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(Re)Conceptualizing the World in Eighteenth Century China1

Ronald Chung-yam Po



     The Chinese had shown much enthusiasm about mapping the known space of the world throughout her imperial history. Despite vast ethnic diversity within the country, her worldview – the tianxia (天下) – was originated from and also dominated by the Han's. However, both "evidential research" (kaozhengxu考證學) and "geo-historical studies" (shidixue史地學) in the High Qing (1683-1839)2 already challenged this cultural homogenization of "Chinese," not to mention "their" homogenized worldview. In fact, Chinese intellectuals, especially the geo-historians, of the eighteenth century began to perceive China as a multi- instead of a mono-cultural nation. Their changing attitudes towards the frontier tribes (bianjiang minzu 邊疆民族) lying beyond the empire as well as the Europeans travelling across the Asian Sea, significantly, implies a decentering of the Han should form the new matrix for (re)defining the Chinese Weltanschauung. In this article, by investigating their (re)conceptualization of various frontiers across both land and sea, I shall substantiate this distinctive (as from previous centuries), yet under-examined, cultural and ethnic awareness of the Chinese intellectuals in the early modern period. Such substantiation not only elucidates the dynamics between geo-historical researches and ethnic studies in the Great Qing, but also charts the evolution of the Chinese Weltanschauung across this specific conjuncture.

All Under Heaven

     Ever since ancient times, when traces of written records could be retrieved, the Chinese worldview was heavily influenced by the idea of the tianxia.3 Literally denoting "all under heaven," tianxia was first recorded in the Yu's Tribute (Yugong 禹貢), a writing traditionally attributed to Da Yu大禹 (Yu the Great, c.a. 2205 B.C – 2105 B.C) 4 – the legendary hero who is best remembered for taming an epic flood.5  Under the tianxia framework, the world is divided into five zones (wufu 五服) and nine provinces (jiuzhou九州), with the midstream region of the Yellow River being the epicenter. It should be noted that this epicenter is not only a geographical index to differentiate the five zones (as they are established in accordance with their respective distances to the Yellow River), but also a yardstick for determining their cultural levels.6 The furthest region, where the most barbaric people live, is identified as the desert zone (huangfu 荒服), whereas the center, populated by the most civilized group, is known as the privileged zone (houfu侯服).7 Because most ancient Chinese egoistically believed they were the center of the world, "civilizing the rest" became their "natural" mission.8 As Richard J. Smith has argued, the "cultural superiority" assumed by the Chinese was a cornerstone for them to establish relationships with their neighboring tribes and civilizations.9 Therefore, for the Chinese Emperors, or the so-called "Sons of Heaven" (tianzi 天子), barbarians who came to the "Middle Kingdom" must be civil-lized, or in fact, sino-lized.10 Obviously, the tianxia ideology is an ethnocentrism, encoding China and its surrounding states along the axis of "superior center – inferior periphery" since the early imperial epoch.

The Han-ethnicity

     Since both the Chinese ethnography and imperial culture is so deeply-rooted in the tianxia concept, a mistaken belief that "China being a mono-cultural country" is widely accepted as a common, unquestioned knowledge. It is arguable that such unchecked belief originates from two assumptions: (1) Although China had been ruled by several foreign groups in her long imperial history, these foreigners were all ultimately acculturated by the practices of the Han. From time to time, those non-Han emperors even became the promoters of the Han tradition, which gives the impression that the homogenization of Chinese took place not only in frontier interactions, but also at an institution level; (2) Historians generally take the liberty to binarize the relationship between China and the rest of the world, while "the Han," conveniently, emerged as the shorthand for China as a whole.

     Apparently, these assumptions have overlooked the complexity of the process involved in sinicization, or sinolization, whose product, I believe, is more a synthesis than a mere obliteration of all the un-accommodated foreign elements. Before accounting for why sinicization alone cannot fully help us redeem the portrait of the Chinese worldview, I will first outline the generalized conception of sinicization, which was advanced by John King Fairbank in 1968.11 Afterwards I will compare his idea against Evelyn Rawski's valorization of "Manchuness" so as to bring out a more complete picture of the sinicizing mechanism.

     In his theorization of the Sino-foreign relations, Fairbank observed, the Chinese perception of the world reflected the "hierarchical nature" of the Confucius society, which has long been identified as the Han culture.12 As such, the cultural positions of those non-Han people were determined by the extent to which they resembled the mainstream "Han-habit(s)." If the non-Hans resisted the Han-influence, they were immediately stereotyped as "sheng 生," "man 蠻," or "yi 夷", in contrast to the "shu 熟" who showed tremendous willingness to adopt the Han culture.13 In other words, the demarcation between the "Han" and the "non-Han" was scripted more on "cultural and social terms" than one's ethnic origin.14 Fairbank further pointed out even though the Han Chinese had been defeated by the Manchus, their culture and lifestyle were so commendable that a voluntary engagement in sinicization became a highly prioritized enterprise for their conquerors. Hence, the superiority come from the physical conquest of foreign powers were very often offset by the cultural superiority of the Han. Because Fairbank's proposition is so widely accepted by other historians, especially those in the Atlantics, the idea that "Chinese worldview is Han-centered" emerged as a take-for-granted axiom.

     Nevertheless, what John King Fairbank propounded is not always valid. As Evelyn Rawski argued in 1996, the sinicization thesis did not explain the rich and complex relationship between the Han and the non-Hans, especially during the early Qing era. She underlined the fact that the Manchus also put considerable efforts in preserving her own culture while respecting those of other ethnic groups.15 For example, the Manchus assumed different (ethnic) identities when governing different (ethnic) constituencies, as epitomized by the different policies targeting different ethnic groups.16 For the Manchu rulers, the world they governed was one of difference and heterogeneity, but not a Han-dominated matrix. Rawski's analysis was espoused and echoed by a cluster of historians who propelled the growth of the "New Qing Studies." William T. Rowe, for instance, is convinced that the Chinese worldview in the late imperial period was not simply a derivative from the Han Chinese culture, but a synergy created by both the Hans and the non-Hans over time.17

     Although Ping-ti Ho once mounted a scathing attack on Rawski's overstating the role of multiethnic measures in the consolidation of the Qing Empire, Ho did not reject the idea that the Qing government also saw her own culture, the "Manchuness," as one of the keys to her rule and sovereignty. 18 Indeed, Rawski's constructive framework shed light on the incomprehensiveness of simply equating the Han-worldview with the Chinese worldview, in particular during the formative years of the Qing Empire because the Han ethnocentrism was also diluted by the High Qing Rulers, as shown in the findings of various official geo-historical studies in the eighteenth century.

     The new, or synthesized, worldview of the Chinese in the eighteenth century must be understood in light of the frontier-writings of the geo-historians, whose studies not only faithfully record the history of the inspected frontier regions, but also reflects a changing ethnographic consciousness that indirectly altered their Weltanschauung. By frontier-writings, I refer to the intellectual convergence of evidential researches, regional studies, chorography, and historical studies around the eighteenth century.19 These writings aimed at analyzing the history, geography, and society of both the Inner Asian frontiers of the Qing Empire as well as the maritime space embracing China.20 Most frontier writings were compiled by scholar-officials and supervised by the Emperor, while a handful of them were produced "outside the imperial court," that means without any governmental sponsorship or intervention. These private researches include the Records of historical studies and frontiers studies (Dushi fangyu jiyao讀史方輿紀要),21 the Record of things seen and heard among the maritime kingdoms (Haiguo wenjian lu海國聞見錄),22 the Record of the seas (Hailu海錄), 23 and the Treatise on the islands (Haidao yuzhi海島逸志).24 A juxtaposition of various official and unofficial anthropological writings would flesh out the heterogeneity of the Chinese worldview at that time.

Gu Yanwu and Gu Zuyu

     There is a general consensus that the inception of systematicizing anthropological studies took place under the rule of Emperor Qianlong乾隆 (r. 1736-1795). To continue with the cultural legacy of the Manchus, Qianlong endeavored to expand his grand Empire through numerous frontier campaigns. These newly acquired frontiers had to be secured by specific measures, which require a better understanding of the local customs and conditions.25 As a result, hundreds of cultural elites were mandated to study these remote regions. Doubtless, Qianlong's intention to stabilize his Empire was one of the major forces to advance the development of frontier writings. However, I would like to emphasize, without the efforts of the two prominent figures in the Kangxi 康熙period (1662-1722) – Gu Yanwu 顧炎武 (1613-1682) and Gu Zuyu 顧祖禹 (1631-1692) – regional and chorographical studies in Qianlong reign would not be so mature. In fact, it would not be exaggerative to say that the two Gus had revolutionized the methodology of conducting geo-historical researches and laid the foundation for future studies.

     Gu Yanwu was an expert in philosophy, chorography, anthropology and geography. He believed, for the rulers, geo-historical study was an indispensable guide to develop policing measures in regions far beyond the "China proper." Therefore, Gu traveled extensively in provinces such as Yunnan雲南, Dali大理, Menghua蒙化, and Ningxia寧夏 to collect written and oral information about values, religions as much as economic and social lives of peoples across China. His long study of these "remote regions" culminated in his tome comprising 120 volumes – The conditions of provinces and principalities under the Heaven (Tianxia junguo libingshu 天下郡國利病書) – which is canonized as an authoritative geo-political enchiridion.26 Inspired by Gu Yanwu, Gu Zuyu also worked towards the ideal of "investing historical studies with practical values" (jingshi shixue 經世史學), thus his "regional researches" aimed not only at presenting an accurate picture of the geographical and economic conditions of different parts of China, but also at giving directions for strategic governance.27

     Compared to the geo-historians in previous dynasties, both Gu Yanwu and Gu Zuyu attached more importance to critical examination of existing sources, extensive field-surveys, and exhaustive organization of raw materials. Their reforms in the methods of conducting geo-historical studies, not only re-oriented geo-historical works in the Kangxi period, but also influenced a long line of geo-historians in the eighteenth century. What is more noticeable is that even though Gu Yanwu and Gu Zuyu refused to hold official titles, some of their disciples, such as Pan Leiying潘耒應 and Wu Xingzuo吳興祚 (1632-1698) succeeded in transmitting the two Gu's ideas into official ideology.28 That partially explains why the official version of the Chinese worldview in the Qianlong era was closely related to the development of regional studies in the Kangxi era.

Frontier Writings and the Evolution of Chinese Weltanschauung

     As mentioned above, Emperor Qianlong showed deep concerns about the frontier regions of his Empire. For this reason, hundreds of bureaucrats and researchers (both the Hans and the Manchus) were sent to strengthen the defense and administrative power in Xinjiang, Qinghai, and places in where the Khitan and Jurchen tribes resided.29 The longer the geo-historians stayed in those peripheral regions, the stronger the need they felt to reexamine the historical records of these places because they discovered most frontier writings compiled in the past did not do justice to the actual customs practiced by the peripheral groups. Following the footsteps of Gu Yanwu and Gu Zuyu, these historians revised previous studies and deduced that it was the ethnocentrism of the Han that barbaricized the "Other." In their petitions submitted to the Emperor around 1756, officials like Xu Song徐松(1781-1848) maintained that non-Hans living in the far West had their own cultures, and thus, it would be exceedingly arduous to force sinicisation upon these peoples. Qianlong was impressed by such observations and immediately appointed a group of geo-historians (most of whom were Han) to compile the Pictorial accounts of the Western region in the Empire (Qinding Huangyu xiyu tuzhi欽定皇輿西域圖志), which was finally completed in 1764.30

     The Huangyu xiyu tuzhi signifies not only an important phase in evidential research and professionalized geo-historical studies in Chinese history, but also the de-centering of the Han's vision from the official Chinese worldview. In the Huangyu xiyu tuzhi, derogatory terms such as "yi" and "man" disappeared from the entire document. Furthermore, Qing geo-historians preferred to use "xiyu" 西域 – a term that is free of value judgment – to indicate the western region. Although they still applied terms like "Zhongguo中國 (Central state)"31 and "Da Qing大清 (The Great Qing)," these geographical nomenclatures were not so much premised on the "Han-barbarian" axis.

     Apart from the Huangyu xiyu tuzhi, there are many other government records which suggested Han-ethnocentrism was no longer tenable in modeling the Chinese worldview during the early modern period. Chinese scholars' attention to the Northwest frontier serves as another good example. Due to the growing aggression of the Russian in the seventeenth century, the Northwest provinces became more strategically important to China than ever. By the time of the Qianjia period (1735-1820), scholar-officials, who felt the urgency to reexamine the Northeast frontier, clarified a lot of misconceptions, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies in traditional geographical records. Not only did they conduct detailed field-surveys of its geographical, economic and demographic conditions, they also began to re-negotiate the cultural discrepancy between the area that forms Xinjiang, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces today and the China Proper.

     Among a cluster of geo-historians who focused on Xinjiang studies in the eighteenth century, Xu Song is the most famous one who thoroughly demonstrated his profound knowledge of Xinjiang, which included its geographical settings, the customs of the locals, demography, and even hydrology. In his famous The brief knowledge of Xinjiang (Qinding Xinjiang shilüe欽定新疆識略), Xu Song proposed that Han Chinese should respect the culture of the Xinjiang people and get along with them, instead of willfully acculturalizing those peripheral tribes.32  Another leading geo-historian, Gong Zizhen 龔自珍 (1792-1841), who was also a remarkable political theorist, highlighted the cultural and strategic importance of Xinjiang and its people in his corpuses.33 He advocated that the Qing government should also respect people living in the Xinjiang (Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and Tartars) and subsidized their agricultural development because this was the key to protect the northwest frontier against Russian aggression.34  Influenced by Gong Zizhen, the geographer Shen Yiu (1798-1840) shared a similar view in his Reminiscences of Xinjiang (Xinjiang shiyi), which mentioned the Northwest people were culturally different from Manchus and Han Chinese. They had "their own custom, which was old and dynamic, but was never less-civilized or barbaric." Similarly, Yu Ying (1785-1853), when investigating the history of Tibet, criticized the Qing government for trying to transplant Chinese culture and institutions onto the Tibetan soil. For him, in order to successfully secure China's frontier, the Qing government should adopt a lassiez-faire policy in dealing with Tibet.

     Chinese scholars also directed their strategic concern towards Mongolia lying between China and Russia. Ever since the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 220 BC), China was plagued by various nomadic groups in the north, such as the Huns, the Turks, and the Mongols. From the Chinese perspective, these nomadic herdsmen were commonly stereotyped as belligerent and brutal simply because they were keen on horse riding and hunting.35 As such, they were given disrespectful names such as "beidi北狄" or "waiyi外夷," signifying their barbarity and cultural inferiority to the Han-Chinese. Han-officials in the Ming era even questioned the ability of these northern nomads to properly govern a country.36 Nonetheless, this worldview was no longer defended when the Manchus came to power. To be more specific, under the "multi-culturalism" championed by the Manchus,37 the relationship between the Han and the Mongols were no longer a binary opposition where the civilized versus the barbaric, but a more equalitarian one. As the Manchus shared similar habits with the Mongols, it is imaginable that the Han literati would never dare to demonize or discriminate against the ruling class. Patently, a strong political force was exacted upon geo-historians in the eighteenth century that a refusal to revise their perceptions towards the northern tribes was impossible. Therefore, scholar-officials in the eighteenth century began to reexamine the history and culture of Mongolia and the areas adjacent to it. For instance, in his Chronological account of the emergence of the Yuan Dynasty (Yuanchao diangu bianniankao元朝典故編年考), Sun Zhengze's 孫承澤 (1593-1676) collected detailed materials about the geography, architecture, economy, social customs, education, and political institutions in Mongolia.38 Additionally, Shao Yuanping's邵遠平 (1662-1735) abridged and reorganized the History of the Yuan Dynasty (Yuanshi元史), which was written by official historians in the Ming times, and finally published the Topical studies of Mongolian history (Yuanshi leibian 元史類編).39 In his thorough study on the Yuan Dynasty, Shao reexamined the distinctive traditions and customs of the herdsman, and further underlined the historical significances of the Mongol Empire. Showing great affinity to evidential research and geo-historical studies, Wang Huizu汪輝祖 (1730-1807), Qian Daxin錢大昕(1728-1804), and Wei Yuan魏源 (1794-1856) also made considerable efforts to rectify dubious and inaccurate details in the Yuanshi. They even indicated that the Mongolian cultural tradition was very similar to the Han's because both of them were moulded by the long history.40

Maritime Frontier

     The development of geo-historical study not only stimulated in-depth reexaminations on Inner Asia, but also provided a platform for Chinese intellectuals to (re)conceptualize the sea spaces facing the China coast. Indeed, geo-historical research instilled in many Qing scholars a kind of "sea consciousness" – sea as the most fundamental, yet explorable space that conjoins cultures of the faraway lands. Although the Manchu government was principally concerned with Westward inland expansion, a lot of scholar-officials and geo-historians in the eighteenth century did not ignore the ocean (as some historians choose to label this group of intellectuals as "maritime writers"). Rather than viewing the ocean as an impasse leading to nowhere as well as a hindrance to communication, "maritime writers" regarded sea spaces as a transnational contact zone that "led to everywhere."41 As Mary Louis Pratt suggested, contact zone refers to the "social space where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination."42 Obviously, the ocean is a prime space of cultural negotiation. As Andre Gunder Frank and Kenneth Pomeranz have trenchantly argued, the Asian Sea was situated at the heart of global economy from the seventeenth to the eighteenth centuries.43 Her eastern region, namely the East Asian Sea, is therefore one of the key contact zones in an interconnected world. Before the outbreak of the First Opium War, "maritime writers," such as Chen Lunjiong陳倫炯, Xie Qinggao謝清高 (1765-1821), Chen Shouqi陳壽祺 (1771-1834), and Wang Dahai 王大海, realized that there had been a growing number of economic and cultural liaisons between China and the world through oceans. Regarding the sea as a passage of connection linking two or more regions, they figured China should be (re)positioned in a multi-cultural, or multi-layered, world model.

     Moreover, in these "maritime writings," the writers vividly outlined the customs, religions, and commercial practices of the Europeans. They even commented on the growth of European sea powers and their navigations/expansions overseas,44 registering the global thrust of European commercial expansion in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Their narrations provided a more factual account of "Europe", thus altering the Chinese worldview around "the Age of Improvisation."45 They also ignited the desire of the Qing government to remap a more definite picture of the world, so as to assemble a global geographical knowledge. Although some of their illustrations were not so meticulous, while some exegesis of the West had underestimated the potency of their naval power,46 these writers started to revisit their worldview from a maritime perspective, positioning the Great Qing as a country coexisting with other nations, but not as the most superior power in the world.

Concluding Remarks

     Since the formative years of the Han Dynasty, the Chinese worldview was predisposed to the egoism of the Han culture, which "grade[d] and hierarchize[d] neighboring tribes according to their acceptance of Han habits."47 As a result, there has been a general impression that the Chinese in imperial times were trapped in a worldview which dichotomously positioned China and foreign countries along a "civilized-versus-barbaric" axis. However, the picture in the early modern period is more complicated. Over the course of the eighteenth century, such dichotomous worldview was challenged by anthropological researches and geo-historical studies. All through the course of exploring the great diversity of languages, religions, and ways of peoples living within the vast territory of China, geo-historians no longer persisted in an ethnocentric approach to conceptualize the world. Rather, they began to deemphasize the notion of ethnocentrism by accepting the Qing Empire was a world of multi-culture.

     Some "maritime writers" in the eighteenth century even realized that China was only one of the powers in world history, instead of the most superior one among others. Similar to the geo-historians who conducted detailed researches in Inner Asia, they saw the problem of conceptualizing the world from an ethnocentric perspective. Nonetheless, the worldview embraced by these geo-historians and maritime writers did not seem helpful enough for the Manchu monarchs to deal with fierce aggressions from various imperialistic powers after the two Opium Wars.48 While the Great Qing began to embrace a world of differences, the hostility advanced by the European powers imposed an irresistible force upon the Chinese to reevaluate their Weltanschauung. Entangled in the struggles between national survival and cultural (dis)orientation throughout the "Age of Empires,"49 the Qing was tossed into a crossroad between opening her door to the wider world, or to remain an isolated, self-sufficient dragon in the East.

Ronald Chung-yam Po is a doctoral candidate in the History Department at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. He is also a research member of the "Cluster of Excellence, Asia and Europe" in Heidelberg. His research interests focus on Sino-foreign relations, the history of frontier, and maritime history of Late Imperial China. He can be reached at


1 An earlier version of this essay was presented at a conference held by the Department of History at Northeastern University, which is entitled "Redefining World History: Annual Graduate History Conference" (March 12-13, 2011). Special thanks to Lok-yee for her critical comments and editorial assistance.

2 Frederic Wakeman, Jr., "High Qing: 1683-1839," in James B. Crowley (ed.), Modern East Asia: Essays in Interpretation (Harcourt Publishers Group Ltd., 1970), pp. 1-28.

3 See Nicola Di Cosmo, Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 1-12; Roger V. Des Forges, Cultural Centrality and Political Chang in Chinese History: Northeast Henan in the Fall of the Ming (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003), pp. 1-14; Lydia Liu, The Clash of Empires: The Invention of China in Modern World Making (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2004), pp. 31-69.

4 Although Sima Qian (c.a. 145 BC – 86 BC) recorded that the Yugong was attributed to Da Yu, contemporary scholars believe that it was most likely written in the tenth or ninth centuries B.C., and formalized into its present edition in the fifth century B.C.

5 See Mark Edward Lewis, The Flood Myths of Early China (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006), pp. 52-53.

6 Richard J. Smith, Chinese Maps: Images of All under Heaven (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 8-9.

7 Mark Edward Lewis, The Construction of Space in Early China (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006), p. 250.

8 Ban Gu (32-92), Hanshu (Beijing: Chunghua shuju, 1962), chapter 28, pp. 1523-1537; see also Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer (ed.), Lebenswelt und Weltanschauung im frühneuzeitlichen China (Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 1990).

9 Richard J. Smith, Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing (I ching, or classic of changes) and Its Evolution in China (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), pp. 1-29.

10 John King Fairbank, "A Preliminary Framework," in J.K. Fairbank (ed.), The Chinese World Order: Traditional China's Foreign Relations (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968), pp. 4-11.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid., p. 2.

13 John King Fairbank, "A Preliminary Framework," p. 2. See also Frank Dikotter, The Discourse of Race in Modern China (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1992), pp. 8-10; Lien-sheng Yang, "Historical Notes on the Chinese World Order," in J.K. Fairbank (ed.), The Chinese World Order: Traditional China's Foreign Relations, p. 21.

14 Q. Edward Wang, "History Space and Ethnicity: The Chinese Worldview," p. 288.

15 Evelyn Rawski, "Reenvisioning the Qing: The Significance of the Qing Period in Chinese History," Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 55 (1996), pp. 829-850.

16 Indeed, Pamela Crossley made an argument similar to Rawski's in 1992. She mentioned that the Qing Dynasty was a diverse, multinational, and presumably universal empire, which is very different from the Chinese dynasties it succeeded. See Pamela Kyle Crossley, "Review Article: The Rulerships of China," American Historical Review, vol. 97 no. 5 (1992), pp. 1468-1483.

17 William T. Rowe, China's Last Empire: The Great Qing, pp. 17-30.

18 Ping-ti Ho, "In Defense of Sinicization: A Rebuttal of Evely Rawski's 'Reenvisioning the Qing'," Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 57 (1998), pp. 123-155.

19 See Wang Fansen, "Cong Jingxue xiang shixue de guodu—Liao Ping yu Mengwentong de lizi 從經學向史學的過渡—廖平與蒙文通的例子 ( From classical studies to historical studies: Liao Ping and his Mengwentong)", Lishi yanjiu, vol. 2 (2005), pp. 59-74; Ying-shih Yu, Lun Dai Zhen yu Zhang Xuecheng 論戴震與章學誠:清代中期學術思想史研究 ﹝Dai Zhen and Zhang Xuecheng: Intellectual thoughts in the mid-Qing era﹞(Taipei: Dongda tushu gongsi, 1996); Yoshida Jun, Shincho koshogaku no gunzo 清朝考証学の群像 (Tokyo: Sobunsha, 2006); Luo Bingliang, Qingdai Qianjia lishi kaozheng xue yanjiu清代乾嘉歷史考證學研究﹝Evidential research in the Qianjia period﹞(Beijing: Beijing tushuguan chubanshe, 2007), pp. 45-52. For a thorough discussion of development of evidential research in the Qing Dynasty in English, See Benjamin A. Elman, From Philosophy to Philology: Intellectual and Social Aspects of Change in Late Imperial China (Los Angeles: University of California Los Angeles Press, second revised edition, 2001).

20 Deren Hou, Qingdai xibei bianjiang shidixue清代邊疆史地學﹝The Geo-history of the Frontier Regions in the Qing Dynasty﹞(Beijing: Qun yan chubanshe), pp. 1-16.

21 Gu Zuyu, Dushi fangyu jiyao (Beijing: Chunghua shuju, 2005).

22 Chen Lunjiong, Haiguo wenjian lu (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987).

23 Xie Qinggao, Hai lu (Zhengzhou: Henan jiaoyu chubanshe, 1995).

24 Wang Dahai, Hai dao yi zhi (Xianggang : Xuejin shudian, 1992).

25 On the expansion policies of Emperor Qianlong can be found in Mark C. Elliott's Emperor Qianlong: Son of Heaven, Man of the World (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Longman/ Pearson, 2009).

26 Willard J. Peterson, "The Life of Ku Yen-wu (1613-1682)," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, vol. 28 (1968), pp. 114-156 and vol. 29 (1969), pp. 201-247.

27 Gu Zuyu, Dushi fangyu jiyao, juan 1, p. 4a; See also Minghui Peng, Wanqing de jingshi shixue 晚清的經世史學﹝Historical studies with practical values in the late Qing era﹞(Taipei: Maitian chubanshe, 2002). Besides his geo-historical studies, Gu's proposal, which calls for national reform, circulated widely and inspired political reformers throughout the remainder of the imperial times. The most authoritative study in English on this subject remain Philip A. Kuhn's "Local Self-Government under the Republic: Problems of Control, Autonomy, and Mobilization," in Frederic Wakeman and Carolyn Grant (eds.), Conflict and Control in Late Imperial China (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1975), pp. 257-298.

28 See Ricardo Mak, "The Geo-history of the Frontier Regions in Eighteenth Century China and the Evolution of the Chinese Weltanschauung," in Iwan-Michelangelo D'Aprile, Ricardo K.S. Mak (eds.), Aufklärung - Evolution – Globalgeschichte (Hanover: Wehrhahn Verlag, 2010).

29 Deren Hou, Qingdai xibei bianjiang shidixue, pp. 29-30. By the way, Xinjiang was also used as a penal colony. An estimated 10 percent of the empire's governor-generals who served from 1758-1820 were exiled there in punitive banishment, as did a large number of local officials. For a detailed study, see See Joanna Waley-Cohen, Exile in Mid-Qing China: Banishment to Xinjiang, 1758-1820 (New Heaven: Yale University Press, 1991).

30 Fu Heng, et. al. (eds.), Qinding Huangyu Xiyu tuzhi (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987), juan 1, p. 1a-2b.

31 The term "Zhongguo" is usually translated as "China" as if the two words were congruent. In fact, as is well known, Zhongguo means literally the "middle kingdom," or, as Roger V. Des Forges suggested, "the central state(s)." See his "Time and Space in Chinese Historiography: Concepts of Centrality in the History and Literature of the Three Kingdoms," in Q. Edward Wang and Franz L. Fillafer (eds.), The Many Faces of Clio: Cross-Cultural Approaches to Historiography: Essays in Honor of George G. Iggers (Oxford: Berghahn Books), pp. 211.

32 Song Yun, Xu Song, Qinding Xinjiang shilüe (Taipei: Wenhai chubanshe, 1965), juan 4, pp. 4b-5a.

33 Gong Zizhen, "Xiyu zhi xingsheng yi龔自珍西域置行省議," "Yushi anbian suiyuan shu禦試安邊綏遠疏" and "Shangzhen shoutupufan lingdui dachen baogong shu上鎮守吐普番領隊大臣寶公書" in Gong Zizhen zhu, Wang Peizheng (ed.) Gong Zizhen quanji龔自珍全集﹝Completed works of Gong Zizhen﹞(Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1999); See also Fang Lijun, "Gong Zizhen's Views on the Defence Affairs of the Later Mid-Qing Time Xinjiang," Journal of Xinjiang Normal University (Social Sciences), vol. 24, no. 2 (2003), pp. 48-51.

34 Ibid.

35 Nicola Di Cosmo, "Beasts and Birds: The Historical Context of Early Chinese Perceptions of the Northern Peoples," in his Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History, pp. 93-126.

36 As a Chinese saying goes, "you can ride on horseback to found a state, but you cannot ride on horseback to rule a state."

37 William T. Rowe, China's Last Empire: The Great Qing, p. 17.

38 Sun Chengze, Yuanchao dingu bianniankao (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987), juan 1-3.

39 Shui Yuanping, Yuanshi neibian (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987), juan 1, pp. 1-7.

40 Wei Yuan, Yuanshi xinbian (Yangzhou: Jiangsu guangling guji keyinshe, 1990).

41 Compared to the Chinese, the Europeans changed their attitude towards the ocean early in the sixteenth century. Before the fifteenth century, according to Daniel Boorstin, "the Ocean led nowhere, in the next centuries people would see it led everywhere."See Daniel Boorstin, The Discoverers (New York: Random House, 1983), p. 154.

42 Mary Louis Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), p. 4.

43 Andre Gunder Frank, Reorient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998); Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001).

44 For instance, see Chen Lunjiong, Haiguo wenjian lu; Xie Qinggao, Hailu; Chen Shouqi, Zhongzuan Fujian tongzhi重纂福建通志 (Rewriting the gazetteers of Fujian); and Wang Dahai, Haidao yuzhi.

45 The Age of Improvisation was first applied by Timothy Brook. It is used to describe the period between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. According to Brook, during the age of improvisation, the age of discovery is largely over, and the age of imperialism is yet to come. See Timothy Brook, Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World (New York, Berlin, and London: Bloomsbury Press, 2008), p. 21.

46 Some "maritime writers" even lumped together European, Africans, and Americans as the "people of the Great Western Sea." See Kenneth Pomeranz and Steven Topik, The World That Trade Created: Society, Culture and World Economy, 1400-Present (Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1999), p. 43.

47 Q. Edward Wang, "History Space and Ethnicity: The Chinese Worldview," p. 304.

48 Wolfgang Elz, Internationale Beziehungen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Paderborn: Schöningh Verlag, 2003).

49 Robert Aldrich, The Age of Empires (London: Thames & Hudson, 2007).


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