What Is Considered Tall in China?

Between 1985 and 2019, the average height of Chinese men increased by a shocking 3.5″ (9 cm). So, China is indeed getting taller. More on that below—but first, let’s cover how tall is “tall” in China today.

The average height in China is 5’9″ (175 cm) for men and 5’4″ (163 cm) for women. That is roughly the same as the United States. But still, if you’re above 6’0″ (183 cm), you would be considered tall in China, as you’re taller than most Chinese men and virtually all Chinese women.

Below, I’ll share height comparison tables, so you can see how you compare to Chinese people. I’ll also discuss the reasons why Chinese people are getting taller in more recent decades.

Average Height in China

The average man in the China is 5’9″ (175 cm), and the average woman is 5’4″ (163 cm). (source)

Here are some comparisons to put that into context:

  • On average, Chinese men are 2 cm (0.8″) shorter than men from the U.S., 3 cm (1.2″) shorter than men from Canada and the U.K., and 4 cm (1.6″) shorter than men from Australia.
  • On average, Chinese women are the same height as women from the U.S., 1 cm (0.4″) shorter than women from the U.K., and 2 cm (0.8″) shorter than women from Canada and Australia.

We’ll look at how China compares to other Asian countries in terms of height below. But next, let’s look at the distribution of different heights in China.

Height Comparison Tables

Have you wondered how your height would compare to Chinese men and women? You can use the two tables below to check.

(Note: These tables compare your height to a 30-year-old Chinese adult. Also, beware: The data used by this source differs from the other averages I cited above. It’s possible the estimates in this table are on the short side.)

First, let’s see how your height compares to Chinese men:

Your HeightYou Are Taller Than ____% of Chinese Men.
4’10” (147 cm)~0%
4’11” (150 cm)0.1%
5’0″ (152 cm)0.4%
5’1″ (155 cm)1%
5’2″ (157 cm)3%
5’3″ (160 cm)7%
5’4″ (163 cm)14%
5’5″ (165 cm)25%
5’6″ (168 cm)39%
5’7″ (170 cm)54%
5’8″ (173 cm)69%
5’9″ (175 cm)81%
5’10” (178 cm)90%
5’11” (180 cm)95%
6’0″ (183 cm)98%
6’1″ (185 cm)99.3%
6’2″ (188 cm)99.8%
6’3″ (191 cm)99.9%
6’4″+ (193+ cm)~100%
How does your height compare to Chinese men? (source)

Now, let’s take a look at how your height compares to Chinese women:

Your HeightYou Are Taller Than ____% of Chinese Women.
4’6″ (137 cm)~0%
4’7″ (140 cm)0.1%
4’8″ (142 cm)0.4%
4’9″ (145 cm)1%
4’10” (147 cm)4%
4’11” (150 cm)9%
5’0″ (152 cm)18%
5’1″ (155 cm)31%
5’2″ (157 cm)47%
5’3″ (160 cm)63%
5’4″ (163 cm)78%
5’5″ (165 cm)88%
5’6″ (168 cm)95%
5’7″ (170 cm)98%
5’8″ (173 cm)99.3%
5’9″ (175 cm)99.8%
5’10″+ (178+ cm)~100%
How does your height compare to Chinese women? (source)

Why Are East Asian People Shorter?

The two biggest factors that determine height are believed to be genetics and nutrition. It is thought that genetics determine 60% to 80% of your height, while nutrition determines the other 20% to 40%. (source)

It has further been suggested in Discover Magazine that East Asian populations may be shorter due to a gene called HMGA2. The “short” allele of this gene is more common in East Asian populations, compared to Africa and Europe.

So, that may explain at least part of the genetic component. But that doesn’t capture everything.

Nutrition and healthcare also play a big role—and we can see this from how heights in China are changing in recent decades.

Are Chinese People Getting Taller?

Chinese people have indeed gotten taller in recent decades. In fact, they have gotten substantially taller.

Over the past century, many countries have seen major increases in average height. But while most countries only had a ~3″ increase in average height during that whole century, some (like China) had even more rapid growth.

Indeed, between 1985 and 2019 alone, China saw the largest increase in average male height of any country. Chinese men grew an average 3.5 inches (9 cm) taller in those years.

Over the same time span, Chinese women also grew faster than most populations around the world, ranking third globally. (source)

And Chinese people are still growing taller in recent years. One study found that from 2015 to 2020, Chinese men grew 1.2 centimeters (about half an inch) taller, while Chinese women grew 0.8 cm taller.

This trend bodes well for the growth of the Chinese youth, too. The amount of “stunting” in Chinese children under 6-years-old fell from 11.3% in 2015, all the way down to to 5.8% in 2020. (source)

And even more recently, research showed that 13-year-old boys in rural China in 2022 had grown to be 7.5 cm taller and 6.6 kg heavier than a decade prior.

So, what happened? Well, most of it can likely be attributed to economic development, and how that has impacted nutrition and healthcare.

Unfortunately, along with the gains in height, China has also been seeing a rise in overweight and obesity in the last few decades. The number of obese children in China tripled between 2002 and 2012.

Height in China vs Other Countries in Asia

Now let’s take a look at how China fits in with several other East Asian and Southeast countries in terms of height:

CountryFemale Avg. HeightMale Avg. Height
Cambodia5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (165 cm)
China5’4″ (163 cm)5’9″ (175 cm)
Indonesia5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (166 cm)
Japan5’2″ (158 cm)5’8″ (172 cm)
Malaysia5’2″ (157 cm)5’6″ (168 cm)
Philippines5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (165 cm)
Singapore5’3″ (161 cm)5’8″ (173 cm)
South Korea5’4″ (163 cm)5’9″ (175 cm)
Taiwan5’3″ (160 cm)5’8″ (173 cm)
Thailand5’3″ (159 cm)5’7″ (171 cm)
Vietnam5’2″ (158 cm)5’6″ (168 cm)
Average Heights in Asia by Country. (Source)

As you can see, the shortest countries here are Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Meanwhile, the tallest are China and South Korea (tied).

In the end, “tall” is not a precise term. It’s all relative, and there are no exact lines between what would be considered “somewhat tall,” “tall,” or “extremely tall.”

That said, if you’re anywhere near 6’0″ (183 cm) as a man, you’d generally be considered tall in China. And the same goes for women over 5’7″ (170 cm). At those heights, you’re in the top percentiles for height in China.