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China: Haunted By Its History

Imagine yourself for a moment as a leader of China — and size up the magnitude of the challenge.

November 7, 2013

Credit: Elena

1. China is a huge country where pestilence, severe famine, as well as violent subjugation by foreigners have been frequent occurrences.

2. For almost 400 of the past 1,000 years, foreign invaders ruled China. As recently as 1931- 1945, as many as 35 million Chinese died as Japan tried to conquer and occupy their country.

3. At least 70 million more died from internal rebellions and disorders over the century between the Second Opium War in 1860 and Deng Xiaoping’s repudiation of Mao’s totalitarian utopianism at the end of the 1970s.

4. China must feed, clothe and house 20% of the world’s people on less than 10% of its arable land, with only 7% of its water.

5. In all likelihood, there is not a country anywhere on the planet that would want to change its geopolitical circumstances for those of China.

6. China shares land borders with 14 countries, some of which are home to history’s toughest customers, including Afghans, Indians, Koreans, Mongols, Pakistanis, Russians and Vietnamese.

7. The Japanese, Taiwanese and U.S. navies are just off China’s coasts. And the growing Indian navy has also begun to make occasional appearances.

From “Interesting Times at the Committee for the Republic” by Amb. Chas W. Freeman Jr. (U.S.F.S., Retired)




China was ruled by foreign invaders for almost 400 of the last 1000 years.

35 million Chinese died during the Japanese invasions and occupation.

70 million Chinese died during internal struggles and disorders between 1860 and 1980.

China has 20% of the world's people, but 7% of its water and 10% of its arable land.

China has land borders with 14 nations, many of which are home to the world's toughest customers.

There are now four unfriendly navies patrolling in waters just off China.