China Geography and Transportation

Central and eastern Asian state. The name comes from the Portuguese China, which the first Portuguese explorers learned from the Indians or the Malays, and in all probability derives from that of the Chinese Qin dynasty (221-206 BC) under whose dominion China was unified. The Chinese call their country Zhongguo “middle country” and also Zhonghua “middle flower”. Officially it was from 1912 Zhonghua minguo “Republic of China”, and from 1949 Zhonghua renmin gonghe guo “People’s Republic of China”; the name Republic of China was retained by the government installed in Taiwan (➔).

The name Han, from the dynasty of the same name (206 BC-220 AD), indicates the Chinese in the strict sense, compared to the other populations (Mongols, Tibetans, etc.) who inhabit the republic. The name Sgrikò (Sùreq for the residents) with which the Greeks indicated the merchant peoples of the Central Asian oases, was later extended to C .; in the Middle Ages in the West the China was called Catai (➔).

According to, proper China extends from 20 ° to 43 ° lat. N and from 98 ° to 122 ° long. And Greenwich. The Chinese state, however, also includes vast regions outside China understood in a geographical sense, such as Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, the Xinjiang, the Tibet. The provinces corresponding to these historical-geographical regions constitute a sort of band that embraces the area of ​​the China proper from NE to SW, keeping it separate from the neighboring states: towards E, North Korea and Russia; towards N Russia and Mongolia; to O Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India ; to SW and S Nepal and India. The People’s Republic of China then borders, to the South, with Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Vietnam, and is bordered to the South by the South China Sea and to the East by the East China Sea, in which there are several islands. In the surface indicated in the table, on the basis of which the People’s Republic of China is the third state in the world after the Russian Federation and Canada, areas still in dispute are included. While the northern and western land borders (i.e. those with the countries already part of the Soviet Union and Mongolia) are defined, albeit only by the last years of the 20th century, large tracts of territory on the border are still subject to cross-claims. between China and India. The border with Vietnam also lacks a recognized definition; the dispute over the borders was also one of the causes at the origin, in 1979, of the brief Chinese invasion of Vietnam, during which, according to Vietnamese sources, the Chinese troops would have rectified the border in several places to the advantage of their country. The Paracelsus (Xisha) and Spratly (Nansha) Islands are also the subject of an unsolved dispute with Vietnam, the latter also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei: these tiny coral islands have a very important position for military control of the China Sea. Southern and for the extension of the fishing areas, and would rest on a continental shelf rich in hydrocarbons. After several armed clashes, both China and Vietnam have militarily occupied some islands and granted mineral exploration rights to Western oil companies. However, the most serious and repeated frictions are those with India, along the entire border, both to the West and E of Nepal; the contested regions include some Himalayan passes of great strategic value. Following specific agreements, Hong Kong and Macao were returned to China, respectively by Great Britain (1997) and Portugal (1999), and are fully part of the Chinese territory, with the status of ‘special administrative regions’. Finally, it should be remembered that China considers it to be part of the national territory (‘the 23a province ‘) the island of Formosa (Taiwan) and related dependencies, i.e. the entire Republic of China, which is officially defined as the’ rebel province ‘.

Routes of communication and transport

In a country the size of China and with an ongoing modernization process for over half a century, the transport network can only have assumed a role of absolute importance. Since the earliest economic plans, the development of railways has become a constant in the infrastructure of the country, which today has about 62,000 km of lines in operation (less than a third electrified), on which 40% of goods and 45% transit % of passengers. As with the rest of the elements of modernity, also in the case of the railways, it is the eastern and especially north-eastern regions that boast the highest density. However, there is no lack of inward penetration lines, in the W and SW direction. In inland regions, the provision of roads is proportionally better; these amount to a total of over 1.8 million km, about 80% asphalted. Despite the rapid growth, however, vehicular traffic is still relatively low and above all very concentrated in eastern urban areas, where several motorway sections have been built; however, the set of commercial vehicles is important (9 million units), to which the branching of the road network is mainly destined.

A large part of the transport of goods (about 45%) takes place by water, on the very extensive network of canals and navigable rivers of the Chinese lowland; for its part, the conspicuous maritime fleet plays a role of considerable importance worldwide, especially in long-range transport for third parties, a field in which some Chinese shipping companies are now leaders in the freight market.

Air transport is also quite developed, especially for passenger movement (about 138 million in 2005). Finally, the growth of tourism of international origin has been remarkable and rapid: about 42 million visitors (mainly from Asia).

Commercial activities

Foreign trade, after having seen trade with the Soviet Union prevail until the 1950s, and having turned in the following decade to the recently independent Third World countries, only since the 1970s has it opened up to some industrialized countries (in the first place Japan and South Korea) and only from the following did it begin to manifest itself pervasively on all world markets. The entry into the WTO (2001) definitively sanctioned the opening of the China and, while favoring the sudden and massive inflow of foreign capital, has seen Chinese exports grow dramatically in almost every manufacturing sector (electrical engineering and electronics for over 20% of the total value, mechanics for 15%, textiles and clothing for 15%) and stably exceed imports; since 2003 the China it is the fourth country in the world (after the United States, Japan and Germany), not only for overall production, but also for contribution to international trade. The main suppliers are Japan, the United States, South Korea and Germany; the main customers are the United States, Hong Kong (which from a commercial point of view appears separately in the statistics), Japan, South Korea, Germany, followed by numerous European countries including Italy.

The monetary unit is the renminbi, or the People’s Bank currency (known primarily as the yuan and divided into 10 jiao and 100 fen), which was established on March 1, 1955 to replace the old yuan.

China Transportation