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Ian_Lee

Did dynastic China invade and expand?

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Ian_Lee

Holyman:

This may be the last message on this topic with you since it seems you haven't quite really followed what I wrote previously.

Repeating again and again on the same point makes me really tiresome.

I wrote that if a well-defined society (nation, country, entity,..etc) captures/conquers another well-defined society with force, then I would say it is an invasion. The war between Japan and China was obviously an act of invasion om a well-defined society by another well-defined society.

The military campaigns in Qin's time against the surrounding areas where mostly and loosely occupied by some tribes who lived in stone age style were hardly eligible to be classified as "invasion".

Since you insist to ignore what I have written repeatedly, then it is futile and meaningless on further discussion.

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bathrobe
The military campaigns in Qin's time against the surrounding areas where mostly and loosely occupied by some tribes who lived in stone age style were hardly eligible to be classified as "invasion".

In other words, China didn't invade its surrounding areas, it just engulfed them (like an amoeba)!

Actually, the idea of the Han Chinese being peace-loving people -- it was the nasty barbarians who came in and expanded the Chinese empire -- seems to be one of China's enduring myths.

At any rate, even if the Han Chinese manage to shirk off responsibility for their aggressive expansion, you can't deny that they have an enormous fetish for retaining any territory to which they've ever laid claim.

All Chinese know that Mongolia used to be part of China. Big chunks of Siberia rightfully belong to China. Korea was originally Chinese. Even with Vietnam, independent for 1,000 years, all Chinese seem to be aware that 'Vietnam was once part of China'. (Even Japan kind of belongs to China, when you consider the 1,000 youths and maidens who went off looking for the medicine of immortality).

The irredentist streak in the Chinese is truly blood-chilling. When will we see an end of this covert aggressiveness (by which I mean, laying claims to ever more territory under the cloak of saying 'it always belonged to us').

(Sorry for starting this acrimonious thread up again! You can put a lock on it if you like, Roddy!)

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Ian_Lee
All Chinese know that Mongolia used to be part of China. Big chunks of Siberia rightfully belong to China. Korea was originally Chinese. Even with Vietnam, independent for 1,000 years, all Chinese seem to be aware that 'Vietnam was once part of China'. (Even Japan kind of belongs to China, when you consider the 1,000 youths and maidens who went off looking for the medicine of immortality).

The irredentist streak in the Chinese is truly blood-chilling. When will we see an end of this covert aggressiveness (by which I mean, laying claims to ever more territory under the cloak of saying 'it always belonged to us').

What happened in history and what the current government and people think are two different matters.

No Chinese government in modern history has ever claimed that Korea and Vietnam are Chinese territory. And you are the only one I ever heard that claims Japan should be Chinese territory.

It is just like no sane Italians would ever claim other parts of Europe and Africa as their territory even though those lands might have been parts of the Roman Empire.

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Ian_Lee

Some more addition.

In other words, China didn't invade its surrounding areas, it just engulfed them (like an amoeba)!

Actually, the idea of the Han Chinese being peace-loving people -- it was the nasty barbarians who came in and expanded the Chinese empire -- seems to be one of China's enduring myths.

If we look at what western historians call the "China Proper" -- the core 18 provinces -- they have in fact been Chinese territory during the Western Han Dynasty (about 2,200 years ago) and more or less remained so throughout history.

In fact, historically the Han Chinese have been restricted from further expansion geographically and production-wise outside this boundary.

Geographically the northeast was inaccessible due to hazard weather, the north due to desert, and the west due to the huge plateau. The only accessible area was the northwest where expansion had been attempted in the Han and Tang dynasties respectively.

But both attempts ended in failure because Han Chinese were basically agrarian people and the northwest could not sustain mass cultivation until the modern technology arrives.

In the East, there are vast tracts of ocean. Han Chinese were not seafaring people and they did not even migrate en masse to the nearby island of Taiwan until the early 17th Century.

For frontier regions of Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet, they were not really brought into China's fold until Qing Dynasty whose rulers were nomadic people.

Of course, throughout the 2,200 years there have still been many tribal people within China Proper especailly in the south. But hardly have there been any large scale of civilized people vs barbarian warfares going on. The assimilation process was gradual with some tribes whom didn't like assimilated were further crowded out to the south to present day Southeast Asia.

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ala
All Chinese know that Mongolia used to be part of China. Big chunks of Siberia rightfully belong to China. Korea was originally Chinese. Even with Vietnam, independent for 1,000 years, all Chinese seem to be aware that 'Vietnam was once part of China'. (Even Japan kind of belongs to China, when you consider the 1,000 youths and maidens who went off looking for the medicine of immortality).

Hahaha! It's all true.. I admit it. I conclude China's not a modern nation-state, it's a civilization under disguise. In fact, I just had a conversation with another Chinese about Vladivostok; he suggested that the Chinese should strike a deal with the Russians and loan the land nearby for 50 years, and if they don't agree, we should suggest the land was part of China anyway. I once went to a Taiwan-funded library in the States, and in the reading room was a map of China. I couldn't recognize it for a second (I usually identify China to be a chicken shape), instead it was quite large and kind of looked like the United States in contour. I disagree with Ian_Lee that most Chinese see China today as Italians see Italy today. The myth of a continuous Chinese civilization has been so deeply engrained that most Chinese automatically associate the modern nation-state(s) to the Chinese civilization. Also, once you join the China club, you will forever be remembered as is/was a part of China (and this China strangely refers to an extrapolated past form of modern China, as if these territories once belonged to the Chinese who are living/ruling in China today; again the boundary between the civilization and the nation-state is blurry).

Under this light, the passion in the Taiwan debate, et al all begin to make sense. As well as peripheral territories such as Tibet, Inner Mongolia, et al. This behavior is not equivalent to 18-20th century colonization by Western nation-states and Japan; it is the behavior of a civilization.

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Ian_Lee

Ala:

I think China has more than legitimate ground to stage a claim on Vladivostok.

Since the international community considers that it is legitimate for China to take back Hong Kong which was ceded in perpetuity to Britian under the unequal treaty of Nanking in 1842, most likely none would object China to recover Vladivostok which was ceded in perpetuity to Russia under the unequal Convention of Peking in 1860.

But I would bet 100 to 1 that Beijing will not dare raise the issue.

Why?

Owing to inferiority small brother complex in deference to Russia.

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bathrobe
I think China has more than legitimate ground to stage a claim on Vladivostok.

That is what is known as 'irredentism'.

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Ian_Lee
I think China has more than legitimate ground to stage a claim on Vladivostok.

That is what is known as 'irredentism'.

So do you mean that the act of China taking back Hong Kong which was ceded under similar circumstance was "irredentism"?

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bathrobe
I conclude China's not a modern nation-state, it's a civilization under disguise.

Yes, but what is special in the Chinese case is the inability to countenance two separate states embodying that civilisation. There is what seems to be a deep-seated, not-to-be-denied desire to possess everything 'under heaven'. This is what, I suspect, creates so many political fictions in China (including the curious reluctance to set up separate time zones, which would somehow threaten centralised authority -- my own personal view). It may yet cause major political and military friction in Asia.

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bathrobe
So do you mean that the act of China taking back Hong Kong which was ceded under similar circumstance was "irredentism"?

The desire to reclaim HK was a kind of irrendentism. But in this case we are talking about a little speck of territory that was half way round the world from the UK and which the British were unwilling or unable to maintain (unlike the Falklands). Besides which, HK is largely ethnically Chinese.

Vladivostok is tied integrally into Russian territory, settled by Russian people. The desire to reclaim all your lost territories from neighbouring states is irredentism.

I find it disturbing that the Chinese are only ever able to see the rightness of Chinese claims, which they take for granted even if it is really a trumped up territorial grab. They seem to find it difficult to see the point of view of the other side.

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Ian_Lee

Bathrobe:

But per your logic, wasn't Russian's acquiring of Vladivostok (by that time it was called Hai-Xin-Wei which Chinese still uses now) an act of irredentism too?

In 1860, no doubt Vladivostok was also tied as an integral part of Qing Empire. It was also settled by the Chinese people though at a much sparse scale than Hong Kong is now.

So why would you think Russian act of irredentism in 1860 needed to be forgiven?

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bathrobe
wasn't Russian's acquiring of Vladivostok (by that time it was called Hai-Xin-Wei which Chinese still uses now) an act of irredentism too?

No, it was an act of imperialism.

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Guest suowei

Before any meaningful discussion, I think it is important to come to an agreement of the definition of the two words in the thread title read “invasion” and “expansion”. This has to be done not only in terms of linguistics, but also taken into consideration of historical facts.

Secondly, we must also understand the purpose of a constructive discussion. If we would like to predict the possible scenario (1) due to the remarkable economic development that has been making in PRC, or (2) for the changes of Eastern Asia in about 50 years perhaps, etc.

Finally, all speakers would gain some kinds of satisfaction by contributing your knowledge and expectation for a united, peaceful and prosperous Asia rather than anything else.

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bathrobe
all speakers would gain some kinds of satisfaction by contributing your knowledge and expectation for a united, peaceful and prosperous Asia

The earlier part of the discussion I can't speak for. As for the last few postings, I think the positions are:

Ian: Why can't China claim back territories it used to own?

bathrobe: Because trying to get back old territories on the part of any country threatens peace and stability.

I personally am somewhat pessimistic about the ability of Asia to become 'united, peaceful, and prosperous'.

In particular, the attitude that some countries have of wanting to restore the situation to what it was 150-200 years ago is major threat to peace.

As for united, united under who? Tokyo? (I think not). Beijing? (I hope not). If you want to be united through cooperation, some major mentality changes are going to have to take place.

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ala

I'm not very optimistic either. But I do feel economic relations will at least make any relationship cordial. I see no reason why East Asia needs to be united, as I am convinced that China itself should undergo greater federalization instead of being one massive and highly inefficient State.

As for India, I feel there will only be greater tensions between it and China. China is traditionally highly suspicious of India, and judging from the current compare-with-China obsession India has (ever read an Indian newspaper?), it's going to be rough as scarce resources become fought over. Afterall, someone is going to get rich first, and the loser will probably suffer a long wait.

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bathrobe
As for India, I feel there will only be greater tensions between it and China

When I wrote 'Tokyo? (I think not). Beijing? (I hope not)', I was about to add 'New Delhi', but then I thought, 'No, too far-fetched'. I guess I was wrong.

one massive and highly inefficient State

From many points of view you are right -- but I wonder if the traditional Chinese political mentality places a high value on efficiency in that sense. Rather, efficiency is concerned with achieving political ends for the least effort. The objective is to rule, control, and be acknowledged as the ruler (submission from within, tribute from without), with the lowest political and military expenditure possible.

Maintaining fictions (you have to officially adopt Beijing time in Kashgar even if you actually run your life by unofficial local time) is one way of doing that. (There may be economic and other costs involved, but the powers-that-be obviously feel it is worth it). Divide and rule, appeasement, bluster, stratagem, wiles, etc. etc. are all efficient ways of maintaining control with a minimum expenditure of effort and maximum effect.

But federalism? Is China any more ready for federalism than it is for 'democracy'? Is the notion of formally and permanently alienating a portion of your sovereignty to another political entity (even if it theoretically belongs to you) congenial to the Chinese? Makeshift compromises, yes, structural and systematic recognition of these compromises -- I wonder.

Please feel to flame me on this -- I am musing aloud, at the risk of speaking nonsense.

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Guest suowei

Quote:

As for united, united under who? Tokyo? (I think not). Beijing? (I hope not). If you want to be united through cooperation, some major mentality changes are going to have to take place.

Bathrobe,

It is no doubt that the word "united" is from the strategic point of view. It should not be interpreted as under a specific government.

There are 3 points in my poster:

(1) clarify the definition of “invasion” & “expansion”

(2) purpose of a constructive discussion

(3) a win-win among all speakers

On top of it, you may wish to read my suggestion as whole, not only a particular sentence.

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bathrobe
It should not be interpreted as under a specific government

I did not mean it that way. What I meant was under the dominance of any particular power (or 'big brother' figure).

In particular, I am objecting to any attempt to revive the old system of states in East Asia with the Celestial Empire at its centre.

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Ian_Lee
Ian: Why can't China claim back territories it used to own?

bathrobe: Because trying to get back old territories on the part of any country threatens peace and stability.

Not necessarily true especially in the case of primoski.

Just like Britain in Hong Kong, Moscow also lost interest in taking care of this remote land that is 8-hour time zone away. Moreover, the German and Jews who were forced by Stalin to settle along the Amur River in 1930s have gradually gone back to Europe after the collapse of USSR. The Russian population in this region face a negative birth rate while Chinese have become the second largest population.

Based on such drastic demographic change, anything currently inconceivable may happen in the future peacefully.

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bathrobe
happen in the future peacefully

'Peacefully' is the operative word. But not by shouting and screaming that 'it's really ours anyway'.

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