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A key defining characteristic of Chinese history is water.  From the earliest known origins of a history that spans millennia, the cultivation of rice has been central to Chinese civilization, and rice requires a great deal of water.  Thus, control over water, over damns and irrigation canals, has been a central theme throughout China's history.  On the left, two young boys run through a rice paddy in Southeastern China.  The terraced landscape on the right is typical of water control techniques used in rural China for centuries.  Source:  Keith Buchanan, China:  The Land and the People (New York:  Crown Publishers, 1980).