- Feb 2011
This was not your original goalpost, you stated that China never fought an equal power, you did not say that the equal power had to be an existential threat. Furthermore, for 500 years the various states of the Spring/Autumn and Warring States period were existential threats to each other. And as I pointed out, they were different from each other to the point that their common language were not mutually intelligible.NordicDemosthenes said:The Kushan example was clearly not a threat to China the same way Rome was to Persia, Persia was to Egypt, Assyria was to various parts of Mesopotamia etc. The Kushan Empire was in India, and the fact that you could isolate Han-Kushan hostilities as "that time" in and of itself admits that conflict between the two was not usual, and probably not very important. Unlike the case in Western Eurasia, where powers rose and fell, and great powers were occasionally reduced to footnotes in history. It is a whole other arena.
You ARE moving the goalpost. Your original point never said anything about existential threats, you only claimed (falsely) that China never fought an equal power. So all this talk about existential threats in terms of culture/history/language are things you added in AFTER I told you about the Xiongnu/Kushan/Goturks.NordicDemosthenes said:I do think that Horse nomads are indeed something to scoff at in all realms but the military one. Yes they created empires, so what. It is the essence of your Empire that matters, and unless your Empire is truly your own then you haven't actually created anything, but just parasitized on the works of others and not contributed with anything meaningful. This is not the same as adapting your enemies culture and turning it to your own purposes, the way the Romans did. Both the Timurids and the Ottomans were originally horse archers yes. If that was such a good model, why did they stop being horse archers?
No, I wasn't wrong was I, since I wrote "for much of its history". I have not moved any goalposts, and as for what you "expect of me"... Who do you think you are, my landlady? I made a general point that China has existed in a comparatively isolated geopolitical landscape compared with Western Eurasia. Instead of admitting that I was broadly more right than wrong you immediately start to nitpick. How do you "expect me" to react? "Oh yes, thank you for your contribution great mistress, I am most flattered. No, don't pay my arguments any heed at all and don't admit that there is something to them, why would you do that? It is just silly little me talking."
You had a good point about the Qin dynasty. Thank you for that, I was unaware. As for your other points, I am not entirely convinced, and I think they do not adequately counter the general point I was making, of China living in its own conceptual universe were comparative metrics are meaningless for much of its history. The very usage of a term like "Zhong guo" to refer to ones country is almost laughably narcisstic, or would considered to be, if China was located in Europe or some similar part of the world.
But yes, to address the question - perhaps that is China's truly unique power. That China has been able to be an undisputed hegemon in its "neighbourhood for so long periods of time, and never really fallen...
Your original point was made in post 68, in which you stated, and I quote: there were lots of smaller states in Asia who's relationship seems to have ranged from "neutral" to "tributary client states", but essentially China has never had to fight an equal foreign power for much of its history. There are some noteworthy exceptions to this, but most wars in China (correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not expert on chinese history) seem to be either civil wars or be about repulsing various step nomads. This second case has some exceptions: the war between the Mongols and the Song seem to have been very bloody, and arguably between equals.
Only after I mentioned the Xiongnu/Kushans/Goturks did you add an entire list of different criteria: I didn't say they never fought an enemy of note (or obviously didn't mean to anyway), I meant that they never fought an enemy that could (and would) exterminate their culture and people, destory their memory and make their grandchildren speak another language or practice another religion.
How are these criteria even relevant to the OP? If you are the most powerful state in the world, then no one should be able to exterminate you and force your grandchildren to speak another language and practice another religion. Because if they can, then THEY are a better choice for being the most powerful state in the world and NOT you.
Anyway what did you think the Qin did to the rest of the states? They unified the script (language), burned every book of political ideology except legalism (religion, kind of), unified the units of measurement and exterminated all other governments of the Central Plains. And as I said before, the states of the Warring States did not see each other as the same people, far from it.
Back to your original point, nowhere in post 68 did you say anything about China fighting existential threats, you claimed that China never fought against an equal foreign power and that is incorrect. You used the Romans/Ottomans/Byzantines as counterexamples to China, so you should list all the times they fought an equal power. Rome during its height don't have existential threats either, nor did the Ottomans, nor did the Byzantines, nor did any of the states you listed in post 68. They only faced existential threats when they were much weaker than their height of power. That's the benefit package a great empire gets when it's at its height of power: it's so powerful that it's not facing existential threats. You speak about existential threats (not just in terms of state existence, but existence in terms of language/culture/history) AFTER I pointed out the Xiongnu, the Goturks, and the Kushans.
And if you don't want me "playing this game", then don't change the goalpost. If you change the goalpost then I have the right to point out what you originally claimed.
Now, you say you are 'correct' because even despite the Xiongnu/Goturks/Warring States/Spring&Autumn Period, for "most" of Chinese history they were not fighting existential threats.
OK, how many years did Rome fight existential threats in its 2000 years of history? There's the sacking of Rome by Brennus, Hannibal crossing the Alps, the Venetians sacking Constantinople, maybe the Seljuks at Manzikert, and finally the Ottomans which put the lid on the Byzantine coffin. Pardon me, but I'm not counting a total of 1000 years of 'fighting existential threats' out of this.
What other states did you list in post 68? The Byzantines? They were counted above as a continuation of the Romans.
The Ottomans? They didn't really fight existential threats for most of their history either. Maybe for that brief several years after the Battle of Ankara against the Timurids. As Ottoman military technology fell behind, they lost ground against the Russians by the 19th century, but the Russians weren't exactly out to end Ottoman language/people/culture/history/religion, as you put it, nor am I confident that the Russians even could if they wanted to. And even if the Russians could, I'm not counting how it adds up to anywhere near half of Ottoman History.
So I'm not seeing how any of the states you listed as contrary to China, were fighting existential threats for most of their history.
Anyway, in summary, when you claimed that China never fought an equal foreign power, you said that this was unlike the states of Rome/Byzantines/Ottomans. When I came up with the Xiongnu/Kushan/Goturks as counter-examples, you explained a much more specific set of criterias. So I expect whatever you add to your new criteria to only filter out China, and not the Romans/Byzantines/Ottomans.