China’s Unquenched Territorial Greed — What is the Limit?

China launched a war against India in the year 1962 and is now holding thousands of hectares of Indian territory as its own, which was occupied by China during the war.

3 mins read
The nuclear-armed Asian neighbours accuse each other of violating their shared de facto border [Faisal Khan/Anadolu]

Many discerning observers around the world, who take a close look at China’s claim on the territory of other countries, inevitably would conclude that China’s territorial greed today is similar to that of Adolf Hitler, which ultimately caused World War II.

Occupation of Tibet:

Several decades back, China aggressively entered Tibet, overpowered the Tibetans who resisted China’s aggression, and mercilessly massacred a large number of Tibetans. Today, China is sitting pretty with full control over the Tibet region and is hiding Tibet behind an “iron curtain” from the eyes of the world. Outside China and probably within China, most people do not know what is really happening in Tibet at present.

After the onslaught on Tibet, with no worthwhile protest from other countries about China’s act of aggression, China appears to have convinced itself that it can have its way to satisfy its territorial greed by occupying other regions at its will.

Threat to invade Taiwan:

China claims that Taiwan should be part of China, though there is no justification for this. Taiwan emerged as a separate region after a civil war in China, and if China claims that Taiwan should belong to it, then Taiwan too can have an equal claim that China should belong to it.

On several occasions, China has threatened to invade Taiwan to acquire it. However, unlike in the case of Tibet when China’s aggression over Tibet virtually went unchallenged, the Taiwan region has the support of Western countries. This has prevented China from militarily operating against Taiwan, even as China’s territorial greed persists.

South China Sea / Senkaku Islands:

The South China Sea is an area where China claims its sovereignty and is rejecting the claims of other countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan. China-Philippines tensions are now rising around a flashpoint in the South China Sea, due to China’s aggressive posture.

There is a territorial dispute regarding the Senkaku Islands between Japan, China, and Taiwan. It is now claimed by China that the Senkaku Islands belong to China, and there is considerable tension in the region due to China’s claim and aggressive postures. China is not ready to discuss the issue and arrive at an amicable solution.

Occupation of Indian territory:

China launched a war against India in the year 1962 and is now holding thousands of hectares of Indian territory as its own, which was occupied by China during the war. Frequently, China is creating issues on the border with India, and skirmishes between Chinese and Indian soldiers are becoming frequent.

Claim on India’s Arunachal Pradesh:

China now claims that Arunachal Pradesh in India should belong to China and is doing everything to stress its claim, short of going for a full-fledged war with India.

Recently, China has released a fourth list of thirty new names of various places in Arunachal Pradesh, amid China’s stepped-up assertions in recent weeks to reemphasize its claim over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Naming of places in India’s Arunachal Pradesh by China indicates the height of arrogance of the Chinese government and its confidence that it can do anything against other countries and get away with it.

Obviously, the unquenched territorial greed of China makes it behave with such aggressive postures against other countries.

Stranglehold over Pakistan:

By tempting and persuading Pakistan to implement the economic corridor project, China has extended a huge loan to Pakistan to implement such projects, even as China knows that Pakistan would never be able to repay the loan and accrued interest in the foreseeable future. Thus, Pakistan has now become highly dependent on China and is indebted to it.

In the process, China has taken control of the Gwadar port in Pakistan and is creating access to transport material from Gwadar port to China.

Obviously, China will never let go of its vice-like grip over Pakistan in the future.

Takeover of Hambantota port in Sri Lanka:

Like what China has done in Pakistan, it has extended a huge loan to Sri Lanka and implemented projects in Sri Lanka, which have benefited Chinese industries and the economy of China more than that of Sri Lanka.

With Sri Lanka facing a debt trap, China has taken over the Hambantota port on a 99-year lease from Sri Lanka in lieu of the loan that Sri Lanka has availed from China.

A 99-year lease is a very long period, and the ground reality is that China will never give up its vice-like grip over the Hambantota port, which ultimately may become an extended territory of China for all practical purposes.

What could be the ultimate limit of China’s greed?

It is generally said that greed has no limits as such. The ultimate limit of greed would happen when the level of greed would make an individual or a group or a country to overreach in satisfying the unquenched greed. Such a scenario would cause huge resistance from the people in the affected regions, creating an insurmountable problem for the entity with the unquenched greed.

The British Empire, which expanded the territory under its control in different continents for several centuries, has lost all such territories and remains as one of many nations in the world now. Its past glory is now a matter of a distant memory. China should derive the right lessons from the experience of the British Empire, and China should allow other countries to live in peace.


N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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