The borderlands concept and its application to China's relations with its Asian neighbours
Title: The borderlands concept and its application to China's relations with its Asian neighbours
Author: FOOT, Rosemary
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2016/44; [BORDERLANDS]
In deploying the concept of borderlands to the case of China, this paper seeks to uncover patterns in Chinese behaviour towards its Asian neighbours. It provides a brief examination of China’s imperial as well as post-imperial relations with Asian states. In its focus on imperial China, it suggests the impact of tributary relationships and of a Confucian order at times of Chinese imperial strength as well as imperial weakness. It also investigates some areas of contested or incomplete sovereignty in the more modern and contemporary eras, notably with respect to Xinjiang, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The paper additionally examines some instances of Chinese penetration into weakly-governed border regions – with Myanmar forming the main focus of discussion. The concept is deployed in ways that highlight instances of emulation, processes of assimilation, forms of control, and types of resistance in China’s borderland relations. China has had a powerful historical influence in the borderlands, mostly in the cultural realm, but in the northern reaches has not been loath to use force and settlement to effect the incorporation of these territories. In more contemporary times, economics rather than culture is seen to underpin Chinese influence, though the leadership has tried to develop its ‘soft power’ attractions. Beijing has also shown a willingness to use the tools of statecraft to impose preferred outcomes, but has not been entirely successful in reconstituting the borderlands through these efforts despite its economic power and growing military prowess.
Subject: Chinese borderlands; Imperial China; 'One Belt, One Road'; Xinjiang; Taiwan
Grant number: FP7/263277/EU
Type of Access: openAccess