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Jun 25

It’s time to define new Chineseness

Written by guest on Thursday, June 25th, 2009 at 4:57 pm
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Many western press and intellectuals appear to suffer a deep perception gap on modern day China. The root cause is their persistent refusal to recognize the political legitimacy of modern-day Chinese philosophy and ideology. To many western liberals and conservative alike, they perceive the current CCP government as helpless and inward looking, trying hard just to stay in power. Such perception may look logical on the surface, yet can not more farther from the truth.

The handful generations of Chinese leadership since Man and Deng have established a unique brand of worldview for themselves through internal philosophical debate and in practices. They always have a clear thinking of what they want to be in the future and in the world, yet still follow Deng’s wisdom of “holding capabilities to yourself and bidding for your own time”, recognizing the stage of development in Chinese society and bending backward hard to rise the living standard for common people. They are not afraid of looking outside to introduce themselves to new ideas and opportunities, yet still persistent on self-reliance and self-development. The contradiction raised from passiveness and dynamism, stubbornness and openness, showing of leaping progressive attitude with very little regard to western liberal values may confuse and arouse many in the West, yet look perfectly harmonious through the lens of Chinese culture and philosophy.

The modern-day Chinese brand of philosophy and ideology was founded first by great leaders like Mao ZeDong, further shaped by late giants such as Deng XiaoPing, with a deep influence coming from China’s philosophical past. While Mao may be a giant on philosophy and ideology, he was a peasant and gambler on economical development policy. While Mao may be scorned widely by the West, he is still a hero to many common people in China and throughout the world. Deng succeeded on where Mao failed, and also contributed to his brand of pragmatism.

As China continues her development and the process of nation building, it’s also time to define a new sense of Chineseness. Please share your thought on this subject through debate and discussion.

As a source of food for thought, you may read interesting and provocative articles from a serial by the newspaper Guardian from the link here (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/series/will-china-rule-the-world)


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50 Responses to “It’s time to define new Chineseness”

  1. Shane9219 Says:

    China nowadays looks like a stock that keeps on rising. Yet the leadership refuses to give any guidance beyond next immediate quarter, even though they have a good sense of where they wanted to lead the nation. This is a source of anxiety and puzzlement by many in the West.

    After WWII and through the Cold War, the western block nations under the leadership of US were able to get fused together. This development provided the basis for a new brand of philosophy and ideology, now being called as “universal values” or “post-modern western universalism”. How this brand of ideology will shape our future world is still unknown, although there are demonstrated consequence from the crash of civilizations. Thus, a new and candid dialogue between West and East is urgently needed. But this one must be based on mutual respect with equal footing, not the past forms of idealization and romanticization, or war, blood and religious zealots.

    China is moving to rediscover her past cultural and spiritual roots and to come up a renewed sense of self, the so-called new Chineseness. We shall also invite the West to participate in this process. China has rediscovered the West, the question is whether West can rediscover China.

  2. Steve Says:

    Shane9219, according to what you just wrote, if I were an alien that just stepped off my spaceship, I’d think that China was already an earthly Shangri-la paradise with ultra wise, benevolent leadership and a completely satisfied citizenry. But then how do you explain the demonstrations, protests, etc. that take place on a daily basis? The numbers are not trivial, they’re staggering.

    According to your view of China, everyone should be ecstatically overjoyed with the government and nary a complaint. Something’s not quite adding up. Since you’re Chinese and it’s your country, could you tell me why the reality doesn’t always agree with the philosophy? I’m not disagreeing, just curious…

  3. Shane9219 Says:

    “CHINESENESS UNBOUND: Boundaries, Burdens and Belongings of Chineseness outside China”

    A conference organized by Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore in 2008

    http://www.ari.nus.edu.sg/showfile.asp?eventfileid=414

  4. Shane9219 Says:

    @Steve #2

    I think you misunderstood my posts somewhat. What you described are the evidences showing China have a live and dynamic society in itself — a progressive civil society that is still evolving. How this dynamic China will continue to evolve solely depends on Chinese people with a steady guidance from a wise leadership and political elites. It is not up to the West’s terms, conditions and imagination, although the West is invited to this process. Why? China has sufficient cultural and spiritual strength, self confidence and materials resources to achieve her own goal and dreams.

  5. Steve Says:

    @ Shane: Aha! I could not agree with you more! My mantra has always been that China will eventually create a unique, Chinese system that might borrow from here and there but in the end will not imitate anyone else. What that system will become is the great mystery that only the passage of time can reveal.

    I’m not as agreeable concerning the wise leadership and political elites, though. I think China has its share of incompetent bastards, same as the rest of us. 😉

  6. Shane9219 Says:

    “I think China has its share of incompetent bastards, same as the rest of us.”

    Agree. There are not only morons with wolf cloth, but also morons with sheep and dove cloth too.

  7. Shane9219 Says:

    “A new sun rises in the east”
    By Martin Jacques

    “Apart from its extraordinary longevity and bursts of efflorescent invention, the most striking feature of Chinese history is the fact that while Europe, following the fall of the Roman empire, fragmented into many parts, and ultimately into many nations, China was already moving in exactly the opposite direction and starting to coalesce. It is this unity that has ensured the continuity of its civilisation and also provided the size which remains so fundamental to China’s character and impact. Unity is one of the most fundamental propositions concerning Chinese history, if not the most fundamental.”

    http://www.newstatesman.com/asia/2009/06/united-states-china-world-west

  8. raventhorn4000 Says:

    A true wise dictator/emperor would not pretend that he would have perfect contentment in his Empire.

    The best Chinese Emperors embodied tolerance and humility and frugality to his People.

    China should not seek to “spread” the knowledge of its virtues, like one who flaunts wealth, or like what West has tried to do with its “values” in the last 2 centuries.

    China should realize, that a humble wise leader is acknowledged by his own examples without much effort.

    So should all Chinese, simply live by simple virtues.

  9. barny chan Says:

    “Many western press and intellectuals appear to suffer a deep perception gap on modern day China.”

    That is a perfectly valid statement, but no more or less valid than this statement: Many Chinese press and intellectuals appear to suffer a deep perception gap on the modern day West.

  10. Steve Says:

    @ R4K: Don’t leave us in suspense!! Which Chinese dictators/emperors do you believe met this standard?

  11. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Steve,

    Tang Emperor Li Shimin fits the standard quite well.

    1st Emperor of Song dynasty as well.

    1st Emperor of Sui dynasty.

    Xia dynasty King Shao Kang.

    Shang dynasty King Shang Tang.

    Zhou dynasty Viceroy Zhou Gong.

    Han Dynasty 1st emperor.

    Qing Dynasty Emperor Kang Xi

    etc. etc.

  12. Steve Says:

    @ R4K #11: Let’s see, Li Shimin was the 2nd emperor of the Tang in the 7th century. The Song emperor Taizu (10th Century) was a warrior emperor. The Sui Emperor Wen (6th Century) was also a warrior emperor, and a pretty bloody one at that. Shao Kang is legendary. Zhou Gong is legendary. The Han emperor Gaozu (2nd Century BCE) was a warrior emperor who only ruled for seven years. All these emperors (and one Duke) were either legendary or dynasty founders,either first or second generation. They are all from a very, very long time ago.

    I’ve read Emperor Kangxi’s (17th century) book (which I thought was excellent) and agree with you there, but wasn’t he considered a “foreign” emperor at the time? Would you then add the Yuan dynasty’s Kublai Khan (13th Century) to the mix because he was also foreign? I’d also add the Yongle Emperor (15th Century) in there. Every one of these emperors was either early in the reign or legendary.

    So are you saying that China hasn’t had a wise emperor since the early 18th Century? I don’t know if I’d rely on this system for future governance. It seems like the idea of checks and balances would make more sense. Rather than depend on the benevolent ruler, wouldn’t it be better to create safeguards to protect the people from a despot?

  13. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Kangxi is a Chinese Emperor. I don’t think any one doubts that.

    I would not add Kublai Khan, Not because of his ethnicity, but because he contributed little in “humility” and wisdom of rule than more conquests. During his rule, MILLIONS of Chinese starved to fund his campaigns. Such is not a wise ruler. Ethnicity has nothing to do with it.

    “So are you saying that China hasn’t had a wise emperor since the early 18th Century? I don’t know if I’d rely on this system for future governance. It seems like the idea of checks and balances would make more sense. Rather than depend on the benevolent ruler, wouldn’t it be better to create safeguards to protect the people from a despot?”

    I’m not saying that at all. Many wise rulers since the 18th Century. Some never quite “ruled” because China were in many wars since the 18th Century.

    I wouldn’t be so hasty to judge.

    And many Warrior Emperors in Chinese history ruled wisely in peace times.

  14. Allen Says:

    This is a good post, Shane9219…!

  15. Otto Kerner Says:

    Raventhorn,

    Isn’t Li Shimin the one who overthrew his father and killed his brothers and nephews? I have often thought of him as an interesting example, although not a positive one.

  16. Steve Says:

    @ R4K #13: If Kangxi was a “Chinese” emperor, why did Han Chinese need to wear the queue during his reign? “Foreign” refers to non-Han and no one considered the Manchus to be Han at that time. What about the Revolt of the Three Feudatories? What about the wars of conquest and land acquisition against other countries? Doesn’t quite fit your definition. Having said that, I think Kangxi was the best of the Qing emperors, but not necessarily for the traits you gave.

    Could you be a little more specific about the reign of Kublai Khan? From what I’ve read, his reign was very productive in China. If there were atrocities and starvation, could you please give examples?

    Who are the wise emperors after Kangxi? Qianlong was good in the beginning but a disaster as he aged. Who else fit your description?

  17. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Otto,

    I think Queen Elizabeth I was far more bloody than Li Shimin.

    I was only talking about Li Shimin’s rule, not his court intrigues.

    He was known as a wise ruler who listened to his advisors, even those who strongly opposed him. One of his chief advisors was an advisor to his brother who plotted against him. Not only did he not execute the man, he hired him on and promoted him.

    He would often have heated arguments with the man in open court, to the point of open shouting matches, but Li Shimin never demoted that man.

    When that advisor died, Li Shimin had his portrait hung up in court to remember all the advice he received from him.

  18. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Steve,

    “If Kangxi was a “Chinese” emperor, why did Han Chinese need to wear the queue during his reign? “Foreign” refers to non-Han and no one considered the Manchus to be Han at that time. What about the Revolt of the Three Feudatories? What about the wars of conquest and land acquisition against other countries? Doesn’t quite fit your definition. Having said that, I think Kangxi was the best of the Qing emperors, but not necessarily for the traits you gave.”

    Every Chinese dynasty changes hairstyle and dress. It’s hardly usual. I wouldn’t consider “Chinese” to only include “Han Chinese”, nor would I consider any one “non-Han” to be “foreign”.
    Kangxi had enough wisdom to understand the revolts for what they were, and he was the wise enough to abolish the policy of discrimination against Han Chinese in his court.
    I don’t know what “land acquisition against other countries” you are referring to. As far as I know, Qing China’s territory was approximate the same size as Ming China.

    As for Kublai, some have attributed his rule as “successful”, but I would argue that he was “robbing from Peter to give to Paul”.

    He taxed heavily on the people of South China, to maintain his army and military campaigns, and to build his new Capital in Yuandadu (current Beijing).

    His unequal caste system imposed heaviest taxes on the South Chinese. His army and his employed Tibetan monks of the “Flower” sect roamed South China looking for loot and taxes. They robbed the graves of the Song dynasty emperors looking for Silver and Gold. and they robbed merchants to extract tribute.

    It was simple matter that his reign simply spent China into destitute. When his successor took over, Yuan quickly degenerated.

    It was estimated that during the Yuan dynasty, especially during the Conquest by Kublai, China lost approximate 40% of its population!!

    (See J.A.G. Roberts Concise History of China).

  19. JXie Says:

    Otto, which aspects of the legacy of Li Shimin do you consider negative? I seem to recall you think Zhu and Wen as “less bad” as well. Do you even categorize any Chinese leaders as good?

  20. Otto Kerner Says:

    JXie: which aspects? The part where he murdered his own brothers and nephews, that’s what. However, I’m sure raventhorn is right that he was capable of doing bad things in one context and good things in another.

    No rulers of any nation spring to mind immediately as being very good. Power corrupts. However, after thinking about it a bit, I remembered that I do admire Han Gaozu for his “three laws” and generally for removing Legalism as the state ideology and establishing Confucianism. I have a favorable impression the Guangxu Emperor for his attempted reform during the Hundred Days. Also, I’m not sure if you count Lee Kuan Yew as a Chinese leader, but I definitely respect his competence and effectiveness ruling Singapore.

  21. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Otto,

    I do not consider family feud as a huge character flaw in the ancient times.

    History has showed many such intra-family feuds, often done in course of power struggle.

    Li Shimin demonstrated well that his killing of his brothers and nephews were out of necessity to save his own life. He did not act with spite or malice. Some could dispute that, but I think he’s granting of mercy of many of his political opponents and critics showed that he did not act with spite.

    It was generally known that his brothers moved against him first, to try to poison him on more than 1 occasion, and try to lure him into a trap to have him killed. He refused to respond on many occasions. He only had to respond finally simply because he didn’t have any more choice.

    His nephews tried to incite for revolt in the country, even when the country was being invaded from the North.

    I cannot fault his actions. I would have done the same in his position.

  22. Steve Says:

    @ R4K #18: What you consider to be Chinese today has no bearing on what Chinese considered to be Chinese in those days. That’s revisionist history, applying today’s customs and definitions on a past that didn’t use those definitions. If the queue was just a trendy hairstyle, can you explain the number of massacres caused by failure to adhere to this decree, especially at Jiading and Yangzhou? Can you explain why it took approximately ten years to bring China into compliance with this Queue Order, and why a fashion statement was issued as an order? I am not talking about the reign of Kangxi, I’m talking about the original Queue Order during the rule of Dorgon. And if it was only a fashion statement, why didn’t it change for hundreds of years, and why did it suddenly change after the Qing were overthrown? When I lived in China, I don’t remember seeing any queues…

    If you don’t understand land acquisition and wars against other countries during the Qing dynasty, I’d suggest you read a history book on the era. I doubt the other readers are interested in a basic history of China from 1644 to 1912. I’m sure there’s a Cliff Notes version somewhere if you don’t have the time. Here’s one map of Ming dynasty China as an example. I’m sure there are others that can give you the various land areas during different periods in the Ming.

    Thanks for the reference on Robert’s book. I’ll have to check it out.

    I’m not sure how much validity you can give to the history of events that took place during the 7th century. I’d be more interested in emperors or leaders who ruled during the last 200-300 years where there is more historical date from different sources.

  23. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Steve,

    Whether you consider Kangxi a “foreign ruler” is not the issue. It’s whether he was a “wise ruler” in China. And he was.

    And frankly, many Chinese (including intellectuals) after the overthrow of Qing refused to remove their Queue. (up until almost the Chinese Civil War). The new Republican government considered the Queue to be a sign of backward tradition.

    And “hairstyle” and “dress code” in Chinese history were often enforced by law as a sign of loyalty to the Government.

    For example, during the warring nations period, some kingdoms enforced dress codes under penalty of law.

    It has nothing to do with “trendy” or ethnicity, it’s just the “official dress code” for the dynasty.

    And as for that map, I would dispute its accuracy.

    Mainly, it was well known that the 1st Mind Emperor actually brought Tibet under Chinese tributary control. Similar to what the Qing dynasty had.

    Ming Chinese territory is often narrowly drawn on some Western version of the map.

    And the issue was Kangxi’s reign. Mongolia and Xinjiang were conquered later by Qianglong emperor.

  24. Steve Says:

    @ R4K: I already said I thought Kangxi was a good emperor, so we are agree on him. Of course he was considered a foreign emperor at the time and the Qing were a foreign dynasty. Why is it so hard for you to admit you might be wrong about something? I and just about everyone else here have no problem when we are accurately corrected except you. All you do is change the subject. An unwillingness to learn lowers the respect the rest of your comments receive. It makes no sense to be so stubborn.

    About the queue, what was the penalty for not wearing one under the Qing? An edict of “death” as a penalty for not wearing queue isn’t what I’d call an “official dress code”. That’s a ridiculous assertion. Everyone working at Bush’s White House had to wear a suit, but not wearing one didn’t get you shot or your head chopped off.

    Dispute the map? Fine, show me another one from that time. A tributary is someone that pays “tribute”. There were many at that time that paid tribute to China as China gave many gifts to those same rulers. Zheng He did this in southeast Asia and even in the Middle East. So what? Those countries didn’t appear on China’s maps. Understand, I’ve never said on this blog that Tibet isn’t a part of China and I’ve criticized both sides for some of their policies, and been criticized by both sides for where I stood. But I have no patience with “revisionist” historians who try to change what happened in the past in order to prove some present day issue, or stretch one type of relationship into something different. If you say that western Ming maps are narrowly drawn, I can turn around and say that modern Chinese Ming maps are liberally drawn. So why don’t you just link to a map drawn in China from those days?

    You still haven’t mentioned any modern rulers. And you’re still writing “Taipei Times style” one sentence paragraphs. It’s annoying and it wastes a lot of space. With all your degrees, didn’t you ever take a course in English composition?

  25. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Steve,

    I’m not debating on the “Chinese-ness” of Kangxi. That is not the central issue of the question. There is certainly reasonable debate about that point, but I’m not here to argue that point.

    If you want to discuss the “Chinese-ness” of Kangxi, I would take up that debate in a different post of “who qualified as Chinese emperors”.

    *But needless to say, Kangxi didn’t see himself merely as a “Manchurian Emperor”, but rather as the “Emperor of China”.

    *On Tibet, it is often argued that Qing’s control over Tibet was no more than Ming’s control over Tibet.

    But the point you were making was about Qing’s “Conquest”. And my point is merely that Kangxi didn’t really conquer “Tibet” as much as he inherited the nominal control of Tibet from Ming China.

    Frankly, Maps don’t show the whole picture of “control” or military conquest.

    1st Ming Emperor actually had send a very large military expedition to Tibet to bring it under control. Kangxi and other Qing emperors did not send much of any military expedition to Tibet. ie. absence of conquest.

    *Please don’t make it personal about my writing style. I was taught in law school to “paragraph” often. My law professors didn’t have any problems with this. I don’t know why some people on this forum want to make a big deal about it.

  26. Otto Kerner Says:

    The Qing empire had considerably more control over Tibet than the Ming did, but I think the idea that the Kangxi Emperor “invaded” Tibet is a bit of an oversimplification. There had been a lot of back-and-forth fighting, starting in 1705 when the Khoshud Mongols (who had been allied with the 5th Dalai Lama when he first came to power) invaded Tibet and killed the regent (who had been the 5th Dalai Lama’s right-hand man). The Khoshuds were defeated and driven out by the Dzungar Mongols in 1717 (these are the same Dzungars who used to live in northern Xinjiang until they were all killed by the Qing later in the 18th century). The Dzungars were a bit too rough with the place and made a lot of enemies, and the Kangxi emperor sent two armies to drive them out (two armies being necessary because the first one was routed) in 1720. The Qing army had the 7th Dalai Lama enthroned (he had been in exile in Amdo), established the Kashag as a governing committee (which is a structure still used today by the Tibetan government-in-exile), and then left. However, in 1727, there was an attempted coup against the Kashag, so the Qing sent another army to settle things down (actually, the pro-Kashag faction had already won the civil war and settled things down themselves before the Chinese army arrived). It was at this point that the Qing established the institution of ambans, or imperial representatives, in Lhasa, which enhanced their power in Tibet. So, what we see is a process of insecurity and internecine violence in Tibet, to which the Qing court responded by intervening to restore order and enhance their own position. I don’t exactly approve of this, but it seems like the natural response to events.

    Raventhorn, I’m not sure what you mean when you say that the Qing didn’t send any military expedition to Tibet. In fact, they sent three expeditions just in the 1720s. I’ve also never heard before that the Hongwu emperor sent a large force to Tibet. Can you provide any more details?

  27. raventhorn4000 Says:

    there were instances in the 14th century when Emperor Hongwu (the 1st Ming Emperor) did use military force in Tibet. John D. Langlois writes that there was unrest in Tibet and western Sichuan, which the Marquis Mu Ying (沐英) was commissioned to quell in November 1378 after he established a Taozhou garrison in Gansu. After Yuan, Tibetan tribes and sects were still allied with Mongols, and Ming had to periodically send troops to deter Mongol interests in Tibet.

    *And the question was whether Qing sent troops to “Conquer” Tibet. Not whether Qing send troops to repel invasions.

  28. Otto Kerner Says:

    Well, I entirely agree that to say the Qing “invaded” or “conquered” Tibet is too simplistic. But they did send armies with the result that their authority was established much more securely. Also, the expedition of 1727 was not in response to any external invasion, but to infighting among TIbetans.

  29. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Tibetans have been “infighting” since the break up of their military empire after the death of the last King LangDarma in 841 AD.

    It’s nothing new.

    The claim of authority of the Dalai Lama’s were purely based upon military backing from Mongolia or Chinese (or Manchurian Chinese).

    Any time a DL seemed to have lost the backing of the dominant military near by, he faced immediate revolt from rival sects.

    DL’s were constantly under the threat of assassination attempts and coups from regents.

    Part of the reason why Qing China established the ceremonies of approving the DL’s, was to prevent Tibetan infighting.

  30. Otto Kerner Says:

    Whatever. Humans have been infighting since back when they were chimpanzees. Somehow, when Chinese people are fight among themselves, you don’t feel so good about outsiders coming in and taking charge of the situation.

  31. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Otto,

    You can hardly argue that Tibetans were just on the receiving end. During the Tang dynasty, they invaded China on several occasions, once even occupying the Chinese capital.

    Turn about is fair play. If the Tibetans had been less militant in that time, there would have never been any motivations of subsequent Chinese dynasties to “take advantage” of their weaknesses.

    Even in Chinese Civil War (1945 on), the DL tried to take advantage of the Civil War and expand his military control to “historical Tibet”. (That claim itself is expansionist).

    Well, again, turn about is fair play.

  32. Otto Kerner Says:

    That was in the freakin’ 9th century, raventhorn. Turnabout is still fair play after all those centuries?

    Was it “turnabout is fair play” when the Western powers bullied China in the 19th century, and Japan invaded China in the 20th century? I suppose you take a philosophical view of such matters. Fair play and all that.

  33. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Otto,

    I did say, “Even in Chinese Civil War (1945 on), the DL tried to take advantage of the Civil War and expand his military control to “historical Tibet”. (That claim itself is expansionist).”

    Tibet’s sovereignty was always in doubt. Even in its original state of the military empire, it was a collection of warring tribes that barely held together by the Kings. And it simply fell apart in 841 AD. Never to come together again.

    One might as well try to argue that Western Rome still exists as a “nation” with the nominal leadership of the Pope. (Or Eastern Roman Empire, which existed until 15th Century, past the End of the Tibetan Empire.)

  34. Otto Kerner Says:

    Raventhorn,

    I did say, ‘Even in Chinese Civil War (1945 on), the DL tried to take advantage of the Civil War and expand his military control to “historical Tibet”. (That claim itself is expansionist).’

    You said it, but I had no idea what you were talking about. This was the Tibetan government’s policy going back to 1911. The Dalai Lama was not in power in 1945, because he was 11 years old.

  35. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Excuse me,

    DL’s regent made the military move. It was well established during the Civil War, that Tibetan military forces moved to Eastern Kham and had numerous battles with regional Chinese Warlords. And even skirmished/ harassed PLA during their Long March.

    And the fact that it was Tibetan policy to reclaim “historical Tibet” is just indication of their militant tendencies since 1911.

    Then “turn about is fair play”.

    *
    and again, to say Tibet remained a “nation”, one might as well argue that the Eastern Roman Empire is still a “nation”.

  36. Steve Says:

    @ R4K #25: In your last two posts to me, you first said: “Ming Chinese territory is often narrowly drawn on some Western version of the map.” and then “Frankly, Maps don’t show the whole picture of ‘control’ or military conquest.”

    Hmm… sounds like you couldn’t find any Chinese drawn versions of the map that were any different from the “Western version” but rather than just admit it, you dismiss maps completely.

    Look, you can write one sentence paragraphs to your heart’s content in law school and in legal business, but this is not a law blog or legal document. I’m not sure why your law professors encouraged a different definition of what a “paragraph” is because I’m not a lawyer.

    In English composition, paragraphs are used to group sentences belonging to the same idea and to separate previously quoted comments marked in parentheses. This is a blog where people have to scroll down the page to look for comments. You post more comments than anyone else. Your comments take up more space than anyone else because you write in one sentence paragraphs. Many of these posts go to hundreds of comments and get quite long. The more you can compress your comments, the easier it is for everyone else to read or locate comments in which they want to reply.

    Some people in this forum want to make a big deal about it because it’s poor manners on your part to write in this style. As an editor, I’m trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone to enjoy the blog. So a small adjustment on your part creates a positive effect for everyone else.

    Let me give you an example from your last post to me:

    Steve, I’m not debating on the “Chinese-ness” of Kangxi. That is not the central issue of the question. There is certainly reasonable debate about that point, but I’m not here to argue that point. If you want to discuss the “Chinese-ness” of Kangxi, I would take up that debate in a different post of “who qualified as Chinese emperors”. But needless to say, Kangxi didn’t see himself merely as a “Manchurian Emperor”, but rather as the “Emperor of China”.

    On Tibet, it is often argued that Qing’s control over Tibet was no more than Ming’s control over Tibet. But the point you were making was about Qing’s “Conquest”. And my point is merely that Kangxi didn’t really conquer “Tibet” as much as he inherited the nominal control of Tibet from Ming China. Frankly, Maps don’t show the whole picture of “control” or military conquest. 1st Ming Emperor actually had send a very large military expedition to Tibet to bring it under control. Kangxi and other Qing emperors did not send much of any military expedition to Tibet. ie. absence of conquest.

    *Please don’t make it personal about my writing style. I was taught in law school to “paragraph” often. My law professors didn’t have any problems with this. I don’t know why some people on this forum want to make a big deal about it.

    So 25 lines become 16 lines AND it’s easier for everyone to read and follow your argument. Voila!

  37. Raj Says:

    R, Steve is right. People won’t like it when your comments take up so much space unnecessarily. Your style also makes it harder to follow your argument, so some people will give up on trying. I can also see that someone could take it as being rude/aggressive, even though that’s not your intention, as your writing method makes your comments look a bit abrupt.

    I know why your law tutors told you to write that way, but that’s not the right way of writing for all situations. If you were in an English class (in the UK at least) there’d be red pen all over your essays. Steve’s version is just right for this blog, so I think it would be great if you could follow it in future.

  38. JXie Says:

    Steve #36

    Hmm… sounds like you couldn’t find any Chinese drawn versions of the map that were any different from the “Western version” but rather than just admit it, you dismiss maps completely.

    Here is a Chinese version for year 1433. At that time, Ming exercised quite a bit control over Tibet similar to Yuan’s control. Ming had the final say over the appointments of all administrative positions in Tibet, but not religious figureheads, which in Qing even those were subject to the approval of the Qing Court.

    In 1580 Ming had long lost that control over Tibet so as far as Tibet goes, the map is reasonably accurate. But Ming at that time still had control over modern-day Manchuria and some part of Russia. Late Jin (later called Qing) wasn’t founded until almost 40 years later, then Jurchen tribes were more or less loyal to the Ming Court.

  39. Steve Says:

    @ JXie #38: Thanks for the map. Do you know this particular map’s published date?

  40. JXie Says:

    Steve, I first saw a similar map decades ago (when I first learned Chinese History). Just google’d a bit and here is what I found. The map was first published in the 80s in a book named 中国历史地图集, whose chief editor was Prof. 谭其骧. The book was strongly influenced by a Qing book named 歷代舆地圖, authored by 杨守敬.

  41. Steve Says:

    JXie, the reason this map seems suspicious to me is that it has Taiwan as part of China when back then, Taiwan hadn’t even been explored by the Ming dynasty and had virtually no Chinese living there, with only a very brief visit from Zheng He’s fleet in 1430 to establish a trading link. The Ming influence came much later. Chinese settlers didn’t begin to come to Taiwan in sizable numbers until the early 1600s. In fact, the Ming Dynasty did not allow any maritime activity until the 1500s with the burning of the treasure fleet in 1434. If the Taiwan part is unreliable, I don’t think I can trust the rest of it.

  42. JXie Says:

    Steve, you have a good point. Based on the wiki entry, the map in the original 中国历史地图集 didn’t include Taiwan. Apparently somebody revised the original map, and I didn’t do my due diligence. Or another one, which looks like scanned from a book.

  43. Steve Says:

    @ JXie #42: Those are very interesting maps. Since 1433 was before Russia’s eastward expansion, it was fascinating to see places like Sakhalin Island under Ming suzerainty. The key word, though, is suzerainty. Back then, it was common for a state to exercise some control (usually economic and cultural) over another state without claiming that state as part of their nation. The local ruler had 100% control except in international affairs, where they were allied. So in effect, it was part of your empire but not part of your country.

    And that brings up a good point. In those times, empires didn’t care about whether you had their ethnic background or whether there were historical ties. If they conquered you, you were a part of their empire. If you were an ally, you’d fall under their suzerainty. If they could not conquer or ally with you, they could use the threat of invasion, diplomatic persuasion or the withdrawal of trade to tie you into their tribute system. Trying to use these antiquated systems as precedents for today’s issues sets off a never-ending argument between both sides that cannot be resolved, because each side operates under a different historical perspective. “Tribute” and “suzerain” are really words to describe feudal systems. Leaders of today’s governments aren’t marrying off their daughters to other countries leaders, etc. Today’s world isn’t feudal, so it needs to be described in new ways.

    Most of these historical arguments are really just backing up the real reasons for wanting land to be a part or become a part of a nation. Those real reasons can be very poignant and stand on their own, but it’s always good from a diplomatic and internal support standpoint to back up any decision with as much historical data as you can muster.

    Once the Qing dynasty was firmly established, more and more Han migrated to Manchuria until they became the majority there. That is why Manchuria is considered Han today. The minority Manchu intermarried with the Han to such an extent that they lost their separate status and now everyone there considers themselves Han. For some reason, I hadn’t seen this Han migration mentioned on this blog in the past.

    It seems to me (from this distant perspective) that the Chinese nation sees itself as an integrated whole with the exception of the native inhabitants of Tibet and Xinjiang (and the separate issue of Taiwan), where there is still a long way to go. I noticed there were major riots in Xinjiang yesterday with an enormous number of deaths. The reasons for the riots can be argued ad nauseum, but their existence cannot be denied.

  44. JXie Says:

    Steve, in principle I don’t necessarily disagree with what you wrote. You can’t easily retrofit some historical relationships under today’s nationstate framework. To me what’s the point of fussing over a few maps in the 1400s as if they may jeopardize the Chinese sovereignty today? A few points to make:

    * There were quite some Hans living in the modern-day Manchuria and a part of Russia at the end of Ming. Manchu was an artificial construct. It incorporated most Jurchen tribes, some Mongolian tribes and Hans living in that area. The more recent wave of migration of Hans into that area started when Qing realized the danger of Russian encroachment.

    * There have been many tribes ruling and living in the modern-day Xinjiang. As early as in Han, Hans have been living in there. Most of the tribes that eventually collectively morphed into today’s Uighurs didn’t migrate to there until Tang, with the help of Tang nevertheless.

    * Unlike say the word American (or Brazilian), which only exists in the realm of nationality, the word Chinese has the duality of nationality and ethnicity. Once I read an American wrote about how “backward” his French friends were when those French denied the recent immigrants (mostly Muslims) to France as French, without realizing that the context of the word “French” might be ethnicity.

    * Over time, the definition of nationality/ethnicity changes. I certainly can’t use the fact that in early 1900s Chinese would-be immigrants to America would be denied as Americans, to nullify your wife’s experience as a Chinese American today. Equally you should be able to see the merit of that regardless if Tibet was a suzerainty of China, or even nothing to do with China, today Tibet is a part of China.

  45. Steve Says:

    @ JXie #44: Check, check, check and check. I agree with all four of your points. 😀

    Regarding your point #2, I remember talking about Urumqi with a guy in Shanghai whose family had been relocated there during the CR. He hated it! His specific remark was “Those people aren’t Chinese.” I know Han have lived there for eons, but hasn’t there been a large migration of Han to Xinjiang and especially Urumqi in the last couple of decades? I read an article somewhere (probably NY Times last year) talking about the lack of social interaction between the two cultures, even extending into the workplace. People who have sat side by side at work for years but from different cultures have absolutely no social contact after work.

    Racism usually occurs because of a lack of contact and social interaction. Both institutional and personal racism in the States began to lessen once the different races interacted socially and became friends starting in the ’60s. I can remember it to almost the exact year. It would have been around 1967/1968 when things really began to change.

    If my wife and I had married even 50 years ago, we would have had to deal with racism in the States. But when we met in the ’80s, attitudes had completely changed. These days, it’s not an issue at all and our kids never had to put up with any abuse at school for being Chinese/Caucasian. Hell, everyone seems to think they are Brasilians anyway. It’s a running joke among the kids who are mixed. After we married, my wife began to vote in every election and now sees herself as just as much an American as anyone else. Thank God for modern times!

    So in my opinion, the biggest change that needs to occur in both Tibet and Xinjiang is for the Han Chinese living there to actively seek to befriend and socially interact with Tibetans and Uyghurs so they no longer feel like second class citizens. That would singlehandedly promote stability better than anything else they could possible do. The more they are treated similar to Han Chinese, the more they’ll feel they have in common with them and the less likely they’d be to see them as an enemy or invader.

  46. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Steve,

    “Hmm… sounds like you couldn’t find any Chinese drawn versions of the map that were any different from the “Western version” but rather than just admit it, you dismiss maps completely.”

    Actually, no, there are multiple different version of Ming Dynasty China Map, even in Western sources. It’s actually one of the most disputed issues of Chinese history.

    The map you shown is actually NOT even from a Chinese historical archived map. It’s from a 1998 Western historian’s book on Chinese history.

    Here is a different one: https://wikibiddle.wikispaces.com/Imperial+China+Project+by+Anyu

    This map actually shows a substantial portion of “historical Tibet” under Ming Chinese control. (And as I have stated, historians in West have acknowledged that 1st Ming Emperor sent troops into Tibet to bring it under control.)

    and here is another one, from the official Chinese maps.
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ming-China1.jpg

    and this one: http://www.cultural-china.com/chinaWH/features/chinaoverview/images/hoc/map_ming_big.jpg
    actually containing Chinese names and geographic labels.

    *

    As for my writing style, for now, I don’t have time to reform my habits. You can be my editor, if you want. 🙂

  47. JXie Says:

    Steve #45

    So in my opinion, the biggest change that needs to occur in both Tibet and Xinjiang is for the Han Chinese living there to actively seek to befriend and socially interact with Tibetans and Uyghurs so they no longer feel like second class citizens.

    Inter-marriages in a way have helped the ethnic relationships in China, like everywhere else overtime. Tibetans are different in the sense that they have rarely been in touch of people of outside ethnicities other than in outskirt Tibetan towns. Personally in my fantasy world I wouldn’t mind doing my part for the good of mankind with Ms. Alan Dawa Dolma — a Tibetan Chinese singer (singing in Japanese here).

    People often mistake Huis as Hans with Islamic belief despite their forefathers migrated mostly from Persia and Arabia. Huis allow marriages to Hans and overtime their distinctive features are largely diluted (though still visible in some individual Huis). On the other hand, marriages to Hans, especially Han women are strictly prohibited by Uighers.

  48. Steve Says:

    @ JXie #47: That reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me. He was Dow Chemical’s corporate lawyer for Asia in the early 1970s, stationed in Hong Kong. He took a business trip to Taipei where he met his future wife but the first time he met her family, they had to sneak him into the house through the back door because they didn’t want the neighbors to know.

    You know of a nice Tibetan singer and you didn’t put her on our music post??? I’m going to put a video on there to cheer up TonyP4 who has been depressed lately on the state of music in China. She definitely would pass Tony’s “cute” test and he likes those ballads, though she was lip synching at that concert. 😉

    Inter-marriages would be nice but even some social interaction would be very helpful. From what I’ve read, it’s currently just about nil.

  49. huaren Says:

    JXie, #47,

    I once asked Kelsang Metok (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6FoWskUO_U&feature=player_embedded) out on a date, but she refused. She said she happens to know Alan and wouldn’t mind introducing her to me or to a friend.

    Hey, all you have to do is keep posting here for at least a year, and I might just ask Kelsang to introduce you guys.

  50. JXie Says:

    @Steve #48 Social interaction between those who can speak Hanyu is probably not less than that between different ethnic groups who can speak English, in the US. The problem is that there are many who don’t speak Hanyu in China. Even if you want to socially interact with them, language barrier is hard to overcome.

    Obama (and Tiger Woods for that matter) is the product of interracial marriage. He is identified by both the whites and the blacks. The US surely has come a long way from the LA Riots to today. If you have a few prominent examples that are identified by both Tibetans and Hans, then most of those Tibetans who are left out by the mainstream will probably want to join…

    @Huaren, #49. Thanks for the sentiment. I will be around (on & off sometimes). It’s my fantasy world. In this world, there is a woman between me and Alan Dawa Dolma…

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