Why did China never invade Japan?

Dec 2015
339
NYC
Wow, a four year old thread. But i'll answer to this thread anyways.

China never invaded Japan, because one, China is a much older civilization than Japan and much of Japanese culture is heavily influenced by China during the Tang dynasty. Two, there's nothing in Japan for China, as it's basically an isolated island with not that much resources, and much of Chinese trade took place either on the silk route or through maritime trade in Southern China. By that time, China already controlled a large territory that provided China all the resources they needed to sustain their civilization.

When you said "Considering all their strengths a vast empire in China should have easily made mincemeat of Japan yet they made Japan look like the most invincible army in the world. I am surprised Japan was never annexed by a Chinese empire. Why?". First of all, this was a totally different time periods. This was all at a time when Japan was adapting Western European technology and modernizing it's society while China was too weakened with all the civil wars and Westerners basically controlling China's economy at that time, leaving China poor, backwards and unable to modernize. Japan never annexed China because it can't. It's too large and too ethnically unified to be fully conquered. Even if the Japanese could when China could barely stand, it would have taken them years to conquer all of China from Manchuria to Xinjiang and would have taken a heavy toll on Japanese economy anyways.
 
Jun 2013
201
ca
ri: age of cultures is irrelevant for invasions
also, china's size did not prevent the mongols or manchus from taking it over. thus, size per se is also irrelevant
 
Feb 2017
313
Latin America
ri: age of cultures is irrelevant for invasions
also, china's size did not prevent the mongols or manchus from taking it over. thus, size per se is also irrelevant
The Manchus are pretty much the only case where this is true. The Mongols first conquered states that were about their size (the Xi Xia and Jin were smaller territorially and only about five times bigger in terms of population), and that was before they set on conquering the Khwarezmian Empire. It was only after conquering northern China, Central Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, when the Mongol Empire was about 15 million square kilometres, that they finally conquered the rest of China.
 
Dec 2015
339
NYC
ri: age of cultures is irrelevant for invasions
also, china's size did not prevent the mongols or manchus from taking it over. thus, size per se is also irrelevant
Mongols and Manchus conquering China is very different from how Japanese tried to conquer China. Please don't compare.

Mongols and Manchus had two things on their side: horses and the local Han population that sided with the Mongols and Manchus. Both invaded from the North, which is more open and perfect for nomadic incursions, and it took them years to finally fully conquer the south, only with the help of local collaborators who despised the corrupt Song. In the end however, both the Mongols and Manchu assimilated into Chinese culture, adopted Chinese law and gained the support of the population until the end of their reign.

Japanese had modernized weapons with aircrafts, tanks and naval power that required natural resources, and it only got them as far as Manchuria, the North China plain and some coastal cities around the Southeast and Yangtze. They were never able to advance west of Shanxi, west of Hubei, and never really conquered the interior South. Their logistics were strained and were taking a toll on their resources. The only collaborators on the Japanese side were from Manchuria, which was already a puppet state before the Japanese invasion, but aside from that, they never really gained any supporters from the Chinese side and only united the people when the Japanese were committing large scale atrocities throughout occupied areas. China at that time despised foreigners and Japanese were seen in the same light as Westerners.

Yes, age of cultures is important for the development of societies. An advanced society can take over a relatively weak and underdeveloped society, but another advanced society can only be taken over given the right circumstances.
 
Feb 2017
313
Latin America
Yes, age of cultures is important for the development of societies. An advanced society can take over a relatively weak and underdeveloped society, but another advanced society can only be taken over given the right circumstances.
All "advanced societies" started as "underdeveloped", and supposedly "underdeveloped" societies conquer supposedly "developed" ones all the time in history, so your point about them being only taken "given the right circumstances" is so moot to the point of practically being wrong.
 
Nov 2019
53
Solar System
The Manchus are pretty much the only case where this is true. The Mongols first conquered states that were about their size (the Xi Xia and Jin were smaller territorially and only about five times bigger in terms of population), and that was before they set on conquering the Khwarezmian Empire. It was only after conquering northern China, Central Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, when the Mongol Empire was about 15 million square kilometres, that they finally conquered the rest of China.
Xixia was a small state, but Jin was not. Jin was as large as the early Mongol empire, if not slightly larger. Its territory stretched from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Huai River and Qinling Mountains in Central China.

The Song was a small state in comparison. It was only after the Mongols finished with the rest of Eurasia that they started to concentrate all their forces on the Song. The Song, despite the odds, still resisted for a few decades. Hence, their defeat shouldn't be seen as the small Mongols defeating the weak and large China, but as the weak and small Southern China resisting an extremely powerful Eurasian empire for decades.
 
Feb 2017
313
Latin America
Xixia was a small state, but Jin was not. Jin was as large as the early Mongol empire, if not slightly larger. Its territory stretched from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Huai River and Qinling Mountains in Central China.
I didn't say they were small states, I said they were about the size of Genghis's Mongolia, which was not a small state by any means, since it ruled not just all of current Mongolia but also extending well north over Lake Baikal into modern Russian territory. The early Mongol state was the size of Mexico basically.
 
Dec 2015
339
NYC
All "advanced societies" started as "underdeveloped", and supposedly "underdeveloped" societies conquer supposedly "developed" ones all the time in history, so your point about them being only taken "given the right circumstances" is so moot to the point of practically being wrong.
The Mongols at the time of the Song Dynasty were not "underdeveloped". The point was that, in general, a relatively developed society (one with technological advancements and stable government/economic system) is able to conquer or invade a relatively undeveloped society (one that is not technologically advanced and a not so developed government/economic system), while the other way around, an undeveloped society is only able to conquer/invade a more developed society only if the cards were right.
 
Feb 2017
313
Latin America
The Mongols at the time of the Song Dynasty were not "underdeveloped". The point was that, in general, a relatively developed society (one with technological advancements and stable government/economic system) is able to conquer or invade a relatively undeveloped society (one that is not technologically advanced and a not so developed government/economic system), while the other way around, an undeveloped society is only able to conquer/invade a more developed society only if the cards were right.
Yes I know what your point is. What I'm saying is that it is extremely moot because we see "underdeveloped" societies conquer "developed" ones all the time in history.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,739
Florania
The Mongols at the time of the Song Dynasty were not "underdeveloped". The point was that, in general, a relatively developed society (one with technological advancements and stable government/economic system) is able to conquer or invade a relatively undeveloped society (one that is not technologically advanced and a not so developed government/economic system), while the other way around, an undeveloped society is only able to conquer/invade a more developed society only if the cards were right.
One thing to mention:
The Mongolian system at the time was more efficient and effective (militarily) than the cumbersome Jin, Xixia, and Song system at the time.
Especially the Song Dynasty; in spite of its huge population and financial resources, it failed to develop a formidable military force.
Note that Cantonese and other Southern Chinese were as "mellow" as typical Yangtze Chinese.
Why did the Khwarazmian Dynasty crumble before Mongolian forces?
Note that Mongolians were halted in the Second Mongol invasion of Hungary and Third Mongol invasion of Poland.
Wang Renyu once mentioned that prior the Industrial Revolution, states could not excel in both army and navy in his Chinese Macrohistory.
Note that Napoleon had a sizable yet inept navy.

Now, back to why China never invaded Japan:
Mongolians (or the Yuan Dynasty to be exact) invaded Japan twice and were repelled, and it was notably that Mongolian expansions were
halted on European, Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Indian fronts.
The Chinese might be knowledgeable about Japan; then, what existed in Japan might render conquest desirable?