I kinda agree with you, but I think you make it sound more difficult than it actually was. A sand desert is something which really can't be compared with early-modern European campaigns and I agree that it doesn't say that Chinese logistics was better. Europeans just didn't have those deserts.There is a huge difference between supplying 100% of supplies and 50% when talking about armies. We can supply bases in Antartica during the winter with small impediment but at the end of the day they only require food and fuel. A base on the moon would require food, fuel, oxygen, water, and more. Similarly an army marching that can get fodder for horses, water, and even half its daily consumption of food from local supplies is effectively using far fewer supplies than an army marching thru a desert that needs to carry everything.
One of the reasons the early colonies failed was because of the difficulty of supply. The reason heavenlykaghan is using the example of the barren lands and the distance is that it demonstrates the organization and capacity of the Qing to supply nearly 100% of supplies for 30k men over a relatively vast distance. My main criticism is that Europeans did not have such vast areas of barren lands to campaign in so they never needed to develop nor had the chance to demonstrate such capacity as the Qing in this same historical period- the colonies come closest but due to naval supply being much cheaper is not a fair comparison.
Sure, Qing and Europe both used rivers when able- where are the rivers in Hexi corridor? There is Gobi desert to the north and quite inhospitable high plains and mountains for 1000ks in the south.
20,000 men marching thru Siberia or the Saharha is way different than marching thru the Black Forest or the Great Alföld.
Not sure what you mean "it worked" with those examples as they all included local supply and foraging to some extent.
But Kaghan specifically talks about surviving in steppes. And many nomads throughout centuries often had quite large armies despite the fact that they lived only in steppes.
1. Qing didn't really do anything new here. You are making it sound like trade was not achieved on those vast and barren lands before the Qing, but in reality those places saw the Silkroad trade. What the Qing did was the same trade. They just bought more goods than before in history, but from what Perdue writes it seems that even those relatively small campaigns costed too much money in the eyes of Chinese government. Despite the fact that it was a powerful empire which didn't wage many wars. In the 2nd campaign, the Qing tried to avoid shipping new supplies to the frontline. And Perdue makes it sound like 3,800 carts is some proof of huge logistics. But in Poland, 1,000-3,000 soldiers would have this number of carts in the army.
2. In places where the Qing armies were located they had some local ressources as well. They were buying horses from Mongols and there were actual towns in those "barren" steppes.
3. Perdue writes that supplies had to be transported for 30 days and the price of transport was 10 times larger than the price of grain. In Europe, grain was also sometimes bought by the consumer for the price 10 or more times higher than the price for which the producer sold it. And as I wrote above, 30 days is the time it sometimes took to bring food to Poles besieging Psków when it had to be transported through enemy land in winter. And that's not neccessarily one of the most extreme cases.
4. Most of Russian territory was insufficient for armies and Russia still held large armies on steppes. Even when we talk just about the Perekop campaigns, when Russians and Cossacks retreated from enemy land, they still stayed in steppes. It was normal for them to quarter in such terrain.
And you are right with the critique of my examples, but in those cases, from what I know:
1. Armies were too large for local supplies to give them most of the food they needed.
2. Pillage was minimal and wasn't an important source of supply. Though taxes were very high and you can make an argument that those taxes were just legalized pillage. But if so, then the borderline between pillage and non-pillage is fuzzy and you could just say that the Qing used legalized pillage on its subjects as well. I'm guessing the Chinese taxes weren't as high, since they didn't wage really expensive wars.
Furthermore, saying that supplies shipped to places like Hami or Barkul were not local supplies is a bit of an overstatement. Armies which stationed in those places used mostly supplies from areas through which those armies marched before they got to the frontline. If they had enough wagons for 4-6 months of supplies, they would just take those local supplies while marching through those areas. This is what was often done in the east of Europe. So technically one of those methods uses a system of convoys and magazines while the other method uses local supplies, but the effect is the same.