EdX.org ChinaX part 6.
How do the incorporation of the inner Asian frontier, the final corporation
of this frontier into Qing shape the course of modern Chinese history?
How is it seen?
How is it reflected in politics and society in China today?
These territories, along with Tibet, which
also comes, as I mentioned earlier, under more and more direct authority
of the Manchu Emperor through the course of the 18th century.
These territories comprise a pretty significant part
of modern Chinese territory, the lands of the People’s Republic of China.
And they set the mold.
The Qing shape sets the mold then for what
will become the shape of the modern Chinese nation.
These territories also represent a continuing problem
of governance for the PRC.
And so the relevance of Manchu empire to modern China, I think,
is hard to exaggerate.
Inheritance of these territories has been very effectively naturalized
by the leaders of China under the Republic of China,
as well as under the People’s Republic of China.
And so it’s easy, in a way, for us to forget that this was the result
of an imperial expansion, a project of imperial expansion that took place
in the late 1600’s and then in the 1700’s.
But if it hadn’t been for this project of imperial expansion,
we could be pretty sure that China today would be half the size that it is now.
An awareness of the Qing imperial enterprise during the High Qing
reminds us that while much is made of the continuity of China
as the last of the antique empires to survive into the modern era,
this is something of a misunderstanding.
That is to say, China today is the successor state,
we can say of “imperial China,” but more specifically,
it is the successor state of the Qing empire
which was a vast, hybrid, polyethnic, multinational state that
brought peoples from very different backgrounds,
with different religious traditions, different languages together
in a kind of gunpowder empire of the type that is quite comparable to say,
the Ottoman Empire, the Mughal empire, the Romanov empire.
It represented the synthesis of centuries
of interaction between China and inner Asia.
It wasn’t just another Chinese empire.