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China’s Huge Population: A Distinctive Characteristic of Chinese Modernization

By Qiu Ping Source: Updated: 2023-12-08

China's huge population: a distinctive national feature

China's population accounts for approximately one-fifth of the global total. To date, fewer than 30 countries, with a total population of less than a billion people, have industrialized. The most populous industrialized country is the United States, with 333 million or approximately a quarter of China's population, followed by Japan, with a population of 125 million or one-eleventh of China's population. Other industrialized countries, such as Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, South Korea, and Canada, have populations in the tens of millions. Portugal and Sweden have just over 10 million each, and the populations of Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Singapore are all in the order of a few millions. Thus, China's huge population is a distinctive feature.

China's huge population: a daunting and complex challenge

China's population is unevenly distributed. While the east and southeast of the country are densely populated, the west and northwest are sparsely populated. Per capita arable land, water, and mineral resources in China are all below the global averages. Per capita arable land is less than half the global average and per capita water resources are approximately a quarter of the global average. Due to its enormous population base, a small issue multiplied by more than 1.4 billion, could make a global issue, and when the total amount of wealth is divided by 1.4 billion, it becomes small in per capita terms. Thus, the difficulties and complexities facing Chinese modernization are unprecedented.

China's huge population: the need for original solutions

The country's extensive history, glorious culture, unique values, and culture ethos determine that its modernization has no ready-made model to learn from and no precedent to follow. Western modernization followed a phased process of consecutive industrialization, urbanization, agricultural modernization, and informatization, whereas Chinese modernization is a simultaneous process with overlapping industrialization, informatization, urbanization, and agricultural modernization. Thus, the development path and progress of Chinese modernization have features that are unique to the Chinese context.

China's huge population: contributing to the advancement of human civilization

Since China implemented the policy of reform and opening up in 1978, it has lifted 800 million people out of poverty, accounting for an impressive 70% of the reduction in global poverty. Chinese modernization has shattered the myth that equates modernization with Westernization. It has presented the world with a novel prospect and a new model of modernization that gives developing countries an alternative choice. It has contributed Chinese insight, solutions, and strength to the peace and development of humanity.