East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute
From the founding of the Ming dynasty in 1368 to the start of the Opium Wars in 1841, China has engaged in only two large-scale conflicts with its principal neighbors, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. These four territorial and centralized states have otherwise fostered peaceful and long-lasting relationships with one another, and as they have grown more powerful, the atmosphere around them has stabilized.
Focusing on the role of the "tribute system" in maintaining stability in East Asia and in fostering diplomatic and commercial exchange, Kang contrasts this history against the example of Europe and the East Asian states' skirmishes with nomadic peoples to the north and west. Although China has been the unquestioned hegemon in the region, with other political units always considered secondary, the tributary order entailed military, cultural, and economic dimensions that afforded its participants immense latitude. Europe's "Westphalian" system, on the other hand, was based on formal equality among states and balance-of-power politics, resulting in incessant interstate conflict.
Scholars tend to view Europe's experience as universal, but Kang upends this tradition, emphasizing East Asia's formal hierarchy as an international system with its own history and character. This approach not only recasts our understanding of East Asian relations but also defines a model that applies to other hegemonies outside the European order.
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List ofIllustrations and Tables
Hierarchy Status and Hegemony 17
illustrations and tables
The Tribute System 54
The Longer Peace 82
Nomads and Islands 139
History Forward and Backward 158
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actors Ashikaga Ashikaga shoguns Asian attempt bakufu border central Chinese ideas civilization conflict Confucian conquer conquest countries court cultural Dai Viet daimyo diplomacy diplomatic domestic dominant early modern East East Asia economic emperor envoys European example exports fifteenth century force foreign frontier hegemony Hideyoshi hierarchy hundred Ibid Imjin Imjin War important institutions interactions international relations involved Japan Japanese Jurchens kingdoms Korea and Japan land Le dynasty legitimate Manchu maritime military Ming dynasty modern East Asia Mongol neighbors neo-Confucian nese Nguyen nomads norms northern notes Nurhaci official ofthe Peace Perdue pirates political units private trade Qing raids region relationship rulers rules Ryukyus scholar-official scholars seventeenth century ships shogun Siam Sinicized social society Southeast Asia southern stability steppe Taiwan Tang Tay Son territory thousand tion Tokugawa Tokugawa shogunate tribes tribute missions tribute relations tribute system Tsushima Viet Vietnam Vietnamese wako wars Western