Area: 9,573,000 sq km
The third-largest state in the world, also containing the highest mountains and plateaus in the world. The climate and geography are extremely diverse, ranging from tropical in the south to sub-arctic in the north, from a highly industrialized and modern eastern seaboard to sparsely populated western deserts and mountain ranges. Hong Kong and Macau are integral parts of China, though their statistics are not included here; Taiwan’s status is debated. These three are handled separately.
Population: 1,330,584,783 Annual Growth: 0.63%
Official language: Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese); local languages in the five Autonomous Regions. 15 regional mega-languages. There are an estimated 600 different spoken Han dialects, but one written language common to all Languages: 296 All languages
Largest Religion: Non-religious
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Opposing forces at work in Chinese society are creating tensions that demand urgent attention and foresight. The reformed central government struggles to maintain control over state authorities and trusts economic growth to solve most of the countrys problems. But Chinas sheer size, its financial boom and the lack of freedom of information conspire to multiply injustices, expand the gap between rich and poor and defeat the egalitarian purposes of socialism. The following points of mounting pressure bear mention:
a) Freedom of information. The government vainly tries to control the flow of and exposure to information, while also promoting Internet use. But a bored and disillusioned new generation that hankers after freedom is not only finding creative ways to access information, but many are also developing potentially dangerous hacking skills in the process.
b) Political and economic reforms. Resistance to substantial political change is irreconcilable with the juggernaut of capitalism (and its results: crass materialism and personal greed). Issues surrounding property ownership, banking, the widening gap between rich and poor, private versus state-provided social services to name just a few beset policy-makers and must be addressed.
c) Corruption and scandal. Embezzlement, graft and widespread deception plague both government and business. China tops the list of countries willing to pay bribes in business, and rampant cheating and fraud tarnish academia. Chinas record on containing corruption has regressed, while other countries have made progress or remained the same in this area.
d) Urbanization. China now hosts the most massive human migration in history. In just a couple of generations, hundreds of millions of rural dwellers have relocated to Chinas urban centres, drastically changing the nations demographics. Many millions simply cannot make a living farming, and urbanites earn 350% more than rural-area workers. Such rapid migration to urban areas leaves families lacking basic social services and educational opportunities, and creates problems such as overcrowding and unemployment.
e) Ethnic unrest. Internal strife remains at the forefront of both national and international attention, as conflict within Tibet and Xianjiang persists. Ultimately, reconciliation and the hope of peace lie only in the power of the gospel.
Coming change is inevitable and will be massive; pray that it might be well managed, peaceful and ultimately of spiritual benefit to China.
For an additional 5 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of China.