Edward Harper Parker.

China, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day online

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moved to the River Hwai region. The conquest
of Corea led to the further discovery hy land of
the Japanese, who then occupied (whether as
immigrants or as aborigines is not yet settled)
the tip of the Corean peninsula, as well as the
southern half of the Japanese islands. The
necessity of " turning the right flank " of the
Hiung-nu, over whom the Chinese gained a
decisive success in 119 B.C., led to alliances with
other nomad races in modern Hi and the New
Territory, and finally to the annexation of
Khotan, the Pamirs, Kokand, and, in short, the
whole modern Manchu Empire as it existed up
to its fall. Although the Hiung-nu wxre not yet
com.pletely subdued, yet their lines of communica-
tion were pierced. Parthia, Mesopotamia, and
even Syria wxre distinctly " located," if not
officially visited, and there are numerous indica-
tions pointing to an acquaintance with the Greek
dynasties of Bactria and Affghanistan. Now
first Buddhism was distinctly heard of, and India ;
the attempt to reach India by way of Yiin Nan
carried with it the discovery and partial annexa-
tion of the various Shan, Miao, and Tibetan
tribes. Hindoo missionaries began to find their
way to China through Turkestan, and the Bur-
mese (then called Tan) are first mentioned.


King An-tun, of Great Ts'in, is said to have sent
an expedition or mission by way of Tan in
A.D. 166, and there seems good reason to suppose
this word must be " Antoninus." Whoever the
traders were who undoubtedly used to come from
the West by sea, it is stated that they were called
Ts'in (possibly -= Syr) on account of their comely
appearance like the Chinese Ts'in people. The
annexation of Nan-yiieh involved that of Hainan,
Kwang Si, the Lei-chou peninsula, and at least
half of Cochin-China, It is even thought by
zealous believers that Christians and Jews found
their way to China via Tartary during the After
Han dynasty, which reigned for two centuries
after Christ at modern Ho-nan Fu, as the Early
Han had done for two centuries before Christ
at Ch'ang-an (Si-an Fu).^

Instead of the thirty-six provinces of Ts'in,
the After Han dynasty divided the modern
Eighteen Provinces into only thirteen, of which
eight represented Old China, which then as now
extended up to modern Shanghai and the sea,
whilst the whole of the south was divided into
four, and the west was made one, proof that
these parts were still but half opened to civi-
lisation. The satrap system was in full vogue ;
princes were given provinces " to eat," and not
merely to govern as centralised officials. North
of the Great Wall were the Hiung-nu (now broken
up and partly driven west) and the Tungusic

^ As to Early Han, I append particulars of the dates of Wu
Ti's conquests in tabulated form : —

127-125 B.C. Ordos, both corners of the northern bend of the
Yellow River.

115-111 B.C. Modern Kan Suh (Suh-chou, Liang-chou, Kan-
chou), up to Tun-hwang (Purun-ki River).

Ill B.C. Modern Canton, Tonquin, Hainan, Kwang Si, and
part of Kwei Chou.

1 10-109 B.C. Western Yiin Nan and Sz Ch'wan. Eastern ditto.

108 B.C. Corea (northern half only).

24 HISTORY [chap, ii

hunter-nomads (aiming at the decrepit empire
of their former masters the Hiung-nu). Then
came the pastoral Tibetan tribes of the Kokonor
region and the Upper Yang-tsze, gradually
merging into the Shan peoples of Ylin Nan, the
unorganised Miao of Kwang Si, and the slowly-
retreating Yiieh tribes, originally extending from
modern Ningpo to Canton. These last seem to



Name of Period
or Dynasty.


Number of Kulers.





The fourth declared himself
"First Emperor" in 221.
From 206 to 202 there was
general anarchy.


202 B.O.-


From A.D. 25 the eastern

A.D, 220

branch moved its capital
from modern Si-an Fu to
modern Ho-nan Fu.

Three Empires


Average of three

The northern one (Wei) is

in each

the one chiefly in evidence.




From A.D. 317 the eastern
branch moved its capital
to modern Nanking.

From 309 to 439 there was a bewildering succession of Hiung-nu, Bastard
Hiung-nu, Tungusic, Tibetan, Tibeto-Tungusic, Migrated Tungusic, and rebel
Chinese " dynasties," ruling in various parts of the north, from Corea to
Kokonor ; in addition to, and in competition with, first the Tsin Empire, and
later the Northern Empire of the Tobas and the contemporaneous Chinese
Empires at Nanking.

It must be remembered that the old /« cities are now abolished under the
Republic, but for many years the habit of using the term must continue, if
only in order to make use of existing maps.

have very soon lost their separate identity, and
to have either permanently retired into Annam
proper (Tonquin) or to have been merged into
the Chinese.

From A.D. 220 to about 265 China was split up
into three empires : a branch of the old Liu
family of Han in Sz Ch'wan (Shuh), the Sun
family south of the Yang-tsze (Wu), and the
usurping Ts'ao family in the north (Wei). This


state of affairs is very similar to the partition of
the Roman Empire into the East and West
monarchies at Constantinople and Ravenna, or
Rome. The continuity of imperial history is
now broken, for the southern dynasty has noth-
ing to do with the long struggles between Tun-
guses, Hiung-nu, and Tibetans for predominance
in the north ; whilst the northern dynasty lost
all touch with the Syrians, Hindoos, Javans,
an^ other mercantile people coming in trading
vessels to Canton and other marts on the coast.
In A.D. 222 the Emperor of Wu divided the old
realm of Kiao-chi (South Yiieh) into two man-
ageable halves. The name Kwang-chou, later
Kwang-nan, was given to what is now the double
Canton province, and Tonquin was called Kiao-
chou. Corea slipped away, and Chinese influence
disappeared from the Far West. In a word, the
whole Weltpolitik of the great Han dynasty
crumbled to pieces. This period of division is
by no means uninteresting, but events are not
sufficiently connected to admit of pourtraying
the situation with a few strokes in a brief sketch
like this.

From A.D. 265 the Sz-ma family (distantly
related to the famous historian) were for a time
nominally sole rulers of China, under the style of
the Tsin dynasty. This word must not be con-
fused with the older Ts'in, which, by retrospective
philological processes peculiar to China, means
that Sein must not be confused with Ziin. The
imperial house was distinctly literary and peace-
ful, rather than warlike and ambitious ;— in fact,
it developed those qualities which we now con-
sider peculiarly Chinese. It was the great age
of calligraphy, belles lettres, fans, chess-playing,
wine-bibbing, and poetry-making ; of strategy
rather than hard fighting, and of political timidity.
From this time dates the rule that no one should

26 HISTORY [chap, ii

set foot in China, at least to remain, without
bringing tribute. Moreover, a succession of
Tartar dynasties of very short duration kept the
whole of the extreme north in a perpetual fer-
ment. One curious and permanent result of all
this was that the Chinese centre of gravity was
entirely changed. At the present day, if we wish
for etymological accuracies, we find them most
perfect in Canton and Corea ; that is, the best
representative of the language spoken under the
two divisions of the Han dynasties is now to be
found in the descendants of emigrants to the
south ; whilst the Coreans, cut off for many
centuries by Tartars from intercourse with
literary China, have rigidly preserved, in or
according to their ancient form, the early Han
pronunciation of the Chinese words they borrowed
2,000 years ago. The rough nomads who
swarmed into North China not only mixed their
blood with that of the Chinese, but debased the
language ; hence we find that the " mandarin "
forms of speech, in their relation to old theo-
retical Chinese, bear much the same relation to
the coast dialects that French does to Spanish,
Portuguese, or Italian, which, though not so
fashionable, are all of them nearer old Latin than
the French can claim to be.

The rival Tartar dynasties in the north were
finally dispossessed by a Tungusic family called
Toba, which ruled for 200 years with great
vigour over North China, whilst the pure
Chinese governed the southern half. This was
the period known as the " North and South
Dynasties" ; and ever since that time it has been
as much the rule as the exception for Tartars of
some kind to divide the empire on equal terms
with native dynasties. Here, again, we find a
close parallel in Roman history. The Stihchos,
Ricimers, Alarics, and Theodorics all made way

A.D. 265-618] SEMI-'

for the permanent
Charlemagne. But
the southern half
ruled : instead of
confused narrative
the result of which
him in as thick a fo


northern Frankish empire of
neither the northern nor
of China was continuously
puzzling the reader with a
of how this was arranged,
would probably be to leave
ig as before, I draw up a short


Family Kame.

(modern name).




(West) Tsin .

(East) Tsin .


Liang .
Ch'en .

Sz-ma .

do. . {

do. .
Ch'en .
Yang .

Ho-nanFu .
Nanking \
Si-an Fu J



Si-an Fu




Pure Chinese.



Han .

Chao .

Yen .

Ts'in .
(After) Ts'in .
(West) Ts'in .
Wei .

(West) Wei .

(East) Wei .

(North) Ts'i .
Chou .

Liu . {

Shih .

Mu-yung <

P'u (or Fu) .

Yao .



Toba .

/ Yii-wen \

\Toba . /

Kao . {

do. .
Yang .

Ho-nan Fu "\
Si-an Fu /

Ho-nan Fu .

Lin-chang \
Ting-chou J
Si-an Fu

near Kokonor
Ho-nan Fu .

Yung-p'ing Fu

Ho-nan Fu |
Lin-chang /
Si-an Fu








THiimg-nu ; des-
j cended from Han
[ by marriage.
/"Wether" tribe
\ of Hiung-nu.

A Tungusic family.

A Tibetan family,

A Tungusic family.





Pure Chinese.

table showing the succession of Tartar and
Chinese houses, one to the other. I must men-
tion that capitals were often temporarily shifted ;
also that the list of northern dynasties here given
is by no means exhaustive. It will be noticed
that the intermarriages between Han and the
Hiung-nu produced dangerous results, for one
barbarian based his claim to found a Chinese

28 HISTORY [chap, ii

dynasty on the pretext that he was the only
true direct descendant of the first Han emperor.
It will also be seen that the Tibetans never had
more than one short innings ; never again did
they assume imperial airs, although they made
many conquests in later times. But the Hiung-
nu (Turks) and Tunguses (Kitans, Nuchens,
Manchus) will often reappear ; as to the Mongols,
they seem to have been Turkified Tunguses.

At last Yang Kien, an energetic general of
distinguished descent in the service of the Chou
dynasty, succeeded in unifying China once more
under one sceptre. He was murdered by his
son, who, though a madman of the Caligula
type, ruled for a few years with extraordinary
vigour, and carried his arms or his prestige to
the uttermost ends of the empire. It is recorded
of this monarch that he wished to communicate
with Fulin, or " the Franks." Some argue
from this that their name could not have been
known so early, and that " Fulin " must mean
some other people. But it must be remembered
that this allusion is made retrospectively by his-
torians of the T'ang dynasty after it was known
who the Franks were. Exactly the same thing
occurs in the Ming History, which explained all
about the Franks of 1520, under the events of
that date, but after Ricci, in 1600, had for the
first time made it clear that the Franks, Fulin,
and Ta Ts'in were all one.

To revert to the Toba Tunguses of North China,
who for 200 years had managed things pretty
much in their own way. During this period
(386-582) another nomadic power called the
Juju, or Jeujen (Gibbon's Geougen), had become
formidable in the Desert region, and had also
succeeded in subduing most of the Hiung-nu
remnants in Southern Siberia and elsewhere.
One of their subject Hiung-nu hordes was that


of " Tiirk," so called from an alleged native word
meaning " helmet," having reference to the
helmet-shaped mountain over- shadowing one
of their chief valleys (lat. 40° N., long. 102° E.,
or thereabouts). These Turks were mostly
smiths by profession, and were employed by
their Jeu-jen masters to forge weapons and
armour ; but as the power of the Tobas declined,
the Turks found an opportunity to measure their
strength with the Jeujen. Not only did they
destroy this nomad power and take its place,
but they began to domineer over the last two
Tungusic dynasties of North China, and to
demand marriage alliances. The Sui dynasty
(581-618) succeeded in repelling the pretensions
of the Turks, and also overran Corea as a punish-
ment for her diplomatic coquetting with their
Khan. At that time the modern Mukden was
the Corean capital, and the old name of Chaosien
had been abandoned in favour of Kaoli (locally
pronounced exactly like our word " Corea ").
Relations with Annam were reopened ; that
country was divided into thirteen provinces in
Chinese style, and tribute was exacted for the
first time. The attempted conquest of Corea
brought a mission in a.d. 608 from Japan, which
now for the first time took the name of Ji-pan,
or " Sun's-rise," and claimed an imperial status.
In the same way the closer relations with Annam
had the result that Chinese envoys were des-
patched to Red Earth State. By this appears
to be meant the modern Siam, but the Tai or
Shan race had not yet been given that name,
which is simply the Burmese word Sham, written
by the Portuguese Sciam, and corrupted by us
into a dissyllable. For the first time Loochoo
was heard of, and by that name (Liu-k'iu) ;
the Chinese even sent a quasi-piratical expedition
in order to exact tribute. Strange to say,

30 HISTORY [chap, ii

nothing whatever is yet known even of the bare
existence of Formosa, though later tradition
mentions it as a dependency of Loochoo, at first
under the apparently Sanskrit name of P'i-she-ja
(some such sound as Vichana or Vaisadja).
The Western Turks were an impenetrable barrier
between China, Persia, and India ; and the
Tibetans had not yet become an aggressive
power. Such was China under the Sui dynasty,
which collapsed before the T'ang house as
quickly as, 800 years earlier, the house of Ts'in
had fallen before Han ; and for the same reasons :
it was too revolutionary, and it was unable to
digest all that it had swallowed.

The Great T'ang dynasty (618-907) ranks
with the Han as one of the two " world-powers "
of Chinese history. To this day the only Can-
tonese word for " Chinaman " is " man of
T'ang," which fact tends to show that the south
had been isolated ever since the Han lost their
prestige there, and that none of the short-lived
Nanking dynasties had left any permanent im-
pression on the popular mind.

Li Shi-min, the real founder of the T'ang
dynasty, son of the nominal founder, Li Yiian,
is perhaps the only instance in the whole course
of Chinese history of a sovereign who was, from
a European point of view, at once a gentleman,
and a brave, shrewd, compassionate man, free
from priggishness and cant. He personally
subdued the Turks and Tunguses in such a way
that for half a century the Tartars were under
direct Chinese rule from Corea up to the frontiers
of Persia, the fugitive sovereign of which latter
country actually came to China for protection.
For the first time in Chinese history the Emperor
effectively conquered the three kingdoms of the
Corean peninsula, which was also for a few
generations governed directly as a set of pro-


vinces. During the reigns of his successors (one
of them was a concubine, Chinese "Catherine"
No. 2, who became rather irregularly the Empress
of his son, and Regent over his grandson) the
Turkish power, after a period of revival, was
finally broken, and passed into the hands of a
kindred race known as the Ouigours. Within the
past generation numerous Turkish and Ouigour
monuments have been discovered, chiefly by
Russians. Not only has it been possible to re-
construct the old Turkish language by the light
of these inscriptions, sometimes bilingual or
trilingual, but the main points in Turko-Chinese
history are sufficiently confirmed by them. The
Turks clearly were, and are definitely stated to
have been, the old southerly Hiung-nu ; and the
petty Ouigour sub-division of the Baikal group
of Hiung-nu, which of course had no cause for
appropriating the equally petty tribal name of
" Turk," did, when it became the ruling tribe
over kindred tribes, exactly what the Osmanli,
Mongols, Manchus, Russians, English, French,
and other dynastic families have done all over
the world, — it applied to the whole dominion
the generalising name of a tribal part of it.

The Mahometans, in their struggles with the
Turks of the Bokhara region, were soon brought
into contact with China, and relations with the
Caliphs became fairly regular and intimate.
The Tibetan gialbos of Lhassa also first became
a power contemporaneously with the T'ang
dynasty : bilingual inscriptions of this date, in
Chinese and a modified form of Sanskrit, are
still to be seen at the Tibetan capital, and, in-
deed, were found still in situ when we entered
it in 1904. A third great power, which seems
to have been practically Siamese, contested
supremacy with the Tibetans in the Yiin Nan-Sz
Ch'wan region, and we find both Ouigours and

32 HISTORY [chap, ii

Abbasside Arabs taking part with the Chinese
in these struggles round and about the Upper
Yang-tsze. Both the Tibetans and the " Chao
confederation " (chao is still Siamese for " prince "
and " principality ") came within an ace of
securing the imperial throne under the weaker
T'ang emperors ; and as it was, the Tibetans for
some decades held possession of Chinese Turkes-
tan, During this dynasty an able Corean
general in Chinese employ, whose footsteps have
just been dogged by Sir Aurel Stein, carried the
Chinese arms into the region of Kashmir and
Balti, and Nepaul is also heard of for the first
time ; the various princes of India then opened
up diplomatic relations with China. Annam
remiained a Chinese prefecture, but had to be
defended against the ambitions of the Siamese
confederation and of Ciampa. Since a.d. 940
Annam has been ruled by native dynasties tribu-
tary to China, but now of course it is manipu-
lated by the French. The relations with the
South Seas seem to have had leisure to develop
themselves peacefully during these severe
struggles all along the line of the land frontiers.
The Hindoo trading colonies of Sumatra, Java,
Borneo, and Sulu were gradually displaced by
those of the Arabs, whose merchants also ac-
quired a firm footing in Canton, Zaitun (Ts'iian-
chou), Canfu (Kanp'u near Hangchow), and
other places on the Chinese coast. Europeans
now begin to be vaguely heard of as Fulin, Folang,
or "Franks" (a name which is almost certain
to have been introduced by the Arabs overland by
way of Persia, for even in India the English were
known to the overland Manchus as the " P'i-ling ' ' ).
The Fulin are identified by the Chinese of the
eighth century with the old Ta-ts'in ; and, as all
the world knows, the celebrated Nestorian Stone
of the eighth century discovered by European

A.D. 700-1100] THE TARTAR MENACE 33

missionaries at the T'ang capital of Si-an Fu
300 years ago, describes in Syriac and Chinese
the Christian rehgion of Ta-ts'in. At this time
the Cliinese do not seem to have quite under-
stood that the sea and land routes to Arabia
both led to the same place ; nor is there yet any
trace of " Franks " coming by sea.

Just as the destruction of the Hiung-nu power
by the house of Han paved the way for Tungusic
dynasties in North China, so the destruction of
the Turkish power by the house of T'ang paved
the way for the Kitans, Nuchens, Mongols, and
Manchus. Moreover, just as a few Hiung-nu
dynasties enjoyed short leases of power before
the Tobas obtained a firm seat, so a few Turkish
dynasties reigned in the north before the Kitans
(the name origin of Marco Polo's Cathay ans)
secured a real hold. The T'ang power finally
collapsed in 907, and of the five dynasties that
rapidly succeeded one another, until the house
of Sung once more reunited the greater part of
China in 960, three were of Turkish extraction.
It was during this period of anarchy that Annam
finally slipped away from China's direct rule.

The Sung dynasty (960-1260), like the Tsin,
was never able to get quite rid of unpleasant
northern intruders ; and, also like the Tsin, it
was peaceful, literary, and strategical in its
inclinations rather than warlike, bold, and
ambitious. The Sung era is undoubtedly the
Augustan era of China in all these senses. The
Kitans formed a powerful empire (with a capital
for the first time at modern Peking) which
lasted for 200 years (915-1115). They were re-
placed by their eastern subjects the Nuchens, the
southern branch of whom had already (700-900)
formed an influential and civilised buffer state
(Puh-hai) on the north frontier of Corea. The
Nuchens governed their empire with success for

34 HISTORY [chap, ii

over a century (1115-1232), until they in turn
were overthrown by the Mongols. Roughly
speaking, both Kitans and Niichens ruled only
over Old China, i.e. the four provinces of Chili
Li, Shan Si, Shan Tung, and part of Ho Nan ;
but also over what we now call Mongolia and
Manchuria : — in other words, over the trade area
now fed from Tientsin. Turkestan and Tibet
lay entirely outside their spheres, and a semi-
Tibetan, semi-Toba state called Hia (Marco
Polo's " Tangut ") formed in the region of Ordos
and the Yellow River Loop a barrier (895-1237)
between them and the West. During all this
time the Sung dynasty, with capitals at various
towns in modern Ho Nan province, and finally
at Nanking and Hangchow, had a complete
monopoly of southern affairs and the ocean trade ;
whilst Corea, Hia, and the Ouigours kept up a
trimming policy, first with one, then with the
other, often with both of the Chinese powers.
It is curious to observe that the true Chinese
were not now to be found in Old China, but in
all those parts which, as emigrants, their ances-
tors from Old China had populated. It is like
Scotland being repopulated at the expense of the
Picts and Scots coming from Ireland.

At the beginning of the thirteenth century
there arose the mighty Genghiz Khan, whose
vast empire had its origin in a petty squabble
between himself and an envoy sent by his
Niichen suzerain to enforce from him more
respect. The Mongols soon made short work of
not only both the Chinas, but also of their
tributary states, such as Hia and the Ouigours ;
they moreover swept over Turkestan, Persia, and
the steppes beyond ; annexed Russia ; ravaged
Hungary ; and even threatened the existence
of Western Europe. In the south, Kublai for
the first time effectively conquered Yiin Nan,

A.D. 1200-1400] MARCO POLO'S PATRON 35

and even Burma, Annam, and several of the
Shan states lying between them. It must here
be mentioned that so far back as 330 B.C. the
feudatory King of Ch'u (Hu Nan) had conquered
Yiin Nan ; but owing to wars with revolutionary
Ts'in the conquering general could not get back,
and he had therefore founded a kingdom there.
To resume, — Corea was made a subservient
dependency, and Mongol influence was extended
all over the southern seas, at least as far as
Ceylon. But Kublai came to signal grief in his
attempt to subdue Java ; still more so in his
persistent and presum.ptuous expeditions against
Japan, not one inch of whose soil has ever been
sullied by foreign conquest. Kublai Khan per-
haps came nearer being Emperor of the World
than any monarch, Eastern or Western, has ever
been before or after him ; and, though the
Chinese affect to despise the " frowsy Tartars "

Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerChina, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day → online text (page 5 of 35)