Society and everyday life

Religion

The People's Republic of China is a secular state, meaning that religion is a private matter for the state.  Common religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity. Approximately 62% of China’s inhabitants claim to be atheist.

Politics

The Chinese Communist Party has ruled the country since 1949, tolerating no opposition and often dealing brutally with disapproval. In China, personal relations count much more than job titles. A leader's influence rests on the loyalties he or she builds with superiors and protégés, often over decades. That was how Deng Xiaoping remained paramount leader long after resigning all official posts, and it explains why party elders sometimes play a key role in big decisions. These are the Military Affairs Commission, which controls the armed forces: the National People's Congress, or parliament; and the State Council, the government's administrative arm. There have been some moves toward political liberalization, open contested elections are now held at the village and town levels. The current President is Xi Jinping, elected in 2012. 

Local language and communication

The general official language is Mandarin. In addition, the following regional languages are officially recognized as other official languages: Cantonese in Hong Kong and Macau, English in Hong Kong, Mongolian in Inner Mongolia, Korean in Yanbian and Tibetan in Tibet.

Public transport

Many cities are increasingly expanding their metro network; there are currently about 18 subway lines in Beijing. The cost of a ride is 3-10 yuan depending on distance traveled. Another alternative while in the city is to take a taxi. These are cheap and they have a wide presence. As a general rule, the journey costs about €1.5-€2 for the first 3 km, then about €0.3 per km. An alternative to cross national routes is the bus, they are typically the cheapest means of transportation, but are often overcrowded. The bus network, however, is well developed.