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Did dynastic China invade and expand?


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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

This habit of extrapolating into the past is one of the unsurmountable obstacles in trying to speak sensibly about China and its history. There are lots of contradictions involving wholes and parts, or past and present.

Two examples:

1. 5,000 years of history.

Taiwan is part of China. Thus, although the island of Formosa was only settled by the Han 300 or so years ago, the Taiwanese claim to be heirs to 5,000 years of Chinese history.

The Vietnamese, on the other hand, spent more time under Chinese rule -- 1,000 years -- than Taiwan has been part of China. But by declaring independence, the Vietnamese lost their right to claim 5,000 years of history. They would be lucky if they could claim 3,000 years.

This really is a nonsensical and meaningless result.

2. The Mongols

It has been claimed to me by some that the Chinese were once a vigorous and aggressive people. Why look, our armies once fought all the way to Europe!

Naturally the episode being referred to is the dramatic Mongol expansion through Asia in the 12th century (I think -- forgive me if the century is wrong).

The problem is that at the time the Mongols were not Chinese. They did invade China and became a Chinese dynasty, but China was only one of their possessions. Many centuries later, the Mongols came to be classed as a member of the 中华民族, and thus as 'Chinese'. Extrapolating backwards (they are 'Chinese', so we can take credit for everything they have done) produces this weird result.

Incidentally, if you do this with the Mongols you strictly should do it with all the ethnic groups of China, including the Koreans, the Russians, and the Vietnamese, all of whom are classed as minority ethnic groups! So thanks to that little group of 俄罗斯族, China is heir to all the great traditions of Russia, including the building of St Petersburg, the expansion to the east, etc., etc.

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But by declaring independence' date=' the Vietnamese lost their right to claim 5,000 years of history. They would be lucky if they could claim 3,000 years.


Actually they claim 4000 years :wink: , in which 2000 are legendary, 1000 under Chinese rule...Even realistic people can love fairy tales :wink:

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I suspect that the Vietnamese are claiming 4,000 years (including 2,000 years of legend) in order to protect themselves against exaggerated Chinese claims.

China uses its long history in order to proclaim its superiority over the countries around it. Asserting historical superiority is one step away from asserting primacy.

Lu Xun portrayed this habit of the Chinese in pathetic terms with his character Ah-Q. I see it in more sinister and self-serving terms.

Incidentally, I believe the Ming have been accused of carrying away or destroying Vietnam's historical records when they invaded. The Chinese have, it seems, always been aware of the potency of having your own written record, and the emasculating effect of destroying that record.

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Regarding Mongols, every country has some ultranationalists.
Actually, I believe the stance on Genghis Khan is Chinese national policy.
Taiwan is not part of PRC but is part of ROC.
Which begs the question: which one is China, PRC or ROC?
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non han and non chinese is a little different now.
I'll rephrase it:

The Mongols were neither Han nor Chinese at the time.

Yes, the Chinese now claim that the Mongols are 'Chinese' (as members of the Zhonghua Minzu), which is why they can stretch their hand back in time (like good legal scholars) and claim the Mongols were somehow always Chinese. Where does that leave the Mongols of Mongolia, then?

The Zhonghua Minzu concept is a nice way of defusing ethnic tensions, but it also creates a 'prison of nations' (as Lenin called Tsarist Russia) and makes all kinds of lines quite fuzzy -- which was the point of my post.

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Where does that leave the Mongols of Mongolia, then?

Since there are more Mongols in China (about 4.5 m) than either Mongolia (about 2.2m) ir Buryatia (about 400K), Beijing probably thinks that the Mongols in China are more representative since they constitute the majority of Mongol population worldwide.

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Of course China invaded and expanded! From the original Yellow River valley to the size of a continent. Don't tell me it's just because of population explosion. Almost every major civilisation had expansions, that is why we have "history". A civilisation, their culture, their beliefs, their traditions, becomes dominate for awhile, and we move onto another. I agree with a previous person. It is not to be ashamed of, but do not make excuses for it, learn from it. Don't try to "change" history, as history cannot be changed, learn from history.

I think one big reason concerning these expansions would be the same reason concerning a lot of wars. How do you call a person Chinese? Or Serbian, or Russian, or German? They all made excuses that they wanted to unite their race under one flag. Greater Germany, Greater Serbia... I'm sure traced back to a specified time, the Koreans all had Chinese ancestors. But this does not justify conqueoring Korea. Think farther back, and we might as well form one nation, Africana.

I like living under a unified nation of different peoples. Of course there will be many problems, but I think this is the future. "Homogenous nations" or "Unified nations", what do you think?


- Shibo :clap

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Before we talk about "invasion", we have to define what "invasion" is in the first place.

Here is what I find in the web:



the act of invading; the act of an army that invades for conquest or plunder



Many of the movements of people – such as the Marnian Invasion, the arrival of the Beaker People, and the Celts – were more likely to be cultural exchanges rather than mass invasions for the purpose of conquest and expansion



The spread of something that is likely to cause problems or be harmful.



The process by which a new category of people or type of land use arrives in an area previously occupied by another group or land use.

So was the kind of campaign that expanded into current South China where stone-age Bai Yue resided 2,200 years ago fitting the label "invasion" under the above definitions?

Maybe just half/half.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Yes, the Chinese now claim that the Mongols are 'Chinese' (as members of the Zhonghua Minzu), which is why they can stretch their hand back in time (like good legal scholars) and claim the Mongols were somehow always Chinese. Where does that leave the Mongols of Mongolia, then?

its not like that, and thats not what i mean... :nono

in ancient china the distinction btw 'han' or 'chinese' and 'non-han' or 'non-chinese' is culture, not racial content, look into chinese history u will know. are the rulers of sui dynasty and tang dynasty 'ethnic chinese'? no. but they are chinese. reasons? they adopted chinese culture, lived and dress lke han/chinese, talked and bowed like han/chinese. same thing for the mongols in china(excluding those in europe), they followed the chinese way of living and chinese laws, heirachy system, social system etc.

thats ancient china of course. modern days its like saying an ethnic chinese/han born in america, holding an american passport, is an american. u call him a chinese american or an american chinese, depending on ur language habit. cant deny the fact he's american, right? now where does that leave mainland chinese? china. meaning american scoholars can claim china to be american land? i dont think so.

same thing, a mongolian chinese(chinese mongol, whatever) in china is chinese, citizenship wise. whereas mongols in mongolia, mongolians. a lot of similiar cases around the world actually. like malays in singapore, singaporeans. malays in malaysia, malaysian. chinese in singapore and malaysia? singaporeans and malaysians respectively.

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