Far Eastern Governments and Politics: China and Japan

By Paul M. A. Linebarger; Djang Chu et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Old China's Colonial Empire and the Chinese Family of Nations
THE old Chinese political system included three distinct elements:
the inner empire inhabited by the Chinese;
a colonial empire, including a number of border areas and nonChinese enclaves; and
a Chinese family of nations, an outer group of peripheral dependent states comprising most of the world known to the Chinese.

Across the centuries of China's history the relationship among these three types of territories played a varying but almost always significant role in the dynamics of Chinese politics. From Han down to the present, the border areas have been centers of Chinese strategic thinking.

The immense continuities of Chinese history can be readily appreciated when one observes that in Homer Dubs' magisterial translation of The History of the Former Han Dynasty by Pan Ku the Chinese officials of the two centuries immediately preceding the time of Jesus Christ were as much preoccupied with Sinkiang as are the Communist bureaucrats of today. The presence of the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces in Korea is motivated by Red China's contribution to the Communist cause, but it is certainly concurrently motivated by Chinese political and military considerations which have not changed in the last 2,000 years. One need only turn the pages of China's history to pick up the old theme: China claimed her manifest destiny, whenever it was physically possible for the Chinese to do so, against Burma, Siam, Indo-China, Korea, Tibet, and any other peripheral territories within reach.

Past and present meet, furthermore, in the Chinese concept of the inherent and proper inequality of nations. In old Chinese thinking any supposition

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