Was China ever in the top 3 most powerful countries/empires of the world?

#41
Countries that could not project power at sea for some time could think that they are powerful, but pretty soon got hammered.
Tell that to the countries that did project their power across the globe like Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch. These three got wrecked by Chinese pirates before, as for the Portuguese and Dutch, they got bonus by being wrecked by just one province navy. The Chinese at later stage did become weak and lag behind European powers in a lot of things, but that was more like happening in late 18th or early 19th century, before that, it was the other way around.
 
Mar 2012
4,354
#42
Not necessarily to project absolutely everywhere, but countries that could at that point in time found very profitable opportunities. Countries that could not project power at sea for some time could think that they are powerful, but pretty soon got hammered.
A few things to note. The Ming navy in the early 15th century not only could project a military force several times larger than European powers (until the 18th century) into as far as the western Indian Ocean, it attained hegemony over all the major trade networks of virtually the entire Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific (the lion's share of the entire world's sea trade at the time); something no power has done up to then or since until the British navy of the 19th century. To quote Tansen Sen: "This state power was not only employed in coastal regions of Ming China and at the nearby polities in the South China Sea region, but also at foreign ports as far as the Swahili coast. In other words, the Ming court through the Zheng He expeditions exercised hegemonic power over the entire Indian Ocean realm.”

The Ming fleet sailed a distance of some 10,000-15,000 miles and if taking naval projection into account, militarily dominated a region more extensive in range than any empire up to then, even the Mongol Empire under Mengke. This was probably why in the Ming Chengzu Shilu, the official records said that the southern boundary of the Ming empire extended into the dark oceans and its extent far surpassed those of the Han and Tang. Even after the Ming withdrew its naval expeditions by the mid 15th century, Chinese coastal defense force was still overwhelmingly more numerous compared to any European power in Asia, even in the South China seas; and this situation lasted into the early 18th century. Yet unlike the 16th and 17th century European naval powers, the Ming was also a foremost continental power, and under Yongle, was able to sent forces from Vietnam in the South to the outskirts of Siberia in the north, militarily occupying the old Mongol capital of Karakorum multiple times and establishing fortresses near there.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,522
#43
Qin, Han, Tang, Ming and Qing dynasty are among the greatest empires of any period. I might argue that even the early Song empire was a superpower until it got derailed by idiot emperors.
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A superpower is a nation that is able to exert it's influence on a global scale.

That was simply not possible for the majority of great powers in human history, including all of the various Chinese states mentioned in this thread. The Han, Tang, Ming ect. were great powers, but not superpowers. The Roman Empire, the Achmaemenids, Byzantines, Holy Roman Empire, ect, ect were not superpowers either.

There have only been three superpowers so far in human history: The British Empire, The United States, and the Soviet Union.

China will likely be the 4th.
 
#44
Roughly between 200 B.C.E and 1500 C.E, the regions corresponding to today's 'China' are most certainly guaranteed the spot.
This is because those were the most competitive regions by evident comparisons during the timeframe (see the overwhelmingly consistent conquests made by the fleeing remnants towards Western portions of Eurasia).
The regions can be argued by some individuals to maintain the edge until the 1700s under the rule of Qing Dynasty.
 
Mar 2012
4,354
#45
A superpower is a nation that is able to exert it's influence on a global scale.

That was simply not possible for the majority of great powers in human history, including all of the various Chinese states mentioned in this thread. The Han, Tang, Ming ect. were great powers, but not superpowers. The Roman Empire, the Achmaemenids, Byzantines, Holy Roman Empire, ect, ect were not superpowers either.

There have only been three superpowers so far in human history: The British Empire, The United States, and the Soviet Union.

China will likely be the 4th.
The term superpower is quite vague and in many ways, frankly, just a semantic definition conditioned upon globalization.
The PRC grand strategy does not even aim at being a global military superpower, because the cost of maintaining such an extended influence could be used to develop military technology to better achieve regional preponderance instead. The US military is wasting resources in global policing and the PRC is not interested in replicating it; by patrolling on the South China Seas alone for example, costs the US about $6.5 million a day. In another words, the PRC by focusing on regional power rather than projection worldwide, might never become a global military superpower even if it has more than enough potential to do so. Yet, that does not mean it would never be as powerful as a country with global military presence; the PRC is merely sacrificing global reach for regional hegemony. On the other hand, if the definition of superpower is simply a country with global economic influence, then the Ming and Qing were already "superpowers" as the global economy already became connected in the 16th century and the Ming and Qing were the primary driver and exporter (half of the world's silver sink) of such a system until the turn of the 19th century.
Some analysts have predicted that Chinese influence in Asia might overtake that of the US by 2030 and claim China will be a "superpower" by then. Yet even by that time, its unlikely China's relative military influence would surpass what it achieved in say the early Ming dynasty. China's only military base overseas today is in Djibouti, whereas the Ming had several government depots in Malacca, Sumadera, Bangladesh and probably Cochin, Sri Lanka, Calicut, and Luzon as well. Ming records alone mention 36 states submitting and allowing the passage of Zheng He's fleet, as far as Milindi in East Africa. The PRC even if attaining regional dominance, would project little beyond the nine dashed lines, whereas the Ming fleet already sailed unopposed on the various islands of the South China Seas and beyond and claimed the entire ocean as its territory. On land, the Ming tributary system (including allies) extended to the entire continental Southeast Asia, Northeastern Asia (including Korea), and much of Mongolia, and while it had less direct presence in Xinjiang and Tibet, it still had tremendous economic and political influences in these regions (and beyond into Central Asia). In comparison, the PRC has no formal allies, and its only potential ones are Pakistan and North Korea, and outside of these and a few continental Southeast Asian states, other countries are unlikely to form alliances with the PRC in the near future.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2019
46
Canada
#46
And that is perfect answer why China was not among most powerful countries of that day. Ability to project power around the Globe in this period was necessary in order to maintain any kind of competitive advantage at that time. Now, on other hand China is very powerful. Still, lack of fleet power and ability to project power is main limiting factor. They seem to understand this, all building of islands, investments in the fleet show that they try to remedy that with some haste.
China would be able to send much more troops than Spain could, as seen in the Zhenghe expeditions, however, it would not be enough to destroy a technologically equal nation in Europe. China had much more power projection capabilities, just not enough to defeat Spain the Kingdom, but China can easily send enough forces to sack a hundred Incan empires. Then you are talking about now.
 
Mar 2019
46
Canada
#47
I do not know what you mean by "noble birth", but Mongol and Manchu cavalry are outnumbered in most engagements with the Ming and also won against the Ming more often than not in the 16th and 17th century in field combat. Altan Khan was able to burn the suburbs of Beijing in 1550 with the Ming army not daring to even engaging his cavalry. However, the Spanish army would probably have performed even worse than the Ming army; European logistics and light field artillery were all behind Central Eurasian and Chinese armies of the era; severely restricting their mobility and projection capabilities on the steppe and this continued well into the 18th century.
Now peopls say the Ming army was **** but due to that battle, now a few things to clear up.
At that time, the Chinese army to counter the Mongols was led by a military retard, he was a good friend of the emporer, and he had dreams of becoming a great general, but lacked the talent, but his big daddy childhood friend still made him the general.
Now let's examine his tactical decisions:
He send in 500 calvary as rear guard at a time, against 10s of thounsands of Mongolians to secure the flanks, a normal commander will send the cannons, infantry and half of the calvary to defeat a large flanking move. This got his entire calvary contengient killed.
Then his generals decided to build trenches and repelled the Mongolians for 4 days with strong fire power and infantry, messengers were sent, the Manchu allies and Liaodong nobility were on their way to support the army.
THE MILITARY GENIUS HERE, ordered the entire army, with all due hast CHARGE TOWARDS THE MONGOLIAN CALVARY!!!
Then, unsurprisingly, his army, got surrounded, and when the Manchu allies arrived first at the scene, the entire army was ******* dead.
As you can see, the Ming calvary was sent in in units of 500 with out support and insanely outnumbered and each of those contingents lasted a day.
His commanders were experienced and dug trenches then asked for more heavy calvary reinforcements, he did not wait. Instead of wearing down the Mongolians and then letting the incoming allied calvary to destory the enemy, he charged infantry into light calvary. You can clearly see it is not the Ming soldier's problem, it is this ******* retard's problem.
And also the seige of Beijing? The 10,000 vanguard was ambushed and destroyed by the 5000 strong divine mechanist division, the Khan's younger brother was killed in the action, this caused the Khan to halt and make camp.
Meanwhile the Ming cannons bombarded the Mongolian camps at night, then the calvary and infantry routed the enemy camp.
The Khan fled back to the steppes with a broken army.
So what was that about Ming armies being crap?
 
Mar 2019
46
Canada
#48
A superpower is a nation that is able to exert it's influence on a global scale.

That was simply not possible for the majority of great powers in human history, including all of the various Chinese states mentioned in this thread. The Han, Tang, Ming ect. were great powers, but not superpowers. The Roman Empire, the Achmaemenids, Byzantines, Holy Roman Empire, ect, ect were not superpowers either.

There have only been three superpowers so far in human history: The British Empire, The United States, and the Soviet Union.

China will likely be the 4th.
Oh, no the British comes nowhere close to America or the Soviet Union, the threat of erasing your nation from the face of the map is more menacing than any volley the British can fire. They didn't rule any sea. Their navy got overstretched in other places. They only had the strongest navy in the Atlantic that is it. Now, America has the most powerful navy in any sea.
Now China and British empire were not superpowers. Because if France wanted to have a little war on the side with the British, they don't worry about being erased from the map, the Germans can probably beat the Brits on the ground too. Now if Germany and France messes with Soviet Union, NATO didn't expect northern France to be held for 2 months, Germany? They expected it to fall in days.

Now as for America, you place any country against it in total war, no nukes? Eventually America is going to win or at least reach a deal with America being the better off one.
 

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,877
Slovenia, EU
#49
Now peopls say the Ming army was **** but due to that battle, now a few things to clear up.
At that time, the Chinese army to counter the Mongols was led by a military retard, he was a good friend of the emporer, and he had dreams of becoming a great general, but lacked the talent, but his big daddy childhood friend still made him the general.
Now let's examine his tactical decisions:
He send in 500 calvary as rear guard at a time, against 10s of thounsands of Mongolians to secure the flanks, a normal commander will send the cannons, infantry and half of the calvary to defeat a large flanking move. This got his entire calvary contengient killed.
Then his generals decided to build trenches and repelled the Mongolians for 4 days with strong fire power and infantry, messengers were sent, the Manchu allies and Liaodong nobility were on their way to support the army.
THE MILITARY GENIUS HERE, ordered the entire army, with all due hast CHARGE TOWARDS THE MONGOLIAN CALVARY!!!
Then, unsurprisingly, his army, got surrounded, and when the Manchu allies arrived first at the scene, the entire army was ******* dead.
As you can see, the Ming calvary was sent in in units of 500 with out support and insanely outnumbered and each of those contingents lasted a day.
His commanders were experienced and dug trenches then asked for more heavy calvary reinforcements, he did not wait. Instead of wearing down the Mongolians and then letting the incoming allied calvary to destory the enemy, he charged infantry into light calvary. You can clearly see it is not the Ming soldier's problem, it is this ******* retard's problem.
And also the seige of Beijing? The 10,000 vanguard was ambushed and destroyed by the 5000 strong divine mechanist division, the Khan's younger brother was killed in the action, this caused the Khan to halt and make camp.
Meanwhile the Ming cannons bombarded the Mongolian camps at night, then the calvary and infantry routed the enemy camp.
The Khan fled back to the steppes with a broken army.
So what was that about Ming armies being crap?
A Tumu crisis? I read that about 5000 Mongol vanguard routed completely disorganized Chinese with low morale and it was only a pursuing slaughter after that. You are writing about a general, was not an emperor involved in Tumu crisis and also captured?
 

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,877
Slovenia, EU
#50
Roughly between 200 B.C.E and 1500 C.E, the regions corresponding to today's 'China' are most certainly guaranteed the spot.
This is because those were the most competitive regions by evident comparisons during the timeframe (see the overwhelmingly consistent conquests made by the fleeing remnants towards Western portions of Eurasia).
The regions can be argued by some individuals to maintain the edge until the 1700s under the rule of Qing Dynasty.
Not really. Romans beg to differ. Especially in 190-260 period. Then Abbasids, in my opinion more than Umayyads.
 

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