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China is a cultural region, ancient civilization, and nation in East Asia. It is one of the world's oldest civilizations, consisting of states and cultures dating back more than six millennia. The stalemate of the last Chinese Civil War has resulted in two political states using the name China: the People's Republic of China (PRC), commonly known as "China," which controls mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau; and the Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as "Taiwan," which controls the island of Taiwan and its surrounding islands.

China is one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations. It has the world's longest continuously used written language system, and the source of some of the world's great inventions, including the Four Great Inventions of ancient China: paper, the compass, gunpowder, and printing.

During the 1970s China had a Pro Natal policy regarding birthrates. However in 1978 a two child policy was infixed in order to stabilise the soaring birth rates. In 1979 this was updated to a one child policy. The Chinese population is expected to stabilise by 2050.

Confucianism was the official philosophy throughout most of Imperial China's history, and mastery of Confucian texts was the primary criterion for entry into the imperial bureaucracy. China's traditional values were derived from various versions of Confucianism. A number of more authoritarian strains of thought have also been influential, such as Legalism. There was often conflict between the philosophies, e.g. the Song Dynasty Neo-Confucians believed Legalism departed from the original spirit of Confucianism. Examinations and a culture of merit remain greatly valued in China today. In recent years, a number of New Confucians (not to be confused with Neo-Confucianism) have advocated that democratic ideals and human rights are quite compatible with traditional Confucian "Asian values".

With the rise of Western economic and military power beginning in the mid-19th century, non-Chinese systems of social and political organization gained adherents in China. Some of these would-be reformers totally rejected China's cultural legacy, while others sought to combine the strengths of Chinese and Western cultures. In essence, the history of 20th century China is one of experimentation with new systems of social, political, and economic organization that would allow for the reintegration of the nation in the wake of dynastic collapse.

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