China (in Chinese, simplified中国 or traditional中國, both Zhōngguó) is a name claimed by two countries: the
Red dynasty People's Republic of China (or PRC) comprising a large part of eastern Asia, and the irrelevant island rogue province of the PRC Republic of China (or ROC), more commonly known as Taiwan. Most commonly, the term "China" is used to exclusively denote the People's Republic of China (PRC), with "Taiwan" being used to identify the portion controlled by the Republic of China. Oddly enough, this isn't the first time Taiwan has been ruled by an ousted Chinese government.
As a culture and civilization, China has existed for more than three thousand years. It was one of the earliest civilizations to appear and was responsible for numerous scientific advancements and technological breakthroughs, such as gunpowder, compasses, and papermaking. Through the millennia, China was ruled by hereditary emperors who justified their power with a concept called the "Mandate of Heaven." According to this idea, emperors were legitimate because they ruled with the consent of the gods, however they could lose the Mandate by being cruel or stupid, justifying rebellions against them. The last imperial dynasty was the Qing, which suffered from internal disasters (the Taiping Rebellion) and external attacks (Europe) and collapsed in 1911. From there was an aborted attempt at a republic, a civil war, an invasion from Japan, and a takeover by Mao Zedong's communists on the mainland and the exile of Chiang Kai-Chek's nationalists to Taiwan.
- 1 The one on the mainland
- 2 The one on the island
- 3 See also
- 4 External links
- 5 Note
- 6 References
The one on the mainland
Mainland China, formally the People's Republic of China (中华人民共和国 Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó), is a massively populous pseudo-communist nation in East Asia. You probably know of it, because the country has been an incessant source of worry for politicians both in the United States and elsewhere due to its massive economy and increasingly aggressive military posture.
China under the Communist Party has proven to be a surprisingly resilient authoritarian regime, and it's one of the world's last nations that at least pretends to be communist. Unfortunately, the nation has a dismal human rights record involving censorship, political imprisonment, and racial discrimination.
Despite the hammers and sickles plastered all over everything, China is actually a primarily capitalist nation with large amounts of government intervention. This has made China into an economic powerhouse, but it's also facing a serious pollution crisis as well.
While China's military is still outclassed by that of the United States, it is still recognized as a rising power and will likely be able to claim the title of superpower before too long. On December 4th, 2014, it was announced by the IMF that China became the largest economy in the world (though only if measured by purchasing power parity), passing the US, which had previously held the title since the time of President Ulysses S. Grant.
Human rights in China (it ain't good)
Under the rule of Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has deepened its contempt for human rights.
Xinjiang internment camps
In 2017 and 2018, evidence emerged that China was systematically jailing Turkic Muslims in its western, Central Asian "Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region" in "political re-education" camps. While the Chinese government initially denied the accusation, it eventually admitted to providing free "vocational education" as part of its "anti-extremism" campaign. Those who have left the camps have claimed that they were anti-Muslim brainwashing camps, and those who resisted indoctrination were often subjected to sleep deprivation and stress positions. Prisoners at the camps are used as forced labor while also being compelled to give up their religion, language, and culture. US estimates put the number of prisoners at between 800,000 and 2,000,000 people. More recently, Chinese propagandists have begun bragging about how the camps provide "job training" for the Uyghurs; what they don't mention is that this is achieved by using prisoners as forced labor in China's factories.
Chinese authorities in Tibet are notorious for restricting religious freedom, freedom of assembly, and freedom of movement. Tibetans in retaliation protest the occupation by means of self-immolation, with at least 150 known cases since 2009. The Chinese government has taken a policy prioritizing stability over all other concerns, and they paint any cultural and religious differences in Tibet as "cultic." Shows of nonviolent resistance have resulted in a brutal crackdown, and paramilitary enforcers roam the streets of Tibet both on foot and in armored vehicles, backed up by a wide network of video surveillance. Any dissidents can thus be dealt with quickly and efficiently. In 2012, China changed its policies and announced that all Tibetan Buddhist monasteries would host a permanent installation of CCP officials and troops. In 2013, the number of Communist Party officials deployed to Tibet reached 20,000, with the purpose of assisting surveillance and reeducation programs. In 2018, China outlawed benign Tibetan social organizations which did things like attempt to preserve the Tibetan language and promote environmental protection. China's rule in Tibet has now become overtly totalitarian, and dissenters arrested for political crimes get an average of 5.7 years in prison.
Meanwhile, China is pouring billions of dollars into Tibet both for infrastructure and to superficially renovate Buddhist holy sites. This is most likely an attempt to increase the central government's influence over the Tibetan Buddhist religion, with the aim of hijacking the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama to name their own loyal head of the religion.
“”Reform and opening has already failed, but no one dares to say it. The current system has created severe social and economic segregation. So now the rulers use the taxpayers’ money to monitor the taxpayers.
|—Chinese historian Zhang Lifan|
In Tibet and Xinjiang, China has revolutionized a new form of surveillance known as the "grid system of social management." Its primary aim is to make it easier for the government to monitor all potential dissidents by having a network of community workers assigned to specific area, or "grid", provide personalized intelligence data on all individuals living within. The grids are purposefully small to the point that every neighborhood has several, and the data is thus detailed and real-time.
Even in China proper, the surveillance system is grimly totalitarian. The Chinese government employs facial-recognition software to aid its ubiquitous cameras, and it collects other biometric data and is continually employing new technologies to create an ever more oppressive surveillance state. Much like the military-industrial complex in the US, China has politicians dependent on a cadre of surveillance and security companies, which themselves form a major part of China's economy. This security-industrial complex, encouraged by Xi Jinping's government, ensures that there is a steady economic incentive to continue making China more dystopian.
The Chinese government practices widespread racial discrimination in Xinjiang and Tibet, refusing to allow ethnic minorities into the Party, and placing these regions under the control of ethnic Han Chinese administrators who often care little for the people they are tasked with administrating. Racial discrimination also extends to police and security forces stationed in Tibet, and it shouldn't take a genius to figure out how that impacts the quality of life there for Tibetans.
Chinese foreign investment in Africa, meanwhile, has caused an influx of businessmen to the region who often consider Africans to be inferior. In Chinese-run workplaces, there have been reported instances of physical abuse against employees, segregated workspaces, and general racist abuse. Anti-black racism is not limited to Africa. African-American English teachers in Chinese schools are often turned down in favor of less qualified white colleagues.
Censorship in Mainland China consists of a a mish-mash of tools to prevent "collective action"; simply because of the sheer scale of web users, Beijing knows it won't be able to filter out everything, and this is not helped by the fact that China lacks a centralized ratings and content categorization system. Nonetheless, the effort to block "subversive" Internet content frequently enters comical territory, for example, a World of Warcraft expansion delayed specifically for depicting walking skeletons. As human rights activists and netizens in general find increasingly complex ways to bypass the system, mostly relying on memes and clever wordplay Chinese internet censorship is also rather harsh when it comes to porn. It remains to be seen how long the authorities are able to clamp down on those evil Western influences.
China has cracked down in recent years on efforts to circumvent its censorship. In January 2017, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued regulations that effectively banned Virtual Private Networks (VPN) which can be used to view content not permitted by China's censors. Apple removed VPN services from its App Store in China, and China arm-twisted its own tech giant Alibaba into removing vendors who sell VPNs.
For a supposedly left-wing nation, China is incredibly hostile to the LGBT community. Throughout 2019, the Chinese government cracked down on the LGBT community by shutting down forums, curbing news coverage of gay issues, censoring online search results, and preventing LGBT charities from registering. The rainbow flag is a dangerous symbol in China, as people wearing it have been brutally beaten and subsequently castigated in the media as having a "distorted sexual orientation" and being "terrifying".
China's internet content regulations officially ban "displays of homosexuality", lumping gays in the same category as "incest" and "sexual perversions" and "situations of unhealthy love and marriages".
Economy of China
After Mao died, the new leaders under Deng Xiaoping abandoned any pretense of ideological communism, and began reforming the country, effectively changing the economy from a communist to a functionally capitalist one. China is currently privatizing its agricultural sector, although many other sectors and industries remain in state control. Today, the PRC is pretty much only communist by name, and as one can tell, has a lot of cultural promotion and managed to undo most the damage done by the Cultural Revolution. They have the second-largest economy in the world, and is number one in emitting greenhouse gases. Luckily, environmental awareness is also something that is growing in China these days, though it has to do a lot more to fully clean up the water and air. Basically, Part of China is maintaining its authoritarian government while having a fairly laissez-faire economic system (look at that, Milton).[note 1]
Capitalism in China is particularly obvious to visitors: street merchants and vendor malls are regular sights, counterfeit goods are readily available, clothing stores sell alcoholic beverages, McDonald's and KFCs are large multilevel restaurants in major metropolitan areas, and haggling (to a certain degree) is expected.
China is often spoken off with reverence by people bemoaning that "nothing gets built" due to NIMBYs. Unfortunately, corruption is endemic in China, and it's considered one of the biggest obstacles to doing business there.
On a happier note, China has in a few years gone from virtually no renewable energies to a global leader in both solar and wind power. It has similarly gone from steam trains to high speed rail and it produces millionaires and billionaires at a rate that only the Gilded Age US did. That said, China also produces a metric shitload of pollution from its hundreds of thousands of factories and exploits millions of migrant workers that are held in abject conditions so that your iPhone can be shipped to you as cheaply as Apple will allow; the Foxconn factory (ironically Taiwanese owned) is infamous for its "suicide nets" preventing workers from killing themselves due to overwork.
Thanks to China's restrictive migration system, migrant workers from poorer cities often face discrimination in employment and residency, and this is not helped by China's lack of independent trade unions. Another issue is that while China is not as politically corrupt as many places, it is still more corrupt than basically all stable democracies, thanks to its lack of any independent agencies overseeing matters of corruption, and responses to political corruption, such as Xi Jinping's purges, are often heavy handed. And as shown by the protests in Hong Kong and Taiwan's continued refusal to "reunify" with the mainland, China's political system is not as attractive as Very Serious People would like you to believe.
There is lingering hostility between China and Japan over World War II and war crimes. Also, China is nominally interested in eventually "liberating" the Republic of China (Taiwan) from what used to be called a "fascist Western puppet state" and finish the civil war, although seeing the increasing trade and tourism between the two states, it is unlikely to happen without severely damaging China's economy and international reputation, and possibly drawing the US in.
China currently plays manufacturer and banker to the United States' consumer and borrower. This has economic and political implications, though contrary to what some kooks think it doesn't mean China is going to show up on the doorstep one day saying they own the country now.
It is a system that guarantees different systems and autonomy in Hong Kong and Macao. Refer to the relevant documents.
The one on the island
Contrary to popular Western opinion, the island of Taiwan existed long before 1949,[citation NOT needed] with the earliest evidence of human presence dating to 20,000 to 30,000 years ago. The ancestors of many of Taiwan's indigenous peoples arrived approximately 8000 years ago; Taiwan's aboriginal peoples are the originators of Polynesian culture, which since spread from Oceania to Madagascar. Han Chinese settlement (primarily from China's Fujian province) began in earnest in the 17th century, and was shortly followed by the establishment of Dutch and Spanish settlements in the south and north of the island, respectively. The Dutch forcibly evicted the Spanish, and the Dutch were in turn evicted by the forces of Koxinga, who was seeking a base from which to attack the Manchu Qing Dynasty and restore the Han Ming Dynasty (much as the ROC once fully intended to use Taiwan as a base to attack the Communists and restore Nationalist China).
Koxinga's grandson surrendered to the Qing, and Taiwan was made part of Fujian province in 1683. Taiwan became a full province after being attacked by the French in 1884, but was ceded in perpetuity to Japan in 1895 at the conclusion of the first Sino-Japanese War. Japan invested much of the indemnities received from the Qing into building Taiwan's infrastructure, and Taiwan became a self-reliant colony despite initial resistance by both Han settlers and indigenous peoples. Notably, the Empire of Japan was the first entity to control all of Taiwan (with Qing control being mainly limited to the west coast). During World War 2, the allies proclaimed in the Cairo Declaration that Taiwan would be given to the ROC (a claim notably absent from the official surrender document, the Treaty of San Francisco (1952)). ROC forces entered Taiwan in 1945, and relations between the Mandarin-speaking ROC troops and Taiwanese/Hakka/Japanese-speaking local Taiwanese became increasingly strained, particularly as the ROC was more interested in stripping Taiwan's assets to finance the civil war in China than in actually governing Taiwan. An altercation between ROC soldiers and a cigarette vendor in 1947 resulted in a bloody crackdown known as the 228 Incident, which was followed by the longest period of martial law in documented history (38 years), in which local Taiwanese were kept out of positions of power, and anyone suspected of harboring pro-independence views was imprisoned or disappeared.
In the aftermath of the Communist revolution's success on the mainland in 1949, the remaining Nationalist counterrevolutionaries from the defeated Kuomintang (KMT) forces escaped to the island of Taiwan (臺灣 Táiwān) together with many refugees; the newly arrived civilians and soldiers (referred to as (外省人 wàishěngrén) (the most appropriate English translation would be 'mainlanders', but this has unfortunate connotations) now comprised 10% of the population, but possessed all the political power. The KMT maintained almost unbroken rule of the Republic of China (中華民國 Zhōnghuá Mínguó) (the one exception being 2000-2008, when Taiwan was led by the DPP's Chen Shuibian). Initially an oligarchy under Chiang Kai-shek, the ROC became a democracy after his death.
In accordance with the "One China" principle, the ROC continues to nominally claim authority over all of China, as well as outer Mongolia and Tuva. The ROC currently only administers Taiwan and smaller outlying islands. Internationally, "Taiwan" is the common shorthand for the ROC, but the country is officially designated Chinese Taipei on the rare occasions when it can participate in international events (such as sporting competitions) alongside the PRC.
The international relations of the Chinas can get a bit sticky. Both the PRC and the ROC claim authority over all of China under the One-China policy. What this means is that other nations can only diplomatically recognize one or the other, and the vast majority of nations recognize the PRC; however, many Western governments have strong ties with Taiwan, including unofficial embassies. The PRC considers the territories controlled by the ROC to be a rogue province and gets very pissed off when foreign diplomats assert, or even imply, Taiwanese independence.
People on the island are split between supporting reunification (such supporters include many descendants of refugees from 1949) and declaring independence (such supporters include many descendants of immigrants over the preceding 400 years). Those who support reunification (known as Pan-Blue, or supporters of the Kuomintang party and other parties under the Pan-Blue umbrella, such as the People First Party), however, disagree as to which government should rule over the unified China. Pan-Green supporters (supporter of the more liberal Democratic Progressive Party, and other parties, such as the Taiwan Solidarity Union) support abandoning the One-China policy and renouncing all claims on the mainland (i.e. proclaiming an independent Taiwan). Regardless of their views, however, most people in Taiwan can agree that they view themselves as Taiwanese, not Mainland Chinese (which is also an insult for a plethora of things in Taiwan).
The current president, Tsai Ing-Wen, is Pan-Green, and is known famously (or infamously, depending on your views) for her opinion that Taiwan is an independent country already, so it doesn't need a declaration of independence in the first place. She is also a proud supporter of Aboriginal rights, but despite this, Aborigines protested against her for leaving the issue of traditional Aboriginal territory for the Legislative Yuan (which is the Taiwanese congress). Ironically enough, these protests happened one year after her official apology to the Aboriginal people for crimes committed against them by the government in the past.
- Tiananmen Square Massacre
- One-child policy
- Chinese-owned US debt
- The most recent PRC heads of state
- Black site
- Social Credit System (China)
- Weiboscope - Tracking censorship trends in China
- Are Hong Kong & Macau Countries?, CGP Grey
- Strange way to react to losing the Olympics.
- But Mainland China is maintaining a state-controlled economic system. The areas covered by laissez-faire are limited to Hong Kong and Macao. (However, mainland China is also a state capitalism far from socialism.)
- Kingdom of Tungning
- The History of China — Over 3,000 Years of Civilization China Highlights
- Top 20 Ancient Chinese Inventions US-China Institute
- The Mandate of Heaven Lumen Learning
- The Fall of China's Qing Dynasty in 1911–1912 ThoughtCo
- Limiting Chinese Aggression: A Strategy of Counter-Pressure Edel, Charles. The American Interest. 02.09.18
- The “Surprise” of Authoritarian Resilience in China Tang, Wenfang. American Affairs. Feb. 2018
- Human Rights Watch World Report 2018: China Human Rights Watch
- [File:ForbiddenCity MaoZedongPortrait (pixinn.net).jpg How China went from communist to capitalist] Holmes, Frank. Business Insider. 10.10.15
- China’s polluted skies Bernard, Steven and Lucy Hornby. Financial Times. 06.28.18
- What kind of superpower could China be? BBC News. 10.19.12
- The China Story You Should Pay Attention to, and the One You Should Ignore, The Atlantic
- China's hidden camps Sudworth, John. BBC.
- Internment camps make Uighurs' life more colourful, says Xinjiang governor Kuo, Lily. The Guardian. 16 Oct 2018.
- Uighur woman details horrific abuse in China internment camp CBS News. Nov 27, 2018
- U.S. sportswear traced to factory in China’s Muslim internment camps Dake Kang, Martha Mendoza and Yanan Wang / Associated Press. Star Advertiser. December 17, 2018
- State Dept. official: China holding 800k Muslim minorities in internment camps Keller, Meghan. The Hill. 12/05/18
- China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor New York Times. Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy. Dec. 16, 2018
- Self-immolations by Tibetans International Campaign for Tibet, December 10, 2018
- China’s Cult of Stability Is Killing Tibetans Carrico, Kevin. Foreign Policy. Jun. 13, 2017.
- China: Tibetan Monasteries Placed Under Direct Rule Human Rights Watch, March 16, 2012.
- China: ‘Benefit the Masses’ Campaign Surveilling Tibetans Human Rights Watch. June 18, 2013
- China’s Crackdown on Tibetan Social Groups Human Rights Watch. July 30, 2018
- Detention and Prosecution of Tibetans under China’s “Stability Maintenance” Campaign Human Rights Watch. May 22, 2016.
- China spends big in Tibet to avert a crisis when the Dalai Lama dies Eric Baculinao and Jason Cumming. NBC News. Aug. 30, 2018
- Grid locked The Economist Jun 22nd 2013
- Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras New York Times
- The Rise of China's Security-Industrial Complex Council on Foreign Relations
- State Department notes ‘severe’ repression in Tibet in 2017 Human Rights Report International Campaign for Tibet, Apr 20, 2018
- Kenyans Say Chinese Investment Brings Racism and Discrimination Joseph Goldstein, New York Times. Oct. 15, 2018
- Discrimination and Racism in China InterNations.
- Harvard team finds that China's Internet policy allows more than most realize, Ars Technica
- Banning Skeletons in Chinese Games, Popular Science
- How Memes Became the Best Weapon Against Chinese Internet Censorship, The Atlantic
- Fewer rainbows, less social media for China’s LGBT community. South China Morning Post. 16 May, 2019.
- It Can Be Dangerous To Wave a Rainbow LGBT Flag In China. The Daily Beast.
- China Keeps Trying to Scrub LGBT Content From the Web. The Daily Beast.
- See the Wikipedia article on Chinese economic reform.
- Op-Ed: China’s Marxist communal farming makes way for agribusiness. LA Times. Op-ed by Michael Meyer.
- The Weirdest Food on the Chinese McDonald’s Menu. Chinosity.
- KFC is by far the most popular fast food chain in China and it's nothing like the US brand — here's what it's like. Business Insider.
- China Corruption Report.
- The East Is Green: China’s Global Leadership in Renewable Energy. By Dominic Chiu. Center for Strategic and International Studies.
- See the Wikipedia article on High-speed rail in China.
- Why Communist China Is Home to So Many Billionaires. Fortune.
- Foxconn Founder Pulls Out of Presidential Race in Taiwan. Wall Street Journal. September 19, 2019.
- Moore, Malcolm (11 Jan 2012). 'Mass suicide' protest at Apple manufacturer Foxconn factory. Telegraph. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Merchant, Brian (18 Jun 2017) Life and death in Apple’s forbidden city. The Guardian. Retrieved September 21, 2018.