From Peace to War
China's Shift from Appeasement to
With the accession of Emperor Wu in 140 B. C., a half-century-long tradition of foreign relations based on the search for diplomatic solutions and negotiated agreements came to an end. In the phase that followed, the Han dynasty assumed an outward-looking, expansion-driven, military-oriented posture. The Han–Hsiung-nu bipolar system of foreign relations came to an end, formally, with the breakup of the Hsiung-nu empire and the formal acceptance by Hu-han-yeh ch'an-yü in 51 B. C. of a position of inferiority to the Han emperor Hsüan-ti (73–49 B. C.). This development was the direct result of the successful military and political campaigns during Han Wu-ti's reign (140–87 B. C.). The shift from the “peace through kinship” strategy to the military solution, which took place during the lifetime of Ssu-ma Ch'ien, is one of the momentous events of Han history, and one whose repercussions were felt at every level of political and social life. This change in the means through which relations with the Hsiung-nu were conducted led to territorial expansion, but it also created economic problems and fostered tensions between government policy makers and the court on the one side, and the literati on the other. The respective positions were represented in stark contrast in the Discourses on Salt and Iron held in the early first century B. C.1
The plain narrative of the confrontation between Han and Hsiung-nu during the reign of Han Wu-ti is well known and does not need to be____________________
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Contributors: Nicola Di Cosmo - Author. Publisher: Cambridge University Press. Place of publication: Cambridge, England. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 206.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.