At the Edge

Joshua Bird reviews China at its Limits, by Matthias Messmer and Hsin-Mei Chuang


China shares its borders with 14 other countries, more than almost any other nation. Its near neighbors represent a diverse collection, from dominant powers such as Russia and India, to the smaller emerging nations of Laos and Bhutan. Throughout China’s history, it is through these borders that the influencing forces of trade, ideology and imperialism have traveled. China’s border regions have resumed their importance in recent years, with political protest among the country’s ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, and the development of the Belt and Road Initiative – which seeks to further bind China’s neighbors to its economic agenda through the creation of a “New Silk Road.” China’s borders represent an opportunity for trade and cultural exchange, but also a risk for political agitation, terrorism and even military conflict.