Table of Contents
- China's population is the world's largest, with about 1.38 billion citizens. With the global human population currently estimated at about 7.62 billion, China is home to approximately 19%.
- Because of the One Child Policy China was able to control its own population and is unlikely to suffer overpopulation unlike neighbouring India, although this radical policy will likely lead to a large ageing population by ~2070.
- Ethnically China is 91.5% Han Chinese with the next largest ethnic group being 1.3% Zhuang. Most of these smaller ethnic groups identify as Chinese anyway making ethnic tension in the majority of China minimal to non existent.
- In border regions such as Xinjiang Provence in the far west of the country Han Chinese still makes up a significant proportion of population (40.5% compared to the 45.8% native Uyghur) giving legitimacy to Chinese rule in these areas.
- In these border regions there is a great level of local autonomy. This coupled with heavy Chinese investment and heavy restrictions on press and organisations prevents any major nationalist based independence movements from forming, with the last major nationalist unrest taking place in 2009.
- Freedom of religion is technically granted by the Chinese constitution however China regulates religious organisations generally banning those which attempt to subvert the authority of the government such as the Vatican.
- China is an atheist state with 73.6% of its population practising either Chinese folk religions or irreligious. The remaining majority of Chinese people are either Buddhist or Taoist with only 2.5% Christian and 0.45% Muslim. With such small religious groups, religious tensions are minor.
- China is a de facto one party state under the control of the CPC (Communist Party of China) as all other parties are heavily regulated and do not have the power to effect any change. This gives the General Secretary ultimate power over the state as apposed to the President (official ruler).
- The PLA (People's Liberation Army) also reports to the CPC not the Chinese government making any forceful regime change in China essentially impossible.
- The electoral system is pyramidal. Local People's Congresses are directly elected, and higher levels of People's Congresses up to the NPC (National People's Congress) are indirectly elected by the People's Congress of the level immediately below. This combined with the state education system ensures the CPC always wins a majority.
- The political system however is decentralised, and provincial and sub-provincial leaders have a significant amount of autonomy leading to significant corruption in rural areas.
- At a high level however the government is very centralised. Xi Jinping, the current ruler of China, is currently holds the position of General Secretary, President as well as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, giving him direct control over both the State and Military. As of 2018 the term limits of these roles were removed meaning Xi Jinping will likely remain ruler of China until he retires. With this power he has pledged to clamp down on aforementioned corruption, a stance which he has historically upheld.
- Due to his stance on corruption and background as one who suffered during Mao's rule he is generally liked by the public in China.
- UNSC - As the only Asian country which holds a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, China has considerable influence in the foreign affairs.
- It has strong military and economic links with all SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) members particularly with neighbouring Pakistan and Russia.
- China also maintains friendly relations with most surrounding countries such as Mongolia, which it leases a port to for overseas trade, North Korea, which is completely reliant on China for food and resources, Myanmar which it has often used its veto power to defend at the UNSC and Nepal, which has moved towards an alliance with China after the victory of it's Communist party(s) in the national elections (in both 2008 and 2017).
- China also has been investing heavily in most African nations setting China up as the dominant economic power in the region. In 2017 China gave over $26bn in the form of FDI (foreign direct investment) to develop African industry compared with the United States' $3bn.
- China has a strained relationship with its southern neighbour India, what with multiple territorial disputes and economic reasons to be opposed. On the 9th of June India joined the SCO implying that both powers were looking to overcome these difficulties. However just 7 days later India sent 270 soldiers to Doklam to prevent Chinese workers from building a road through the region administrated by India's ally Bhutan.
- Aside from India, China maintains friendly relations with its fellow BRICS members, Brazil and South Africa.
- While in the past China has interfered with local conflicts, such as that in Myanmar, recently it has began taking more direct action on the world stage. It has sent military aid to Assad's government during the Syrian Civil War and has threatened to take direct action if the United States or its allies attempt to interfere.
- China's GDP - China's GDP (PPP - adjusted value for cost of services in a country) is currently at $23.2 trillion, putting it 1st in the world ahead of the EU and US ($20.9 and $19.4 respectively) and more then double that of India's. As of 2013 it has lower percentage of people living below the poverty (11.1%) line (adjusted for living cost in each country) compared with the US (11.5%). GDP growth has been on the down since 2010 however reaching its lowest point of 6.7% in 2016 since 1990. However since then growth has somewhat recovered.
- Technology - Studies show China is progressing rapidly in science and technology research. The Chinese government has spent billions of dollars in fields such as biotechnology and information technology. The R&D spending by the Chinese government more than tripled since 1998. Moreover, the numbers of the scientific research paper doubled in the same period. Many foreign companies are setting up R&D centres in China due to the low costs, government support, and skilful researchers.
- Exports - As of 2017 China exports over $2.3 trillion worth of goods per year (compared to $1.9 trillion of the EU and the $1.6 trillion of the US) making up over 14% of global exports.
- The Belt and Road Initiative - is a development strategy proposed by the Chinese government that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. The initiative, if successful, will ensure Chinese economic control over Eurasia and Northern Africa by centring international trade in China as apposed to the United States.
Socio- cultural factors
- Soft power - China has always had an attractive traditional culture, but now it is entering the realm of global popular culture as well. Chinese novelist Gao Xingjian won China's first Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000, and the Chinese film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became the highest grossing non-English film. Many Chinese actors/actresses and motion picture makers such as Jackie Chan, Zhang Ziyi, and Zhang Yimou have gained international recognition. Yao Ming, the Chinese star of the U.S. National Basketball Association's Houston Rockets, is rapidly becoming a household name, and China also hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. The enrollment of foreign students in China has tripled to 110,000 from 36,000 over the past decade, and the number of foreign tourists has also increased dramatically to 17 million in 2004. Mandarin, being the most spoken language in the world, will likely increase China's soft power. China has created 26 Confucius Institutes around the world to teach its language and culture, and while the Voice of America was cutting its Chinese broadcasts to 14 from 19 hours a day, China Radio International was increasing its broadcasts in English to 24 hours a day .
- History - China has a long history spanning 5000 years. During the times of imperial China, China held some of the most advanced technologies in the world. The Chinese invented the gunpowder, paper, the printing machine, compass, the mechanical clock , and introduced the world's first paper money. Trade and learning occurred between the Chinese and the ancient Roman Empire, the Indians, and the Arabs.
- Cultural spread - The Chinese culture carries an important place in the culture of Vietnam, Korea, Japan and other south-eastern Asian countries. The Korean kingdom absorbed much of the Chinese essence in philosophy, language, technology as well as gaining military protection. The ideas of Confucianism, originated from China, holds great influence on the lifestyles of the Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, the Chinese in China.