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Brian P. Walsh

Over the years, there has been a great deal of debate about whether the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the Soviet Union’s entrance into World War ii against Japan was a more decisive factor in bringing about a Japanese surrender. This debate often has focused on the days between the bombing of Hiroshima (6 August 1945) and the Soviet declaration of war (first learned in Japan on 9 August 1945) and whether there is convincing evidence of Tokyo moving toward surrender during this time period. To date, this debate in general has not touched on the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s order to destroy its documents, though it issued the directive on 7 August 1945. This research note assesses the importance of this document, concluding that its contents suggest that the atomic bombing prompted Japan’s Foreign Ministry to take concrete actions anticipating an end to Japanese belligerence.

Daniel Immerwahr

The Ugly American, published in 1958, was a literary blockbuster that offered a powerful vision of how the United States should fight communism in Asia. Yet despite the textual simplicity of the novel, it had a complex and layered backstory. Its characters were not wholly fictional but were based on real-life models, whose work in Asia laid the backdrop for the novel’s vignettes. Adding an additional layer of complexity, two of those models lived covert lives—one as a closeted gay man working with the Central Intelligence Agency (cia), another as a cia officer tasked with putting down peasant insurgencies—that belied their public images.

Joseph M. Henning

British journalist Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asia (1879), a book-length, blank-verse poem about the life of Siddhārtha Gautama, triggered an extensive American fascination with Buddhism. Arnold’s sympathetic portrayal of the Buddha enjoyed great popularity in Britain but attracted even more admirers in the United States, where Americans bought dozens of editions. The poem’s popularity, however, also provoked a backlash. While it attracted many Gilded Age Americans, it repelled others who attacked Arnold as a “paganizer.” His success in the United States dismayed Protestant missionaries in East Asia (especially China and Japan) and clergy at home just as they were laboring to spread Christianity abroad. The recognition that “heathenism” was tempting their compatriots came as a shock. The claim that Buddhism offered enlightenment disturbed missionaries and clergy, who attacked it as “a light that does not illumine.” Arnold’s poem triggered a vigorous public discussion of the merits of Buddhism and Christianity. This debate made manifest the spiritual confidence of some Gilded Age Americans and the spiritual uncertainties that beset others regarding the relationships among Buddhism, Christianity, salvation, and civilization.

Liu Yingsheng

The first section of this article begins by investigating the term “going down to the Western Oceans” (xia xiyang 下西洋), which was used as early as the time of Zheng He. It also discusses the origin of the concepts of the Eastern and Western Oceans. The second section discusses the influx of overseas geographical knowledge into China before the time of Zheng He, especially over two important periods: first, the coming of Indian geographical knowledge along with Buddhism to China from the Wei-Jin period (220–420 ce), and second, the advent of Islamic geographical knowledge during the Mongol-Yuan period (ca. 1206–1368). The third section discusses the contributions of foreign members in Zheng He’s fleet, especially fanhuozhang 番火長 (foreign pilot). Through an analysis of the records of three military encounters—the suppression of the pirate Chen Zuyi 陳祖義, the attack on Ceylon, and the battle with pirates on a return journey—we find that the term fanhuozhang appears in all three cases, showing that foreign experts were commonly present in all branches or segments of Zheng He’s fleet, and that it must have been their job to navigate in the Indian ocean portion of the journey. Based on these findings, the author suggests that even before the beginning of Ming, Chinese people had developed an understanding of navigation technology and absorbed expertise from other peoples, and that this knowledge formed the technological foundation of Zheng He’s long-distance voyages, evident of the fact that China’s ancient navigational technology was an open knowledge system.

Zhongping Chen

Using newly developed concepts of network theory, this paper tries to advance the theoretical analysis of Zheng He’s seven epic voyages across the Indian Ocean between 1405 and 1433, and to resolve some long-debated key issues on the subject. It also attempts to reveal how Zheng He helped change Sino-foreign relations in the early fifteenth century by developing tribute-trade networks overseas, and thereby influenced the history of China, the Indian Ocean region, and globalization in general. An examination of the primary sources from the network perspective indicates that the development of tribute-trade relations overseas made up the primary purpose, major activities and enduring historical legacies of Zheng He’s voyages. Zheng He initiated the construction of overseas bases for navigation and trade, and thus greatly promoted the institutionalization and expansion of tribute-trade relations between China and the Indian Ocean world. Both the tribute and trade networks contracted after Zheng He’s voyages ended because of their failure to diversify beyond state-monopolized diplomacy and trade. But their development in the early fifteenth century and their continuity thereafter brought China and Indian Ocean countries into unprecedented interactions. The dual networks also provided a foundation for the European “geographic discoveries” in the Indian Ocean later on, for the early contact between China and the West and ultimately for the globalization of the modern world. Therefore, a network analysis of Zheng He’s voyages and the subsequent tribute-trade relations between China and the Indian Ocean world can refine the current theoretical paradigms and narrative frameworks of world history, which are still centered on the rise and expansion of modern Europe and the West. It also reveals how such non-Western historical movements and premodern tribute-trade relations exerted influence on a global network revolution, which linked the old and new worlds through an unprecedented level of relational institutionalization, expansion, diversification and interactions between varied network members in global history.