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Population
2004/03/08
          Population Situation
          China has more people than any other country. By the end of 1994,
          China had a population of 1,198.5 million (excluding Taiwan, Hong
          Kong and Macao).
          China's population density (118 people per square kilometre
          according to the Fourth National Population Census, July 1,1990) is
          relatively high. Distribution, however, is uneven: the coastal areas
          in the east are densely populated, with 360 people per square
          kilometre; the plateau areas in the west are sparsely populated,
          with fewer than 10 people per square kilometre.
          The table below shows, in general, the composition of population in
          China:

      Sex                                Region                                                 Age
-----------------                   -----------------                       ------------------------------------
male    female               cities     countryside                   below 14      15-64         above 65
                 
51.6%   48.4%               26.23%      73.77%                      27.7%        66.72%         5.58%

   
          Population Growth and Family Planning
          In 1949 there were 541.67 million people living on the mainland.
          Lacking controls, appropriate education on the subject--and
          experience--and the improvement of people's living standards led to
          a rapid increase of China's population, which had reached 806.71
          million by 1969. Facing the serious problem of the over population,
          China has implemented family planning to control the population
          growth. Since it was initiated in the 1970s, the birth rate has
          declined each year. By the end of 1994 the birth rate dropped to
          17.7 per thousand from 34.11 per thousand in 1969, and the natural
          growth rate declined to 11.21 per thousand from 26.08 per thousand.
          The basic demands of family planning are late marriage and late
          childbirth--having fewer but healthier babies, specifically, one
          child for one couple. In rural areas, the couple with the shortage
          of labour power or other difficulties may have a second baby, but
          must wait several years after the birth of the first child. In areas
          inhabited by minority peoples, a couple may have more children. At
          present, family planning as a basic state policy is supported by a
          vast majority of the people.
       
          Fifty-six Ethnic Groups
          China is a united, multinational country of 56 ethnic groups.
          According to the Fourth National Population Census taken in 1990,
          there were 1,042.48 million Han people (an increase of 101.6 million
          since the Third National Population Census of 1982), accounting for
          91.96 percent of China's total population. The other 55 ethnic
          groups represent 91.2 million people (an increase of 23.9 million
          since the Third National Population Census), or 8.04 percent of the
          total. The 55 minorities are: Zhuang, Hui, Uygur, Yi, Miao, Manchu,
          Tibetan, Mongolian, Tujia, Bouyei, Korean, Dong, Yao, Bai, Hani,
          Kazak, Dai, Li, Lisu, She, Lahu, Va, Shui, Dongxiang, Naxi, Tu,
          Kirgiz, Qiang, Daur, Mulam, Gelo, Xibe, Jingpo, Salar, Blang,
          Maonan, Tajik, Pumi, Nu, Achang, Ewenki, Jino, Ozbek, Jing, Deang,
          Yugur, Bonan, Moinba, Drung, Oroqen, Tatar, Russian, Gaoshan,
          Hezhen, and Lhoba. The Zhuang ethnic group, the largest of the 55
          ethnic groups, has 13.38 million people, while the Lhoba, the
          smallest, has only 2,312 people.
          The Han people are found in all parts of the country, but mainly in
          the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow (Huanghe), Yangtze
          (Changjiang) and Pearl (Zhujiang) rivers and the Northeast Plain.
          The areas inhabited by the national minorities are mainly in the
          border regions of the north, northeast, northwest and southwest
          China.
          The Han people have its own spoken and written language, known as
          the Chinese language, which is commonly used throughout China. and a
          working language of the United Nations. The Hui and Manchu ethnic
          groups also use the Han (Chinese) language. The other 53 ethnic
          groups use the spoken languages of their own; 23 national minorities
          have their own written languages.
       
          Regional Autonomy for Minority Peoples
          Equality, unity and common prosperity are the fundamental objectives
          of the government in handling the relations between ethnic groups.
          To this end, while maintaining unified leadership of the state,
          China exercises a policy of regional autonomy for various ethnic
          groups, allowing minority peoples living in compact communities to
          establish self-government and direct their own affairs. In addition
          to 5 autonomous regions (Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Ningxia
          Hui Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Guangxi
          Zhuang Autonomous Region and Tibet Autonomous Region), China
          currently has 30 autonomous prefectures and 124 autonomous counties
          (or, in some cases, banners). Self-government in national minority
          autonomous areas is effected through the local people's congress and
          people's government at the particular level. The chairperson or
          vice-chairperson of the standing committee of the people's congress
          and the head of the government of an autonomous region, autonomous
          prefecture or autonomous county are of the area's designated
          national minority.
          Organs of self-government in regional autonomous areas enjoy
          extensive self-government rights beyond those held by other state
          organs at the same level. These include enacting regulations for
          self-government and specialized regulations corresponding to local
          political, economic and cultural conditions; making independent use
          of local revenue; and independently arranging and managing
          construction, education, science, culture, public health and other
          local undertakings. The central government has greatly assisted in
          the training of minority cadres and technicians through the
          establishment of institutes and cadre schools for national
          minorities to supplement regular colleges and universities. It has,
          in addition, supplied the national minority autonomous areas with
          large quantities of financial aid and material resources in order to
          promote theft economic and cultural development.
     
          Life Styles
          The unique customs and habits of the minorities have developed in
          the process of their long history and influenced by their peculiar
          environment, social and economic conditions. Generally, people in
          south China like rice, while people in the north prefer noodles; the
          Uygur, Kazak and Ozbek ethnic people like roast mutton kebab and
          crusty pancake; Mongolians like millet stir-fried in butter, fried
          sheep tail and tea with milk; Koreans like sticky rice cakes, cold
          noodles and kimchi (pickled vegetables); Tibetans eat zanba (roasted
          qiFngke barley flour) and buttered tea; the Lis, Jings and Dais chew
          betel nut palms. Mongolians wear Mongolian robes and riding boots;
          Tibetans wear Tibetan robes; Uygurs wear embroidered skullcaps;
          Koreans wear boat-shaped rubber overshoes; Miao, Yi and Tibetan
          women wear gold or silver ornaments; Yis like to wear cha'erwa
          (woolien cloak). Courtyard-type dwellings are universally adopted in
          the areas inhabited by the Hans; most minorities in the pastoral
          areas of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai and Gansu live in
          Mongolian yurts; the Dais, Zhuangs and Bouyeis in south China often
          live in the ganfan (balustrade) style storeyed houses.
     
          Festivals
          Legal holidays in China are New Year (January 1st), a national
          one-day holiday; Spring Festival (the lunar New Year), a national
          three-day holiday; International Working Women's Day (March 8th);
          Arbor Day (March 12th); International Labour Day (May 1st), a
          national one-day holiday; Chinese Youth Day (May 4th); International
          Children's Day (June 1st); Army Day (August 1st); Teachers' Day
          (September 10th); and National Day (October 1st), a national two-day
          holiday.
          China's biggest and most popular traditional festivals include:
   
              Spring Festival
              Each year, between the end of winter and the beginning of
              spring, people throughout China enthusiastically celebrate the
              first traditional festival of the year, the Spring Festival or
              Lunar New Year. During the Spring Festival, every household will
              display Spring Festival couplets and pictures, and decorate the
              home. Spring Festival Eve is an important time for family
              reunions. Usually, in the evening of the last day of the twelfth
              month by the lunar calendar each year, the entire family gets
              together for a New Year's Eve dinner. After dinner, all family
              members sit together to chat or play games, staying up till
              early the next morning. In the morning people pay New Year calls
              on relatives to extend congratulations. During the festival,
              many people also attend traditional recreational activities,
              such as the lion dance, dragon-lantern dance and stilt-walking.
   
              Lantern Festival
              The 15th day of the first lunar month, the first full moon after
              the Spring Festival, is the occasion for the Lantern Festival.
              It is customary to eat special sweet dumplings called yuanxiao
              and enjoy displayed lanterns during this festival. Yuanxiao,
              round balls made of glutinous rice flour stuffed with sugar
              fillings, symbolize reunion. The custom of enjoying lanterns at
              this time of the year dates back to the first century, and has
              continued to be popular throughout China up to the present day.
              On this festive night many cities hold lantern fairs to display
              many exotic and sometimes weirdly shaped multi-coloured
              lanterns. In rural areas the local people gather together and
              enjoy themselves as spectators and participants setting off
              fireworks, walking on stilts, performing with dragon lanterns,
              dancing the yangge and other folk dances and playing on swings.
   
              Pure Brightness Day
              Pure Brightness Day comes around April 5 every year. This was
              originally a day set aside for people to offer sacrifices to
              their ancestors, but nowadays it is more customary to visit the
              tombs of the martyrs of the revolution to pay respects. By the
              time of the festival, the weather has turned warmer and the
              earth is covered in green. Friends like to go together to the
              outskirts of the city to walk in the green grass, fly kites and
              appreciate the beauty of spring. That is why Pure Brightness Day
              is sometimes also called the "Stepping on Greenery Festival."
   
              Dragon Boat Festival
              The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth
              lunar month. It is generally believed that the festival
              originated to celebrate the memory of the ancient patriotic poet
              Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan, a native of the State of Chu during the
              Warring States Period, repeatedly offered his king proposals
              aimed at forestailing political corruption. Subsequently,
              slandered by treacherous court officials, he was sent into exile
              by the same king he had tried to help. In 278 B.C., the capital
              of the State of Chu was lost to its enemy the State of Qin and
              Qu Yuan drowned himself in despair on the fifth day of the fifth
              lunar month. Aware of the tragedy, the local people living
              beside the river went out in their boats to try to find his
              corpse. Every year thereafter on this day people continued to
              row dragon boats on their local rivers in memory of Qu Yuan's
              life and death, throwing sections of bamboo filled with rice
              into the river as an offering. Legend has it that someone once
              met Qu Yuan's spirit on the bank of the river and was told: "The
              food you have given me has all been taken away by the dragon.
              Hereafter, you should wrap the rice in bamboo leaves tied with
              five-coloured thread. These are the two things that the dragon
              is most afraid of." Thus, people began to make zongzi, glutinous
              rice wrapped in a pyramid shape using bamboo or reed leaves.
              Today, zongzi is the traditional food for the Dragon Boat
              Festival still eaten in memory of Qu Yuan.
   
              Mid-Autumn Festival
              The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth
              lunar month, the exact middle of autumn, hence the festival's
              name. In ancient times, people used to offer elaborately made
              cakes to the moon spirit on this day. After making this symbolic
              offering, a family would enjoy eating the cakes together. The
              festival eventually came to carry the idea of a happy family
              reunion and the custom has been passed down to this day. On this
              mid-autumn night, the full moon is especially bright. The whole
              family may sit together beneath the clear moonlight eating tasty
              moon cakes and appreciating the beauty of the fully rounded
              moon. Of course, those who are far away from their homes that
              night are only too easily reminded of their families when they
              look up at the luminous moon. The words of the great Tang
              Dynasty poet Li Bai are often recited on such evenings, even
              today: "I raise my head to gaze at the bright moon, and I drop
              my head to think of my old home." National minorities have also
              retained their own traditional festivals, including the Water
              Splashing Festival of the Dai people, the Nadam Fair of the
              Mongolian people, the Torch Festival of the Yi people, the Danu
              (Never Forget the Past) Festival of the Yao people, the Third
              Month Fair of the Bai people, the Antiphonal Singing Day of the
              Zhuang people, and the Tibetan New Year and Onghor (Expecting
              Good Harvest) Festival of the Tibetan people.  
   
          Religious Belief
          China is a country with many religious beliefs. There are a hundred
          million religious followers of Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism
          and Protestantism in China. Ethnic groups have their own religious
          preferences. The Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Kirgiz, Tatar, Ozbek, Tajik,
          Dongxiang, Salar, and Bonan follow Islam; Tibetans, Mongolians,
          Lhobas, Moinbas, Tus and Yugurs are Lamaists. Dai, Blang, and Deang
          people believe in the Hinayana (Lesser Vehicle) Buddhism. A
          considerable number of the Miao, Yao and Yi people believe in
          Catholicism and Protestantism. Some of the Han people are followers
          of Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, or Taoism.
          Buddhism found its way into China in the first century B.C. and
          spread widely after the fourth century A.D., becoming the most
          influential religion in China. A branch of Chinese Buddhism,
          Lamaism, also called Tibetan Buddhism, is widespread in Tibet and
          Inner Mongolia. China's famous Buddhist temples include Baima Temple
          in Luoyang, Daci'en Temple in Xi'an, Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, and
          Shaolin Temple in Henan. Famous lamaseries include Jokhang
          Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery and Sakya Monastery in Tibet,
          Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai, Wuta Lamasery in Inner Mongolia, and
          Yonghe Lamasery in Beijing.
          Islam was introduced to China in the middle period of the seventh
          century. China's famous mosques include Libai Mosque in Yangzhou,
          Huajue Mosque in Xi'an, Niujie Mosque in Beijing, Dongda Mosque in
          Yinchuan, and the Aitagar at Kashi in Xinjiang.
          The introduction of Catholicism and Protestantism to China followed
          Buddhism and Islam, with less influence. The followers of
          Catholicism and Protestan- tism mainly concentrate in large cities
          like Beijing and Shanghai. Some farmers also believe in Catholicism
          or Protestantism.
          Taking form in the second century A.D., Taoism is indigenous to
          China. The most famous Taoist temples and monasteries are Baiyun
          Monastery in Beijing, Qingyang Monastery in Chengdu and Taiqing
          Monastery in Shenyang.
          In China, citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief, and all normal
          religious activities are protected by the Constitution.
          The Buddhist, Islamic, Catholic, Protestant and Taoist organizations
          have been established at national and local levels, independently
          dealing with their own religious affairs. The religious groups and
          affairs in China are not subject to the direction of foreign powers.


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