The South China Sea by Bill Hayton
Bill Hayton’s book The South China Sea, which was published in 2014, is an example of profound research of maritime space in recent years. The author’s main objectives are to demonstrate the causes of the rise of rivalry over the South China Sea from the historic perspective, the main factors that influence the present-day situation in the region, and suggest measures to resolve the conflict. Hayton states that the South China Sea was predominantly controlled by China, but during the colonial and post-colonial period other countries started to claim their rights. Such comprehensive research that was carried out by the author himself, differentiates Hayton’s book from many other studies that have been conducted recently. Moreover, this book was written to a specific audience that wants to gain profound knowledge of the South China Sea such as diplomats, journalists, students, and other people who are interested in this topic. Thus, The South China Sea presents an overview of rivalry over the South China Sea in the form of a well-organized monograph with some minor limitations.
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The book consists of an introduction and nine chapters. Moreover, The South China Sea contains additional parts such as an epilogue, endnotes, “Acknowledgements and Further Reading,” and index. For example, “Acknowledgements and Further Reading” is a peculiar part that contains a list of people with whom Hayton met or talked and references, which can be useful to form a better understanding of the South China Sea history and its geopolitical role. Thus, Hayton wrote a structured and comprehensive book.
The Struggle for Power in Asia
The introduction and first three chapters present a background overview of the subject. The main focus in the introduction part is on the rivalry between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal. This tension caused the US involvement in the conflict and the rise of the US-China military tensions. Hayton clearly states that “the South China Sea is the first place where Chinese ambition has become face to face with American strategic resolve” (xvi). This statement supports ideas that were earlier mentioned in his book The Struggle for the Power in Asia. The first three chapters in The South China Sea give a historical background of the situation in the South China Sea from early periods till 1995: “Wrecks and Wrongs: Prehistory to 1500,” “Maps and Lines: 1500 to 1948,” “Danger and Mischief: 1946 to 1995.” They explain claims’ roots, which modern independent states use to justify their right over the territory. Thus, Hayton gives a historical background to rivalry in the region.
In the first chapter, Hayton describes the situation in the South China Sea in ancient times. For instance, the author stresses that reefs, low-tide elevations, and sandbanks that form islands in the South China Sea were not interesting or important for Japan and European countries till the end of the nineteenth century when they started to see the area as a vital economic and strategic region. Before the establishment of the Western colonial system, the South China Sea played a role of trade and migration flow hub that can be compared with functions of the Mediterranean Sea. Southeast Asia had a particular understanding of borders and states at those times, which was known as the Mandala territorial system (Hayton). Thus, originally many current actors were not involved in the South China Sea control in ancient times.
In the next chapter, the author presents how other countries were involved in the conflict and the reasons that caused it. When Japan and Western states started to claim their role and interests in the South China Sea, China produced geographical accounts, created toponymy for the islands, drew maps, and launched naval expeditions. One of the most famous results of such work was the establishment of the “U-shaped line” that became the Chinese argument in its territorial claims in the South China Sea. The period of 1946-47 is well-known due to rivalry between France and China in the region. Moreover, during this period, Vietnam and the Philippines were forming as nation-states, and they started to show their interests in the South China Sea. The actual “occupation race” started from the Spratly archipelago appropriation that began an open rivalry between the main countries. Thus, other parties claimed their rights with the establishment of the colonial system.
Chapters 4-8 discuss legal, economic, political, diplomatic, and military issues of the South China Sea question. Chapter 9 demonstrates the state of cooperation and common initiatives to tackle the problem; however, other states do not recognize the proposed options to resolve the issue, especially those that were proposed by China. For instance, Hayton made an important conclusion in Chapter 4 that this problem cannot be resolved according to the international law norms. Nevertheless, many projects and initiatives that were introduced in the early 1970s appeared to be useless (Hayton). In Chapter 5, Hayton supports the vision that the Spratly archipelago has rich oil and gas reserves, and that is the main reason why all actors want to control this area. In the next chapter, the author writes about the role of nationalism in the relations between China and Vietnam and shows how the USA became in the middle of the conflict between the Philippines and China. In Chapter 7, the author discusses the US role in Southeast Asia. Hayton shows the new US policy “Pivot to Asia” as a strategy to rebalance relations with China. As a result, such actions raised competition between the USA and China in the region and hindered ASEAN’s initiatives to resolve the question of the South China Sea (Hayton). The 2009 USNS Impeccable incident that raised concerns over the South China Sea accessibility is discussed in Chapter 9 (Hayton). Thus, Hayton analyzes the current conflict from different perspectives in Chapters 4-9.
In the Epilogue, Hayton expresses his assumption that China will continue to play the central role in the South China Sea. Moreover, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, the People’s Liberation Army, the existence of the U-shaped line, and the role of several coastal provinces will be used to strengthen Chinese claims. The author places a great emphasis on China’s role and responsibility in resolving the South China Sea issue. The book could have been improved if it involved other actors’ interests and positions, such as the USA, Vietnam, Philippines, and Taiwan in the South China Sea. However, China places a central role in the book.
The South China Sea is written in a peculiar style and has a valid scholarly basis. The book represents the journalistic style of research. Hayton worked for BBC as a reporter, which influenced the formation of his style. To write his monograph, Hayton held interviews with the main actors, preceded various reports, newspaper articles, working papers, and many academic papers. The South China Sea contains much useful information and references and fully complies with a standard scholarly approach. The author vividly describes vital moments, which were controversial and caused rivalry escalation on the maritime space issue. For instance, Hayton provided a detailed description of how Crestone, the US oil company got oil concession from China in the waters that Vietnam claimed to be its property. Thus, the author made huge research to write the book.
At the same time, some of the information mentioned in the book does not always comply with the official data or has some value. For example, the president of the China National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Wu Shicun, stressed that some information was not useful (Hayton 248). Moreover, some data is not systematically referenced. Subsections that were used in Chapter 9 enable a better exposition of the analysis. A big advantage of Hayton’s book lies in four maps that were placed at the beginning of the monograph because maps are rarely used in English-language works (ix-xii). However, the author did not refer to or comment on them. Moreover, he could add an oil concessions map, information about which was mentioned in Chapter 5 (Hayton 150). The main limitation of The South China Sea is its vast subjects that limit a full and comprehensive discussion of all actors and their position. For example, Hayton notes that Taiwan can be an important factor in this issue, but it was not mentioned or properly explained before. Moreover, the book lacks analysis of up-to-date literature to provide a complete picture, and no data or prognoses were mentioned about the future events if the conflict intensifies. Thus, the book has some disadvantages.
The South China Sea is one of the best books that were written on the rivalry in the South China Sea in recent times. The author presented a historical overview, current situation, and different factors that influence the escalation of the conflict. Moreover, Hayton wrote the book in a peculiar style and conducted important research. At the same time, the book has some minor disadvantages that do not significantly change the overall quality and value of the book.
The Emperor and the Assassin and Hero
In the mid-third century, BC Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang has become the central figure of many historical studies, popular books, and movies. Chen Kaige directed The Emperor and the Assassin (Jingke ci Qinwang) in 1998, and Zhang Yimou shot Heroin 2002. Nevertheless, each picture belongs to different genres: The Emperor and the Assassin is a historical drama with romance elements, whereas Hero is a wuxia film with martial artists. These movies put the image of the Great Emperor Qin at the center of their plot. Thus, The Emperor and the Assassin and Hero play an important role in China’s history interpretation, which can be traced in their audience, directors’ visions, historical and cultural content, main characters, plots, and other important elements.
Both movies received high national and international recognition. For example, the premiere broadcast of The Emperor and the Assassin was held in the Great Hall of People in Beijing, which put it to the level of the national significance event. It was planned to organize an open-air screening in Tiananmen Square, but authorities declined the request. At the same time, The Emperor and the Assassin also received a high level of criticism from Chinese movies critics. Hero was more popular among the Chinese and foreign public than The Emperor and the Assassin and had high box-office records. In general, the public was more interested in Chinese history and Emperor Qin rather than in the movie as a whole (Wang 43-44). Thus, the main audience of these movies was people who were interested in Chinese history.
Chen and Zhang introduced different visions of the Qin’s King, which was their main idea. Moreover, these pictures were used to explain China’s past for achieving a better understanding of contemporary China’s social and cultural development (Ye and Zhu 75). For example, The Emperor and the Assassin show Ying Zheng as a cruel and heartless ruler, while Hero presents him as a wise and courageous man. The reason for such difference lies in the fact that the majority of the Chinese population clearly understands the importance of various states’ unification and the formation of a single state. However, Emperor Qin is remembered as a tyrant who was doing everything to achieve his goal, as it was pictured in The Emperor and the Assassin. From various historic records, it is known that he gathered high taxes and killed many Chinese people to build the Great Wall, his palaces, and his tomb (Wang 49). Thus, Chen’s picture continued to present Ying Zheng in a manner that was highly recognized by Chinese officials, while Zhang proposed an opposite vision, showing the Emperor as a man who nourished the idea to unify China.
Historical and cultural context
Before Ying Zheng became the well-known First Emperor of China, he was a ruler of the Qin state. Many historians depict him as an abusive and violent tyrant. Because of his desire to conquer and unify all separate six states, a few assassination attempts were organized to kill him (Wang 44). The historian Sima Qian, who is known as China’s Herodotus, wrote the book Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji). This book contains facts that one of those attempts to kill the ruler of Qin state happened in 227 BC. Chen used this book as a historic basis for The Emperor and the Assassin (Tunzelmann). Jing Ke was mentioned as the king’s assassin. Moreover, the author depicted Jing Ke as a wise and courageous warrior who agreed to kill the tyrant (Wang 45). At the same time, Zhang referred to Chinese folklore and legends in particular. That is why he paid more attention to traditional marital skills (Zhang). Thus, the period that was described in the movies was the era when Ying Zheng was trying to unify China.
Ying Zheng, the future Emperor Qin Shi Huang, was the main character in both pictures. However, Chen and Zhang depicted him from different perspectives. For instance, in The Emperor and the Assassin, Ying Zheng’s actions were based on two main reasons: the desire to end “civil war” between states to establish peace and prosperity and the fulfillment of Qin’s historical mission that was predetermined by his ancestors. As a result, he uses terror and brutality to achieve his goals (Wang 44). On the contrary, Hero presents the King of Qin as a ruler with courage, strategic vision, and martial art skills. While talking with Nameless, he does not blindly believe in all his words, but analyses them and uncovers his genuine motives. When Nameless approached the King in the distance of ten steps and could easily kill him, Ying Zheng raised and told him about the vision of the unified China “all under heaven”. With his wise words, Ying Zheng managed to demonstrate Nameless his true purpose and reasons for his action. As a result, the assassin decided to sacrifice himself to reach a better goal, which is to end the war between states and build a single state (Zhang). Thus, the two directors introduced different visions of Ying Zheng.
The assassin is the other central character. In both pictures, the assassin is described as a skillful and courageous warrior. However, the director added some emotionality and affections to the character of Jing Ke in The Emperor and the Assassin. For example, the existence of a strong feeling to lady Zhao illustrates it(Chen). In Hero, the assassin is more cold-hearted, with the only mission to kill the king to revenge. However, when he started to understand the importance of unification, he agreed to die and sacrifice his life for a better future (Zhang). Thus, the assassin represents opposition to the King’s rule.
The Emperor and the Assassin and Hero have different plots. Chen’s movie starts with a battle scene, where Ying Zheng was depicted as a fearless warrior. The time spent with lady Zhao presents Zheng’s memories from his childhood and his plan to unify all states. Lady Zhao decides to escape together with Han’s prince to her motherland and to find an assassin, whose attack will be used by Zheng as a reason to start the war against the Han state. While staying in the palace, Zheng discovers that his mother has a lover and gave birth to two other boys, who could claim a godly lineage and their right to the throne. Later, the mother’s lover attempts to overthrow Zheng, but he fails. Lady Zhao manages to find the assassin, but she falls in love with him. Ying Zheng starts a campaign against Zhao's state and cruelly murders Zhao’s children. Jing Ke makes a futile attempt to kill the King. Lady Zhao comes to take Ke’s body to bury it (Chen). Thus, the film’s plot is chronological and has a single line.
The hero starts with the scene when the nameless was invited to visit Qin’s palace because he had killed the King’s main enemies. He gets rewards from the King and tells his stories about how he managed to kill each of them. When Nameless got a right to sit ten steps from Ying Zheng, the King tells that he is lying and presents his vision of how Nameless got swords. However, his version is not right as well, and the assassin tells the true story. The King gives his sword to the assassin because he has found a person who understands his desire to unite all states. Nameless decides not to kill the King and walks away, but the King kills him. Flying Snow kills Broken Sword, and after realizing her actions, she commits suicide. Qin’s King buries him as a hero (Zhang). Thus, the picture is full of flashbacks, surprise events, shocking moments, and unpredictable turns.
Although both movies tell a story about Qin’s state, the directors used different methods to portray events. First, The Emperor and the Assassin is more historically accurate than Hero, where Zhang Yimou pays more attention to legendary stories. Second, general events and the plot of The Emperor and the Assassin are more realistic and convincing because of the detailed battle scenes, weaponry, country houses, city walls, markets, and the imperial court description. Third, many special effects were used in Hero, especially in fight scenes, where characters appear to have superpowers, can fly, and stop flying arrows. Moreover, the costumes and make-up in The Emperor and the Assassin are realistic and fully correspond to the epoch. On the contrary, Hero characters wear bright robes, which creates the feeling of fiction. Thus, important elements in the movies, such as historical accuracy, special effects, costumes, and makeup strengthen the difference in messages that each director wanted to convey.
Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou succeeded in achieving the purpose to present their vision of Ying Zheng's contradictory figure. Whereas Chen narrated a historically based and realistic story, Zhang wanted to show the future Emperor from another perspective, presenting him as a wise ruler with a great vision. As a result, the director used legends and special effects to impress the audience. These movies do not require any improvements because they would change the whole theme and its meaning. Moreover, the universal message that can be traced in both movies is that great people, such as Emperor Qin Shi Huang, are doomed to be lonely, strictly judged, and often misunderstood by people, who do not see the whole picture and understand the importance of changes that need to be done.
Political changes China has experienced since 1900
The period between 1900 and the modern days is one of the most challenging in China’s history. The country saw various rules within different regimes, who proposed their ways to develop the country in the new age. However, not all of those models were successful and practical for the Chinese reality with poor peasant population, foreign presence, and undeveloped economy. During all these events, Communist China was established, which managed to develop into a strong state after the Republican period with the first leader policies and economic modernization.
Sun Yat-sen was one of the key leaders of the Anti-Manchu movement. Sun did not share the traditional Chinese views but rather spent some time in the West, was converted to Christianity, and received western education. Sun started to look for allies to bring to life his vision of China, and Japan helped him to form the Revolutionary Alliance, which became an active organization (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 265). Thus, he represents a new westernized generation of Chinese activists.
Yuan Shikai is an example of the old elites. When the imperial system collapsed, fifteen provinces proclaimed their independence. To unite the country, Yuan Shikai, who was a general in Qing’s army, launched a military campaign and started negotiations. As a result, in 1912, he was proclaimed the president of the newly formed Republic (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 265). At the same time, Yuan did not support democratic values. When the Nationalist Party won elections in 1913, he killed its leader Song Jiaoren. Some provinces that did not want to be a part of the centralized state proclaimed their independence, and Yuan suppressed them again. Moreover, in 1915 he made a statement that he would become a new Chinese emperor in 1916. However, in June 1916 he died (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 266). Thus, Yuan attempted to restore the monarchy, but he failed.
The period from 1916 until 1928 is known as the warlord period. Former armies’ generals, local governments, influential people, merchandisers, and gangsters were fighting to establish their rule in certain regions. For example, Tibet and Mongolia proclaimed their independence. The most active and destructive wars were in North China, while Sun was creating a basis for his movement in the south (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 267). Thus, for over ten years local rulers fought for power.
The issue of the New Youth periodical starting from 1915 became a platform where the leading Chinese activists were presenting their vision of a modern China political, cultural, and social development. Very often this periodical is associated with the beginning of the New Cultural Movement. The main purpose of this movement was to build a new Chinese nation that would “be reborn and remodeled” (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 267). Thus, a new vision of China’s development started to be accumulated.
Unfair decisions made during the Versailles Peace Conference, when Japan claimed its rights to control Shandong province after World War I, sparked protests that are known as the May Fourth Movement. The main activists in these events were young people and students, who wanted to punish traitors and demanded not to sign the Versailles Treaty. The movement started in Beijing and later spread across many other Chinese cities. New intellectual goals sometimes contradicted the political goals that were presented in the May Fourth Movement and supported nationalism, patriotism, and democracy (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 271). Thus, the aim of the May Fourth Movement was to prevent a new China’s colonization.
The two most prominent Chinese parties were the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party. Comintern even proposed to form an alliance with the Nationalists in 1922, which would have common members but separate activities. However, their cooperation did not last long. In 1925, Sun Yat-sen died from cancer; however, both parties still launched the Northern Expedition to reunify China. After Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi) became one of the leaders of the Nationalists and the army reached Shanghai in April 1927, Chiang organized the Green Gang to kill all people who supported Communists. These actions ended the union between two parties (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 274-275). Thus, the attempt to unite efforts to build a single country failed.
At the same time, Japan started to engage in the politics of China. To create an explanation of Shenyang’s occupation, Japan bombed the Southern Manchurian Railroad in 1931. The next year Shanghai was bombed. In 1932, Japan created a puppet state “Manchukuo”.
Great Britain lost its ability to secure the region, and the USA started to pay more attention to East Asia affairs. Chiang attended the meeting in Cairo and Yalta because of the US lobby. However, Communists knew that they would not win the Japanese only by themselves. Thus, in 1936, they kidnapped Chiang from Xi’an to force him to establish the Second United Front. In 1937, Japan launched a military operation, moving south. Chiang fought to protect Shanghai for over three months, and when the city failed, Nanjing became the new Nationalists’ capital. When the Japanese reached Nanjing, they massacred the population of the city. These events are known as the Rape of Nanking (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 284-285). Thus, Japan’s invasion ruined China.
During this period the role of Communists started to grow. In 1934, the Communist Party was defeated by the Nationalists and moved to Shaanxi. These events are called the Long March. Yan’an became the new Communists’ base (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 287). However, high inflation and poverty started to undermine Nationalists’ positions. Communists, by contrast, proposed a model that was more appealing to the majority of the population. As a result, Chiang lost the civil war and retreated to Taiwan, where the Republic of China was created (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 290). Thus, the Nationalists failed to unite China and establish a democratic rule, which caused the formation of Communist China.
After the Communist Party came to power in China, the whole system was reconstructed. First, workers and peasants received greater credit than intellectuals, landlords, foreigners, and capitalists. Second, the difference between the rich and the poor vanished, and wealth started to be redistributed. Third, modernization gradually brought new factories, hospitals, schools, and railroads. However, total control was established over the political, economic, social, and even personal life of China’s citizens (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 294). Thus, the Communist Party started to rebuild China.
The Korean War (1950-1953) and China’s participation in it signalized several new tendencies. China, as a communist country, protected itself from imperialism. However, the USA started a Cold War with China, which caused an economic embargo and navy patrols between Taiwan and China. Such policy led to the expropriation of many foreign businessmen and missionaries because they could threaten the Party’s rule (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 297). Thus, the Korean War negatively influenced China’s international image.
Several other policies were launched as well. First, in 1953-1957, the first five-year plan was realized. According to this plan, the production of steel, energy, and cement would be multiplied manifold; however, the plan was not reached. Second, the land reform proclaimed land redistribution among peasants, agricultural collectivization, and state control over the grain market. Third, the new “elite” was wormed out by villagers, who were in charge of the reorganization process (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 297-300). Thus, planned economy, land, and social reforms became the first steps in the country’s modernization.
In 1957, Mao decided to launch a new polity, The Great Leap Forward. Gigantic communes were created in the countryside to pursue agricultural collectivization. Moreover, the government encouraged the creation of small-scale factories with the help of local materials. This policy helped to construct new railroads, canals, bridges, and power stations. However, most projects failed because of a lack of educated and skilled labor. The reduction of the number of people who were working in fields caused the great famine, which is known as the Three Hard Years. In 1959-1962, over thirty million Chinese died because of food scarcity. Mao was withdrawn from politics. Liu Shaoqi and other activists started developing the heavy industry and renewing market activities (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 309). Thus, The Great Leap Forward was not effective.
At the same time, Mao introduced the Cultural Revolution movement in 1966. His wife Jiang Qing played a central role in this movement. As a result, the Red Guards were created, which were formed predominantly from middle school and university students. The whole movement became radicalized and uncontrolled. For example, they even labeled Liu Shaoqi, the head of China, as a “chief capitalist-roader”. In 1968, the Red Guards were disbanded by Mao to stop violence and prevent war (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 314). Thus, the Cultural Revolution resulted in violence and disorder.
Party’s inner circle had people with different views. For example, in 1971 Lin Biao, the Minister of Defense, was planning to assassinate Mao. When his plans were discovered, Lin wanted to flee to the Soviet Union, but his plane crashed over Mongolia. He was presented as a traitor of China and Communism in Chinese papers. On the contrary, Zhou Enlai was dealing with foreign affairs and had more moderate views. He supported the idea to improve US-China relations. He was the initiator of the visit of Richard Nixon, the US president, to China in 1972. When Zhou died, Jiang Qing called him a “counter-revolutionary”. However, after Mao died in 1976, Qing and her supporters, who were known as the Gang of Four, were arrested (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 319). Thus, the Communist Party was diverse and had members with different views.
In 1976, China started reforms. Hua Fuofen became the acting Premier in 1976. He supported the ideas of the Cultural Revolution and started to introduce reforms gradually. However, he was not considered a charismatic leader and later devolved power to a new leader Deng Xiaoping (Wasserstrom 228). Deng proclaimed the Four Modernizations of industry, agriculture, defense, and technology as well as the Four Cardinal Principles, namely the proletariat’s dictatorship, socialist path, Communist Party leadership, and Leninism, Marxism, and Maoism ideologies (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 322). Deng also wanted to demonstrate China’s modernization by creating a Democracy Wall that was situated in Beijing, where everyone could put posters. However, Wei Jingshenn and other leaders of the Democracy Wall movement were arrested later (Wasserstrom 233). Thus, Deng introduced a new approach to China’s development.
Hu Yaobang was a General Secretary and possibly Deng’s successor. However, many Party members did not support reforms. They dismissed Hu from the Party, which delayed reforms (Wasserstrom 235). In 1985, Zhao Ziyang became the Premier. He introduced the seventh five-year plan, which is considered the most realistic one among all previous plans. He proposed market mechanisms extension and gradual growth (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 235). Thus, other party members also took part in China’s modernization, but not all of them were supported.
The spread of liberal ideas did not mean modification of the whole system. Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to China caused the beginning of gatherings, parades, and demonstrations when students supported the democratization and liberalization of China. In May 1989, many students gathered in Tiananmen Square, they received wide public support. However, the gathering was oppressed at night on June 3-4, when with the help of military units the protest was suppressed (Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 328). Thus, the suppression of the Tiananmen protest demonstrated the Party’s ability to hold power in its hands.
Den Xiaoping started a tradition of power transfer to a successor. In 1992, Jiang Zeming became a new country’s leader, while Den still lived till 1997. Such practice helped to choose “heirs” while leaders still governed the country before a new person had a chance to assume power. The same situation happened in 2002 when during the Sixteenth Party Conference, Jiang devolved power to Hu Jintao (Wasserstrom 286) In 2012, Xi Jinping became the head of the PRC, and in 2013, he was selected as the President of the PRC (Wasserstrom 326). Thus, a new system of power transition was established.
At the same time, new challenges appeared. For example, in April 2001, the conflict between China and the USA was intended, when the US Navy plane collided with a PLA Navy jet over the Hainan Island. This event started growing tension between the two countries over the South China Sea (Wasserstrom 274). Moreover, one of the biggest current China challenges is its integrity. For instance, Tibet, Taiwan, and Xinjiang are regions that proclaimed their independence. Beijing defines problems that are connected with human rights and self-determination as purely domestic issues and does not want to involve any outside, foreign actors in this process (Nathan and Scobell 198). Thus, modern China has many problems and threats.
China underwent a long way of development. Several models were introduced such as a monarchical, democratic, or socialist state. Each of those models had leaders: Yuan Shikai, Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, and Mao Zedong, who had their vision of China. Monarchists and Nationalists failed to get public support, propose an effective developing model, and unite the country. As a result, Communists came to power. Communists did not provide a perfect model but rather conducted a controversial, violent policy to build a socialistic state. However, when it became obvious that the country needs modernization, Den Xiaoping, Hu Yaobang, and Zhao Ziyang introduced new approaches. Today China is a developing country that still faces some challenges, such as the issues relating to the South China Sea, Tibet, Taiwan, and Xinjiang.