University of Santa Barbara History Success of the Qing Paper


Write a debate paper in 5 pages comparing Ho Ping-ti / Rawski’s point by reading those three article linked down thereYou are going to be reading three articles: Ho Ping-ti 1967, Rawski 1996, and Ho Ping-ti1998.The central question debated here is about the success of the Qing. These two authors gave their arguments and provided their evidence. Their arguments were very different.In this Review/Debate paper, I want you to:1)accurately summarize their arguments on the success of the Qing2)enumerate the main evidence/ primary sources they used3)point out the limitation of their arguments4) offer your verdict of this debate. (Of course, you can apply all the knowledge you have accumulated up to this point to help you reach that verdict.)In addition, 5) One term came up a lot in this debate is “Sinicization.” Please make sure to think about this term and look at how these two authors used the term.

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In Defense of Sinicization: A Rebuttal of Evelyn Rawski’s “Reenvisioning the Qing”
Author(s): Ping-Ti Ho
Source: The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 57, No. 1 (Feb., 1998), pp. 123-155
Published by: Association for Asian Studies
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Journal of Asian Studies.
In Defense of Sinicization:
A Rebuttal of Evelyn Rawski’s
“Reenvisioning the Qing”
IN HER RECENT PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS, “Reenvisioning the Qing,” Professor Evelyn
Sakakida Rawski attacks the “sinicization” theme originally presented as one of the
five major aspects of my 1967 article, “The Significance of the Ch’ing Period in
Chinese History” (Ho 1967). In her essay-frankly admitted to have been based
exclusively on “recent secondary literature”-she states that “a notable outcome of
the new scholarship is the rejection of the sinicization thesis and its Han-centered
orientation in favor of an empire-building model that emphasizes the importance of
the Chinese empire’s cultural links with the non-Han peoples of Inner Asia” (Rawski
1996, 827). It ought to be pointed out at the outset that my 1967 paper was not
delivered, as she mistakenly presumed, from the podium of the president of the
Association for Asian Studies; for I did not receive this honor until 1975-76, when,
after having shifted my research interest so far away from the Ming-Ch’ing period, I
addressed the Association with a paper entitled “The Chinese Civilization: A Search
for the Roots of its Longevity.” The 1967 paper was an AAS panel presentation, not
a presidential address. l
My Original Multidimensional Thesis
In order to provide readers with the minimum background necessary for judging
my reply, I will list briefly the five salient aspects of the Ch’ing heritage presented in
that paper, which were largely based on my original research and perspective.
1. The Manchu rulers between 1600 and 1800 made a unique contribution to the
creation of the largest consolidated and administratively viable multiethnic empire
in China’s long history.
2. The unprecedented population growth during that empire-building period was
itself the outcome of more than one century of peace, prosperity, and a series of
Ping-ti Ho is James Westfall Thompson Professor of History, Emeritus, the University
of Chicago.
IThis panel of four papers on Ch’ing history was organized and chaired by the late Mary
Wright, who allowed my paper the “maximum” time of only thirty minutes, which accounts
for the brevity of the original article.
The Journal of Asian Studies 57, no. 1 (February 1998):123-155.
© 1998 by the Association for Asian Studies, Inc.
fiscal reforms benefitting the poor, including the permanent abolition of
compulsory labor services, thus bringing an end to “two thousand years of
government oppression.”2
3. The Manchu court carried out a policy of systematic sinicization, with the
implementation of the Ch’eng-Chu Neo-Confucian orthodoxy as its core, which
not only facilitated the metamorphosis of the Manchu tribal-banner state into a
unitary centralized empire but also won the allegiance and dedication of the
Confucian elite who saved the “alien” dynasty by eventually wiping out the ethnic
Chinese Taiping rebels in fourteen years (1851-64) of life-and-death struggle.
4. The Ch’ing period was one in which traditional political, economic, and social
institutions attained greater maturity and in which the economy and society
achieved a greater degree of interregional integration.
5. In the fields of material culture, fine arts, printing, and library resources, the Ch’ing
period was one of leisurely fulfillment and enrichment.
Even the most basic factors accounting for the decline and fall of the Ch’ing were
somewhat different from those that brought down the earlier dynasties. Internally,
the unforeseen population explosion created a new set of social and economic problems
with which the existing fund of technological knowledge failed to cope. Externally,
Ch’ing China was being drawn into a maelstrom of modern world politics by the
West, whose culture was in many ways equal to hers and in some crucial ways superior
to hers. It was the convergence and interplay of these unprecedented crises that finally
brought about the downfall of an otherwise rather remarkable dynasty.
In spite of the constraints under which this paper was prepared, I decided to make
it broad-gauged, multidimensional, and sweeping, but intellectually responsible down
to even many a necessarily tacit comparison between the Ch’ing and earlier dynasties.
For only by planning my paper in this way could I hope to make it fulfill the Oxford
English Dictionary’s definition of my key title word “significance,” in the sense of “full
of meaning or import.” And only by planning my paper in this way could I clearly
suggest what I meant by the accompanying diachronic phrase “in Chinese history.”
Professor Rawski’s “Reenvisioning the Qing: The Significance of the Qing in
Chinese History” is basically a monothematic bibliographical survey, which is
generically quite different from my macrohistorical perspective. I might have ignored
it but for the following reasons. Since a complex macrohistorical perspective can be
legitimately challenged only by a comparable perspective, what is one to make of a
critique that proceeds reductively from a monothematic bibliographical survey? What
is one to make of a bibliographical survey that does not always truthfully represent
the more balanced views of the authors it relies on? And what is one to make of major
distortions of my argument?
A False Dichotomy: Rawski’s Distortion
of My Thesis
Professor Rawski tells us that she has chosen as her point of departure my
assessment of the Ch’ing period in Chinese history. As a matter of fact, she considers
only the third of my five basic points, manages to badly obscure its meaning, and2This remark was originally by Yii Cheng-hsieh (1775-1840) and is cited in Ho 1959,
most egregiously-fails to acknowledge the clear recognition presented in the first of
my five points: the early Manchu emperors in fact contributed profoundly to the
growth of China as a consolidated, multiethnic empire. Although the term
“multiethnic” was hardly in wide use thirty years ago, my article plainly referred to
the achievement of the Manchus in the creation of an empire consisting of Manchus,
Chinese, Mongols, Zunghars, Tibetans, and various aboriginal groups in the
mountainous southwestern provinces.
Governing China meant first and foremost developing the capacities to rule
China’s many hundreds of million of people, whose numbers increased dramatically
between 1650 and 1800. Manchu success at this most challenging task was achieved
in large measure by drawing upon a Chinese tradition of policies and institutions.
Their relations with other non-Han peoples may not fit post-T’ang conventional
notions of Chinese rule, but this hardly means that the core of their strategy of rule
was not predicated on Chinese political principles. Recent research on Inner Asian
dimensions of Ch’ing rule complements what we already have learned about Ch’ing
rule within China’s more densely settled and outlying territories. Rawski constructs
a false dichotomy between sinicization and Manchu relations with non-Han peoples
of Inner Asia. There is no logical reason to assume that what we have recently learned
about Manchu activities means that what we already knew about their rule within
China proper and Inner Asia is therefore mistaken.
To reduce the potential for misunderstanding, I should state explicitly that
Chinese civilization certainly changes over time, in part because of internal
developments and in part because contacts with the very peoples who become sinicized
also expand the content of what it can mean to be Chinese. While there are certain
elements of Chinese thinking and behavior that have an extremely long historical
pedigree, Chinese culture takes on distinctive characteristics in different historical
periods as the culture is itself transformed. I must also make clear that the growth of
Manchu identification with Chinese norms of behavior and patterns of thought need
not exclude other forms of identity. To pose such binary choices, as I think Rawski
has done, distorts what individuals experience. Once again, Rawski’s argument posits
a false dichotomy between being Manchu and becoming Chinese.
Rawski rejects sinicization without putting in its place an explanation for what
the Manchus did and said they were doing in ruling most of China. This failure
severely limits her ability to explain how the Manchus were able to cope effectively
with the largest population, most persistent political tradition, and most enduring
civilization in world history. More fundamentally, her dismissal of the sinicization
thesis makes it difficult, if not impossible, to locate the Ch’ing dynasty within the
far longer span of Chinese history. Sinicization is a long, complex, and unending
process. We cannot appreciate its force without going back to early Chinese history
and prehistory.
“Rejection of the Sinicization Thesis”: Rawski
vs. International Scholarship
Prior to assessing the bibliographical survey contained in Rawski’s address, I
should do justice to its one useful aspect for beginners of Ch’ing history, namely, its
listing of some Ch’ing palace archives and Manchu-language sources that have become
available during the past twenty-five years. Of these, the most important is the chiin-
chi-ch’u (Grand Council) archive, which enabled Beatrice S. Bartlett to produce
Monarchs and Ministers: The Grand Council of Mid- Ch’ing China, 1723-1820 (Bartlett
1991), the best contribution to Ch’ing institutional history in any language. Although
Bartlett in an earlier article talked about the quantity and “importance” of the Grand
Council archive in Manchu, I judge from the archival category-names listed in her
article that they are wide-ranging but probably of rather minor importance as
compared to the entire series in Chinese (Bartlett 1985). Similarly, other types of
increasingly available Manchu-language sources are not quite of the nature and quality
that Rawski would have us believe (Rawski 1996, 835; Crossley and Rawski 1993).
The judgment of the late Joseph Fletcher, who formed a Manchu class of seven
students at Harvard in the fall of 1981, merits our attention:
Despite a certain amount of Manchu literary production in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, including enormous translation projects and some belles-lettres,
efforts to create a Manchu literary culture of stature had ended in failure. Manchu
continued to be used in government documents in an increasingly formalistic and
lifeless way until the twentieth century, but a Manchu education was of limited use.
(Fletcher 1978,44)
After acknowledging the useful portion of Rawski’s bibliographical survey,
we must now turn to its main theme: the multiethnic orientation of the Ch’ing
empire, which she has traced back to the Khitan Liao (916-1125) dynasty of conquest.
She generalizes thus:
Although the Liao, Jin, Xixia, and Yuan regimes employed Han Chinese in
government service, each resisted sinicization. All four governments created their
own scripts.
(Rawski 1996, 837)
Like the bulk of her essay, this passage is so nebulous and evasive as to call for
careful scrutiny. If I understand it correctly, its “logic” runs like this: (1) she hopes
that a mere mention of employing Han Chinese in government service would be a
sufficient concession to offset the weighty opinion of international scholarship that all
these four conquest regimes eventually became fairly highly or very highly sinicized;
(2) hence, the noncommittal (in terms of outcome) statement “each resisted
sinicization” could hopefully lead the unwary into believing that such nativist
resistance was a success; (3) the “proof’ of their success in resisting sinicization was
their effort to create their own national scripts from scratch. When a passage of
scholarly prose invites so many discrepant meanings, it becomes at best vague or
confusing and perhaps at worst meaningless. Moreover, Rawaski ignores the fact that
after a brief period of native resistance, the newly created scripts inevitably accelerated
the absorption of Chinese culture, literature, and institutions, leading to the ultimate
obsolescence of the scripts and any related claims for the development of indigenous
The reasons for the failure ofJurchen script to create an adequate Jurchen literary
culture are aptly analyzed by a specialist:
The primary impediment to the formal development ofJurchen ethnic literature was
the literature of the Jurchen’s nearest neighbor, the Han Chinese. Even before the
arrival of the Jurchen, the mature, formal, and eloquent structure of Chinese literature
had infatuated the Po-hai, Khitan, and other ethnic groups. These peoples abandoned
their own languages and literary forms and adopted the Chinese language to articulate
their own passions and thoughts…. The Jurchen were certainly no exception in this
respect. By 1150 Han Chinese literary forms had already spread widely through the
ranks of the Jurchen ruling house and nobility, relegating ethnic forms of literature
to the narrow realm of the older generation and the lower classes. But just as ethnic
Jurchen literature was edging toward extinction in the 1160s, it gained new life
under Chin Shih-tsung’s (r. 1161-89) revitalization of Jurchen culture. During this
native revival, free lyric compositions, original in structure and form, began to spread.
But even advocacy of literature in native J urchen form could not extirpate the Han
Chinese literature that had already taken root among the Jurchen nobility. True
Jurchen literature could only run a temporary parallel course with Han Chinese
writing until, in the end, it was again engulfed by it.
(Jin 1995, 217; for Khitan script and education, Ch’en Shu 1987, 140-58;
for Hsi-Hsia [Tanguts), Chin 1958, 108-26)
There is no need to cite extensively from the sizable multilingual literature
on earlier dynasties of conquest to show the invalidity of Rawski’s basic view. Suffice
it here just to examine Rawski’s most specific bibliographical statement: “The
revisions of Qing history described above are consonant with the recent scholarship
on earlier conquest states (Franke and Twitchett 1994)” (Rawski 1996, 836). Let us
read and reflect on what Herbert Franke, with his incomparable fund of knowledge
on China’s dynasties of conquest, has to say about the significance of the Jurchen Chin
dynasty in Chinese history:
There existed no “China” as a whole in the twelfth and thirteen centuries; rather,
there was Chinese civilization that took on very different shapes in the north and in
the south…. Traditionalism certainly contributed much to the emergence of a
feeling of a separate northern identity. Once the Jurchen had given up trying to
conquer the south, a sense of growing stability must have pervaded the intellectual
elite, and it is strange that there were no widespread defections to the south, to the
national Chinese state of Sung. It seems that the Chin state and its ruling elite
developed a strong sense of their own legitimacy. They considered themselves to be
the guardians of the “real” Chinese traditions of the T’ang and Northern Sung. The
surprising endurance of the Chin against overwhelming odds after 1206, the survival
of a state sandwiched between the revanchist Sung and the invincible Mongols, can
perhaps be partly explained by the increased feeling of legitimacy that must have
underlain the loyalty of officials and soldiers, many of whom preferred death to
The Chin confirmed their own inclusion in the legitimate succession of Chinese
dynasties in 1203 when the government proclaimed that henceforth the element earth
would be assigned to the Chin dynasty, succeeding Sung whose element had been
fire. This might appear to the modern mind as a senseless speculation, but to every
Chinese in the Middle Ages it meant much more: At the latest in 1203 the Jurchen
State of Chin had, in its own eyes, become fully Chinese and a legitimate link in the
chain of successive dynasties on the highest, if rarefied, level of cosmological
speculation. This had taken less than a century to accomplish. But in that century
the Chin had traveled the whole way from a rustic tribal society to a state that in
many respects could be considered a fully legitimate element in the Chinese world
order. Modern historians, too, might well consider Chin as more than just a barbarian
interlude in Chinese history. There can be little doubt that the achievement of Chin,
and the conviction of Chin intellectuals that they represented the true Chinese values,
contributed much to the cultural vitality that enabled them to perpetuate Chinese
ways of life under the crushing onslaught of the Mongols.
(Franke 1994, 319-20)
Instead of being “consonant with the recent scholarship on earlier conquest states”
best exemplified by Herbert Franke, Rawski’s generalization is actually diametrically
opposed to Franke’s. In fact, the sinicization of all earlier alien conquest states has
been so generally taken for granted by the scholarly world that Jacques Gernet in his
A History of Chinese Civilization, the most comprehensive single-volume treatise on
Chinese history widely accepted in the Western world, discusses the Liao, Hsi-Hsia,
and the Jurchen Chin under the chapter title of “the Sinicized Empires” (Gernet
1982). To contradict international scholarship without being able to offer one’s own
superior erudition is astounding enough. But it is beyond belief that Rawski should
have failed completely to anticipate that one needs only to make a simple
bibliographical check to unveil her intellectual disingenuousness.
Sinicization: Phases, Facets, and Perennial
The proto-Sinids made their debut in the Loess Highlands of North China about
9000 years ago. A millennium later neolithic Yang-shao villages began to appear in
large numbers on loess terraces along numerous tributaries and small streams both
north and south of the Wei River. The loess is porous, textually homogeneous, rich
in minerals, and “self-fertilizing” (Pumpelley 1908, I: 7). It thus enabled Yang-shao
farmers to practice sedentary millet farming right from the very beginning, in contrast
to the slash-and-burn type of shifting agriculture that characterized the rest of the
neolithic world. Consequently, from thousands ofYang-shao cultural sites discovered
since 1949, it would appear that the density ofYang-shao settlements might be many
times higher than those of any other region in the entire neolithic period, at least up
to the beginnings of irrigation in lower Mesopotamia. It would also appear that from
Yang-shao times onwards the impact of the early Sinids upon the surrounding peoples
was already partially one of extent and numbers.
The typical Yang-shao settlements consisted of a centrally located large assembly
hall, residential quarters, pottery kilns, and a cemetery noted for its neatly planned
graves. The constant “communion” between the living and the dead gave rise to an
ancestral cult which by the second millennium B.C. had become the most highly
developed in the annals of men. This in turn stimulated a parallel institutional
development, which finally resulted in the establishment of an extensive network of
the tsung-fa (major-lineage-dominated) patrilineal kinship system shortly after the
Chou conquest of the Shang in 1027 B.C.
The one focal value revealed in Chou literature and bronze inscriptions is the
overriding concern of the Chou people for biological and social perpetuation. This is
indeed to be expected of a people whose religious core was a most sophisticated
ancestor worship. What is not so easily explained is that Chou literature also reveals
a more ancient inclination of the Sinitic people to extend such strong concern for
perpetuation from “self’ to “others.” Yu, the founder of the so-called Hsia dynasty
who lived a full millennium before the inception of the Chou, searched out and
ennobled the descendants of various ancient ruling houses, including one of the nonSinitic Eastern I (barbarian), in order to perpetuate their lines of descent and to ensure
the continuance of their ancestral sacrificial rites.
As to the origin of this magnanimous spirit that was to guide the ancient Sinitic
people in their intra- and interethnic relationships, we can at best only speculate
because archaeological data are here mute. It is my guess that, since the loessic soil
made it possible for large numbers ofYang-shao farmers to live closely together along
numerous small streams, they had learned instinctively and empirically that the only
way to avoid unnecessary violence and bloodshed was to respect each other’s
territoriality (as do primates and large carnivorous animals) and rights to survival.
Psychically, therefore, the circle demarcating “us” and “them” was constantly being
enlarged in favor of the former, once the benefits of peaceful coexistence were better
understood (Ho 1996). Over time, notions and norms that guided dealings among
various feudal states and ethnic groups crystallized into what may be regarded as a
unique Sinitic ethical precept, best expressed in Confucius’ Analects: “Restore states
that have been annexed and revive lines that have become extinct (hsing-mieh-kuo, chichiieh-shih)” (Lau 1992, 201).
While this ethical precept could at best only mitigate the unceasing processes of
annexing small and weak states by the large and powerful, it does help to explain
how and why the ancient Sinitic world had kept on expanding. Mencius explains it
Shun [the legendary sage king before Yu) was originally an Eastern barbarian; King
Wen [of Chou) was originally a Western barbarian…. their native places were a
thousand Ii apart, and there were a thousand years between them. But when they got
their wish, and carried their principles into practice throughout the Middle
Kingdom, it was like uniting the two halves of a seal.
(Legge I and II: 316-17, with minor alteration in phrasing)
What Mencius really meant to say is that the original “Sinitic” group was
relatively small and that any subsequent leaders of non-Sinitic tribes or states who
adopted the original Sinitic way of life and contributed to its enrichment were
retrospectively to be regarded as sage-kings of the progressively enlarging Sinitic
world. This saying of Mencius suggests that long before the rise of Chou the
fundamental criterion for defining membership in the Sinitic world was the awareness
of a common cultural heritage rather than rigid racial or ethnic identity (Ho 1975,
344). It is also prophetic because throughout the following millennia this deeply
ingrained culture-orientation in interethnic relationships has largely accounted for the
fact that China has become a state with fifty-six officially defined “nationalities.”
From the standpoint of sinicization, China’s long imperial age (221 B.C.-A.D.
1911) may be conveniently demarcated by the end of the Turk-dominated Five
Dynasties and the inception of the Sung in 959-960. Prior to this watershed, the
polyethnic empires of Han (206 B.C-A.D. 220) and T’ang (618-907) were the outcome
of Chinese expansion and conquest. After 960 it was the aliens who succeeded in
partial or total conquest of China. Although the alien dynasties of conquest-the
Khitan Liao, Jurchen Chin, Mongol Yuan, and Manchu Ch’ing-have attracted most
attention of Western students of Chinese history, the various pre-960 non-Chinese
groups may have played a far more important role in the growth of China as a
multiethnic state.
This may be partially shown statistically. The great steppe empire of the Huns
(Hsiung-nu), which reached the height of its power around 200 B.C., boasted of
between 300,000 and 400,000 horse-riding archers, not including a fairly large Wuhuan population enslaved by them for farm and sundry work. (Wu-huan was one of
the Tung-hu, literally the “Eastern Barbarian,” groups who belonged to the proto-
Mongolic linguistic family.) This would mean a total Hun population of between 1.5
and 2 million. This figure takes on extra meaning when we realize that the then
population of Han China probably did not amount to one-third of the peak former
Han population of nearly 60 million in A.D. 2. In other words, the ratio of Hsiungnu to Chinese population is likely to have been 1: 1O. We find a similar situation in
the early seventh century: a total population of 2 million for the Turkish empire as
compared to a total of less than 3 million registered households during the reign of
T’ang T’ai-tsung (627-49); and the Turks were but one of a score or so of non-Chinese
ethnic groups within and without T’ang China.
What intrigues me the most is the situation in the fourth century, certainly the
most chaotic in Chinese history. The incessant wars among various ethnic groups,
devastation of large tracts of farm land, forced mass migrations, and recurrent famines
and epidemics all exacted the heaviest toll on Chinese lives. On the other hand, all
the major non-Chinese ethnic groups were of considerable size. There were well over
100,000 sinicized Huns who had been allowed to live along and within the Great
Wall and who were the first to revolt against the Chin Dynasty and to establish a
regional regime. The western part of the Chin empire, from Kansu, Kokonor,
southwards to Szechwan and Yunnan, was teeming with Ti farmers and Ch’iang
herdsmen, both of Tibetan stock. The one non-Chinese ethnic group destined to unify
North China was the Hsien-pei, a major Tung-hu group. After groups of Northern
Huns fled westwards to the Urals and beyond in A.D. 91, the Hsien-pei conglomerate
had the numerical and military strength to incorporate some 500,000 or 600,000
Huns stranded on the steppe and also to absorb large numbers of their ethnic kin,
the Wu-huan people previously subjugated by the Huns (Lin 1983, 152-53; Ma
1962a, 27). In A.D. 258, when the To-pa Hsien-pei subnation began to become
powerful, it boasted of “more than two hundred thousand horse-riding archers.” In
308 the whole Hsien-pei conglomerate had more than 400,000 archers, which means
an aggregate population of 2 million [Wei Shu, chap. 1, passim}. It is my conjecture
that during this century of serious decimation of the Chinese population and of intense
intermingling of peoples in North China, the ratio of major non-Chinese ethnic groups
to the Northern Chinese might have been as high as one to five.
After the To-pa Hsien-pei founded the Northern Wei dynasty in 386 and
reunified all North China thirty years later, peace in general prevailed. The various
non-Chinese ethnic groups, which had been uprooted from tribal living within and
without the Chin empire since the beginning of the fourth century, were now scattered
far and wide and mingled daily with the Chinese population. The continual
deportation cumulatively involving a million Chinese peasants and craftsmen to the
Northern Wei metropolitan area of Northern Shansi took place simultaneously with
efforts to relocate large numbers of Hsien-pei soldiers for settled village farming.
Forces of acculturation went on apace throughout the empire, while the cream of the
Hsien-pei tribal army was stationed in the six northern headquarters, keeping constant
vigilance against the fierce marauding Jou-jan nomads.
Contrary to the necessarily gradual process of acculturation at the bottom of the
social scale, the ethnic aristocracy was susceptible to Chinese cultural influence rather
early. A classic example is Chin Mi-ti (d. 86 B.C.), a captured heir-apparent to a
Hsiung-nu Shan-yii (great khan), whose political and personal conduct was so
profoundly influenced by Confucian moral precepts that he won contemporary
recognition as a paragon of virtue; his descendants chose to die as Han loyalists rather
than to serve the usurper Wang Mang [Han-shu, ch. 68}. Since such non-Chinese
ethnic groups as the Huns, the Ti, and Ch’iang had been permitted to continue their
tribal mode of living inside China since the first century B.C., it is to be expected that
in the course of time their great and lesser chiefs knew the Han Chinese language.
But I am surprised to learn that practically all of the leaders of various major nonChinese ethnic groups of the early fourth-century were not only well-versed in Chinese
classics and history, but also took Chin Mi-ti as their role model. In spite of their
inevitable involvement in the scramble for power which led to the rise and fall of a
number of non-Chinese dominated regional states, their full acceptance of Confucian
morals, norms, and of the Chinese imperial system as the only political orthodoxy
indicates a considerably higher degree of sinicization than is usually expected of the
“barbarians” [Chin-shu, ch. 101-3, passim}.
Although the dynasty-founding To-pa group was less sinicized than the two other
Hsien-pei subnations, they also had to follow the logic of the time: to shift a largely
nomadic economy to the Chinese type of sedentary agriculture and to adopt by
increasing measure the Chinese imperial system and bureaucracy for better
management of the majority Chinese subjects. Besides, culturally and institutionally
sinicization would serve as a common denominator with which to homogenize the
polyethnic subject population. For all these reasons, the Hsiao-wen emperor from 494
onwards embarked upon a policy of systematic sinicization, which consisted of such
measures as the moving of the capital from northern Shansi to Loyang, which was the
heart of the agricultural zone, the prohibition of Hsien-pei language, the use of
Chinese as the lingua franca, the change of polysyllabic Hsien-pei surnames into
monosyllabic Chinese ones, the abandonment of Hsien-pei costumes for Chinese-style
attires, and the full-scale adoption of Chinese rituals and legal code. By forcing the
Hsien-pei aristocracy to take up permanent residence in the new metropolitan Loyang
area and by encouraging their intermarriage with Chinese noble houses, he succeeded
in forging a close bond between the biethnic ruling class. All these were parts of longrange planning for a military conquest of the southern Chinese dynasty-the only
way to gain legitimacy to supreme rulership of the entire China world.
Emperor Hsiao-wen did not live to see the realization of his ultimate goal. On
the contrary, full-scale sinicization in the Loyang area made the Northern Wei court,
aristocracy, and officialdom increasingly extravagant and effete. The subsequent
negligence and degradation of the Hsien-pei rank and file at the six northern garrison
headquarters precipitated a strong nativist revolt that lasted ten years and finally
brought down the Northern Wei dynasty in 534. North China was politically divided
into an eastern and a western state until the former was annexed by the latter in 577.
Initially, both the eastern and western states had to vie with each other in
attracting the broken-up units of the northern garrison forces. While the east ~emained
strongly nativist and prejudiced against the majority Chinese population, the west
carried out a policy of appeasing the nativist sentiments of the traditional Hsien-pei
elements, on the one hand, and of generating a sense of Hsien-pei-Chinese solidarity,
on the other. At the bottom, the “privilege” of military service was extended to
propertied Chinese farmers, the backbone of the newly ‘created Chinese fu-ping army,
so as to broaden the social and ethnic base of armed forces. At the top, the policy of
power-sharing and intermarriage between the Hsien-pei and Chinese aristocracy was
so successful that it was precisely this so-called Kuan-Lung (Shensi-Kansu) bloc that
finally reunified all China and founded the Sui-T’ang multiethnic empires.
The greatest political and military genius produced by this northwestern biethnic
bloc was Li Shih-min (597-649), the second ruler but the real founder of the T’ang
dynasty. Since his grandmother and mother were Hsien-pei, he was genetically 75
percent Hsien-pei, though legitimately Chinese. It was from this multiethnic cultural
milieu that he acquired a profound understanding of the traits and customs of the
most powerful of the steppe peoples, the Turks under the Great Khan Hsieh-li. From
various historical sources it can now be ascertained that as early as 617-18 he had
already entered a sworn brotherhood with Tu-li, the second-ranking great khan and
nephew and adopted son of Hsieh-Ii. I suspect he was able to speak Turkish because
in the fall of 624 when Hsieh-Ii and his troops reached the north bank of the Wei
River near the capital city of Ch’ang-an, he determinedly left his forces behind and
rode alone without any escort to confront Hsien-li from south of the river, reproaching
the latter for failure to observe the spirit of a previous oath. Then he dispatched
someone to remind Tu-li not to forget the bond of “sworn brotherhood (hsiang-huomeng).”3 This and many later accounts show that T’ang T’ai-Tsung was truly unique
because the Turks and various steppe peoples genuinely believed that he was “one of
The most eloquent testimonial to the polyglot and multiethnic character of the
T’ang empire was the assumption by T’ang T’ai-tsung of a second and entirely novel
imperial title of “Heavenly Khan,” upon the requests of vanquished Turkish khans
and rulers of various other steppe tribal states and ethnic groups in the year 630,
shortly after he had crushed the Eastern Turkish empire. An event of no less
significance was the acceptance by T’ang T’ai-tsung in the early spring of 647, after
a great deal of feasting and merry-making, of a plea jointly made by all attending
tribal chieftains that a road be opened up between the northerly Uighurs and the
southerly Turks, and be named the “Road to facilitate [various vassal peoples of the
steppe} to make obeisance to their ‘Heavenly Khan (Ts’an t’ien-k’o-han tao)'” [Tzuchih-t’ung-chien, T’ang Chi, 198, 114}. From abundant T’ang records, there can be
little doubt that this and many similar requests and gestures from the steppe peoples
were spontaneous and sincere.
We can catch glimpses of the grandeur of the T’ang multiethnic empire from the
top of the mausoleum of Emperor Kao-tsung (650-83) and Empress Wu (684-704):
halfway down the hill there stand at attention two symmetrically arranged groups of
stone statues, each representing the head or envoy of one of the sixty-four vassal states
that stretch 3,000 miles from Korea across the Eurasian steppe to the state ofTokhara,
southeast of the Aral Sea. The rare sense of mutual belonging between T’ang T’aitsung and his multiethnic vassals and ministers can be detected from the ground plan
of his own mausoleum, which was made in 636, thirteen years before his death: the
mausoleum to be guarded in the north by statues representing fourteen of his loyal
Turkish and other ethnic vassals and appended in the south by a very large cemetery
consisting of tombs of some members of the imperial lineage, meritorious Chinese,
and non-Chinese officials and generals.
For a proper historical perspective, one should search deeper into the significance
of the system of “Heavenly Khan.” Rawski, relying entirely on Pamela Crossley,
contends that the origin of the “Khan of Khans” must be sought in Chinggis Khan
and that “the ‘Khan of Khans’ was not a Chinese emperor” (Rawski 1996, 835). As
is shown above, the archetypal Khan of Khans was the T’ang emperor T’ai-tsung’s
“Heavenly Khanate.” E. G. Pulleyblank explains it best: “It established a separate
basis of legitimacy for his rule beyond the Great Wall, with its roots in nomad
conditions, and was not simply an extension of universalist claims by a Chinese Son
3This is most clear in the narrative recorded in T’ung Tien, 197, 1069; Ch’en Yin- k’o
1952, suggests the year in which the sworn brotherhood formality took place in accordance
with Turkish customs.
of Heaven. Moreover, it had as its corollary the assumption, quite contrary to Chinese
traditional attitudes, of the equality of barbarian and Chinese as subjects. This was a
point of view consciously maintained and expressed by T’ai-tsung” (Pulleyblank 1976,
38). Needless to say, T’ang T’ai-tsung’s legitimacy as the Chinese emperor was never
questioned, while later “Khan of Khans” such as Khubilai or Ch’ien-Iung, being
“resident alien” in China, had to devise various political, institutional, cultural, and
ideological means to legitimize their rulership in China. On the other hand, while
later Tibetan Lamaist Buddhism could make Khubilai or Ch’ien-Iung “God” incarnate
(Franke 1978, esp. 77-79), T’ang T’ai-tsung’s Heavenly Khanate was a secular
institution, though not devoid of cosmological meaning.
During the entire T’ang period there were altogether 369 “prime ministers” from
98 surname groups. Those of non-Chinese ethnic origins account for 9 percent of the
total but constitute 17.4 percent of the aggregate of surnames-a record unsurpassed
by any “Chinese” dynasty. No less unique in Chinese history is the fact that the
various steppe ethnic groups, such as the Turks, Sogdians, and other Central Asians;
the Khitans, Hsi, Koreans; and toward late T’ang the Sha-t’o Turks, consistently
dominated the T’ang polyethnic army.
Other statistics, facts, and facets relevant to the study of sinicization up to and
including T’ang times are either illuminating or self-explanatory.
The author of the phonetic dictionary Ch’ieh-yun, Lu Fa-yen, who completed this
landmark work late in the sixth century, was a member of an aristocratic Hsien-pei
family. China’s greatest romantic poet, Li Po (? 705-62), was brought to Szechwan
in his early boyhood by his Central Asian merchant father. More revealingly, the three
lifelong friends and leading poets of late T’ang were all of non-Chinese ethnic origins:
Po Chu-i (772-846), Yuan Chen (779-831), and Liu Yu-hsi (772-842) were
respectively of Central Asian, Hsien-pei, and Hun (Hsiung-nu) descent. During Sui
and early T’ang, the great architect Yu-wen K’ai was of mixed Hsiung-nu and Hsienpei descent. His contemporary, the architect Ho Ch’ou, who was commissioned to do
the initial planning for the metropolitan Ch’ang-an (Ta-hsing in Sui times) area, was
the grandson of a Sogdian merchant from Central Asia. Mi Fu (1051-1107), a great
calligrapher and father of the splash-ink school of landscape painting, is very likely
to have been of Sogdian descent too (Yao 1962, passim).
Not to be completely overshadowed by the north, the south that had remained
Chinese throughout the pre-Tang centuries also produced its own share of preeminent
persons. The aboriginal Hsi people of modern Kiangsi area could take pride in
producing China’s foremost pastoral poet T’ao Ch’ien (365-427), better known by
the name T’ao Yuan-mingo The aboriginal people of modern northern Hunan had the
honor of producing Ou-yang Hsun (557-645), one of the most famous T’ang
calligraphers. If a dozen or so of these southern ethnic groups were pushed increasingly
into the hills and mountains of inland Yangtze as the Chinese immigrants advanced,
significant numbers of these aborigines had their compensation by becoming the
backbone of the southern army, especially because the carpet-bagging Chinese ruling
class was too effete and self-indulgent to lead the ranks. One of the stout ethnic
generals who saved the nascent Eastern Chin dynasty from military collapse was T’ao
K’an (259-334), great-grandfather of T’ao Yuan-m,ing.
A different kind of acculturation took place in the heavily garrisoned northern
border areas. It is beyond the scope of this essay to outline the evolution of the T’ang
army system. Suffice it here to point out that, with the impending collapse of the
Chinese peasant army (ju-ping) system and its inevitable replacement by a professional
polyglot mercenary army, soon after 700 there was the need to merge several normal
provinces into one large military region for better coordination and efficiency. In order
to check the power of the newly instituted military governors, the T’ang court finally
decided to fill such posts only with non-Chinese ethnics of humble social origin on
the theory that such men did not have political ambition. Consequently, in 742 An
Lu-shan (d. 757), a Sogdian fluent in six steppe languages and dialects who was also
a courtier, emerged as the most powerful of the northern military governors, with
much of modern Hopei and southern Manchuria under his command. Although the
great rebellion (755-62) he launched ended in failure, the T’ang court could never
regain effective control of the northeastern provinces, which remained in the hands
of virtually “hereditary” warlords, mostly of non-Chinese origins. The extent to which
people of this northeastern region had undergone the process of “barbarization” may
be reflected in the fact that henceforth they identified themselves more with the
memories of An Lu-shan and his warlord successors than with later T’ang emperors
(Ch’en [1942}; 1997,1:179-200). Defying the national trend that literary attainments
procured more and more social prestige, people in this northeastern region still valued
such qualities as physical prowess and personal valor that make up good soldiery.
There was also another kind of “barbarization” that may be more correctly
described as “Central-Asianization” or “Western-Asianization.” Throughout the
period 600-900 there was the continual introduction of Central and Western Asian
music; dance; magic; acrobatics; polo; Turkish and other ethnic costumes; various
exotic foods including grape wines, refined granular cane sugar, many types of
pancakes and pastry; and certain nomad ways of cooking meats. In early T’ang it was
fashionable to learn to speak and to act Turkish. The best-known case was the illstarred first heir apparent of T’ai-tsung, prince Ch’eng-ch’ien.
In the realm of interracial, interethnic, and interfaith dealings, the openmindedness and large-heartedness of the early T’ang Chinese are nowhere better shown
than in the words of T’ang T’ai-tsung, who, after receiving the Nestorian monk 0
Lo Pen in 635, expressed his opinion on religions in general, including Nestorian
The Way has more than one name. There is more than one Sage. Doctrines vary in
different lands, their benefits reach all mankind. 0 Lo Pen, a man of great virtue
from Ta Ts’in (the Roman Empire) has brought his images and books from afar to
present them in our capital. After examining his doctrines we find them profound
and pacific. After studying his principles we find that they stress what is good and
important. His teaching is not diffuse and his reasoning is sound. This religion does
good to all men. Let it be preached freely in Our Empire.
(Fitzgerald 1935, 336)
Although the specific circumstances of their introduction were not clearly
recorded, Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism were equally welcomed into T’ang China.
It may indeed be said that the spirit of tolerance and of cosmopolitanism exhibited
by T’ang Chinese is almost the exact opposite to “Han chauvinism,” arrogance, and
xenophobia, which some students of Chinese history believe to have characterized the
so-called “sinicization.”
Broadly speaking, whether at the spiritual and philosophical level or at the
mundane everyday level, the T’ang court and society at large seem to have well
understood the futility of forced assimilation and the wisdom of “laissez-faire” in the
sense of letting all ethnic and religious groups play themselves out in the same melting
pot. The “final” outcome would be something that may be called “sinicization.”
Biologically and culturally, the almost complete absence of reference to such ethnic
terms as Hsiung-nu, Wu-huan, and Hsien-pei, seems to indicate that they had long
become “sinicized” or absorbed into the enlarged Chinese nation. Religiously and
philosophically, a similar phenomenon is found in the case of Buddhism. Its pre-T’ang
phase is nowhere more aptly described than by the title of Eric Zurcher’s standard
treatise, The Buddhist Conquest ofChina: The Spread and Adaptation ofBuddhism in Early
Medieval China (1959). As a result of centuries of adaptation to the Chinese milieu,
Indian Buddhism finally became thoroughly “sinicized” in T’ang times, as may be
evidenced by the maturation of such typically “Chinese” schools of Buddhism as the
T’ien-t’ai, the Hua-yen, the Pure Land, and especially the Ch’an (Zen).
Before concluding the section on the T’ang, I would like to examine some
available figures. Between T’ang T’ai-tsung’s accession in 617 and the outbreak of the
An Lu-shan rebellion in 755, a span of 138 years, the aggregate number of such steppe
people as the Turks and the nineteen Turkish T’ieh-Ie tribes, the Koreans, the T’ufan Tibetans, the Tang-hsiang Tibetans (the Tanguts), and Central and Western
Asians who were captured by the T’ang army or voluntarily submitted to the T’ang
and were hence settled within China amounted to at least 1.7 million (Fu 1992,257).
This total does not, of course, include those alien ethnics who chose to reside in China
through normal channels, nor does it include those alien ethnics who took up
permanent residence in China in the late eighth and ninth centuries. Thousands of
Uighurs served in the T’ang army as mercenaries. After having helped the T’ang court
to crush the An Lu-shan rebellion, many Uighurs became merchants and usurers. The
number of Uighurs who eventually settled in Ch’ang-an and other cities of China is
impossible to estimate. There were Persians in Ch’ang-an and Yang-chou by the
thousands. A very large Arab population resided in Kuang-chou (Canton) in late
T’ang. C. P. Fitzgerald summarizes thus: “the Arab and other foreign communities
resident in the port were very large…. Abu Zaid, an Arab traveler who was in China
towards the end of the T’ang period, relates that when Canton was taken by storm
by the rebel Huang Tsao in A.D. 879, 120,000 foreigners, Arabs, Jews, Zoroastrians
and Christians, were massacred, as well as native population of the city” (Fitzgerald
1935, 334). The kind of true metropolitanism that characterized the life, outlook,
and attitude of the T’ang Chinese is almost unique in world history, paralleled perhaps
only by the Roman Empire from Hadrian to Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 117-80).
In regard to early T’ang’s basic principle in handling interethnic affairs, certain
Western scholars hold views more critical than what has been presented in this section.
Let us analyze what is the actual meaning of the much-quoted Turkish inscription of
Kocho-Tsaidam, which H. J. Wechsler thinks “eloquently relates the fate suffered by
the conquered Turks.”
The sons of the Turkish nobles became slaves to the Chinese people, and their
innocent daughters were reduced to serfdom. The nobles, discarding their Turkish
titles, accepted those of China, and made submission to the Chinese Qaghan, devoting
their labour and their strength for fifty years. For him, both toward the rising sun
and westward to the Iron Gates, they launched their expeditions. But to the Chinese
Qaghan they surrendered their empire and their institutions.
(Cited and commented on in Wechsler 1979, 223)
I have read six other Turkish inscriptions available in Chinese translation (Lin
1988, 241-86), but the passage quoted above should enable us to get at the truth.
When we realize that this inscription represents basically the nomad’s nostalgia about
the “freedom” of his mode of life on the vast expanse of the Eurasian steppe with the
blessing of the lord of the boundless blue sky (Tengri), then such expressions as “slaves”
and “serfdom” are merely metaphorical. What the inscription says about “the nobles,
discarding their Turkish titles,” accepting “those of China” is true because these
Turkish nobles did receive at least comparable ranks and ample material rewards from
the “Heavenly Khan.”
What is more important is the fact that T’ang T’ai-tsung’s success in playing the
game of divide and rule was primarily due to great-khan Hsieh-Ii’s cruelty and tyranny
to his own people and also accidentally to unusually severe snowstorms that hit the
steppe in the winter of 629-30. To do justice to T’ang T’ai-tsung, he prevailed over
conservative opinion and decided to resettle some one hundred thousand surrendered
Turks in the Ordos area without changing their tribal mode of living and
commissioned more than a hundred Turkish nobles as officers of higher and middle
ranks, several as generals. It was said that in the year 630 the total of Turkish officers
at the T’ang court almost matched that of similarly ranked Chinese civil officials.
Consequently, before long nearly ten thousand households of Turks came to reside in
the metropolitan Ch’ang-an area (Tzu-chih t’ung-chien, “T’ang-chi,” ch. 193, p. 907).
In the spring of 630 when the great khan Hsieh-Ii was brought to T’ang T’aitsung as a war captive, the emperor, after reprimanding him for his acts of atrocity,
not only spared his life but ordered that he be well taken care of by the director of
the bureau of imperial stud horses for the remainder of his life. In 658, the Turkish
general A-shih-na Ho-Iu, having turned traitor in plotting the great Turkish rebellion,
was captured and offered to be executed at T’ang T’ai-tsung’s mausoleum as a
redemption for his ingratitude; the emperor Kao-tsung was so moved that he spared
Ho-Iu’s life and later decided to bury him beside the grave of his original supreme
ruler, Hsieh-Ii great khan (Lin 1988, 115). These anecdotes and many others go far
to testify to the fact that early T’ang rulers treated alien subjects fairly, without
discrimination but with feeling. As pointed out above, such genuine feeling for alien
subjects found its expression even in the design of T’ang T’ai-tsung’s mausoleum.
By way of summing up, the Han period initiated the policy of letting large nonChinese ethnic groups live along and within the northern and northwestern boundaries
of the empire, a policy which in the long run familiarized them with the Chinese
mode of sedentary rural life. It also brought about a surprisingly high degree of
sinicization, at least in terms of knowledge of Chinese classics and history and
acceptance of Confucian values and norms, of members of the ethnic aristocracy-a
factor which might have mitigated the cultural shock of the Chinese during the fourth
century A.D., when interethnic mingling and blending was intense and persistent
amidst severe decimation of Chinese population. This century and the following fifth
and sixth centuries A.D. seem to constitute a special chapter in which the blending
of various streams of ethnicity in the bodies of the “Chinese” of entire North China
may have reached an extent never equaled in subsequent Chinese history.
While the ratio of non-Chinese ethnics to the entire Chinese population at the
height of T’ang prosperity in the early eighth century may not be as high as that
during the fourth century, the acculturation between the various ethnic and religious
groups and the Chinese went on at an accelerated pace because of the peace in the
Eurasian steppe ensured by the system of Heavenly Khan and of the prevailing spirit
of cosmopolitanism in the nation at large. Instead of reasserting the superiority of the
Chinese political and cultural tradition as a force of forced assimilation of the aliens,
the T’ang Chinese watched with amusement the adoption of certain steppe ways and
customs by the playful aristocrats and commoners. They resigned themselves to the
fate of “barbarization” of the northeast after the An Lu-shan rebellion, but welcomed
with open arms the introduction of Central and Western Asian music, dance, food,
Presidential Address: Reenvisioning the Qing: The Significance of the Qing Period in Chinese
Author(s): Evelyn S. Rawski
Source: The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Nov., 1996), pp. 829-850
Published by: Association for Asian Studies
Stable URL:
Accessed: 18/12/2009 23:00
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Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at
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Journal of Asian Studies.
The Significance of the Ch’ing Period in Chinese History
Author(s): Ping-ti Ho
Source: The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Feb., 1967), pp. 189-195
Published by: Association for Asian Studies
Stable URL:
Accessed: 18/12/2009 22:47
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you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you
may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.
Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at
Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed
page of such transmission.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact
Association for Asian Studies is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The
Journal of Asian Studies.

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