Friday, April 4, 2014

Where Chinese Rule Is Wrong

The title of this may be a bit confusing. As a monarchist, I find everything about the rule of communist China (or “communist” China) wrong but what I am talking about here specifically is the controversy about certain areas that are currently ruled by the People’s Bandit Republic of China which that regime has absolutely no right to. The most prominent of these areas, certainly in the west and which probably has the highest profile worldwide, is Tibet. Why is there a dispute over the Chinese rule of Tibet? Why is this the only dispute most people have heard about? More people know about Tibet mostly because the Tibetan exile community has elements in many countries and because of the inspirational leadership of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama who so many people around the world have come to respect and admire for his compassion and devotion to peace. The bandit regime in Peking has absolutely no right to Tibet but it also has no right to some other areas most people do not think about such as Manchuria (now called simply the northeast as part of the program, sadly mostly successful by this point, to eradicate Manchuria from existence) and Mongolia. Now, as most probably know, China does not rule Mongolia which is an independent country though teetering between dependence on China and Russia. However, the communists in Peking have claimed it in the past and the Republic of China, on Taiwan, which still maintains a claim to rule the whole of mainland China, also still, technically, include Mongolia in that claim. So, why all the confusion?

Song Empire
Basically, it all goes back to the last time China had a monarchy and the efforts by the republicans and communist bandits to claim the entire legacy of traditional, imperial China as their own. Save, perhaps, for the period when China was part of the Mongol Yuan Empire, the place most in the world think of as China reached its greatest height under the Manchu emperors of the Great Qing Dynasty. The borders that existed at the height of the Great Qing Empire are the borders the communists in Peking would most like to see restored. The problem with that is that those were the borders of the Great Qing Empire and not really the borders of China. Confused yet? It can seem quite complicated so pay close attention and we will try to take this one step at a time. What most of the world calls “China” is, of course, not a Chinese term but is a western term. The Chinese never called their country “China” in all of their multi-thousand year history prior to the revolution. This area was referred to as “the Middle Kingdom” which can itself be a bit confusing since this referred not only to China proper but actually meant the entire world; everything above the underworld and below Heaven -the “Middle Kingdom”. The ruler of China was considered, in traditional Chinese political philosophy, to be the ruler of the entire world it was only that some remote, barbarian peoples on the edges of the earth were too ignorant to understand this. It was a way of thinking which must be kept in mind when considering how China interacted with foreign powers and why the communists today seize on this interaction to justify their claims for more territory.

Traditionally, Chinese rulers would not deal with any outsider unless they presented themselves as a supplicant and recognized or at least pretended to recognize the Chinese Emperor as their superior. This attitude persisted for almost the entirety of Chinese history. For example, when China and Japan first established diplomatic relations things got off to a bad start as the message from the Emperor of Japan to the Emperor of China was addressed as ‘from the land where the sun rises to the land where the sun sets’ referring to Japan being to the east of China. However, the Chinese took this as being extremely rude and offensive as they saw it as implying that the Emperor of Japan was the equal of the Emperor of China. Move forward many, many centuries in time and we can see again the case of the first British diplomatic mission to China which ran into a considerable obstacle over the refusal of the British ambassador to present himself as a subject and kowtow before the Manchu Emperor, getting down on both knees and touching his forehead to the floor. Today, the Chinese Communist kleptocracy claims that any ruler or representative of a ruler who recognized the Chinese Emperor as his superior or overlord in this fashion was effectively making his country a part of China when, as we can see, this would apply to almost every foreign ruler or dignitary any Chinese Emperor ever met because they would not deal with anyone unless they assumed such a posture.

Viet envoys to Qing court in China
This situation is further complicated by the fact that not all such tributaries were of equal status. The Emperor in China might have more or less influence in one of the other but none were directly under Chinese rule or were considered a part of China. As early as the Tang Dynasty, for example, the kingdoms in what is now Korea were nominal vassals of the Tang Emperor but retained their own rulers. Under the Ming Dynasty, the unified Kingdom of Korea was likewise a vassal of the Ming Emperor or, in terms more familiar to westerners perhaps, a Chinese protectorate. So, when Japan invaded Korea in 1592 the Ming Emperor sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops to defend (or in this case re-take) Korea. However, the King of Korea was still the local authority and Korea was never considered a part of China itself. Similarly, there were periods when Chinese Emperors ruled Vietnam but they were invariably driven out. However, every time this occurred, almost immediately, the victorious Vietnamese dynasty would send envoys to Peking to present themselves as the vassals of the Emperor in China and to request his ‘seal of approval’ on their government. The Chinese did not rule Vietnam and, in fact, inside Vietnam the monarch was often referred to as the ‘Emperor’ while he was referred to as ‘King’ when dealing with the ruler of China. It was a way to keep the peace by allowing the Emperor in China to save face, being treated as the superior while in fact the local Vietnamese monarch actually ruled the country. Again, this was rather like a protectorate as when the last Le dynasty emperor was overthrown, he called on China to restore him and this situation endured until the Sino-French War.

Obviously, no one today would consider Korea or Vietnam to be a part of China nor any of the other neighboring countries which paid tribute to the Chinese Emperor. Problems, and confusion, arise partly because of the different understanding of what makes a country. As stated earlier, the Chinese did not view their country as “China” in the same way that foreigners viewed their own countries. When the Chinese referred to their country, when not referring to it as the broader “Middle Kingdom” the Chinese always referred to the dynasty so that the country was whatever territory the Emperor had under his direct control which might have included most, some or even relatively little of what is labeled as China on maps of today. So, rather than saying “China” the Chinese would refer to their country, under the Ming Dynasty for example, as the “Great Ming Empire” (Ta Ming Kuo) and then as the “Great Qing Empire” (Ta Qing Kuo) under the Manchurian dynasty. The Ming Empire, for example, included all of “China” which is to say the historic lands sometimes referred to (somewhat oddly) as “China proper” but did not include Tibet, Mongolia or Manchuria though parts of southern Manchuria and southern Mongolia were under Ming rule for a relatively short time. Today, what the Chinese government likes to claim is that territory which was part of the Great Qing Empire at its height, which included Tibet, Mongolia and Manchuria (obviously, as the Qing Dynasty was the native dynasty of Manchuria) as well as smaller parts of various neighboring powers.

Emperor Nurhaqi of Manchuria
The absurdity of this can, perhaps, best be illustrated by skipping backward, over the Ming Dynasty, to the Yuan Dynasty. As regular readers will know, the Yuan Dynasty was the Mongolian dynasty and refers to that period when China was part of the vast Mongol Empire founded by Genghis Khan with his grandson Kublai Khan being counted as the first Yuan Emperor as it was he who conquered the remainder of China itself; what had been the southern Song Dynasty. What was directly under the rule of the Yuan Emperors was restricted to basically the east Asian mainland north of Vietnam, extending all the way into Siberia. However, the wider Mongol Empire stretched all the way to well inside Eastern Europe. For China today to claim Tibet or Manchuria as being a part of China because all were part of the Qing Empire would be just as absurd as claiming that Siberia is a part of China because it was part of the Yuan Empire. Any claim to Mongolia is just as silly. No Chinese Emperor, meaning an Emperor of the Han nationality from “China proper” ever ruled all of Mongolia or Manchuria but under the Yuan and Qing Dynasties the Mongol and later Manchu Emperors did rule all of China. To put it another way, Mongolia nor Manchuria were ever a part of China but China was, in a manner of speaking, a part of Mongolia and Manchuria during those eras when the Mongol and Manchu Emperors ruled China.

This is the history: When the Ming Empire was in its final days the Qing Dynasty was already well established as the leaders of the Empire of Manchuria. The Manchu Emperor formed an alliance with the Mongols and was granted sovereignty over them when the son of Ligden Khan (last Mongol Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty that had previously ruled most of Asia) handed the imperial seal over to the Manchu Emperor Hong Taiji, who was himself the son of the first Qing Emperor Nurhaqi. Thus Hong Taiji became Emperor of Manchuria and Great Khan of Mongolia. Meanwhile, to the south, the Ming Empire was coming apart. In 1644 Peking was taken by the rebel army of Li Zicheng with the last Ming Emperor, Chongzhen, committing suicide. Li Zicheng proclaimed himself the master of a new Shun Dynasty but a combined force of Chinese, Manchu and Mongol troops ousted him and he disappeared, making the Manchu Emperor Shunzhi the ruler of China, having dispatched an illegitimate usurper and restoring peace and order to China, which became part of the Great Qing Empire -an empire that already existed in Manchuria and Mongolia. Emperor Shunzhi also received an official visit by His Holiness the “Great Fifth” Dalai Lama. The Qing emperors had been protectors of the Tibetan style of Buddhism since the reign of Nurhaqi and, of course, there were deep ties between Mongolia and Tibet with the Mongols having helped establish the Dalai Lamas in the first place and with the Dalai Lamas holding spiritual authority over Mongolia as well as Tibet.

Emperor KangXi of the Great Qing
As we have seen, Mongolia and Manchuria were independent countries which came to share a monarch and then that monarch was also recognized as the ruler of China, holding the Mandate of Heaven. China never conquered or annexed Manchuria and Mongolia, in fact, what happened was closer to the reverse of that. In the same way, it is important to note that when the Great Fifth visiting Peking it was as one sovereign visiting another. His successor, was overthrown and in the ensuing chaos the Qing Emperor Kangxi sent troops to see order restored and the legitimate Dalai Lama secured on his throne. It was at that point and only at that point that the Kingdom of Tibet was declared a protectorate of the Great Qing Empire. That, of course, did not make Tibet a part of China. The Dalai Lama remained the ruler of Tibet with the only change being that two Qing commissioners and a small military force were stationed there and, in the future, Tibet did call on the Qing Empire for assistance in times of crisis. For those who claim that Tibet has “always” been a part of China, one would have to ask why there were no representatives from Peking there in the first place. Why is mention made of the annexation of Tibetan border territories to Chinese provinces if Tibet was entirely part of China already? Obviously, this is nonsense. Tibet was an independent country and it was only when neighboring countries invaded Tibet and Qing troops were sent in to defend the place that Qing Imperial influence was most felt in the aftermath.

Hopefully, this has made clear the absurdity of the Republic of China (and more so the People’s Republic of China) claiming Tibet, Mongolia and Manchuria to have “always” been a part of China. When the revolution occurred, Manchuria naturally had no part in it and Mongolia and Tibet were both quick to make clear to the rest of the world that they were independent, issuing joint declarations to that effect. This was because their association with China was based solely on their relationship with the Qing Emperor and not the country of China itself. Once the Manchu Emperor was deprived of his throne, all deals were off. That independence was temporarily retained for Tibet, remaining independent until communist Chinese troops conquered the country in 1951. Mongolia (or at least Outer Mongolia) remains independent to this day though it was certainly not an easy achievement. Manchuria became, effectively, a warlord “monarchy” ruled by a warlord father and son in succession while they offered nominal allegiance to the Republic of China. All of that changed when the Japanese occupied Manchuria and in 1932 independence was declared for the State of Manchuria, later to be fully restored as the Empire of Manchuria. That, of course, is what should have happened from the beginning and some Chinese officials even admitted as much.

Empire of Manchuria
There was no justification for the Han Chinese to think they were somehow entitled to Manchuria just because China and Manchuria had been part of the same empire. As soon as the Qing Emperor was forced to abdicate in Peking, he should have been able to immediately withdraw to the old Qing Imperial Palace in Mukden and continue to rule over Manchuria as his ancestors had done before accepting the allegiance of the Chinese. For China to claim Manchuria as part of their own national territory would be as absurd as the United States, after winning the Revolutionary War, claiming Great Britain and Ireland to be American territory just because both had previously been part of the same empire. That being so, when the polyglot army of Baron von Ungern-Sternberg drove the Chinese out of Mongolia in 1921, he was expelling invaders and restoring the country to its only available legitimate leader. Likewise, when the Japanese restored the last Qing Emperor to the throne of Manchuria they were correcting a gross historical injustice and when the Soviets (in total violation of their pledged word) invaded and destroyed that empire and handed it over to China again, they were essentially giving recovered property back to the thieves. In the same way, if by some chance the Dalai Lama is ever restored to the Potala Palace in Tibet, it will be correcting a horrible injustice. When the republicans, and certainly the communists, took over China, they turned their back on and even attempted to destroy all that had gone before them and the legacy of the emperors in particular. It is the height of hypocrisy to then attempt to claim those borders which only existed because of the emperors as their own inheritance.


  1. The Han aren't concerned with reality & a commonsense historical record.

  2. I remember this Chinese student at my university who was here to write his PhD-thesis in history. Most of his essays were about territories having "belonged" to China in the past and why they should be given back to Red China today. Needless to say, he was a member of the communist party. He was even granted a scholarship payed for by the German taxpayer. At least he did not pass the final exams. Nevertheless, as far as I know, he now teaches at a university in China...

    1. It's completely ridiculous and doesn't take much intelligence to see the truth. Z.B. if, as the revolutionaries said, the Manchu dynasty were foreign rulers, how could Manchuria be part of China? Or, if, as they claim, Tibet was a horribly oppressed country before the Commies "liberated" them, why was it any different than the rest of China if it was just as much part of China as any ordinary Chinese province?

  3. Well, the idea behind it isn’t that bad, really. Perhaps Bavaria should claim every country formerly ruled by a Wittelsbach prince. Imagine Greater Bavaria from Sweden over Holland and Brandenburg to Tyrol and Greece… Wouldn't that be something?

  4. there is no free manchuria because kangxi went to great lengths to legitimize qing rule by emphasizing that china has always been a multiethnic empire and the manchu, as one of the ethnicities, have just as much of a right to rule china as han chinese. then a few emperors later, they permitted han migration into manchuria and legalized han-manchu marriages, to the point where manchus became a small minority in their own homeland. seems like the manchu ruling class didn't care much for their homeland to allow it to happen. puyi couldn't retreat to manchuria and rule there because by the time he abdicated, manchuria was 90 percent han occupied. so, i guess the tradeoff, if you choose to see it this way, is that the manchus traded their land for the right to rule over china for 300 years.

    love your blog, keep up the good work.


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