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China Education Facts


Since 2011, China has achieved the UN goal of giving all children the opportunity to attend the nine-year primary school. But conditions look different in different parts of the country. In big cities, for example, literacy is higher, and teachers are more and more educated than in smaller communities. An important goal for China’s leadership during the 2010s has been to better allocate resources and reach out with more support for less fortunate.

In recent years, the government has strived for more Chinese children aged 3-6 to attend preschool. The compulsory compulsory school starts at the age of six, when they first read a six-year lower stage and then a three-year high school. Many then continue at a three-year continuation stage (equivalent to a high school) for another three years.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of China, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

But the differences between the city and the countryside are large. In remote areas of the country, students may be forced to walk several hours a day to get to and from school. In the cities, the schools have far more resources and a larger proportion of students complete the compulsory school and move on to studies at higher levels. It is also not uncommon for parents to pay extra sneakily to allow their children to attend the best schools.

Literacy varies greatly between different parts of the country; in Tibet, just over a third of the adult population is said to be illiterate, while for example the province of Jilin has a literacy rate of 96 percent.

Compulsory education should be free of charge, but many schools are required to charge other school-related fees. This means that some poor rural families are forced to refrain from sending their children to school, especially girls being placed outside. Rural migrants have more difficulty accessing urban education and are required to pay higher school fees in the private schools to which they are referred.

The school students have a hard time with long school days, many homework and tests. The government wants to lighten the burden on the students and has decided that schools must abolish their own entrance exams, which many schools use in addition to the national exams that all students need to pass in order to start in the advanced phase and at the university. The government establishes specialization and curriculum for the schools in special ten-year plans. These are implemented by the provinces and local administrations.

Vocational education is also of great importance in China and is available at both upper secondary and college level.

The proportion of young Chinese who acquire higher education has increased. Competition in the entrance exams to the best universities is extremely fierce. The number of students has increased sharply in recent years and new colleges and universities have started at a rapid pace. At the same time, many Chinese – still around 2 percent at the end of the 2010s – still choose to obtain education abroad.

Since Xi Jinping took office as president in 2013, the regime has tightened control over the ideological content of higher education. University teachers who, for example, express themselves critically about Mao in teaching can get rid of their jobs and books that advocate Western liberal ideas must not be included in the course literature. In addition, Xi Jinping has demanded that education strive to strengthen students’ loyalty to the party, the country and the people.

China’s main higher education institutions include Beida and Qinghua in Beijing, Fudan University and Shanghai Jiatong in Shanghai, and Zhongshan in Guangzhou.

  • Searchforpublicschools: Offers schooling information of China in each level – compulsory, technical and higher education programs.


Proportion of children starting primary school

89.1 percent (1997)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

17 (2017)

Reading and writing skills

95.1 percent (2010)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

12.6 percent (1999)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

12.6 percent (1999)



China denies oil supplies to North Korea

December 29

The government rejects accusations from US President Donald Trump who tweeted that China was seized for shipping oil to North Korea, in violation of UN sanctions imposed in September. Trump says he is “very disappointed”. The data comes from the government of South Korea and concerns about 30 oil deliveries with Chinese and North Korean vessels since October. In a newspaper interview with the New York Times, Trump suggests that trade measures may be needed against China. The week before Christmas, the UN Security Council tightened its sanctions further on North Korea. The decision was unanimous and was therefore also supported by China.

China builds in the South China Sea

December 15

According to an institute in Washington DC (Center for Strategic and International Studies), China has continued to build radar systems and other infrastructure that can be used for military purposes on artificial reefs and copper (including Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef, Tree Island and Triton Island) as belongs to the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

President Xi and South Korea’s president want better relations

December 14

At a meeting in Beijing between President Xi and South Korean President Moon Jae-In, they agree on four principles to adhere to in the North Korean conflict: war can never be tolerated, Korean peninsula should be nuclear-free, all issues resolved through dialogue and negotiations and the aim is to improve relations between the Korean states. Both leaders also expressed a desire to continue to improve relations between China and South Korea, which deteriorated at the beginning of the year in connection with South Korea’s decision to set up the US missile defense system THAAD to protect itself against possible missile attacks from North Korea. Xi and Moon will also agree to start negotiations on extending the free trade agreement between the countries to include the services and finance sectors as well.

Criticism against US military ships visiting Taiwan

December 14

China accuses the United States of meddling in the country’s internal affairs after President Donald Trump signed a law allowing US and Taiwanese military ships to exchange visits. Such visits have not taken place since 1979, when the US broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Beijing believes that the new law is contrary to the prevailing China policy.

Demonstration in Beijing against the migration of migrant workers

December 10

Hundreds of protesters take part in protests after Beijing authorities forced tens of thousands of migrant workers to move from their houses on the outskirts of the capital. Public protests are unusual, not least in Beijing, and the state-controlled media does not report on the demonstration. The protesters, including intellectuals and ordinary Peoples of the middle class, carry placards stating that “forced movements violate human rights”. The migrant workers who have moved are from the country and are not registered in the capital under the hukou system. After a fire started in a suburban area where many migrant workers lived in November, the authorities launched a campaign. Migrant workers’ housing was reported to be illegal and did not maintain safety requirements.

China and Panama will start free trade negotiations

December 8

According to Zhengsourcing, the governments of China and Panama announce that they will begin negotiations on a free trade agreement in June 2018. Panama severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in June 2017.

China critical of investment agreement between the Philippines and Taiwan

December 8

After the Philippines and Taiwan signed a joint investment agreement, Beijing protests, which believes that Taiwan belongs to China and therefore does not have the right to conclude its own agreements with other countries.

China criticizes Australia

December 6

The Chinese government accuses the Australian government of creating anti-Chinese sentiments in Australia and calls on the Australian ambassador to bring criticism. The play comes after Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the day before that comprehensive reforms will be implemented to stop attempts to infiltrate and influence foreign powers. In this context, Turnbull cites “alarming reports” of Chinese influence attempts, including that the Communist Party in China should have donated money to Australian politicians.

Hotline between China and Japan

December 7

At a meeting in Shanghai in early December, the governments of China and Japan will agree to launch a direct communication channel between Japan’s self-defense forces and China’s military PLA. The purpose is to avoid events that may trigger a military conflict in the East China Sea. Ten years ago, countries discussed the possibility of establishing such a channel, but the issue was put on ice at the beginning of the 2010s after the conflict over the Senkaku / Diaoyu archipelago worsened.

President Xi meets Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi

1 December

Despite criticism from the outside world against Myanmar’s (formerly Burma’s) persecution of Rohingyans, the Chinese government and Xi Jinping continue to show their support for Myanmar and its leader Aung San Suu Kyi. At a meeting between President Xi and Aung San Suu Kyi in connection with an international party conference in Beijing, Xi highlighted the good relations between the countries.


Taiwanese activist receives prison sentence

November 28

Lee Ming-che is sentenced by a Chinese court to five years in prison after propagating for multi-party systems and democracy on social media. Lee disappeared in March in connection with a trip to China. The authorities there eventually announced that he was taken into custody and that he was suspected of social destruction. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen strongly criticizes the verdict and calls for Lee to be released immediately.

The supreme general commits suicide

November 28

Zhang Yang, who according to state media is suspected of corruption, is said to have stood close to President Xi and was also a member of the Communist Party’s military top body, the Central Military Commission. Zhang and another high-ranking military, according to media reports, were taken into custody by the police in August.

Human rights lawyer is punished

November 21st

A lawyer who has handled several cases related to human rights is sentenced to two years in prison for incarceration. Jiang Tianyong lost his position as a lawyer in 2009. He had defended among other Tibetan activists and practitioners of Falun Gong. Jiang disappeared a year ago when he was investigating the arrest of another human rights lawyer, Xie Yang.

Thawing between Japan and China

November 11

A meeting between Japan’s Prime Minister Abe and President Xi in connection with the APEC Summit in Vietnam will improve relations between the countries. Both leaders must have exchanged visits to the countries and decided to cooperate on the North Korea conflict.


Try to get closer between China and South Korea

October 31st

In joint statements, the governments of South Korea and China express their ambition that relations between the countries should return to normal. South Korea’s decision to set up the US missile defense system THAAD in the country was met by fierce protests from Beijing earlier this year. China believes that the system can be used to get information on Chinese defense capabilities and that it is disrupting the regional security balance in the area.

No successor to Xi

October 25th

The party congress ends after President Xi Jinping is re-elected as party chairman. In addition, 70 percent of the members of the party’s central committee have been replaced. Five of the seven members of the standing committee are replaced with new powers, while Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang remain. Among the new members, 60-year-old Zhao Leji is the youngest. He takes over as head of the anti-corruption campaign after Xi’s close adviser Wang Qishan. However, none of the new members of the committee are seen by assessors as likely successors to Xi, not least because of their high age.

Gui Minhai is reported to be free

October 24th

Chinese authorities report to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the Swedish citizen Gui Minhai who has been imprisoned in China has been released. But his daughter has not been able to get in touch with him and no one knows where he is. At the same time, human rights organizations point to examples where activists are alleged to have been released, but in fact have been locked in other forms, such as house arrest. Publisher Gui Minhai was arrested in Thailand in 2015 and brought to China. He ran a bookstore in Hong Kong that published books with satirical depictions of highly regarded Chinese politicians. In early 2016, Chinese state television channel CCTV broadcast an interview with Gui Minhai in which he said he returned to China to serve a penalty for involvement in a traffic accident many years ago (see also January 2016).

Xi and his ideology part of the party statute

October 24th

At the end of the party congress meeting, the members unanimously decide to write “Xi Jinping’s thoughts on socialism from a Chinese perspective in a new era” in the Communist Party’s Statute. In doing so, he is highlighted along with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, who are the only Chinese leaders who previously had their names linked to their theories in the Charter.

The 19th party congress opens

October 18

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech that China has made great progress with reforms and socialist modernization over the past five years. The country is now facing a new era in which it can develop into “a successful, modern, socialist country with a good economy – democratic, culturally prominent, harmonious and beautiful.” During the party congress, which lasts for almost a week, members will be appointed by the party’s central committee, political bureau and standing committees.


“Banks to cancel transactions with North Korea”

September 22

According to US President Donald Trump, China’s central bank has issued guidelines to banks in the country to strictly comply with UN sanctions on North Korea and not accept new North Korean customers and terminate transactions with old ones. China’s banks have previously been criticized for providing financial services to North Korea, thereby contributing to the sanctions against the country not having any effect. The details of the central bank’s actions were later diminished by Chinese government sources.


China and India withdraw troops

August 28th

After a few weeks of tension between India and China, the open conflict seems to have eased. India withdraws its troops, like Beijing, from the disputed border region between China, India and Bhutan (see June).

Mass protests after imprisonment for activists

21th of August

Following the announcement of the new prison sentences against Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow (see August 17), tens of thousands of people are protesting on the streets of Hong Kong. Democracy activists criticize the judicial process for being politically influenced. However, the Hong Kong judicial authority indicates that the judiciary is independent. The judges are expected to be appealed in the Hong Kong Supreme Court by the three activists.

Prison sentence for Hong Kong activists

August 17th

Three of the leaders during the Hong Kong demonstrations in 2014 have been sentenced to prison. The most known of them, Joshua Wong, will serve six months in prison, while Nathan Law and Alex Chow are sentenced to eight and seven months respectively. The verdict against Wong was a sharpening from a court decision last year, in which he was sentenced to community service for organizing illegal gatherings. According to current law, due to the prison sentence, democracy activists cannot stand in elections in Hong Kong for the next five years.


Activist released

July 15

Corruption critic and lawyer Xu Zhiyong is released after serving a four-year prison sentence. He was arrested in 2013 (see July 2013). Xu was one of the founders of the New Citizens’ Movement.

Four Hong Kong parliamentarians are suspended

July 14

The decision of the Hong Kong Supreme Court to disqualify four members of LegCo is based on the fact that all of them swore their oaths during the inaugural ceremony. All members have been active during the democracy movement in 2014.

Liu Xiaobo dies

July 13

Human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who in 2010 received the Nobel Peace Prize for his long fight for human rights in China, dies at the age of 61 after a period of illness. As recently as June 2017, the then seriously ill Liu Xiaobo was released from prison, where he served eight years of an eleven-year prison sentence for so-called subversive activity against the Chinese state.


Border conflict with India is flaring up

June 18

Old border disputes get a new start when China begins work on an extension of a road through the Donglang mountain plateau (called Doklam in India), located in an area where China, the Indian state of Sikkim and Bhutan meet. Both Bhutan and Beijing assert their right to the area where the Chinese road is to be expanded. India opposes the expansion and sends troops to the area. India supports Bhutan’s claims in the border area. According to analysts, the Indian government is concerned that, if the road is expanded, China will have increased access to strategically important border areas for India.

US faces sanctions against Chinese bank

June 30th

Before a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-In, the US government faces sanctions against the Chinese bank Dandong, which it is accused of laundering money for North Korea, against a Chinese shipping company and against two Chinese nationals. The sanctions prohibit business dealings with companies and individuals with US connections. The sanctions are intended to increase pressure on China to limit North Korea’s ability to fund its nuclear and missile programs.

President Xi visits Hong Kong

June 29

President Xi Jinping is visiting Hong Kong for the first time to celebrate that it is 20 years since the former British colony was handed over to China. Several democracy activists who planned demonstrations have been arrested for the visit.

Liu Xiaobo is released

June 26

After spending eight years in prison, human rights activist Liu Xiaobo is released, who in 2010 received the Nobel Peace Prize for his long fight for human rights in China. Liu is seriously ill with cancer and will now receive hospital care.


China shows Silk Road project

May 14

At the summit, China’s extensive trade cooperation in the new “Silk Road” is highlighted as “the project of the century”. Over 29 countries are invited to the meeting. President Xi Jinping promises to invest another $ 120 billion in the project, which aims to connect the country closer to Africa, the rest of Asia and Europe through a gigantic network of ports, railways, roads and industrial zones.

ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea

May 2

The ASEAN countries hold a summit in Manila, but avoids affecting China’s actions in the conflict in the South China Sea. According to a pair of diplomats at the meeting, the Philippines, which is chairman country, should have been pressured by Beijing not to raise the issue during the summit. However, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said at a press conference that it all reflected that tensions had diminished.

Protests against missile defense in South Korea

May 2

Beijing is once again protesting sharply against the US missile defense system THAAD being set up in South Korea. After the US military announced that the system is ready for use, the Chinese government demands that it be removed. From a Chinese point of view, the system is believed to disrupt the security balance in the region and there is concern that it could adversely affect China’s missile capacity.


New aircraft carrier appears

April 25

The ship is the first to be built in the country and, according to army spokesmen, is proof of the modernization that the country’s fleet is undergoing. The aircraft carrier designed as China’s second aircraft carrier, Liaoning purchased from Ukraine, is expected to be operational for only three years.

President Xi visits Trump

April 6

US President Donald Trump receives his Chinese counterpart in his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Both presidents discuss, among other things, the conflict with North Korea.


China stops travel to South Korea

March 3rd

China orders Chinese tour operators to cancel trips to South Korea after March 15. The order is a reaction to South Korea deploying a US-made missile defense system (THAAD). About eight million Chinese tourists visited South Korea in 2016.


Former Hong Kong leader convicted

February 23

Former Hong Kong senior leader, Donald Tsang Yam-Kuen, is sentenced to 20 months in prison for malpractice.

Stop of coal imports from North Korea

February 18

The decision is a way for China to punish North Korea for recent missile testing and is in line with new UN sanctions against Pyongyang. US new President Donald Trump has criticized China for not doing enough to influence North Korea’s actions.


Continued low growth

January 20th

The economy grew by 6, 7 percent in 2016 according to official statistics. It is the lowest growth since 1990.

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