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In Education in China, ca. 1840–present Meimei Wang, Bas van Leeuwen and Jieli Li offer a description of the transformation of the Chinese education system from the traditional Confucian teaching system to a modern mode. In doing so, they touch on various debates about education such as the speed of the educational modernization around 1900, the role of female education, and the economic efficiency of education. This description is combined with relevant data stretching from the second half of 19th century to present collected mainly from statistical archives and contemporary investigations.
Documents from the Former Secret Soviet Archives
The collection of archival documents Karl Radek on China reflects the views of one of the major Soviet China specialists, activists of the Russian revolutionary movement, and leaders of the Trotskyist Opposition, Karl Bernhardovich Radek (1885-1939). The documents present an original conception of the history of China from ancient times to the twentieth century as well as a delineation of the fundamental political problems of China in the 1920s. The appendices contain letters from Trotsky to Radek as well as the 'Chronological Information' of Zinoviev and Trotsky, outlining the most important stages of the struggle of the United Left Opposition against the Stalinist majority in the AUCP(b) regarding problems of the Chinese revolution. None of the documents have ever been published in English.
Author: Ka-Chai Tam
In Justice in Print: Discovering Prefectural Judges and Their Judicial Consistency in Late-Ming Casebooks, Ka-chai Tam argues that the prefectural judge in the judiciary of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) became crucial to upholding justice in Chinese society.

In light of two late Ming casebooks, namely the Mengshui zhai cundu (盟水齋存牘)by Yan Junyan and the Zheyu xinyu (折獄新語) by Li Qing, Ka-chai Tam demonstrates that the late Ming judges handled their cases with a high level of consistency in judicial reasoning and practice in every type of case, despite their differing regions and literary styles. Equipped with relative institutional independence and growing professionalism, they played an indispensable role in checking and guaranteeing the legal performance of their subordinate magistrates.
Author: Eyal Aviv
In Differentiating the Pearl from the Fish-Eye, Eyal Aviv offers an account of Ouyang Jingwu (1871-1943), a leading intellectual who revived the Buddhist scholastic movement during the early Republican period in China.

Ouyang believed that authentic Indian Buddhism was an alternative to the prevalent Chinese Buddhist doctrines of his time. Aviv shows how Ouyang’s rhetoric of authenticity won the movement well-known admirers but also influential critics. This debate shaped modern intellectual history in China and has lost none of its relevancy today.

Abstract

China’s ancient tributary system not only served the vanity of the dynasty but had multiple political implications, closely tied to the dynasty’s national security. The Song dynasty’s [960-1279] notion of security followed an overall policy of guarding the dynasty against external threats, surrounding barbarian nations, and maintaining domestic order. The stability and eventual collapse of the tributary system were closely tied to the domestic security of the Song dynasty and to the security of all the countries that participated in the system. The system constituted a dynamic and interactive security community.

In: Journal of Chinese Humanities

Abstract

Throughout the history of East Asia, various polities in modern-day Korea, Japan, and Vietnam accepted investitures bestowed by the Chinese royal court. Many of these states also established their own vassal structures based on this tributary system. In light of this, it would be more accurate to describe the traditional international order of East Asia as a system of investitures and tributes, an “investiture-tribute system.” The significance of this system is the royal court being revered by its tributaries, which acknowledge it as the superior power. Looking at the vassal relationship between the Ming [1368-1644] and Qing [1644-1911] courts and the states of Joseon 朝鮮, Ryukyu 琉球, and Vietnam under various names, it is clear that the tributary system was a basic mechanism that facilitated bilateral trade, cultural exchange, border control, and judicial cooperation. Moreover, when vassal states encountered threats to their national security, the Chinese government assisted them with diplomatic and military resources befitting its position as the imperial court. Yet, although the tributary system enabled a relationship in which the royal court enjoyed a position of superiority and its vassal states an inferior one, none of the vassal states formed an alliance that revolved around the Chinese empire. Hence, in the near-modern period, the system struggled to contend with both the great world powers that made use of the treaty system and the expansion of Japan in East Asia.

In: Journal of Chinese Humanities
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities

Abstract

This article is not concerned with the history of aesthetics but, rather, is an exercise in intellectual history. “Illustrations of Tributary States” [Zhigong tu 職貢圖] as a type of art reveals a Chinese tradition of artistic representations of foreign emissaries paying tribute at the imperial court. This tradition is usually seen as going back to the “Illustrations of Tributary States,” painted by Emperor Yuan in the Liang dynasty 梁元帝 [r. 552-554] in the first half of the sixth century. This series of paintings not only had a lasting influence on aesthetic history but also gave rise to a highly distinctive intellectual tradition in the development of Chinese thought: images of foreign emissaries were used to convey the Celestial Empire’s sense of pride and self-confidence, with representations of strange customs from foreign countries serving as a foil for the image of China as a radiant universal empire at the center of the world. The tradition of “Illustrations of Tributary States” was still very much alive during the time of the Song dynasty [960-1279], when China had to compete with equally powerful neighboring states, the empire’s territory had been significantly diminished, and the Chinese population had become ethnically more homogeneous. In this article, the “Illustrations of the Tributary States of the Myriad Regions” [Wanfang zhigong tu 萬方職貢圖] attributed to Li Gonglin 李公麟 [ca. 1049-1106] and created during the period between the Xining 熙寧 [1068-1077] and Yuanfeng 元豐 [1078-1085] reigns of the Shenzong emperor 神宗 [r. 1067-1085] of the Song dynasty, is used as a case study for investigating the actual tributary relations between the Northern Song [960-1127] state and its neighboring countries. In doing so, I demonstrate that while certain parts of the “Illustrations of the Tributary States of the Myriad Regions” are historically accurate, a considerable portion of the content is the combined product of historical remembrance and the imagination of empire. In the international environment of the Song empire, China was captivated by the dream of being a universal empire envied by its “barbarian” neighbors. Particularly worth emphasizing is the fact that the artistic tradition of painting “Illustrations of Tributary States” as well as the accompanying idea of China as a universal empire continued well into the Qing [1644-1911] period, reflecting the historical longevity and lasting influence of the traditional conception of the relationship between China and the world.

In: Journal of Chinese Humanities

Abstract

The Hua-Yi 華夷 system that spread in East Asia in the form of tribute relationships during the Ming dynasty [1368-1644] began as a system based on China’s perceived cultural superiority, but slowly evolved into a system centered on nationalism. Accordingly, the kinship networks embedded in the Hua-Yi system were also continually evolving, breaking down, and reforming in a cycle that repeated itself multiple times. Amid this process, ethnocentrism [zi minzu zhongxin zhuyi 自民族中心主義] and “interest centralism” [liyi zhongxin zhuyi 利益中心主義] played key roles in the formation and eventual dissolution of the Hua-Yi system.

In: Journal of Chinese Humanities