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Cities in CHINA




China ExportChina ExportPhoto: R Haussman, Cesar Hidalgo, et. al. CC 3.0 no changes made

China has always been a poor country. Per capita income was estimated at $ 57 in 1952, and for 1997, the national product per capita was estimated at $ 620. Until recently, the individual consumption increase has been very limited. However, a significant part of the savings financed the collective facilities (education, health care, housing, etc.).

China is less and less a predominantly agricultural country; It is estimated (2017) that approximately 28% of the labor force works in agriculture and approximately 29% in industry, and approximately 43% in services. The cottage industry is still highly developed and a small industry, operated by simple means, is part of the traditional system. Modernization started cautiously in the 19th century. In coastal cities such as Shanghai, Tianjin, Hankou and Kanton, a light industry was built up by Western and Japanese entrepreneurs. In Manchuria, Japan founded a heavy industry on the basis of coal and iron ore found there, which is still the backbone of the modern Chinese economy. However, these new activities only affected small areas, because in the west it was believed that China has too little natural resources of importance to the world economy.

Foreign trade was very modest and exports mainly consisted of agricultural products and some metals. From 1949 to 1952, the reconstruction of the production equipment took place, which had suffered severely in the war against Japan (1937-1945) and then in the civil war. Combating inflation has been very successful during this period.

The first five-year plan started in 1953, with an emphasis on the development of heavy industry. According to official reports, the economy grew by approximately 8.3% per year in the period 1953-1957. For the following five-year plans (six between 1958 and 1990), only vague details of the objectives have been provided, although it is clear that the sectors of agriculture and industry were considered to be priorities, the so-called 'walking on two legs'. The Great Leap Forward Program (1958-1960), which attempted to accelerate the growth of the modern and traditional sectors, failed completely and failed to halt aid from the Soviet Union in 1960.

The Cultural Revolution (1966-1969), which attempted to clear the permanent revolution that Mao spoke of from 'capitalist' and 'revisionist' blemishes, also had a negative impact on economic development, partly as a result of the disruption of transport and the continued payment of wages and contributions, while in companies there were often only political discussions and work stopped.

Since Mao's death in September 1976, political stability has been sought and pragmatic economic policies followed. Recent developments are characterized by cyclical overheating and structural problems of an economic system in transition.

Since 1990, the economy has been rapidly liberalized and privatized, especially in the coastal provinces. As a result of the Asian crisis, high economic growth fell to an estimated 6.5%.

The Chinese economy was hit hard in 2003 by the outbreak of the dangerous lung disease SARS. Economic growth in the second quarter of 2003 was 6.7%, the lowest growth rate since 1992. SARS mainly affected the services sector and passenger transport, which declined drastically both by land and by air. China's economy has grown impressively recently. GDP per capita rose to $ 16,700 in 2017. Economic growth has been around 10% per annum in the last 10 years, in 2015,2016 and 2017 the economy continued to grow at around 7%.

China: regional production


chemicals, cars, machines, metallurgy, textiles and electronics.


animal husbandry, forestry, arable farming, food processing, raw material refining, various light industries.


oil, coal, steel, heavy machinery, paper, food, pharmacy.


petrochemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electronics, ships, building materials, aviation.


agriculture, cars, chemistry, iron, steel, non-ferrous, oil, food.


grain, cotton, glass, textiles, machines.


petrochemicals, cars, auto parts, metallurgy, electronics, steel.


steel, coal, petrochemicals, building materials, consumer electronics, textiles, grain, rice, corn, fisheries.


machines, textiles, electronic components, finished products and metal semi-finished products, food processing, petrochemicals, electronics.


financial and service center, cars, petrochemicals, electronics, iron, steel, heavy machinery, electrical appliances.


ports, shoes, clothing, plastic toys, small household goods, chemistry, telecommunications equipment, machinery, citrus fruits, silkworms, tea.


ports, food processing, textiles, electronic semi-finished products, petrochemicals, cars, building materials, electronics, agricultural products.


assembly, electronics, toys, clothing.


coffee, tea, rubber, coconuts, sugar cane, pepper, metalworking, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, chemistry, food processing, electronics.


fruit, sugar cane, bananas, non-ferrous products, building materials, textiles, coal, iron, steel.


agriculture, tobacco, coal, various minerals.


wood, bamboo, textile, paper, chemistry, electronics.


agriculture, tobacco, sugar, coffee, copper, zinc smelters.


energy, metal, mining, chemistry, machinery, aviation, aerospace, electronics, grain, pigs, natural oil, medicinal herbs, rapeseed, cotton, sugar, tea, oranges, natural silk, wood oil, iron, steel, machinery, electrical machines.


machinery, chemistry, metallurgy, textile, electricity, electronics,


machinery, textiles, aircraft, electronics, military products.


coal, iron, coke, chemistry.


grain, cotton, tobacco, gold, coal.


rice, antimony, tungsten, fluoride, waste, zinc, graphite, mercury, machinery, agricultural vehicles, locomotives, heavy tools, fertilizers, cement.


steel, cars, mechanics, building materials, chemicals, textiles.


animal husbandry, tourism.


petrochemical, chemical, textile, metalworking, leather, machinery.


cotton, oil, natural gas.


coal, grain, oil.


nickel, platinum, oil, coal.


Chinese FarmerChinese FarmerPhoto: Takeaway CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Agriculture still plays a very important role in China, although only 10% of China's surface is suitable for agricultural purposes. In addition to the small agricultural area, the agricultural sector still has many problems: the agricultural land per farm is actually far too small (0.1 ha on average), there is high unemployment, there are insufficient storage and distribution facilities, agricultural land is lost to urbanization and desertification, there is water scarcity and lack of research. Finally, Chinese agriculture is regularly plagued by natural violence. A lot of money is being invested in a biotechnology program for developing agricultural products with a higher yield or that are much more resistant to diseases. It is also hoped to remain self-sufficient in agricultural production. Attempts are again being made to achieve a new collectivization in order to realize the economies of scale of the farms.

At the end of 1956, more than 90% of farmers still worked in collective companies. At the moment there are more than 2000 state farms with an average area of 2300 ha. The employees at these companies manage to achieve a 30% higher income compared to their colleagues from the family businesses.

China has three main agricultural areas:

- the area south of the Yangtze, where abundant rain falls and rice can be harvested twice a year. Furthermore, wheat, jute, sugar cane and subtropical products are grown here.

-the area between the Yangtze and the Yellow River (Huang-He) where rice and wheat can also be harvested twice a year.

- the area in the north, where the drier climate allows only one wheat harvest per year.

Of the food grains, rice is the most important, followed by wheat, corn and other grains (kanliang, a type of sorghum, millet and barley) and root vegetables. Although China still imports grain, imports have been greatly reduced since the agricultural reforms.

From the early 1980s, the cotton sector was given a special incentive, for example by introducing price reforms here and allowing more freedom in the planning of the harvest. The result has been an increase of 22% in the cotton area and a production increase of 72%. Cotton is the main commercial crop and raw material for the exporting industry and is cultivated in both South and North China. In addition to cotton, the production of agricultural industrial crops, such as soybeans, sugar, groundnuts, rapeseed and sesame, has also increased considerably, although large quantities of these products are also often imported.

China's cultivated crops also include: tea (especially from the southeast), tobacco (central China and the south), mulberries, oranges, camphor and ginger (from the south). Furthermore, strong emphasis has been placed on diversification in the agricultural sector, by focusing in particular on forestry and livestock farming.

Livestock, forestry and fishing

Sheep farmer in North ChinaSheep farmer in North ChinaPhoto: ILRI/Stevie Mann CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Due to the great attention to arable farming, the development of livestock farming has lagged behind. However, the importance of livestock farming is increasing. 55% of the agricultural area is grassland, and since 1979 livestock farming has grown faster than arable farming. Cows, horses, buffaloes, and yaks are mainly grazed on the huge grassy steppes that stretch from the northeastern plain through Inner Mongolia to the west and southwest.

The most common form of livestock farming in China is the breeding of small livestock, especially pigs (China has the largest pig herd in the world).

Between 1949 and 1994, livestock is said to have increased fivefold (from 160 million to 778 million head of livestock), while in the latter year, 1.3 billion head of poultry were kept almost exclusively on farmers' own land. Most livestock in China serves as a beast of burden and draft, because most Chinese eat almost no dairy products.

The main forest areas of China are located in the northeast, and tung oil and teak are the main products. Many centuries of robbery and illegal logging have caused great damage to the forest stock. Approximately 86 million hectares of land have been reforested since 1949. However, only a third of these survived. The total wooded area is 128 million ha (13.4% of China).

The government, which finally saw the tremendous damage erosion inflicted on the land, set a target of increasing forest area to 20% of its total area by the year 2000. With foreign aid, the Chinese forest area has increased considerably since 1997. Recently, the logging of special tree species has been banned.

Fishing is practiced intensively on most inland waterways (approx. 5 million ha) and along almost the entire coast. Many households are also engaged in fish farming and / or fishing.

Mining and energy supply


Coal mine entrance ChinaCoal mine entrance ChinaPhoto: Peter Van den Bossche CC 2.0 Generic no changes

As one of the few countries in the world, China has all types of minerals in the world, all of which are state-owned. Both state-owned and private companies pay a fixed percentage on annual revenues in exchange for exploiting and exploring the mineral resources.

In terms of mineral resources, China has the largest reserve in the world. For example, the coal reserve in China is estimated at more than one trillion tons, although the quality leaves much to be desired in many regions. At present, about three-quarters of the domestic energy demand is still covered by coal. The main coal centers are located in Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Jilin and Anhui provinces; total production in 1994 was 1212 million tons, making China one of the largest three coal producing countries in the world.

Large reserves of iron ore are located in Shanxi, Hebei and Shandong provinces, among others. The reserves are estimated at 496 billion tons. China has been the world's largest producer of crude steel since 1996. The big problem, however, is that the iron ore reserves are of low quality, as a result of which the iron and steel produced are also of poor quality, and of little value for export. It is therefore not surprising that millions of tons of various types of steel still have to be imported every year. In order to improve and optimize production, the many small iron and steel factories are closed and the ultimate goal is to create only six large conglomerates. They must operate on the international market and compete with Southeast Asian and Western steel companies.

For tungsten, antimony, titanium, tantalum and heavy fluorite, China is considered to have the largest reserves in the world. However, the exploitation of non-ferrous metals appears to be difficult, given the large quantities that had to be imported in the second half of the 1970s (including copper, aluminum, nickel and lead). China is a major producer and exporter of titanium, but also of rare metals such as vanadium, germanium, gallium and polycrystalline silicone.

In 1994 crude oil production was 148 million tons. Offshore extraction in the Gulf of Bohai near Tianjin, where oil was extracted as early as 1975, appears modest in size. Estimates about petroleum reserves are very diverse. A mainland reserve of many billions of tons and an equally large reserve for the coast are assumed. The petroleum produced to date contains a high content of paraffin or wax, making extraction and refining an expensive business. The petrochemical industry is very important to China, both for the government and for supplies to many industries. At present, domestic demand cannot be met and is therefore forced to import many petrochemical products.

Natural gas fields are located near Guangzhou (Guangzhou), Shanghai and Sichuan Province, but very little is being produced. Gas production peaked in 1979, after which production fell by 15% until 1984. It was then estimated that the natural gas field had decreased by 20%. Most of the extraction takes place in Sichuan and in total the natural gas supply is approximately 400 trillion cubic meters.

Tin, molybdenum, manganese, lead and zinc and bauxite are also extracted. The Chinese soil also contains significant amounts of gold, platinum, nickel, titanium, graphite, phosphorus, fluorspar and mercury. In addition, asbestos, sulfur, salt and phosphate are of some significance.


Due to the rapid economic growth in China, energy consumption will increase at a rapid pace in the coming decades. In 2001, 1.21 billion tons of SCE (Standard Coal Equivalent) energy was being produced. Coal contributed to this with 68%, petroleum 20.2%, natural gas 3.4% and hydropower 8.4%.

Energy consumption was 1.32 billion tons of SCE, of which 675 were coal, 23.5% petroleum, 2.5% natural gas and 6.9% hydropower.

Oil and natural gas reserves are currently insufficient to cover domestic demand, and oil and natural gas are increasingly imported.

China's Three Gorges Dam in Yangtsekiang is the world's largest hydroelectric power station and damChina's Three Gorges Dam in Yangtsekiang is the world's largest hydroelectric power station and damPhoto: Christoph Filnkößl CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

With regard to wind energy, the tenth five-year plan contains few concrete plans.

Solar energy seems to have more opportunities, especially in the west of the country. It is planned to invest more than $ 200 million there. Solar energy consumption has increased by an average of 30% per year in the last five years.

Hydropower is the most promising way in the distant future to stop relying on coal. China has very great potential and the aim is to generate a quarter of the total energy requirement by hydropower.


Shipping industry in Dalian, Liaoning, ChinaShipping industry in Dalian, Liaoning, ChinaPhoto: Yoshi Canopus CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

No official figures have been published since 1958, but incidental data and indices provided occasionally indicate that significant progress has been made.

As in agriculture, reforms have taken place in industry. Since production has started to produce with fewer people since the introduction of the contract system, unemployment in rural China was very high. Establishment of industrial companies in agricultural areas could offer a solution here. Since 1978, nearly 50 million Chinese farmers have been employed in rural businesses and subcontracting companies for urban industry. In areas around the major cities, such as Beijing, 80% of the rural population already work outside the agricultural sector.

Current politics are aimed at creating a new class of entrepreneurs, traders and managers. In the course of the 1980s, for example, the opportunities for individual entrepreneurs to start their own business in the countryside or to take over an existing collective company increased considerably. The reforms are also aimed at privatizing existing rural industrial companies.

The establishment of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in which experiments are conducted with new management techniques, market relations and labor relations can be regarded as part of the open-door policy. The SEZs must attract foreign investment for export-oriented high-tech industries. While a number of liberalization of China's economic relations with foreign countries have taken place, they go hand in hand with the maintenance and sometimes strengthening of a protectionist policy aimed at developing and modernizing its own trade and industry.

In 1994, the share of Chinese industry in national income was significantly higher than that of agriculture (47% and 21% of national income, respectively). Moreover, the total value of the production produced by the rural industry exceeds that of the agricultural holding. In 1993, however, a large share of the working population still worked in agriculture: 61%, while about 18% worked in industry and 21% in other sectors.

The decentralization of industrial complexes started long before the rural reforms. This was partly done to relieve the burden on the transport system, partly for strategic reasons. Decentralized industrialization at the county and district levels also sought to adapt company size to local conditions, taking into account available raw materials, technology and know-how. It is known, for example, that in 1976 half of industrial production came from relatively small companies; for electricity and coal production this share was one third, for fertilizers 70% and for cement 60% of the total production.

Industry is predominantly concentrated in the Northeast and in the Beijing-Tianjin and Shanghai-Nanjing areas, to a lesser extent in Central China, in the Sichuan Basin, and here and there in the South. The main center of light industry (including textile companies) which is further in all

The Chinese trade surplus is structurally large and will lead to trade restrictions with the United States in 2018.



Informatie Verre Reizen

Eijck, F. / Reishandboek China

Floor, H. / China
Stichting Teleac

Harper, D. / China

Jansen, I. / China

Knowles, C. / China
Van Reemst

MacDonald, G. / China

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info