China's historical grand strategy: defensive or offensive?


hashtagpls

Junior Member
Registered Member
Well, the Han Dynasty maps pretty well with the Roman Empire time-wise in history. So consequently, I've always been favorable to analogizing Han Chinese with Roman citizen. With both terms, there's also a sense that they're distinguishing the civilized in-group from foreign barbarian hordes.

Perhaps a more modern comparison could be comparing Han Chinese to European, or "white"? China, Europe... they're melting pots, as long as you're close to the dominant phenotype. I mean, think about it, any East Asian looking individual who grew up in China could probably say he's Han Chinese and go unchallenged.
This.

The closest analogy to modern China that the West has is if the Roman Empire survived and retained its Roman culture. Since this is definitely not the case today, you can see the envy that many, many, Americans, british etc have when it comes to China. You see it when a beanpole tom cotton insists that Chinese students must learn American works like Shakespeare (?!). You see it when they pathetically try to create a fake culture based on "aryan blonde romans" despite having such disdain for swarthy italians and greeks.
Even today, many western nations try to call themselves true heirs of the roman empire, the most pathetic i've seen were romanians who tried to equate dacians with true romanians, or modern americans who attempt to create an artificial state based on roman facades but built on a racial caste structure.

China's historic grand strategy is predominantly defensive, especially in accordance with Confucian principles which required sons to stay close to their parents so as to conduct funerary rites and to look after their parents; contrast this with the piratical culture of the anglosphere who like to think of themselves as individualistic adventurers, in reality sociopathic narcissists.
 
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jimmyjames30x30

Junior Member
Registered Member
China's attitude to psychological/propaganda warfare waged by the west can be summarised as "you can say and think what you want, it doesn't make it true". I don't know if this is the best way to engage or ignore the problem but people are entitled to think and say what they believe... keeping in mind that "all the world's a stage... all the men and women actors" and people OFTEN say things they know to be false and OFTEN say things they honestly do not actually believe in cue Trump and the like of folks who actually say and believe some hilariously outrageous nonsense. There are too many examples of this sort of behaviour of people being manipulative e.g. that Joseph Watson youtube guy and the similarly autistic white nationalists etc etc list is endless and this of course include Chinese people/government.

I can argue passionately that acceleration due to gravity is 100m/s/s on earth but it isn't true. Will you be the one fooled by the deceiver? That's the question to people.

With Xinjiang, that was part of China's territory for longer than there were American interests and well documented CIA support and financing of separatism. How come China and CCP had no issue with Xinjiang and its people then? Why commit supposed genocide on a people who were fine and all part of China and still is?

Strange how it aligns with the US attempting to drag China through the mud they created that is the tricky problem of Islamic extremism (an isolated issue and by no means a systemic problem within Islam)... many sects the US themselves supported and nurtured if not entirely created.

Strange how the Americans really would like to disrupt China's relationship with Middle Eastern countries and the Shia Sunni divide. How well timed all this propaganda is and how forceful they are with shoving it down throats of Muslims and the liberals/ left of the West.

I personally don't doubt those education centres exist. I don't think they are as absolutely common and violent an issue as presented by Western media since they really only presented a few facilities and there is simply no way they can house even a fraction of the Uighur population. However they do exist and I suspect they exist to find potential "predispositions" for or actual extremism and connections to groups.

China did suffer several violent terrorist attacks. Those incidents didn't come from nowhere and coincidentally came after CIA financing of separatist groups if you believe what China says but China did suffer terrorist attacks. This method is China's way of addressing the problem that it never wanted. It's their choice to make and I don't buy into the rape allegations because the same victim was on record months before rape accusations saying there was never any violence and only emotional/mental suffering in the eduation centre. Yeah being forced to sing stupid songs would also make me suffer mentally. But those stupid "commie" practices are used in various ways to identify extremism and weed out potential terrorists as according to China. How effective who knows. Drawing patriotic drawings and singing songs for a few weeks to check for "wrong behaviour" is just not the same as being raped and tortured etc right?

As bad as that may sound (singing and drawing and just being forced into certain activities for a while) but this is China's way of dealing with an internal issue. It's still better than invading a series of nations and committing actual war crimes, genocide, hate crimes, civilian murder, and the overall destruction of peoples, cultures, and cities. It breeds resentment and continued violence in a way China's "silly" method doesn't quite match. They have to pay certain people to continue this propaganda war on China but no one needs to be paid to notice and act against the the way the US responded to terrorism... much of which it is directly responsible for creating.
Well, I think China's real counter to Western Propaganda is best described by what's written in the Art of War: "知己知彼,百战不殆". China's entire domain of existence will take at least 200 years to be understood by today's Westerner World, if the cultural trend in Western Society and Academia remain what it is today.

I think most things that the West does in propaganda is essentially a waste of time. What's funny is that the things that the West put most attention and resources in are irrelevant and off-point, and what I would describe as "逆天逆道" in Daoist language.

By flaunting their wealth, achievements and social advancements at China, the West gave China one of the most important things She need : a vision for a better future, and thus strengthening the Chinese Raison D'Etre. They did this because they thought they can impress these Chinese enough that the Chinese would throw away their own identity and culture. This is even more stupid ancient Chinese flaunting their wealth, culture and social advancements at the nomad barbarians: it ONLY invites invasions and luting from the nomad. But at least the nomad has no country of their own, and they are vastly outnumbered by Chinese, so as soon as they decide to stay, they eventual became the new blood that revitalizes CHINA.

But the West can neither out-number, nor out-work Chinese, so what's the point of flaunting to the Chinese "I am mightier than thou"? Are they trying to absorb Chinese into their own society? What kind of a fool would think this is good idea? The only outcome would be Chinese looking at what impressed them the most from the West and try their best to replicate those. Whoever think that "once they Chinese admires and gets impressed by us, they will become us, they will be our followers, and we will win!" has got to be the most arrogant, self-absorbed and conceited people EVER. They doomed for defeat.

“祸莫大于轻敌,轻敌几丧吾宝, 抗兵相加,哀者胜矣” -- 《道德经》

As for the stupidity of the West, they only know how to use basic logic and rationality. They see Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, and they put down their money. We Chinese laugh laugh out ass off!

For Xinjiang: if even British Empire and the Russian Empire couldn't break Xinjiang out of the weak hands of the "Sick Man of East Asia" the Qing dynasty, what gave them the confidence that they could accomplish such today? For using Islam against China: Islam has a much longer history in China than they they have in Western and Northern Europe.

And Islam had NEVER won against China historically. Islam dominated India and the Middle East, they were on equal footing with the West. But with China, even a bunch of defeated Khitan in-exile was able bash the heck out of Islamic Central-Asians (read the history of the Qara-Khitai Khaganate)and form a great Kingdom in Central Asia. Islam has NEVER had any upper hand against China in history. This is because both China and Islam has many similarities to each other, thus denying Islam any intrinsic advantage when facing China. And it is also because China and Islam has enough differences to be able to work with each other, because both are confident that the other party has no way to destroying their existence (thus not an existential threat).

As for Uyghurs, the West really picked the wrong people. The Uyghurs/Turks might seem strong and threatening to the West, but they are sheep in front of China. This is not saying that they are weak. But simple because one man's kryptonite is another man's plain rock.
When was Uyghurs ever a threat to China? Uyghurs are the most harmless group to China historically. They are like the Swiss in Europe: mercenaries and farmers. They are NOT nomadic, NOR are they known for imperial aspiration. They are opportunists, hire-hands, always happy to serve the main power in China.

As for Tibet, that is even more so. Tibet has long ceased to be a challenger to China. The last time they were a challenger was during Tang Dynasty. Even since then they have lost their centralized imperial system, and balkanized into a priestly class divided by religious sects. They are like the main "Fire Wall" for China, protecting China from the Muslims from the subcontinent. They also provided the Tungstic Nomads a standardized/unified culture of Tibetan Buddhism, effectively depriving these nomads of their original war-like animistic/shamanistic culture, turning them into harmless religious hermits of a people (thus benefiting the Han Chinese the most).

Hong Kong is a servant colony. They have NO aspiration for Empire. They CANNOT form any real threat to China. The mindset is no different from a hungry baby, throwing a tantrum just to get more milk from Mother.

Why on earth would the West EVER invest their resources on such hapless groups? If they had any chance, EVER, they would have dominated China in history!

This whole thing is mind boggling to me.
 
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jimmyjames30x30

Junior Member
Registered Member
China's attitude to psychological/propaganda warfare waged by the west can be summarised as "you can say and think what you want, it doesn't make it true". I don't know if this is the best way to engage or ignore the problem but people are entitled to think and say what they believe... keeping in mind that "all the world's a stage... all the men and women actors" and people OFTEN say things they know to be false and OFTEN say things they honestly do not actually believe in cue Trump and the like of folks who actually say and believe some hilariously outrageous nonsense. There are too many examples of this sort of behaviour of people being manipulative e.g. that Joseph Watson youtube guy and the similarly autistic white nationalists etc etc list is endless and this of course include Chinese people/government.

I can argue passionately that acceleration due to gravity is 100m/s/s on earth but it isn't true. Will you be the one fooled by the deceiver? That's the question to people.

With Xinjiang, that was part of China's territory for longer than there were American interests and well documented CIA support and financing of separatism. How come China and CCP had no issue with Xinjiang and its people then? Why commit supposed genocide on a people who were fine and all part of China and still is?

Strange how it aligns with the US attempting to drag China through the mud they created that is the tricky problem of Islamic extremism (an isolated issue and by no means a systemic problem within Islam)... many sects the US themselves supported and nurtured if not entirely created.

Strange how the Americans really would like to disrupt China's relationship with Middle Eastern countries and the Shia Sunni divide. How well timed all this propaganda is and how forceful they are with shoving it down throats of Muslims and the liberals/ left of the West.

I personally don't doubt those education centres exist. I don't think they are as absolutely common and violent an issue as presented by Western media since they really only presented a few facilities and there is simply no way they can house even a fraction of the Uighur population. However they do exist and I suspect they exist to find potential "predispositions" for or actual extremism and connections to groups.

China did suffer several violent terrorist attacks. Those incidents didn't come from nowhere and coincidentally came after CIA financing of separatist groups if you believe what China says but China did suffer terrorist attacks. This method is China's way of addressing the problem that it never wanted. It's their choice to make and I don't buy into the rape allegations because the same victim was on record months before rape accusations saying there was never any violence and only emotional/mental suffering in the eduation centre. Yeah being forced to sing stupid songs would also make me suffer mentally. But those stupid "commie" practices are used in various ways to identify extremism and weed out potential terrorists as according to China. How effective who knows. Drawing patriotic drawings and singing songs for a few weeks to check for "wrong behaviour" is just not the same as being raped and tortured etc right?

As bad as that may sound (singing and drawing and just being forced into certain activities for a while) but this is China's way of dealing with an internal issue. It's still better than invading a series of nations and committing actual war crimes, genocide, hate crimes, civilian murder, and the overall destruction of peoples, cultures, and cities. It breeds resentment and continued violence in a way China's "silly" method doesn't quite match. They have to pay certain people to continue this propaganda war on China but no one needs to be paid to notice and act against the the way the US responded to terrorism... much of which it is directly responsible for creating.
What I would think as the ONLY real existential threat to China in real history in the last 100 years is the Soviet Union. Or what the Soviet Union could have become.

We people of today tend to over estimate the threat the Maritime Power of the Western World to China. But if we look deeper into history, we will see that for the level of technological superiority the West had over Qing dynasty in terms of military, the West actually barely scrapped China compared to what the northern nomad have done or could have done with one hundredth of such an advantage. None of the great calamity to China in the "100 years of shame" was directly inflicted by the West. Although they did indirectly caused so, because Qing Dynasty is way too complex internally (hold way too many internal geopolitical land mines, that any sign of weakening of Qing control will cause bloody internal conflict to ensue). The great calamities are directly cause by the ensuing instability and internal conflicts.

In fact, If the 五胡 had even an ounce more military technological advantage to Han Chinese, they would have exterminated Han Chinese. If the later nomads had an ounce more advantage, they would have at least exterminated Chinese culture if not the people. China's real threat would ALWAYS come from the North and/or the North-West. Therefore, either a strong and powerful USSR, or a collapsed Russia (which would create a vacuum for a new northern Nomad hegemony to rise) would create a very dire situation for China, either in the immediate term (powerful USSR scenario), or in the long term (collapsed Russia scenario).

A weak Russia under constant threat from the West and open to receive support from China, is really the best scenario for China, strategically.
 
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ougoah

Major
Registered Member
What I would think as the ONLY real existential threat to China in real history in the last 100 years is the Soviet Union. Or what the Soviet Union could have become.

We people of today tend to over estimate the threat the Maritime Power of the Western World to China. But if we look deeper into history, we will see that for the level of technological superiority the West had over Qing dynasty in terms of military, the West actually barely scrapped China compared to what the northern nomad have done or could have done with one hundredth of such an advantage. None of the great calamity to China in the "100 years of shame" was directly inflicted by the West. Although they did indirectly caused so, because Qing Dynasty is way too complex internally (hold way too many internal geopolitical land mines, that any sign of weakening of Qing control will cause bloody internal conflict to ensue). The great calamities are directly cause by the ensuing instability and internal conflicts.

In fact, If the 五胡 had even an ounce more military technological advantage to Han Chinese, they would have exterminated Han Chinese. If the later nomads had an ounce more advantage, they would have at least exterminated Chinese culture if not the people. China's real threat would ALWAYS come from the North and/or the North-West. Therefore, either a strong and powerful USSR, or a collapsed Russia (which would create a vacuum for a new northern Nomad hegemony to rise) would create a very dire situation for China, either in the immediate term (powerful USSR scenario), or in the long term (collapsed Russia scenario).

A weak Russia under constant threat from the West and open to receive support from China, is really the best scenario for China, strategically.

I disagree with Russian expansion ever being a modern threat again. It's been capped effectively by geography with thinning lines and they have expanded into enough. China has no interest in "regaining" lands that it never really held apart from some of far eastern siberia. The threat now is entirely from the West and allies while China and Russia's security interests have never aligned so perfectly. Central Asia will be kept stable by both and with the neutrality (at worst) of Iran, the heartland is secure and relatively independent of any influence.

Revolution in China was bound to happen as the natural order humiliated the old paths and taught those who suffered what the new world demands. China has made (enforced) the greatest cultural reversal in human history and hopefully it is for the better. Old ways can be revisited if they have merit and will surely be brought about by the same natural forces that sent China into the century of humiliation. These are adjustments that correct the path.

A collapsed Russia would be a European problem far more than it would be a Chinese one. Okay many central asians living in Siberia may create regional instability but their limited economic, political, and military power mean the problem is at worst one of helping establish some governance and perhaps providing asylum. There is no Russian threat in economic collapse but there's obviously no gain at all for China. It is within China's interest to create regional stability and that definitely involves a wealthier Russia. Not to mention it would be a promising market that run both ways. A wealthier Russia is also one more weapons dealer who has more resources to commit to the security of both. A strong Russia /USSR equivalent is a much greater threat than either of those two but it's also unlikely to be serious as long as common adversaries/threats exist between China and Russia. A strong and wealthy Russia also would have little reason to expand more. Only brings benefit in greater depths of cooperation and trade. If common enemies disappear, a stronger Russia will far sooner exert more dominance on the global markets (since they sell a lot of energy) and Europe and Turkey (strait and strategic) than it would bother expanding east.
 

nlalyst

Junior Member
Registered Member
In my view, China's grand strategy was offensive when the empire was strong (Han, Tang, Qing) and defensive only when the empire was relatively weak like during the Song or the Ming. Qing, arguably China's greatest dynasty, more than doubled the territory it inherited from the Ming.
 

hashtagpls

Junior Member
Registered Member
The policies of some Chinese Dynasties, of splendid isolationism and prohibition on outside travel doesn't correspond to an offensive geostrategy; where China was cosmopolitan such as during the Tang, it can be argued that china did have an offensive geostrategy.
But even in cases such as when the Ming were open and cosmopolitan, its strategy was definitely defensive rather than offensive. The building of the Great Wall is definitely a defensive policy, and expeditionary forces such as during the Imjin War were purely defensive, to aid the Koreans against the japanese.
 

nlalyst

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Registered Member
But even in cases such as when the Ming were open and cosmopolitan, its strategy was definitely defensive rather than offensive. The building of the Great Wall is definitely a defensive policy, and expeditionary forces such as during the Imjin War were purely defensive, to aid the Koreans against the japanese.
Unlike other more successful dynasties, the fact that Ming did not expand (but shrank compared to Yuan) was not through lack of trying. They succeeded in the conquest of Yunnan (or reconquest), but failed in their other military campaings. The annexation of Annam collapsed due to Ming being unable to contain the local insurgency. Ming attempted to subjugate the Mongols in the north but got completely thrashed on the battlefield. It was only after these military debacles that they realized that they are too weak to expand further and therefore adopted a defensive strategic posture.
 

sndef888

Junior Member
Registered Member
IMO, the only way China can truly be geographically safe is to expand to the nearest mountain ranges and sinicise the populations. This has already been done by prior dynasties in the south and west (yunnan, guangxi, tibet, xinjiang). Yunnan and guangxi have been sinicised while xinjiang and tibet are still in the process.

What's left is the north and northwest, from the tuva mountains to lake baikal to the stanovoy range. Once its complete China will have complete coverage on all sides by unpassable geography.

It doesn't have to be bloody either. Mongolia could be peacefully reincorporated someday like Tibet. The Russia side will be much harder though, perhaps one day if Russia falls into crisis again like how the US gained Alaska.
 

EtherealSmoke

New Member
Registered Member
This.

The closest analogy to modern China that the West has is if the Roman Empire survived and retained its Roman culture. Since this is definitely not the case today, you can see the envy that many, many, Americans, british etc have when it comes to China. You see it when a beanpole tom cotton insists that Chinese students must learn American works like Shakespeare (?!). You see it when they pathetically try to create a fake culture based on "aryan blonde romans" despite having such disdain for swarthy italians and greeks.
Even today, many western nations try to call themselves true heirs of the roman empire, the most pathetic i've seen were romanians who tried to equate dacians with true romanians, or modern americans who attempt to create an artificial state based on roman facades but built on a racial caste structure.

China's historic grand strategy is predominantly defensive, especially in accordance with Confucian principles which required sons to stay close to their parents so as to conduct funerary rites and to look after their parents; contrast this with the piratical culture of the anglosphere who like to think of themselves as individualistic adventurers, in reality sociopathic narcissists.

Agreed. China has many parallels with Rome, and the western conception of Rome. Just like each Chinese dynasty fought to reconstitute China, Europeans have fought for thousands of years to reconstitute Rome.

There are many such examples of these attempts, the most prominent being the Byzantines, the Holy Roman Empire, Napoleon's Imperial France, Nazi Germany's Third Reich... even Americans today draw inspiration and legitimacy as being the new Rome. Pax Romana to Pax Americana, anyone?

The parallels go even further. Many of the founders of these new Romes were ironically the very people who sacked and destroyed Rome in the past (most famously the Germanic Visigoths and Vandals that crushed the Western Roman Empire).

Now what does this remind me of? Northern barbarians overtaking a southern Empire, then creating an empire in its image? Seems quite similar to the Mongol Yuan and Manchurian Qing Dynasties to me.

The main difference between China and Rome though is that for whatever reason, be it geographical or cultural, China was able to be reconstituted continuously in a clear line.

As an aside, if I recall correctly, one justification Japanese nationalists gave for invading China (Eastern Rome) was that the real Chinese had been destroyed a millennia ago, and that the Japanese were the true heirs of the Chinese tradition.
This legitimacy of a glorious past China again compares well with how Europeans claimed legitimacy to rule through inheritance from the glorious Rome of the past, most famously the Holy Roman Emperors.

So there's definitely some historical support behind analogizing Han Chinese with Roman, or European. Phenotypically, you could also argue the fact that despite their physical differences a guy from Shandong and some dude from Jiangxi are both Han Chinese, much like how a guy from Denmark and a guy from Portugal are both European.
 

nlalyst

Junior Member
Registered Member
As an aside, if I recall correctly, one justification Japanese nationalists gave for invading China (Eastern Rome) was that the real Chinese had been destroyed a millennia ago, and that the Japanese were the true heirs of the Chinese tradition.
This legitimacy of a glorious past China again compares well with how Europeans claimed legitimacy to rule through inheritance from the glorious Rome of the past, most famously the Holy Roman Emperors.
Interesting. I would add to this the schism between the Western and Eastern Roman world. The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine) was The Roman Empire. Yet in modern Western historiography its legitimacy is kind of obfuscated by calling them Byzantine and insisting the Roman empire collapsed in 476, whereas only the western part disintegrated, while the Roman Empire centered on Constantinople continued on for another 1000 years. Finally, we should not forget that the Russian Empire claimed itself the successor of the Roman Empire and Moscow as the "Third Rome", after Constantinople was conquered by the Ottomans.
 
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