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Fast Facts
  1. China manufactures more than 70 percent of the world’s toys.
  2. China produces more than half of all the world’s sporting goods.
  3. In 2002, 60 percent of all Internet spam originated in China.
  4. By 2007, there will be more websites written in Chinese than in any other language.
  5. China’s three most popular surnames—Li, Wang and Zhang—are shared by 270 million Chinese, equal to the entire population of the United States.
  6. More than 200 million people in China are studying English. English is a compulsory subject for all Chinese primary school students.
  7. Beijing is expanding its National Library to make it the third largest in the world (after the Library of Congress and the British Library) and the biggest in Asia. The National Library was established inside a temple in 1909.
  8. More copies of The Quotations of Chairman Mao have been sold than any book except the Bible.
  9. At the end of the 18th century, China accounted for one-third of the world’s population and nearly half of its wealth.
  10. Imperial China’s achievements include the invention of paper, movable type, the compass, the first ocean-going vessels and gunpowder.
  11. China’s foreign exchange reserves stand at more than US$350 billion.
  12. Olympic diver Fu Mingxia became the youngest world sporting champion at age 12 in 1991. This record is unlikely to be broken since the minimum age for major competitions is now 14.
  13. The five gold stars on the Chinese flag represent the five major ethnic groups of China. The large gold star symbolizes the Han majority, and the four smaller stars represent the Manchurian, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Muslim ethnic groups. The scarlet field of the flag symbolizes the huge number of lives sacrificed in the Communist revolution.
  14. The number of vehicles on Beijing’s traffic-choked roads has surpassed two million, meaning there is one car-owner for every four residents in the capital. The number of vehicles in Beijing rose from 2,300 in 1979 to one million in 1997.
  15. More than 320 million people in China smoke—equal to the smoking population of all developed countries combined.
  16. Tobacco accounts for 70 percent of the income of the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan.
  17. The annual value of the global traditional medicine market is US$10 billion. Although the earliest recorded use of herbal medicine is in China, the PRC accounts for only 3 percent of the international traditional medicine market.
  18. China’s biggest box office hit to date is the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic, which took in ¥320 million (US$38.6 million).
  19. There are more than 117 males born in China for every 100 females. Worldwide, the ratio is between 105 and 107 males to 100 females. In some rural areas in China, there are twice as many boys born as girls. Twenty years ago, the male-female birth ratio in China was comparable to the global average.
  20. Discrimination in favor of male offspring has greatly increased since the introduction of the one-child policy in 1982. Despite laws banning the practice, many women undergo ultrasound scans and abort the fetus if it is believed to be female.
  21. Boys have been traditionally favored in Chinese families because they carry on the family name, are seen as having greater earning potential and will be able to provide for their parents in old age.
  22. The skewed gender ratio means that by 2020, there could be 100 million mainland bachelors.
  23. In poverty-stricken rural China, 80 percent of trafficked babies are girls. The rest are boys with a health problem or deformity.
  24. Suicide accounts for 3.6 percent of the total annual deaths in China. It is the fifth major killer, behind cranial vascular disease, bronchitis, liver cancer and pneumonia. Suicide is the number one killer among people aged 15-34. The female suicide rate is 25 percent higher than the male rate.
  25. Ten percent of men in China—most of them affluent—report that they frequent prostitutes. Most of the sex is unprotected.
  26. China has more than 10,000 orphans, aged 15 and under, who have lost their parents to AIDS.
  27. Experts believe the number of HIV sufferers in China exceeds 1.5 million, and the UN says the number could soar to 10 million by 2010 if the government does not do more to contain the disease.
  28. Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death through infection in China, with about 5 million infected people and 130,000 TB deaths each year.
  29. Less than 10 percent of high school graduates in China are admitted to a university.
  30. China has less than 1,000 institutions of higher learning.
  31. The traditional Chinese wedding gift is still cash, stuffed in red envelopes which are discreetly slipped to the couple then counted behind closed doors.
  32. In the early 1970s, Chairman Mao Zedong ordered a six-door stretch limousine to be built to show his confidence in China’s fledgling auto industry. The super-long Red Flag limousine, complete with refrigerator, desk and double sofa bed, was the first and last produced by the First Automobile Works.
  33. China has an average of six policemen for every 10,000 residents, a quarter of the ratio in the United States.

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