History of Yunnan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This article describes the History of Yunnan, a province in the People's Republic of China.

Prehistory[edit]

Notable prehistoric finds include the Yuanmou Man, a Homo erectus fossil unearthed by railway engineers in the 1960s and determined to be the oldest known hominid fossil in China.

Neolithic[edit]

By the Neolithic period. human settlements existed in the area of Lake Dian, close to modern day Kunming, Yunnan's capital. The inhabitants used stone tools and constructed simple wooden structures.

The Kingdom of Dian[edit]

Bronze sculpture of the Dian Kingdom, 3rd century BCE.Yunnan, China.

The Dian culture was distributed around the Lake Dian area and dated, though controversial, between the 6th century BC and the 1st century AD. The culture is divided into an early and a late phase. Under Emperor Wu, a series of military campaigns were dispatched against the Dian during the southward expansion of the Han Dynasty. In 109 BC, the kingdom officially became a vassal state of the Han empire.[1]

Map of the Chinese Han Dynasty, showing some influence on Yunnan's Dian Kingdom, which was situated near modern-day Kunming.[citation needed]

Han Dynasty[edit]

In 109 BC, Emperor Wu sent General Guo Chang (郭昌) south to Yunnan, establishing Yizhou commandery and 24 subordinate counties.[citation needed] The commandery seat was at Dianchi county (present day Jinning 晋宁). To expand the burgeoning trade with Burma and India, Emperor Wu also sent Tang Meng (唐蒙) to maintain and expand the Five Foot Way, renaming it "Southwest Barbarian Way" (西南夷道).[citation needed] By this time, agricultural technology in Yunnan had markedly improved. The local people used bronze tools, plows and kept a variety of livestock, including cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs and dogs. Anthropologists have determined that these people were related to the people now known as the Tai. They lived in tribal congregations, sometimes led by exile Chinese.

In the Records of the Grand Historian, Zhang Qian (d. 113 BC) and Sima Qian (145-90 BC) make references to "Sendhuk", which may have been referring to the Indus Valley (the Sindh province in modern Pakistan), originally known as "Sindhu" in Sanskrit. When Yunnan was annexed by the Han Dynasty, Chinese authorities also reported a Sendhuk" (Indian) community living in the area.[2]

In 109 AD, the Han court established Yunnan county, a part of Yizhou (益州) commandery. Because the county seat was south of Mount Yun (云山), the county was named "Yunnan" - literally "south of Yun".

Nanzhao Kingdom[edit]

Main article: Kingdom of Nanzhao

In 649 AD the chieftain of the Yi Mengshe tribe, Xinuluo (細奴邏), founded a kingdom (Damengguo 大蒙國) in the area of Lake Erhai. In the year AD 737,Piluoge(皮逻阁) united the six zhaos in succession, establishing a new kingdom called Nanzhao.

In 750, Nanzhao invaded the Tang Dynasty. In retaliation, the Tang sent an army against Nanzhao in 751, but this army was soundly defeated at Xiaguan. In 754, another army was sent, this time from the north, but it too was defeated. Bolstered by these successes, Nanzhao expanded rapidly, first into Burma, then into the rest of Yunnan, down into northern Laos and Thailand, and finally, north into Sichuan. In 829, Chengdu was taken; it was a great prize, as it enabled Nanzhao to lay claim to the whole of Sichuan province, with its rich paddy fields.

The Tang dynasty retaliated and by 873, Nanzhao had been expelled from Sichuan, and retreated back to Yunnan. Taking Chengdu marked the high point of the Nanzhao kingdom, and it was a watershed: from then on, the Nanzhao Kingdom slowly declined. n 902, the Nanzhao dynasty was overthrown, and it was followed by three other dynasties in quick succession, until Duan Siping seized power in 937 to establish the Kingdom of Dali.

Dali Kingdom[edit]

Main article: Kingdom of Dali

Dali (simplified Chinese: 大理国; traditional Chinese: 大理國; pinyin: Dàlǐguó) was a Buddhist Bai kingdom. Established by Duan Siping in 937, it was ruled by a succession of 22 kings until the year 1253, when it was destroyed by an invasion of the Mongol Empire. The capital city was at Dali. In 1274 the Province of Yunnan was created, and the region has since been incorporated within China.

Yunnan under the Mongol Empire and the Yuan Dynasty[edit]

The Mongols established regular and tight administrative control over Yunnan. In 1253 Möngke Khan of the Mongol Empire dispatched the prince Kublai to take Yunnan. The Mongols swept away numerous native regimes, including the leading Dali kingdom. Later Yunnan became one of the ten provinces set up by Kubilai Khan. Kublai Khan appointed Turkmen Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar governor in Yunnan in 1273.[3] Before that, the area had been ruled by a local king and a Mongol prince under the Great Khan. The Yuan provincial authorities conferred various titles on many native chieftains, who were obliged to pay taxes. When the Mongols were expelled from China in 1368, Yunnan was thrown into chaos and anarchy for a number of years. The Ming Dynasty defeated the last of the Yuan loyalists in 1381.

Ming Dynasty[edit]

The newly proclaimed Ming Dynasty did not send armies into Yunnan until 1381. The central government allowed the general Mu Ying, foster son of dynastic founder Zhu Yuanzhang, to set up a hereditary feudatory system in the province. Throughout the Ming, the Mu family developed tremendous influence in Yunnan.

From the end of the 15th century, the Toungoo Dynasty in Myanmar began encroaching on Yunnan. In the 16th century Chen Yongbin, the governor of Yunnan, held back a Myanmar invasion. After the war, he built eight passes along the border in Tengyue subprefecture to mark the demarcation between the two countries.

Qing Dynasty[edit]

After the fall of the Ming in northern China, Yunnan became the last Southern Ming regime headed by Zhu Youlang. Supported by rebels-cum loyalists, he persisted in resistance against the Qing conquest even after the Qing capture of Kunming in 1659. Zhu and his men then fled into Myanmar to seek refuge in Ava, but were treated as prisoners. Zhu's armed followers savaged Upper Myanmar in an attempt to rescue him. General Wu Sangui, then still loyal to the Qing, invaded Myanmar in 1662 with a sizable army, and demanded Zhu's surrender. Although he hesitated, King Pye finally decided to hand Zhu over to avoid hostility. Wu Sangui later turned against the Manchus but died in 1678. Yunnan finally fell to the Qing army in 1681.

Pingnan Sultanate[edit]

Main article: Panthay Rebellion

Waves of conflict between the Muslim Hui people in Yunnan and the Qing government escalated into an all out rebellion in 1856. The rebels in western Yunnan under the leadership of Du Wenxiu became the major military and political center of opposition to the Qing government. They turned their fury on the local mandarins and ended up challenging the central government in Beijing. The rebellion successfully captured the city of Dali, which became the base for the rebels' operations, and they declared themselves a separate political entity from China. The rebels identified their nation as Pingnan Guo (平南国 The Pacified Southern Kingdom) and Du Wenxiu was styled Qa´id Jami al-Muslimin ('Leader of the Community of Muslims'), but is usually referred to in foreign sources as Sultan) and ruled 1856 - 26 December 1872. The sultanate reached the high-water mark of their power and glory in 1860.

The Sultanate's power declined after 1868. The Chinese Imperial Government had succeeded in reinvigorating itself. By 1871, it was directing a campaign for the annihilation of the obdurate Hui Muslims of Yunnan. Though largely forgotten, the bloody rebellion caused the deaths of up to a million people in Yunnan. Many adherents to the Yunnanese Muslim cause were persecuted by the imperial Manchus. Wholesale massacres of Yunnanese Muslims followed.

For a period of perhaps ten to fifteen years following the collapse of the Panthay Rebellion, the province's Hui minority was widely discriminated against by the victorious Qing, especially in the western frontier districts contiguous with Burma. During these years the refugee Hui settled across the frontier within Burma gradually established themselves in their traditional callings – as merchants, caravaneers, miners, restaurateurs and (for those who chose or were forced to live beyond the law) as smugglers and mercenaries and became known in Burma as the Panthay.

Republican China[edit]

Main article: Yunnan clique

Following the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Yunnan came under the control of local warlords, who had more than the usual degree of autonomy due to Yunnan's remoteness. They financed their regime through opium harvesting and traffic.

People's Republic of China[edit]

A British 1909 Map of British India and Burma showing Yunnan's typically ill-defined south and western borders.

The establishment of the PRC brought gradual but definite consolidation to China's southwestern borders, solidifying what were previously murky claims to various regions.

For example, Colonial French and English had been active at sites in neighbouring northern Laos, Vietnam and Burma, and even inside of modern Yunnan at sites like Tengchong and Gejiu. In fact, between 1904 and 1909 the French had built the 885 km long Sino-Vietnamese Railway which ran from Hanoi to Kunming via Hekou, with an offshoot to Gejiu. The English tried to match the French effort with a railway from Burma, but failed to complete it prior to the outbreak of war, with the project ultimately abandoned.

The PRC also saw a bitter Sino-Vietnamese War fought along Yunnan's south eastern border, which was properly demarcated only on 23 February 2009,[4] with renewed agreements taking effect as late as 14 July 2010.[5]

In the southern region of Xishuangbanna, little or no Han dominance was felt as late as the end of the 19th century. This is illustrated by Otto E. Ehlers' (1855–1895) account of his walk from Rangoon to Jinghong, recording upon his arrival that the annual Chinese tribute mission from northerly Simao was in town and, whilst they were happy to allow him to stay on the south of the Mekong river, he was not to be lent assistance in crossing over. He had no trouble crossing with the aid of a local, regardless.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ebrey, Patricia Buckley (2010). The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-521-12433-1. 
  2. ^ Tan Chung (1998). A Sino-Indian Perspective for India-China Understanding.
  3. ^ John Man Kublai Khan, p.80
  4. ^ "China-Vietnam border demarcation finished". Xinhua. 23 February 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "China-Vietnam land border demarcation agreements take effect Wednesday". Xinhua. 14 July 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  6. ^ Ehlers, Otto E. (2002). On Horseback through Indochina - Volume 2: Burma, North Thailand, the Shan States and Yunnan. White Lotus Press. ISBN 974-7534-74-6. 

Further reading[edit]

Giersch, Charles Patterson (2006): Asian borderlands. The transformation of Qing China's Yunnan frontier. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Univ. Press.

Yang, Bin (2009): Between winds and clouds. The making of Yunnan (second century BCE to twentieth century CE). New York, Chichester: Columbia University Press.

External links[edit]