Modern Chinese Warfare, 1795-1989

Modern Chinese Warfare, 1795-1989

Modern Chinese Warfare, 1795-1989

Modern Chinese Warfare, 1795-1989

Synopsis

Why did the Chinese empire collapse and why did it take so long for a new government to reunite China? Modern Chinese Warfare, 1795-1989 seeks to answer these questions by exploring the most important domestic and international conflicts over the past two hundred years, from the last half of the Qing empire through to modern day China. It reveals how most of China's wars during this period were fought to preserve unity in China, and examines their distinctly cyclical pattern of imperial decline, domestic chaos and finally the creation of a new unifying dynasty.By 1989 this cycle appeared complete, but the author asks how long this government will be able to hold power. Exposing China as an imperialist country, and one which has often manipulated western powers in its favour, Bruce Elleman seeks to redress the views of China as a victimised nation.

Excerpt

While still a graduate student, I had the opportunity to live at Beijing University (Beida) during 1990 to 1991, six months after the Tiananmen Massacre. The mood was somber, students were careful to avoid contact with “foreign devils” like myself, and every night-like clockwork-the armed guards at the main gate of Beida would close and lock the door. Although this act did not particularly surprise me, since I was a graduate student at Columbia University in New York City, what did strike me one day as being odd was that the guards seemed more interested in checking who was exiting, rather than entering, Beida's campus (at Columbia I was accustomed to the reverse). One day it occurred to me that the guards' main duty was not to protect the campus from Beijing's vandals and thieves, but to guard the city of Beijing from the intellectual rabble-rousers inhabiting Beida's dormitories. From the guards' point of view, the students had one goal and one goal only: the disruption of Chinese unity. This observation sparked my initial interest in the true nature and purpose of the Chinese military, which is the subject of this book.

Chinese history is replete with wars, and most of these wars have served one purpose: to create and/or preserve the unity of China. When seen in this light, characteristics that all Chinese wars share can be more easily identified. In the period discussed in this book (1795-1989), I will focus on the twenty-five most well-known domestic and international conflicts. Each of these wars had Chinese unity as its underlying goal and they can be roughly divided into five general groups: (1) quelling domestic uprisings; (2) quelling ethnic uprisings; (3) opposing foreign trade imperialism; (4) opposing foreign territorial imperialism; and (5) supporting Chinese imperialism.

Each of these five groups has distinctive geographical characteristics. Imagine for a moment that China is a wheel, with numerous spokes linking the rim to the core. The core is central China, the spokes around the center are contiguous Chinese colonies-Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Manchuria, and Taiwan-and the outermost regions beyond the spokes are tributaries-Korea, Annam (Vietnam), Burma, etc. Almost without exception, China's domestic conflicts-White Lotus, Taipings, Nian, Warlords, and the Nationalist-Communist civil war-have taken place in the center, while non-Han ethnic uprisings-the

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