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China National Humilitation Maps

Beijing characterizes itself as an anti-imperialist power; and that necessarily includes recovering national territories usurped by colonial powers allied with internal Chinese traitors.

Cartographhic representations highlighting the sense of territorial loss are grouped under the label "humiliation maps" and have since the early 20th century, placed an explicit role in the geographic imagination of the state. China started to territorialise its Empire at the time of the rise of modern cartography in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Empire and cartography are intrinsically related. This relationship, however, has almost exclusively been analysed in the ‘Western’ context.

There was a profound anxiety among the Chinese elite about the extent of ‘their’ territory as a result of "The Century of National Humiliation" and particularly the so-called ‘unequal treaties’ between the Qing Dynasty and the colonial powers. As the ‘national revival’ movement grew among the elites, agitators and intellectuals formed new images of China itself and its historic relationships with surrounding territories.

William A. Callahan notes "Maps are an important part of the continual self-crafting of any nation’s image. As the Chinese maps examined here will show, the very material borders between foreign and domestic space are the outgrowth of the symbolic workings of histori- cal geography and the conventions of Chinese cartography. These maps do much more than celebrate the extent of Chinese sovereignty; they also mourn the loss of national territories through a cartography of national humiliation."

The best-selling hypernationalist book China’s Road under the Shadow of Globalization (1999), presents China as the victim of an international conspiracy to divide up the PRC into a clutch of independent states including Tibet, Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, East Turkestan, and Taiwan.

China, despite the official narrative, was not the mere passive victim of “the most ferocious form of imperialism” (Epoch Times 2014). The Ming ruled Manchuria, eastern Xinjiang, Tibet and other places. In the Yongle period they even briefly conquered and ruled Annan (now northern Vietnam). In AD 1415 the Ming territorial area was about 7.3 million square kilometers. The year 1735 is symbolic, constituting the first year of the Qianlong Emperor whose reign was responsible for the biggest land grab in modern Chinese history. It was during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735-1796), that Xinjiang, Tibet, and, importantly, the South China Sea were integrated into the territorial borders of China proper. By 1759 (Qianlong reign lasted twenty-four years) the Qing Dynasty territory after unification included the Tannu area north of Mongolia and Siberia, Xi Nanda Tawang region of Tibet, Yunnan Namkham, river slope and northern regions of Myanmar, the Aral Sea and the West Conglingxi regions, including Xinjiang, and arrived outside the Northeast Mountains, including Sakhalin, the South East, including Taiwan, Penghu Islands. Heyday total area of 13 million square kilometers.

According to some accounts this was said to include South China Sea, including the "thousands of miles Shitang, Miles Changsha, James Shoal" (now the Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands and other South China Sea islands and reefs). In addition, many neighboring countries became tributary vassals of the Qing Dynasty, when Sheng Qing vassal are: east Lee Korea, Okinawa, Indochina there Annan, South palm (Laos), Siam (Thailand), Burma , southwest of Gorkha (Nepal), Zhemeng male (Sikkim), Bhutan, Central Asian have Kokand, Kazakhstan, bruit, Büahahr, Shankar, Ai Wuhan (Afghanistan) and other vassal state.

Bill Hayton notes that "The first constitution of the Republic of China ... asserted that ‘The sovereign territory of the Republic of China continues to be the same as the domain of the former Empire.’ This simple equation of the old ‘domain’ with the new ‘sovereign territory’ fundamentally misconstrues the historic relations between Chinese dynasties and Southeast Asia..."

Le Minh Khai noted that " ... there are many maps which essentially combine the idea of China as a modern sovereign nation possessing clearly defined national borders with the premodern concept of China as an unbounded domain at the center of a hierarchical world order. Many of the maps Callahan examines are literally called “national humiliation” [guochi] maps, and they were meant to educate people about whatChina “should” look like. These maps are thus not “real,” but the emotions they evoke certainly are."

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:08:40 ZULU