We've reached a point where China's every move can make or break global markets, in many areas with a bigger impact than the U.S. Pretty soon China may be the biggest economy in the world — if it doesn't crash.
We picked out some impressive and some terrifying facts about the Middle Kingdom.
Beginning in 2008, China's local government loans exploded from $235 million to $1.6 TRILLION
You think America was in a housing bubble? Since 2003 Hong Kong home prices have TRIPLED
If he spent his entire yearly income on housing, the average Beijing resident could buy 6 square feet of residential property
Around 140 MILLION FARMERS have had their land forcibly seized by the government in the past two decades
This estimate is based on data for farmland seizures from 1994 to 2006, cited in the New York Times. Since then land grabs have continued, as cities face growing pressure to sell farmland as lucrative real estate.
Indeed cities are relying more than ever on land sales for revenue, according to NBER.
Because of land grabs, Chinese farmland has shrunk by 8.33 million hectares — an area the size of South Carolina — in the past 12 years.
16,810 CHINESE COAL MINERS have died in accidents in the past five years
China consumes 53% of the world's cement... and 48% of the world's iron ore... and 47% of the world's coal... and the majority of just about every major commodity
By 2025, China will build enough skyscrapers to fill TEN NEW YORK-SIZED CITIES
"[By 2025,] 40 billion square meters of floor space will be built — in five million buildings. 50,000 of these buildings could be skyscrapers — the equivalent of ten New York Cities."
Source: McKinsey, "Preparing for China's urban billion"
By some estimates China has 64 MILLION VACANT HOMES, including entire cities that are empty
Chinese credit card debt is projected to SURGE BY 600% in five years
There are nearly 500 MILLION CHINESE who live on less than two dollars a day
China averages 493 mass protests EVERY DAY
Chinese academics estimate there were 180,000 protests, strikes and other mass disturbances last year, according to the Telegraph. Civil unrest is increasing in the face of food inflation, corruption and other pressures.
China's enormous Gobi Desert is the size of Peru and expanding 1,400 square miles per year due to water source depletion, over-foresting, and over-grazing
Chinese consume 55,000 cigarettes EVERY SECOND
When you buy Chinese stocks, you are basically financing the Chinese government. Seven of Shanghai's top ten stocks are government owned
Seven of the ten largest stocks on the Shanghai Stock Exchange are nothing but state-controlled companies:
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
- Bank of China
- China Shenhua Energy Company
- China Life Insurance Company
- Bank of Communications
China executes three times as many people as the rest of the world combined
China carried out at least 1,718 executions in 2008, three times as many as the rest of the world, according to Amnesty International. Some analysts put the yearly figure closer to 6,000.
To speed things up, they use mobile execution vans, according to USA Today:
"Makers of the death vans say the vehicles and injections are a civilized alternative to the firing squad, ending the life of the condemned more quickly, clinically and safely. The switch from gunshots to injections is a sign that China "promotes human rights now," says Kang Zhongwen, who designed the Jinguan Automobile death van in which "Devil" Zhang took his final ride."