The Chinese Condition and Lebensraum

You know that when a post starts with an infamous German slogan nothing good will come of the intent.

We know only too well of the stubborn drive of the Chinese Regime towards its neighbors in Southeastern Asia.  A stealthy force composed not so much of warships but of a paramilitary fleet of Coast Guard and fisherman.

In the past I’ve always thought any accident to occur would be from some reckless fighter pilot unable to withstand the pressure of constant contact and patrol.  Guilty of being Human and allowing some mental slip to escalate two nations into possibly open conflict.

Now I think that may very well less be the case.  I find it more likely now it may simply come more from the Malaysian or Indonesian Navy simply getting into a shooting war with the Chinese Coast Guard.

But this is simply a side thought of mine today and nothing more.

We are all well versed in the sense of Chinese Manifest Destiny.   The Destiny of China to regain its lost form and once again dominate all neighbors within a very wide concentric circle, including most likely even Australia.  Economically, militarily and culturally.   It’s all there for the taking. And of course let’s not forget also by self censorship.   

China’s dream is to have its influence someday lap upon the shores of South Korea while intimidating Japan from even coming into the East China Sea.

But what of China’s North?

I talk not of Mongolia.  A country squeezed between two Giants of Destiny.

I talk of Mother Russia.

I speak of Vladivostok.

Yet I feel in a sense China has gotten a bad rap.  That is, China has perhaps received bad press. When Magellan landed on the Philippines the Chinese were already there.  And yet China never claimed this island country to be part of China. 

We speak of the Conquistador like he was some mystical explorer of ancient times, bold and sure his mission was blessed by God.   Then came the rape, the pillage, the slavery, more rape, and oh yes all those blankets infected with smallpox.  All for conquest and gold.  In the name of Christianity of course.  One wonders just how many people have been killed in the name of Christianity?

But what of China?  The Chinese were in Southeast Asia before the Dutch, or the French.  Before the Portuguese….and the Spanish.

China’s presence and reach in ancient times is impressive. 

One could counter that a nation as large as China’s simply did not have to invade and pillage and rape.  Tribute was a fitting reward all its own and I would say “yes, you are right”.

But how North did China go?  How far?

Ever heard of the city 永明城?  First claimed by the Yuan Dynasty in the 1200’s, it eventually became known as 海参崴。It belonged to China until the 1800’s.

Today we call it Vladivostok

When one thinks of the Mexican War, one can rightly think of just how much land Mexico lost;  Texas, California…nearly everything in between.   The territorial gains rivaled the gains of the Louisiana Purchase.

In hindsight one can wonder what all the stress about inevitable American Expansion was about?  Surely there was no way either France or Mexico would be able to hold on to so much land so cheaply?  That is, without a large army and population of native French and Mexicans to populate the territory.   Alas it was theirs in name only.  The American Indian continued to rule the roost for yet another generation or two.

The point is Mexico simply didn’t have the resources to populate the lands and the Americans via immigration did and eventually overwhelmed the Native American.  

China is no different. 

At one time Vietnam, the entire Korean Peninsula and of course a big slice up to the Siberian badlands was controlled by China via tribute.  They just didn’t have the resources, or even attention span to give a damn.  And so they lost it. 

Yet the city of Vladivostok was different.  Once upon a time China’s reach extended far into Siberia.  And for centuries was unabated.  Challenged by no one.

Well, today the Chinese People in their fever for a return to “national prominence” and to a “time that was” have now begun to look Northward.

“Vladivostok was ours too”.

One can see wisps of historical “I bet you didn’t know that Vladivostok once belonged to us” mumblings on the internet.    It hasn’t and won’t grow widespread, but the mere sense that what is not spoken is understood is in itself enlightening. 

The Chinese government has not stoked this, and no public discourse from the government has come about.   Still this is what happens when the lid of expectations is lifted; when the wind blows no one can say in what direction the insinuations and chat room discussions will go.   

China has of course publicly denied any such longing for Northern Expansion.  It’s silly, and it will never happen.  Russia is the only friend China has (whoops I forgot Cambodia and Laos).

So when will China publicly denounce such things? 

What we have today is a modern version of “Lebensraum”.  That expansionist concept advocated by Hitler of “living space” in order to prosper and be secure.  In order to be strong and vibrant.  And to put itself at a competitive advantage to its neighbors.

We went to war over this.  Many people died.  Chaos ensued.  The Soviet Union claimed something along the lines of “we will never be invaded” again and embraced “living space” as well.   Eastern Europe went dark.  But Lebensraum is nothing but a nationalistic drink that took quite awhile to run its course through the Soviet System.  Many people suffered there, too.

And yet now in this Day and Age of a Pacifist Japan and Germany, an indecisive South Korea and Australia, a new nation emerges from slumber and it didn’t get the memo.   In China, it is 1898 all over again.  Lessons learned by all, things that must never be forgotten, ideals we learn that should never be cherished are ready to run rampant in the largest country in the world.  

You see, China treads its own path and like a teenage girl that won’t listen, China chooses to ignore what it doesn’t want to see and insists it will learn its own lessons from that twisted road of history other nations have long since traversed. 

You see “the China Condition” merits it.  History will meld it’s narrative to China, not vice versa.

The greatest of ironies is not that this old civilization itself refuses to listen to History, but rather makes it a deliberate choice.  As for those that have traveled this road before.  What of them? Like that teenage girl, guidance will never be sought from the wise.

There is little we can do here.   All we can do is take a collective sigh and wait. 


  1. The Russians are well aware of it and have been for awhile. There is plenty of angst over the Chinese hordes emigrating into Siberia, and taking back old "Outer Manchuria" (area around Vladivostok). That is why Putin has been meeting with Abe recently, and trying to cut a deal with Japan on a peace treaty. Russia wants a counter-balance to China in Asia.

  2. This is nothing but a game. Fun to watch from the sidelines, perhaps not so fun to participate in. Maybe someday the Soviet Union will even return the Kuril Islands.


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