U.S. Department of State Background Notes: China, October 1997
Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Official Name: People's Republic of China
Total area: 9,596,960 sq. km (approximately 3.7 million sq. mi.).
Capital--Beijing. Other major cities--Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang, Wuhan,
Guangzhou, Chongqing, Harbin, Chengdu.
Terrain: Plains, deltas, and hills in east; mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west.
Climate: Tropical in south to subarctic in north.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Chinese (singular and plural).
Population (1997 est.): 1.22 billion. Population growth rate (1997 est.): .93%. Health (1997 est.): Infant mortality rate--37.9/1,000.
Life expectancy--70.0 years (overall); 68.6 years for males, 71.5 years for females.
Ethnic groups: Han Chinese--91.9%; Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uygur, Yi, Mongolian, Tibetan, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities--8.1%.
Religions: Officially atheist; Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity. Language: Mandarin (Putonghua), plus many local dialects.
Education: Years compulsory-- 9.
Work force (699 million): Agriculture and forestry--60%. Industry and commerce--25%. Other--15%.
Type: Communist party-led state. Constitution: December 4, 1982. Independence:
Unification under the Qin (Ch'in) Dynasty 221 BC; Qing (Ch'ing or Manchu)
Dynasty replaced by a republic on February 12, 1912; People's Republic
established October 1, 1949. Branches: Executive--president, vice president,
State Council, premier. Legislative-- unicameral National People's Congress.
Judicial--Supreme People's Court. Administrative divisions: 23 provinces (the
P.R.C. considers Taiwan to be its 23rd province); 5 autonomous regions,
including Tibet; 4 municipalities directly under the State Council. Political
parties: Chinese Communist Party, over 58 million members; 8 minor parties
under Communist supervision. Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (1996 est.): $839 billion (exchange rate-based); $3.39 trillion (PPP-based).
Per capita GDP (1996 est.): $688 (exchange rate-based); $2,800 (PPP-based). GDP
real growth rate: 9.4%. Natural resources: Coal, iron ore, crude oil, mercury,
tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum,
lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest). Agriculture: Among
the world's largest producers of rice, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet,
barley; commercial crops include cotton, other fibers, and oilseeds; produces
variety of livestock products. Industry: Types--iron, steel, coal, machinery,
light industrial products, armaments, petroleum. Trade (1996): Exports--$151.1
billion: mainly textiles, garments, electrical machinery, foodstuffs,
chemicals, footwear, minerals. Main partners--Hong Kong, Japan, U.S., South
Korea, Germany, Singapore, Netherlands. Imports--$138.8 billion: mainly
industrial machinery, electrical equipment, chemicals, textiles, steel. Main
partners--Japan, Taiwan, U.S., South Korea, Hong Kong, Germany, Russia.
The largest ethnic group is the Han Chinese, who constitute about 91.9% of the
total population. The remaining 8.1% are Zhuang (16 million), Manchu (10
million), Hui (9 million), Miao (8 million), Uygur (7 million), Yi (7 million), Mongolian (5 million), Tibetan (5 million), Buyi (3 million), Korean (2 million), and other ethnic minorities.
There are seven major Chinese dialects and many subdialects. Mandarin (or
Putonghua), the predominant dialect, is spoken by over 70% of the population.
It is taught in all schools and is the medium of government. Only about two-
thirds of the Han ethnic group are native speakers of Mandarin; the rest,
concentrated in southwest and southeast China, speak one of the six other major Chinese dialects. Non-Chinese languages spoken widely by ethnic minorities include Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur and other Turkic languages (in Xinjiang), and Korean (in the Northeast).
The Pinyin System of Romanization
On January 1, 1979, the Chinese Government officially adopted the pinyin system
for spelling Chinese names and places in Roman letters. A system of
Romanization invented by the Chinese, pinyin has long been widely used in China on street and commercial signs as well as in elementary Chinese textbooks as an aid in learning Chinese characters. Variations of pinyin are also used as the written forms of several minority languages.
Pinyin has now replaced other conventional spellings in China's English-language publications. The U.S. Government has also adopted the pinyin system for all names and places in China. For example, the capital of China is now spelled "Beijing" rather than "Peking."
In the pinyin system, letters are pronounced much as they would be in American
English with the following exceptions.
Complex initial sounds:
c -- like the t's in it's
q -- like the ch in cheap
x -- like the sh in she
z -- like the ds in lids
zh -- like the j in just
Final Sounds: e -- Pronounced like "uh" eng -- like the ung in lung ai -- as in
aisle ui -- pronounced way uai -- like the wi in wide i -- like the i in skin*
ua -- like the wa in waft ao -- like the ow in now ian -- pronounced yen ou --
like the ow in know uan -- like the wan in wander
*When zh, ch, sh, zh are followed by an "i," the "i" is pronounced like an r.
Religion plays a significant part in the life of many Chinese. Buddhism is most
widely practiced, with an estimated 100 million adherents; traditional Taoism
also is practiced. Official figures indicate there are 20 million Muslims, 3.6
million Catholics, and 5.6 million Protestants; unofficial estimates are much
While the Chinese Constitution affirms religious toleration, the Chinese
government places restrictions on religious practice outside officially
recognized organizations. Only two Christian organizations--a Catholic church
without ties to Rome and the "Three-Self-Patriotic" Protestant church--are
sanctioned by the Chinese government. Unauthorized churches have sprung up in
many parts of the country and are growing rapidly.
With a population of over 1.22 billion and an estimated growth rate of .93%,
China is very concerned about its population growth and has attempted to
implement a strict population control policy. The government's goal is one child per family, with exceptions in rural areas and for ethnic minorities. This policy is often ignored in the countryside and also by many urban dwellers. The government states that it opposes physical compulsion to submit to abortion or sterilization, but instances of coercion have continued as local officials strive to meet population targets. The government's goal is to stabilize the population early in the 21st century, although some current projections estimate a population of 1.6 billion by 2025.
China is the oldest continuous major world civilization, with records dating
back about 3,500 years. Successive dynasties developed a system of bureaucratic control which gave the agrarian-based Chinese an advantage over neighboring nomadic and hill cultures. Chinese civilization was further strengthened by the development of a Confucian state ideology and a common written language that bridged the gaps among the country's many local languages and dialects. Whenever China was conquered by nomadic tribes, as it was by the Mongols in the 13th century, the conquerors sooner or later adopted the ways of the "higher" Chinese civilization and staffed the bureaucracy with Chinese.
The last dynasty was established in 1644, when the nomadic Manchus overthrew the native Ming dynasty and established the Qing (Ch'ing) dynasty with Beijing as its capital. At great expense in blood and treasure, the Manchus over the next half century gained control of many border areas, including Xinjiang, Yunnan, Tibet, Mongolia, and Taiwan. The success of the early Qing period was based on the combination of Manchu martial prowess and traditional Chinese bureaucratic skills.
During the 19th century, Qing control weakened, and prosperity diminished; the
"Mandate of Heaven" which legitimized dynastic rule appeared ready to shift
once more. China suffered massive social strife, economic stagnation, explosive population growth, and Western penetration and influence. Britain's desire to continue its illegal opium trade with China collided with imperial edicts prohibiting the addictive drug, and the First Opium War erupted in 1840. China lost the war; subsequently, Britain and other Western powers, including the United States, forcibly occupied "concessions" and gained special commercial privileges. Hong Kong was ceded to Britain in 1842 under the Treaty of Nanking, and in 1898, when the Opium Wars finally ended, Britain executed a 99-year lease of the New Territories, significantly expanding the size of the Hong Kong colony.
The Taiping and Nian rebellions, along with a Russian-supported Muslim
separatist movement in Xinjiang, drained Chinese resources and almost toppled
the dynasty. As time went on, the Western powers, wielding superior military
technology, gained more economic and political privileges. Reformist Chinese
officials argued for the adoption of Western technology to strengthen the
dynasty and counter Western advances, but the Qing court played down both the
Western threat and the benefits of Western technology.
China's defeat in 1895 by Japan, which had adopted Western technology and other
elements of Western culture, shocked Chinese officialdom and some of the Qing
court. The country embarked on a crash reformist program, until the effort was
stymied by conservative reaction in the Qing court. Anti-foreign and anti-
Christian groups then rampaged through northern China in what became known as
the Boxer Rebellion, which was eventually crushed by expeditionary forces of
the foreign powers.
The Chinese Dynasties
Xia (Hsia) Dynasty--c. 21st-16th centuries BC
Shang (Yin)--c. 16th century-1066 BC
Zhou (Chou)--c. 1066-221 BC
Western Zhou (Chou)--c. 1066-771 BC
Eastern Zhou (Chou)--c. 770-256 BC
Spring and Autumn Period--772-481 BC
Warring States Period--403-221 BC
Han--206 BC-220 AD
Six Dynasties--220-439 AD
Western Jin (Tsin)--265-316
Eastern Jin (Tsin)--317-420
Southern and Northern Dynasties
Northern Zhou (Chou)--557-581
Northern Qi (Ch'i)--550-577
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period--907-979
Latter Tang (T'ang)--923-936
Latter Jin (Tsin)--936-946
Latter Zhou (Chou)--951-960
Qing (Ch'ing or Manchu)--1644-1911
* The Taiwan authorities are currently recognized by 30 countries as the
"Republic of China."
Early 20th Century China
Frustrated by the Qing court's resistance to reform, young officials, military
officers, and students--inspired by the revolutionary ideas of Sun Yat-sen--
began to advocate the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and creation of a republic. A revolutionary military uprising on October 10, 1911, led to the abdication of the last Qing monarch. As part of a compromise to overthrow the dynasty without a civil war, the revolutionaries and reformers allowed high Qing officials to retain prominent positions in the new republic. One of these figures, General Yuan Shikai, was chosen as the republic's first president. Before his death in 1916, Yuan unsuccessfully attempted to name himself emperor. His death left the republican government all but shattered, ushering in the era of the "warlords" during which China was ruled and ravaged by shifting coalitions of competing provincial military leaders.
In the 1920s, Sun Yat-sen established a revolutionary base in south China and
set out to unite the fragmented nation. With Soviet assistance, he organized
the Kuomintang (KMT or "Chinese Nationalist People's Party") along Leninist
lines, and entered into an alliance with the fledgling Chinese Communist Party
(CCP). After Sun's death in 1925, one of his proteges, Chiang Kai-shek, seized
control of the KMT and succeeded in bringing most of south and central China
under its rule. In 1927, Chiang destroyed the CCP's party organization and
executed many of its leaders. The remnants fled into the mountains of eastern
Finally, driven out of their mountain bases in 1934, the CCP's forces embarked
on a "Long March" across China's most desolate terrain to the northwest, where
they established a guerrilla base at Yan'an in Shaanxi Province.
During the "Long March," the Communists reorganized under a new leader, Mao
Zedong (Mao Tse-tung). The bitter struggle between the KMT and the CCP
continued openly or clandestinely through the 14-year long Japanese invasion
(1931-45), even though the two parties nominally formed a united front to
oppose the Japanese invaders in 1937. The war between the two parties resumed
after the Japanese defeat in 1945. By 1949, the CCP occupied most of the
Chiang Kai-shek fled with the remnants of his KMT government and military forces to Taiwan, where he proclaimed Taipei to be China's "provisional capital" and vowed to reconquer the Chinese mainland. The KMT authorities on Taiwan still call themselves the "Republic of China."
The People's Republic of China
In Beijing, on October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of
China. The new government assumed control of a people exhausted by two
generations of war and social conflict, and an economy ravaged by high
inflation and disrupted transportation links. A new political and economic
order modeled on the Soviet example was quickly installed.
In the early 1950s, China undertook a massive economic and social
reconstruction. The new leaders gained popular support by curbing inflation,
restoring the economy, and rebuilding many war-damaged industrial plants. The
CCP's authority reached into almost every phase of Chinese life. Party control
was assured by large, politically loyal security and military forces; a
government apparatus responsive to party direction; and ranks of party members
in labor, women's, and other mass organizations.
The "Great Leap Forward" and the Sino-Soviet Split
In 1958, Mao broke with the Soviet model and announced a new economic program,
the "Great Leap Forward," aimed at rapidly raising industrial and agricultural
production above the impressive gains already attained. Mao believed that
China's latent potential could be tapped by industrial decentralization and a
greater degree of collectivization. Giant cooperatives (communes) were formed,
and "backyard factories" dotted the Chinese landscape. The results were
disastrous. Normal market mechanisms were disrupted, and China's people
exhausted themselves producing what turned out to be shoddy, unsalable goods.
Within a year, starvation appeared even in fertile agricultural areas, and the
Chinese leadership retreated, blaming poor planning and the weather. Later,
they also blamed the Soviets for economic sabotage.
The already strained Sino-Soviet relationship deteriorated sharply in 1959, when the Soviets started to restrict the flow of scientific and technological
information to China. The dispute escalated, and the Soviets withdrew all of
their personnel from China in August 1960. In 1960, the Soviets and the Chinese began to have disputes openly in international forums.
The Cultural Revolution
In the early 1960s, State President Liu Shaoqi and his protege, Party General
Secretary Deng Xiaoping, took over direction of the party and adopted pragmatic economic policies at odds with Mao's revolutionary vision. Dissatisfied with China's new direction and his own reduced authority, Party Chairman Mao launched a massive political attack on Liu, Deng, and other pragmatists in the spring of 1966. The new movement, the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution," was unprecedented in Communist history. For the first time, a section of the Chinese Communist leadership sought to rally popular opposition against another leadership group. China was set on a course of political and social anarchy which lasted the better part of a decade.
In the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, Mao and his "closest comrade in
arms," National Defense Minister Lin Biao, charged Liu, Deng, and other top
party leaders with dragging China back toward capitalism. Radical youth
organizations, called Red Guards, attacked party and state organizations at all levels, seeking out leaders who would not bend to the radical wind. In reaction to this turmoil, some local People's Liberation Army (PLA) commanders and other officials maneuvered to outwardly back Mao and the radicals while actually taking steps to rein in local radical activity.
Gradually, Red Guard and other radical activity subsided, and the Chinese
political situation stabilized along complex factional lines. The leadership
conflict came to a head in September 1971, when Party Vice Chairman and Defense Minister Lin Biao reportedly tried to stage a coup against Mao; Lin Biao allegedly later died in a plane crash in Mongolia.
In the aftermath of the Lin Biao incident, many officials criticized and
dismissed during 1966-69 were reinstated. Chief among these was Deng Xiaoping,
who reemerged in 1973 and was confirmed in 1975 in the concurrent posts of
Politburo Standing Committee member, PLA Chief of Staff, and Vice Premier. Deng and other veteran officials dominated the fourth National People's Congress, held in January 1975. As Premier Zhou Enlai's health deteriorated, Deng acted as Zhou's alter ego.
The conflict between veteran party officials and the radicals re-emerged with a
vengeance in late 1975. Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, and three close Cultural
Revolution-era associates (later dubbed the "Gang of Four") launched a media
campaign against Deng. When Zhou died in January 1976, it was assumed that Deng would take over the premiership. Instead, Minister of Public Security Hua
Guofeng was named Acting Premier in February. Then on April 5, when the Beijing populace staged a spontaneous demonstration in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in Zhou's memory--with strong political overtones in support of Deng-- the authorities forcibly suppressed the demonstration. Deng was blamed for the
disorder and stripped of all official positions, although he retained his party membership. An event interpreted by many Chinese as a sign that Mao's "reign" was near its end was the Tangshan earthquake, which caused 800,000 casualties in July 1976.
The Post-Mao Era
Mao's death in September 1976 removed a towering figure from Chinese politics
and set off a scramble for succession. Hua Guofeng was quickly confirmed as
Party Chairman and Premier. A month after Mao's death, Hua, backed by the PLA,
arrested Jiang Qing and other members of the "Gang of Four." After extensive
deliberations, the Chinese Communist Party leadership reinstated Deng Xiaoping
to all of his previous posts at the 11th Party Congress in August 1977. This
symbolized the growing consolidation of control by veteran party officials
opposed to the radical excesses of the previous two decades.
The new, pragmatic leadership emphasized economic development and renounced mass political movements. At the pivotal December 1978 Third Plenum (of the 11th Party Congress Central Committee), the leadership adopted new agrarian policies aimed at expanding rural income and incentives, endorsed experiments in enterprise autonomy and reduced central planning, and approved direct foreign investment in China. The plenum also decided to accelerate the pace of legal reform, culminating in the passage of several new legal codes by the National People's Congress in June 1979.
After 1979, the Chinese leadership moved toward more pragmatic positions in
almost all fields. The party encouraged artists, writers, and journalists to
adopt more critical approaches, although open attacks on party authority were
not permitted. In late 1980, the Cultural Revolution was finally officially
proclaimed to have been a catastrophe. Hua Guofeng was replaced as Premier in
1980 by reformist Sichuan party chief Zhao Ziyang and as party General
Secretary in 1981 by the even more reformist Communist Youth League chairman Hu Yaobang.
The 12th Party Congress in September 1982 highlighted the importance of the
economic modernization drive by adopting a goal of quadrupling the nation's
gross domestic product by the year 2000, and a new state constitution adopted
in December 1982--the fourth since 1949--provided a legal framework for ongoing reforms in China's social and economic institutions and practices.
Reform policies brought great improvements in the standard of living, especially for urban workers and for farmers who took advantage of opportunities to diversify crops and establish village industries. Literature and the arts blossomed, and Chinese intellectuals established extensive links with scholars in other countries. At the same time, however, political dissent as well as social problems like inflation, urban migration, and prostitution re-emerged, and party elders increasingly questioned the pace and ultimate goals of the reform program.
Efforts to reform the political structure, however, have been less successful.
Student demonstrators protested the slow pace of political reform in December
1986. Deng's effort to institutionalize the leadership succession also received a major blow when Hu Yaobang, a protege of Deng and a leading advocate of reform, was forced to resign as CCP General Secretary in January 1987. Premier Zhao Ziyang was made General Secretary and Li Peng, former Vice Premier and Minister of Electric Power and Water Conservancy, was made Premier.
Reform and Tiananmen Square Repression, June 4, 1989
After Zhao was moved to party General Secretary, the economic and political
reforms he had championed came under increasing attack. His proposal in May
1988 to accelerate price reform led to widespread popular complaints about
rampant inflation and gave opponents of rapid reform the opening to call for
greater centralization of economic controls and stricter prohibitions against
Western influence. This precipitated a political debate which grew more heated
through the winter of 1988-89.
The death of Hu Yaobang on April 15, 1989, provided students, intellectuals, and other supporters of continued political reform the opportunity to express their desire for greater freedom. Students at Beijing University marched to Tiananmen Square in order both to mourn Hu's death and to protest against those who would slow reform. Their protests, which grew despite government efforts to halt them, called for an end to official corruption and for defense of freedoms guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution. Protests also spread through many other cities, including Shanghai and Guangzhou.
After several attempts to persuade the students to abandon their protests
failed, Zhao's strategy of reasoning with the students was overruled, and
martial law was declared on May 20, 1989. After several efforts by the military to clear Tiananmen Square failed, additional units were brought into the Square and surrounding streets early on the morning of June 4. The result was the death of hundreds--some claim thousands--of people.
While foreign governments expressed the horror of the world at this brutal
suppression of basic human rights, the Chinese central government moved in the
weeks and months after June 4 to eliminate any remaining sources of organized
opposition, detaining large numbers of protesters, removing Zhao supporters
from office, and requiring political reeducation not only for students but also for large numbers of party cadre and government officials.
Following the resurgence of hard-liners in the aftermath of June 4, economic
reform slowed until given new impetus by Deng Xiaoping's dramatic visit to
southern China in early 1992. Deng's renewed push for a market-oriented economy received official sanction at the 14th Party Congress later in the year as a number of younger, reform-minded leaders rose to top positions. Also subsequent to the visit, China's politburo publicly issued an endorsement of Deng's policies of economic openness, stating that the policies should be followed for the next century.
Deng's campaign marked a new round in the debate over what policies are more
likely to maintain the Chinese Communist Party in power over the long run. Deng and his supporters argued that managing the economy in a way that increases living standards should be China's primary policy objective, even if
"capitalist" measures are adopted. Though not totally inattentive to political
progress, China has consistently subordinated political reform to the opening
of its economy.
15th Party Congress
During the 15th Party Congress held in September 1997, President Jiang
reasserted China's commitment to economic reform, opening to the outside world, and adhering to Deng Xiaoping theory. He called for further reform of state-owned industry, including layoffs of unneeded workers; plans to expand "public ownership" (privatization in euphemistic terms); and the sale, merger, or closing of many state-owned enterprises.
The newly-elected Central Committee did not include two members of the outgoing
Politburo Standing Committee: the National People's Congress Standing Committee
Chairman, Qiao Shi, and the Central Military Commission Vice Chairman, Liu
Huaqing. The retirement of Qiao, currently the third ranking figure in China,
removes from the leadership a powerful, independent voice on both personnel and policy issues, and may signal a significant enhancement in the General
Secretary's power. Liu was the only military official on the Standing
The Chinese government has always been subordinate to the Chinese Communist
Party (CCP); its role is to implement party policies. The primary organs of
state power are the National People's Congress (NPC), the President, and the
State Council. Members of the State Council include Premier Li Peng (slated to
step down in early 1998 when his term expires), a variable number of vice
premiers (now six), nine state councilors (protocol equal of vice premiers but
with narrower portfolios), the heads of ministries (now thirty one), and the
heads of other commissions and special agencies attached to the State Council.
Under the Chinese Constitution, the NPC is the highest organ of state power in
China. It meets annually for about 2 weeks to review and approve major new
policy directions, laws, the budget, and major personnel changes. These
initiatives are presented to the NPC for consideration by the State Council
after previous endorsement by the Communist Party's Central Committee. Although the NPC generally approves State Council policy and personnel recommendations, various NPC committees hold active debate in closed sessions, and changes may be made to accommodate alternate views.
When the NPC is not in session, its permanent organ, the Standing Committee,
exercises state power.
Chinese Communist Party
The 58 million member CCP, authoritarian in structure and ideology, continues to dominate government and society. Nevertheless, China's population, geographical vastness, and social diversity frustrate attempts to rule by fiat from Beijing. Central leaders must increasingly build consensus for new policies among party members, local and regional leaders, influential non-party members, and the population at large.
In periods of relative liberalization, such as between 1978 and 1989, the
influence of people and organizations outside the formal party structure has
tended to increase, particularly in the economic realm. This phenomenon is
apparent today in the rapidly developing coastal region. Nevertheless, in all
important government, economic, and cultural institutions in China, party
committees work to see that party and state policy guidance is followed and
that non-party members do not create autonomous organizations that could
challenge party rule. Party control is tightest in government offices and in
urban economic, industrial, and cultural settings; it is considerably looser in the rural areas, where 80% of the people live.
Theoretically, the party's highest body is the Party Congress, which is supposed to meet at least once every five years. The 14th Party Congress, which met in October 1992, elected a new central committee with an expanded politburo, and abolished the central advisory commission of party elders.
The primary organs of power in the Communist Party include:
-- The seven-member Politburo Standing Committee; -- The Politburo, consisting
of 22 full members (including the members of the Politburo Standing Committee);
-- The Secretariat, the principal administrative mechanism of the CCP, headed by the General Secretary;
-- The Military Commission;
-- The Central Advisory Commission; and
-- The Discipline Inspection Commission, which is charged with
rooting out corruption and malfeasance among party cadres.
Principal Government and Party Officials
Vice President--Rong Yiren
Premier, State Council--Li Peng
Politburo Standing Committee
Jiang Zemin (General Secretary)
Full Politburo Members
Alternate Politburo Members
After the Cultural Revolution, China's leaders aimed to develop a legal system
to restrain abuses of official authority and revolutionary excesses. In 1982,
the National People's Congress adopted a new state constitution that emphasized the rule of law under which even party leaders are theoretically held accountable. In keeping with the emphasis on predictability and the rule of law, the NPC delegates also passed a number of new statutes. Several sought to assure foreigners doing business with China that agreements and contracts would be honored and that arbitrary behavior would not be tolerated.
In other legal developments, the first civil procedure law in the history of the People's Republic of China was promulgated for provisional use in 1982, filling a major gap in the legal system. Since 1979, when the drive to establish a functioning legal system began, more than 300 laws and regulations, most of them in the economic area, have been promulgated. The use of mediation committees--informed groups of citizens who resolve about 90% of China's civil disputes and some minor criminal cases at no cost to the parties- -is one innovative device. There are more than 800,000 such committees in both rural and urban areas. The 1994 Administrative Procedure Law allows citizens to sue officials for abuse of authority or malfeasance.
The training of lawyers and trained legal aides is now a high priority in China, but the continued scarcity of such professionals complicates the delivery of legal services in the courts. In addition, many lawyers, like other Chinese, generally depend on their work units for housing and many other aspects of their lives. As a result, they often are reluctant to be seen as overzealous in defending individuals accused of political offenses.
Education has been rapidly developed since the founding of the People's Republic of China. In 1949, only 20% of China's people were literate. In great contrast, the literacy rate today is 82%, and about 98.8% of eligible children were enrolled in first grade in 1996. In 1986, the NPC enacted its first national compulsory education law, mandating the implementation of a nine-year
compulsory education system for school-age children. While progress has been
made in this regard, the rural reforms of the late 1970s and early 1980s had
the unanticipated effect of making it profitable for rural families to put
children to work as soon as possible; this has hampered efforts to reduce the
elementary school drop-out rate.
A wide gap between China's rural and urban areas exists in secondary education.
Secondary schools with the best facilities and budgets are nearly all located in the cities. These include many elite schools that serve as feeder schools for the university system. In 1996, there were about 86,000 secondary schools (both general and vocational) enrolling over 61 million students.
China's higher education system was severely damaged during the decade of the
Cultural Revolution (1966-76); many colleges and universities were closed
during this period. Restoration of the higher education system did not begin
until 1978, when China's colleges and universities chose new entrants on the
basis of standardized entrance examinations and academic criteria, rather than
on political criteria. A major effort also was begun to restore the facilities
and personnel resources of colleges and universities to the pre-1966 level. In
1996, there were 1100 institutions of higher learning in China, with a total of
over three million students.
The results of the education reforms have been difficult to measure, but their
long-term success seems to depend largely on two key questions: whether local
authorities devote the necessary resources to the new system and whether it
attracts the quality of teachers and administrators it needs. The pro-democracy movement of 1989, which started on Chinese campuses, appears to have spurred efforts by conservatives to increase the ideological content of education, first at the university level and increasingly in secondary education. It remains to be seen whether these efforts will endure.
China has sent students to the West since the early 1970s, and the numbers have
increased dramatically in recent years. Between 1978 and 1996, more than
270,000 Chinese students studied abroad. About 50,000 students were studying in the United States in 1992. President Bush's executive order of late 1989
concerning Chinese nationals in the U.S. protected these students from being
involuntarily repatriated before January 1, 1994. The Chinese Student
Protection Act of 1992 allows these Chinese to apply for permanent residency.
The Party Central Committee and the State Council issued "Guidelines for
Educational Reform and Development in China by 2000" in 1993 and promulgated a
development strategy of "invigorating the nation through science and education" in 1995.
Adult education in various forms has been flourishing in China. Higher learning
institutions for adults include radio and TV universities, workers' colleges,
farmers' colleges, correspondence colleges, and evening universities. Radio and TV universities totaled 46 in 1994, and enrollment exceeded half a million
students. In 1996, there were 2.7 million people studying in adult higher
At present, China is focusing its energies on carrying out the 211 Project,
whose goal is to cultivate 100 major universities and promote key disciplines
that will make Chinese students more competitive in the 21st century.
China has acknowledged in principle the importance of human rights and has begun a limited dialogue with its foreign critics. However, its human rights
practices remain repressive, falling short of internationally accepted norms.
The government restricts freedom of assembly, expression, and the press and
represses most dissent. The most obvious of these efforts was the violent
suppression of the demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the subsequent imprisonment of many of the demonstrators, who were charged with offenses such as "counter-revolutionary incitement."
Although China attempts to control religion through state-sponsored
organizations, unofficial religious practice is flourishing. Catholics and
Protestants have been prosecuted for maintaining foreign ties, proselytizing,
or conducting "illegal" religious services.
In recent years, exposure to international norms and legal systems has played a
role in China's legal reform effort. Recent reforms include the 1994
Administrative Procedure Law, which broadens citizen rights, and 1997
amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law, which imposes limits on police
detention of suspected criminals.
Trends and Policies: 1949-81
When the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, its economy was
suffering from severe dislocations caused by decades of war and inflation. The
new government's immediate concerns were to consolidate power, restore public
order, and eliminate widespread starvation and unemployment--all of which were
accomplished by 1952.
Following the example of the early Soviet experience, China created a centrally
planned economy which emphasized defense needs and the rapid buildup of heavy
industry. China's involvement in the Korean war and the resulting UN trade
embargo against it led to further reliance upon Soviet rather than Western
assistance. Blueprints for many facilities were imported from the then Soviet
Union, which also provided technicians.
Despite major disruptions stemming from political turmoil and poor economic
planning, China's economy averaged a growth rate of almost 6% per year during
1957-81. The "Great Leap Forward" (1958-60) had a disastrous effect upon the
economy. Economic experiments during this period included rural
collectivization, abandonment of wage incentives, "backyard" steel plants, and
great leeway for local government initiative. Such experiments plunged China
into a depression in the early 1960s, resulting in famine and the death of
millions of Chinese. Compounding these domestic difficulties were increasingly
strained relations with the Soviets, who withdrew all assistance and technicians in August 1960.
In response to these traumas, Beijing reemphasized its traditional determination to be "self- reliant" and began to invest in its agricultural sector. After a brief period of economic growth, the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) reintroduced ideology into economic planning, severely damaging educational and training systems and disrupting foreign trade.
In 1975, then Premier Zhou Enlai outlined a new set of economic goals to elevate China to the status of a "front rank" economic power by the year 2000. This multi-staged effort, described as the "Four Modernizations," aimed to achieve ambitious levels of production in Chinese agriculture, industry, science and technology, and national defense. It echoed a century-long search for means to restore the country to relative wealth and power in a world of technologically advanced civilizations.
After Mao died in 1976, a more pragmatic perspective on political and
socioeconomic problems led to a sharp reduction in the role of ideology in
economic policy. Consumer welfare, economic productivity, and political
stability were considered indivisible. The government emphasized raising
personal income and consumption and introducing new management systems to help
increase productivity. The government also began to expand foreign trade--by
1978, China was over-extended, having committed itself to purchases totaling $7 billion.
After poor economic performance in 1978, the government's "readjustment" plan
for 1979- 81 focused on moderate, short-term goals to remedy the ailing domestic economy. Hundreds of industrial capital construction projects were canceled or postponed to shift resources away from heavy industry to light industry and agriculture. Efforts were made to foster economic development by improving energy production and transportation and other infrastructure. At the same time, the government delegated more economic decision-making power to the local governments and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
In 1981, continuing budget deficits, excessive capital construction (largely
generated by local governments and SOEs), and inflation led to an even more
stringent austerity program. Many contracts for imported plants and equipment
were canceled or postponed, some inefficient state factories were closed, and
foreign technology was acquired more judiciously. Tighter central control over
some aspects of economic planning also was reintroduced.
The 5-year plans for 1981-85 and 1986-90 increasingly reduced the overall role
of central management in favor of a mixed "planned commodity" economy. China
tried to combine central planning with market-oriented reforms to increase
productivity, living standards, and technological quality without exacerbating
inflation, unemployment, and budget deficits. China pursued agricultural
reforms (including long-term leases on land and permission to specialize in
cash crops) and engaged in non-agricultural activities that led to the demise
of the commune system. The government encouraged more self-management for
state-owned enterprises, increased competition in the marketplace, and
facilitated direct contact between Chinese and foreign trading enterprises. To
meet plan targets, China also relied more upon foreign financing and imports.
During the 1980s, these reforms led to average annual rates of growth of 10% in
agricultural and industrial output. Rural per capita real income doubled. China
became self- sufficient in grain production; rural industries accounted for 23%
of agricultural output, helping absorb surplus labor in the countryside. The
variety of light industrial and consumer goods increased. Reforms began in the
fiscal, financial, banking, price setting, and labor systems.
However, by the late 1980s, the economy had become overheated with increasing
rates of inflation. At first, the government reacted to economic pressures by
adopting a variety of fiscal and administrative measures and working toward
creating the appropriate political environment in which such reforms could
1989 - Mid-1990s
At the end of 1988, however, in reaction to a sudden surge of inflation, the
leadership introduced a severe austerity program. Political struggle and
economic instability fueled popular unrest. The resulting economic slump was
compounded by the immediate foreign reaction to the violence at Tiananmen
Square. Resource flows from abroad dropped dramatically, accelerating the
deterioration in China's current account balance and raising debt service
requirements. The World Bank terminated consideration of new loans, and
bilateral assistance programs were frozen. Foreign commercial lending slowed
down, and foreign investors postponed projects. Tourism declined sharply. The
official trade deficit reached $6.7 billion by the end of 1989.
China's economy regained momentum in 1990. The government shifted its focus from austerity to restructuring the state-owned enterprises. It relied heavily on promoting exports (while reducing or eliminating export subsidies) and
restricting imports to stimulate economic recovery. By the end of 1990, China
had a record $9 billion official trade surplus. Its gross domestic product grew by 5%; inflation was at 2%. Tourism recovered. The World Bank and most
bilateral assistance donors other than the U.S. resumed former relationships
with the country. Notably, Japan restarted a 5-year bilateral aid program which
helped revive foreign commercial bank lending.
According to the 14th Party Congress in late 1992, China's key task in the 1990s is to create a "socialist market economy." Continuity in the political system but bolder reform in the economic system were announced as the hallmarks of the 10-year development plan for the 1990s. The 5-year plan for 1991-95 emphasized development of agriculture, basic industries, transportation, and telecommunications. Chinese leaders were cautious in stressing a need for greater efficiency and appeared to reject radical changes in the economic system. The new plan seemed to focus on reducing uncertainties and on fine- tuning some existing policies with respect to prices, finance, taxation, banking, planning, investment, and labor. It did not target the structural price distortions influenced by government subsidies to large, inefficient state-owned enterprises and the privileged urban population (in the form of housing and food). Moreover, the plan did not address the huge amount of resources needed to acquire raw materials and technology to fulfill development plans.
During 1993, output and prices were accelerating, investment outside the state
budget was soaring, and economic expansion was fueled by the introduction of
more than two thousand special economic zones (SEZs) and the influx of foreign
capital that the SEZs facilitated. Fearing hyperinflation, Chinese authorities
called in speculative loans, raised interest rates, and re-evaluated investment projects. The growth rate was thus tempered, and the inflation rate dropped from over 17% in 1995 to 8% in early 1996.
China experienced growth of 9.5% in the first half of 1997; inflation has
remained low, but may increase in the latter part of the year. Continued
economic reform is critical to continued growth, and the government needs to
carefully manage the new challenges-- economic and political--that often
accompany growth and reform.
Over half of China's state-owned enterprises reported losses in 1996. During the 15th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party that met in September 1997, President Jiang Zemin called for the sale, merger, or closing of the vast majority of SOEs; plans for "public ownership" (privatization in euphemistic terms) are currently being promoted.
Most of China's labor force is engaged in agriculture, even though only 10% of
the land is suitable for cultivation. Virtually all arable land is used for
food crops, and China is among the world's largest producer of rice, potatoes,
sorghum, millet, barley, peanuts, tea, and pork. Major non-food crops,
including cotton, other fibers, and oil seeds, furnish China with a large
proportion of its foreign trade revenue. Agricultural exports, such as
vegetables and fruits, fish and shellfish, grain and grain products, and meat
and meat products, are exported to Hong Kong. Yields are high because of
intensive cultivation, but China hopes to further increase agricultural
production through improved plant stocks, fertilizers, and technology.
Output of key agricultural commodities has remained strong in the past few
years. The 1996 grain harvest of 490 million tons exceeded even optimistic
expectations, and despite significant flooding this year, oversupply of grain
is a problem. A July estimate places the 1997 summer grain harvest at an
expected 115-118 million tons, 3.5% above that of 1996.
At an agricultural conference in July, Vice Premier Zhu Rongji emphasized the
importance of purchasing grain from farmers at subsidized procurement prices
rather than at the currently lower market prices and ordered the financial
sector to ascertain that sufficient funds exist for such purchases. The policy
promoted by Zhu illustrates that China has priorities which may run counter to
Major state industries are iron, steel, coal, machine building, light industrial
products, armaments, and textiles. These industries completed a decade of
reform (1979-89) with little substantial management change. China's 1996 steel
output totaled 100.03 million tons.
Although the central government depends upon income from state-owned
enterprises, their productivity has been falling while costs of production and
debt levels have been increasing sharply. The government recognizes the need
for substantial reforms, and during the 15th National Congress of the Chinese
Communist Party that met in September 1997, President Jiang announced plans to
sell, merge, or close the vast majority of SOEs in his call for increased
"public ownership" (privatization).
The 1996 industrial census revealed that there were 7,342,000 industrial
enterprises at the end of 1995; total employment in industrial enterprises was
approximately 147 million. The automobile industry is expected to grow rapidly, as is electric power generation. Machinery and electronic products have become China's main exports.
ENERGY AND MINERAL RESOURCES
The Chinese have high energy needs but limited capital. As in other sectors of
the state- owned economy, the energy sector suffers from low utilization and
inefficiencies in production, transport, conversion, and consumption. Other
problems include declining real prices, rising taxes and production costs,
spiraling losses, high debt burden, insufficient investment, low productivity,
poor management structure, environmental pollution, and inadequate
technological development. Demand for energy has risen steadily in response to
the rapid expansion of the economy over the last 10 years. The Ministry of
Electric Power estimates that about 15-20 percent of the nation's demand for
electricity is not being satisfied; shortages and blackouts greatly reduce
industrial productivity. To mitigate these problems, China's seeks to increase
electric generating capacity to a target level of 290 gigawatts by 2000. An
estimated 15,000 megawatts of generating capacity will be added each year, at
an annual cost of about $15 billion. China has imported new power plants from
the West to increase its generation capacity, and these units account for
approximately 20% of total generating capacity.
Coal provides 75% of China's energy. With around 900 billion metric tons (MT) of identified and recoverable reserves, China's total coal resources are more than three times the reserves in the U.S. or in the former Soviet republics. Over 1.37 billion tons of coal were produced in 1996. Coal exports that year of 29 million tons were worth $1.1 billion. Ironically, China must import coal to meet demand in the industrial south because of shipping difficulties in the
north-central regions where the coal is mined. 3.2 million tons of coal were
imported in 1996. Between 1996 and 2000, coal production is planned to rise at
an annual average rate of 2.3%.
China became a net importer of petroleum (crude oil plus products) in 1993,
after years of growth in consumption and stagnant production. China imported
745,000 barrels per day (b/d) (454,000 b/d of crude oil and 291,000 b/d of
petroleum products) and exported 465,000 b/d (408,000 b/d of crude oil and
57,000 b/d of petroleum products) in 1996.
The refining industry was transformed during the 1980s. A number of smaller
refineries were shut down and most of the larger ones were consolidated in 1983 under Sinopec (China National Petrochemical Corporation). At a cost of about $10 billion, China upgraded refineries to shift output from fuel oil to more valuable products like gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and components for
China's primary distillation capacity of over 2.4 million b/d, is fifth largest
in the world; China is second only to the U.S. in the ratio of upgrading
capacity to distillation. Production of non-energy-use products including raw
materials, lubricants, asphalt, coke, paraffin, and solvents has also increased significantly. Demand still exceeds production of many petroleum products, however, which has necessitated a growing level of imports.
Oil production remains dependent on the output of the Daqing oil field, which
has produced 50 million tons per year for the past two decades. In 1996, the
Daqing, Shenglie, and Liaohe oil fields accounted for more than three-fourths
of the 158 million tons of oil produced. Keremai and Tarim, oil fields in the
West, produced only 20 million tons. Offshore production is expanding but
remains small (less than ten percent of total production).
In September 1997, China signed an agreement with Kazakhstan under which it will gain 60 percent ownership of the national oil company in return for investing $4.3 billion in Kazak oil fields over the next two decades.
China is believed to have the world's greatest hydropower potential, though it
is not fully developed. A number of hydropower projects are planned or
underway, including plans for the world's largest dam at the Three Gorges site
on the Yangtze River. Construction was initiated in 1994 and will take fifteen
years to complete. The estimated cost is at least $12 billion, for which
Beijing must seek foreign loans, technology, and parts.
Most natural gas is used by industry. Two-thirds of the commercial volume is
consumed as raw material to make fertilizer or fuel. Over 5.3 million people
are served by natural gas in the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shenyang, Dalian,
Zhengzhou, Chengdu, and Chongqing.
China's natural gas production is small in relation to its potential reserve
base and crude oil production. Forty percent of China's gas production comes
from major fields in Sichuan province. Arco Petroleum (in a joint venture with
Kuwaiti and Chinese oil companies) discovered a large natural gas field in the
South China Sea and has embarked on a $1 billion project to build the world's
longest undersea pipeline to deliver the gas to a power plant under
construction in Hong Kong. An offshoot of the pipeline will deliver gas to
The current five-year plan sets an annual production target of 25 billion cubic
meters (approximately 882 billion cubic feet) by 2000.
There are currently three nuclear power stations, producing only 1% of national
power output. By the end of the Ninth Five-Year Plan, there will be eight
plants with a total generating capacity of 6.6 million kilowatts, up from 2.1
million kilowatts at present.
China's metal and mineral resources, believed to be substantial, are largely
unexplored. China is a major producer and exporter of tin, antimony, tungsten,
and fluorspar. China also exports strategic metals such as molybdenum,
titanium, tantalum, and vanadium. China lacks reserves of copper, chromite,
nickel, and zinc.
A harmful by-product of China's rapid industrial development in the 1980s has
been increased pollution. Although China has passed environmental legislation
and has participated in some international anti-pollution conventions,
pollution will be a serious problem in China for years to come.
China is an active participant in the UN Environment Program and a signatory to
the Basel Convention governing the transport and disposal of hazardous waste.
China also signed the Montreal Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1991.
The head of China's National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) proclaimed
in 1991 that environmental protection was one of China's basic national
policies, at the same time cautioning that environmental protection must be
coordinated with economic development. According to NEPA, $3.2 billion was
spent on pollution prevention and environmental rehabilitation from 1981-85,
$8.8 billion from 1986-1990, and about $15 billion for the eighth five-year
plan (1991-95). The National Action Program for Environmental Publicity and
Education, announced at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 14th Central Committee in 1992, seeks to "do a better job of publicity and education in environmental protection and enhance the environmental consciousness of the entire nation."
China has sought to contain its increasing industrial pollution largely through
administrative procedures and efforts to increase public awareness. The
heavily-polluted Pearl River delta is one of the first major industrialized
areas targeted for clean-up. Officials hope that new sewage treatment plants
for cities in the delta area will enable the river to support an edible fish
population by the year 2000. A small environmental protection industry has also
emerged. However, in some areas of China, pollution has long been considered as
one of the costs associated with economic development.
The question of environmental damage associated with the hydroelectric Three
Gorges Dam project concerns NEPA officials. While conceding that erosion and
silting of the Yangtze River threaten several endangered species, officials say the hydroelectric power generated by the project will enable the region to
lower its dependence on coal, thus lessening air pollution.
Overall, even NEPA characterizes the environmental situation in China as grim
and recognizes that increasing deforestation and desertification will threaten
the base of China's economic development.
Total: 62,500 km Standard gauge (1.435 m): 58,900 km Narrow gauge (0.750 m)
(1996 est.): 3,600 km
Total (1996 est.): 1.117 million km Paved (1996 est.): 239,500 km Unpaved (1996
est.): 877,500 km
Total: 138,600 km, about 110,600 km navigable.
Crude oil: 9,700 km Petroleum products, 1,100 km Natural gas: 6,200 km
Major Ports and Harbors
Dalian, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Lianyungang, Nanjing, Nantong, Ningbo,
Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shantou, Tianjin, Xiamen, Yantian, Zhanjiang
Total: 1,736 ships (1,000 GRT (gross registered tons) or over) totaling
16,749,069 GRT (25,196,607 DWT (dead-weight tons)).
Ships by type: Barge carrier (2), bulk (325), cargo (883), chemical tanker (16), combination bulk (11), container (109), liquefied gas tanker (9), multifunction large-load carrier (6), oil tanker (232), passenger (6), passenger-cargo (47), refrigerated cargo (24), roll-on/roll-off cargo (22), short-sea passenger (43), specialized tanker (1).
Note: China owns an additional 270 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 8,754,413
DWT operating under the registries of Panama, Malta, Liberia, Vanuatu, Cyprus,
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Marshall Islands, and Singapore.
Total: 330 (260 with permanent-surface runways)
Total (1996 est.): 61.8 million Pagers (1996 est.): 25.4 million Mobile
telephones (1996 est.) 6.9 million
System: Domestic and international services are increasingly available for
private use; an unevenly distributed internal system serves principal cities,
industrial centers, and most townships.
Total: 75 million Number of broadcast stations: 202
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
At the end of 1996, China had 5,434 state-owned independent research and
development institutions at and above the county level. There were another
3,400 research institutions affiliated with universities, 13,744 affiliated
with medium and large industrial enterprises, and 726 affiliated with medium
and large construction enterprises. A total of 2.8 million people were engaged
in scientific and technological activities in these institutions.
Scientific and technological modernization has been a growing priority for
Chinese leaders. They aim to achieve 1980s Western levels by the year 2000 by
rebuilding the educational structure, sending students abroad, negotiating
technological purchases and transfer arrangements with the U.S. and others, and by developing ways to disseminate scientific and technological information. Areas of most critical interest include microelectronics, telecommunications, computers, automated manufacturing, and energy. China also has had a space program since the 1960s and has successfully launched 27 satellites. One particularly effective program plans to reinvest military resources in the civilian sector and emphasizes bio-space information, laser and automation technology, and research in energy and advanced materials.
Expenditures in 1996 on scientific and technological activities totaled nearly
90 billion yuan, up 8.6% from the previous year. Although China has been
funding its ambitious science programs at a rate slightly higher than that
accorded other priority programs, the amount spent is still not commensurate
with need. Consequently, the Chinese are encouraging local industrial entities
to finance and support research groups; they also have sought to encourage
foreign investors to pump money and technology into joint equity and
cooperative ventures. China has made rapid progress in some areas and is
starting to accept that it does not always need state-of-the-art technology,
since a lesser technology may prove to be more appropriate, useful, and
The U.S. has continued to extend the Agreement on Cooperation in Science and
Technology (originally signed in 1979). A five-year agreement to extend and
amend the accord, including provisions for the protection of intellectual
property rights, was signed in May 1991, and the Agreement was again extended
for five years in April 1996. Japan has also continued to increase science and
technology cooperation with China.
In 1996, China made significant advancements in telecommunications, aviation,
transgenic crop research, and superconductor research. Also that year, China
launched a high-tech development program known as Project 863, which called for organizing top scientists and engineers to follow the world's latest
achievements in seven fields.
TRADE AND INVESTMENT
China's current leadership has recognized that foreign trade and technology play critical roles in the country's modernization and has promulgated measures to improve the investment climate.
China has experimented with decentralizing its foreign trading system and has
sought to integrate itself into the world trading system. In November 1991,
China joined the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, which promotes free trade and cooperation in economic, trade, investment, and technology
China is now in its 11th year of negotiations for accession to the World Trade
Organization (WTO)--formerly the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). China has significantly reduced import tariffs. In 1996, China introduced cuts to more than 4,000 tariff lines, reducing average tariffs from 35% to 23%; further tariff cuts that took effect October 1 1997 will decrease average tariffs to 17%.
To gain WTO entry, all prospective WTO members are required to comply with
certain fundamental trading disciplines and offer substantially expanded market
access to other members of the organization. Securing China's accession to the
WTO on these terms will contribute to China's economic progress, spur economic
growth in the U.S. and other WTO-member economies, and support the integrity of the international trading system. The United States continues to work with
China and other WTO members toward a commercially viable accession protocol.
Many major trading entities--among them the United States, the European Union,
and Japan--have shared concerns with respect to China's accession. These
concerns include obtaining satisfactory market access offers for both goods and services, full trading rights for all potential Chinese consumers and end-
users, nondiscrimination between foreign and local commercial operations in
China, the reduction of monopolistic state trading practices, and the
elimination of arbitrary or non-scientific technical standards.
According to Chinese statistics, global trade totaled $290 billion in 1996; the
trade surplus stood at $12.3 billion. China's primary trading partners include
Japan, Taiwan, the U.S., South Korea, Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore, Russia,
and the Netherlands. In 1996, China had a trade deficit with the United States
of $39.5 billion.
To increase exports, China has pursued policies such as fostering the rapid
development of foreign-invested factories which assemble imported components
into consumer goods for export.
The U.S. is one of China's primary suppliers of power generating equipment,
aircraft and parts, computers and industrial machinery, raw materials, and
chemical and agricultural products. However, U.S. exporters continue to have
concerns about fair market access due to China's restrictive trade policies.
Foreign investment stalled in the aftermath of Tiananmen. In response, the
government introduced legislation and regulations designed to encourage
foreigners to invest in high- priority sectors and regions.
In 1990, the government eliminated time restrictions on the establishment of
joint ventures, provided some assurances against nationalization, and allowed
foreign partners to become the chairs of joint venture boards. In 1991, China
granted more preferential tax treatment for wholly foreign-owned businesses and contractual ventures and for foreign companies which invest in selected
economic zones or in projects encouraged by the state, such as energy,
communications, and transportation. It also authorized some foreign banks to
open branches in Shanghai and allowed foreign investors to purchase special "B"
shares of stock in selected companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen
Securities Exchanges. These "B" shares are sold to foreigners but carry no
ownership rights in a company. This resulted in more than 37,000 contracts
worth nearly $46 billion in 1991. In 1996, China approved 24,673 foreign
investment projects and received over $42 billion in foreign direct investment, second only to the United States.
Opening to the outside remains central to China's development. Foreign-invested
enterprises produce about 40% of China's exports, and China continues to attract large investment inflows. Foreign exchange reserves have topped $130 billion this year. China's trade continues to grow, reaching $290 billion in 1996, with a modest global surplus of $14 billion.
Since its establishment, the People's Republic has worked vigorously to win
international support for its position that it is the sole legitimate
government of all China, including Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. In the early
1970s, when it was recognized by most world powers, Beijing made major
breakthroughs toward this goal. Beijing assumed the China seat in the United
Nations in 1971 and became increasingly active in multilateral organizations.
Japan established diplomatic relations with China in 1972, and the U.S. did so
in 1979. The number of countries that have established diplomatic relations with Beijing has risen to 156, while 30 have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
After the founding of the P.R.C., China's foreign policy initially focused on
solidarity with the Soviet Union and other communist countries. In 1950, China
sent the People's Liberation Army into North Korea as "volunteers" to help
North Korea halt the UN offensive which was approaching the Yalu River. After
the conclusion of the Korean war, China sought to balance its identification as a member of the Soviet bloc by establishing friendly relations with India and neutralist countries, particularly in Southeast Asia.
In the 1960s, due to disenchantment with the Soviet Union, Beijing competed with Moscow for political influence among communist parties and in the developing world generally. Following the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and clashes in 1969 on the Sino-Soviet border, Chinese opposition to the Soviet Union increasingly reflected concern over China's own strategic position.
In late 1978, the Chinese also became concerned over Vietnam's efforts to
establish open control over Laos and Cambodia. In response to the Soviet-backed Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, China fought a brief border war with Vietnam (February-March 1979) with the stated purpose of "teaching Vietnam a lesson."
Chinese anxiety about Soviet strategic advances was heightened following the
Soviet Union's December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. Sharp differences between China and the Soviet Union persisted over Soviet support for Vietnam's
continued occupation of Cambodia, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and
Soviet troops along the Sino-Soviet border and in Mongolia--the so-called
"three obstacles" to improved Sino-Soviet relations.
In the 1970s and 1980s China sought to create a secure regional and global
environment for itself and to foster good relations with countries that could
aid its economic development. To this end, China looked to the West for
assistance with its modernization drive and for help in countering Soviet
expansionism--which it characterized as the greatest threat to its national
security and to world peace.
China maintained its consistent opposition to "superpower hegemonism," focusing
almost exclusively on the expansionist actions of the Soviet Union and Soviet
proxies such as Vietnam and Cuba, but it also placed growing emphasis on a
foreign policy independent of both superpowers. While improving ties with the
West, China continued to follow closely economic and other positions of the
Third World nonaligned movement, of which China was not a formal member.
Recently, China has become a more visible actor internationally. Chinese leaders are regular travelers to all parts of the globe, and China has sought a higher profile in the UN and other multilateral organizations. Closer to home, China seeks to reduce tensions in Asia through its relations with North and South Korea and its broad range of ties with Japan. China also has cultivated a more cooperative relationship with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Burma, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and has increased nonpolitical exchanges with India. These efforts flowed in part from China's perception of itself as the historic great power in East Asia and as the world's largest developing country.
China's International Position Since 1989
By 1989, China's 10-year old program of economic and political reforms had
increased substantially its relations with the developed world. At the same
time, China's need for stability on its northern border coincided with the
Soviet Union's interest in reducing the military burden of its border
confrontation with China. In May 1989, Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Gorbachev visited Beijing, attracting world-wide media coverage. Reporters, including large numbers from the U.S., found themselves in the middle of pro- democracy demonstrations prompted by the death of former Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang. The violent suppression of the demonstrations in and around Tiananmen Square on June 4 provoked a world-wide condemnation of China's violations of human rights.
In the immediate aftermath of June 4, many countries reduced their diplomatic
contacts with China as well as their economic assistance programs. China
countered with a sustained effort to encourage resumption of normal relations.
In the fall of 1990, this led to the resumption of Japan's third yen loan to
China. China also worked vigorously to expand its relations with the countries
of Southeast Asia. By late 1990, China had reestablished normal relations with
almost all nations. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991,
China also moved to open diplomatic relations with the republics of the former
China has a number of border and maritime disputes. China disputes the boundary
with Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin, and is also involved in a complex dispute
with Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and Taiwan over the Spratly Islands. China claims the Japanese- administered Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands or Diaoyutai), and occupies the Paracel Islands claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. A short section of its border with Tajikistan (the Pamir salient) is still in dispute. The border with India is also disputed, but the two governments have established a working group, which started its fourth round of discussions in February 1992. Also in that month, China and Russia ratified an agreement settling most of their eastern border.
Establishment of a professional military force equipped with modern weapons and
doctrine was the last of the "Four Modernizations" announced by Zhou Enlai and
supported by Deng Xiaoping. In keeping with Deng's mandate to reform, the
People's Liberation Army (PLA), which includes the strategic nuclear forces,
army, navy, and air force, has demobilized about 3 million men and women since
1978 and has introduced modern methods in such areas as recruitment and
manpower, strategy, and education and training.
Following the June 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, ideological correctness was
temporarily revived as the dominant theme in Chinese military affairs. Reform
and modernization appear to have since resumed their position as the PLA's
priority objectives, although the armed forces' political loyalty to the CCP
remains a leading concern.
The Chinese military is trying to transform itself from a land-based power,
centered on a vast ground force, to a smaller, mobile, high-tech military
capable of mounting defensive operations beyond its coastal borders. Since
1985, China has reduced military personnel by one million, to a total of less
than three million today; another reduction of 500,000 is under way.
China's power-projection capability is limited. China has recently acquired some
advanced weapons systems, including SU-27s and Kilo-class diesel submarines
from Russia. However, the mainstay of the air force continues to be the 1960s-
vintage F-7, and naval forces still consist primarily of 1960s-era technology.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND ARMS CONTROL POLICY
In 1955, Mao Zedong's Chinese Communist Party decided to proceed with a nuclear
weapons program; it was developed with Soviet assistance until 1960. After its
first nuclear test in October 1964, Beijing deployed a modest but potent
ballistic missile force, including land and sea-based intermediate-range and
intercontinental ballistic missiles.
China became a major international arms exporter during the 1980s, while
claiming that it had a "prudent and responsible" attitude toward arms sales.
Beijing joined the Middle East arms control talks, which began in July 1991 to
establish global guidelines for conventional arms transfers, but announced in
September 1992 that it would no longer participate because of the U.S. decision
to sell F-16A/B aircraft to Taiwan. China's continued nuclear assistance to
Pakistan and Iran in recent years has raised international concern.
The P.R.C. was the first state to pledge "no first use" of nuclear weapons. It
joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1984 and pledged to
abstain from further atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in 1986. China
acceded to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1992 and supported its
indefinite and unconditional extension in 1995. In 1996, it signed the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and agreed to seek an international ban on the
production of fissile nuclear weapons material.
China attended the May 1997 meeting of the NPT Exporters (Zangger) Committee as
an observer and became a full member in October 1997. The Zangger Committee is
a group which meets to list items that should be subject to IAEA inspections if
exported by countries which have, as China has, signed the Non-Proliferation
Treaty. In September 1997, China issued detailed nuclear export control
Regarding chemical weapon proliferation, China is not a member of the Australia
Group, an informal and voluntary arrangement made in 1985 to monitor
developments in the proliferation of dual-use chemicals and to coordinate
export controls on key dual-use chemicals and equipment with weapons
applications. However, in April 1997, China ratified the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC) and, in September 1997, promulgated a new chemical weapons
export control directive.
In March of 1992, China formally undertook to abide by the guidelines and
parameters of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the multinational
effort to restrict the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering weapons
of mass destruction. China reaffirmed its commitment to MTCR in 1994.
From Liberation to the Shanghai Communique
As the PLA armies moved south to complete the Communist conquest of China in
1949, the American embassy followed the Nationalist government headed by Chiang Kai-shek, finally moving to Taipei later that year. U.S. consular officials remained in mainland China. The new P.R.C. Government was hostile to this official American presence, and all U.S. personnel were withdrawn from the mainland in early 1950. Any remaining hope of normalizing relations ended when U.S. and Chinese Communist forces fought on opposing sides in the Korean conflict.
Beginning in 1954 and continuing until 1970, the United States and China held
136 meetings at the ambassadorial level, first at Geneva and later at Warsaw.
Though some progress was made in early years, by the 1960s the talks were
stalemated. Finally, in the late 1960s, U.S. and Chinese political leaders
decided that improved bilateral relations were in their common interest. In
1969, the United States initiated measures to relax trade restrictions and
other impediments to bilateral contact. On July 15, 1971, President Nixon
announced that his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Dr. Henry Kissinger, had made a secret trip to Beijing to initiate direct contact with the Chinese leadership and that he, the President, had been invited to visit China.
In February 1972, President Nixon traveled to Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.
At the conclusion of his trip, the U.S. and Chinese Governments issued the
"Shanghai Communique," a statement of their foreign policy views. (For the
complete text of the Shanghai Communique, see the Department of State Bulletin, March 20, 1972).
In the Communique, both nations pledged to work toward the full normalization of
diplomatic relations. Acknowledging that all Chinese on either side of the
Taiwan Strait maintain that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of
China, the U.S. agreed not to challenge this position. The statement enabled
the two sides temporarily to set aside the "crucial question obstructing the
normalization of relations"--Taiwan--and to open trade and other contacts.
Liaison Office, 1973-78
In May 1973, in an effort to build toward the establishment of formal diplomatic relations, the U.S. and China established the United States Liaison Office (USLO) in Beijing and a counterpart Chinese office in Washington, D.C. In the years between 1973 and 1978, such distinguished Americans as David Bruce, George Bush, Thomas Gates, and Leonard Woodcock served as chiefs of the USLO with the personal rank of Ambassador.
President Ford visited China in 1975 and reaffirmed the U.S. interest in
normalizing relations with Beijing. Shortly after taking office in 1977,
President Carter again reaffirmed this interest expressed in the Shanghai
Communique. The United States and China announced on December 15, 1978, that
the two governments would establish diplomatic relations on January 1, 1979.
In the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations dated
January 1, 1979, the United States transferred diplomatic recognition from
Taipei to Beijing. The U.S. reiterated the Shanghai Communique acknowledgment
of the common Chinese position that there is only one China and that Taiwan is
a part of China; Beijing agreed that the American people would continue to
carry on commercial, cultural, and other unofficial contacts with the people of Taiwan. The Taiwan Relations Act made the necessary changes in U.S. domestic law to permit such unofficial relations with Taiwan to flourish.
U.S.-China Relations Since Normalization
Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping's January 1979 visit to Washington, D.C. initiated a
series of important, high-level exchanges, which continued until the spring of
1989. This resulted in many bilateral agreements--especially in the fields of
scientific, technological, and cultural interchange and trade relations. Since
early 1979, the United States and China have initiated hundreds of joint
research projects and cooperative programs under the Agreement on Cooperation
in Science and Technology, the largest bilateral program. These programs cover diverse subjects, ranging from high-energy physics to earthquake studies.
On March 1, 1979, the United States and China formally established embassies in
Beijing and Washington, D.C. During 1979, outstanding private claims were
resolved, and a bilateral trade agreement was concluded. Vice President Walter
Mondale reciprocated Vice Premier Deng's visit with an August 1979 trip to
China. This visit led to agreements in September 1980 on maritime affairs,
civil aviation links, and textile matters, as well as a bilateral consular
As a consequence of high-level and working-level contacts initiated in 1980, our dialogue with China broadened to cover a wide range of issues, including global and regional strategic problems, politico-military questions, including arms control, UN and other multilateral organization affairs, and international narcotics matters.
The expanding relationship that followed normalization was threatened in 1981 by Chinese objections to the level of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Secretary of
State Alexander Haig visited China in June 1981 in an effort to resolve Chinese questions about America's unofficial relations with Taiwan. Eight months of negotiations produced the U.S.-China joint communique of August 17, 1982. In this third communique, the U.S. stated its intention to reduce gradually the level of arms sales to Taiwan, and the Chinese described as a fundamental policy their effort to strive for a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan question. Meanwhile, Vice President Bush visited China in May 1982.
High-level exchanges continued to be a significant means for developing U.S.-
China relations in the 1980s. President Reagan and Premier Zhao made reciprocal visits in 1984. In July 1985, President Li Xiannian traveled to the United States, the first such visit by a Chinese head of state. Vice President Bush visited China in October 1985 and opened the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu, this country's fourth consular post in China. Further exchanges of cabinet- level officials occurred from 1985-89, capped by President Bush's visit to Beijing in February 1989.
In the period before the June 3-4, 1989, assault on Tiananmen Square and
subsequent repression in China, a large and growing number of cultural exchange activities undertaken at all levels gave the American and Chinese peoples broad exposure to each other's cultural, artistic, and educational achievements. Numerous Chinese professional and official delegations visited the United States each month. Many of these exchanges continued in the wake of Tiananmen.
More than 50,000 Chinese scholars and students are currently studying or
conducting research in the U.S.; roughly 2,000 Americans are studying or
teaching in China, and approximately 17,000 Chinese citizens emigrate to the
U.S. every year.
Bilateral Relations After Tiananmen
Following the Chinese authorities' brutal suppression of supporters of political reform in June 1989, the U.S. and other governments enacted a number of measures to express their condemnation of Chinese action that violated the basic human rights of its citizens. The U.S. suspended high-level official exchanges with China and weapons exports from the U.S. to China. The U.S. also imposed a series of economic sanctions. In the summer of 1990, at the G-7 Houston summit, Western nations called for renewed political and economic reforms in China, particularly in the field of human rights.
The U.S.-China trade relationship was disrupted by Tiananmen, and U.S.
investors' interest in China dropped dramatically. The U.S. Government also
responded to the political repression by suspending certain trade and
investment programs on June 5 and 20, 1989. Some sanctions were legislated;
others were executive actions. Examples include:
-- The Trade and Development Agency (TDA) and Overseas Private Insurance
Corporation (OPIC) -- new activities suspended since June 1989. -- Development Bank Lending/IMF Credits -- The United States does not support development bank lending and will not support IMF credits to China except for projects which meet basic human needs. -- Munitions List Exports -- Subject to certain exceptions, no licenses may be issued for the export of any defense article on to U.S. Munitions List. This restriction may be waived upon a Presidential national interest determination. -- Arms Imports -- Import of defense articles from China was banned after the imposition of the ban on arms exports to China. The import ban was subsequently waived by the Administration and re-imposed on May 26, 1994. It covers all items on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms' Munitions Import List.
As of 1997, the U.S. retains in place sanctions on China, including the
suspension of military assistance. Bilateral diplomatic meetings in pursuit of
U.S. vital interests have occurred. Commercial relations have returned to pre-
Tiananmen levels, although bilateral assistance programs generally remain
President Jiang Zemin will visit the United States in October 1997, and
President Bill Clinton is due to visit China in 1998.
U.S.-Chinese Economic Relations
In the aftermath of Tiananmen, new contracted U.S. investment in 1990 was $357
million, 44% lower than in the previous year. Since 1990, however, foreign
direct investment (FDI) rebounded strongly. From 1991 to 1995, the U.S.
supplied approximately 7.6% of the actual FDI to China. In 1995, over $3
billion were invested. The United States is the third largest overall single
supplier of FDI to China.
U.S. direct investment in China covers a wide range of manufacturing sectors,
several large hotel projects, and a heavy concentration in offshore oil and gas development in the South China Sea. U.S. companies have entered agreements establishing more than 20,000 equity joint ventures, contractual joint ventures, and wholly foreign-owned enterprises in China. Over 100 U.S.-based multinationals have projects, some with multiple investments.
In 1996, U.S. exports to China rose 2% from the previous year to $12.0 billion,
while U.S. imports from China rose 13% to $51.5 billion. The 1996 trade deficit of $39.5 billion with China was the United States' second largest. Some of the factors that influence the U.S. deficit with China include:
-- A shift of export industries to China from the newly-industrialized economies (NIEs) in Asia has increasingly become the last link in a long chain of value- added production.
-- China's restrictive trade practices, which include a wide
array of barriers to foreign goods and services, often aim at protecting state- owned enterprises. These practices include: high tariffs, lack of transparency, requiring firms to obtain special permission to import goods, unevenness of application of laws and regulations, and leveraging technology from foreign firms in return for market access. -- China's domestic output of labor-intensive goods exceeds China's demand, while U.S. demand for labor intensive goods exceeds domestic output.
The increasingly important U.S. economic and trade relations with China are an
important element of the Administration's "comprehensive engagement" strategy.
In economics and trade, there are two main elements to the U.S. approach:
-- First, the United States seeks to fully integrate China into the global,
market-based economic and trading system. China's participation in the global
economy will nurture the process of economic reform and increase China's stake
in the stability and prosperity of East Asia. -- Second, the United States
seeks to expand U.S. exporters' and investors' access to the Chinese market. As China grows and develops, its needs for imported goods and services will grow even more rapidly.
The United States and China maintain a very active dialogue on bilateral trade
issues. In 1995, agreements were concluded on the protection of intellectual
property rights (IPR), textiles, and satellite launches. As a result of the IPR agreement, more than 10 million illegal or unauthorized LDs, CDs, and other publications were seized, and 250 "major criminals" were arrested for their involvement in IPR-related activities in 1996.
The United States continues to expand its export promotion efforts and its
scientific and technical exchange programs in China. The U.S. and China, in
April 1996, renewed their Bilateral Science and Technology Agreement for
another five years.
A new four-year U.S.-China Bilateral Agreement on Textile Trade was signed in
February 1997. The United States is China's largest export market for textile
and apparel products.
In March 1997, the two countries held their first Sustainable Development Forum, which sought to expand cooperation in the environmental arena.
At the September 1997 Joint Economic Committee meeting in Beijing, the U.S.
continued dialogue with the Chinese on macroeconomic issues. The Joint
Commission on Commerce and Trade, hosted in Beijing in October 1997, discussed
expansion of long-term economic and business ties between China and the United
States. Agreements were made to set up seminars on project finance and export
controls, to establish a series of exchanges on commercial law, and to further
explore ways to assist small and medium-sized U.S. businesses export to China.
Economic Relations With Hong Kong
Under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong became a Special
Administrative Region (SAR) of the P.R.C. on July 1, 1997. Hong Kong has
autonomy in its international trade and economic relations. The United States
has substantial economic and social ties with Hong Kong, with an estimated $16
billion invested there. There are 1,100 U.S. firms and 50,000 American
residents in Hong Kong. The United States was Hong Kong's second largest market in 1996--the U.S. imported $9.9 billion. Hong Kong was America's 14th-largest export market in 1996, taking $14.0 billion in U.S. exports.
China's Most Favored Nation (MFN) Status
There has been intense debate in the U.S. regarding the extension of China's
most-favored- nation status, which allows non-discriminatory tariff treatment
for Chinese exports to the U.S. The reciprocal granting of MFN treatment was
the main pillar of the U.S.-China Trade Agreement signed in 1979, which marked
the beginning of normal commercial relations between the two countries. As a
non-market-economy country, China's MFN status must be renewed annually by a
U.S. presidential waiver stipulating that China meets the freedom of emigration requirements set forth in the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974.
China had received the waiver routinely prior to 1989, but after Tiananmen,
although the presidential waiver continued, Congress began to exert strong
pressure to oppose MFN renewal. In 1991 and 1992, Congress voted to place
conditions on MFN renewal for China, but those conditions were vetoed by the
Bush Administration, which stressed the importance of our relationship with
China and the belief that MFN was not the correct tool to exert pressure on
China and would only result in isolating it.
In 1994, President Clinton decided to decouple the annual MFN process from
China's human rights record. At the same time, the President decided to adopt a new human rights strategy, maintaining human rights concerns as an essential part of the U.S. engagement with China but in a broader context. The President also ordered several additional steps to support those seeking to foster the rule of law and a more open civil society in China.
Revoking or conditioning Most Favored Nation (MFN) -- i.e., normal -- trading
status and tariff treatment would remove a beneficial influence for creating a
more open China. It would undermine American leadership in the region and the
confidence of our Asian allies; it would damage our economy, harm Taiwan and
especially Hong Kong, whose economies are closely intertwined with that of the
PRC; and it would damage our ability to work with China on vital regional
security issues such as North Korea and global security concerns such as
nonproliferation. MFN status for China will help further integrate China into
the international system and promote the interests of the American people.
CHINESE DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATION
2300 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel.: (202) 328-2500
There are Chinese Consulates General in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and
U.S. DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATION
Ambassador--James R. Sasser
Xiu Shui Bei Jie 3
Tel.: (86) (1) 532-3831
(Mailing address from U.S.: PSC 461, Box 50, FPO AP 96521-0002--use U.S. domestic
There are U.S. Consulates General in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang.
The Department of Commerce publishes the Overseas Business Reports and Foreign
Economic Trends Reports, which contain information on market research, foreign trade corporations, contract negotiations, shipping and insurance, P.R.C. tariffs, a section on travel in China, and other topics of interest to Americans who want to do business with China. The report may be obtained free of charge from the Department of Commerce.
Other U.S. Government documents on China include: the Annual Human Rights Report and the National Trade Estimate.
Office of Chinese & Mongolian Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
Tel.: (202) 647-6300
FAX: (202) 647-6820
American Embassy Beijing
Xiu Shui Bei Jie 3
People's Republic of China
Tel.: (86) (1) 6532-3831
FAX: (86) (1) 6532-3178
American Consulate General Guangzhou
No. 1 South Shamian Street
People's Republic of China
Tel.: (86) (20) 8188-8911
FAX: (86) (20) 8186-2341
American Consulate General Shanghai
1469 Huai Hai Zhong Lu
People's Republic of China
Tel.: (86) (21) 6433-6880
FAX: (86) (21) 6433-4122
American Consulate General Shenyang
52 14th Wei Road
Shenyang, Liaonong 110003
People's Republic of China
Tel.: (86) (24) 322-1198
FAX: (86) (24) 322-2374
American Consulate General Chengdu
4 Lingshiguan Road
Chengdu, Sichuan 610041
People's Republic of China
Tel.: (86) (28) 558-3992
FAX: (86) (28) 558-3520
When calling the phone or fax numbers of a post in another province from within the country, replace the country code (86) with a 0.
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue
NW Washington, DC 20008
Tel.: (202) 328-2500
Consulate General of the People's Republic of China, New York
520 12th Avenue
New York, New York 10036
Tel.: (212) 868-7752
Consulate General of the People's Republic of China, San Francisco
1450 Laguna Street
San Francisco, California 94115
Tel.: (415) 563-4885
Consulate General of the People's Republic of China, Houston
3417 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, Texas 77006
Tel.: (713) 524-4311
Consulate General of the People's Republic of China, Chicago
100 West Erie St.
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Tel.: (312) 803-0098
Consulate General of the People's Republic of China, Los Angeles
502 Shatto Place, Suite 300
Los Angeles, California 90020
Tel.: (213) 807-8088
U.S.-China Trade Advice
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration, Office of China and Hong Kong Affairs
14th and E Streets NW
Rm. 2317 Washington, D.C. 20230
Tel.: (800) 872-8723; (202) 482-0543
U.S.-China Business Council
1818 N Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel.: (202) 429-0340
National Association for Foreign Student Affairs Special Projects
1860 19th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Tel.: (202) 462-4811
National Committee on U.S.-China Relations
777 United Nations Plaza, Room 9B
New York, New York 10017
Tel.: (212) 645-9677
Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). Available by modem, the CABB provides
Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and helpful information for
travelers. Access at (202) 647-9225 is free of charge to anyone with a personal computer, modem, telecommunications software, and a telephone line.
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN). Available on the Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, the official weekly magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. The URL for DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is: http://www.state.gov; this site has a link to the DOSFAN Gopher Research Collection, which also is accessible at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis by the
U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the Department of State
Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of official foreign policy
information from 1990 to the present. Priced at $48 ($60 foreign), one-year
subscriptions include two discs (MS-DOS and Macintosh compatible) and are
available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, P. O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250- 7954. To order, call (202) 512-
1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.
Federal Bulletin Board (BBS). A broad range of foreign policy information also
is carried on the BBS, operated by the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO).
By modem, dial (202) 512-1387. For general BBS information, call (202) 512-
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce,
the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information, including Country
Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet (http://www.stat-usa.gov)
and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information.
Following are some other useful web sites.
Department of State: -- China homepage at
Non-Department of State: -- China Internet Information Center homepage at
http://www.chinanews.org -- Chinese Embassy homepage at http://www.china-
To enter the People's Republic of China, a U.S. citizen must have a visa. You
may apply for a visa either in person or by mail at the Chinese Embassy in
Washington, D.C., or at a Chinese consulate in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles,
New York, or San Francisco. Below is information on tourist visas for various
"Number of Entries" categories.
-- Visa Duration = 3 months
-- Minimum Passport Validity = 6 months
-- Cost for U.S. citizens (visa + handling fee) = $30
-- Visa Duration = 6 months
-- Minimum Passport Validity = 9 months
-- Cost for U.S. citizens (visa + handling fee) = $40
-- Visa Duration = 6 months
-- Minimum Passport Validity = 9 months
-- Cost for U.S. citizens (visa + handling fee) = $60
-- Visa Duration = 1 year
-- Minimum Passport Validity = 15 months
-- Cost for U.S. citizens (visa + handling fee) = $80
Visas can take up to 10 working days to process. An additional fee of $30 may be paid for one-day service, $20 for two-day service, and $10 for three-day
To apply for a visa, the following items are necessary: a completed visa
application form, a valid passport, a passport-sized photograph (2" x 2",
either black-and-white or color), and the appropriate fee. Contact the Embassy
or nearest consulate for detailed payment information. Proof of intended
travel, such as airline tickets or hotel reservations, is also required.
Visas for tour group members are usually obtained by the travel agencies as part of the tour package. China International Travel Service (CITS) has exclusive responsibility for all foreign tourism in China. You may book a CITS tour through a number of travel agencies and airlines in the United States and abroad. You may contact the China National Tourist Office at: 354 5th Avenue, Room 6413; Empire State Building; New York, NY 10118; (212) 760-9700. Tour members with special interests, such as visits to hospitals or universities, should notify the tour organizer to arrange such visits.
Business visas are issued on the basis of an invitation from one of the Chinese
foreign trade organizations. Should you wish to visit China for business
purposes, correspond directly with the appropriate organization in China.
Persons transiting China must have in their possession a valid Chinese visa,
even if they do not leave the airport or carrier; otherwise, they may be
subject to a $1,000 fine.
Further visa information is available from China's embassy on the Internet at:
In addition to the requirements above, long-term (6 months or longer) visitors
to China must have an AIDS test. Tests can be given in China. If you have the
test done in the United States, the results must indicate the test was given by a government facility such as your state's health department; if done at a
private health facility, the results must be notarized by a notary public.
Information on health precautions for travelers can be obtained in the United
States from the Centers for Disease Control (888) 232-3228, the U.S. Public
Health Service, private physicians, and inoculation centers.
The U.S. Public Health Service recommends diphtheria/tetanus and polio vaccines
for all travelers abroad. For China, most health warnings are directed at those who plan extended travel or travel outside major urban areas.
A Hepatitis A vaccine or a dose of immune globulin (IG) is recommended before
travel for person two years of age or older. In addition, immunizations for
Japanese B encephalitis (JE) are recommended during the epidemic summer months
for visitors planning to stay in rural farming areas for four weeks or more.
Depending on the season and destination, you may need to use insect repellent
and take other measures to reduce contact with mosquitoes. A yellow fever
vaccination certificate is required from travelers coming from infected areas.
Visitors are advised not to drink tap water in China. Hotel rooms are almost
always supplied with boiled water, which is safe to drink. Water purification
tablets might also prove useful in other situations.
General Travel Information
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program (see
http://travel.state.gov) provides Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that
Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist
for all countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security,
political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the subject
country. A booklet entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS
publication number CDC-95- 8280, price $14.00) and publications on obtaining
passports and planning a safe trip are available from the Superintendent of
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, tel. (202)
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at (404) 332-4559 provides (via recorded voice or fax) the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. Information is also available on the Internet at: http://www.cdc.gov.
Upon their arrival in a country, U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy or nearest Consulate General. This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency. Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225.
Return to East Asia and the Pacific Background Notes Archive
Return to Background Notes Archive Homepage
Return to Electronic Research Collection Homepage