Learn more about specific causes in China that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentThe deterioration of the environment is one the most concerning outcomes of China’s rapid economic expansion. The most severe environmental issues are air and water pollution, desertification, and erosion. China is the most populous nation in the world, and this population explosion has also caused significant loss of biodiversity and environmental degradation within the country.1 It is the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and levels of air pollution have, at times, shut down entire cities and been over 40 times higher than what is deemed safe to breathe by the World Health Organization. In 2015, China signed the Paris Accords which aimed to significantly cut world greenhouse gas emissions, but it is unclear if China will be able to significantly reduce Read More their carbon footprint to a level that will make a difference.2 Show Less
FamilyFamilies in China have undergone structural changes in recent years. Overall, there is an increasing tendency to marry later in life and have fewer children.1 In 2016, China relaxed its controversial one-child policy to allow families to legally have two children. Since its inauguration in the 1980s, the one-child policy created a large gender imbalance because boys are culturally preferred to girls. In 2012, it was estimated that there were 40 million more men than women in China.2 In addition, rates of domestic abuse in China are very high, and an estimated 40 percent of women who are married or in a relationship have suffered abuse at the hands of their partner.3
Human RightsChina has had a long history of unlawful detentions, arbitrary censorship of media, and the banning of international non-governmental organizations. There are cases of land seizures, abuses of power by government officials, forced evictions, and discrimination reported daily throughout the country.1 Advocates of human rights, religious groups, and protesters are frequently targets of surveillance and punitive detentions. Many websites, browsers, and common Western websites are blocked throughout China. Even with both the press and religion tightly regulated, there is a unique atmosphere of acceptance around the intense political constraints on the rights of the Chinese people.2 Estimates suggest that roughly 500,000 people are currently being detained without charge or trial.1
EducationAcademic achievement is highly valued in China, particularly in fields of science and technology. However, there are discrepancies in access to quality education. Urban areas have state funded education systems while rural areas suffer from a lack of funding and resources.1 The high school attendance rate in rural China is estimated to be as low as 40 percent. In addition, university enrollment has dramatically increased but constitutes only a relatively small percentage of the number of students enrolled in primary school. There is a gap in college attendance between urban and rural areas, with nearly 84 percent of Shanghai's high school students enrolling in college compared to only 5 percent of China’s rural poor.2 The national literacy rate is at 95 percent.3
PovertyChina was the first country to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing the number of individuals living in extreme poverty. Between 1981 and 2008, China reduced its poverty rate from 84 percent to 12 percent. Despite this achievement, China still faces difficulty in addressing enduring poverty. Economic growth and opportunities are concentrated in eastern coastal cities with rural regions being neglected. The unemployment rate is at 4.1% and approximately 6.1 percent live below the poverty line.1
ReligionThe Chinese Communist Party is officially atheist, and members of religious groups are often censored or detained by the state. China acknowledges Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism as state registered religions.1 Religious freedom varies by province. Muslims in the Xinjang province face significant restrictions on the practice of their faith because of their Turkish affiliations. Tibetan Buddhists also face restrictions on the practice of their faith in an effort to limit dissent and uprisings in the region.2 Approximately 18 percent of the population is Buddhist, 5 percent are Christian, 1 percent are Muslim, 21 percent adhere to traditional religions, and 52 percent are nonreligious.3
Clean WaterChina faces difficulties in providing clean, unpolluted water to all citizens. It is estimated that over half of groundwater resources do not meet international or national standards.1 The threat of severe water shortage could dramatically damage China’s agricultural and industrial industries, and their consumption exacerbates tensions with neighboring countries dependent on Chinese water and resources.2 Approximately 91 percent of the population has access to improved drinking water, but only 65 percent have access to adequate sanitation infrastructure.3
EconomyChina has seen rapid economic growth since 1978 when they turned from a centrally planned to a market based economy. The country now has a prominent role in international affairs and the global economy.1 China has earned the distinction of the world’s largest exporter and has successfully grown its GDP at a rate of nearly 10 percent each year.2 Despite this growth, China is still considered a developing country based on per capita income, and the rapid economic growth has made large income inequalities, very poor environment protection policies, and a lack of domestic consumption.1 The unemployment rate is at 4.1 percent and approximately 6.1 percent live below the poverty line.2
GovernmentThe People’s Republic of China is governed through a single-party system with one legislative house. The government is largely predicated on the decisions of the nation’s official political party, the Chinese Communist Party (CPP).1 Members of the CCP enjoy significant benefits such as access to more reliable access to information, higher-quality jobs, and valuable networking opportunities.2 Although independent candidates can technically run for office, these people are often intimidated or subject to corruption or fraud that prevents them from getting into office. There are high levels of government corruption, and many anticorruption initiatives have failed to address cases of fraud and a lack of disclosure of important budget documents.3
HealthDue to the size of the population and the mounting health concerns resulting from pollution, China faces immense obstacles in providing healthcare to all. Because of China’s healthcare system’s inability to keep up with population growth, the chief question is whether to devote resources to providing minimal care for many or to provide a high standard of care to a limited few. Rural areas often are the places that suffer a lack to healthcare.1 The greatest health concerns facing China today are due to environmental degradation. The concentration pollutants in the air, for example, is 40 times higher than the level deemed safe by the World Health Organization. This has led to respiratory and heart diseases, which are the leading causes of death in China. Read More There are over one million premature deaths annually that can be linked to air pollution. Babies born to mothers who have inhaled smog during pregnancies are at risk of slow brain development.2 Show Less
ChildrenChina has the highest number in the world of children who suffer from psychological disorders. Many are also subject to child labor and other forms of exploitation.1 Some children, especially those raised in rural areas, grow up without their parents present in their lives due to the pressure to seek better employment in major cities. This disrupts a natural family environment for children and increases the strain on youth and adolescents.2
AnimalsChina boasts a large variety of wildlife because of its size and varied terrain. The Great Panda, China’s flagship animal, is endangered with less than 2,000 left in the wild. China is the only place in the world these animals live outside of captivity, so conservation efforts have focused on protecting bamboo forests and pandas’ habitats.1 China has long been the target of animal activists who seek to end the eating of dog meat and the huge market for illegal animal products. In the last 20 years, animal protection groups and veterinary clinics have sprung up in China, mostly on the coast. This is somewhat due to the younger generation’s disinterest in owning things like shark fins and ivory.2
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