In its efforts to become a fully developed country and have greater international ranking, the Chinese government has trapped within its borders several autonomous regions and independent states in order to have greater access to arable land, tourist destinations, and international markets. Throughout these efforts to expand, the People’s Republic of China has been cited with multiple allegations of human rights violations regarding their actions in the tensions regarding these regions (Human Rights Watch Report), but the Chinese government claims these allegations are illegitimate. The Chinese government also cites illegitimate claims towards these autonomous regions in hopes of gaining international backing for their occupation of these autonomous regions (Human Rights Watch Report). As a whole, these regions are better off as sovereign nations, without continued occupation by the Chinese military. Despite the rest of the world’s reticence of getting involved with this issue, the Chinese government must be induced to relinquish its hold on neighboring countries and autonomous regions.
According to the World Factbook, a compilation of portfolios of countries put together by the Central Intelligence Agency, with a population of almost 1.5 billion people, the People’s Republic of China has the largest population of any single country in the world. With a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of $14,300 and a population growth rate of just 0.45 percent, the People’s Republic of China has the outward appearance of being at the brink of becoming a developed country (World Factbook: China). When one looks closer at these numbers, however, the appearance is less promising. Over 6.1 percent of the country’s population lives under the country’s poverty line of $400 (World Factbook: China). The country has a dependency ratio of 36.6 percent, meaning that 36.6 percent of the population is under the age of 14 or over the age of 65 (World Factbook: China). While the literacy rate, or the percentage of people over 15 who can read and write, is on par with many developed countries at 96.4 percent overall, the literacy rate of males is 3.7 percent higher than the literacy of females (World Factbook: China). As of 2015, 4.5 percent of the Chinese population did not have access to clean water, and 23.5 percent of the population did not have access to adequate sanitation facilities (World Factbook: China).
As the People’s Republic of China does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking, they have been placed on tier two of the human trafficking watchlist (World Factbook: China). More people are convicted and executed on drug charges in the People’s Republic of China than in any other country in the world (World Factbook: China). Recently, the People’s Republic of China topped the United States as the country with the highest amount of carbon dioxide emissions due to consumption of energy (World Bank: China). The People’s Republic of China is an atheist country, and political oppression groups are forbidden in the People’s Republic of China. According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), over a dozen government agencies monitor the flow of information within, into, and out of the People’s Republic of China. Foreign journalists are required to obtain permission before reporting in the country as a means of preventing the coverage of potentially politically sensitive material (China Media Censorship). These facts indicate a need for further international presence in the country to ensure all citizens of the People’s Republic of China have their basic human rights, as laid out by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, respected.
Currently, the Chinese government considers Taiwan its 23rd province. Government officials from the Chinese and Taiwanese governments are currently in heated debate over if Taiwan is a renegade province, or if Taiwan is a sovereign state (John Fuh-Sheng Hsieh 30). As the Chinese government has greater political standing, however, the international community has been intimidated into not accepting Taiwan as a state (World Factbook: China, World Factbook: Taiwan). The average life expectancy in Taiwan is 4.57 years higher than in the People’s Republic of China (World Factbook: China, World Factbook: Taiwan). While the People’s Republic of China’s literacy rate is high, the literacy rate of Taiwan is 98.5 percent, with only a 2.4 percent gender gap in the literacy rate to the People’s Republic of China’s 3.7 percent (World Factbook: China, World Factbook: Taiwan). Taiwan has a dependency ratio of 26 percent, over 10 percent lower than the dependency ratio of the People’s Republic of China (World Factbook: Taiwan). World Factbook reported in 2015 that only 1.5 percent of the Taiwanese population lived under the poverty line, and the gross domestic product per capita of Taiwan is 47,500 U.S. dollars, over three times the GDP per capita of the People’s Republic of China. The Taiwanese government is considered a multiparty democracy, and according to Alan W. Wachman, author of “Taiwan: Parent, Province, or Blackballed State?” “Tangible legal and institutional consequences flow from a determination of Taiwan’s international status”(185).
The People’s Republic of China’s claims that Taiwan has been a part of China since “ancient times” are not supported by any legitimate historical record. Willem Van Kemenade writes, “Beside a dominant trend toward unity, Chinese tradition has known long periods of national division. A standard work on Chinese history records that China, in the 3,097 years of its recorded history, has experienced 1,963 years of unity and 1,134 years of division. This is no argument against the reunification of China and Taiwan, but it does plead against overly hasty reunification under the coercion of a Communist dictatorship that is not everlasting. Official Chinese Communist party documents, murals, engravings, and inscriptions repeat ad nauseam that ‘Taiwan has been an inalienable part of China since time immemorial.’ This is an assertion, common in non-Western historiography, that history is not what happened but what should have happened” (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Inc. 143).
Similar to Taiwan, Hong Kong is also in a unique situation with the People’s Republic of China. Due to Hong Kong’s emergence a major international city and international port site, the People’s Republic of China considers Hong Kong a necessary asset for further economic growth (Tsang 216). Hong Kong alone handles more trade than rest of the supposed People’s Republic of China put together, and the contacts and relations Hong Kong businesses have with the rest of the world are an invaluable resource for the People’s Republic of China (Tsang 216). Roughly 79.2 percent of Hong Kong’s population has access to the internet, whereas only 46 percent of the population of the People’s Republic of China has access to the internet (World Factbook: China, World Factbook: Hong Kong). The government type of Hong Kong is considered a limited democracy. The life expectancy of someone from Hong Kong is 7.45 years higher than someone living in the People’s Republic of China, at 82.86 years (World Factbook: Hong Kong). The school life expectancy in Hong Kong is 16 years, while the school life expectancy in the People’s Republic of China is only 13 years (World Factbook: China, World Factbook: Hong Kong). Hong Kong has an infant mortality rate of 2.73 deaths per thousand live births, while the People’s Republic of China has an infant mortality rate of 12.44 deaths per thousand live births (World Factbook: China, World Factbook: Hong Kong). Hong Kong also has a slightly lower general mortality rate at 7.07 deaths for every thousand of the population, while the People’s Republic of China has a general mortality rate of 7.53 deaths per thousand of the population (World Factbook: China, World Factbook: Hong Kong).
According to The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China’s Commision on Poverty, while 15.2 percent of the population is estimated to live below Hong Kong’s poverty lines, the poverty lines are astronomically higher than that of the People’s Republic of China- ranging from 3,600 U.S. dollars to 15,800 U.S. dollars, depending on the size of one’s family. World Factbook reports an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent in the People’s Republic of China, but reports an unemployment rate of only 2.9 percent in Hong Kong. These numbers indicate that Hong Kong is a healthier and more economically stable place to live than the People’s Republic of China. International business is a major part of of Hong Kong’s economy, and Hong Kong already has the international government and business contacts and relationships needed to be a successful state in this globalized economy.
By most internationally agreed upon standards, Mongolia is, and rightly so, classified as a developing country. With a birth rate of 20.25 births per thousand of the population, an infant mortality rate of 22.44 deaths per thousand live births, and 26.87 percent of the population lying between the ages of zero and 14, Mongolia’s population is in the midst of a population structure shift that is typical of developing countries, as the country attains greater access to education and is beginning to have better access to adequate sanitation, but does not yet have consistent or safe access to methods of contraception (World Factbook: Mongolia). Mongolia has a general mortality rate of 6.35 deaths per thousand of the population, extremely low in comparison to the People’s Republic of China’s figure of 7.53 deaths per thousand of the population (World Factbook: China, World Factbook: Mongolia). Literacy rates and school life expectancies in Mongolia are higher than those of the People’s Republic of China and of most developing countries, with a literacy rate of 98.4 percent and a school life expectancy of 15 years (World Factbook: Mongolia).
The economic situation in Mongolia is, admittedly, abysmal. Sandwiched between Russia and the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia is a small, landlocked country with little arable land and little international appeal. While the mining of construction materials and services now make up a majority of the country’s economic endeavors, nomadic herding and sustenance farming remain the livelihood of a large percent of the population. Trade with the People’s Republic of China comprises 95.3 percent of Mongolia’s imports and 41.5 percent of Mongolia’s exports(World Factbook: Mongolia). Mongolia has an intense distrust of the People’s Republic of China, and as such is attempting to build up rapport and trade negotiations with other countries, such as Russia and the United States. Mongolia itself is of little importance to the rest of the world, and the Mongolian government is aware of this, but the Mongolian government also realizes that the best way of ensuring the continuation of its political and economic freedom is by securing alliances with developed countries beyond its neighbors (Index of Economic Freedom).
Of all regions in dispute with the People’s Republic of China, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR, Xijang) by far makes international headlines the most frequently. This infamy of this dispute is due in no small part to the Chinese government’s poor handling of the Dalai Lama and his followers. When outside sources question the legitimacy of the People’s Republic of China’s claim to Tibet, the government states that Tibet has been a part of China for over eight-hundred years, but this claim is not supported by facts. According to Michael van Walt, a lawyer, author, and professor, “Because China denies Tibetans inside Tibet the right to speak freely, it isn't possible to say exactly what their goals are - but their opposition to China's current rule is clear. Protesters in Tibet repeatedly call for the protection of Tibetan identity, for freedom, for human rights and for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Some call for "Rangzen" (independence from China)” (Free Tibet).
Statistics for the situation in the Tibet Autonomous Region have not been made available to the general public by the Chinese government at this time, but the situation is currently being investigated on an international level. In its efforts to assert control over the region, the Chinese government has forcibly taken over the infrastructure and decision-making in the Buddhism religion via exiling the Dalai Lama, putting pressure on other countries to not allow him to speak, limiting contact with the Dalai Lama, refusing to talk freely with the Dalai Lama, and ignoring the Dalai Lama’s choice of a Panchen Lama (second in command to the Dalai Lama, second most holy one) and instead choosing their own (Goldstein 1). These actions are blatant infringements of the right to religious freedom, and the Chinese government has intimidated the rest of the world into not acting on the situation.
After these major claims of sovereignty and human rights infringements, there are many smaller international disputes. These disputes primarily involve the Diaoyu/Senkaku, Paracel, and Spratly island chains, all spread throughout the South China sea. The Diaoyu/Senkaku islands are claimed by the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and Japan. The Paracel islands are claimed by the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and South Vietnam. The Spratly islands are claimed by the People’s Republic of China, South Vietnam, The Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. These issues seem small at the beginning, but as one looks closer the situation becomes more blatantly foreboding (Council on Foreign Relations). China has created artificial islands, runways, support buildings, loading piers, and potentially even placed satellite communication antennae on these tiny islands and the small coral reefs in the surrounding waters (Council on Foreign Relations).
Though the Chinese government claims these actions are purely for civilian use, the United States government and many of the People’s Republic of China’s neighbors are wary, as this development and ability to deploy aircraft, missiles, and missile defense systems extends its operation ranges south and east by as much as 620 miles (Council on Foreign Relations). These territories hold, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. These waters are also fished in by many countries. While this may not be an issue we as Americans ever hear about on the our national news stations, it is nonetheless an issue that must be addressed posthaste. These waters are not simply a buffer for the safety of neighboring countries, they are also the habitat of many fragile ecosystems and endangered species.The situations regarding the ownership of these island chains must be addressed before the situation and tension get out of hand, and someone is injured, or even killed, in the heat of this difficult and multifaceted issue.
Many would claim the motives of the People’s Republic of China are not purely for personal gain. The Chinese government, for instance, would quickly point out that Tibet still had a feudal form of government prior to their “reunification” with the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and would be quick to point out the advancements in Tibet’s economy and standard of living improvements for the “average” Tibetan. The Chinese government would be quick to point accusatory fingers at the Mongolian government for the economic crisis in the country. Taiwanese citizens would be considered ungrateful and traitorous citizens of the People’s Republic of China. But there is more to these stories than the People’s Republic of China would have the world, and even their own citizens, believe. The citizens of the People’s Republic of China and its assorted neighbors live in a situation where their basic human rights are frequently, and blatantly, violated (Human Rights Watch Report). As of now, the Chinese government remains extremely hostile towards criticism, and thousands of protesters have been imprisoned, tortured, and even killed at the hands of the Chinese government in its attempts to silence its people’s cries for outside help. The Chinese government is making every effort to silence the voices of its people and intimidate the rest of the world into believing it’s supposed historical rights and vows of innocence.
These regions and states all have the potential for greatness. This greatness cannot be fully realized, however, whilst they remain under the thumb of the People’s Republic of China. Without international backing and support for their cause, however, the people of these regions and states continue to suffer as they are repeatedly denied their basic human rights. The People’s Republic of China has been led to believe that if they push back against international pressure, the international community will continue to turn a blind eye towards the government’s alleged human rights violations, illegitimate information, blatant treaty infringements, and destruction of the climate. This beast that is the government of the People’s Republic of China must be induced to relinquish its hold on neighboring countries and autonomous regions before we find ourselves all bowing to the might of the People’s Republic of China.
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