Conquest Dynasties of China or Foreign Empires? The Problem of Relations between China, Yuan and Qing

October 18, 2017 By S.V. Dmitriev & S.L. Kuzmin, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

The problem of statehood with regard to relations between China, Yuan and Qing states and dynasties is analyzed in comparative historical context. It is hard to accept the concept of one China (single or divided), during many centuries ruled by different dynasties and never incorporated in other states. Self-names of states and declarations of their succession, as such, do not create historical succession. The concept of China under different circumstances has been used for different purposes: national liberation of the Chinese people from enslaving by foreigners, justifying of internecine fights and/or centralization of the state, the right of a foreign state to conquered China, the right of creation of a world empire or subjection of other states and peoples. Liao, Jin, Yuan and Qing should be considered not as “dynasties of China established by minority nationalities”, but as multi-national empires established by non-Chinese peoples: Khitans, Jurchens, Mongols and Manchus, to whom the conquered China or its part was joined. The Song and Ming empires, ROC and PRC represent the state of China in different historical times. However, the formation, structure, sociocultural concepts, ways of legitimization, governing, and national policy differ the Yuan and Qing empires from China, which was only a part of them. Declarations of the Manchus and the Chinese, that their empire is the main state in the world, Zhongguo, are analogous to declarations of German, Ottoman, Russian and some other monarchs about their succession to the Roman Empire. The Chinese worldview underwent serious changes in the course of history. These changes can be better explained as occurring in different (Chinese and non-Chinese) states with different understanding of the Zhongguo principle, than in one state led by Chinese and conquest dynasties.[Pdf]

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