As part of its continuing effort to become competitive in the global marketplace, China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001;
Its major trade partners are the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Germany. China's entry into the WTO has benefited coastal cities, especially in the southeast. Although a British crown colony until its return to Chinese control in 1997, Hong Kong has long been a major maritime outlet of S China.
China's major industrial products are china's main exports also. Share of manufactured goods, including textiles, garments, electronics and arms are highest in Chinese exports.
China's leading export minerals are tungsten, antimony, tin, magnesium, molybdenum, mercury, manganese, barite, and salt. China is among the world's four top producers of antimony, magnesium, tin, tungsten, and zinc, and ranks second (after the United States) in the production of salt, sixth in gold. China is one of world's largest producers of aluminum.
CHALLENGES FACING CHINA
Challenge in the early 21st century will be to balance its highly centralized political system with an increasingly decentralized economic system.
Also, China's economy, though strengthened by the more liberal economic policies of the 1980s and 90s, continues to suffer from inadequate transportation, communication, and energy resources. However, since the 1980s, China has undertaken a major highway construction program and China is working hard on building up a world-class infrastructure. China's poor human development index highlights the economic disparity between urban China and the rural hinterlands. Human rights campaigners continue to criticize China for executing hundreds of people every year and for failing to stop torture.
Other critical problems include corruption, which affects every level of society, and the growing rate of HIV infection. Another long-term threat to continued rapid economic growth is the deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution, soil erosion and steady fall of water table in the north. Tensions between a highly centralized political and an increasingly de-centralized economic system is also a cause of worry.