China’s population

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China Sticks to Population Control Policy in New Century


President on Population Control, Resources and Environmental Protection




China is a multinational country, with a population composed of a large
number of ethnic and linguistic groups. Almost all its inhabitants are
of Mongoloid stock: thus, the basic classification of the population is
not so much Han ethnic as linguistic. The Han (Chinese), the largest
group, (Chinese) outnumber the minority groups or minority nationalities
in every province or autonomous region except Tibet and Sinkiang. The
Han. therefore, form the great homogeneous mass of the Chinese people,
sharing the same culture, the same traditions, and the same written
language. Some 55 minority groups are spread over approximately 60
percent of the total area of the country. Where these minority groups
are found in large numbers, they have been given some semblance of
autonomy and self-government; autonomous regions of several types have
been established on the basis of the geographical distribution of

The government takes great credit for its treatment of these minorities,
including care for their economic well-being, the raising of their
living standards, the provision of educational facilities, the promotion
of their national languages and cultures, and the raising of their
levels of literacy, as well as for the introduction of a written
language where none existed previously. In this connection it may be
noted that, of the 50-odd minority languages, only 20 had written forms
before the coming of the Communists; and only relatively few written
languages, for example, Mongolian. Tibetan. Uighur, Kazakh, Tai, and
Korean, were in everyday use. Other written languages were used chiefly
for religious purposes and by a limited number of persons. Educational
institutions for national minorities are a feature of many large cities,
notably Peking, Wuhan, Ch’eng-tu. and Lan-chou.

Four major language families are represented in China: the Sino-Tibetan.
Altaic. Indo-European, and Austro-Asiatic. The Sino-Tibetan family, both
numerically and in the extent of its distribution, is the most
important; within this family, Han Chinese is the most widely spoken
language. Although unified by their tradition, the written characters of
their language, and many cultural traits, the Han speak several mutually
unintelligible dialects and display marked regional differences. By far
the most important Chinese tongue is the Mandarin, or p’u-l’ung hua,
meaning “ordinary language” or “common language”. There are three
variants of Mandarin. The first of these is the northern variant, of
which the Peking dialect, or Peking hua, is typical and which is spoken
to the north of the Tsinling Mountains-Huai River line: as the most
widespread Chinese tongue, it has officially been adopted as the basis
for a national language. The second is the western variant, also known
as the Ch’eng-tu or Upper Yangtze variant; this is spoken in the
Szechwan Basin and in adjoining parts of south-west China. The third is
the southern variant, also known as the Nanking or Lower Yangtze
variant, which is spoken in northern Kiangsu and in southern and central
Anhwei Related to Mandarin are the Hunan, or Hsiang, dialect, spoken by
people in central and southern Hunan, and the Kan dialect. The Hui-chou
dialect, spoken in southern Anhwei, forms an enclave within the southern
Mandarin area.

Less intelligible to Mandarin speakers are the dialects of the
south-east coastal region, stretching from Shanghai to Canton. The. most
important of these is the Wu dialect, spoken in southern Kiangsu and in
Chekiang. This is followed, to the south, by the Fu-chou, or Min.
dialect of northern and central Fukien and by the Amoy-Swatow dialect of
southern Fukien and easternmost Kwangtung. The Hakka dialect of
southernmost Kiangsi and north-eastern Kwangtung has a rather scattered
pattern of distribution. Probably the best known of these southern
dialects is Cantonese, which is spoken in central and western Kwangtung
and in southern Kwangsi a dialect area in which a large proportion of
overseas Chinese originated.

In addition to the Han, the Manchu and the Hui (Chinese Muslims) also
speak Mandarin and use Chinese characters. Manchu The Hui are
descendants of Chinese who adopted Islam and Hui when it penetrated into
China in the 7th century. They are intermingled with the Han throughout
much of the country and are distinguished as Hui only in the area of
their heaviest concentration, the Hui Autonomous Region of Ningsia.
Other Hui communities are organised as autonomous prefectures
(tzu-chih-cfiou) in Sinkiang and as autonomous counties (tzu-chih-hsien)
in Tsinghai. Hopeh. Kweichow, and Yunnan. There has been a growing
tendency for the Hui to move from their scattered settlements into the
area of major concentration, possibly, as firm adherents of Islam, in
order to facilitate intermarriage with other Muslims.

The Manchu declare themselves to be descendants of the Manchu warriors
who invaded China in the 17th century and founded the Ch’ing dynasty
(1644-1911/12). Ancient Manchu is virtually a dead language, and the
Manchu have been completely assimilated into Han Chinese culture. They
are found mainly in North China and the Northeast, but they form no
separate autonomous areas above the commune level. Some say the Koreans
of the Northeast, who form an autonomous prefecture in eastern Kirin,
cannot be assigned with certainty to any of the standard language

The Chuang-chia, or Chuang, are China’s largest minority group. Most of
them live in the Chuang Autonomous Region of Kwangsi. They are also
represented in national autonomous areas in neighbouring Yunnan and
Kwangtung. They depend mainly on the cultivation of rice for their
livelihood In religion they are animists, worshiping particularly the
spirits of their ancestors, The Puyi (Chung-chia) group are concentrated
in southern Kweichow, where they share an autonomous prefecture with the
Miao group. The T’ung group are settled in small communities in Kwangsi
and Kweichow; they share with the Miao group an autonomous prefecture
set up in south-east Kweichow in 1956. The Tai group are concentrated in
southern Yunnan and were established in two autonomous prefectures—one
whose population is related most closely to the Tai of northern Thailand
and another whose Tai are related to the Shan people of Burma. The Li of
Hai-nan Island form a separate group of the Chinese-Tai language branch.
They share with the Miao people a district in southern Hai-nan.

Tibetans are distributed over the entire Tsinghai-Tibetan plateau.
Outside Tibet, Tibetan minorities constitute autonomous prefectures and
autonomous counties. There are five Tibetan autonomous prefectures in
Tsinghai, two in Szechwan, and one each in Yunnan and Kansu. The
Tibetans still keep their tribal characteristics, but few of them are
nomadic. Though essentially farmers, they also raise livestock and, as
with other tribal peoples in the Chinese far west, also hunt to
supplement their food supply. The major religion of Tibet has been
Tibetan Buddhism since about the 17th century; before 1959 the social
and political institutions of this region were still based largely on
this faith. Many of the Yi (Lolo) were concentrated in two autonomous
prefectures—one in southern Szechwan and another in northern Yunnan.
They raise crops and sometimes keep flocks and herds.

The Miao-Yao branch, with their major concentration in Kweichow, are
distributed throughout the central south and south-western provinces and
are found also in some small areas in east China. They are subdivided
into many rather distinct groupings. Most of them have now lost their
traditional tribal traits through the influence of the Han, and it is
only their language that serves to distinguish them as tribal peoples.
Two-thirds of the Miao are settled in Kweichow, where they share two
autonomous prefectures with the T’ung and Puyi groups. The Yao people
are concentrated in the Kwangsi-Kwangtung-Hunan border area.

In some areas of China, especially in the south-west, there are many
different ethnic groups that are geographically intermixed. Because of
language barriers and different economic structures, these peoples all
maintain their own cultural traits and live in relative isolation from
one another. In some places the Han are active in the towns and in the
fertile river valleys, while the minority peoples depend for their
livelihood on more primitive forms of agriculture or on grazing their
livestock on hillsides and mountains. The vertical distribution of these
peoples is in zones usually the higher they live, the less complex

their way of life. In former times they did not mix well with one
another, but now, with highways penetrating deep into their settlements,
they have better opportunities to communicate with other groups and are
also enjoying better living conditions.

While the minorities of the Sino-Tibetan language family are thus
concentrated in the south and south-west, the second major language
family the Altaic is represented entirely by minorities in north-western
and northern China. The Altaic family falls into three branches: Turkic,
Mongolian, and Manchu-Tungus. The Turkic language branch is by far the
most numerous of the three Altaic branches. The Uighur, who are Muslims,
form the largest Turkic minority. They are distributed over chains of
oases in the Tarim Basin and in the Dzungarian Basin of Sinkiang. They
mainly depend on irrigation agriculture for a livelihood. Other Turkic
minorities in Sinkiang are splinter groups of nationalities living in
neighbouring nations of Central Asia, including the Kazakh and Kyrgyz.
All these groups are adherents of Islam. The Kazakh and Kyrgyz are
pastoral nomadic peoples, still showing traces of tribal organisation.
The Kazakh live mainly in north-western and north-eastern Sinkiang as
herders, retiring to their camps in the valleys when winter comes; they
are established in the 1-li-ha-sa-k’o (Hi Kazakh) Autonomous Prefecture.
The Kyrgyz are high-mountain pastoralists and are concentrated mainly in
the westernmost part of Sinkiang.

The Mongolians, who are by nature a nomadic people are the most widely
dispersed of the minority nationalities of China. Most of them are
inhabitants of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Small Mongolian and
Mongolian-related groups of people are scattered throughout the vast
area from Sinkiang through Tsinghai and Kansu and into the provinces of
the Northeast (Kirin, Heilungkiang, and Liaoning). In addition to the
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the Mongolians are established in two
autonomous prefectures in Sinkiang, a joint autonomous prefecture with
Tibetans and Kazakh in Tsinghai, and several autonomous counties in the
western area of the Northeast. Some of them retain their tribal
divisions and are pastoralists, but large numbers of Mongolians engage
in sedentary agriculture, and some of them combine the growing of crops
with herding. The tribes, who are dependent upon animal husbandry,
travel each year around the pastureland—grazing sheep, goats, horses,
cattle, and camels—and then return to their point of departure. A few
take up hunting and fur trapping in order to supplement their income.
The Mongolian language consists of several dialects, but in religion it
is a unifying force; most Mongolians are believers in Tibetan Buddhism.
A few linguistic minorities in China belong to neither the Sino-Tibetan
nor the Altaic language family. The Tajik of westernmost Sinkiang are
related to the population of Tajikistan and belong to the Iranian branch
of the Indo-European family. The Kawa people of the China-Burma border
area belong to the Mon-Khmer branch of the Austro-Asiatic family.

800 вс, in the early years of the Chou dynasty, China was already
inhabited by about 13,700,000 people. Until the last years The census of
the Hsi (Western) Han dynasty, about ad 2, comparatively accurate and
complete registers of population were kept, and the total population in
that year was given as 59,600,000. This first Chinese census was
intended mainly as a preparatory step toward the levy of a poll tax.
Many members of the population, aware that a census might work to their
disadvantage, managed to avoid reporting; this explains why all
subsequent population figures were unreliable until 1712. In that year
the Emperor declared that an increased population would not be subject
to tax; population figures thereafter gradually became more accurate.

During the later years of the Pei (Northern) Sung dynasty, in the early
12th century, when China was already in the heyday of its economic and
cultural development, the total population began to exceed 100,000,000.
Later, uninterrupted and large-scale invasions from the north reduced
the country’s population. When national unification returned with the
advent of the Ming dynasty, the census was at first strictly conducted.
The population of China, according to a registration compiled in 1381,
was quite close to the one registered in ad 2.

From the 15th century onward, the population increased steadily; this
increase was interrupted by wars and natural disasters in the mid-17th
century and slowed by the internal strife and foreign invasions in the
century that preceded the Communist takeover in 1949. During the 18th
century China enjoyed a lengthy period of peace and prosperity,
characterized by continual territorial expansion and an accelerating
population increase. In 1762 China had a population of more than
200,000.000. and by 1834 the population had doubled. It should be noted
that during this period there was no concomitant increase in the amount
of cultivable land; from this time on. land hunger became a growing
problem. After 1949 sanitation and medical care greatly improved,
epidemics were brought under control, and the younger generation became
much healthier. Public hygiene also improved, resulting in a death rate
that declined faster than the birth rate and a rate of population growth
that speeded up again. Population reached 1,000.000.000 in the early

Now China has a population of 1,295.33 million. Compared with the
population of 1,133.68 million from the 1990 population census (with
zero hour of July 1, 1990 as the reference time), the total population
of the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and the
servicemen of the mainland of China increased by 132.15 million persons,
or 11.66 percent over the past 10 years and 4 months. The average annual
growth was 12.79 million persons, or a growth rate of 1.07 percent.

The continually growing population poses major problems for the
government. Faced with difficulties in obtaining an adequate food supply
and in combating the generally low standard of living, the authorities
sponsored Drive a drive for birth control in 1955-58. A second attempt
at for birth population control began in 1962, when advocacy of late
control marriages and the use of contraceptives became
prominent parts of the program. The outbreak of the Cultural Revolution
interrupted this second family-planning drive, but in 1970 a third and
much stricter program was initiated. This program attempted to make late
marriage and family limitation obligatory, and it culminated in 1979 in
efforts to implement a policy of one child per family.

Other developments affected the rate of population growth more than the
first two official family-planning campaigns. For example, although
family planning had been rejected by Chinese Communist Party Chairman
Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) in 1958, the Great Leap Forward that he
initiated in that year (see below The economy) caused a massive famine
that resulted in more deaths than births and a reduction of population
in 1960. By 1963 recovery from the famine produced the highest rate of
population increase since 1949, at more than 3 percent, although the
second birth-control campaign had already begun.

Since the initiation of the third family-planning program in 1970,
however, state efforts have been much more effective. China’s population
growth rate is now unusually low for a developing country, although the
huge size of its population still results in a large annual net
population growth.

Below I described the distribution of China’s population by different

I. Sex Composition.

Of the people enumerated in the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and
municipalities and servicemen of the mainland of China, 653.55 million
persons or 51.63 percent were males, while 612.28 million persons or
48.37 percent were females. The sex ratio (female=100) was 106.74.


II. Age Composition.

Of the people enumerated in the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and
municipalities and servicemen of the mainland of China, 289.79 million
persons were in the age group of 0-14, accounting for 22.89 percent of
the total population; 887.93 million persons in the age group of 15-64,
accounting for 70.15 percent and 88.11 million persons in the age group
of 65 and over, accounting for 6.96 percent. As compared with the
results of the 1990 population


III. Composition of Nationalities.

Of the people enumerated in the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and
municipalities and servicemen of the mainland of China, 1,159.40 million
persons or 91.59 percent were of Han nationality, and 106.43 million
persons or 8.41 percent were of various national minorities. Compared
with the 1990 population census, the population of Han people increased
by 116.92 million persons, or 11.22 percent; while the population of
various national minorities increased by 15.23 millio?????????‰????


IV. Composition of Educational Attainment.

Of the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and
servicemen of the mainland of China, 45.71 million persons had finished
university education (referring to junior college and above); 141.09
million persons had received senior secondary education (including
secondary technical school education); 429.89 million persons had
received junior secondary education and 451.91 million persons had had
primary education (the educated persons included graduates and students
in schools).

Compared with the 1990 population census, the following changes had
taken place in the number of people with various educational attainments
of every 100,000 people: number of people with university education
increased to 3,611 from 1,422; number of people with senior secondary
education increased to 11,146 from 8,039; number of people with junior
secondary education increased from 23,344 to 33,961; and number of
people with primary education decreased from 37,057 to 35,701.

Of the people enumerated in the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and
municipalities and servicemen of the mainland of China, 85.07 million
persons were illiterate (i.e. people over 15 years of age who can not
read or can read very little). Compared with the 15.88 percent of
illiterate people in the 1990 population census, the proportion had
dropped to 6.72 percent, or down by 9.16 percentage points.


V. Urban and Rural Population.

In the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of the
mainland of China, there were 455.94 million urban residents, accounting
for 36.09 percent of the total population; and that of rural residents
stood at 807.39 million, accounting for 63.91 percent. Compared with the
1990 population census, the proportion of urban residents rose by 9.86
percentage points.


Following are the results from the advance tabulation on the geographic
distribution of population from the fifth national population census of

Region Population (million)

Beijing Municipality 13.82

Tianjin Municipality 10.01

Hebei Province 67.44

Shanxi Province 32.97

Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region 23.76

Liaoning Province 42.38

Jilin Province 27.28

Heilongjiang Province 36.89

Shanghai Municipality 16.74

Jiangsu Province 74.38

Zhejiang Province 46.77

Anhui Province 59.86

Fujian Province

(excluding the population in Jinmen and Mazu and a few other islands)

Jiangxi Province 41.40

Shandong Province 90.79

Henan Province 92.56

Hubei Province 60.28

Hunan Province 64.40

Guangdong Province 86.42

Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 44.89

Hainan Province 7.87

Chongqing Municipality 30.90

Sichuan Province 83.29

Guizhou Province 35.25

Yunnan Province 42.88

Tibet Autonomous Region 2.62

Shaanxi Province 36.05

Gansu Province 25.62

Qinghai Province 5.18

Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region 5.62

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region 19.25

Hongkong Special Administrative Region 6.78

Macao Special Administrative Region 0.44

Taiwan Province and Jinmen, Mazu and a few other islands of Fujian
Province 22.28

Servicemen 2.50

Because of complex natural conditions, the population of China is quite
unevenly distributed. Population density varies strikingly, with the
greatest contrast occurring between the eastern half of China and the
lands of the west and the north-west. Exceptionally high population
densities occur in the Yangtze Delta, in the Pearl River Delta, and on
the Ch’eng-tu Plain of the western Szechwan Basin. Most of the
high-density areas are coterminous with the alluvial plains on which
intensive agriculture is centred.

In contrast, the isolated, extensive western and frontier regions, which
are much larger than any European nation, are sparsely populated.
Extensive uninhabited areas include the extremely high northern part of
Tibet, the sandy wastes of the central Tarim and eastern Dzungarian
basins in Sinkiang, and the barren desert and mountains east of Lop Nor.

In the 1950s the government became increasingly aware of the importance
of the frontier regions and initiated a drive for former members of the
military and young intellectuals to settle there. Consequently, the
population has increased, following the construction of new railways and
highways that traverse the wasteland; a number of small mining and
industrial towns have also sprung up.


Migrations have occurred often throughout the history of China.
Sometimes they took place because a famine or political disturbance
would cause the depopulation of an area already intensively cultivated,
after which people in adjacent crowded regions would move in to occupy
the deserted land. Sometime between 1640 and 1646 a peasant rebellion
broke out in Szechwan, and there was a great loss of life. People from
Hupeh and Shensi then entered Szechwan to fill the vacuum, and the
movement continued until the 19th century. Again, during the middle of
the 19th century, the Taiping Rebellion caused another large-scale
disruption of population. Many people in the Lower Yangtze were
massacred by the opposing armies, and the survivors suffered from
starvation. After the defeat of the rebellion, people from Hupeh, Hunan,
and Honan moved into the depopulated areas of Kiangsu. Anhwei. and
Chekiang, where farmland was lying uncultivated for want of labour.
Similar examples are provided by the Nien Rebellion in the Huai River
region in the 1850s and ’60s, the Muslim rebellions in Shensi and Kansu
in the 1860s and ’70s, and the great Shensi and Shansi famine of

In modern history the domestic movement of the Han to Manchuria (now
known as the Northeast) is the most Migration significant. Even
before the establishment of the Ch’ing to dynasty in 1644, Manchu
soldiers launched raids into Manchuria North China and captured Han
labourers, who were then obliged to settle in Manchuria. In 1668 the
area was closed to further Han migration by an Imperial decree, but this
ban was never effectively enforced. By 1850. Han settlers had secured a
position of dominance in their colonisation of Manchuria. The ban was
later partially’ lifted, partly because the Manchu rulers were harassed
by disturbances among the teeming population of China proper and partly
because the Russian Empire time and again tried to invade sparsely
populated and thus weakly defended Manchuria. The ban was finally
removed altogether in 1878, but settlement was encouraged only after
1900. The influx of people into Manchuria was especially pronounced
after 1923, and incoming farmers rapidly brought a vast area of virgin
prairie under cultivation. About two-thirds of the immigrants entered
Manchuria by sea, and one-third came overland. Because of the severity
of the winter weather, migration in the early stage was highly seasonal,
usually starting in February and continuing through the spring. After
the autumn harvest a large proportion of the farmers returned south. As
Manchuria developed into the principal industrial region of China,
however, large urban centres arose, and the nature of the migration
changed. No longer was the movement primarily one of agricultural
resettlement; instead it became essentially a rural-to-urban movement of
interregional magnitude. After 1949 the new government’s efforts to
foster planned migration into interior and border regions produced
noticeable results. Although the total number of people involved in such
migrations is not known, it has been estimated that by 1980 about 25 to
35 percent of the population of such regions and provinces as Inner
Mongolia, Sinkiang, Heilungkiang. and Tsinghai consisted of recent
migrants, and migration had raised the percentage of Han in Sinkiang
from about 10 to 40 percent of the total. Efforts to control the growth
of large cities led to the resettlement of 20,000,000 urbanites in the
countryside after the failure of the Great Leap Forward and of
17,-000,000 urban-educated youths in the decade after 1968. Within the
next decade, however, the majority of these “rusticated youths” were
allowed to return to the cities, and new migration from rural areas
pushed urban population totals upward once again.

China Sticks to Population Control Policy in New Century

China will continue its efforts to control the growth of the population
in the 21 century, said Zhang Weiqing, minister of the State Family
Planning Commission on November 2, 2000.

At the annual board meeting of the Partners in Population and
Development by South-South Cooperation, which opened Thursday in
Beijing, Zhang said that keeping a low birth rate is the key task of
China’ s family planning program in the coming decade.

He said that China has made it a goal to keep the population below 1.4
billion until 2010 on the basis of scientific feasibility study.

In order to realise the goal, China is persisting in popularisation and
education about family planning and contraception, and it will make
efforts to build a perfect population control system suitable for
China’s situation, said Zhang.

According to Zhang, population will continue to be a pressing issue for
China in the 21st century. The annual net population growth will be more
than 10 million at the start of the new century. The population will not
decline until it reaches a peak of 1.6 billion in the middle of the 21st
century, Zhang said.

At present, China has a large work-age population, which puts a heavy
burden on employment. The work-age population will peak at 900 million
in the coming decades.

In addition, Zhang predicts that the number of senior citizens over the
age of 60 in China will reach 130 million at the end of this year, and
will exceed 357 million in 2030, and 439 million in 2050, or a quarter
of the total population.

Zhang said that China will stick to family planning policy for a long
time depending on future population situation.

President on Population Control, Resources and Environmental Protection

Population control, resources and environmental protection will be three
crucial issues in China’s march toward becoming a great power in the new
century, President Jiang Zemin told a seminar held by the Communist
Party of China Central Committee Sunday.

Jiang said that governmental decisions concerning the country’s
population control, resources and environmental protection demand
concerted efforts and cooperation from all walks of life.

Jiang warned that although marked progress had been made during the
1996-2000 period, China is still facing many problems and challenges
concerning population, resources and environmental protection in the
coming years.

“These issues are directly related to the country’s overall development.
Failure in handling them may postpone the achievement of China’s set
goals in terms of social and economic development,” said Jiang.

Jiang said that the next few years will be a crucial stage for China to
stabilise its birth rate at the current low level and improve population

When dealing with population issues, governments at all levels should
better serve the people’s needs, and turn the country’s birth control
efforts into a cause benefiting China’s huge populace, Jiang remarked.

Jiang also said that resource-related works should better serve the
country’s sustainable development. Protection and rational utilisation
of resources are to be granted equal importance by administration

Meanwhile, the president called for the establishment of a strict
resources administration mechanism, and urged the transformation of the
traditional resource-utilising norms, to save natural resources from
being wasted.

Jiang suggested the use of new technologies and a complete monitoring
system to curb the country’s long-standing environmental pollution,
while guaranteeing healthy economic development.

Also in his speech, Jiang stressed the importance of improving the
regulation of China’s scarce water resources and the further
construction of irrigation works.







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