According to themotorcyclers, the definition of the territory under Chinese sovereignty continues to be one of the points to which the government pays the most attention. The most significant recent event in this regard was the return of Hong Kong (1997), which was assured, for more 50 years, one status specific, preserving the acquired socio-economic structure. Hong Kong was thus erected as a special administrative region, avoiding, at least immediately, the feared exodus of people and activities. However, compared to the past, Hong Kong’s importance for China has decreased considerably: if the former British colony has long represented the only door open to trade (economic and otherwise) from and to China, the recent the establishment of special economic regions on the Chinese metropolitan territory, specifically enabled and encouraged to entertain direct relations with foreign countries, has reduced the problem of the relative Chinese closure. The return of Hong Kong, therefore, although it is also important from a production and even more financial point of view, rather it resulted in the reaffirmation of a principle of sovereignty by China, pursued for decades with great tenacity. A fortiori, the return of Macao (end 1999) has turned into an event of eminently symbolic importance.
On other fronts, the issues appear more substantial, but also more complex in order to be resolved quickly. If the China has managed to settle, according to the status quo, the disputes relating to its western borders, through a series of agreements with the Central Asian republics arising from the dissolution of the USSR, and although negotiations are also underway with the Russian Federation for the very long common border (a short stretch on the Altai, between Kazakhstan and Mongolia, therefore the long continuous path in Manchuria), the questions with India and Pakistan in the Kaśmir area remain completely open, where the three countries advance crossed claims which no one seems to want to give up, given the military importance of region and its difficult ethnic situation. There are also other not insignificant disputes, not yet resolved, on some small groups of islands in the South China Sea (Spratly, Paracel, Senkaku and other smaller islands), as well as the claim on Taiwan,
The apparently most pressing territorial problems for China are internal, produced by the strong ethnic differentiation affecting its peripheral regions, by the regional divergence of the terms of economic development and by the profound modifications of the natural environment. Among the latter, which include cases of serious contamination of soils and water, heavy air pollution in industrial areas still fueled by coal, extensive deforested areas, loss of fertility in sub-desert regions and so on, it is necessary to remember the effects produced and expected from construction. of the Three Gorges dam, along the middle course of the Yangtze (begun in 1994), the basin of which, currently being filled, will have to extend over about 54. 000 km², involving a stretch of about 600 km of river course; the formation of the pelvis causes the displacement of 1, 5 million people and weather and unforeseen environmental consequences generally, so that the project has been strongly opposed, even in BC, and has not enjoyed any financial support or technical international.
Among the issues concerning the presence of minorities, the Tibetan one still seems to be the most heated, while the one affecting the Islamic population of Xinjiang Uygur appears relatively less serious, especially after the final definition of the aforementioned borders. The Tibetan minority, however, managed to attract the greatest international attention by claiming respect for the administrative autonomy of Tibet and the consequent protection of the cultural specificities of the population, in the face of a constant policy of incorporation and assimilation implemented by the government. Chinese.
The issue is clearly territorial, in the sense that the Tibetan population, according to official data, would represent just 0, 4% of the C population; even admitting an official underestimation, its demographic importance remains quite small, in the Chinese demographic framework, and its demands are correspondingly weak, especially if we consider the vastness and potential of the Tibetan territory, practically never appreciated before the Chinese interventions. The concentration of Tibetans within a well-defined area (even if the Chinese government has been accused of having delimited the autonomous region of Tibet in order to exclude part of the Tibetan population), and moreover strongly peripheral, makes the question very delicate. The strategic and economic importance of the whole region is added to the very firm Chinese intention not to allow any territory that was once subject to the authority (in any express form) of the
Problems of another nature and no less insidious seem to pose those coastal regions in which intense economic development has taken place, autonomous and open to the international market, which not only characterizes these areas in a completely different way from most of China, rural and less advanced, but it seems to have nullified the effects of the long revolutionary and socialist period, recovering that economic and social primacy that the same regions already had before the revolution. In these terms, the regional imbalance could produce secessionist temptations that would be fueled not only by economic selfishness, but also by inveterate socio-political traditions and by specific geopolitical interests of foreign states.