Articles, Columns, Cultural

Three ”Large” Numbers in China

Written by Yitao Sun
Edited by Anson Yeh

When mentioning China, the most commonly known fact is that it holds the position as the country with the largest population in the world. However, with this colossal reserve of people, naturally this results in China also holding the spot for several other “large numbers”. As a country that has met incredibly fast development in recent decades, here are three astonishing numbers in China.

9.75 million. That’s the number of students that take the National College Entrance Examination every year.

Students in Handan, eastern China, studying for the gaokao exam in May 2018.

More commonly referred to as “Gaokao”, the National College Entrance Examination is the most important exam that all Chinese high-school students must take to graduate and enter university or adult education. Just like the Examen de Ministère in Quebec, more than one subject will be evaluated. In the case of Gaokao, it is Chinese, Mathematics, English, Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) and Humanities (Geography, History, Politics).

Many consider the Chinese National College Entrance Examination as one of the toughest exams in the world. This is largely due to the extremely long duration of the examination as well as the high level of competition between students. Generally, the exam takes place throughout two consecutive days totaling a time of nine hours. During this period, all participating students must write the exam simultaneously across the country. Furthermore, according to Chinese official statistics, about 9.75 million people have attended the national entrance exam in 2018, which is more than five times the population in Montreal city.

3 billion. That’s the amount of trips made by Chinese citizens during the Spring Festival travel season.

Passengers prepare to take the train at Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 1, 2018.

Just as celebrating New Year is a very special and lively moment in countries like Canada and the United States, Chinese citizens also use this opportunity to organize a fun excursion but in a different way. China is a country with a huge number of internal immigrants, which is also known as a “floating population”. Residents of rural areas, where agriculture is majoritarily practiced, tend to move into the bigger cities for reasons such as a better salary, more comfortable habitation conditions, and greater access to education for their children. In 2019, over 290 million Chinese citizens are considered as migrant workers.

However, during the Lunar New Year (also referred to as the Spring Festival), these workers return to their hometowns to visit their parents and children. That makes the Spring Festival period the busiest moment for the Chinese transportation system. In this one month, about 3 billion trips are expected each year. The railroad network and airplane companies are quite busy during that time. Often times, people are not even able to buy themselves a ticket. The Spring Festival travel can be a difficult process, but ultimately, nothing can stop these people from returning home.

30%. That’s the percentage of international students in the U.S. who are from China.
As one of the largest international student senders in the world, China plays an incredible role in international relations and education. Chinese international students can be dated back to the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial regime of China. These students would study in the United States or Europe and then go back to China to then teach and spread their knowledge all over the country. They also helped to develop their homeland during these years that China was rather behind in terms of technology and infrastructure. Nowadays, Chinese students are all around the world. In cities like Montreal, Chinese students present a big part of the foreign population. China is the country that sends the most international students to the USA at an astonishing estimated 30 % of all international students being from China. Similarly, this number is around 25% in Canada.

China is not only a sender of international students but also a receiver. In 2016, it was the third-largest international student receiver in the world (the country attracting the most foreign students being the United States followed by the United Kingdoms). Most of these students come from the African continent and other East Asian countries.

As a country that has had a significant surge in economic development, China has no doubt shown to the world that it has improved drastically in the aspects of education, condition of living, and economy. Nowadays, China has an immense presence in international decisions and often holds an undeniably important position in several world organizations. Finally, China isn’t beyond reproach; no country is, but with the hard work seen in the current and past generation of Chinese people, their drive to improve their own living conditions can only make China better and better.

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