The Chinese History Podcast

The Chinese History Podcast

A podcast covering various aspects of Chinese history, from ancient to modern, through interviews with scholars.

Episodes

March 3, 2023 48 mins

The Qing Empire (1636-1912) ruled over one of the largest land empires in the world. Its territories encompassed not only what is considered today to be China proper and Manchuria, but also Tibet, Xinjiang, and Mongolia. Its subjects were composed of people belonging to different identities, of which Manchu, Han, Mongol, Tibetan, and later Uighur became the most important groups. As an empire that was composed of a small conquering...

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The fall of Beijing in 1644 did not immediately put an end to the Ming Dynasty. For almost half a century, Ming pretenders and loyalists in the south warred with the Manchus. One of the most prominent Ming loyalist factions was the Zheng family regime based in Fujian and Taiwan. Founded by the pirate-merchant Zheng Zhilong, the enterprise reached new heights under his son Zheng Chenggong, better known as Koxinga, who is best known ...

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Professor Maura Dykstra of Caltech joins us today to talk about her new book titled Uncertainty in the Empire of Routine: The Administrative Revolution of the Eighteenth-Century Qing State. According to the publisher, the book "investigates the administrative revolution of China’s eighteenth-century Qing state. It begins in the mid-seventeenth century with what seemed, at the time, to be straightforward policies to clean up the bur...

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China has a long bureaucratic history and tradition, and the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was no exception. The Ming was one of the largest empires in the world at the time and it established a large and complex bureaucracy to govern it. In this episode, Professor. Chelsea Wang talks to us about some of the bureaucratic practices, which might seem strange to us today, that the Ming employed to keep the empire running. 

 

Governing Chin...

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In 1381, Ming armies marched into Yunnan and Guizhou and within a year had deposed the Mongol Yuan's Prince of Liang, who had been enfeoffed there by the Yuan court. The Hongwu's emperor's decision to annex Yunnan and Guizhou and establish Ming administration there was unusual, for before the Mongols conquered it in the mid-1250s, the area had never been under the control of a China-based empire. It was more Southeast Asian in char...

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Since the 1990s, the New Qing History school has loomed large in the study of the Qing dynasty. It has greatly informed not only the study of the Qing but study of other dynasties as well. Yet what exactly is New Qing History? What is "new" about it? How did it come into being? How was it received in China and the West? To answer these questions, we talked to Professor Joanna Waley-Cohen of NYU, one of the leading scholars of the Q...

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Wang Yangming 王陽明 (born Wang Shouren 王守仁, 1472-1529) is one of the most famous pre-modern Chinese intellectuals and the founder of the School of Mind (心學) of Neo-Confucianism, which was hugely influential in the later half of the Ming Dynasty. In addition to being philosopher, he was also an accomplished statesman, military leader, and calligrapher. In this episode, we speak with Professor George L. Israel, an expert on the study o...

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The two Mongol-Yuan invasions of Japan (1274 and 1281) were important events in Japanese history. The two typhoons that destroyed the Mongol fleet, known as "divine wind," (shinpū 神風, better known today as kamikaze) would forever be etched into Japanese historical memory, directly influencing the so-called kamikaze suicide bombers of World War II. Most scholarship on the topic has focused primarily on the military aspect, but befor...

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In the study of 19th and 20th century Chinese history, there is often focus on the intense Christian missionary activities happening in China. Yet at the same time, members of China's Hui (or Sino-Muslim) community were also beginning to reconnect with their co-religionists overseas. Armed with knowledge of Arabic, Persian, and Urdu and trained in Western orientalist discourses in new religious schools overseas, these Hui scholars ...

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In this prequel to our first interview, UCLA Ph.D. student Greg Sattler talks about the diplomatic/tribute embassies that peoples and polities from the Japanese Archipelago dispatched to China from the 1st to the 9th centuries. While Japanese tribute embassies to China mainly evoke the missions that Japan dispatched to Tang China in the 8th and 9th centuries, diplomacy between China and Japan had been going on well before then. Gre...

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For a long time, Ray Huang's influential book 1587: A Year of No Significance has colored our imagination of the Late Ming, painting the Ming as a state that was stagnant and in decline. Traditional historiography usually focuses on the poor finances of the Ming state, its inability to pay troops, its poor military performance against the peasant rebels and the Manchus, and its factionalism. While all these are true to an extent, m...

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The Northern Song (960-1127) capital city of Kaifeng (also known as Bianjing or Dongjing) was the largest city in the medieval world. Its population surpassed the previous capitals of Chang'an and Luoyang and dwarfed contemporary world cities such as Baghdad and Constantinople. At its peak, Kaifeng boasted a population of well over a million people and was home to hundreds of thousands of soldiers. It was also the central node of v...

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We hope everyone had a good Christmas! In this episode, Yiming Ha will give an introduction to the forty-four year war between the Mongol-Yuan and the Southern Song. This was one of the longest wars the Mongols had to fight against an adversary and the Southern Song was among the states that put up the longest resistance against the Mongols. This topic is covered very extensively in Chinese language scholarship, but has not receive...

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In our previous episodes, the term "tributary system" has come up a few times, yet we've never had the opportunity to explain what exactly it is. To better shed light on this topic, and as part of our exploration of Chinese diplomacy, we interviewed Professor Sixiang Wang, an Assistant Professor of Korean history at UCLA who specializes in the diplomatic relationship between Chosŏn Korea and Ming China and Early Modern East Asia. I...

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In 1231, Mongol forces invaded the Korean Peninsula, beginning almost three decades of warfare against the Koryŏ Kingdom. In 1258, the Koryŏ court finally surrendered and the kingdom became a part of the Mongol Empire. King Kwong Wong, an independent scholar who specializes in the relationship between the Mongol-Yuan and Koryŏ, joins us to give a brief look into this fascinating period in Korean history. He will talk about why Kory...

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In this episode, Sean talks about some of the new scholarships and perspectives on the famous Zheng He voyages. Zheng He is widely known to history as the eunuch admiral who led several large-scale voyages to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. For many Chinese, the story of Zheng He and his travels to the Indian Ocean (鄭和下西洋) is often seen as a symbol of China's friendship and diplomatic and commercial engagement with Southeast A...

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In our very first episode, Greg talks about some aspects of his research on the growing role of Chinese merchants in the East Asian sea trade between the 10th to 12th centuries. Diplomacy from the 7th to 9th centuries was dominated by official embassies that neighboring states dispatched to the Sui-Tang courts, but after the fall of the Tang dynasty in the early 10th century, private merchants from southeastern China began to domin...

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