I’m always fascinated and intrigued when I research facts and statistics about all these countries we are visiting, and China has been one of the most interesting and different so far. Between their one-child policy, socialist/communist government, and even silly things like, “Why do many of the children wear open crotch pants in public?,” there have been some really interesting things I’ve learned!
Read ahead . . .
Currency: Chinese Renminbi (Yuan) CNY/RMB
Language: 70% of people speak Chinese Mandarin, and others speak several major linguistic groups within the Chinese language itself, including Chinese Cantonese, Shanghainese, and others.
Climate/Seasons: China is a massive country that spans so much land that different regions of the country can experience vastly different temperature and weather conditions at the same time—much like that of the US. The weather in Southern China doesn’t experience much of a winter and may have an average low temperature in January of 58 degrees Fahrenheit, while cities in the Northeast of China may only reach an average high temperature in July of 82 degrees.
Government: Single-party socialist state, governed by the Communist Party. The country is known as “The People’s Republic of China.” China is only one of the world’s four remaining socialist states supporting communism, along with Vietnam, Laos, and Cuba.
Communism, in case you didn’t know, is a system where everything belongs to “the community”—aka the government—so people don’t own much more than the clothes on their back. It can be defined as, “a classless, moneyless, and stateless society” and can be characterized as “one in which decisions on what to produce and what policies to pursue are made in the best interests of the whole of society, a society ‘of, by, and for the working class’, rather than one in which a rich class controls the wealth and everyone else works for the rich on a wage basis.”
Economy: Total GDP: $12.405 trillion, Nominal GDP: $8.227 trillion. As of 2013, China has the world’s second-largest economy in terms of nominal GDP, behind the US.
Population: 1.3+ BILLION people! (2012 census), which makes China the country with the LARGEST population in the world. In comparison, next in order is India with 1.2 billion people, and third in the world is the US with “only” 316 million people. It is estimated that China’s urban population will increase by 400 million people by 2025 (that number alone is more than the entire population of the US!)
In China, 91.51% of the population is of the Han Chinese descent, the rest being minorities.
Population control: Since 1979 the government has advocated a one-child limit for residents in China and set a maximum of two children in special circumstances. The goal of the one-child policy was to keep the total population within 1.2 billion through the year 2000, as the Chinese population had been growing at an excessive rate. Some of the “special circumstances” that allow a family to have more than one child include: if both spouses themselves come from one-child families, if their first child has a non-inherited disease, if a previous child has died, or in some rural provinces where residents still rely on traditional farming practices, couples are permitted to have a second child if their first is a girl.
The policy employs a combination of public education, social pressure, and in some cases coercion. Under the one-child program, a sophisticated system rewards those who observe the policy and penalizes those who do not. Couples with only one child are given a “one-child certificate” entitling them to such benefits as cash bonuses, longer maternity leave, better child care, and preferential housing assignments. In return, they are required to pledge that they will not have more children.
Unmarried young people are persuaded to postpone marriage, couples without children are advised to “wait their turn,” women with unauthorized pregnancies are pressured to have abortions, and those who already have children are urged to use contraception or undergo sterilization. Couples with more than one child are strongly urged to be sterilized.
Religion: China’s constitution supposedly allows for freedom of religion, however religious organizations that do not have official approval can be subject to persecution. It is estimated around 30-60% of the population do not practice any religion at all, around 30% practice Taoism, 11-18% Buddhism, 3-5% Christianity, 2% Islam, and the rest are many other indigenous religions.
Literacy Rate: 93.3% (2007)
Unemployment Rate: Approximately 4.1% (2013)
Work environment: China is criticized a lot in the public for the huge amount of factory workers it employs and the long working hours, bad conditions, and little pay the employees receive. The average wage at a Chinese factory in 2009 was around $200 USD per month! This may be why the overall salaries in China are extremely low compared to the US. Beijing tops the list of employees’ salary with an average monthly pay of $750 USD, which comes to $9,000 USD per year. Depending on the province, the average salary of all workers is from $5,000 to $9,000 PER YEAR, although there are many office, IT, and management jobs in the cities that pay around $32,000-$50,000 USD annually, and a General/Operations Manager can make up to $94,000 per year.
One of China’s problems is that while it produces lots of low skill factory jobs, it isn’t creating enough good job for college graduates.
Education: All citizens must attend school for at least nine years. Starting at age six or seven, the child attends primary school for six grades (grades 1-6) which is compulsory, followed by junior middle school for three years (grades 7-9) which is also compulsory. The child then may or may not attend “senior high school” at age 15 or so for grades 10-12, or may choose to go to vocational school instead.
The school system is based on a two semester system: one from September to January, and the other beginning around February or March (depending on that year’s date of the Chinese New Year) and ending in June or July.
Life expectancy: The national average life expectancy is 74.8 years (2012). The life expectancy rate is expected to go down in future years, due to horrible pollution in many large Chinese cities and a huge percentage of the population who are cigarette smokers.
Drinking/Smoking age: Legal drinking age is 18 years old, which was only just implemented in 2006. There actually is no legal smoking age in china! But there are certain places (such as hospitals and schools) you cannot smoke in.
Driving: Cars drive on the right side of the road (just like in the US). Legal driving age is 18 years old.
Interesting China facts:
- China possesses about 6% of the world’s total land area… on which it must sustain 20% of the world’s population.
- Traditionally, Chinese babies wear “kaidangku” (literally “open-crotch pants”) instead of diapers. However, disposable diapers sales continue to rise dramatically. Good!—we kept seeing these babies everywhere with their butts hanging out, and were curious to HOW in the world the kids “tell” their parents when they have to “go potty”??
- Chinese entrepreneurs rent out “traffic jam” stand-ins to wait in traffic for busy motorists who are whisked away by motorcyclists. Another employee drives their cars driven to their destination.
- Typically, people from northern China tend to be the tallest and of larger stature than most of all other Asian countries.
- In an effort to usher in an era of modern “civility”, the city of Shanghai launched a “Seven Nos” campaign, urging citizens to refrain from littering, smoking, spitting, cursing, jaywalking, vandalism, and destroying greenery. Heh… interesting, as I don’t think anybody follows these rules in all the other cities we visited! (we didn’t visit Shanghai, so I wonder if these rules actually work there!!)
- China has the world’s biggest mall, but it’s been 99% vacant since opening in 2005. The New South China Mall in Dongguan –spearheaded by an instant noodle billionaire– has seven zones modeled on international regions (Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Venice, California, Egypt, and the Caribbean). It includes a 80-foot replica of the Arc de Triomphe, a 1.3 mile canal with gondolas, and an indoor-outdoor roller coaster.
- China will have an estimated 221 cities with a population of a million or more by 2025. Today, Europe only has 35 such cities.
- Starbucks dominates the Chinese market with around 70% percent market share. China is “poised to become Starbucks’ second-largest market behind the U.S., overtaking Canada, Japan and the U.K.”
- Amongst urbanites (city dwelling families) in China and the US: The average annual household income in China, is $10,220, compared with $84,300 in the United States. In this group study, 73% of the Chinese were married, compared with 59% in the Unites States. Less than 1% of urban Chinese people use consumer loans to purchase consumer goods, while 47% of all US families have installment loans and 46% carry a credit card balance. The average US household debt is 136% of household income, compared to 17% for the Chinese.