Why China

Home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, China has been ruled by the Communist Party since 1949, when the nation was established as the People’s Republic of China. The country is the world’s most populous and is considered the second-largest by land mass.

The central government recognizes dozens of ethnic groups, with Han Chinese accounting for more than 90 percent of the population. While nearly 300 languages are recognized across the country, Mandarin Chinese is the official national language.

China has been one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies since former leader Deng Xiaoping installed reforms in 1978. A single-party socialist state, China has since moved from being a centrally planned to a market-based economy. China’s economy is the world’s second- largest, trailing only the United States.

China’s rapid economic development poses several domestic challenges, including balancing population growth with its natural resources, a growing income inequality and a substantial rise in pollution across the country. The World Bank notes that while the sustained economic growth has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, China remains a developing country with many people still living below the nation’s official poverty level.

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Air pollution in the nation’s major urban areas poses a major health risk, and the International Energy Agency in 2012 noted that China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. At the same time, media have reported that China is a major investor in renewable energy.

China’s rapid economic rise helped secure President Xi Jinping a new five-year term in 2017, with delegates at the Communist Party’s congress voting to name Xi in the constitution, giving him expanded powers. The nation’s rapid rise in global influence also has led to challenges abroad. China has come under frequent criticism – most notably from the United States – for its human rights policies. Political freedom remains tightly controlled, and China has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on Internet usage. China regularly ranks near the bottom of international rankings for media freedom.

China is recognized as possessing nuclear weapons. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since 1971 and is a member of several international and regional organizations, including the World Trade Organization and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.