China’s territorial claims
Watch the video, answer the questions on a piece of paper, then check your answers.
- When were the two times that China grew significantly?
In the thirteenth century and during the Qing dynasty
- What event made China smaller?
- Which country possesses the Diaoyutai Islands?
- What are the three issues that divide China and Japan over these islands?
Control of the islands; position of the line between the economic zones; the alleged Chinese extraction of gas from Japan’s zone.
- How many southeast Asian nations have territorial disputes with China?
Five (Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia)
- What opportunities are at stake in the Paracel Islands?
Tourism, oil and gas
- What happened in 1962?
A border war between China and India
- What does China call the region known in India as Arunachal Pradesh?
- How successful are the discussions on this issue?
Unsuccessful - the talks have been "getting nowhere"
- What is China afraid Taiwan might do?
Make a formal bid for independence
- How did the United States send a message about Taiwan to China?
It moved two aircraft carriers close to the island
- What links between China and Taiwan were established in 2008?
Direct flights, direct sea transport and postal links
- What do some of China’s neighbours worry it might do?
It might take by force the territory it claims
Watch the video, complete the gaps on a piece of paper, then check your answers.
Over the centuries China has grown and shrunk and grown. It began as a unified state in the third century BC, but became far larger by the time of Mongol rule in the thirteenth century and again during the last imperial dynasty, the Qing. In 1921 Mongolia’s independence took out a huge chunk. Today’s map is a legacy of empire-building.
Suspicions between the People’s Republic of China and its neighbours still bedevil its borders. Even at the best of times China and Japan often treat each other as rivals. Their differences are sharpened by territorial feuds.
A cluster of rocks called the Diaoyutai Islands or Senkakus in Japanese is the focus of much bickering. Japan controls them, but China says it should. And how to draw the line between their exclusive economic zones? Japan says it should be halfway between them; China claims the entire continental shelf up close to Okinawa. In 2008 both sides agreed to develop the area together, but now Japan’s angry about the Chunxiao gas field, known as Shirakaba gas field in Japanese, where it thinks China is trying to suck natural gas from the Japanese economic zone.
Other claims would stretch China’s territory deep into southeast Asia. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia all have competing claims with China here. In 2002 all parties agreed to exercise self-restraint, but tensions have been growing again recently. China said last year it wanted to develop tourism on the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam. Again oil and gas are involved, and China wants a boat service from Hainan.
Tensions are simmering again in the Himalayas too. Disagreements here with India led to a border war in 1962. China’s recent worries about Tibet seem to be reviving them. China’s stepped up its accusations that India is occupying what China calls "South Tibet”. India calls this region "the State of Arunachal Pradesh”. To the west India says China is occupying its territory in Aksai Chin. Talks between China and India have been getting nowhere.
Finally, there’s Taiwan. China’s long been fearful that the island might make a formal bid for independence. In the mid-1990s China made gestures that alarmed Taiwan and its backer America. America moved two aircraft carriers close to the island as warning to China to back off. Lately things have been smoother. In 2008 direct flights between Taiwan and the mainland were launched, along with direct sea transport and postal links.
China’s trying to persuade its neighbours that its rise is not to be feared, but its border disputes and feud with Taiwan create widespread unease in the region. Many wonder whether a powerful China might one day try to take by force the land that it sees as its own.