China's historical grand strategy: defensive or offensive?


PiSigma

"the engineer"
Instead, I should have full faith in the CCP sponsored history textbooks? Is this where you learned your Chinese history from?

The authors basic premise regarding the Song dynasties wars with Liao and Jin is pretty much in line with how Chinese history is (or used to, since after the latest reforms it seems to be heavily trimmed) taught in Taiwan.

Here is a confession I found on Quora from a Taiwanese student posted in 2017:
What about Chinese history written during 1949? Can you prove they faked any of it or just more biased opinion?

We have history books at home from the ming era, and the new versions are basically a shortened version of those. So ya the CCP published books are basically simplified Chinese history with ROC era and Qing era added.

So one guy on the internet is your entire basis again? But I'm also some random guy on the internet, I think my words got more weight than that random guy.
 

Max Demian

Junior Member
Registered Member
So one guy on the internet is your entire basis again? But I'm also some random guy on the internet, I think my words got more weight than that random guy.
I don't have any reason to doubt either of you.

My experience of European nations' school history textbooks is that they are invariably tools of nationalistic state propaganda. I am always reluctant to take at face value any state approved textbooks, including my own country's. But it never hurts to see more than one side of the story.

Because no one here bothered to recommend a book, I did some research and found this one to contain a PRC government approved version of China's history: Tales from 5000 years of Chinese History, Lin Handa&Cao Yuzhang.
 

jimmyjames30x30

Junior Member
Registered Member
I don't have any reason to doubt either of you.

My experience of European nations' school history textbooks is that they are invariably tools of nationalistic state propaganda. I am always reluctant to take at face value any state approved textbooks, including my own country's. But it never hurts to see more than one side of the story.

Because no one here bothered to recommend a book, I did some research and found this one to contain a PRC government approved version of China's history: Tales from 5000 years of Chinese History, Lin Handa&Cao Yuzhang.

Actually, Chinese history really don't have much controversy. Because China reached regional hegemony long long long ago. There are very little current power struggle that requires a lot of historical censoring. Perspectives don't really matter that much in Chinese history, China simply won too much strategic wars and had too much strategic advantages that doesn't matter much.

China is not like countries like Macedonia, where they are South Slavic people pretending to descent from the ancient Macedon. China don't have any real internal rival, despite the fuss about Uyghurs or Tibetans. This is because These nations has LONG history of being allied to or integrated with the greater China. And the current China actually inherited what I call the Northern Tradition, which lineated from Han, Tang, Liao, Jin, Mongol Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasty. The structure of the Current China is a northern multi-ethnic multi-cultural empire, instead of a Han-centric small regional power.

Today's Chinese culture has a good balance between the pure and unique Han culture, non-Han culture, and foreign culture. This is something that dynasties like Eastern Jin (东晋), the Southern dynasties (南朝, aka, 宋、齐、梁、陈),or Song (赵宋) never had.

The divide between the northern and the southern dynasties are not just domain of control of territories, it is also a societal difference. Northern dynasties are multi-cultural, open-minded, martial, love for exploration. The Southern dynasties are Han-centric, sophisticated, frail, dainty, Xenophobic, and love for art and entertainment culture.
 

jimmyjames30x30

Junior Member
Registered Member
I don't have any reason to doubt either of you.

My experience of European nations' school history textbooks is that they are invariably tools of nationalistic state propaganda. I am always reluctant to take at face value any state approved textbooks, including my own country's. But it never hurts to see more than one side of the story.

Because no one here bothered to recommend a book, I did some research and found this one to contain a PRC government approved version of China's history: Tales from 5000 years of Chinese History, Lin Handa&Cao Yuzhang.

Chinese contemporary academic history research is actually very robust and productive. Western media has conditioned people to think that China is a like close society that heavily censor its academia, that is simply not true. I have heard public speeches and lectures in Hong Kong conducted by American historians studying history of PRC (like cultural revolution, market reform, etc), and the audience is dumbfound and shocked that these foreigners (professors and academics) is able to get extensive access to party records in China and conduct their research without any hinderance.
 

jimmyjames30x30

Junior Member
Registered Member
I don't have any reason to doubt either of you.

My experience of European nations' school history textbooks is that they are invariably tools of nationalistic state propaganda. I am always reluctant to take at face value any state approved textbooks, including my own country's. But it never hurts to see more than one side of the story.

Because no one here bothered to recommend a book, I did some research and found this one to contain a PRC government approved version of China's history: Tales from 5000 years of Chinese History, Lin Handa&Cao Yuzhang.

The problem is China has been just way too powerful, underwent way too many important reforms, fought a lot of very important wars and gained way too many important decisive victories that had long lasting consequences. So much so that it is difficult to imagine that a huge , old, and densely (and diversely) populated area such as a China, actually do not have much of a potential for internal divide. This is because the contenders have all been eliminated.

For example, the Han ethnicity is practically a unified whole, especially now when ROC is undergoing de-sinolozation under DPP and the separatist political climate, which effectively relinquishes any possibility for them to ever "reclaim the mainland". The demise of the nationalistic Chinese KMT plays right into the hand of the CCP. Because all throughout China's long history, Chinese elites have learned that having more than one roughly equally powerful contenders all with the intension to unify China will actually keep the country in a divided state. (This is one of the main theme of the "Three Kingdoms"). So, the whole Taiwan problem is actually playing out in a scenario that is most beneficial to China on a long term strategic level. Separatist climate happened in Taiwan right when it suits the Mainland to have a separatist rival. Imagine if Taiwan is current political climate is like that of 1950,60 and 70s. That would be very hard for China, because this means that the US can readily use ROC as a potential puppet government to usurp and invade the Mainland, now that the USSR is gone.

Secondly, the last nomadic power that can potentially divide China and plunge China into a separated state was the Dzungar. They were on the verge of conquering Tibet and enter into a strategic stand-off with the Qing centuries ago. They were wiped out by the Manchu Qing dynasty. The many Mongol-llike tribes in the outskirt of China were all in a stable balance of power against each other and against the Muslim groups (Revolt of the Altishahr Khojas).

The multi-ethnic, multi-cultural south west of China was effectively integrated into China proper by effort of the Mongol Yuan dynasty and the Ming Dynasty. Ming and Qing dynasty both worked to effectively tie Manchuria to China proper.

These are only what happened in the last 500 years.
 

Max Demian

Junior Member
Registered Member
Chinese contemporary academic history research is actually very robust and productive. Western media has conditioned people to think that China is a like close society that heavily censor its academia, that is simply not true. I have heard public speeches and lectures in Hong Kong conducted by American historians studying history of PRC (like cultural revolution, market reform, etc), and the audience is dumbfound and shocked that these foreigners (professors and academics) is able to get extensive access to party records in China and conduct their research without any hinderance.
There is conditioning on both sides. The US has traditionally been more sophisticated at this than PRC, but the latter are catching up.

Access to "sensitive" historical records was never allowed. Even some records from the 19th century, like the archives of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service were denied. And with the advent of the campaign against "historical nihilism" things have become much more difficult for foreign historians:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
 

jimmyjames30x30

Junior Member
Registered Member
I don't have any reason to doubt either of you.

My experience of European nations' school history textbooks is that they are invariably tools of nationalistic state propaganda. I am always reluctant to take at face value any state approved textbooks, including my own country's. But it never hurts to see more than one side of the story.

Because no one here bothered to recommend a book, I did some research and found this one to contain a PRC government approved version of China's history: Tales from 5000 years of Chinese History, Lin Handa&Cao Yuzhang.

Again, what I wanted to stress is that China, for its size and internal complexity and history, really don't have any real internal potentials for balkanization. Even when during the late Qing Dynasty and the early ROC era, when China is at her weakest, China really didn't effectively balkanize, all it did is turn into a loose de jure union. The only integral part of China that is permanently separated was Outer Mongolia, and that is only because the USSR insisted upon it, in order to protect their strategic Trans-Siberian railway.

This is because the historical Chinese, either by luck or by effort, created an environment where balkanization can hardly be pursued. Take Tibet for example: had the Tibetan held on to Bon instead of converting to Buddhism, the Tibetan Empire (sovereign) or its descending lines would have remained. The complete adoption and conversion to Buddhism turned Tibet into a decentralized cluster of a entity. Such an structure is only effective in defense against other religious culture (for example, repelling the eastward expansion of the Islamic civilization), but is useless and weak against the Tungus nomads and the agrarian Han Chinese. Had the Tibetan Empire been successful in suppressing and controlling Buddhism like the northern dynasties (check out 三武一宗灭佛), the Tibetan Empire would have survived, and thus could deprive China of almost all of her western territories.

Also during the Tang dynasty, the Tang was smart enough to prop up the lovely and unique Uyghurs. I love the Uyghurs the most. Because they have always been an odd ball of the region. There were Turkic, yet different from the mighty Göktürks, they are one of the earliest people in the region to turn agrarian. They are such an eccentric odd-ball. When everyone the region believe in Buddhism, they are the only one that believes in Manichaeism. And when the wave of Islam came to the region, they also the last ethnic group to embrace Islam. Uyghurs has this teenage rebellious pride in them. This made them a natural ally of Han Chinese or the Central Plain Dynasties (中原王朝). They saved China many many times. Again, an odd-ball like the Uyghurs also made sure that they became a effective balancing power that hindered the rise of any power out the western China. They help the Tang destroyed the Gokturks and repelled the Tibetan Empire from taking Gansu, Shaanxi and Qinghai. They held Western Xia, Liao and Jin at bay during Song dynasty. They help the Ming to fight against Mongols Yuan remnants in South and Southwest China. They also help the Qing to destroy Dzungar. They are NOT a people with Imperial aspirations. They love to rely on a strong Chinese Empire (中原王朝).
 

jimmyjames30x30

Junior Member
Registered Member
There is conditioning on both sides. The US has traditionally been more sophisticated at this than PRC, but the latter are catching up.

Access to "sensitive" historical records was never allowed. Even some records from the 19th century, like the archives of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service were denied. And with the advent of the campaign against "historical nihilism" things have become much more difficult for foreign historians:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!

That's nitpicking. Sensitive historical records are also classified in many other country, for example the USA.
 

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