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April 16, 2007

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Carlos

That map has China claiming Jolo Island in 1840. And not merely claiming it, but going out of its way to claim it, squeezing an extended boundary in between Palawan, Mindanao, and Borneo.

I have several responses. The first is, "Good luck with that."

Carlos

Developing... (thanks, JE!)

language hat

Interesting. The Chinese certainly have an expansive view of their "traditional" borders -- when I lived in Taiwan I don't think I met a single person who didn't believe that Vietnam, for instance, "should" be a part of China -- but this does look wild-eyed. I'll be curious to see if anyone can prove or disprove its authenticity.

Zhang Fei

I think you're confusing Communism with Chinese imperial hauteur. The first is a relative novelty. The second has been around for about 2000 years. It existed before Communism and continues to exist today. The fact is that historically, periods of Chinese military strength have always coincided with territorial expansion and the permanent annexation of new lands.

Zhang Fei

I think you're confusing Communism with Chinese imperial hauteur. The first is a relative novelty. The second has been around for about 2000 years. It existed before Communism and continues to exist today. The fact is that historically, periods of Chinese military strength have always coincided with territorial expansion and the permanent annexation of new lands.

Doug M.

I tend to be suspicious of arguments based on Chinese history. For one thing, they tend to be advanced by people who don't know much actual Chinese history. For another, they're usually put forward to "prove" what modern China is "really like", which strikes me as a rather dubious exercise.

Also, there's Something About China, you know? There are plenty of other ancient peoples and institutions in the world. But you don't hear about how the Hundred Years War explains modern France, or how we can understand 21st century Turkey by studying the Seljuks.


Doug M.

Zhang Fei

DM: There are plenty of other ancient peoples and institutions in the world. But you don't hear about how the Hundred Years War explains modern France, or how we can understand 21st century Turkey by studying the Seljuks.

That's mainly because both France and Turkey are dwarfed by Russia on one side, and Uncle Sam on the other. And that's not to mention the fact that they are hemmed in by strong second-tier powers in every direction. Their territorial aspirations are moot and, arguably non-existent, given their limited expenditures with respect to their War Departments. Not so with China, which has the second largest military budget in the world (when all items are included). There are also Chinese claims to hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of foreign territory, including Arunachal Pradesh and the entire South China Sea, which it is advancing by building structures on foreign soil.

Another aspect of China that escapes many observers is the extent to which the history of the empire saturates the lives of ordinary Chinese via avidly watched period dramas that air every single day depicting the creation and maintenance of empire. Then there is the fact that neither France nor Turkey is two thousand years old in anything like its present form. Note that China escapes treaty obligations governing territorial boundaries simply by calling them "unequal treaties".

Zhang Fei

DM: I tend to be suspicious of arguments based on Chinese history. For one thing, they tend to be advanced by people who don't know much actual Chinese history.

Actually, the more you know about Chinese history, the more you tend to conclude that the present government is just the latest in a 2000-year succession of dynasties. The only thing different is that the position of emperor is term-limited and non-hereditary.

Carlos

Actually, the more you know about Chinese history,

... the more you realize how ideologically slanted most popularizations are to promoting an image of Chinese timelessness.

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