China (mainland)

14500 km
1007888 km2

China has approximately 18,000 km of coastline, about 7000 islands (6500 of which are uninhabited) and borders the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea from north to south respectively. Seabird research in China has so far been limited, and most islands are yet to be properly surveyed. Recent surveys have shown the islands along the Zhejiang Coast to be particularly important for a range of breeding seabirds (Fan et al, 2011) and the discovery of the Chinese Crested Tern (CR) at Matzu Island in 2000 (Liang, et al, 2000) has helped to raise the profile of seabird conservation within the country. China's priority species for research and for description of marine IBAs are the Chinese Crested Tern (henceforth

National priorities
o Determinine the status and distribution of Chinese Crested Tern along the China coast
o Work with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand and China to identify key non-breeding areas
o Search for Aleutian Tern in the South China Sea
o Remove cattle from Dong Island
o Surveys of Streaked Shearwater and Swinhoe's Storm-petrel (NT) breeding site to provide updated population information
o Develop a candidate marine IBA list
o Explore how IBAs can be used to protect breeding sites under the new Law of the People's Republic of China on Island Protection

Government's support/relevant policy
In China, the Forestry Administration is currently responsible for bird conservation but they do not have jurisdiction for enforcing law at sea. This falls to the Ocean Administration who are responsible for at-sea protection and management. However, they largely focus on the conservation of aquatic wildlife, and generally neglect seabirds. In addition, although it is illegal to collect eggs under Chinese law this is not well enforced, and many people are unaware and believe it is their traditional right to continue to do so. At present, most of the islands where seabirds breed are still unprotected. However there have been some limited -but positive- steps made towards the protection of marine IBAs in China. The 2010 Seabird Conservation and Island Management forum held in Zheijing helped with awareness-raising and promoting increased protection of marine IBAs in the country. Additionally, a range of workshops and programmes were carried out in 2011 specifically aimed at the plight of the Chinese Crested Tern (BirdLife international, 2011). Conservation ideas have been sent to relevant government officials, and volunteers employed to safeguard seabird colonies. An education brochure and press releases have been produced, and education and monitoring programmes have been established. The Ocean Administration has mandated that the area of China's marine territories currently protected as marine nature reserves will increase from 1.12% to 5% by 2020, with an interim target of 3% by 2015 (Guanqun, 2010). Furthermore, the recently-passed Law of the People's Republic of China on Island Protection has a mandate to protect islands important to biodiversity (BirdLife, 2010). Therefore, identifying seabird breeding sites and marine IBAs is the first step to promoting sites for national protection under this legislation. Please see policy tab for list of agreements that this country is party to.

Petrels and shearwaters

Gulls and terns
Ducks, geese and swans

IUCN Red List Status

8 (24th)
12% (77th)

The numbers in brackets refer to the country's rank when compared to other countries and territories globally.

BirdLife International (2010). 1st Asian Marine IBA Workshop Report. Held 14-16 April 2010, JICA Chikyu-hiroba, Tokyo, Japan. BirdLife International internal report.
BirdLife International (2011). Protection of the Critically Endangered Chinese Crested Tern in Zhejiang Province, China. BirdLife International internal report.
Cao, L., Pang, L. Y. and Liu, N. F. (2005). Status of the Red-footed Booby on the Xisha Archipelago, South China Sea. Waterbirds 28: 411-419
Cao, L., Pang, Y.L. and Liu, N. F. (2007). Waterbirds of the Xisha archipelago, South China Sea. Waterbirds 30: 296-300
Fan, Z., Chen, C., Chen, S., Chan, S. and Lu, Y. (2011) Breeding seabirds along the Zhejiang coast: diversity, distribution and conservation. Chinese Birds 2: 39

China (mainland) at a glance




9,596,961 km2

BirdLife Partner



Total number of birds 1,288
Globally threatened birds 94
Country endemics 67

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas

Number of IBAs 512
Total IBA area 119,257,267 ha

Endemic Bird Areas

Number of EBAs 14

Recommended Citation
BirdLife International (2023) Country profile: China (mainland). Available from Downloaded: 2023-02-07