China is increasing its territory and its problems. Recently, it has been building islands in the South China Sea. The international community disputes these and the islands are viewed as China threatening its neighbors, Vietnam and the Philippines. Japan and the United States have expressed deep concern about this aggressive activity from the Communist nation.
The Chinese government claims, these artificial islands are for purposes of civilian activities such as scientific research and search and rescue operations. However, Beijing also ominously stated that, “the islands could have military purposes too.” Indeed, the Chinese government has been building military facilities on these islands, in violation of The U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea.
The communist giant has a long history of border disputes with its neighbors. Perhaps the longest of these are with China’s neighbor to the south, Vietnam. Historically, the Asian giant and Vietnam have been engaged in border arguments for most of the past 2000 years.
The recent construction in the South China Sea is extremely worrisome to Vietnam. The Vietnamese people have good reason to be anxious, primarily, because of a little-known war between China and Vietnam in 1979.
The Chinese army launched a surprise attack in February 1979, on the northern border of Vietnam, with a force of over 200,000 troops. According to NPR, “China was aiming to punish Vietnam for its invasion of Cambodia the month before to oust the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge.” More than 50,000 people perished in that border war.
Like Vietnam in 1979, Beijing’s current expansionist efforts are land-based, as well as in the waters of Southeast Asia. The Communist dictatorship, under Chairman Mao Zedong, began its expansion with its close neighbor Tibet in 1950. The country was claimed by the People’s Republic of China on January 1.
However, the Himalayan nation resisted and refused to cooperate. They were charged with insurrection, and Beijing demanded Tibet send its officials to the Chinese capital. They ignored the charges and demands. After months of warnings, the People’s Republic sent in their People’s Liberation Army on October 7, 1950. Twelve days later, Tibet surrendered.
The venerated Dalai Lama fled the country for India in 1959. Since then, he has been the worldwide voice for Tibetan Independence.
One of the most famous disciples of the Dalai Lama is the American actor, Richard Gere. He is also one of the most fervent advocates for Tibetan independence and has been for many years. In an interview with PBS, Gere talks about what is happening since China annexed Tibet: “The issue is the survival of Tibetan… people. To raise them from being second or third class citizens in their own country.”
Communist China’s expansion into Tibet opened a new set of problems. Because of that particular increase of territory, Beijing added three other nations to those who share its borders, Bhutan, Nepal, and most importantly, India.
China and India have had tumultuous relationships throughout their long history. However, in the late 20th Century and now into the 21st Century, tensions over the newly acquired border have heightened.
In September 2014, “President Xi Jinping brought Chinese military incursions across the Indo-Tibetan border on his India visit…” India’s Prime Minister responded by allowing Tibetan citizens to publicly protest against China during Xi’s visit.
China’s belligerent attitude toward India is not without a more perilous response from the Indian government. The country is moving quietly to increase its nuclear weapons capacity in the face of mounting threats from the communist regime. It seems China is increasing its territory and problems with many neighboring nations on land and in the sea.
The Communist People’s Republic of China has always had expansionist ideals. This has always caused problems with its neighboring states. The Chinese have held the upper hand in most border disputes because of their military might. That is not necessarily the case in the modern world.
Today’s world provides problems of a more formidable nature than ever before. The government in Beijing is facing opposition from those on its borders and their allies, such as the United States and its military pre-eminence. They should heed these warning signals against further advancement, for the sake of their people and those of the rest of the world.
By Daniel Osborn
Edited by Jessica Hamel and Tracy Blake and Cathy Milne
Forbes: Why Tibet Remains The Core Issue In China-India Relations
CNN: Why China’s Island Building Is Raising Eyebrows
BBC: Big Security For Small Tibet Protest
BBC: The Korean War: An Overview
NPR: Ask The Vietnamese About The War, And They Think China, Not The U.S.
PBS FRONTLINE: Interview, Richard Gere, Dreams of Tibet
FP: India Is Building a Top-Secret Nuclear City to Produce Thermonuclear Weapons, Experts Say
Top Image and Featured Image Courtesy of Dennis Jarvis Flickr Page – Creative Commons License