• Basic Facts

    Map of China


    • conventional long form: People's Republic of China
    • conventional short form: China

    Location: China is located in Eastern Asia.

    Population: 1,298,847,624 (July 2004)

    Ethnic Groups:

    Han Chinese 91.9%

    Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongoi, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%


    Standard Chinese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghaiese, Fuzhou, Hokkien-Taiwanese, Xiang, Gan, Hakka Dialects


    In 1978, the economy transformed from a centralized control operated system to a more market-oriented system. The economy has been building ever since. In 2003, China was the second-largest economy in the world after the United States even though the per capita of the country is still considered poor.
    Industries: mining and ore processing, iron, steel, aluminum, and other metals; coal; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizers; consumer products, including footwear, toys, and electronics; food processing; transportation equipment, including automobiles, rail cars and locomotives, ships, and aircraft; telecommunications equipment, commercial space launch vehicles and satellites
    Agriculture: rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, apples, cotton, oilseed, pork, fish

    Up until the 19th and 20th century, China was the world's leader in the advancement in the arts and sciences. However, after World War II, the communist party established a dictatorship that controlled and destroyed the lives of millions of people. In 1978, a new dictator controlled the country. To this present day, political control still remains tight; however, economic control is much more relaxed and decentralized.

    Family Life
    The extended family is the basis of Chinese family life. In urban areas, housing units are small and can only accommodate a nuclear family. Family members usually live close together and continue to care for and help each other. Unmarried adult children, unless they are assigned their own quarters, remain at home until married. Chinese seniors are revered for their wisdom and experience and are usually cared for by their families; some urban seniors with good pensions may move into seniors' residences.

    In rural areas, houses are larger. Family members work together as a team, and commonly several generations live under one roof. Every member, young or old, contributes to the family's welfare. Recent agricultural reforms have brought more wealth to rural dwellers. Many new houses dot the countryside and those who can afford to now sometimes live separately from their parents or children. Increasing unemployment has also compelled people to urban centres.

    Women's lives have changed dramatically since the establishment of a communist government. Traditionally, Chinese women were expected to be delicate and submissive, resigned to dependence. Communist policies gave women equal rights and equal protection. Both urban and rural women work outside the home, many doing jobs that were previously done by men. At home, women are mostly treated as equal partners by their husbands, who help with housework and cooking. Although these changes have been less profound in the countryside and many patriarchal values persist, the position of rural women has greatly improved.

    In 1979, the government introduced a one-child-per-family policy to control China's population explosion. Because many families-especially in the countryside-want a male child, some families pay high fines to have extra children; in addition, there continues to be an increase in abortion and infanticide of girl children. In urban areas, however, the policy has been extremely successful; people have been willing to forego having more children to ensure a better standard of living.

    The family is considered the basic societal unit and focus of an individual's life. It is not uncommon to see extended families with several generations living together in the same household.
    Distinct role relationships based on age, gender, and position exist among family members; these roles are expected to be fulfilled. For example, wives may submit to their husbands, younger children may submit to older male children, and female children may submit to everyone.

    Children are encouraged to defer to adults and other authority figures (e.g., teachers) and they are expected to show respect to their elders.

    Children are expected to be seen and not heard; furthermore, it is often viewed that a good child is a quiet child. Therefore, parents are often in control of the conversation and children may be given limitations on their participation in a conversation (e.g., length of time they can talk).
    Punishment may be delivered physically; children may be strictly controlled. If a child behaves badly, the entire family may lose face.
    School System

    Primary and secondary education in China is composed of three stages: primary school, junior middle school and senior middle school, with a length of study of 12 years altogether. Generally, the length of study in primary schools is six years; junior middle schools, three years; and senior middle schools, three years.

    Primary and junior middle school education is compulsory. Children who have reached the age of six may enter primary schools. Where junior middle school education is basically universal, students who have graduated from primary schools may, without examination, advance to the appropriate junior middle schools. Junior middle school graduates may enter senior middle schools after passing examinations set by the local education authorities.

    Classroom Applications:

    Education is viewed as a means of advancement for the individual and consequently, as a great honor to the family. At times, academic achievement is considered the highest honor a child can offer his or her parents.

    Many parents consider themselves integral in their child's academic achievement and they will spend time working with their child at home.

    Although it is changing, sometimes learning is strongly rooted in rote learning and memorization; additionally, conformity may be valued above creativity.

    Teachers are held in great respect. Students are expected to maintain proper distance from their teachers, and they may be arriving from a school environment in which teachers are mainly authoritarian. Students may be accustomed to the use of corporal punishment. Additionally, direct eye contact is considered rude so a student may not look a teacher in the eyes.

    Many students may not be accustomed to offering to a discussion because they have not received the opportunity or it is considered rude; therefore, they may be hesitant to volunteer answers or ask questions.

Last Modified on January 4, 2013