華夷之辨, the distinction between Hua (華) and Yi (夷), also known as Sino–barbarian dichotomy, is an ancient Chinese conception that differentiated a culturally defined "China" (called Hua, Huaxia 華夏, or Xia 夏) from cultural or ethnic outsiders (Yi "barbarians"). Although Yi is often translated as "barbarian", there are also other ways of translating this term into English. Some examples include "foreigners","ordinary others", "wild tribes", "uncivilized tribes", and so forth.
The Hua–Yi distinction was basically cultural, but it could also take ethnic or racist overtones (especially in times of war). In its cultural form, the Hua–Yi distinction assumed Chinese cultural superiority, but also implied that outsiders could become Hua by adopting Chinese values and customs. When this "cultural universalism" took a more racial guise, however, it could have harmful effects to those groups not considered 'Hua'.[to whom?]
- 1 Historical context
- 2 China
- 2.1 Zhou Dynasty
- 2.2 Jin Dynasty
- 2.3 Wu Hu uprising
- 2.4 Northern Wei
- 2.5 Sui Dynasty
- 2.6 Tang Dynasty
- 2.7 Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
- 2.8 Song Dynasty
- 2.9 Yuan Dynasty
- 2.10 Ming Dynasty
- 2.11 Qing dynasty
- 2.12 Republic of China
- 2.13 People's Republic of China
- 3 Conceptualization of the Hua–Yi distinction in non-Chinese states
- 4 External influences
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
Ancient China was composed of a group of states that arose in the Yellow River valley; one of the earliest centers of human civilization. According to historian Li Feng, who lived in Zhou Dynasty (ca. 1041–771 BCE), the contrast between the "Chinese" Zhou and the "Rong" or "Yi" was "more political than cultural or ethnic." Lothar von Falkenhausen argues that the perceived contrast between "Chinese" and "Barbarians" was accentuated during the Eastern Zhou period (770–256 BCE), when adherence to Zhou rituals became increasingly recognized as a "barometer of civilization."; a meter for the sophistication and cultural refinement of a group. It is widely agreed by historians, that the distinction between the "Hua" and the "Yi" emerged during the Zhou period.
Professor of East Asian studies Prof. Gideon Shelach claims that Chinese texts tended to overstate the distinction between the Chinese and their northern neighbors notwithstanding many similarities that existed between the two groups, therefore he places doubt in the very existence of the Hua–Yi distinction which so many, at the time, believed in. Dr Nicola di Cosmo also doubts the existence of a strong demarcation between the "Zhou Universe" and "a discrete, 'barbarian', non-Zhou universe" and believes that this conception became popularized by Chinese historian, Sima Qian's, beliefs in and writings of the "chasm that had always existed between China – the Hua-Hsia [Huaxia] people – and the various alien groups inhabiting the north."
The conclusion of the Warring States period, brought the first unified Chinese state- established by the Qin Dynasty in 221 BCE- who set up the office of Emperor and forcibly standardized traditional Chinese script, leading to the first of the distinctions between the refined Chinese 'Hua' and the increasingly marginalized Yi. The Han Dynasty (221 BC-206 AD) would further contribute to the divide in its creation of a Han cultural identity among its populace that would last to the present day.
The Han Chinese civilization has had a large influence on neighboring states such as Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand and other Asian countries. Although Han Chinese superiority had only been sporadically reinforced by displays of Chinese military might and despite that they were independent nations and anything but, the Sinocentric system treated these countries as vassals of the Emperor or the Son of Heaven (Chinese:天子), who was in ownership of the Mandate of Heaven (Chinese:天命)- the divine right to rule. Areas outside the Sinocentric influence and the divine rule of the Emperor were considered, under this concept, to consist of uncivilized lands inhabited by barbarians, or Huawaizhidi.
Throughout history, the frontiers of China had been periodically attacked by nomadic tribes from the north and west. These nomadic people were considered barbarians and were often compared to the Chinese who believed themselves to be the more refined people of the Central Plain (中原), who had begun to build cities and live an urban life based on agriculture. It was in consideration of how best to deal with this threat that the philosopher, Confucius (551 – 479 BCE) was prompted to formulate principles for relationships with the barbarians, briefly recorded in two of his Analects.
It was not until the expansion of European trade and colonialism into the East, in the 18th and 19th centuries, that Chinese civilization become fully exposed to the external cultural and technological developments that had outstripped that of China's whilst they brooded in their beliefs of superiority within their borders. As such, the nation was forced to undergo a modification of its traditional views of its relationships with those whom they had previously considered "barbarians".
The great Chinese philosopher Confucius lived during a time of war between the Chinese states. He regarded people who did not respect "li", or ritual propriety, as barbarian in nature as he believed the workings of a state should be founded on ethical conduct rather than the relatively cruel social codes imposed by conquering princes of neighboring 'barbarian' states. In the Ames and Rosemont translation of Analect 3.5, Confucius said: "The Yi and Di barbarian tribes with rulers are not as viable as the various Chinese states without them."
The Disposition of Error, a fifth-century tract defending Buddhism, a religion that had originated outside the Sinocentric sphere in India, notes that when Confucius was threatening to take residence among the nine barbarian nations (九黎) he said, "If a gentleman-scholar dwells in their midst, what baseness can there be among them?" An alternate translation of the philosopher's Analect 9.14 is "Someone said: 'They are vulgar. What can you do about them?' The Master said: 'A gentleman used to live there. How could they be vulgar?'" In both translations, there is a clear implication that the author believes in the superiority of the Hua culture over the Yi.
On the other hand, the prominent Shuowen Jiezi character dictionary (121 CE) defines yi 夷 as 平 "level; peaceful" or 東方之人 "people of eastern regions" and does not attempt to marginalize the Yi as many of the nation had done, and as such, the tone of the dictionary suggests that some did not believe in the existence of a Hua-Yi distinction.
The Bamboo Annals records that the founder of Zhou, King Wu of Zhou "led the lords of the western barbarians" on a journey to conquer the Shang Dynasty and whilst the Duke Huan of Qi called upon the various Chinese states to fight against the barbarian invasion and uphold the dynasty of the King of Shang, the Duke's defence of the Shang was ultimately unsuccessful, leading to the creation of the Zhou Dynasty that had, ironically, later contributed as much to the Hua-Yi distincion as much as the Shang.
However, not all Zhou regarded the Hua-Yi as cultural barrier needed to be overcome to 'purify' China. The great Zhou philosopher Mencius believed that Confucian practices were universal and timeless, and thus, followed by both Hua and Yi people- "Shun was an Eastern barbarian; he was born in Chu Feng, moved to Fu Hsia, and died in Ming T'iao. King Wen was a Western barbarian; he was born in Ch'i Chou and died in Pi Ying. Their native places were over a thousand li apart, and there were a thousand years between them. Yet when they had their way in the Central Kingdoms, their actions matched like the two halves of a tally. The standards of the two sages, one earlier and one later, were identical."
In order to alleviate the shortages of labor caused by the Three Kingdoms wars, the Jin allowed millions of non-Chinese, Yi people residence in Jin territory. However, many officials opposed this decision in the name of the Hua–Yi distinction, claiming that if the barbarians did not identify with the Huaxia, they would conspire to destroy the Chinese empire.
Wu Hu uprising
During the Wu Hu (五胡) uprising and ravaging of north China that occurred around 310CE, the Jin dynasty and other Chinese appealed to entrenched beliefs in the Hua–Yi distinction call for a resistance against the Wu Hu invasion and the Yi they represented. The historians of the southern dynasties, who were all Han Chinese, portrayed the Wu Hu as barbaric and different from the refined Hua of the Chinese.
Ran Min's order to kill the barbarians
In 349 or 350CE (date of which is disputed), the Han Chinese general Ran Min (冉閔) seized power from the last emperor of the Zhao and encouraged the Han Chinese to slaughter the Jie people, a large number of which were living in the Zhao capital, Ye. In this massacre and the wars that ensued, hundreds of thousands of Jie (羯), Qiang (羌), and Xiongnu (匈奴) men, women, and children were killed. The Wu Hu quickly unified to fight Ran Min, yet Ran Min won victory after victory nonetheless. Despite his military success, however, Ran's regime was promptly toppled in 353 CE. As a result of this period of turbulence, three of the five main "barbarian" ethnic groups in China disappeared from Chinese history.
Ran Min continues to be a controversial figure. He is considered by some to be a hero, whereas others believe he was borne of the extreme prejudice that can result from belief in the concept of the Hua–Yi distinction and as such, morally astray.
Emperor Shaowu of Northern Wei (a state that controlled the north of China), who was of the Xianbei (鮮卑) people attempted to eliminate Yi from his state by imposing Sinicization on the Xianbei. The Xianbei language was outlawed and Xianbei people began to adopt Chinese surnames; for example, the Tuobas became the Yuans.
In 581, the Sui Emperor Yang Jian deposed the Xianbei ruler of Northern Zhou and restored the rule of the Han Chinese over North China. This event marked the end of all power that the Xianbei and other non-Chinese groups had over China, and racial tension subsided.
The era of the Tang Dynasty is regarded as one of the "Golden Ages" of Chinese history, as well as one of the most cosmopolitan regimes in China's past- in which military strength, political unity, economic influence, and cultural efflorescence levels were considered to be among the highest in the nation's past. During this era various neighboring ethnic groups including Koreans, Indians and Tibetans journeyed to Chang'an and other major Tang cities to do business or study. Apart from widening the scope of multiculturalism within China, these people brought also their religions; Buddhism, Islam, Zarathustrian (Xianjiao), Persian Manichean Thought (Monijiao) and Syriac Christianity (Jingjiao), all of which took root and quickly began to flourish.
This cosmopolitan policy caused some controversy among the literati, many of whom questioned the recommendation of the Kaifeng governor for the participation of Arab-born Li Yan-Sheng in the 847 imperial examinations and several similar incidences of what they believed as incorrect racial privileging. Such was the discourse that Tang intellectual, Chen An, wrote an essay defending the governor's decision; "The Heart of Being Hua" (Chinese: 華心; pinyin: Huá xīn), which is often cited as expressing the sentiments of the "non-xenophobic" Chinese position on the Hua–Yi distinction. In the essay, Chen writes: "If one speaks in terms of geography, then there are Hua and Yi. But if one speaks in terms of education, then there can be no such difference. For the distinction between Hua and Yi rests in the heart and is determined by their different inclinations."
A prominent Tang Confucian Han Yu wrote in his essay Yuan Dao, the following: "When Confucius wrote the Chunqiu, he said that if the feudal lords use the Yi ritual, then they should be called Yi. If they use Chinese rituals, then they should be called Chinese." Han Yu went on to lament in that same essay that the Chinese of his time might all become Yi because the Tang court wanted to put Yi laws above the teachings of the former kings- bringing to light to the intellectual community the possibility that as equally as potential for insiders to lose their culture, outsiders have the potential to similarly gain insider culture.
Arguments which excoriated the Tang's lax attitude towards foreigners were strengthened by the Yi-led An Lushan Rebellion (755–763), which propelled the Tang into terminal decline. An intellectual movement "to return to the pure... sources of orthodox thought and morality"- of which included many of the concepts Classical Prose Movement and the like- also targeted "foreign" religions, as exemplified by Han Yu's diatribe against Buddhism. Emperor Wenzong of Tang passed decrees in line with this zeitgeist, especially restricting Iranian religions and Southeast Asians, but this policy was relaxed by his successors.
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
The "Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms" was a period in which the north of China was ruled by a non-Chinese people, the Shatuo, for three short-lived dynasties and the south ruled by Chinese. Their legitimacy was recognized by the Song Dynasty.
The Chinese Song Dynasty saw both an economic boom and the invasion of Chinese territory by several alien states. As such states as the Khitan Liao and Tangut Xi Xia began to take territories inhabited by large numbers of Chinese, they began to assert that they too were Chinese and successors to the Tang Dynasty, and posed several legitimacy issues for Song rule.
In response to rising concerns from citizenry and claims from Yi states such as the Tangut Xi Xia, Song scholars stipulated the following: that groups like the Shatuo- whom the Song largely succeeded and whom largely continued the rule of the Tang- were not "barbarian or Yi" but Chinese or "Hua", hence, that the Song had only descended from ruling groups that were Hua. Secondly, the Song asserted that the Liao (遼) and Xi Xia (西夏), and later the Jin (金), were barbarian states despite their control of large areas of Chinese territory, because they had not inherited any mandate from a legitimate dynasty that was "Hua"
Concerns over legitimacy of rule were limited to not only the Song- states rose up again in the Yuan dynasty, as its rulers were non-Han Chinese themselves. However, the Yuan dynasty adopted a different approach to quelling the legitimacy conflict. The Yuan asserted that the Song, Liao and Jin were all legitimate; therefore all three dynasties were given their own history, as recognition of their legitimacy.
Despite this, the Yuan racially segregated their people; dividing society into four categories:
- Mongols (蒙古): the ruling group and hence, the most important
- Semu (色目; "assorted categories"): a term for non-Chinese and non-Mongol foreigners who occupied the second slate;
- Han (漢人): a term for the Han Chinese, Jurchens, and Khitan under the rule of the Jin dynasty;
- Southerner (南人): a term for Han Chinese under the rule of the Song dynasty.
In addition, the Yuan also divided society into 10 castes, based on "desirability":
- High officials (Chinese: 大官)
- Minor officials (Chinese: 小官)
- Buddhist monks (Chinese: 釋)
- Daoist priests (Chinese: 道)
- Physicians (Chinese: 医)
- Peasants (Chinese: 農)
- Hunters (Chinese: 獵)
- Courtesans (Chinese: 妓)
- Confucian scholars (Chinese: 儒)
- Beggars (Chinese: 丐)
Mongol rule- which the Yuan dynasty was- viewed as barbaric and humiliating for the Chinese, did not last long in China (from 1271 to 1368).
Some, however, sympathized with Mongol rule. According to Fudan University historian Yao Dali, even the supposedly "patriotic" hero Wen Tianxiang of the late Song and early Yuan period did not believe the Mongol rule to be illegitimate. In fact, Wen was willing to live under Mongol rule as long as he was not forced to be a Yuan dynasty official, out of his loyalty to the Song dynasty showcasing that there were indeed pre-modern Chinese groups that viewed culture and politics rather than race and ethnicity as the dividing line between the Chinese and the non-Chinese. There had been many cases when the Yi or non-Chinese had been later considered Hua or Chinese.
In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang proclaimed the Ming Dynasty and issued a long manifesto, in which he accused the Mongols- the Yuan- of being barbarians who had usurped the Chinese throne, and who had inflicted atrocities, such as rape and murder, across a wide range of groups. He lists incidents where the Mongols massacred men in entire villages and entitled themselves to the women. Additionally, Zhu's northern military expedition had been a success; Beijing was captured in the same year and China was again governed by Han Chinese.
Although the Ming referred to the preceding Yuan as "胡元", or barbarian Yuan, they also accepted the Yuan before them as a legitimate dynasty. In fact, in contrast to what was said in the previous paragraph, Zhu Yuanzhang also indicated on another occasion that he was happy to be born in the Yuan period and that the Yuan did legitimately receive the Mandate of Heaven to rule over China. In addition, one of his key advisors, Liu Ji, generally supported the idea that while the Chinese and the non-Chinese are different, they are actually equal. Liu was therefore arguing against the idea that Hua was and is superior to Yi.
During the Miao Rebellions (Ming Dynasty), the Ming dynasty forces engaged in massive slaughter of Miao people and other native ethnic groups to southern China, after castrating Miao boys to use as eunuch slaves, Chinese soldiers took Miao women as wives and colonized the southern provinces.
Towards the end of the Ming dynasty, Ming dynasty loyalists invoked Hua-Yi zhi bian to urge the Chinese to resist the Manchu invaders.
The Qing's order that all subjects of the Qing shave their forehead and braid the rest of their hair into a queue was viewed as a symbolic gesture of servitude by many Han Chinese, who thought that changing their dress to the same as Yi would be contrary to the spirit of "Hua-Yi zhi bian."
Scholar Lü Liuliang (1629–1683), who lived through the transition between the Ming and the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, refused to serve the new dynasty because he claimed that upholding the difference between Huaxia and the Yi was more important than respecting the righteous bond between minister (臣) and sovereign (君王). In 1728, a failed examination candidate called Zeng Jing (曾靜), who had been influenced by Lü's works, called for the overthrow of the Manchu regime. The Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723–1735), whom Zeng had accused of ten major crimes, took this event as an opportunity to educate the Qing's Chinese subjects. In a series of discussions with Zeng Jing that historian Jonathan Spence recounts in Treason by the Book, the emperor proclaimed that the Chinese were not inherently superior to the barbarians. To justify his statements, he declared that King Wen, the sage king and the founder of the Zhou dynasty, was a person of Western Yi origin, but this did not hurt King Wen's greatness. The Yongzheng Emperor also borrowed from Han Yu, indicating that Yi can become Hua and vice versa. In addition, according to Yongzheng, both Hua and Yi were now a part of the same family under the Qing. One of the goals of the tract Dayi juemi lu (大義覺迷錄), which the Yongzheng Emperor published and distributed throughout the empire in 1730, was "to undermine the credibility of the hua/yi distinction." However, due to the fact that this tract also helped to expose many unsavory aspects of court life and political intrigues in the imperial government, Yongzheng’s successor the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736–1796) recalled the tracts and had them burned for the fear that it would undermine the legitimacy of the Qing empire.
During the Qing, the Qing destroyed writings that criticized the Liao, Jin and Yuan out of the Hua–Yi distinction.[clarification needed]
The leaders of the Taiping rebellion issued a long proclamation based on Zhu Yuanzhang's denuciation of the Mongols and accused the Manchu of similar crimes. A popular slogan for rebellion in the Qing was "Overthrow the Qing, revive the Ming" (反清復明).
However, it is also true that during the Qing Dynasty, the rulers of China adopted Confucian philosophy and Han Chinese institutions to show that the Manchu rulers had received the Mandate of Heaven to rule China, while at the same time trying to retain their own indigenous culture. Due to the Manchus' adoption of Han Chinese culture, most Han Chinese (though not all) did accept the Manchus as the legitimate rulers of China.
Republic of China
The historian Frank Dikötter (1990:420) says the Chinese "idea of 'race' (zhong [種], "seed", "species", "race") started to dominate the intellectual scene" in the late 19th-century Qing dynasty and completed the "transition from cultural exclusiveness to racial exclusiveness in modern China" in the 1920s.
Following the overthrow of the Qing, rumors have it that Sun Yat-sen went to the grave of Zhu Yuanzhang and told him that the Huaxia had been restored and the barbarians overthrown. However, after the ROC revolution, Sun also advocated that all ethnic groups in China are now a part of the same ethnic Chinese family.
People's Republic of China
The PRC did not abide by the concept of "Hua Yi zhi bian" and recognized the Qing and Yuan as legitimate dynasties. Initially, the CPC condemned all Chinese dynasties as "Feudal oppressors".
Hua-Yi zhi bian is only an intellectual issue in academic discussions these days. It also has very little practical and real significance. In fact, both of these things have been true since the founding of the ROC until today.
Conceptualization of the Hua–Yi distinction in non-Chinese states
In the second unsuccessful Mongol invasion of Japan in 1281 CE, 20–30,000 prisoners were taken but only 10,000 Southern Song Chinese were spared. The Japanese separated the Song troops who had recently surrendered to the Mongols from the other prisoners, called them "Men of Tang", and enslaved them. On the other hand, the Northern Han Chinese, Khitan, Jur'chens, Koreans, and Mongols who had been living in the Mongol Empire for a century, were executed.
Following the Manchu conquest of the Ming Dynasty in 1644 and thereby establishing the Qing Dynasty, the Joseon Koreans began to refer to themselves as "Sojunghwa"; literally "Little China". As the Joseon supported the Ming, they were reported to have extended a friendliness to the Ming which they had not displayed to the Qing dynasty.
Owing to that Korea had been closely tied to previous Han Chinese civilizations and dynasties and their thereafter loyalties to older Chinese culture- as evidenced in their writings and numerous other cultural understandings between the Koreans and Chinese- "barbarianism ruling China" became a major issue for discussion within the nation.
As the Ming dynasty came to be overthrown by the Manchus, Korea itself was worried of similar invasions and its own security from threats. This was due to previous instances in which Ming Chinese primarily aided Korea's independence such as in the Imjin Wars. Long after the establishment of the Qing dynasty, the Joseon ruling elite and even the Joseon government continued to use the Chongzhen era name (숭정기원, 崇禎紀元) of the last Ming emperor. Continually in secret, they referred to the Manchu Emperor as the "barbarian ruler" and Qing ambassadors as "barbarian ambassadors". Korean feelings diplomatically, about the Manchu, could not be expressed as the "Barbarians" essentially held great power over Korea following their successful attacks and invasions in the Manchu campaigns of 1627 and 1637.
Its once great ally within the Ming dynasty was no more and acquiescence to the power of Qing and essentially the Barbarians, had to be shown in its governance. In the future, the Qing government, with its Manchu leadership, would assert more power over Korea and influence its policies. This would eventually lead Korea into becoming a Hermit Kingdom. This was to prevent foreign influence in a land the Qing government viewed as close to home and to assert Chinese authority, which was under threat from the Western powers especially as a result of the unequal treaties signed following the First and Second Opium Wars.
The Ryūkyū Kingdom was heavily influenced by Chinese culture, taking language, architecture, and court practices from China. It also paid annual tribute to first the Ming and later Qing courts from 1374 until 1874.
After the 18th century, after the devastating Tay Son wars, The ruling Nguyen dynasty consolidated its power by adopting a more radical Confucian worldview, With its territory expanded to its largest extend, the country came to clash with the Khmer and Lao kingdoms and various tribes on the Tay Nguyen highlands such as the Jarai and the Ma. In 1805, the Emperor Gia Long referred to Vietnam as trung quốc, the "middle kingdom". In 1811, Gia Long proposed a law "Hán di hữu hạn", which means "making clear the border between the Vietnamese and barbarians", referring to the Vietnamese as Han people. Cambodia was regularly called Cao Man, the country of "upper barbarians". In fact, earlier dynasties also considered themselves "Hua", in the sense that their nation was civilized, and their kingdom as a polity was at the center of Earth and Heaven. Even with regard to China Proper, Vietnamese dynasties claimed to be the Middle Kingdom while Chinese were "outsiders".
At the end of the 1813, Robert Morrison's translated Bible was published in Malacca (in what is now Malaysia); it is believed to be the world's first published Bible in the Chinese language. The same version was reputed to have been used by the Taiping Rebellion's leader Hong Xiuquan, who eventually used ideas borrowed from the Chinese Bible and staged a massive anti-Manchu military campaign originating in racial hatred.
Hong Xiuquan studied Christianity under Morrison for two months, but Morrison refused to baptize Hong. Not satisfied by calling Manchus barbarians as commonly implied in Hua-Yi zibian debate, Hong went one step further by calling the Manchus devil, as in the term anti-Christ in the Bible, at the same time he made claim that he was the brother of Christ, and so another Son of God.
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