The people of China make up 23 per cent of humanity crammed onto 9.6 million square km - or about 6.5 per cent of the world's total land area.

Across China are 56 officially recognised ethnic groups making up the world's oldest continuing civilisation.

As China plays host to the 29th summer Olympics, Al Jazeera meets some of the faces of modern China and shows some of the many stories that make up what it means to be Chinese today.

Throughout our coverage, keep coming back to this page for personal stories in their own words from Chinese across China and across the world.

Wang Yujie, CPC member

 

This 23-year-old joined China's ruling communist party to secure a bright future for himself and to serve his country.
 
He says young people are flocking to join the political machine that puts members on the fast-track to success.
 
He tells Al Jazeera his story.

Duo En, horse rider

 

This boy is reaping the fruits of China's economic boom.
 
He is living the kind of life that few Chinese children may ever experience.
 
This is his story.

Jiang Si Zhang, former soldier

 

This Chinese man was captured by Nationalists forces and forced to fight the Communists nearly 50 years ago.
 
He hopes the Olympic games will further improve already thawing ties between the two long-time rivals.
 
He tells his story.

Huan Jing Cui, retiree

 

This 59-year-old woman loves group dancing for its physical and social benefits.
 
She joins dozens of senior citizens who converge at Beijing's open spaces to dance the summer away.
 
This is her story.

Cui Jian, rock star

 

A generation of Chinese remember his song Nothing to My Name as the unofficial anthem of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
 
The godfather of Chinese rock music says he backs the Olympics while remaining true to the spirit of rock-and-roll.
 
He tells his story.

Ching Cheong, journalist

 

The China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times newspaper was arrested and charged in 2005 with spying for Taiwan.
 
He spent more than 1,000 days in prison before being released early in February.
 
This is his story.

Hu Wenge, opera artist

 

Hu trained hard since young to be an opera performer, even risking serious injury, just to keep an ancient tradition alive.
 
He believes the Chinese government was wrong to carry out the Cultural Revolution which destroyed many art forms.
 
He tells his story.

He Linyuan, photographer

 

This photography enthusiast shows his support for the Olympics by doing what he does best at the Bird's Nest.

 

He has captured close to 10,000 images of its construction over a period of six years.

 

This is his story. 

Yuan Jingxiu, Beijing hutong dweller

 

A member of the Zhang clan shares her family's experience of living in one of Beijing's old courtyard houses for generations.

 

She talks about playing host to foreigners who will be touring their hutong.


This is her story.

Ma Junbo, Fuwa Kid

 

This eight-year-old girl has achieved fame for her obsession with the cuddly Fuwa, the five colourful creatures adopted as mascots for the Beijing Olympics.

 

She tells her story.

 

 

Yao Yingjia, Olympic torch designer

 

He headed the team that conceptualised the 'Cloud of Promise' combining both Chinese culture and the Olympic spirit.

 

The chief designer feels an emotional connection with the torch that reflects his relationship with his son.

 

He tells his story.

 

Cao Qian, cheerleader

 

This young woman won a spot as a cheerleader for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

She and a group of volunteers feel privileged to be a part of the games.

She tells her story.

Sun Dungguo, trishaw rider

 

The 30-year-old has given his time and body to support the Olympics.

He even had 35 Olympic-inspired images tattooed on his body to show his love for sports and his support for the Beijing games.

He tells his story.

Source: Al Jazeera