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The Ancient China Thread


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18 replies to this topic

#1
Yuli Ban

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Because China's history is surprisingly relevant to tomorrow's news. Also, eurocentricity means few people know just how awesome ol' China was.
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#2
Italian Ufo

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One of the oldest civilization in the world. it would be nice if they concentrate more on marine archaeology.



#3
EVanimations

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China's supremacy as a nation seems to be a historical constant throughout civilization. The West's rise in power during the 2nd millenium CE seems to have been a temporary aberration at this point.

 

As a global civilization, however, this is everyone's civilization. China will just be doing a good deal of running the show.



#4
Ryan94

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China's supremacy as a nation seems to be a historical constant throughout civilization. The West's rise in power during the 2nd millenium CE seems to have been a temporary aberration at this point. As a global civilization, however, this is everyone's civilization. China will just be doing a good deal of running the show.

China's power was dependent on the stability and prosperity of it's historical ally, Persia. Once Persia began to steadily weaken after the Arab (Islamic) invasion, hence causing it to turn its attention to the islamic world rather than its eastern ally, then China's western border and trade routes lost security and safety. The decreased security along the western border and trade routes meant Turkic and Mongol raiders began looting at will and China's western provinces surrounding Tibet and Mongolia (Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang) began to destabilise, also causing China's military to become overstretched. Since the fall of Persia which later caused the collapse of the Tang dynasty, China never again had the same cultural, economic and political freedoms it once had, nor has it ever had an ally which it could trust to the same degree.

#5
EVanimations

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Interesting. Thanks for the clarification, though I always got the impression that the Ancient Chinese were always rather secluded, isolationist, and secretive.



#6
Ryan94

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Interesting. Thanks for the clarification, though I always got the impression that the Ancient Chinese were always rather secluded, isolationist, and secretive.

Before the rise of Islam, the Chinese people and royalty heavily intermarried with the Arabs, Turks and Persians. A lot of Chinese culture originated from central and West Asia, such as Buddhism (which came through from Afghanistan) musical instruments like the pipa and guzheng from Persian instruments, and many chinese regional superstitions/beliefs influenced by the Zoroastrian religion. A few Chinese emperors (though i forgot which dynasty) even had green eyes, inherited from their middle-eastern forefathers. After the Arab occupation of Persia, the Tang dynasty sent huge armies to present-day Iran in a campaign to reclaim Persia from the Arabs, led by the Emperor's Persian brother-in-law Pirooz II, knowing that without Persia guarding China's back door, a unified China at its present extent would be an impossibility to maintain. The invasion to reclaim Persia failed. The Persians renounced their persian heritage and became Chinese citizens, and eventually the modern-day 'Hui' ethnic minority, along with others (who number in the millions around modern day China). The Tang dynasty, the last true 'Chinese' dynasty leading a unified China, collapsed and fell into civil war until the Mongols occupied China during the Yuan dynasty, followed by the Manchus occupying China in the Ming and Qing dynasty until the 1900s. It took 1000 years for China to regain the land it possessed during the Tang dynasty (not counting the mongol empire). By that time, China were set in their ways of distrusting all foreigners and maintaining a hostile foreign policy towards all its neighbours till this day.

#7
Yuli Ban

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See, they don't teach this in history class where I'm from.
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#8
Futurist

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China's supremacy as a nation seems to be a historical constant throughout civilization. The West's rise in power during the 2nd millenium CE seems to have been a temporary aberration at this point.

 

As a global civilization, however, this is everyone's civilization. China will just be doing a good deal of running the show.

To be fair, though, I think that India has historically competed with China in regards to supremacy. Am I wrong on this? Also, I think that the future will probably see a very multipolar world, with China, maybe India, the U.S., the E.U., and possibly someone else at the top.



#9
Unity

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Ryan where did you get this information? History major? ^maybe Brazil

#10
Ryan94

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China's supremacy as a nation seems to be a historical constant throughout civilization. The West's rise in power during the 2nd millenium CE seems to have been a temporary aberration at this point. As a global civilization, however, this is everyone's civilization. China will just be doing a good deal of running the show.

To be fair, though, I think that India has historically competed with China in regards to supremacy. Am I wrong on this? Also, I think that the future will probably see a very multipolar world, with China, maybe India, the U.S., the E.U., and possibly someone else at the top.
Actually India couldn't compete or even communicate with its neighbours due to its geographical position. The mountain ranges connecting India and mainland Asia created a fortress around India, but with its enemies guarding the walls! To the north-west are India's eternal enemies, the Afghans, who frequently raped, looted and enslaved the indians at every opportunity they got. They occupied the hindu kush range, which translates as 'hindu/indian slaughter'. If an Indian tried to cross that mountain range into Persia and Central Asia through Khyber pass, he/she would be killed by the Afghan tribes at the first opportunity. Even today, Taliban snipers guarding Khyber pass (the only main route from Pakistan to Afghanistan) will kill any Indian suspected of travelling to Afghanistan. The hatred of Indians and their culture coming into Persia was one of the reasons why the Taliban are so powerful in this region. Most of Pakistan was traditionally Afghan land before the Anglo-afghan wars 150 years ago. However, the massive immigration of ethnic Indians following the creation of pakistan led to an ethnic-indian government with the majority of its population originally from India. The native Afghans formed and joined various pro-afghan resistance groups, mainly the Taliban, which was against the fact that foreigners were ruling over their land. But these groups have been corrupted and weakened somewhat over the past 50 years. Anyway I digress. To the North are the Himalayas, and the Tibetan Empire/Kingdom. It wasn't called the forbidden kingdom for no reason. Any Indian (or anyone else) found trespassing Tibetan land towards China would be immediately imprisoned or killed if necessary. Only chosen buddhist monks from India were allowed entry into Tibet. To the north-west are the deep, impenetrable mangroves and forests of Burma. The north of Burma was inhabited by hostile tribes who disliked the Indians but not to the same degree as the Afghans. All this contributed to a a large population density, and hence constant infighting between indian regions, religions and tribes throughout its history. It was only the Afghans, by exploiting the massive power vacuum left by Tamerlane in central Asia and becoming a regional power, who could defeat all Indian states to unify the country in the 16th century. This Afghan/Persian government was responsible for most of modern India's greatest cultural and architectural achievements, including the Taj Mahal. But even then, India was little more than a regional power. The only time India was a major power in Asia/the world after the birth of Christ, was 1500 years ago, during the Gupta empire when they successfully overcome the Afghans for the first and only time and were able to contact and trade with other Asian nations. But that period only lasted around 200 years.

#11
Ryan94

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Ryan where did you get this information? History major? ^maybe Brazil

I've always been interested in Asian history, particularly Chinese history. I don't think Brazil will be a major power anytime soon though. Most of its neighbours are reasonably poor or unstable, and it is too distant from other influential nations.
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#12
Yuli Ban

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I think we need more non-Western powers to rise. The Far East and the South are good starts. We need a first world South American country.
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#13
PhoenixRu

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We need a first world South American country.

 

I think both Chile and Argentina are close to this. What i'd really like to see is an African first world country (i mean, at least one rich, democratic and economically developed country in sub-Saharan Africa). I want it just out of curiosity: how white racists would react to this example :)



#14
Unity

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Lol. Too bad China is raping the continent for resources. South Africa is the closest right?

#15
Yuli Ban

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Yeah, well saying South Africa is closest to being a first world nation is like saying Voyager 2 is closer to Alpha Centauri than a comms satellite.
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#16
caltrek

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I cannot write about China with the fluency and ease that Ryan displays. Still, I have studied the area. One thing that impresses me is the intellectual traditions that come from China. Although Buddha was from India, the Zen variation first developed in China. It in turn was a blend that included Taoism. There are also the traditions that stem from Confucius. To me Zen is far more sophisticated than Christianity. It is not so much that Christianity lacks anything that is in Zen, but that Christianity is so hard to properly interpret and understand, in no small part because leading practitioners insist on overly literal interpretations. Zen almost starts out with the premise that language may be inadequate as a vessel of truth, and thus keeps its eye on the ball. 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#17
Zeitgeist123

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“Philosophy is a pretty toy if one indulges in it with moderation at the right time of life. But if one pursues it further than one should, it is absolute ruin." - Callicles to Socrates


#18
Yuli Ban

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Right, so apparently China invented everything. 

 

It's almost hilarious how Asians have developed this ridiculously false stereotype of only being capable of copying things. The more I read into Chinese history, the more it seems to be the reverse— up until roughly the 1700s, it was Europeans who only knew how to copy instead of create. The more we study and research, the more we find that so many of the great inventions and discoveries of the Greeks, for example, were actually invented much further to the East, in Persia. Then the Industrial Revolution occurred, and that resulted in European wealth skyrocketing and granting the freedom to innovate. AKA the Great Divergence.

No need to copy anything when you're basically inventing everything now, even if you use previous inventions as a basis for new things. China developed its reputation for two reasons—

 

1. It remained relatively backwards into the 19th and 20th centuries (Century of Humiliation/Great Divergence)

2. Mao and his regime (especially during the Cultural Revolutions) killed off most bourgeois intellectuals. The uneducated peasantry, uneducated proletariat, and ideoclastic CCP bureaucrats were all that were left for a while there.

 

China essentially kept doing what it always had been doing. The thing about China's latent creativity and innovation is that it was never a rapid thing. Before the Industrial Age, it wasn't a rapid thing anywhere really. Even in Ancient Greece and Persia, their most famous inventions were spread out over the span of centuries. They didn't invent oil wells, paper, and gunpowder in the same century. Hell, some major innovations came millennia apart. Meanwhile, in Europe, the rate of innovation increased from roughly the same rate (there was a noticeable collapse in that rate come the fall of centralized states/empires like Greece and Western Rome) up to a mindboggling speed. The Industrial Singularity, basically. 

Meanwhile, China's rate of innovation never really increased since the Industrial Revolution never quite occurred within their borders until the middle of the 20th century. And I'm not being facetious— industrialization in China did not properly begin until Mao. And Mao screwed it up royally by being a bad leader, so the Chinese industrial revolution essentially got delayed by about twenty years. 

 

 

I plan to open a thread on Europe in a while, discussing the various innovations they've given us as well (much of which being either Greco-Roman or Industrial Age). It's just that I wanna focus on China for right now.

 

 

Like, my god. I always knew of the two highly conflicting memes that China both created everything and can't create anything, and I always tended to believe the former a bit more than the latter. But after looking at the sheer ridiculous number of things they created, just fucking what?

 

I used to think that the printing press was a uniquely European invention. That surely had to be the point where Europe finally overtook China.

NOPE. China did it many centuries before Europe. Their problem is that they never traded it with anyone ("Why would we ever give our most precious inventions to barbarians?" 1st millennium Chinese would probably say), so it remained a niche thing for over 600 years.

 

It's not that the Chinese are superhuman or anything— the reason why they invented the world is because they have almost always been unified. When you think of China, do you think of the world's fourth largest country? China alone is basically the size of the continental United States. It's about as large as all of Europe.

I want you to think about that for a second. It's not comparable to France or Germany or Spain or Poland— it's larger than all of those countries combined.

 

Imagine if all of Europe had been unified under, say, the Greeks or Alexander. And when I say 'unified', goddamn do I mean unified. There are no individual countries. Just provinces. 

European innovation from early Antiquity all the way to the Industrial Revolution would have easily rivaled China's rather than coming somewhat close for a few early centuries before then falling way behind for a millennium. We could've had a printing press in 440 instead of 1440. 

 

It took a very long time for Christendom to unite Europe in any way, shape, or form, and even then they kept the continent balkanized. This helped them in the long run, but then again we don't know if it could've led to exponential growth much sooner. 

 

Actually, I can give a more specific explanation for China's copycat image: they're essentially a national-social capitalist state. They're fiercely pro-Chinese for things like IPs, and they disregard international IP laws because of this. Hence why you can find iPhone ripoffs but they'll sue you if you try ripping off their ripoffs. A lot of these products aren't even available in China, so they have to copy them to distribute them to their population. 

 

 

The bizarre part is when racists try attributing this Cultural Copycat image to other Asian nations that traditionally never had to relentlessly steal intellectual properties to resell them in their home countries. Japan half makes sense because of their Amerophilic culture, but then again we did rebuild their entire country after World War II. What were we going to base our reconstruction efforts on, the Ancient Sumerians? 

 

Also, there's this belief that anything that looks like the West is "Westernization". Some cultural things, I can understand— trying to fill out your eyes, for one. But there are others that are clear baiting. 

 

For example: how the hell are you going to build a city except with huge, relatively rectangular buildings reaching into the sky? Especially when you have a massive population and need to build upwards instead of outwards? Are you going to construct giant pylons? No, you build skyscrapers! But apparently that's copying the West now. Yes, a city that has buildings that don't look like traditional pagodas is proof they're either copycats or succumbing to imperialistic Westernization. And not something like, I dunno, it's functional.

It's like when I kept getting told that I was acting "white" for wanting to know things that weren't related to sex or street life. 

 
Rant over, back to China inventing everything: if it wasn't them, it was India. Like, it was an ancient Indian philosopher that developed a proto-atomic theory, right around the time of Democritus's theory of atoms. 

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#19
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It's like when I kept getting told that I was acting "white" for wanting to know things that weren't related to sex or street life.

 

Sorry to hear that dude, anti-intellectualism is a bitch, especially when it has a racist bent. The mind belongs to no ethnicity.


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