Since the reforms and opening-up of the economy
in the late 1970s, China has achieved remarkable
economic success. In 2010, China became the
world’s second-largest economy. It has markedly
improved its citizens’ lives and succeeded in
building a moderately prosperous society. The past
four decades have seen 700 million people lifted
out of poverty, with the urbanization rate increasing
from 18% in 1978 to 63.9% today. Average annual
income per capita increased from $120 in 1978 to
$9,000 in 2019.
As one of the most biodiverse countries on earth,
China is home to unique ecosystems, species
and genetic variety, accounting for 10% of global
plant species and 14% of animal species. Yet fast
economic growth and rapid urbanization rates have
taken their toll on China’s natural ecosystems. The
mangrove area has declined by 40% since 1950,
while one-third of grasslands are moderately or
severely degraded and 21.4% of vertebrates
are threatened.

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