China's rulers have embraced the benefits of capitalism and explosive economic growth, while remaining politically aloof from the West.
The suppression of individual human rights within its borders, including religious freedom, continues to draw criticism from a world which nevertheless imports huge quantities of its manufactured goods.
Internationally, China has many interests in developing countries, including in Africa, and notably in countries that are not western-oriented in their political stance.
Tensions, meanwhile, continue around the China-Taiwan and China-Tibet relationships.
The world's fourth largest country by area, China encompasses extremes of terrain and climate, from the world's highest mountains in the west, to tropical shorelines in the south-east. Most of China's economic development has occurred in eastern cities which have expanded in bouts of frenzied construction, while vast rural areas of the country remain under-developed and impoverished.
Christians in China
Under the watchful gaze of government whose express aim has been to eliminate religious belief, has taken place church growth on a scale unrivalled in history.
Numerically, China's Christian (Protestant and Catholic) church has grown from between an estimated 4-5 million in the late 1940's, to tens of millions at the start of the 21st Century.
With officially-recognised churches severely restricted in their activities, much of the emergence of the Chinese church has taken place 'underground', by means of unregistered house fellowships whose pastors and leaders risk persecution or imprisonment if discovered.
This remarkable growth of Christianity via the unofficial house church movement was - with God's blessing - itself made possible largely by developing new means of supporting and training Chinese Christians to begin and grow such churches, at a time when sending traditional, cross-cultural missionaries into China became almost impossible due to the political situation.
WorldShare's ethos of partnership with indigenous ministry had its roots in just this kind of work in China in the 1940's.