Country Focus Data: China

by Melissa Alexander
Share This:

Capital: Beijing.

Demography: Population 1.3 billion, 0.87% growth rate (2002 estimates); Han Chinese language (91.9%), other dialects; officially atheist.

Geography: Eastern Asia, bordering the East and South China Seas, Korea Bay between North Korea and Vietnam; extremely diverse climate, tropical in south to sub-arctic in north; mostly mountainous, high plateaus, deserts in west, plains east.

Government: Communist state. Chief of state is President Jiang Zemin; head of government is Premier Zhu Rongji.

Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture under Minister Qinglin Du.

Economy: Within a political framework of strict Communist control, the economic influence of non-state organizations and individual citizens has been increasing steadily. Authorities have switched to a system of household and village responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprise in services and light manufacturing and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment. The result has been a quadrupling of gross domestic product since 1978. In 2001, China stood as the second largest economy in the world after the U.S., measured on a purchasing power parity basis. Agriculture and industry have posted major gains.

But challenges persist. From 80 to 120 million surplus rural workers are adrift between villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time, low-paying jobs. Deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table especially in the north, poses threats to further growth.

Membership in the World Trade Organization strengthens China’s ability to maintain sturdy growth rates, and at the same time puts additional pressure on the hybrid system of strong political controls and growing market influences.

Agriculture accounts for 17.7% of gross domestic product and employs 50% of the workforce.

G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$4,300 (purchasing power parity), 7.3% growth rate (official estimate), 0.8% inflation, 10% urban unemployment, higher in rural areas (2001 estimates).

Currency: Yuan Renminbi (CNY). Dec. 13, 2002 exchange rate: 8.277 CNY per U.S. dollar.

Exports: U.S.$262.1 billion (f.o.b., 2001), textiles and clothing, machinery and equipment, footwear, toys, sporting goods.

Imports: U.S.$236.2 billion (f.o.b., 2001), machinery and equipment, plastics, iron and steel, chemicals.

Major crops/agricultural products: Rice, wheat, maize, cotton.

Wheat: Production averaged 101.8 million tonnes a year in the past five years, ranging from a high of 113.9 million in 1999-2000 to the current season’s low of 92 million. Total domestic use averaged 108.5 million tonnes annually, with feed use accounting for only 7.5 million. Exports averaged 944,000 tonnes a year, with imports averaging 825,000.

Rice: Production on a milled basis averaged 131.1 million tonnes a year in the past five years, but has been in a downward trend. Current season production of 121.8 million tonnes is the lowest since at least 1989. Domestic use averaged 134.2 million tonnes annually and continues to post small year-to-year increases.

Maize: Production averaged 121.2 million tonnes a year in the past five years, ranging from a high of 133 million in 1998-99 to a low of 106 million in 2000-01. Total domestic use averaged 119.5 million tonnes annually, with feed use accounting for 91.8 million. Exports averaged 7.832 million tonnes, with a low of 3.3 million in 1998-99 to the current season high of 10 million.

Transportation: Highways, 1.4 million km, 271,300 paved; railroads, 67,524 km, 63,924 1.435-m gauge; Dalian, Shenzhen, Huangpu, Nanjing are major ports.

Internet: Country code, *.cn; 3 service providers; 26.5 million users (2001).

Data (1,000 tonnes)

























2002-03 marketing year estimates, except flour, 2000
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, International Grains Council