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Rethinking Early East Asian History

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“Asia” and National Identities

There may be Asian-Americans in the United States, but as Ronald Takaki shrewdly commented, “there are no Asians in Asia, only people with national identities, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, and Filipino.”1 Asia is simply too enormous, spanning the better part of the entire Old World, and too diverse, to serve as a very meaningful label. In fact, according to Robert Marks, on the eve of the American Revolution, in “1775, Asia produced about 80 percent of everything in the world.”2 Moreover, “Asia” is a concept of Western origin unfamiliar to many of the people who actually lived there. As both word and idea, “Asia,” is a legacy of the ancient Greeks. In East Asia there was absolutely no pre-modern native equivalent term.3 Even within Europe, John M. Hobson argues, it was not until the eighteenth century that a vision of a distinctive “Western Civilization” descended in a continuous line from Ancient Greece and fundamentally different from the Oriental Other, first began to be imagined.4 Certainly pre-modern East Asians did not think of themselves as “Asians.”

think of themselves as “Asians.” Yet they did not necessarily think of themselves exactly as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese in the fully modern sense either. There is a fairly broad consensus among specialist scholars, however counter-intuitive it may seem to a popular audience, that the phenomena of nation-states and nationalism emerged only in relatively recent times. Nationalism began in Europe, and, perhaps especially, in Europe’s overseas colonies struggling for independence in the Americas (including, notably, the future United States).5 The nationalist contagion then spread to East Asia in the late nineteenth century. It might plausibly be argued, therefore, that prior to roughly 1900, few people in East Asia held precisely our familiar modern national identities either.6

So how did pre-modern East Asians conceive of themselves? For many, their self-identifications must have been primarily local: with village or region. But East Asia is also truly one of the world’s most ancient centers of civilization. If educated pre-modern Chinese were inclined to imagine their standards of civilization were universal (not unlike the attitude of some Americans today towards the supposedly universal appeal of our culture and ideals), concepts equivalent to the country or state had already appeared in China thousands of years ago.7 It is deceptively easy to project modern images of the nation back into the primordial past in East Asia. Who can deny that China is a very old country? The problem comes when we begin to ponder the multitude of Chinese countries that existed in the past.

From that initial Bronze Age center of civilization in what we now call China there emerged a broadly shared East Asian vocabulary for conceptualizing identity. This is a point that scholars who specialize in tracing the modern origins of nationalism in East Asia may not themselves sufficiently appreciate. Not only do such scholars commonly approach the subject from a present-day perspective, but, paradoxically, they generally do so already packaged within the box of the nation, as studies of nationalism within the context of a particular nation, such as China or Vietnam. This tendency may even be especially strong in the study of an East Asian region where the (national) languages necessary for serious research require intensive specialized training. The modern Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese languages are very different from each other, and serve to draw sharp, often nearly impermeable, disciplinary barriers between scholars who study the different East Asian cultures.

Languages and Historical Understanding

In pre-modern times, however, the situation was somewhat different. There was, to a significant extent, a single common written language in use throughout all of East Asia, which we call literary, or classical, Chinese. This was the language of the Confucian classics, the East Asian version of the Buddhist Tripitaka, and of the majority of all serious writing in China until the early twentieth century.8 Within China, this language long enjoyed a near monopoly of written communication—more so, for example, than Latin ever did within the Roman Empire, where Greek still commanded much prestige, and other alternatives such as Syriac and Coptic coexisted.9 Beyond China proper, literary Chinese was also initially almost the only written language in use everywhere else in East Asia. Even the standard “native” Japanese name for Japan itself, Nihon, was apparently chosen during the seventh century for the meaning of the Chinese characters, with which it is still today normally written: 日本, “origin of the Sun.”10

To be sure, new ways of writing the different Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese spoken languages did gradually develop, but, even as late as the nineteenth century, literary Chinese was still very much the prestige language of writing in Korea and Vietnam. Even in more remote Japan, the last catalog compiled for the Sh¬gunal library in 1864–1866 still contained some 65 percent Chinese material.11 Since then, literary Chinese has been rejected or abandoned everywhere, even in China itself, and replaced by modern national vernaculars. For many modern East Asians, much of the written record of their own past has truly become a “foreign country.”

My emphasis here on the widespread pre-modern importance of the Chinese written language may seem offensively Sino-centric, and derogatory to the other East Asian cultures. For perspective, recall that in Western Europe prior to 1500 some three-quarters of all books were still published in Latin.12 Yet the European sense of national dignity appears unimpaired by the tremendous weight of Europe’s Greco-Roman heritage. And, if Latin may be pronounced a “dead” language today, the same could also be said of literary Chinese. In fact, in modern times, Japanese has been more influential. A stream of Japanese vocabulary items—often newly minted as translations of such exotic Western words as “telephone,” “nation,” or “communism”—were imported from Japanese into the Chinese language beginning in the late nineteenth century.13 The present-day People’s Republic of China is no more identical to the Han dynasty of Emperor Wu than today’s Italy is to the Rome of Augustus. Rather than some unchanging and permanently “static” China, modern Chinese history has been punctured repeatedly by profound revolutionary ruptures, some of which have involved language itself.

To be sure, however, even the modern spoken and written Chinese languages, though much reformed in the twentieth century, are clearly still incarnations of the same 3,000-year-old archaic language that appears on the most ancient inscriptions discovered by archeologists in China. This remarkable linguistic and literary continuity forms the spine of an enduring Chinese cultural continuum. Furthermore, Chinese is the most commonly spoken language in the world today, which can hardly be said of Latin. But, I would submit, that if there has been continuity, there has also been much change in China’s past. Even ancient China was far from static.

Different Chinas

If the quintessentially Japanese sport of sumo wrestling existed in China a millennium before it did in Japan,14 and if many institutions, ideals, and cultural practices of pre-modern East Asia originated in what we call China, it is also true that it was a different “China” then. The spread of Chinese influences also naturally provoked counterreactions and innovations everywhere, helping to stimulate the generation of unique local cultures. This is how the process of globalization works. Even when expressed in literally the same language, the result could sometimes still be surprising, and nascent nationalistic tendencies often naturally flared up. Consider, for example, the notorious case of the Japanese embassy to China in 607, whose (Chinese-language) credentials were, from the Chinese point of view, presumptuously addressed from the “Son-of-Heaven in the place where the sun rises to the Son-of-Heaven in the place where the sun sets.”15 That is, from the equal (if not actually superior) Emperor of Japan to the Emperor of China, the land of the setting sun.

The genesis of Chinese civilization itself is hardly more pristine than that of other East Asian civilizations. Indeed, all nations and ethnicities must originate somehow, and the larger and more centrally located the community, the more likely it is to be a complex hybrid, and the more preposterous talk of cultural or ethnic “purity” becomes. Against messy historical truth, however, there often stands a powerful emotional need for a more shining, permanent, idealized identity. Citing an aphorism from Ernest Renan—“Forgetting, I would even go so far as to say historical error is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation; thus the progress of historical studies is often a danger for national identity”—Tony Judt comments that “Unlike memory, which confirms and reinforces itself, history contributes to the disenchantment of the world. Most of what it has to offer is discomforting, even disruptive . . . .”16 Of course, uncritical popular history commonly serves instead a comforting (if also sometimes covertly sinister) agenda. As the fraudulent Wizard of Oz explains succinctly in the current Broadway hit musical Wicked, “Where I come from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true— we call it . . . ‘history.’”17

The once heated debate between proponents of the diffusion theory of the origins and spread of civilization, and those who favored the idea of more local native origins, seems to have been resolved now in an unexpected way: by DNA.18 The compelling genetic evidence suggests that all human beings came originally from Africa, and settled the planet only relatively recently, within the last hundred thousand years or so.19 Globalization, then, has been part of the human story from the beginning, and there are no true permanent “natives” anywhere, except, possibly, somewhere in Africa. For the rise of the historical world civilizations, an overlysimplistic opposition between alternative “diffusionist” or “autonomist” models has been challenged by a more nuanced conception of an ongoing process of dialectical interaction.20 While Chinese archeologists have been slow to embrace the “Out of Africa” theory of human origins, within China it is now fashionable to emphasize the multiple origins of Chinese civilization.21

China was first unified into a single centralized country by the Qin dynasty in 221 BCE, but the extent to which it thereafter long remained internally very much a multi-ethnic empire is not often sufficiently appreciated. By the fourth century CE, as imperial unity shattered, an astonishing ethnic and cultural complexity reasserted itself. In the roughly four centuries of division (220–589 CE) between the two great unified Han and Sui empires, there were some thirty-five identifiably distinct states or dynasties in China, many of which had non-Chinese rulers. This figure does not include certain small autonomous communities, such as that of the Di people at Mt. Chouchi, in southern Gansu, which survived independently for more than two hundred years during this era.22

Liu Xueyao calls this “the period of most intense social change” since the dawn of Chinese history. His data suggests that one shortlived dynasty (Former Zhao) established in north China after 304 may have had a population that was as much as one-third non-Chinese.23 According to Wolfram Eberhard’s tabulation, 42 percent of some 5,550 persons mentioned as living under the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534 CE) in the standard sources (which presumably over-represent the ruling non-Chinese ethnicity) were not Chinese.24 Tamura Jitsuzō calculates that there may have been as many as nine or ten million non-Chinese people in north China during the fourth through sixth centuries.25 For perspective, the entire population of China in 280 was reportedly only sixteen million—although this surely is an undercount, and the true number likely more than forty million.26 All figures are suggestive rather than definitive, and all beg the question of what exactly is meant by “Chinese,” yet discernable ethnic diversity certainly existed in China during these centuries.

China was also remarkably open to external cultural influences at this time. A silver ewer unearthed from the tomb of a man who died in northwestern China in 569 was decorated with scenes from the Trojan wars.27 James Watt remarks upon the “overwhelming influence of Central Asians on the plastic arts” of sixth-century north China.28 An early sixth-century Northern Wei prince is said to have possessed dozens of crystal, agate, glass, and red jade drinking vessels that were “all from the western regions,” as well as horses from as far west as Persia (although the prince is mentioned explicitly for his extravagance, and must have been exceptional).29 In the south, stone pillars at several sixth-century Chinese royal tombs closely resemble those of ancient Greece.30 A sixth-century bowl from Tashkent, together with some Persian coins, were discovered in extreme southeast China.31 And, by the end of the sixth century, the Indian Buddhist scriptures were reportedly more prevalent among ordinary Chinese people than the supposedly “native Chinese” Confucian classics.32

Average seasonal temperatures seem to have grown colder during the third to sixth centuries. “The frontier between farmers and pastoralists moved south,” and an age of population movement and migration began.33 As is well known, these (same?) migrations had a dramatic impact on the Roman Empire in the west after about 370.34 Within China, ethnic complexity and intermixing was not limited to the northern pastoral zone; in the rice-growing south, a majority of the population may still have been identifiably non-Chinese aboriginal peoples at this time.35 These aborigines, together with older Chinese settlers, were now joined by large numbers of refugees from the war-ravaged north. Some even claim that the legitimate Chinese imperial line was relocated south (to what is now Nanking) at the start of this age of Northern and Southern dynasties, yet the second emperor of this transplanted Chinese lineage, Jin Mingdi (r. 323–326), was reported to have had a yellow beard, allegedly inherited from his semi-nomadic mother.36 The patterns of interaction were indeed complex.

The age was one of such cultural and ethnic ferment that the distinguished scholar Edward Schafer has wondered whether the very concept of China simply “did not exist, except as an alien fiction.”37 Not only is the word “China” a foreign coinage, notes Lydia Liu, but even such roughly comparable native terms as “Zhonghua and Zhongguo have never achieved a stable, definitive meaning in indigenous discourse” either.38 (This, despite the fact that Zhongguo is today probably the closest Chinese-language equivalent to our English word “China,” and Zhonghua is the term officially used for China in the names of both the modern People’s Republic and the Republic of China.)

The reunified China forged by the Sui and Tang dynasties at the end of the period of division, after 589, was in many ways a substantially new and different China.39 Even in the matter of collected literature, some 38 percent of the books in the Tang imperial library, at its peak, were reportedly Tang-era productions.40 According to Samuel Adshead, before the sixth century, “continuity of political form was no more characteristic of China than it was of the West,” but the Sui and Tang dynasties then so successfully imposed their new unified imperial model that, by the eighth century, “China had achieved a multiple preeminence similar to that of the United States today,” and “at least the illusion of a succession of essentially similar dynasties governed by cyclical process”—the so-called dynastic cycle—was established.41 Many internal ethnic distinctions were also beginning to disappear through cultural intermixing, although peoples in more inaccessible parts even of central China might long maintain notable cultural differences.42 What we call “China” had now been more-or-less permanently established, and it long remained the most developed country in the world.

The Genesis of East Asian Nations

It is tantalizing to notice that, in one of the most influential studies of the phenomenon of nationalism ever published, Benedict Anderson identified a combination he labeled “print-capitalism” as being crucial to the generation of a modern sense of national identity. This is interesting because the technology of printing was pioneered in China long before the age of modern nationalism. In 932, for example, official printed editions of the Nine Confucian Classics were ordered carefully prepared, based on texts of older stone inscriptions.43 Acknowledging this fact, Anderson explained the belated emergence of nationalism in China as being due to the “absence of capitalism,” the essential other half of his equation.44 But, from late Tang times, China actually enjoyed a flourishing, highly commercialized, and largely unregulated private economy. To be sure, any incipient capitalism was limited to the accumulation of capital for commerce and loans, not industrialization. China’s precocious early development should not be fantastically exaggerated. Still, with the spread of village schools, printing, and an increasingly homogenous social and material culture (including, for example, the spread of tea drinking from a southern peculiarity to empire-wide popularity), from late Tang times, a relatively cohesive Chinese identity may have begun to take shape, possibly exhibiting a foretaste at least of some characteristics of an embryonic “print-capitalism.”45

The period roughly surrounding the Tang dynasty in China also marks the beginning of the historical trajectories that would shape all other major modern nations of East Asia. The story is told that a visiting Japanese monk (Kūkai, 774–835) was inspired by the example of educational establishments in Tang China to convert a Japanese mansion into a school in 828.46 Since formal education in East Asia was still primarily rooted in Chinese-language texts, the vibrant cultural interaction of this period gave birth to an international aristocratic culture with certain common features. The glories of Tang poetry, for example, were as much admired in contemporary Korea and Japan as they were in China.47 Yet, as David Pollack adds, “the Japanese invariably seemed to find the most profound significance of Chinese culture far from where the Chinese themselves would ever have thought to seek it.”48 Divergent “national” cultures actively awakened from this encounter.

Pollack gives, as examples of this offbeat Japanese appropriation of Chinese material, the usage of the Chinese script to record native Japanese mythology, in the native Japanese language, in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, 712 CE), and the overwhelming Japanese preference for a particular Tang poet whom the Chinese themselves seldom put first.49 From a slightly different angle, we might also mention the adoption of the Chinese emperor system, minus the critical component of a revocable mandate, and its transformation into the “national essence” (kokutai) of Japan by the early 1900s. Or, the adaptation of a standard Chinese title for General, pronounced Shōgun in Japanese, into the characteristically Japanese institution of the Shōgunate.

The Japanese made something uniquely Japanese from assorted Chinese influences, much as China domesticated Indian Buddhism, and nomadic (specifically Xianbei) costume became the native Chinese garb of the Tang dynasty and thereafter. In a subsequent twist, early twentieth-century Chinese nationalists then complained that this Tang-style “Chinese” clothing had been replaced by the “barbarian” qipao, or “banner gowns,” of the foreign Manchu (“banner people”) rulers of the last imperial dynasty. To further complicate the story, these qipao then became a modern Chinese women’s fashion after the nationalist revolution of 1911. Today, some may even imagine them to be “traditionally” Chinese (as some may also imagine the revolutionary “Mao suits” to be immemorial tradition).50 Such is the human capacity to imagine and forget!

An identifiable Japan (though not yet the modern Japanese nation-state, “whose frontiers were drawn in the middle of the nineteenth century”)51 had emerged from the mists of prehistory by no later than the sixth century. Most of the Korean peninsula was unified under native rule for the first time, and Tang forces expelled by 676, thereby creating an “environment wherein the process of the formation of the Korean people might take an independent course.”52 The growing marginalization of what is now northern Vietnam, increasingly overshadowed by the rise of the port at Guangzhou (Canton), foretold Vietnam’s permanent independence in 939 after more than a millennium under Chinese rule.53 Each, thereafter, would follow separate historical paths—though never entirely separate.

An East Asian world was born (though none called it nor knew it as “Asian”), and the nuclei of each of the modern East Asian nations established, through mutual cross-fertilization during the course of the first millennium CE. The present-day results are four quite different modern nation-states—China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam—that still have much in common, if only the ghosts of a once shared vocabulary. All have been further transformed by a century or more of intensive modernization, and all are now (with the conspicuous exception of North Korea) deeply enmeshed in the current web of globalization.


It seems unlikely that this globalization will reduce the world to homogenous uniformity any time soon. The lesson of history is that, although a comprehensive metamorphosis of identity and culture is indeed possible, within a few generations nomads can become Chinese and Chinese can become nomads. For example, interactions between established communities, while they may constrain or shape development, need not eliminate local variation, or even prevent further diversification. Sometimes diversification is actively stimulated by exchange, through a sense of rivalry, desire for self-assertion, or the simple quirks of adaptation. It is difficult to imagine any more direct form of both biological and cultural reproduction than that of children by their parents, yet the results can still prove surprisingly dissimilar. Genetically, modern East Asians actually share common ancestors with Europeans (and everyone else). Culturally, the East Asian peoples long continued to be educated using texts written in literary Chinese, much as Western Europeans continued to read Latin. Yet from this shared environment, in both Europe and East Asia, multiple new nations emerged. The China that produced the original East Asian written language may have been more enduring than the Roman Empire that bequeathed Latin on the West.54 Yet, even if we accept the recently somewhat unfashionable proposition that the fall of the Roman Empire really did mark a devastating rupture in the continuity of European history,55 China, too, has changed. The changes have been both gradual and continuous, and, on occasion, abrupt and discontinuous. With time, they all become tradition.


1. Ronald T. Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans (revised; Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998), 502.

2. Robert B. Marks, The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002), 81.

3. See Andrew L. March, The Idea of China: Myth and Theory in Geographical Thought (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974), chapter 2: “The Myth of Asia.”

4. John M. Hobson, The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 219–242, 304, 308.

5. A classic study is Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (1983; London: Verso, 1991). Our word “nation” derives from Latin, but its meaning has changed significantly over time. See Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), 9. Examples of the voluminous literature on nationalism in East Asia include: Henrietta Harrison, China: Inventing the Nation (London: Arnold, 2001), and Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Re-Inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation (Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 1998).

6. For China, see David Yen-ho Wu, “The Construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese Identities,” The Living Tree: the Changing Meaning of Being Chinese Today, ed. by Tu Wei-ming (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), 150.

7. Jared Diamond claims that the Fertile Crescent and China were the “world’s two earliest centers of food production,” from which most subsequent historical states developed either directly or indirectly. See Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999), 417. The standard Chinese word for “country,” guo, is extremely ancient, although it probably initially referred to a “fortified stronghold,” and only gradually came to designate larger territorial states. See Cho-yun Hsu and Katheryn M. Linduff, Western Chou Civilization (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 268–269.

8. William G. Boltz distinguishes Archaic (1,200–1,000 BCE) and Pre-Classical (1,000–600 BCE) periods prior to the maturation of standard Classical Chinese. See his “Language and Writing,” The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C., ed. by Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 88–90.

9. See Ramsay MacMullen, “Provincial Languages in the Roman Empire,” Changes in the Roman Empire: Essays in the Ordinary (1966; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).

10. Tang huiyao (Institutes of Tang), by Wang Pu (961; Taibei: Shijie shuju, 1989), 99.1770, 100.1792; and Samguk sagi (Historical Record of the Three [Korean] Kingdoms), by Kim Pu-sik (1145; Seoul: Hongsin munhwasa, 1994), vol. 1, 126 (Sillan basic annals 6).

11. Peter Kornicki, The Book in Japan: A Cultural History from the Beginnings to the Nineteenth Century (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 382.

12. Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing, 1450–1800, trans. by David Gerard (1958; London: NLB, 1976), 249.

13. See Lydia H. Liu, Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity—China, 1900–1937 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995), appendices B–E, and especially 292, 297, 344.

14. Charles Benn, China’s Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang Dynasty (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 161.

15. Sui shu (Dynastic History of the Sui), by Wei Zheng (636; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1973), 81.1827.

16. Tony Judt, “From the House of the Dead: On Modern European Memory,” The New York Review of Books, 52.15 (October 6, 2005): 12, 16.

17. “Wonderful,” A New Musical, Wicked, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Milwaukee: Hal Leonard, 2003), 89.

18. A single origin in the Near East, and subsequent spread by diffusion, for all human civilization was once commonly assumed. Joseph de Guignes, for example, explained in 1759 that “les Chinois sont une colonie Egyptienne.” The theory encountered strong nativist reactions, often supported by new archeological evidence, in the mid-twentieth century. For Chinese civilization especially, an almost entirely independent origin was theorized. See David N. Keightley, “Preface,” The Origins of Chinese Civilization, ed. by David N. Keightley (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), xix–xx, xxviii; and Ho Ping-ti, The Cradle of the East: An Inquiry into the Indigenous Origins of Techniques and Ideas of Neolithic and Early Historic China, 5000–1000 B.C. (Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1975), 363, 367–368. As new DNA evidence appeared, some reconsideration became necessary. It now seems most likely that Chinese civilization was neither simply introduced by Egyptian colonists, nor descended in pristine isolation from Peking Man (or the Yellow Emperor). Common human origins, and periodic interaction, are not incompatible with independent local development.

19. See, for example, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Genes, Peoples, and Languages, trans. by Mark Seielstad (New York: North Point Press, 2000).

20. Andrew Sherratt, “The Trans-Eurasian Exchange: The Prehistory of Chinese Relations with the West,” Contact and Exchange in the Ancient World, ed. by Victor H. Mair (Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 2006), 32, 53.

21. See Edward Friedman, “Symbols of Southern Identity: Rivaling Unitary Nationalism,” China Off Center: Mapping the Margins of the Middle Kingdom, ed. by Susan D. Blum and Lionel M. Jensen (Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 2002), 32–33.

22. Yan Gengwang, “Zhong-gu shidai zhi Chouchi shan: you dianxing wubao dao bishi shengdi” (Chouchi Mountain in Middle-Antiquity: From Typical Fortified Community to Place of Scenic Reclusion), Yan Gengwang shixue lunwen xuanji (1974; Taibei: Lianjing chuban, 1991).

23. Liu Xueyao, Wu-hu shilun (Essays in the History of the Five Hu [non-Chinese Peoples]) (Taibei: Nantian shuju, 2001), 275, 330.

24. Wolfram Eberhard, Das Toba-Reich Nord Chinas: Eine Soziologische Untersuchung (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1949), 9.

25. Tamura Jitsuzō, Chūgoku shijō no minzoku idōki: Goko, Hokugi jidai no seiji to shakai (The Age of Ethnic Migration in Chinese History: Politics and Society of the Five Hu and Northern Wei Era) (Tokyo: S¬bunsha, 1985), “Jo ni kaete” 3–4, and 89–90, 172. Bai Cuiqin puts the figure at roughly three million non-Chinese immigrants into North China following the Han collapse, in Wei-Jin Nanbeichao minzu shi (An Ethnic History of the Wei-Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties) (Chengdu: Sichuan minzu chubanshe, 1996), 518.

26. Tong dian (Comprehensive Canons), by Du You (801; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1984), 7.40, note. Jin shu (Dynastic History of the Jin), ed. by Fang Xuanling (644; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 14.415. For skepticism and a revised estimate, see Earl H. Pritchard, “Thoughts on the Historical Development of the Population of China,” The Journal of Asian Studies, 23.1 (1963): 16–17.

27. Annette L. Juliano and Judith A. Lerner, eds., Monks and Merchants: Silk Road Treasures from Northwest China, Gansu and Ningxia, 4th–7th Century (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001), 98–100.

28. James C. Y. Watt, “Art and History in China from the Third to the Eighth Century,” China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200–750 AD, ed. by James C. Y. Watt, et al. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004), 32.

29. (Xinyi) Luoyang qielan ji (A Record of Buddhist Temples in Luoyang), by Yang Xuanzhi (Ca. 547; Taibei: Sanmin shuju, 1994), 4.308.

30. Shen Fuwei, Zhong-xi wenhua jiaoliu shi (A History of Sino-Western Cultural Exchange) (Taibei: Donghua shuju, 1989), 117–118. Luo Zongzhen, Liuchao kaogu (Six Dynasties Archeology) (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe, 1994), 94, 99.

31. Boris I. Marshak, “Central Asian Metalwork in China,” China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 52–53.

32. Sui shu, 35.1099.

33. Mark Elvin, The Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of China (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 3, 5–6, 25. Utsunomiya Kiyoyoshi, “Nanchō to Hokuchō” (Southern Dynasties and Northern Dynasties), Chūgoku kodai chūseishi kenkyū (1968; Tokyo: Sōbunsha, 1977), 414–415.

34. Károly Czeglédy, “From East to West: The Age of Nomadic Migrations in Eurasia,” Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi, 3 (1983): 25, 29, 101.

35. Zhu Dawei, “Nanchao shaoshu minzu gaikuang ji qi yu Hanzu de ronghe” (The General Situation of Minority Peoples in the Southern Dynasties, and their Blending with the Han People), Liuchao shi lun (1980; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1998), 406.

36. Jin shu, 6.161.

37. Edward H. Schafer, “The Yeh Chung Chi,” T’oung Pao, 76.4–5 (1990): 147–149.

38. Lydia H. Liu, The Clash of Empires: The Invention of China in Modern World Making (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 81.

39. See Kawamoto Yoshiaki, “Gi-Shin Nanbokuchō jidai ni okeru minzoku mondai kenkyū ni tsuite no tenbō” (Views Regarding the Study of Ethnic Questions in the Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties Era), (Dai 1-kai Chūgoku shigaku kokusai kaigi kenkyū hōkokushū) Chūgoku no rekishi sekai: tōgō no shisutemu to tagenteki hatten, ed. by Chūgoku Shigakkai (Tokyo: Tokyo toritsu daigaku shuppankai, 2002), 611. Pak Han-je, “Huzu de Zhongyuan tongzhi yu Bei-Wei de juntianzhi” (Ethnic Hu Rule over the Central Plain and the Equitable Fields System of Northern Wei), in ibid, 629.

40. Cheng Dengyuan, Zhongguo lidai dianji kao (A Study of Chinese Books throughout the Ages) (Taibei: Shunfeng chubanshe, 1968), 193.

41. S. A. M. Adshead, T’ang China: the Rise of the East in World History (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), x, 30.

42. Sui shu, 31.897. See Cheng Youwei, “Nanbeichao shiqi de Huai, Han, Manzu” (The Huai and Han [River Valley] Man Peoples of the Northern and Southern Dynasties Period), Zhengzhou daxue xuebao: zhe she ban (2003.1).

43. Wu-dai huiyao (Institutes of the Five Dynasties), by Wang Pu (922–982) (Taibei: Taiwan shangwu yinshuguan, 1968), 8.96.

44. Anderson, 44, n. #21.

45. Liu Haifeng, Tang-dai jiaoyu yu xuanju zhidu zonglun (A Summary of Tang Dynasty Educational and Selection Systems) (Taibei: Wenjin chubanshe, 1991), 46–48. Naba Toshisada, Tōdai shakai bunkashi kenkyū (Studies in Tang Dynasty Social and Cultural History) (Tokyo: Sōbunsha, 1974), 70–71, 88–89. Seo Tatsuhiko, “Chūka no bunretsu to saisei” (The Breakup and Regeneration of China), Iwanami kōza: sekai rekishi 9; Chūka no bunretsu to saisei, 3–13 seiki (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1999), 18, 66–75. See also the exposition of Miyazaki Ichisada’s ideas, and Niida Noboru’s rebuttal, in Gao Mingshi, “Tang-Song jian lishi biange zhi shidai xingzhi de lunzhan” (The Controversy over the Characteristics of the Era of Historical Change between Tang and Song), Zhan hou Riben de Zhongguo shi yanjiu (1976; Taibei: Mingwen shuju, 1987), 107–110, 112. On tea, see Qiu Tiansheng, Tang-Song biangeqi de zheng-jing yu shehui (The Political-Economy and Society of the Tang-Song Transitional Era) (Taibei: Wen jin chubanshe, 1999), 115; and Feng shi wenjian ji (A Record of what Mr. Feng Heard and Saw), by Feng Yan (Ca. 800; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1958), 6.46.

46. Ienaga Saburō, ed., Nihon Bukkyōshi: kodai hen (A History of Japanese Buddhism: Antiquity) (Tokyo: Hōzōkan, 1967), 201.

47. Aritaka Iwao, Tōdai no shakai to bungei (Tang Dynasty Society and Literary Arts) (Tokyo: Dai-Nihon yūbenkai kōdansha, 1948), 283.

48. David Pollack, The Fracture of Meaning: Japan’s Synthesis of China from the Eighth through the Eighteenth Centuries (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 4.

49. That is, Po Chü-i (Bai Juyi, 772–846).

50. Liu Xueyao, Xianbei shilun (Essays in Xianbei History) (Taibei: Nantian shuju, 1994), 256–259; and Wu-hu shilun, 302. For the qipao, see Edward J. M. Rhoads, Manchus & Han: Ethnic Relations and Political Power in Late Qing and Early Republican China, 1861–1928 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000), 15, 255; and Sherman Cochran, “Transnational Origins of Advertising in Early Twentieth-Century China,” Inventing Nanjing Road: Commercial Culture in Shanghai, 1900–1945, ed. by Sherman Cochran (Ithaca: Cornell University East Asia Program, 1999), 44. On the Mao suit, consult John Fitzgerald, Awakening China: Politics, Culture, and Class in the Nationalist Revolution (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), 23–25.

51. Morris-Suzuki, 9.

52. Ki-baik Lee, A New History of Korea, trans. by Edward W. Wagner (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), 71.

53. See Charles Holcombe, “Early Imperial China’s Deep South: The Viet Regions through Tang Times,” T’ang Studies, 15–16 (1997–98).

54. Mark Elvin’s The Pattern of the Chinese Past: A Social and Economic Interpretation (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1973) specifically tried to address the question of why the Chinese Empire lasted longer than the Roman.

55. For a counter-revisionist reassertion of the disruption attending the fall of Rome, see Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); see also Aldo Schiavone, The End of the Past: Ancient Rome and the Modern West, trans. by Margery J. Schneider (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 2, 24–26, 29, 207–208.

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