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Information on China

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China is the second largest country by area and has the largest population in the world extending over longitudes 75 to 135 E, latitudes 18 to 54 N. The landscape is diverse for example, one third consists of mountain ranges and high surface plateaus , one tenth comprises "lower basin" leaving 15% suitable for cultivation and farming. 94% of the population live in the area to the east of the Tibetan plateau and to the south of the Great Wall.

Total Land Area: 9,621,000 sq km  
Capital: Beijing  
Population: 1,273,111,290 (2001 est)  
Official Language: Mandarin (putonghu). However, local dialects are widely spoken  


After years of state control of all productive assets, economic reforms were introduced in 1978, first in agriculture then in 1984, in industry. The reforms, which brought about far-reaching changes to the economic system, were designed to encourage the formation of rural enterprises and private businesses; liberalise foreign trade and investment; relax state control and invest in industrial production. Joint ventures were encouraged to attract foreign investment. In 1980 China created "Special Economic Zones(SEZ)" in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, Xiamen and with Hainan and Tianjin added later. Enterprises set up in these SEZ enjoyed benefits such as reduced taxation and lower import duty.

Progress has occurred mainly in these SEZ which are on coastal areas or the industrial areas of the richer provinces. State controlled industry is continuing to decline while the private sector grows rapidly.

Agriculture still employs 50% of the country's workforce and farming contributes to 20% of the "gross national product(GNP)". Manufacturing employs 15% of the workforce and contributes to 40% of GNP. The average annual growth rate since 1978 is 8%. In several peak years, the economy grew more than 13%. China produces valuable MINERAL ores, including iron, cobalt, copper, lead, managanese, nickel and zinc. It has its own plentiful oil fields. In addition, offshore exploration is now being undertaken.


Spread over such a vast area, China is subject to extremes in weather, from the bitterly cold to the unbearably hot. The seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing wind is typical of monsoon climates and it arises from the thermal contrast between the Asiatic continental mass and the Pacific Ocean.

For example, in Heilongjiang province, the temperature drops to -30C (-22F) in Winter, while in the Yangtze River valley area the Summer temperature exceeds 38C (100F). Wuhan, Chongqing & Nanjing regions have been dubbed "the three furnaces" by the Chinese.

The climate chart shows the average temperature and rainfall of each month in various regions of China.

Average daily temperatures (C max & min) and monthly rainfall (mm)
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max oC 1 4 11 21 27 31 31 30 26 20 9 3
Min oC -10 -8 -1 7 13 18 21 20 14 16 -2 -8
Rainfall(mm) 4 5 8 17 35 78 245 142 58 16 11 3
Max oC 9 13 18 23 27 29 34 35 28 22 16 13
Min oC 5 7 11 16 19 22 24 25 22 16 12 8
Rainfall(mm) 15 20 38 98 141 180 142 120 150 112 48 20
Max oC 16 17 20 25 29 31 32 32 31 27 23 19
Min oC 8 10 14 19 23 25 26 26 24 19 15 12
Rainfall(mm) 33 56 96 160 205 193 159 177 83 43 38 37
Max oC -15 -12 3 12 20 25 28 25 20 12 9 -10
Min oC -25 -22 0 0 9 15 19 18 10 0 -10 -22
Rainfall(mm) 5 10 20 30 50 90 160 110 50 30 10 10
Hong Kong  
Max oC 18 17 19 24 28 29 31 31 29 27 23 20
Min oC 13 137 16 19 23 26 26 26 25 23 18 15
Rainfall(mm) 33 46 74 137 300 400 380 370 280 114 43 30
Max oC 8 9 12 17 20 24 23 22 21 17 13 9
Min oC -10 -7 -3 1 5 9 9 9 7 1 -5 -9
Rainfall(mm) 0 12 8 5 25 64 122 89 66 13 3 0
Max oC 8 8 13 19 25 28 32 32 28 23 17 12
Min oC 1 1 4 10 15 19 23 23 19 14 17 2
Rainfall(mm) 48 58 83 95 94 179 148 142 130 71 51 36
Max oC 8 9 14 21 26 31 34 34 29 23 17 11
Min oC 1 2 6 13 18 23 26 26 21 16 9 3
Rainfall(mm) 46 47 98 151 166 243 180 98 70 81 48 28
Max oC 5 7 15 20 22 30 35 34 30 25 15 10
Min oC -7 -5 5 10 15 20 25 24 20 18 8 0
Rainfall(mm) 4 10 22 40 55 50 74 96 115 55 22 10
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Beijing Time
The whole of China operates on Beijing Time which is Greenwich Mean Time plus 8 hours.

Summer Time
Summer time (GMT + 9 hours) is from mid April to mid September but may be discontinued shortly

Public Holidays

Jan. 1st ---- New Year's Day; 1 day holiday
Jan/Feb ---- Spring Festival (Chinese lunar New Year); 4 - 6 days holiday
May. 1st ---- International Workers' Day; 3 day holiday
May. 1st ---- National Day; 3 days holiday

Western holidays are becoming more popular in China, especially among young people, for example, Christmas Day is celebrated in all hotels.

Business Hours

Five working days per week is the official government regulation. Working hours are normally between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with one hour lunch break. All the government offices, institutions, schools, and hospitals do not work on Saturdays and Sundays.

Mon-Sat 8.30am-noon and 1.30-5.30pm

Government Offices
Mon-Sat 8.30/9am-noon and 1.30-5.30pm

Shops are open everyday, normally from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. They close on official holidays, such as National Day and the Chinese New year.



Most international airlines operate direct flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. For more information on travelling to China, see our list of travel agencies and airlines.

For domestic travel, there are about 50 domestic airlines operating to most destinations in China. Tickets can be booked via China Travel Service Offices.

Departure taxes are charged for all international and domestic flights. The charges vary from place to place - for international departure is usually RMB90, and RMB 50 for domestic, payable at the airport with Chinese currency only.


Train is the most reliable mean of travel within China if time is not an essence. There are some excellent new double-deck expresses services between Beijing and Tianjin; Shanghai to Hangzhou, Syzhou, Wuxi and Nanjing.


During recent years, China has developed the highway infrastructure connecting most major cities. However, public car hire is not very common in China. If you are travelling to China on business, ask your host party to arrange pick up from the point of arrival. They usually would be very pleased to do so as most companies have professional drivers.


There are plenty of taxis available in major cities and can be found at hotels or outside major department stores. In the rural areas and smaller towns, you need to arrange taxis through the hotel reception.


Subways are only available in Beijing and Shanghai. The main transport used by the local people are bus and trolley bus services, which are usually crowded.


Visitors to China must have a valid passport with at least 6 months before expiry date. Suggested time to apply for visa is one month before your departure. Visa can be obtained directly from the Chinese Embassies or Consulates in your own country, or China Travel Service Offices. A completed visa application form together with one recent passport-size (2x2) photo are required.

Visitors can apply for single-entry visas which are valid for entry within three months. For business people and other regular visitors, you can apply for multiple-entry visas which are valid for for entry within six months. Each entry is valid for a stay of 30 or 60 days, and can be extended while in China.

For travelling to Tibet, please contact your local travel agency to obtain approval from the Tourist Bureau of Tibet before applying for visa.

Passport is needed to check into hotels, make plane or train reservations and exchange money or travellers cheques. In the unfortunate event that a passport is lost or stolen during your stay in China, it should be reported immediately to the holder's embassy or consulate, and the Public Security Bureau.

Arriving from abroad

On arrival in China from abroad, you will be given the Entry Registration Card, Quarantine Declaration Form and Custom Declaration Form to fill in on board before landing.

The following items are not permitted to be taken into China:

  • Weapons, ammunition or explosives
  • Forged currencies or forged valuable securities
  • Opium, heroin, marijuana and other addictive drugs
  • Plants, fruits, animals or other products
  • Foodstuffs, medicines or other products which come from areas with epidemics or which may spread diseases or contamination.


China's legal tender is Renminbi (RMB), the basic unit of RMB is Yuan (). Foreign currencies can not be used directly in China. The denominations of paper notes are 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 yuan; 5, 2 and 1 jiao; and 5, 2 and 1 fen. The denominations of coins are 1 yuan; 5, 2 and 1 jiao; and 5, 2 and 1 fen.


The electric voltage in China is 220V/50Hz and the standard wall socket has three-connectors (L, N and E). In most hotels there is usually a 110V socket for electric razors.


In case of illness during your stay in China, most major hotels usually have access to a doctor. If your condition is serious, arrangement can be made with local hospitals.


Written Language

Chinese is considered a difficult language for westerners to learn. This is because of the difference between the written and the spoken word. There is no alphabet and no link between sound and symbol. Chinese characters are highly stylised "pictures". Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi who reigned from 221-210 B.C. combined the various dialects into one written language. In 1954 the Beijing Government set up a "Committee for Reforming the Chinese Language for the promotion of universal literacy". Around 2200 Chinese characters were simplified.

Spoken Language

There are six major dialect groups in the People's Republic of China , which are subdivided into a multitude of regional dialects. The official language is Mandarin (Pŭtōnghuά, based on the dialect spoken in Beijing). The other major dialect is Cantonese (Gangzhouhuά), which is spoken in Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Here are some examples of the commonly used words & phrases in Mandarin:
The four tones:   ‾ high;  ′ rising;  ˇ falling-rising;  ̀ falling
We/us wŏmen
They tāmen
Hello nĭ hăo
Goodbye zi jin
Thank you xi xi
Youre welcome b k qi
Im sorry du b qĭ (qi is pronounced as tsee)
I dont understand wŏ tīng bu dŏng
I understand wŏ tīng de dŏng
I am from.. wŏ shi li de
Yes shi
No bu shi
It doesnt matter mĕi shi
Australia o d li y
Brazil bă xi
Canada jiā n d
Denmark dān mi
France fă gu
Germany d gu
Italy yī d li
Netherlands h ln
New Zealand xīn xī ln
Spain xī bān y
Sweden ru diăn
Switzerland ru sh
United Kingdom yīng gu
United States of America mĕi gu
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