Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History

By Nicola Di Cosmo | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER SIX
From Peace to War
China's Shift from Appeasement to
Military Engagement

Introduction

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- 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

____________________
1
Especially relevant to our discussion is chüan seven (sections 43–48) of the Yent'ieh lun (ed. Ssu-pu pei-yao).

-206-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 369

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?