Back in 2013 I used these two images on Army.ca to illustrate the water problem in China:
They are pretty self explanatory: the one on the left shows water availability and the one on the right shows population density. Not at all surprisingly people live where the water is plentiful. China would dearly love to increase population density in the semi-arid North.
About a year later I discussed, in that same forum, an article from the New York Times, which is headlined: “Why China Will Reclaim Siberia.” It was part of an ongoing concern that China and Russia might go to war over resources. The centre-piece of the article was this map:
My contention was, then, and remains now that China would prefer not to have to fight for anything ~ I think that China has a long and deeply ingrained “defensive” mentality ~ they would rather buy resources than fight over them, but they need what Siberia has, including water. I believe that Joe Burgess, the author of the article and map doesn’t really understand what China wants. I suspect that China does want to separate Central and Eastern Siberia from Russia, but I do not believe they want to incorporate them into China. I think that China wants two or three quasi-independent client states above Mongolia. I further believe that, for the Chinese, the Yenesei River, not the Ural Mountain range, is the logical border between Eurasian Russia and Asia, proper. Finally, I think that there may be some global strategic merit in what the I suspect the Chinese want … a dismembered Russia might be a better neighbour for everyone ~ Europe and Asian alike.
The Chinese thirst for resources (pun intended) is well understood and Siberia is a resource treasure house that is ripe for exploitation. While i really do believe that the Chinese would rather buy that fight I also believe that Russia will, more likely than not, to want to deny the Chinese access to those resources and that, I fear, is what will start a Sino-Russian war in Siberia. I have no doubt that China will win ~ it is prepared for a nuclear war with Russia; it is prepared to survive everything Russia could throw its way and, then, to go on the offensive and, after inflicting horrible punishment on Russia to take everything it might ever want. I’m pretty sure some Russian understand that … I’m not so sure Putin is amongst them.