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Harper's Index on China

Harper’s Magazine has recently put its famous Index on line. A compendium of curious and interesting statistics, the Index is one of Harper’s hallmarks.

Here are statistics related to China in recent years. The month and year are before each statistic. The source for each one is in parentheses.

9/06 -- Number of Chinese illegals who have been caught by the United States but China has so far refused to take back: 39,000
  (U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
9/06 -- Number of troops that China has contributed to current U.N. peacekeeping missions: 1,408
  (U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations)
 Number from the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council combined: 822
  (U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations)
9/06 -- Minimum number of Chinese censors who monitor Internet activity: 100,000
  (Xiao Qiang, China Internet Project, Berkeley, Calif.)

12/07 -- Number of the world’s five most valuable companies last year that were Chinese: 0
  (Bloomberg News, NYC)  
 Number this year: 3
  (Bloomberg News)
12/07 -- Percentage change since 2000 in the value of China’s private security and surveillance industry: +265
  (China Public Security Association, Shenzhen)
12/07 -- Estimated percentage of the world’s male smokers who live in the United States and China, respectively: 3, 31
  (American Cancer Society, Atlanta)
 Estimated percentage of the world’s female smokers: 8, 7
  (American Cancer Society)
4/07 -- Rank of the People’s Bank of China among the world’s most profitable banks last year: 1
  (Stephen Green, Standard Chartered, Shanghai)
4/07 -- Maximum body-mass index that China now allows for any foreigner adopting a Chinese infant: 39
  (China Center of Adoption Affairs, Beijing)
  Maximum number of divorces that prospective parents can have between them: 2
  (China Center of Adoption Affairs)
9/07 -- Earliest year, in a 2004 estimate, that China was projected to surpass the United States in CO2 production: 2024
  (International Energy Agency, Paris)
 Year that China is now expected to pass the U.S.: 2007
  (International Energy Agency) 
11/08 -- Average number of hours per week that an American and a Chinese person, respectively, spend shopping: 4, 10
  (McKinsey & Company, NYC)  

11/08 -- Number of the 77 applications to protest during the Beijing Olympics this summer that were denied: 1
  (Xinhua News Agency)
 Number that were withdrawn by the petitioners or suspended for incorrect paperwork: 76
  (Xinhua News Agency)  

12/08 -- Amount a Chinese investor paid in June to have lunch with Warren Buffett: $2,110,000
  (Glide Foundation, San Francisco)  

3/08 -- Portion of U.S. GDP that is accounted for by consumer spending: 7/10
  (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Portion of China’s GDP: 1/3
  (United Nations Statistics Division,  N.Y.C.)  

4/08 -- Chance that a Silicon Valley technology company started since 1995 was founded by Indian or Chinese immigrants: 1 in 3
  (AnnaLee Saxenian, University of California, Berkeley)
5/08 -- Portion of all Chinese cancer deaths that are pollution-related, according to the government: 7/10
  (State Environmental Protection Administration)
5/08 -- Length, in miles, of Beijing’s newest airport terminal: 2
  (Foster + Partners, London)
6/08 -- Average number of inches by which entrepreneurs in China are taller than normal for their demographic: 0.3
    (Gerard Roland, University of California, Berkeley)


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Very interesting statistics.

100,000 Chinese censors who monitor Internet activity? That's seems way too high, that would be one of the largest organizations in the world.


The People's Bank of China is the state's central bank, how is it a profitable bank?


Talk to the antihacker, antispam, and antivirus orgs and companies operating in China for better indications of some of these things, though usually they keep this info to themselves because it's "proprietary" info. So unless you are the gov't or a big tech security firm you will not know the answer ;)

Tim J

Dear Ich, I think the figure on censors is totally suspect. I don't know anyone who has given an authoritative answer to that question. Xiao Qiang provides a valuable service at the China Digital Times out of Berkeley but I don't think he has inside information in all the ministries that have a hand in the Great Net Nanny.

Ich lieber Obama?

Funny that the Harper's quotes one single guy in stating the minimum number of Chinese censors. Where did this guy named Xiao Qiang get his numbers from? Just a (uneducated) guess? Of course this list also quotes some single-person sources, e.g., in "Chance that a Silicon Valley technology company started since 1995 was founded by Indian or Chinese immigrants". But AnnaLee Saxenian is a world renowned expert on the topic, who lives in the Silicon valley area and conducts systematic surveys there. Mr. Xiao Qiang, on the other hand, is someone who never conducts serious research but spends the day reading online content, who probably came up with his figure by flapping his head.

On a different note, given that Chinese entrepreneurs are idiotic enough as to pay 2 million dollars just to have lunch with Warren Buffet, it's no wonder that none of the world’s most valuable companies was Chinese.


Number of Avon ladies in China: 15,000

This is great. Thanks for posting.


Wu Liao!

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"China Rises" is written by Tom Lasseter, the Beijing bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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