1.4 Global Challenges Facing China

7 min readdecember 31, 2022

Emily Guo

Emily Guo



AP Chinese 🇨🇳

53 resources
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Introduction to Global Challenges Facing China

China is a country that has experienced some major changes in recent years, and as it continues to play a bigger role on the global stage, it's facing some challenges. In this guide, we'll take a look at some of the political, environmental, social, demographic, and international issues that China is currently dealing with. By understanding these challenges, we can get a better sense of the complexity of China's place in the world today.
There are several global challenges that China currently faces, including:
  1. Economic challenges: China's economic growth has slowed in recent years, and the country faces the challenge of maintaining a high level of economic growth while also addressing issues such as income inequality and environmental degradation.
  2. Environmental challenges: China is facing a number of environmental challenges, including air and water pollution, deforestation, and climate change. The country is working to address these issues through a range of measures, including the development of renewable energy sources and the implementation of stricter environmental regulations.
  3. Political challenges: China is a one-party state, and the government faces the challenge of maintaining stability and ensuring the continuation of the Chinese Communist Party's rule.
  4. Demographic challenges: China's population is aging, and the country is facing the challenge of providing healthcare and social services to an increasing number of elderly citizens.
The sections below ⬇️ cover these challenges in more detail.

China’s Economic Challenges

China is facing a number of economic challenges as it tries to balance the need for economic growth with the need to address social and environmental issues.
One of China's biggest economic challenges is maintaining a high level of economic growth. While the country has experienced rapid economic growth in recent decades, its economy has slowed down in recent years. This has led to concerns about the country's ability to continue providing jobs and improving living standards for its citizens.
Another economic challenge for China is addressing income inequality. While China has made significant progress in reducing poverty, there are still significant disparities in wealth between different regions and social groups. The government is working to address this issue through measures such as increasing social spending and promoting the development of less-developed areas.
China's economic growth has also led to environmental challenges, such as air and water pollution, deforestation, and climate change. The government is facing the challenge of finding ways to continue driving economic growth while also protecting the environment and addressing these issues.

China’s Environmental Challenges

  1. 🌫 Air pollution: China has some of the worst 🌫 air quality in the world, with high levels of particulate matter and other pollutants in its cities. This pollution is caused by a variety of factors, including the burning of coal for energy, vehicle emissions, and industrial activity.
  2. 💦 Water pollution: China's rivers and lakes are heavily polluted, with high levels of chemical and industrial waste and agricultural runoff. This pollution is a major threat to the country's water resources and has a negative impact on the health of its citizens.
  3. 🌲 Deforestation: China has experienced significant deforestation in recent decades, leading to soil erosion, desertification, and habitat loss. This has had negative impacts on the country's biodiversity and its ability to combat climate change.
  4. 🌡️ Climate change: China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and the country is facing the challenge of reducing its carbon emissions in order to address global warming.
The Chinese government has taken a number of steps to address these environmental challenges, including the development of renewable energy sources, the implementation of stricter environmental regulations, and the promotion of conservation and reforestation efforts. However, there is still much work to be done in order to protect China's environment and address these challenges.

China’s Political Challenges

China is a one-party state governed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP has been in power since 1949 and has maintained a monopoly on political power in the country. This has led to a number of political challenges, including:
  1. 💪 Human rights: China has a poor record on human rights, with widespread censorship and the suppression of political opposition. The country has been criticized by international organizations and governments for its treatment of ethnic minorities, including the Uighurs in Xinjiang, as well as for its lack of free and fair elections.
  2. 🌀 Political stability: China's one-party rule has led to stability and economic growth in the country, but it has also led to a lack of political pluralism and the suppression of dissent. There are concerns that this could lead to social unrest and instability in the long term.
  3. 💰 Corruption: Corruption is a significant problem in China, with high levels of corruption among government officials and state-owned enterprises. This has led to widespread public discontent and has undermined the government's legitimacy.
  4. 🌍 International relations: China's rise as a global power has led to tensions with other countries, particularly with the 🇺🇸 United States and other Western powers. These tensions have centered on issues such as trade, human rights, and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The Chinese government is facing the challenge of addressing these political issues while also maintaining stability and the continuation of CCP rule.

China’s Demographic Challenges

As of 2020, the current Chinese 🇨🇳 population is roughly 1.4 billion ‼️ That's about 19% of the world's population. This doesn't even include 华人 ((huárén) overseas Chinese)! There is an estimated 50 million overseas Chinese, with the majority coming from the Han ethnic group. However, the estimated growth rate is roughly about only 0.59% a year.
The rapid expansion of the Chinese population back in the early 20th century led to the government stepping in to limit children. In under 30 years, from 1949 to 1979, the population grew from about 540 million to 969 million ‼️

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

1️⃣ 🧒 一孩政策 (yī hái zhèngcè (The One-Child Policy)) was implemented in the 1970s. It was required that for urban families, there could only be 1 child per family. Because of this, female infanticide was extremely common, because it was thought that women couldn't continue the family by passing on the family name and so boys were favored. This led to a great disproportionate ratio of men to women for that generation. Another effect is the idea that the one child lifestyle led to a generation where traditional culture faded quicker than ever before.
Although named the One Child Policy, in many regions outside of cities, families were allowed to have 2️ children if the first child was a daughter. Ethnic minorities also got a couple exceptions. This was because the policy was meant to reduce the population growth, not workers. Rural families wanted boys so that they could do the physically laboring work, and considered girls to not be able to do as much, therefore allowing that exception. In fact, there were actually about a minimum of 22 ways where citizens could be allowed to have a 2nd baby (meeting the conditions, of course). Even with that rule, there was an estimated 600 million births prevented since the policy went into affect in 1979.
The issue now is that people don't wish to raise more than one child. This is mostly because the costs to raise a child from birth to adulthood are too much. Around 2050, about a third of the population in China will be over 65 years old, which makes the population disproportionate. Along with the issue of the lack of young people to look after the previous generations (as in filial piety), there will be less people in the workforce, potentially causing economic issues. "Raising" a child mostly refers to "how to make that child successful." It isn't about being able to feed a child, but investing in a child by having them taking multiple classes from a young age such as instrument lessons, specialized school learning, etc. City children are usually always fully booked with weekend classes. In addition, there are entrance exams for middle school, high school, and college. A lot of effort is placed on having children take specialized classes for these exams. In a sense, education is all a competition.
Along with that, there is a "requirement" that men have to own a home in order to get married. If they don't own a house , they literally cannot get married. This responsibility usually will fall upon the parents to provide their son with an additional house.
As seen earlier, historically, having children is a main purpose for marriage in China . There is constant pressure for couples to get married, and then to have children immediately after. If couples don't have children, they are considered to have "incomplete lives" and are considered "unfilial."
Even in the present as more and more couples who choose not to have children, there is still extreme pressure to continue the family tree. As a result, some couples decide to have children but let them be raised by the grandparents as a way to satisfy the cultural pressure.
Couples who choose not to have children are living what is known as the "DINK" lifestyle. That stands for Double Income, No Kids (丁客族(dīngkè zú)/丁克家庭(dīng kè jiātíng)), representing a couple that are childfree with both partners earning an income but choosing not to invest in kids by having children.

Related Vocabulary

  • 一孩政策(yī hái zhèngcè)—The One-Child Policy
  • 成功(chénggōng)—Success
  • 补习班(bǔxí bān)—Cram School (Test-prep)
  • 培训班(péixùn bān)—Training Class (with a specific focus)
  • 小学(xiǎoxué)—Primary School/Elementary School
  • 中学(zhōngxué)—Secondary School (In China: 7th-12th Grade
  • 初中(chūzhōng)—Middle School (In China: 7th-9th Grade)
  • 高中(gāozhōng)—High School (In China: 10th-12th Grade)
  • 丁客族(dīngkè zú)/丁克家庭(dīng kè jiātíng)—DINK (Double Income, No Kids)
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