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The People's Republic of China (PRC; Simplified Chinese: 中华人民共和国, Traditional Chinese: 中華人民共和國; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó listen (help·info), or China) is a sovereign state in East Asia. The PRC has a coastline of 14,500 kilometres (9,010 mi), and borders (clockwise from south to northeast) Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, and North Korea. Its capital is Beijing.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has led the PRC under a one-party system since the country's establishment in 1949. Despite this, nearly 70% of the PRC's economy has been privatized in the past three decades under "Socialism with Chinese characteristics"  Economic reforms started since 1978 helped lift millions of people out of poverty, bringing the poverty rate down from 53% of population in 1981 to 8% by 2001. However, due to this mixing of market and planned economies, the PRC is faced with a number of problems associated with each, including unemployment and an increasing rural/urban income gap. Despite shortcomings, greater prosperity has led to growing Chinese influence in global economic, political, military, scientific, technological, and cultural affairs.
At over 3.7 million square miles (over 9.6 million km²), the PRC is the third or fourth largest country by total area. It is also the world's most populous nation, with over 1.3 billion people, about 20% of the world's population, majority of whom are classified as Han Chinese ethnic group.
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In an ongoing dispute, the PRC claims sovereignty over Taiwan and some nearby islands, which have been controlled by the Republic of China (ROC) since 1945. The PRC asserts the Republic of China to be an illegitimate and supplanted entity and administratively categorizes Taiwan as a province of the PRC. The ROC does not recognize these claims, administering itself as a sovereign country with a democratically elected government and presidency. The term "mainland China" is sometimes used to denote the area under the PRC's rule, but usually excludes the two Special Administrative Regions, Hong Kong and Macau.
The PRC is the world's fourth largest economy and second largest including market exchange rates and represents China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and APEC. China is the third largest exporter and importer in the world. Due to its large and growing population, its rapidly growing economy and military spending and capabilities,  the PRC is often considered an emerging superpower.
Main articles: History of China, History of the People's Republic of China, and Timeline of Chinese history
The Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with the Communist Party of China in control of the mainland, and the Kuomintang retreating to Taiwan and some outlying islands of Fujian. On October 1, 1949 Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China, declaring "the Chinese people have stood up."
Following a series of dramatic economic failures, Mao stepped down from his position as chairman in 1959, with Liu Shaoqi, elected by the National People's Congress, as successor. Mao still had a huge influence over the Party, but was removed from day-to-day management of economic affairs, which came under the control of a more moderate leadership consisting of Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, and others who initiated economic reforms.
In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, which is viewed by many analysts and historians as an attempt to purge the moderate leadership and strike-back at Mao's rivals by mobilizing the population in support of his thought. Mao's sympathizers argued it as an experiment in direct democracy and a genuine attempt at fighting corruption and other negative influences within Chinese society. However, Mao's personality cult at the time and the hierarchical structure of the "Red Guard," as well as the economic reconstruction needed after these events, tend to contradict this interpretation. Extreme disorder followed in the wake of the Cultural Revolution, but premier Zhou Enlai mediated its destructive impacts and helped the moderate forces regain influence.
After Mao's death in 1976 and the arrest of the despised Gang of Four, Deng Xiaoping quickly wrested power from Mao's anointed successor Hua Guofeng. Although Deng never became the head of the Party or State himself, his influence within the Party led the country to economic reforms, exemplified by one of his favorite sayings: "It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice." The Communist Party subsequently loosened governmental control over people's personal lives and the communes were disbanded with many peasants receiving multiple land leases, which greatly increased incentives and agricultural production. This turn of events marked China's transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy. The PRC adopted its current constitution on December 4, 1982.
Despite market reforms, the Communist Party of China remains in sole control, requiring the registration and supervision of all civic organizations. The CPC suppresses groups that it claims are threats to social stability and national unity, such as Falun Gong and the separatist movement in Tibet. Supporters of these policies claim that they safeguard stability in a society that was torn apart by class differences and rivalries, has no tradition of civil participation, and limited rule of law. Opponents claim that these policies severely curtail human rights and that they have resulted in a police state, creating an atmosphere of fear and ignorance.
Window washer on one of the thousands of skyscrapers in Shanghai. Chinese society has been rapidly modernizing in the last two decades, spawning the largest urban migration within a generation in human history.In 1989 the death of the pro-reform official, Hu Yaobang, helped to spark the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, during which students and others campaigned for democratic reform and freedom. The protests were soon put down on June 4 when PLA troops entered and forcibly cleared the square, resulting in hundreds of casualties. This event brought worldwide condemnation and sanctions against the PRC government. The June 4th incident has been a taboo subject within the government, though the Party did defend its actions by saying that it was necessary for the continued stability and economic development of the country.
President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji, both former mayors of Shanghai, led post-Tiananmen China in the 1990s, bringing unprecedented wealth and international standing to the country. Under Jiang Zemin's ten years of administration, China pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty and sustained an average annual GDP growth rate of 11.2%. The country formally joined the WTO in 2001. 
Although China needs economic growth to spur its development, the government has begun to worry that rapid economic growth could negatively impact the country's resources and environment. Another concern is that many people are not benefiting from China's economic miracle. As a result, the PRC, under current President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, have initiated policies to address these issues, but the outcome remains to be seen.
See also: Names of China
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