Cities in CHINA
Geography and Landscape
The People's Republic of China, (officially: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo, in short: Zhongguo; pronounced: Chung-Hua Jen-Min Kung-Ho Kuo) is located in East Asia. The country's total area is 9,571,300 km2, making China the third largest country in the world (after Russia and Canada).
The longest straight distance is over 5000 kilometers! The total length of all China's borders is over 22,000 kilometers and is divided as follows:
More than three thousand islands lie off the coast of China, of which Hainan, located in the South China Sea, is the largest. The island is regularly ravaged by typhoons, especially from May to October.
China is made up of 35% mountains, 27% highlands, 17% basins or desert, 8% hilly, and 13% plains.
Mount Everest in Tibet is the highest mountain in the world with an altitude of 8848 meters, the Turpan Depression in the northwest, at 154 meters below sea level, is China's lowest point. More than a hundred peaks in China are higher than 7000 meters and more than a thousand higher than 6000 meters.
The Gobi (Gebi Shamo) and the Takla-Makan are deserts that interrupt the great plains to the north.
Much of China regularly suffers from earthquakes that are sometimes very powerful. The earthquake zone stretches from western Sichuan to the Bo Hai, a northern arm of the Yellow Sea.
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Two-thirds of the Chinese land area is mountainous or hilly or highland. The landscape of China is terraced in structure. The Qinghai-Xizang Plateau averages 4,000 meters ("Roof of the World") above sea level and includes the provinces of Tibet (Xizang), Qinghai and western Sichuan. This plateau is the highest plateau. Almost all major rivers of China and Southeast Asia have their source here.
The second plateau ranges in height from 1000-2000 meters and includes the Tarim Basin, the Mongolian Plateau, the Loess Plateau, the Red Basin, and the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau from north to south.
The lowest terrace (up to 500 meters high) consists of plains and the lowlands along the lower reaches of the major rivers. This strip of land runs from north to south along the coast of China. Most industry and agriculture take place here and more than 65% of the Chinese population lives here.
The coastal region of China has a total length of about 5570 km and is mountainous in the south, rich in islands and highly articulated, as well as the Shandong peninsula. The best ports are therefore found here.
Larger inlets of the coast are the Waves of Liaodong and Bo Hai, the Yellow Sea (Huang Hai), the bays of Jiaozhou and Hangzhou and the Gulf of Tonkin. Numerous islands include, except Hainan and Taiwan (Formosa), the Zhoushan Islands for Hangzhou Bay and the Miaodao Islands for the entrance to Bo Hai Gulf.
Rivers and lakes
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In total, China has about 5000 rivers, almost all of which flow eastwards and then flow into the Pacific or Indian Ocean. The total length of all rivers together is approximately 225,000 kilometers, of which more than 100,000 kilometers are easily navigable. Unlike the rivers in the north, the southern rivers never freeze.
Many rivers deposit large amounts of silt, forming deltas that expand further south. Fertile delta areas have been created here with a very high population density. Million cities such as Canton, Shanghai and Tianjin lie in these areas.
The two largest rivers in China are the Huang He or Yellow River (4845 km) and the Yangzi Jiang (5200 km). The Yellow River is notorious for its floods, which are largely caused by large-scale inland deforestation, making water management in the river's basin almost impossible to control. Due to large silt deposits (approx. 1.5 billion tons per year), the river bed has in some places even been placed above the surrounding land and the lower reaches of the river have been regularly displaced, so far more than 25 times. More than 100,000 kilometers of dikes must ensure that the river does not constantly overflow its banks. In the past 2,000 years, the river has been flooded about 1,500 times, and is therefore also referred to as "China's concern". Due to the very large amounts of fertile soil (loess) that is transported by the river to the sea, the river has been given the name 'Yellow River'.
The Yangzi Jiang does not have such a disastrous influence on the landscape and with its wide-branched system of tributaries it is of much greater significance for shipping. After the Amazon and the Nile, the Yangzi Jiang is the longest river in the world. About 700 tributaries drain the area of nearly 2 million km2. That is, almost 20% of China's territory - and a quarter of the land suitable for agriculture. In the north, the Yalong Jiang, Jialing Jiang, Min Jiang and Tuo Jiang are the main tributaries, in the south Wu Jiang plays a major role. From the delta north of Shanghai, the river for sea-going ships is navigable up to Wuhan, which is almost 1000 kilometers upstream. Along the lower reaches, known as Yangzi, the river flows through most of the major industrial areas and past centers producing silk, embroidery, lacquer and wood carvings.
Major rivers in the north are the Songhua Jiang, the Heilong Jiang or Amur (border river with the Soviet Union), the Yalu Jiang (border river with Korea) and the Xiliao He. The northern rivers have large differences in their water level, depending on the seasons. In the summer the rivers swell enormously and in the winter there is not much more left than a small stream. In the summer of 1998, China experienced the worst flooding of the Jangtzi Jiang River since 1954, affecting an estimated 240 million people. Millions of people had to flee their homes and at least 2000 people - possibly many more - died.
To the south, Xi Jiang (1600 km) with its tributaries is of regional significance. The Yarlungzangbo, which flows eastward across the Qinghai-Tibet plateau and finally flows into the Bay of Bengal as the Brahmaputra, is the highest river in the world.
Inland rivers are mainly found in the dry northwest. These rivers irrigate one third of the total territory of China. They are fed by glaciers and snow and therefore dry up regularly. Most of the inner rivers contribute to the vast underground water reservoirs that lie beneath the desert regions of North and Northwestern China. With 2137 kilometers, the Tarim is the longest inland river in China.
Because most rivers run from east to west, a channel system has been developed over the centuries to steer the flow of goods from north to south in the right direction. The Grand Canal, the longest man-made waterway in the world, was already built during the Sui Dynasty (589-618) and connects Hangzhou to Beijing over a length of 1700 kilometers. Some parts of the network of channels date back nearly 2,500 years. The average width of the channel is 30 meters. The section between Beijing and Tianjin has dried up completely and other sections are not navigable.
In total, China has approximately 2800 lakes, half of which are filled with salt water. Eastern China has a large number of lakes, of which the Poyang Lake (2800 km2) and the Dongting Lake (4800 km2) are the largest. These lakes are located in the Yangzi Plain and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
The lakes in the northwest of the country are mainly located on high plains and are usually water collection points in drainless areas, with strongly varying water levels and high salinity. The largest is Qing Hai or Chöch nuur (Western Sea), with 4800 km2. Lop Nor, the second largest salt lake in China, is located on the east side of the Tarim Basin. Lop Nor covers approx. 2570 km2 and has changed place, shape and depth over the past millennia. Around this mysterious lake there are many sand dunes and white salt pans.
Taihu Lake in eastern Jiangsu Province covers an area of 2,400 km2, making it one of the largest freshwater lakes in China. The lake has about 90 islands and the lake is used for duck and goose cultivation, water chestnuts and lotus flowers are cultivated and fish and lobsters are caught.
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Hong Kong is now a Special Administrative Region (SAR) and consists of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories and more than 200 offshore islands, totaling approximately 1045 km2. In total, approximately 6 million people live in Hong Kong.
On June 16, 1843, Hong Kong officially became an English crown colony. On July 1, 1898, the British were loaned to Hong Kong for 99 years. On December 19, 1984, the English and Chinese governments signed the so-called "Joint Declaration". It stated that from 1 July 1997 China would regain control of Hong Kong in the sense that Hong Kong will continue to exercise self-government as a Special Administrative Region. The Chinese government also guaranteed economic, social and legal autonomy for all of Hong Kong for 50 years.
On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong's ceremonial transfer took place from Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China.
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Macau is a small, four-kilometer long peninsula, which is located on the west side of the Pearl River and is connected to mainland China. Macau also consists of the two islands of Taipa and Coloane. Macau has about 500,000 inhabitants, of which still about 15,000 Portuguese.
Macau was discovered in 1513 by the Portuguese explorer Jorge Alvarez. The Portuguese colony of Macau was founded in 1557. Since February 17, 1976, Macau had self-government under Portuguese sovereignty. Since December 20, 1999, Macau officially belongs to the People's Republic of China after 443 years. Until 2049, Macau retains a separate status with far-reaching political autonomy.
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Taiwan (Republic of China or Nationalist China) used to be called (Ilha) Formosa, the "beautiful island". The island state is located 160 kilometers southeast of China and has a total area of 35,563 kilometers. Taiwan has approximately 21.5 million inhabitants, of which approximately 90% live on a narrow strip of fertile soil on the west coast. The capital of Taiwan is T'ai-péi; other major cities are Kau-shieng, T'ai-Chong and Tainan. The climate of Taiwan is generally subtropical. The islands of Matsu, the Pescadors, Pratas and Quemoy are controlled by Taiwan.
Based on historical grounds, the government of Taiwan, Republic of China (ROC) has long regarded itself as the legitimate driver of all of China (the island of Taiwan and the mainland). The People's Republic of China (PRC - mainland China) has a different view and views Taiwan as a rebellious province within the PRC. In doing so, China is the international leader: few countries officially recognize Taiwan and have diplomatic relations with the country; Taiwan is also not officially a member of the United Nations. Taiwan is gradually realizing that an island nation is the most feasible, and for that the government has implemented a number of constitutional reforms.
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The very mountainous Tibet (Chinese: Xizang) is located in Western China, has an area of 1,221,600 km2. Tibet borders India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Myanmar (Burma). About 2.37 million people live in Tibet, including about 1.7 million Tibetans. The total number of Tibetans is estimated at 6 million, most of them living in Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Many exiles live in neighboring countries India and Nepal.
In 1280, under the Mongol Kublai Khan, Tibet became connected with China. In the 17th century, the unified Tibet regained independence, but in 1720 Tibet was again subject to the Chinese emperors.
In 1904, the British invaded Tibet, and in 1913/14, a conference in China determined that Tibet would become an autonomous state under Chinese sovereignty.
On March 10, 1959, the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, fled. From Dharamsala in northwestern India, he formed an exile government and from there traveling the world through the Tibetan cause.
In 1965, Tibet officially became an autonomous territory within the People's Republic of China. At the end of 1987 there was a major uprising, which was however crushed by the Chinese army. The repression of the Tibetans is still continuing at this time and a solution does not seem to be yet to come. The 1989 award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama was a tremendous boost for the Tibetan people.
Climate and Weather
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Most of China is in a temperate climate zone with clearly distinguishable seasons, but due to the enormous area of the country, China has a wide variety of regional climates. The dry winters that generally characterize China's climate are caused by cold air masses that form above the high-pressure areas of the Asian continent.
In winter, monsoons often blow south from high-pressure areas above Eastern Siberia to low-pressure areas above the Pacific. These monsoons bring cold dry air across the country, and only in the far south doesn't it freeze.
In summer, the monsoons blow exactly from the opposite direction. The east, south and southwest of China are then often ravaged by extreme rainfall, causing floods that often cause great damage to land and population.
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In the last weeks of August and the first weeks of September, the southeastern coast of China is often hit by tropical whirlwinds or "typhoons." Typhoons (da feng = strong wind) hit China more often than any other country. According to Chinese standards, a storm with a force of 8-11 is considered a typhoon. They can penetrate up to 400 km, although this is an exception. Sometimes they last for a few days, but usually after a few hours the greatest danger is over. Provinces like Quangdong and Fujian are hit by a typhoon on average seven times a year.
The southern parts of Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan provinces, plus Hong Kong, Macau and Hainan Island, are in a tropical climate zone with very hot summer months.
High-altitude travel destinations are very cold in winter, and many places are not even reachable anymore.
Northeastern China has dry, hot summers and long, cold winters, as do the desert regions of Inner Mongolia and Sinkiang. The Amur River is frozen for about half the year and Mohe is the coldest place in China and is therefore also referred to as the "Chinese North Pole". Temperatures below -50 °C are no exception and the average January temperature is -20 °C.
China's hottest place, Turpan, is also located in Inner Mongolia, and is also China's lowest-lying place.
Central China has hot, humid summers with a lot of rain in the late summer months. In the lower reaches of the Jangtekiang, winters are not as cold as in the centrally located Loess Plateau and in the mountain-surrounded province of Sichuan. Sandstorms occasionally occur around Beijing, Xi'an and Zhengzhou in winter and spring.
Summers in the highlands of Tibet and Qinghai (above 4000 meters) are short and moderately warm, while winters can be very cold. The precipitation amounts are only small and the differences between day and night temperatures can be very large.
The highlands of Yunnan-Guizhou have a mild climate with warm summers and cool winters. It rarely freezes there and the precipitation amounts are low.
South China has a subtropical climate with uniform precipitation levels throughout the year. Summers are long, humid and hot; winters cool, but short. The island of Hainan has a tropical climate.
Some climate data:
|City||Average temperature in °C||Annual precipitation (mm)|
Platns and Animals
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China has a very varied vegetation with approx. 32,000 higher plant species. However, the centuries of deforestation have left deep marks on the landscape and nature has suffered terribly from the inevitable erosion.
The expansion of the cultivated land has mainly led to an almost total destruction of the many forests that China once had. Forests are now only found in the high mountains. These contain about 2000 tree species.
In the tropical areas many coconut palms and banana trees grow, in the subtropical areas many fig trees, in the temperate areas you will find deciduous forests and coniferous forests in the cold areas.
Southeast China is originally covered with a subtropical rainforest, supplemented with tropical, Pacific and Himalayan elements. The forest is rich in bamboo, but in the mountains bamboo is still sporadic; here you will mainly find conifers, varieties of the laurel and tea family, oaks and magnolias.
The largest subtropical forests in the world, with more than 10,000 tree species, are located in Sichuan Province. Eastern China has monsoon forests.
Central China used to have a temperate, very species-rich rainforest. That rainforest has now been pushed back to temple courts and mountains, richest on cloud slopes, including horse chestnuts, maples, cherry, dogwood, and conifers. Here the curious 'living fossil' Metasequoia was discovered, and the cathaya tree in the border area of Sichuan and Guangxi also belongs to this category.
Another well-known living fossil, Ginkgo biloba, has been preserved as a cultivated plant. The ginkgo is related to the coniferous tree, but instead of needles it has leaves. Until more than 10,000 years ago, they occurred in the entire Northern Hemisphere, but now almost exclusively in China. The oldest ginkgo is about 3000 years old.
Further north, the vast, almost entirely cultivated loess landscape stretches, which originally bore a moderately deciduous forest. Remains of these can only be found in the mountains; this very species-rich vegetation contains many types of conifers and many types of maple, birch, horse chestnut, alder, oak and walnut. Characteristic Chinese trees and shrubs such as Paulownia, Gleditschia and Rhododendron are also common here.
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To the north and northwest (Manchuria, Gobi) are steppes and deserts with a sparse vegetation of, among others, wormwood species and the Kalidium gracile used for camel food.
Coniferous Forest Areas are mainly located in the Great Hinggan Mountains of northern China, with larch species and evergreen coniferous species such as fir and pine.
The southwestern high mountains are among the richest flora areas in the world. From low to high, one first distinguishes the subtropical savanna forest up to 1800 meters (sometimes 2800); the lower montane zone (up to 2900 meters) with pine forests and mixed pine-deciduous forests (with oak and chestnuts), evergreen forest, thorn thicket, laurel oak forest and steppe; the upper montane zone (in the south up to 4350 meters, in the north up to 3700 meters) with coniferous forests, Rhododendron thickets and high-spreading grasslands, and finally the very species-rich alpine zone, e.g. in Yunnan and Sichuan, where dwarf shrubs up to 4730 meters high and where, for example, the genus Rhododendron 600 species, primrose 300 species and cartel leaf 210 species are rich.
In the far west of Mongolia and in Xinjiang Uyghur, one finds desert-like vegetation with thorny shrubs and grasses. The main plants are the tamarisk and the saxaul.
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The Chinese fauna includes both Asian-tropical and Eurosiberian elements, and is very varied. About 420 species of mammals, 1200 species of birds, 200 species of amphibians and more than 300 species of reptiles live on Chinese territory.
Overcrowding and agriculture have greatly reduced the animal world, a process that has been going on for many centuries. Few wild animals are found in the densely populated lowlands; even birds have generally become very scarce.
In the mountains and in the more sparsely populated areas you can still find the remains of a once very rich fauna; for example, the number of Indian elephants in China is estimated to be only about 100.
As for large mammals, the famous giant panda or bamboo bear from the western province of Sichuan, the Father David deer, the most likely extinct Chinese flag dolphin of Dongting Lake and its surrounding areas, and some curious monkey species of the genus Rhinopithecus are the most notable. The spoon sturgeon of the Yangzi Jiang and the Chinese / Japanese giant salamander are also worth mentioning. Protected animal species are the Chinese crane and the Yangzi alligator. Of the three tiger species, the Bengal, South China and Manchurian or Siberian tiger, only a few hundred survive.
Northern species like marmots live in high places in the southwest, while in southern places southern species predominate, such as the large Indian civet and the golden-haired monkey. Monkey Island is a island on the island of Hainan, a reserve for about 1000 Guangxi monkeys.
In the north, the fauna is more like that of North Asia, with on the borders the Przewalski horse, the wild camel and the Siberian tiger, both of which are very rare. Unique to this area are the brown ear pheasant and the Reeves pheasant, which has a tail of about two meters in length. Sable martens and sika deer also live here, which are practically extinct elsewhere in China. North of Harbin is a swampy nature reserve, where rare Japanese cranes and white-necked cranes breed.
The deserts of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang are mainly home to rodents and ungulates, including the saiga antelope.
Located in the southwestern province of Yunnan, the tropical region of Xishuangbanna is home to many animals that have become extinct elsewhere in China, such as Asian elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, pythons, Malayan honey bears, leopards, green peacocks, and other rare birds, including the hornbill. Tree shrews and gibbons live in the trees of the tropical forests.
Fruits such as kiwis, mangoes, bananas and papayas grow in the hilly landscape. Precious woods such as mahogany, teak, camphor and sandalwood can be found in the forests.
China has approximately 300 national parks and nature reserves and many provincial and local protected areas.
The Wolong Nature Reserve (Wolong Ziran Baohuqu) plays an important role in protecting the giant panda, of which about 200 still live in this reserve. Other endangered species in Wolong include the snow leopard, snub-nosed monkey, musk deer, and red langur.
The Zhalong Nature Reserve (Zhalong Ziran Boahuqu) is a birdwatcher's Eldorado, and was the first Chinese nature reserve. 180 bird species live here permanently or temporarily, including eight of the world's fifteen crane species, six of which are on the endangered species list. Only about 500 specimens of the Chinese crane live in the reserve.
Every year, about 100,000 migratory birds perch in the Bird Island Reserve in Qinghai Province, including geese, cranes, vultures and the Mongolian lark. The nearby Longbao Reserve plays an important role in the conservation of the black-necked crane.
The Changbaishan nature reserve in the Jilin province near the North Korean border is still about 200,000 hectares of virgin forest, including the raw birch, the Korean pine and the dragon fir.
Near Nanning, along the Vietnamese border, is the Longrui Nature Reserve (Longrui Ziran Baohuqu), which is home to the world's only population of white-headed langur. The very rare gold-colored camellia also grows in this area.
Tibet is the land of the yak, a type of cattle that is well adapted to high altitude and bitter cold.
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The giant panda is one of the most endangered mammals on the planet. It is believed that about 1000-1200 specimens are still alive, and that is actually too little to allow the species to survive over time. The giant panda lives mainly in Sichuan province, but also in Gansu and Shaanxi, and then only in nature reserves.The first living giant panda was only discovered in 1896. The animal preferably lives at an altitude of 2000-3000 meters and eats a special type of bamboo.
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The special Father David deer was discovered in 1865 by the French priest-zoologist Père Armand David. At that time, the animal only lived in the imperial hunting parks. Around 1900 the species was even extinct in China, only a herd was bred in Woburn Abbey, England. In 1985 20 copies were offered to China and released at Chengdu.
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As in many other countries, the tiger in China is almost extinct in the wild. Chinese tigers are tried to lure as much as possible to nature reserves and animal parks, in order to save them from extinction.
The only native tiger of China is the Chinese or Amoy tiger. It is believed that about 30 live in the wild and about 50 in captivity. This species is said to still occur in Hunan, Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces.
The largest tiger in the world is the Siberian tiger. In addition to China, this species also occurs in Russia and North Korea. About 500 specimens still live in the wild and about 1000 specimens in zoos and reserves.
The Bengal or Indo-Chinese tiger is almost extinct in China and only lives in reserves in Xishuangbanna in Yunnan province. About 1500 copies still live in Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Thailand.
Prehistory and Antiquity
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The first remains of human life found in China date from about 700,000 years ago. Bones of this so-called Lantian human have been found at the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River. The Beijing man is much younger, fossils of this human type date from about 500,000 years ago. In the Neolithic era, about 6000 years ago, the many nomadic tribes finally settled in certain places, worked the land and kept livestock. Examples from this time are the Yangshao and Longshan culture.
The Shang Dynasty is the first civilization to have actual evidence of in the North China plains surrounding the Yellow River, in today's Shandong, Henan and Hebei provinces, and parts of Shaanxi and Shanxi. They made tools and objects out of bronze, cast in earthenware molds. Other states emerged around the Shang's habitat that took over much of the Shang culture, but remained politically independent.
Zhou Dynasty and Qin Dynasty
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The Shang were defeated by one of these states, the Zhou, around 1050 BC. The Zhou (1050-256 BCE) ruled a very large area through a feudal system, with noble families of the rulers of the various Zhou states holding sway. The empire was so big that a second capital was built in Luoyang. But the size of the empire was also its weakness. The nobles in the remote areas did what they felt like, because there was no strong central government. This made it not difficult for malicious powers to attack and quickly weaken the Zhou. In 771 BC. the Zhou were therefore driven eastwards by "barbarians" and disgruntled subjects.
The Eastern Zhou Dynasty is divided into two periods in historiography, the “Spring and Autumn Period” and the “Warrying States Period”, which frequently waged war among themselves. The Qin, who lived around the western capital, eventually remained as the strongest power and defeated in 256 BC. the Zhou, and the other states in 221 BC. The Qin Dynasty proved to be very strong and powerful and would have a major influence on the further history of China. The founder of the dynasty, Qin Shihuangdi, was called the “first emperor” and was an appealing figure to almost all Chinese. However, he ruled very authoritarian and China was divided into counties and military regions, which were centrally controlled. Rules were even drawn up for the written language and for weights and measures.
Intellectual contradiction was not tolerated, which was one of the reasons why resistance was quickly raised against Qin, who expanded the Chinese areain 214 BC. into present-day Vietnam. In 210 BC. Qin died and his three successors were unable to break the still latent resistance.
Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and Song Dynasty
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After the Qin Dynasty, the Han Dynasty developed, which cleverly took advantage of the popular resistance and became one of the greatest dynasties in China's history. The state was ruled on the basis of Confucianism - every individual and every ruler should pursue the happiness of the other, and proper training and certain rituals are of great importance - and a period of great flourishing of the culture and the science started. Important in this period was also the opening of the Silk Road to the west and the entry of Buddhism. In addition, different regions were much more closely connected to each other, gradually creating a large Chinese empire with its own identity.
The downfall of the Han Dynasty was partly due to the economic rise of the regions around the southern Sichuan Plain and the Yangtse Valley. At one point people felt strong enough to organize rebellions that eventually led to China breaking up into three states: Wei, Shu and Wu. For centuries, these three states battled and waged war for hegemony, resulting in even more fragmented Chinese empire and total chaos. After all, two mighty dynasties emerged from this confusing period, the Tang and Song dynasties.
During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), the Chinese empire grew and flourished as never before. For example, the capital Chang'an (now: Xi'an) had more than 2 million inhabitants, making it probably the largest city in the world at the time. The Chinese empire was also well organized at the time. Laws applied across the country and Confucian schools were established everywhere. Furthermore, there was frequent trade with foreign countries and Buddhism reached its peak. In the same Tang period, Buddhism also experienced a downturn because this outside influence was seen to become too powerful.
Also major political innovations were realized and the initially poorer south became richer. The Tang period was one of urbanization and a thriving foreign trade. Furthermore, many discoveries and inventions were made, but it was also a time of a certain decadence, and China as a military power was not much developed. Buddhism continued to suffer from repression during the Tang period, and thinking in China was shaped by Neo-Confucianism for 800 years.
Ultimately, this period, which also flourished culturally, came to an end due to economic problems. In particular, the increasingly wealthy and powerful country nobility eventually caused the disintegration of the Tang Dynasty, a process that took place over a period of five centuries.
The Song Dynasty (960-1279) brought unity to the torn empire again. However, they soon suffered from raids from the "barbarian" Khitans who conquered the capital Kaifeng from the north in 946 and drove the Song south. This occupation of northern China would last 300 years.
In the thirteenth century, the Mongols managed to conquer all of China. Beijing was conquered in 1215 under the leadership of the famous Djengis Khan. After the death of Djengis Khan, the then Mongolian empire was divided between his three sons and a grandson. Son Ogodai invaded China again and defeated the Khitan rulers in the north. The Song in the South lasted for five decades, but were defeated in 1279 by Djengis Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan. From that time on he ruled all over China and chose Yuan as the name for his dynasty.
Life among the Mongols was not easy for the Chinese. In terms of clothing, traditions, language and food, they had to fully adapt to Mongolian customs. Confucian ideas and administrative politics could be preserved.
The Mongol period was also characterized by frequent contacts with foreign countries, including Islamic Persia and Europe, of which Marco Polo (1271) would become the best known representative. Even Roman Catholicism was introduced as a new religion, and emissaries were even sent to the Pope. In the Ming period, the Catholic Church lost all the gained ground. Even before that time, the Mongols lost their grip on the enormous empire. The empire was also plagued by major floods, famine and rebellions.
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The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was to take over from the Mongols, initially led by the founder of the dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, who later became emperor. He expelled the Mongols and established the capital in Nanjing. After Zhu's death, a civil war broke out and eventually his son would expel Zhu's intended successor. He would call himself Emperor Yongle and become one of the most famous Ming emperors. As the first act of interest, he moved the capital to his power center Beijing.
Yongle initiated a number of major projects, such as the reconstruction of the Great Wall of China and large displacements to colonize land. Furthermore, the Chinese managed to increase their influence on the important trade routes, the latter led by a eunuch admiral. These lucrative expeditions were halted immediately when the threat of the Mongols and mistrust of the eunuch leaders increased. Chinese citizens were forbidden to travel abroad any longer and China became increasingly isolated.
By the mid-seventeenth century, the state eunuchs became increasingly powerful, and the end of the Ming era was fast approaching. Angry peasants banded together to form bands of insurgents who moved to Beijing and conquered the city. However, this only lasted for a short time because already in 1644 Beijing was conquered by a Manchu army from the northeast.
The Manchus were led by Nurhaci, who had already established the state of Manchuria in 1616. Nurhaci's son, Abahai, proclaimed the Qing Dynasty in 1636, and it was he who captured Beijing from the peasant armies in 1644.
Things became quieter in the Chinese empire under Manchus. Agricultural reforms were completed under Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722), and under his grandson, Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799), the Chinese empire expanded at first, but peasant revolts and increasing Western interference caused much unrest. The major influence of Westerners on trade led to the Nanjing Treaty establishing a certain number of ports for foreign companies, followed later by even more free ports. The Manchus decided to ignore the Westerners, but it turned out to be an almost impossible task. For example, they had a major impact on the “Revolt of Heavenly Peace” that lasted nearly 20 years and cost over 20 million lives.
Some Chinese saw the need for reform, but others resisted any attempt to modernize society. However, many Chinese youths were sent abroad to closely monitor technical developments in the West, and some telegraph lines and railways were constructed.
The imperial concubine Cixi wanted nothing to do with reformers because her son died in 1875; his replacement was then only four years old. When he was eighteen he became the new Chinese emperor who was again very interested in Western ideas and he started the campaign “Hundred days of reform”, among other things he founded the University of Beijing and foreigners were allowed to live in Beijing. That China was completely sucked out by the Westerners at that time was taken for granted. Nevertheless, tensions ran high during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900-1901, in fact aimed at the Manchus, but later also strongly against the foreigners. The rebellion was crushed by an international army, putting China under even more Western influence.
Western influences also led to the creation of revolutionary groups, the most important of which was Sun Yatsen, who had experienced democracy in Japan, the United States and England. In desperation, the government announced some more reforms, but it was long overdue.
In 1912, the last emperor abdicated and Sun Yatsen became the first provisional president of the Republic of China. The last emperor was Puyi, only 6 years old (1906-1967). Sun Yatsen wanted to make China a modern, democratic state, but was stopped by the captain of the imperial army, Yuan Shikai. This Yuan managed to become the real first president of China in 1912.
It soon became clear that China had brought in a dictator when he proclaimed emperor in 1915. Yuan died in 1916 and then a bloody war for power by warlords in the north and Beijing followed. Sun Yatsen was heard from the south again.
Period Chiang Kaishek
Sun Yatsen was succeeded after his death in 1925 by the leader of the Nationalist Party of Guomindang, Chiang Kaishek. He wanted to reunite China, which required breaking the warlords' power and driving them away from Beijing.
To do this, the help of instructors from the newly communist Soviet Union was sought. Under the influence of the Soviets, the Communist Party of China was founded in 1921, which joined the nationalists of Chiang Kaishek in 1923. However, this did not go very well and Chiang Kaishek knew that he could only achieve success with the help of foreign countries and the wealthy Chinese industrialists who were strongly against communism and Marxism.
In 1927, Chiang sent his armies to northern China and proclaimed a new nationalist government in Nanjing. The first thing he did next was banning the Communist Party and removing left-wing figures from his party, which often involved much violence. Subsequently, the communists were persecuted all over China and the nationalists tried to destroy the communist army in central China. Under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the communists fled west in 1935, a “Long March” of more than 23,000 kilometers. Tens of thousands of people died of exhaustion along the way, only 10,000 reached their target.
However, because of Japan's expansion drive, both sides faced a common enemy and it was necessary to close a truce. Japan threatened to annex all of China. The fight against the Japanese lasted until the end of World War II. The communists waged guerrilla war from the west and the nationalists, along with the allies, from the southern province of Sichuan.
It will be clear that after defeating the common enemy the old contradictions between nationalists and communists surfaced again.
Farmer son Mao Zedong, meanwhile, had the farmers gotten behind him and the almost inevitable civil war that lasted from 1946 to 1949 was won by Mao. In October 1949, Mao and his army stood at the gates of the Forbidden City in Beijing and Chiang Kaishek fled to the island of Taiwan and established his own government there. On October 1, 1949, the People's Republic of China was proclaimed.
The People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong
As regards the internal situation, the first years under Mao were dominated by the reconstruction of the economy and the safeguarding of communist political power. Initially, cautious action was taken against potential opponents, because Mao could still use their support well. Furthermore, the state apparatus and the party organization across the country were anchored in society.
With regard to agriculture, things were immediately tackled thoroughly and the redistribution of the land began, at the expense of the former landlords. Violence was not shunned, and it is estimated that it involved more than 2 million human lives. In 1956, all industries were also nationalized. In the social field, rigorous measures were also taken: efforts were made in every possible way to break through the traditional social structure based on family ties.
In 1953, the People's Republic received an official state structure and a constitution, affirming the leading role of the Communist Party. From 1949 to 1959, Mao held the positions of both party chairman and head of state (from 1969 the post of head of state remained unoccupied and was completely abolished in the 1975 constitution). Prime Minister was Zhou Enlai from 1949 until his death in 1976.
From 1949 foreign policy was characterized by the presupposition of national independence, see for example the occupation of Tibet in 1950.
Initially, Mao was still supported by the West, but this changed after China's support for North Korea. In the war with South Korea, the West became diametrically opposed to Mao's China and the country became isolated. This did not change until after the armistice in Korea and the Geneva Conference on Indochina in 1954. China broke through isolation by posing as one of the leaders of the Third World.
”Great leap forward”
Meanwhile, Mao developed his own variant of communism in which he played a very central role.
From 1956, the collectivization of agriculture was realized in a short time. In order to also align the urban population, a certain liberalization took place, which is necessary in order to be able to implement the radical changes.
However, the criticism continued and even became stronger. When criticism of Mao and the Party was also raised, the well-intentioned campaign ended with the imprisonment of many dissidents.
In 1958-1959, general politics became even more radical and, according to Mao, it was time for the campaign “Three red banners” or “Great Leap Forward”, aimed at bringing industry and agriculture to a much higher level in a short time. However, this failed terribly because of an economic and administrative disorganization, resulting in a terrible famine with approximately one million deaths.
Two consecutive crop failures, floods and typhoons, of course, did not really help, and help from Soviet technicians was stopped by an argument with that country. What did succeed was to establish a minimum level of medical, educational and socio-cultural facilities across the country. The Maoist concept of 10,000-40,000 large popular communes was soon abandoned and replaced by smaller production brigades. Typical things like communal dining rooms were also abolished.
The failure of the Great Leap Forward also led to disagreements at the top of the Communist Party. For example, the defense minister was overturned after criticism of Mao and succeeded by Lin Biao, who turned the People's Liberation Army into a Maoist base. Mao gradually withdrew from daily politics from 1959 onwards, and was succeeded by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, who pursued somewhat more pragmatic and therefore more successful policies.
The relationship with foreign countries was repercussed during this period by the bloody repression of an uprising in Tibet and by border disputes with neighboring India in 1962, culminating in an armed conflict. In 1964 China joined the great powers through the development of an atomic bomb, which was detonated for the first time in 1967. In the Indo-Chinese war, China was cautious and only gave some material support to communist North Vietnam and to communist movements of other countries in the region.
"Great Cultural Revolution"
In 1966 the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution started, a mass campaign in which the young people, united in the Red Guards, were called upon to build a new China. This good endeavor, however, degenerated into an iconoclasm and a fury against everything that reminded of “old” China. Historic buildings and museums were destroyed, teachers and intellectuals had a hard time, and children even attacked their own parents.
At some point, the Cultural Revolution threatened to end in a civil war, after which the People's Liberation Army intervened. A new governing structure was announced, with revolutionary committees made up of military personnel, radicals and old party leaders.
The Cultural Revolution was started by Mao when he was losing support for his ideas within the Communist Party. The campaign also targeted the "capitalist" summit of the Communist Party, Liu Shaoqis and Deng Xiaoping. In April 1969, at the ninth party conference, the Cultural Revolution was officially concluded.
Lin Biao became party leader and succeeded Mao, after which a period of reconstruction and reorganization began. Nevertheless, the contradictions at the top of the party were still very much present and the mysterious death of Lin Biao was proof of this. This was followed by several more years of terror and anarchy, and the population was suppressed until Mao's death.
China joined the United Nations in 1971, and relations with the United States improved significantly from 1972, resulting in diplomatic relations in late 1978. Relations with the other world power, the Soviet Union, were very difficult during this period.
In 1950, trade agreements and a friendship treaty were still concluded, but from 1955 the countries became increasingly opposed. In 1960 the Soviet Union withdrew Russian technicians and in 1969 serious border incidents arose. Only in 1986, under party leader Gorbachev, the relationship thawed somewhat, and in 1987 the border dispute was resolved and relations finally improved.
During this period, politics developed in two directions. At the socio-economic level, the situation normalized to the level after the Great Leap Forward. In the field of education and culture, the Maoist line of the Cultural Revolution remained the guiding principle.
At the top of the regime were Zhou Enlai, who advocated a modernization of the economy, and the radical "Cultural Revolution Group", which included Mao's wife, Jiang Qing. The conflict escalated when Zhou Enlai re-enlisted sidelined party officials, including Deng Xiaoping, who was even appointed deputy prime minister.
This uncertainty led to much unrest in the mid-1970s, especially in the major Chinese cities. Zhou Enlai died in early 1976, and was succeeded by the unknown Hua Guofeng. Again great demonstrations in favor of Zhou's politics followed, which were forcefully repressed; Deng Xiaoping was relieved of all functions.
During the eleventh party conference, Hua officially became prime minister and party leader, and Deng Xiaoping was rehabilitated again. In early 1978, a new constitution was passed by the Fifth National People's Congress, which reverted strongly to the original 1954 constitution.
Deng Xiaoping became the driving force for reform and modernization in many areas. Thus, the changes brought about by the Cultural Revolution came to an end and the break with Mao's legacy was final. All this was confirmed again at the third general meeting of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in December 1978.
This meeting also marked the end of Hua Guofeng and victims of Maoist terror were rehabilitated. Liberalization was implemented in the fields of the economy, culture, and also somewhat politically.
In 1980, People's Congress elected Zhao Ziyang as Prime Minister, becoming Deng Xiaoping's right-hand man in economic reform. Hu Yaobang succeeded Hua Guofeng as party chairman, but from that time on Deng Xiaoping was in fact China's most powerful man.
Student demonstrations and Falun Gong
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In the winter of 1986-1987, many student demonstrations took place, focusing on the call for political reform and far-reaching democratization of society. As a result, party chairman Hu Yaobang was able to leave because he was accused of a too soft approach to the students.
He was relieved in October 1987 by Zhao Ziyang, who was dumped again in April 1989. After Hu Yaobang's death, demonstrations and strikes continued at various universities. Hu hinted that he would like to meet the students' requirements, which cost him his job. Deng Xiaoping, meanwhile, had secured conservative Li Peng a prime minister.
After Hu Yaobang's death, the Tiananmen Square in Beijing was occupied by demonstrating students. With the help of the military, and by order of Deng Xiaoping, the square was forcibly evacuated on June 4, 1989 at the cost of probably hundreds of deaths and more injuries. Many students were arrested and the leaders of the demonstrations were severely punished.
The massacre led to an elimination between China and the United States, and only in 1993 the relationship between the two superpowers normalized again; Washington even proclaimed China as "most favored trading partner". In April 1993 talks between China and Taiwan were held for the first time since 1949.
When the US Congress invited Taiwanese President Lee Theng-hui in 1995, relations between China and the United States cooled again. The relationship with Japan was clouded in 1996 by Chinese nuclear tests.
Domestically, the social unrest among the peasant population increased due to a sharp rise in food prices, and many of them moved to the cities.
Deng Xiaoping died in February 1997 and was tentatively succeeded by Jiang Zemin as party chairman, president and commander in chief of the military. The positions of Jiang Zemin and Li Peng were further strengthened in September of that year at the First Plenary Session of the Fifteenth Central Committee.
In February 1998, Li Peng was succeeded as Prime Minister by reformist Zhu Rongji. He wanted to tackle the strong bureaucracy and implement further economic liberalization. Dissidents and unrest in rural areas such as Tibet and Xinjiang were traditionally combated. Forced massive immigration of Han Chinese to the Uighur region led to serious unrest. According to Amnesty International, 200,000 people were arrested and detained in labor camps in China in 1997.
In June 1998, U.S. President Clinton visited China, the first presidential visit since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
In 1999, the Beijing government faced a new religious movement, the Falun Gong (FLG) or Falun Dafa ("The Great Law of the Dharma Wheel"), founded by Li Hongzhi, a man from northwest China who lives in New York . His teaching is a mixture of themes and practices from the traditional Chinese religion that are presented in accordance with the views of modern science. In protest of the harassment and harassment by the authorities, 10,000 FLG supporters held the first mass demonstration in Beijing on 25 April 1999 since the Tiananmen Square massacre of 4 June 1989. In the following months, demonstrative meetings were held regularly. Falun gong supporters disrupted and on July 22, 1999, the Ministry of Civil Affairs officially declared Falun gong an illegal movement.
In October, the Falun gong was classified as a religious 'sect', and alleged top figures of the Falun gong were arrested from mid-October, and on October 30, a new law was also passed on 'religious sects' saying that the death penalty can be pronounced, when "religious sects" seriously jeopardize state security.
Sino-US relations were severely strained in 1999 by the NATO bombing in the context of the air war against Serbia on May 7 at the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three people were killed and 27 injured. NATO stated that the bombing was a mistake caused by the use of outdated maps, although rumors had circulated that the United States suspected China of using the embassy for pro-Serb support.
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In the year 2000, the tenth five-year plan (2001-2005) setting out a reform path is adopted. The spearheads of this plan are improving the standard of living and restructuring agriculture and state-owned companies.
In mid-March 2003, the Chinese People's Congress appointed Hu Jintao as the new head of state. He succeeded 76-year-old President Jiang Zemin, who was re-elected as commander-in-chief of the military. The parliament elected Wu Bangguo as the new chairman. He succeeded Li Peng. On April 26, 2004, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the Parliament of China, decided that in 2007 the people of Hong Kong should not be entitled to directly elect its supreme leader, the chief executive, in the parliamentary elections held in Hong Kong on September 12, 2004 prodemocratic parties achieved 25 out of 60 seats, a profit of three seats. The Beijing-minded parties retained their 34 seats. The number of independent candidates fell from four to one. In September 2004, Jiang Zemin also handed over the chairmanship of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) to President Hu Jintao.
The National People's Congress (NPC), the Chinese parliament, formally holds the highest state authority. The approximately 3000 members are elected indirectly for a period of five years. 2,937 members attended the last NPC session in March 2006. The role of the NPC mainly consists in ratifying decisions taken by the top of the CCP and submitted to the NPC through the State Council. The State Council is the central government, making it China's highest executive body. In July 2006, the world's tallest railway line to Tibet opens. In April 2007, President Hu Jintao heads a trade mission to Africa. China invests billions of dollars in Africa. In March 2008, five months before the Beijing Olympic Games, which start on 08-08-2008, serious disturbances break out in Tibet and are crushed hard. It is the most serious violence in 20 years.
In May 2008, tens of thousands died in an earthquake in Sichuan Province.
Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo in the publlc domain
In July 2008, Russia and China resolved a 40-year-old border dispute. In August 2008 Beijing is host, of the Olympics. In November 2008, China will also suffer from the global economic crisis and the government will take stimulus measures. In July 2009, serious ethnic violence broke out in Xinjiang Province. One-child politics first came under pressure following comments from officials from Shanghai who called for a second child to combat aging. In January 2010, there were tensions with the United States over China's control of the Internet and the cyber attacks on human rights defenders. In March 2010, Google decided to operate via Hong Kong to avoid censorship. China remains powerful because it is a large market.
In February 2011, China overtakes Japan and becomes the second largest economic power in the world. In March 2012, the party chief Bo Xilai falls into disgrace, his wife is sentenced to a deferred death penalty in August 2012 after her confession of the murder of British businessman Neli Heywood. In March 2013, Xi Jinping became the new president as part of party renewal. In September 2013, Bo Xilai gets a life sentence because of bribery and abuse of power. In late 2013, the one-child is politically softened, and in December, China will make a moon landing for the first time in 37 years. In May 2014, China signed a deal with Russian Gazprom to get gas for 30 years. In October 2015, China's one-child policy will officially end. In November of that year, historical talks, for the first time since 1949, take place between Xi Jinping and Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou. China's economic growth will dampen in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the IMF predicts a further decline over the coming years. In April 2017, President Xi meets with US President Donald Trump, the focus of the talks is on trade. In October 2017, Xi is placed on a pedestal at the Congress of the Communist Party, he is considered to be the same level all founder Mao.
In March 2018, the annual legislative assembly of the National People's Congress votes to remove a two-term limit for the presidency from the constitution, allowing Xi Jinping to remain in office longer than the conventional decade for recent Chinese leaders. In April 2018, China announced that it will impose 25% trading tariffs on a list of 106 U.S. goods, including soybeans, cars, and orange juice, in retaliation for comparable U.S. tariffs on about 1,300 Chinese products. In Hong Kong, there will be months of protests against the government and for democracy in 2019, involving violent clashes with the police, over a proposal to allow extradition to mainland China. In January 2020, there is an outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Hubei province. The virus spreads worldwide. A security law will enter into force in July 2020, increasing China's hold over Hong Kong. US President Trump announces sanctions, China is also imposing sanctions in retaliation.
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Estimates of population size and growth vary widely. Officially, 1199 million people lived in China (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) at the end of 1994, but unofficial sources indicated a population of 1,300 million. The U.S. CIA kept its population at 1,379,302,771 in 2017, more than a fifth of the world's population. Population growth in that year was 0.41%. China aims for a population growth of 0 percent. the growth of 0 percent should be achieved in the middle of the 21st century and the number of inhabitants stabilized at 1.6 billion.
17.1% of the population was under 15 in 2017. After 1953, the number of children per woman fell (from 3.7 to less than 2) as a result of an intensive campaign for family planning and social changes (including one-child policy, involvement of the married woman in the production process and expansion of the Education). The mortality rate fell sharply in this period from 22 ‰ to 7.7 ‰ in 2017. This is due to improvements in sanitary and hygienic conditions and an expansion of medical facilities. Due to the one-child policy and the decline in the death rate, the aging of the population will increase sharply: the number of people aged 60 and older will increase by 250 million to 400 million in the next 25 years.
In 2017, the estimated average life expectancy at birth was 73.6 years for men and 78 years for women. In 1930 the average lifespan was still 24 years.
With the exception of Macau and Taiwan, about 15 to 30 million Chinese still live abroad, most of them in Southeast Asia. The Chinese themselves give higher figures than the countries where they live. In these countries, Chinese born in the country are often no longer considered Chinese.
Composition and spread
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The actual Chinese (Han) make up about 92% of the total population, and live mainly in the densely populated east of China. China has been Han Chinese for more than 2,000 years, except for Xinjiang, large parts of Yunnan, Tibet, Qinghai, Inner Mongolia and parts of Manchuria. There are also major cultural and linguistic differences within Han China. Examples include the Hakka, the Tujias (living in Hunan, Hubei Sichuan), the Cantonese, and the largest Han minority, the Zhuang (approx. 20 million). Found mainly in the southern provinces of China, the Zhuang belong to the Thai Dai race and speak a Sino-Tibetan language.
The remaining 8% consists of approx. 55 groups, the most important of which are the Zhuang, Hui (Huy), Uyguren (Uighurs), Yi, Miao, Man (Manchoes), Xizang (Tibetans) and Menggu (Mongols). The population size of the minorities varies enormously, from about 20 million Zhuang to about 1500 Hezhe, who live in the northeast. The non-Chinese groups, recognized as national minorities since 1979, are mainly spread across western and southwestern China, particularly in the usually sparsely populated border areas. In total, approximately 60 million people are counted as minorities. The political significance of these 'national minorities' is important because they inhabit strategically important border areas and, as a rule, belong to the peoples who also live in neighboring states.
However, it is known that a strong migration of actual Chinese has taken place to these areas (including Xinjiang Uygur, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Inner Mongolia) to accelerate development, but most likely also to 'make Chinese' the non-Chinese expedite regions.
The largest population concentrations are in the coastal areas and in the fertile valleys of the Huang He and Yangzi Jiang, the North China plains, the South China coastal strip and the loess plateau of central China. More than 1000 people per km2 live at the mouth of the Yangzi (Shanghai, among others) and in certain districts of Guangdong. The population density of the metropolis of Shanghai, with almost 19,000 inhabitants per km2, is among the highest in the world.
The urbanization is relatively small: about 50% of the population lives in the cities.
Shanghai, with its (2017) 23.7 million inhabitants, is the largest city in China, followed by Beijing (20.4 million).
Short description of various population groups
Several minorities live in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of northwest China:
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UYGUREN or OEJGOEREN
The largest Turkish-speaking minority group in this region. They are a Sunni Muslim people. For a long time they belonged to one of the most developed cultural minorities of Central Asia, with their own Arabic script.
Kazakhs are Turkish nomads made up of about 1 million people, many of whom fled to China after the Russian Revolution in 1917. In general they still lead a nomadic existence and they travel around with their camels and yurts (nomad tents).They mainly live in the northern plain of Xinjiang which forms a natural unit with Kazakhstan on the other side of the border.
This is also a nomadic, Islamic Turkish minority group. After the 1916 uprising in Russia, large numbers of Kyrgyz fled to China, mostly settling north of Kashgar.
HUI (also called DUNGAN)
The Hui are not so much an ethnic minority as a religious minority. It is a Muslim group of approximately 7 million people and descended from Chinese converts to Islam. They are Islamic descendants of the Middle East merchants who populated the Silk Road. They now mainly live in Gansu, Xinjiang, Qinghai and Ningxia provinces, but also in cities such as Xi´an (this city even has 15 mosques), Beijing and Guangzhou. They speak Chinese and most are indistinguishable from Han Chinese.
The Sibu live in the northwest and are descendants of Manchu troops who lived in Xinjiang during the Qing Dynasty.
The Tajiks are originally from Iran and live in the west along the border with Tajikistan. Important city is Taxhorgan or Tashkurgan. They speak a kind of Persian and only consist of about 20,000 people.
More than 8,000 Chinese Russians live mainly in northern Xinjiang. In 1917, the existing group was reinforced with refugees from the Russian Revolution.
Below is a brief description of population groups from various Chinese provinces and regions:
In the south, the YI (about 5 million people) live in the provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi and Guizhou. The MIAO live all over the south as well.
In the northeast of China there are still about 2.5 million MANSJOES, a traditionally warlike people, but now almost fully assimilated within Han culture.
The best-known minority are the approximately 500,000 MONGOLS of Inner Mongolia, which in their own 'country' form a minority of approximately 20%.
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The TIBETANS (approx. 3.5 million) live not only in the native region of Tibet, but also in the mountainous interior of China, such as western Sichuan, western Yunnan, southeastern Gansu, and Qinghai. Tibetans also live in exile in India and Nepal. The Tibetans are descended from the Turan and Tangut peoples of Central Asia who migrated to Tibet from the north and mingled with the locals.
The NAXI lived in northwest China in the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan thousands of years ago. Invaders from Central Asia expelled them to southern China. The Naxi are among the few peoples in the world where the remains of a matriarchal structure are still clearly present. The women perform both the burdensome and important tasks, thereby dominating family life. The men are traditional gardeners, take care of the children, make music and often have a passion for horses.
The DONG are a minority of approximately 1 million people spread across Guizhou, Guangxi and Hunan. Sanjiang City in Guangxi Province is the center of the Dong District. The Dong are a people who get along well with wood. For over a thousand years, the Dong has been building bridges and houses with intricate wooden structures. They have their own language.
The BOUYEI in the southern province of Guizhou are considered the original inhabitants of this province, although they are descended from the Thai people and are related to the Zhuang. The Bouyei are generally very poor and depend on the water for their livelihood.
The DAI tribe lives in Yunnan Province, Xishuangbanna Autonomous Region and is made up of three groups: the Water Dai, the Dry Dai and the Dai Flower Belt, which are distinguished by clothing, traditions and social conditions. For a long time, the Dai have their own written language, a Sino-Tibetan language of the Zhuang-Dong branch. The Dai are very religious and adhere to Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism, which was spread from Myanmar (Burma) about 1000 years ago.
Smaller minorities include LAHUS, OROGEN, DA'UR, QIANG, XIBE, XIANBEI, EWENKI, WA, NU, MONBA, BUYI and BAI.
Yunnan Province has a population of 35 million, of which 23 million are Han Chinese and 12 million are among many minorities, such as MIAO, BAI (one of Yunnan's oldest indigenous tribes), YI, NAXI, HANI, JINGPO, WA, and the JINUO.
The first government birth control program dates from the mid-1950s, and the last program became effective in September 2002. In 1978, the government launched a campaign to limit the number of children per family to one. This campaign was most successful in the urban areas. In rural areas, where traditions are stronger and large families are needed to work the land, the program has produced much less results.
Because in China the heritage is passed on through the male line, male offspring are preferred. It is not uncommon for newborn girls to be killed or abandoned in rural areas. The result was a disrupted population structure. From 1953 through 1964, the neonatal ratio was 105 male babies to 100 female. The ultrasound scan (from 1979), which makes it possible to determine the sex of the fetus, greatly changed this ratio to 119 male babies, compared to 100 female babies in 1992.
In general, it can be said that the campaign resulted in about 200 million fewer births. Since September 2002, there is freedom to have a second child. Furthermore, during pregnancy no selection can be made for boys or girls and secondary schools are prohibited from distinguishing between boys and girls. This last program change was partly prompted by domestic and foreign criticism of the one-child policy in particular.
The official language of China is Standard Mandarin (Putonghua or Guoyu), the base dialect of Northern China. This language is understood by the majority (approx. 70%) of the residents of the People's Republic of China (70%). Each province has its own 'dialect'; many of them, such as those spoken in Hunan and Guangdong provinces, could even be called official languages. Furthermore, all major minority peoples, with the exception of the Hui, have their own language.
Since 1958, standard Mandarin has been promoted as a spoken language for all of China through schools and radio. Simplification of Chinese characters is also continuing. The simplified romanization or phonetic transcription of the Chinese characters, the so-called Hanyu-Pinyen spelling, was officially accepted on January 1, 1979.
The Chinese language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family, in particular to its Sinitic branch. This Sinitic branch can be divided into seven dialect groups: Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese (Yuè), Min, Hakka (Kèjiâ), Wú, Gàn and Xiâng.
The Mandarin Chinese dialects are very closely related and are spoken from Northeast China to 4000 km south in Yunnan. Beijing-Chinese, on which the standard language is based, belongs to this group.
Cantonese (Yuè) from Guangdong, with the capital Canton, is considered the unofficial standard language among Chinese outside China.
In the isolated province of Fujian, the Min dialects have developed relatively independently, giving some features a unique perspective on older language phases.
Hakka (Kèjiâ) is spoken in northern Guangdong and in a number of smaller South China areas. The Hakka population is probably descended from North Chinese migrants, but given the similarities with the Min and Cantonese, Hakka linguistically belongs in South China.
The Wu dialects are mainly spoken in Zhejiang and Jiangsu, south of the mouth of the Yangzi Jiang. The metropolis of Shanghai is also located in this area.
In Jiângxî and the eastern part of Hunan the Gan dialects are spoken; in the rest of Hunan people speak Xiang.
Classical Chinese or Wényán is the language in which almost all Chinese texts were written until the twentieth century. Wényán was the written language of the officials, which was already introduced during the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC) and mainly served to put official documents in writing. At that time, Baihua was the everyday spoken language, the language of the "living dialects". The emperors of the Sui and Tang dynasties imposed on all officials in the empire the use of the North Chinese dialect of Beijing (Mandarin). Since the Yuan Dynasty, this has been considered the General Civilized Chinese.
The syntax and vocabulary are based on the spoken language of the Period of the Warring States (4th-3rd century BC). However, the writing language was already somewhat stylized at that time, especially in the vocabulary.
Because all homophonic forms can be distinguished in writing, Classical Chinese developed into a very concise but artificial writing language and therefore has no sound of its own. Traditionally, the local pronunciation that is valid at that time is used everywhere in China for reading.
The need for a living standard language dates from the period of social and political division at the beginning of this century. At that time, voices were raised to make the Beijing dialect, the metropolitan norm of the past centuries, the standard. Nevertheless, an artificial pronunciation standard was promulgated in 1919 and was not replaced by the Pekinese pronunciation until 1932.
The syntax and vocabulary of the standard language are those of the Mandarin Chinese dialect group. This language is considered standard in both the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. Both countries do have their own name for the standard language: the original name Guóyu (or Kuo-yü, 'National Language') has been retained in Taiwan, but on the mainland the language is called Putônghuà ('General Language').
As a written standard, after the Literary Revolution of 1919, Classical Chinese was replaced by Báihuà, the modern writing language.
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The Chinese script dates from around 5000-4000 BC, is considered the oldest written language in the world and has no less than 50,000 characters. An average Chinese only uses about 3000-4000 characters, someone with a good education needs 6000-8000. 2000-3000 characters are sufficient to read a newspaper.
The Chinese script has evolved from a pictorial or pictographic script with simple miniature images to an ideographic script with very stylized designs that one has to analyze in order to understand them. The Chinese characters do not give a precise indication of the pronunciation, so the same script can be used quite easily across the country by speakers of different dialects.
In an attempt to reduce illiteracy, a widely accepted transcription system is now widely used to write the language in the Latin alphabet: the so-called Pinyin spelling. Furthermore, a system has been developed to simplify the most common characters. For example, in 2000 more than 2000 characters were simplified.
After the foundation of the People's Republic of China, massive campaigns were conducted for the spread of the script and of the Standard Mandarin. An official transcription standard was established in 1957 for the rendering of Standard Mandarin in the Roman alphabet: Hànyu Pinyin (literally: 'Transcription of Chinese'). Yet it was never the intention to replace the character script with this transcription.
Hànyu Pinyin, usually called Pinyin for short, is intended to write down the pronunciation when learning to write characters. Outside of China, the use of this transcription system for rendering Chinese words has become common since the 1980s. Hànyu Pinyin was recognized as a standard in 1982 by ISO, the Geneva International Standards Agency.
In addition, more than 30 script forms are in use in China. Of these, 20 have existed for hundreds of years, including Mongolian, Tibetan, Dai, Yi, Uighur, Russian and Manchurian. Others, such as the Zhuang language, which had no script of their own, were artificially created around 1950 based on the Latin alphabet.
The Pinyin system has 24 consonants, 15 vowels (and vowel combinations) and four characters for the important Chinese word tone. The pitch (flat, ascending, descending, descending-ascending) makes the character a different word and gives it a different meaning. In addition, there is another neutral tone, which is determined by the preceding tone.
The pronunciation of a character can be divided into: tone, initial sound and final sound. The meaning of a sound is determined by the tone of that sound and the tone sign is placed above the vowels.
For example, the syllable "ma" can mean "mother", "horse", "hemp" or "shrew" depending on the tone.
The Chinese language has no inflections and no masculine and feminine words. To indicate singular and plural, masculine and feminine, present and past tense, one must add numerals and adverbs (to a sentence). Past time is indicated by timing and an addition that indicates that the activity is already over.
Many Chinese words consist of two or more characters or monosyllabic words. For example, the Chinese word for film is "dian-ying" and consists of the words dian ("electricity") and ying ("shadow"). To make reading easier, Pinyin combines the syllables that make up one word.
Some words and phrases:
- Hello = ní hao
- Goodbye = zài jiàn
- Thank you = xiè xiè
- I do not understand = wo tingbudong
- A = yi
- Three = san
- Ten = shí
- Hundred = yi bai
- Water = shui
- Money = qián
- How much is it? = duo shao qián?
- Can you help me? = ni néng bangzhù wo ma?
- Today = jin tian
- Post office = yóu jú
- Eat tasty = mànmàn chi
- The bill, please = qing jie zhàng
- Is there someone who speaks English? = you méi you rén huì shuo ying wén
China is officially an atheist country, and it should come as no surprise that China sees religion as the cause of the fall of communism in Europe.
In the mid-20th century, religious life in China had a hard time. In particular during and after the Cultural Revolution, the state campaigned against all religions, but also against Taoism and Confucianism. Most churches, temples and mosques were closed at that time.
Marxism aimed to eliminate all religions. This forced all religious groups to go underground. During this time many so-called house communitees arose. As a result, the state lost control of the churches, which is why they opted for a different strategy in the mid-1970s.
After 1977 this attitude changed and in 1982 a constitutional amendment ensured freedom of religion, and many religious buildings were opened again.
The bankruptcy of global communism led to a spiritual no man's land that was filled with a hodgepodge of beliefs. In the pursuit of happiness, gods, spirits and ancestors are revered. This is adapted to local traditions and mixed with Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.
Animism is still found in the remote mountain regions and deserts.
The traditional religions of deeply religious China are Taoism (actually more of a folk belief) and Buddhism. Confucianism, a social-philosophical movement, is also widespread. Buddhism was imported from India, so really only Taoism is the only truly indigenous religion. The ancestor worship surrounded by ceremonies is still quite common.
No exact figures are known about the number of followers of traditional religions, but it is estimated that Buddhism has about 100 million followers and Taoism about 30 million; Confucianism is widespread.
The number of Muslims is estimated at 20 million, and they are most strongly represented in the autonomous regions of Ninxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur.
In 1988, there were about 7 million registered Christians in the country, of whom about 60% were members of the National Catholic Church, which incidentally broke away from Rome in 1958.
The Evangelical Church of China has a rapidly growing following (1994: approx. 20 million).
Various religions and philosophical movements
TAOISM or DAOISM "Freedom of desires brings inner peace"
In fact, Taoism or "daojiao" is more mystical than religious, although some directions also have gods. Taoism was probably founded by Lao-tze in the 6th century BC. His ideas were recorded in the Tao Te Jing ("About the Power of the Road").
Taoism is characterized by a contemplative view of life, in which one can achieve something by not doing or "wu wei". Man must follow his own nature, without external restrictions. It is assumed that everything arises and happens of its own accord. Taoists believe in the order of nature and condemn products of civilization such as wealth, knowledge, laws and sophisticated manners.
During its development, Taoism incorporated the yin-yang system of balanced opposites. Yin stands for the feminine element, which is associated with the moon, winter, darkness, longing and passivity, while yang, the masculine element, is associated with the sun, summer, light, creativity and dominance.
The "Road" can also be achieved by practicing Tai Chi Quan, a Taoist martial art.Taoism is the great counterpart of the strict Confucian doctrine.
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Buddhism was founded in the 5th-6th century BC. founded by the Indian prince Siddharta Gautama, and between the 3rd and 6th century AD. brought to China, where it acquired a Chinese character, with its own distinct shapes and culture.
The central theme of Buddhism is the elimination of desire; the so-called "eightfold path" that leads to nirvana, a transcendent freedom.
Mahayana Buddhism is generally found in China. This form of Buddhism differs from Indian Theravada Buddhism in that Bodhisattbas (people who have become buddhas but temporarily renounce nirvana) should postpone their Buddhahood to help other people.
The typical Tibetan Buddhism is found in Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Their leader has been entitled "Dalai Lama" since the 16th century. Various llama sects arose from the 7th to the 14th centuries. A reform movement in the latter century led to the emergence of the Yellow Sect (Gelugpas) which would then become predominant. This belief appealed not only to Tibetans, but also to Mongols, Naxi, Loba, Monba and Dahur, among others.
The Big Buddha of Leshan is the largest stone-carved Buddha in the world. The statue measures 71 meters, and was made more than 1200 years ago during the Tang Dynasty. The head of this Buddha is 15 meters high, his ears 7.5 meters long and his eyes 3 meters wide. About 100 people can stand on his feet without any problems.
CONFUCIANISM "A balanced combination of nature and culture gives the right attitude to life"
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Confucianism or 'rujia sixiang' is named after the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC). It is a paternalistic social philosophy, which presents the Chinese people with the codes, rules and norms for their behavior, and Confucius (Kung Fu-tse) drew up more than 3000 rules of conduct for this.
According to Confucianism, one should not act as your heart dictates, but as your social status demands of you. General Chinese characteristics such as diligence, moderation, modesty and respect for the family (including great respect for the elderly) are due to Confucianism. Confucius also found it very important that every individual should achieve great versatility and intelligence and be emotionally balanced. Confucius also firmly believed in the basic goodness of man; it is due to a lack of "insight" (read: education) that man falls into mistakes.
Until the early 20th century, Confucianism controlled the thinking and acting of the social elite in China. Politically it has remained an important movement up to that time.
Another important representative of the school founded by Confucius is Men Zi or Mencius (372-289 BC). Mencius' teachings have had a major influence on neo-Confucianism, which began during the Song Dynasty (960-1280).
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Islam or "yisilan jiao" has been brought to China by the Arab merchants via the Silk Road, and further by sea to the south coast where most mosques are now found. At present, Islam has about 48 million believers among the minorities.
The Uighurs are a striking Islamic population group, as they are descended from the Arab traders who brought Islam to China. They mainly live in the northwest, in Xinjiang province.
The Huy are also an important Islamic population group. They mainly live in Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai and Xinjiang provinces.
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Christianity or "jidu jiao" is gaining more and more adherents in contemporary China through missionary work through emerging capitalism. In the 7th century, a Christian Syrian sect, the Nestorians, came to China, followed by the Jesuits.
According to the government, there are currently about 7 million Catholics and 20 million Protestants and Evangelists in China.
Central state structure
Photo:Dong Fang in the public domain
In 1982, the constitution still in force today was adopted, Article 1 of which reads as follows: “The People's Republic of China is a socialist state under the democratic dictatorship of the people, led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. The socialist system is the fundamental system of the People's Republic of China; sabotage of the socialist system by any organization or individual is prohibited”.
Before this constitution entered into force, there was the Common Program of September 29, 1949 and constitutional revisions of 1954, 1975 and 1978. The new 1982 Constitution effectively ended the Mao Zedong period. It is striking that Marxist-Leninist cries such as "class struggle" and "dictatorship of the proletariat" are no longer reflected in the new constitution.
Article 1 of the constitution is still enforced by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and in practice its party is hardly distinguishable from each other. China is formally no longer a one-party state, but the CCP's monopoly position is evident.
The highest body of the CCP is formally the National Party Congress, which meets once every five years. The Central Committee, which has about 200 members, performs the functions of the Party Congress when it is not in session. It meets in plenary session once or twice a year. The Central Committee elects the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee, where real political power is concentrated, headed by Secretary-General.
At the 15th Party Congress in 1997, Deng Xiaoping's "open-door" policy was elevated to official party doctrine. This policy has made possible the economic developments of the last decades.
The National People's Congress, the Chinese Parliament, formally holds the highest state authority. The current NPC has about 3000 members, who have been elected indirectly for a period of 5 years and meet once a year. This session takes place in March-April for two to three weeks. Although officially vested with the highest state authority, the role of the NPC mainly consists of ratifying decisions taken by the CCP top and submitted to the NPC through the State Council.
The powers of the People's Congress have been extended in the new Constitution to monitor compliance with the Constitution and the laws and to decide on issues of war and peace. In addition, Congress approves government economic policies and the state budget.
However, in recent years the annual plenary sessions have been increasingly openly debated.
The delegates are elected by the provinces, the self-governing areas, the urban regions under direct central authority and the armed forces.
The head of state in the People's Republic of China is the President, who is assisted by one Vice President. The President and Vice President may be elected for up to two five-year terms.
The President is also Secretary General of the CCP and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The State Council is the central government, making it the highest executive of the People's Republic of China. The State Council is the executive body of the National People's Congress and the Standing Committee, on the one hand, and the supreme governing body of the State, on the other. The State Council includes the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Ministers, the Ministers and the Ministers who head committees.
A permanent committee of approximately 150 members is elected from the congress. This committee has very wide powers, including those to interpret the law and to issue decrees. In addition, the committee may revoke or amend incorrect decisions of the provincial governments, autonomous regions and directly governed cities, and decide on the appointment and dismissal of members of the state council.
The committee can also take decisions on ratification and termination of treaties. The chairman of the committee holds the position of head of state in many respects. For the current political situation, see chapter history.
Decentralized state structure
The local organs of state power are the local people's congresses at the different levels, in descending order:
1. provinces and urban regions under direct central authority;
2. prefectures, cities and districts;
3. townships and smaller cities.
The popular congresses at the three levels are elected for five, three and two years respectively. Their powers are not very clearly defined in the constitution. In any case, they elect the local revolutionary committees and may also dismiss their members.
Local executive power rests with the local revolutionary committees, which are both permanent bodies of the local people's congresses and the local people's government at their level. These revolutionary committees are accountable to both their people's congress and the next higher state body. The People's Congresses and their revolutionary committees ensure the implementation of laws and decrees in their area, decide on local economic plans and budgets, and maintain order and safeguard citizens' rights.
The constitution contains separate rules on the self-governing bodies of the national autonomous regions. These areas, in descending order of magnitude: self-governing areas at the provincial level, prefectures and districts, have, in parallel with ordinary administrative units, popular congresses and revolutionary committees, which exercise self-government within limits defined by law. The higher state organs safeguard and control the exercise of self-government. There are five autonomous regions, Inner Mongolia (Nei Monggol), Guangxi Zhuang, Ningxia Hui, Tibet (Xizang) and Xinjiang Uygur. All autonomous regions are inseparable parts of China.
In 1997, China regained control of the former British crown colony of Hong Kong, which retained its own economic rules. In 1999, China regained control of Macau, which has been officially recognized as Chinese territory since 1973, but was still administered by Portugal.
Both have the status of “Special Administrative Region”, which means that there is a different political, legal and economic system than in the rest of China. Hong Kong and Macau can maintain the capitalist system of governance for fifty years. Only the responsibility of foreign policy and defense rests with the central government in the capital Beijing.
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China is divided into 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four urban areas or municipalities under the direct authority of the central government in Beijing. The provinces and autonomous areas are divided into departments or prefectures and these into districts. After all, the districts include the cities and the people's communes or townships. China also includes the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
|Autonome regio’s||Capital City||Population|
|Xinjian Uyghur||Urumqi||20 million|
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From a very early age, Chinese children can be cared for in creches, when parents cannot arrange care at home. The problem is that there is a great lack of creches, especially in the cities. Many creches belong to the working unit of one of the parents.
At the age of six / seven, Chinese children enter primary school. This lasts five years, with the children spending 24-27 lessons a week at school for 40 weeks each year. The most important subjects are reading, writing and calculating with knowledge subjects in the higher classes and possibly a foreign language, often English. Attention is also paid to sports, culture and ethics.
After primary school, middle school follows, which is divided into three years of primary school and two or three years of higher middle school. Main subjects are language and literature, mathematics, physics, history and foreign languages. In addition, physical and mental training is given in the subjects of sport and politics and productive work is carried out for 1-2 weeks per semester.
The best students of the middle school can transfer to a university through very strict entrance exams. The duration of a university study is three to four years for a basic program and five to six years for certain studies.
There are many universities in China, but they vary greatly in quality. In 2001, China had 1,225 universities and high education institutions. More than 7 million people received training at these institutions. More than 80,000 students followed a course abroad. The top universities are Beijing University and Fudan University of Shanghai; they can compete with western universities. Many provincial and local "universities" have a much lower quality.
Despite compulsory education, in 2000 approximately 85 million people over the age of 15 were illiterate or could barely read and write. Illiteracy is highest in Tibet at 36%.
CHINESE WALL (Wanli Changcheng)
The Great Wall of China is located in northern China and extends 4,430 kilometers from the sea in the east to beyond Jiayuguan in the Gobi Desert of Gansu. It is the only human-made structure visible from space.
The wall was built as early as the 7th century BCE, but the wall did not take its current form until under the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Qinshi Huangdi (221-210 BCE). Under the Han Dynasty, the wall extended into the Gobi Desert.
The aim of the defensive wall was to keep the enemy tribesmen away from the north of China, which, incidentally, completely failed.
Outside Beijing, parts have been restored, but for the most part, the wall zigzags through North China.
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A few farmers digging a well in 1974 stumbled upon a 2,000-year-old army of about 8,000 terracotta soldiers and horses. The terracotta army was buried in the outer wall of the imperial mausoleum during the reign of Emperor Qinshi Huangdi.
The largest soldier is over 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall, and they were all equipped with swords, spears, crossbows, and handbows. The soldiers and horses were baked from yellow clay.
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Kung fu means "skill" and that can be a perfect mastery of a form of war, but also of calligraphy or painting, for example.
However, Kung Fu is inextricably linked to the image of a fearless, skilled fighter. The accent of a real kung fu is not so much on suppleness as on the ability to quickly transition from the ethereal to a solid base. It is an inner skill, rather than an outer trick.
There are two groups of fighting techniques: the "soft" or "inner" direction and the "hard" or "outer". Taiji quan or tai chi, with its slow movements, characterizes the first school, while baimei quan, characterized by ferocious and rapid dropouts, belongs to the latter category.
The soft forms take Taoism as a starting point, the hard forms Buddhism.
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Famous all over the world, Chinese porcelain has a long and rich history dating back to Neolithic times. Probably during the Zhou Dynasty, the important glaze development took place, perfected during the Han Dynasty.
Porcelain made its appearance during the Tang Dynasty, and much remains from the Song and Yuan Dynasties. During the Yuan Dynasty, a cobalt blue underglaze (qinghua, or blue-white) penetrated from the Middle East, a technique that flourished during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Blue and white is often thought to be characteristic of the Ming period, but the style peaked during the Qing Dynasty.
Ceramics were often named after the place where they were baked, so that they got names like Jingdezhen, Dehua and Longquan.
Chinese ceramics are often decorated with symbols, such as the dragon, the phoenix, peaches, pine, turtles and bamboo.
Chinese ceramics are categorized by color and enamel. The mark, by which the date of manufacture can be determined, is located on the bottom of the workpiece. It is usually square or round, with the name of the dynasty preceding that of the emperor, read vertically from right to left.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE
Traditional Chinese medicine not only consists of acupuncture, but has many applications, all of which are based on Taoist principles.
For Chinese doctors, the function of the organs in the distribution of life energy or "qi" in the body is very important. Over the centuries, hundreds of points on the body have been identified that are connected to the organs. Connecting these points creates a system of meridians, along which the flow of the 'qi' can be read.
There are twelve meridians, each corresponding to one of the five Chinese elements of iron, earth, fire, water and wood, which are best treated at a specific time of the day.
Illness arises from a lack of harmony between body and mind, for example when emotional tensions disturb the natural balance. A Chinese physician examines the flow of "qi" through the meridians through the pulse. By varying the pressure of the fingers, he can notice irregularities.
The physician's goal is to stimulate the flow of "qi" in a blocked meridian. He can do this with acupuncture ("zhenjiu"), acupressure, heat treatment with needles and burning moksa (moxibustion), or massage ("anmou"). Good nutrition is also very important. Taoism teaches abstinence from all kinds of food and drink, and one should only eat food related to the organs and the elements.
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Chinese silk production is approximately 46,000 tons annually. Much of it is exported and China controls 90% of the world raw silk market.
Sericulture (Greek: serikos means silk) refers to the cultivation of silkworms and the production of raw silk. Farmers grow the silkworms and deliver the cocoons to the spinning mill, where the raw silk is wound on a spool.
The silkworm is the larva of the moth Bombyx mori, which is native to China. They feed on the leaves of the mulberry tree and when they are fully grown they make cocoons. The threads from six or seven cocoons are needed to make a fiber strong enough to weave.
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Chinese Astrology works with the following zodiac symbols in the following order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
The core of Chinese astrology is the study of the interaction between people, about 12 fundamental character types and the relationships between them.
The 12 animals do give a good description of the different personality types, but most people are not pure types, but have the characteristics of several animals. Each person is composed of three animals:
-one animal for the year of birth
-one animal for the month of birth
-one animal for the time of birth, also called the ascendant animal
For the year of birth, an element must also be taken into account. Each of the 12 animals has a further five variations based on the 5 elements: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire. A wood monkey therefore only occurs during one year for 60 years.
Based on this, there are already 60 basic types. Moreover, the Chinese astrologer also takes into account the month, a different animal per lunar cycle. Furthermore, the day is divided into 12 pieces of 2 hours and this way you already have 8640 possibilities.
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China has always been a poor country. Per capita income was estimated at $ 57 in 1952, and for 1997, the national product per capita was estimated at $ 620. Until recently, the individual consumption increase has been very limited. However, a significant part of the savings financed the collective facilities (education, health care, housing, etc.).
China is less and less a predominantly agricultural country; It is estimated (2017) that approximately 28% of the labor force works in agriculture and approximately 29% in industry, and approximately 43% in services. The cottage industry is still highly developed and a small industry, operated by simple means, is part of the traditional system. Modernization started cautiously in the 19th century. In coastal cities such as Shanghai, Tianjin, Hankou and Kanton, a light industry was built up by Western and Japanese entrepreneurs. In Manchuria, Japan founded a heavy industry on the basis of coal and iron ore found there, which is still the backbone of the modern Chinese economy. However, these new activities only affected small areas, because in the west it was believed that China has too little natural resources of importance to the world economy.
Foreign trade was very modest and exports mainly consisted of agricultural products and some metals. From 1949 to 1952, the reconstruction of the production equipment took place, which had suffered severely in the war against Japan (1937-1945) and then in the civil war. Combating inflation has been very successful during this period.
The first five-year plan started in 1953, with an emphasis on the development of heavy industry. According to official reports, the economy grew by approximately 8.3% per year in the period 1953-1957. For the following five-year plans (six between 1958 and 1990), only vague details of the objectives have been provided, although it is clear that the sectors of agriculture and industry were considered to be priorities, the so-called 'walking on two legs'. The Great Leap Forward Program (1958-1960), which attempted to accelerate the growth of the modern and traditional sectors, failed completely and failed to halt aid from the Soviet Union in 1960.
The Cultural Revolution (1966-1969), which attempted to clear the permanent revolution that Mao spoke of from 'capitalist' and 'revisionist' blemishes, also had a negative impact on economic development, partly as a result of the disruption of transport and the continued payment of wages and contributions, while in companies there were often only political discussions and work stopped.
Since Mao's death in September 1976, political stability has been sought and pragmatic economic policies followed. Recent developments are characterized by cyclical overheating and structural problems of an economic system in transition.
Since 1990, the economy has been rapidly liberalized and privatized, especially in the coastal provinces. As a result of the Asian crisis, high economic growth fell to an estimated 6.5%.
The Chinese economy was hit hard in 2003 by the outbreak of the dangerous lung disease SARS. Economic growth in the second quarter of 2003 was 6.7%, the lowest growth rate since 1992. SARS mainly affected the services sector and passenger transport, which declined drastically both by land and by air. China's economy has grown impressively recently. GDP per capita rose to $ 16,700 in 2017. Economic growth has been around 10% per annum in the last 10 years, in 2015,2016 and 2017 the economy continued to grow at around 7%.
China: regional production
chemicals, cars, machines, metallurgy, textiles and electronics.
animal husbandry, forestry, arable farming, food processing, raw material refining, various light industries.
oil, coal, steel, heavy machinery, paper, food, pharmacy.
petrochemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electronics, ships, building materials, aviation.
agriculture, cars, chemistry, iron, steel, non-ferrous, oil, food.
grain, cotton, glass, textiles, machines.
petrochemicals, cars, auto parts, metallurgy, electronics, steel.
steel, coal, petrochemicals, building materials, consumer electronics, textiles, grain, rice, corn, fisheries.
machines, textiles, electronic components, finished products and metal semi-finished products, food processing, petrochemicals, electronics.
financial and service center, cars, petrochemicals, electronics, iron, steel, heavy machinery, electrical appliances.
ports, shoes, clothing, plastic toys, small household goods, chemistry, telecommunications equipment, machinery, citrus fruits, silkworms, tea.
ports, food processing, textiles, electronic semi-finished products, petrochemicals, cars, building materials, electronics, agricultural products.
assembly, electronics, toys, clothing.
coffee, tea, rubber, coconuts, sugar cane, pepper, metalworking, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, chemistry, food processing, electronics.
fruit, sugar cane, bananas, non-ferrous products, building materials, textiles, coal, iron, steel.
agriculture, tobacco, coal, various minerals.
wood, bamboo, textile, paper, chemistry, electronics.
agriculture, tobacco, sugar, coffee, copper, zinc smelters.
energy, metal, mining, chemistry, machinery, aviation, aerospace, electronics, grain, pigs, natural oil, medicinal herbs, rapeseed, cotton, sugar, tea, oranges, natural silk, wood oil, iron, steel, machinery, electrical machines.
machinery, chemistry, metallurgy, textile, electricity, electronics,
machinery, textiles, aircraft, electronics, military products.
coal, iron, coke, chemistry.
grain, cotton, tobacco, gold, coal.
rice, antimony, tungsten, fluoride, waste, zinc, graphite, mercury, machinery, agricultural vehicles, locomotives, heavy tools, fertilizers, cement.
steel, cars, mechanics, building materials, chemicals, textiles.
animal husbandry, tourism.
petrochemical, chemical, textile, metalworking, leather, machinery.
cotton, oil, natural gas.
coal, grain, oil.
nickel, platinum, oil, coal.
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Agriculture still plays a very important role in China, although only 10% of China's surface is suitable for agricultural purposes. In addition to the small agricultural area, the agricultural sector still has many problems: the agricultural land per farm is actually far too small (0.1 ha on average), there is high unemployment, there are insufficient storage and distribution facilities, agricultural land is lost to urbanization and desertification, there is water scarcity and lack of research. Finally, Chinese agriculture is regularly plagued by natural violence. A lot of money is being invested in a biotechnology program for developing agricultural products with a higher yield or that are much more resistant to diseases. It is also hoped to remain self-sufficient in agricultural production. Attempts are again being made to achieve a new collectivization in order to realize the economies of scale of the farms.
At the end of 1956, more than 90% of farmers still worked in collective companies. At the moment there are more than 2000 state farms with an average area of 2300 ha. The employees at these companies manage to achieve a 30% higher income compared to their colleagues from the family businesses.
China has three main agricultural areas:
- the area south of the Yangtze, where abundant rain falls and rice can be harvested twice a year. Furthermore, wheat, jute, sugar cane and subtropical products are grown here.
-the area between the Yangtze and the Yellow River (Huang-He) where rice and wheat can also be harvested twice a year.
- the area in the north, where the drier climate allows only one wheat harvest per year.
Of the food grains, rice is the most important, followed by wheat, corn and other grains (kanliang, a type of sorghum, millet and barley) and root vegetables. Although China still imports grain, imports have been greatly reduced since the agricultural reforms.
From the early 1980s, the cotton sector was given a special incentive, for example by introducing price reforms here and allowing more freedom in the planning of the harvest. The result has been an increase of 22% in the cotton area and a production increase of 72%. Cotton is the main commercial crop and raw material for the exporting industry and is cultivated in both South and North China. In addition to cotton, the production of agricultural industrial crops, such as soybeans, sugar, groundnuts, rapeseed and sesame, has also increased considerably, although large quantities of these products are also often imported.
China's cultivated crops also include: tea (especially from the southeast), tobacco (central China and the south), mulberries, oranges, camphor and ginger (from the south). Furthermore, strong emphasis has been placed on diversification in the agricultural sector, by focusing in particular on forestry and livestock farming.
Livestock, forestry and fishing
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Due to the great attention to arable farming, the development of livestock farming has lagged behind. However, the importance of livestock farming is increasing. 55% of the agricultural area is grassland, and since 1979 livestock farming has grown faster than arable farming. Cows, horses, buffaloes, and yaks are mainly grazed on the huge grassy steppes that stretch from the northeastern plain through Inner Mongolia to the west and southwest.
The most common form of livestock farming in China is the breeding of small livestock, especially pigs (China has the largest pig herd in the world).
Between 1949 and 1994, livestock is said to have increased fivefold (from 160 million to 778 million head of livestock), while in the latter year, 1.3 billion head of poultry were kept almost exclusively on farmers' own land. Most livestock in China serves as a beast of burden and draft, because most Chinese eat almost no dairy products.
The main forest areas of China are located in the northeast, and tung oil and teak are the main products. Many centuries of robbery and illegal logging have caused great damage to the forest stock. Approximately 86 million hectares of land have been reforested since 1949. However, only a third of these survived. The total wooded area is 128 million ha (13.4% of China).
The government, which finally saw the tremendous damage erosion inflicted on the land, set a target of increasing forest area to 20% of its total area by the year 2000. With foreign aid, the Chinese forest area has increased considerably since 1997. Recently, the logging of special tree species has been banned.
Fishing is practiced intensively on most inland waterways (approx. 5 million ha) and along almost the entire coast. Many households are also engaged in fish farming and / or fishing.
Mining and energy supply
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As one of the few countries in the world, China has all types of minerals in the world, all of which are state-owned. Both state-owned and private companies pay a fixed percentage on annual revenues in exchange for exploiting and exploring the mineral resources.
In terms of mineral resources, China has the largest reserve in the world. For example, the coal reserve in China is estimated at more than one trillion tons, although the quality leaves much to be desired in many regions. At present, about three-quarters of the domestic energy demand is still covered by coal. The main coal centers are located in Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Jilin and Anhui provinces; total production in 1994 was 1212 million tons, making China one of the largest three coal producing countries in the world.
Large reserves of iron ore are located in Shanxi, Hebei and Shandong provinces, among others. The reserves are estimated at 496 billion tons. China has been the world's largest producer of crude steel since 1996. The big problem, however, is that the iron ore reserves are of low quality, as a result of which the iron and steel produced are also of poor quality, and of little value for export. It is therefore not surprising that millions of tons of various types of steel still have to be imported every year. In order to improve and optimize production, the many small iron and steel factories are closed and the ultimate goal is to create only six large conglomerates. They must operate on the international market and compete with Southeast Asian and Western steel companies.
For tungsten, antimony, titanium, tantalum and heavy fluorite, China is considered to have the largest reserves in the world. However, the exploitation of non-ferrous metals appears to be difficult, given the large quantities that had to be imported in the second half of the 1970s (including copper, aluminum, nickel and lead). China is a major producer and exporter of titanium, but also of rare metals such as vanadium, germanium, gallium and polycrystalline silicone.
In 1994 crude oil production was 148 million tons. Offshore extraction in the Gulf of Bohai near Tianjin, where oil was extracted as early as 1975, appears modest in size. Estimates about petroleum reserves are very diverse. A mainland reserve of many billions of tons and an equally large reserve for the coast are assumed. The petroleum produced to date contains a high content of paraffin or wax, making extraction and refining an expensive business. The petrochemical industry is very important to China, both for the government and for supplies to many industries. At present, domestic demand cannot be met and is therefore forced to import many petrochemical products.
Natural gas fields are located near Guangzhou (Guangzhou), Shanghai and Sichuan Province, but very little is being produced. Gas production peaked in 1979, after which production fell by 15% until 1984. It was then estimated that the natural gas field had decreased by 20%. Most of the extraction takes place in Sichuan and in total the natural gas supply is approximately 400 trillion cubic meters.
Tin, molybdenum, manganese, lead and zinc and bauxite are also extracted. The Chinese soil also contains significant amounts of gold, platinum, nickel, titanium, graphite, phosphorus, fluorspar and mercury. In addition, asbestos, sulfur, salt and phosphate are of some significance.
Due to the rapid economic growth in China, energy consumption will increase at a rapid pace in the coming decades. In 2001, 1.21 billion tons of SCE (Standard Coal Equivalent) energy was being produced. Coal contributed to this with 68%, petroleum 20.2%, natural gas 3.4% and hydropower 8.4%.
Energy consumption was 1.32 billion tons of SCE, of which 675 were coal, 23.5% petroleum, 2.5% natural gas and 6.9% hydropower.
Oil and natural gas reserves are currently insufficient to cover domestic demand, and oil and natural gas are increasingly imported.
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With regard to wind energy, the tenth five-year plan contains few concrete plans.
Solar energy seems to have more opportunities, especially in the west of the country. It is planned to invest more than $ 200 million there. Solar energy consumption has increased by an average of 30% per year in the last five years.
Hydropower is the most promising way in the distant future to stop relying on coal. China has very great potential and the aim is to generate a quarter of the total energy requirement by hydropower.
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No official figures have been published since 1958, but incidental data and indices provided occasionally indicate that significant progress has been made.
As in agriculture, reforms have taken place in industry. Since production has started to produce with fewer people since the introduction of the contract system, unemployment in rural China was very high. Establishment of industrial companies in agricultural areas could offer a solution here. Since 1978, nearly 50 million Chinese farmers have been employed in rural businesses and subcontracting companies for urban industry. In areas around the major cities, such as Beijing, 80% of the rural population already work outside the agricultural sector.
Current politics are aimed at creating a new class of entrepreneurs, traders and managers. In the course of the 1980s, for example, the opportunities for individual entrepreneurs to start their own business in the countryside or to take over an existing collective company increased considerably. The reforms are also aimed at privatizing existing rural industrial companies.
The establishment of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in which experiments are conducted with new management techniques, market relations and labor relations can be regarded as part of the open-door policy. The SEZs must attract foreign investment for export-oriented high-tech industries. While a number of liberalization of China's economic relations with foreign countries have taken place, they go hand in hand with the maintenance and sometimes strengthening of a protectionist policy aimed at developing and modernizing its own trade and industry.
In 1994, the share of Chinese industry in national income was significantly higher than that of agriculture (47% and 21% of national income, respectively). Moreover, the total value of the production produced by the rural industry exceeds that of the agricultural holding. In 1993, however, a large share of the working population still worked in agriculture: 61%, while about 18% worked in industry and 21% in other sectors.
The decentralization of industrial complexes started long before the rural reforms. This was partly done to relieve the burden on the transport system, partly for strategic reasons. Decentralized industrialization at the county and district levels also sought to adapt company size to local conditions, taking into account available raw materials, technology and know-how. It is known, for example, that in 1976 half of industrial production came from relatively small companies; for electricity and coal production this share was one third, for fertilizers 70% and for cement 60% of the total production.
Industry is predominantly concentrated in the Northeast and in the Beijing-Tianjin and Shanghai-Nanjing areas, to a lesser extent in Central China, in the Sichuan Basin, and here and there in the South. The main center of light industry (including textile companies) which is further in all
The Chinese trade surplus is structurally large and will lead to trade restrictions with the United States in 2018.
Holidays and Sigtseeing
China is a huge country. Below is a selection of the top sights of this country.
One of the world's greatest wonders, the Great Wall has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Like a giant dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down through deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus. The wall extends for nearly 9,000 kilometers (5,500 miles) from east to west China. With a history of over 2,000 years, it makes sense that some parts are now in ruins or gone. However, it is still one of the most appealing attractions in the entire world due to its architectural grandeur and historical significance.
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Beijing is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world. The most famous historical monument is located in the heart of Beijing. It is the huge complex of palaces, where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties lived. Today the Forbidden City has been transformed into the Palace Museum with rich imperial collections of Chinese art. The Forbidden City is surrounded by a number of former imperial gardens, parks and natural areas.
There are more than a hundred museums in Beijing. In addition to the palace museum in the Forbidden City and the National Museum of China, there are other important museums in Beijing such as the National Art Museum of China, the Capital Museum, the Beijing Art Museum, the Military Museum, the Geological Museum of the China and the Beijing Natural History Museum. On the outskirts of urban Beijing, but within the municipality there are the thirteen tombs of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the lavish burial sites of thirteen Ming and Qing emperors. Read more on the Beijing page of country web.
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Xian is home to the world-famous life-size Terracotta Army, excavated in 1974 after being buried 22 centuries ago by the first Qin Emperor. Xian was the cradle of ancient Chinese civilization dating back to 4000 BC, and the capital of 11 dynasties up to the 9th century. This is where the Silk Road to Europe started. The massive city wall and moat that surround the city are a major attraction of Xian. The Terracotta Army Museum is one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the world with three halls, the largest of which measures 180 meters by 60 meters. It includes 6,000 life-size terracotta soldiers and horses guarding the tomb of Shi Huang Di, the first emperor of the unified China.
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Informatie Verre Reizen
Eijck, F. / Reishandboek China
Floor, H. / China
Harper, D. / China
Jansen, I. / China
Knowles, C. / China
MacDonald, G. / China
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country Profiles
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