A Neighbourless Empire? The Forgotten Diplomatic Tradition of Imperial China

A Neighbourless Empire? The Forgotten Diplomatic Tradition of Imperial China © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2012 DOI: 10.1163/187119112X626843 The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 7 (2012) 245-267 brill.nl/hjd A Neighbourless Empire? The Forgotten Diplomatic Tradition of Imperial China Bjørnar Sverdrup-Thygeson Norwegian University of Life Sciences / Norwegian Institute for International Affairs, PO Box 5003, Aas, NO-1432, Norway bjornar.s.t@hotmail.com Received: 31 July 2011; revised: 3 December 2011; accepted: 4 December 2011 Summary In the diplomatic canon, where the field has been demarcated by a central distinction drawn between suzerain and parity-based state relations, Imperial China has squarely been designated to the former cat- egory, and thereby as inherently alien to the diplomatic tradition. However, this image of a monolithic 2000-year-long rigid, hierarchical system betrays a too shallow assessment of Chinese history, and fails to acknowledge a noteworthy strain of parity-based relations running through Imperial Chinese foreign policy. This strain was at its most pronounced during the four centuries of the Song Dynasty, where China’s relations with a set of important neighbouring states were handled on egalitarian terms that were far more reminiscent of a full-fledged diplomatic multi-state system than what is popularly acknowl- edged. Based on a case study of the diplomatic relations of the Song Dynasty, this article argues http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Hague Journal of Diplomacy Brill

A Neighbourless Empire? The Forgotten Diplomatic Tradition of Imperial China

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Abstract

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2012 DOI: 10.1163/187119112X626843 The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 7 (2012) 245-267 brill.nl/hjd A Neighbourless Empire? The Forgotten Diplomatic Tradition of Imperial China Bjørnar Sverdrup-Thygeson Norwegian University of Life Sciences / Norwegian Institute for International Affairs, PO Box 5003, Aas, NO-1432, Norway bjornar.s.t@hotmail.com Received: 31 July 2011; revised: 3 December 2011; accepted: 4 December 2011 Summary In the diplomatic canon, where the field has been demarcated by a central distinction drawn between suzerain and parity-based state relations, Imperial China has squarely been designated to the former cat- egory, and thereby as inherently alien to the diplomatic tradition. However, this image of a monolithic 2000-year-long rigid, hierarchical system betrays a too shallow assessment of Chinese history, and fails to acknowledge a noteworthy strain of parity-based relations running through Imperial Chinese foreign policy. This strain was at its most pronounced during the four centuries of the Song Dynasty, where China’s relations with a set of important neighbouring states were handled on egalitarian terms that were far more reminiscent of a full-fledged diplomatic multi-state system than what is popularly acknowl- edged. Based on a case study of the diplomatic relations of the Song Dynasty, this article argues

Journal

The Hague Journal of DiplomacyBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2012

Keywords: Xi Xia; tianxia; diplomatic parity; traditional Chinese diplomatic practices; Jin; Liao; foreign relations of the Song Dynasty; Imperial China

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