China sees nations that share its border as its lips and questions what happens to the teeth when the lips are gone.
However, which countries are considered China’s lips?
That question may be answered by the list of countries in Asia that were part of China’s tributary system during the Qing Dynasty: Tibet, Khalkha (a subgroup of the Mongolians), Korea, Ryukyu (Okinawa), Annam (Vietnam), Siam (Thailand), Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Nepal, the Dzungar people of Mongolia, and Turpan which is now located in China’s Xinjiang Province.
Although other nations such as the United Kingdom, Russia, Portugal, the Netherlands and even the Holy See (Catholics) paid tribute to China in the 17th and 18th centuries, they are not considered part of China’s lips.
The first foreign threat in China’s sphere of influence was when Spain conquered the Philippines in 1565 – 1571. Although China did not feel threatened by Spain, the conquest did not go unnoticed.
Spain would maintain a colony in the Philippines until the United States defeated Spain in 1898. Then the Philippines became a colony of the US until 1946 and then the US would keep military bases there until 1992. The US occupation of the Philippines was brutal.
The first serious threat to China’s lips was Japan’s invasion of Korea in 1592 with the professed goal of conquering Korea, the Ming Dynasty and then India.
However, a combined Korean and Chinese army defeated the Japanese.
Japan’s second invasion of Korea in 1597 also failed when another joint Chinese and Korean army defeated the Japanese again.
The next threat to China happened when Britain fought China during the First Opium war 1839 – 1842. Then in 1856 – 1860, Britain was joined by France and the United States to fight and win the Second Opium War.
At about the same time in 1858, France’s navy attacked Da Nang in what is today known as Vietnam in. By 1867, a sizable chunk of Southeast Asia became a French Colony. After World War II, the Vietnamese rebelled and fought the French from 1945 to 1954.
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