China Borders and Territorial Problems

By | January 17, 2022

Border security and territorial integrity still constitute fundamental moments in the foreign policy of the China and the basis of a deeply rooted nationalistic sentiment. In fact, in its millenary history, this immense country has been building and consolidating itself in the function of a ” state in between ”, surrounded by political tributaries or in any case overwhelmed by its cultural, political and military superiority. We must reach the 20th century. to see this undisputed situation of hegemony put into crisis, following Japanese expansionism and the affirmation of the Soviet Union as a leading state in mainland Asia. The consequences on the territorial level were much more serious than those caused by the capitalist penetration of the previous century, interested rather in commercial colonization.

Since the birth of the People’s Republic, the questioning of border structures inherited from “ unequal treaties ” (see App. IV, i, p. 436), but also of those gradually agreed by the Communist government, seems to constitute one of the leading motives of Chinese diplomatic action. However, the path of negotiation has not infrequently given way to forceful actions, according to the dictates of a real-politik that the Chinese rulers practice with indisputable consistency. The most serious disputes remain those with the countries of which China fears most political competition in the eastern chessboard, the Soviet Union and India. At the end of the seventies, however, the very complex events that accompanied the end of the Vietnamese conflict with the US disengagement in the area are at the basis of one of the most traumatic events experienced by the international socialist movement, that is, the conflict between China and Vietnam, following the penetration of the latter’s troops in Cambodia (1979). The war, with the consequent invasion by the Chinese of the territory of Vietnam, was from the very beginning considered by the Beijing government as a limited intervention and ended after a few weeks with the withdrawal of the troops. The events have shown, however, the absolute unwillingness of China to tolerate the emergence of expansionist aims by neighboring states. The tension between the two countries has not abated, also due to the escalation of Chinese claims on the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea.

According to EQUZHOU.NET, the territorial issues relating to Taiwan remain open, which in truth not even the Taipei government denies legitimately belonging to China, as well as those concerning Macao and Hong Kong. The attitude taken towards the latter reveals the political pragmatism of the Chinese leaders against often rigid and uncompromising statements of principle. Hong Kong in fact plays a very important economic role for China, and the caution in the negotiations on its future at the expiry of the treaty with the United Kingdom (1997) can be well understood with the concern that a new territorial structure will end up causing more damage. what benefits. It is no coincidence that already in 1972, China asked the UN that the Hong Kong problem be removed from the list of still unsolved colonial issues.

China also has to deal with internal problems linked to the presence in frontier territories of ethnic and religious minorities. This has prompted the government to create autonomous regions, with administrative prerogatives a little wider than those of the provinces and municipalities (see App. IV, i, p. 436), but the intention to start a real process of independence was in fact contradicted by measures that ended up strengthening the presence of the Han population .

This is the case of Tibet which, after the flight of the Dalai Lama (1959), underwent a strong process of cultural homologation, at least until 1980. After this date, in fact, in the spirit of the new course of Chinese politics which opened with the of the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, economic and social reforms were undertaken to remedy the failures of the region’s mismanagement. On the cultural level, greater autonomy was also granted in religious practices: the monasteries, closed during the Cultural Revolution, were thus reopened. However, this does not mean that the government has shown that it tolerates any form of open protest aimed at the return of the Dalai Lama, indeed firmly repressing the demonstrations staged in 1987 in Lhasa by Buddhist monks.

China Borders and Territorial Problems