China's population
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China's population China's population


|BASIC INFORMATION                                                |p.2  |
|POPULATION GROWTH                                                |p.8  |
|POPULATION DISTRIBUTION                                          |p.12 |
|INTERNAL MIGRATION                                               |p.14 |
|China Sticks to Population Control Policy in New Century         |p.16 |
|President on Population Control, Resources and Environmental     |p.17 |
|Protection                                                       |     |
|LITERATURE                                                       |P.19 |

                              BASIC INFORMATION

    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 nationalities.
    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
    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 classifications.
    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  prefecturesone   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  prefecturesone  in  southern  Szechwan  and
another in northern Yunnan. They raise crops and sometimes keep  flocks  and
    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
    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 pasturelandgrazing sheep, goats, horses, cattle, and  camelsand
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.

                              POPULATION GROWTH

    Historical records show that, as long ago as 800 , 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 1980s.
    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
    Below I described the distribution of Chinas 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 census, the share of people in the  age  group  of  0-14
was down by 4.80 percentage points, and that for people  aged  65  and  over
was up by 1.39 percentage points.
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 million persons, or 16.70 percent.
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.

                           POPULATION DISTRIBUTION

    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                 |34.71                         |
|(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                         |