Kublai Khan: China's favourite barbarian

Discussion in 'China' started by Ray, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Kublai Khan: China's favourite barbarian


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    China has a love-hate relationship with what is foreign. Traditionally all people beyond the Great Wall were barbarians - only part human. But invaders have sometimes been welcomed, in time, into the Chinese family. One was Kublai Khan.

    In the 13th Century, no-one knew how big the world was so it was not so wild for the Mongols to set off from the grassland with the idea that they were going to conquer all of it.

    When the mighty Genghis Khan died in 1227, he had already claimed an empire stretching from the Pacific to Europe. His grandson Kublai set out to finish the job, and started by moving south to attack China's Song dynasty.

    But China had been a united empire on and off for more than 1,000 years. So what did the Song dynasty rulers make of Kublai's ambition?

    "For the Song, it would been absolutely inconceivable that the Mongols could take over the whole of China," says John Man, author of a biography of Kublai Khan.

    "It would have been like, I don't know, the Picts taking over the Roman Empire or the Sioux in North America taking over the whole of Canada and the United States - inconceivable. So when it actually happened, the shock was catastrophic."

    The child emperor committed suicide. So did many loyal officials and their families.

    Over centuries, the Chinese had got used to regarding themselves as THE world civilisation, and now this civilisation was at the mercy of people they viewed as barbarians.

    "Barbarians are these people who are not Chinese - savages, hovering between human and some kind of beast," says Xun Zhou, a historian at Hong Kong University.

    She points out that unease about the barbarian or foreign devil is embedded in Chinese writing. Part of the character used to refer to them is the one used for animals.

    "These people looked different. And that difference proposed a problem," says Xun Zhou. "For China, they don't really know how they should react to these people."

    Mongol pleasures included wrestling, fermented mare's milk and throat singing, where the singer sings chords instead of single notes.

    All very different from the southern Chinese elites who wore exquisite silks, admired each other's poetry and went to art exhibitions. They paid armies to do the fighting.

    Kublai was hugely outnumbered. The Song dynasty was a "a monumental culture" of 70 million people, says Man, and 10 to 100 times stronger in military terms.

    The Mongols had to be clever. One major battle took place at Xiangyang, a city with impenetrable walls dominating the Han River, a tributary of the Yangtze.



    Having a porous sense of what is Chinese is itself part of the Chinese tradition”

    "This turned into a sort of a mini Troy," says Man.

    "The siege went on for five years. The Chinese could not break out, the Mongols could not break in. There were countless attempts to sneak in, to break in, to break out - all foiled. So there had to be some sort of a new initiative, and the initiative was suggested by the empire itself."

    The Mongol empire, that is.

    Kublai's relatives ruled all the way to Eastern Europe and he had heard of great catapults the Christians had used during the Crusades. He summoned two Persian engineers, who built the equivalent of heavy artillery - a catapult that could sling 100kg (220lb) of rock over 200m-300m (650ft - 1,000ft).

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    After a few shots to get the range, it brought down a mighty tower in a cloud of dust. The capture of the city allowed the Mongol fleets access to southern China which, for the first time, was taken by barbarians.

    Kublai, in fact, ruled over all of present-day China. Yunnan in the south-west bordering Vietnam and Burma, Xinjiang stretching into central Asia, and of course Tibet. It is paradoxical that the country owes its enormous size to invaders with expansionist ambitions.

    Kublai's capital was Beijing. The city today goes on putting up scaffolding and high-rises. But it was Kublai who gave it its first big makeover.

    He gave his dynasty a Chinese name, Yuan, and he ruled through a Chinese civil service. Chinese history has returned the compliment by absorbing the Mongol dynasty into its own imperial story - and absorbing part of Mongolia itself into the Chinese state.

    Today the Mongolians form one of China's 56 ethnic groups, along with Tibetans, Uighurs and the dominant Han.

    Having a porous sense of what is Chinese is itself part of the Chinese tradition.

    The same applies to innovations the barbarians brought with them and which China found useful. Chinese medicine absorbed Islamic medicine, points out Xun, "but they never talk about it".

    Galloping as they did from one end of Eurasia to the other, the Mongols had picked up plenty of useful novelties.

    "They introduced buttons," says Verity Wilson, an expert on Chinese clothes and textiles.

    "Prior to this time, men and women had always closed their robes with some sort of belt. But, the Yuan dynasty is credited with bringing to China the toggle-and-loop button, which now today we just call Chinese. It's a real marker of Chinese dress that they're closed with these toggle-and-loop buttons. But they didn't really come in until the Yuan dynasty."

    This process of assimilation has continued ever since. Chillies are a later example, arriving from the New World in the Ming dynasty of the 15th and 16th centuries.

    "But now they've been absolutely incorporated into the Chinese way of life, and we can't really think about Chinese cooking without chillies," says Wilson.

    "And the other thing we think about is teapots. Teapots have very much become an item associated with China. But pre-Ming dynasty, there were no teapots in China. So I think all those things which we take to be quintessentially Chinese have actually been absorbed by the Chinese from other cultures."

    The arrival of the bicycle some 500 years later was initially greeted with scorn.

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    To begin with, it was only so-called "foreign devils" who rode them. No self-respecting Chinese gentleman - and even less a woman - would be seen sweating under their own locomotion. But soon it would become the Chinese worker's vehicle of choice.

    Just 50 years ago, if a Chinese had declared a preference for American food, it might have cost them their liberty, if not their life. China rid itself of Japanese occupation at the end of World War II and the communists had thrown out Westerners after 1949. Soon, even the Soviets were sent packing.

    It was part of the party's narrative of a united China standing up to foreign aggressors.

    But by the 1980s, foreigners were being welcomed back. Which is why, 20 years ago, I attended the opening of the first McDonald's restaurant in Beijing. Now it feels as if there is American fast food or coffee on every corner.

    In some ways, today's penetration of foreign products - American fast food, German cars and Japanese electronics - mirrors that of a century ago when the colonial powers had forced open Chinese ports to trade. The difference is that this time it is at China's invitation.

    Kublai's own dream of world domination would never be realised. Twice he launched an armada against Japan, the largest the world had ever seen or would ever see again until the Allied invasion of Europe 700 years later. And twice his navy was scattered by what the Japanese called their kamikaze, or "divine wind".

    The Mongol dream of world conquest sank with Kublai's ships.

    "He became old, he became fat, he became ill. His only son and heir died, his wife died, and he himself died in 1294 and left this part of the empire to his heirs, and none of them matched him in competence," says Man.

    "So 80 years later, they were chased out in a revolution and went back to the grassland from which they originally emerged."

    The revolution put a home-grown emperor on the throne, but only until the next foreign dynasty which again brought China new territory and ideas.

    The very last emperor of all loved bicycles, by the way. He is said to have removed doorstops in the Forbidden City so that he could cycle around, but that is another story. The point I want to make is that there is complicated history around what is Chinese… and what is not.


    BBC News - Kublai Khan: China's favourite barbarian

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    Note how the Chinese call all non Hans as barbarians and they say that I say it!!!!!

    Let this be another nail in the coffin of their lies.

    Note what Kublai Khan had as his Empire.

    Even though he was taken to be a barbarian and non Han, the Chinese will now use him and his exploits of expansionism as the Chinese justification to marauding around and grab territories!

    Vety convenient to embrace the non Han barbarian and call him their own to suit Chinese Han imperialism and expansionism.
     
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  3. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Samuel Taylor Coleridge
     
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  4. mikhail

    mikhail Senior Member Senior Member

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    kublai khan may had been a mongol horde leader but he was not a barbarian as some people may think of him!:frusty:if we look carefully at the administrative,judicial,social and economic conditions during his rule we would see that the man was not only a great administrator but also a great economist and a far-sighted leader who not only kept his father's empire intact but also extended it to a consideraable extent covering nearly all of china and some parts of korea
     
  5. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    In history, Chinese did not call any non hans as barbarians. They called those who don't apply Chinese culture (Confucian) as barbarians. Bearing this in mind, China was a cultrural centralised civilization.

    If you don't know the basic knowledge, how can you tell what is the truth.

    The reason that his empire was regarded as a part of China's history is he re-create his empire based Chinese culture and political tradition:
    1. He claimed his crown in Chinese area instead of Mongal territory, which was seriously against Mongalia's principle!
    2. He abandoned Mongalia traditional political system and copied Chinese bureaucratic system;
    3. He publicly claimed his inheritance of Chinese political tradition;
    4. Most importantly, he put his empire under the rule of confucian;

    And another thing you got wrong is that Chinese doesn't use Yun's history as the justification. They use Qing!
     
  6. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    My favourite "barbarian" (also one of our ancestors)

    Aisin Gioro Nurhachi
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  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I take it that you would know more about Chinese culture and history than Xun Zhou, a historian at Hong Kong University.

    Note what Xun Zhou has to say and the person is a practising professor of history in Hong Kong.

    Further, it is not that Xun Zhou, a historian at Hong Kong University alone who has given this view.

    This may also interest you.

    One understands your attempts at contrived explanation and doing down any scholar, even of Chinese origin, if it does not conform to what has been exposed to you. In a country where the ‘news’ is called xuan chuan meaning ‘propaganda’ and the ‘media’ is called hou she or throat and tongue of the Govt, it is not surprising to observe the comments as is generally given whenever issue not quite in line with the Govt views or what has been taught as the ‘truth’.





    Sadly, I do have the basic knowledge, though it is not for me to state what is true. I leave it to the scholars and they seem to arrive at a conclusion that non Hans were called ‘barbarians’ till they adopted the Han culture and that the Hans thought they were the sole authority having proprietary rights over what should be the matrices of civilisation. Hence, beyond the Han culture, the world was composed of barbarians.





    In 1251, Kublai's eldest brother Möngke became Khan of the Mongol Empire, and Khwarizmian Mahmud Yalavach and Kublai were sent to China. Kublai received the viceroyalty over North China and moved his ordo to central Inner Mongolia. It is obvious that he could not become the Khan of the Mongol Empire.

    In 1258, Möngke put Kublai in command of the Eastern Army and summoned him to assist with an attack on Sichuan. As he was suffering from gout, Kublai was allowed to stay home, but he moved to assist Möngke anyway. Before Kublai arrived in 1259, word reached him that Möngke had died. Kublai decided to keep the death of his brother secret.

    I might add that Yizhou governor Li Tan revolted against Mongol rule in February 1262 and Kublai ordered his Chancellor Shi Tianze and Shi Shu to attack Li Tan. The two armies crushed Li Tan's revolt in just a few months and Li Tan was executed. These armies also executed Wang Wentong, Li Tan's father-in-law, who had been appointed the Chief Administrator of the Zhongshusheng ("Department of Central Governing") early in Kublai's reign and became one of Kublai's most trusted Han Chinese officials. The incident instilled in Kublai a distrust of ethnic Hans. After becoming emperor, Kublai banned granting the titles of and tithes to Han Chinese warlords.

    That much for his love of the Han, even though he liked the Chinese culture which had greater finesse than the rude and crude semi nomadic ways of the Mongol hordes. As one of Kublai’s advisers later said to the emperor, “I have heard that one can conquer the empire on horseback, but one cannot govern it on horseback,” an axiom that Kublai absorbed and acted upon as khan (Kublai Khan Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story - Biography.com)

    The necessity of refinement is something similar to the French language and culture being the international code for diplomacy in the beginning.

    Lest you don’t comprehend, here is it for you:

    Going back to Kublai Khan, after the death of his elder brother Möngke, there followed the warring between the brothers as to who would be the Great Khan. Finally, Kublai overcame all opposition and was accepted as the Great Khan.

    On the issue of his equation with China, this would be interesting.

    Kublai used traditional decimal organization of the Mongol Empire and set up special gerfalcon posts exclusively for the highest officials in 1261. He adopted Chinese political and cultural models, and also worked to minimize the influences of regional lords who had held immense power before and during the Song Dynasty. Kublai heavily relied on his Chinese advisers until 1276. Nevertheless, his mistrust of ethnic Han Chinese caused him to appoint Mongols, Central Asians, Muslims and few Europeans to high positions more often than Han Chinese .


    Kublai began to suspect Han Chinese when his Chinese minister's son-in-law revolted against him while he was fighting against Ariq Boke in Mongolia, though he continued to invite and use many Han Chinese advisers such as Liu Bingzhong and Xu Heng. He employed 66 Uyghur Turks, 21 of whom were resident commissioner running Chinese districts. In 1262 he appointed his wife's Muslim provisioner, Ahmad Fanakati, fiscal commissioner in chief and prefect of his Inner Mongolian capital, Xanadu (Shangdu). Kublai also appointed Phagspa Lama his state preceptor, giving him power over all the empire's Buddhist monks. In 1270, after Phagspa created the Square script, he was promoted to imperial preceptor. Kublai established the Supreme Control Commission under Phagspa to administer affairs of both Tibetan and Chinese monks. During Phagspa's absence in Tibet, the Tibetan monk Sangha rose to high office and had the office renamed the Commission for Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs. Assyrian Christians served Kublai and the Yuan court created Commission for the Promotion of Religion under the Assyrian physician, Isa, to supervise Christian churches and other religious affairs.


    The Khagan set up a Muslim medical office for the court in 1270, a Directorate of Islamic astronomy in 1271, and a Muslim school for the sons of the dynasty in 1289. With deaths of his entrusted Chinese officials such as Liu Bingzhong (1274), Shi Tiaze (1275), Zhao Bi (1276) and Don Weibing (1278), Kublai turned to non-Chinese officials. Kublai appointed Ahmad Fanakati head of a department of state affairs. In 1286, Tibetan Sangha became the dynasty's chief fiscal officer. However, their corruption later embittered Kublai. Thenceforwards, Kublai came to rely wholly on younger Mongol aristocrats. While Antong of the Jalayir, and Bayan of the Baarin served as grand councillors from 1265, Oz-temur of the Arulad headed the censorate. Borokhula's descendant, Ochicher, headed a kheshig and the palace provision commission.



    In the 8th Year of Zhiyuan (1271), Kublai Khan officially declared the creation of the Yuan Dynasty, and proclaimed the capital to be at Dadu (Chinese: 大都; lit. "Great Capital", known as Daidu to the Mongols, at today's Beijing) in the following year. His summer capital was in Shangdu (Chinese: 上都, "Upper Capital", a.k.a. Xanadu, near what today is Dolonnur). To unify China, Kublai Khan began a massive offensive against the remnants of the Southern Song Dynasty in the 11th year of Zhiyuan (1274), and finally destroyed the Song Dynasty in the 16th year of Zhiyuan (1279), unifying the country at last.


    China proper, Korea and Mongolia itself were administered in 11 provinces during his reign with a governor and vice-governor each. Aside from the 11 provinces was the Central Region, consisting of much of present-day North China, was considered the most important region of the dynasty and directly governed by the Zhongshusheng (Chinese: 中书省, "Department of Central Governing") at Dadu.

    ( This is the reason why he remained in China and did not return to Mongolia)

    In addition, Tibet was governed by another top-level administrative department called the Xuanzheng Institute (Chinese: 宣政院).


    He ruled well, promoting economic growth with the rebuilding of the Grand Canal, repairing public buildings, and extending highways. However, Kublai Khan's domestic policy also included some aspects of the old Mongol living traditions, and as Kublai Khan continued his reign, these traditions would clash more and more frequently with traditional Chinese economic and social culture. Kublai decreed that partner merchants of the Mongols should be subject to taxes in 1263 and set up the Office of Market Taxes to supervise them in 1268. With the Mongol conquest of the Song, the merchants expanded their sphere of operations to the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. In 1286 maritime trade was put under the Office of Market Taxes. The main source of revenue of the government was the salt monopoly.


    The Mongol administration issued paper currencies from 1227 on. In August 1260, Kublai created the first unified paper currency with bills that circulated throughout the Yuan with no expiration date. To guard against devaluation, the currency was convertible with silver and gold, and the government accepted tax payments in paper currency. In 1273, He issued a new series of state sponsored bills to finance his conquest of the Song, although eventually a lack of fiscal discipline and inflation turned this move into an economic disaster in the later course of the dynasty. It was required to pay only in the form of paper money called Chao. To ensure its use in circles, Kublai's government confiscated gold and silver from private citizens as well as foreign merchants. But traders received government-issued notes in exchange. That is why Kublai Khan is considered to be the first of fiat money makers. The paper bills made collecting taxes and administering the huge empire much easier while reducing cost of transporting coins. In 1287 Kublai's minister Sangha created a new currency, Zhiyuan, to deal with the budget shortfall. It was non-convertible and denominated in copper cash. Later Gaykhatu of the Ilkhanate attempted to adopt the system in Persia and Middle east, which was however a complete failure, and he was assassinated shortly after that.


    He encouraged Asian arts and demonstrated religious tolerance. Despite his anti-Taoist edicts, Kublai respected the Taoist master and appointed Zhang Liushan the patriarch of Taoist Xuanjiao order. Under Zhang's advice, Taoist temples were put under the Academy of Scholarly Worthies. The empire was visited by several Europeans, notably Marco Polo in the 1270s who may have seen the summer capital Shangdu.

    Kublai Khan as Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    @ No Smoking

    Now read this carefully this Chinese justification.:



    So, Tibet was under the Yuan. And Yuan dynasty is not a justification.

    And so the successor Ming Dynasty is the justification.


    Now read this, the Tibetan side of the story:


    International law states that recognition can occur by explicit or implicit acts including treaties, negotiations, and diplomatic relations. Mongolia and Tibet signed a formal treaty of recognition in 1913. Historically, Nepal and Tibet had peace treaties. Tibetºs independence was also confirmed at the Treaty of Simla (1914) which was concluded by Tibet and British India. In 1949, Tibet maintained diplomatic, economic, and cultural relations with such countries as Nepal, Sikkim, Mongolia, China, British India, and to some extent, Russia and Japan. Further, Nepal maintained an Ambassador in Lhasa and told the U.N. in 1949 that it conducted international relations with Tibet. In fact, Britian, Bhutan, India, and even China also maintained diplomatic missions in Tibet's capitol, Lhasa. The Tibetan Foreign Office conducted talks with President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he sent representatives to Lhasa to discuss the allied war effort against Japan during World War II. In 1950, El Salvador formally requested that China's aggression against Tibet be placed on the agenda of the U.N. General Assembly. The issue was not discussed. However, during four U.N. General Assembly debates on Tibet (1959, 1960, 1961, & 1965), many countries (e.g., Philippines, Nicaragua, Thailand. United States, Ireland) openly stated that Tibet was an independent country illegally occupied by China. In fact, the U.N. passed three resolutions (1959, 1961, & 1965) concerning Tibet stating that Tibetans were deprived of their inalienable rights to self-determination. Even Mao Zedong during the Long March admitted that Tibet was an independent country when he passed through the border regions of Tibet remarking, "This is our only foreign debt, and some day we must pay the Mantzu (sic) and the Tibetans for the provisions we were obliged to take from them." Tibetans clearly constitute a people under international law, as described, for instance, by the UNESCO International Meeting of Experts on Further Study of the Concept of the Rights of Peoples. They are a distinct people and fulfill all the characteristics of this concept: commonality of history, shared language, culture, and ethnicity.

    Tibet:Two Distinct Views

    So, history depends upon the convenience of interpretation and flavour of the season as far as China is concerned?
     
  9. nimo_cn

    nimo_cn Senior Member Senior Member

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    Buddha is my favorite barbarian.

    Sent from my T8830 using Tapatalk 2
     
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  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Buddha is a barbarian?:

    Only a demented barbarian would opine so.
     
  11. nimo_cn

    nimo_cn Senior Member Senior Member

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    According to someone, he is.

    Sent from my T8830 using Tapatalk 2
     
  12. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Namely the Godless hordes who prostrate to the False Idol Money?
     

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