The Dokalam standoff continues into its third month now and China has tried everything to pursue India to pull back its troops. Not even India, China has problems with Vietnam, Bhutan Japan, Philippines, and USA.
There are several reasons for Chinese issues with every neighbour(USA being an odd one here because China tries to compare itself to USA) but one thing remains exclusive to Chinese, that is their ever growing hunger for the land, which leads them to call every single part of their neighbouring countries land as theirs.
On Quora, a very famous social media website for question and answers, someone put up the question that why China has ongoing disputes with every neighbouring country. Kiran KS gave a good answer to the same question and explained in detail how China has expanded it land since 1949.
His answer started with explaining how China has ambitions of expanding their land and intruding their neighbour is a common thing for them.
China has imperialist ambitions.
On 1st October 1949, this was People’s Republic of China. See the Yellow part. Tibet was not a part of China. Xinjiang or East Turkestan was not a part of China. Southern part of china was “Nationalist China”. Hong Kong and Macau were not in China. Essentially, PRC was roughly less than half of today’s PRC. This was less than 70 years ago!
1. First the Communists of PRC kicked out the Socialists and Nationalists. That gave them 25% of today’s PRC land in the south. Except Taiwan, they could not be found anywhere in Communist China.
2. Then China took over Muslim majority East Turkestan during the same 1949 and made it Xinjiang. They called it “Incorporation of Xinjiang into the People’s Republic of China”. That added another 15% more land to PRC in today’s terms. Nevermind that Uighurs of Xinjiang are still fighting to separate from China after 69 years.
3. Then they gobbled hapless Buddhist controlled Tibet within 10 years. Dalai Lama had to flee to India to save himself and run an ornamental “exile” government which still runs from DharmaSala in India. But Tibet lost heavily and Tibetans are even today fighting with self immolation bids. But you can read a sanitized version of violent Tibet annexation into PRC as “Incorporation of Tibet into the People’s Republic of China”.
Tibet is the roof of the world and a source of most major rivers of Asia (outside West Asia). It is China’s strategy to occupy it using some historical quotes, though Tibet itself had won against China in wars 1200 years ago and occupied China all the way till Sichuan.
4. In 1999 China hit jackpot getting back Portuguese colony Macau and British colony Hong Kong. Both were very well developed. It still has issues in Hong Kong as they are not accepting Beijing’s version of Communist governance and pro-democracy protests happened as recently as July 2017 when Xi Jinping visited.
5. During 1950s, China literally walked into Aksai Chin of Jammu and Kashmir state in India. Even today India claims it back, but has little chance of getting back. In 1960s, Pakistan which had illegally occupied part of Jammu and Kashmir state of India, “gifted” Shaksgam Valley to China in return for goodies and protection.
There are more areas in both sea and land. China has been gobbling territory, both on land and in sea constantly for 70 years now. It just randomly brings in some “historic” paper or agreement, and then starts bullying. As others have answered here, China has territory dispute with 23 countries!
Just observe how China is bullying all its South China Sea neighbours with Nine Dash, Eleven Dash, 10 Dash kind of maps. Whenever it wants more territorial waters, it modifies a dash on map and claims a few 100 nautical miles around it. It is now building artificial islands and claiming large areas around it as exclusive zone.
The most laughable is with Mongolia.
China claims all of Mongolia on historical precedent citing Yuan Dynasty, 1271-1368. But the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan had ransacked Beijing, massacred 100s of 1000s and occupied a big chunk of China!
Essentially, what China is doing is simple.
1. Find some page in history that is useful for it to make a claim.
2. Make much more claim than what it actually needs.
3. Sit on the negotiating table and bully the neighbours. China’s policy is always clear. What I have is mine, what you have is up for negotiation! That’s why you have no Brahmaputra water sharing agreement with India, while India has water sharing agreements with Pakistan(Sindhu) and Bangladesh(Ganga).
4. Then get what it wants.
5. But keep the effort repeated so that it can keep getting more.
Every neigbour of China is fed up. But since china is the world’s 2nd biggest economy now, most can’t bully China back. Not yet… The only three which stand up to China at present are India, Japan and Vietnam.
In the future, expect China to make claims deep inside Pacific Islands, near African coast, in Trans Atlantic ship routes and much more. China is clear of what it wants. It wants world domination and will work meticulously towards it.