By Michael D. Swaine
RAND Asian specialists Swaine and Tellis have selected some of the most major, debatable, and well timed topics, breaking new floor conceptually in addition to analytically.
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Additional resources for Interpreting China's Grand Strategy: Past, Present, and Future
10Most notable were the regimes established in North China by the Liao (916–1125) and the Jin (1115–1234), when parts of South China were ruled by the Han Chinese Song Dynasty (960–1279). 11The Yuan Dynasty (1264–1368) was established by the Mongols and the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) was established by the Manchus, both non-Han Chinese nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples. For a brief overview of the origin and nature of these nonChinese regimes, see Hucker (1975), pp. 122–133, 144–157, and Fairbank (1992), pp.
The Historical Context 37 From the time of the Han Dynasty, when the Chinese state had expanded to occupy, if not entirely control, virtually the entire heartland described above, efforts to control or influence China’s strategic periphery have been largely limited to the reestablishment of the level of dominance that was lost during previous periods of regime decline and/or fragmentation. In other words, periphery expansion has been primarily defensive in nature, intended to eliminate persistent external security threats and bolster or reestablish regime authority within the established periphery and heartland, not to extend regime power and influence significantly beyond the known periphery described above.
Although at times engaged quite extensively in trade and cultural contact with other lands, and while absorbing and adapting an array of foreign religious and ethnic beliefs and practices, the imperial Chinese state generally remained self-sufficient (and, at times even insular) as an economic and political entity. Specifically, unlike smaller states or larger maritime empires, the Chinese state did not rely on external sources of raw materials, commodities, or know-how to prosper or survive; nor, during most of the imperial era, did it highly value or depend upon external political or military support, in the form of explicit, long-standing alliances, for its existence, although it certainly cooperated at times with foreign entities to counter major threats.