The Borderlands: Dispatches from the Edge of China

By Matthew Bossons, November 28, 2019

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China tops a lot of lists, from population to hydroelectricity production, longest high-speed railway to most Olympic gold medals in table tennis. Another list where the PRC is undisputed champion is when it comes to the longest continuous land border.

The Middle Kingdom’s quasi-chicken-shaped outline stretches for over 22,000 kilometers and separates the nation from 14 independent states (another number one): Afghanistan, Bhutan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

China’s borders, aside from being a literal political and administrative dividing line, tell stories of shared cultural practices, foodstuffs, history and – in more recent times – development. As such, the nation’s borderlands are fascinating regions to explore and offer insight not only into the nuances of China itself, but also into life on the other side of the line.

In the pages that follow, we explore the PRC’s borders with Mongolia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. 

Dive into these fascinating features below:

A Line in The Sand: Crossing the China-Mongolia Border

The Communist Divide: Cruising the China-North Korea Border

We Visited the Infamous Laos-China Border Town of Boten

A Border at the Top of the World: Where China Meets Pakistan

These stories are from our November 2019 cover story, ‘The Borderlands: Dispatches from the Edge of China.’ To download the full issue, click here.

[Cover graphic by Tristan Sapp for That’s]

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