China’s Geography Problem


This video was made possible by Squarespace. Build your custom website for 10% off by going
to squarespace.com/wendover. 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.com/wendover. Squarespace makes this show possible so please
at least go check them out over at squarespace.com/wendover. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you in
two weeks for another Wendover Productions video.

100 thoughts on “China’s Geography Problem”

  1. you're speaking of old colonial warfare and fantasizing on the three Nations of Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam will be able to agree to start an incursion of boots on the ground into China border by ways of walking thousand miles…this is the days of Hypersonic Non-intercepted very accurate gliding and cruising missiles…and fast Electric train to every where from China…carrying 10.000 troops into many Countries in a matter of hours.

  2. All I know Philippines owns the island from the start and now China brain washing their country that Philippines is their PROVINCE. Stupid whoever believes.

  3. I too agree that Taiwan is a separate country! The Republic of China should remain a Free Country! The video was OUTSTANDING! Thank You so much!

  4. The world cannot allow a communist superpower to take over the East. The UN will do nothing because they are totally useless. President Trump has finally taken them on economically but the US, eventually, might have to take them on militarily. Which is a very scary situation. Even Russia knows that this might have to happen and hopefully they will be on our side. Because they know that China will be a larger threat than the US will ever be.

  5. China"s only problem is america you know the evil ones and while their own country decay and becomes the new 3ed world nation , Right USa >>>>>>??????????????? ………….

  6. You highlighted mainland Japan as a U.S. military stronghold, but that is not quite right. The vast majority of U.S. military personnel are located on Okinawa in the Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu Islands) just NE of Taiwan, not mainland Japan, putting US troops even closer to mainland China. The U.S. Navy presence consists primarily of a refueling depot, and the U.S. Army has all but left the island since the end of the Vietnam War, but Kadena Air Force Base is still strong, and there is a large Marine presence on island. China is building artificial islands between itself and Taiwan & Okinawa in an effort to broaden its territorial waters for a resource grab, as well as water-border security.

  7. Can you STOP your BLOODY provocation to China within your own statement? If Tibetian had been a independence region. What's the HACKS😤😤😤 of your claims that India has ANY right to RULE TIBET'? CURSE ON YOU! Tibet was parts of the China empires for thousand years. There was King, which ruled the region previously and changed its religion to Buddhist after their expansion. But unfortunately, the Tibetian terrorism wipe out the original King in mystery. These are all properly documented in China history for thousands years, as well as the Tobetian Buddhism legendary story did tell you their bloody rulings! It was because they killed the king after lured him to believe in the Buddhist!

  8. China's numbers been BLOWN UP inflated no way 1.4 Billion people in China i looked into and only about 250 Million people live in cities the rest in the country and they say whatever they want… my estimate is probably another 250 Million so forget their big huge numbers same goes for India those two Countries have super inflated numbers to look big and impressive. I made up my mind 500 Million in China and 450 Million in India no way over a Billion ya those numbers are feed to us in the West soon we will hear that Russia too is over a Billion well do your own research and don't beleieve any huge numbers they just try to impress..

  9. 4:17 Recently? The modern railroad in Tibet was done construction on Jul 1, 2006, and was officially in operation on Jul 8, 2007, after one year of trial operation. Based on your definition of "recently", the 2008 Olympic was held in Beijing RECENTLY.

  10. You dickhead! why the fuck would India invade Tibet, Tibet is, was and will always be a free autonomous regioncountry. India has never invaded a country ever. Fucking bullshit propaganda. India is a responsible democracy and China is rat-infested communist authoritarian ruled dictatorship.

  11. China has been forcing Chinese citizens to settle tibet for decades now. china is a wicked evil organize crime organization posing as a government that’s what all communist countries are they are simply organize crime families acting as a government . their goal is to get rich and to enslave people to enrich themselves even more . Satan himself developed communism.

  12. If the U.S. COULDN'T overtake Vietnam,
    what makes us think that we will overtake CHINA??
    CHINA is NOT alone:
    they got North Korea, RUSSIA
    Pakistan
    and CHINA does get along with India.
    India, RUSSIA and Iran and turkey are ONE with CHINA.

  13. i think this guy is a idiot! china is not geographically challenged.A land locked country like Afghanistan is geographically challenged.

  14. A war with China is likely never going to happen, no war since world war two has happened with any modern country and always happens with countries that can't really fight back and for good reason.

    We are at a tech level that we can't afford another major war with modern countries as the destruction and lose of life would make world war two look tame in comparison.

    The only war that can happen with modern countries is economic warfare which ironically is happening, the US with it's trade wars with China, the US have had many trade wars with the EU but the US backed down on them all and if I recall when Japan was a major power in the 80's, the US had economic warfare with them as well.

    The truth is, no country is going to invade China as they are too powerful now, they have a massive economy, they have the population size and they are building a high tech industry really fast and as they keep modernising, who would be crazy enough to take on China?

  15. The Philippines is also an ally of the US because of a treaty made. The Philippines will never go to war against the US. No matter who the president is. You watch too much mass media🤨

  16. Some crap about the chinese rising up and ending the regime if it has trouble feeding its people. No. America has been encouraging unrest since its bloody fingers in the tienamin square masacre. So No. All China has to do is grow forest in the far west and it will get more rainfall. Starting riots is terrorism. If the USA becomes a terrorist state, it validates terrorism as a legitimate act.

  17. Yeah, gee, you mean China has trouble winning the hearts of people in neighboring countries and territories like Tibet? What a shocker. Maybe it's the execution squads for people who disagree with the government, and the organ harvesting vans, the fact that their people are slaves to the point that their factories have to have suicide nets on them, or maybe it's the fact that the communist Chinese government has openly admitted to having killed anywhere between 40 and 150 million of it's own people. 40 by admission – given who that admission is coming from, the number is predicted much higher by anyone with common sense. That's tens of millions of civilians, not rebels or militia.

    Yeah, hard to imagine why their neighbors don't like them very fucking much.

  18. I'm not saying that Tibet has to be part of China but the statement of "Tibetan look different to Han Chinese so it makes no sense to make it part of China" is like WTF? You're saying all Americans look the same?

  19. Please, don't include Crimea as a part of Russia.
    It's an occupied territory of Ukraine and no country in the world recognizes this annexation.

  20. What's sad is that for most is history China lived in India's shadow

    The Buddhism started in India was so widely adopted in China that Chinese people actually became like Indians in thinking

    Id love to see a day when these two countries become friends again… China owes lots to India

  21. Loss of the icecaps will put most traditional Chinese territory under water. Of all world powers, China will be hardest hit by sea level rise. That's a far more realistic threat than invasions from this or that direction, invasions that presume wars that are no longer practical in the age of nuclear deterrence.

  22. These geo-political concerns seem anachronistic in the nuclear age. If India invades China, India would be shish kebab in a few minutes.

    And if you're talking about a post-nuclear conflict scenario, you'd be talking two bald guys fighting over a comb, or rather two guys without skin – fighting over a fake tan salon.

  23. Full of anti-China rhetoric!! Why don’t you cover how the US overthrew the native Hawaiian government and swallows that kingdom? And the endless wars thenUS starts all over the world? The US is THE BIGGEST THREAT to humanity and world peace since the Nazis!! Face the facts.

  24. The way China mitigates the risk of “conflict” is simply to invest in the countries it is attempting to control. It is a slight of hand and an ancient belief.
    If you look at all these countries, CHINA is investing in their infrastructure. The Philippines, Africa, Greenland etc etc. The Chinese will also end up using that infrastructure. So you see they are benefiting from that investment also.
    The Chinese are smart and are avoiding war by giving. But ultimately they will get that back plus a million fold…..
    China will eventually be able to back the currency of these countries with the Gold they are/have been accumulating.
    Or China will replace the currency with Gold. It’s one of the two. This is probably the 50yr + plan.

  25. I'm seeing figures of 35 million extra men as a result of the 1 child policy. What do you think that will mean when it comes to international conflict. Interestingly India has a similar problem. Doesn't seem to make for a peaceful future.

  26. China has resolved border disputes with all of its neighbors but India. Perhaps, waiting for the demise of the Dalai Lama. Every Asian country, being democracies with malleable politicians are now in deep Chinese influence. India is the only exception in the region. The Chinese know that India is too big, powerful and proud to be influenced. Also, very suspicious of the Chinese. 1962, Sino -Indo war was the biggest blunder of the Chinese policy, gaining little and making an enemy out of then a very friendly country. The Chinese have tried but unlikely to win over the Indians again and that will remain their Achilles heel. They also know that unless the US gets help from India, it won't risk full-scale hostilities with the Chinese in the region. The Chinese keep trying to encircle India, while the US keeps trying to engage and turn an ever reluctant India into a NATO type US ally.

  27. 9:12 "Which has allowed for it to grow into the largest country in the world."
    "Grow into the largest country in the world."
    "Largest country in the world."
    "Largest country in the world."
    Russia has joined the chat

  28. china killed 3000 of its own citizens on September 11 2001 and america just stood there and watched , shame on you america.

  29. You eat shit if u said the shown Mount sagarmatha (everest) is seen from Tibet.. you stupid that picture of mount sagarmatha does belong to the country Nepal 🇳🇵🇳🇵🇳🇵🇳🇵🇳🇵🇳🇵🇳🇵🇳🇵🇳🇵 you dumb ass you don't know the country Nepal does exist…

  30. home field advantage … a defensive advantage. 2:10. why is this defined as a geographic problem for china? How much did china pay for this crude propaganda?

  31. 一直在他国驻军的美国,说是保护,其实更是威胁。以虚伪的正义干涉别人发展,美国军队一直在别人国家使用武器,美国军队杀死了太多太多的人,这是正义吗?反人类的美国迟早会被全世界抛弃

  32. The USA has one of the best Geo Protection on earth…Oceans on both sides and a small nation south Mexico and a Freezing Cold Country on its North Canada.

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