[Country map of China]


(also see separate Taiwan entry)


Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam

Map references: Asia

total area: 9,596,960 sq km
land area: 9,326,410 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than the US

Land boundaries: total 22,143.34 km, Afghanistan 76 km, Bhutan 470 km, Burma 2,185 km, Hong Kong 30 km, India 3,380 km, Kazakhstan 1,533 km, North Korea 1,416 km, Kyrgyzstan 858 km, Laos 423 km, Macau 0.34 km, Mongolia 4,673 km, Nepal 1,236 km, Pakistan 523 km, Russia (northeast) 3,605 km, Russia (northwest) 40 km, Tajikistan 414 km, Vietnam 1,281 km

Coastline: 14,500 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: claim to shallow areas of East China Sea and Yellow Sea
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: boundary with India in dispute; disputed sections of the boundary with Russia remain to be settled; boundary with Tajikistan in dispute; a short section of the boundary with North Korea is indefinite; involved in a complex dispute over the Spratly Islands with Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei; maritime boundary dispute with Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin; Paracel Islands occupied by China, but claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; claims Japanese-administered Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Tai), as does Taiwan

Climate: extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north

Terrain: mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east

Natural resources: coal, iron ore, petroleum, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest)

Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 31%
forest and woodland: 14%
other: 45%

Irrigated land: 478,220 sq km (1991 - Chinese data)

current issues: air pollution from the overwhelming use of high-sulfur coal as a fuel, produces acid rain which is damaging forests; water shortages experienced throughout the country, particularly in urban areas; future growth in water usage threatens to outpace supplies; water pollution from industrial effluents; much of the population does not have access to potable water; less than 10% of sewage receives treatment; deforestation; estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1957 to soil erosion and economic development; desertification; trade in endangered species
natural hazards: frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts
international agreements: party to - Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Desertification, Law of the Sea

Note: world's third-largest country (after Russia and Canada)


Population: 1,203,097,268 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 26% (female 151,266,866; male 167,234,782)
15-64 years: 67% (female 391,917,572; male 419,103,994)
65 years and over: 7% (female 39,591,692; male 33,982,362) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.04% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 17.78 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 7.36 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 52.1 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.08 years
male: 67.09 years
female: 69.18 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.84 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Chinese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese

Ethnic divisions: Han Chinese 91.9%, Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%

Religions: Daoism (Taoism), Buddhism, Muslim 2%-3%, Christian 1% (est.)
note: officially atheist, but traditionally pragmatic and eclectic

Languages: Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic divisions entry)

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990)
total population: 78%
male: 87%
female: 68%

Labor force: 583.6 million (1991)
by occupation: agriculture and forestry 60%, industry and commerce 25%, construction and mining 5%, social services 5%, other 5% (1990 est.)


conventional long form: People's Republic of China
conventional short form: China
local long form: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo
local short form: Zhong Guo

Abbreviation: PRC

Digraph: CH

Type: Communist state

Capital: Beijing

Administrative divisions: 23 provinces (sheng, singular and plural), 5 autonomous regions* (zizhiqu, singular and plural), and 3 municipalities** (shi, singular and plural); Anhui, Beijing**, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi*, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol*, Ningxia*, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanghai**, Shanxi, Sichuan, Tianjin**, Xinjiang*, Xizang* (Tibet), Yunnan, Zhejiang
note: China considers Taiwan its 23rd province

Independence: 221 BC (unification under the Qin or Ch'in Dynasty 221 BC; Qing or Ch'ing Dynasty replaced by the Republic on 12 February 1912; People's Republic established 1 October 1949)

National holiday: National Day, 1 October (1949)

Constitution: most recent promulgated 4 December 1982

Legal system: a complex amalgam of custom and statute, largely criminal law; rudimentary civil code in effect since 1 January 1987; new legal codes in effect since 1 January 1980; continuing efforts are being made to improve civil, administrative, criminal, and commercial law

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President JIANG Zemin (since 27 March 1993); Vice President RONG Yiren (since 27 March 1993); election last held 27 March 1993 (next to be held 1998); results - JIANG Zemin was nominally elected by the Eighth National People's Congress
head of government: Premier LI Peng (Acting Premier since 24 November 1987, Premier since 9 April 1988) Vice Premier ZHU Rongji (since 8 April 1991); Vice Premier ZOU Jiahua (since 8 April 1991); Vice Premier QIAN Qichen (since 29 March 1993); Vice Premier LI Lanqing (29 March 1993); Vice Premier WU Bangguo (since 17 March 1995); Vice Premier JIANG Chunyun (since 17 March 1995)
cabinet: State Council; appointed by the National People's Congress (NPC)

Legislative branch: unicameral
National People's Congress: (Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui) elections last held March 1993 (next to be held March 1998); results - CCP is the only party but there are also independents; seats - (2,977 total) (elected at county or xian level)

Judicial branch: Supreme People's Court

Political parties and leaders: Chinese Communist Party (CCP), JIANG Zemin, general secretary of the Central Committee (since 24 June 1989); eight registered small parties controlled by CCP

Other political or pressure groups: such meaningful opposition as exists consists of loose coalitions, usually within the party and government organization, that vary by issue


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador LI Daoyu
chancery: 2300 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 328-2500 through 2502
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador J. Stapleton ROY
embassy: Xiu Shui Bei Jie 3, 100600 Beijing
mailing address: PSC 461, Box 50, Beijing; FPO AP 96521-0002
telephone: [86] (1) 5323831
FAX: [86] (1) 5323178
consulate(s) general: Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang

Flag: red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner


Overview: Beginning in late 1978 the Chinese leadership has been trying to move the economy from the sluggish Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more productive and flexible economy with market elements, but still within the framework of monolithic Communist control. To this end the authorities switched to a system of household responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprise in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment. The result has been a strong surge in production, particularly in agriculture in the early 1980s. Industry also has posted major gains, especially in coastal areas near Hong Kong and opposite Taiwan, where foreign investment and modern production methods have helped spur production of both domestic and export goods. Aggregate output has more than doubled since 1978. On the darker side, the leadership has often experienced in its hybrid system the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy, lassitude, corruption) and of capitalism (windfall gains and stepped-up inflation). Beijing thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. In 1992-94 annual growth of GDP accelerated, particularly in the coastal areas - to more than 10% annually according to official claims. In late 1993 China's leadership approved additional long-term reforms aimed at giving more play to market-oriented institutions and at strengthening the center's control over the financial system. In 1994 strong growth continued in the widening market-oriented areas of the economy. At the same time, the government struggled to (a) collect revenues due from provinces, businesses, and individuals; (b) keep inflation within bounds; (c) reduce extortion and other economic crimes; and (d) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises, most of which had not participated in the vigorous expansion of the economy. From 60 to 100 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many barely subsisting through part-time low-pay jobs. Popular resistance, changes in central policy, and loss of authority by rural cadres have weakened China's population control program, which is essential to the nation's long-term economic viability. One of the most dangerous long-term threats to continued rapid economic growth is the deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table especially in the north.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $2.9788 trillion (1994 estimate as extrapolated from World Bank estimate for 1992 by use of official Chinese growth statistics for 1993-94; because of the difficulties with official statistics in this time of rapid change, the result may overstate China's GDP by as much as 25%)

National product real growth rate: 11.8% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $2,500 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 25.5% (December 1994 over December 1993)

Unemployment rate: 2.7% in urban areas (1994); substantial underemployment

Budget: deficit $13.7 billion (1994)

Exports: $121 billion (f.o.b., 1994)
commodities: textiles, garments, footwear, toys, machinery and equipment, weapon systems
partners: Hong Kong, Japan, US, Germany, South Korea, Russia (1993)

Imports: $115.7 billion (c.i.f., 1994)
commodities: rolled steel, motor vehicles, textile machinery, oil products, aircraft
partners: Japan, Taiwan, US, Hong Kong, Germany, South Korea (1993)

External debt: $100 billion (1994 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 17.5% (1994 est.)

capacity: 162,000,000 kW
production: 746 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 593 kWh (1993)

Industries: iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, textiles and apparel, petroleum, cement, chemical fertilizers, consumer durables, food processing, autos, consumer electronics, telecommunications

Agriculture: accounts for almost 30% of GDP; among the world's largest producers of rice, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, and pork; commercial crops include cotton, other fibers, and oilseeds; produces variety of livestock products; basically self-sufficient in food; fish catch of 13.35 million metric tons (including fresh water and pond raised) (1991)

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of opium; bulk of production is in Yunnan Province (which produced 25 metric tons in 1994); transshipment point for heroin produced in the Golden Triangle

Economic aid:
donor: to less developed countries (1970-89) $7 billion
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-87), $220.7 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $13.5 billion

Currency: 1 yuan (Y) = 10 jiao

Exchange rates: yuan (Y) per US$1 - 8.4413 (January 1995), 8.6187 (1994), 5.7620 (1993), 5.5146 (1992), 5.3234 (1991), 4.7832 (1990)
note: beginning 1 January 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

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 65,780 km
standard gauge: 55,180 km 1.435-m gauge (7,174 km electrified; more than 11,000 km double track)
narrow gauge: 600 km 1.000-m gauge; 10,000 km 0.762-m to 1.067-m gauge dedicated industrial lines

total: 1.029 million km
paved: 170,000 km
unpaved: gravel/improved earth 648,000 km; unimproved earth 211,000 km (1990)

Inland waterways: 138,600 km; about 109,800 km navigable

Pipelines: crude oil 9,700 km; petroleum products 1,100 km; natural gas 6,200 km (1990)

Ports: Aihui, Changsha, Dalian, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Huangpu, Nanning, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shantou, Tanggu, Xiamen, Xingang, Zhanjiang

Merchant marine:
total: 1,628 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 16,013,532 GRT/24,027,766 DWT
ships by type: barge carrier 3, bulk 298, cargo 849, chemical tanker 14, combination bulk 10, container 98, liquefied gas tanker 4, multifunction large load carrier 1, oil tanker 212, passenger 24, passenger-cargo 25, refrigerated cargo 21, roll-on/roll-off cargo 24, short-sea passenger 44, vehicle carrier 1
note: China beneficially owns an additional 250 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling approximately 8,831,462 DWT that operate under Panamanian, Hong Kong, Maltese, Liberian, Vanuatu, Cypriot, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Bahamian, and Singaporean registry

total: 204
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 17
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 69
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 89
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 9
with paved runways under 914 m: 7
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 7
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 3
with unpaved runways under 914 m: 3


Telephone system: 20,000,000 telephones (summer 1994); domestic and international services are increasingly available for private use; unevenly distributed internal system serves principal cities, industrial centers, and most townships; expanding phone lines, interprovincial fiber optic links, satellite communications, cellullar/mobile communications, etc.
local: NA
intercity: fiber optic trunk lines, 55 earth stations for domestic satellites
international: 5 INTELSAT earth stations (4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 INMARSAT earth station; several international fiber optic links to Japan and Hong Kong

broadcast stations: AM 274, FM NA, shortwave 0
radios: 215 million

broadcast stations: 202 (repeaters 2,050)
televisions: 75 million

Defense Forces

Branches: People's Liberation Army (PLA), which includes the Ground Forces, Navy (includes Marines and Naval Aviation), Air Force, Second Artillery Corps (the strategic missile force), People's Armed Police (internal security troops, nominally subordinate to Ministry of Public Security, but included by the Chinese as part of the "armed forces" and considered to be an adjunct to the PLA in war time)

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 351,330,411; males fit for military service 194,286,619; males reach military age (18) annually 9,841,658 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: defense budget - 63.09 billion yuan, NA% of GDP (1995 est.); note - conversion of the defense budget into US dollars using the current exchange rate could produce misleading results