Was Chinese culture ever "at fault" for their decline and defeats by outside powers?

Jan 2016
589
United States, MO
#11
Most Western scholarship recognizes the Qing as a Manchu empire. We don't say that the Chinese conquered the Song dynasty just because the Mongols relied on an entire Chinese navy and many Chinese troops and siege engineers to do it. What matters is who holds power in the governing structure, those are the true conquerors because they managed to subdue both external and internal threats to their power. Yes, the Qing made extensive use of the Chinese bureaucracy, but the Manchus retained a privileged status over the course of the dynasty, though by the end that privilege also came with poverty for many Manchus. Earlier on during the 17th and 18th centuries they also actively worked expanded and engaged with non-Han peoples not as a Chinese state, but a Manchu one. The Manchus had a special relationship with the Mongols and the Tibetans which Han controlled dynasties simply lacked.

The Qianlong Emperor is the best example of this. He was simultaneously recognized as the different leaders of the Manchus, Mongols, Tibetans, and Han Chinese all in one person.

Li Shimin is the only Han emperor that I can think of which could pull this type of thing off and he also had a little Xianbei heritage which likely contributed to his success.
 
Feb 2011
6,453
#12
The Manchu ethnic group was not like how we define ethnic groups. Manchus were just the original subjects of Nurhaci, which includes Han Chinese as well. Once the ethnic group became established, Han Chinese could still become Manchu, you don't have to be born into it. So it was more like royalty if anything.

I don't know what you mean that they "actively expanded and engaged with non-Han people's as a Manchu state". How is that engagement different from what China did before? Last I checked, they signed treaties in which they willingly described themselves as Chinese. I have yet to see a treaty in which they described themselves as a Manchu state, they only described themselves as a Chinese state.
 
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Jan 2016
589
United States, MO
#13
I am relying on Mark Elliot's conception of the Manchus. He argues that unification of the Jurchens and the formation of the banners by Nurhaci are the ethnogenesis of the Manchus. Not everyone agrees with his conclusion, but they are fairly established.

The Qianlong emperor in particular obsessed over preserving and promoting what he deemed to be the markers of "true" Manchu identity such as speaking the Manchu language or horseback archery. I am not claiming that the manchus never picked up a Sinitic traits or habits, but that they constituted a recognized separate group identity which was reinforced by the central government via preferential treatment and sumptuary laws.

As for backing up my previous statement about how the Manchus dealt with non-Han groups, I will quote from Evelyn Rawski in her essay Presidential Address: Reenvisioning the Qing: The Significance of the Qing Period in Chinese History in The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Nov., 1996), pp. 829-850

"The new scholarship suggests just the opposite: the key to Qing success, at least in terms of empire-building, lay in its ability to use its cultural links with the non-Han peoples of Inner Asia and to differentiate the administration of the non-Han regions from the administration of the former Ming provinces." page 831

When discussing Tibet, Rawski states,

"Early Qing rulers developed specialized channels for dealing with Mongol allies and Tibetan prelates. The Office of Surra Translation, housed in the northwest corner of the Forbidden City, was the first to specialize in Tibetan Buddhist affairs (Wang Jiapeng 1991). Tibetan Buddhism was an important vehicle for extension of Qing control over the Mongols (Zhang Xixin 1988). High prelates like the Qianlong emperor's spiritual tutor, Rol pa'i rdo rje (1717-86), the lCang skya Khutukhtu, negotiated on behalf of the throne over the successor to the seventh Dalai Lama (17 5 7), and persuaded the Jebtsundamba Khutukhtu, spiritual leader of the Khalkha Mongols, to remain neutral during the 1756 Chingunjav revolt (Wang Xiangyun 1995)." page 833.

When discussing the Mongols,

"Mongol allies were vital to the Manchu conquest. Since these alliances were usually cemented by marriage exchanges, early Qing emperors claimed Mongol as well as Manchu ancestry (Hua 1983, Rawski 1991). Mongolian and Manchu were the primary languages during the crucial conquest decades before 1644 (Li 1995, 85; Guan 1988, 54). Several of Nurgaci's sons and nephews bore Mongolian names or were given Mongol honorific titles (Liu 1994, 172-73). The many shared roots of Manchu and Mongolian words relating to livestock, livestock rearing, riding paraphernalia, and even agriculture reflect the close historical interaction of Jurchen and Mongols in this region (Liu 1994). The Manchus borrowed heavily from the Mongols in creating their famed banner organization, while many Chinese elements in the pre-1644 Manchu state were actually filtered through the Mongols (Farquhar 1968, 1971)." page 834

and

"The ideologies created by the Manchu leaders drew on Han and non-Han sources. The earliest title claimed by Nurgaci was the title ofKundulen khan (han in Manchu), meaning "Venerated Ruler" in Mongolian. As Pamela Crossley (1992) has explained, the concepts underlying the khanship differ significantly from those supporting the Chinese emperorship. After Chinggis, the title "khan of khans" or supreme khan (kaghan) was the ultimate political goal sought by ambitious tribal leaders in the steppe world. But the "khan of khans" was not a Chinese emperor. His power was based on the much more loosely integrated tribal confederations that emerged from time to time in the steppe world and was conditional on the acquiescence of tribal chieftains. This title-and the political conditions it implied-formed the political context of Nurgaci's Later Jin dynastic rule. Mongols throughout the Qing dynasty referred to the Qing emperor as "Great Khan" (bogdo kaghan). 3" page 834-835.

There is more that I could quote, but the gist of what I am getting at is that Qing success in Inner Asia relied on both Han and non-han practices. The tax revenue and logistics of the Chinese bureaucracy undoubtedly played a huge role in Qing expansion, but when it came to actually interacting and dealing with Inner Asian groups the Manchus were quick to exploit advantages open to them that would not so easily open to a Han leader, such as becoming a Khan or a Llama and emphasizing Confucianism with Han subjects, but Tibetan buddhism with Mongolian and Tibetan ones. Also, the Qing had 5 official languages Manchu, Mongol, Tibetan, Uighur, and Chinese. These are factors that set them apart from other Han controlled dynasties.
 
Feb 2011
6,453
#14
I'm not sure how we can compare/contrast the Ming/Qing control of the Tibetans because whereas the Qing had significant control of Tibet, Ming control of Tibet was mostly nominal. So of course the diplomatic process would be different, because the level of control was different. However, the Ming did use Buddhist language to interact with Tibet despite being Confucian dominated rather than Buddhist:
Out of compassion, Buddha taught people to be good and persuaded them to embrace his doctrines. You, who live in the remote Western Region, have inherited the true Buddhist doctrines. I am deeply impressed not only by the compassion with which you preach among the people in your region for their enlightenment, but also by your respect for the wishes of Heaven and your devotion to the Court. I am very pleased that you have sent bSod-nams-nyi-ma and other Tibetan monks here bringing with them statues of Buddha, horses and other specialties as tributes to the court.. -Zhengtong to Karmapa



A series of Ming emperors, especially Wanli, were patrons of translating/printing Tibetan Buddhist passages and also promoted the influx of Tibetan teachers quite enthusiastically, that is until the edict of 1569 which limited Tibetan tribute missions to once every three yeas. From heavenlykaghan in another post:

The Ming dynasty monk Zhiguang traveled to Tibet and created a clique which translated large quantities of Mahamudra and Path and Fruit texts from Tibetan, Sanskrit, and other languages. Recently, scholars like Shen Weirong have uncovered large amounts of these texts, such as the Dacheng yaodao miji, most of which were translated during the Ming, on Tantric cultivations which the Ming and Qing emperors both practiced. Mamamudra texts such as 大手印无字要 or 端必瓦成就同生要 even entered into private collections of the early Qing scholar Qian Zeng.
Confucians might warn both Ming and Qing emperors of the bad influence of Tibetan Buddhism, but so many palace Tantric texts have been produced by emperors that we know for a fact these emperors ignored Confucian orthodoxy and practiced Tibetan Buddhism heavily. As for innovation, we have Ming era palace texts which mixed Confucianism, Daoism, and esoteric Tibetan Buddhism into one text. Ming Wuzong himself was said to have learned Tibetan and investited himself the title of Dharma king. Qianlong not only learned Tibetan but also had his entire tomb covered in Tibetan Mantra.
Instead of treating Confucian history as representative of all Chinese views, I would caution you instead, to treat them as a mere orthodox narrative which is very limited in describing the complexities of Chinese society and intellectual inclinations. Even Neo-Confucianism is heavily influenced by Buddhist idealism.


In regards to the Mongols, yes the Manchus applied marriage alliances with Mongols, but I'm not sure how that's different with Chinese marriage alliances to northern nomadic groups. Everybody did marriage alliances all over the world. Likewise you mentioned how the Manchu emperor was called a 'khan' by the Mongols in order to differentiate Manchu diplomacy from Chinese diplomacy. Again, I'm not sure how that differs from the diplomatic policy of China. As you said before Tang emperors were the only other Chinese emperors who were also called khan, but that's because they belonged to the only other dynasty which conquered all of Mongolia (you could technically count the Han but they didn't hold it for over a year). So besides the Qing we have only one other sample size, and for that single sample size a series of Chinese emperors (Tang Taizong, Tang Gaozong, Wu Zetian, Tang Zhongzong, Tang Ruizong, and Tang Xuanzong) were called "heavenly khan" in addition to the title of "huang di"(emperor) even when the dynasty lost control of Mongolia. So not so different from how Manchu emperors were called khan. Likewise, administering different ethnic groups differently wasn't exactly a rare occurence in Chinese history, Chinese dynasties did it plenty of times (how the Ming governed the Jianzhou Jurchens being one example), many different states across world history adopted similar policies as well. The Chinese idiom "clear water don't hold big fish" was originally derived by a Han dynasty general to justify administering different ethnic groups differently as according to their distinct cultures. I am curious as to how the Eight Banner system was adopted from the Mongols, haven't heard that before. Of course, I don't deny the impact that marriage alliances with the Mongols had in increasing Qing military prowess, as Mongol soldiers ended up making a significant ratio in the Eight Banner Army.

I also don't deny (nor have I seen any serious historian denying) that Manchus wanted to maintain their Manchu identity as well as their privilege. But that's not the same as denying their Chinese identity. The two aren't mutually exclusive. Because one is a national identity, the other is not. Which royalty as a whole did NOT want to maintain their privilege, after all? But that doesn't mean they saw themselves as a separate national group from the peasantry (in my prior post I explained how the Manchu concept was closer to a royalty class than an ethnic group when using our modern definitions). Even today, many Chinese ethnic groups see themselves as Chinese nationals while still holding on to their distinct ethnic identity (and they're not exactly complaining about the legal privileges they get for being a minority). The Manchus didn't want to be assimilated into the Han Chinese culture, but that doesn't mean they didn't see the Han Chinese as sharing the same nationality as themselves. I'm aware many western scholars see Manchus as non-Chinese, because they exclusively equate Han Chinese as nationally Chinese but that's not how the Manchus saw it, and it wasn't how the Han Chinese saw it until the Han nationalist movement of the early 20th century. Even a lot of western states didn't define themselves as a single ethnic nation state, so I don't know why this viewpoint is forced onto the Qing when they themselves defined the Chinese empire as a multi-ethnic one.
 
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Mar 2012
4,405
#16
There is more that I could quote, but the gist of what I am getting at is that Qing success in Inner Asia relied on both Han and non-han practices. The tax revenue and logistics of the Chinese bureaucracy undoubtedly played a huge role in Qing expansion, but when it came to actually interacting and dealing with Inner Asian groups the Manchus were quick to exploit advantages open to them that would not so easily open to a Han leader, such as becoming a Khan or a Llama and emphasizing Confucianism with Han subjects, but Tibetan buddhism with Mongolian and Tibetan ones. Also, the Qing had 5 official languages Manchu, Mongol, Tibetan, Uighur, and Chinese. These are factors that set them apart from other Han controlled dynasties.
While I no problem at all with Mark Elliot's idea of Manchu ethnic sovereignty, we should not assume that this is a step closer to something akin to Manchu national consciousness. The Manchus did not have an ethnic national space (Manchuria as a spacial concept did not even take root until Qianlong's time and after) and there is a clear cultural affinity that they shared with the Han over the other Fan people, much less foreigners (for example, Confucian state ideology, wearing queue, Magua, following the Qing code (in contrast to what some earlier scholars thought, new legal studies show that the Manchus largely followed the Qing code as well), and following similar state sponsored rites).
The Inner Asian and Chinese dichotomy is also uncalled for. Qing image to Manchus and the image they portrayed to Tibetans are very different. There is little "ethnic sovereignty" ideology shown to the Tibetan Buddhists. This is understandable as most of the early "New Qing Historians" have little knowledge of Tibetan or Tibetan Buddhism and thought that what applied to the Manchus universally applied to other parts of Inner Asia.
In fact, the Qing emperor portrayed their state as Mahachina 摩诃震旦 or maha tsina ཙི་ན་ (the Buddhist name for China) in Buddhist inscriptions in Tibetan and Mongolian. The only thing Manchu here is the fact that the Tibetans often purposely spelled Manchu as Manju (shri), to portray the Qing emperors as Boddhisatva Manjushri, which always symbolized China in Tibetan tradition (because of Wutaishan being its abode). For the Tibetans, the center of the Qing (China), is in Wutaishan, not in "Manchuria" nor in Beijing.
In fact, Qing image presented to Mongolian nobilities and Mongol monks also differed, as did their representation to Han Confucians and Han Buddhists (see Gray Tuttle's article on Wutaishan on how the Buddhist gazetteers were directed towards Han Tibetan Buddhists foremost, and not to Mongols or Tibetans; a statue of Qianlong as Manjushri in Chengde also demonstrated that this idea was presented to the Han Buddhists as well). Of course, these same historians also seem unaware that Tibetan Buddhism was heavily present during the Ming dynasty in China proper itself. Shen Weirong has recently publishing a series of articles made into a book just to address these problems (with the New Qing History).
 
Jan 2016
589
United States, MO
#17
Both Hackneyedscribe and Heavenlykaghan have raised some valid criticism on some of my views. I am going to combine my responses into this one post which is probably going to be somewhat long-winded seeing as I also need to explain some of the assumptions that I basing my claims on. Additionally this post continues to plunge the thread into depths far away from the OP.

This all began with the claim that I do not view the Qing dynasty as a Chinese dynasty, or I would be extremely careful in labelling it as such. In order for this to make I need to explain what I think a Chinese Dynasty would actually look like.

I associate China, its culture and territory, with the peoples who speak Sinitic (Chinese) languages. I say "peoples" because until very recently, I would argue that the people who spoke Sinitic languages actually constituted a family of cultural groups which have evolved and redefined themselves overtime to eventually become the Han ethnicity that we know today. I would tentatively say that this identity slowly formed over the course of the Zhou dynasty when different Sinitic states with some common cultural elements across them emerged. So, with this in mind, Chinese history is the history of these Sinitic language speaking groups, and China is essentially the territory that these groups occupy in a given time (take note that the territorial extent of these peoples has a tendency to expand over time). Like many other peoples in history, these Chinese groups engaged in state formation. Like every political entity on the planet, After the 3rd century BC, most Chinese states were empires which everyone has agreed to call dynasties. Chinese dynasties also developed their own method of statecraft which largely entailed a large centralized bureaucracy. Chinese dynasties were never ethnically or culturally homogenous. Every Chinese state has governed over at least some number of individuals who did not share the culture or spoken languages of the Sinitic groups. However, I think that it would be mistaken to state that the history of those individuals is Chinese history. Tibet is a clear and easy example for this. The territory of Tibet is included within the Modern People's Republic of China, yet when someone discusses Chinese history, early Tibetan state formation and the Yarlung dynasty only arise in conversation when the details concern major Chinese powers of the day. Things like the Yarlung dynasty lie firmly within the realm of Tibetan history, but this is complicated because Tibetan history and Chinese history have many points of contact. Furthermore, sometimes Chinese states actually expand enough to subsume the most of a non-Chinese group. So, Tibetan history from the 1950s to now is clearly a subsection of Chinese history.

This gets even more complicated when one realizes that Chinese history itself comprises a huge number of smaller histories of various locales or Sinitic subgroups. Additionally, the story of the southward expansion of Chinese groups and peoples is extremely complicated and messy, but I digress.

Now, I would posit that sometimes Chinese history, as large and expansive as it was, was itself actually absorbed into different histories at certain historical times. The Mongol empire is the best example of this. In short, the history of the Mongol empire swallowed up the Chinese history of its day. Thus the Yuan dynasty is not a Chinese dynasty, it is a Mongol dynasty and it shows. The Mongols came from a place that everyone agrees is not and was not China, also when the Mongols came in they instituted new forms of statecraft and governance which radically departed from the Chinese bureaucratic model. The Mongols also viewed themselves as separate from the Chinese groups and the Yuan expanded far beyond the reaches of most Chinese states. However, the Mongols were not the first nor the last to subsume a part of Chinese history. In my view, the Khitans, the Jurchens, and the Manchus are all similar examples. I would like to openly state that this is not my idea and mainstream history refers to these as "conquest dynasties", but I have several problems with that term the first of which is the simple fact that almost no dynasty or empire has ever been formed without conquest or coercion at the very least. Regardless, it is my view that the 17th century Jurchens were a cluster non-Chinese groups that underwent an ethnogenesis and became Manchus. They also conquered China and set up the Qing dynasty with a Banner system, which clearly distinguished themselves from others. Yes, Mongols and Chinese individuals existed within the banners, but they were mostly kept within their own banner and bannerman of the Qing would have easily known to which banner they and others belonged. Furthermore, the Banner system is a counter to the Chinese bureaucracy. The Manchus knew the success and failures of previous dynasties like them such as the Mongols, and they actively worked to avoid those failures but did not always succeed.

I hope that my reasoning as to why I view the manchus as a non-Chinese dynasty is fairly clear, but unfortunately I still have many other issues to address so we continue with the question of identity and ethnicity.
 
Jan 2016
589
United States, MO
#18
The main theoretical background I rely on for interpreting ethnicity is:

1) Fredrich Barth, who argues that an ethnic group, or any group for that matter, lacks an essence which cleanly separates one group from another and ethnic groups exist because individuals retain "group-boundaries" and basically create groups as abstractions.

2) H.E. Hale who argues that a given individuals identity consists of "a set of reference points". Certain reference points are particularly central to a persons identity while others are trivial. A person will choose to invoke a certain reference point whenever that identity is accessible and relevant. Accessible means that other people have to concede that the individual actually can have the identity they profess. Ie, some African-americans can "pass" and thus have potential, though likely limited, access to a white identity in relevant situations.

3) Rogers Brubraker who stresses the importance of the context surrounding ethnicity. Basically, political leaders often "invoke" ethnicity with the hopes of "evoking" it within a given population.

Obviously I have greatly simplified and deformed these arguments in the vain hope that this post will not be too long.

I believe that we can see all of these factors at work within the history of the Manchus. And I will attempt to address a few particular points of criticism raised by the two Historumites mentioned above.

Why aren't the Manchus simply a ruling class? I would state that the Manchus are an ethnic group and not a ruling class because in the early Qing they clearly had many features which were not Chinese such as their language, culture, and religious beliefs. Overtime, the Manchus took on many Chinese characteristics, but I view this to be more an example of the original Manchu ethnic group changing as opposed to a Chinese elite trying to be different. Yes, it is true that nobles usually try to be different, but it is also true that many ruling classes were from a different ethnic background than the population that they ruled over. Another element to this is the fact that eventually most bannermen ended up living in poverty during the 19th century. Classifying all these destitute people as a ruling class doesn't seem to applicable to me. I would see the Qing ruling class as actually bridging the gap between Manchu and Non-Manchu elites. In my mind a ruling class is more defined by the degree of political and economic power a person has. So, high government positions, political influence, and luxurious consumption are the factors that form a multiethnic ruling class.

Isn't China inherently multiethnic? To a degree, yes. However, I believe that there is confusion here because the territory we call China has always, or nearly always, been multiethnic across history. But I don't think that territory called China is the determining factor for what is and isn't Chinese. Are minorities that do not speak any Chinese language still Chinese? (Yes, the Manchus are a more complicated case because they spoke a lot of Chinese and eventually stopped speaking Manchu) but my main point is that the adjective of Chinese (ie. Chinese language, Chinese culture, Chinese buddhism, etc.) is often a much more limited concept than the territory of China itself. The PRC of course states that everyone is "Chinese" but their concept is based on national citizenship and I don't believe it carries as much weight in the past. Do I associate Chinese pretty-much exclusively with the modern Han ethnic group in the PRC? Pretty much, because if someone says "I like the Chinese language" or "I am interested in Chinese culture" they are referring to Han culture and not the culture or language of Daurs, Evenkis, or ethnic Kyrgyz PRC nationals. In my view, the Han group itself is also multiethnic or at least it was. Additionally, the fact that the Chinese terms 中文 "language of the central state/s" (ie 中國 china) and 漢語 "language of the Han" or synonymous shouldn't be overlooked. Yes, the Han identity does not always line up with territory controlled by Chinese states, but I would argue that they share a close connection. The concept of 中華 zhonghua was used by early nationalists and the modern PRC explicitly with the intention of including these non-han groups presumably because 中國人 "Chinese people" was not inclusive enough.
 
Jan 2016
589
United States, MO
#19
Ethnic identities and categories are not mutually exclusive so why can't the Manchus be both Chinese and Manchu? Yes, it is a fact that an individual can possess many identities and they can choose to refer to one in a given context. For example, a person from Chongqing will say they are Chinese when abroad, but while in China they will say that they are a Sichuan person or a Chongqing person. So, when the Manchus dealt with Western powers or certain types of outsiders, identifying as Chinese may have been the more useful categorization to identify as. However, if we look at how things operate within Qing society, identifying as Chinese would be meaningless. Being Manchu determined a lot about one's life because of group boundaries which existed within society between Manchus and Han people in addition to implying a special relationship with the state. I am not saying that Manchus could not identify as "Chinese" but that there were several factors within society and the structure of the state which actively worked to keep them distinct from the population at large. the Qianlong emperor and Manchu elites would emphasize their mastery of the Confucian Classics or other characteristics associated with Chinese identity when it helped them gain powerful connections within the Confucian bureaucracy, but the difference is that these Manchus could also emphasize aspects of or rely on Manchu identity to achieve their goals. So calling them Chinese is ignoring a crucial part of how Manchus actually operated. The banner system served as a counter to the Chinese bureaucracy, and calling the Qing Chinese fails to capture the important differences that differentiate this dynasty from other ones.

Did the Manchus actually approach Inner Asia differently than other Chinese dynasties? I would argue that the Manchus did indeed approach Inner Asia in a way that differs from Chinese dynasties. There are a couple things that the Manchus which are more generally distinct, but, this is very complicated and the Qing approach also differs according to what part of Inner Asia we are discussing. One general practice which sets the Manchus and other non-Chinese dynasties like the Mongols apart is the use of non-Chinese languages as official languages. The Manchus not only used Manchu as an official language, but also Mongolian, Tibetan, and Uyghur. These languages were used constantly on official documents and displayed on monuments and steles across the empire. The Tang dynasty held huge influence across East Asia, and some of the tributaries or subjects possessed their own languages such as the Sogdians, Uyghurs, and Tibetans but I am not aware of any imperial decrees using these languages. If it was done, it would likely be fairly limited in scope. One could argue that excluding the Tang, Chinese dynasties never ruled over a large population of people which used a different script and this is largely true, but I even if the Ming conquered Tibet, I don't see any indication that they would have promoted the status of the Tibetan language and encouraged its use in the governing structure. The entire system of the Chinese bureaucracy revolves around a shared culture of understanding Chinese classics. The Manchus on the other hand, began with a system which had different languages because their mother tongue at the time was not Chinese. So expanding into additional non-Chinese languages would not have been as big a change.

When it comes to more specific things about Manchu management of Inner Asian territories I think that it should be fairly clear that the Manchus had a fairly easy time adapting to and incorporating Mongols into the state due to a shared cultural background. Although it is debatable as to whether or not Mongolic and Tungusic languages have a shared genetic relationship, these two language families clearly share much more in common than either does with Chinese languages. Furthermore, the Manchu script is basically just Mongolian with extra diacritics. The Mongols not only intermarried with Manchus but also possessed their own separate banner. I would also posit that the Manchus held a deeper understanding of steppe politics and shamanistic religious practices, which would likely be lost on a vast majority of Chinese diplomats and envoys.

Unfortunately, I have not done nearly as much reading on the history of Tibetans and Uyghurs, but I do still believe that the Manchus acted differently than a Chinese dynasty might have. I will concede that most new Qing historians neglect Tibet, and they are likely missing something, but over a year ago I had a chance to listen to a lecture by the Tibetan historian Stacey Van Vleet. Unfortunately I do not remember all of the details of her argument but some of her work largely builds off of new Qing historians and dives into Qing rule in Tibet. She did some GIS mapping on the rapid growth and expansion of state-funded Tibetan monasteries across Tibet, Mongolia, and into what many call "China proper". I believe that she is working on a book which will elaborate on this much more than my poor recollection.

When it comes to the Uyghurs, I would turn to James Millward's work Beyond the Pass. Basically the Manchus held the idea that their empire should be universal and the Qianlong emperor got into arguments about this with the bureaucracy who believed that there was no benefit to be had from expanding and creating Xinjiang. I would say no Chinese bureaucracy employed any concept of universal empire since the founding of the Song dynasty due to the broader geopolitical context of East Asia at that time.

I hope that this post explain my line of thinking more clearly. There is always more to be said on this subject, but this has to end somewhere.
 
Mar 2012
4,405
#20
I associate China, its culture and territory, with the peoples who speak Sinitic (Chinese) languages. I say "peoples" because until very recently, I would argue that the people who spoke Sinitic languages actually constituted a family of cultural groups which have evolved and redefined themselves overtime to eventually become the Han ethnicity that we know today. I would tentatively say that this identity slowly formed over the course of the Zhou dynasty when different Sinitic states with some common cultural elements across them emerged. So, with this in mind, Chinese history is the history of these Sinitic language speaking groups, and China is essentially the territory that these groups occupy in a given time (take note that the territorial extent of these peoples has a tendency to expand over time). Like many other peoples in history, these Chinese groups engaged in state formation. Like every political entity on the planet, After the 3rd century BC, most Chinese states were empires which everyone has agreed to call dynasties. Chinese dynasties also developed their own method of statecraft which largely entailed a large centralized bureaucracy. Chinese dynasties were never ethnically or culturally homogenous. Every Chinese state has governed over at least some number of individuals who did not share the culture or spoken languages of the Sinitic groups. However, I think that it would be mistaken to state that the history of those individuals is Chinese history. Tibet is a clear and easy example for this. The territory of Tibet is included within the Modern People's Republic of China, yet when someone discusses Chinese history, early Tibetan state formation and the Yarlung dynasty only arise in conversation when the details concern major Chinese powers of the day. Things like the Yarlung dynasty lie firmly within the realm of Tibetan history, but this is complicated because Tibetan history and Chinese history have many points of contact. Furthermore, sometimes Chinese states actually expand enough to subsume the most of a non-Chinese group. So, Tibetan history from the 1950s to now is clearly a subsection of Chinese history.
The problem I have with this classification of Chinese (and one which I have with many "New Qing Historians") is that this is a modern linguistic based anthropological definition and not a contemporary definition that the Qing regime (or even traditional Confucian ideology) had. History should never be defined through modern classifications over contemporary ones or it becomes anachronistic. Traditional China were mostly concerned about the Hua-Yi identity, not whether a regime spoke a sinitic language and the Qing court was adamant that it fell on the Hua side of the identity rather than the Yi; it fact it would be blasphemous to have it be classified in another way. Not only did the Qing court associate with Zhongguo or Hua in traditional Confucian ideology, in Buddhist ideology, Chinese or Tibetan, the Qing identified with MahaChina, the Indian term for China, and in the Treaty of Nerchinsk and in the 19th century, with the idea of national sovereignty, the Qing also translated its own identity as Chinese Empire. The Qing did not view the Manchu language as something outside of a "Chinese" tradition, it viewed it as one language of China; Manchu: "dulimbai gurun i gisun".
To use an analogy, Christendom is composed of several different languages, but it doesn't mean states not speaking a Romance language is not part of this identity. The Chinese identity (Hua/Zhongguo) is like Christendom; a supra-ethnic identity with a doctrinal basis and a rough geographical boundary. Tibet is of a different tradition altogether and is not of the same situation as the Manchus.


Now, I would posit that sometimes Chinese history, as large and expansive as it was, was itself actually absorbed into different histories at certain historical times. The Mongol empire is the best example of this. In short, the history of the Mongol empire swallowed up the Chinese history of its day. Thus the Yuan dynasty is not a Chinese dynasty, it is a Mongol dynasty and it shows. The Mongols came from a place that everyone agrees is not and was not China, also when the Mongols came in they instituted new forms of statecraft and governance which radically departed from the Chinese bureaucratic model. The Mongols also viewed themselves as separate from the Chinese groups and the Yuan expanded far beyond the reaches of most Chinese states. However, the Mongols were not the first nor the last to subsume a part of Chinese history. In my view, the Khitans, the Jurchens, and the Manchus are all similar examples. I would like to openly state that this is not my idea and mainstream history refers to these as "conquest dynasties", but I have several problems with that term the first of which is the simple fact that almost no dynasty or empire has ever been formed without conquest or coercion at the very least. Regardless, it is my view that the 17th century Jurchens were a cluster non-Chinese groups that underwent an ethnogenesis and became Manchus. They also conquered China and set up the Qing dynasty with a Banner system, which clearly distinguished themselves from others. Yes, Mongols and Chinese individuals existed within the banners, but they were mostly kept within their own banner and bannerman of the Qing would have easily known to which banner they and others belonged. Furthermore, the Banner system is a counter to the Chinese bureaucracy. The Manchus knew the success and failures of previous dynasties like them such as the Mongols, and they actively worked to avoid those failures but did not always succeed.

I hope that my reasoning as to why I view the manchus as a non-Chinese dynasty is fairly clear, but unfortunately I still have many other issues to address so we continue with the question of identity and ethnicity.
This is more semantics. You are equating Chinese as Han, while the Manchus equated Chinese with Hua/Zhongguo; as does the present PRC.