China’s Geography Problem

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to China is a country both blessed and cursed
by geography. On one hand its land has allowed the country
to grow to almost 1.4 billion people but on the other hand it really doesn’t have great
geographical protection. The beginning of what most people call Chinese
history often starts with the Yellow River Civilization and there’s a good reason why
this settlement grew into the most populous country in the world—the floodplain of the
Yellow River is some of the best agricultural land in the world. In fact, the entirety of eastern China is
perfectly suited for Agriculture. This was and still is crucial to the country’s
success. What’s more, this area is just warm and
wet enough that farmers can do what is know as double-cropping. Once the main crop of rice is cultivated in
June and July, another slightly less productive crop can be planted for October cultivation. This increases rice output by about 25% which
means China can make more food using the same amount of land. Europe mostly relies on wheat to feed its
population which only outputs 4 million calories of food per acre of farmland. Rice, on the other hand, grows 11 million
calories worth per acre. It’s easy to see why there are so many people
in China. But China does have its geographical challenges. To the south it borders three countries—Vietnam,
Laos, and Myanmar. The borders between these three countries
and China seem almost arbitrarily set because they sort of were. Vietnam’s was set after the Sino-French
War, Laos’ was set following its involvement in the Vietnam war, and Myanmar’s was set
following a small war with China in the 60s. None was naturally set by the environment;
all were chosen arbitrarily by humans at war. These countries are not insignificant—combined
they have nearly one million active military personnel while China, the much larger country,
has just over two million. Significant conflict with any of these countries
would not be a one-sided war. While China would have the technological advantage,
any of these three countries would have a significant home-field advantage. Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar are all jungle
countries—one of the most difficult environments for warfare. This was part of the reason why the Vietnam
war lasted so long. It’s just so hard to move troops in the
jungle so everything slows down. Without any geographical protection of its
borders it would be significantly easier for Vietnam, Laos, or Myanmar to invade China
than the reverse. But China does have an advantage elsewhere. China and India just aren’t good friends. They have border disputes, military conflicts,
political differences, so its just hard for them to get along and that is why Tibet is
so important. Tibet was historically its own empire; it
was only in the last 300 years that China took it over. Tibetan people are ethnically different from
the Han Chinese inhabiting China’s east. It just doesn’t make sense for Tibet to
be part of China… except militarily. Only 0.2% of China’s population lives in
Tibet which accounts nearly 13% of the country’s area. More people live in the inner four districts
of Beijing than the entirety of Tibet. It’s just incredibly desolate, but it serves
a purpose. If China didn’t rule Tibet, then India would. Maybe not formally, but there’s little chance
that an independent Tibet would not be economically and culturally dominated by either India or
China. It just doesn’t have enough power economically
or militarily to resist, but in China’s view, it could not and cannot allow for an
Indian Tibet. Indian rule of Tibet would mean that there
would be no geographical protection between the populated area of China and India because
Tibet is that geographical protection. Not only does Tibet extend China’s border
to the Himalayas, it’s also an unpopulated area without the transportation infrastructure
needed for an invading India to advance a large number of troops towards eastern China. But that also means that there’s not the
transportation infrastructure necessary for China to advance towards India, but China
is trying to change that. They recently opened the worlds highest railroad
to Tibet, they’re building highways constantly, and they also opened a large airport in Nyingchi
just miles away from the border. In the near term the goal of these projects
is to further integrate Tibet into China. The government has all but failed at winning
over the native Tibetan population, but they can change who lives in Tibet. Hundreds of thousands of Han Chinese have
moved into Tibet and many more visit each year. The government knows that Tibet’s usefulness
is diminished if when a foreign military shows up the population thinks that means liberation
rather than invasion. But there’s another reason why China needs
Tibet—water. That whole eastern zone of agricultural productivity
exists because of all the water from Tibet. The Yellow and Yangtze Rivers—China’s
two longest rivers—both get their water from Tibet and foreign control of the water
supply of the country would, in the governments mind, strike a catastrophic blow to the country’s
food security. If there were, hypothetically, a significant
mountain range separating Tibet from eastern China, there’s a good chance it would still
be independent. The water would still come from China and
the mountains would act as the geographical protection that China desires. But to the North is another one of China’s
assets—Mongolia. It’s an enormous, sparsely populated, friendly
country. With the gobi desert and other desolate terrain,
there’s just little chance that any modern land-based army could make it across with
any efficiency. The supply lines would be enormously long
and by the time they got to the Chinese border there would have been ample warning. But then again, who would want to invade? Mongolia’s only other neighbor is Russia
which is a friendly ally of China both militarily and economically. China need not worry about its northern border
until relations with Russia sour. But that leaves the eastern border. Now, you would think that this would be China’s
safest border—the ocean—but you have to consider that powerful states lay just off
China’s shores, the most powerful one being the US. The United States has a significant Pacific
military presence with bases in South Korea, Japan, and Guam. It’s also a close ally with Taiwan, Indonesia,
Singapore, and Malaysia meaning that, if a serious dispute with China occurred, the US
would have no problem blockading China and cutting off its maritime access, and of course,
China knows this. That’s why China has spent so much time,
energy, and political capital to establish sovereignty in the South China Sea by building
military bases and artificial islands. It knows that it needs these islands so it
has sovereignty over the area so that it can reach the Pacific in case of war, but ironically,
its actions in the area are souring its relations with the very nations that China needs on
its side. The Philippines, for example, doesn’t have
a bulletproof relationship with the US. While the two countries are allies, Philippine
leadership has attempted to distance themselves from the US. If China hadn’t ruined its relationship
with the Philippines over the South China Sea dispute it could’ve won them to their
side which would allow China crucial access to the Pacific if the US attempted a naval
blockade. China’s entire economy relies on exports
so restrictions to access to the oceans would lead to economic ruin. With its enormous population, China also relies
on the importation of food, most of which comes on ships. Without jobs or food, there’s a good chance
that the population would rise up against the government and end the current regime. China didn’t want to be a global power spreading
its influence to every continent until recently. It wanted to be the the dominant power in
its region, Asia, but historically it kept its affairs within the region. It never colonized outside of Asia and for
much of history it didn’t have a significant navy to project its power around the world. But that has changed just because China got
so big. China is now of a size where it cannot support
its population with its size alone. Self-sufficiency in food production has been
a major aspect of China’s domestic policy for decades, but the country has found a way
to move past that as its economy has grown. Africa has emerged almost as China’s China. It supplies the country that supplies the
world. China has pumped enormous amounts of money
into the continent in what some describe as a form of neocolonialism. Chinese state-backed corporations have bought
huge amounts of land in Africa to mine minerals, drill for oil, and grow food. China now imports more food and oil than it
exports. While that is a sign of the development of
its economy, it also means that it is now reliant on foreign powers which is a vulnerable
position for a country that is often at odds with some of those foreign powers. China doesn’t have bad geography, it has
some of the best in the world which has allowed for it to grow into the largest country in
the world, but as it grows into a more and more powerful and developed country, it needs
to be cognizant of its vulnerabilities if the current regime wishes to continue. It’s clear that because of its geography,
the country is in a more precarious position than some may think. If there were every a reason to go to war
with China, the country is surrounded to the south and east by countries that would likely
side with NATO powers. To the west and north, China is surrounded
by countries and regions without the infrastructure to support China is a war. China is a nuclear power which means formal
war with other superpowers is unlikely, but, if it ever were to happen, its hard to deny
that its major disadvantage is geography. I just went through the process of building
the new website for my other channel, Half as Interesting, which reminded me why I love
Squarespace so much. All in, it took me about an hour to make this
simple website and the hosting fees are very reasonable. For whatever you do, whether its a YouTube
channel, a business, or anything else, having a professional web presence is incredibly
important because that’s how people find you. Squarespace makes this so easy with their
beautiful templates created by world-class designers, powerful website builder, and 24/7
award-winning customer service. No matter what you do, build your web presence
for 10% off with Squarespace by going to Squarespace makes this show possible so please
at least go check them out over at Thanks for watching and I’ll see you in
two weeks for another Wendover Productions video.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. you say: Mongolia`s the friendly country! with who? China!? So you mean and I feel Mongolia`s the part of China?

  2. Oh snap! with all the talk of US vs China, I would love to see Laos go and take over China! With that done, the will go and take USA then the easily toppled UK and finally EU!
    No one would see it coming!

  3. Fundamentally, the Analysis is very flawed. An example would be why would the Southern Border in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia invade? The largest issue is India is not seen as a threat because it is unable to muster the forces ever. Why? Because India is contained by internal disputes. The largest threat to China is not anything but the Desertification and Environmental Degradation. That is China's focus; Belt and Road is not a Strategy to extend itself but one to preserve Economic Collapse from its Neighbors. Like 200 years ago, the Chinese fear is Migration whittling down its Civilization Core.

  4. 2:25 I think the bravery and determination of people in those areas is the determining factor here. Vietnam defeating america is %75 tied to peoples determination and %25 to landscape Actually the landscape is useless if the people aren't determined to fight but helps in great amounts if they are. I can give you a reverse example, southern islands of Japan has almost no advantage for defenders but yet Japanese people defended their nation from Mongolians without giving them an inch of their land. And those same Mongolians invaded all hard to conquer lands with ease, including mainland russia where superior german army couldnt , Caucausus where russia couldn't for ages , Afghanistan where usa and soviets both couldnt and they couldn't invade just a small island with easily conquerable landscape of extremely determined people. All the while numbers and technology was on their side

  5. "it doesnt make sense for tibet to be part of china", what land in this world is not conquered or owned based on economic or military purposes?

  6. can anybody xpln whether china has been good or bad, bcoz hve read many opinions, they say these communist dictatorial country's leaders hve always bullied people on land where they hve no business to go😐🤔and tried to capture it

    WTF ??

  8. I feel not surprised looking at what is happening in Hong Kong – Chinese oppression and propaganda at its best. FREE HK

  9. China to be invaded today by whom only in dreams or cartoons many people don’t know nothing about a China better no to talk about, China is incredible power nobody can Mach.

  10. Zooms out to entire Pacific
    US: "Hello there, mighty fine sea you got there. Be a shame if someone dropped a carrier group in it."

  11. Tibet won its independence in 1912 and was a free country.
    And the world stood by and allowed China to steal Tibet in 1959 not 300 years ago.
    I guess the Communist block looked pretty big back then.
    Yeah Socialism, yeah Communism, stealing peoples liberty for 100 years.
    Now go ahead and vote Democrat and watch your liberty disappear.

  12. The "People's Republic of China" is not actually a Communist country. The country's leadership is highly racially aware. Their actual system is National Socialism. The leadership see it as their sacred duty to safeguard the racial purity of the ruling Han ethnic group. The National Socialist Ruling Han Elite also see it as their sacred duty to safeguard and preserve ancient Chinese art, literature, history, and to oversee all cultural and technological changes within the society. The Han are considered the most handsome, most fit, and most able, among all China's ethnic groups, and all privilege is given to them as a "chosen" resource for national leadership. This is why non-Chinese have a very difficult time even trying to immigrate to China.

  13. The Filipinos are the ones who should reach out to their bigger brother to the north and west. They would benefit even more than China would in the alliance.

  14. This is why China will go to war.
    It's the oldest reason in history.
    Instead of trading for what you don't have and can't produce domestically you take it.
    The 19th and 20th centuries are proof of that concept.
    Go back in time as far as you like, you'll see it played out over and over again.
    It also shows that its easier to take than to keep, invading and subjugation are 2 different things, with the latter requiring a much higher cost than the former.
    However, that never seems to stop leaders from trying.

  15. Tibet , Hong Kong , Taiwan’s and Mongolia will be free dinner or later. Period. China is collapsing. Fake economy, fake ppl, fake products doesn’t last long.

  16. U didnt mention anything about “east turkistan” wich is almost half of china on chinas west , and there are uygur turks wich china push them suffer

  17. I learned more in 10 minutes from you than years of political science and world history classes.

    Why can't college professors do this kind of clarity on the first day of class, and then add the details?

  18. Hey dude!? Im a filipino and our country dont trust chinese shit!!! We are oldest alies of usa here in asian region. I hope you make your video correct rigth?

  19. China is a country that has shot itself in the Feet & Knees, with overpopulation. Nothing can control a rushing tide or a rampant disease. China's communist government only wishes it was in charge. When it oversteps it's ruthless rule, billions of Chinese will put them in their place. Then the country will indulge itself in total destruction. It would be better if China had a friendly, individual growth kind of government, instead of it's boot heel damnation kind of control…

  20. The real China is the map you showed at the beginning "eastern China", Tibet is not China, there were no Chinese before 1959.12.20, Manchurian invaded China in 1644 when Manchu Emperor disposed, China took the land of China, Manchuria, Mongolia, East Turkistan.

  21. South China sea is not belongs to China. When Japanese surrendered in 1945.9.3 , in 1946 the navi general had a warship cruised along the sea , drew a circle claimed all south China sea belongs to China. It's world two made this mess by defeating Japan , Germany and created two evil: USSR, China.

  22. President Donald Trump has warned China Xi do not try to bring down the Hong Kong demonstrators who want freedom, free speech, and democracy. Trump Xi to meet the Hong Kong leaders and negotiate a deal with the HK people, so both Mainland CCP & the HK democratic people can live in peace side by side. If not, Trump will stop dealing with Xi.

  23. I can not believe how stupid and wrong U R 🎃 And 6illion views . I am not a big fan of China,,, but all coments about geographical statements U said are 100% wrong and datef. Dude arent you ashamed of your quasi journalism 😱

  24. Another problem China has geographically is increasing desertification.
    For decades desert sand has been encroaching on cities despite efforts to plant trees and other barriers to erosion.
    Blowing sand is often in the air together with the smog that is common in China

  25. Why didn't Wendover include Palawan , Basilan , Sulu & Tawi – Tawi ?I
    In the Map of Philippines
    Geography ? Do you know what that is
    Just know your Facts first before Broadcasting

  26. compared to what theyve done to this small martyred ethnic minority island with all the blame their position is fantastic

  27. China had its chance to take the Philippines away f4om America, and failed MISERABLY. Also 80% of Filippinos have a negative view of China.

  28. Philippine update: the Philippines are now back with the U.S. over hundreds of Chinese vessels illegally landed in their islands and Chinese Coast Guard illegally detained Filipino fisherman in Philippine waters. Philippine and US armed forces are now performing military exercises together in hopes to deter Chinese aggression.

  29. China's expansion into the East and South China Seas is tantamount to an act of war, and Obama committed High Treason by failing to stop it.


  31. I'm surprised that he didn't mention Xinjiang. It's one of the largest regions of China and it leaves the door wide open for Islamic extremism. That's why China has turned Xinjiang into a massive police state and is mistreating the Muslim minorities there. China is scared shitless of Islamic extremism.

  32. 错漏百出,首先中国自古都是北征服南,很少南征服北过,原因很多,但是这是定理,其次青藏高原虽然是很多河流的发源地,但是它们的径流量在高原上的时候都很小,最后台湾现在还是中国的一部分,虽然是内战状态,最后最后,蒙古不是个友好的国家,这个国家可以公开信奉法西斯,并且天天做大蒙古黄金家族的春秋大梦, 最后最后最后,你不明白什么叫朝贡体系,最后最后最后,中国和俄罗斯关系不是你讲的 那么简单…太傻了,几乎每一条都有问题,包括地理…

  33. Because the Quran was written by Muhammad. I Quantified the lettering the repetitiveness and broke it down to its own language so there is an evolution that must take place with the Quran with all writings.

  34. Tibet was occupied by China recently and India never occupied any of its neighbours, but China did and it's doing it constantly. It's expention ambition are seen at sea too

  35. My truth is that All national boundarys are set by WAR . Period. If there are some set by environment it is only because wars were fought and lost on those environments that the conquerors came and lost because of there unpreparedness of the new environment. war. war. war.

  36. This guy has an idea that Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar would invade China? What the fuck is he taking? The Chinese only have 2 million soldiers in their army? If they needed 10 million more, they would have them inside a week. And then India might invade China?

    I was expecting something very different from this. It's not junk history, it's not junk reporting, it's fucking fantasy.

  37. Thank you. I was curious about this. Some statements strike as me as peculiar and I have some questions about them which are not answered in this movie. For one. China had to occupy Tibet otherwise India would done so, this movie states. Does this mean that any country can now with the approval from China invade any other country they have a stake in and that they feel is threatened by another country? So would China be okay if the United States now invaded Greenland because of the fear that Chinese investments are threatening the country's independence and American interests? Or for example that it invades Taiwan because it fears that China might do so?
    Can a country invade any country now, if it feels that the possible invasion or dominance will threaten its own interests? Does this mean that China is okay if it gets invaded and occupied by all the South-Asian countries that are describe as having a bigger army as China because they fear that North-Korea might have too much influence?

    Another example is that China needs to be a global player because it grown too big. The lack of resources prompts it to be that way. Would it not be possible for China to use simple the means lesser countries do: trade for it?

    Does this movie reflect Chinese thinking in that that rest of the world is casts in terms of friends and foe, of military strategic interests? Is no other strategy possible?

  38. Wendover. K. I'm
    VT 06:30 Chinese Islands.
    So what if for every oil rig or military base artificially create an equal amount for seeding Mangroves off shore of every sub tropical human habitation.
    Humans start driving Fuel Cells with zero emissions.
    If the Chinese want to build? Let them build.
    Their technology used for Humanity will eventually be super profitable as will my flat rate political campaining.
    Both efforts to return planet Earth to Earthlings. 4 U 2 C @Poets4Politics w #AgendumTruth

  39. As a Chinese, I will say, some of the sayings are convincing ,but some are really bullshit. cause you know only a short history about Asian culture. then you mixed some sayings together no matter correct or wrong, and spread them. Stop commenting Asia from you western view, to invade is not our culture, but yours.

  40. Phillipines is not ally by china only our idiot president love china but most of filipinos still love western value and democracy..

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