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A Native Chieftaincy in Southwest China

Franchising a Tai Chieftaincy under the Tusi System of Late Imperial China

Jennifer Took

For nearly 700 years, the Chinese state exercised control over the minority peoples in its border provinces through the hereditary native chieftaincies (tusi). Utilizing fieldwork carried out by PRC authorities in the 1950s, this book investigates a Zhuang tusi in Guangxi. It explores the history and institutions of the tusi system, and discusses the dual quality of the tusi chieftaincy as a Chinese franchise and a non-Chinese polity. It describes the social structure, village administration and land tenure system of this tusi, the customary institutions of its ruling clan, and the impact of the replacement by direct Chinese rule in the 20th century. It also sheds light on the political management of the strategically sensitive Chinese-Vietnamese border over 600 years.