Country Profile: PR China
Other citiesHong Kong, Tianjin, Wuhan, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Harbin, Xi'an, Chongqing, Taiyuan
LanguagesStandard Chinese (Mandarin/Putonghua), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects
Area9, 640, 821 sq km
1,321,851,888 (2007 est.)
China, as can be expected of the world's most populous country with over a billion inhabitants, has a wide array of spoken languages. The offiical language is Standard Manadarin or Putonghua, although various administrative centres use different languages which take on official status, for example Mongolian, Cantonese and Tibetan. However, it is seen to be economically and practically useful to speak Mandarin, and as well as this, English is gaining prestige across the country - with a reported one fifth of the country learning to speak English. The spoken languages across PR China belong to the following families: Sino-Tibetan, Altaic, Austrolasiatic, Kradai, Indo-European, Austronesian.
China's global importance is unambiguous, it has the world's largest economy and is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, as well as WTO, APEC, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and East Asia Summit. It has the world's largest army and the second biggest defense budget. It is also has one of the quickest growing economies, and is a huge exporter and importer of goods. Economic liberalisation in 1978 has meant that China's economy has shifted from centrally planned to market oriented and mixed economy. The state still has its pillar industries, for example energy and heavy industries, but as well as this private enterprise now accounts for a huge percentage of the country's output. Agriculture is still a key industry, with produce including rice, potatoes, wheat, tea, peanuts, applese, cotton, oilseed and fish. Major industries include mining and ore processing, iron, steel and metal processing, coal, fertilisers, transportation equipment such as motor vehicle and shipbuilding, satellites and textiles. China's main trading partners are the US, Japan, Germany and Taiwan.
China's economy, understandably due to its size, is extremely energy inefficient, using considerably more energy for industrial processes than OECD countries. It is the second largest energy consumer, coming behind the US. China relies on coal for a large proportion of its energy needs, and without sufficient environmentally conscious measures in place, this has led to severe air and water pollution. To this end, the government has agreed to use greater levels of renewable energy in the future, with a target of 30% by 2050. The country is developing its own renewable energy sources, such as hydro, wind and solar power, as well as pebble bed nuclear reactors.
Science and Technology
China has developed its own nuclear weapons and technology, as well as a satellite launching programme. It has the world's second biggest R&D budget, and areas which are sensitive or regulated in the West, such as stem cell research and gene therapy, are under development in China.
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