The People's Republic of China, commonly known as China ( ( listen); Chinese: 中国; pinyin: Zhōngguó), is a sovereign state located in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of over 1.35 billion. The PRC is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party, with its seat of government in the capital city of Beijing. It exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). The PRC also claims Taiwan – which is controlled by the Republic of China (ROC), a separate political entity – as its 23rd province, a claim controversial due to the complex political status of Taiwan and the unresolved Chinese Civil War.
Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres, China is the world's second-largest country by land area, but only the third or fourth-largest by total area, depending on the method of measurement. China's landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from forest steppes and the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts in the arid north to subtropical forests in the wetter south. The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from South and Central Asia. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometres (9,000 mi) long, and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East and South China Seas.
The ancient Chinese civilization – one of the world's earliest – flourished in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, known as dynasties, beginning with the semi-mythological Xia of the Yellow River basin (c. 2000 BCE). Since 221 BCE, when the Qin dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the country has expanded, fractured and been reformed numerous times. The Republic of China (ROC) overthrew the last dynasty in 1911, and ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949. After the defeat of the Empire of Japan in World War II, the Communist Party defeated the nationalist Kuomintang in mainland China and established the People's Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949, while the Kuomintang relocated the ROC government to its present de facto temporary capital of Taipei. To date, the ROC and PRC claim to be the legitimate government of all of China
Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China has become one of the world's fastest-growing major economies. As of 2013, it is the world's second-largest economy by both nominal total GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP), and is also the world's largest exporter and importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, with the second-largest defense budget. The PRC has been a United Nations member since 1971, when it replaced the ROC as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the BCIM and the G20. China is a regional power within Asia and has been characterized as a potential superpower by a number of commentators.
The flag of Hong Kong is red with a stylised, white, five-petal Bauhinia × blakeana flower in the centre. The red colour on this regional flag is the same as that on the national flag. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region flag was adopted on 16 February 1990, and received formal approval from the Preparatory Committee on 10 August 1996. The flag was first officially hoisted on 1 July 1997, in a historical ceremony marking the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the PRC. The precise use of the regional flag is regulated through laws passed by the 58th executive meeting of the State Council held in Beijing. The former colonial flag was used from 27 July 1959, to 30 June 1997, when Hong Kong was under British rule. It was a blue Union Jack ensign with the Hong Kong coat of arms on a white disk centred on the outer half of the flag.
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Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who is traditionally believed to be the author of The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy. Sun Tzu has had a significant impact on Chinese and Asian history and culture, both as an author of The Art of War and through legend. Sun Tzu, also known as Sun Tze or Sun Wu in other translations, was a historical figure whose authenticity is questioned by historians. It is a rough equivalent to "Sir" and is commonly translated into English as "Master". Traditional accounts place him in the Spring and Autumn Period of China (722–481 BC) as a military general serving under King Helü of Wu, who lived c. 544–496 BC. Modern scholars accepting his historicity place the completion of The Art of War in the Warring States period (476–221 BC), based on the descriptions of warfare in the text, and on the similarity of text's prose to other works completed in the early Warring States period. Traditional accounts state that his descendant, Sun Bin, also wrote a treatise on military tactics, titled Sun Bin's Art of War. Both Sun Wu and Sun Bin were referred to as Sun Tzu in classical Chinese writings, and some historians believed that Sun Wu was in fact Sun Bin until Sun Bin's own treatise was discovered in 1972. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Sun Tzu's The Art of War grew in popularity and saw practical use in Western society. His work continues to influence both Asian and Western culture and politics.
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The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, officially General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, is head of the Communist Party of China and the highest-ranking official within China, a standing member of the Politburo and head of the Secretariat. The officeholder is usually considered the paramount leader of China.
According to the Constitution, the General Secretary serves as an ex officio member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's de facto top decision-making body. Since the early 1990s, the holder of the post has been, except for transitional periods, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, making the holder the Commander-in-chief of the People's Liberation Army.
The current General Secretary is Xi Jinping (picture), who took the office at the 18th National Congress on 15 November 2012.
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