DEMOGRAPHY AND GEOGRAPHY NOTES ON CHINA
by A. Joseph Lynch
With a population of almost 1.4 billion people (roughly 19% of the total global population), China is the most populous nation on earth. Most of her people, however, are concentrated in China's east, thus making the regions of Manchuria (i.e. Heilongjiang), Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Tibet important buffer regions. These same regions are also often host to many non-Chinese ethnicities (e.g. the Mongols living in Inner Mongolia) and religions (e.g. the heavy Muslim population living in Xinjiang province). In China's ethnic and population eastern core, economic prosperity and urban development have literally changed the landscape of the region. Since 1978, six cities the size of New York City have sprung up; by 2018, an estimated 60% of Chinese will live in an urban setting.
|Shanghai in 1987 (top) and Shanghai in 2013 (bottom)|
While China's territory of 3.7 million square miles is comparable to America's roughly 3.8 million square miles, China's borders are nearly twice as long -- and touch fourteen nations compared to America's two. Historically, this has made China wary of her neighbors. In his book On China, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger explained Chinese foreign policy in terms of the board game Go in which players attempt to create formations of linked stones that encircle and capture other stones. Surrounded by many nations, China seeks to keep its formation "living" by maintaining its northern, western, and southwestern buffer zones while securing its southern borders with Burma and Vietnam and expanding its sea claims to secure its eastern coast.
|China borders Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. Beyond the China Sea are the island nations of Japan, Philippines, and Indonesia.|