People's Republic of China
|Official languages||Standard Chinese[b]|
Official written language
|Government||Socialist, Single-party state|
• First-ranked Secretary of the Secretariat
• First Vice Premier
|Legislature||National People's Congress|
• First Unification of China under the Qin Dynasty
|1 January 1912|
|1 October 1949|
|9,596,961 km2 (3,705,407 sq mi)[e] (3rd/4th)|
• Water (%)
• 2016 estimate
• 2010 census
|139.6/km2 (361.6/sq mi) (83rd)|
|GDP (PPP)||2019 estimate|
|$27.449 trillion (1st)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2019 estimate|
|$15.543 trillion (IMF)
$15.224 trillion (China NBS) (2nd)
• Per capita
|HDI (2017)|| 0.752|
high · 86th
|Currency||Renminbi (yuan)(¥)[g] (CNY)|
|Time zone||UTC+8 (China Standard Time)|
|ISO 3166 code||CN|
China (simplified Chinese: 中国; traditional Chinese: 中國 Pinyin: Zhōngguó) is a cultural region, an ancient civilization, and a nation in East Asia. The official name is People's Republic of China or PRC.
The last Chinese Civil War (1927–1949) resulted in two different political powers today:
- The Republic of China (ROC) (since 1911), commonly known as China since 1 January, 1911 to 25 October, 1971. Now commonly known as Taiwan, has control over the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu.
- The People's Republic of China (PRC) (since 1949), commonly known as China, has control over mainland China and the largely self-governing territories of Hong Kong (since 1997) and Macau (since 1999).
China is one of the world's oldest civilizations: it has the oldest continuous civilization near the Yellow River region. There is archaeological evidence over 5,000 years old. China also has one of the world's oldest writing systems (and the oldest in use today). China has been the source of many major inventions. Geographically, China’s longest river is the Yangtze River which runs through mega cities and is home to many species. It is the world’s third longest river.
Origins[change | change source]
History[change | change source]
Ancient (2100 B.C. – 1500 A.D.)[change | change source]
Ancient China was one of the first civilizations and was active since the 2nd millennium BC as a feudal society. Chinese civilization was also one of the few to invent writing, with the others being Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley civilization, the Maya civilization, the Minoan civilization of ancient Greece, and Ancient Egypt. It reached its golden age during the Tang Dynasty (c. A.D. 10th century). Home of Confucianism and Daoism, it had great influence on nearby countries including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam in the areas of political system, philosophy, religion, art, writing and literature. China is home to some of the oldest artwork in the world. Statues and pottery, as well as decorations made of jade, are some classic examples.
Before the Qin Dynasty united China, there were many small feudal states, nominally loyal to the Zhou King, that fought each other for hundreds of years in a war to control China. The majority of these states were ruled by relatives and clansmen of the Zhou royal house and carried the surname Ji (姬) and so were tied by family bonds to the Zhou king, to whom they were ritually subordinate, as members of collateral or lesser lineages. A minority of these states, such as the Qin and Chu, were ruled by non-Zhou clansmen, and were awarded their fiefs on account of some merit. Over time, these feudal states attained to power and wealth, that exceeded that of their Zhou nominal overlord, whose direct authority became confined to a very small territory near present-day Zhengzhou. These states also began to acquire some distinctive characteristics and identities of their own during the long centuries of loose control by the Zhou. Eventually, the Zhou kings were eclipsed in power by two especially problematic vassals - the Qin and Chu, and the functional independence of the Qin later led to its gradual conquest of all other vassal states and the formal supplantation of the Zhou to form a heavily centralised Empire.
The long decline of the Zhou, incidentally the longest ruling dynastic house of China, is known as the Warring States Period. Despite the bloodiness and strife of the period, this was the time when many great philosophies emerged - including Confucianism and Daoism as a response to disintegrating central authority of the Zhou kings and fluctuating power of the vassal states, and the general uncertainty of that era. Confucianism and Daoism have been the foundation of many social values seen in modern east Asian cultures today.
Other notable dynasties include the Han (from which is derived the ethnonym the Han Chinese, which is synonymous with the older self-referential term - the Huaxia) as well as dynasties such as the Tang, Song, and Ming, which were characterised by periods of affluence, wealth, population growth, and the proliferation of literature.
During the later years, China was often raided or invaded by northern nomadic people such as the Xiongnu, the Xianbei, the Jurchens and the Mongols (the latter led by Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan). One effect of regular nomadic invasion and the collapse of native dynasties was the massive migration of Han Chinese - especially the aristocratic elite and the literati, to sparsely populated frontier regions south of the Yangzi river such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian. Several notable waves of Han Chinese immigration to Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian took place during the collapse of the Jin, the Tang, and the Song.
Some nomadic groups succeeded in conquering the whole territory of China, establishing dynasties such as the Yuan (Mongol) and Qing (Manchu). Each time, they also brought new elements into Chinese culture - for instance, military uniform, the qipao and the pigtail, the latter of which was deeply resented by the Han Chinese.
A new age[change | change source]
While China achieved many things in the First millennium and early 2nd millennium, it became an isolationist country in the 15th century C.E. This was because Spain found enormous silver in the new continent, which was the main currency (money) in China and Europe at the time, and China did not want to be bought by the foreigners.
By the time of the Renaissance, European powers started to take over other countries in Asia. While China was never actually taken over, many European countries, such as Britain and France built spheres of influence in China. Since China had cut itself off from the world over the previous few centuries, by the Qing Dynasty, it had fallen behind other countries in technology, and was helpless to stop this from happening. This had become clear when it lost the Opium Wars to Britain in the 19th century.
Still influenced by Western sources, China faced internal strife. The Taiping Rebellion or Taiping War occurred in China from 1851 through 1864. The Taiping Rebellion was led by Hong Xiuquan from Guangdong. Hong Xiuquan was influenced by Christian missionaries and declared himself the brother of Jesus. Hong made his mission to bring down the Qing Dynasty. Gaining influence on the southern Chinese population, the Taiping Rebellion attracted tens of thousands of supporters. The Taiping regime successfully created a state within the Qing Empire with the capital at Nanjing. Hong called his new state the Taiping Tianguo or "The Heavenly State of Great Peace". Local armies eventually suppressed the rebellion at the final battle of Nanjing.
In 1911, the Republic of China was founded after the Xinhai revolution led by Sun Yat-sen, but its government was very weak. Warlords controlled many areas. Chiang Kai-shek led wars against them, and he became president and dictator.
On December 13 of that same year, The Japanese Army killed an estimated (guessed) 200,000 to 300,000 Chinese civilians (people) which is called Nanjing Massacre. The war later became part of World War II. The war was fought for eight years and millions of Chinese people were killed.
However, the Chinese Civil War later started between the Kuomintang (Nationalists) of the Republic of China (ROC) and the Communists of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Communists wanted to make China like the Soviet Union, whereas the other side wanted to keep China in its current state at the time. The Communists were led by Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and others. The Communists eventually won the war by uniting all the people from different positions. The Nationalists (led by Chiang Kai-shek) fled to the island of Taiwan and set up their new capital city in Taipei. After the Chinese Civil War, the Communist leader Mao Zedong declared a new country, the People's Republic of China (PRC), in Beijing on October 1, 1949.
Under Mao the country stayed poor while Taiwan became richer. His attempt at industrialization and collectivization with the Great Leap Forward led to the deaths of many people from famine. The Cultural Revolution caused great social upheaval. After 1976, China underwent market economy reforms under Deng Xiaoping, and experienced rapid economic growth, which made the former progress made by Taiwan became overshadowed. China is now one of the largest economies in the world, relying mainly on exports and manufactering.
In recent history, China has had problems with protests, blocking of information on the Internet, and censorship of news. 1989 was notable for the controversial Tiananmen Square protests. Since the 2008 Olympics, China has hosted many major international events, and the 2022 Winter Olympics were held in Beijing, China.
Geography[change | change source]
China's landscape is vast and diverse. It ranges from the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts in the north to subtropical forests in the south. The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from much of South and Central Asia. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern coast. The Yangtze River is the third-longest river in the world while the Yellow River is the sixth-longest. China's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometers (9,000 mi) long. It is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East China and South China seas. China connects through the Kazakh border to the Eurasian Steppe. The Eurasian Steppe has been an artery of communication between East and West since the Neolithic through the Steppe route. The Steppe Route is the ancestor of the terrestrial Silk Road(s).
Politics[change | change source]
China's constitution states that The People's Republic of China "is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants". It also states the state organs "apply the principle of democratic centralism." The PRC is one of the world's only socialist states openly being communist.
Military[change | change source]
With 2.3 million active troops, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the largest standing military force in the world. The PLA is commanded by the Central Military Commission (CMC). China has the second-biggest military reserve force, only behind North Korea. The PLA consists of the Ground Force (PLAGF), the Navy (PLAN), the Air Force (PLAAF), and the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF). According to the Chinese government, China's military budget for 2017 was US$151,5 billion. China has the world's second-largest military budget.
Science and technology[change | change source]
China was once a world leader in science and technology up until the Ming dynasty. There are many Ancient Chinese discoveries and inventions. For example, papermaking, printing, the compass, and gunpowder are known as the Four Great Inventions. They became widespread across East Asia, the Middle East and later to Europe. Chinese mathematicians were the first to use negative numbers. By the 17th century, Europe and the Western world became better than China in science and technology.
Demographics[change | change source]
The national census of 2010 recorded the population of the People's Republic of China to be about 1,370,536,875. About 16.60% of the population were 14 years old or younger, 70.14% were between 15 and 59 years old, and 13.26% were over 60 years old. The population growth rate for 2013 is estimated to be 0.46%.
Culture[change | change source]
China is the origin of Eastern martial arts, called Kung Fu or its first name Wushu. China is also the home of the well-respected Spa Monastery and Wudang Mountains. Martial art started more for the purpose of survival, defense, and warfare than art. Over time some art forms have branched off, while others have retained their distinct Chinese flavor.
China has had renowned artists including Wong Fei Hung (Huang Fei Hung or Hwang Fei Hung) and many others. Art has also co-existed with a variety of paints including the more standard 18 colors. Legendary and controversial moves like Big Mak are also praised and talked about within the culture.
China has many traditional festivals, such as Spring Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-autumn Festival and so on. The most important is Chinese New Year. People in China will have holidays to celebrate these festivals.
Festivals[change | change source]
Spring Festival is the Chinese New Year.
Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet of the State of Chu during the Warring States period. He persuaded his emperor not to accept Qin's diplomats' offers several times but his emperor did not listen to him. He was very sad and ended up jumping into the river to end his life. The people loved him so much that they did not want the fish to eat his corpse. They made and threw rice dumplings into the river. They hope the fish eat these dumplings instead of the poet's corpse. They also rowed dragon boats in the river to get rid of the fish. Such practices, eating rice dumplings and holding dragon boat races, become what Chinese do in this festival nowadays.
Held on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, Mid-Autumn Festival is a festival for families. Now when the festival sets in, people would sit together to eat moon cakes, appreciate the bright full moon cakes, appreciate the bright full moon, celebrate the bumper harvest and enjoy the family love and happiness. To the Chinese people, the full moon symbolizes family reunion, as does the "moon cakes." Hence the Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Family Reunion Festival.
Notes[change | change source]
- Or (previously) "Peking"
- Portuguese (Macau only), English (Hong Kong only)
- Ethnic minorities that are recognized officially
- Xi Jinping holds four concurrent positions: General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (de facto paramount leader), President of the People's Republic of China (de jure head of state), and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (Commander-in-chief) for both state and party.
- The area given is the official United Nations figure for the mainland and excludes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. It also excludes the Trans-Karakoram Tract (5,800 km2 (2,200 sq mi)), Aksai Chin (37,244 km2 (14,380 sq mi)) and other territories in dispute with India. The total area of China is listed as 9,572,900 km2 (3,696,100 sq mi) by the Encyclopædia Britannica.
- This figure was calculated using data from the CIA World Factbook.
- The Hong Kong Dollar is used in Hong Kong and the Macanese pataca is used in Macau.
- Except Hong Kong and Macau
- Eden, Richard. Decades of the New World (1555) 'The great China whose kyng is thought the greatest prince in the world.'
References[change | change source]
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For purposes of this Law, the standard spoken and written Chinese language means Putonghua (a common speech with pronunciation based on the Beijing dialect) and the standardized Chinese characters.
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- Wood, Francis, Did Marco Polo go to China (1995), p. 61.
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