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China fact-file

n Mainland China has a population of 1,202,900,000 (1.2 billion), the highest in the world, and about three times that of the European Union.

n China's annual economic output (gross national product, or GNP) is about $630bn (pounds 391bn). That makes its economy in dollar terms worth less than that of Britain.

n Only about a fifth of the population lives in cities. Around 800 million of the population are peasants.

n Per capita GNP has increased from $360 in 1980 to $530 in 1994. The richest 20 per cent of the population earns 60 times what the poorest earns.

n There were about 650,000 private firms in China, employing 8.22 million people, at the end of 1995. By 2000, private business is expected to account for about 20 per cent of output.

n Just under a quarter of the world's televisions are made in China.

n There are about 3 million people in the Chinese armed forces - slightly less than the population of Ireland.

n China borders 16 other countries. Its frontier is 13,759 miles long.

n China has an area of 3,705,408 square miles; 314 times the size of Belgium.

n The official language of China is Mandarin, spoken by 70 per cent of the population.