China has influenced the course of international development for thousands of years. With more than 1.35 billion people, China accounts for roughly 20 percent of the total world population. After decades of rapid economic growth, China overtook Japan to become the world's second largest economy in 2010.
China's international expansion, growing domestic market, raw material requirements, role as the world's factory, and related environmental issues have far-reaching implications for people and development around the world.
China stands at the head of the economic class of the original BRIC countries, which also include Brazil, Russia and India. After sustaining decades of annual GDP growth exceeding 10 percent, China overtook Japan in 2010 to become the world's second largest economy behind the U.S.
China's rapid economic growth and development is accompanied by the dramatic rise and growth of so-called mega-cities. People across China and other developing countries flock to cities in search of greater opportunity and higher living standards. The fruits of their labors and the economic advantages of cities' financial, human and social capital help fuel development and urbanization.
China's history is the world's history in many respects. With nearly 4,000 years of continuous history and culture, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations. China has been the world's greatest power for all but several hundred of the last two thousand years. Ancient China is credited with four of the world's great inventions: paper, printing, gunpowder and the compass.
November - Authorities present outspoken artist Ai Weiwei with $2.3m tax demand, which is paid by donations from his supporters.
2018 April - China announces it will impose 25% trade tariffs on a list of 106 US goods, including soybeans, cars, and orange juice, in retaliation for similar US tariffs on about 1,300 Chinese products.
The slight acceleration in economic growth in 2017--the first such uptick since 2010--gives Beijing more latitude to pursue its economic reforms, focusing on financial sector deleveraging and its Supply-Side Structural Reform agenda, first announced in late 2015.
In 2015, the People's Bank of China announced it would continue to carefully push for full convertibility of the renminbi, after the currency was accepted as part of the IMF's special drawing rights basket.
2011 February - China formally overtakes Japan to become the world's second-largest economy after Tokyo published figures showing a Japanese GDP rise of only four per cent in 2010.
From mid-2005 to late 2008, the renminbi (RMB) appreciated more than 20% against the US dollar, but the exchange rate remained virtually pegged to the dollar from the onset of the global financial crisis until June 2010, when Beijing announced it would resume a gradual appreciation.
2009 February - Russia and China sign $25bn deal to supply China with oil for next 20 years in exchange for loans.
2008 November - The government announces a $586bn (£370bn) stimulus package to avoid the economy slowing.
2007 October - China launches its first moon orbiter.
2001 June - Leaders of China, Russia and four Central Asian states launch the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and sign an agreement to fight ethnic and religious militancy while promoting trade and investment.
November - Communist Party leadership announces plans to relax one-child policy, in force since 1979.
According to the World Bank, China's GDP grew from $150 billion in 1978 to $12.24 trillion by 2017.
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