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(Re)Conceptualizing the World in Eighteenth Century China1

Ronald Chung-yam PO



     Throughout her imperial history, China consistently demonstrated enthusiasm for mapping the known world. Yet, despite China's vast ethnic diversity, the Chinese worldview—tianxia (天下)—originated from and was dominated by that of the Han ethnicity (Hanzu 漢族). Then, "evidence-based research" (kaozhengxu 考證學) and "geo-historical studies" (shidixue 史地學) in the High Qing (1683–1839)2 began to challenge the notion of homogenized Chinese culture, not to mention the homogenized worldview of the Chinese people. In fact, Chinese intellectuals, especially geo-historians, of the eighteenth century began to perceive China as multi-cultural. Their changing views of frontier tribes (bianjiang minzu 邊疆民族) residing beyond the empire, as well as of Europeans travelling across the Asian Sea, implied a decentering of Han culture and ethnicity that would come to redefine Chinese Weltanschauung. By investigating the (re)conceptualization of various land and sea frontiers in this account, I shall substantiate the distinctive, yet under-examined, cultural and ethnic awareness among early modern Chinese intellectuals, which set them apart from those in previous centuries. This will elucidate the dynamics between geo-historical research and ethnic studies in the Great Qing and help chart the evolution of Chinese Weltanschauung during this specific conjuncture.

All Under Heaven

     Ever since the time of the oldest surviving written records, the concept of tianxia has strongly influenced the Chinese worldview.3 Literally denoting "everything under heaven," tianxia was first recorded in Yu's Tribute (Yugong 禹貢), a text 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 Tianxia divided the world into five zones (wufu 五服) and nine provinces (jiuzhou 九州), and designated the midstream region of the Yellow River as the epicenter. This epicenter was both a geographical reference for differentiating the five zones (based on their respective distances from the Yellow River) and a yardstick for measuring their cultural levels.6 The most remote region, where the most barbaric people lived, was identified as a desert zone (huangfu 荒服), whereas the center, populated by the most civilized group, was designated the privileged zone (houfu 侯服).7 Because most ancient Chinese egoistically believed that they occupied the center of the world, "civilizing the rest" became their inherent mission.8 As Richard J. Smith has argued, the assumed "cultural superiority" of the Chinese was the basis for establishing relationships with neighboring tribes and civilizations.9 Therefore, barbarians within or in close proximity to the "Middle Kingdom" had to be civil-lized, or in fact, sino-lized.10 Tianxia ideology is obviously ethnocentric, encoding China and its surrounding states along the axis of "superior center – inferior periphery" from the time of the early imperial epoch.

Han ethnicity

     Because Chinese imperial culture and what we would now call ethnography are so deeply-rooted in the concept of tianxia, the mistaken belief that "China is mono-cultural" was never questioned. This unchecked belief is arguably based on two assumptions. 1) Although China was ruled by several non-Han peoples in her long history as an empire, these foreigners ultimately became acculturated to Han culture. From time to time, non-Han emperors even promoted Han tradition, indicating that cultural and social homogenization occurred institutionally as well as through frontier interactions. 2) Historians have generally depicted the relationship between China and the rest of the world as a binary, with the "Han" conveniently serving as the shorthand for China as a whole.

     Both of these assumptions overlook the complex processes involved in sinicization, or sinolization, the results of which, I believe, represent more of a synthesis than an elimination of un-accommodated foreign elements. Yet, sinicization alone cannot fully redeem the image of the Chinese worldview. Before accounting for why this is the case, I will outline the conception of sinicization advanced by John King Fairbank in 1968.11 Then I will contrast his concept with Evelyn Rawski's valorization of "Manchuness" so as to offer a more complete picture of the mechanism of sinicization.

     In his theorization of Sino-foreign relations, Fairbank observed, the Chinese perception of the world reflected the "hierarchical nature" of Confucian society, which has long been identified with Han culture.12 As such, the cultural positions of non-Han people were defined by their adherence to mainstream "Han-habit(s)." Non-Han groups who resisted Han influence were immediately categorized as "sheng 生," "man 蠻," or "yi 夷", whereas those who showed a significant willingness to adopt Han culture were classified as "shu 熟".13 In other words, the delineation between "Han" and "non-Han" was based more on "cultural and social terms" than ethnic origins.14 Further, Fairbank pointed out that although the Manchu had defeated the Han Chinese, Han culture and lifestyle were so commendable that sinicization became a highly prioritized voluntary enterprise for the Manchu and other conquering peoples. Hence, the military superiority of foreign conquerors was often offset by the cultural superiority of the Han. Fairbank's credo that the "Chinese worldview is Han-centered" is so widely accepted by non-Chinese historians, especially Euro-American scholars, that it is taken for granted.

     Yet Fairbank's thesis has come under scrutiny over the last two decades. In 1996, Evelyn Rawski argued that "sinicization" does not explain the rich and complex relationships between Han and non-Han groups, especially during the early Qing era. She underscores the fact that the Manchu made considerable efforts to preserve its own culture while respecting those of other ethnic groups.15 For example, the Manchu assumed different (ethnic) identities when governing different (ethnic) constituencies, as seen in the different policies that were aimed at different ethnic groups.16 The world ruled by the Manchu court was one of difference and heterogeneity, not a matrix of Han-domination. A group of historians espousing and echoing Rawski's perspective propelled the growth of "New Qing Studies." William T. Rowe, for instance, is convinced that the Chinese worldview in the late imperial period was not simply a derivative of Han Chinese culture but a synthesis generated by the interaction of Han and non-Han cultures over time.17

     Ping-ti Ho mounted a scathing attack on Rawski for overstating the role of multiethnic measures in the consolidation of the Qing Empire. Yet, Ho did not reject the idea that the Qing government had its own "Manchu" culture, as a pillar of her rule and sovereignty. 18 Indeed, Rawski's conceptual framework shed light on the incomprehensibility of simply equating the Chinese worldview with that of the Han, particularly during the formative years of the Qing Empire, when its rulers diluted Han ethnocentrism, as seen in the findings of various eighteenth-century official geo-historical studies.

     The new, or synthesized, worldview of the Chinese in the eighteenth century must be understood in light of the writings by geo-historians on frontiers, which not only faithfully record inspections of frontier regions, but also reflect a changing ethnographic consciousness that indirectly altered their Weltanschauung. These frontier-writings represent the intellectual convergence of evidence-based research, regional studies, chorography, and historical studies around the eighteenth century.19 These writings aimed at analyzing the societies, histories, and geographies of the Inner Asian frontiers of the Qing Empire and the maritime space hugging 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," meaning without any governmental sponsorship or intervention. These private studies 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 evidence-based writings would help flesh out the heterogeneity of the Chinese worldview at that time.

Gu Yanwu and Gu Zuyu

     There is a general consensus that evidence-based studies were systematically launched under the Qianlong 乾隆 Emperor (r. 1736–1795). Qianlong used numerous frontier campaigns to expand his grand empire in order to continue the Manchu cultural legacy. Newly acquired frontiers had to be secured through specific measures, which required a better understanding of local customs and conditions.25 As a result, hundreds of cultural elites were mandated to study remote regions. In this respect, Qianlong's goal of stabilizing his Empire was, no doubt, one of the major forces to advance the development of frontier writings. However, I would emphasize that without the efforts of two prominent figures in the Kangxi 康熙 period (1662–1722), namely Gu Yanwu 顧炎武 (1613–1682) and Gu Zuyu 顧祖禹 (1631–1692), regional and chorographical studies during Qianlong reign would not have matured. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that the two Gus revolutionized geo-historical research methodology and laid the foundation for future studies.

     Gu Yanwu was an expert in philosophy, chorography, geography, and what we now call anthropology. He believed that geo-historical research was indispensable for rulers to develop policing measures in regions beyond "China proper." Gu, therefore, traveled extensively in Yunnan 雲南, Dali 大理, Menghua 蒙化, Ningxia 寧夏, and other provinces to collect written and oral information about values and religious beliefs, as well as economic and social life across China. His long study of these "remote regions" culminated in a 120 volume tome – 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 manual.26 Inspired by Gu Yanwu, Gu Zuyu also pursued the ideal of "investing historical studies with practical value" (jingshi shixue 經世史學). His "regional researches" thus aimed to present an accurate picture of the geographical and economic conditions of different parts of China and to provide direction for strategic governance.27

     Compared to the geo-historians of previous dynasties, Gu Yanwu and Gu Zuyu both 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 notable is that despite Gu Yanwu and Gu Zuyu's avoidance of official titles, some of their devotees, such as Pan Leiying 潘耒應 and Wu Xingzuo 吳興祚 (1632–1698) succeeded in elevating their ideas into official ideology.28 This helps explain 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 earlier, Emperor Qianlong showed a deep concern for the frontier regions of his Empire. For this reason, hundreds of bureaucrats and researchers (both Han and Manchu) were sent to strengthen the defense and administrative power in Xinjiang and Qinghai, and Khitan and Jurchen strongholds.29 The longer the geo-historians stayed in those peripheral regions, the more they felt a reexamination of the historical records of those places was needed, because most frontier writings from the past did not do justice to the actual customs practiced by the peripheral groups. Following in the footsteps of Gu Yanwu and Gu Zuyu, those historians revised previous studies and deduced that Han ethnocentrism barbarized the "Other." In petitions submitted to the Emperor around 1756, officials like Xu Song 徐松(1781–1848) maintained that non-Han groups living in the far West had their own cultures, making sinicization exceedingly arduous. Emperor Qianlong was impressed by such observations and immediately appointed a group of mostly Han geo-historians to compile the Pictorial accounts of the Western region of 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 a de-centering of the Han vision from the official Chinese worldview. In the Huangyu xiyu tuzhi, derogatory terms such as "yi" and "man" were omitted completely. Furthermore, Qing geo-historians preferred the term "xiyu" 西域 – which 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)," this geographical nomenclature was not strictly premised on the "Han-barbarian" binary.

     Apart from the Huangyu xiyu tuzhi, many other government records suggested Han ethnocentrism was no longer tenable in modeling the Chinese worldview during the early modern period. Chinese scholarly attention given to the Northwest frontier serves as another good example. Due to the growing aggression of Russia in the seventeenth century, the strategic importance of the Northwest provinces became more important than ever. By the Qianjia period (1735–1820), scholar-officials who felt the urgency to reexamine the Northeast frontier had clarified many of the misconceptions, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies in traditional geographical records. These scholar-officials not only conducted detailed field-surveys of its geographical, economic and demographic conditions, but began to renegotiate the cultural discrepancies between China proper and the area that is now Xinjiang, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces.

     Xu Song is the most famous of the geo-historians who focused on Xinjiang studies in the eighteenth century. He thoroughly demonstrated his profound knowledge of Xinjiang, including its geographical setting, local customs, demography, and even hydrology. In his famous Brief knowledge of Xinjiang (Qinding Xinjiang shilüe 欽定新疆識略), Xu Song proposed that the Han Chinese should respect the culture of the Xinjiang people and get along with them, instead of willfully acculturalizing them.32Another 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.33 He advocated that the Qing government should also respect people living in the Xinjiang (Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and Tartars) and subsidize their agricultural development, because this would 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 asserted that the Northwest people were culturally different from the Manchu and Han Chinese. They had "their own customs, which were old and dynamic, but were 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 into Tibetan soil. In order to successfully secure China's frontier, he believed the Qing government should adopt a lassiez-faire policy toward Tibet.

     Chinese scholars also directed their strategic concerns toward Mongolia, the vast state lying between China and Russia. The Mongols, Huns, Turks, and other nomadic groups in the north had plagued China ever since the Han Dynasty (206 BC– 220 BC). From the Chinese perspective, these nomadic herdsmen were commonly cast as belligerent and brutal, mostly due to their enthusiasm for horse riding and hunting.35 As such, they were given derogatory 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 themselves.36 This worldview was no longer tenable once the Manchu came to power, however. To be more specific, under the "multi-culturalism" championed by the Manchu,37 the relationship between the Han and the Mongols was no longer a binary of civilized versus barbaric, but a more egalitarian one. As the Manchu shared similar habits with the Mongols, we can imagine that the Han literati would dare not demonize or discriminate against the ruling class. Clearly, a strong political force was exerted on eighteenth century geo-historians, making it increasingly impossible for them to avoid revising stereotypical perceptions of the Northern tribes. Eighteenth-century scholar-officials, therefore, began to reexamine the history and culture of Mongolia and adjacent territories. 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 Mongolian geography, architecture, economy, social customs, education, and political institutions.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 Ming times, and finally published the Topical studies of Mongolian history (Yuanshi leibian 元史類編).39 In his thorough study of the Yuan Dynasty, Shao reexamined the distinctive traditions and customs of the herdsman, and stressed the historical significance of the Mongol Empire. Demonstrating an affinity for evidence-based 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 that of the Han because both were products of 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 "consciousness of the sea" – sea as the most fundamental, yet explorable space that conjoins cultures of faraway lands. Although the Manchu government was principally concerned with Westward inland expansion, many eighteenth-century scholar-officials and geo-historians did not ignore the ocean (as some historians choose to label this group of intellectuals "maritime writers"). Rather than viewing the ocean as an impasse leading nowhere or a barrier to communication, "maritime writers" regarded sea spaces as a transnational contact zone that "led everywhere."41 As Mary Louis Pratt suggested, a 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 The ocean is obviously a prime space of cultural negotiation. As Andre Gunder Frank and Kenneth Pomeranz have trenchantly argued, the Asian Sea was at the heart of the global economy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.43 Her eastern region, namely the East Asian Sea, was therefore a key contact zone in a highly 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, recognized the growing number of ocean-based economic and cultural liaisons between China and the rest of the world. Regarding the sea as a passage of connections linking two or more regions, they reckoned China should be (re)positioned in a multi-cultural, or multi-layered, world.

     Moreover, the writers of "maritime texts" vividly outlined European customs, religions, and commercial practices. They even commented on the growth of European sea powers and their overseas expansion,44 recording the global thrust of European commercial expansion in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Their narratives provided a more factual account of "Europe," thus altering the Chinese worldview of "the Age of Improvisation."45 They also ignited the Qing government's desire to chart a more definitive map of the world, so as to assemble global geographical knowledge. Although some of their illustrations were not very meticulous, underestimating the potency of Western naval power,46 these writers began revising their worldview from a maritime perspective and repositioned the Great Qing in coexistence with other nations, not as the most supreme power in the world.

Concluding Remarks

     Since the formative years of Chinese imperial history, the Chinese worldview was predisposed to the egoism of Han culture, which acted to "grade and hierarchize neighboring tribes according to their acceptance of Han habits."47 As a result, we have the impression that the Chinese in imperial times were trapped in a worldview that placed China and foreign countries on opposite sides of a "civilized-barbarian" axis. The picture in the early modern period is more complicated, however. Over the course of the eighteenth century, evidence-based research and geo-historical studies challenged the earlier dichotomized worldview. Through exploring the great diversity of languages, religions, and lifeways of peoples within the vast territory of China, geo-historians no longer clung to an ethnocentric approach to conceptualize the world. Deemphasizing ethnocentrism, they instead began to accept the Qing Empire as multi-cultural.

     Some maritime writers in the eighteenth century even acknowledged that China was one of several powers in world history, rather than the single preeminent one. Like the geo-historians who conducted detailed research in Inner Asia, they understood the problem of conceptualizing the world from an ethnocentric perspective. Despite the worldview articulated by these geo-historians and maritime writers, however, the Manchu monarchs were not able to counter the fierce aggression of various imperialistic powers after the two Opium Wars.48 While the Great Qing began to embrace a world of differences, European powers imposed a brute force that made reevaluation of Chinese Weltanschauung inescapable. Caught in a struggle for national survival and cultural (dis)orientation throughout the "Age of Empires,"49 the Qing was torn between opening her doors to the wider world and remaining an isolated, self-contained dragon in the East.

Ronald Chung-yam Po is conducting research towards his Ph.D. at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg in Germany. His interests cover the history of late imperial China, Sino-foreign relations, as well as maritime and frontier studies. 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.), AufklärungEvolution—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, 17581820 (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.

31The 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, 1400Present (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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