With over 1.35 billion citizens, China (official name: the People’s Republic of China) is the most populous country in the world, and the second largest by land area.
With over 1.35 billion citizens, China (official name: the People’s Republic of China) is the most populous country in the world, and the second largest by land area. China consists of 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and two special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). Putonghua (or standard Chinese, a form of Mandarin) is the official language of China, and the most commonly spoken, although there are at least nine families of languages spoken in China by different ethnicities and in different regions.
China’s history dates back to ancient times, and for centuries it was a world leader in economic, military, social and cultural terms. By the 19th and early 20th century however, China had been racked by military defeats, foreign occupation, famine, and social and civil instability. With the conclusion of the Chinese civil war and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, power was consolidated under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
While China remains a communist country today, and the supremacy of the CCP is unchallenged, significant reforms have been undertaken, especially in the sphere of economics, where China has adopted a socialist market economy. Political reforms have been more modest.
The primacy of the Chinese Communist Party provides a high degree of political stability in China, and the proclivity to engage in long-term planning (in the form of 5 year plans and the multitude of subsidiary planning documents which they engender) means that most majorgovernment policy initiatives can be anticipated well in advance.
China is in the process of carving out a more pronounced role for itself on the world stage, commensurate with its economic status. China’s rising influence and more assertive international stances have sometimes led to friction with other major global powers such as the United States, as well as its regional neighbors. China is currently engaged in a number of contentious boundary disputes in East Asia, and tensions with Japan over its colonial history in China are never far from the surface and occasionally flare-up.
China faces a number of challenges moving forward. These include: substantial environmental degradation resulting from rapid industrialization, coping with the challenges of an aging population, due to the one child policy, a difficult rural to urban migration process, and rising income inequality.