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-The government introduced a three‐tier system of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) 10, Open Cities, and Open Coastal Areas, which would attract technologies and investments from abroad and reshape the economic geography of China's seaboard. In these economic zones, investors were offered numerous incentives that included low taxes, eased import‐export regulations, and simplified land leases. The hiring of labor under contract was permitted. Products made in the economic zones could be sold on foreign markets and, under some restrictions, in China as well. Even Taiwanese enterprises could operate here. And profits earned were allowed to be sent back to the investors' home countries.
-When the government made the decisions that would reorient China's economic geography, location was a primary consideration. Beijing wanted China to participate in the global market economy, but it also wanted to produce as little impact on interior China as possible—at least in the beginning stages. The obvious answer was to position the Special Economic Zones along the coast. Accordingly, four SEZs were established in 1980, all with particular geographical properties (Fig. 9-13):
1. Shenzhen, adjacent to booming, then-British Hong Kong on the Pearl River Estuary in Guangdong Province
2. Zhuhai, next to (then still Portuguese) Macau, also on Guangdong's Pearl Estuary
3. Shantou, opposite southern Taiwan, a former colonial port, also in Guangdong Province, source of many expatriate Chinese now living in Thailand
4. Xiamen, on the Taiwan Strait, another colonial treaty port, in Fujian Province, source of many Chinese now residing in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia In 1988 and 1990, respectively, two additional SEZs were proclaimed: 5. Hainan Island, declared an SEZ in its entirety, its potential success linked to its forward location on the doorstep of Southeast Asia
6. Pudong, on the east bank of the Huangpu River directly facing central Shanghai, China's largest city, different from other SEZs because it was a gigantic state‐financed project designed to attract large multinational corporations And the process continues, with the authorization of the newest SEZ in 2006: 7. Binhai New Area, the coastal zone of the northern port city of Tianjin (about 100 kilometers [70 mi] southeast of Beijing), a long‐established Open City with considerable foreign investment, now elevated to SEZ status, projected to outperform both Shanghai-Pudong and Shenzhen. On the outskirts of Tianjin, the Chinese are building what is planned to be the biggest financial district in the world, Yujiapu (see photo).
-The grand design of China's economic planners, therefore, was to stimulate economic development in the coastal provinces and to capitalize on the exchange opportunities created by location: (1) the availability of funding; (2) the proximity of foreign investors in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Japan, and—importantly—still‐British Hong Kong; (3) the presence of abundant cheap labor; and (4) the promise of world markets eager for low‐cost Chinese products. To date, the poster child of China's economic planners' grand design is Shenzhen (Fig. 9-14). In the 1970s, the name 'Shenzhen' was hardly known, but within a decade this small fishing village had become the fastest‐growing city in human history—from about 30,000 (mainly fishing folk and farmers) in 1980 to 3 million in the early 1990s to more than 10.7 million today. Virtually everyone who lives in Shenzhen comes from somewhere else, and because all are really outsiders they speak to each other in Standard ("Mandarin") Chinese rather than the Cantonese dialect that prevails all around them.
-Accompanying this unprecedented growth was the headlong conversion of the surrounding Pearl River Estuary's conurbation into a world‐class industrial powerhouse. What caused that to happen? When China opened the Shenzhen SEZ, hundreds of companies moved their factories there from neighboring Hong Kong and offshore Taiwan, capitalizing on lower wages and taxes, looser environmental regulation, and weaker official oversight. At the same time, the Chinese government built business‐friendly infrastructure in the form of state‐of‐the‐art seaport facilities, airports, highways, and railroads. Practically overnight, Shenzhen became the icon of Deng's Open China policy, to be emulated (inasmuch as possible) by the other SEZs. Think about it: Shenzhen, an urban center less than 40 years old (see photo), now contains 27 percent more residents than New York City, and Guangdong Province has an industrial workforce larger than that of the entire United States! As for the wider Pearl Estuary conurbation, it has become nothing less than the most productive regional economy of its size in the world. Today, it accounts for just about half of all of China's exports, so if you possess a car, television set, laptop computer, smartphone, and/or any similar device, it is certain to contain components that originated in this massive manufacturing complex.
-The Eurasian landmass incorporates all or part of 6 of the world's 12 geographic realms, and of these half‐dozen very few are more clearly defined by nature than the one we call South Asia.
-the huge triangular Indian subcontinent that divides the northern Indian Ocean between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal is so sharply demarcated by mountain walls and desert wastes
-Note how short the distances are over which the green of habitable lowlands turns to the dark brown of massive, snowcapped mountain ranges.
-This realm extends from Afghanistan in the west to Bangladesh in the east. India, the realm's giant, is flanked by six countries (in clockwise order, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives) as well as Kashmir, a remaining disputed territory in the far north. South Asia's kaleidoscope of cultures may be the most diverse in the world, proving that neither formidable mountains nor forbidding deserts could prevent foreign influences from further diversifying an already variegated realm.
-most of South Asia also possessed one unifying force of sorts: the British Empire, which from its late‐nineteenth‐century heyday through the late 1940s came to hold sway over almost all of it. Since Islam prevails in Afghanistan and Pakistan, why are they included with South Asia and not with the North African/ Southwest Asian realm? The answer lies in historical geography. First, Pakistan's history is closely tied to that of India—going back to the ancient civilization of the Indus Valley and, more recently, to the role of Islam and of British hegemony in the subcontinent.
-Second, Afghanistan was a staging ground for Islam in the Indian subcontinent, and the cultural boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan has remained fluid ever since. In political terms, too, there continue to be intricate connections between the two countries that, in turn, impact relations between Pakistan and India. At the same time, Afghanistan today is caught up in developments across Southwest Asia (as well as Central Asia), which is why that country is considered to be a transition zone between South Asia and NASWA.
-The name "South Asia" is almost synonymous with the term monsoon 1 because the annual rains that accompany its onset, usually in June, are indispensable to all forms of agriculture in the realm's key country, India.
-As the subcontinental landmass heats up during the spring, a huge low‐pressure system is formed above it. This low‐pressure system begins to draw in vast volumes of air from over the ocean onto the subcontinent. When the inflow of moist oceanic air reaches critical mass in early June, the wet monsoon has arrived. It may rain for 60 days or more. The countryside turns green, the paddies fill, and another dry season's dust and dirt are washed away—the region is reborn
-The moisture‐laden air flowing onshore from the Arabian Sea is forced upward against the Western Ghats, cooling as it rises and condensing large amounts of rainfall. The other branch of the wet monsoon originates in the Bay of Bengal and gets caught up in the convection (rising hot air) over northeastern India and Bangladesh. Seemingly endless rain now inundates a much larger area, including the entire North Indian Plain. The Himalaya mountain wall blocks the onshore‐flowing airstream from spreading into the Asian interior and the rain from dissipating. Thus the moist airflow is steered westward, drying out as it advances toward Pakistan. After persisting for weeks, this pattern finally breaks down, and the wet monsoon gives way to periodic rains and, eventually, another dry season. Then the anxious wait begins for the next year's wet monsoon because without it India would face disaster. In much of rural India, life can hang by a meteorological thread.
-South Asia's overall division into three physiographic zones: northern mountains, southern plateaus, and, in between, a wide crescent of river lowlands.
-The northern mountains extend from the Hindu Kush and Karakoram ranges in the northwest through the Himalaya in the center (Everest, the world's tallest peak, lies on the crestline that forms the Nepal-China border) to the ranges of Bhutan and the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh in the east. Dry and barren in Afghanistan and western Pakistan, the ranges become green and tree‐studded in Kashmir, forested in the lower‐lying sections of Nepal, and even more densely vegetated in Arunachal Pradesh. Transitional foothills, with many deeply eroded valleys cut by rushing meltwater, lead to the river basins below.
-The belt of river lowlands extends eastward from Pakistan's lower Indus Valley (the area known as Sindh) through India's wide Gangetic Plain and then on across the great double delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra in Bangladesh (Fig. 8-3). In the east, this physiographic region is often called the North Indian Plain. To the west lies the lowland of the Indus River, which rises in Tibet, crosses Kashmir, and then bends southward to receive its major tributaries from the area known as Punjab ("Land of Five Rivers") to the east.
-The southern plateaus constitute peninsular India, dominated by the Deccan, a massive tableland built of lava sheets that poured out when India separated from Africa during the breakup of Pangaea. The Deccan (meaning "South") tilts toward the east, so that its highest areas are in the west and most of the rivers flow into the Bay of Bengal. North of the Deccan lie two other plateaus, the Central Indian Plateau to the west and the Chota Nagpur Plateau to the east (Fig. 8-3). On the map, also note the Eastern and Western Ghats: "ghat" means step, and it connotes the descent from Deccan Plateau elevations to the narrow coastal plains below. The onshore winds of the annual wet monsoon bring ample precipitation to the Western Ghats; as a result, here lies one of India's most productive farming areas and one of southern India's largest population concentrations.
-Around 1500 BC, northern India was invaded by the Aryans (peoples speaking Indo‐European languages based in what is now Iran). As the Iron Age dawned in India, acculturated Aryans began the process of integrating the Ganges Basin's isolated tribes and villages into a new organized system, and urbanization made a comeback. The Aryans brought their language (Sanskrit, related to Old Persian) and a new social order to the vast riverine flatlands of northern India. Their settlement here was also accompanied by the emergence of a religious belief system, Vedism. Out of the texts of Vedism and local creeds there arose a new religion— Hinduism—and with it a new way of life.
-It is thought that the arrival and accommodation of Aryans in this new society forged a layered system of social stratification that would solidify the powerful position of the Aryans and be legitimized through religion. Starting about 3500 years ago, a combination of regional integration, the organization of villages into controlled networks, and the emergence of numerous small city‐states produced a hierarchy of power among the people, a ranking from the especially powerful (Brahmins—highest‐order priests) to the weakest. This class‐based caste system 2 of Hinduism is highly controversial in the West (and among many Indians too) because of its rigidity and the ways in which it justifies structural inequality. Those in the lowest castes, deemed to be there because they deserved it given their past lives, are worst off, without hope of advancement and at the mercy of those ranking higher on the social ladder. In recent years, the caste system appears to be eroding from the combined effects of globalization, economic growth, and urbanization; this is true for India's bigger cities, but much less so for the majority of people who still reside in rural areas.
-Although Hinduism spread across South Asia and even reached the Southeast Asian realm (especially Cambodia and Indonesia), Indo‐European languages never took hold in the southern portion of the subcontinent. As Figure 8-5 indicates, Indo‐European languages 3 (several of which are rooted in Sanskrit) predominate in the western and northern parts of South Asia, whereas the southern languages belong to the Dravidian 4 family— languages that were indigenous to the realm even before the arrival of the Aryans. But these are not fossil languages: they remain vibrant and have long literary histories. Today, Telugu, Tamil, Kanarese (Kannada), and Malayalam are spoken by more than 200 million people. In India's northern and northeastern fringes, Sino‐Tibetan languages predominate, and smaller pockets of Austro‐Asiatic speakers can be found in eastern India and neighboring Bangladesh. To the west, Afghanistan consists of a mosaic of Altaic and Indo‐European languages, and Pashto (spoken by two‐ thirds of the Afghan population) spills across the border into neighboring Pakistan.
-Hinduism is not the only religion that emerged in this realm. Around 500 BC, Buddhism arose in the eastern Ganges Basin in what is today the Indian State of Bihar. The famous story of the "enlightenment" of the Prince Siddhartha (the Buddha) took place in the town of Bodh Gaya, and his following soon expanded in every direction. The appeal of Buddhism was (and is) especially strong among lower‐caste Hindus, and large numbers of them have converted through the ages. Interestingly, Buddhism evolved inside what is now India, but its most powerful influences were felt beyond the realm in Southeast and East Asia. Today, only 0.8 percent of the population of India adheres to Buddhism (about 80 percent are Hindu), but it is the state religion in Bhutan and the great majority (almost 70 percent) of Sri Lankans are Buddhist as well.
-Another (much smaller) indigenous religion that has evolved alongside Hinduism since ancient times is Jainism, often described as a more purist, principled, and deeply spiritual form of Hinduism. It is well known for its uncompromising stand on nonviolence and vegetarianism. Jains today constitute about one-half of 1 percent of the population in India. Finally, we should take note of Sikhism as another of the realm's indigenous religions, a blend of sorts of Islamic and Hindu beliefs. This religion, practiced by about 2 percent of the population, is of course much younger; it emerged around ad 1500, a few centuries after Islam became a dominant force in much of the South Asian realm.
-In the late tenth century, Islam came rolling like a giant tide across South Asia, spreading across Persia and Afghanistan, through the Khyber Pass into the Indus Basin, and across Punjab into the Ganges Basin—converting virtually everybody in the Indus Valley and foreshadowing the emergence, many centuries later, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. By the early thirteenth century, the Muslims had established the long‐surviving and powerful Delhi Sultanate that controlled much of the northern tier of peninsular India.
-In the early 1500s, a descendant of Genghis Khan named Babur conquered Kabol (Kabul) in Afghanistan, and from that stronghold he penetrated the Indus Basin and Punjab and directly challenged the Delhi Sultanate. In the 1520s, his Islamicized Mongol forces ousted the Delhi rulers and established the Mughal (Mogul) Empire. By most accounts, Mughal rule was at times remarkably enlightened, especially under the leadership of Babur's grandson Akbar, who forcibly expanded the Empire but adopted tolerant policies toward the Hindus under his sway; Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, made his enduring mark on India's cultural landscape by commissioning magnificent architectural creations, particularly the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra.
-Nonetheless, by the early eighteenth century, the Mughal Empire was in decline. Maratha, a Hindu state in the west, expanded not only into the peninsular south but also northward toward Delhi, capturing the allegiance of local rulers and weakening Islam's hold. Fractured India now lay open to still another foreign intrusion, this time from Europe.
-Despite more than seven centuries of Islamic rule in South Asia, it is remarkable that Islam never achieved proportional dominance over the realm as a whole. Whereas today Pakistan is 97 percent Muslim and Bangladesh 91 percent, India—where the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire were centered—remains only about 15 percent Muslim today. Islam may have arrived like a giant tide, but Hinduism stayed afloat and eventually outlasted the incursion. It also withstood the European onslaught that culminated in the incorporation of the entire realm into the British Empire.
-The British took advantage of the weakened and fragmented power of the Mughals and followed a strategy commonly known as "indirect rule." They left local rulers in place as long as the British extracted the desired trading arrangements. In fact, thanks to arrangements with the British, many local maharajas became wealthier than ever before: from northern to southern India, you can find beautiful palaces (now often converted to either museums or hotels) that were built by these rulers, often as recently as the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.
-British colonialism in South Asia coincided with the Industrial Revolution in Europe, and the impact of Britain on the realm must be understood in that context. South Asia became, in large part, a supplier of raw materials needed to keep the factories going in Manchester, Birmingham, and other British industrial centers. For instance, when the supply of cotton from the American South came to a halt during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s, the British quickly encouraged (and indeed enforced) cotton production in what is today western India.
-When the British took full power in South Asia during the mid‐nineteenth century, this was a realm with already considerable industrial development (notably in metal goods and textiles) and an active trade with both Southeast and Southwest Asia. The colonialists saw this as competition, and soon India was exporting raw materials as well as importing manufactured products—from Europe, of course. Local industries declined, and Indian merchants lost their markets.
-The British colonial legacy included one of the most extensive transport networks of the colonial era, particularly the railway system—even though the network focused on interior‐to‐seaport linkages rather than fully interconnecting the various parts of the country. British engineers laid out irrigation canals through which millions of hectares of land were brought into cultivation. Coastal settlements that had been founded by Britain developed into major cities and bustling ports, led by Bombay (now renamed Mumbai), Calcutta (now Kolkata), and Madras (now Chennai). These three cities still rank among India's largest urban centers, and their cityscapes bear the unmistakable imprint of colonialism
-The British raj (the term for Britain's direct rule between 1857 and 1947) also produced a new elite within the native Indian population. They had access to education and schools that combined English and Indian traditions, and their Westernization was reinforced through university education in Britain. This elite drew from Hindu and Muslim communities, and it was to play a major part in the rising demands for self‐rule and independence.
-demands started to gather momentum in the early twentieth century and could no longer be denied after World War II came to an end in the mid‐1940s.
-Even before the British government decided to yield to demands for independence, it was clear that British India would not survive the coming of self‐rule as a single political entity. As early as the 1930s, Muslim activists were promoting the idea of a separate state. As the colony moved toward independence, a major political crisis developed that eventually resulted in the separation of India and Pakistan. But partition 5 was no simple matter. True, Muslims were in the majority in the western and eastern sectors of British India, but smaller Islamic clusters were scattered throughout the realm. Furthermore, the new boundaries between Hindu and Muslim communities had to be drawn right through areas where both sides coexisted—thereby displacing millions
-The consequences of this migration for the social geography of India were especially far reaching. Comparing the country's 1931 and 1951 distributions of Muslims in Figure 8-6, you can see the impact on the Indian Punjab and in what is today the State of Rajasthan.
-A Muslim exodus occurred even in the east, as is reflected on the map by the State of West Bengal, adjacent to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), where the Islamic component of the local population declined substantially.
-The world has seen many refugee migrations but none involving so many people in so short a time as the one resulting from British India's partition (which occurred on Independence Day, August 15, 1947). Scholars who study the refugee phenomenon differentiate between "forced" and "voluntary" migrations, but as this case underscores, it is not always possible to distinguish between the two. Many Muslims, believing they had no choice, feared for their future in the new India and joined the stampede. Others had the means and the ability to make a decision to stay or leave, but even these better‐off migrants undoubtedly sensed a threat.
-The great majority of Hindus who lived on the "wrong" side of the border moved as well. The Hindu component of present‐ day Pakistan may have been as high as 16 percent in 1947 but is barely more than 1.5 percent today; in Bangladesh, which was named East Pakistan at the time of partition, it declined from 30 percent to around 8 percent today. Partition, therefore, created an entirely new cultural and geopolitical landscape in South Asia.
-From the moment of their separate creation in 1947, India and Pakistan have had a tenuous relationship. Upon independence, present‐ day Pakistan was united with present‐day Bangladesh, and the two countries were respectively called West Pakistan and East Pakistan. As we have noted, the basis for this scheme was Islam: in both Pakistan and Bangladesh, Islam is the state religion. Between the two Islamic wings of Pakistan lay Hindu India. But there was little else to unify the Muslim easterners and westerners, and their union lasted less than 25 years. In 1971, a costly war of secession, in which India supported East Pakistan, led to the collapse of this unusual arrangement. East Pakistan, upon its "second independence" in 1971, took the name Bangladesh—and since there was no longer any need for a "West" Pakistan, that qualifier was dropped and the name Pakistan remained on the map.
-India's encouragement of independence for Bangladesh emphasized the continuing tension between Pakistan and India, which had already led to war in 1965, to further conflict during the 1970s over Jammu and Kashmir, and to periodic flareups over other issues. Armed conflict between the two South Asian countries seemed to be a regional matter—until the early 1990s, when their arms race took on ominous nuclear proportions. Since then, the specter of nuclear war has hung over the conflicts that continue to embroil Pakistan and India, a concern not just for the South Asian realm but for the world as a whole. No longer merely a decolonized, divided, and disadvantaged country trying to survive, Pakistan has taken a crucial place in the political geography of a geographic realm in turbulent transition.
-The relationship between India and Pakistan is especially sensitive because so many Muslims still live in India. Massive as the 1947 refugee movement was, it left far more Muslims in India than those who had departed. The number of Muslims in India declined sharply, but it remained a huge minority, one that was growing rapidly to boot. It has now surpassed 180 million, just under 15 percent of India's total population—not only slightly larger in size than Pakistan's entire population but also the largest cultural minority in the world.
-What this means is that a substantial proportion of India's population tends to have more or less "natural" sympathies vis‐à‐ vis Pakistan, even though India's Muslims are generally known to be 'moderate.' Their presence in many instances works as a brake on hawkish Indian policies toward the Islamabad government. At the same time, conflict with Pakistan can have detrimental effects on Hindu‐Muslim relations inside India, and over the years has led to communal violence and deadly clashes. Today that issue is further complicated by the alleged involvement of some Indian Muslims in terrorist activities within India that were orchestrated from Pakistan.
-When Pakistan became independent following the partition of British India, its capital was Karachi, located on the southern coast near the western end of the Indus Delta.
-the present capital is Islamabad. By moving the capital from the "safe" coast to the embattled interior, and by placing it on the doorstep of the contested territory of Kashmir, Pakistan announced its intent to stake a claim to its northern frontiers. And by naming the city Islamabad, Pakistan proclaimed its Muslim foundation here in the face of the Hindu challenge. This politico‐geographical usage of a national capital can be assertive, and as such Islamabad exemplifies the principle of the forward capital
-Kashmir is a territory of high mountains surrounded by Pakistan, India, China, and, along more than 50 kilometers (30 mi) in the far north, Afghanistan (Fig. 8-7). Although known simply as Kashmir, the area actually consists of several political divisions, including the Indian State properly referred to as Jammu and Kashmir, a major bone of contention between India and Pakistan.
-When partition took place in 1947, the existing States of British India were asked to decide whether they wanted to be incorporated into India or Pakistan. In most of the States, the local ruler made this decision, but Kashmir was an unusual case. It had about 5 million inhabitants at the time, nearly three‐quarters of them Muslims, but the maharajah of Kashmir himself was a Hindu. When he decided not to join Pakistan and instead aimed to retain autonomous status, this was answered with a Muslim uprising supported by Pakistan. The maharajah, in turn, called for help from India. After more than a year's fighting and through the intervention of the United Nations, a cease‐fire line left most of Jammu and Kashmir (including nearly four‐fifths of the territory's population) in Indian hands. Eventually, this line—now known as the Line of Control—began to appear on maps as the final boundary settlement, and Indian governments have proposed that it be so recognized.
-With about two‐thirds of the Kashmiris adhering to Islam, Pakistan has for decades demanded a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir in which the people can decide for themselves to remain with India or become part of Pakistan. India has refused, arguing that there is a place for Muslims in secular India but not for Hindus in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Given the specter of terrorism in India and the dangerous precedent of a concession in light of India's prodigious ethnic and regional diversity, the Kashmir conflict has been left to smolder and is unlikely to be resolved for some time to come.
-Comparatively successful as the integration of India's Muslim communities into the fabric of the Indian state has been, the risk of Islamic violence, directed against Indian society in general, has been rising. The highest-profile attack to date was in 2008, when terrorists targeted Mumbai's two most upscale, Westernized hotels. Nearly 200 people perished and hundreds were wounded.
-The group responsible for these heinous attacks was Lashkar‐e-Taiba (the Party of the Righteous), a Pakistan‐based organization that among other things aims to return Kashmir to Islamic rule.
-In the meantime, Pakistan's northwestern frontier is effectively controlled by the Taliban, the Afghan Islamic extremists who also have a history of collaboration with al‐Qaeda. This entire border zone with Afghanistan lies well beyond the control of the Pakistani government. U.S. efforts to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan continued in 2015, but were mostly thwarted by the Taliban's ability to move back and forth across this border—despite the pressure the United States exerts on Islamabad to confront the Taliban on the Pakistani side of the border in this treacherous mountain refuge. This remains an especially delicate geopolitical chess match for the Pakistani regime. It must be very careful not to alienate its Islamic base, even though it despises the border‐zone extremists, and it also fears an economically stronger India with growing ties to the United States. India is deeply concerned about Pakistan's role in terrorism on Indian soil and, even worse, the possibility of jihadists taking control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal; at the same time, it must guard against heightening tensions between Hindus and Muslims inside India. India is also frustrated by American reluctance to choose sides in the Kashmir conflict. The United States, in turn, is sympathetic to the world's largest democracy but needs Pakistan as an ally in the global counterterrorism campaign.
-China's increasingly powerful and sometimes invasive presence. As Figure 8-7 shows, China claims the northeastern extension of India's Jammu and Kashmir State. This issue has been stalemated in recent years, but officially neither China nor India shows any sign of conceding.
-China's control over Tibet (called Xizang by the Chinese) and its efforts to influence the lives of Tibetans both within and outside Tibet create additional issues. To the dismay of Beijing, Tibet's exiled Dalai Lama calls India his second home. In recent years, China has been pressuring the government of Nepal, wedged between India and Tibet, to discourage Tibetan immigration and to constrain the activities of Tibetans already in the country. Farther to the east, China claims the bulk of the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh ("land of the dawn‐lit mountains") based on its assertion that the boundary, established in 1914, was never ratified by Beijing—even though it was approved by the then‐ independent Tibetans themselves. And China even claims rights to the small area of northern India lying between Tibet‐adjoining Sikkim and Bhutan, again on the basis that its inhabitants are Tibetans and therefore belong under Chinese jurisdiction.
-China's power in South Asia is felt in other ways as well. A few years ago, the Chinese announced plans to construct dams on the Tibetan headwaters of the upper Brahmaputra River, potentially jeopardizing the main water supplies of both northeastern India and Bangladesh. Thus, by no means is Kashmir the only place in the realm's lengthy northern frontier zone where trouble can erupt at any time—and within which India directly borders China for 3500 kilometers (2200 mi).
-China needs access to markets for its products and supplies of raw materials to sustain its steadily growing industrial production, and a major part of that access involves the Indian Ocean (see Fig. 5-18). In order to protect these interests, China is projecting political and military power by expanding its naval presence in this maritime arena and building bases in Pakistan, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. Meanwhile, increasingly concerned about Chinese intentions around the subcontinent's territorial waters, India is responding by strengthening its own navy and forging new alliances with such Southeast Asian states as Indonesia and Vietnam.
-From a broader pan‐Asian perspective (South and East), geopolitical developments are increasingly a function of U.S.-China-India relations. These developments are propelled by China's assertions in the Indian Ocean Basin and along its land borders with India; India's economic rise, which gives it an ever higher profile in the global political arena; and the ideological propensity of the United States to side with India. The near‐term future will likely see a continued informal alliance between the United States and India that seeks to limit the expansion of China's boldness in South Asia. American support for admitting India to membership in the United Nations Security Council is but one manifestation of the strengthening relationship between the two countries.
-These underlying issues aside, there have also been recent indications of more conciliatory exchanges between the two Asian giants, including mutual state visits of their presidents. In a notable turnaround, China now says it would not oppose Indian membership in the Security Council. More importantly, growing economic interdependence is proving to be advantageous to both countries. China wants to penetrate India's enormous, expanding consumer markets. China-India trade is rapidly rising, now at the level of $70 billion annually (with about two‐thirds going from China to India and one‐third in the other direction). So far, China has been running a significant surplus, reflecting the fact that the terms of trade are more favorable to China: India mainly supplies raw materials, whereas China largely sells finished, higher‐value‐ added goods.
-Most countries in this realm have liberalized their economies since the 1980s as part of a worldwide turn toward neoliberalism 7. This entails privatization of state‐run companies, lowering of international trade tariffs, reduction of government subsidies, cutting of corporate taxes, and overall deregulation to stimulate business activity.
-The results of these reforms can be observed across South Asia in terms of increased economic growth and higher per‐capita incomes. Generally, this progress has continued into this decade, even though variations between countries are quite pronounced (Fig. 8-8). Most of the growth is in manufacturing, services, finance, and, in India, information technology (IT). More open economies have attracted increased foreign investment, and during the past two decades a new, urban middle class has emerged. This steadily expanding social stratum may account for only about 25 percent of the realm's population, but in South Asia that translates into more than 400 million people—a huge new consumer market for an array of products ranging from smartphones to automobiles. At the same time, it leaves well over a billion South Asians unaffected by this upward social mobility. For them almost nothing has changed; they remain overwhelmingly dependent on (stagnant) agriculture and are not likely to log on to the new information economy anytime soon. As in so many other parts of the world, here, too, increased overall growth has mostly been accompanied by ever greater economic and social inequality.
-One striking feature of the South Asian realm is that even if the majority of its people live traditional lives in rural villages, there also are a fair number of megacities 8 in which social and economic change is the order of the day. The metropolitan areas centered on Mumbai, Delhi-NewDelhi, Kolkata, Dhaka, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Karachi all contain populations that exceed 10 million and have grown rapidly over the past two decades. Their densities are often overwhelming, environmental conditions are poor and worsening, and the widening income gap between rich and poor is staggering. But almost always it is better to be poor in the city than in the countryside, simply because cities offer opportunities that do not exist in the villages—which helps to explain the burgeoning flow of rural‐to‐ urban migrants that drives the growth of towns and cities all across South Asia. As Figure 8-9 demonstrates, there is substantial variation in the internal densities and layouts of megacities; those differences also extend to levels of prosperity, and the contrasts between megacities in the Global Core and the Global Periphery are particularly striking.
-More than half of South Asia's entire workforce is employed in agriculture, ranging from about 43 percent in Pakistan to about 75 percent in Nepal. But overall productivity is low, and the contribution of agriculture to the national economy averages only around 20 percent. Incomes in rural areas are much lower than in major cities, and the same is true for the standard of living. Almost 70 percent of the realm's population is rural, and even those who do not work in agriculture tend to rely on it indirectly.
-Millions of lives every year depend on a bountiful harvest. As Figure 8-3 shows, the wet monsoon brings lifegiving rains to the southwestern (Malabar) coast, and a second branch from the Bay of Bengal sweeps across north‐central India toward Pakistan, losing strength (and moisture) as it proceeds. This means that amply watered eastern India and Bangladesh as well as the southwestern coastal strip grow rice as their staple crop; but drier northwestern India and Pakistan raise wheat.
-Farmers' fortunes tend to vary geographically, as can be illustrated in the situation on either side of India's Western Ghats upland. The monsoon rains are generally plentiful along the coast‐paralleling, western slopes of this linear highland, from the southern tip of the subcontinent as far north as the vicinity of Mumbai. Here you can see the hillside vegetation assume all shades of fresh green come the month of June, a good sign that the harvest will be abundant. But on the eastern (rain shadow) side of the Western Ghats and deeper into the interior of the Deccan Plateau, the rains come less often and do not last as long; farming becomes a gamble with nature, and life becomes precarious. Many of the farmers here are members of the lowest‐ranking castes, landless and indebted, and have the hardest time making ends meet. Almost every year, Maharashtra's inland districts report several thousand farmer suicides as desperately poor peasants end their lives because they can no longer provide for their families.
-It is clear that the majority of people in this realm depend on agriculture and that governments must aim their economic policies at improving farm productivity to raise rural standards of living. But they have a long way to go. The demands on governments are multiple, and they often seem distracted by economic sectors that can make a faster and greater contribution to the tax base, such as manufacturing, financial services, and IT—economic activities that almost always are centered on the bigger cities far from the impoverished countryside.
-Arithmetic density is simply the number of people per areal unit, usually a country. Physiologic density 11 is a more meaningful measure because it takes into account only land that is arable and can be used for food production. In Pakistan, for example, the two measures are quite different because of that country's large deserts and inhospitable mountainous zones: its arithmetic density is 243 per sq km compared to a physiologic density of 838.
-Until recently, South Asia's persistent poverty was often related to its enormous, rapidly growing population and its high population densities. The idea was that there were simply "too many mouths to feed"—the realm was "overpopulated." The notion of overpopulation can be compelling and seems to make sense at an intuitive level because every country or region can be thought of as having a limited "carrying capacity."
-But things are more complex than that. Some countries with high densities, such as the Netherlands or Japan, are highly developed, and not necessarily because they possess an impressive natural resource base (neither does). The point is that high density in itself is not always a problem and that, in certain circumstances, population can be considered as a human resource. If productivity is high, there does not appear to be a problem; but if productivity is low, then large populations can be a drain on the economy. Countries with high education levels, institutional effectiveness, and technological know‐how are able to use their resources more efficiently. Thus in South Asia, with its substantial number of undereducated and illiterate inhabitants, population functions as an impediment rather than a resource—the problem being that too many people are not sufficiently productive.
-Issues of family planning and birth control shed some fascinating light on the "fragmented modernization" of South Asia. As we have seen, the realm finds itself in an advanced stage of the demographic transition wherein birth rates have begun to decline. But take a good look at India's population pyramid for 2016 and note that among young children boys far outnumber girls. In fact, males outnumber females well into middle age.
-Traditionally, boys are valued more than girls because they are thought to be more productive income earners, because they are entitled to land and inheritance, and because they do not require a dowry at the time of marriage. When a couple gets married (often arranged and at a young age), the bride comes into the care of the groom's family, where she also contributes her work in and around the house. For this, the bride's family must provide a dowry, which may impose a major expense for her parents. For these reasons, the birth of a boy is a greater cause for celebration than that of a girl. "Raising a daughter," as one saying goes, "is like watering your neighbor's garden."
-One reason for the high fertility rates in the past was that families would continue to have children until there were enough sons to take care of the parents in their old age (the girls, after all, would be taking care of their future husband's parents). Hence, this gender bias is in itself a major factor in South Asia's population growth—but that is not the only problem. When a poor couple repeatedly produces girls and not boys, in some instances the family decides to end the life of the newborn daughter. It is this female infanticide or gendercide that causes the unnatural gender bias in South Asia's population profiles (the same applies to parts of China as well).
-But why—as the economic situation has improved, as birth rates have receded, and as modernization has begun to set in—do we still observe this skewed sex ratio? The answer is that with fewer children, the importance of having at least one boy has for many families become even more pressing. And here is where "modernization" throws another curve ball: newly available technologies of ultrasound scanning plus rising incomes (i.e., the growing affordability of a scan) have induced many families to determine the gender of the unborn child and decide on abortion if the child is female. Thus in recent years the sex ratio has become more, not less, skewed, and the most extreme ratios are now found in some of the most developed parts of South Asia, such as the Indian States of Punjab and Haryana.
-In the long run, of course, this leads to a shortage of females, which becomes particularly apparent at marriage age. In some areas, families now face a problem in finding brides for their sons, and this "bachelor angst," in turn, is leading to a change in attitudes. Look at India's population pyramid for 2041 and note that over the next quarter‐century the sex ratio is projected to become less skewed.
-Discrimination against women and girls in South Asia is expressed in a variety of ways in daily life. One matter that is now receiving more attention is the lack of sanitation for females. In many workplaces, schools, slum neighborhoods, and public spaces, women still have no (or insufficient) access to toilets. For safety and personal reasons women need more privacy, but often that is not available. In India, an estimated 330 million females lack proper access to toilets, with major implications for health and social functioning.
-This simple fact leads to girls missing school and even dropping out. Recent efforts by development organizations to install toilets for girls have so far only produced significant reductions in female‐student dropout rates.
-The recent increase of highly publicized incidents of rape in India has triggered debate concerning the country's gender relations. It is an alarming trend, especially where it signals a reaction by men against liberalized behavior among young urban women. But it also reflects the increasingly open disposition of India's mass media as well as a new assertiveness among women (though it is hard to know to what extent this increase is due to a higher rate of reporting and not of rape itself). And, on a relative scale, the incidence of (reported) rape in India is still far below the level of most Western countries, including the United States.
-It is difficult to make generalizations about gender relations across this populous realm, in part because of religious and regional diversity as well as rural‐urban differences. To be sure, these are in many respects male‐dominated societies, especially in the younger age cohorts, and more so in Afghanistan and Pakistan than in India, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. Nonetheless, keep in mind that Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh have all had female prime ministers who held their countries' most powerful political office. That has yet to happen in the United States.
-the towering Hindu Kush range dominates the center of the country, creating three broad environmental zones: the comparatively well‐watered, fertile northern plains and basins; the rugged, earthquake‐prone central highlands; and the desert‐dominated southern plateaus. Kabol (Kabul), the capital, lies on the southeastern slopes of the Hindu Kush, linked by narrow passes to the northern plains and by the Khyber Pass to Pakistan and the rest of South Asia (Fig. 8-15).
-Across this rugged, variegated landscape moved countless peoples: Greeks, Turks, Arabs, Mongols, and others. Some settled here, their descendants today speaking Persian, Turkic, and other languages (see Fig. 8-5). Others left archeological remains or no trace at all. The present‐day population of Afghanistan (30.6 million) contains no ethnic majority. This is a country of minorities in which the Pushtuns of the east are the most numerous but make up only 42 percent of the total. The second‐largest minority are the Tajiks (27 percent), a world away across the formidable Hindu Kush, concentrated in the far north near Afghanistan's border with Tajikistan. Other groups include Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmen, and Baluchis (Fig. 8-5).
-Afghanistan has a long history of conflict, complicated by the persistent involvement of outside powers vying for influence in this strategically located territory. The protracted nineteenth‐century competition between the Russian and British Empires over control of Afghanistan—with the wider purpose of controlling adjacent Central Asia—went down in history as "the Great Game." In fact, modern Afghanistan owes its existence to this contest: the Russians and British agreed to tolerate it as a geopolitically neutral cushion—or buffer state 16—between them.
-despite this turmoil, Afghanistan remains much as it was before the first inning of "the Great Game"—a feudally balkanized country with a weak and ineffectual government in Kabol. It has also now become a transition zone, an arena of spatial change in which the peripheries of adjacent realms join.
-In 1994, what at first seemed to be just another one of fractious Afghanistan's warring factions appeared on the scene: the Taliban 17 (seekers of religion), who originated at religious schools (madrassas) in Pakistan. Their avowed aim was to end Afghanistan's chronic factionalism and endemic corruption by imposing Sharia (strict Islamic) law. Popular support across the war‐weary country, especially among the Pushtuns, led to a series of successes, and by 1996 the Taliban had taken Kabol. The harsh Taliban version of Sharia, however, was uncompromising: restrictions on the activities of women ended their professional education, employment, and freedom of movement; the lives of children were even more devastatingly impacted; public stonings and amputations rigidly enforced the Taliban's code.
-Afghanistan now became a haven for Islamic revolutionary groups whose agendas and goals went far beyond those of the Taliban: they plotted attacks on Western interests throughout southwestern Asia and threatened regimes they deemed to be compliant with Western priorities. Taliban‐ruled, cave‐riddled, remote and isolated Afghanistan turned out to be an ideal refuge for these outlaws. Already in possession of arms and ammunition (Soviet as well as American) left over from the Cold War, they also took advantage of Afghanistan's huge, thriving, illicit opium trade. Afghanistan has long served as the world's foremost producer of opium, accounting for more than three‐quarters of the global heroin supply, and much of this drug revenue was quickly diverted into the coffers of the conspirators.
-In 1996, a terrorist organization named al‐Qaeda 18 took root in the country, an expanding global network that would further the aims of the once loosely allied revolutionaries. Afghanistan became al‐Qaeda's headquarters, and Osama bin Laden, a notorious Saudi renegade, its director.
-The American invasion of 2001 initially appeared to be successful. The Taliban were swiftly driven off, a more representative government was taking shape, local warlords were co‐opted or sidelined, Pushtun and other refugees were streaming back into Afghanistan from Pakistan and elsewhere, and life in Kabol and other urban centers returned to a semblance of normal. By 2004, Afghanistan had even held an election that produced a representative government. It took nearly a decade of U.S. intelligence work, but in 2011 Bin Laden was finally discovered and eliminated in an American military raid— not in Afghanistan but in the city of Abbottabad in neighboring northern Pakistan. With al‐Qaeda markedly weakened, and having allowed for a transitional period in which to fully train Afghan security forces, the United States at the end of 2014 withdrew the last of its combat troops from Afghanistan (a residual U.S. advisory force departs in 2016).
-During that multiyear transition, American advisors found it extremely difficult to foster a workable consensus among various Afghan factions in order to build a more democratic state. One serious problem was the country's economy, which had been all but shattered by decades of unremitting conflict and war, forcing the government to heavily depend on foreign aid. Gauging the new status quo, by mid‐2015 Taliban fighting units had regrouped into smaller militias and were again attacking security forces, government facilities, and Western compounds. Much of this took place in the far north adjacent to Tajikistan (Fig. 8-15), which may well be a testing ground before crossing the Hindu Kush and resuming hostilities in and around Kabol. Although al‐Qaeda in Afghanistan had been dealt a stunning blow at the core, the organization has since proven resilient. As discussed in Chapter 6, by 2013 it had branched out beyond Afghanistan to become a major player in unstable countries, such as Pakistan, as well as in the now‐failed states of Somalia, Yemen, and Libya.
-At independence (West) Pakistan had a bounded national territory, a capital, a cultural core, and a population—but few centripetal forces to bind state and nation. The disparate subregions of Pakistan shared the Islamic faith but little else. Karachi and the coastal south, the southwestern desert of Balochistan, the city of Lahore and surrounding Punjab, the rugged northwest along Afghanistan's border, and the mountainous far north remain worlds apart. Urdu is the official language, yet English remains the lingua franca of the elite. Several other major languages, however, prevail in different areas (see Fig. 8-5), and ways of life vary enormously as well.
-Successive Pakistani governments, civilian as well as military, turned to Islam to provide the common bond that history and geography had denied this state. In the process, Pakistan became one of the world's most theocratic countries. But even Islam itself is not unified in restive Pakistan. Roughly 80 percent of the people are Sunni Muslims, and the Shia minority accounts for most of the remaining 20 percent. Sunni fanatics intermittently attack Shi'ites, leading to retaliation and establishing grounds for subsequent counterattacks.
-To govern so diverse and fractious a country would challenge any political system, and so far Pakistan has failed the test. Democratically elected governments have repeatedly squandered their opportunities, only to be overthrown by military coups. Pakistan's recent economic boom has not filtered down to the poor; literacy rates are not rising; health conditions are not improving significantly; national institutions are weak (for instance, there are only about 2 million registered taxpayers); and one consequence of the global antiterrorism campaign is that Pakistanis, who used to be overwhelmingly secular in their political choices, are now increasingly joining Islamic parties.
-Meanwhile, too little is being done to confront a growing water‐supply crisis, an insurgency festers in Balochistan, the army is incapable of establishing control over mountainous Waziristan (where al‐Qaeda and Taliban militants reign), the issue of Kashmir costs Pakistan dearly, and relations with neighboring India (which if satisfactory would bring enormous benefits) remain conflicted.
-Punjab constitutes Pakistan's core area, the Muslim heartland across which the post‐independence boundary between Pakistan and India was superimposed (Fig. 8-15). (As a result, India also has a State named Punjab on the other side of the border.) Pakistan's Punjab is home to just over half of the country's population; in the triangle formed by the Indus and Sutlej rivers live more than 100 million people. Punjabi is the language here, and wheat farming is the mainstay. Three cities anchor this core‐area subregion: Lahore, the foremost center of Islamic culture in the realm; Faisalabad; and Multan. Lahore, now home to 8.8 million people, lies close to the border with India. Founded around 2000 years ago, Lahore was situated favorably to become a great Muslim center during the Mughal period when Punjab was the main corridor into India. Punjab's relationship with Pakistan's other three provinces is one of the country's weaknesses. Both the governments and residents of those provinces feel uneasy about the dominance of Punjab, the populous, powerful core of the country from which most of the military is drawn.
-The lower Indus River is the key to life in Sindh, but Punjab controls the waters upstream, which is one of the issues dividing Pakistan (Fig. 8-15). When the Punjab‐dominated regime proposes to build dams across the Indus and its major tributaries, Sindhis (who make up almost one‐fifth of the national population) are reminded of their underrepresentation in government and talk of greater autonomy. The ribbon of fertile, irrigated, alluvial land along the lower Indus, where the British laid out irrigation systems, makes Sindh a Pakistani breadbasket for wheat and rice. Commercially, cotton is king here, supplying textile factories in the cities and towns (textiles account for more than half of Pakistan's exports by value). But the dominant presence in southern Sindh is the chaotic, crime‐ridden megacity of Karachi (population: 16.6 million), a place of searing contrasts under a broiling sun. With little effective law enforcement, Karachi has become a hotbed of terrorist activity, but somehow the city still functions as Pakistan's (and Afghanistan's) major maritime outlet and the seat of Sindh's provincial government.
-the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lies wedged between powerful Punjab to the east and troubled Afghanistan to the west, with the territory long known as the Tribal Areas intervening in the south. The name "Pakhtunkhwa" connotes "belonging to the Pushtuns," the Afghan‐associated tribes that inhabit this subregion. The Pakistani government's reach into these parts has always been quite limited. The province's mountainous physical geography reflects its remoteness and the isolation of many of its people. Mountain passes lead to Afghanistan; the Khyber Pass, already noted as the historic route of invaders, is legendary (see photo). Coming from Afghanistan, the Khyber's road leads directly to the provincial capital, Peshawar, which lies in a broad fertile valley where wheat and corn drape the countryside. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a conservative, deeply religious, militant province, where Islamic political parties and movements are stronger than in any other part of the country.
-The fourth subregion mapped in Figure 8-15 is Balochistan. By far the biggest of Pakistan's four provinces, it accounts for nearly half of the national territory (not including Kashmir) but is inhabited by only about 14 million people, barely 5 percent of the country's population. this vast territory is desert, with mostly barren mountains that wrest some moisture from the air only in the northeast. Sheep‐raising is the leading livelihood here, and wool the primary export. In its northern extremity, Balochistan abuts the Tribal Areas and Afghanistan. The provincial capital, Quetta, lies in this zone. This province, in fact, could easily be called the "South West Frontier Province." Balochistan is of considerable economic‐geographic importance. Beneath its parched surface lie possibly substantial reserves of oil as well as coal, and already the province produces most of Pakistan's natural gas. The seaport of Gwadar on the southwestern coast not only handles raw materials from Balochistan but is also a transshipment point for oil and gas from Iran and the Caspian Basin, destined for markets in East Asia (China was a leading investor in the construction of this port). But the Baloch people are treated poorly by Pakistan's central government—fully 90 percent of them have no energy supply, and eight out of ten do not even have access to clean water. Short‐lived local rebellions have flared up here since Pakistan became independent, and during the 2000s they escalated into a serious insurgency led by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), whose attacks on security forces continue.
-This western flank of South Asia is the realm's most critical region, today more so than ever before. Afghanistan is a fractured, partially functional state that has proven impossible to control by outside powers for any prolonged period of time. Pakistan's coherence and stability have now become crucial at a time when the global struggle against terrorism continues to entangle its leaders in Western priorities and foreign policies. The role of Pakistan's government in this struggle is disputed and resented by many of its own citizens, who express their distaste by voting for activist Islamic parties and even voicing support for the Taliban resurgence in neighboring Afghanistan. Moreover, militancy and instability are no longer confined to Pakistan's northwest and the far north: key cities such as Lahore and Karachi are now being targeted repeatedly by terrorists (the government blames the Taliban). Meanwhile, relations between Pakistan and India remain tense and at times perilously close to open conflict, with India's regime accusing the Pakistani government of failing to crack down on the militants in Kashmir and other northern flashpoints. The geopolitical situation involving these three states today has been described as a potentially deadly triangle—in which Afghanistan could become the main source of destabilization.
-the emergence of large Indian companies that are making their presence felt around the globe. Certainly, India has the dimensions to make the world take notice. Not only does it occupy three‐quarters of the great land triangle of South Asia: India also is poised to overtake China to become the most populous country on Earth before the middle of this century.
-The country contains a cultural mosaic of immense ethnic, religious, linguistic, and economic diversity and contrast; it is truly a state of many nations. Upon independence in 1947, India adopted a democratic, secular, federal system of government, giving regions and peoples some autonomy and identity, and allowing others to aspire to such status.
-The map of India's political geography shows a federation of 29 States, 6 Union Territories (UTs), and 1 National Capital Territory (NCT) (Fig. 8-16). The federal government maintains direct authority over the UTs, all of which are small in both territory and population. The NCT, however, includes most of the Delhi/New Delhi urban region and now contains more than 17 million inhabitants. The country's State boundaries reflect the broad outlines of the country's cultural mosaic: insofar as possible, the system recognizes languages, religions, and cultural traditions. Indians speak 14 major and numerous minor languages, and although Hindi is the official language it is by no means universally used
-the territorially largest States lie in the heart of the country as well as on the massive southward‐pointing peninsula. Uttar Pradesh (200 million, according to the 2011 census) and Bihar (104 million) together cover much of the Ganges Basin and also form the core area of modern India. Maharashtra (112 million), anchored by the great coastal city of Mumbai (called Bombay before 1996), also has a population larger than that of most countries. West Bengal, the State that adjoins Bangladesh, contains more than 91 million residents, 15 million of whom live in its urban focus, Kolkata (known as Calcutta before 2000).
-Southern India consists of four States linked by a discrete history and by their distinct Dravidian languages. Facing the Bay of Bengal are Tamil Nadu (72 million) and Andhra Pradesh (50 million), both part of the hinterland of the city of Chennai (formerly Madras) that is located on the coast near their joint border. Facing the Arabian Sea are Karnataka (61 million) and Kerala (33 million).
-India's smaller States lie mainly in the northeast, on the far side of Bangladesh, and in the northwest, toward Jammu and Kashmir (Fig. 8-16). The map becomes even more complicated in the remote northeast, beyond the narrow corridor between Bhutan and Bangladesh. The dominant State here is Asom (Assam), home to just over 31 million, famed for its tea plantations, and important because its petroleum and gas production amounts to more than 40 percent of India's total.
-Brahmaputra Valley, Asom resembles the India of the Ganges. But in almost every direction from Asom, things change. North of Asom, in sparsely populated Arunachal Pradesh (1.4 million), we are in the Himalayan offshoots once again. To the east, in Nagaland (2.0 million), Manipur (2.7 million), and Mizoram (1.1 million), lie the forested and terraced hills that separate India from Myanmar (Burma). This is an area of numerous ethnic groups (more than a dozen in Nagaland alone) and of frequent rebellion against the central government. And to the south, the States of Meghalaya (3.0 million) and Tripura (3.7 million), hilly and still wooded, border the teeming floodplains of Bangladesh. Here in the country's northeast, India confronts one of its strongest regional challenges.
-Devolutionary pressures have continued throughout India's existence as an independent state. In some of the cases, the federal government and the military come down hard on the insurgents, but in others the government has been more inclined to negotiate. In 2000, for instance, three more new States were recognized: Jharkhand, carved out of southern Bihar State on behalf of 18 poverty‐stricken districts there; Chhattisgarh, where tribal peoples had been agitating since the 1930s for separation from the State of Madhya Pradesh; and Uttarakhand (originally named Uttaranchal), which split from India's most populous Ganges Basin, core‐area State of Uttar Pradesh on the basis of its highland character and lifeways. Most recently, in 2014, the new State of Telangana (India's 29th) was created out of the northwestern sector of Andhra Pradesh. Telangana is an inland area that long saw itself marginalized by coastal elites. The new State contains more than 35 million people, covers roughly one‐third of pre‐2014 Andhra Pradesh, and its capital is Hyderabad—one of the country's leading technopoles and its sixth‐largest city—which will serve jointly as the capital of the new State of Andhra Pradesh until 2024.
-During the past several years, there have been troubling signs of yet another challenge to India's federal government: communist‐ inspired rebellions that seem to be transforming into a coordinated revolutionary campaign. It is known in India as the Naxalite movement, named after a village in the State of West Bengal where it was founded in the 1960s. Mainly active in India's poorest and most disaffected States—such as Bihar, Jharkhand, and what is now Telangana—the Naxalites appeal to the poor and other minorities (especially tribal people), whose plight is blamed on India's elites and neoliberal economic policies
-Hinduism's benign and admirable properties combine with a system of social stratification that is generally derided in the West (and by a large number of Indians as well). The caste system has its origins in the early social divisions into priests, warriors, merchants, and farmers, and it is also thought to have had a racial basis (the Sanskrit term for caste, varna, means color). More specifically, caste became associated with specific occupations, and, over the centuries, its complexity expanded until India had thousands of castes, some of them containing a few hundred members and others containing millions.
-Hindus believe in reincarnation, and a person is believed to be born into a particular caste based on his or her actions in a previous life. Hence, it would not be appropriate to counter such ordained caste assignments by permitting mobility (or even contact) from a lower caste to a higher one. Persons of a particular caste could perform only certain jobs and worship only in prescribed ways at particular places. They and their children could not eat, play, or even walk with people of a higher social status.
-The untouchables occupying the lowest tier of all were the most debased, wretched members of this rigidly structured social system. Indeed, the term "untouchable" acquired such negative connotations that it was replaced on several occasions. Mahatma Gandhi, a powerful critic of the system, introduced the term harijans, meaning children of God. But more recently this label was perceived to have a condescending connotation, and it gave way to the term dalits 21 (the oppressed), indicating a greater sense of awareness and assertiveness among them. Today, dalits are estimated to comprise about one‐sixth of all Hindus; Brahmins, the highest‐ranking caste, account for a similar proportion. The rest of the population are members of a wide range of in‐between castes.
-Untouchability was officially abolished at independence, but the caste system has proven difficult to dismantle. Many dalits have chosen to convert to other religions, most notably Buddhism. Successive Indian governments have now introduced an elaborate system of affirmative action on behalf of Scheduled Castes (the official government label for dalits). This effort has had more effect in urban than in rural areas of India. In any case, dalits now have reserved for them places in the schools, a fixed percentage of State and federal government jobs, and a quota of seats in national and State legislatures. These jobs are often highly desirable because they tend to be white‐collar and much better paid than those generally available to dalits. Just how far India's political pendulum can swing was shown in the 2007 provincial legislative elections in Uttar Pradesh State, where a dalit party won an absolute majority and where a woman named Mayawati Kumari was the first dalit to become a chief minister of one of India's major States.
-Most lower‐caste Indians are still faced with very limited opportunities, widespread discrimination, and the most extreme forms of poverty, particularly in less accessible rural areas. In traditional India, caste provided stability and continuity; in contemporary India, it constitutes an often painful and difficult legacy.
-But there is another, as yet less obvious, but potentially more significant divide across India. In Figure 8-18 draw a line from Lucknow, on the Ganges River, south to Chennai, near the northern tip of Tamil Nadu State (see Fig. 8-14). To the west of this line, India is showing signs of economic progress, the kind of productive activity that has brought Pacific Rim countries such as Thailand and Indonesia a new life. To the east, India has more in common with the less‐promising countries that also face the Bay of Bengal: Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma). The manufacturing map may seem to suggest that much of India's industrial strength lies near Kolkata, but the heavy industries built here by the state in the 1950s are now outdated, uncompetitive, and in steady decline. The State of Bihar represents the stagnation that afflicts much of India east of our line: by several measures it ranks among the poorest of the 29 States.
-Compare this to western India. The State of Maharashtra, the hinterland of Mumbai, leads India in many categories, and Mumbai leads Maharashtra. Many smaller, private industries have taken root here, manufacturing goods that range from umbrellas to satellite dishes and from toys to textiles. Across the Arabian Sea lie the oil‐rich economies of the Persian Gulf countries. Hundreds of thousands of workers from western India have found jobs there, sending remittances back to families from Punjab to Kerala. More importantly, many have used their foreign incomes to establish service industries back home. Outward‐looking western India, in sharp contrast to the inward‐looking east, has begun to establish additional ties to the outside world. Satellite and fiber‐optic cable links have propelled Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) to become the center of a burgeoning software‐producing complex that reaches world markets.
-The industrial geography of India is in part a legacy of colonial times, with coastal Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai anchoring major industrial zones, and textiles—the entry‐level industry of disadvantaged countries—dominating the manufacturing scene (Fig. 8-18). Other industries, such as steel, machinery, and building materials, have become much stronger, and some of the companies involved have already become major global players.
-India's information‐technology (IT) industries, clustered in metropolitan Bengaluru (Bangalore), Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Delhi, draw much international attention. Leading Indian software companies such as Infosys, Wipro, and Cognizant are now household names all across urban India. The growth of software and IT services has been spectacular and now accounts for about 8 percent of GDP and no less than one‐quarter of merchandise exports. But this sector employs only about 2 percent of the workforce.
-What India needs far more, in terms of employment growth, are manufacturing industries that competitively sell goods in the global marketplace, putting tens of millions to work, and transforming the economy. Clearly, India is very different from China. The two may have comparably‐sized populations, but the Chinese economy employs about 10 times as many workers in manufacturing and has a much larger urban middle class. India may have experienced spectacular recent growth, but too much of it is concentrated in the IT sector and benefits only a small, highly educated urban elite.
-Agriculture provides more jobs in India than any other employment sector, and India's fortunes (and misfortunes) remain strongly tied to farming. More than two‐thirds of the population still lives on (and from) the land, spread in and around the country's hundreds of thousands of villages. There, traditional farming methods persist, yields per unit area remain among the world's lowest, and hunger and malnutrition still continue to afflict millions even as grain surpluses accumulate. The relatively few areas of modernization, as in the wheatlands of the Punjab, are islands in a sea of agricultural stagnation.
-As everywhere, food production is closely tied to climate and physiography, and farm output varies significantly across the country. In India, the monsoon is absolutely critical, its abundance and timing a reliable predictor of the harvest. Figure 8-19 maps India's agricultural geography and reflects the rainfall patterns and monsoonal cycle depicted in Figure 8-3. Rice dominates all along the Arabian Sea‐facing southwestern coast (on the rainy side of the Western Ghats) and in the monsoon‐drenched peninsular northeast; where drier conditions develop, wheat and other grains prevail.
-Even though the country produces an ample variety of crops, yields usually are disappointingly low as a result of inefficient land ownership and small farmers' lack of access to inputs such as fertilizer, irrigation equipment, and machinery. If there is any to sell, getting produce to market is yet another struggle for millions of farmers. Almost half of India's 600,000‐plus villages cannot be accessed by truck, let alone automobile, and in this era of modern transportation animal‐drawn carts still outnumber motor vehicles nationwide.
-To meet these challenges, India is now engaged in an unprecedented series of infrastructural improvement projects, ranging from highways to state‐of‐the‐art airports. The most ambitious of these megaprojects is the construction of a 5900‐kilometer (3700‐mi)‐long superhighway known as the Golden Quadrilateral. Completed in 2012, this fifth‐longest highway on Earth interconnects the four anchors of the Indian urban system (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata) in a gigantic circuit that also passes through 15 other major cities (Fig. 8-16). The impacts of this all‐important artery are multiple: it is expanding urban hinterlands; commuters are using it to travel farther to work than ever before; several once‐ remote rural areas now have a link to markets; and it is accelerating the rural‐to‐urban migration flow that will continue to transform India well into the future.
-India is well known for its enormous and teeming cities, but the country is not yet an urbanized society. Only about 32 percent of the population currently lives in cities and towns—compared to an average of close to 80 percent across the developed world. In absolute terms, however, urbanization in India is a massive phenomenon.
-People by the hundreds of thousands are arriving in the already overcrowded cities, swelling urban India by about 3 percent annually— twice as fast as the country's overall population growth. Not only do the cities attract as they do everywhere, but many villagers are also driven off the land by desperate conditions in the countryside. As these migrants manage to establish themselves in Mumbai or Kolkata or Chennai, they help their relatives and friends to join them in squatter settlements that often are populated by newcomers from the same locality, bringing their language and customs with them and cushioning the stress of relocation.
-Figure 8-16 displays the distribution of major urban centers in India. Except for Delhi-New Delhi, the biggest cities have coastal locations: Kolkata dominates the east, Mumbai the west, and Chennai the south. The overriding influence of these coastal cities is a colonial legacy. But urbanization also has expanded in the interior, notably within the core area (symbolized by Delhi overtaking Mumbai in 2011 to become India's largest city). By 2015, the country had more than 50 metropolitan areas containing populations of at least one million—and an urban population totaling just over 400 million (75 million more than the entire U.S. population).
-When you arrive in any Indian city, you are struck by the abundance of small shops everywhere—tiny businesses wedged into every available space in virtually every nonpublic building along every street. Even the upper, walk‐up floors are occupied by shops, their advertising signs suspended from windows and balconies. What keeps all these small stores in business? Most of them earn very little and can afford to stay open only because they are part of the informal sector 22—they are essentially unregistered, pay no taxes, utilize family labor, have been handed down through generations, and keep going because of the strong social and communal networks that characterize India's societal fabric. Moreover, high densities and the relatively low level of spatial mobility of many urbanites combine to create substantial demand for the local availability of daily goods and services.
-This bustling retail scene notwithstanding, change is now under way throughout urban India. The country's growing consumerism, driven by a rapidly expanding middle class estimated to number 250 million in 2015, has led to the introduction of a new feature on the landscape of major cities—the shopping mall (see photo). As recently as 2000, India did not have a single shopping center. But only five years later the 100th had opened its doors, and by 2014 nearly 600 were in operation. You will see American fast‐food restaurants among the establishments in these malls as well as the brand names of numerous other foreign companies, proving that the tide of globalization has already washed up on India's shores.
-Nonetheless, if the 20 percent of the Indian population that makes up the middle class can afford to shop at a mall, the remaining 80 percent (who total no less than one billion!) cannot—and this astonishing inequality widens by the day.
-Since 1990, life expectancy in Bangladesh has increased by ten years and now exceeds that of India, despite India's considerably higher incomes. Second, primary school enrollment among girls today is double that of 2010, and the female literacy rate is steadily improving. And third, since 1990 infant (< 1 year) mortality rates have been more than halved, and child (< 5 years) mortality rates as well as maternal mortality rates have dropped by about three‐fourths. According to these indicators, Bangladesh outperforms India and also fares much better than Pakistan.
-Interestingly, these improvements were achieved in the absence of notable economic growth. Indeed, incomes in Bangladesh are considerably lower than in India, and even Pakistan does better in this regard. Bangladesh is an overwhelmingly Muslim society, but in some ways it has also been a very progressive one, particularly when it comes to the role of women. For example, 30 seats in the national legislature are reserved for women. Much of this success is attributed to the role of non‐governmental organizations (NGOs) 24 that, independently of (but supported by) the national government, have promoted programs to improve the quality of life. An important example concerns family planning programs in which women play the lead role (free contraceptives and education). The fertility rate in Bangladesh fell rapidly from 7.0 in 1970 to 3.4 in 1994 to 2.2 in 2014.
-The NGOs also were the key providers of so‐called micro‐ credits 25, small loans at favorable terms to the poor, along with guidance and counseling, allowing them to invest in the means to secure a proper and sustainable livelihood. Often, such loans have gone to small farmers to buy a piece of land or construct a farmhouse, or to starter entrepreneurs to buy machinery or transport equipment. The success of micro‐credits has spread from Bangladesh around the less developed world and is now widely considered to be a key element in devising economic development strategies.
-Over the past several decades, Bangladesh has become known as the "textile capital of the world," today accounting for nearly three‐quarters of all export earnings. Almost half of all industrial workers are employed in this industry, and most are women. Many of the cheaper items of clothing that are sold worldwide under popular labels from big‐name marketers are made in factories in Bangladesh that are unsafe and where the minimum wage is little more than one U.S. dollar a day. Western companies impose strict production quotas and deadlines, and factory managers force their employees to work long hours under often dangerous conditions. There are no unions to protect workers; disastrous fires and building failures often make the international news (worst of all was the 2013 collapse of a factory building in the Dhaka suburb of Savar that killed more than 1300 laborers). Globalization has made Bangladesh's garment industry a valuable contributor to the nation's commercial economy, but those low prices you see advertised in Western stores raise painful questions about what constitutes "fair trade."
-Culturally and (until recently) economically, Nepal lies within India's sphere of influence, but China's presence here is being felt ever more strongly. Maoist‐communist groups are supported by China but loathed by India (whose Naxalites espouse a similar ideology), resulting in fractious and contentious governance. China, as it does elsewhere in the world these days, is using its growing economic clout in Nepal as leverage to gain greater political influence.
-Nepal, located just to the northeast of India's Hindu core area, has a population of 27.8 million of whom 82 percent are Hindu. Nepal's Hinduism, however, is a unique blend of Hindu and Buddhist ideals. Thousands of temples and pagodas, ranging from the simple to the ornate, grace the cultural landscape, especially in the Vale of Kathmandu, the country's core area. The Nepalese are a people of many origins, including India, Tibet, and interior Asia. Even though well over a dozen languages are spoken, most of the people also speak Nepali, a language related to Indian Hindi.
-Nepal contains three geographic zones: a southern, subtropical, fertile lowland called the Terai; a central belt of Himalayan foothills with swiftly flowing streams and deep canyons; and the spectacular high Himalaya itself (topped by Mount Everest) in the north. The capital, Kathmandu, lies in the east‐central part of the country in an open valley of the central hill zone.
-The country's soaring Himalayan peaks are a world‐renowned tourist attraction, but visitor expenditures are relatively modest and tourism is often disrupted by flareups of political instability. This is a troubled country suffering from severe underdevelopment, recording the lowest per‐capita income in the realm, even below Afghanistan's. Many young people go abroad to find work, and Nepal depends heavily on remittances. It also faces strong centrifugal social and political forces. Environmental degradation, overused farmlands, soil erosion, and the blight of deforestation scar the highly corrugated countryside. And in the spring of 2015, Nepal's dysfunction became painfully clear when the government proved to be useless in the effort (taken over by foreign relief agencies) to assist the victims of a massive earthquake that killed more than 8600 people, injured thousands more, and left nearly three million homeless
-Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon before 1972), the compact, pear‐ shaped island located just 35 kilometers (22 mi) across the Palk Strait from southernmost India (see Figs. 8-1 and 8-14), became independent from Britain in 1948. There were good reasons to create a separate sovereignty for Sri Lanka. This is neither a Hindu nor a Muslim country: nearly 70 percent of its population of 20.5 million are adherents of Buddhism.
-The majority of Sri Lanka's population is descended from migrants who came to the island from northwestern India beginning about 2500 years ago. Most of them probably walked across to the island, which was connected to southernmost India by a land bridge (now submerged beneath the Palk Strait) known as Rama's Bridge.
-The migrants brought with them the advanced culture of their source area, building towns and irrigation systems, and introducing Buddhism. Today, their descendants are known as the Sinhalese and speak Sinhala, which belongs to the Indo‐European language family of northern India
-The Tamil‐speaking Dravidians, who lived on the mainland side of the Palk Strait, arrived much later. During the nineteenth century, the British colonizers brought hundreds of thousands of Tamils to the island to labor on their tea plantations, and they soon became a substantial component of then‐Ceylonese society. Not only did the Tamils bring their Dravidian language to the island—they also introduced their Hindu faith. At the time of independence, one year after the India‐Pakistan partition, this minority constituted more than 15 percent of the island's population; in the mid‐2010s, they comprise just over 11 percent.
-When Ceylon became independent, it was one of the great hopes of the postcolonial world. The country had a sound economy plus a democratic government, and it was renowned for its tropical beauty. Its reputation soared when a massive effort succeeded in eradicating malaria, which was followed by a family‐planning campaign that reduced the birth rate while the rest of South Asia was experiencing a substantial population explosion. Rivers from the cooler, forested, interior highlands fed the paddies that provided ample rice; commercial crops from the moist southwest paid most of the bills, and the capital, Colombo, grew to reflect the optimism that prevailed. In the midst of this glowing scenario, the seeds of conflict had already been sown. Sri Lanka's Tamil minority soon began proclaiming its sense of exclusion, demanding better treatment from the Sinhalese majority. Tensions steadily escalated until a full‐scale civil war broke out in 1983. Militant activist leaders in the Tamil community now demanded a separate Tamil state encompassing the north and east of the country, coinciding with the Tamil‐ speaking areas mapped in stripes in Figure 8-5. This violent, devastating conflict endured for 26 years (with a death toll estimated as high as 100,000), finally ending in 2009 when the Sinhalese‐ dominated government declared victory.
1. East Asia is encircled by snowcapped mountains, vast deserts, and Pacific waters.
2. East Asia was one of the world's earliest culture hearths, and China is one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations.
3. East Asia is the second most populous geographic realm after South Asia; its population remains heavily concentrated in its eastern regions.
4. The People's Republic of China (PRC), the world's largest state demographically, is the current rendition of an empire that has expanded and contracted, fragmented and unified, many times during its long existence.
5. Key components of China's sparsely peopled western regions are now being rapidly developed—not only because they are strategically important to the state, but also because they lie exposed to minority pressures and Islamic influences.
6. An economic transformation launched four decades ago along China's eastern seaboard is today steadily expanding westward, accompanied by a major in‐migration of ethnic (Han) Chinese.
7. Widening regional disparities—exacerbated by breakneck, massive urbanization—are straining Chinese society.
8. Japan's economy continues to be ranked among the world's wealthiest, even though it is still mired in a quarter‐century‐ long economic slump, largely the result of the inability of its business culture to adapt to changing regional and global circumstances. '
9. Geopolitically, this realm is home to the world's newest superpower as China's economic and political influence is increasingly projected beyond East Asia.
10. The political geography of East Asia contains a growing number of flashpoints capable of generating conflict, including North Korea, Taiwan, and several island groups in the seas adjoining the realm.
-the East Asian geographic realm forms a roughly triangular wedge between the vast expanses of eastern Russia to the north and the populous countries of South and Southeast Asia to the south, its edges often marked by high mountain ranges or remote deserts. The darker brown on the map designates the highest mountains and plateaus, which create a vast arc north of the Himalayas before bending southward and becoming lower (tan shading) toward Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam in Southeast Asia. Here in the southwest, where Tibet is located, mountains and plateaus alike are covered by permanent ice and snow, the soaring ranges crumpled up like the folds of an accordion. Three major rivers, their valleys parallel for hundreds of kilometers, disclose the orientation of this high‐relief topography.
-In this environment of mountains and deserts, living space is at a premium. And speaking of living space, the green areas on the map, which have the lowest relief and (often) the most fertile soils, are home to the vast majority of this realm's population. Here the great rivers that come from the melting ice and snow in the interior highlands have been depositing their sediment load for eons, and when humans domesticated plants and started to grow crops, this was the place to be. That was thousands of years ago—perhaps as long as 10,000 years—and ever since, this has been the largest human cluster on Earth.
-But the East Asian realm is not confined to the mainland of mountains and river basins.
-In terms of total land area, though, East Asia is mostly mainland—but the islands and their peoples have played leading roles in forging this realm's regional geography. The waters between mainland and islands (the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea, the Korea Strait, among others) also figure prominently in the geographic evolution of this realm. Today, the Japanese and the Chinese are arguing over the ownership of small islands in these waters, specks of land surrounded by possible oil reserves and fishing grounds claimed by both sides.
-China is East Asia's dominant country, contains more than 85 percent of the realm's population, and has commanded an increasingly prominent role on the global stage. But there are five other political entities on East Asia's map: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan. Note that we refer here to political entities rather than states. In this realm, the distinction is important. Taiwan refers to itself as the Republic of China (ROC), but it is not recognized as a sovereign state by most members of the international community; the communist administration in Beijing, capital of the People's Republic of China (PRC), regards Taiwan as part of China and as a temporarily wayward province. And North Korea is widely viewed as a rogue state, a brutal and archaic dictatorship that has failed its people terribly. Having compiled one of the world's most dreadful human rights records, North Korea is not even a fully functional member of the United Nations.
-Nevertheless, China is the realm's predominant entity— demographically, economically, and politically. It is important to keep in mind, as you read this chapter, that portions of what we map today as regional components of China were not part of the country in the past, and that other areas now lying outside China are regarded by many Chinese as Chinese property (for example, a large sector of the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh and portions of the Russian Far East). China's imperial past saw the state expand, contract, and then expand again, accumulating unsettled border issues on land as well as at sea. On issues like these, Chinese national sentiments can run quite deeply.
-The high snowcapped mountain ranges of the realm's southwestern interior result from the gigantic collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates (see Fig. 8-2), pushing the Earth's crust upward and creating not only the mountain ranges of which the Himalaya is the most famous, but also popping up the enormous, domelike Qinghai‐Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau.
-the high incidence of earthquakes associated with this collision, converging on a narrow zone of instability that crosses southwestern China and stretches into Southeast Asia.
-the Pacific Ring of Fire, with its lethal combination of volcanism and earthquakes, endangers Japan far more than it does China.
-The Pacific Plate moves westward at an average of 7-10 centimeters (3-4 in) per year, and the only way it can do so is by pressing forward (or subducting) beneath the North American Plate (Japan sits atop the western tip of the latter).
-this massive temblor and its torrent of violent aftershocks triggered a series of devastating tsunamis 1 (seismic sea waves) that swept across the narrow, densely populated coastal plains that hug the shoreline of Honshu (Japan's largest island) north of the Tokyo area. And as if the destruction and death left behind was not enough, the leakage of radioactivity from a heavily damaged nuclear‐power complex near Fukushima south of Sendai (see photo and Fig. 9-2) may have caused serious future health problems in the local population.
-Japan's vulnerability to such disasters results from a dangerous combination of circumstances: it is located in a particularly active tectonic‐plate collision zone, and many of the country's habitable (and most densely populated) areas are confined, low‐lying plains on the islands' eastern coasts open to flooding by Pacific tsunamis. Not surprisingly, the location of most Japanese nuclear power plants along these susceptible shorelines has now become a hotly debated issue.
-the western and northern sectors of this realm are dominated by conditions that do not favor substantial population clusters. Permanent snow and ice cover much of the area mapped as H (highland climates), including Tibet (Xizang) and Qinghai. Northward, the dry B climates (desert and steppe) prevail because this vast expanse lies about as far from maritime influences (and moist air masses) as you can get in Asia. Mongolia is one of the driest countries in the world, but even here—and also in frosty Tibet—there are places where people manage to eke out a living. But the map leaves no doubt as to why most East Asians congregate in the eastern segment of this realm.
-the C or humid‐temperate climates are more extensive in the United States than in East Asia. Note especially the comparative location of the milder Cfa climate, which in the United States extends beyond 40° North latitude up to New England, but which in China yields to colder D climates at a latitude equivalent to Virginia's. Thus the capital, Beijing, has the warm summers but long, bitterly cold winters characteristic of D climates. Take a closer look at Figure 9-3 and it is clear that both the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese islands lie astride this transition from C to D climates. South Korea is significantly milder and moister than North Korea, and Japan's largest island (Honshu) is temperate in the south but cold in the north. Not unexpectedly, the least densely populated major island of Japan is northernmost Hokkaido, where the climate is quite similar to that of northern Wisconsin.
-whereas C or D climates prevail over more than half of the United States, these climates predominate over less than one‐third of China—even though the United States has only 316 million people compared to China's 1.4 billion. That is what makes the population distribution map (Fig. 9-4) so noteworthy: the overwhelming majority of East Asia's inhabitants are located in the easternmost one‐third of the realm's territory, creating the largest and most densely settled population cluster in the world
-But the world population distribution map (Fig. G-7) still reminds us how we got our modern start—through crop‐raising and herding. The fertile river basins and coastal plains of East Asia supported ever‐ larger farming populations, whose descendants still live on that same land: for all its ongoing industrialization and urbanization, more than 40 percent of the population of China remains rural to this day. Environment, in the form of terrain, water supply, soil fertility, and climate played the crucial role in the evolution of the population distribution
-China is in some respects the product of four great river systems and their basins, valleys, deltas, and estuaries.
-Of the four, the two in the middle are in many ways the most important of all: the Huang He (Yellow River) that makes a huge loop around the Ordos Desert and then flows across the North China Plain into the Bohai Gulf, and the Yangzi (often spelled Yangtze), probably the most famous river in China's historical geography, known as the Chang Jiang (Long River) upstream. As the map illustrates, the Yellow River and its tributaries form the sources of water essential to the historic core area of China, the North China Plain, where the capital, Beijing, is located. The Yangzi River is the primary artery of the Lower Chang Basin; at its mouth lies China's largest city, Shanghai, and in its middle course the water flow is controlled by the world's biggest dam (see photo). Both the Huang and the Yangzi originate in the snowy highlands of the Qinghai‐Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau, a reminder that these remote environments are critical to hundreds of millions of people who live thousands of kilometers away.
-The other two rivers have much shorter courses, but the Pearl River outlet of the one in the south, the Xi Jiang (West River), forms an estuary that has become China's (and East Asia's) foremost hub of globalization. This is where you find Hong Kong and, right next to it, the fastest‐growing major city in the history of humankind—Shenzhen. Finally, the northernmost of China's four major rivers, the Liao River, originates near the margin of the Gobi Desert and then forms an elbow as it crosses the Northeast China Plain to reach the Bohai Gulf flowing southward. Here the climate is much colder, lowlands scarcer, agriculture lagging, and population smaller than in the more southerly river basins, but mineral resources create opportunities for mining and industry.
-But even these major river systems, together with China's lesser ones, are increasingly pressed to satisfy the country's sky‐ rocketing demands for water. In order to meet these urgent needs, China has embarked on the massive South‐North Water Transfer Project to bring new supplies to its thirsty northeastern core area, especially metropolitan Beijing and Tianjin (Fig. 9-5). When completed around mid‐century, the entire project will annually divert more than 40 billion cubic meters of water from the Chang River to the north. The Eastern Route (which follows China's Grand Canal) opened in 2013, and the Central Route was completed one year later; but the Western Route, to traverse the rugged highlands of the upper Chang and Huang basins, is barely beyond the planning stage and will not be operational for at least another three decades. This gargantuan project, however, comes with a price tag that is not only monetary: the reservoirs and canals along the Central Route are expected to submerge more than 300 square kilometers of land, forcing well over 300,000 people from their homes in Henan and Hubei provinces.
-Given that the East Asian realm contains nearly one‐fourth of the world's population, it is not difficult to imagine the magnitude of the demand for natural resources here. The world first received notice of this about 125 hundred years ago when Japan's imperial expansion was in part driven by the need for raw materials to feed its rapidly expanding industrial base. Today, East Asia's demand for natural resources is expressed not in imperialism but in the global marketplace: it is driving a commodity boom around the world, from Russia to Subsaharan Africa to Brazil to Australia.
-While China was moribund under its early Mao-led communist administration, and before post-World War II Japan embarked on its headlong rush to become a world economic power, East Asia's requirements remained modest by global standards. But then Japan's economic success, followed by China's swift adoption of market economics, created unimagined and unprecedented needs.
-Japan, about the size of Montana but with a population of more than 100 million, showed what lay ahead. With limited domestic resources to support large‐scale manufacturing, the Japanese set up global networks through which flowed commodities ranging from oil and natural gas to iron ore and chemicals. Urbanizing and modernizing populations demand ever more consumer goods, and Japanese products poured onto domestic as well as foreign markets. Japanese‐owned fleets of freighters now plied the oceans, and for a while Japan even became remote Australia's top‐ ranked customer for commodities.
-When China took off in the 1980s, economic geographers cast a wary eye on the geologic map. Until then, China's biggest resource had been its fertile, river‐deposited alluvium (silt): despite the communist regime's best efforts, state‐run industries planned to satisfy domestic needs were hardly a match for globalizing Japan. Most Chinese were farmers, and staving off famine was an unrelenting preoccupation. But when China opened its doors to the world, and its industries and cities mushroomed, its needs— for oil, natural gas, metals, food, electricity, water—multiplied. Before long, China had replaced Japan as Australia's leading customer. Moreover, Chinese manufacturers and suppliers were now searching for commodities from Indonesia to Iraq and from Tanzania to Brazil. If China holds an advantage, it is in the so‐called rare earth elements not commonly known, such as thulium (used in lasers), praseodymium (aircraft parts), lanthanum (electric automobiles), and promethium (X‐ray equipment). Nowadays, China's deposits account for roughly 90 percent of the global production of these minerals, which also are increasingly used in missile technology and "green" energy applications.
-China clearly needs the world because East Asia's storehouse of other known resources is not particularly favorable (Fig. 9-6). Widely dispersed coal reserves can satisfy the country's expanding coal‐fired energy system—but only at the cost of thousands of miners' lives every year. Oil reserves are also widespread, but they tend to be rather modest and diminishing. Deposits in northeastern and far western China are the largest, and exploration is proceeding offshore. Yet nothing in China compares with the abundant iron ore deposits and plentiful ferroalloys available to Russia when it industrialized to meet the Nazi challenge; similarly, China cannot begin to match the immense gas and oil reserves of contemporary Russia, let alone the gargantuan deposits of Southwest Asia's Persian Gulf region. Hence China competes with Japan for energy shipments from Russia and with other sources for its industrial raw material imports. So in just a few short years, China has become both the world's biggest consumer as well as its leading exporter.
-East Asia's ascent to the globalizing world's principal stage has put it in the forefront of regional development, but at a staggering environmental cost in terms of air and water pollution. The East Asian geographic realm is now in the midst of an economic, social, and political revolution, the outcome of which is far from clear.
-Among the many peoples encircling the Chinese are not only the Koreans and the Japanese in the northeast, but also the Mongols and Tatars to the north and northwest; the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Uyghurs to the west; the Tibetans and Nepalese to the southwest; and peoples too numerous to identify individually to the south, including both majorities (Burmans, Thais, Vietnamese) and minorities in states that were still forming in South and Southeast Asia.
-China is one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations, and the Chinese imperial state can be traced back to at least 1766 bc when the first ruling dynasty came to power. Most important of all was the formative Han Dynasty (206 bc-ad 220), whose legacy was the molding of the Chinese nation and the consolidation of its territorial base; in fact, to this day the Chinese still define themselves ethnically as the People of Han. Like all empires, China expanded and contracted over time. But during its final dynasty, that of the Qing (1644-1911), many of the states and peoples mentioned in the previous paragraph fell under Chinese rule, and the effects of Sinicization 2 —also known as Hanification 3 —were considerable even if Chinese domination was resented. This expansion, however, would prove to be the emperors' last hurrah: during the dynasty's final decades, European and Japanese imperialists challenged Qing rule, took control over most of the state's core area, ousted the Chinese from much of the periphery, and left the country in chaos, bringing about the end of nearly 3700 years of dynastic rule in 1911.
-By that time, the ethnic geography of East Asia had become highly complicated. Even after losing control over peoples from Korea to Vietnam and from Mongolia to Burma (today called Myanmar), the successor Chinese state of the past century still continues to govern numerous minorities. Thus East Asia remains an extremely complex mosaic of ethnicities and languages.
-but the most varied and most numerous minority groups inhabit the southeastern corner of this realm, from Hainan Island northward to the mouth of the Yangzi River. For example, the Yue language (middle green on the map—it used to be called Cantonese) is the common language in the pivotal Pearl River Estuary. Many of the other minority tongues shown here have links to Southeast Asian languages.
-Under communism, Chinese society was completely overhauled. The communist regime, dictatorial and brutal though it was, attacked China's weaknesses on several fronts, mobilizing virtually every able‐bodied citizen in the process. Land was confiscated from the wealthy; farms were collectivized; dams and levees were built with the hands of thousands; the threat of hunger for millions receded; health conditions improved; child labor was reduced; literacy was broadened.
-At the same time, the regime committed colossal errors and systematically repressed its citizens at an unheard of scale. The so‐called Great Leap Forward (the propaganda term for what this aimed to accomplish) was a failed attempt at the end of the 1950s to accelerate the growth of industrial and agricultural productivity; it ended as perhaps the worst human‐engineered catastrophe in world history, causing between 30 and 45 million deaths, mostly from starvation.
-Another calamitous episode of Mao's rule was the so‐called Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, launched during his final decade in power (1966-1976). Fearful that Maoist communism was becoming contaminated by Soviet "deviationism" and concerned about his own stature as its revolutionary architect, Mao unleashed a vicious campaign against what he viewed as emerging elitism in society (most likely, it was a strategy of power consolidation in the name of culture). He mobilized young people living in cities and towns into cadres known as Red Guards and commanded them to attack "bourgeois" and "revisionist" elements throughout China, criticize Party officials, and violently root out "opponents" of the system. As a result, thousands of China's leading intellectuals died; moderate leaders and older revolutionaries, including some of Mao's closest allies, were purged and imprisoned; the economy was staggered, especially agriculture, and by the end at least another 30 million had perished. Although the full economic impact of the decade‐long Cultural Revolution is still debated, the repetitive political campaigns, purges, and violence created a culture of interpersonal distrust that would take much time to repair. One of those who survived the political upheaval was a Communist Party leader who had himself been purged and thereafter reinstated—Deng Xiaoping. Deng was destined to lead the country into the new era of economic reform following Mao's death in 1976.
-Japan's sensational development success did not go unnoticed, particularly in the Asia Pacific's smaller‐scale, dynamic, upwardly bound economies that were soon being labeled the four Asian Tigers 4: Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. (The first three belong to the East Asian realm and the last to adjoining Southeast Asia.) In the 1960s and 1970s, all four embarked on similar strategies that resulted in rapid industrialization propelled by the attraction of foreign direct investment and the creation of export processing zones for manufacturing high‐value‐ added goods 5, including computers, mobile phones, kitchen appliances, and a plethora of electronic devices. The highly competitive Tigers (nicknamed "The Four New Japans") quickly became formidable exporters to the most affluent markets of North America and Europe, taking full advantage of their large, ultramodern, fortuitously located ports.
-Japan with the Tigers in tow shared an important attribute in their export‐driven trajectories of industrial upgrading—the strong intervention of the state. National political leaders worked closely with industrial corporations, targeting such strategic sectors as automaking, microelectronics, and shipbuilding; nationalized financial institutions were tapped to supply the necessary funding that was soon augmented by the infusion of foreign investment capital. Not unlike newly unified Germany's industrialization in the late nineteenth century, strongly propelled by state capitalism, the economic transformation of the Tigers a century later is embodied in the rise of what social scientists would call the "developmental state" of East Asia.
-After Mao's death in 1976, China began a historic metamorphosis that was to have the widest global impact. The essence of China's transformation—at a much grander scale—was comparable to what the Asian Tigers had achieved earlier: the creation of a favorable environment for foreign investment to support the growth of a state‐of‐ the‐art manufacturing sector geared mostly toward exports. Chinese wages, at least at the outset, were kept low, and technology transfers in the form of training programs were aimed at constantly upgrading the skills of the local workforce. At the same time, political conditions remained stable because in China, more than anywhere else, the (Party‐dominated) government maintains very tight control. This was, and remains, a communist state—but one that proved to be extremely adept at understanding how global capitalism operates and how best to put it to use. These days, pragmatism has overwhelmingly become the hallmark of Chinese policies.
-Over the past quarter‐century, China has emerged as the most dynamic and fastest‐growing component of the global economy. To be sure, Japan and the Tigers had also experienced double‐digit growth rates, but it is a far different story when the developmental centerpiece is a country of nearly one and a half billion. In 2010, China surpassed Japan to become the world's second‐largest economy. Less than five years later, the International Monetary Fund announced in December of 2014 that China had displaced the United States to become the biggest economy of all.
-Understandably, relations between China and Japan have been complex and plagued by problems during the century following the end of Chinese imperial rule. Japan proudly proclaimed to stand for "pan‐Asian" ideals, and that is how it legitimized its invasion (1931) and occupation of China (through 1945). But the Japanese committed unspeakable atrocities during their campaign in China. Millions of Chinese citizens were shot, burned, drowned, subjected to gruesome chemical and biological experiments, and otherwise wantonly victimized.
-Decades later, when China's economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s led to a renewed Japanese presence in China, the Chinese public and its leaders called for Japan to acknowledge and apologize for these wartime crimes against humanity. The unqualified apology the Chinese desire, in word and deed, has not been forthcoming. Some Japanese history textbooks still avoid acknowledging what happened to the satisfaction of the Chinese, and surveys indicate strong public sentiment on this still‐sensitive issue. But now that China has surpassed Japan in terms of economic prowess; now that China has become not only the biggest exporter but also the largest economy in the world; and now that Japan's economic stagnation has entered its third decade—this time it is China that is on its front foot and brimming with confidence. Although the two countries continue to have close economic ties, their diplomatic relations are strained by historical memory, cultural friction, and clashing interests.
-Throughout history, the Korean Peninsula has repeatedly been divided, partitioned, colonized, and occupied. After Japan— which had annexed Korea as its colony in 1910—was defeated in World War II, the Allied powers divided the peninsula for "administrative" purposes. In 1945, the territory north of the 38th parallel was placed under the control of the forces of the Soviet Union; south of this latitude, the United States was in control. But only five years later, communist armed forces from North Korea invaded the South in a forced‐unification drive, unleashing a devastating three‐year‐long conflict
-The Korean conflict has long had realmwide and even global implications. A major reason is that North Korea's nuclear capability remains in the hands of a tightly closed, unpredictable, and brutally repressive regime: its nuclear missiles may be aimed at South Korea, but (theoretically at least) they can also reach China, Russia, and Japan—and perhaps even North America. The North Korea issue has also deepened divisiveness within the realm. South Korea and Japan are diametrically opposed to the regime based in Pyongyang, whereas China takes a decidedly more neutral position. The Chinese also appear to be using North Korea in their dealings with Japan and the United States, since it is widely thought that China is crucial to containing the North Korean threat.
-Ever since the end of World War II, Japan has adhered to a constitution that essentially forbids its rearmament and commits it to a relationship with the United States that includes the stationing of tens of thousands of American armed forces on Japanese soil. But Japan's 2009 election campaign brought to the fore an unusually forceful reappraisal of these issues, and public opinion has been shifting toward a stronger military posture and the departure of U.S. troops. One result of the international community's failure to constrain North Korea's nuclear aspirations may be Japan's military revival. The country has gradually increased its military posture, and vast resources have been invested in a sophisticated missile defense system to protect against potential North Korean (or Chinese) attacks.
-The 2011 demise of the North's leader, Kim Jong‐il, and the accession of his son, Kim Jong‐un, coincided with one of the many critical food shortages that have afflicted the North Korean people since 1945. With the country desperately in need of outside aid, in early 2012 it appeared that an agreement had been reached between the new regime and the United States: the United States would supply emergency food shipments, and in return, the American government extracted a promise from the young Kim to end the testing of nuclear missiles. However, the deal collapsed just a few weeks later, following North Korea's failed launch of a rocket capable of delivering a ballistic missile (when a successful launch occurred months later, all U.S.‐North Korean talks were suspended).
-Virtually all of the 23.6 million people of Taiwan are Chinese. Taiwan was part of China during the Qing Dynasty. Taiwan was stolen from China by Japanese imperialists in 1895, when it was known as Formosa. Then, when communists and Nationalists were fighting each other for control of mainland China right after World War II, and the communists were about to win, the Nationalists in 1949 fled by plane and boat to Taiwan, where they overpowered the locals. Even as Mao Zedong was proclaiming the birth of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in Beijing, the loser, Chiang Kai‐shek, named his regime in Taiwan the Republic of China (ROC)—and told the world that he headed China's "legitimate" government.
-The PRC, of course, ridiculed this assertion, but the ROC had powerful friends, especially the United States. Chiang's regime was soon installed at the United Nations in China's seat. Washington sent massive aid to support the island's economic recovery and weapons to ensure its security. While the PRC languished under communist rule, Taiwan—the name commonly employed for the ROC—advanced economically, and over time its political system matured into a functioning (if turbulent) democracy. But to the PRC, Taiwan is regarded as a "wayward province" that must be reunited with the motherland. When U.S. President Richard Nixon arrived in Beijing in 1972 for a historic visit, Taiwan was a bargaining chip. Soon, the ROC's United Nations delegation was dismissed, and representatives of the Beijing government were seated in its place. Many countries all over the world that had recognized Taiwan as the legitimate heir to China's leadership now swiftly changed sides. Meanwhile, Beijing's leaders set about trying to isolate the ROC, and to a considerable extent they succeeded.
-Geography, however, was to intervene. With billions of U.S. dollars in reserves, fruitful connections to Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, and its emergence as an Asian Tiger economic powerhouse, Taiwan had some significant cards to play—and in the late 1970s the Beijing regime discovered it could not afford to deny Taiwanese companies permission to exploit opportunities in the PRC's new development zones. And so, via the "back door" of Hong Kong, Taiwanese entrepreneurs built thousands of factories in mainland China, many of them located directly across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwanese businesspeople now pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into China's development boom, and the economies of Taiwan and the PRC found themselves on a path toward ever tighter integration. In 2015, an estimated 42 percent of Taiwan's exports went to China along with substantial Taiwanese foreign direct investment, and nearly one million Taiwanese were living and working (temporarily) on the mainland. Today, per capita annual income in Taiwan exceeds U.S. $20,000—more than triple that of China and on a par with South Korea. And even though a sizeable majority of Taiwanese oppose reunification with the PRC
-East Asia presents us with an opportunity to illustrate the changeable nature of regional geography. Our regional classification is based on current circumstances. It is anything but static, and we discuss how this framework may change in the foreseeable future. Today, we can identify seven geographic regions in the East Asian realm (Fig. 9-9), the first three of which comprise the People's Republic of China:
1. China's Coastal Core. Anchored by the country's eastern coastal provinces, this is not only China's core area but also East Asia's most influential region as well as the most dynamic spatial component of the global economy. The development success of this region since 1980 is the biggest miracle of all—the conversion of a repressed economic backwater of more than a billion people into an ultramodern urban and industrial colossus. In this decade, the seaboard component of the Coastal Core has fully consolidated, and its transformative energy is now being redirected westward; the leading edge of this inland penetration of China's core area follows upgraded transportation corridors that lead to the key interior cities of Chengdu, Lanzhou, and Kunming.
2. China's Interior. This vast crescent of territory centered on Lanzhou, for centuries the gateway to far western China, is the country's fastest growing region today. Propelled by new government policies to reverse the massive and deepening economic divide between the booming Pacific seaboard and the stagnant, poverty‐ridden, still‐rural Interior, huge investments are pouring into this region to implement a high‐priority "Go West" program to counter this uneven development before it triggers protest movements that could threaten the political stability of the PRC.
3. China's Western Periphery. Two large Autonomous Regions, remnants of Han and Qing Dynasty imperialism, constitute China's western tier. One is Xizang—better known as Tibet— whose small Buddhist population is dispersed across the enormous, high‐altitude Tibetan Plateau that is framed on its south and west by the world's mightiest mountain range. The other is even larger Xinjiang, whose vast desert basins and encircling mountains comprise the homeland of the Muslim Uyghurs, a primary ethnic component in the human geography of the vital frontier borderland where China meets Islamic Central Asia.
4. Mongolia. The desert state of Mongolia forms East Asia's fourth region. Landlocked Mongolia—like Tibet vast, but sparsely peopled and poverty‐ridden—is in the midst of a development boom thanks to rich mineral deposits and massive Chinese investment.
5. The Korean Peninsula. The Korean people form a single nation, but they have been partitioned by ideology since the end of World War II. Hermetically sealed, China‐supported North Korea is a vicious communist dictatorship that relentlessly persecutes its citizens. In the starkest possible contrast, Western‐backed South Korea has evolved into a vibrant democracy as well as an Asian Tiger economic powerhouse. 6. Japan. The miraculous postwar economic transformation of this longtime rival of China is one of modern history's most successful development stories. But an inability to adapt to changing circumstances over the past quarter‐century has all but ended the country's growth trajectory. Nonetheless, Japanese society still ranks among the world's most affluent, and the restoration of Japan's late‐twentieth‐century regional and global position is not impossible if certain social, economic, and political challenges can be surmounted. 7. Taiwan. This thriving Asian Tiger continues to maintain its own regional identity within the East Asian realm, even as the PRC views the island as a "wayward province" that must be reunited with the mainland state.
-China and the United States may be about the same size, but they have very different governance structures: the United States is a federation, whereas China is an extremely centralized unitary state. For administrative purposes, China is divided into the following units (Fig. 9-11):
4 Central‐government‐controlled Municipalities (each is known as a zhi‐xia‐shi, or shi for short)
22 Provinces
2 Special Administrative Regions (SARs)
5 Autonomous Regions (ARs)
-The four central‐government‐controlled Municipalities (shi's) are the capital, Beijing; the nearby port city of Tianjin; China's largest metropolis, Shanghai; and the upper Chang River port of Chongqing in the Sichuan Basin. These megacity shi's anchor China's largest internal population clusters (see Fig. 9-4), and direct control over them from Beijing entrenches the PRC government's power.
-We should keep in mind that the administrative map of China continues to change—and to pose problems for geographers. The city of Chongqing was made a shi in 1996, and its municipal territory was enlarged to incorporate not only the central urban area but an enormous hinterland covering all of eastern Sichuan Province. As a result, the urban population of Chongqing is now officially 30 million, making this the world's "largest metropolis"—but, in truth, the central metropolitan area contains only about 11 million inhabitants. And because Chongqing's population is officially not part of the province that borders it to the west (Fig. 9-11), the official population of Sichuan dropped by 30 million when the Chongqing shi was created.
- China's 22 Provinces, like U.S. States, tend to be smallest in the east and largest toward the west. The territorially smallest are the three easternmost provinces on China's coastal bulge: Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Fujian. The two largest are Qinghai, flanked by Xizang (Tibet), and Sichuan, China's Midwest. As with all large countries, some provinces are more important than others. Hebei Province nearly surrounds Beijing. Shaanxi Province is centered on the great ancient city of Xian. In the southeast, momentous economic development is occurring in Guangdong Province, whose urban focus is Guangzhou (now China's third‐largest city).
-In 1997, the British dependency of Hong Kong was taken over by China and became the country's inaugural Special Administrative Region (SAR). In 1999, Portugal similarly transferred Macau to Chinese control, and this former colony, situated opposite Hong Kong on the Pearl River Estuary, became the second SAR under Beijing's administration.
-The five Autonomous Regions (ARs) were created in order to recognize the non‐Han ethnic minorities living there. Some laws that apply to the Han Chinese do not apply to certain minorities. As we saw in the case of the former Soviet Union, however, demographic changes and population movements affect such regions, and the policies of the 1940s may not work in the twenty‐first century. Han Chinese immigrants now outnumber several minorities in their own ARs. The label "autonomous" should not be taken literally here, and more than anything else it is a political gesture because Beijing maintains very tight control throughout the PRC. The five Autonomous Regions are: (1) Nei Mongol AR (Inner Mongolia); (2) Ningxia Hui AR (adjacent to Inner Mongolia); (3) Xinjiang Uyghur AR (China's broad northwestern corner); (4) Guangxi Zhuang AR (bordering Vietnam in the far south); and (5) Xizang AR (Tibet, cornerstone of the southwest).
-Although China made considerable progress in developing heavy industry (particularly defense industries) during the 27 years of Mao's regime, this advance cannot begin to be compared with the spectacular achievements of Japan and the trailing Asian Tigers. As the post‐Maoist era dawned in the late 1970s, it was clear that the old‐fashioned socialist production system had to change because now China was falling ever farther behind, especially in terms of technology.
-Taking their cues from the accelerated development of Asia's offshore economic powerhouses, the new leadership saw opportunities that could not even be whispered about under Mao's rule. For example, the Lower Chang Basin—focused on the port of Shanghai (China's largest city) and interconnected by the Yangzi and its tributaries—still retained some of its historical identity and energy. Drab, teeming, and decrepit though it had become, Shanghai had not fully lost its intellectual vigor, artistic individuality, risk‐taking entrepreneurs, or even its opponents of communist dogma. And, as always, the city's geography continued to offer immense possibilities. Thus from day one, the new regime in Beijing, led by Deng Xiaoping and his pragmatists, saw in Shanghai what they could not yet foresee in their own backyard. Here was a vibrant hub on the Pacific coast right at the mouth of the realm's greatest river, loaded with talent, and accustomed to taking chances. Moreover, Shanghai's vast hinterland contained much more than a farmscape of flood‐prone wheatfields: the Sichuan Basin alone had a population of more than 100 million, growing everything from rice to tea and from fruits to spices.
-If China's planners needed any further encouragement, all they had to do was look to southern China's Pearl River Estuary, the main outlet of the Xi River Basin. There, situated at the estuary's mouth, was the burgeoning market economy of Hong Kong, the Asian Tiger still ruled by the British. When Deng took charge, Hong Kong was a not only a successful port city importing raw materials by the shipload, but also disgorged manufactured products that sold on markets all around the world. Hong Kong may have been a British crown colony, but it was Chinese managers and Chinese workers who propelled its beehive economy. If you were a visitor to Hong Kong in the 1970s, you would be taken to a place on a nearby hillside from where you could peer across the fortified border into "Red China"—and observe some villages with duck ponds and rice‐producing paddies as well as wooden fishing boats. The contrast was crystal clear.
-China's newly formulated policies of the late 1970s, however, did not entail an official departure from communism. This was (and is) still the People's Republic of China: the Communist Party remains firmly in control, the Politburo still calls the shots, Mao continues to be officially revered like a deity, and freedom of speech remains anything but. Yet the Party leadership fundamentally reorganized the way the economy operates in China—beginning with certain vital parts of it. China created highly favorable conditions for foreign investors from around the world with a docile, skilled, hardworking labor force; increasingly efficient facilities; a steadily improving infrastructure; fiscal advantages; and outstanding accessibility vis‐à‐vis the rest of East Asia, the most rapidly developing regional‐scale component in the global economy.
-China has long been the world's most populous country, and during the population explosion of the twentieth century it was also one of the fastest growing. Throughout Mao's rule, when China still was a dominantly agricultural society, families were encouraged to produce numerous children, and China grew at a high annual rate of about 3 percent. That was the policy inherited by Deng and his reformers, who immediately grasped that curtailing China's rate of growth was critical to its economic future. Accordingly, the new regime embarked on a severe population‐control program that imposed on Han Chinese families (but not minorities) a one‐child limit. Enforced by sometimes draconian methods, this policy achieved the desired outcome: by the mid‐1980s China's annual population growth had been reduced to 1.2 percent, and by 2014 the rate had dipped to just 0.5 percent (less than half the worldwide average of 1.2 percent).
-The One‐Child Policy 6 had its desired economic impact, but its other results were less salutary. China's is a dominantly patriarchal society, where male children are much preferred; rates of female fetus abortion, infanticide, and abandonment skyrocketed, resulting in a gender imbalance that raises alarms for the future. China's government admits that the PRC has the most serious and prolonged gender imbalance 7 on Earth: the latest data for 2014 show that 118 boys were born for every 100 girls. Demographers also calculate that if the one‐child policy is not modified, Chinese society will be short some 30 million brides This is already increasing the trafficking of women both within China and from neighboring countries, where widespread resentment of Chinese males pursuing (and sometimes abducting) local females is on the rise.
-The One‐Child Policy had other outcomes as well. An important one was that China's became an aging population as its proportion of youngsters shrank while the older age cohorts mushroomed. That raised the specter of a population implosion (discussed in Chapters 4 and 5): would there be a sufficient number of workers in the younger age groups to support the ever‐expanding older population? For China, this concern was magnified by the prospect that, unlike the situation in European countries and Japan, China might grow old before it grew rich. In the PRC today, public debate over the One‐Child Policy is tolerated, reflecting open discussion of it at high levels in the Communist Party. Should China abandon the policy, the fallout will be far‐reaching among demographers, especially regarding the projection of world population totals for the rest of the twenty‐first century.
-As recently as 1980, barely one‐fifth of the Chinese people were urban dwellers; today, more than half live in towns and cities, that milestone surpassed in early 2012. China's urban transformation is both unprecedented and on a scale the world has never seen before. The urban population increased from 18 percent in 1978 to 26 percent in 1990 to 31 percent in 2000. Once into the twenty‐ first century, however, that proportion skyrocketed to 56 percent in 2015. Much of this growth has been planned and controlled by the government, and that alone is an incredible feat. But it has brought profound changes to Chinese society, uprooting tens of millions, infusing awareness even in remote rural areas (where a quarter of China's villages have been abandoned since 2000), creating inequality both within cities and between city and countryside, and spawning an enormous floating population 8 consisting of temporary urban dwellers with restricted residency rights.
-The so‐called hukou system 9 is based on residency permits that indicate where individuals are from and where they may exercise such rights as education, healthcare, and housing. The hukou tradition dates back to ancient China and is not uncommon in Japan, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia. During Mao's rule, this residency‐permit system became far more rigid and was widely used as a tool to control migration, manipulate labor supplies in the urban‐industrial as well as the rural‐agricultural sector, and minimize government investment in urban services.
-As the market reform movement has intensified over the past three decades, so have the liabilities of the hukou system. In Shanghai, for instance, millions of migrants continue to pour into China's largest metropolis, their numbers having tripled in the last ten years alone. They now account for over 10 million of the 24 million people who inhabit this mushrooming urban region. They also account for nearly 70 percent of Shanghai's 20-34 age cohort, the critical life‐cycle stage during which many couples start a family. Not surprisingly, in 2013 the metropolis contained an estimated 400,000 children below the age of 6 who were officially categorized as migrants lacking a Shanghai hukou. With the total of migrant workers now exceeding 300 million, the hukou tradition is becoming an ever greater social problem throughout China.
-These workers maintain that they are major contributors to the expanding economies of the metropolitan centers in which they are employed, yet they are treated as second‐class citizens who receive minimal recognition and are denied access to basic local urban services. China now counts more than 170 cities containing at least one million people, three times as many as the United States. By 2025, there could be dozens more. But the future is uncertain.
-None of this accelerated progress would harm Hong Kong's Asian Tiger economy. In fact, it ushered in a new and even more prosperous era for the still‐British colony that would rejoin China as its first SAR in 1997. By the 1990s, Hong Kong had become less of a manufacturing center and far more specialized in international banking, finance, fiscal management, and business services, taking full advantage of the growing skills of its workforce in these spheres. Such occupational transitions are the concern of the field of economic geography, which focuses on raw‐material distributions, historical‐cultural factors (such as the aftereffects of colonialism), environmental issues, and particularly the role of spatial economic networks in regional development.
-Chinese development strategy was predicated on the understanding that rapid economic growth can be achieved and managed if it is spatially concentrated because local conditions can be manipulated and controlled. Once growth takes off, it can have a stimulating effect on surrounding places, and the benefits can be spread further by a powerful central government. This approach—built on a remarkable blend of capitalist principles and socialist‐government control—includes competition among these regional growth poles and cities using tax breaks and other incentives to lure domestic and foreign investors. Thus urban municipalities are allowed important freedoms to stimulate local economic growth. At the same time, the central government encouraged millions of Overseas Chinese 12 (most of whom had left China from those very coastal provinces to settle—and often thrive—in other countries) to invest their money in their ancestral homeland, thereby attracting ever more substantial foreign direct investment 13 from Japan, the United States, and other key countries.
-China's economic miracle began with the Special Economic Zones, and the government continues to use this strategy to launch new regional engines of growth through enormous, concentrated investment plans. But economic development has also spilled over into adjoining areas and diffused more widely to other provinces, so an increasing number and variety of localities now carry a "special" designation of one type or another.
-it does not necessarily require the official status of SEZ to obtain inflows of investment (especially from domestic sources) and to achieve economic growth. Thus the entire tier of seaboard provinces, from Guangdong in the south to Liaoning in the north, now forms the heartland of a highly productive, Pacific Rim‐based economy (Fig. 9-13); its relentless growth in recent years has generated the inland expansion of the Coastal Core region as far west as the city of Chengdu in the central Sichuan Basin
-Although export industries remain largely clustered along the coast, economic development in this decade is increasingly being steered toward the interior, as shown in the map of GDP growth by province (Fig. 9-16). Much of the growth (resulting from the government's "Go West" program referred to earlier) is occurring around such thriving inland manufacturing centers as Wuhan, Chongqing, Zhengzhou, and Xian, all now engulfed by the expanding Core (Fig. 9-9). As for the leading edge of this inland‐moving region, by 2015 three extended lobes had reached the major gateway cities to the western half of China: Lanzhou on the Huang River in the north, the jumping‐off point for accessing the crucial westernmost ARs of Tibet and Xinjiang; Sichuan's capital, Chengdu, in the center; and Kunming in the south, routeway hub for travel into mainland Southeast Asia.
-We have already noted that the Chinese government is engaged in a race against time to spread the benefits of economic growth from east to west. However, the challenges of mitigating the inequalities produced by this uneven regional development are formidable: an enormous chasm not only persists in the level of prosperity between the high‐flying cities and the deprivation‐ studded rural areas, but also at the national scale between the enlarged Coastal Core and most of the remainder of the country
-Most of this subregion, formerly known as Manchuria, consists of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang provinces as well as the northern prong of the Nei Mongol (Inner Mongolia) AR
-relatively well endowed with coal and metallic mineral reserves (Fig. 9-17), and Mao's regime made the industrial redevelopment of the war-ravaged Northeast a priority. Large state‐owned, heavy industrial enterprises were established here, particulary steel mills. By the late 1950s, it produced more than one‐quarter of China's manufacturing output, but its state‐run factories never achieved real efficiency. Most of the Northeast's industrial plant was abandoned soon after the reformers came to power, and the 1980s and 1990s were marked by layoffs, factory closures, worker protests, and out‐migration.
-This decline notwithstanding, in recent years the Northeast has again become a planning priority, and parts of this former 'rustbelt' have changed for the better (Fig. 9-18). Liaoning Province, in particular, has undergone significant development and is now fully integrated into the Coastal Core region—linking Core and Northeast as never before. Indeed, since 2010 the Northeast has grown faster than any other regional economy in China (with the exception of the rest of Inner Mongolia, part of Central China to be discussed next), much of it due to accelerating investment in electronics and the auto parts industry from nearby South Korea and Japan. Undoubtedly, proximity to Beijing and superior coastal access were major factors in this transformation. Liaoning's leading city, Shenyang, today showcases a diversified economy that, besides heavy industry, includes aerospace, electronics, and banking. The Northeast's primary outlet port—Dalian, located where the Bohai Gulf meets the Yellow Sea—has become a leading export focus for trade with Japan and the Koreas.
-The Central subregion of the Interior borders Mongolia in the north, Xinjiang and Tibet in the west, and the Chengdu protrusion of the Coastal Core in the south (Fig. 9-9). The sparsely populated western margins of this subregion are dominated by Tibetan pastoralists. Lanzhou, focal point of the upper basin of the Huang He, is the subregion's leading urban center. This key crossroads city for overland travel to the Western Periphery is also known for its oil refineries and petrochemical industries. Much of the central Interior is arid country that includes parts of the Gobi and Ordos deserts and, farther west, the salt lakes of the Qaidam Basin (Fig. 9-5). But this subregion also includes the middle course of the Huang with its agriculturally productive Loess Plateau (loess consists of fertile, windblown deposits of pulverized rock). Add the water of this great river plus an adequate growing season, and a sizeable population can be supported.
-To the south, Central China includes the northern half of the Sichuan Basin, another highly fertile area, crossed by China's other great waterway, the mighty Chang Jiang. Despite its vulnerability to serious earthquakes (most recently in 2013), this huge natural amphitheater has supported human communities for millennia, and you can readily discern its population cluster in Figure 9-4. The Sichuan Basin, encircled as it is by mountains, is also one of the world's most sharply delineated physiographic regions, and the settlement pattern of its roughly 125 million inhabitants reflects that configuration.
-Although there are ethnic minorities in the Interior, the great majority of the people are Han Chinese. Serious regional disparities have long existed between the central interior and coastal China, and the economic gap has widened during the era of market reform. China's Pacific Rim transformation drew tens of millions to the coastal factories and myriad construction sites in what turned out to be the largest internal national migration in human history. Those who stayed behind were too remote from the opportunities introduced by the reform, and now they faced major new problems in the form of water shortages and the negative effects of rapid farmland conversion to nonagricultural uses. Not surprisingly, protests and social conflicts have steadily risen throughout Central China.
-In conjunction with its "Go West" crusade, Beijing's leadership is responding to the development imbalance by extending the privileges enjoyed by the coastal SEZs to the urban centers of the Interior. As workers' wages steadily rise in the seaboard provinces, a growing number of companies are finding it profitable to move their production facilities into this sector of the Interior region, abetted by the new economic zones that operate in cities such as Lanzhou and Kunming. A further incentive is the large‐scale construction of public works in Central China, especially the ongoing diversion of waters from the Chang to the increasingly thirsty northern cities of the Core (see Fig. 9-5). Yet another lure involves the rapidly improving linkages to the Coastal Core in the form of thousands of kilometers of new expressways, a steadily expanding high‐ speed rail network (Fig. 9-17, inset map), and dozens of new or expanded airports.
-Tibet (called Xizang by the Han) is the icebound heartland of Tibetan‐Buddhist culture that extends northeastward into Qinghai Province and, most importantly, into a corner of far northeastern India in the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh. Tibet shook off Chinese domination at the end of the nineteenth century, but in 1950, almost immediately after the communist regime took control in Beijing, it ordered the Red Army into Xizang to recapture the territory.
-Tibetan society had been organized around the fortress‐like monasteries of Buddhist monks who paid allegiance to their supreme leader, the Dalai Lama. The Chinese government wanted to modernize this feudal system, but the resistant Tibetans clung to their traditions, and in 1959 the army had to crush an uprising. During the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese destroyed much of Tibet's cultural heritage, looting its religious treasures and works of art.
-Under Deng's rule, part of this heritage was returned to Xizang, but Beijing also encouraged Han Chinese to move to Tibet and built "the world's highest railroad" (reaching an altitude of 5072 meters/16,640 feet) across the Tibetan Plateau to the capital of Lhasa (Fig. 9-17). While the Dalai Lama travels the world making the 3‐million‐plus Tibetans' case and asking not for independence but for genuine autonomy, Hanification continues. A complex set of cultural policies has come to prevail in Tibet: separate school systems, one taught in Chinese Mandarin, the other in Tibetan; dual healthcare systems, one specializing in traditional Tibetan therapeutics, the other in Han (Western) medical practices; and a quota system mandating that a certain percentage of government employees be Tibetan. Nevertheless, driven by the twinned processes of Hanification and modernization, Tibetan culture is existentially threatened. Keep in mind that most Tibetan citizens were born after the PRC seized control, and for them the Chinese presence has become a fact of life.
-Tibet today is fiercely controlled by the Chinese government, not only for geopolitical reasons (e.g., the border with India) but also because so many critical parts of China depend on the water provided by the two great eastward‐flowing rivers that rise in this soaring highland. In fact, the Chinese government refers to the Tibetan Plateau as "China's water tower." Its resources are so abundant that planners are even considering the diversion of some of these waters to serve the expanding populated areas of the Western Periphery's arid northern interior.
-Economic growth in Tibet is strong and incomes are climbing. But popular resistance continues, intermittently accompanied by violence and drama. Since 2008, almost 150 self‐immolation suicides have occurred, mainly by Buddhist monks, to protest the Chinese occupation, the marginalization of Tibetan culture, and the callous destruction of the Tibetan environment through mining.
-Xinjiang constitutes the westernmost margin of China's modern empire and is even larger than Xizang (Fig. 9-19). With just under 23 million inhabitants, about 40 percent of them Han Chinese, the Xinjiang‐Uyghur AR is even more important than its Buddhist, Tibetan neighbor. Here China meets the peoples of Central Asia and the faith of Islam; here China has highly significant energy reserves; and here, in the remote, cloudless, desert‐dominated far west, China built its original space program. Moreover, only a single country lies between this inner Asian outpost and the much larger oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea Basin: Kazakhstan.
-The modern, tightly controlled, Han‐dominated, urbanized component of Xinjiang is located in the northern Junggar Basin, focusing on the revitalized capital of Ürümqi and the nearby model city of Shihezi. The traditional, predominantly Islamic, rural component is anchored by the historic town of Kashgar (Kashi on Chinese maps) in the extreme western corner of the southern Tarim Basin (Fig. 9-19). The Xinjiang‐Uyghur AR is no more autonomous than Tibet. During the Qing Dynasty, the Muslim peoples here—including Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, and others—fell under Chinese imperial control and continued their numerical dominance for a half‐century after the communist regime came to power in Beijing. But in the twenty‐first century, Hanification has shifted into high gear: today roughly 40 percent of the population are Han, and Xinjiang has become a two‐tiered society. Led by the Uyghurs, who still constitute 45 percent of the AR's population, the peoples of the lower, Islamic tier disdain "Xinjiang," preferring the label "East Turkestan" to signify their inter‐realm connection to the Turkic nations of neighboring Central Asia.
-When the Uyghurs encounter the Han, as often occurs in the factories of Ürümqi and the streets of Kashgar, the results can be tragic. In 2009, a skirmish between Uyghur workers and Han managers at a plant outside Ürümqi spun out of control and led to rioting in which some 200 Han Chinese citizens were killed and hundreds more wounded. Despite the growing risk of central‐government retaliation, Uyghur militants continue to pursue a sporadic—and fruitless—campaign of violence against Han domination. In the meantime, Beijing is tightening its grip on the Western Periphery for economic as well as geopolitical reasons. In 2010, Kashgar was designated an "economic development zone," the first in far western China. Consider the geographic significance of Kashgar (Fig. 9-19): it has a long history as a key stop on the ancient Silk Road; it lies close to the borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan; and it is already Central Asia's largest marketplace. Thus Kashgar is by far the most effective link between China and this portion of Central Asia, and plans call for its development into a major trading and logistical bridge.
-Both Xizang and Xinjiang exhibit the properties of peripheries, where indigenous cultures and traditional economies are increasingly intertwined with expanding national interests and global systems. As a result, the widening disparities between the Western Periphery and the Coastal Core at the national scale are being reproduced at the autonomous-region level, propelled by a deepening, core‐periphery‐type schism between the successful Han and the struggling peoples who constitute the local social mosaic.
-Even though China has made impressive progress and now holds a position of considerable power on the global stage, it still faces some formidable internal challenges. First, rising (regional) inequality will be very difficult to rationalize by a regime that still pays homage—at least on paper—to socialist principles. "Let some people get rich first," were the famous words of the great reformer Deng Xiaoping nearly four decades ago. Yet now it seems that getting rich has become an obsession for many but is attainable for relatively few. That trend is evident in measures of income disparity: China's global rank is comparatively high—behind South Africa and Brazil but well ahead of the United States. Second, there has been a major shift in the constituencies of the Communist Party: peasants and workers, the traditional pillars of support for the regime, have grown increasingly critical as they feel ever more left behind. With the Party today most strongly supported by the urban middle class and the nouveau riche, how much longer can it maintain the ideological foundation of its policies? And third, the proliferation of the Internet and social media is providing new channels of information flow and opinion expression. Although most online forums are nonpolitical and the "Great Firewalls" were imposed to limit and police Internet communication, this powerful information‐transmission technology is bound to become a new platform of political contestation in China.
-We now turn to the four East Asian regions beyond China and begin by looking to the north, to Mongolia, where the effects of the realm's economic transformation have only recently arrived. This immense, landlocked, isolated country wedged between China and Russia, with an area larger than Alaska but a sparse population of just 2.8 million, suggests a steppe‐and‐desert‐dominated vacuum between two of the world's most powerful countries (Fig. 9-9). Mongolia used to be the domain of a powerful people who, many centuries ago, swept westward to challenge the Russians and southeastward to rule China. But in more modern times, Mongolia became a weak and vulnerable country whose 800,000‐plus herders and their millions of sheep today follow nomadic tracks along the fenceless fringes of the immense Gobi Desert, where Siberian cold periodically causes severe human and livestock losses. During the Soviet era, the location of the capital of Ulaanbaatar symbolized the country's security against Chinese encroachment, and Mongolia functioned as the typical buffer state 14 that separated two political adversaries.
-In the 2010s, Chinese involvement and investment are soaring, and much of this revolves around Mongolia's enormous storehouse of raw materials. Major deposits of gold, copper, and coal have been found, and exploration by large foreign companies is under way. Mongolia was the fastest-growing national economy in the world in 2011 (nearly 18 percent), has continued to surge since then, and the International Monetary Fund predicts double‐digit annual growth for years to come. But the country has now become overly dependent on a small number of gigantic foreign mining companies, and negotiations concerning taxes and regulations have proven to be a cause of economic volatility. The main consumer of Mongolia's commodities is China, and Chinese investments continue to pour in, largely for infrastructural projects. It is not clear whether ordinary Mongolians, among the poorest people in Asia, will benefit from this bonanza anytime soon; that uncertainty has not restrained some economists, who speculate that Mongolia is evolving into another Qatar—where a small population grew rich from its enormous natural endowments.
-This is a place where human geography took momentous turns as a corridor of migration, an incubator of culture, a cauldron of warfare, and a cradle of economic miracles. Today, this Idaho‐sized tongue of land has a population of 75 million (Idaho: 1.7 million) that is divided between two states steeped in the same linguistic and cultural traditions. The Korean Peninsula has been a turbulent stage. Thousands of years ago, even before there was a China, lower sea levels made the crossing from Korea to Japan possible and migrants from the mainland began to challenge the even earlier inhabitants of the islands. Later, long‐stable states, always influenced by rising China, forged a durable cultural geography with distinctly Korean attributes including ethnicity, language, and customs. Then, more than a century ago, disaster struck as Japan embarked on a campaign of colonial conquest that eventually overran not only Korea, but also large parts of neighboring China. Subsequently, in the aftermath of Japan's World War II defeat, the Korean Peninsula became the scene of a terrible great‐power conflict between China‐supported communist armies and American‐led anticommunist forces. For more than three years (1950-1953) this devastating conflict swept back and forth across the peninsula, claiming more than 3 million lives and ending in an armistice whose cease‐fire line can be seen in Figure 9-20. Ever since, that line has separated—almost hermetically sealed—a vicious communist dictatorship in North Korea from a South Korea that originated as a brutal capitalist dictatorship but transformed itself into both a free‐wheeling democracy and an Asian Tiger. The partition of this region remains at the heart of what many still call the world's saddest politico-geographical tragedy.
-North Korea is territorially larger than South Korea, but its population of 24.9 million is half the size of South Korea's. Seven decades of the most barbaric variety of communist rule have turned North Korea into one of the poorest, hungriest, and most regimented countries on Earth, but with one of the largest standing armies as well as advanced nuclear weapons and missile technologies. A regime that incarcerates its citizens for the slightest offenses operates a gulag of prison camps reputedly worse than that of the Stalinist‐era Soviets, starves its people as punishment, and isolates its subjects from the rest of the world—yet invests heavily in weaponry with which to blackmail its neighbors and infect the world. Refugees' and escapees' stories tell of the most extreme forms of poverty and misery. But China, North Korea's ideological ally, supports the regime based in the capital of Pyongyang in the interest of regional 'stability' rather than pressuring it to ameliorate its policies.
-North Korean dictators rule with powers unimagined even by the likes of Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, and Bashar al‐Assad, and the North Korean people have become a society of informers— on each other. Any sign of disaffection risks imprisonment or worse, and mass displays of regimented solidarity reminiscent of Soviet public travesties attend dynastic transfers of power. So it was when the ostensibly "affable" Kim Jong‐un, son of the previous dictator Kim Jong‐il, took control of the state in 2011. Shortly thereafter he threatened to resume nuclear testing, he and his ruling elite kept comfortably in power by China's provision of food and energy.
-The tragedy of the Korean Peninsula is especially painful when put in geographic perspective. As environmental maps reveal, North Korea and South Korea actually need each other. The North has raw materials demanded by South Korean industries. The South produces food the North could urgently use. This condition is known as regional complementarity 15, but in Korea it is precluded by political segregation. This makes the narrow demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas an ultimate expression of core‐periphery demarcation because even as the North stagnated, the South became one of the legendary Asian Tigers. As noted above, South Korea (50.2 million) emerged from the Korean War in 1953 as an unstable, dictatorial, politically and economically corrupt nation where, as in the North, dissent could cost you your life. But South Korea's rulers also encouraged industrial development, driven by powerful industrial conglomerates. This kind of state capitalism 16 triggered rapid growth, and the politicians knew that workers would demand better treatment and that the economic and political landscape would have to change. And so it was: dictatorial rule ended, representative government took hold, corruption was confronted, and the economy, once described by early postwar observers as undevelopable, took off like a rocket. South Korea in short order became a boisterous democracy, an economic giant, a nation in universal pursuit of education, the world's leading shipbuilder, a manufacturer of iron and steel as well as chemicals and electronics plus countless other industrial products in addition to producing ample food supplies. South Korean social institutions became ever stronger, and the media were now as free as any on Earth. Freedom of religion prevails, Korean art and culture find a global market, and Korean athletes excel in the Olympic Games and other international sports events. As a key member of the international community, South Korea participates in peacekeeping and security operations worldwide.
-The map of South Korea (Fig. 9-20) reveals several of these achievements, most notably the metropolitan agglomeration formed by Seoul (the capital) and neighboring Incheon, which today constitutes one of Asia's greatest urban complexes and contains about one‐quarter of the country's population. Even before democracy took hold, South Korea's rulers decided to further enhance the country's infrastructure by introducing a high‐ speed, bullet‐train network to connect Seoul to the traditionally separated subregions of Geyongsang and Jeolla. For a long time, workers in parts of the country not favored by politicians and manufacturers had trouble finding employment in fast‐growing industrial areas, an economic‐geographic pattern that has still not completely been erased. As regional integration progressed, the southeastern subregion of Geyongsang, centered on the city of Busan, was always ahead of the southwest, where Jeolla was historically marginalized by the powers in Seoul. Today Geyongsang remains in the lead: here 300,000‐ton tankers are built along with smaller freighters and warships; here are the famous Hyundai and Kia automobile plants; and here is the home base of POSCO, headquartered in Pohang, one of the world's largest steelmaking corporations. Despite all this success, surveys indicate that the South Koreans are not especially happy as a society. Undoubtedly, a major factor is the stress level associated with the ever‐present danger of an attack from bellicose North Korea. But there is another dimension that goes beyond the North‐South contrasts. In states that achieve great economic success, women tend to participate in the action even if they are not paid as well as men. Yet South Korea's triumphant story is often recounted as being dominated by males, despite the remarkable contribution of female workers to the economic miracle, especially their labor activism that resulted in much improved working conditions throughout the country. Nonetheless, the proportion of women gainfully employed in South Korea today is still not representative of a developed economy, and the number of women holding senior positions remains disturbingly low. Hopes that this serious gender gap may finally be addressed have risen since 2013 when Park Geun‐hye, the daughter of a postwar South Korean dictator, took office as the country's first female president.
-Japan consists of four main islands—Honshu, the largest; Hokkaido to the north; and Shikoku and Kyushu to the south—in addition to numerous small islands and islets (Fig. 9-21). Most of the country is mountainous and steep‐sloped, geologically young, earthquake‐prone, and studded with volcanoes. A mere 18 percent of the country is considered to be habitable. Japan's high‐relief topography has compressed its economic development. Except for the ancient capital of Kyoto, all of Japan's major cities are perched along the coast, and virtually all lie partly on artificial land reclaimed from the sea. Sailing into Kobe harbor near Osaka (the country's second‐ largest city), one passes artificial islands designed for high‐volume shipping and connected to the mainland by automatic, space‐age trains. Enter Tokyo Bay, and the refineries and factories to the east and west stand on huge expanses of landfill that have pushed the bay's shoreline outward. With just over 127 million people, seven‐eighths of whom reside in towns and cities, Japan uses its habitable living space very intensively—and expands it wherever possible. As Figure 9-21 indicates, farmland in Japan is both limited and regionally fragmented. Urban sprawl has invaded much of the cultivable land. In the hinterland of Tokyo, around Osaka, and surrounding Nagoya, major farming zones are under relentless urban pressure. All three of these lowlands lie within Japan's fragmented but well‐defined core area (delimited by the red line on the map), the heart of the country's prodigious manufacturing complex.
-Japan is a remarkable country that despite its poor natural endowments (except for its advantageous location) has done extremely well. It became the dominant power of East and Southeast Asia through military force prior to World War II, and its postwar economic miracle astounded the world. In the 1970s and 1980s, people referred to East and Southeast Asia as the "Yen Bloc," one that was dominated by the Japanese economy. The country defeated the odds by calling on organizational efficiency, massive productivity, dedication to quality, and tight adherence to common goals. Keep in mind that this has always been an exceptionally homogeneous, collectively oriented, and consensus‐ minded nation with a strong work ethic and a deep‐seated conviction that common interests override those of the individual. It is hard to overestimate this cultural context in Japan's outstanding achievements, even if it can become a liability, as when collective rigidity impedes adaptation to new circumstances.
-More concretely, Japan dealt with its own limited geographic opportunities by engaging the alternatives. Look at Figure 9-6 as well as Figure 9-21 and note Japan's substantial reliance on nuclear energy—a strategy not without major risks in this earthquake‐ prone region, as became so painfully clear in the aftermath of the catastrophic Tohoku quake/tsunami in 2011 (see Fig. 9-2). Most important of all, Japan had no choice but to engage other countries, near and far, in order to compensate for what it does not possess itself. Japan, therefore, became wealthy through trade, imported raw materials, the accomplished production and processing of high‐value‐added goods, and the ability to turn these goods into lucrative exports.
-At the end of the 1980s, it seemed that Japan's meteoric rise had been so prodigious that it would only be a matter of time before it would surpass even the United States' economy. But everything came to a rather sudden halt during the early 1990s, and Japan has unexpectedly been stuck in a rut ever since. This now more than 20‐year‐long economic slowdown had many causes, ranging from government mismanagement and inefficiency to intensifying international competition (such as from South Korean cars and Taiwanese electronic products). One cause of the slowdown was Japan's deficiency in adaptability: its culturally embedded economic system could not cope with rapidly changing conditions. With bankruptcy a near‐taboo due to the tight internal networks of firms and their tradition of social responsibility, weak companies were often kept alive. This kind of economic sclerosis greatly inhibits the creation of new businesses (the United States in any given year has three times the number of start‐ups as Japan and twice the number of bankruptcies).
-Japan's conservative business culture had now become a liability. Whereas women constitute an ever greater share of Japan's highly educated workforce, only 7 percent of all senior management executives are female (compared to 20 percent in the United States and 31 percent in China). For the first time in decades, Japan suffered a crisis of confidence and, more tangibly, something unfamiliar to the burgeoning Japan of the late twentieth century— rising unemployment. Faced with much leaner economic times, men especially seemed to seek refuge in the past as growing numbers preferred to stay with the same stagnant big companies instead of launching their own businesses. Japan is a rapidly aging society as well, projected to decline from 127 million today to barely 97 million in 2050 and less than 60 million by the end of this century. It faces an enormous and increasing demographic burden 18: by 2025, it is projected there will be only two workers for every retiree. Ethnically uniform Japan has historically resisted immigration, so when the government tried to recruit ethnic Japanese living in Brazil (and elsewhere) to return home, the experiment was not very successful. Therefore, a shrinking base of qualified workers threatens the government's capacity to sustain social programs for all.
-Still another set of problems has to do with Japan's international relations. Japan never signed a peace treaty with the (then) Soviet Union after World War II because the Russians had occupied and refused to return four small island groups in the Kurile chain northeast of Hokkaido (Fig. 9-21). Failed negotiations for the return of these "Northern Territories," as the Japanese call them, have cost Japan the opportunity to play a key role in the economic development of the Russian Far East, where crucial energy as well as mineral resources abound. Furthermore, relations with both South and North Korea are troubled—with the South over ownership of a small island group in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) and over memories of Japanese misconduct during World War II; and with the North over the kidnapping of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents and, above all else, the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons development. And add to all this a number of lingering issues with China over Japanese actions during the colonial and wartime periods as well as the Senkaku Islands dispute
-is not a large island. It is smaller than Switzerland but has a much larger population (23.6 million), most of it concentrated in a crescent lining the western and northern coasts. The Chungyang Mountains, an area of high elevations (some more than 3000 meters [10,000 ft]), steep slopes, and dense forests, dominate the eastern half of the island. Westward, these mountains yield to a zone of hilly topography and, facing the Taiwan Strait, a wide, substantial coastal plain. Streams from the mountains irrigate the paddyfields, and farm production has more than doubled since 1950, even though hundreds of thousands of farmers have left the land for employment in Taiwan's booming industrial sector. Today, the lowland urban‐industrial corridor lining western Taiwan is anchored by the capital, Taipei, at the island's northern end and rapidly growing Kaohsiung in the far south. The Japanese developed Chilung, Taipei's outport, to export nearby coal, but now the raw materials flow the other way. Taiwan imports raw cotton for its textile industry, bauxite (aluminum ore) from Indonesia, oil from Brunei, and iron ore from Africa. Taiwan has a growing steel industry, nuclear power plants, shipyards, a substantial chemical industry, and modern transport networks. Most of all, it has become a leading producer and exporter of high‐technology products, especially personal computers, telecommunications equipment, and precision electronic instruments. Taiwan offers a wide range of brainpower resources, and many foreign firms join in the research and development effort. Assisted by the government, a world‐class technopole 19, focusing on microelectronics and personal‐computer development, has been established at Hsinchu on the northwestern coast (see photo pair). Farther south, the budding "science city" of Tainan specializes in microsystems and information‐technology innovations.
-The creation of China's Special Economic Zones went a long way toward mitigating longstanding problems between Beijing and Taipei. China needed investment capital and Taiwan had it, and in the almost‐anything‐goes environment of the SEZs, Taiwanese entrepreneurs could buy or build factories just as "real" foreigners were able to do. In fact, the Xiamen SEZ was laid out directly across from Taiwan for this purpose (people there will tell you that almost all of the locals have relatives across the Taiwan Strait). Consequently, thousands of Taiwanese‐owned factories began operating in the PRC, their owners and investors having a strong interest in avoiding violent confrontation over political issues.
1. Southeast Asia extends from the peninsular mainland to the archipelagos offshore. Because Indonesia controls part of New Guinea, its functional region reaches from the Southeast Asian geographic realm into the neighboring Pacific realm.
2. Southeast Asia has been a shatter belt between powerful adversaries and displays a fractured cultural and political geography shaped by foreign intervention.
3. Southeast Asia's physiography is dominated by high relief, crustal instability marked by volcanic activity and earthquakes, and tropical climates.
4. A majority of Southeast Asia's 620 million people live on the islands of just two countries: Indonesia, with the world's fourth‐largest population, and the Philippines. The rate of population increase in the Insular region of Southeast Asia exceeds that of the Mainland region.
5. Although the great majority of Southeast Asians have the same ancestry, cultural divisions and local traditions abound, which the realm's divisive physiography nurtures.
6. The Mekong River, Southeast Asia's Danube, has its source in China and borders or traverses five Southeast Asian countries, sustaining tens of millions of farmers, fishing people, and boat owners.
7. Singapore is the leading world-city in Southeast Asia and lies at the realm's center of trade and business relations.
8. Southeast Asia contains a number of rapidly emerging markets and fast‐growing economies that in certain respects imitate development in the neighboring realm of East Asia.
9. China's influence in this realm has increased markedly in recent years and in several instances has triggered a local backlash.
-The giant of this realm, both territorially and demographically, is the far‐flung archipelago 3 (island chain) of Indonesia, labeled appropriately in Figure 10-1 by the largest lettering. In its easternmost sector, the Indonesian state extends beyond the Southeast Asian realm into the Pacific realm because it controls the western half of a large island—New Guinea—whose indigenous peoples are not Southeast Asian.
-On the Asian mainland, as noted above, Southeast Asia is bordered by China and India, both sources of immigrants, cultural infusions, economic initiatives, and other relationships evident in the realm's cultural landscapes. Also originating there are rivers that play a pivotal role in the lives of many millions of people south of the realm border. As we will find, the core areas of many of Southeast Asia's most populous countries are located in the basins of major rivers whose sources lie inside China.
-North of Indonesia lies the Philippines, well known to Americans because this was once an American colony and is still a source of many immigrants to the United States. Also north of Indonesia is Malaysia, easy to find on the map because its core area lies on the long Malay Peninsula that almost connects mainland Asia with Indonesia. At the tip of that peninsula lies another famous geographic locality: Singapore, the spectacular economic success story of Southeast Asia and a world-city by every measure.
-In the realm's mainland component, the name Vietnam still resonates in America, which fought a bitter and costly war there in the 1960s and 1970s. As the map shows, Vietnam looks like an elongated strip of land extending from its border with China to the delta of the greatest of all Southeast Asian rivers, the Mekong. Looking westward, neighboring Laos and Cambodia may not be all that familiar, but next comes centrally positioned Thailand, the dream (and reality) of millions of tourists and one of the world's most fascinating countries. And then, on the realm's western margin, we come to Myanmar (formerly Burma): here human potential, natural endowment, and opportunity were thwarted by a half‐century of extremely harsh military rule that plunged the country into devastating poverty—but that quite unexpectedly relaxed its vise‐like grip in 2012 and reopened Myanmar to the world.
-Palm oil is used worldwide in processed foods and myriad other products. This form of commercial agriculture is quite lucrative because the yield of oil palms per hectare (equal to 2.5 acres) is much higher than the yield of such competing edible oil crops as soybeans and sunflowers. Moreover, the price of this commodity on global markets has risen steadily over the past several years, triggering successive rounds of production increases. Malaysia and Indonesia have benefited the most, together accounting for 90 percent of the world's palm oil. But because these countries take advantage of economies of scale and produce palm oil on huge, ever‐expanding plantations, this crop has become the single biggest threat to tropical forest preservation (Fig. 10-2; see photo). Most at risk for survival are such key wildlife species as orangutans, pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos, and tigers.
-Borneo's tropical forests are a remnant of a much larger stand of equatorial rainforest that once covered most of this realm. Besides Borneo, eastern Sumatera still contains limited expanses of rainforest, including a few orangutan sanctuaries. So does less populous and more remote New Guinea, which was never reached by these great apes. As we noted in the introductory chapter, equatorial rainforests can still be found today in three low‐latitude zones: the Amazon Basin of South America, west‐equatorial Africa, and here in Southeast Asia. The climatic conditions that sustain these forests—persistently warm temperatures and year‐ round rainfall—produce the biologically richest and ecologically most complex vegetation regions on Earth. Enormous numbers and varieties of trees and other plants grow in very close proximity, vying for space and sunlight both horizontally and vertically. Yet despite all this luxuriant growth, the soils beneath rainforests are nutrient poor. Most of the surface nutrients are derived from the decaying vegetation on the forest floor, which nurture the growth of the next generation of plants. Long‐term indigenous inhabitants have developed methods of shifting cultivation to use these soils, plants, and animals to eke out a living—but when migrant farmers from elsewhere remove the trees to utilize the soil, mistakenly assuming it will be able to support their crops, failure swiftly results. This reality notwithstanding, intensifying population pressure throughout the tropics continues to shrink what remains of the world's rainforests
-From its headwaters high in the frozen uplands of China's Qinghai‐Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau, the Mekong River rushes and flows some 4200 kilometers (2600 mi) to its delta in southernmost Vietnam. This "Danube of Southeast Asia" traverses or borders five of the realm's countries, supporting rice farmers and fishing people, forming a vital transport route where roads are few, and providing electricity from dams upstream. Tens of millions of people depend on the waters of the Mekong, from subsistence farmers in Cambodia to apartment dwellers in China. The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is one of the realm's most densely populated areas and produces enormous harvests of rice. The Mekong Basin as a whole (mapped in green in Fig. 10-3) is reputed to be the world's largest and most productive area for freshwater fishing.
-But the Mekong is increasingly under threat, and so are the livelihoods of millions in its Basin, as demand for hydroelectric power accelerates all across mainland Southeast Asia. To the north, China has already built seven dams for generating hydropower, and many more are either under construction or planned (Fig. 10-3). And in the Mekong's middle basin, impoverished Laos considers hydropower its most strategic commodity and promising route to development, and is making big plans to sell much of that energy to China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Favored by its hilly terrain, Laos is planning seven new dams, and even its lowland downstream neighbor, Cambodia, wants to build another three.
-Among these projects, it is the ongoing construction of the Xayaburi Dam in Laos that has by far drawn the most attention and criticism from environmental activists because it sits squarely in the Mekong's main stream (Fig. 10-3; see photo). As such, it will substantially reduce the river's downstream transportation of silt, the alluvial sediment that is highly crucial to the formation of fertile soils on the floodplains of central Cambodia and particularly the massive delta in southern Vietnam. And the sheer number of dams planned for the Mekong Basin is certain to damage ecosystems all along the Southeast Asian courses of the river and its tributaries (starting with the disruption of the migratory routes of freshwater fish). In the long run, therefore, prioritizing energy over environment and even food production may well prove to be a disastrous choice.
-Political boundaries define and delimit states. They also create the mosaic of interlocking territories that give individual countries their shape or state territorial configuration 6. A country's shape can affect its condition, and in certain cases even its survival. Vietnam's extreme elongation has influenced its existence since time immemorial. And, as noted later in this chapter, Indonesia has tried to redress its fragmented layout—consisting of thousands of far‐flung islands—by promoting unity through the "transmigration" of residents from its most populous, core‐area island (Jawa) to many of the others.
-Political geographers have identified five major categories of state territorial configuration, all of which we have encountered in our world regional survey but have not classified until now. All but one of these prototypical shapes can be seen on the political map of Southeast Asia,* and Figure 10-4 displays the terminology and examples: • Compact states 7 have territories shaped somewhere between round and rectangular, without major indentations. This encloses a maximum amount of territory within a minimum length of boundary. Southeast Asian example: Cambodia. • Protruded states 8 (sometimes called extended) have a substantial, usually compact territory from which extends a peninsular or other corridor that may be landlocked or coastal. Southeast Asian examples: Thailand and Myanmar. • Elongated states 9 (also known as attenuated) have territorial dimensions in which the length is at least six times the average width, creating a state that lies astride environmental and/or cultural transitions. Southeast Asian example: Vietnam. • Fragmented states 10 consist of two or more territorial units separated by foreign territory or a substantial body of water. Subtypes include mainland‐mainland, mainland‐island, and island‐island. Southeast Asian examples: Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and East Timor.
-For so comparatively small a realm, the 11 countries of Southeast Asia display a considerable variety of shapes. But one note of caution: states' territorial configurations do not determine their viability, cohesion, unity, or lack thereof; they can, however, influence these characteristics. Cambodia's compactness, for instance, has not ameliorated its divisive political geography.
-also perforated state: a completely surrounded territory by another state
-huge concentration of people on a relatively small island in Indonesia—a cluster larger than any other in the realm, the four mainland river deltas included. This is Jawa, and its population of close to 150 million not only accounts for well over half of Indonesia's national total but also exceeds that of every other country in the realm. This population concentration is particularly noteworthy because Indonesia is not yet a highly urbanized country. Today half of all Indonesians still live in rural areas, and although Jawa is the country's most urbanized island, more than 60 million of its inhabitants still live off the land. What makes all this possible is a combination of highly fertile volcanic soil, abundant water, and extremely warm temperatures that enable Jawa's farmers to raise three crops of rice in a single paddy during a single year, helping feed a national population still growing faster than the global average. But we should also be aware that the thickest red clusters on Jawa denote fast‐growing urban areas, cornerstones in the building of a new economy with increasingly global linkages.
-Within Indonesia, the contrasts between Jawa and the four other major islands—Sumatera, Borneo (Kalimantan), Sulawesi, and most especially Indonesian New Guinea—reflect the core‐ periphery relationship between these two sectors of the country. As the map suggests, similar contrasts, less sharply defined, also mark other Southeast Asian countries, and the primate cities of this realm (such as Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur) are particularly dominant. In fact, Vietnam even contains two such anchors, which respectively represent its historic northern (Hanoi) and southern (Ho Chi Minh City) core areas (Fig. 10-4).
-The states of Southeast Asia are not, by world standards, especially populous. Indonesia today is the world's fourth‐ranking country in population size (just over 250 million), but no other Southeast Asian country contains even half that total. Three mainland countries— Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar—contain between 50 and 100 million people. But take Laos, quite a large country territorially (about the size of the United Kingdom) and note that its population is less than 7 million; similarly, Cambodia, half the size of Germany, is home to only slightly more than 15.5 million. In part, such modest numbers on the mainland reflect natural conditions less favorable to farming than those prevailing on volcanic soils or in fertile river basins; but more generally, this realm did not grow as explosively as neighboring realms did during the past century. Indeed, four countries in Southeast Asia (the three big mainland states just mentioned plus Singapore) are now growing at a rate below the global average of 1.2 percent annually.
-Southeast Asia's peoples come from a common stock just as (Caucasian) Europeans do, but this has not prevented the emergence of regionally or locally discrete ethnic or cultural groups. Figure 10-6 displays the broad distribution of ethnolinguistic groups in the realm, but be aware that this is a generalization. At the scale of this map, myriad smaller groups cannot be represented (for example, Myanmar alone has some 135 different ethnic groups). Figure 10-6 shows the rough spatial coincidence on the mainland between major ethnic group and contemporary political state. The Burman dominate in the country formerly called Burma (now Myanmar); the Thai inhabit the state once known as Siam (now Thailand); the Khmer form the nation of Cambodia and extend northward into Laos; and the Vietnamese occupy the long strip of territory facing the South China Sea.
-Territorially, by far the largest population mapped in Figure 10-6 is classified as Indonesian, the inhabitants of the great island chain that extends from Sumatera west of the Malay Peninsula to the Malukus (Moluccas) in the east and from the Lesser Sunda Islands in the south to the Philippines in the north. Collectively, all of these peoples shown on the map—the Filipinos, Malays, and Indonesians—are known as Indonesians, but they have been divided by history and politics. And note as well that the Indonesians in Indonesia itself include Javanese, Madurese, Sundanese, Balinese, and other major groups; moreover, hundreds of smaller groups again cannot be mapped at this scale. In the Philippines, too, island isolation and contrasting ways of life are reflected in the cultural mosaic. Also part of this Indonesian ethnic‐cultural complex are the Malays, whose heartland lies on the Malay Peninsula but who form minorities in other areas as well. Like most Indonesians, the Malays are Muslims, although Islam is a more powerful force within Malay society than it generally is in Indonesian culture.
-In the northern margins of mainland Southeast Asia, numerous minorities inhabit remote corners of the countries in which the Burman (Burmese), Thai, and Vietnamese dominate. Those minorities tend to occupy such peripheral areas because the terrain is mountainous and the forest is dense, thereby hindering the governments of their national states from exerting complete control. This remoteness and sense of detachment give rise to aspirations of secession, or at least resistance to government efforts to establish full authority, often resulting in bitter ethnic conflict.
-By far, the largest immigrant minority in Southeast Asia is of Chinese origin. The Chinese began arriving here during the Ming and early Qing (Manchu) dynasties, with the largest exodus occurring in the late colonial period (1870-1940), when as many as 20 million immigrated. The European powers at first encouraged this influx, employing the Chinese in administration and trade. These Overseas Chinese 11 soon began to congregate in the realm's major cities, where they established Chinatowns and gained control over much of the local commerce. By the time the Europeans tried to limit Chinese immigration, World War II was about to break out and the colonial era would end soon thereafter.
-Most migrants originated in southern China's Fujian and Guangdong provinces, and a large number invested much of their wealth back in China when the country opened up to foreign businesses in the 1980s. Clearly, the Overseas Chinese of Southeast Asia have played a significant role in shaping the PRC's economic miracle. Today, Southeast Asia is home to about 27 million Overseas Chinese, more than half of this Sinic diaspora's worldwide total. Their lives here have often been challenging. The Japanese relentlessly persecuted Chinese living in Malaya during World War II. Later, in the 1960s, Chinese in Indonesia were accused of communist sympathies, and hundreds of thousands were killed. In the late 1990s, Indonesian mobs again attacked Chinese and their property because they resented their relative wealth—and because many Chinese had converted to Christianity during the colonial era and were now targeted by Islamic throngs. Such hostility continues to smolder in various parts of Southeast Asia, and episodic flare‐ups against the Chinese can be expected to persist.
-During this decade, Singapore is experiencing its own unique challenges with the latest wave of Overseas Chinese. Unique, because the overwhelming majority of native Singaporeans are themselves of Chinese descent—even though they are third‐, fourth‐, or fifth‐generation, and have to varying degrees blended in with surrounding Malay culture (Singapore and Malaya were both part of the same British colonial entity for more than 130 years before independence in the 1960s). However, that shared Sinic ethnicity has not prevented Singaporeans from becoming ever more critical of the ongoing influx of 'newly rich' mainland Chinese. Resentment continues to rise concerning the role of purportedly arrogant, wealthy, immigrants in driving up real‐estate prices, commandeering the best jobs, and disrespecting the city‐state's strict codes of public behavior. Overall, this clash increasingly erodes social relations because 'old' Chinese and 'new' Chinese today refer to distinctly different identities within Singapore's multicultural mosaic.
-When the European colonizers arrived in Southeast Asia, they encountered a patchwork of kingdoms, sultanates, principalities, and other traditional political entities whose leaders they tried to co‐opt, overpower, or otherwise fold into their imperial schemes. These colonizers forged empires here, often by playing one state off against another; the Europeans divided and ruled. Out of this foreign intervention emerged the modern map of Southeast Asia, and only Thailand (formerly Siam) survived the colonial era as an independent entity—because it conveniently served as a buffer between the French sphere to the east and the British to the west.
-The colonial powers divided their possessions into administrative units as they did in Africa and elsewhere. Some of these political entities became independent states when the colonial powers withdrew or were ousted by force. The French named their empire Indochina 12. The Indo part of Indochina refers to cultural imprints received from South Asia: the Hindu presence; the importance of Buddhism, which came to Southeast Asia via Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and its seafaring merchants; the influences of Indian architecture and art (especially sculpture), writing, and literature as well as social structures. The China in the name Indochina signifies the role of the Chinese here: its emperors coveted Southeast Asian lands, and China's power penetrated deep into this realm. French Indochina consisted of present‐day Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
-The British ruled a pair of major entities in Southeast Asia— Burma and Malaya—in addition to a large part of northern Borneo and many small islands in the South China Sea. Burma (now Myanmar) became independent in 1948 and the Federation of Malaysia was created in 1963 by the political unification of recently independent mainland Malaya, Singapore, and the former British dependencies on the largely Indonesian island of Borneo. Singapore, however, left this Federation in 1965 to become a sovereign city‐state, and the remaining components were later restructured into peninsular Malaysia and, on Borneo, Sarawak and Sabah. Thus the term Malaya properly refers to the geographic territory of the Malay Peninsula, including Singapore and other nearby islands; the term Malaysia identifies the politico‐geographical entity of which Kuala Lumpur is the capital.
-The Dutch had come to Southeast Asia in the late sixteenth century, primarily attracted by the so‐called spice trade, and they ended up controlling most of what is now Indonesia. Among the plants domesticated by the local people on these islands of the "East Indies" were black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, and other condiments essential to flavorful meals. In Figure 10-1 you can detect, in eastern Indonesia between Sulawesi and New Guinea, a group of small islands called the Maluku Islands (formerly the Moluccas). The Dutch colonizers called these the Spice Islands because of the lucrative commerce in spices long carried on by Arab, Indian, and Chinese traders. Java (Jawa), the most populous and productive island, became the focus of Dutch administration; from its capital at Batavia (now Jakarta), Dutch colonialism threw a girdle around Indonesia's more than 17,000 islands, paving the way for the creation of the realm's largest and most populous state that is now home to a quarter‐billion people. Finally, the Philippines were controlled by Spain since 1571. But these colonizers were confronted with a major uprising here just as the Spanish‐American War broke out over the Caribbean island of Cuba in 1898 (there, as well, the locals revolted against Spanish domination). As part of the settlement of that brief war, the victorious United States replaced Spain in Manila as colonial proprietor and eventually guided the Philippines to independence in 1946. Today all 11 of Southeast Asia's states are independent, but centuries of imperial rule have left deeply embedded cultural imprints. In its urban landscapes, education systems, languages, and many other spheres, Southeast Asia will long carry the legacies of its colonial past.
-With its soaring per‐capita income, there can be little doubt that Singapore is the economic heart of Southeast Asia. With a mere 5.4 million citizens and only 619 square kilometers (240 sq mi) of territory, we are obviously not referring to size—this is all about the connections and centrality that enable Singapore to function as the leading node 14 in a realmwide economic network. At the same time, geographers also rank Singapore as a top‐tier worldcity because it has major international linkages and exerts global influence. Singapore's container port is not only the largest in the realm but also the second‐biggest in the world, underscoring its key role within and far beyond Southeast Asia
-Singapore's commanding regional position is the result of its exceptional relative location. In the seventeenth century, it was Malacca farther up the Malay Peninsula that was the leading hub for trade and shipping in Southeast Asia. The Strait of Malacca (Fig. 10-8), named after that town, was already the most important sea route, providing access to the realm's waters for ships coming from the west. When the British sought to displace Dutch dominance here during the eighteenth century, they discovered an even better local base of operations: Singapore Island. Because it possessed a larger and deeper natural harbor than Malacca to accommodate the larger steamships of the time, Singapore swiftly rose to prominence as the British consolidated their power over this key corner of the world.
-Most importantly, Singapore today is a symbol of modernity, a model for Southeast Asia's future. Throughout the realm, those who can afford it go there to shop, to connect to international flights, to transact business, to invest in real estate, or to send their children to one of the city‐state's highly ranked universities.
-The overall development of Southeast Asia still has a long way to go. Political stability and increased regional integration will facilitate the process, and that is the long‐term goal of ASEAN 15, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Founded during the late 1960s, this supranational organization has primarily been concerned with security. But that has been a constantly challenging effort because a wide range of conditions mark its ten member‐states. With the lone exception of minuscule East Timor, ASEAN encompasses all of the realm's countries. These include one influential city‐state (Singapore); an Islamic oil state (Brunei); two impoverished communist regimes (Vietnam and Laos); and a reforming military dictatorship whose population is rising from the ranks of the world's most deprived (Myanmar).
-Another problem that ASEAN has failed to resolve, one that literally affects health across much of this realm, is the recurrent air pollution caused by Indonesia's massive, human‐ignited forest fires. Depending upon weather conditions and prevailing winds, thick plumes of smoke emanating from Indonesia's Sumatera (where most of the burning occurs, often to enlarge oil palm plantations) stream out toward Jawa, Singapore, Malaysia, and countries farther afield. Repeatedly, Singapore's government has had to advise residents to stay indoors (a new record‐high pollution level was set in 2013). Indonesia has been especially slow to address this environmental crisis and even refused to ratify the 2002 ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.
-In 1992, 25 years after its founding, ASEAN was able to expand into the economic domain through AFTA 16, the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, and here the payoff has been more substantial. AFTA has both engendered the lowering of tariffs and encouraged the expansion of trade within Southeast Asia. With lower wages than China, certain foreign‐investment flows (e.g., in the garment industry) have shifted to Southeast Asia. And intra‐realm trade has indeed surged in recent years—a critical forward step to avoid being completely overshadowed by China.
-Since the turn of this century, Southeast Asia has increasingly been drawn into the economic (and political) orbit of China. In 2010, ASEAN and China concluded a landmark free‐trade agreement, with the Chinese most interested in acquiring raw materials from mainland Southeast Asia as well as accessing the realm's growing export markets.
-East Asia and Southeast Asia are now steadily growing closer economically. This heightened interaction is not only about trade but also about investment flows, industrial development, divisions of labor, and infrastructural integration. With wages in Southeast Asia currently about one‐third of China's, this differential is fueling the relocation of much industrial activity from China to Southeast Asian countries. Those manufactures are then exported directly from—for example, Vietnam—to China and/or other parts of the world. Increasingly, it is low‐skill jobs that move to Southeast Asia, whereas the better‐paying higher‐skilled jobs remain in China.
-In order to facilitate the increased production and transportation of goods within as well as to and from China, the Chinese established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2015. The AIIB's members include most of the realm's states, and several European countries plus New Zealand have also joined (the United States, for geopolitical reasons, has not). With the Chinese now investing heavily to exploit Southeast Asia's raw materials, infrastructural improvements to upgrade connections to China are a leading priority. Most important of all is the high‐speed rail network originating in Kunming, interior southern China's routeway hub for continental Southeast Asia and capital of Yunnan Province. The main rail corridor leads south from Kunming across northern Laos to Vientiane, the Laotian capital on the Mekong River that also forms the border with Thailand. From there, state‐of‐the‐art rail lines will fan out in stages to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and eventually Singapore. Another high‐priority project is the recently completed pair of oil and gas pipelines from Myanmar's Indian Ocean coast to Kunming
-As a result of this Chinese regional economic stimulation, Southeast Asia is growing faster than any other developing realm. And since the building of this inter‐realm relationship has been fast‐tracked, East and Southeast Asia are already more economically integrated than either North America with Middle America or Europe with Africa. Yet even though China's boost to the realm's economic development has been quite successful so far, there is another side to this story. Because the Chinese have not been reticent in asserting themselves, their continuing drive for dominance is creating both uneasiness and growing concern in a number of the realm's quarters. Some of this anxiety stems from China's sheer economic prowess, which produces rather asymmetrical relationships; for instance, many infrastructure projects are formidable joint ventures that require comparatively larger investments from these much smaller Southeast Asian states. And, as is usually the case, the benefits are more favorable for China than for the host nation. Moreover, this issue is not entirely about economics: for countries such as Vietnam or Japan, historic sensitivities and/or longstanding rivalries inevitably come into play. Still another issue is a perceived lack of Chinese diplomacy as well as consideration for regional and national interests.
-If China's economic role in Southeast Asia is frequently viewed with mixed feelings, its recent geopolitical and military forays are increasingly met with indignation and opposition. Much of this revolves around China's maritime ambitions and its claims to territorial waters in the South China Sea. Since 2009, the PRC government has circulated its so‐called nine‐dashed‐line map 17 displaying Chinese claims in these waters—a map said to date back to 1949, the year the PRC was founded. The 'nine dashes' refer to the delimitation of Chinese maritime claims that effectively cover most of the South China Sea
-includes some 40 islands (which China says are illegally occupied by other countries) as well as international shipping lanes and seafloor zones potentially rich in deposits of petroleum and natural gas. The disputes and conflicts over territorial waters in the South China Sea are numerous and complicated. The most important concern: (1) the Paracel Islands, claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam; (2) the Spratly Islands, claimed by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei; and (3) the Scarborough Shoal, claimed by China, Taiwan, and the Philippines (Fig. 10-10). ASEAN has been rather hopelessly divided on these geopolitical controversies, with Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines strongly countering Chinese claims; Cambodia and Laos (tacitly) supporting China; and Singapore and Indonesia trying to steer a more neutral, diplomatic course.
-United States has declared its neutrality on the matter of who owns which islands and shoals, it has emphasized the paramount importance of free and open international access to the waters of the South China Sea. Why? Because this is one of the most essential maritime trade corridors in the world. Think not only of the major shipping routes within the Southeast Asian realm that interconnect its chief ports of Singapore, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, and Jakarta, but also of all the intercontinental trade coming from the west—from Europe and Africa as well as South and Southwest Asia—that passes through the Strait of Malacca, around Singapore, and then across the South China Sea on the way to Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and China itself (not to mention all the seaborne cargoes that are constantly transported along this route in the opposite direction). According to some estimates, nearly half of all international oceanic trade passes through the South China Sea.
-Vietnam officially became a unified state in 1976, and since then the contrasts between north and south have slowly diminished. The northern capital, Hanoi, has long lagged behind bustling Saigon (now renamed Ho Chi Minh City to honor North Vietnam's revolutionary leader), but today its growing skyline reflects modernization and the overland links to its outport of Haiphong have been upgraded. With 3.6 million residents, Hanoi anchors the northern (Tonkin Plain) core area of Vietnam, the lower basin of the Red River (its agricultural hinterland). A leading development focus in Vietnam since 2000 has been the expansion of agricultural production. One result is that the country now ranks among the world's five leading coffee producers; however, because Vietnam's mass‐produced bulk coffee is raised plantation‐style in the sun, the diffusion of this crop into the interior highlands has sparked substantial deforestation, worsening the annual monsoon‐related floods that plague this now‐ unstable countryside. Other major Vietnamese crops, led by rice, include rubber, tea, sugar, and spices—all with increasingly favorable export opportunities.
-The south has experienced more significant change and faster economic growth (see photo pair) as the country has opened up to the global economy. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is a burgeoning metropolis of 7.3 million, propelled by the rapid development of the east bank of the Saigon River, which includes a Chinese‐style Special Economic Zone as well as the booming New Saigon business/residential district. In fact, the Saigon area now accounts for more than a quarter of Vietnam's industrial output and about a third of its tax revenues.
-Somewhat ironically, Vietnam these days has become one of the most pro‐American countries in Southeast Asia despite its persistence as a communist state. Undoubtedly, these good feelings toward their former enemy in the "American War" at least partially reflect the growing perception of dominance by China, against whom the United States can provide a counterbalance. As noted above, American‐Vietnamese relations have warmed considerably during the 2010s
-Today, more than 85 percent of Cambodia's 15.1 million inhabitants are ethnic Khmers, with most of the remainder divided between Vietnamese and Chinese. The present capital, Phnom Penh, lies on the Mekong River, which crosses Cambodia before it enters and forms its massive delta in Vietnam (Fig. 10-12).
-From 1970 to 1976, Cambodia suffered one of the most brutal and murderous regimes of the twentieth century. The so‐called Khmer Rouge (Red Khmer, the name being a reference to its self‐ declared communist convictions and to the glorious past of the Khmer people) embarked on a malevolent course of terror and destruction in order to reconstruct Kampuchea—as leader Pol Pot referred to Cambodia—as a rural society. They drove townspeople into the countryside where they had no place to live or work, emptied hospitals to send the sick and dying into the streets, and outlawed both religion and family. By the time they were ousted from power by neighboring Vietnamese forces, as many as 2 million Cambodians (out of a population of 8 million at the time) had lost their lives in what forever will be known as the Cambodian Genocide.
-The long‐lasting effects of social and economic dislocation, especially in the countryside, have still not been overcome. Today, despite Cambodia's continuing status as one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries, it has finally begun to achieve meaningful economic growth. Income from oil exports began in 2012 (from newly discovered reserves off the coast) and could approach U.S. $2 billion annually by the end of this decade. Investments from abroad are multiplying, mostly from producers seeking to relocate their operations out of China (where wages are steadily rising) in order to capitalize on the much lower cost of labor in Cambodia and other disadvantaged Southeast Asian countries. Cambodians also are optimistic that tourism, largely focused on the Angkor temple complex in the northwest, is growing and may soon become a mainstay of the economy.
-In virtually every way, Thailand is the leading Mainland state. In contrast to its awakening neighbors, Thailand has been a strong participant in the realm's economic development for decades. This country of 67 million also exhibits some impressive demographic indicators: its annual growth rate is the lowest in the realm (even below Singapore's); it is the only Southeast Asian country whose projected 2050 population is lower than today's total (by some 8 percent); and Thailand leads its region in literacy and life expectancy. Its capital, Bangkok, is one of the world's most prominent primate cities 19 and the largest urban agglomeration in the Mainland region—on the verge of becoming a megacity with 9.3 million residents in 2015. As Figure 10-11 indicates, Thailand occupies the heart of the Mainland region. Even though it has no Red, Mekong, or Irrawaddy Delta, this country's central lowland is watered by a network of streams that flow off the northern highlands and the Khorat Plateau to the east. One of these waterways, the Chao Phraya, is the Mississippi of Thailand and forms the axis of the country's core area (Fig. 10-13). From the head of the Gulf of Thailand to Nakhon Sawan, this river is a highway for boat traffic. Barge trains loaded with rice head toward the coast, ferries move upstream, and freighters transport tin and tungsten (of which Thailand is among the world's leading producers).
-At least some of Thailand's internal political instability of recent decades can be attributed to the overreaching dominance of Bangkok and its elites as well as this primate city's long distance from the sizeable electorates of the more peripheral rural areas. Marked by frequent government turnovers and episodes of military intervention, Thailand has yet to face up to the challenge of legitimizing national politics across this sprawling, unevenly developed country. And given Bangkok's location, particularly in the context of Thailand's protruded territorial configuration, the task of national governance is not made any easier by the presence of a large Malaysian (and overwhelmingly Islamic) minority in the Malay Peninsula, Thailand's most remote corner that abuts the Malaysian border in the far south
-Myanmar's challenges are in some ways comparable to those of Thailand: both are protruded states, and in both cases the primary urban region is quite distant from the outermost rural peripheries (Fig. 10-14). Yangon (previously named Rangoon) is the country's main port, economic center, and primate city of nearly 5 million. In 2006, the military junta capriciously relocated the capital from Yangon 300 kilometers (200 mi) northward to a newly constructed headquarters named Naypyidaw, with the government asserting that its more central location would yield greater administrative efficiency as well as better protection against (unspecified) enemies. After a slow start, the new capital city now houses just over one million people, not far behind the population size of the second city, the precolonial hub of Mandalay in central Myanmar
-the peripheral peoples of Myanmar occupy significant parts of the country that are designated as seven different States. The majority Burman‐dominated areas (68 percent of a national population of 53.3 million) are designated as Divisions. Among the leading minorities, the Shan of the northeast and far north, who are related to the neighboring Thai, account for 9 percent of the population, or 4.8 million. The Kayin (Karen), who constitute 7 percent (3.7 million), live in the neck of Myanmar's protrusion and have proclaimed their desire to create an autonomous territory within a federal Myanmar. The Rohingyas (2.4 percent; 1.3 million) of Rakhine State on the northwestern coast comprise the besieged Muslim minority discussed earlier in this chapter, whose plight has now escalated into a refugee crisis of realmwide proportions. The Mon (2 percent; 1.1 million) were in what is today Myanmar long before the Burmans and even introduced Buddhism to the Irrawaddy Basin; today they still seek the return of ancestral lands from which they were ousted. When Myanmar finally shook off the excesses of dictatorship in the early 2010s and embraced long‐awaited reforms, it was hoped this would usher in a period of national progress and a more democratic society. To some extent, advances were made—political prisoners were freed, press censorship was largely ended, and long overdue elections took place. But a byproduct of the ending of that lengthy era of repression was the resurfacing of ugly, long‐simmering ethnic tensions. Besides the appalling ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya community in Rakhine State, there have been violent clashes in the northernmost State of Kachin between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army. This strife also has potential international ramifications because the Kachin people—800,000 strong, constituting 1.5 percent of Myanmar's population—are part of a larger ethnic community that spills across both the Chinese and Indian borders.
-Yet another challenge from the periphery is running its course in the mountainous eastern margins of Shan State, which has long been part of the infamous opium‐producing region known as the Golden Triangle 20. This name refers to the huge profitability of opium (the raw material of heroin, harvested from the sap of poppies) on the global market together with the triangular shape of this area that encompasses northwestern Laos and northernmost Thailand in addition to eastern Shan State (Fig. 10-14). Although poppy cultivation has almost been wiped out in Thailand, it is as strong as ever in Laos and especially Myanmar. Today, with only Afghanistan producing more opium than Myanmar, it is hard to discern if the Naypyidaw government is truly interested in clamping down on the opium trade: this illicit narcotic remains the source of enormous foreign revenues that, through elusive business connections, tend to find their way into the formal economy-including real estate transactions and infrastructural works in Myanmar's cities
-One portion of Malaysia's national territory lies on a continent and the other on one or more islands. The country is a colonial political artifice that combines a pair of decidedly disparate components into a single state: the southern end of the Malay Peninsula and the northern sector of the island of Borneo. These are referred to, respectively, as West Malaysia and East Malaysia (Fig. 10-11). The appellation "Malaysia" came into use in 1963, when the original Federation of Malaya, on the Malay Peninsula, was expanded to incorporate the territories of Sarawak and Sabah in Borneo. When the name Malaya is used, it refers to the peninsular part of the Federation, whereas Malaysia refers to the total political entity.
-The Malays of the peninsula constitute 50 percent of the country's population of 29.7 million. They possess a compelling cultural identity expressed in adherence to the Muslim faith, a common language, and a strong sense of territoriality. The Chinese came to the Malay Peninsula as well as to northern Borneo in substantial numbers during the colonial period, and now they account for roughly 23 percent of Malaysia's population. Hindu South Asians were in this area long before the Europeans, and for that matter before the Arabs and Islam arrived on these shores; today they still form a substantial minority of almost 7 percent of the population, clustered, like the Chinese, on the western side of the peninsula
-Malaysia's ethnic and racial groups have long coexisted in relative harmony, but relations today are marked by rising social tensions. As Malays increasingly assert claims based on 'majority rights,' the Chinese find themselves in much the same minority position that characterizes the Overseas Chinese across the realm. The Indian population is much smaller and feels ever more crowded out. Add religious tensions to the mix (that occasionally include Muslim demands for a separate Sharia legal system), and the notion of a common Malaysian identity now looks more fragile than ever before. The ruling ethnic Malay government extended its hold on power in the 2013 elections, but did so by the narrowest of margins—a sign of the country's deepening political polarization heightened by growing expressions of dissent among its minorities.
-The populous peninsular component of Malaysia remains the country's dominant sector, containing 11 of its 13 States and approximately 80 percent of its population. Here, the Malay‐ dominated government has very tightly controlled economic and social policies as it pursues nationwide modernization. The Strait of Malacca (Melaka) to the west continues to be one of the world's busiest and most strategic waterways, and forms yet another crucial choke point in the flow of resources and goods between major geographic realms. A longstanding problem in the Strait, which has sharply resurfaced in the mid‐2010s, is piracy.
-the 50,000‐ plus vessels that annually transit through it constitute fully one‐ third of the world's shipping and carry one‐quarter of its oil. Malaysia, despite the loss of Singapore and notwithstanding its recurrent ethnic troubles, has become a leading player in contemporary Southeast Asia. Its new Multimedia Supercorridor not only anchors the national core area but also showcases the country's commitment to twenty‐first‐century technology—symbolized by Putrajaya, the recently built high‐tech administrative capital. Elsewhere, the strong skills and modest wages of the local workforce have attracted many companies, and the government has capitalized on its opportunities, such as encouraging the creation of an ultramodern manufacturing complex on the far northwestern island of Pinang, where Chinese outnumber Malays by two to one.
-Also located on Borneo—along the coast near where Sarawak and Sabah meet—is Brunei (Fig. 10-17 inset map), a rich, oil‐exporting Islamic sultanate far from the Persian Gulf. Brunei, which became independent from the United Kingdom in 1984, is only slightly larger than Delaware and has a population of just 450,000. Thus the sultanate is a mere ministate—except for the discovery of oil and natural gas, which made it Southeast Asia's richest country. And there are indications that further discoveries will be made in the offshore zone owned by Brunei. The Sultan of Brunei rules as an absolute monarch; his palace in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is reputed to be the world's largest. He will have no difficulty finding customers for his oil in energy‐poor eastern Asia.
-Brunei's growing population—in which immigration plays a larger role than internal natural increase—is ethnically two‐thirds Malay and about 12 percent Chinese. Most inhabitants live and work near the offshore oilfields in the northern district of Brunei Muara that includes the capital city. Evidence of profligate spending is everywhere, ranging from sumptuous palaces to magnificent mosques to the most luxurious of resort hotels. In this respect Brunei offers a stark contrast to surrounding East Malaysia, but even within Brunei there are significant differences. The country's interior, where a small minority of indigenous groups survive, remains an area of subsistence agriculture and rural isolation, its villages a world apart from the modern splendor of Bandar Seri Begawan.
-In 1965, a fateful event occurred in Southeast Asia. Singapore, the crown jewel of British colonialism in this realm, seceded from the recently independent (1963) Malaysian Federation and became a sovereign state, albeit a tiny city‐state (Fig. 10-16). With its unparalleled relative location, its multiethnic and well‐educated population, and its no‐nonsense government, Singapore then overcame the severe limitations of space and the absence of raw materials to become one of the four original Asian Tigers.
-With a mere 619 square kilometers (239 sq mi) of territory and 5.4 million people, space is at a premium in Singapore, and this is a constant challenge for the government. The highest priority is to develop cutting‐edge but space‐conserving manufacturing and service industries. Benefiting from its relative location, the old port of Singapore had become one of the world's busiest even before independence. It thrived as an entrepôt 21 between the Malay Peninsula, the rest of Southeast Asia, Japan, and other emerging economic powers on the Asian Pacific Rim. Crude oil from Southeast Asia still is unloaded and refined in Singapore, then shipped to East Asian destinations. Raw rubber from the adjacent Malay Peninsula and from Indonesia's nearby island of Sumatera is shipped to China, Japan, the United States, and many other countries. Timber from Malaysia, rice, spices, and other foodstuffs are processed and forwarded through Singapore. In return, automobiles, machinery, and equipment are imported into Southeast Asia and distributed almost exclusively via Singapore.
-Singapore's current development strategy stresses two primary objectives. The first is to focus its industries more tightly on leading‐edge information technology, automation, and biotechnology. The second is to forge an ever stronger Growth Triangle 22 involving Singapore's developing neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia. Accordingly, Malaysia and Indonesia would supply the necessary raw materials and relatively inexpensive labor, and Singapore would supply the capital and technological expertise.
-The ethnic composition of Singapore's population today is just below 75 percent Chinese, 13 percent Malay, and 9 percent South Asian. The government is Chinese‐dominated, and its policies have served to sustain ethnic‐Chinese control. Indeed, the government of Singapore has encouraged immigration from the PRC to stabilize the ethnic mosaic of the city‐state, where natural‐ increase rates, especially among its native Chinese, have for some time been well below the replacement level. But, as noted earlier, this may not be a long‐term solution because tensions are mounting between the resident and newly arrived immigrant Chinese communities.
-With almost 150 million inhabitants, Jawa is one of the world's most densely peopled places (see Figs. G-7 and 10-5) as well as one of the most agriculturally productive, with its terraced rice‐ growing paddies rising up the highly fertile flanks of myriad active volcanoes. Jawa also is the most highly urbanized part of a country in which half the people still live off the land. The primate city of Jakarta has today become the heart of the much larger Greater Jakarta conurbation that now exceeds 30 million, or 25 percent of Indonesia's urban population. Thousands of factories, their owners taking advantage of low prevailing wages, have been built in this sprawling conurbation (which goes by the acronym Jabodetabek, after its constituent cities), badly straining its infrastructure and overburdening the port of Jakarta.
-Sumatera, spelled 'Sumatra' in the colonial era, is Indonesia's westernmost island and forms the western shore of the critical Strait of Malacca; Singapore lies across the Strait from approximately the middle of this island. Although much larger than Jawa, Sumatera has only about one‐third as many people (roughly 50 million). In colonial times, the island became a base for rubber and palm oil production; its high relief makes possible the cultivation of a wide variety of crops, and neighboring Bangka and Belitung yield petroleum and natural gas. Palembang is the key urban center in the south. In recent years, the northeastern coastlands of Sumatera, along with parts of mainland Malaysia and southern Kalimantan, have been blanketed by huge and expanding palm oil plantations to drive up export revenues—but at enormous cost to the regional environment. The province of Aceh was designated a "Special Territory" within Indonesia because of the separatist movement of its indigenous Acehnese population; but that crisis has become defused thanks to the massive post‐tsunami relief effort and follow‐up of the central government—and relations between the province and Jakarta today are much improved.
-Kalimantan is the Indonesian sector that comprises 73 percent of the island of Borneo, a slab of the Earth's crystalline crust whose mountainous backbone is of erosional, not volcanic, origin. Larger than Texas, Borneo has a deep, densely forested interior that is a last refuge for some 35,000 orangutans as well as dwindling numbers of Asian elephants, rhinoceroses, and tigers. Along with a number of indigenous peoples, these wildlife species survive even as loggers, plantation builders, and small farmers relentlessly penetrate their shrinking habitat. Borneo is home to a comparatively small human population (roughly 19 million on the Indonesian side, less than 8 percent of the country's total) on poor tropical soils. Aboriginal peoples, principally the Dayak clans, have traditionally had less impact on the natural environment than the Indonesian and Chinese immigrants as well as the multinational corporations that log the rainforests and clear space for new farms.
-Sulawesi consists of a set of intersecting, volcanic mountain ranges rising above sea level; the 800‐kilometer (500‐mi) Minahasa Peninsula, propelled by volcanic activity, continues to build itself into the Celebes Sea. This northern peninsula, a favorite of the Dutch colonizers, remains the most developed sector of an otherwise rugged and remote island, with Manado its relatively prosperous urban focus. Seven major ethnic groups inhabit the valleys and basins scattered among the mountains, but the population of about 18 million also includes many immigrants from Jawa, especially in and around the southern center of Ujungpandang. Subsistence farming is the leading mode of life, although logging, scattered mining, and fishing augment the economy. Clashes between Muslims and Christians occur intermittently in remote areas.
-Papua, the Indonesian name for the western half of the island of New Guinea, has become an issue in national politics. Papua is bordered on the east by a superimposed, mostly straight‐line boundary that separates it from the state of Papua New Guinea on the eastern half of the island (Fig. 10-17). This territory was forcibly taken over by Indonesia from the Dutch in 1969, a remnant of the Netherlands East Indies colony that was held back when Indonesia became independent in 1945. Papua contains about 22 percent of Indonesia's territory, but its (fast‐growing) population is only 3.5 million—just under 1.5 percent of the country's total. The indigenous inhabitants of this territory—which is essentially an Indonesian colony—are Papuan, with most living in the remote reaches of this mountainous, densely forested island. Papua is economically important to Indonesia because it contains what is reputed to be the world's richest gold mine as well as its third‐largest open‐pit copper mine. But political consciousness has now reached the Papuans: the Free Papua Movement remains active, holding small demonstrations in the capital (Jayapura), displaying a Papuan flag, and demanding recognition.
-Indonesia's development challenges are complicated by spatial fragmentation and an especially uneven population distribution. From 1974 to 2001, Indonesia's central government instituted a policy known as transmigration 23, inducing millions from the densely populated inner islands (especially Jawa, Bali, and Madura) to relocate to such sparsely inhabited, peripheral islands as Kalimantan and Sulawesi. As many as 8 million Jawanese were relocated to outer islands, but half of them experienced a decline in their standard of living; many were reduced to bare subsistence to scratch out a living in the tropical woodlands confiscated from indigenous inhabitants— which turned out to be unsuitable for the farming methods used by the settlers. In the end, cultural conflict, ecological havoc, and rampant deforestation finally led the Indonesian government to admit failure and cancel this grandiose social program in 2001. Today, Indonesia's stature within Southeast Asia is steadily rising. This is not just the biggest country in the realm: it is also striving to achieve a commensurate level of economic development and prosperity. The economy has expanded vigorously during the past decade, and incomes here now exceed those of Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Yet they are still ranked well below those of Thailand or Malaysia. At the same time, centrifugal forces are intensifying (growing Islamic militancy in Jawa is of particular concern), and ongoing decentralization and devolution throughout this immense archipelago will continue to challenge the Indonesian government.
-Indonesian rule, however, was even less benign than that of the Portuguese, and soon a bitter struggle for independence was under way. Eventually, in 1999, under UN supervision, the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence, but Indonesia still refused to let go, and unleashed a brutal military occupation. It took another three years of armed conflict and foreign intervention (led by Australia, which previously had supported Indonesia) until independence was finally realized in 2002. By then, the violence had devastated most of this ministate and its infrastructure. East Timor's leaders proclaimed the official name of their country to be Timor‐Leste— Portuguese for "Timor East." Not surprisingly, more than a decade later nation‐building in this Connecticut‐sized country remains a formidable proposition.
-As Figure 10-17 shows, East Timor is a fragmented country, with a dominant east (where the coastal capital, Dili, is located) and a tiny exclave 24 on the northern coast of Indonesian West Timor named Ocussi. Even though East Timor has always been overwhelmingly agricultural, farming was badly neglected during the turmoil unleashed under the Indonesian occupation. To make matters worse, the country's population of 1.2 million continues to grow explosively, exhibiting a yearly natural‐increase rate of 2.7 percent (35 percent higher than that of Laos, the realm's second‐ fastest‐growing country); East Timor's fertility rate of 5.7 children per woman of childbearing age in 2013 ranks among the world's highest. Recently, the economic growth rate has been more encouraging, and there is the prospect of billions of dollars to be earned from future oil revenues (the country shares the rights to offshore oil reserves in the Timor Sea with Australia). But the nation‐building project here has barely begun to deal with the country's extreme poverty as well as the lingering social devastation of a prolonged conflict in which some 100,000 civilians were killed by the Indonesian military.
-North of Indonesia lies a lengthy archipelago of more than 7000 islands inhabited by 98.4 million people. This island chain constitutes the Philippines, and it can be subdivided into three groups: (1) Luzon, largest island of all, and Mindoro in the north; (2) the Visayan group in the center; and (3) Mindanao, second‐largest, located in the south (Fig. 10-18). The Philippines' population, concentrated where productive farmlands lie, is densest in three general areas: the northwestern and south‐central components of Luzon; the southeastern extension of Luzon; and the islands of the Visayan Sea between Luzon and Mindanao (Fig. 10-5). Luzon is the site of the capital, Manila‐Quezon City (12.9 million, or one‐ eighth of the entire population of the country), a sprawling megacity that faces the South China Sea.
-Today the Philippines, adjacent to the world's largest Muslim state (Indonesia), is 81 percent Roman Catholic, 9 percent Protestant, and only 5 percent Muslim. Out of the Philippines melting pot, where Malay, Arab, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and American elements met and mixed, has emerged the distinctive Filipino culture. It is not a homogeneous or unified culture, as is reflected by the dozens of Malay languages in use in the islands, but it is in several ways unique. At independence in 1946, the largest of the Malay languages, Tagalog (also known as Pilipino), became the country's official language. But English is widely learned as a second language, and a Tagalog‐English hybrid, "Taglish," is increasingly heard today. The Chinese component of the population is small (1.6 percent) but dominates the local business scene.
-The Philippines' small Muslim population, concentrated in the southernmost flank of the archipelago, and especially on densely forested Basilan Island (Fig. 10-18), has long decried its marginalization in this predominantly Christian country. Over the past generation, a half‐dozen Islamic organizations have promoted the Muslim cause through tactics that have ranged from peaceful negotiation with the government to violent insurgency.
-Agriculture continues to dominate the Philippines' economy. Alluvial as well as volcanic soils, together with ample moisture in this largely humid‐tropical environment, enable self‐sufficiency in rice and other staples and make the Philippines a net exporter of farm products despite its high population growth rate of 1.8 percent. Unemployment is rampant, trade linkages are insufficient, and additional land reform is badly needed, as is social restructuring to reduce the controlling influence of a comparatively small group of families over national affairs.
-Perhaps more than any other people, Filipinos take jobs in foreign countries in massive numbers, proving their capacity to succeed in jobs they cannot find at home. More than 10 million Filipinos, over one‐quarter of the total workforce, are now employed abroad. The global merchant marine would not exist without Filipino sailors, and Filipina nurses and domestic workers can be found from Dubai to Dublin to Dubuque. Funds sent home to family members by the emigrants make the Philippines a world leader in remittances, a monetary inflow that is the basis for at least 10 percent of the country's GDP in any given year.
-Overall, the Philippines now sustains a lower‐middle‐ income economy, and given a longer period of political stability and success in mitigating the problems outlined above, it should be able to rise to the next level and finally take its place among the Asia‐Pacific's growth poles.
-Currently, the Philippines is establishing itself in a pair of niches in the global economy: international call centers and the outsourcing of digital services. The latter operate through such Internet websites as oDesk—one of several that serves as a global marketplace for digital services by freelancers who perform data entry and other routine back‐office work. Although such outsourcing is highly unpredictable as a growth industry and compensation is low by worldwide standards, the business process outsourcing 25 sector today employs about one million full‐time workers and is the second‐largest contributor (after remittances) to the Philippines' foreign exchange earnings.
-In its foreign relations, this country is changing course. A quarter‐century ago, it terminated the lease for the huge U.S. Subic Bay Naval Base—then the largest of all American foreign military installations. But now the Philippines government is once again seeking closer relations with the United States. As noted earlier, this is related to China's growing maritime‐territorial assertiveness in Southeast Asia—not only regarding the South China Sea in general but also longstanding specific disputes between China and the Philippines concerning the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal.
-T he Austral realm is the only one that lies entirely in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also unique in that it has no land link of any kind to a neighboring realm and is thus completely surrounded by oceans and seas. It is second only to the Pacific as the world's least populous geographic realm. Appropriately, its name refers to its location (the word austral 1 derives from the Latin for "south")—a location far from the sources of its dominant cultural heritage, but relatively close to its newfound economic partners on the Asian Pacific Rim.
-Two countries constitute the Austral realm: Australia, in every way the dominant national entity, and New Zealand, physiographically more varied but demographically much smaller than its giant partner (Fig. 11-2). Between them lies the South Pacific Ocean's Tasman Sea. To the realm's west lies the Indian Ocean, to its east the Pacific, and to the south the frigid Southern Ocean. Today, this southern realm is at a crossroads. On the doorstep of populous eastern Asia, the realm's Anglo‐European legacies have been diversified accordingly by the infusion of many Asian cultural strains. Markets throughout the Asia Pacific are buying ever larger quantities of raw materials. Chinese and other Asian tourists fill hotels and resorts. The streets of Sydney and Melbourne display a multicultural panorama unimagined just two generations ago. Indigenous minorities—the Polynesian Maori in New Zealand and Aboriginal communities in Australia—are demanding greater rights and wider acknowledgment of their cultural heritage. All these changes have stirred political debate. Issues ranging from immigration quotas to indigenous land rights dominate, exposing social fault lines (city versus Outback in Australia; North Island versus South Island in New Zealand). Aborigines and Maori first settled this realm, then the Europeans arrived, and now Asians are an increasingly significant economic and cultural element.
-One of this realm's defining characteristics is its wildlife. Australia is the land of kangaroos and koalas, wallabies and wombats, possums and platypuses. These and numerous other marsupials (animals whose young are born very early in their development and then are carried in an abdominal pouch) owe their survival to Australia's early isolation during the breakup of Gondwana (see Fig. 7-3). Before more advanced mammals could enter Australia and replace the marsupials, as happened in every other part of the world, this landmass was separated from Antarctica and India, and today it contains the world's largest assemblage of marsupial fauna. Australia's vegetation has distinctive qualities as well, notably the hundreds of species of eucalyptus trees native to this geographic realm. The study of fauna and flora in spatial perspective integrates the disciplines of biology and geography in a field known as biogeography 5, and Australia serves as a gigantic research laboratory for its practitioners.
-Biogeographers are especially interested in the distribution of plant and animal species, as well as the relationships between plant and animal communities and their natural environments. (The spatial analysis of plant life is called phytogeography, and that of animal life is known as zoogeography.) In 1876, one of the founders of biogeography, the great British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, posited that the zoogeographic boundary of Australia's fauna was located beyond Australia in the Sunda island chain to the northwest, between Borneo and Sulawesi, and just east of Bali
-Wallace's Line 6 soon was challenged by other researchers, who found species Wallace had missed and who visited islands Wallace had not. There was no question that Australia's zoogeographic realm terminated somewhere in Indonesia's Sunda archipelago
-In Australia, the arrival of the Aboriginal population 7 about 50,000 years ago appears to have triggered an ecosystem collapse. Widespread burning of the existing forest, shrub, and grassland vegetation all across Australia probably led to the spread of desert scrub and to the rapid extinction of most of the continent's large mammals soon after the human invasion occurred. Those species that survived faced a second crisis tens of thousands of years later when the European colonizers introduced their livestock, leading to the further destruction of remaining wildlife habitats. Survivors include marsupials such as the koala bear and the wombat, but the list of extinctions is much longer.
-From the late eighteenth century onward, the Europeanization of Australia doomed the continent's Aboriginal societies. The first to suffer were those situated in the path of British settlement on the coasts, where penal colonies and free towns were founded. Distance protected the Aboriginal communities of the northern interior longer than elsewhere; but in Tasmania, the indigenous Australians died off in just decades after having lived there for perhaps 45,000 years. Eventually, the major coastal settlements became the centers of seven different colonies, each with its own hinterland; by 1861, Australia was delimited by its now‐familiar pattern of straight‐line boundaries the Australia we know today finally emerged: the Commonwealth of Australia, consisting of six States and two Federal Territories (Fig. 11-5). The two Federal Territories are the Northern Territory, assigned to protect the interests of the substantial Aboriginal population concentrated there and agitating for Statehood, and the Australian Capital Territory, carved from southern New South Wales to accommodate the federal capital of Canberra that was completed in 1927. Australia's six States are New South Wales (capital Sydney), at 7.6 million the most populous and politically powerful; Victoria (Melbourne), small but populous by Australian standards with 5.9 million residents; Queensland (Brisbane), at 4.8 million, with the Great Barrier Reef offshore and tropical rainforests in its north; South Australia (Adelaide), with 1.7 million, where the Murray‐Darling river system reaches the sea; Western Australia (Perth) with barely more than 2.6 million people in an area of more than 2.5 million square kilometers (nearly 1 million sq mi); and Tasmania (Hobart), containing 515,00, the island across the Bass Strait from the mainland's southeastern corner that lies in the path of Southern Ocean storms.
-Australians came from that tradition, they managed to overcome their differences and forge a Commonwealth that was, in effect, a federation of States with different viewpoints, economies, and objectives, separated by enormous distances along the rim of a particularly remote island continent
-Australia is an urban country, with 89 percent of all Australians living in cities and towns. The large cities lie along the coast, the centers of manufacturing complexes as well as the foci of agricultural areas. For all its vastness and youth, Australia has developed a remarkable cultural identity, a sameness of urban and rural landscapes that persists from one end of the continent to the other. Sydney, often called the New York of Australia, lies on a spectacular estuarine site, its compact, high‐rise central business district overlooking a port bustling with ferry and freighter traffic. Sydney today is a widely spread out metropolis of 4.5 million, with multiple outlying centers dominating its burgeoning suburban ring; brash modernity and reserved British ways somehow blend here. Melbourne (4.2 million), sometimes regarded as the Boston of Australia, prides itself on its more interesting architecture and more cultured ways. Brisbane (2.2 million), the capital of Queensland, which also anchors Australia's Gold Coast and adjoins the Great Barrier Reef, is the Miami of Australia; unlike Miami, however, its residents can find nearby relief from the summer heat in the mountains of its immediate hinterland (as well as at its beaches). Perth (1.9 million) is separated from its eastern Australian neighbors by three‐quarters of a continent, and from Southeast Asia and Africa by thousands of kilometers of ocean—but due to the ever‐expanding mining activities of Western Australia it is increasingly drawn into the global economy.
-And yet, each of these cities—as well as the capitals of South Australia (Adelaide), Tasmania (Hobart), and, to a lesser extent, the Northern Territory (Darwin)—exhibits an Australian character of unmistakable quality. Life is both orderly and unhurried; streets are clean; slums are uncommon; graffiti rarely seen. Standards of public transport, urban schools, and healthcare provision are high. Spacious parks, pleasing waterfronts, and plentiful sunshine make Australia's urban life more agreeable than just about anywhere else on Earth.
-Australia's mineral resources, as Figure 11-6 shows, also are diverse. Major gold discoveries in Victoria and New South Wales produced a ten‐year gold rush starting in 1851 and ushered in a new economic era. By the middle years of that decade, Australia was producing 40 percent of the world's gold. Subsequently, the search for more gold led to the discoveries of additional minerals including nickel, copper, iron ore, uranium, tungsten, bauxite, and more. Since the 1990s, the enormous demand for raw materials from China as well as emerging India has marked a long‐running commodity boom in Australia. New finds are still being made today, and even oil and natural gas have been discovered both on land and offshore
-Australian manufacturing caters mainly to the domestic market and is quite diversified, producing a wide array of industrial goods ranging from machinery made of locally produced steel to chemicals to textiles to paper products. These industries cluster in and near the major urban areas where consumers are located. The domestic market in Australia is not large, but it remains relatively affluent. This makes it attractive to foreign producers, and Australia's retail outlets overflow with high‐priced goods from China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, and Europe. Overall, the continuing prominence of the primary sector 11 (mining and agriculture) and heavy reliance on raw‐material exports indicates that the manufacturing sector is only partially developed, in spite of a long history of protectionist government policies. Whereas exports continue to be dominated by ores, fuels, and other commodities, the leading imports include cars, trucks, and medical equipment and supplies. In 2014, Australia's top five partners in two‐way trade were China, Japan, the United States, South Korea, and Singapore.
-Environmental degradation 12, unfortunately, is practically synonymous with Australia. First the Aborigines, then the Europeans and their livestock, inflicted catastrophic damage on Australia's natural environments and ecologies. Great stands of magnificent forest were ravaged. In Western Australia, centuries‐old trees were simply ringed and left to die so that the sun could penetrate through their leafless crowns to nurture the grass below for pasture for introduced livestock. In island Tasmania, where Australia's native eucalyptus tree reaches its greatest concentrations (comparable to California's redwood stands), tens of thousands of hectares of this irreplaceable treasure have been lost to chain saws and pulp mills. Many of Australia's unique marsupial species have been driven to extinction, and many more are endangered or threatened.
-More recently, the intensification of mining activities as well as oil and gas exploration have raised ecological stress to the next level.
-Another environmental problem involves Australia's wide and long‐term climatic variability. In a predominantly arid continent, droughts in the moister fringes are the worst enemy, and Australia's history is replete with devastating dry spells. Australia is vulnerable to El Niño 13 events (see Chapter 3), but global warming may also be playing a role in the process. Figure 11-7 shows what are believed to be the effects of global warming on Australia between 1997 and 2011: whereas the northern (tropical) zones have experienced enhanced rainfall, the populated southwestern and southeastern coastal regions received less precipitation and have been more vulnerable to drought.
-Western Australia, too, faces colossal challenges in the provision of water for its urban, agricultural, and industrial land uses. Here, much like in the western United States, water supplies in this dry environment are increasingly stressed by population growth— and especially all those massive new mining projects. The largest population cluster here is centered on west‐coast Perth, and some scientists have warned that it could become the first "ghost metropolis," abandoned because of acute water shortages. To stave off that scenario, Perth's prospects have improved through the use of innovative desalinization 14 technologies that convert ocean water into a viable source of supply for households and businesses
-Despite Australia's generally positive fortunes, not everyone shares sufficiently in the national wealth. The indigenous (Aboriginal) population, though a small minority today of 680,000, remains disproportionately disadvantaged in almost every way—shorter life expectancies, elevated unemployment, lower high school graduation rates, and much higher imprisonment ratios. For the past several decades, the Aboriginal challenge focused on two questions: (1) official acknowledgment, by the government as well as the Australian majority, of mistreatment of the Aboriginal minority accompanied by appropriate apologies and reparations; and (2) land ownership. The first question was resolved in 2008 when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd offered the long‐awaited formal apology for the historic mistreatment of the Aborigines. The second question has major geographic implications. Although comprising less than 3 percent of the total population, the Aboriginal population has been gaining influence in national affairs over the past three decades: as far back as the 1980s, Aboriginal leaders have been waging a campaign to obstruct mineral exploration on what they regard as ancestral and sacred lands.
-Prior to 1992, Australians had taken it for granted that Aborigines had no right to land ownership, but in that year the Australian High Court rendered the first of a series of landmark rulings in favor of Aboriginal claimants. A subsequent court decision implied that enormous areas (perhaps as much as 78 percent of the entire continent) could potentially be subject to Aboriginal claims. Today, the Aboriginal land issue 15 remains mostly (though not exclusively) an Outback issue, but it has the potential to overwhelm Australia's court system and to constrain economic growth.
-Since World War II, as its historic ties to the United Kingdom have faded, Australia has become ever more embedded in the Asia Pacific—economically, culturally, and politically. The country's strengthening orientation toward its Asian neighbors is reflected in economic policies and patterns of trade and investment. Australia is now a key member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, APEC 16; China and Japan, by far, have become its most important trading partners. Australia itself, as the result of changing immigration patterns, is becoming culturally more heterogeneous and increasingly Asian. And, politically, Australia has become more involved with the geographic realms to its north, especially the countries of Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea.
-Geostrategically, Australia finds itself in a relatively secure location. However, security issues in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean have become a growing concern precisely because Australia's interdependence with Asia is intensifying. Also of much interest is that Australia has been seeking closer relations with the United States as a counterweight to China's rapidly increasing influence across these realms, especially Southeast Asia. To nobody's surprise, the United States is pleased to reciprocate: since 2012, several thousand American troops have been stationed at Australian military bases, and the U.S. Air Force has been given access to Australian airfields in the Northern Territory that are within easy flying distance of the South China Sea. Territorial dimensions, relative location, and raw‐material wealth have helped determine Australia's place in the world and, more specifically, on the western Pacific Rim. Australia's population may still be less than 25 million, but the country's importance in the international community greatly exceeds its human numbers.