Social and Cultural Analysis of China Essay Sample

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Introduction

            China is a multiethnic state with the Han being the most dominant ethnic group. China has a total of 56 ethnic groups with 55 forming the minorities. China is one of the oldest people with the largest world language. Her influence is very prominent in the region, with Japan, Vietnam and Korea embracing her social and cultural system. The first human species is postulated to have been found in China dating back 500,000 years in history.  She has got the world’s highest population of 1,338,612,968 according to the 2008 population Census. It’s the largest producer of green house gases and carbon dioxide overtaking the United States in 2006 besides refusing to be party to the famous Kyoto protocol (CIA, 2009)

Ethnic Groups in China

China has a total of fifty six ethnic groups. The main ethnic groups in China are the Hui, Mongol, Zhuang, Miao, Uyghur, the Han Chinese that make up 91.5 % of the population while the Buyi, Korean, Manchu, Yao, Tujia, Dong, Korean, Tibetan and other ethnic groups that account for 8.5% of the population( CIA, 2009)

The Han Chinese has an estimated population of about 1159.4 million according to the 2000 population census making them the largest ethnic group in the world. Manchu ethnic group is the second largest after the Han Chinese. It has a distinctive lingua and can be found in Liaoning and other provinces. The Hui have an estimated population of about 9.8 million and form one of the largest minorities. They are found in the Hui Autonomous region and the Ningxia regions (Easy Tour China, 2006) 

Ethnic Conflicts

A major ethnic conflict erupted between the Hui and the Han ethnic groups .Both sides were armed with spears and other traditional paraphernalia. It took the efforts of more than 10,000 military to restore calm in the Nanbei Street which resulted into 148 fatalities making it the worst ethic clash in years that ended the ethnic harmony that had characterized the communities for centuries. Conflicts have been there by they rarely culminated into deaths. The Hui’s are always agitating for equal recognition of their religion and they have been known to be a very radical and aggressive people. The government though has always played down these conflicts in order to avoid an eminent social disorder. The highly populated Han do impose their standards on the minorities and sideline them in major areas both locally and nationally. The infringement of Han Chinese on the Uyghurs religion has been a source of strife given that about 250,000 Han Chinese migrate every year into Urumqi, Uyghurs autonomous capital, accounting for about 95% of the city’s population (Hanna Beech, 2004)

Religions

China has a rich religious diversity with over 100 million belonging to different religious groups and an estimated 3,000 associations for worship in the region. China has various religious groups namely: Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Shamanism and the Dongba. To begin with, Taoists and the Buddhists form the largest religions in China with Christianity and Islam accounting for only 4% and 2% respectively. Buddhists have over 13,000 temples of worship, with about 200, 000 nuns and monks. Taoism is based on the traditional belief of Lao Zi, who pursued immortality and supernatural deities. Taoist followers have build over 1500 temples headed by 25, 000 nuns and monks. Secondly, 18 million Chinese are Islam with over 30, 000 mosques which are headed by over 40,000 Imams. Most Hui’s are Muslims. And lastly, China has more than ten million Christians and not less than 12, 000 churches besides 25, 000 other places of worship. (Easy Tour China, 2006)

Languages

Most Chinese people speak Mandarin or standard Chinese. Also referred to Guanhua, it’s used in Southern and Northern China. It is the main official language of China. Those who speak Cantonese are found to the South east of China whereas Hakka speakers are in Guangdong, Hunan, Hainan, Surinam, Fujian and other provinces of China. Other dialects are Wu, Minnan, Gan, and the Xiang (China language, 2008)

Migration

Emigration from China dates back to the 14th Century. But the 19th century migration was phenomenal given China’s increasing population, political upheavals and famines in diverse places. The Chinese population in Diaspora grew from a mere 8.7 million in 1948 to 34 million in 1998.  Asia accounts for the lion’s share of 80% the Chinese population in Diaspora followed by 15% the South and the North America and Europe coming a distant third with about 968,000 Chinese(Wang, 2004)

Population

China has an estimated poplaution of about 1,338,612,968 people according to the 2008 Census.  Population grows at annual rate of 0.655% (CIA, 2009)

Family Considerations (One Child Policy)

The one child policy was introduced in 1979 following the robust population in the 1950s and the 1960s that threatened the nation’s economic and social stability.  The policy puts restrictions on family size, encourages late marriages, and restrains Chinese from giving birth to more than one child.  The policy aimed at reducing China’s population to 1.2 billion by 2000. The State Family Planning Bureau is charged with overseeing the overall policy implementation. The policy however has certain exemptions for families with a disabled child, parents working in risky occupations and it  allows a second child provided the first child was a girl. Several incentives are given for compliance while non compliance carries heavy penalties that include fines and dismissal from employment.  The policy has fostered use of contraceptives among women with an almost 87% of women relying on family planning methods.  As a result about 300 million births have been prevented and fertility rate has fallen from 2.9 in 1979 to 1.7 in 2004 (Hesketh, 2005)

Crime Rates

A total 4.75 million cases of crime were reported in 2007 slightly higher than 2006. Among the declining crimes were the bomb detonation and homicides.  Crime rate rose sharply by 2 million from the 1990s to 4 million in 2000 with burglary, theft and robbery on the increase.  In 2007, 586 cases were reported as explosives and 6, 011 arsons representing 25.2% and 11.3 % drop from 2006 respectively.  China is bedeviled with other crimes including unlawful fundraising, tax evasions and fraud which added up to 84, 000 crimes in 2007 representing a 4.2 % rise from the previous year (Reuters, 2008)

Literacy levels

According to CIA (2009), literacy level is defined as persons beyond the age of 15 who can be able to read or write. China has one of the highest literacy levels which stood at 90.9 % in the 2000 population census.  The literacy level for males and females literacy is 95.1% and 86.5 % respectively.  Human Development Index is a composite value that measures a healthy life, education level and the standard of living of persons within a country. China’s Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.777 ranking the 81st out of 177 countries.  The 2005 HDI literacy rate, life expectancy rate, combined education and GDP per capita stood at 90.9%, 72.5%, 69.1% and US$ 6,757 respectively (HDR, 2008)

The Effect of Social Cultural factors on Global Warming

The rising population and the need to find livelihood among the Chinese is predisposing them to the dangers of global warming. China has experienced a rapid industrialization over the past decades and which has subsequently stepped up carbon emission in the air. Snow in the Tibet region of China is warming at an alarming rate of 0.3 Celsius degrees every 10 years. Consequently, the glaciers and the snows are melting raising the fear droughts, desertification and sandstorms (VOA, 2008).

The number of mobile callers in China is about a half a billion. Scientists from Columbia have shown that when billions of people make calls they heat up the waves and raise global warming (China Herald, 2007)

Conclusion

China enjoys a rich and diverse cultural and social system that will continue to make her the masterpiece of modern and future civilization. Her role on the global economic and social platform is undeniable whether one talks about global warming, population, financial markets and culture. She is at the centre of current and unfolding issues that puzzles even the field of academia.

References

(China Herald, 2007. Mobile calls cause global warming. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 from http://www.chinaherald.net/2007/05/mobile-calls-cause-global-warming.html

(China language, 2008. Mandarin. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 from http://chinalanguage.com/content/index.php?c=book&id=29

CIA, (2009). World Fact Book. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html

Easy Tour China, (2006). Manchu Ethnic Group. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 from http://www.easytourchina.com/china-specials/Manchu.htm

Easy Tour China,( 2006). Religions in China. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 from http://www.easytourchina.com/china-specials/Religion-in-China.htm

Hanna Beech, (2004). Henan’s Ethnic Tensions. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,501041115-750858,00.html

HDR, (2008). 2007/2008 Human Development Report. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 from http://hdrstats.undp.org/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_CHN.html

Hesketh, T. (2005). The Effect of China’s One Child Family Policy after 25 years. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 from http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/353/11/1171

Reuters, (2008). China says crime rate high, but serious crimes down. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 http://uk.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUKPEK3065420080130

VOA, (2008). China sees big global warming effects in Tibet. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 from http://www.voanews.com/tibetan/archive/2007-07/2007-07-23-voa1.cfm

Wang, 2004. A case study of Migration and mission of Chinese. Retrieved 23rd March 2009 from http://www.missiology.org/missionchina/ChineseDiaspora-Missiology.pdf

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