This article re-examines the formation of the Qing state and its nature from a global perspective. It underscores the key roles of geopolitical setting and fiscal constitution in shaping the course of frontier expeditions and territorial expansions, unlike past studies that have centered on the dynasty’s administrative institutions and the ruling elites’ ideologies or lifestyles to defend or question the thesis of “Sinicization” in Qing historiography. This study demonstrates the different motivations and varying strategies behind the Qing dynasty’s two waves of military conquests, which lasted until the 1750s, and explains how the Qing state’s peculiar geopolitical interests and the low-level equilibrium in its fiscal constitution shaped the “cycles” in its military operations and frontier building. The article ends by comparing the Qing with early modern European states and the Ottoman empire to discuss its vulnerability as well as resilience in the transition to modern sovereign statehood in the nineteenth century.
Since its founding, the government of the People's Republic of China has strived to transform rural production, the theme of this volume of History of Contemporary China. Fourteen articles translated from the Chinese journal Contemporary History (Dangdai Zhongguo shi yanjiu) offer both empirical account and theoretical analysis of a broad range of historical events and issues, such as the guiding policy framework of the “three rural issues,” the causes and consequences of the deep plowing movement and the development of public canteens during the Great Leap Forward, child care, enterprises and collectives, and private lending in the post-Mao era, and the changing dynamics of interregional flows of goods and people throughout the second half of the 20th century. These studies shed light on the historical origins of some of the agricultural and rural problems in China today.