10a. Identify the countries and territories of East Asia
China, the most populous country in the world, dominates the realm of East Asia. It borders only two other East Asian countries, Mongolia and North Korea. Across the Yellow Sea from northeast China, North Korea and South Korea form the Korean Peninsula. North Korea, South Korea, and Japan surround the Sea of Japan. East Asia has two island countries, Taiwan and Japan, which includes five main islands and thousands of smaller ones. As landlocked peripheral areas, the country of Mongolia and the Autonomous Region of Tibet are influenced by their neighboring realms. The Russian realm has influenced Mongolia and the South Asia realm has influenced the Autonomous Region of Tibet.
Due to its proximity to tectonic plate boundaries, the realm of East Asia experiences both earthquakes and volcanoes and includes some of the most dramatic landscapes.
Although both Taiwan and Japan are islands, their climate varies due primarily to their latitudinal differences. Taiwan's latitude ranges from 21°N to 26°N with a humid subtropical (type C) climate that becomes tropical (type A) in the south. Japan's latitude ranges from 24°N to 45.5°N with a cold (type D) climate in the north and a humid subtropical (type C) climate in the south. Across the Korea Strait, the Korean Peninsula has a similar climate range as Japan, cold (type D) in the north and temperate in the south (type C).
China extends from below the Tropic of Cancer at approximately 18°N to 53°N latitude. This wide range of latitude in combination with a long coastline and a large landmass means China has many different climates. As is often the case, most of the population of China lives in the east along the coast because the climates are temperate (type C), the soils are good, and there is adequate freshwater. The population is also clustered along the major rivers that flow into China Proper.
Terrain plays a significant role in the distribution of population in Japan and Taiwan, and puts South Korea at an advantage over North Korea. Rugged mountains are prevalent in these countries, so the population and economic activity is found along the coasts, on the plains, and in the valleys.
Review Introducing the Realm: East Asia.
European colonizers did not have the advantages over China that they did with other places. China was more technologically advanced than other societies.
The Industrial Revolution, however, soon gave Britain an advantage. They were able to produce goods more quickly than the Chinese.
The British also resorted to increasing the availability of opium so that it was accessible throughout Chinese society.
Other countries also had a colonial presence in China. Portugal actually predated the British, renting the island of Macau from China to use as a trading post until gaining full colonial control following the Opium Wars. Germany, France, Japan, and Russia also had a colonial influence on China.
Review the section titled Chinese Dynasties and Colonialism in Introducing the Realm: East Asia.
Although the European colonizers were less involved in China as they worked to recover from the effects of World War I, Japan continued to expand its influence in the country. In addition to the Japanese, two factions within China sought control, the Nationalists and the Communists. The Chinese people wanted them to work together to defeat the Japanese, but it was not until Japan's defeat in World War II that the Japanese left China. Eventually, the Communists defeated the Nationalists, who fled to Formosa (Taiwan). The Communists claimed the mainland as the People's Republic of China and the Nationalists claimed Taiwan as the Republic of China.
Review the section titled Three-Way Split in China in Introducing the Realm: East Asia.
China's transition from a command economy, also known as a planned economy, began after the death of Mao Zedong and the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. Under Chairman Mao, the government controlled all aspects of China's economic activity, including production, investments, prices, and incomes. Mao's successor, Deng Xiaoping, started opening China's economy to undo the damage of such programs as the Great Leap Forward, which devastated China's population. This has been a gradual process that has been ongoing since 1978.
As a market-oriented economy, China is in between a command economy and a market economy, which means private businesses compete to determine production and prices. China's economy, also known as a socialist market economy, leans toward public ownership and state-owned enterprises within a market economy. Although the standard of living for most Chinese has improved since before reforms began, income inequality has dramatically increased.
In 1978, China began the one-child policy to control the size of its rapidly growing population. The government was concerned about the environmental, economic, and social problems associated with overpopulation. Although the policy has limited population growth, it has had troubling consequences. Because Chinese culture values male children over female children, sex-selective abortions, female infanticide, and the abandonment of female children increased. The result has been a sex ratio disparity; there are now more males than there are females. According to the CIA's World Factbook, the global average ratio of males to females aged 15 to 24 was 1.07 in 2020. In China, there were 1.17 males per female in 2020.
Review the section titled The People in Emerging China.
The Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island to the British as one of the conditions of the 1842 Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing), ending the First Opium War. The colony of Hong Kong expanded to include Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutters Island in 1860 following the Second Opium War. In 1898, the British expanded its colony when it obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories, which included the area to the north of Kowloon and the outlying islands of Lantau and Lamma, among others.
As the end of the lease approached, Britain negotiated with China to extend Hong Kong's political and economic status for another fifty years. Thus, when Britain transferred Hong Kong to China in 1997, the area became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. It is, at least until 2047, administered separately from mainland China under the principle of one country, two systems.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) asserts that there is only one sovereign state that can use the name China and are, therefore, opposed to Taiwan's use of the Republic of China (ROC). Neither the PRC nor the ROC considers the other to be the legitimate national government. The PRC believes Taiwan is part of China's territory and must be reunified with the mainland.
In order to engage in diplomatic relations and eventually trade with China, the United States had to acknowledge its One China Policy, significantly changing its official stance on Taiwan.
In order to be recognized internationally, Taiwan often uses the ambiguous name of Chinese Taipei.
Historically, Tibet has been an independent theocracy, with the Dalai Lama as both the head of state and the spiritual leader. Tibet has, however, been under China's control since 1950. Although it is considered one of China's autonomous regions, in practice, Tibet has very little autonomy. The Dalai Lama has been in exile in India since 1950, and China abducted the Panchen Lama in 1995.
China's interest in Tibet is strategic both geographically and economically. Tibet buffers China from India and it has valuable resources. As the rural periphery to China's urban core, Tibet can provide minerals, energy resources, and timber for China's further industrial development. As China moves raw materials east, it is bringing its people west. Facilitating the movement of ethnic Chinese to Tibet further strengthens China's hold on Tibet by diluting its native population.
Review China's Periphery.
There are numerous factors involved in Japan's ability to rebuild its economy so quickly following the devastation of World War II.
These, in addition to other factors, worked together in Japan's favor, resulting in a significant improvement in its standard of living within thirty years.
As is the case in Taiwan, Japan has little in the way of natural resources yet it is a dominant economic power.
Japan's economic success is closely associated with its reputation for high-quality, durable manufactured goods.
The authoritarian style governments of China and the USSR influenced Kim Il Sung's formation of North Korea's government in 1948. North Korea continues to have a government in which the power resides with a single person, the country's citizens have no say in the process, and there is no independent media.
North Korea's government isolates its population from the rest of the world both physically and through propaganda. Although mobile phones are permitted, they cannot be used to dial out of the country nor can they access the Internet.
South Korea has a mixed economy. It has blended aspects of a free-market economy with a state-planned economy to grow from one of the poorest countries in the world following the Korea War to become the 10th largest in the world in 2020. Like Japan, South Korea undertook aggressive economic reforms focused on an export-oriented strategy, importing only raw materials. South Korea also invested heavily in education. Its workforce is highly skilled, which has spurred its growth in technology exports. South Korea's major economic sectors include shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing, and electronics. Incomes in South Korea are very high compared to North Korea's.
This vocabulary list includes terms that students need to know to successfully complete the final exam for the course.