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  • This episode is brought to you by 24houranswers.com.

  • Hey everyone! China is a big country with lots of history and culture.

  • Obviously, in this video, I won't be able to cover everything.

  • But, I'll try my best to explain. Okay? Good?

  • Alright... Let's get started!

  • It's time to learn Geography... NOW!

  • Hey everyone, I'm your host, Barby.

  • China, China, China... or the People's Republic of China.

  • Everybody knows something about this place, and everybody has something to say about it.

  • Now let's see what the flag has to say about itself.

  • The flag is a simple red banner with five yellow stars in the upper hoist or canton corner;

  • a large star surrounded by four smaller ones in a semi-circular pattern to the right.

  • According to the governmental interpretation,

  • the red background symbolizes the revolution,

  • and the five stars were made yellow to radiate against the red.

  • The stars represent unity of the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

  • The largest star symbolizes the Communist Party of China,

  • and the four smaller stars that surround the big star symbolize the four social classes:

  • the working class, the peasantry, the urban petite bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie.

  • Well, that was pretty easy. Unfortunately, that will be the only easy part of this video.

  • Let's get messy in...

  • Okay Geograpeeps, get your popcorn and notebooks,

  • because this is where things are gonna get really complicated, messy and dramatic and confusing.

  • This is why I watch Geography Now!

  • First of all, mainland China is located in and dominates the heart of East Asia.

  • At over 22,000 kilometres, it has the world's longest combined land border with 14 other countries.

  • The country spans all the way from the Taklamakan Desert to the coast of Fujian.

  • Depending on your method of measurement,

  • China could either be the second, third, or fourth largest country in the world by total area.

  • If you include all the water territories, Canada is the second,

  • even though China has slightly more land mass,

  • and if you include Alaska, Hawaii and all the official territories, the US is slightly larger than China,

  • but if China's disputed and confusing territories are all included, then China is a little bit larger.

  • Yeah, I know!

  • It's only been a couple of minutes and I'm already making it look like:

  • *fighting*

  • Speaking of territories, let's stick our hands in the first layer of mud!

  • China has some of the most complex administrative divisions in the world,

  • and it all has to do with certain types of people and the rise of the 20th century.

  • First of all, the country is divided into 22 official provinces,

  • but THEN we get to the subdivisions!

  • China also has five autonomous regions, four municipalities,

  • and two special administrative regions that mostly self-govern themselves.

  • First, let's talk about the autonomous regions.

  • They are:

  • Guangxi, Tibet, Xinjiang, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia.

  • The strange thing is that each of these regions has incredibly distinct and contrasting cultural traits

  • that differ from the rest of Han-dominated Chinese culture.

  • Because of the minority prevalency in these areas,

  • they have kind of like a weird legislative membrane in which they are still under full sovereignty of China,

  • but have extra special rights that don't apply to the rest of the provinces.

  • Then we hit the municipalities!

  • These are like the complete opposite of autonomous regions,

  • because they hold pretty much the highest governmental administrative classification in the country.

  • And even though they are cities, they hold provincial status.

  • In short, these guys are like the big shots of China!

  • And they are: the capital Beijing,

  • the capital Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing.

  • Yeah, try saying that in five times fast.

  • (Tries saying it five times fast, like a tongue twister)

  • Furthermore, we have 2 special administrative regions that kinda self-govern themselves,

  • but they all kind of fall under Chinese sovereignty.

  • They are: Hong Kong and Macau.

  • CGP Grey does an amazing video explaining the whole scenario on this,

  • but I'll try to summarise it in the quickest way I can.

  • These places used to be operated by the British and Portuguese,

  • until they were ceded back to China back in 1997 and 1999 respectively,

  • and have a weird "one country, two systems" policy,

  • even though it should be 3 systems... but hey.

  • Each of these areas has their own passports, currency language and even government.

  • Then you have the strange 6 economic zones,

  • which, even though they do not have their own autonomy,

  • they have flexible government regulation and free market policies

  • that allow them to manage business transactions in a more liberal manner.

  • These zones are cities along the coast and the entire island region of Hainan,

  • otherwise known as the "Hawaii of China".

  • Ha! Thought that was heavy?

  • Now things are gonna get reeally ugly.

  • Now, if there's one thing China knows how to do, it's getting people's attention and not in a ..

  • "Hey guys, look at me."

  • ...type of way but more of like a ...

  • "Hey guys, look at me!"

  • ...kind of way.

  • And one way to get attention is by making territory disputes.

  • Let's just get the biggest one off of our chests -Taiwan.

  • [Punches]

  • Hey hey hey!... It's called Chinese Taipei.

  • Taiwan... is in a weird jurisdiction limbo with China,

  • because both sides kind of technically claim sovereignty over the other.

  • As in mainland China claims they own Taiwan,

  • yet Taiwan believes, ultimately, that they are the sole proprietor of the entire mainland as well.

  • It all had to do with the Chinese civil war and the opposing political parties, yaddi yaddi yadda...

  • The communist party took over the mainland and the nationalist party took over Taiwan.

  • Now we go inland.

  • As we already mentioned in the Bhutan video,

  • China has two disputed regions with them.

  • Then we get to India.

  • "Yess!"

  • Sometimes China and India are like two monstrous titans slamming into each other at high velocity.

  • It's very difficult to really approach this topic without somebody getting angry or upset,

  • so I'm just gonna report the plain and simple claims as they stand,

  • and you make the decisions, okay?

  • That way, the worst that you can do is say:

  • "Geography Now, although not directly advocating,

  • mentioned claims to one side of an argument that I do not agree with."

  • In the east we reach Arunachal Pradesh,

  • which is to this day pretty much a state of India,

  • however, China still believes it is part of south Tibet.

  • In the Uttarakhand area by Tibet,

  • you have the Niti Pass by Chamoli and the Valley of Jadh Ganga.

  • In Pradesh, you have the Reo Purgyil mountains and the Spiti River valley,

  • and finally we reach Jammu and Kashmir,

  • a.k.a. the most messed up no man's land in the entire planet.

  • Here, China lays claim to the Shaksgam Valley,

  • the Fukche valley, the mouth of the river by Chumar,

  • and the largest chunk of highlands - the Aksai Chin region,

  • which Chinese national highway 2-19 passes through.

  • In addition, further up north, pretty much all of Tajikistan's southeast border with China is disputed.

  • *sigh*

  • and then we reach the Spratly Islands.

  • *singing* Spratly Islands, Islands,

  • *singing* who you will own you now?

  • I don't know! *almost crying*

  • In the South China Sea, things get really messy.

  • Imagine, if you will, a bunch of people walking towards each other,

  • each one on their phones looking at pictures of Bob Saget,

  • and then suddenly they all bump into each other, and notice a pile of money on the ground right at their feet.

  • They drop their phones and immediately lunge for the pile,

  • disagreeing on whose money is whose, and how much belongs to which person.

  • That's the Spratly Islands!

  • Essentially, these islands are claimed by 5 separate countries in area,

  • 6, if you consider Taiwan sovereign,

  • and the whole deal is just an enormous mess of convoluted claim squabbling.

  • This is what the Philippines' claims.

  • This is Vietnam's, Brunei's, Malaysia's,

  • and then China just kinda does this.

  • Basically the Spratlys are an international battle royale,

  • and when one side doesn't really pay attention to one island that they claim,

  • another side sweeps in and builds a military station.

  • It gets ugly sometimes.

  • Oh, yeah, and there's a cluster of rocks called the Diaoyu or the Senkaku islands

  • that both China and Japan both think is theirs.

  • Alright! That's it!

  • Kind of. I mean, we didn't really talk about the whole North Korea thing,

  • and how the entire country operates under one time zone,

  • but we'll just have to save that for a social media comment war.

  • In the meantime, we gotta get this gravy train rolling.

  • China is a big big country, so naturally you're gonna get deep geographic divisions all over,

  • but in general, if you look at China from space,

  • you'll notice that the east is significantly greener than that of the arid, rocky north and west.

  • Situated right on the eastern third of the Eurasian landmass,

  • China's inner and coastal domain is kind of shielded by this arid, sparsely populated highlands

  • in the south-west, west and north, encapsulating the fertile lowlands inside.

  • I like to call this "the Chinese shield".

  • "Nobody's gonna touch my plants!"

  • This is partially why it took Europeans so long to develop solid ties and interactions with the east.

  • I mean, sure, the Silk Road had existed for centuries prior,

  • but crossing all the mountains and deserts and rocky pass[es] was less favorable to sea exploration for them.

  • And by the way, no,

  • Marco Polo did not bring the concept of pasta to Italy by bringing back Chinese noodles from his travels.

  • Pasta had already existed in the Mediterranean for centuries prior to the excursion.

  • THE LESS YOU KNEW

  • China has a vast domain of biodiversity and climate;

  • the west and north will be radically different from the coast and south.

  • So let's start with the inland and coast.

  • On the east side of China and the coasts, you have the heavily populated alluvial plains that are generally flat,

  • with numerous spots for shipping and harbours and beaches with the cool looking ones,

  • like Panjin Red Beach that blossoms every autumn.

  • Head a little bit north, up to the provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang, and half of Inner Mongolia

  • along the borders of Russia and North Korea, and you hit the coldest spot in all of China.

  • In fact, every year the city of Harbin, named the "ice city",

  • has a huge ice sculpting festival that draws in millions of tourists in the winter months.

  • Fun fact: this general area of China was commonly referred to as "Manchuria" in the past,

  • named after the Manchu people, which is where the Fu Manchu moustache gets its name from,

  • which is where I get back to the video.

  • Head a little east, and you reach the rest of the Inner Mongolian autonomous region,

  • which is dominated by the Mongolian plateau, which is a highland consisting of dry steppes, hills,

  • and yes, the Gobi desert, which, fun side note: is where all those beautiful caravan raiding and

  • "gimme back my comb or I will kill you" chasing scenes from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were filmed.

  • Head a little west, and things get a little more intense.

  • Congratulations, you've reached the largest subdivision in China - the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.

  • This is basically the wild west of China.

  • At over 1 and a half million square kilometers, only about 5% of the area is fit for human habitation.

  • This area is strange, rocky, rugged, mountainous, and loaded with oil,

  • making it China's largest gas producing region.

  • Then you head a little south, and you reach the strange Taklamakan desert or the "cold desert".

  • This huge basin of shifting sand dunes is almost completely surrounded by the snow-capped mountains

  • trapping in the frigid winds, however, it still lies in the rain shadow zone,

  • so it rarely receives any precipitation.

  • However, the funny thing is: if you look closely, you can see the ice melt from the Tian Shan

  • and Kunlun Mountains in the north and south feeding into the valleys below by the desert,

  • until they create a dry riverbed that looks like a strange Angeline Jolie forehead vein in the desert.

  • Head south, and then we reach the most notable autonomous region - the Tibetan plateau.

  • As the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of nearly 5,000 meters / 16,000 feet,

  • this area is situated on the Himalayan Mountains, the tallest mountain range on the planet,

  • and the tallest mountain in the world - Mount Everest - straddles the border with Nepal.

  • The funny thing is, the Tibetan plateau, and to some extent, the Qinghai province,

  • is so high that the snow melt runoff doesn't really have much to go in the arid north,

  • so it just kind of flows into the empty crevices,

  • creating China's largest network of freshwater lakes speckled throughout the entire area,

  • including the largest lake in China - Qinghai Lake.

  • Many speculate that these are actually the sources of many of the major rivers in China,

  • including the Yellow and Yangtze [rivers].

  • Then we get to the southeast, by the provinces of Yunnan, Guangxi and Guandong

  • as the warmest regions in the country.

  • These areas are home to some of the most picturesque rock forest and eroded mountain landscapes

  • with the terraced rice paddies that have literally usurped the entire surface area of hills and mountains.

  • This is also the only place where you can find the creepy Snub-nosed monkey.

  • When you head inland, you reach the rural areas,

  • and you can encounter the vast network of rivers and creeks that

  • irrigate the endless endless crop fields, with the occasional pine and bamboo forest.

  • Here's where we have to address a little bit of reality.

  • Yes, China is loaded with beautiful scenery unmatched anywhere else in the world.

  • I mean, the setting for 'Avatar' was inspired by the Zhangjiajie National Park,

  • however, just like any other major state, they do have their land controversies.

  • China has been trying really hard to crack down on its poaching,

  • and especially against the endangered species,

  • like the black-necked crane, the golden monkey, and of course,

  • the iconic mascot of the nation - the giant panda bear.

  • On top of that, China has quite a pollution problem;

  • the Chinese Ministry of Health has stated that

  • industrial pollution has made cancer China's leading cause of death.

  • This is both attributed to the air and land pollution.

  • They've tried their best to combat the issue with instituting strict regulations, and fines and bans,

  • but with the population as big as China,

  • it's proven incredibly difficult to manage contamination maintenance.

  • Now let's talk about the most controversial aspect of China, the...

  • Alright, here we go, I'm probably not gonna feel this nervous until we get to the Israel video,

  • or the country "that must not be named"!

  • Let's talk about the people of China.

  • With a population around 1.4 billion people,

  • China is the world's most populous country with around 19% of