China John Kerry in Beijing:

China (Chinese: 中国; pinyin: Zhōngguó) is a country located in East Asia. It is officially known as the People’s Republic of China (PRC). With a population exceeding 1.4 billion, it is the world’s second-most populous country. China shares borders with fourteen countries by land, tying with Russia for the most land borders of any country in the world. The country spans the equivalent of five time zones. Covering an area of nearly 9.6 million square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the world’s third-largest country by total land area.

China is divided into 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four municipalities, and two special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). The national capital is Beijing, while Shanghai serves as the most populous city and largest financial center.

China The origins of modern China can be traced back to the cradle of civilization in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. The mythical Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors signify the beginning of a shared identity. The semi-legendary Xia dynasty in the 21st century BCE, followed by the Shang and Zhou dynasties, established political systems based on hereditary monarchies. Writing systems were developed, and the inscription of Bronze and engraving of Oracle bones became common practices. Classic literature and the emergence of the Hundred Schools of Thought during this period greatly influenced the region and had lasting effects for centuries to come.

 People’s Republic of China (PRC)

China (Chinese: 中国; pinyin: The Spring and Autumn and Warring States period came to an end in the third century BCE with the rise of the Qin dynasty. Qin Shi Huangdi assumed the title of Huangdi (Emperor of China) and brought an end to the fragmentation by quelling peasant uprisings. The Qin dynasty was succeeded by the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), led by Liu Bang. Together, they laid the groundwork for a political tradition that lasted nearly two millennia, establishing the Chinese empire as one of the world’s foremost economic powers. The empire underwent periods of expansion, fragmentation, and reunification. It assimilated foreign religions and ideas and achieved significant scientific advancements, including the Four Great Inventions: gunpowder, paper, the compass, and printing.

Following the fall of the Han dynasty, centuries of disunity ensued until the Sui dynasty (581–618) and Tang dynasty (618–907) reunified the empire. The Tang dynasty embraced foreign trade and culture along the Silk Road and adapted Buddhism to suit their needs. During the early modern period, the Song dynasty (960–1279) became urban and commercial. Civilian scholar-officials known as literati replaced the military aristocracy of earlier dynasties and embraced the examination system and the doctrines of Neo-Confucianism. The Mongols established the Yuan dynasty in 1279, which was later replaced by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) that reasserted Han Chinese rule. The Qing dynasty, led by the Manchus, solidified their control and laid the foundation for the modern Chinese nation. However, they faced significant setbacks due to European imperialism in the 19th century.

People’s Republic of China

China (Chinese: 中国; pinyin: In 1912, the Chinese monarchy came to an end with the Xinhai Revolution, as the Qing ruler abdicated and transferred power to the Republic of China (ROC). Initially, the new republic experienced internal conflicts among warlords before centralizing under the Nationalist government in 1928. A civil war erupted in 1927 between the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which was temporarily suspended due to Japan’s invasion of China in 1937. After Japan’s surrender in 1945, the civil war in China resumed. In 1949, the CCP established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland, while the KMT-led government of the ROC retreated to Taiwan. Both factions claimed to be the legitimate government, but the UN recognized the PRC as the official representative since 1971. The Great Leap Forward from 1959 to 1961 resulted in significant economic decline and a severe famine. The Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 brought about political instability, economic downturn, and educational setbacks. However, with new leadership, a series of political and economic reforms were initiated in 1978, leading to improved economic conditions and living standards.

China is a socialist republic with a unitary one-party system, led by the CCP. It holds a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and is a founding member of various multilateral and regional organizations, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund, the New Development Bank, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and the RCEP. Additionally, it is a member of the BRICS, the G20, the APEC, and the East Asia Summit. China ranks low in terms of democracy, transparency, and human rights, including press freedom, religious freedom, and ethnic equality. As the world’s largest economy by GDP at purchasing power parity and the second-largest by nominal GDP, China contributes about one-fifth of the global economy. It is the second-wealthiest country and exhibits robust economic growth. China holds the position of the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter, as well as the second-largest importer. As a nuclear-weapon state, it possesses the largest standing army in terms of military personnel and the second-largest defense budget.


The English term “China” has been in use since the 16th century, but it was not originally used by the Chinese themselves during that time. Its etymology can be traced through Portuguese, Malay, and Persian to the Sanskrit word Cīna, which was used in ancient India. The usage of “China” can be found in Richard Eden’s 1555 translation of the 1516 journal by the Portuguese explorer Duarte Barbosa. Barbosa’s usage was derived from the Persian word Chīn, which, in turn, came from the Sanskrit word Cīna.

The Sanskrit term Cīna can be found in early Hindu scriptures such as the Mahābhārata and the Laws of Manu. In 1655, Martino Martini proposed that the word “China” is ultimately derived from the name of the Qin dynasty, although there are alternative suggestions such as the names for Yelang and the Jing or Chu state. The official name of the modern state is the “People’s Republic of China” in Chinese. The shorter form “China” (Zhōngguó) originates from the term zhōng meaning “central” and guó meaning “state.” It developed during the Western Zhou dynasty to refer to the royal demesne and was later applied to the area around Luoyang during the Eastern Zhou period. Eventually, it came to represent China’s Central Plain and was occasionally used as a synonym for the state under the Qing dynasty. It also served as a cultural concept to differentiate the Huaxia people from perceived “barbarians.” The term Zhongguo is translated as “Middle Kingdom” in English. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is sometimes referred to as the Mainland to distinguish it from the Republic of China (ROC).

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