China’s development over recent decades has been impressive, as successive rounds of reform have seen the country both improve its standard of living and open up to more global engagement. The country has made remarkable progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, especially the goal on poverty reduction which was achieved many years in advance. China is now classified as an upper middle income nation with an economy gradually transitioning away from an export-led model toward a consumption-based one.
The People’s Republic of China was established in 1949. While initially founded as a socialist state with a centrally planned economy, it now has a mixed economy, described by its government as “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
China has enjoyed almost 30 boom years with GDP growing in double-digits, raising 500 million people out of poverty. In 2008, Beijing was the host nation for the Olympic Games, delivering a widely-acclaimed Olympiad that showcased the country’s progress to the rest of the world.
Late 2012 saw the CPC’s decennial leadership change at its 18th National Party Congress, with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao replaced by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang respectively.
China’s rapid development has brought myriad benefits but also significant new challenges that need to be met. Such challenges include environmental issues and income inequality. For example, there are still an estimated 157 million people living on less than 1.25 USD per day in China, mostly in rural western China. The government is committed to tackling these challenges, and in many cases is drawing upon UNDP's expertise and experience in doing so.
China today enjoys the status of being one of the most influential nations on earth. With a population of 1.3 billion it is the world’s most populous country. It has the world's second largest economy in absolute terms. Chinese companies now conduct business in every major continent, most notably as Africa’s biggest trading partner.
China’s 2013 Human Development Index score of 0.719 also represents remarkable progress from its score of 0.407 in 1980, reflecting considerable improvements in life expectancy and access to education, as well as increased incomes.