Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Mind of EmpireChina's History and Modern Foreign Relations$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Christopher A. Ford

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813192635

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813192635.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

The Prehistory of Foreign Engagement

The Prehistory of Foreign Engagement

(p.89) 7 The Prehistory of Foreign Engagement
The Mind of Empire

Christopher A. Ford

University Press of Kentucky

Because it was surrounded by what it perceived as weaker and culturally inferior neighbors for most of its ancient history, China has a traditional view of itself in relation to the rest of the world as the center of the political and moral universe. Even where vigorous barbarian peoples were occasionally recognized as equal adversaries in terms of raw power, coequal formal status seems not to have been conceded. The Chinese theory of world order would seem to imply not merely the superiority of the Middle Kingdom but also the arrangement of other peoples of the world into concentric circles of decreasing status proportional to their virtuousness. When an ethnically foreign dynasty was established following the conquest of China by the Mongol and Manchu armies, the traditional Chinese remained steadfast in their belief in Sinic universalism. On the few occasions that Ming emperors dispatched naval expeditions across the seas, their practical object was to take advantage of trading opportunities but their overriding purpose was to “show the flag and reveal the might of the Ming dynasty” to the barbarian kingdoms. In its dealings with different European powers seeking trade relations, China would receive envoys only if they paid homage and offered tribute. Consequently, for some time the Chinese continued to count European barbarians as just another set of foreign tributaries.

Keywords:   Chinese foreign relations, hierarchical empire, coequal sovereignties, Chinese tribute system, foreign trade, politico-moral subservience, naval expeditions, diplomacy

Kentucky Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .