China is the world's most populous country and
one of the largest to surface. Here arose one of the
earliest high cultures a few thousand years ago. Paper,
porcelain and silk are examples of inventions made in
China hundreds of years before they reached Europe.
After a long weakening since the 19th century, China has
risen again and regained its position as one of the
world's great powers, not least economically. The
Communist Party, which took power in 1949 after a long
civil war, still reigns supreme.
Brief profiles of China, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
On the surface, China is one of the world's
largest countries, smaller than Russia and Canada and
about as large as the United States. The ocean to the
east and south-east, the mountains to the west and
southwest, the deserts to the northwest and the
hard-to-see rainforests in the south have all
contributed to China's relative isolation through the
Large parts of the country's mountainous interior are
extremely sparsely populated. Western and southwestern
China is covered by the huge Tibetan high plateau, which
in the south is bordered by the world's largest mountain
range, the Himalayas. There, on the border with Nepal,
is also the highest mountain of the earth, Qomolangma or
In 2010, a tough dispute between Nepal and China was
settled over the height of Mount Everest. China then
accepted Nepal's line, which meant that the snow cover
on the mountain would be included, and the official
height was set at 8,848 meters. In return, Nepal agreed
that China's measuring point, the peak of the mountain
itself under the snow, was 8,844 meters. However, there
are geologists who question whether any of these
measures is correct. According to their theories, the
rock is constantly getting higher due to the movement of
the continental plates. In 1999, an American research
group measured the rock with GPS technology and found
that it was 8,850 meters high.
China shares borders with 14 countries (see map). The
country's borders have been disputed over the years and
even today, China and India are arguing over the right
to border areas. In the ocean off the east coast, China
claims the barren uninhabited small archipelago (Diaoyu
/ Senkaku) controlled by Japan while also having an
ongoing conflict with some Southeast Asian countries
about the Paracel and Spratly islands, which are not
only strategically located but also rich on fish as well
as oil and natural gas. China's leaders also claim that
Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China (see
also Foreign Policy and Defense).
The country has been likened to a huge staircase from
central and southeastern China's fertile river valleys
and coastal landscapes to the plateaus at a height of
1000-2000 meters further west and finally up to the
dramatic heights of the inland. In the northwest,
Xinjiang's vast expanses of steppe and desert areas are
expanding. To the east are the eroded loam areas where
the country's second largest river Huanghe (the Yellow
River) retrieves the soil deposits that form the densely
populated, dry North China Plain. The lowland in the
southeast is hilly with plains and river valleys.
The whimsical Yellow River, whose floods often caused
disasters, has never been particularly important as a
traffic lane. On the other hand, it has the mighty
Changjiang or Yangtze River (Long River), which with its
630 miles is one of the world's longest and busiest
riverways. Northern China's largest river is
Heilongjiang (Amur), and in southern China the three
rivers Xijiang (West River), Beijiang and Dongjiang
radiate into the fertile delta where the great Zhujiang
(Pearl River) flows into the South China Sea.
China's northernmost reaches about the same latitude
as northern Germany, while its southernmost point lies
in the tropics. Eastern China has a sea climate and in
the south there is a subtropical climate. However, most
of the country has a temperate, continental climate,
characterized by the continent's monsoon winds and
neighboring seas. The temperature varies considerably
during the year; winters are usually colder and summers
warmer than other countries at the same latitude.
The winter monsoon from the north and northwest
brings down cold and dry air from Siberia and gives
northern China bitter winters. In January, the average
temperature in northern Manchuria is below –10 ºC and it
is not uncommon for cold snaps of –20 ºC and colder. The
southern summer monsoon brings in humid air, especially
in the southern and eastern parts of the country and
most of the rainfall falls during the summer. In some
areas, the annual rainfall can amount to about 2000 mm.
The rainfall decreases to the northwest and is less than
250 mm per year in the Xinjiang desert areas.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
9 600 000 km2 (2018)
Swedish + 7 hours
Adjacent country (s)
Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), India, Bhutan, Nepal,
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan,
Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, North Korea
Capital with number of inhabitants
Beijing (Beijing) 15 600,000 inhabitants (UN estimate
Other major cities
Shanghai 20.2 million, Guangzhou 10.8 million,
Shenzhen 10.6 million, Chongqing 9.9 million (UN
Qomolangma (Mount Everest on the border with Nepal,
8848 m asl)
Yangtze River (Changjiang), Yellow River (Huanghe),
West River (Xijiang), Pearl River (Zhujiang), Amur
Average Precipitation / month
Beijing 3 mm (Jan), 176 mm (July) 1
Average / day
Beijing -5 °C (Jan), 26 °C (July) 2
- Guangzhou (Canton) 43 mm (Jan), 228 mm
2. Guangzhou (Canton) 14 °C (Jan), 29 °C (July)Sources
A smoking ban is introduced
The government issues a ban for public employees to smoke in public places
such as schools, offices, hospitals and public communications.
Cheating in Hunan
More than five hundred City Council members in Hunan Province resign after a
scandal. The members had been revealed to receive money from 56 other
politicians who wanted to be elected to the provincial parliament. The trick was
successful but even the 56 were forced to resign when the election fraud was
Clashes in Xinjiang
16 people have been killed in clashes near the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang,
domestic media reports. Two weeks later, eight men are said to have been shot
dead when they attacked a police station in the same area.
Successful moon landing
China succeeds as the third country in the world, after the US and USSR, to
implement a lunar landing in mid-December with Chang'e-3. Chinese media describe
it as a Chinese dream that has finally come true.
Flight zone in the East China Sea
The special flight zone introduced by China means that aircraft located in
the zone must report the destination and maintain contact. Otherwise, some form
of retaliation is at risk. Both Japan and the United States protest against the
zone, which lies above the islands disputed by Japan and China, Senkaku /
Diaoyu. South Korea also claims a rock formation in the sea area. The US shortly
afterwards sends two B-52 bombers into the zone without reporting their presence
in accordance with China's new requirements. US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
also confirms that the United States is sticking to its guarantees of defending
Japan if the country is attacked. Later, both Japan and South Korea send
aircraft into the zone without following Chinese regulations, while China sends
military aircraft to the area.
Amendment of the one-child policy
The Communist Party Central Committee holds its third plenary meeting at the
beginning of the month. Expectations for the meeting are high as party officials
have suggested that major reforms will be presented. After the meeting, the
party management announces that market forces will have a greater role in the
economy, including in the energy area and interest rates. A new group will be
formed to lead the in-depth reform work. A special state committee on security
issues relating to international relations and military issues will also be
formed. At the November party meeting, the party announced that the one-child
policy should be loosened up for couples in the cities and that the system of
labor camps should be abolished. New Chinese leaders have traditionally used the
third plenary to present their policies and major changes.
A university professor is said to have formed a political party, Zhi Xian,
with lifetime convicted Bo Xilai as chairman. The party must act in accordance
with the constitution which stipulates that the Communist Party governs the
country but allows other political parties to exist.
Bombing in Shanxi
At least one person is killed and several are injured in explosions outside
the Communist Party headquarters in the city of Taiyuan in Shanxi Province. The
act is said to have been carried out with home-made bombs.
Lighting in the economy
Economic statistics show growth of 7.8 percent in the third quarter, which
is three percentage points better than the quarter before. The important service
sector is growing faster in October than in several months.
"Terrorist act" in Beijing
A jeep drives straight into a crowd at the entrance to the Forbidden City on
Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The car starts to burn and the area is blocked off.
Five people of Uighur origin are arrested, according to state media. Five people
are killed in the car crash, which the authorities describe as a suicide attack
and terrorist act. Three of the victims are in the car and two are tourists.
According to the authorities, the Islamic movement of the East Turkestan is
behind the attack.
The appeal is rejected
Bo Xilai's attempt to appeal the life sentence for bribery, embezzlement and
abuse of power in September of that year was rejected by a Chinese court and his
life sentence is thus upheld.
Defense agreement with India
Following a meeting between Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh in Beijing, both countries enter into an agreement on
defense cooperation in the disputed border areas of the Himalayas. The purpose
is to reduce the risk of border conflicts.
Firing in Tibet
Some 60 Tibetans are injured after police fired protesters in Tibet.
Sanctions against North Korea
Chinese authorities state that they have banned exports to North Korea of
weapons components that can be used for nuclear weapons development.
Life imprisonment for Bo Xilai
Former top politician Bo Xilai is considered guilty of bribery, embezzlement
and abuse of power. The Jinan court did not take into account Bo Xilai's
argument that his prior recognition had been pressed under torture. Bo Xilai
immediately appeals the verdict.
Trial against Bo Xilai begins
The trial of the former party secretary in Chongqing Bo Xilai starts in Jinan
city (see July 2013 and March-April 2012,
Top official is kicked
A senior executive in the state administration gets fired and excluded from
the Communist Party after it is discovered that he has received bribes.
Organ donations change
Information is released that the Ministry of Health will launch a new organ
donation system that will be based on voluntary donors. The use of organs by
executed prisoners severely criticized by human rights organizations will
Prosecution of Bo Xilai
According to prosecutors, top politician Bo Xilai has been guilty of
corruption and abuse of power. During his time as party leader in Chongqing, he
should have received large sums and properties as bribes. He is also charged
with misappropriation of public funds. No date for the trial will be announced
(see also March 2012)
Attorney is locked in
Attorney Xu Zhiyong is being held in police custody for "gathering people to
disrupt public order". Xu is known for his work against corruption and for human
rights. During a house search in Xu's home, cell phones and computers are
seized. Xu has for a long period advocated that government officials should
report their financial assets publicly.
Growth is leveling out
For the second quarter in a row, China's economy is showing somewhat weaker
growth. In the first quarter of 2013, economic growth was 7.7 percent, in the
second quarter the figure was 7.5 percent. In an effort to stimulate the
economy, tax cuts are introduced for small businesses and lower export taxes. An
extension of the railway network is also included in the Government's package of
Former minister receives death penalty
Former Railway Minister Liu Zhijun is sentenced to death with a two-year
suspension for corruption in the multi-million class and abuse of power (see
April 2013). Liu is the highest ranking politician in the
Communist Party to be convicted of corruption since President Xi Jinping's entry
into power. Conditional death sentences such as this are usually converted into
Severe unrest in Xinjiang
A few days later, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reports that 35 people were
killed in connection with a riot in Turpan prefecture, about 20 kilometers
southeast of Xinjiang's "capital" Urumqi. According to Xinhua, a crowd equipped
with knives must have attacked a police station and a public building. The
deaths should have happened when the riot police clashed with the crowd. At
least 16 of those killed are Uighurs. There are no independent reports that can
confirm this information. Following reports of yet another attack on a police
station in the area, the military is strengthening its presence there.
Uighurs are punished
Eleven people in Xinjiang are sentenced to prison for various kinds of
religious and ethnic hate crimes. Their names indicate that all are Uighurs. A
man gets six years in prison for calling for Islamic holy war via the internet.
Regime critics visit Taiwan
Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng makes an 18-day visit to Taiwan, where he
meets with opposition and discusses the human rights situation in China.
Guangcheng's trip is irritating in Beijing.
Astronauts are sent up into space
China sends out three australos into space. One of the three astronauts is a
woman. China's goal is to set up a permanently manned space station by the end
of the 2010s.
Unrest in Xinjiang
About twenty people are reported to have been killed in clashes between
police and activists in Kashgar in Xinjiang. According to Chinese media, the
activists are suspected terrorists.
Powerful earthquake in Sichuan
Nearly 200 people lose their lives and about 12,000 are reported injured when
Sichuan is shaken by a severe earthquake.
Bird flu spreads
A bird flu virus H7N9 first discovered in February in eastern China is
spreading to Beijing. In total, 37 people have been infected, probably from
domestic birds, and nine have died in the disease.
Prosecution against former railway minister
Former Railway Minister Liu Zhijun is suspected of corruption and abuse of
power. He is accused of receiving bribes in connection with the procurement
before the construction of high-speed connections.
Uighurs convicted of terrorist offenses
20 Uighurs are sentenced to long prison terms for terrorism and separatist
activity in Xinjiang.
Wang Yi is Foreign Minister, Chang Wanquan Defense Minister and Lou Jiwei
Finance Minister in the new government.
Xi Jinping new president
14th of March
National People's Congress appoints Xi Jinping as China's new president. Li
Yuanchao is elected Vice President. One day later, Li Keqiang is elected new
Prime Minister. He is considered to be close to the departing Hu Jintao.
Demand for reforms
For the second time in three months, academics, journalists and other
activists are appealing for political reform in a letter to the country's
leaders. Above all, it wants China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights. The letter signed by over a hundred people has been posted
on various blogs and websites.
Measures for increased equality
The government adopts a plan to make the income distribution in the country
more equitable, among other things, the minimum wage should be increased and
investments made in education and cheaper housing.
Intervention against Japanese military ship
Japan accuses Chinese vessels of locking a weapons radar on a Japanese
military vessel on two occasions in January. China rejects the allegations.
Hundred dead in self burns
Yet another Tibetan is setting fire to himself in Gansu province, according
to ex-Tibetan sources. A total of 98 Tibetans have died in this way since 2009
in protest against religious liberty and Beijing's harsh rule. Later that month,
a Tibetan in Sichuan is sentenced to ten years in prison for soliciting
self-incrimination. According to Tibetan activists, he has been forced to plead
Unusual newspaper strike
Journalists in the South Seas weekly magazine (Nanfang Zhoumo) in Guangdong
city in early January launch a strike after the province's propaganda chief
changed an editorial in the newspaper urging Xi Jinping to implement reforms to
meet the constitution's guarantees on human rights. Journalists demand the
departure of the propaganda chief. The conflict is getting a lot of attention,
including in foreign media, and leads to confrontations in Canton between
neo-Maoists and censorship supporters on the one hand and freedom of the press
activists demonstrating in support of journalists on the other. After
negotiations with the province's new party leader, Hu Chunhua, who has been
designated as a possible successor to Xi Jinping, the journalists cancel the
strike. However, the details of the resolution of the conflict are not known.