China is the world's fourth largest country and the most populous with over 1.4 billion people. Its biggest city is Shanghai with 28 million and the capital, Beijing, is home to 21 million inhabitants.
In the past decades, China has undergone an astounding economic transformation. It is one of the world’s biggest exporters and attracts a record amount of foreign investment.
Although the situation of children has improved overall, children from migrant families, ethnic and religious minorities, and those living with disabilities continue to experience hardship.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in China since 1986.
China's rapid economic transformation in recent decades has transformed its society: the literacy rate and life expectancy rates have increased dramatically and millions of people no longer live in poverty.
Currently, around 62% of the population live in cities, but this figure is rapidly increasing. The inequality regarding the standard of living and access to basic services between rural and urban areas have brought about social tensions in rural areas.
China’s economy is globally important, but it is also a major emitter of greenhouse gases. The environmental damage caused by the rapid economic expansion in China has resulted in widespread air pollution. This has led to a rise in respiratory problems and other illnesses, posing new challenges for the healthcare system. An estimated 1.24 million deaths in China were attributed to air pollution in 2017. Lifestyle changes have also had other effects: obesity is an increasing problem especially in major cities.
Recent changes in China’s labour market, such as falling employment in manufacturing and construction and a rise in automation, mean that more workers are forced to take on other kinds of work. Around 500 million people (between the ages of 18 and 64) do not have a high school degree. There is increased demand for a highly educated workforce and a large number of unskilled workers need further training before they can be employed.