10 Amazing Facts About China

1. It’s The Next Superpower

It's The Next Superpower

When the Soviet Union fell and the Cold War ended, the USA was for a few years the world’s sole superpower.  China’s positioning of itself as an industrial and economic powerhouse has threatened that status in recent years, and the economic output of the Asian state is set to exceed that of the US by around 2023. However the average American is many times richer than the average Chinese citizen and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. China is growing fast and has a huge population and manufacturing base, but it started from a very low base compared to the rest of the developed world. China may become the number one country in terms of economic output, but with 1.1 billion citizens compared to the USA’s 300 million it seems inevitable.

Despite the Western media hyping the future of China as the next superpower, in reality we’ve yet to see many world beating Chinese companies like Starbucks, Facebook, MacDonalds, Google, Nike and so on that dominate globally. The largest companies in China are State Owned Enterprises, that rely on a monopoly position to exploit China’s huge population as well as direct and indirect state subsidy and support. The country is modernising fast but many analysts expect the competitive advantages that the US and other developed countries will continue in their current status indefinitely. Despite the hype around Chinese advances and modernisation, an interesting fact that may put the amount of wealth in China in perspective is that there are almost as many people worth over 30 million USD living in New York City than there are in the whole of China according to Forbes magazine.

2. Panda Population

01 Pandas eating bamboo

The giant panda is probably China’s most famous zoological export, with their donation to zoos around the world needing diplomatic-level negotiations.  Only around 1000 remain in the wild, all of them in the bamboo forests of Sichuan Province.

3. A Christian China

A Christian China

Though officially, the Chinese state is secular, there are an increasing number of followers of Christianity in China.  According to the most recently available figures, there are in the region of 54 million Christians in China; 7 million more than are in ultra-Catholic Italy.

4. Urbanising China

Urbanising China

Despite China’s abundance of farmland and its historical image of agriculture-based villages, it is a rapidly urbanising country.  While many people move to cities by choice, some are forcefully relocated by the government – all of this makes for a staggering demographic shift – in 2005, 572 million people lived in urban developments larger than half a million inhabitants; by 2030, a full billion Chinese will live in an urban environment.

5. Resistant Blogosphere

Resistant Blogosphere

The so-called ‘internet police’ of the Chinese authorities is notoriously intolerant of criticism of the government, with a ‘Great Firewall of China’ and reported tens of thousands of staff censoring and monitoring web usage.  Despite this, more connected Chinese citizens use the internet to write blogs or post on forums than their American counterparts, who are far more likely to use it for things like online banking and e-commerce.

6. Protests Are More Common Than You Think

Protests Are More Common Than You Think

Just as the internet is heavily censored, so too is the output of the state-controlled media heavily controlled in China.  It is for this reason that the outside world, and the vast majority of Chinese citizens, never hear about the daily protests against local or national authorities which take place across the country. It is estimated that around 100,000 mass protests take place every year in China, with most of them being led by the rural poor.

7. Don’t Get Married In White

Don't Get Married In White

While the traditional wedding dress of Western custom is white, symbolising the supposed purity and innocence of the bride, it’s not quite the same in China.  While globalisation has seen many rituals and customs influenced by outside factors, white remains a colour of death in China and therefore unlucky.  Instead, Chinese brides usually get married in bright, vibrant red dresses, as red is a colour which symbolises good luck.

8. Glassless Society

Glassless Society

The earliest occurrence in human history of many inventions  can be traced back to China, including gunpowder, the compass, and paper.  However, after the invention of glass in medieval Europe, technological advancement surged forward, overtaking China’s in many ways and eventually leading to Europe’s Industrial Revolution.  Some scholars have partially attributed this advancement to the European use of glass, namely its development into magnifying lenses, allowing for microscopes, telescopes and spectacles, which effectively extended the working life of scholars and academics.  Before it was used to make lenses, glass in Europe was something in which to hold liquids, but China preferred porcelain for this purpose; as such, no glass was produced in China for 500 years between the 14th and 19th Century.

9. Made (and Unlicensed) In China

Made (and Unlicensed) In China

China has a less-than-sterling reputation when it comes to producing legitimate branded goods, but it might surprise you to know that, according to the European Commission, the country is respnsible for as much as 54% of all counterfeit goods entering the EU.  Around 44% of these are pirated CDs and DVDs, while unlicensed tobacco and knock-off branded clothing make up almost a quarter and 10% of the total respectively.

10. Thirsty Country (For Oil)

Thirsty Country (For Oil)

While many countries in the West have begun a shift from fossil fuels towards more sustainable energy sources, China’s huge industrial complex still uses a lot of coal, gas and oil.  Despite investment in nuclear energy, the Chinese are still using an increasing amount of oil, 0.006 of a barrel per person per day.  However, if this reaches U.S. consumption levels (0.064 pppd), 7 times the daily production of the world’s most prolific oil producer, Saudi Arabia, would be needed to meet demand.

1 comment on “10 Amazing Facts About China

  1. EMRAN January 8, 2014 at 6:12 am - Reply

    hey the super power is only USA

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