China country profile

Rediscovering the People’s Republic of China
Rediscovering the People’s Republic of China
Rediscovering the People’s Republic of China
Rediscovering the People’s Republic of China
Rediscovering the People’s Republic of ChinaOfficially referred to as the People’s Republic of China and nicknamed the Middle Kingdom, China is the world’s most populated country, with a recorded population of more than 1.3 billion.

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Rediscovering the People’s Republic of China

Officially referred to as the People’s Republic of China and nicknamed the Middle Kingdom, China is the world’s most populated country, with a recorded population of more than 1.3 billion. Beijing is the capital city of this single-party state, which is ruled over by the Communist Party of China. It has jurisdiction over Hong Kong and Macau, which are self-governing administrative regions; Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Chongqing, which are directly controlled municipalities; five autonomous regions; and 22 provinces. Taiwan, which is controlled by the Republic of China, is also claimed by the People’s Republic of China as its 23rd province, a claim that has long been regarded controversial in nature due to the Chinese Civil War and the complex political status if Taiwan itself. The legitimacy of the ROC has been denied by the government of the PRC.


Looking into China’s Geography

Map References:




Extremely diverse; subarctic in north to tropical in south



Mostly mountains, deserts and high plateaus in west; deltas, hills, and plains in east


Elevation Extremes:

Highest point:

Mt. Everest


Lowest point:

Turpan Pendi

Land Use:

Permanent crops:



Arable land:





Natural Resources:

iron ore, coal, mercury, petroleum, natural gas, tin, tungsten, antimony, vanadium, manganese, molybdenum, magnetite, rare earth elements, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, and the world's largest hydropower potential


Natural Hazards:

damaging floods, earthquakes, droughts, frequent typhoons, land subsidence, and tsunamis; country has historically active volcanoes like Kunlun, Changbaishan, and Hainan Dao



International agreements:

Party to biodiversity, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, climate change, environmental modification, endangered species, desertification, ship pollution, whaling, marine dumping, and many more.


Current Issues:

Deforestation, air pollution, water pollution, water shortages, trade in endangered species, desertification, etc.





Political Geography

Covering an estimated 9.6 million square kilometers, this Asian giant is the world’s second-largest country in terms of land area after Russia and the fourth largest in terms of total area after the United States, Canada, and Russia.  Measuring 22,117 km, China’s combined land border is considered the longest in the world, ranging from the mouth of the Yalu River to the Gulf of Tonkin. Like Russia, this East Asian state borders 14 nations. It spans across much of the East Asian region, bordering Burma, Laos, and Vietnam in Southeast Asia; Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and India in South Asia; Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan in Central Asia; some regions of Mongolia and the Russian Altai in Inner Asia; and North Korea and the Russian Far East in Northeast Asia.

As for its maritime boundaries, PRC shares it with the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, and South Korea. The People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China make reciprocal claims over each other’s territory and the borderline between areas under each country’s control are those areas near the islands of Matsu and Kinmen, running through the Taiwan Strait but off the Fujian coast. Both states assert their claims over the entire Spratly Islands located in the South China Sea, with the southern-most span of their claims reaching Zengmu Ansha that forms Malaysia’s maritime frontier.


Landscape and Climate

Spanning between latitudes 18° and 54°N and longitudes 73° and 135°E, China’s territory and landscapes vary significantly across its vastness. Along the shores of the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea in the east are wide and well-populated plains, while broad grasslands predominate the edges of the northern plateau of Inner Mongolia. Central China is home to the deltas of the country’s major rivers—the Yangtze River and the Yellow River; while Southern China is peppered with low mountains and hills. The Amur, Brahmaputra, Mekong, and Xi are among the other major rivers of the country. The Himalayas and other major mountain ranges as well as high plateaus in the west highlight the arid northern landscapes including the Gobi Desert and the Taklamakan. Mt. Everest, considered the world’s highest point is nestled on the Sino-Nepalese border; while the dried lake bed of Ayding Lake, which is the world’s fourth lowest point and the country’s lowest, is in the Turpan Depression.

Dry seasons and wet monsoons dominate the country’s climate, which entails significant temperature differences between the winter and summer months. Northern winds from high latitude areas come dry and cold during the winter season; while southern winds emanating from the lower latitude coastal areas come moist and warm during the summer months. And because of the country’s complex and vast topography, climate will vary from one region to another.


Examining China’s Government and Politics

Government Type:



Country Name:

Long form (conventional)

People’s Republic of China


Short form (conventional)



Long form (local)

Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo


Short form (local)






Note: Despite the country’s size, the whole country falls within a single time zone; although many Xinjiang Province residents observe the UTC+6 zone and call it the “Xinjiang time zone”



Recently promulgated on December 1982, amended several times


Administrative Divisions:

23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions


Executive Body:

Chief of State (president), Head of State (premier), Cabinet (state council appointed by National People's Congress) 


Legislative Body:

Unicameral National People's Congress


Judicial Body:

Supreme People's Court, Local People's Courts, and Special People's Courts






Along with Cuba, Laos, North Koreas, and Vietnam, China is among the remaining official Communist states in the world, although a simple categorization of the country’s political framework has no longer been possible since the 1980s. The country’s government has received a great variation as to its particular type and category—communist, socialist, and to some extent, authoritarian with stringent rules on certain areas particularly on religion, the press, reproductive rights, the Internet, and many others. Currently, the country’s leaders have termed its economic/political system as “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

As opposed to China’s closed-door policies up until the mid-1970s, the country’s liberalization has brought about the administrative atmosphere being less restrictive.  The country is far different from social democracy and liberal democracy that are predominant in most of North America and Europe, with the country’s highest state body, the National People’s Congress, has been referred to as a “rubber stamp. Hu Jintao is the incumbent president of the country and also the Communist Party of China’s general secretary; while Wen Jiabao is the incumbent premier and the CPC Politburo Standing Committee’s senior member.      

The Communist Party of China, whose power is under the protection of the country’s constitution, governs the country. The electoral system is hierarchical, where the local People’s Congresses are elected directly; while all the higher levels of the People’s Congress up to National People’s Congress are indirectly elected by the level immediately subordinate. With limited democratic processes within the party as well as at the levels of the local villages, the political system is partially decentralized. Referred to as democratic parties, other political parties in the country participate in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress. 

With legislatures exhibiting some assertiveness from time to time and open contested elections are now conducted at the town and village levels, obviously more and more movements have been organized toward political liberalization.  Nonetheless, the Party holds effective control over government appointments. Of course, with the lack of meaningful opposition, the CPC, more often than not, wins by default.  Among the major political issues in the country include eliminating the corruption within the government leadership as well as minimizing the increasing gap between the rich and the poor.

The country’s management of the nation and the people’s support to the government action is ranked the highest in the world. Eighty-six percent of the people have expressed satisfaction with the nation’s economy and with the way things are going in their country based on a 2008 survey from the Pew Research Center.


Sizing Up China’s Economy

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity)

US $11.29 trillion (2011 est.)

GDP (Official Exchange Rate)

US $6.989 trillion (2011 est.)

GDP Real Growth Rate

9.2% (2011 est.)

Labor Force:

795.5 million (2011 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

6.5% (2011 est.)


revenues: $1.646 trillion
expenditures: $1.729 trillion (2011 est.)

Public Debt:

43.5% of GDP (2011 est.)




Since its 1978 economic liberalization, the country and its investment- and export-based economy has developed almost a hundredfold and is now even considered the world's fastest-growing economy. The IMF estimates that the Chinese economy will grow at a 9.5% average annual rate between the years 2011 and 2015.

With an estimated 55 million inbound international visitors for the year 2010, China is ranked the third most visited country across the world. China is a member of the WTO. The country is also the second-largest trading country next to the U.S. with a reported international trade value of US$3.64 trillion in 2011.

The country's economic success has been primarily brought about by its being into manufacturing as a low-cost producer. This is attributed to the strategic combination of good infrastructure, cheap labor, favorable government policy, an undervalued exchange rate, and high productivity. The country's undervalued exchange rate has been oftentimes blamed for the country's enormous trade surplus and a major source of dispute between the country and its primary trading partners including the United States, Japan, and the European Union.

China remains a dominant player in the strategic “pillar” industries, which includes heavy industries and energy, but its private enterprises covering around 30 million private businesses has massively expanded.


Admiring China’s People, Culture, and Society

Despite being a middle-income country as per Western standards, China’s growth spurt has taken hundreds of millions of people out of poverty since the late 1970s. About 10% of the country’s population today lives below the US$1 per day poverty line, down from 64% since 1978. And the country’s unemployment has been reported to have declined by 4% by the end of 2007.

China is greatly concerned with its population growth considering its more than 1.3 billion population and its natural resources slowly dwindling. The country as tried to implement strict family planning policies, including the goal of having one single child per family only, with some flexibility in rural regions and special considerations for ethnic minorities.

The cities of China have expanded at an estimated rate of 10% every year since 2000. The county will add approximately 400 million to the current urban population around 2025. At present, China has many cities being home to one million or more long-term residents in the three major global cities Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing.

With the country's 56 distinct ethnic groups, the Han Chinese are counted as the largest, constituting about 91.51% of the entire population. The world's largest single ethnic group, the Han Chinese outnumbers other ethnic groups in all municipalities, provinces, and autonomous regions except Xinjiang and Tibet.

The country's cuisine is highly diverse, boasting of several millenia of culinary history. A great number of dynastic emperors of ancient China were largely known to host banquets that served more than a hundred dishes at a time with the employment of a huge imperial kitchen staff and concubines that all helped prepare the food. The Chinese staple food is rice, but the country is also popular for their meat dishes; while spices are prevalent in most of their cuisine.