant amount of coal to satisfy its energy needs. There are also extensive iron-ore deposits; the largest mines are at Anshan and Benxi, in Liaoning province. Oil fields discovered in the 1960s and after made China a net exporter, and by the early 1990s, China was the world's fifth-ranked oil producer. Growing domestic demand beginning in the mid-1990s, however, has forced the nation to import increasing quantities of petroleum. Offshore exploration has become important to meeting domestic needs; massive deposits off the coasts are believed to exceed all the world's known oil reserves.

China's leading export minerals are tungsten, antimony, tin, magnesium, molybdenum, mercury, manganese, barite, and salt. China is among the world's four top producers of antimony, magnesium, tin, tungsten, and zinc, and ranks second (after the United States) in the production of salt, sixth in gold, and eighth in lead ore. There are large deposits of uranium in the northwest, especially in Xinjiang; there are also mines in Jiangxi and Guangdong provs. Alumina is found in many parts of the country; China is one of world's largest producers of aluminum. There are also deposits of vanadium, magnetite, copper, fluorite, nickel, asbestos, phosphate rock, pyrite, and sulfur.

Coal is the single most important energy source; coal-fired thermal electric generators provide over 70% of the country's electric power. China also has extensive hydroelectric energy potential, notably in Yunnan, W Sichuan, and E Tibet; the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest concrete structure and largest hydroelectric station, is on the lower Chang (Yangtze) River.

Beginning in the late 1970s, changes in economic policy, including decentralization of control and the creation of "special economic zones" to attract foreign investment, led to considerable industrial growth, especially in light industries that produce consumer goods. In the 1990s a program of shareholding and greater market orientation went into effect. State enterprises continue to dominate many key or strategic industries in China's "socialist market economy," such as banking, oil, and telecommunications. In addition, implementation of some reforms was stalled by fears of social dislocation and by political opposition, but by 2007 economic changes had become so great that the Communist party added legal protection for private property rights (while preserving state ownership of all land) and passed a labor law designed to improve the protection of workers' rights (the law was passed amid a series of police raids that freed workers engaged in forced labor). The continuance of one-party rule, however, has made corruption a significant economic problem, both within the government and within state-owned corporations. China's exploitation of its high-sulfur coal resources has resulted in significant air pollution, and sewage, fertilizer runoff, and chemical releases and spills have led to significant water pollution. Major industrial products are textiles, chemicals, fertilizers, machinery (especially for agriculture), armaments, processed foods, iron and steel, building materials, plastics, toys, electronics, telecommunications equipment, automobiles, rail cars and locomotives, ships, aircraft, commercial space launch vehicles, and satellites.

Before 1945, heavy industry was concentrated in the northeast (Manchuria), but important centers were subsequently established in other parts of the country, notably in Shanghai and Wuhan. After the 1960s, the emphasis was on regional self-sufficiency, and many factories sprang up in rural areas. The iron and steel industry is organized around several major centers (including Anshan, one of the world's largest), but many smaller iron and steel plants also have been established throughout the country. Brick, tile, cement, and food-processing plants are found in almost every province. Shanghai and Guangzhou are the traditionally great textile centers, but many new mills have been built, concentrated mostly in the cotton-growing provinces of N China and along the Chang (Yangtze) River.

Coastal cities, especially in the southeast, have benefited greatly from China's increasingly open trade policies. Most of China's large cities, e.g. Shanghai, Tianjin, and Guangzhou, are also the country's main ports. Other leading ports are rail termini, such as Lüshun (formerly Port Arthur, the port of Dalian), on the South Manchuria RR; and Qingdao, on the line from Jinan. In the northeast (Manchuria) are large cities and rail centers, notably Shenyang (Mukden), Harbin, and Changchun. Great inland cities include Beijing and the river ports of Nanjing, Chongqing, and Wuhan. Taiyuan and Xi'an are important centers in the less populated interior, and Lanzhou is the key communications junction of the vast northwest. Although a British crown colony until its return to Chinese control in 1997, Hong Kong has long been a major maritime outlet of S China.

Rivers and canals (notably the Grand Canal, which connects the Huang He [Yellow] and Chang [Yangtze] rivers) remain important transportation arteries. Since the 1980s China has undertaken a major highway and paved road construction program, and more recently it has invested significantly in constructing high-speed rail lines; it now has the most extensive high-speed rail system in the world. The much of the nation, but especially the east, is now well served by railroads and highways, and there are major rail and road links with the interior. There are railroads to North Korea, Russia, Mongolia, and Vietnam, and road connections to Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Myanmar. In addition, pipelines connect China with the oil- and natural-gas-producing nations of Central Asia, where China has displaced Russia as the major foreign economic power. As part of its continuing effort to become competitive in the global marketplace, China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. The nation became the world's largest exporter of manufactured goods in 2009; its major trade partners are the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan. China's economy, though strengthened by more liberal economic policies since the 1980s, continues to have some inadequacies in transportation, communication, and energy resources.


China is a one-party state, with real power lying with the Chinese Communist party. The country is governed under the constitution of 1982 as amended, the fifth constitution since the accession of the Communists in 1949. The unicameral legislature is the National People's Congress (NPC), consisting of deputies who are indirectly elected to terms of five years. The NPC decides on national economic strategy, elects or removes high officeholders, and can change China's constitution; it normally follows the directives of the Communist party's politburo. The executive branch consists of the president, who is head of state, and the premier, who is head of government. The president is elected by the NPC for a five-year term and and is eligible for reelection. The premier is nominated by the president and approved by the NPC. Administratively, the country is divided into 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities. Despite the concentration of power in the Communist party, the central government's control over the provinces and local governments is limited, and they are often able to act with relative impunity in many areas.

China began to build a modern legal system in the late 1970s, after opening itself economically to the rest of the world. Since then it has developed legal codes in the areas of criminal, civil, administrative, and commercial law. The legal system is not independent of the government, however, a problem that is especially acute on the local level, where corrupt officials manipulate the process to protect themselves and limit citizens' rights.


Origins and Early History

The stone tools and fossils of Homo erectus found in N and central China are the earliest discovered protohuman remains in NE Asia; some of the tools date to more than 1.3 million years ago. About 20,000 years ago, after the last glacial period, modern humans appeared in the Ordos desert region. The subsequent culture shows marked similarity to that of the higher civilizations of Mesopotamia, and some scholars argue a Western origin for Chinese civilization. However, since the 2d millennium BC a unique and fairly uniform culture has spread over almost all of China. The substantial linguistic and ethnological diversity of the south and the far west result from their having been infrequently under the control of central government.

China's history is traditionally viewed as a continuous development with certain repetitive tendencies, as described in the following general pattern: The area under political control tends to expand from the eastern Huang He and Chang (Yangtze) basins, the heart of Chinese culture, and then, under outside military pressure, to shrink back. Conquering barbarians from the north and the west supplant native dynasties, take over Chinese culture, lose their vigor, and are expelled in a surge of national feeling. Following a disordered and anarchic period a new dynasty may arise. Its predecessor, by engaging in excessive warfare, tolerating corruption, and failing to keep up public works, has forfeited the right to rule—in the traditional view, the dynasty has lost "the mandate of Heaven." The administrators change, central authority is reestablished, public works constructed, taxation modified and equalized, and land redistributed. After a prosperous period disintegration reappears, inviting barbarian intervention or native revolt.

Although traditionally supposed to have been preceded by the semilegendary Hsia dynasty, the Shang dynasty (c.1523–1027 BC) is the first in documented Chinese history (see the table entitled Chinese Dynasties). During the succeeding, often turbulent, Chou dynasty (c.1027–256 BC), Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Mencius lived, and the literature that until recently formed the basis of Chinese education was written. The use of iron was the main material advance. The semibarbarous Ch'in dynasty (221–206 BC) first established the centralized imperial system that was to govern China during stable periods. The Great Wall was begun in this period. The native Han dynasty period (202 BC–AD 220), traditionally deemed China's imperial age, is notable for long peaceable rule, expansionist policies, and great artistic achievement.

The Three Kingdoms period (AD 220–65) opened four centuries of warfare among petty states and of invasions of the north by the barbarian Hsiung-nu. In this inauspicious time China experienced rapid cultural development. Buddhism, which had earlier entered from India, and Taoism, a native cult, grew and seriously endangered Confucianism. Indian advances in medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and architecture were adopted. Art, particularly figure painting and decoration of Buddhist grottoes, flourished. Feudalism partly revived under the Tsin dynasty (265–420) with the decay of central authority.

Under the Sui (581–618) and the T'ang (618–907) a vast domain, much of which had first been assimilated to Chinese culture in the preceding period, was unified. The civil service examination system based on the Chinese classics and a renaissance of Confucianism were important developments of this brilliant era. Its fresh and vigorous poetry is especially noted. The end of the T'ang was marked by a withdrawal from conquered border regions to the center of Chinese culture.

The period of the Five Dynasties and the Ten Kingdoms (907–60), which was a time of chaotic social change, was followed by the Sung dynasty (960–1279), a time of scholarly studies and artistic progress, marked by authentication of the Confucian literary canon and the improvement of printing techniques through the invention of movable type. The poetry of the Sung period was derivative, but a new popular literary form, the novel, appeared at that time. Neo-Confucianism developed systematically. Gunpowder was first used for military purposes in this period.

While the Sung ruled central China, barbarians—the Khitai, the Jurchen, and the Tangut—created northern empires that were swept away by the Mongols under Jenghiz Khan. His grandson Kublai Khan, founder of the Yüan dynasty (1271–1368), retained Chinese institutions. The great realm of Kublai was described in all its richness by one of the most celebrated of all travelers, Marco Polo. Improved roads and canals were the dynasty's main contributions to China.

The Ming dynasty (1368–1644) set out to restore Chinese culture by a study of Sung life. Its initial territorial expansion was largely lost by the early 15th cent. European trade and European infiltration began with Portuguese settlement of Macao in 1557 but immediately ran into official Chinese antiforeign policy. Meanwhile the Manchu peoples advanced steadily south in the 16th and the 17th cent. and ended with complete conquest of China by 1644 and with establishment of the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty (1644–1912). Under emperors K'ang-hsi (reigned 1662–1722) and Ch'ien-lung (reigned 1735–96), China was perhaps at its greatest territorial extent.

Foreign Intervention in China

The Ch'ing opposition to foreign trade, at first even more severe than that of the Ming, relaxed ultimately, and in 1834, Guangzhou was opened to limited overseas trade. Great Britain, dissatisfied with trade arrangements, provoked the Opium War (1839–42), obtained commercial concessions, and established extraterritoriality. Soon France, Germany, and Russia successfully put forward similar demands. The Ch'ing regime, already weakened by internal problems, was further enfeebled by European intervention, the devastating Taiping Rebellion (1848–65), and Japan's military success in 1894–95 (see Sino-Japanese War, First). Great Britain and the United States promoted the Open Door Policy—that all nations enjoy equal access to China's trade; this was generally ignored by the foreign powers, and China was divided into separate zones of influence. Chinese resentment of foreigners grew, and the Boxer Uprising (1900), encouraged by Empress Tz'u Hsi, was a last desperate effort to suppress foreign influence.

Belated domestic reforms failed to stem a revolution long-plotted, chiefly by Sun Yat-sen, and set off in 1911 after the explosion of a bomb at Wuchang. With relatively few casualties, the Ch'ing dynasty was overthrown and a republic was established. Sun, the first president, resigned early in 1912 in favor of Yüan Shih-kai, who commanded the military power. Yüan established a repressive rule, which led Sun's followers to revolt sporadically.

Early in World War I, Japan seized the German leasehold in Shandong prov. and presented China with Twenty-one Demands, designed to make all of China a virtual Japanese protectorate. China was forced to accept a modified version of the Demands, although the treaties were never ratified by the Chinese legislature. China entered World War I on the Allied side in 1917, but at the Versailles peace conference was unable to prevent Japan from being awarded the Shandong territory. Reaction to this provision in the Versailles treaty led to Nationalist flare-ups and the May Fourth Movement of 1919. At the Washington Conference (1921–22), Japan finally agreed to withdraw its troops from Shandong and restore full sovereignty to China. The Nine-Power Treaty, signed at the Conference, guaranteed China's territorial integrity and the Open Door Policy.

Yüan had died in 1916 and China was disintegrating into rival warlord states. Civil war raged between Sun's new revolutionary party, the Kuomintang, which established a government in Guangzhou and received the support of the southern provinces, and the national government in Beijing, supported by warlords (semi-independent military commanders) in the north. As cultural ferment seethed throughout China, intellectuals sought inspiration in Western ideals; Hu Shih, prominent in the burgeoning literary renaissance, began a movement to simplify the Chinese written language. Labor agitation, especially against foreign-owned companies, became more common, and resentment against Western religious ideas grew.

In 1921, the Chinese Communist party (see Communist party, in China) was founded. Failing to get assistance from the Western countries, Sun made an alliance with the Communists and sought aid from the USSR. In 1926, Chiang Kai-shek led the army of the Kuomintang northward to victory. Chiang reversed Sun's policy of cooperation with the Communists and executed many of their leaders. Thus began the long civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communists. Chiang established (1928) a government in Nanjing and obtained foreign recognition.

A Communist government was set up in the early 1930s in Jiangxi, but Chiang's continued military campaigns forced (1934) them on the long march to the northwest, where they settled in Shaanxi. Japan, taking advantage of China's dissension, occupied Manchuria in 1931 and established (1932) the puppet state of Manchukuo (see Sino-Japanese War, Second). While Japan moved southward from Manchuria, Chiang chose to campaign against the Communists. In the "Xi'an Incident" (Dec., 1936), Chiang was kidnapped by Nationalist troops from Manchuria and held until he agreed to accept Communist cooperation in the fight against Japan.

In July, 1937, the Japanese attacked and invaded China proper. By 1940, N China, the coastal areas, and the Chang (Yangtze) valley were all under Japanese occupation, administered by the puppet regime of Wang Ching-wei. The capital was moved inland to Chongqing. After 1938, Chiang resumed his military harassment of the Communists, who were an effective fighting force against the Japanese. With Japan's attack (1941) on U.S. and British bases and the onset of World War II in Asia, China received U.S. and British aid. The country was much weakened at the war's close.

The end of the Japanese threat and the abolition of extraterritoriality did not bring peace to the country. The hostility between the Chinese Nationalists and the Communists flared into full-scale war as both raced to occupy the territories evacuated by the Japanese. The United States, alarmed at the prospect of a Communist success in China, arranged through ambassadors Patrick J. Hurley and George C. Marshall for conferences between Chiang and the Communist leader Mao Zedong, but these proved unsuccessful.

When the Russians withdrew from Manchuria, which they had occupied in accordance with agreements reached at the Yalta Conference, they turned the Japanese military equipment in that area over to the Chinese Communists, giving them a strong foothold in what was then the industrial core of China. Complete Communist control of Manchuria was realized with the capture of Shenyang (Mukden) in Nov., 1948. Elsewhere in the country, Chiang's Nationalists, supplied by U.S. arms, were generally successful until 1947, when the Communists gained the upper hand.

Sweeping inflation, increased police repression, and continual famine weakened public confidence in the Nationalist government, and much of the population came to at least passively support the Communists. Beijing fell to the Communists without a fight in Jan., 1949, followed (Apr.–Nov., 1949) by the major cities of Nanjing, Hankou, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chongqing. In Aug., 1949, when little Nationalist resistance remained, the U.S. Dept. of State announced that no further aid would be given to Chiang's government. The Communists, from their capital at Beijing, proclaimed a central people's government on Oct. 1, 1949. The seat of the Nationalist government was moved to Taiwan in Dec., 1949.

The new Communist government was immediately recognized by the USSR and shortly thereafter by Great Britain, India, and other nations. Recognition was, however, refused by the United States, which maintained close ties with Taiwan. By Apr., 1950, the last pockets of Nationalist resistance were cleaned out, and all of mainland China was secure for the Communists.

China under Mao

Mao Zedong and the Communists brought the soaring inflation under control and effected a more equitable distribution of food. A land-reform program was launched, and police control was tightened. During the first five-year plan (1953–57), agriculture was collectivized and industry was nationalized. With assistance from the USSR, construction of many modern large-scale plants was begun, and railroads were built to link the new industrial complexes of the north and northwest. On the international scene, Chinese Communist troops took possession of Tibet in Oct., 1950. That same month Chinese forces intervened in the Korean War to meet a drive by United Nations forces toward the Manchurian border. Large-scale Chinese participation in the war persisted until the armistice of July, 1953, after which China emerged as a diplomatic power in Asia. Zhou Enlai became internationally known through his role at the Geneva Conference of 1954 and at the Bandung Conference of 1955.

The Great Leap Forward, an economic program aimed at making China a major industrial power overnight, was underway by 1958. It featured the expansion of cooperatives into communes, which disrupted family life but offered a maximum use of the labor force. The industrialization program was pushed too fast, resulting in the overproduction of inferior goods and the deterioration of the industrial plant. At the same time, agriculture was neglected. Many scholars have said that this neglect, rather than poor weather conditions as asserted by the government, caused the three successive crop failures of 1959–61; the widespread famine that resulted was responsible for from 15 million to as many as 55 million deaths.

A severe blow to the economy and political system was the termination of Soviet aid in 1960 and the withdrawal of Soviet technicians and advisers—events that revealed a growing ideological rift between China and the USSR. The rift, which began with the institution of a destalinization policy by the Soviets in 1956, widened considerably after the USSR adopted a more conciliatory approach toward the West in the cold war. There were massive military buildups along the USSR-Chinese border, and border clashes erupted in Manchuria and Xinjiang.

Hostility had continued meanwhile between Communist China and the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, who pledged himself to the reconquest of the mainland. The Communist government insisted upon its right to Taiwan, but the United States made clear its intention to defend that island against direct attack, having even given (1955) a qualified promise to defend the Nationalist-held offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu as well. China's relations with other Asian nations, at first cordial, were affected by China's encouragement of Communist activity within their borders, the suppression of a revolt in Tibet (1959–60), and undeclared border wars with India in the 1960s over disputed territory. In the Vietnam War, China provided supplies, armaments, and technical assistance as well as militant verbal support to North Vietnam.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the emphasis of China's foreign policy changed from revolutionary to diplomatic; new contacts were established, and efforts were made to improve relations with many governments. China continued to strengthen its influence with other underdeveloped nations, extending considerable economic aid to countries in South America, Africa, and Asia. Important steps in Chinese progression toward recognition as a world power were the successful explosions of China's first atomic bomb (1964) and of its first hydrogen bomb (1967), and the launching of its first satellite (1970).

Internal dissension and power struggles were revealed in such domestic crises as the momentous Cultural Revolution (1966–76); the death (1971) in an airplane crash of defense minister Lin Biao while he was allegedly fleeing to the Soviet Union after an abortive attempt to assassinate Mao and establish a military dictatorship; and a major propaganda campaign launched in 1973, which mobilized the masses against such widely ranging objects of attack as Lin Biao, the teachings of Confucius, and cultural exchanges with the West.

Economically, the emphasis in the 1960s and early 1970s was on agriculture. After the Cultural Revolution, economic programs were initiated featuring the establishment of many small factories in the countryside and stressing local self-sufficiency. Both industrial and agricultural production records were set in 1970, and, despite serious droughts in some areas in 1972, output continued to increase steadily.

China in Transition

In 1971 long-standing objections to the admission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations were set aside by the United States; that October, Communist delegates were seated as the representatives of all China and, despite the opposition of the United States, which favored a "two-China" membership, the Nationalist delegation was expelled. A breakthrough in the hostile relations between the United States and Communist China came with the visit of President Richard M. Nixon to Beijing in Feb., 1972. Although U.S. support of Taiwan remained a sensitive issue, the visit resulted in a joint agreement to work toward peace in Asia and to develop closer economic, cultural, and diplomatic ties.

Although Mao had resigned his position as chairman of the People's Republic during the failures of the Great Leap Forward, as chairman of the central committee of the Communist party he remained the most powerful political figure in China. (Liu Shaoqi, who succeeded Mao as chairman of the Republic in 1959, was deposed during the Cultural Revolution.) By the mid-1970s, political power was balanced between the moderates, led by Deng Xiaoping and Premier Zhou Enlai, and the more radical heirs to the Cultural Revolution, led by the Gang of Four, which included Jiang Qing (Mao's wife), Wang Hongwen, Yao Wenyuan, and Zhang Chunqiao. Mao mediated between the two factions.

With the death of Zhou in Jan., 1976, the Gang of Four convinced Mao that Deng's economic plan, the Four Modernizations, would overturn the legacy of Mao's Cultural Revolution. Deng was purged in April, along with many of his supporters, as the Gang of Four consolidated their power. After Mao's death in Sept., 1976, however, a coalition of political and military leaders purged the Gang of Four, and Hua Guofeng, who had succeeded Zhou as premier, became party chairman. Deng was rehabilitated in 1977 and soon was recognized as the most powerful party member, although he was nominally deputy chairman to Hua. In 1980, Hua stepped down from the premiership in favor of Zhao Ziyang, who was Deng's choice.

From 1977, Deng worked toward his two main objectives, to modernize and strengthen the economy and to forge closer political ties with Western nations. To this end, four coastal cities were named (1979) special economic zones in order to draw foreign investment, trade, and technology. Fourteen more cities were similarly designated in 1984. China also decollectivized its cooperative farms, which led to a dramatic increase in agricultural production. In order to control population growth, the government instituted a law limiting families to one child. Protests and widespread infanticide forced the government to moderate its policy somewhat, but the policy became the standard for roughly two thirds of the population; there was some additional easing of the restrictions in 2014.

The People's Republic of China reached a political milestone when formal diplomatic relations were established with the United States on Jan. 1, 1979. In 1980, the People's Republic took Taiwan's place in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. China had a brief border war with Vietnam in 1979 over Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia, but China has generally been able to maintain peaceful foreign relations in order to advance its domestic agenda.

In the early 1980s, China reorganized the structure of the government and the CCP, rehabilitating many people purged in the Cultural Revolution and emphasizing the maintenance of discipline, loyalty, and spiritual purity in the face of increasing international contact. Declaring a policy of "One Country, Two Systems," China reached agreements with both Great Britain (1984) and Portugal (1987) to return to Chinese sovereignty the territories of Hong Kong (in 1997) and Macao (in 1999). In 1987, following a series of student demonstrations, Hu Yaobang, a reformist who had been named general secretary in 1980, was replaced by Zhao Ziyang, who was in turn replaced as premier by Li Peng.

The death of Hu in Apr., 1989, led to the series of protests that culminated in the violent military suppression at Tiananmen Square. The government arrested thousands of suspected dissidents and replaced Zhao, who favored negotiating with the protesters, as Communist party secretary with Jiang Zemin, who became China's president in 1993. The incident brought on international economic sanctions, which sent China's economy into decline. International trade gradually resumed during the course of the next year, and in June, 1990, after China released several hundred dissidents, the United States renewed China's most-favored-nation trade status.

In the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre, China sought to avoid sharp political conflict with the West, as by supporting the United Nations coalition in the Persian Gulf War, but tensions continued over such issues as Taiwan. In 1995, in reaction to a U.S. visit by Taiwan's president, Lee Teng-hui, Beijing conducted missile tests in the Taiwan Strait, and in early 1996 China conducted military exercises and missile tests close to the shores of Taiwan, in an attempt to inhibit those voting in the Taiwanese presidential election. Although it released some dissidents, the regime continued to clamp down on dissent; examples of its hard line were the long sentences given out to human-rights activist Wei Jingsheng in 1995 and political activists Xu Wenli and Qin Yongmin in 1998. In July, 1999, the Chinese government outlawed the Falun Gong (Buddhist Law) spiritual movement after a group of several thousand rallied to urge the sect's official recognition. Official corruption, economic, social, and ethnic inequality, and oppressive rural taxes sparked an increasing number of public protests beginning in the late 1990s.

Economic change continued, with the encouragement of Deng Xiaoping, and in 1993 a revision of China's constitution called for the development of a "socialist market economy" in which the Communist party would retain political power while encouraging a free market economy. Deng died in 1997, and Zhu Rongji replaced Li Peng as prime minister in 1998. Floods inundated the Chang (Yangtze) River valley in Aug., 1998, killing over 2,000 people and leaving millions homeless.

In May, 1999, during the Kosovo crisis, the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was mistakenly bombed by NATO, unleashing large anti-American demonstrations in Beijing. In the same month, China was accused by the United States of stealing nuclear design secrets that enabled it to substantially accelerate its weapons program. Nonetheless, a trade agreement was signed in November with the United States that led to Chinese membership (2001) in the World Trade Organization. Also in November, China advanced its space program with the test launching of an unmanned space capsule.

Relations with the United States again became tense in Apr., 2001, after a Chinese fighter and U.S. surveillance plane collided in mid-air, killing the Chinese pilot. Three months later Russia and China signed a friendship and cooperation treaty that seemed in part a response to the G. W. Bush administration's arms sales to Taiwan and push to develop a ballistic missile defense system.

Beginning in 2001 the Chinese Commmunist party began yet another transition, both in its membership and leadership. That year, Jiang Zemin urged the party to recruit business people as members, declaring in the doctrine of the "three represents" that the party must represent capitalists in addition to workers and peasants. The following year, Jiang resigned as party leader and was replaced by Hu Jintao. Hu replaced Jiang as president in 2003, and Wen Jiabao became prime minister. Jiang remained extremely influential, however, in both the party and the government, and retained his chairmanship of the powerful national and party military commissions until Sept., 2004.

The government's handling in 2003 of an outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) that began in S China harmed the nation's international image when the outbreak went unreported (and then underreported), enabling it to spread more readily. Severe measures instituted subsequently to curb the illness hurt the service sector of the economy, but by the end 2003 China had experienced a robust growth rate of more than 9% and a major urban building boom, resulting in part from the migration of rural inhabitants to the cities (22 cities had more than 2 million residents). In 2003, China and India signed a border pact that represented an incremental improvement in their relations, and two years later a new agreement called for the settlement of border issues between the two nations. Also in 2003 a trade pact giving Hong Kong businesses greater access to China's markets also was signed. In Oct., 2003, China became the third nation to put an astronaut into orbit when Shenzhou 5, carrying Yang Liwei, was launched; ten years later (Dec., 2013), it landed a rover on the moon.

Continuing vigorous economic growth in 2004 led the government to put in place a series of measures designed to slow growth to control inflation and reduce overinvestment. Also in 2004, relations with Taiwan become more strained with the reelection of Chen Shui-bian, who had previously called for Taiwan to declare formal independence from China, as the island's president. In Mar., 2005, China passed an antisecession law that called for the use of force if peaceful means failed to bring about reunification with Taiwan; the law sparked protests in Taiwan. At the same time, China welcomed visits from Taiwanese opposition leaders, who pledged to follow less confrontational approaches to relations with the mainland.

Early 2005 also saw increased tensions with Japan over how Japanese actions during World War II were treated in Japanese textbooks, over the possible appointment of Japan to a permanent UN Security Council seat, and over a disputed exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea. The issues sparked sometimes destructive demonstrations in China. Meanwhile, in Nov., 2004, China signed a free-trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); under the accord, tariffs on many goods will be eliminated with the richer ASEAN members by 2010 and with the rest by 2015. Trade was also an issue with the United States, which called in early 2005 (and subsequently) for China to revalue its currency because of its large trade imbalances with China, whose economy continued its booming growth during into the following year. The tensions with Taiwan and Japan also continued into 2006, and the government became increasingly concerned with the disparity between richer urban and poorer rural China, which had become even more marked since the turn of the century and sparked a growing number of sometimes violent demonstrations. Shanghai's local Communist party leader, who was also a member of the politburo, was dismissed in Sept., 2006, for corruption, but the move was largely seen as a consolidation of power by President Hu rather than a concerted attempt to weed out corrupt officials.

North Korea's test of a nuclear weapon in Oct., 2006, highlighted China's complex relations with its northeastern neighbor. Although China is widely regarded as having more influence than any other nation with North Korea and objected to the test, it was unable to prevent it. Concerned about instability on the Korean peninsula and a potential influx of Korean refugees into NE China, China supported a resolution condemning North Korea and imposing sanctions but expressed reservations about searching North Korean ships and other trade traffic. China did, however, pressure the North to back down on conducting a second nuclear test.

Trade relations with the United States again became problematic in 2007. Following extremely strong economic growth in 2006, which contributed to China huge trade surplus and foreign currency reserves, the United States, under growing domestic pressure, instituted tariffs on some Chinese goods, asserting that the goods were illegally subsidized. China denounced the move, which appeared in part to have been made because of China's reluctance to revalue its currency more quickly. In May, 2007, China announced it would ease restrictions a little on the daily fluctuation of its currency, a largely symbolic move. Relations with the United States were also complicated by a successful Chinese antisatellite weapon test (Jan., 2007), which suggested that China might cripple U.S. navigation and communication satellites if the Americans aided Taiwan in the event of a Chinese-Taiwanese war. Inflation became an increasing problem during 2007 in the fast-growing Chinese economy, despite Chinese measures to control it, and China's trade surplus continued to grow (by almost 50% in 2007).

In Jan.–Feb., 2008, some of the harshest winter weather in a century caused hardships in central and E China, and severely stressed China's transportation and energy systems, leading to some industry slowdowns and stranding millions of Chinese New Year travelers. More than 300,000 troops and 1.1 million auxiliary forces were mobilized to clear roads, deliver supplies, and the like. In Mar., 2008, there were anti-Chinese protests and riots in Tibet, and Tibetans elsewhere in China, especially in neighboring provinces, also demonstrated against Chinese rule. The Tibetan protests also led international supporters of Tibetan autonomy or independence to use world events associated with the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics to demonstrate against Chinese rule in Tibet. In April, President Hu met briefly with Taiwan's vice president–elect; the highest ranking meeting with the Taiwanese since the Communist revolution, it signaled the likelihood of much less confrontational relations with the newly elected Kuomintang government of Taiwan. Regular commercial air service between China and Taiwan began three months later.

A devastating earthquake struck SW China in May. Centered on N central Sichuan prov., it killed at least 69,000 persons, many of whom died when substandard new buildings, including a number of schools, collapsed. Some 18,000 people were listed as missing, and more than 374,000 were injured. The disaster was notable for the largely uncensored media coverage it initially received in China, but after several weeks coverage was limited and public displays of mourning were suppressed by the police. In July, 2008, China and Russia signed an agreement that finalized the demarcation of their shared borders; the pact was the last in a series of border agreements (1991, 1994, and 2004).

In Sept., 2008, in response to signs that economic growth in China was slowing during the global financial downturn, the government reversed a five-year monetary-tightening policy intended to fight inflation and abruptly cut interest rates while also easing lending restrictions on Chinese banks. That same month a series of product contamination scandals (2007–8) involving pet-food ingredients, toys, and other products produced by Chinese companies culminated in a powdered-milk adulteration case that sickened more than 50,000 Chinese infants and affected both domestic and exported products and led many nations to ban or restrict imports of Chinese food products containing milk.

In a marked improvement in relations, China and Taiwan in November signed agreements that would increase direct trade and transportation between them; additional agreements have since been signed, leading to a landmark trade accord in June, 2010. Also in Nov., 2008, the Chinese government announced a major economic stimulus package, including infrastructure investments, in response to the global financial crisis and economic downturn that began in 2008 and slowed the growth rate of the export-driven Chinese economy. That helped reverse the slowdown significantly as 2009 progressed, and the economy grew by 8.7%, with growth surging higher (10.3%) in 2010. At the same tine, however, such spending also led (as had instances of lavish government spending earlier in the decade) to expenditures on new residential and business districts that were significantly underutilized.

Continuing export growth revived international concerns about the undervaluation of China's currency. China also used its enormous foreign reserves (more than $2 trillion) to provide international economic aid and increase its international influence. By mid-2010 robust growth led the government to impose restrictions on property sales in an attempt to prevent a speculative bubble, and interest rates and bank-reserves requirements were increased during the year. Meanwhile, in July, 2009, a Uigur protest in Ürümqi, Xinjiang, led to deadly anti-Chinese rioting and then anti-Uigur rioting by Chinese; hundreds were arrested, and the government sent troops into the city to reestablish control there. Xinjiang continued to be the site of recurring ethnic unrest in subsequent years.

China's extensive offshore territorial claims have become an increasing source of conflict in the region since 2010. In Sept., 2010, after a Chinese trawler collided with Japanese patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands, an island group controlled by Japan but claimed by China, Japan accused the captain of intentionally crashing into the Japanese vessels. After he was not released when his ship and crew was, China demanded his release, canceled high-level intergovernmental meetings with Japan, and was reported to have halted the export of industrially important rare earths to Japan (and later to other Western nations). The captain subsequently was released, but the events strained relations between the two nations. China's increasingly influential and assertive foreign policy, to a large degree a natural outgrowth of its economic power, also complicated relations with other Asian neighbors, especially when disputed islands (and the potential surrounding resources) were involved. Chinese claims to the entire South China Sea led to tensions with Vietnam and the Philippines in 2011 and 2012, and its claim to the Senkakus led to renewed tensions with Japan in 2012, including sometimes violent anti-Japanese demonstrations in China and a significant reduction in purchases in Japanese products.

In Oct., 2010, Vice President Xi Jinping was appointed vice chairman of the powerful party and government military commissions, a move regarded as signaling his likely appointment as Hu Jintao's successor. A 2011 World Trade Organization decision that China had violated trade rules in a 2009 case by restricting sales of magnesium and other raw materials led to renewed criticism of China's export limits on rare earths, and in 2014 the WTO concluded that those limits were also a violation. The Chinese government continued its efforts to battle inflation during 2011, but slower growth in the latter half of the year led to the easing of some of those efforts at the end of 2011; growth slowed further in subsequent years.

China's most significant political conflict and scandal in many years erupted in early 2012. Bo Xilai, the ambitious and charismatic Chongqing party boss who was known as anticorruption crusader as well as a neo-leftist populist not of the more businesslike mold characteristic of Chinese leaders, was removed as the municipality's party leader after his deputy fled to the U.S. consulate in February. The incident was followed by accusations of corruption and abuse of power involving Bo and his family. By April Bo had also lost his party politburo and central committee posts; Bo, his wife, and his deputy were subsequently convicted (2012–3) of various charges.

Xi Jinping succeeded Hu Jintao as Communist party leader in Nov., 2012. Xi became Chinese president in Mar., 2013, and Li Keqiang succeeded Wen Jiabao as premier. Xi subsequently mounted a far-reaching anticorruption campaign that ensnared a number of high-ranking officials by 2014, but at the same time a number of anticorruption activists were also tried by the government on charges of disturbing the public order. Terror attacks by Uigur militants, which had been increasing and more deadly since 2011, notably began to target Chinese in areas outside Xinjiang in late 2013.

Chinese assertion (Nov., 2013) of an air defense zone that encompassed the Senkakus and an area claimed by South Korea was criticized by the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. In Jan., 2014, Hainan province announced new fishing rules for the 60% of the South China Sea claimed by China (a claim not recognized by China's neighbors and other countries); the United States criticized the move as provocative, and other nations also denounced it. In Jan., 2014, Taiwan and China held their highest level talks since the Communists came to power. There were ongoing tensions in the South China Sea with the Philippines and Vietnam in 2014, and confrontations between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels over Chinese oil drilling the sea led to anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam. China also use dredging to convert reefs in the sea into islets capable of supporting military forces, a process that continued into 2015. The work led to criticism from, and further tensions with, a number of SE Asian nations.


See A. D. Barnett, China on the Eve of the Communist Takeover (1963, repr. 1985) and Communist China: The Early Years, 1949–1955 (1963); F. H. Schurmann and O. Schell, The China Reader (3 vol., 1967); E. H. Schafer et al., Ancient China (1968); W. Franke, A Century of Chinese Revolution, 1851–1949 (tr. 1970); L. Bianco, Origins of the Chinese Revolution, 1915–1949 (1971); E. Snow, The Long Revolution (1972); C. P. Fitzgerald, The Southern Expansion of the Chinese People (1972) and China: A Short Cultural History (1985); J. K. Fairbank and D. Twitchett, ed., The Cambridge History of China (15 vol., 1978–); P. C. Huang, The Peasant Economy and Social Change in North China (1985); D. N. Keightley, ed., Early China (1985); J. Needham, Science and Civilization in China (6 vol., 1954–86); T. P. Lyons, Economic Integration and Planning in Maoist China (1987); S. A. Adshead, China in World History (1988); J. Y. S. Cheng, ed., China: Modernization in the 1980s (1989); I. C. Y. Hsü, The Rise of Modern China (1990); C. Smith, China (1990); K. Lieberthal, Governing China: From Revolution through Reform (1995); J. Becker, Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine (1997); R. MacFarquhar, The Origins of the Cultural Revolution (3 vol., 1974–97); J. D. Spence, The Chan's Great Continent (1998); M. Loewe and E. L. Shaughnessy, ed., The Cambridge History of Ancient China (1999); A. J. Nathan, China's New Rulers (2002); T. J. Campanella, The Concrete Dragon: China's Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World (2008); J. Fenby, Modern China: The Fall and Rise of a Great Power, 1850 to the Present (2008); Y. Huang, Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics (2008); P. P. Pan, Out of Mao's Shadow (2008); J. Keay, China: A History (2009); W. T. Rowe, China's Last Empire (2009); S. D. Sharma, China and India in the Age of Globalization (2009); F. Dikötter, Mao's Great Famine (2010) and The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945–1957 (2013); C. A. Ford, The Mind of Empire (2010); C. Hung, Mao's New World: Political Culture in the Early People's Republic (2010); R. McGregor, The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers (2010); J. and D. Naisbitt, China's Megatrends (2010); V. Goossaert and D. A. Palmer, The Religious Question in Modern China (2011); J. Y. Lin, Demystifying the Chinese Economy (2011); C. E. Walter and F. J. T. Howie, Red Capitalism (2011); X. Yan, Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power (2011); F. Yang, Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule (2011); J. Zha, Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China (2011); J. Fallows, China Airborne (2012); R. Hart, Imagined Civilizations: China, the West, and Their First Encounter (2012); O. A. Westad, Restless Empire: China and the World since 1750 (2012); J. Yang, Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958–1962 (2012); X. Zhou, ed., The Great Famine in China, 1958–1962 (2012); R. Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937–1945 (2013); D. Shambaugh, China Goes Global (2013); O. Schell and J. Delury, Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-First Century (2013).

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Magic & Superstition

Although systems of magical practice were uncommon in ancient China, there have been many instances of the employment of magical means and the belief in a supernatural world peopled by gods, demons, and other beings. One writer comments:

"Although the Chinese mind possessed under such a constitution but few elements in which magic could strike root and throw out its ramifications and influence, yet we find many traces giving evidence of the instinctive movement of the mind, as well as of magical influence; though certainly not in the manner or abundance that we meet with it in India. The great variety of these appearances is, however, striking, as in no other country are they so seldom met with.

"It is easy to understand from these circumstances wherefore we find so few of these phenomena of magic and the visionary and ecstatic state, in other parts of the East so frequent, and therefore they are scattered and uncertain. Accounts are, however, not wanting to show that the phenomena as well as theories of prophecy were known in more remote times. Under the Emperor Hoei Ti, about 304 A.D., a mystical sect arose in China calling themselves 'the teachers of the emptiness and nothingness of all things.' They also exhibited the art of binding the power of the senses, and producing a condition which they believed perfection."

Demonism and Obsession

The Chinese of former times were implicit believers in demons whom they imagined surrounded them on every hand. One writer states, "English officials, American missionaries, mandarins and many of the Chinese literati (Confucians, Taoists and Buddhist believers alike) declare that spiritism in some form, and under some name, is the almost universal belief of China. It is generally denominated 'ancestral worship."' "There is no driving out of these Chinese," stated the missionary Father Gonzalo, "the cursed belief that the spirits of their ancestors are ever about them, availing themselves of every opportunity to give advice and counsel." And Justus Doolittle notes,

"The medium consulted takes in the hand a stick of lighted incense to dispel all defiling influences, then prayers of some kind are repeated, the body becomes spasmodic, the medium's eyes are shut, and the form sways about, assuming the walk and peculiar attitude of the spirit when in the body. Then the communication from the divinity begins, which may be of a fault-finding or a flattering character. Sometimes these Chinese mediums profess to be possessed by some specified historical god of great healing power, and in this condition they prescribe for the sick. It is believed that the ghoul or spirit invoked actually casts himself into the medium, and dictates the medicine."

And in his work China and The Chinese (1869), John L. Nevins observes,

"Volumes might be written upon the gods, genii and familiar spirits supposed to be continually in communication with this people. The Chinese have a large number of books upon this subject, among the most noted of which is the 'Liau-chaichei,' a large work of sixteen volumes. Tu Sein signifies a spirit in the body, and there are a class of familiar spirits supposed to dwell in the bodies of certain Chinese who became the mediums of communication with the unseen world. Individuals said to be possessed by these spirits are visited by multitudes, particularly those who have lost recently relatives by death, and wish to converse with them. Remarkable disclosures and revelations are believed to be made by the involuntary movements of a bamboo pencil, and through a similar method some claim to see in the dark. Persons considering themselves endowed with superior intelligence are firm believers in those and other modes of consulting spirits."

W. J. Plumb, a public teacher in Chen Sin Ling, states: "In the district of Tu-ching, obsessions by evil spirits or demons are very common." He further writes that "there are very many cases also in Chang-lo." Again he comments:

"When a man is thus afflicted, the spirit (Kwei ) takes possession of his body without regard to his being strong or weak in health. It is not easy to resist the demon's power. Though without bodily ailments, possessed persons appear as if ill. When under the entrancing spell of the demon, they seem different from their ordinary selves.

"In most cases the spirit takes possession of a man's body contrary to his will, and he is helpless in the matter. The kwei has the power of driving out the man's spirit, as in sleep or dreams. When the subject awakes to consciousness, he has not the slightest knowledge of what has transpired.

"The actions of possessed persons vary exceedingly. They leap about and toss their arms, and then the demon tells them what particular spirit he is, often taking a false name, or deceitfully calling himself a god, or one of the genii come down to the abodes of mortals. Or, perhaps, it professes to be the spirit of a deceased husband or wife. There are also kwei of the quiet sort, who talk and laugh like other people, only that the voice is changed. Some have a voice like a bird. Some speak Mandarinthe language of Northern Chinaand some the local dialect; but though the speech proceeds from the mouth of the man, what is said does not appear to come from him. The out-ward appearance and manner is also changed.

"In Fu-show there is a class of persons who collect in large numbers and make use of incense, pictures, candles, and lamps to establish what are called 'incense tables.' Taoist priests are engaged to attend the ceremonies, and they also make use of 'mediums.' The Taoist writes a hand, stands like a graven image, thus signifying his willingness to have the demon come and take possession of him. Afterward, the charm is burned and the demon spirit is worshipped and invoked, the priest, in the meanwhile going on with his chanting. After a while the medium spirit has descended, and asks what is wanted of him. Then, whoever has requests to make, takes incense sticks, makes prostrations, and asks a response respecting some dis-ease, or for protection from some calamity. In winter the same performances are carried on to a great extent by gambling companies. If some of the responses hit the mark, a large number of people are attracted. They establish a shrine and offer sacrifices, and appoint days, calling upon people from every quarter to come and consult the spirit respecting diseases.

"There is also a class of men who establish what they call a 'Hall of Revelations.' At the present time there are many engaged in this practice. They are, for the most part, literary men of great ability. The people in large numbers apply to them for responses. The mediums spoken of above are also numerous. All of the above practices are not spirits seeking to possess men; but rather men seeking spirits to possess them, and allowing themselves to be voluntarily used as their instruments.

"As to the outward appearance of persons when possessed, of course, they are the same persons as to outward form as at ordinary times; but the colour of the countenance may change. The demon may cause the subject to assume a threatening air, and a fierce, violent manner. The muscles often stand out on the face, the eyes are closed, or they protrude with a frightful stare. These demons sometimes prophesy.

"The words spoken certainly proceed from the mouths of the persons possessed; but what is said does not appear to come from their minds or wills, but rather from some other personality, often accompanied by a change of voice. Of this there can be no doubt. When the subject returns to consciousness, he invariably declares himself ignorant of what he has said.

"The Chinese make use of various methods to cast out demons. They are so troubled and vexed by inflictions affecting bodily health, or it may be throwing stones, moving furniture, or the moving about and destruction of family utensils, that they are driven to call in the service of some respected scholar or Taoist priest, to offer sacrifices, or chant sacred books, and pray for protection and exemption from suffering. Some make use of sacrifices and offerings of paper clothes and money in order to induce the demon to go back to the gloomy region of Yanchow As to whether these methods have any effect, I do not know. As a rule, when demons are not very troublesome, the families afflicted by them generally think it best to hide their affliction, or to keep those wicked spirits quiet by sacrifices, and burning incense to them."

An article in the London Daily News gave lengthy extracts from an address upon the Chinese by Mrs. Montague Beaucham, who had spent many years in China in educational work. Speaking of their spiritism, she said, "The latest London craze in using the planchette has been one of the recognized means in China of conversing with evil spirits from time immemorial." She had lived in one of the particular provinces known as demon land, where the natives are bound up in the belief and worship of spirits. "There is a real power," she added, "in this necromancy. They do healings and tell fortunes." She personally knew of one instance that the spirits through the plan-chette had foretold a great flood. The Boxer uprising was prophesied by the planchette. These spirits disturbed family relations, caused fits of frothing at the mouth, and made some of their victims insane. In closing she declared that "Chinese spiritism was from hell," the obsession baffling the power of both Christian missionaries and native priests.

Nevius sent out a circular communication for the purpose of discovering the actual beliefs of the Chinese regarding demonism through which he obtained much valuable information. Wang Wu-Fang, an educated Chinese, writes:

"Cases of demon possession abound among all classes. They are found among persons of robust health, as well as those who are weak and sickly. In many unquestionable cases of obsession, the unwilling subjects have resisted, but have been obliged to submit themselves to the control of the demon.

"In the majority of cases of possession, the beginning of the malady is a fit of grief, anger, or mourning. These conditions seem to open the door to the demons. The outward manifestations are apt to be fierce and violent. It may be that the subject alternately talks and laughs; he walks awhile and then sits, or he rolls on the ground, or leaps about; or exhibits contortions of the body and twistings of the neck. It was common among them to send for exorcists, who made use of written charms, or chanted verses, or punctured the body with needles. These are among the Chinese methods of cure.

"Demons are different kinds. There are those which clearly declare themselves; and then those who work in secret. There are those which are cast out with difficulty, and others with ease.

"In cases of possession by familiar demons, what is said by the subject certainly does not proceed from his own will. When the demon has gone out and the subject recovers consciousness, he has no recollection whatever of what he has said or done. This is true almost invariably.

"The methods by which the Chinese cast out demons are enticing them to leave by burning charms and paper money, or by begging and exhorting them, or by frightening them with magic spells and incantations, or driving them away by pricking with needles, or pinching with the fingers, in which case they cry out and promise to go.

"I was formerly accustomed to drive out demons by means of needles. At that time cases of possession by evil spirits were very common in our villages, and my services were in very frequent demand."

The missionary Rev. Timothy Richard writes in response to Nevius's circular:

"The Chinese orthodox definition of spirit is, 'the soul of the departed'; some of the best of whom are raised to the rank of gods. There is no disease to which the Chinese are ordi narily subject that may not be caused by demons. In this case the mind is untouched. It is only the body that suffers; and the Chinese endeavour to get rid of the demon by vows and offerings to the gods. The subject in this case is an involuntary one.

"Persons possessed range between 15 and 50 years of age, quite irrespective of sex. This infliction comes on very sudden-ly, sometimes in the day, and sometimes in the night. The demoniac talks madly, smashes everything near him, acquires unusual strength, tears his clothes into rags, and rushes into the street, or to the mountains or kills himself unless prevented. After this violent possession, the demoniac calms down and submits to his fate, but under the most heart-rending protests. These mad spells which are experienced on the demon's en-trance return at intervals, and increase in frequency, and generally also in intensity, so that death at last ensues from their violence.

"Now we proceed to those, who involuntarily possessed, yield to and worship the demon. The demon says he will cease tormenting the demoniac if he will worship him, and he will reward him by increasing his riches. But if not, he will punish his victim, make heavier his torments and rob him of his property. People find that their food is cursed. They cannot prepare any, but filth and dirt comes down from the air to render it uneatable. Their wells are likewise cursed; their wardrobes are set on fire, and their money very mysteriously disappears. Hence arose the custom of cutting off the head of a string of cash that it might not run away. When all efforts to rid themselves of the demon fail, they yield to it, and say 'Hold! Cease thy tormenting and we will worship thee!' A picture is pasted upon the wall, sometimes of a woman, and sometimes of a man, and incense is burned, and prostrations are made to it twice a month. Being thus reverenced, money now comes in mysteriously, instead of going out. Even mill-stones are made to move at the demon's orders, and the family becomes rich at once. But it is said that no luck attends such families, and they will eventually be reduced to poverty. Officials believe these things. Palaces are known to have been built by them for these demons, who, however, are obliged to be satisfied with humbler shrines from the poor.

"Somewhat similar to the above class is another small one which has power to enter the lower regions. These are the opposite of necromancers, for instead of calling up the dead and learning of them about the future destiny of the individual in whose behalf they are engaged, they lie in a trance for two days, when their spirits are said to have gone to the Prince of Darkness, to inquire how long the sick person shall be left among the living.

"Let us now note the different methods adopted to cast out the evil spirits from the demoniacs. Doctors are called to do it. They use needles to puncture the tips of the fingers, the nose, the neck. They also use a certain pill, and apply it in the following manner: the thumbs of the two hands are tied tightly together, and the two big toes are tied together in the same manner. Then one pill is put on the two big toes at the root of the nail, and the other at the root of the thumb nails. At the same instant the two pills are set on fire, and they are kept until the flesh is burned. In the application of the pills, or in the piercing of the needle, the invariable cry is; 'I am going; I am going immediately. I will never dare to come back again. Oh, have mercy on me this once. I'll never return!'

"When the doctors fail, they call on people who practice spiritism. They themselves cannot drive the demon away, but they call another demon to do it. Both the Confucianists and Taoists practice this method. Sometimes the spirits are very ungovernable. Tables are turned, chairs are rattled, and a general noise of smashing is heard, until the very mediums themselves tremble with fear. If the demon is of this dreadful character, they quickly write another charm with the name of the particular spirit whose quiet disposition is known to them. Lutsu is a favourite one of this kind. After the burning of the charm and incense, and when prostrations are made, a little frame is procured, to which a Chinese pencil is attached. Two men on each side hold it on a table spread with sand or millet. Sometimes a prescription is written, the pencil moving of its own accord. They buy the medicine prescribed and give it to the possessed. Should they find that burning incense and offering sacrifices fails to liberate the poor victim, they may call in conjurors, such as the Taoists, who sit on mats and are carried by invisible power from place to place. The ascend to a height of twenty or fifty feet, and are carried to a distance of four or five li (about a half mile). Of this class are those who, in Manchuria call down fire from the sky in those funerals where the corpse is burned.

"These exorcists may belong to any of the three religions in China. The dragon procession, on the fifteenth of the first month, is said by some to commemorate a Buddhist priest's victory over evil spirits. They paste up charms on windows and doors, and on the body of the demoniac, and conjure the demon never to return. The evil spirit answers: 'I'll never return. You need not take the trouble of pasting all these charms upon the doors and windows.'

"Exorcists are specially hated by the evil spirits. Sometimes they feel themselves beaten fearfully; but no hand is seen. Bricks and stones may fall on them from the sky or housetops. On the road they may without warning be plastered over from head to foot with mud or filth; or may be seized when approaching a river, and held under the water and drowned."

In his Social Life among the Chinese (2 vols., 1866), Doolittle states,

"They have invented several ways by which they find out the pleasure of gods and spirits. One of the most common of their utensils is the Ka-pue, a piece of bamboo root, bean-shaped, and divided in the centre, to indicate the positive and the negative. The incense lighted, the Ka-pue properly manipulated before the symbol god, the pieces are tossed from the medium's hand, indicating the will of the spirit by the way they fall."

The following manifestation is mental rather than physical: "The professional takes in the hand a stick of lighted incense to expel all defiling influences; prayers of some sort are repeated, the fingers interlaced, and the medium's eyes are shut, giving unmistakable evidence of being possessed by some supernatural or spiritual power. The body sways back and forward; the incense falls, and the person begins to step about, assuming the walk and peculiar attitude of the spirit. This is considered as infallible proof that the divinity has entered the body of the medium. Sometimes the god, using the mouth of the medium, gives the supplicant a sound scolding for invoking his aid to obtain unlawful or unworthy ends."

And Sir John Burrowa writes, "Divination with many strange methods of summoning the dead to instruct the living and reveal the future, is of very ancient origin, as is proved by Chinese manuscripts antedating the revelations of the Jewish Scriptures."

An ancient book called Poh-shi-ching-tsung, consisting of six volumes on the source of true divination, contains the following preface:

"The secret of augury consists in the study of the mysteries and in communications with gods and demons. The interpretations of the transformations are deep and mysterious. The theory of the science is most intricate, the practice of it most important. The sacred classic says: 'That which is true gives indications of the future.' To know the condition of the dead, and hold with them intelligent intercourse, as did the ancients, produces a most salutary influence upon the parties. But when from intoxication or feasting, or licentious pleasures, they proceed to invoke the gods, what infatuation to suppose that their prayers will move them. Often when no response is given, or the interpretation is not verified, they lay the blame at the door of the augur, forgetting that their failure is due to their want of sincerity. It is the great fault of augurs, too, that, from a desire of gain, they use the art of divination as a trap to ensnare the people."

Peebles adds: "Naturally undemonstrative and secretive, the higher classes of Chinese seek to conceal their full knowledge of spirit intercourse from foreigners, and from the inferior castes of their own countrymen, thinking them not sufficiently intelligent to rightly use it. The lower orders, superstitious and money-grasping, often prostitute their magic gifts to gain and fortune-telling. Their clairvoyant fortune-tellers, surpassing wandering gypsies in 'hitting' the past, infest the temples, streets and roadsides, promising to find lost property, discover precious metals and reveal the hidden future."


The Chinese were strong in the belief that they were surrounded by the spirits of the dead. Indeed ancestor-worship constituted a powerful feature in the national faith, involving the likelihood and desirability of communion with the dead. Upon the death of a person they used to make a hole in the roof to permit the soul to effect its escape from the house. When a child was at the point of death, its mother would go into the garden and call its name, hoping thereby to bring back its wandering spirit.

"With the Chinese the souls of suicides are specially obnoxious, and they consider that the very worst penalty that can befall a soul is the sight of its former surroundings. Thus, it is supposed that, in the case of the wicked man, 'they only see their homes as if they were near them; they see their last wishes disregarded, everything upside down, their substance squandered, strangers possess the old estate; in their misery the dead man's family curse him, his children become corrupt, land is gone, the wife sees her husband tortured, the husband sees his wife stricken down with mortal disease; even friends forget, but some, perhaps, for the sake of bygone times, may stroke the coffin and let fall a tear, departing with a cold smile.'

"In China, the ghosts which are animated by a sense of duty are frequently seen: at one time they seek to serve virtue in dis-tress, and at another they aim to restore wrongfully held treasure. Indeed, as it has been observed, 'one of the most powerful as well as the most widely diffused of the people's ghost stories is that which treats of the persecuted child whose mother comes out of the grave to succour him.'

"The Chinese have a dread of the wandering spirits of persons who have come to an unfortunate end. At Canton, 1817, the wife of an officer of government had occasioned the death of two female domestic slaves, from some jealous suspicion it was supposed of her husband's conduct towards the girls; and, in order to screen herself from the consequences, she suspended the bodies by the neck, with a view to its being construed into an act of suicide. But the conscience of the woman tormented her to such a degree that she became insane, and at times personated the spirits of the murdered girls possessed her, and utilised her mouth to declare her own guilt. In her ravings she tore her clothes and beat her own person with all the fury of madness; after which she would recover her senses for a time, when it was supposed the demons quitted her, but only to return with greater frenzy, which took place a short time previous to her death. According to Mr. Dennys, the most common form of Chinese ghost story is that wherein the ghost seeks to bring to justice the murderer who shuffled off its mortal coil."

Poltergeists were not uncommon in China, and several cases of their occurrence were recorded by the Jesuit missionaries of the eighteenth century in Cochin China.


There are numerous mysteries of meaning in the strange symbols, characters, personages, birds, and beasts that adorn all species of Chinese art objects. For example, a rectangular Chinese vase is feminine, representing the creative or ultimate principle. A group of seemingly miscellaneous art objects, depicted perhaps upon a brush tray, are probably the po-ku, or "hundred antiques" emblematic of culture and implying a delicate compliment to the recipient of the tray. Birds and animals occur with frequency on Chinese porcelains, and, if one observes closely, it is a somewhat select menagerie, in which certain types are emphasized by repetition. For instance, the dragon is so familiar as to be no longer remarked, and yet his significance is perhaps not fully understood by all. There are, in fact, three kinds of dragons, the lung of the sky, the li of the sea, and the kiau of the marshes. The lung is the favorite kind, however, and may be known when met by his having "the head of a camel, the horns of a deer, the eyes of a rabbit, ears of a cow, neck of a snake, belly of a frog, scales of a carp, claws of a hawk, and palm of a tiger." His special office is to guard and support the mansions of the gods, and he is naturally the peculiar symbol of the emperor.

A less familiar beast is the chi-lin, which resembles in part a rhinoceros, but has a head, feet, and legs like a deer, and a tufted tail. In spite of his unprepossessing appearance, he is of a benevolent disposition, and his image on a vase or other ornament is an emblem of good government and length of days. A strange bird, having the head of a pheasant, a long flexible neck, and a plumed tail, may often be seen flying in the midst of scroll-like clouds, or walking in a grove of treepeonies. This is the fengbuang, the Chinese phoenix, emblem of immortality and appearing to mortals only as a presage of the auspicious reign of a virtuous emperor. The tortoise (kuei ), which bears upon its back the seagirt abode of the Eight Immortals, is a third supernatural creature associated with strength, longevity, and (because of the markings on its back) the mystic plan of numerals that is a key to the philosophy of the unseen.

Colors have their significance, blue being the color of the heavens, yellow of the earth and the emperor, red of the sun, and white of Jupiter or the Year Star. Each dynasty had its own particular hue, that of the Chou dynasty being described as "blue of the sky after rain where it appears between the clouds."

The apparently haphazard conjunction of objects in the decorative schemes of Chinese art is far from being a matter of chance, but adds to its decorative properties the intellectual charm of symbolic significance.

China in the Modern World

In the great political and economic upheavals of modern times, culminating in the establishment of the People's Republic of China October 1, 1949, many old beliefs, superstitions, and practices have been swept away, but in the emergence of China as a modern nation many skills from the past have also been revived and developed. The references to "pricking with needles" quoted earlier can now be seen as an imperfectly understood observation of the practice of acupuncture, an interesting blend of mystical concepts of anatomy and medical healing. Acupuncture and its associated skills of moxibustion and acupressure are now gaining ground in Western countries.

Also familiar in the West is the group of Asian martial arts, combining mental, physical, and spiritual resources for self-defense in weaponless fighting, or the achievement of apparently paranormal feats of strength and control. These involve the concept of ch'i (or ki ), a subtle vital energy that can be controlled by willpower. Also taught in Western countries is the Chinese system of physical exercises known as t'ai chi chuan, originally a self-defense system.

Another element of Chinese tradition to attract popular interest is the I Ching, a book embodying a system of philosophy and divination, now widely consulted in various translations in Western countries.

With the opening up of communications and cultural relations with the West, many ancient Chinese mystical teachings and practices are now becoming more widely known. Chinese astrology is over a thousand years old but has not been familiar in the West nearly as long. Like the Western zodiac, it comprises twelve signs. But it operates on a completely different system; it is based on a 12-year rather than 12-month cycle, and each year is symbolized by the sign of an animalrat, bull, tiger, cat, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. The attributes of these animals differ radically from the pejorative associations of the West (for example, rats are intellectual, affable, generous, and fun-loving) and can be found in Chinese astrological manuals.

Buddhism was known in China from the beginning of the Christian era, and the Ch'an or Zen school was established in the sixth century with the arrival of the patriarch Bodhidharma. China developed its own individual forms of yoga, often merging with Taoism. Taoist yoga developed from the Hindu concepts of kundalini and brought together special practices of physical development, diet, and meditation. These were often characterized by the term "K'ai Men," meaning "open door," expressing the idea of Taoist yoga as the doorway to the channels of mind, spirit, and body, and reflecting the harmony and balance of the principles of yin and yang in the universe. These teachings and practices, long a secret tradition, have now gained some attention in the Western countries through such authorities as Lu K'uan Yü (Charles Luk), Mantak Chia, and Maneewan Chia. On a more popular level, the simpler mind-body exercises of t'ai chi chuan, an offshoot of the Taoist tradition, have now been revived widely in China and the rest of the world.

In the pragmatic liberalism of present-day China, religions are now widely tolerated, and in 1968, the Liaoning People's Publishing House released a series of books titled Man and Culture, which included the standard guide to psychical research by Ivor Grattan-Guinness, Psychical Research; A Guide to Its History, Principles, and Practices. This work was issued in celebration of a hundred years of the Society for Psychical Research, London, and its release in China signifies an interest in reputable academic study of parapsychology.

The current Chinese approach to research in claimed paranormal phenomena is in terms of materialistic philosophy, and in place of Western terms like "extrasensory perception," Chinese researchers speak of "EHF" (exceptional human function). A number of Chinese children have claimed to demonstrate such EHF faculties as identifying hidden targets of Chinese written characters, under test conditions (like Western parapsychology tests for ESP with Zener cards or other targets), psychokinesis, and teleportation. A team of five members from the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, the skeptical debunking organization, visited China during March and April of 1988 and while there tested a number of EHF subjects and investigated claims at the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China, Beijing. CSICOP findings were, as expected, largely negative. For an account of the visit, see The Skeptical Inquirer (12, no. 4, summer 1988).


Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. An Outline of Chinese Acupuncture. China Books, 1975.

Carus, Paul. Chinese Astrology. LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court, 1907.

Cerney, J. V. Acupressure, Acupuncture Without Needles. Virginia Beach, Va.: Cornerstone, 1975.

Chee Soo. Chinese Yoga: The Chinese Art of K'ai Men. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1977.

Chia, Mantak. Awaken Healing Energy Through the Tao: The Taoist Secret of Circulating Internal Power. New York: Aurora Press, 1983.

. Iron Shirt Chi Kung I. Huntington, N.Y.: Healing Tao Books, 1986.

Chia, Mantak, and Maneewan Chia. Healing Love Through the Tao: Cultivating Female Sexual Energy. Huntington, N.Y.: Healing Tao Books, 1986.

Da Lui. T'ai Chu'an and I Ching. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.

Huard, Pierre, and Ming Wong. Oriental Methods of Mental & Physical Fitness: The Complete Book of Meditation, Kinesiotherapy & Martial Arts in China, India & Japan. New York: Funk & Wagnall, 1971.

Latourette, K. C. The Chinese: Their History & Culture. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1934.

Legge, James, trans. I Ching; Book of Changes. New York: Causeway, 1973.

Luk, Charles [Lu K'uan Yü]. The Secrets of Chinese Meditation. London: Rider, 1964.

. Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality. London: Rider, 1970.

Morgan, Harry T. Chinese Symbols and Superstitions. P. D. and Ione Perkins, 1942. Reprint, Detroit: Gale Research, 1972.

Sivin, Nathan. Chinese Alchemy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968.

Wilhelm, Hans. Your Chinese Horoscope. New York: Avon, 1980.

Yang, C. K. Religion in Chinese Society. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1961.

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High respect for family is a special feature of Chinese civilization. The family is deemed the basic unit of Chinese society. An individual's actions are mostly geared towards the requirements of the family. This fundamental system has remained for about three thousand years without major change (approximately since the Chou dynasty, 1027–256 b.c.e. to the early twentieth century). Although it has been considered relatively stable, the Chinese family system is not resistant to change. The end of the imperial era in 1911 and the following industrialization and modernization brought about an extensive and dramatic change to this enduring system. Even when, in 1949, civil war separated the Chinese regime into two independent governments (the People's Republic of China under the Chinese Communist Party and the Republic of China, Taiwan, under the nationalist Kuomintang), the changes in Chinese family continued to take place. Nevertheless, there is a striking continuity over time. Much of the tradition is still apparent in contemporary Chinese society, and especially so in Chinese communities outside the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Regulations of Family Relationships

Confucianism is the dominant philosophy and doctrine of proper ethics and conduct of the Chinese people. It is nearly synonymous with traditional Chinese civilization. Over the centuries, Confucians have developed an ideology and social system designed to realize their conception of the good society, a harmonious and hierarchical social order in which everyone knows and adheres to their proper stations (Stacey 1983). According to Confucianism, the family must first be put in order, and only then can the state be ruled. A well-ordered family is thus the microcosm and the basic unit of sociopolitical order. With the great importance of the family order emphasized by Confucius and his disciples, the relationships among family members are regulated by the pecking order that results from generation, age, and gender.

Generation, age, and gender (beifen-nianlingxingbie) hierarchy. Confucianism provides a protocol for proper family life. Therefore, the hierarchy of generation-age-gender defines an individual's status, role, privileges, duties, and liabilities within the family order accordingly. Family members know precisely where they stand in the family by referring to this order: to whom each owes respect and obedience. Position in the family is more important than personal idiosyncrasies: people of the elder generation are superior to those of the younger; within each generation, the elder are normally superior to the younger; men are absolutely superior to women (Baker 1979). Everyone in the family owes obedience to the eldest male because he is superior in generation, age, and gender.

For Chinese, increasing age is accompanied by higher status. Even when it is impossible to increase the material comforts of the aged, there is no denying the respect and deference shown to them. Neither the wealthy nor the poor would abandon the elderly, nor does the thought arise (Levy 1971).

In traditional Chinese culture, the world is created by the interaction of yin, meaning tender, passive, inferior, and referring to female, and yang, meaning tough, active, superior, and referring to male. Therefore, women were appointed to a dependent status; they were secondary to men (Lang 1968). Surnames, being considered highly important, were passed on through the male lines. Only male children were counted as descent group members and had rights to the family's property. Females were not eligible to inherit the family estate, even their husbands', nor did they have primary position in any single crucial ceremonial role.

Female children were considered a bad economic and emotional investment, particularly in poor families. Their names were seldom proclaimed, for once they were married and became members of the husband's family, they were known by their husbands' surnames or their own surnames prefixed by their husbands'. Throughout their whole lives, Chinese women were expected to conform to Three Obediences (san-tsong): obedience to their fathers before marriage, to their husbands after marriage, and to their sons after their husbands die.

Although generation is definitely superior to age in hierarchy, it is not always the case that age is superior to gender. The heavy emphasis on male superiority in Chinese society may sometimes override the age consideration. For instance, a younger brother can easily see that he owes obedience to his older brother, yet, he may feel that he is superior to his older sister-in-law because of his gender. As generation-age-gender works to coordinate individuals' rights and obligations in the family, the essence of the order in family is expressed through filial piety that is considered the foundation of all kinds of virtue.

Filial piety (xiao). Filial piety is the basis of order in Chinese family. The father-son relationship is the elementary and the most important one in the family and all other relationships in the family system are regarded as extensions of or supplementary to it. Filial piety refers to the kind of superior-inferior relationship inherent in the father-son relationship. As it often appears, filial piety means children, especially sons, must please, support, and subordinate to their parents (Hsu 1971).

The obligations of children toward their parents are far more emphasized than those of parents toward children. As it is stated in the Xiao Jing (Classic of Filial Piety written some three thousand years ago), "the first principle of filial piety is that you dare not injure your body, limbs, hair or skin, which you receive from your parents." This principle establishes how a filial child practices filial piety in its rigorous form. In addition to duty and obedience children owed to their parents, parents' names are taboo since using it is considered a serious offence toward one's parents. To avoid using the name of one's father, a filial child would deliberately mispronounce or miswrite the word, or even refuse an official title that is similar to the name of his father or grandfather in ancient time (Ch'u 1965).

Since the relationship between father and son is indisputably most important, the major duty of a man is, thus, to his parents and only second to the state. With the emphasis on filial piety, a son could even be absolved from responsibility for reporting the infractions of his father in the Imperial China, except in the case of treason. In the mean time, sexual love can also be pressed into the service of filial piety, which is incumbent upon any man to continue his male line. Mencius (a great Chinese philosopher second only to Confucius) said that of the three unfilial acts, failure to produce an heir is the worst. It is so because the whole continuum of ancestors and unborn descendants die with him. Children who die young are considered to have committed an unfilial act by the mere fact of dying before their parents do. They are not qualified as potential ancestors (Freedman 1970).

It is believed in Chinese society that an individual exists by virtue of his ancestors. His descendants, then, exist only through him. To worship an individual's ancestors, thus, manifests the importance of the continuum of descent.

Ancestor worship (ji-zu). The cult of the ancestors is no mere supernatural cult. It lays stress on those moral aspects of the family that tend towards unity and good order. A young and incapable son is fed, clothed, and housed by his parents. As he grows up, he begins to take the same care of his parents. A parent's death merely alters the form of the duty. The transfer of goods from this world to the next is achieved primarily by burning symbolic paper models. Food, on the other hand, can be offered directly. As the annual Grave-sweeping (qing-ming) festival in early April arrives, it is the duty of the living descendants to weed and clean up the grave-sites of the ancestors. The ceremony not only serves to keep family solidarity alive; it also enhances the authority of the family head. In the case of a daughter, the reciprocity is performed to her husband's parents.

It is believed that the ancestor's real power begins when he dies. At that moment, he is transformed into a spirit of powers. The spirit ancestors depend on their descendants for food and a comfortable life after death, in the form of sacrifices. The descendants, meanwhile, need the supernatural support in return for the sacrifices and service (Creel 1937).

Kinship (qing-qi-guan-xi). Kinship is one of the most important principles of social organization in Chinese society. Almost all interactions among individuals are based on their relationships in the social network built by kinship. The term "kin" (qing-qi) in Chinese is defined as those relatives for whom one wears mourning. Kin are divided into three groups: paternal relatives, maternal relatives, and the relatives of one's wife. The length of mourning depends on the closeness of relationship and varies from three years for one's father or mother to three months for distant cousins (Lang 1968). Because an orderly relationship of the individual and his kin is of great importance, the Chinese have a very elaborate kinship terminology system to properly address the person with whom they interact. All relatives have their specific titles: father's elder brother (bo-fu), second maternal aunt (er-yi), third younger paternal uncle's wife (sanshen), and so on.

Extensions of the conception of family include the lineage (zong-zu) and clan (shih-zu). Same surname, common origins, shared ancestors, and worship of a founding ancestor all are common conditions for the foundation of lineages and clans (Wu 1985). Law and customs insist on mutual help among members of the lineage and the clan. Moreover, the Chinese make a great dea