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People and Society






For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, MAO's successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight. China since the early 1990s has increased its global outreach and participation in international organizations.


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Country name
Conventional long form People's Republic of China
Conventional short form China
Local long form Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo
Local short form Zhongguo
Abbreviation PRC

Government type
Communist state

Name Beijing
Geographic coordinates 39 55 N, 116 23 E
Time difference
UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Despite its size, all of China falls within one time zone; many people in Xinjiang Province observe an unofficial "Xinjiang time zone" of UTC+6, two hours behind Beijing

Administrative divisions
23 provinces (sheng, singular and plural), 5 autonomous regions (zizhiqu, singular and plural), and 4 municipalities (shi, singular and plural)
Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang; (see note on Taiwan)
Autonomous regions
Guangxi, Nei Mongol (Inner Mongolia), Ningxia, Xinjiang Uygur, Xizang (Tibet)
Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Tianjin
China considers Taiwan its 23rd province; see separate entries for the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau

1 October 1949 (People's Republic of China established); notable earlier dates: 221 BC (unification under the Qin Dynasty); 1 January 1912 (Qing Dynasty replaced by the Republic of China)

National holiday
Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, 1 October (1949)

Most recent promulgation 4 December 1982; amended several times

Legal system
Civil law influenced by Soviet and continental European civil law systems; legislature retains power to interpret statutes; note - criminal procedure law revised in early 2012

International law organization participation
Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state
President HU Jintao (since 15 March 2003); Vice President XI Jinping (since 15 March 2008)
Head of government
Premier WEN Jiabao (since 16 March 2003); Executive Vice Premier LI Keqiang (17 March 2008), Vice Premier HUI Liangyu (since 17 March 2003), Vice Premier ZHANG Dejiang (since 17 March 2008), and Vice Premier WANG Qishan (since 17 March 2008)
State Council appointed by National People's Congress
President and vice president elected by National People's Congress for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); elections last held on 15-17 March 2008 (next to be held in mid-March 2013); premier nominated by president, confirmed by National People's Congress
Election results
HU Jintao elected president by National People's Congress with a total of 2,963 votes; XI Jinping elected vice president with a total of 2,919 votes

Legislative branch
Unicameral National People's Congress or Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui (2,987 seats; members elected by municipal, regional, and provincial people's congresses, and People's Liberation Army to serve five-year terms)
Last held in December 2007-February 2008 (next to be held in late 2012 to early 2013)
Election results
Percent of vote - NA; seats - 2,987
In practice, only members of the CCP, its eight allied parties, and CCP-approved independent candidates are elected

Judicial branch
Supreme People's Court (judges appointed by the National People's Congress); Local People's Courts (comprise higher, intermediate, and basic courts); Special People's Courts (primarily military, maritime, railway transportation, and forestry courts)

Political parties and leaders
Chinese Communist Party or CCP [HU Jintao]; eight nominally independent small parties ultimately controlled by the CCP

Political pressure groups and leaders
No substantial political opposition groups exist

International organization participation
ADB, AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), BIS, CDB, CICA, EAS, FAO, FATF, G-20, G-24 (observer), G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINURSO, MONUSCO, NAM (observer), NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SCO, SICA (observer), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNISFA, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNMIT, UNOCI, UNSC (permanent), UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the us
Chief of mission Ambassador ZHANG Yesui
3505 International Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone [1] (202) 495-2266
FAX [1] (202) 495-2190
Consulate(s) general
Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the us
Chief of mission Ambassador Gary LOCKE
55 An Jia Lou Lu, 100600 Beijing
Mailing address
PSC 461, Box 50, FPO AP 96521-0002
Telephone [86] (10) 8531-3000
FAX [86] (10) 8531-3300
Consulate(s) general
Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang, Wuhan

Flag description
Red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner; the color red represents revolution, while the stars symbolize the four social classes - the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie (capitalists) - united under the Communist Party of China

National symbol(s)

National anthem
"Yiyongjun Jinxingqu" (The March of the Volunteers)
Lyrics/music TIAN Han/NIE Er
Adopted 1949; the anthem, though banned during the Cultural Revolution, is more commonly known as "Zhongguo Guoge" (Chinese National Song); it was originally the theme song to the 1935 Chinese movie, "Sons and Daughters in a Time of Storm"


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