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Chinese Borders (Part III): Russia and North Korea's Wet Blanket

This marks the third article in the Chinese Borders series.  If you missed the previous articles, click the links below.

Today's article focuses on a tense tripoint (a border point shared by three nations). In this case, the tripoint splits China, Russia, and North Korea.




What it Isn't
The tripoint of China, Russia, and North Korea certainly has the world's attention.  But today's story isn't about nuclear weapons or ICBMs.  It's about how the past can flow into the present and leave a nation high-and-dry.

Ten Miles
The Tumen River serves as the border between the three nations (see top image), but the issue lies ten miles away in the Sea of Japan - the exit point of the Tumen River. Strategically, the Sea of Japan is one of the world's most important bodies of water.  And China, with its slowly but ever-expanding naval might, is left without a port on this crucial waterway.  The tripoint and the end of China's territory lies ten miles prior to the Sea of Japan.  North Korea and Russia alone share the coastline.  

Tense Past
Like the dragon that symbolized the empire, mid-1800's China's power and autonomy were just as mythological.  Unwilling to adapt to a rapidly industrializing world, the nation's leadership left China susceptible to foreign intervention. Every territorial and economic advantage the Western powers gained was a loss for China.  One of the nations to take advantage of China's weakened state was its northern neighbor Russia.  This included a mid-nineteenth-century agreement that deeded Russia the strategic Sea of Japan shoreline and left China parched.  Thus, the tensions and actions of the past created a border of modern intrigue.

Thanks for reading.


If you are enjoying this series on China's borders, you may also like this article on Mt. Ararat, which is an important Armenian symbol but lies within Turkey's borders.

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