Around a quarter of the world’s primary energy is consumed in the People’s Republic of China. National consumption has increased by almost half since 2008, but per capita it is only a third of the US level. On the other hand, China now stands for more than a quarter of renewable energy generation. The number one renewable energy is hydropower. The Three Gorges Dam on the central reaches of the Yangtze River is one of the world’s largest projects for the use of hydro energy. China ranks number one in the world for wind power plants. Also, most will be photovoltaic systems built and installed in China today. Nevertheless, bottlenecks in the electricity supply continue to lead to temporary power cuts.
Most economic sectors are characterized by a high dependency on coal , which covered more than 60% of the national energy needs; the proportion has changed little since the late 1970s. Nevertheless, the production was not sufficient to supply the power plants, among other things. due to insufficient rail transport capacities. Coal production is highly concentrated in the regions , especially in the provinces of Shanxi , Henan , Hebei and Heilongjiang. Around two thirds of the coal mined has to be transported by rail, mostly over long distances, to the main industrial areas in the east and south-east. Around a third of the total transport capacity is occupied by coal and coke. In addition, only a fifth of the coal is washed because the medium and small systems in particular are technically inadequately equipped.
The production and exploration of crude oil is not keeping pace with the increasing demand, although the production has been expanded enormously. Nevertheless, the share of crude oil in energy production has decreased significantly since 1978 to around 18%. To meet the growing energy demand, China is also relying on nuclear energy. In 2019, 16 nuclear power plants with 48 reactor blocks were in operation, and another ten reactor blocks were under construction.
The industrial structure of the country was limited to relatively few branches of industry and mainly to a concentration of locations in the coastal area until 1949. For example, light and textile industries have been concentrated in Shanghai since the 19th century. Industrial regions first developed along the Yangtze River. Heavy industry arose in the northeast and began to develop in the north as well. After 1949 the People’s Republic made considerable efforts for a more balanced industrial structure and location distribution. In particular, during the first five-year plan (1953-57), new industrial areas were established in north, northwest and central China, such as heavy industry in Wuhan , Lanzhou and Baotou at Hwangho. Of the almost 700 new industrial projects in this period, more than two thirds were built inland. However, there was a disproportion between the use of means of production and the low output of often poor quality. The great leap forward in the second five-year plan was a failure and resulted in famine. Despite strong economic growth in the three decades after the communist takeover, economic power was weak compared to other countries in East Asia such as South Korea and Taiwan.
After reform successes in the agricultural sector from 1978 onwards, individual regions were also promoted in the industrial sector. State investments concentrated again on the coastal area with preferred areas: the special economic zones Xiamen(province Fujian), Shenzhen , Zhuhai , Shantou (province Guangdong) and the island Hainan as well as from 1984 the “open coastal cities”. The aim was to attract foreign investors, introduce advanced technologies and promote export-oriented industries. According to ZHENGSOURCING, the light industry is therefore concentrated in the east and south-east Chinese coastal provinces: the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang , Guangdong and Fujian. Hong Kong had already relocated four fifths of its industry to the neighboring province of Guangdong before it was incorporated into the People’s Republic. Their industrial production was characterized by textiles, clothing, toys, electrical and electronic products, clocks and precision instruments. In order to adapt the industrial structures, efforts were also made to relocate raw material and labor-intensive industries from the coastal provinces to the central and western regions. The most important locations for heavy industry are still the northeast Chinese provinces and the cities of Shanghai , Tianjin , Beijing and Wuhan.
State capital management and foreign investments contributed to the rapid modernization of Chinese industry, particularly in electronics, mechanical engineering and the automotive, chemical and textile industries. Private companies mainly produced those consumer goods that initially allowed good sales due to the great pent-up demand. This is how large corporations such as Huawei , ZTE and the Alibaba Group emerged, particularly in the IT and telecommunications sector. The state industrial companies, which concentrated on so-called strategic key products, on the other hand, showed high losses. Above all, they contribute to the high public debt in China, which is around 300% of national economic output today. With the “Made in China 2025” initiative launched in 2015, the central government wants to significantly increase the added value of domestic industrial companies, especially in the high-tech sector.
Tourism was virtually unknown in China until the mid-1970s; only ideologically close guests and professional specialists were allowed to visit the country. As soon as China opened up in the 1980s, it was mainly the economic side of tourism that was discovered, and the growth in foreign tourists reached a level that was previously unknown. In addition, domestic tourism developed rapidly. The growth of international tourism is shown by the following data: In 1978 1.8 million foreign tourists came to the country, in 2016 this had increased to 28.2 million.
One of the standard trips is the Beijing – Xi’an – Shanghai route. In the capital Beijing, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall , the tombs of the Ming Dynasty and the “Forbidden City” are the main attractions, in Xi’an the reconstructed city wall, the “Wild Goose Pagoda” and the terracotta warriors.
Attractions in Shanghai include the remains of the old town with the Yu Garden, the Jade Buddha Temple, the Nanjing Lu shopping street and the Bund, but also the high-tech Pudong district with its skyscraper skyline. This route is often extended to include a visit to Guilin (karst mountains), the old trading city of Yangzhou (imperial canal , gardens), Suzhou (old town and parks) and Hangzhou (west lake).