Chinese history in the 21st century Essay Example


China is amongst the oldest civilized nations of the world, dating back to over 10,000 years. The period of 5,000 years is generally used as the period when China was unified under a great empire. Despite facing a lot of political, social and cultural modifications, China conserves several of their prehistoric traditions until this period. China rotated between eras of political harmony and disharmony at intervals, and was sporadically conquered by peripheral groups of people, a number of which finally being incorporated into the population of China (Kissinger, 2011). During the 21st century, China has evolved in various ways including Chinese politics, literature, environmental issues and economic reforms. On the other hand, issues like Chinese culture and arts have slightly changed. This paper therefore gives a history of China in the 21st century with regards to gender, culture, contemporary politics, environmental issues and economic reforms. This is period of the modern China.

Gender in China during the 21st century

Data obtained during the 2000 census showed that many boys were born than girls. The result indicated that for every 100 girls delivered, 119 boys were being delivered. This indicates a gender imbalance and relevant statistics in China reveal that this imbalance will continue increasing. Among the floating population of China, the ratio indicated 128:100. In 2004, the Chinese government prohibited selective abortions done on female fetuses. Centuries prior to the early 1900’s, there was an outstanding male domination in China. Women were dispossessed all rights and their role was basically to serve men. The gender inequality dynamics are correlated with the principles of ideology held by the political regime ruling (Wasserstrom, 2010). Chinese women have long been sidelined or silenced if they were not asphyxiated at birth. All these changed during the introduction of the modern China. This happened after the booming financial system that has greatly changed their lives.

In the past centuries, religion played a role in determining the role of women in the society. In Confucianism, women were frequently left behind. Confucianism reinforce that women best performed their spiritual prospective by becoming dutiful mothers and wives. Daoism denoted a visual difference of the concept of gender. It advocates that male and female should complement one another instead of being an assistant to the other. Buddhism to some degree, contracted women some empowerment areas in China.

Popular culture in China during 21st century

Popular culture basically refers to the religious and custom practices of several people in China. It was based in agrarian societies although it did not evolve fresh forms with urbanization and was controlled by dissimilar working conditions of both the migrant and peasantry labor. It was expressed via activities of leisure, including vigorous bodily training as well. In China currently, the activities of leisure of the youth would be represented by an assortment of organized sports, performing arts, and these have been significantly made powerful by the media whose outreach on culture is increasingly transnational (Gungwu, 2003).

Ethnic groups in China

China is a greatly populated country. Presently in China, there are 56 different renowned ethnic groups. With respect to numbers however, the ethnic group that is pre-eminent is the Han Chinese. All through history, several groups have been incorporated into adjacent ethnicities or have disappeared with no trace. Simultaneously, several within the identity of Han have maintained divergent regional and linguistic cultural traditions. Zhonghua Minzu is the term that has been used to express the notion of the nationalism of China in general (Wasserstrom, 2010). A lot of the conventional identity in the community has to do with differentiating the name of the family.

Chinese literature in the 21st century

Chinese literature started with keeping records and foretelling on oracle bones in the ancient times. Back then, commercialization of literature was not very popular. Conversely, Chinese literature at the start of the 21st century displays signs of defeating the literature commercialization of the 1980s and 1990s. For instance, Han Han’s novel titled His land written in 2009, written in a style of social critical surrealistic in opposition to the uncritical mainstream, was ranked top in Chinese bestseller list in 2009 (Wasserstrom, 2010). In the millennium, Chinese online literature impacts a significant role compared to the United States or any other part of the world. Nearly any book is attainable online, novels getting millions of readers, being accessible at 2 Yuan averagely. Stars of online literature are, amid others Guo Jingming and Han Han.

Arts in China in the 21st century

Sources from the historical data reveal that it seems that China has the ancient continuous, developing culture of martial arts in the world. Martial arts appeared to be significant element in culture of China as far back as earliest documented history. Several of the features have been seen in the martial arts and their functions in society have gone with them to one level or another penetrating the 21st century. Already nearing a decade in the 21st century, the martial arts in China continue to be practiced in several venues all over China (Wasserstrom, 2010).

Chinese music in the 21st century

Music in China has been made from the dawn of civilization in China with artifacts and documents giving evidence of a well nurtured culture of music from the dynasty of Zhou which was from 1122 BC- 256 BC (Wasserstrom, 2010).. Currently, the music is still a rich established heritage in one characteristic, while surfacing into a more modern form simultaneously. Contemporary Chinese music does not only involve native elements of Chinese but also the ones that were derived from faraway lands, implicitly or explicitly referencing people who are not Chinese, culture, past and current. During the late 20th and beginning of 21st centuries, Chinese music transcend the geographical, biographical, cultural, social, and political boundaries of China and the people of China (Wasserstrom, 2010).

Economic reforms in China during the 21st century

For the past years China has made considerable advancement in transforming its bureaucratic system of government planning into an economic regime that is more market-oriented. The reform on agriculture, in which farmers at individual level were given more efficient ownership and management rights over the terrain at their clearance, saw a successful action in the countryside.

Within the last years, China has experienced a spectacular development in economy and has hence played an increasingly significant role in the economy of the world (Wasserstrom, 2010). After the implementation of economic reform, this changed. When projects are owned and managed by the government, economic decisions essentially become political resolutions, and unfriendly price competition is displaced by forms of individual competition controlled by the quest for political influence and privilege. Corruption and bribery consequently become the rule instead of the exception.

This dilemma has evidently been true of mixed economy in China as it has attempted to compel itself free from the hold of the nomenklatura, who have so far not complied to decontrol prices and markets in a large portion of China’s vast landscape of economy. In December 2001 when China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), it has also turned out to be amongst the most open economies in the growing world. Economically, China is ranked fourth largest trading country worldwide, having improved from 32nd in 1978 and a significant improvement in 1997 when it was ranked 10th (Zhao & Guo, 2007).

Environmental issues in China during the 21st century

China has various environmental issues that relentlessly affect the environment of China. One of the severe unconstructive consequences caused by the rapid industrial growth has been linked with increased smog, pollution, and degradation of resources that are natural. Pollution of water is a basis of problems related to health all over the country, and pollution of air has been linked with a lot of premature deaths every year. In the 21st century, the polluted environment in China is largely due to the nation’s rapid growth and thus a large increase in consumption of primary source of energy, which is primarily generated by power plants of coal (Wasserstrom, 2010).

In the beginning of 2006, reliable sources provided a report that the cities that are most polluted in the world are found in China. Endeavors to manage the pollution problem in China have turn out to be a foremost major concern in the Chinese leadership. The government of China has placed a major concern on issues of environment from the beginning of the early century.

Contemporary Chinese politics during the 21st century

China has several political parties. The Communist Party of China (CPC) is the one in power, and there are other eight parties that are non-Communist. The political system of China and the process of decision making are mysteries to a lot of Weterners. At one point, China is a state of one-party that has been governed by the CPC from 1949. But instead of being rigidly authoritarian and hierarchical, which is frequently the postulation, Chinese political power is now diffuse, compound, and occasionally highly competitive. Regardless of its hold on power, CPC and its superior leaders are not constantly able to state policy decisions as they formerly did. Instead, currently the political process in China is instilled with different political actors that control and occasionally determine policy (Martin, 2004). In China currently, the story of politics is the extent to which these numerous actors and changing situations have assisted shape the lines of communist regime of authority.


As discussed above, various issues have changed in China during the 21st century. For instance, despite the imbalance of gender in China, women are being empowered and are now given various leadership positions in China. The popular culture in China has been greatly empowered by the media in China. Despite the density of population in China, the economic reforms have greatly improved the economy of China making it one of the best trading nations worldwide. The environmental issues in China have greatly concerned the government of China whereby various reforms have been implemented to tackle the situation. Politics in China is the complex issue.


Gungwu, W. (2003). Chinese Political Culture: the impact of revolution. Retrieved on 26 April, 2012 from <>

Kissinger, H. (2011). On China. New York: Penguin Press.

Martin, M. (2004). Understanding China’s Political System. Retrieved on 26 April, 2012, from <>

Wasserstrom, J. N. (2010). China in the 21st century: What everyone needs to know. New York, N.Y: Oxford University Press.

Zhao, Z., & Guo, F. (2007). Transition and challenge: China’s population at the beginning of the 21st century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.