From Frontier Policy to Foreign Policy: The Question of India and the Transformation of Geopolitics in Qing China

From Frontier Policy to Foreign Policy: The Question of India and the Transformation of Geopolitics in Qing China

Matthew W. Mosca

Language: English

Pages: 409

ISBN: B019TLH8FK

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Between the mid-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries, Qing rulers, officials, and scholars fused diverse, fragmented perceptions of foreign territory into one integrated worldview. In the same period, a single “foreign” policy emerged as an alternative to the many localized “frontier” policies hitherto pursued on the coast, in Xinjiang, and in Tibet. By unraveling Chinese, Manchu, and British sources to reveal the information networks used by the Qing empire to gather intelligence about its emerging rival, British India, this book explores China's altered understanding of its place in a global context. Far from being hobbled by a Sinocentric worldview, Qing China's officials and scholars paid close attention to foreign affairs. To meet the growing British threat, they adapted institutional practices and geopolitical assumptions to coordinate a response across their maritime and inland borderlands. In time, the new and more active response to Western imperialism built on this foundation reshaped not only China's diplomacy but also the internal relationship between Beijing and its frontiers.

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arranging geographic information on a spatial basis, closer inspection reveals that non-spatial considerations could be more important than physical location when making these assignments. As categories, “south,” “west,” “north,” and “east” had implications beyond simple cardinal directions. For instance, most states on the Indian Ocean littoral visited during the Zheng He voyages were placed by late Ming geographers in the “southern” category regardless of their latitude. Some, however, were

consequently mispronounced dharani.7 To the problem of transcribing foreign words into Chinese, the solution was Qianlong’s beloved alphabetic Manchu script. The idea of using the Manchu language specifically in the service of phonology seems to date back to the compilation of the Yinyun chanwei. This piece of court-­sponsored research, commenced in the late Kangxi period and concluded under Yongzheng, took Manchu letters as a model for reforming the study of Chinese phonology.8 Qianlong also

“Hindustan” were unfamiliar in the forms used in Xinjiang, they were nonetheless connected to, if not identical with, older terminology from Buddhist or historical sources. Although this was an academic rather than strategic problem, it was tackled vigorously. Compared to the historical and geographic productions of earlier reigns, for instance the encyclopedic Gujin tushu ­jicheng, those of the Qianlong court were far more synthesized. For the first time evidence from languages other than

not dispatch surveyors to these lands, another approach was found. The first 1717 edition of the Kangxi survey had already included a chart entitled “Map of [the territory of ] Tsewang Araptan” (Zawang A’erbutan tu), while the 1719 strip-format map reached beyond Kashgar to Andijan.12 In this period there is no evidence that actual surveys were made beyond Hami, nor did these mapped territories lie on the route of the famous embassy to the Volga Torghuts between 1712 and 1715.13 Presumably, then,

Gurkha regime by force. It was also consistent in its blanket refusal to assist the Gurkhas against a third party, even one that threatened to extinguish them. This policy can be seen in the 1792–1793 responses of Fuk’anggan and Qianlong when the Gurkhas asked for aid against the Delhi Padshah—that is, before rebellions hampered the dynasty’s financial and military ability to wage war. In other words, when the late Jiaqing court disavowed any obligation to act as a military guarantor of its

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