1. How big is China?
With a total land area of around 9.6 million square km, China is the third largest in the world, next to Russia and Canada. The land boundary extends for 22,800 km, sharing common land borders with 14 countries. It also has six neighbors across the sea. The mainland coastline is 18,000 km and that of the islands 14,000 km, giving China a total coastline distance of 32,000 km, the eighth longest in the world. With a population of 1.3 billion, China is a united multi-ethnic nation of 56 ethnic groups living together over vast areas while some living in compact communities in small areas.
2. What are the core values in Chinese culture and philosophy?
China is a country with a very early civilization, having a long uninterrupted over 5,000 year's history. The distinct cultural tradition of the Chinese nation that developed in the long course of history has exerted a strong influence on contemporary China, just as it did on ancient China. Putting people first, keeping pace with the times, maintaining social harmony and pursuing peaceful development: these values that are being pursued in China today are derived from its tradition. But they also give expression to the progress of the times.
Firstly, the Chinese civilization has always given prominence to the people and respect for people's dignity and value. Centuries ago, the Chinese already emphasized the value of serving the people, enriching them, nourishing them, and benefiting them. Secondly, the Chinese civilization has always given prominence to unremitting self-improvement, reform and innovation. Throughout its 5,000-year history, it is thanks to their perseverance, determination, stamina and innovation that the Chinese nation has grown after surviving numerous setbacks and adversity. Thirdly, the Chinese civilization has always given prominence to social harmony, unity and mutual assistance. Back in the early days of the Chinese nation, the Chinese already advocated that "harmony is most valuable." They strove for harmony between man and nature, among people and between man's body and soul. Fourthly, the Chinese civilization has always given prominence to good neighborliness. The Chinese nation cherishes peace. In foreign relations, the Chinese have always believed that "the strong should not oppress the weak and the rich should not bully the poor" and advocated that "all nations live side by side in perfect harmony."
3. What's China's major achievements?
China has gong through an extraordinary journey since it was founded in 1949, particularly over the past 32 years of reform and opening-up. The economy has grown significantly, and the living standards, educational and cultural levels of the Chinese people have greatly improved. China governs the country according to law and makes it a socialist country under rule of law. Now, China has 237 laws, about 700 administrative regulations and more than 8,800 local regulations. A comparatively complete legal system with the Constitution at the core that guarantees human rights is now in place.
Just to show some number examples as follows: The average life expectancy is up from 35 to 73 years. Illiteracy rate is down from 80% to below 3.5%. A magic is created that China is able to feed 22 percent of the world's population on about ten percent of the world's cultivated land. China, an active and sustained supporter of the UN initiative, has made tireless efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs). Since 1978, the number of Chinese living in absolute poverty has been lowered by over 200 million, accounting for 75% of the total population lifted out of poverty in developing countries. Another example is, the number of Chinese netizens reached 384 million and there were 3.23 million websites running in China by the end of 2009. There are over a million bulletin board services (BBS) and some 220 million bloggers. Each year from 2007 to 2009, several million items of advice and suggestions have been received through the Internet, providing valuable reference for the government to improve its work.
4. What are China's major contributions to the world?
China is a responsible country and actively participates in the maintenance of world peace and stability. China has sent over 14,000 personnel and soldiers placed in 24 different missions for undertaking UN peacekeeping tasks. Among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China is the largest contributor of peace-keeping troops to the UN-led missions. China always actively supports the international disaster relief of the United Nations. From 2007 to 2009, the Chinese government subscribed US$ 500,000 to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund every year.
China is committed to the common development of the whole world, making very important contributions to the growth of the world economy. It is estimated that China will account for more than 30% of world economic growth in 2010. In the wake of the international financial crisis, China was one of the first to recover and has played an important role in promoting an early world economic recovery. In order to help developing countries emerge from the financial crisis, China has provided 10 billion US dollar concessional loans to African countries and 15 billion dollar credit support to ASEAN countries. China has also required the IMF on clear terms that our further 50 billion dollar Chinese investment in the Fund should be prioritized to assist the least developed countries.
By the end of 2009, China has already in total canceled 25.6 billion RMB Yuan of debts for 50 heavily-indebted poor countries and the least developed countries. China plans to further cancel the outstanding interest-free loans owed by the governments of these countries due to be settled this year. By July of 2010, China has already granted zero-tariff treatment to 4,700 plus categories of exports from 33 least developed countries, extending the preferential treatment to an overwhelming majority of their export goods to China.
To date, China has built for developing countries over 150 schools, nearly 100 hospitals, 70 drinking water processing facilities, and more than 60 stadiums and gymnasiums. And Chinese medical teams have treated hundreds of millions of patients in around 70 countries worldwide.
5. What are the major challenges currently?
The first challenge is to sustain the momentum of economic growth. China is one of the world's large economies, but divided by the 1.3 billion population, China's 3,700 US dollar per capita GDP is at around 100th place worldwide and only half of the world average. The gap between urban and rural areas, among different regions and among primary, secondary and tertiary industry remains a hugely demanding task to tackle.
The second challenge is to maintain a sound social environment. We have in China an 800 million work force. Every year 12 million jobs need to be created in China just to accommodate the newly added work force. Judging by the UN standard of one dollar a day, 150 million Chinese people are still living in poverty. The Chinese government has worked to provide special care for 83 million people with disabilities. According to the Human Development Report 2009 issued by the UN Development Program, China ranks 92nd worldwide in the human development index, just a medium development level.
The third challenge is to upgrade the industrial structure. Behind many developed countries in science and technology, education, and industrial productivity, China is still at the lower end of the global industrial chain. The technology content and added value of our products remains low. Of the export products in China, 60-70 percent is manufactured by transnational corporations which gain most of the profits.
Briefly speaking, China faces many challenges such as irrational economic structure, weak scientific innovation, imbalanced economic and social development, etc. And there is also an urgent need to further strengthen the rule of law, address social unfairness, as well as corruption. It is by no means rhetoric yet the painful reality that China still has a long way to go to be a modernized country, where all the Chinese people could live a comfortable life so taken for granted by many people in the developed world.