Geography Now! China

This episode is brought to you by Hey everyone! China is a big country with lots of history and culture. Obviously, in this video, I won’t be able to cover everything. But, I’ll try my best to explain. Okay? Good? Alright… Let’s get started! It’s time to learn Geography… NOW! Hey everyone, I’m your host, Barby. China, China, China… or the People’s Republic of China. Everybody knows something about this place, and everybody has something to say about it. Now let’s see what the flag has to say about itself. The flag is a simple red banner with five yellow stars in the upper hoist or canton corner; a large star surrounded by four smaller ones in a semi-circular pattern to the right. According to the governmental interpretation, the red background symbolizes the revolution, and the five stars were made yellow to radiate against the red. The stars represent unity of the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. The largest star symbolizes the Communist Party of China, and the four smaller stars that surround the big star symbolize the four social classes: the working class, the peasantry, the urban petite bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie. Well, that was pretty easy. Unfortunately, that will be the only easy part of this video. Let’s get messy in… Okay Geograpeeps, get your popcorn and notebooks, because this is where things are gonna get really complicated, messy and dramatic and confusing. This is why I watch Geography Now! First of all, mainland China is located in and dominates the heart of East Asia. At over 22,000 kilometres, it has the world’s longest combined land border with 14 other countries. The country spans all the way from the Taklamakan Desert to the coast of Fujian. Depending on your method of measurement, China could either be the second, third, or fourth largest country in the world by total area. If you include all the water territories, Canada is the second, even though China has slightly more land mass, and if you include Alaska, Hawaii and all the official territories, the US is slightly larger than China, but if China’s disputed and confusing territories are all included, then China is a little bit larger. Yeah, I know! It’s only been a couple of minutes and I’m already making it look like: *fighting* Speaking of territories, let’s stick our hands in the first layer of mud! China has some of the most complex administrative divisions in the world, and it all has to do with certain types of people and the rise of the 20th century. First of all, the country is divided into 22 official provinces, but THEN we get to the subdivisions! China also has five autonomous regions, four municipalities, and two special administrative regions that mostly self-govern themselves. First, let’s talk about the autonomous regions. They are: Guangxi, Tibet, Xinjiang, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia. The strange thing is that each of these regions has incredibly distinct and contrasting cultural traits that differ from the rest of Han-dominated Chinese culture. Because of the minority prevalency in these areas, they have kind of like a weird legislative membrane in which they are still under full sovereignty of China, but have extra special rights that don’t apply to the rest of the provinces. Then we hit the municipalities! These are like the complete opposite of autonomous regions, because they hold pretty much the highest governmental administrative classification in the country. And even though they are cities, they hold provincial status. In short, these guys are like the big shots of China! And they are: the capital Beijing, the capital Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing. Yeah, try saying that in five times fast. (Tries saying it five times fast, like a tongue twister) Furthermore, we have 2 special administrative regions that kinda self-govern themselves, but they all kind of fall under Chinese sovereignty. They are: Hong Kong and Macau. CGP Grey does an amazing video explaining the whole scenario on this, but I’ll try to summarise it in the quickest way I can. These places used to be operated by the British and Portuguese, until they were ceded back to China back in 1997 and 1999 respectively, and have a weird “one country, two systems” policy, even though it should be 3 systems… but hey. Each of these areas has their own passports, currency language and even government. Then you have the strange 6 economic zones, which, even though they do not have their own autonomy, they have flexible government regulation and free market policies that allow them to manage business transactions in a more liberal manner. These zones are cities along the coast and the entire island region of Hainan, otherwise known as the “Hawaii of China”. Ha! Thought that was heavy? Now things are gonna get reeally ugly. Now, if there’s one thing China knows how to do, it’s getting people’s attention and not in a .. “Hey guys, look at me.” …type of way but more of like a … “Hey guys, look at me!” …kind of way. And one way to get attention is by making territory disputes. Let’s just get the biggest one off of our chests -Taiwan. [Punches] Hey hey hey!… It’s called Chinese Taipei. Taiwan… is in a weird jurisdiction limbo with China, because both sides kind of technically claim sovereignty over the other. As in mainland China claims they own Taiwan, yet Taiwan believes, ultimately, that they are the sole proprietor of the entire mainland as well. It all had to do with the Chinese civil war and the opposing political parties, yaddi yaddi yadda… The communist party took over the mainland and the nationalist party took over Taiwan. Now we go inland. As we already mentioned in the Bhutan video, China has two disputed regions with them. Then we get to India. “Yess!” Sometimes China and India are like two monstrous titans slamming into each other at high velocity. It’s very difficult to really approach this topic without somebody getting angry or upset, so I’m just gonna report the plain and simple claims as they stand, and you make the decisions, okay? That way, the worst that you can do is say: “Geography Now, although not directly advocating, mentioned claims to one side of an argument that I do not agree with.” In the east we reach Arunachal Pradesh, which is to this day pretty much a state of India, however, China still believes it is part of south Tibet. In the Uttarakhand area by Tibet, you have the Niti Pass by Chamoli and the Valley of Jadh Ganga. In Pradesh, you have the Reo Purgyil mountains and the Spiti River valley, and finally we reach Jammu and Kashmir, a.k.a. the most messed up no man’s land in the entire planet. Here, China lays claim to the Shaksgam Valley, the Fukche valley, the mouth of the river by Chumar, and the largest chunk of highlands – the Aksai Chin region, which Chinese national highway 2-19 passes through. In addition, further up north, pretty much all of Tajikistan’s southeast border with China is disputed. *sigh* and then we reach the Spratly Islands. *singing*
Spratly Islands, Islands, *singing*
who you will own you now? I don’t know! *almost crying* In the South China Sea, things get really messy. Imagine, if you will, a bunch of people walking towards each other, each one on their phones looking at pictures of Bob Saget, and then suddenly they all bump into each other, and notice a pile of money on the ground right at their feet. They drop their phones and immediately lunge for the pile, disagreeing on whose money is whose, and how much belongs to which person. That’s the Spratly Islands! Essentially, these islands are claimed by 5 separate countries in area, 6, if you consider Taiwan sovereign, and the whole deal is just an enormous mess of convoluted claim squabbling. This is what the Philippines’ claims. This is Vietnam’s, Brunei’s, Malaysia’s, and then China just kinda does this. Basically the Spratlys are an international battle royale, and when one side doesn’t really pay attention to one island that they claim, another side sweeps in and builds a military station. It gets ugly sometimes. Oh, yeah, and there’s a cluster of rocks called the Diaoyu or the Senkaku islands that both China and Japan both think is theirs. Alright! That’s it! Kind of. I mean, we didn’t really talk about the whole North Korea thing, and how the entire country operates under one time zone, but we’ll just have to save that for a social media comment war. In the meantime, we gotta get this gravy train rolling. China is a big big country, so naturally you’re gonna get deep geographic divisions all over, but in general, if you look at China from space, you’ll notice that the east is significantly greener than that of the arid, rocky north and west. Situated right on the eastern third of the Eurasian landmass, China’s inner and coastal domain is kind of shielded by this arid, sparsely populated highlands in the south-west, west and north, encapsulating the fertile lowlands inside. I like to call this “the Chinese shield”. “Nobody’s gonna touch my plants!” This is partially why it took Europeans so long to develop solid ties and interactions with the east. I mean, sure, the Silk Road had existed for centuries prior, but crossing all the mountains and deserts and rocky pass[es] was less favorable to sea exploration for them. And by the way, no, Marco Polo did not bring the concept of pasta to Italy by bringing back Chinese noodles from his travels. Pasta had already existed in the Mediterranean for centuries prior to the excursion. THE LESS YOU KNEW ⋆ China has a vast domain of biodiversity and climate; the west and north will be radically different from the coast and south. So let’s start with the inland and coast. On the east side of China and the coasts, you have the heavily populated alluvial plains that are generally flat, with numerous spots for shipping and harbours and beaches with the cool looking ones, like Panjin Red Beach that blossoms every autumn. Head a little bit north, up to the provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang, and half of Inner Mongolia along the borders of Russia and North Korea, and you hit the coldest spot in all of China. In fact, every year the city of Harbin, named the “ice city”, has a huge ice sculpting festival that draws in millions of tourists in the winter months. Fun fact: this general area of China was commonly referred to as “Manchuria” in the past, named after the Manchu people, which is where the Fu Manchu moustache gets its name from, which is where I get back to the video. Head a little east, and you reach the rest of the Inner Mongolian autonomous region, which is dominated by the Mongolian plateau, which is a highland consisting of dry steppes, hills, and yes, the Gobi desert, which, fun side note: is where all those beautiful caravan raiding and “gimme back my comb or I will kill you” chasing scenes from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were filmed. Head a little west, and things get a little more intense. Congratulations, you’ve reached the largest subdivision in China – the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region. This is basically the wild west of China. At over 1 and a half million square kilometers, only about 5% of the area is fit for human habitation. This area is strange, rocky, rugged, mountainous, and loaded with oil, making it China’s largest gas producing region. Then you head a little south, and you reach the strange Taklamakan desert or the “cold desert”. This huge basin of shifting sand dunes is almost completely surrounded by the snow-capped mountains trapping in the frigid winds, however, it still lies in the rain shadow zone, so it rarely receives any precipitation. However, the funny thing is: if you look closely, you can see the ice melt from the Tian Shan and Kunlun Mountains in the north and south feeding into the valleys below by the desert, until they create a dry riverbed that looks like a strange Angeline Jolie forehead vein in the desert. Head south, and then we reach the most notable autonomous region – the Tibetan plateau. As the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of nearly 5,000 meters / 16,000 feet, this area is situated on the Himalayan Mountains, the tallest mountain range on the planet, and the tallest mountain in the world – Mount Everest – straddles the border with Nepal. The funny thing is, the Tibetan plateau, and to some extent, the Qinghai province, is so high that the snow melt runoff doesn’t really have much to go in the arid north, so it just kind of flows into the empty crevices, creating China’s largest network of freshwater lakes speckled throughout the entire area, including the largest lake in China – Qinghai Lake. Many speculate that these are actually the sources of many of the major rivers in China, including the Yellow and Yangtze [rivers]. Then we get to the southeast, by the provinces of Yunnan, Guangxi and Guandong as the warmest regions in the country. These areas are home to some of the most picturesque rock forest and eroded mountain landscapes with the terraced rice paddies that have literally usurped the entire surface area of hills and mountains. This is also the only place where you can find the creepy Snub-nosed monkey. When you head inland, you reach the rural areas, and you can encounter the vast network of rivers and creeks that irrigate the endless endless crop fields that never end, with the occasional pine and bamboo forest. Here’s where we have to address a little bit of reality. Yes, China is loaded with beautiful scenery unmatched anywhere else in the world. I mean, the setting for ‘Avatar’ was inspired by the Zhangjiajie National Park, however, just like any other major state, they do have their land controversies. China has been trying really hard to crack down on its poaching, and especially against the endangered species, like the black-necked crane, the golden monkey, and of course, the iconic mascot of the nation – the giant panda bear. On top of that, China has quite a pollution problem; the Chinese Ministry of Health has stated that industrial pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death. This is both attributed to the air and land pollution. They’ve tried their best to combat the issue with instituting strict regulations, and fines and bans, but with the population as big as China, it’s proven incredibly difficult to manage contamination maintenance. Now let’s talk about the most controversial aspect of China, the… Alright, here we go, I’m probably not gonna feel this nervous until we get to the Israel video, or the country “that must not be named”! Let’s talk about the people of China. With a population around 1.4 billion people, China is the world’s most populous country with around 19% of the entire world’s population. About one out of every five people on the planet is Chinese. Let me just emphasize exactly how big that is. In China, they have traffic jams that can last not only hours, but days…on 50-lane highways. In China, even if you are one in a million, there are still 1,400 people exactly just like you. But my mom thinks I’m cool! Okay, that’s great! Seriously though, China is packed. However, with the colossal population comes an endlessly broad spectrum of culture, traditions, people groups, customs and lifestyles. China officially recognizes about 56 different ethnic people groups that inhabit the entire country. At about 90%, the largest majority of the population identifies as Han Chinese, and the remainder of the population typically falls within one of the many ethnic groups and the subdivision groups; the largest ones being the Zhuang, the Hui, the Manchu and the Uyghur. Funny little side note: there are actually about twice as many Mongols living in China than there are actually in Mongolia itself. The interesting thing is that they actually write in the traditional vertical Mongol script that as all but been abandoned from regular Mongolia since the introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet in the 40’s. You can even find the traditional characters on street signs and stores in the region. When it comes to the population, you need to know about the imaginary Heihe-Tengchong line. This is a line drawn diagonally from the northern city of Heihe all the way to Tengchong in the south, and about 94% of the entire country’s population lives east of this line. The official language of China is Mandarin or Putonghua, however, like mentioned before, regional languages exist and they’re even allowed to publish and utilize their own scripts in public. You can find the largest linguistic contrast in the autonomous regions. The Zhuang language is spoken in the Guangxi autonomous region, and is actually closer to the Thai and Lao languages with some mutual understanding, the only problem is that it’s written in the Latin alphabet. Just like we mentioned in the Bhutan video, the Tibetan language is closer to the Bhutanese Dzongkha language, and is written with the Tibetan syllabary which is actually closer to the scripts found in India and Nepal. The Uyghurs of the north write in an Arabic based writing system, and it’s crazy because these people are actually the least Chinese-looking people in all of China, as they are Turkic in their heritage, yet they still have Chinese citizenship, and most are able to at least pull a conversation in Mandarin as a second language. Then, of course, we get to one of the most widely known dialects – Cantonese – spoken mostly in the south spoken mostly in the south in the Guangdong province, as well as Hong Kong and Macao; propagated worldwide through the help of famous Hong Kong cinema and television. One thing you need to understand is that many of these dialects are completely unintelligible to Mandarin. For example, in Mandarin you might say: (speaking in Mandarin) but in Cantonese you would say: (speaking in Cantonese) in Mandarin: (speaking in Mandarin) but in Cantonese: (speaking in Cantonese) See? They don’t sound anything alike. “Well, they don’t sound no nothin’ to me either way, so it don’t matter to me.” *sigh*…Here, go go play with this ball. The weird thing is they all still use the same Chinese character writing system, so even if you don’t understand each other, you can still communicate with writing. Fun little side note: the same thing even sometimes applies for Japan, as they use the Kanji writing system, which is made up of Chinese characters all over. Culture-wise, there is too much to cover and I won’t be able to address everything, but basically the Chinese have an incredibly long history of vibrant, exuberanting customs, traditions, rituals, dynasties, discoveries, inventions, wars, alliances, art, building, food, apparel, policies and beliefs. And the list goes on and on. To even attempt to scratch the surface, we would have to make over a hundred episodes. One thing that kind of is universal, though, is that the Chinese have a very hard-working diligent type of social construct that looms over the entire population. Students can typically spend about 12 hours a day on school work and studying in order to pass college entrance exams, which is a huge deal! Oh, and they absolutely love practicing English, in fact, there are actually more people in China that speak English as a second language than there are in the UK. Some children that show signs of being gifted in certain academic, athletic and artistic progress are even selected by the state to undergo training at specific academies that cater towards targeting on honing those skills. Speaking of which, the country operates under a one-party socialist state. “But I thought China was communist!” Ehh, not really, I mean, yes, the ruling party is called the “Communist Party”, and they do endorse some of the democratic centralist principles that Lenin proposed, and they do advocate some semi-communist ideologies, but in all reasonable definitions, China is not a full-on “communist” country. After the 70’s, policies were relaxed, and China opened up a more free market economy. Nonetheless, there are still restrictions on press, access to the internet, although VPNs and proxy servers are not uncommon to avoid that problem, freedom of assembly and even freedom of religion. Speaking of which, China has an interesting faith-based background. Although most people in the country are generally irreligious, or adhere to traditional faiths and ideologies like Confucianism and Taoism, there are still a surprisingly solid community of people that have faith backgrounds. Islam can be mostly found in the west in the Xianjiang and Ningxia areas. Buddhism is more prevalent in the south, where you can find massive Buddha statues, like the ones carved in the cliff of Leshan. But then you get this weird anomaly and realise, “There’s a huge influx of Christians that suddenly just came out of nowhere.” China has the world’s fastest growing Christian population, and demographers speculate that somewhere around 150 to 200 million people identify as Christians in China. It is soon projected that in less than 15 years, China will be the world’s largest Christian nation. Sociologists attribute this sudden rapid growth simply to conversion, since the previously instated one-child policy discredits the possibility of big families. Speaking of which, that whole one-child policy thing was revoked in 2015 and now they have a 2-child policy. In a nutshell, when it comes to people, China is a colossal behemoth to be reckoned with; you can’t deny that China sticks out like a sore thumb on the world stage. Now let’s see what role they play on that stage. Okay, so here’s the deal, we all know that China is huge. In terms of nominal GDP, China has the second largest economy in the world after the U.S., they are the world’s largest exporter, trade nation, oil importer, and henceforth, it’s not hard to really conclude that China has a lot of connections. China has diplomatic relations with almost every single country in the world, minus a few that either never really had the time meet up, or the few that recognise Taiwan sovereignty over the People’s Republic, which doesn’t really sit well with them. Nonetheless, trying to analyze China’s diplomatic relations is like one big messed up chess game that makes no sense. One thing that we can start with is the B.R.I.C.S nations. B.R.I.C.S being the acronym for the assocation of the five national emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. These five countries have developed an alliance based on bilateral relations and mutual benefit agreements. One misconception that a lot of people have is that China and India do not get along. Yes, in the 60’s there was a Sino-Indian War, and yes, the border disputes are all kind of still in effect, but nonetheless, China and India have been operating in diplomatic measures for decades, They are heavily dependent on each other’s trade and business, and after a few high-level visits from the former president Jiang Zemin in the 90’s, tensions have eased off quite a bit. The only problem is that both countries are the biggest investors in Africa, so that kinda puts a little bit of competition in the bucket. When it comes to Africa, China was kind of like “Eeh, Africa is like a really big place with a lot of stuff we could use, with a lot of diplomatic confusion, so, uhh, maybe we should step in as the new guys and cut a deal with these Africans.” To this day, China has really been keeping their eyes on Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically in places like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Angola. South Africa and Angola being the largest African trading partners with China. The problem though is that China is kind of far, and doesn’t really have a coast on the Indian Ocean for shipment from Africa, so that’s where Pakistan comes in. Pakistan has actually been one of the closest friends and allies of China since the beginning of the Economic Reform period. Not only do they offer China access to the Indian Ocean from the ports of Gwadar, they frequently collaborate on energy, technology and even military agreements, which kind of makes sense in case if tensions ever rose with India ever again. Funny enough, Israel is also a close ally of China as well; during WWII, Shanghai took in many Jewish refugees, and Israel was the first country in the Middle East to recognise the PRC as the legitimate government of China. Which is weird, because China also has ties to Iran and many other nations in the Middle East that could care less for Israel, in fact, trade between China and the Middle East goes way back millennia all the way to the Silk Road, so it’s nothing new for them. Russia is probably the closest European ally, even though the Sino-Soviet split in the 60’s kinda caused a little bit of dissension, but nonetheless, the two have learned to kind of shrug it off and join forces again. Russia, to this day, is also the largest oil exporter to China, and there’s even a small community of Russians living in China, mostly in Harbin in the north. Which is weird, again, because China’s relations with the U.S. are pretty crucial too. The U.S. is China’s largest trade partner and plays a pivotal role in China’s revenue input. They are friends with both North and South Korea, however with all the nuke action going on, China has been less and less supportive of North Korea, and has even threated to impose sanctions against them. And that’s not even half of it, if you want the whole story, go talk to a Chinese person, becasue we are out of time. In conclusion, since the beginning of its conception, China has always been able to show the world that it knows how to make you know about it and now that you know about it you have no idea how much still need to know. Stay tuned and come be a with Colombia…no…that didn’t? Hey geograpeeps, so Geography now just got its first sponsor –, this is probably the best homework help and tutroing website ever, if you’re in college or if you’re a grad student or whatever, these people are smart, they’re great, most of the instructors have at least their Master’s degree and I also have a protocol that you guys can use, I’ll put everything in the link in the description below but check them out –, they’re helping out Geography now, so feel free to check them out and help them out as well –

  1. Your videos are way more political than geographical. You do not mention the season, the soil, climate, resource, etc, etc.

  2. 4:24
    Jerry Seinfeld: "You don't Yada-Yada civil war and Chinese sovereignty!?!?!"
    Elaine: "I've yada-yada'd civil war and Chinese sovereignty before…"

  3. I have some friends from Shanghai and Hong Kong, they are cool and intelligent guys …it's just international politics otherwise we really bond well due to our common Asian culture you guys from India …

  4. an error occurred when I was watching the video. there might be some force preventing me from watching…..

  5. Thanks for this video despite some disputes, and all these friendly comments make me so touched. As a Chinese I should also learn more about other countries. Wish we all be friends and keep peace for ever.

  6. China has actually resolved many land dispute with neighboring countries, including the one with Kajikirstan which mentioned in the video.

  7. So can u tell me where Taiwan is on the cover?
    Wanna introduce the geography of China but ignore the geographical knowledge every Chinese knows?Uhh?

  8. At the 15:30 finish subtitles in italian!!!😭😭😭 Sorry but you speak too fast and i don't understand all of world😢 Please please, please put the subtitles and if possible also put them on all your videos! I love you😉

  9. West part of China 🇨🇳 doesn’t belong to mainland China 🇨🇳😡😡😡😡😡
    Tibet, Inner Mongolia, etc. are forcefully occupied by China 🇨🇳 Mao Zedong (the Killer).
    Waiting for the downfall of China as quick as possible..!.!!

  10. Overall, very impressive! I am pleased that you don’t sound like a China hater-USA needs more people to be objective and non-combating like you. However, I am afraid that you got a few things wrong.

  11. I don't particularly hate the chinese people. Just their expansionnist, imperialistic and anti-liberty government. Not even talking about the concentration camps.

  12. A thumb down👎 because you missed out Taiwan in the map, as you mentioned national party and communist party, that means they are all parties of China, so you still missed out Taiwan in the map, guess you still need to learn more about China in correct way (UN) not us way.

  13. As a chinese, I have to say this vedio is relatively impartial. But china-us joint communique claims that taiwan is part of China. Although there are a lot of disagreements between two side, I think is better to explain it.

  14. 巴基斯坦和中國永遠是朋友。

    Bājīsītǎn hé zhōngguó yǒngyuǎn shì péngyǒu

    From Pakistan. 💞

  15. Being a Chinese living in North America, I gotta say the information in this video is very accurate and unbiased. China has many problems, many areas/aspects to improve in, but it's also very diverse and wonderful in so many ways, just like every other country.

  16. 封面地图是错误的,虽然现在台湾地区不承认,但,台湾只能是中国的地区。这是联合国承认的。

  17. at first i disliked the video because the dude was speaking a terrestrial language, but I changed my mind

  18. 谢谢你介绍中国!但你的地图漏掉了台湾。我理解你在西方接受的教育和宣传可能没有台湾,但台湾终究是中国的!

  19. 1912 – Current —– Democratic China Of Taiwan – The Original China Before Communism Invasion…..
    1949 – Current —– Communist Red China – The 2nd China in History.
    This is why Democratic China of Taiwan has a huge armament of military defence : they want to remain in existence as Democratic China and not let the Communists take over.
    Both are China – but do they know we only live on the earth for c 100 years then die – so no point in fighting – let each live happily in peace –

    war made by the devil's lies and selfishness puts more people in hell and causes sufferrings and grief amongst people. This is why Jesus Christ, the Son of God died to save us all from hell – He paid the price for our sins so that we can live in heaven after death on earth.

    We only have one life on earth : listen to your conscience – do not kill, do not steal money, dishonestly,………find out the ONLY ONe Who paid the price for your sins before you lose the chance to heaven for ever…. Listen to joseph @t on utube to find out how to get to heaven after this one life safely – do not cheat your own soul by ignoring that Servant of God.

    God loves us and has made a way.

  20. I’m Japanese and I have many Chinese friends. They are so kind and polite. I hope Japan and China will be a good relationship again. 我愛中国。

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