People's Republic of China

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Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó
People's Republic of China
Flag of the People's Republic of China
Coat of arms of the People's Republic of China
flag emblem
Official language Chinese ( Standard Chinese ) and recognized regional languages1
Capital Beijing
State and form of government People's Republic with a one-party system
Head of state President
Xi Jinping
Head of government Prime Minister
Li Keqiang
surface 9,596,961 ( 3rd ) km²
population 1,411,780,000 (2020) ( 1st )
Population density 148 inhabitants per km²
Population development   + 0.36% (2019) per year
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • 14,732 trillion USD ( 2. )
  • 23,393 trillion USD ( 1. )
  • 10,522 USD ( 69. )
  • 16,709 USD ( 80. )
Human Development Index 0.761 ( 85th ) (2019)
currency Renminbi (CNY)2
founding October 1, 1949
National anthem March of the Volunteers
National holiday October 1st (proclamation of the People's Republic)
Time zone UTC + 8
ISO 3166 CN , CHN, 1563
Internet TLD .cn , .中国and .中國3
Phone code +863
1 Cantonese and English or Portuguese , together with standard Chinese, are the official languages in the Hong Kong and Macau special administrative areas .

Legally recognized regional official languages ​​are Zhuang in Guangxi, Tibetan in Tibet and some neighboring areas, Uyghur in Xinjiang, Mongolian in Inner Mongolia and Korean in Yanbian.
2 The Hong Kong dollar and the pataca are the official currencies of Hong Kong and Macau; see Chinese currency
3 For further deviations in Hong Kong and Macau, see there.

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The People's Republic of China ( Chinese 中华人民共和国, Pinyin Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó  [ tʂʊŋ˥xua˧˥ʐɛn˧˥mɪn˧˥kʊŋ˥˩xə˧˥kuɔ˧˥ ] ), commonly referred to as China , is a state in East Asia . With more than 1.4 billion inhabitants (2020), China is the most populous and in terms of its total area the third largest country in the world. According to its socialist constitution , the People's Republic of China is "under the democratic dictatorship of the people ", but has been continuous from the start ruled authoritarian to totalitarian by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) alone . To this day, she is accused of serious human rights violations . Please click to listen!Play

The People's Republic was proclaimed by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949, after the Republic of China was overthrown in the Chinese Civil War . It is estimated that 45 million people died in the famine caused by Mao's " Great Leap Forward " (1958–1961), and up to 20 million more died in the subsequent Cultural Revolution from 1966 onwards. Only after Mao's death did China develop into an economic and technological superpower on the basis of a cautious reform and opening policy from 1978 onwards . Since 2016, the World Bank has ranked the country among the countries with an income level in the upper mid-range. On average , the Chinese economic power grew by 8.9% annually from 2000 to 2019 inclusive. In addition to the doubling of the Chinese share in world trade , the gross domestic product increased sixfold within this period, so that by the end of that period China had grown to become the second largest economy in the world. Since the seizure of power by the supreme leader Xi Jinping However, in 2012 the People's Republic makes loud observers again backsliding on the social and economic freedom and is increasingly ideological and internationally on more aggressive.

The People's Republic of China is one of the official nuclear powers , is a permanent member of the World Security Council and, among others, a member of the World Trade Organization , World Bank , APEC , BRICS , UNESCO , Interpol , G20 .


Topography of China, 2005
China - NASA satellite image
Border crossing between Vietnam and China, view from Lào Cai to Hekou , 2011
Main rivers of China
Kunjirap Pass , China-Pakistan border, 2007
Tower karst landscape in Guilin , South China, 2011
Biluthu Mega Dune in the Badain Jaran Desert , Inner Mongolia , 2011

In terms of total area (land and water), China is the fourth largest country in the world with 9,596,960 km² and the third largest in terms of land area with 9,326,410 km². The territory extends from the northernmost tip on the Siberian border to the southern tip of the island of Hainan for around 5,500 kilometers and from east to west for around 5,200 kilometers. In the east and south-east the national territory is bordered by the Yellow Sea as well as the East China Sea and the South China Sea . In the south, south-west, west and north-west, high mountain ranges separate the country from its neighbors , in the north steppes and deserts , in the north-east the Amur and the Ussuri .

With a total length of 22,133 kilometers, China has the longest land border of all countries. The coastline of all sea borders is 14,500 kilometers. The People's Republic of China has a total of 14 neighboring countries. These are counterclockwise: North Korea in the northeast, then Russia and Mongolia , to the west follow Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan , Tajikistan , Afghanistan and Pakistan , to the south and southwest follow India , Nepal and Bhutan , and finally Myanmar , Laos and Vietnam .

The physical surface, the climatic conditions and thus the habitability of the individual regions differ greatly. The land slopes down from west to east. The topographical structure can be divided into five forms, the respective proportions of which are as follows in relation to the total area of ​​the mainland: mountains (33.3%), plateaus (26%), basins (18.8%), plains (12%) and hill country (9.9%).

West China has a decidedly high mountain character with plateaus in between. The highest mountains are: Himalaya , Tian Shan , Pamir , Altai . To the east there are plateaus and sedimentary basins such as the Mongolian Plateau , the Tarim Basin , the Sichuan Basin or the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau . Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia are the driest parts of the country, for their distinctive desert climate , the Gobi and the Taklamakan stand. The east of China is characterized by four large alluvial plains . There are huge river deltas on the coasts . The south-eastern coastline is mountainous, while the south is more hilly.

There are around 5,400 islands scattered around the territorial waters . According to the exclusive right of representation awarded by the UNO , the People's Republic of China is considered to be the largest island with an area of ​​36,000 square kilometers, Taiwan , and the second largest, Hainan, with an area of ​​34,000 square kilometers. Of the 14 mountains that are higher than 8000 meters, nine are on the Chinese border or within China. From the high mountains south of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau , the roof of the world , stand most of the high mountains of China up. The Himalayan range is on average 6,000 meters above sea level. The highest mountain in China is Qomolangma (Mount Everest) on the border with Nepal , with a height of 8,844.43 meters at the same time the highest mountain in the world.

The Yangtze River ( Yangtze for short ) is the longest river in China with a total length of 6,300 kilometers and the third longest river in the world after the Nile and Amazon . The Yellow River (Huang He) is the second longest river in China; its total length is 5,464 km. Other major rivers are the Xi Jiang , the Mekong , the Pearl River and the Heilong Jiang . The rivers flow from west to east following the geographic conditions: from the high regions with snow and glaciers into the plains to the coasts.

The largest canyon in China is formed by the Dihang gorges of the Yarlung Tsangpo in the Tibetan highlands . With a length of 504.6 kilometers and a depth of up to 6,009 meters, the narrow gorge is considered the largest in the world. The deepest part of the country is at −154 meters in the dried up Aydingkol Lake in the Turpan Depression in eastern Xinjiang .

Lake Poyang , located in the plain on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, is the largest freshwater lake in China. Its area is 3,583 square kilometers. The largest salt lake is Qinghai Lake on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an area of ​​4,583 square kilometers. The largest canal is the Kaiserkanal . It begins in Beijing in the north and ends in Hangzhou in the south . Its total length is 1,801 kilometers. Construction began in the 5th century BC. BC - it is the longest and oldest man-made waterway in the world.


The climate in China with 18 different climates as diverse as the geography. Continental climate is found in the northeast. Winter is long, very cold and dry, but often sunny. Summer, on the other hand, is warm and humid because it is influenced by the summer monsoon . Then it can get muggy and warm with 30 ° C and high humidity .

Dry desert climate extends from the Taklamakan in the west to Beijing. It is characterized by frosty winters with little snow and hot summers. In addition, there are extreme drought and large daily temperature fluctuations. In the high mountains in the interior of China there is a cool mountain climate with high temperature contrasts. The winters are extremely cold, but the sun shines almost continuously during the day. In summer it gets moderately warm and there is occasional rain.

In the east between Beijing and the Yangtze, there is a moderate monsoon climate . There are consistently cool, partly frosty, mostly dry winters with little snow. The sun shows up a lot at this time of year. It gets increasingly hot in summer. The summer monsoon not only brings abundant rain, but often an oppressive sultriness. The climate in the east south of the Yangtze is subtropical , in the extreme south tropical . The winters are mild to warm and rather dry. In summer it gets tropical and hot with heavy rainfall and high temperatures. It doesn't get any cooler at night either.

Precipitation increases steadily from west to east and from north to south. Hardly 100 milliliters of rain fall annually in the deserts of central China; it is the most humid with up to 3000 mm in southeast China. In all regions, almost all of the precipitation falls in the summer months. On this basis, China's land area consists of 36% fertile arable land , 24% grassland , 9% forest and 2% wetlands, and 21% desert and 6.5% wasteland . The cities take up 1.5% of the total area in China.


Dinghushan National Park, Guangdong Province , 2017
World heritage in China : Wulingyuan rainforest with 3000 quartzite columns on which, among other things, Chinese pine trees growing, Hunan Province , 2012

Much of China's natural vegetation has been replaced or altered by millennia of human habitation, but individual areas allow for great biodiversity , so China has one of the richest and most diverse collections of plants and animals in the world. Almost every larger plant in the tropical and temperate zones of the northern hemisphere can be found there. In total, more than 7,000 species of wood plants have been registered, of which there are 2,800 wood trees and over 300 species of naked samers . The rare ginkgo tree, the pigeon tree (conifer) and the primeval sequoia , which have long since become extinct elsewhere, are still growing in China. Among the flowering plants, 650 of the 800 known azalea species are found in China, while 390 of the 450 known primrose and about 230 of the 400 known gentian varieties occur there. The province of Shandong native peony occurs in 400 varieties.

The richest and most extensive coniferous forests are found in the mountains to the northeast, where stands of larch, Asian white birch and Scottish pine thrive, and stands of Korean pine and Dahurian larch. In the Sichuan Basin, the vegetation changes with height, so that a variety of conifers grow in high elevations, deciduous trees and cypresses in middle elevations, and bamboo in lower elevations. Further south, in the subtropical provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang , evergreen deciduous forests predominate. Forests give way to natural grasslands and scrub in drier western and northwestern areas, particularly in the semi-arid regions of Shanxi and Shaanxi , in the steppes of Inner Mongolia and along the desert margins of the Tarim and Junggar Basins.


The different habitats house a diverse fauna . This ranges from arctic species in Manchuria to rich tropical wildlife in the south. In total there are over 6,300 vertebrates in China , of which 2,469 terrestrial vertebrates with around 500 mammals, 1,258 birds, 376 reptiles, 345 amphibians and 3862 fish species. There are also hundreds of thousands of invertebrate species, including around 150,000 insect species .

Some species that are already extinct in other parts of the world have survived in China. These include the sword sturgeon from the Yangtze, certain alligators and salamanders , the giant panda , which only lives in southwest China, and the water deer , which only exists in China and Korea. Among the endemic species , especially rare species include further snub-nosed monkeys , the South China tiger , the four types of eared pheasants , the red-crowned crane , the crested ibis and the Chinese alligator .

All sorts of primates romp around in the tropical south of China , including gibbons , macaques and many other species of monkeys. Larger predators such as bears, tigers and leopards are only represented in limited numbers and only native to remote areas. Leopards live in northern Manchuria; Tibet is the habitat of the snow leopard . Smaller predators, including fox, wolf and raccoon, are numerous in many regions. Antelopes , gazelles , chamois , wild horses and other ungulates inhabit the mountainous regions and valleys in the west. The moose is common in northern Manchuria. Birds come in a wide variety of species, including pheasants , cranes , parrots , herons and Asian peacocks . Water buffalo are among the domestic animals that are used as draft animals in the south, as well as camels , which are used as pack animals in the dry north and west , and yaks , which serve as semi-domesticated high mountain cattle in Tibet. Flounders , cod , tuna , octopus , crabs , shrimps and dolphins can be found especially on the south coast . The rivers of China provide habitat for various carp species as well as salmon, trout, sturgeon and catfish . Many inland waters in China are used for fish farming.

The panda is a national shrine for the Chinese. By order of the National Forest Agency of China , the provinces of Sichuan , Gansu and Shaanxi have been obliged since 2011 to carry out a census of the stocks living in the wild every ten years. The last so-called panda census at the beginning of 2015 counted 1,864 specimens, ten years earlier it was only 1,596. The panda breeding station in Chengdu , from where the sexually very celibate pandas with a correspondingly low reproductive rate are released into the wild after rearing, contributes significantly to this growth .

The first nature reserves were created in the 1950s. Since then, a total of over 2,700 nature reserves have been created in China . The area of ​​all protected areas is 1.42 million square kilometers. This corresponds to around 15 percent of the country's territory.

Natural disasters

Flood protection: Three Gorges Dam (left) and the Gezhouba Dam (right) viewed from space (photo from 2000)

China is regularly hit by droughts , floods , snowstorms , hail , landslides , sandstorms and wildfires. In addition, the coasts in the south and east of the country are often exposed to tropical cyclones and typhoons . Floods occur regularly on all major rivers. The last major flood disasters occurred in 1998 and 2016, when entire regions were flooded for weeks. Both events were preceded by an El Niño .

The Yangtze is located in the densely populated Yangtze Delta. This area has been hit by floods for centuries. The causes of the floods are soil erosion, droughts and the containment of the natural course of the river. The construction of the Three Gorges Dam was and is therefore controversial.

Tectonic earthquakes cause the greatest damage in the People's Republic of China. According to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), they are responsible for the greatest number of human casualties and the greatest economic losses each year. On an annual average, about 20 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.0 to 5.9 occur in China; three to four between 6.0 and 6.9; and only about every two to three years a maximum of two of the strength 7.0 or more. Eastern China as well as the southern provinces and the Himalayas are particularly hard hit. The last earthquake in Sichuan in 2013 and the Jiuzhaigou earthquake in 2017 caused devastating damage , both with a magnitude of 7.0.


The story before the Second Opium War can be found under History of China .

Directly controlled areas of the Qing Empire at the time of its greatest expansion in 1820

Today's People's Republic of China is the result of a two-hundred-year-old process in which the Empire of China was replaced and China was transformed into a modern state. The dramatic events that accompanied this process still shape the country's political actors today.

End of the German Empire (1911), Republic (until 1914), beginning of Yuan Shikai's dictatorship

Caricature in the Puck of 23 August 1899: ' Uncle Sam ' is written on a map of China that is being cut up by European heads of state and says: 'Gentleman, you can cut this card as many times as you like, but remember that I am here to stay too. "

Around 1800 China had reached its greatest expansion and economic power and produced about a third of all goods worldwide, in domestic and foreign policy, however, the Chinese Empire was comparatively unstable or weak at the beginning of the 19th century. As in Europe, the population had grown rapidly, but industrialization began only with a long delay due to the isolation of China from the outside world. The available arable land per capita had decreased. There were hundreds of riots; the Taiping uprising (1851–1864) is considered to be the most devastating war of the 19th century; the great Muslim rebellions were no less cruel wars. The trade balance developed negatively after the forced opening of China. The Qing Empire did not have much to oppose the increasingly aggressive foreign powers in the first or second Opium War , in the Sino-French War of 1885/86 and in the Sino- Japanese War of 1895 . Large areas in northern Manchuria and in eastern Turkestan were lost to the Russian Empire in the treaties of Aigun in 1858 and Beijing in 1860 . In addition to these humiliating defeats, there were the unequal treaties , which in the course of the 19th century led to increasing foreign control, loss of territory and high compensation payments to foreign states.

The foreign pressure on China led to the self-strengthening movement , to modernization in the education system and in the military, the first Chinese started their studies abroad. There were the beginnings of industrialization, which in turn was largely driven by foreigners. However , the Hundred-Day Reform initiated by Emperor Guangxu failed. In the “ Boxer Uprising ”, which was not an uprising against the government, but a movement directed against the imperialist powers and which the Chinese government tried to support, forces came together with the aim of expelling all foreigners ; this fight of the "boxers", which was misleadingly referred to as "uprising" (the first of them were trained in traditional martial arts ), led to war between China and the United Eight States , i.e. the German Empire, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Austria-Hungary , Russia and the USA. After the crackdown, the winners forced further concessions from the imperial family in the so-called "Boxer Protocol" of 1901. In this context, the Chinese Revolutionary League was founded by Sun Yat-sen in Tokyo in 1905 , and it was to become the predecessor organization of the Kuomintang . He called for the establishment of a republic, the end of the Qing Dynasty , a nation state and land reforms. In 1911 the Wuchang Uprising broke out and the subsequent Xinhai Revolution led to the abdication of Emperor Puyi . This ended the succession of several dynasties, the 221 BC. Was started by Emperor Qin Shihuangdi . In late 1911, Sun was elected interim president of the Republic of China in Nanjing . The proclamation of the republic was particularly popular in the big cities. However, it was short-lived, as Yuan Shikai dissolved parliament as early as 1914 and ruled as dictator.

Era of the Republic of China (until 1949)

Yuan Shikai had sufficient military under his authority to keep China from falling apart. However, he was unable to stop the advance of the foreign powers; He suppressed the beginnings of a civil society, and the Kuomintang was banned in 1913. The country's elites therefore turned away from the state during this phase and pursued their own interests. Yuan was proclaimed emperor on January 1, 1916, while Japan systematically weakened him by raising the twenty-one demands . The central government lost control of China's politics, the country was fragmented, the provincial military governors and hundreds of warlords fought in changing alliances for influence. There was chaos and misery, the population suffered from oppression. Mongolia and Tibet declared their independence. However, the phase of fragmentation was also a creative time in which the intellectual climate changed as a result of dealing with Western ideas. The May Fourth Movement became the starting point for numerous political and intellectual currents, schools and universities were founded. Capital and knowledge from abroad flowed into the treaty ports , and the basis for building up the economy was laid.

After the October Revolution in Russia there was also a fascination for socialist and communist ideas in China; in 1921 the Chinese Communist Party was founded. In the absence of industry as a basis for a proletarian movement in China, the Comintern supported both the Kuomintang and the Communist Party (CP). As part of the First United Front, the two parties cooperated against the warlords and Japanese expansionism. With Soviet help, the Whampoa Military Academy was founded in 1924 , from which numerous officers emerged who were important in the later history of China, such as Chiang Kai-shek or Zhou Enlai . After Sun Yat-sen's death in 1925, tensions arose in the united front, which delayed progress in the northern campaign . After the security of Shanghai in March 1927, Chiang Kai-shek had thousands of (alleged) communists killed on April 12, 1927 and a strike put down, which broke the united front. Chiang, who had access to the army within the Kuomintang, maneuvered the party's left wing and established a counter-government in Nanjing. In June 1928 his troops succeeded in taking Beijing, which initially reunited China.

The communists, displaced into the countryside, tried to carry out uprisings in some cities and establish Soviet areas. However, the uprisings in Nanchang in August 1927 , Canton in December 1927 and Changsha in 1930 were put down. Mao Zedong , on the other hand, managed to hold a larger area longer in the mountains of Hunan and Jiangxi after the autumn harvest uprising with a strategy adapted to the rural conditions and to establish a Soviet republic . Due to the encirclement by Kuomintang troops, it had to be evacuated in 1934, the leaders of the CP withdrew with the Long March to the north of Shaanxi, where they arrived a year later ideologically stable and united. During this march, Mao had won the internal party struggles and was elected chairman of the Central Committee .

Whose troops were Japan since 1901 after the Boxer Rebellion in Northeast China, snatched in 1931 the warlord Zhang Xueliang the Manchuria and established the vassal state of Manchukuo . In 1933, Jehol was captured by Japanese forces . The communists called for an alliance of all parties and armed forces in the face of the threat from Japan. Chiang preferred to first consolidate the rule of the Kuomintang against the CP. In December 1936, Chiang had to be forced to agree to a second united front , which was only formed after the incident at the Marco Polo Bridge and the open outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War . Despite the united front, Chiang used his most powerful troops against the CP. The united front remained correspondingly weak. In addition, Chiang's troops were poorly organized, despite the support of the USA and the USSR, and had poor morale. This enabled the Japanese troops to occupy the great plains and coastal areas of China; They committed mass murder in Nanjing that lasted several weeks . But they could not control the conquered areas permanently. The Chiang government had to withdraw to Chongqing .

Shortly after the capitulation of Japan , Mao negotiated with Chiang in Chongqing without result to settle their differences. As a result, the Kuomintang tried to get the whole country under their control, but their troops were indiscipline and without an understandable mandate, their representatives corrupt and feared by the population. However, the parliamentary elections held in 1947 were won by the Kuomintang. The People's Liberation Army , on the other hand, had enough supporters among the population. They conquered Manchuria in 1948, Nanjing in April 1949 and Shanghai in May 1949. The Kuomintang government fled to the island of Taiwan , which was occupied in 1945 , wiped out the local elite and established a dictatorship.

Mao Zedong Era (1949-1976)

Mao Zedong during the proclamation of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949 on the Gate of Heavenly Peace (right: Dong Biwu )
Meet Mao Zedong with Richard Nixon in Beijing in 1972

The People's Republic of China was proclaimed on October 1, 1949. This marked the end of national government on the mainland. The takeover of power by the Communist Party was not an externally induced overturn, but an upheaval carried out by a large majority. In the first phase after the proclamation of the People's Republic, a land reform was carried out from 1949 to 1952, during which almost half of the agricultural area was distributed to around 120 million farmers. "Big landowners" were expropriated. In 1950 the Communist Party passed a marriage law which, in addition to the constitution, specified equality between men and women. In particular, the woman's right to decide whether to marry herself, the prohibition of demanding dowry for the bride or cohabitation , the introduction of a minimum age for women, which led to the abolition of child and forced marriage, or the legalization of the termination of a marriage Divorce, with corresponding rules on the division of property between the spouses, permanently improved the situation of Chinese women. But the traditional way of breaking through rural cultural practice or imparting knowledge of the law to rural women encountered obstacles that were difficult to overcome. Active and passive women's suffrage was introduced in 1949.

In February 1950, Beijing signed a friendship and assistance treaty with the Soviet Union. The development of the urban economy was given priority after the Communist Party had concentrated its activities on the rural areas during the civil war. To this end, a “coalition of four” made up of workers, peasants, petty bourgeois and national bourgeoisie was formed under the catchphrase “New Democracy”. At the 8th party congress, Mao did not find a majority with values ​​such as activism , altruism , unity with the masses and renunciation of consumption ; the way of imitating the Soviet development model with the priority development of heavy industry was confirmed.

Mao Zedong initiated the departure from the Soviet model with his speech on the "Ten Great Relationships" in April 1956. He initiated the Hundred Flower Movement in May 1957 to mobilize intelligence. When the call for healthy criticism also led to criticism of the party and individual party leaders, the party responded with the "campaign against deviants", in which 400 critics were executed and half a million people were deported to labor camps. The turning away from the Soviet Union became final in 1958 when the great leap forward was announced. As part of this campaign, almost the entire rural population was grouped into 26,000 people's communes and organized according to military principles. You should promote agriculture and heavy industry as a "production battle" at the same time. However, planning errors, chaos and natural disasters resulted in around 30 million people starving to death in the three bitter years from 1960 to 1962. Liu Shaoqi took on the task of consolidating the economy from 1963 to 1964; he was criticized for his actions as a "revisionist".

Mao began the Cultural Revolution in the early summer of 1966 under the pretext of revising undesirable developments and cleaning up the bureaucracy . The youth were organized in Red Guards , a wave of terror began against representatives and decision-makers of the state and the intelligentsia; Schools and universities were sometimes closed for several years. The individual should be destroyed, the revolution should be permanent . China closed itself even more to foreign countries. In 1968 the “rural movement” began, with which 15 million young townspeople were assigned to work in agriculture. President Liu Shaoqi and numerous other high party officials were criticized as "revisionists" and removed from their offices. The phase of the Cultural Revolution also saw the growing fear of a Soviet attack following the Sino-Soviet rift , which made it necessary to normalize relations with the United States . After a visit by President Nixon in 1972, Beijing established diplomatic relations with Washington; Beijing also took over the seat of Taiwan in the United Nations . The Cultural Revolution ended after Mao's death in September 1976 and the arrest of the " Gang of Four " in October 1976.

Reform and opening up (1976/1980 to 1999)

The economic reforms under Deng Xiaoping enabled the rapid development of coastal cities like
Shenzhen here

By the time Mao died, his designated successors were already dead: Lin Biao died in 1971 after an alleged coup attempt, Deng Xiaoping was associated with the protests in Tian'anmen Square in 1976 after the death of Prime Minister Zhou Enlai and demoted. Thus the hitherto little known Hua Guofeng was chosen as Mao's successor. Hua and his supporters, who stood for the continuation of Mao Zedong's policies, were outmaneuvered and deposed by Deng until 1980. In December 1978 the course of the " four modernizations ", which is closely connected to Deng's name, was confirmed by the party leadership. Victims of the cultural revolution and other excesses were rehabilitated and economic freedoms were expanded. The market economy gradually replaced the centrally planned economy taken over by the Soviet Union in order to increase the economic efficiency of the system. A peace and friendship treaty was signed with Japan, the former enemy of the war, and foreign investments were gradually permitted. Deng visited the USA, which subsequently became an important foreign policy partner. With the special economic zones , areas were designated where it was possible to experiment with market economy mechanisms, and in 1984 a further 14 coastal cities were opened.

However, the expansion of economic freedoms was not offset by an expansion of personal freedoms. Already parallel to the party congress of December 1978, the public on the democracy wall articulated that it was dissatisfied with the restrictions on freedom, which was closed after demands for democracy had arisen. The " Campaign Against Mental Pollution " was launched against intellectuals who had gradually taken greater liberties . The negative side effects of economic reforms such as growing inequality, corruption, inflation and the lack of social security increased the protest potential. It discharged when mourning rallies for General Secretary Hu Yaobang, who was deposed in 1987 and died in the spring of 1989, again led to demonstrations in Tian'anmen Square . They radicalized parallel to a visit by Mikhail Gorbachev to normalization talks in Beijing, and at the beginning of June they were violently ended. The return of the colonies of Hong Kong and Macau under the principle of “ one country, two systems ” represents, from the Chinese perspective, a further step towards ending the colonization of China. Relations with Russia were also revived.

Although the undesirable side effects of the economic reforms were controversially discussed within the party leadership, the Deng era was a period of comparatively great unanimity. Rapid economic growth, which drastically reduced the number of people below the poverty line from 250 million in 1979 to 45 million in 1999, legitimized the measures. Deng's successor was Jiang Zemin ; under him and his successors, the Communist Party endeavored to defuse the potential for protest that still existed by resolving conflicts and applying justice. Among the challenges that the party and state leadership has had to face since then are the social conditions of migrant and factory workers, the rapid aging of society due to the “ one-child policy ” and demands for the rule of law , the fight against corruption and the state Arbitrariness.

Development to a world power (21st century)

In the first twenty years of the 21st century, China experienced unprecedented economic growth . On average, the Chinese economic power grew by 8.9% annually from 2000 to 2019 inclusive. In addition to the doubling of the Chinese share in world trade , the gross domestic product increased sixfold within this period, so that by the end of that period China had grown to become the second largest economy in the world. This has had a positive impact on the quality of life of more than 200 million Chinese who rose from absolute poverty .

Against the background of its foreign policy geared towards economic expansion , China also began to underpin its claim to power in the world with massive development finance for Africa and the One Belt, One Road project .

During the 2010s, China launched an attempt to systematically re-educate the Uyghurs in Xinjiang . In addition, from a Chinese perspective, the decade was marked by the confrontation with the Hong Kong protest movement in 2014 , which revived with the protests from 2019 .

In 2020, an epidemic broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan with a wave of illnesses that developed into a global pandemic . While the West was hit harder by the pandemic, China was spared the second wave in autumn 2020 and was able to return to normal everyday life.

With the 14th five-year plan from 2021 to 2025 and the associated long-term goals up to 2035, adopted in March 2021, the CCP is shifting the economic focus towards the development of the domestic market. The two main developments are the expansion of research and development , especially basic research , and the strengthening of the range of industrial goods and services for national consumption. It is noteworthy that for the first time all key figures are only target values ​​and deviations due to market forces are expressly recognized. In addition, goals for the development of energy supply and climate policy are set.


The People's Republic of China is the most populous country on earth. According to the National Statistics Office, 1,400,050,000 inhabitants lived there in 2019 .

China's population pyramid 2019, five years added together

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the country had two centuries of great population growth, but also great losses due to war, famine, epidemics and natural disasters. Mao Zedong saw a large population as a sign of national strength. The first census, conducted in 1953, found a population of over 580 million, 70 million more than previously estimated. In response to this, late marriages and contraception were first promoted at the end of the 1950s, because there was a lack of jobs in the cities and the ratio between population and farmland was unfavorable in the countryside. Due to falling infant mortality (from 200 ‰ in 1949 to 60 ‰ in the early 1970s and 45 ‰ by 2000) and increasing life expectancy (one year annually between 1953 and 1970), the population grew rapidly. Life expectancy, which in 1950 was 28 years, had risen to 68.5 years by 2000.

As of 1973, only two children were allowed per marriage. This was implemented in cities but also in rural areas, with the exception of the national minorities. In 1979 the one-child policy was officially introduced. B. Forced Abortions, was enforced. The fertility in 1996 was between 1.5 and 1.6 children per woman, in 2000 it was between 1.2 and 1.4 children per woman. The effects of the one-child policy are the failure to report births and up to 70 abortions per 100 births - due to the cultural preference for sons, female fetuses in particular were aborted . Due to the non-registration of births, it is assumed that the actual number of births is 15 to 30 percent higher than the recorded births. The gender ratio has shifted from the normal 1050 boys to 1000 girls in the 1950s and 1960s to 1200 boys to 1000 girls since 1997. In regions with particularly strictly enforced birth control, around 27 million girls are missing from the birth cohorts 1980 to 2010. Socio-economic causes have led to a drop in the number of births.

The goal of stabilizing the population at 1.2 billion at the turn of the millennium was not achieved; in 2000, about 1.27 billion people lived in China. According to a 2018 study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences , the highest population will be 1.442 billion in 2029. After that, the population will decrease again.

In regions where the one-child policy has been strictly enforced, around 40 percent of people will be over 65 by 2050. For these reasons, the one-child policy was replaced by the two-child policy on January 1, 2016. In 2018, the birth rate fell to its lowest level since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, despite the abolition of the one-child policy.

Population distribution

Population density according to the 2010 census (inhabitants / km²):
  • <5
  • 5-10
  • > 10-20
  • > 20-50
  • > 50-80
  • > 80-150
  • > 150-200
  • > 200-250
  • > 250-300
  • > 300-400
  • > 400-500
  • > 500
  • Population changes 2000–2010 in percent:
    ≤ −5 > −5–0 > 0–1 > 1–20 > 20

    The 1.4 billion inhabitants are very unevenly distributed across the territory. The imaginary Heihe-Tengchong line divides China into a western part, which occupies 57% of the national territory, and an eastern part. In 1982 about 94% of the total population lived on the 43% of the eastern national territory. Many districts in the eastern part of the country have a population density of over 800 to 900 people per square kilometer, while large areas in the western part of the country are unpopulated.


    Due to a rural exodus in 1955, the state allocation of jobs and grain rationing as well as the hukou system were introduced. After that, migration from the countryside to the city was practically prohibited, and this ban was largely complied with until 1984. The rural deportation of 17 million urban cadres and youths during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 as an educational measure, or the settlement of the regions along the Soviet border after the Sino-Soviet rift, are among the major internal migrations.

    The policy of reform and opening up has made it difficult to control the hukou. Since then, there has been massive internal migration from rural areas to metropolitan areas. The 2010 census estimated the migrant population at 275 million. Internal migrants are disadvantaged in the cities and often only have a temporary registration certificate. This harbors a considerable potential for conflict. The Hukou system, introduced in 1958, disadvantages people who are registered in villages in access to city services such as health care and education; reform of the system is slow. As a result, the approximately 200 to 300 million migrant workers are disadvantaged, which has the potential for conflict.

    In 2016, 9.6 million emigrants from the People's Republic of China lived abroad or in one of the two special administrative areas. Almost 40 percent of them had a university degree. The main destination countries for emigrants were the USA, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Macau, Italy and Bangladesh. 211,000 of these emigrants were refugees . In the same year, 1.13 million immigrants lived in China, most of them from Korea, the Philippines, Brazil, the USA, Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Macau and Thailand. Thus there is one immigrant for every 1000 citizens; 300,000 of them came as refugees. The emigrants brought about $ 64 billion in capital flows into China, while the immigrants made remittances from China of $ 6.9 billion.

    There were several waves of emigration from China in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Chinese overseas now make up a substantial proportion of the population in the Southeast Asian countries, while Chinese overseas live in almost every country in the world. They have assimilated to their new home to varying degrees , but are sometimes discriminated against. They typically attach great importance to their origins and keep in touch with their hometown. Especially at the beginning of the reform and opening-up policy, they brought a significant proportion of foreign investment to China.

    Urbanization, metropolitan areas and cities

    Shanghai mega city skyline , 2014
    Guangzhou in the Pearl River Delta metropolitan area , 2011

    After the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1978, 17.9 percent of China's population, or 170 million people, lived in cities. In a period of urban regeneration from 1978 to 1995, the urban population grew to 30.5 percent of the total population. This was followed by a phase of rapid urban growth, so that in 2013 around 730 million people or 53.7 percent of the population lived in cities. Increases in efficiency in agriculture, which freed people into low-productivity jobs, and industrialization led to this development. The urbanization is an important factor in economic growth in recent decades. The urbanization rate is expected to rise to 60 percent of the population by 2020.

    There are 15 megacities in the People's Republic of China, with a total of over 260 million people, and more than 150 cities with a million inhabitants . The three largest metropolitan areas are the Yangtze Delta , the Pearl River Delta and the region around Beijing and Tianjin, in which several megacities are located in a small area and which are the preferred destinations for internal migration.

    Despite the high rate of urbanization, China has succeeded in avoiding the formation of slums and infrastructure congestion, as in other developing countries. Nevertheless, China is affected by the negative side effects of rapid urbanization, such as the destruction of agricultural land, environmental pollution and inadequate compensation for the expropriation of agricultural land. In the suburbs of the metropolitan areas, numerous test-tube cities emerged that are pure dormitories for workers, such as B. Anting . There are sometimes high vacancy rates because there were no industrial settlements and the new building was speculatively fueled.

    Ethnic groups

    Uyghurs in Xinjiang , 2010
    Naxi in Yunnan , 2012

    China is a multi-ethnic country. 91.51 percent of the population are Han (around 1.25 billion). The name goes back to the Han dynasty . However, this largest population group is not a homogeneous group : Over time, strong regional differences have developed in terms of language, dialect, forms of settlement, folk tales, clothing and diet. The 18 largest ethnic groups after the Han in 2010 were:

    A total of 55 ethnic groups are recognized as national minorities , who, in addition to minority protection, are granted special rights in the Chinese constitution, for example teaching in their own language, easier access to higher education, special quota regulations . However, these rights have been increasingly eroded since the 2000s. After the unrest in Tibet in 2008, Tibetans are driven from their residential areas and assimilated through tourism. There were several self immolations in 2016. Unrest in Xinjiang Province in 2009 exacerbated the conflict between the Uyghurs and the state. After a series of attacks in 2014, China began implementing the policy of assimilation , the Xinjiang re-education camps , an ethnocide against Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. After the so-called China Cables - secret documents of the People's Republic of China - were leaked, the situation of the Uyghurs received international attention in 2019.


    Overview of the different language areas of China (1990, based on data from the CIA )

    In addition to standard Chinese, which is based on a dialect of Mandarin , as the general official language, other official languages ​​are officially recognized depending on the region. These include Cantonese in Hong Kong and Macau and English in Hong Kong. There are also regional languages ​​such as Zhuang in Guangxi , Tibetan in Tibet, Uighur in Xinjiang, then Mongolian in Inner Mongolia and Korean in Yanbian . In addition, from the Tibeto-Burmese languages ​​there are Ladhakhi and Yi , then Tai-Kadai languages ​​such as Bouyei , Dong , Tai Lü , Tai Nüa or Tai Pong , but also Mangghuer and the Turkic languages Äynu , Ili Turki , Salarian or Western Yugur .


    An obo Mongolian shaman near Hulun Buir , Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (2016)
    Religious bond in China
    religion percent
    Not religious
    Popular belief
    according to a random survey "Statistics on Religions and Churches in the People's Republic of China" 2014 by the China Family Panel Studies ( 中国 家庭 追踪 调查)
    Core religious areas in China
  • Shenism
  • Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Indigenous religions
  • Mongolian shamanism
  • Manchurian shamanism
  • Taoist ceremony in Shantou , Guangdong Province (2010)

    The four main religions in China are Buddhism , Taoism , Islam and Christianity . There are also some popular religions among national minorities. Chinese religions are generally family related and do not require membership. Of the major religions, only Taoism comes from China. Buddhism goes back to the 1st millennium BC. Back to BC; it spread in China from the 1st century AD. Taoism goes back similarly, integrating numerous elements of much older religions. In the 7th / 8th In the 19th century Islam came to China, in the 13th century Christianity. Jesuits evangelized from the late 16th century. Protestantism came to China from 1807.

    The Confucianism was in imperial times as orthodox , religions other than heterodox . Since its founding, the People's Republic of China has been a secular state in accordance with its communist ideology of state atheism . Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism are state-recognized religions, whereby Catholicism and Protestantism are viewed as separate religions and are not allowed to organize themselves independently. The Roman Catholic Church is forbidden in the People's Republic, only a Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association , which does not recognize the authority of the Pope and has no contact with the Vatican , is allowed. Under Mao , the Catholic Church experienced a particularly rigid form of control. The focus of state persecution today is the new religious community, Falun Gong , with reports of organ harvesting and executions of members of the community sparking human rights organizations.

    As in the religion-critical former Eastern Bloc states in Europe, China is based on a strict principle of separation between religion and state . The right to religious freedom is formally anchored in the constitution of the People's Republic. Due to the disastrous effects on believers during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), the Chinese government endeavored after the 1980s to largely tolerate religious freedom and to open spaces for religious activities. Traditional beliefs, such as Taoism and Buddhism, which are seen as an integral part of Chinese culture, receive state support.

    Under constitutional law, everyone is free, among other things, to pray alone or in community with others, to recite scriptures, to hold church services, to attend baptisms or to read masses . In practice, these rights are often restricted. Nevertheless, a "boom in religions" has been observed in China since the turn of the last millennium. So learned temples and monasteries inlet, and the Tibetan Buddhism spread again in the eastern provinces of the country.

    In 2013, with a population of 1.4 billion, there were around 85,000 religious sites, around 300,000 priests, around 3,000 religious groups and 74 theological institutions in the People's Republic. Religious organizations can set up their own schools and publish books and periodicals . Higher education and research institutions sometimes offer religious programs and research projects.

    There is no church tax in China . The respective religious communities are financed through donations and mainly through immaterial services of the respective religious community , for example the joint construction or repair of buildings or the joint management of gardens and agricultural land. There is no religious education in schools, but since the late 1990s the opening of privately operated religious schools and kindergartens has been observed.

    Since no one in China should officially profess a denomination , there are no official data and no reliable statistics on the number of religious followers. All studies and projections by Chinese and foreign institutions are based on estimates and surveys, some of which differ considerably from one another. In addition, the boundaries between the different faiths in China are often fluid. In several Chinese regions it is not uncommon for believers to profess different religions. There is the Chinese proverb for this :

    “A Chinese is a Confucian when he is well; he is a Taoist when he is ill; and he is a Buddhist in the face of death. "

    In this respect, the religious scene in China is very diverse and can by no means be viewed as a homogeneous culture. Shenism , a mixture of religious and philosophical practices , is widespread . Taoism and Confucianism are two examples of philosophical beliefs in China that carry religious elements. Aspects of ritual and belief about the afterlife exist independently of the philosophies. Apart from the European religions, there is no invisible God at the center of all practiced religions in China since time immemorial, but always life, earth, happiness and harmony.


    Mao portrait at the Gate of Heavenly Peace , the entrance to the Forbidden City (2008)

    The People's Republic of China is a centralist party dictatorship under President Xi Jinping . The Chinese state organization is formally anchored in the constitution of the People's Republic of China . Although several political parties are permitted in the People's Republic of China , the Communist Party of China has the lead over the other bloc parties within the framework of the united front . The People's Republic of China is thus a socialist one-party state , in which the decisions are first made by the Chinese Communist Party. Only then are the fundamental political goals laid down in the constitution and the political guidelines implemented in the state apparatus. According to the constitution, the state is organized according to the principle of “ democratic centralism ”. There is no separation of powers into the legislative, executive and judicial branches, but rather an intertwining of powers.

    Communist Party

    Delegate of the 18th National Congress (November 2012)

    The Chinese Communist Party was founded in 1921 and has held congresses every five years to determine policy. The Chinese Communist Party is led and represented by the General Secretary , who usually also holds the post of President of the PRC. Since 2012, Xi Jinping has been General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, State President and Supreme Commander of the Army. The Politburo Standing Committee , which consists of seven people and is the center of power in the People's Republic of China, is elected at the party congresses . The Standing Committee is elected from among the ranks of the Politburo , which has 25 members. The Politburo is elected every five years by the Central Committee of around 200 members. The Central Committee is chosen at the party congresses by the 3,000 delegates who take part. The delegates are sent by the various party organizations. As soon as three party members get together, they form a grassroots organization of the Communist Party. The entire state apparatus is found in a parallel structure in the party, ie within all state organs there are parallel organizations of the party that make the actual decisions.

    In 2016, the Chinese Communist Party had 89 million members. The membership structure has changed in recent years, as party cadres, workers, private entrepreneurs and a high proportion of students now reflect the heterogeneity of Chinese society. Until 2014, party members were selected based on their economic, political or scientific position. Since 2014, the criterion of loyalty to the party has been decisive for membership.

    Under Xi Jinping, the Communist Party aims to make the " Chinese Dream " come true. With document number 9 , an internal party strategy paper warns against the influence of the western world. The beginning of the Xi era is also marked by the rigid anti-corruption campaign with which Xi will have created many enemies in the party. At the party congress in autumn 2017, it was decided that the two-term limitation for a presidency would no longer apply. This resolution was incorporated into the constitution at the National People's Congress in 2018. This means that Xi can remain President of the People's Republic of China until the end of his life. This decision was seen in part as a step backwards towards personal rule as under Mao Zedong. Until the presidency of Xi Jinping, an internal party balance in the form of collective leadership was assumed. With the lifting of the age limits, this collective leadership was given up. This decision was justified by the fact that stability has priority because there are “problems” with the separation of party and state. Analysts assume that by the end of Hu Jintao's era there was factional fighting within the party. There are rumors pointing to a foiled coup in 2011. With the anti-corruption campaign, Xi has eliminated possible opponents. At the same time, corruption undermines the legitimacy of the Communist Party, leaving him with no other choice. To do this, however, he must have control over politics and the economy. Xi puts political control over economic growth. With this, however, the leadership is in a dilemma: on the one hand, they have to prevent the oligarchic economic cliques from acting on their own initiative by punishing corruption, but at the same time they are dependent on these economic cliques in order to keep the state apparatus functioning.

    State building

    The Great Hall of the People on Tian'anmen Square is the parliament building of the People's Republic, 2016
    Xi Jinping, the current head of state and party of the People's Republic of China, 2013

    According to its constitution , the People's Republic of China is a "socialist state under the democratic dictatorship of the people". The constitutional amendments in 1993, 1999, 2004, 2012 and 2018 continue to emphasize the absolute leadership of the party. In addition, the preamble states that the principle of the socialist market economy is sought, private property and human rights are protected, and rule is sought through the law . According to the constitution, the highest state organ is the National People's Congress , the legislature of the People's Republic of China. The MPs elect the state president , the prime minister and other leaders. It passes fundamental laws and votes on executive accounts. The National People's Congress has around 3,000 members and usually meets once a year at the beginning of March. The working body of the People's Congress is the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress , which meets every two months and passes most of the laws. The National People's Congress is called a voting machine, but there are also controversies, such as For example, in the Three Gorges Dam project in 1992. Other scientists therefore do not consider this designation to be necessarily justified, since - especially when it comes to personnel decisions - dissenting votes were raised. People's Congresses are elected at all levels, ie at the provincial, district and county levels. Those to be elected are specified by the party. Free elections are only possible at the district and village level.

    The Political Consultative Conference of the People's Republic of China was founded in 1946 and was the legislative body of the People's Republic of China until 1954. Since then she has only had an advisory role. It meets annually in March parallel to or after the National People's Congress.

    The highest office in the People's Republic of China is that of the President . He signs the laws passed by the National People's Congress, which only then come into force. He also appoints and dismisses the Prime Minister and his deputy, the state commissioners and the ministers. Only he can declare a state of war. Xi Jinping, who is also the general secretary of the CCP, has been the state president since 2013. As Prime Minister, Li Keqiang heads the State Council. The chairman of the National People's Congress is Li Zhanshu .

    The central administrative body is the State Council. The Prime Minister presides over the Council of State and directs its work. He is formally accountable as a representative of the State Council in the National People's Congress. Four deputy prime ministers , state secretaries and the ministers support the prime minister and are responsible to him. The provinces and autonomous regions have their own governments and people's congresses. The structure, the working methods and the competences of the provincial governments correspond in the basic structure to the central state level.

    Administrative structure

    Administrative division of the People's Republic of China

    The administrative structure consists of six levels. They are divided below the national level as follows:

    The central government sets the policy with regulations and framework laws. However, these are not legally binding for the local governments, but they implement the policy with their own legislation through their people's congresses. Sanctions in the event of non-compliance are only possible in the form of personnel decisions. Article 89 of the Constitution gives the Council of State the power to revise norms or decisions of the local authority. However, it does not happen that conflicts of competence are openly dealt with. Conflicts are settled in negotiations between headquarters and local governments. That is why the People's Republic is sometimes referred to as informal federalism . With the inauguration of Xi Jinping, a recentralization is intended. There are no steps towards formal federalism. However, the administrative structures are fragmented, so that a thorough governance is not possible, but instead every political decision is implemented on the basis of negotiation or not.

    Legal system

    Beijing Supreme People's Court (2013)
    Courthouse in Haikou , Hainan Province (2012)

    In the Chinese hierarchy of norms, the decisions of the Chinese Communist Party take precedence over those of the judicial organs. At the national level, the laws are passed by the National People's Congress and its Standing Committee. These laws are then cast into their own laws by the local people's congresses. The implementation of the central requirements at the local level is only examined by an examination commission of the National People's Congress, which is sent to the provinces after prior notice.

    According to the Chinese Constitution and the People's Court Organization Act, people's courts are the organs of jurisdiction of the state. There are people's courts, intermediate people's courts, special people's courts and higher people's courts at different levels . The highest judicial authority is the Supreme People's Court in Beijing, which oversees and interprets the jurisdiction of the people's courts.

    Xi Jiping has promised legal reforms, but these do not correspond to rule of law, but use the law as a means. Reprisals and censorship have increased since he took office, although Chinese citizens are more aware of their rights than they were 20 years ago and are trying to demand them. In 1999, Germany started a Sino-German rule of law dialogue with the People's Republic of China in order to exchange views on legal issues.

    Human rights

    Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accuse the People's Republic of numerous violations of basic human rights . The human rights situation in the People's Republic of China has been criticized especially since the massacre of June 4, 1989 on Tian'anmen Square .

    With thousands of executions, the People's Republic of China is the most widely used country in the world. The exact numbers can only be estimated because the actual number of executions is a state secret.

    The Chinese government has formally ratified most of the United Nations' human rights conventions. According to Article 33 (3) of the 2004 Chinese Constitution, “the state respects and guarantees human rights”. According to the Chinese interpretation, the state grants and protects human rights, which, however, must not be directed against the interests of other citizens or the state. This means that subjective law in the People's Republic of China does not have priority.

    Particular attention was paid to cases such as the re-education camps in Xinjiang , the suppression of Uyghurs and Tibetans , the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong practitioners in China , the " transformation through labor " and " arrest and repatriation " systems, the social credit system , or the Birth control as part of the one-child policy .


    Flag of the People's Liberation Army

    The People's Liberation Army was founded in 1927 and helped the Communist Party during the revolutionary struggle before 1949 and in consolidating its rule after 1949. The People's Liberation Army is the largest army in the world in terms of personnel. It consists of the army , navy , air force and missile forces . The People's Republic of China is a nuclear power. It signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and declared that it would not be able to use it for the first time.

    The Central Military Commission coordinates defense policy, formulates military doctrine and takes over the command in the event of war. The Supreme Commander is Xi Jinping, who is the chairman of the Central Military Commission. For 2017, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated the military spending of the People's Republic of China 1544 billion yuan or 1.9 percent of the gross domestic product .

    Domestic politics

    The political goals are set in five-year plans. They give clues about the political direction for the next five years. The current five-year plan runs from 2015 to 2020 and the new 14th five-year plan, which covers the period from 2021 to 2025, is currently being drawn up.

    Since 2012, restrictions in all areas have been tightened under President Xi Jinping. The fight against corruption has become vital for the party, as corruption has increased significantly with the economic reforms. Xi Jinping initiated the anti-corruption campaign in 2012 . Numerous corruption proceedings have opened and high- ranking politicians ( Zhou Yongkang , Bo Xilai ) have been sentenced. These disciplinary proceedings would not be possible without the consent of the party. The downside of the anti-corruption campaign is a bureaucratic apparatus that is only partially functional, as it no longer makes decisions because the fear of being accused of corruption paralyzes the officials. With the operation fox hunting Chinese citizens have been persecuted for 2,014 abroad if they have settled with state funds abroad. In principle, Xi has thus expanded the anti-corruption campaign to the world. According to the corruption perception index from Transparency International e. V., the PR China ranks 80th out of 180 countries in 2019.

    The Internet censorship of the People's Republic is considered to be one of the strictest in the world. Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, Skype and Wikipedia are banned in China, and search engines filter out tricky searches for the government. Chinese social media apps are used in a targeted manner. In 2020, the organization Reporters Without Borders ranked the People's Republic in the ranking of press freedom at 177th place out of 180 and gave the number of journalists imprisoned in China at 67 and the number of blogging citizen journalists imprisoned at 46 for 2020.


    In cities, surveillance cameras are being installed extensively on streets and public places. While the Chinese state had installed 176 million cameras in the middle of 2017, the number of surveillance cameras doubled in the following year. Estimates of cameras installed by 2020 inclusive are between 567 and 600 million. The Chinese police use the image or face recognition software from Megvii and SenseTime to evaluate the images . At the same time, the social credit system has been introduced since 2020, in which citizens receive points for socially appropriate behavior and points are deducted for violations of morality or criticism of the party. Those who have few social credit points are disadvantaged when booking travel tickets or the like.

    Foreign policy

    G20 summit in Hamburg 2017 , the Xi couple in the first row
    Xi Jingping with his wife Peng Liyuan during a 2017 visit to Palm Beach with Melania and Donald Trump
    Dilma Rousseff , Manmohan Singh , Vladimir Putin , Xi Jinping and Jacob Zuma at the 2013 BRICS summit in Saint Petersburg

    The foreign policy of the People's Republic of China is characterized by the desire world power to be and is geo-strategically to secure resources and trade routes. The one-China doctrine is strictly adhered to in relation to other states : This means that any state that would like to trade or enter into diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China may not recognize the Republic of China in Taiwan as an independent state; otherwise he can expect sanctions. As the most populous country in the world, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council , a nuclear power and a growing economy, China is increasingly striving to participate in all major global political issues and self-confidently pursuing its national interests. The People's Republic of China is a member of the G20 and the BRICS countries .

    An important project since 2013 has been the New Silk Road Initiative (“ One Belt, One Road ”), in which a trade route from the People's Republic of China to Europe was initially sought and built along the old Silk Road . However, this trade route now goes beyond this old Silk Road and now includes almost all parts of the world. Likewise, it is no longer limited to trade, but also aims at access to resources and political and military influence. The associated investment projects (such as the 17 + 1 initiative in Eastern Europe or the port of Piraeus in Greece) are often used as leverage. In this context, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB ) was founded in the People's Republic of China in 2016 . In 2011, China overtook the United States as Africa's largest trading partner through its development finance.

    Since Donald Trump's inauguration in 2016, Sino-American relations have hit rock bottom. The trade conflict between the United States and the People's Republic of China has existed since 2018, and due to the close financial and economic policy interlinking of the two states, it has had serious effects - also on the rest of the world. There are also points of friction in the South China and East China Seas , where China is becoming increasingly aggressive.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic , criticism was raised that China had withheld information regarding the virus and that countries were putting pressure on the distribution of medical protection goods if they criticized China's foreign policy.

    The Sino-German relations are characterized by close economic ties. In the political field, there are regular consultations, such as B. in the German-Chinese rule of law dialogue . However, areas of conflict have also emerged in this relationship since 2016, such as For example, a significant increase in Chinese investments, which for the Germans is associated with the fear of an outflow of know-how (see, for example, the Kuka case ), China's refusal to submit to international law in the South China Sea and, finally, China's open criticism of the liberal model of society. The Chinese influence on other states and societies is therefore increasingly referred to as a "system struggle".

    The relationship between China and South Korea and North Korea has become more difficult since 2013. Since 2016, China has agreed to tightened UN sanctions against North Korea, although North Korea, as a communist state, is a socialist " brother state ". In principle, the People's Republic wants to maintain the status quo of the situation. Especially since if North Korea collapses, flows of refugees into the People's Republic of China can be expected. The Sino-Japanese relations strained remain. The dispute often ignites on Diaoyu / Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. It is about historical and international law controversies and resources.

    Relations with other neighboring countries, such as Russia , have eased (also due to overlapping geostrategic interests), but Sino-Russian relations are burdened by historical disputes. Pakistan is a close ally of the People's Republic. The Chinese-Indian relations are conflictual because of territorial border disputes and led last even sporadic military clashes.

    Intelligence services

    The Ministry of State Security (國家 安全 部 / 国家 安全 部, Guójiā Ānquánbù ) is a tightly organized civil service responsible for foreign intelligence and internal security. It is subordinate to the Council of State . Residences of the Chinese overseas intelligence are located in the embassies or consulates , in Germany for example in the Chinese embassy in Berlin . The military intelligence service, department two (information) of the general planning department ( Chinese 總參謀部 / 总参谋部, Pinyin Zǒngcānmóubù ) of the People's Liberation Army , also maintains missions abroad.

    Taiwan conflict

    The Taiwan question is a problem from the Chinese civil war , in the final phase of which the nationalist government withdrew to the island of Taiwan and established a military dictatorship there, while the People's Republic was proclaimed on the mainland. Taiwan's return to the People's Republic of China is firmly anchored in Chinese nationalism and is the goal of the Chinese leadership. Alongside the conflict on the Korean peninsula , the Taiwan question is the greatest security challenge in East Asia.

    Under the catchphrase one China principle , the governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait agree that there is only one China, but that there are different views as to who is the legitimate government of this one China. Since Deng Xiaoping , the government of the People's Republic has been intending to unite Taiwan with the mainland under the principle of one country, two systems , whereby Taiwan would be promised more autonomy than Hong Kong after the return by Great Britain. The Taiwanese people see this as a strategy of submission and distrust the promises made in Beijing. Beijing reserves the right to use force under certain conditions, including a nuclear build-up in Taiwan or concrete steps by the government in Taipei towards independence. The military balance is constantly changing in favor of Beijing. The US has made a political pledge in support of Taiwan .

    The strategy of the People's Republic is to make Taiwan economically dependent on the mainland, to promote social exchange, to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, to threaten the island militarily and to influence the USA in its favor. Since the opening policy began, Taiwanese firms have invested more than US $ 200 billion in the mainland and employ around 14 million Chinese workers. About 60 percent of Taiwanese direct investment abroad goes to the People's Republic; around a quarter of Taiwan’s foreign trade is conducted with the People’s Republic. Beijing's calculation that Taiwanese business people and companies would intervene with the Taiwanese government in the interests of Beijing has not worked out.

    Since Tsai Ing-wen was elected president of Taiwan by the Democratic Progressive Party in early 2016 , relations have deteriorated as it seeks the status quo . Tsai was re-elected in early 2020.


    Income and distribution

    Human Development Index in China from 1970 to 2010
    Annual disposable per capita income 2014 per region

    With a per capita income of US $ 54 , the state was one of the poorest countries on earth when it was founded in 1949. Over 80 percent of the population were landless farmers, day laborers and migrant workers . With the beginning of the economic reforms, living conditions and prosperity improved from the 1980s. According to the World Bank , the People's Republic of China changed from a developing country to a country with an income level in the upper middle range within 30 years. The from the development program of the United Nations established the Human Development Index ( Human Development Index ), indicators such as life expectancy, education and health involving, rose 2,019 to 0.758, making China-ranked 85th

    According to the World Wealth Report , the number of US dollar millionaires in China rose to 4.4 million in 2019. This makes the People's Republic of China one of the three countries with the most millionaires in the world, behind the USA and Japan. In terms of population density, there were more dollar millionaires in Hong Kong in 2016 than anywhere else in the world.

    In 2017, households had an average consumer spending of 22,902 RMB (equivalent to almost 3000 euros / as of April 2020) per year. In the cities it was 31,032 RMB and in the countryside it was 11,704 RMB. Depending on the calculation method, the Gini coefficient for income inequality is between 42.2 percent and 61 percent, with the World Bank considering values ​​above 40 percent as questionable. In 1980 the unequal distribution of income was 32 percent. This development leads to dissatisfaction among the population and to social protests. The Chinese government is trying to counteract this with social policy measures such as surveillance and censorship.

    Social Security

    Average life expectancy
    year Life expectancy
    1950 43.8
    1955 44.5
    1960 44.6
    1965 55.5
    1970 61.7
    1975 65.5
    1980 67.8
    1985 68.9
    1990 69.7
    1995 70.9
    2000 73.1
    2005 74.7
    2010 75.7
    2015 75.9

    The social safety net consists of a state-organized social insurance, which covers the risks of illness, old age, unemployment, accident and maternity, and social assistance, which provides a livelihood . Although a social security law came into force nationwide in 2011 , the specific form of the various branches of social security depends on the respective local government. The state social insurance only covers employees . Voluntary health insurance was introduced in 2009 for children, students, the self-employed as well as for the rural population and in general for every citizen who is not an employee, in which the state pays half of the contributions and the other half is to be paid by the respective insured who may take out this insurance voluntarily. In this way, the Chinese government wants to integrate the entire Chinese population into health care by 2020 .

    Urban poverty has been a phenomenon in the People's Republic since the late 1990s , so a state welfare system was established. Securing livelihoods is part of social assistance. This includes disaster relief , support for poor areas and for families with low incomes, which is primarily provided as maintenance for poor and single elderly people, the disabled and orphans. The aids are provided in service, in kind and in cash. The prerequisite for benefits is that, according to the principle of subsidiarity, they have no right to maintenance payments from relatives. The head of the household of a needy family must submit an application for minimum subsistence to the relevant authority or the residents' committee, which is then checked by them with regard to the information on their personal situation. Personal and social controls are provided by the residents' committee. Results in field research show that livelihood security is used to influence former prisoners or those who think differently in their views about the state. There is a draft law on social assistance, but it has not yet been passed.


    Emergency medical workers on duty after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake

    When the People's Republic was founded, life expectancy was an average of 40 years. Inadequate nutrition, hardly any medical care and the associated high prevalence of communicable diseases contributed to this. The average life expectancy of the Chinese population rose to 76.34 years by 2015 due to better living conditions and medical care. Obesity, respiratory diseases , cancer , stroke , heart attack , smoking and unhealthy food all contribute to health problems in China too. Tuberculosis is still one of the most threatening infectious diseases in China. The 2002/2003 SARS pandemic revealed the shortcomings in the health system. The COVID-19 pandemic in the People's Republic of China started in the city of Wuhan in December 2019 . It evolved from China into a global COVID-19 pandemic .

    In 2017 there were around 28,000 hospitals across the country, around 4,000 clinics for traditional Chinese medicine, 37,015 medical wards, 33,965 local health centers and 195,176 outpatient departments. The institutions are financed through contributions from health insurance, government subsidies and the sale of medicines. The problem is the provision of sufficient skilled workers, which is partly due to the payment of the medical staff. This leads to poor quality medical treatments.

    IT solutions such as e-health systems, telehealth and e-learning are seen in strategy papers as possible solutions for greater efficiency in hospitals.

    The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention is a central health protection facility . This institution works together with foreign research institutions.

    The central government has been increasingly promoting traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) since 2016 in order to reduce health expenditure.


    English lesson in a middle school in Chongqing , Sichuan Province (2015)
    Chinese rural school buses (2016)
    University in Shihezi , Xinjiang Autonomous Region (2012)

    The Ministry of Education in Beijing is responsible for the education sector. The provinces and autonomous regions (“cultural sovereignty”) are responsible for shaping education policy. As in many other public areas, there was a strong deregulation in the education administration of the People's Republic of China : Competencies were given to lower levels, and these have to implement the educational norms autonomously in terms of finance, personnel and content . Education spending in the People's Republic of China has increased significantly since 2005. In 2017, 4.14 percent of the gross domestic product was invested in education. China was roughly on a par with Germany; Both countries are investing well below the OECD annual average of 5.3 percent.

    In 2001 the People's Republic of China reached a literacy level of 98 percent of the population. Since 2009, China has consistently held top positions in the top ten result tables of the PISA studies . The school system comprises pre-schools, elementary schools and secondary schools, which are attended for a total of at least nine and a maximum of twelve years, as well as universities. In addition to the public schools, an extensive network of private schools has emerged. The problem is that school children in rural areas in particular suffer from iron deficiency, parasitic intestinal worms and do not have glasses, which is why they have difficulty learning. In rural areas, 53% of babies and toddlers fail the Bayley test , lacking adequate cognitive, language and emotional skills for their age, which affects their learning skills in school. The reasons are inadequate nutrition and the way parents treat the children, as they neither speak to the children nor encourage them to interact.

    Primary school generally lasts six years. Subjects include: Chinese, Math, Exercise, Science, Music, and Art; English is taught from the 3rd grade onwards. The secondary education is at general or technical secondary schools instead and is divided into three annual sub-stage and three years to college. Chinese, mathematics, a compulsory foreign language (mostly English), physics, chemistry, biology, technology, IT , sports, art, music, ethics , economics, history and geography are taught here. Since the early 1990s in response to the Tian'anmen massacre , the Patriotic Education Campaign has been carried out in schools. As part of this campaign, the view of China's history and culture was changed in a nationalist direction. The long history of China and the emergence of a wealthy, powerful nation-state are emphasized. Nationalism is seen as the spiritual pillar of the communist state. Any criticism of the Chinese Communist Party is therefore seen as an attack on the Chinese people. In November 2019, in response to the protests in Hong Kong , these Nationalist Education Guidelines were renewed to strengthen national identity.

    The Gao Kao refers to the final examination in the Chinese secondary system that enables study at universities. This exam is the final exam of the twelve-year school education and is comparable to the Abitur in Germany. This final exam decides on admission to one of the renowned universities; many parents therefore invest a lot of time and money in educating their children so that they can pass this test as well as possible.

    According to the official statistics of the Chinese Ministry of Education, there were 2,956 state-recognized colleges (universities and colleges), 292 institutions for adult higher education and 813 other tertiary educational institutions in China in 2019 . In 1995, the Chinese Ministry of Education passed Project 211 and in 1998 Project 985, in which universities were given special funding. Both programs were discontinued in September 2017 and replaced by the Double Excellence Program in order to achieve the level of top Western universities by the middle of the 21st century. The faculty comprised 2.4 million teachers, most of whom have PhDs. The proportion of women in the teaching staff is almost 49 percent. In principle, university studies are subject to fees, although there are several options for scholarships , loans or - especially for the rural population - for exemption from tuition fees.

    In 2017, 38 million Chinese were enrolled in universities. Almost 8 million graduated with a Bachelor, Master or PhD in 2017. For comparison: Almost three million people study in Germany and 20 million across Europe. In absolute terms, the People's Republic is the largest university nation in the world. Finding a job for a university degree is becoming increasingly difficult. Therefore, in February 2019, the plan to implement the reform of national technical training was approved by the State Council. The measures are aimed at gaining professional qualifications and strengthening cooperation with companies.

    In recent years, controls over universities and scientists have tightened. In some cases, lecture halls are monitored with cameras and professors are denounced by students if they deviate from the opinion of the Communist Party.


    Headquarters of Ping An Insurance in Shenzhen , which is considered a global systemically important insurance company for the entire world economy (as of 2017)
    Shanghai Stock Exchange , the world's fourth largest exchange
    Headquarters of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) in Beijing, the largest bank in the world by total assets

    In terms of percentage, the shares of the individual economic sectors in the gross domestic product in 2018 were over 7 percent for agriculture, over 40 percent for industry and more than 52 percent for the service sector. Of China's nearly 900 million workers, 26.6 percent were employed in agriculture, 28.3 percent in industry and 45.1 percent in the service sector.

    With the Made in China 2025 strategy, the People's Republic has been trying since 2015 to promote key industries in order to achieve world market leadership in these areas. The massive state financial support was criticized by foreign companies and states, so that the term Made in China will be avoided by the Chinese leadership in 2025 . However, the strategy will continue to be pursued in order to become technologically independent from abroad. Since then, the People's Republic of China has been seen as a systemic competitor from abroad .

    The Chinese financial system is state administered. In addition to the Chinese People's Bank , which acts as the central bank, and the Ministry of Finance , both of which are subordinate to the State Council, there are so-called commercial banks that implement the government's policy. The Bank of China is one of the four major state banks , alongside the ICBC , China Construction Bank and the Agricultural Bank of China . It is up to them to grant loans, which are mainly given to state-owned companies. There are also so-called shadow banks that are closely linked to the state banks. Your job is to provide loans to private entrepreneurs. Stock markets exist in Shanghai and Shenzhen as well as in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region .

    In the past, China's strength as a production location stemmed primarily from its comparatively low wages; an advantage that has diminished in recent years due to the sharp rise in wages . China is no longer a low-wage country . The strengths of the Chinese economy now lie in advanced production know-how and supply chain management . There are therefore fears that China could get stuck in the so-called middle income trap .

    Household development

    The People's Republic of China is the second largest economy in the world after the USA or, measured in terms of purchasing power parity, the largest economy in the world since 2016 . The gross domestic product (GDP) was 15.27 trillion US dollars in 2019 . China's economy officially grew by 6.1 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year. Chinese analysts, however, suspect significantly lower growth. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the People's Republic of China , Prime Minister Li Keqiang expects growth of less than three percent for 2020. The national debt as a percentage of GDP officially rose to 60.9 percent in China in 2019. Abroad, the Chinese national debt is estimated at just under 243 percent of GDP from 2017. The inflation was at 2.4 percent in 2019.


    China has 10 percent of the world's arable land and thus has to feed 22 percent of the world's population. Agriculture is a major industry in China, accounting for about 7 percent of GDP in 2019, and employing over 300 million farmers. The share of small farmers in the food supply is around 80 percent. The farms are either owned by the state or are small family businesses. Experts are in favor of restructuring, but analysts believe it is unlikely that the Communist Party will allow it.

    China mainly produces rice, wheat, potatoes, tomatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oil seeds, corn and soybeans. Meat is also produced, mainly pork. For meat production, China especially needs soybeans, which the country imports, for animal feed. China was one of the world's largest exporters of pork before the African swine fever outbreak . Since the outbreak in China in 2018, it has been importing pork, especially from Germany and Spain.


    As part of the Made in China 2025 strategy , Chinese companies, both state and private, are encouraged to benefit from traditional industries such as B. mechanical engineering or aviation, are more in the direction of new technologies, such as. B. Develop Artificial Intelligence. More than 530 industrial parks with smart factoring have been created. Big data , cloud computing and green manufacturing are on the agenda. The PR China would like to catch up from the world's workbench to a global technology power. In some areas, such as B. in the field of electric batteries, the PR China has had a global market share of over 50 percent since 2017. In 2015 BYD was the global leader in the sale of electrically chargeable vehicles. The introduction of mandatory quotas for the production of electric cars led to a high increase in sales, making China the world market leader in electric cars. From 2019 all domestic and foreign car companies in China will have to manufacture a ten percent and from 2020 a twelve percent share of their total production as electric vehicles.

    In key industries such as telecommunications, shipbuilding, aviation and high-speed trains, state-owned companies account for 83 percent, while automotive and electronics companies make up only 45 percent. Private companies are considered innovative. The ZTE Corporation and the smartphone manufacturer Huawei have applied for the most application patents worldwide since 2015 . Nevertheless, China is dependent on foreign countries in some key industries, as shown for example in the chip industry.

    Start-up companies in the innovation and high-tech sectors receive financial support by receiving loans from state-owned banks. There is a high risk appetite to found new companies. In 2018, venture capital invested in China was $ 107 billion. Overall, more is being invested in the start-up scene than, for example, in the USA. In the metropolis of Shenzhen there are centers of high-tech industry, entrepreneurship, innovation and the start-up scene. The city is the global center for computer companies and has made a name for itself as Silicon Valley for startups. Well-known Shenzhen startups include Huawei , Tencent , DJI (corporate) , Ubtech Robotics , SenseTime, and Ping An Insurance . Companies such as Apple , Hewlett-Packard , IBM , Dell , Microsoft , Nintendo , Olympus , Panasonic , Pioneer , SAP , Siemens not only produce most of their hardware in Shenzhen, but are increasingly relocating their software development to the economic metropolis on the Pearl River Delta.

    The construction industry plays a central role in the Chinese economy: housing construction has contributed around 10% to the gross domestic product in recent years, more than in any other country. The construction boom is fueled by the fact that Chinese employees are obliged to pay into a state building society fund.

    Service sector

    Before economic reforms began in 1978, China's service sector was characterized by state-owned enterprises, rationing, and regulated prices - with the reform came private markets, sole proprietorships, and a commercial sector. Wholesale and retail trade developed, and numerous shopping centers, retail stores, chain restaurants and hotels were established in urban areas. In addition, tourism has become an important economic factor.

    In 2017, the number of Internet users was 772 million people. The vast majority of the Chinese population buys via e-commerce , 40 percent of global online trade is done in China. Corporations such as Baidu , Alibaba , Tencent and Xiaomi are among the largest technology companies in the world. The high level of acceptance is facilitated by mobile payment systems such as Alipay or WeChat Pay. The so-called Singles' Day, November 11th, was launched by Alibaba and regularly achieves record sales. The state is promoting e-commerce in rural areas as a kind of poverty project. So-called Taobao villages produce for online trading. This creates an effective infrastructure, such as B. in logistics, and the rural population receives employment opportunities.

    Foreign trade

    On December 11, 2001, China became the 143rd member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The status of the People's Republic of China as a " free market economy " is controversial. Strict conditions were imposed on the People's Republic. China received contractual assurance from the WTO that it should receive the status of a free market economy after 15 years at the latest. Even before this deadline, several countries, including Australia, Brazil and South Africa, recognized the Chinese economic system as a free market economy. On the other hand, the United States officially announced to the WTO at the end of 2016 that it would refuse to recognize China because trade partners could more easily raise tariffs without market economy status . As part of the America First policy , which has been propagated by Donald Trump since November 2016 , decisive action is to be taken against the large trade deficit between the two states by levying tariffs of up to 45 percent. The trade conflict between the United States and the People's Republic of China has escalated since 2018 .

    While some EU states also refuse China the status, export-strong nations such as Great Britain, Germany or Sweden are of the opinion that, after almost twenty years of membership in the World Trade Organization, China can no longer be withheld the status of a market economy, especially other countries such as Russia or Saudi -Arabia , which has also joined the WTO, have been classified as a "free market economy". However, the EU has not yet recognized China as a market economy because it would then have to lift its anti-dumping duties. The EU is still in negotiations with China. Chinese government subsidies and intellectual property violations are controversial. For Germany, the Federation of German Industries has published a position paper in which the PR China is described as a partner and systemic competitor .


    Smog in Beijing (2014)
    Hard coal steelworks in
    Benxi , Liaoning Province (2013)

    The economic upturn in China is accompanied by severe environmental problems . Out of 180 countries, the People's Republic was only 120th in the ranking of the Environmental Performance Index in 2018 .

    China's “ ecological footprint ” has doubled since the middle of the last century. The high energy consumption causes high levels of air pollution . In 2005, the People's Republic of China overtook the USA for the first time in terms of CO 2 emissions and in 2018 was by far the world leader with a value of 11.2 billion tons. In 2013, record levels of over 800 micrograms of fine dust per cubic meter of air were measured in several cities in northern China ; 30 times what the World Health Organization considers harmless.

    As a result of the severe environmental pollution, the groundwater is polluted in many places. Dam projects and high water consumption lead to falling groundwater levels and the disappearance of lakes. This increases soil erosion and desertification , which means that vegetation as well as arable and forest areas are lost.

    China ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 and the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016 . Although individual large Chinese cities continue to be regularly hit by heavy smog , the pollution levels are demonstrably declining. In the last quarter of 2017, according to Greenpeace, pollution levels in Beijing, for example , fell by 53.8 percent compared to the previous year. For the entire period from 1750 to the present day, however, China's contribution to the greenhouse effect is still far behind that of the industrialized countries .

    Research and Development

    science and technology

    Tianhe-2 , the fastest supercomputer in the world from 2013–2015

    The share of research expenditure was 2.17 percent of GDP in 2017. Research and internationalization were promoted, especially in the technical and scientific subjects: Most recognized patents came from China in 2016 (1.2 million). The most important non-university research institution is the Chinese Academy of Sciences with 124 research institutes. In addition to space travel, research areas include geoengineering, for example .

    Space travel

    An LM-5 at the Wenchang Spaceport , 2017

    With the launch of Shenzhou 1 , an unmanned test capsule, in 1999, the presence of Chinese space travel began. The People's Republic of China's lunar program started in 2004, and the first unmanned space probes hit Earth's satellite successfully in 2009 and 2010 . In 2013, the Chang'e 3 made the first gentle moon landing. The mission attracted the attention of scientists around the world, as the probe landed exactly as calculated in a region that had never been investigated at close range before. The detached moon rover called Yutu delivered data and high-resolution images with the help of ground-penetrating radar.

    On June 16, 2012, the manned spacecraft Shenzhou 9 took off , the crew of which entered the laboratory two days later after the successful coupling and put it into operation. In September 2016, China's newest space station, Tiangong 2, took off with more than a dozen scientific devices, including a high-tech atomic clock and a POLAR detector for studying gamma radiation from collapsing stars. An even larger space laboratory is to be built by 2022 .

    In 2003 there was the first manned Chinese rocket launch with Yang Liwei . The third manned mission took place a short time later with a three-man crew and the longest astronaut exit to date . Our own navigation satellite system was set up just as quickly : the BeiDou network (BDS) began operating successfully at the end of 2011 after a development phase of only four years. By 2020, the system should be globally networked with 35 navigation satellites .


    The People's Republic of China invested heavily in the country's infrastructure in the 2000s. Most of the projects are government funded to promote economic growth. Furthermore, the expansion of the infrastructure is necessary because the government guidelines aim for an urbanization rate of 70 percent in 2030. All parts of China, with the exception of certain remote areas of Tibet, are accessible by rail, road, water, or air.

    In addition to the national projects, President Xi Jinping initiated the international infrastructure project One Belt, One Road in 2013 , which is intended to revive the Silk Road and expand to other continents.


    With the economic development of the People's Republic of China, the demand for energy has increased, so that China has become the world's largest energy consumer. The demand is mainly met by coal-fired power plants. This has led to severe air pollution, so that the Chinese government is relying on the expansion of nuclear power plants and renewable energy sources. An energy mix was sought for 2020 in which the proportion of energy from coal should be below 60 percent, that of non-fossil fuels over 15 percent and that of gas over 10 percent. China is the third largest producer of nuclear power in the world in terms of both installed nuclear power capacity and the electricity generated. The total electrical energy generated from nuclear power was 348.1 TWh in 2019 . This is an increase of 18.1 percent compared to 2018; Two new reactors were commissioned in 2019. As of March 2019, there are 46 nuclear reactors in operation in China with a capacity of 42.8 GW and 11 reactors under construction with a capacity of 10.8 GW.

    China has by world standards by far the most wind energy -leistung available: 2020 had China's wind turbines an installed capacity of 278.324 GW on land (39% of global output) and 9,996 GW offshore (28% of world output) and with 288.320 GW a Share of 38.8% of global wind power plant output (742.689 GW).


    Rail transport

    After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the infrastructure was largely destroyed by the aftermath of the war. The rail network could only be expanded slowly. In view of the ongoing major bottlenecks, significant investments have been made in the railway infrastructure and vehicles since the turn of the millennium. The railway, which is the most important long-distance means of transport, was able to use 120,970 km of rail kilometers in 2016. Between 2008 and 2018, China built the world's largest high-speed rail network with a route length of 29,000 km. China spent 803 billion RMB on rail projects in 2018. Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced in March 2019 that another RMB 800 billion would be invested. The development of the technology of self-driving trains is to be accelerated. In cities with more than 3 million inhabitants, inner-city rail traffic is handled with subway systems or tram systems.

    With the expansion of the network, the number of passengers is increasing, in 2018 3.3 billion passengers were carried (9 percent more than in 2017). The transport performance in freight traffic was around 4 trillion ton kilometers.

    Road traffic

    In 2016 there were over four million kilometers of roads in China, some of which are in very poor condition and have been expanded and improved since the 1990s. In the 1990s, a national plan was drawn up for the construction of the motorway. Since then, the so-called 7-9-18 motorway network has been built. In this network, seven highways radiate out from Beijing; there are nine highways in the north-south direction and 18 highways in the west-east direction. A special achievement is the construction of the Beijing – Lhasa motorway . In 2018, there were approximately 206 million cars registered in China. In order to reduce the environmental impact of car traffic, the Chinese government is promoting the production and use of alternative-powered vehicles.

    air traffic

    Airports in China, 2017
    Terminal in Lhasa-Gonggar Airport , Tibet, 2011

    According to forecasts by the International Air Transport Association, Chinese civil aviation will become the largest market in the world in terms of commercial passenger kilometers at the latest by 2020 . The ten most popular routes in the world have been in Asia since 2014. Number one is the Hong Kong- Taipei connection with more than five million travelers annually, with the majority of mainland Chinese flying to Taiwan via Hong Kong. Hong Kong is also proving to be a hub for flights to Singapore, Shanghai, Seoul , Bangkok and Beijing. In 2015, the civil aviation industry in China transported 436 million people and 85.2 billion ton kilometers .

    At the end of 2015, China's general aviation sector comprised more than 300 airports. The new Beijing Daxing Airport opened in September 2019, 46 kilometers south of Beijing city center . In 2015, work began on the construction of Nagqu Dagring Airport , the inauguration of which was planned for 2019, but the construction of which has been suspended for the time being due to technical problems. A further 50 airports are under construction across China and should be completed by 2021 at the latest. In 2016 there were already 28 airports in China, each handling over ten million passengers annually. The two airports in Shanghai, Hongqiao and Pudong , added together, exceeded the 100 million passenger mark in 2015. With over 94 million passengers annually, the Beijing Capital International Airport was the airport with the second highest passenger volume in the world in 2016, only surpassed by the Hartsfield – Jackson Atlanta International Airport .

    The Chinese commercial aircraft manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) plans to be the first Chinese manufacturer to manufacture and sell commercial commercial aircraft on a large scale. The C919 machine developed by COMAC is a direct challenge to the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320, the world's best-selling passenger jets to date. On May 3, 2017, the Comac C919 successfully took off on its maiden flight , thus opening up the demand for the Chinese jumbo on the domestic market. In 2016, there were a total of 281 air carriers in the People's Republic of China in the transport of people or cargo , 36 of which are state-owned. As early as 2007, the state airlines were merged with service providers to form six conglomerates: Air China Group, China Eastern Group , China Southern Group , TravelSky, China National Aviation Fuel Group and China Aviation Supplies Holding Company.

    Large private airlines include Cathay Pacific , Hainan Airlines , Beijing Capital Airlines , Qingdao Airlines , Juneyao Airlines , Urumqi Air . The market for private providers was opened in 2005. The aircraft of all Chinese airlines are mostly modern, the majority not more than five years old.

    Maritime transport

    The Yangtze River in Nanjing , 2007

    Transportation in China is characterized by inland and coastal shipping. There are 126,300 kilometers of navigable rivers and canals in China. The main routes of transport are the Yangtze, the Pearl River and the Great Canal . On the 18,000 km long coast there are more than 20 deep water harbors that are ice-free even in winter. In 2014, half of the cargo was handled over water. Overseas freight accounted for 60% of the freight volume of all Chinese water freight. 26% were transported by coastal shipping and 14% by inland waterways. In 2014, 3.5 billion tons of freight were handled in inland ports.

    The development plan for China's waterways and ports for the period from 2007 to 2020 provides for the transport volume to be increased by 40 percent from 2007 to 2010 and doubled again from 2010 to 2020.

    In 2017, 9 of the 20 largest ports in the world in terms of container handling were in China. Since 2009, the port of Shanghai has been the largest in the world in terms of cargo handling.


    In September 2019, around 192 million households had a fixed telephone line. This small number can be attributed to the fact that telephone connections were distributed restrictively in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and the demand could not keep up with the installation. With the possibility of the cell phone, the situation has changed. In December 2018, the number of mobile phone contracts signed in China was 1.57 billion. Of the more than 800 million Internet users in China, 98 percent of them were mobile Internet users in 2018.


    Yu Garden in Shanghai, 2005
    Beijing Opera character actor , 2014

    Chinese culture is shaped by Confucianism , Daoism and Buddhism .

    More than 30 Chinese buildings are part of the world cultural heritage , such as the Great Wall , the Qin Shihuangdis mausoleum with more than 7000 life-size figures of the Terracotta Army and the Imperial Palace in Beijing as part of the Forbidden City .


    K-pop legend Jonghyun during a KuGou Music Festival tour in China in 2016

    A lively media scene has developed since the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s it was still magazines, movies and literature, but online media have conquered the public since the 2000s. There is a wide range of magazines and online platforms, services and online media. But that shouldn't hide the fact that all media in the People's Republic are censored. Many of these media are profitable companies that have to finance themselves through advertising and cooperate with the Communist Party.

    The People's Newspaper ( Chinese 人民日报, Pinyin Rénmín Rìbào ) is the state newspaper that reproduces the guidelines of the Communist Party. Critical reports can be found in Southern Weekly ( Chinese 南方周末, Pinyin Nánfāng Zhōumò ) and for finance in Caijin ( Chinese 财经, Pinyin Cáijīng ) and Caixin ( Chinese 财 新, Pinyin Cáixīn ). The English-language newspapers include China Daily and Global Times , the latter with a strong nationalist orientation.

    China Central Television (CCTV) is the state television that broadcasts over 20 channels. Advertising income secures the financing. Since 2018, CCTV, China National Radio (CNR) and China Radio International (CRI) have merged to form the China Media Group ( Chinese 中央 广播 电视 总 台, Pinyin Zhōngyāng Guǎngbò Diànshì Zǒng Tái ). CRI also provides information on the Internet in German. Voice of China is the overseas broadcaster that is equivalent to a ministry in rank. The Central Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China is responsible for content and administration. In 2020, the China Film Administration, together with the China Association for Science and Technology, issued a guide to promote the development of science fiction films, highlighting this genre as a significant growth area and new driving force for the high-quality development of the Chinese film industry.

    Due to the high number of mobile users, news portals such as , Sohu .com and are used. Mobile apps are popular in China. KuGou has around 450 million active users per month, especially in rural regions, followed by QQ Music with 211 million and KuWo with 108 million.


    An originally preserved " thousand-character classic " from the Song Dynasty , a Chinese poem that has been used as the basis for teaching Chinese characters to children since the 6th century until today
    Bookstore in Wuhan (2009)

    The more than three thousand year history of Chinese literature is predominantly determined by poetry in its climax up to the 16th century . The classics include:

    Classical Chinese literature is closely related to Chinese calligraphy , which in turn is closely related to Chinese painting . One of the most famous Chinese calligraphers was Wang Xizhi , whose style from the 4th century AD is still the basis of " beautiful writing " today. The invention of paper is attributed to the Chinese Ts'ai Lun around AD 105. One of the “ four treasures of the scholar's room ” is the most famous Chinese paper , the Xuan paper , which is still called the “king of all paper” and is part of the intangible world heritage .

    In contrast to tradition, which ended with the fall of the German Empire in 1911, modern (1912 to 1949) and contemporary (since 1949) literature in China has been well researched and widely translated. Its value has been determined schematically as follows: Just like classical literature, that of modernity also belongs to a large extent to world literature . On the other hand, there were slumps after 1949 for ideological reasons, from which contemporary Chinese literature on the mainland was only able to slowly recover at the beginning of the reform period (1979).

    A fair assessment of Chinese literature after 1912 is so difficult because, strictly speaking, a distinction would have to be made between Chinese-language literature that is written worldwide and literature that is assigned to a political state structure. Chinese literature is not only written in the People's Republic of China, but also in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as well as overseas (Malaysia, USA etc.). The wide range of publication options available today often make it difficult to clearly assign authors to a country or area.


    The traditional Chinese martial arts are known worldwide, especially the styles of Kung Fu . Soccer is the most popular spectator sport in China. Basketball , badminton and table tennis are also popular popular sports.

    In 1991 and 2007 the Women's World Cup took place in the People's Republic of China. China's capital Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Paralympics and Summer Olympics . The 2009 Women's Handball World Championship was held in Jiangsu Province in December 2009 . The 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games took place in 2014 in Nanjing . The 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place in Beijing.

    See also

    Portal: People's Republic of China  - More information about the People's Republic of China


    Web links

    Wiktionary: People's Republic of China  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Commons : China  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
    Wikiquote: China  - Quotes
     Wikinews: China  - in the news
    Wikisource: China  - Sources and Full Texts
    Wikimedia Atlas: People's Republic of China  - geographical and historical maps
    Wikivoyage: China  Travel Guide

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    Coordinates: 33 °  N , 103 °  E