China (simplified Chinese: 中国; traditional Chinese: 中國; pinyin: Zhōngguó; lit.: 'Central State; Middle Kingdom'), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; simplified Chinese: 中华人民共和国; traditional Chinese: 中華人民共和國; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion in 2019. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres (3.7 million mi2), it is the world's third or fourth-largest country by area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
China emerged as one of the world's first civilizations, in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the semi-mythical Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE. Since then, China has expanded, fractured, and re-unified numerous times. In the 3rd century BCE, the Qin reunited core China and established the first Chinese empire. The succeeding Han dynasty, which ruled from 206 BCE until 220 CE, saw some of the most advanced technology at that time, including papermaking and the compass, along with agricultural and medical improvements. The invention of gunpowder and movable type in the Tang dynasty (618–907) and Northern Song (960–1127) completed the Four Great Inventions. Tang culture spread widely in Asia, as the new Silk Route brought traders to as far as Mesopotamia and the Horn of Africa. Dynastic rule ended in 1912 with the Xinhai Revolution, when the Republic of China (ROC) replaced the Qing dynasty. The subsequent Chinese Civil War resulted in a division of territory in 1949, when the Communist Party of China led by Mao Zedong established the People's Republic of China on mainland China while the Kuomintang-led nationalist government retreated to the island of Taiwan, where it governed until 1996 when Taiwan transitioned to democracy.
China is a unitary one-party socialist republic and is one of the few existing socialist states. Political dissidents and human rights groups have denounced and criticized the Chinese government for widespread human rights abuses, including suppression of religious and ethnic minorities, censorship and mass surveillance, and cracking down on protests such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China's economy has been one of the world's fastest-growing with annual growth rates consistently above 6 percent. According to the World Bank, China's GDP grew from $150 billion in 1978 to $12.24 trillion by 2017. Since 2010, China has been the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP, and since 2014, the largest economy in the world by PPP. China is also the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, the People's Liberation Army, and the second-largest defense budget. The PRC is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since replacing the ROC in 1971. China has been characterized as an emerging superpower, mainly because of its massive population, large and rapidly-growing economy, and powerful military. Read more...
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The Song dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 959–1276 AD; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, and was followed by the Yuan dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy. The Song dynasty is divided into two distinct periods: the Northern Song and Southern Song. During the Northern Song, the Song capital was in the northern city of Bianjing and the dynasty controlled most of inner China. The Southern Song refers to the period after the Song lost control of northern China to the Jin dynasty. During this time, the Song court retreated south of the Yangtze river and established their capital at Lin'an. The Southern Song Dynasty considerably bolstered naval strength to defend its waters and land borders and to conduct maritime missions abroad. To repel the Jin (and later the Mongols), the Song developed revolutionary new military technology augmented by the use of gunpowder. In 1234, the Jin dynasty was conquered by the Mongols, who took control of northern China, maintaining uneasy relations with the Southern Song. After two decades of sporadic warfare, Kublai Khan's armies conquered the Song dynasty in 1279. China was once again unified, under the Yuan dynasty.
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Luo Yixiu (October 20, 1889 – February 11, 1910) was the first wife of the future Chinese communist revolutionary and political leader Mao Zedong, to whom she was married from 1908 until her death. Coming from the area around Shaoshan, Hunan, in south central China – the same region as Mao – her family were impoverished local landowners. Most of what is known about their marriage comes from an account Mao gave to American reporter Edgar Snow in 1936, which Snow included in his book Red Star Over China. According to Mao, he and Luo Yixiu were the subject of an arranged marriage organised by their respective fathers, Mao Yichang and Luo Helou. Luo was eighteen and Mao just fourteen years old at the time of their betrothal. Although Mao took part in the wedding ceremony, he later stated that he was unhappy with the marriage, never consummating it and refusing to live with his wife. Socially disgraced, she lived with Mao's parents for two years until she died of dysentery, while he moved out of the village to continue his studies elsewhere, eventually becoming a founding member of the Communist Party of China. Various biographers have suggested that Mao's experience of this marriage affected his later views, leading him to become a critic of arranged marriage and a vocal feminist. He would marry three more times throughout his life, to Yang Kaihui, He Zizhen and Jiang Qing.
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The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, officially General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, is head of the Communist Party of China and the highest-ranking official within China, a standing member of the Politburo and head of the Secretariat. The officeholder is usually considered the paramount leader of China.
According to the Constitution, the General Secretary serves as an ex officio member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's de facto top decision-making body. Since the early 1990s, the holder of the post has been, except for transitional periods, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, making the holder the Commander-in-chief of the People's Liberation Army.
The current General Secretary is Xi Jinping (picture), who took the office at the 18th National Congress on 15 November 2012.
The President of the Republic of China is the head of state of the Republic of China (ROC).
The Constitution names the president as head of state and commander-in-chief of the Republic of China Armed Forces (formerly known as the National Revolutionary Army). The president is responsible for conducting foreign relations, such as concluding treaties, declaring war, and making peace. The president must promulgate all laws and has no right to veto. Other powers of the president include granting amnesty, pardon or clemency, declaring martial law, and conferring honors and decorations.
The current President is Tsai Ing-wen (picture), since May 20, 2016. The first woman to be elected to the office, Tsai is the seventh president of the Republic of China under the 1947 Constitution and the second president from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
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