China: An Island Nation?


China isn't embracing rum cocktails with little umbrellas in them (as far as I know). But given the realities of Chinese geography–shared land borders with 14 other countries, but most of the population clustered away from those borders in the Han "heartland"–they might at least consider adopting some of the better features of island nations (say, hammocks and tropical fruit) to balance out the troublesome isolation:

China map

From Strange Maps:

Only in three places are the Chinese borders naturally permeable: at the Vietnamese frontier, via the Silk Road, and near Russian Far East. Hilly jungles separate China from Laos and Burma, the Himalayas shield it from the Indian subcontinent, almost impassable deserts divide it from Central Asia and the forbidding expanses of Siberia have never appealed to Chinese expansionism (until now, as the Russians fear).

With the exception of the Ming dynasty's sponsorship of admiral Zheng He's naval expeditions (as far away as Sri Lanka, Arabia and Africa) in the early 15th century, China has never attempted to be a naval-based power – so for most of its history, China's ports on the Pacific were hardly windows on the world either.

Check out the original article on Investors Insight, with lots more maps clarifying and expanding on the one above.

NEXT: Bob Barr on the Patriot Act, Medical Marijuana, and His Mustache

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  1. Is that one of them “after global warming” maps? 🙂

  2. Yea, all of that, but the author forgets that Flas Gordon made short work of Ming.

  3. If the Siberian frontier is so impermeable, why build the Great Wall?

  4. If the Siberian frontier is so impermeable, why build the Great Wall?

    Because the border to the Mongolian Steppe is permeable.

    I mean, there’s a map right there, ass…

  5. …and the forbidding expanses of Siberia have never appealed to Chinese expansionism

    Save your insults for the guy who wrote this. Maybe HE doesn’t know about Mongolia.

  6. Isn’t that a map that Edgar Cayce drew?

  7. I see what you are up to, Mangu-Ward. Your post is a pack of disinformation intended to make us lose next time we play Risk with you!

  8. China has never attempted to be a naval-based power

    I recall reading, I think from Victor Davis Hanson, that China once had some of the best ships in the world and actually came close to being the first world naval power, but the seafaring classes came out on the short end of an internal power struggle.

    Sort of like Japan with gun technology; they didn’t like peasants ungracefully blasting their poetry-reciting samurai class.

  9. Looks like Aeros could find a big market in China.

  10. Interesting post, I’ve bookmarked it.

    I’ll remember Katherine Mangu-Ward linking to a page indicating that a country might be worried about a neighboring country’s possibly having eyes on their territory (“expansionism”) for the next time KMU promotes the “free flow of people” and all of us holding hands and singing Kumbaya.

    I’m sure there are old Soviet leaders who wish that there had been more libertarians in the 50s.

  11. why build the Great Wall?

    The Great Wall? Look at a map, dimwit. There is no one Great Wall, rather a hodgepodge of sorta-great and lesser walls, none of which could or did protect China from its alleged enemies.

  12. I’ll bookmark this post so I can remember it the next time that the Lonely Whacker misses the point and tries in vain to tie every gottdamm post to his pet “issue.”

    No, I won’t have to. Every time he posts he misses the point and obsesses over HisFearedMexicanOverlords. Well, to be fair, today being Friday, he will probably post something about his sexual obsession, too, that annoying quasi folk singer.

  13. This is silly — each of the interfaces mentioned except the Silk Road has been used as a gateway for Chinese imperialism or subjugation of China under someone else’s imperialism. The Mongols took control of China via the Siberian route, the Chinese invaded and controlled Vietnam for centuries during the second millenium, and of course European powers and later Japan carved up China coming in through the sea ports.

  14. Now that was an interesting article indeed.


  15. “Aside from bordering on 14 different states and being on numerous trade and migration routes, China might as well be an island.”

    Yes, and if it had wheels, it would be the world’s largest bus.

    On the other hand, Strange Maps is always link-worthy.

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