China's historical grand strategy: defensive or offensive?


Hendrik_2000

Brigadier
Ming invaded and annexed Annam. By any definition that constituted aggression.

Ming pursued an offensive strategy against the Mongols who refused to kowtow to the Ming emperor. Ming reached the peak of their power during the reign of the Yongle emperor. The size of the Ming army was estimated to have been anywhere between 1.5 and 2.5 million soldiers. The Ming were by far the most powerful state in the world at the time. As structural realism would predict, in the the period 1368–1449 Ming initiated 29 conflicts, while the Mongols initiated only 10 in the same period. The Veritable Records of the Ming (Ming Shi Lu) noted that the purpose of the military expedition of 1372 was to “annihilate” the Mongols and “clear the desert forever".

Ming sent their uber powerful fleets of 250 ships and almost 30,000 men to project power across South East Asia and the Indian Ocean and through "shock and awe" forced foreign state into submission, thereby expanding the Confucian tributary system. Zheng He even captured the king of Sri Lanka and had him delivered to China. According to the words of Zheng He himself:

"When we reached the foreign countries, we captured barbarian kings who were disrespectful and resisted Chinese civilization. We exterminated bandit soldiers who looted and plundered recklessly. Because of this, the sea lanes became clear and peaceful, and foreign peoples could pursue their occupations in safety."

Because the Mongol keep raiding Chinese northern town so it is classic offensive is the best defense move As to Ming attacking Sri Lanka just as Pi Sigma said it is now called "freedom of navigation"
As I said knowing little history is dangerous. But here is the gist Did Ming colonize Sri Lanka or not? Answer!


During the
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
, a large Chinese fleet, led by
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
, arrived into local waters to establish Chinese control and stability of the maritime routes in the waters around Ceylon and
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
.
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
Alakeshvara posed a threat to Chinese trade by committing piracy and hostilities in the local waters.
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!


Alakeshvara was hostile to the Chinese presence in Ceylon during the first Ming treasure voyage and so Zheng He decided to leave Ceylon for other destinations.
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
During the third Ming treasure voyage, the Chinese fleet returned to the Kotte Kingdom.
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
This time, the Chinese came to depose Alakeshvara
by military force.
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
states that the confrontation against Alakeshvara in Ceylon most likely happened during the outward journey of the Chinese fleet in 1410, rather than the homeward journey in 1411,
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
but he also notes that most authorities think that the confrontation happened during the homeward journey in
 

Max Demian

Junior Member
Registered Member
What's the cutoff time for "different times"? No one agreed to this cutoff if there is one. Last I checked, it was okay to incorporate territory by conquering it still, there are places called Canada and USA for example.
What would be the date according to you?

Europe for a long time held to the concept of just war:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
The Hague Convention was the first attempt at an international regulation of conflict, but fundamental change towards war and conquest only occurred after WWI.

Apparently you don't know much about ming history. Ming started on repairing the wall almost as soon as they reached it, there were campaigns by yongle to outside of the wall when they were strong but always fell back to it after.
Not according to what I read in the book. Also, not according to this:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!


Can you please cite your sources, so that I can compare?

Until their catastrophic defeat in 1449, Ming maintained an offensive posture against the Mongols. It was only after this disaster that they decisively shifted to defense. The first section of the Ming Great Wall is considered to be the Ordos Wall, construction of which began in 1472.
 

Max Demian

Junior Member
Registered Member
But the Ming and Song dynasties? Literally the two least expansionist dynasties in Chinese history?

LOL!
The author chose these two dynasties because they were often held up by proponents of Confucian pacifism. As you enumerated, it would be trivial to demonstrate that other Chinese dynasties were aggressive and expansionist. As we have seen, the fact that Song and Ming have not appeared to be particularly expansionist is not due to lack of trying but lack of success.

Nice try attempting to move the goal post. You were trying to argue that Ming and Song were unconfucian (without even understanding what Confucian means, mind you), but now that we utterly destroyed your argument, you are trying to claim China has a lie of historical exceptionalism?
You destroyed the arguments only in your imagination! I repeatedly asked for sources that would refute the claims made in the book, and you provided none (other than Wikipedia). The idea of historical Chinese pacifism is not just a Western narrative. It has been promulgated by modern China herself. Here is one example from China's White Paper on Peaceful Development Road:

It is an inevitable choice based on China's historical and cultural tradition that China persists unswervingly in taking the road of peaceful development. The Chinese nation has always been a peace-loving one. Chinese culture is a pacific culture. The spirit of the Chinese people has always featured their longing for peace and pursuit of harmony. Six hundred years ago, Zheng He (1371-1435), the famous navigator of the Ming Dynasty, led the then largest fleet in the world and made seven voyages to the "Western Seas," reaching more than 30 countries and regions in Asia and Africa. What he took to the places he visited were tea, chinaware, silk and technology, but did not occupy an inch of any other's land. What he brought to the outside world was peace and civilization, which fully reflects the good faith of the ancient Chinese people in strengthening exchanges with relevant countries and their peoples.

Unlike you perhaps, @Hendrik_2000 was totally subscribed to the above narrative.
 
Last edited:

solarz

Brigadier
The author chose these two dynasties because they were often held up by proponents of Confucian pacifism. As you enumerated, it would be trivial to demonstrate that other Chinese dynasties were aggressive and expansionist. As we have seen, the fact that Song and Ming have not appeared to be particularly expansionist is not due to lack of trying but lack of success.


You destroyed the arguments only in your imagination! I repeatedly asked for sources that would refute the claims made in the book, and you provided none (other than Wikipedia). The idea of historical Chinese pacifism is not just a Western narrative. It has been promulgated by modern China herself. Here is one example from China's White Paper on Peaceful Development Road:

It is an inevitable choice based on China's historical and cultural tradition that China persists unswervingly in taking the road of peaceful development. The Chinese nation has always been a peace-loving one. Chinese culture is a pacific culture. The spirit of the Chinese people has always featured their longing for peace and pursuit of harmony. Six hundred years ago, Zheng He (1371-1435), the famous navigator of the Ming Dynasty, led the then largest fleet in the world and made seven voyages to the "Western Seas," reaching more than 30 countries and regions in Asia and Africa. What he took to the places he visited were tea, chinaware, silk and technology, but did not occupy an inch of any other's land. What he brought to the outside world was peace and civilization, which fully reflects the good faith of the ancient Chinese people in strengthening exchanges with relevant countries and their peoples.

Unlike you perhaps, @Hendrik_2000 was totally subscribed to the above narrative.

Yeah, and that's why you needed to cherry pick your "evidence" and present a one-sided account. Ming expeditions against the Mongols were purely defensive in nature, yet you only talk about how the Ming attacked the Mongols but never about how the Mongols would ceaselessly raid the Ming border. Laughably dishonest!

You want sources? Open up a Chinese history book sometimes. Nothing I presented isn't recorded in the official histories. You don't even have to dig, you just need to have a modicum of reading comprehension.

You want to argue about China's tradition of peaceful development? From the inception of a unified China in the Qin dynasty to the present day, the number of years China has spent fighting in foreign territory is less than 5% of its history. In comparison, from its inception in 1776 to present day, the US has been almost constantly involved in one war or another, from the genocide of the First Nations, to the colonization of the Phillipines, the invasion of Canada, the invasion of Mexico, the pillaging of Beijing, the invasion of Cuba, the invasion of Panama, the bombing of Yugoslavia, all the way up to the present day occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then there are the European countries, who have been fighting each other for over a thousand years, invading the Middle East since the First Crusade, colonizing Africa and the Americas, and starting both Worlds Wars.

Yeah, China is clearly the "aggressive" nation here! :rolleyes:
 

PiSigma

"the engineer"
What would be the date according to you?

Europe for a long time held to the concept of just war:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
The Hague Convention was the first attempt at an international regulation of conflict, but fundamental change towards war and conquest only occurred after WWI.


Not according to what I read in the book. Also, not according to this:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!


Can you please cite your sources, so that I can compare?

Until their catastrophic defeat in 1449, Ming maintained an offensive posture against the Mongols. It was only after this disaster that they decisively shifted to defense. The first section of the Ming Great Wall is considered to be the Ordos Wall, construction of which began in 1472.
There is your problem... Wikipedia is one of the worst sources of information out there

There is no cutoff. Any country can attack any other country as they like... Just look at US vs Iraq, US + EU vs Libya, Israel vs Syria...
 

Gatekeeper

Brigadier
Registered Member
@Gatekeeper Why don't you stick to the topic of the thread? If you want to discuss the Opium Wars, I am sure there is already a thread made for that. The point of this thread is not to make excuses for imperialism, be it Western, Arabic, Japanese or Chinese. The point is to discuss whether or not Confucian anti-militarism or structural realism best describes China's grand strategy in the last 2000 years.

The Ming invasion of Annam happened 600 years ago. Should we denounce Aristotle and his teachings because he was in favor of slavery and dismissive of women almost 2400 years ago? Have you heard of presentism?

In literary and historical analysis, presentism is the
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. Modern historians seek to avoid presentism in their work because they consider it a form of
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
, and believe it creates a distorted understanding of their subject matter.
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
The practice of presentism is regarded by some as a common
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
when writing about the past.

You obviously have not heard of analogous. It's comparison that is required to understand the world, whether past , present or future.

But obviously my analogy hit the raw nerve and you can't fault the analogy. Instead you build up a straw man of off topic to deflect from your own inadequacy and insecurity, and your own sense of superiority complex.
 

Max Demian

Junior Member
Registered Member
You obviously have not heard of analogous. It's comparison that is required to understand the world, whether past , present or future.

But obviously my analogy hit the raw nerve and you can't fault the analogy. Instead you build up a straw man of off topic to deflect from your own inadequacy and insecurity, and your own sense of superiority complex.
We were discussing the annexation of Annam in the 15th century as a clear example of Ming aggression. Then another poster raised the question of why wars of aggression are bad. I said in reply that we should not judge that event through the prism of modern day morality.

Then you came in and made the retort that I lack critical thinking, because a fellow student used the same argument to deflect your claim that UK's acquisition of Hong Kong was illegal because of opium smuggling!? His argument was wrong, so "by analogy" my argument must be wrong too. Other than being logically wrong, how are your posts not flame-baiting?
 
Last edited:

Gatekeeper

Brigadier
Registered Member
We were discussing the annexation of Annam in the 15th century as a clear example of Ming aggression. Then another poster raised the question of why wars of aggression are bad. I said in reply that we should not judge that event through the prism of modern day morality.

Then you came in and made the retort that I lack critical thinking, because a fellow student used the same argument to deflect your claim that UK's acquisition of Hong Kong was illegal because of opium smuggling!? His argument was wrong, so "by analogy" my argument must be wrong too. Other than being logically wrong, how are your posts not flame-baiting?

I was merely using your logic of "we can't judge others from our moral and ethical prospective". Yet all the time, that's what you have been doing here.

But you are so far up your own axxe you can't see the woods from the trees. And lashes out at other members here insisting you are right and everybody else is wrong. As Solarz said, this isn't a debate. This is asserting your point over everyone else's. What arrogant attitude!
 

Max Demian

Junior Member
Registered Member
I was merely using your logic of "we can't judge others from our moral and ethical prospective". Yet all the time, that's what you have been doing here.

But you are so far up your own axxe you can't see the woods from the trees. And lashes out at other members here insisting you are right and everybody else is wrong. As Solarz said, this isn't a debate. This is asserting your point over everyone else's. What arrogant attitude!


What I did in this thread was repeat the arguments made in the book that I am reading, which argues that China's historical grand strategy was better described by the theory of structural realism and not by the cultural theory of Confucian pacifism. In the process, I wanted to hear what counter-arguments can be made against these claims. I also argued in favour of this hypothesis by providing additional evidence and countering claims to posts made by other posters. That's what you do in a debate, after-all. From the outset I was attacked for historical revisionism, hidden agenda to smear China and trolling, to name a few.

If other forum members make claims saying all the arguments presented in the book are wrong, but then refuse to back it up with not even a single(!) reference to a counterfactual source, what am I to make of it?
 

Top