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A History of Vietnamese - Chinese Relations in the Nineteenth Century: Myth and Reality of the Tributary System

Authors
Publisher
Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS)
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Lịch Sử
  • Quan Hệ
  • Nhà Thanh
  • Nhà Nguyễn
  • Thể Chế
  • Triều Cống
  • Lễ Vật
  • Việt Nam
  • Hàn Quốc
  • History
  • Relation
  • Thanh Dynasty
  • Nguyen Dynasty
  • Institutional
  • Tributary System
  • Vietnam
  • Korea
Disciplines
  • Economics
  • Political Science

Abstract

This study examines the nature of the tributary system between Vietnam and China in the pre-modern period from the Vietnamese point of view. If focuses on the relationship between the Vietnamese Nguyen dynasty and the Chinese Qing dynasty in the nineteenth century. The Nguyen Emperors accepted the fact that their country was a vassal of China and hence admitted the authority of the Chinese Emperors through the tributary system. In reality, however, this system was only the practical way in which the Nguyen Emperors determined to take political, economic, and cultural advantages from their Chinese counterparts.The Nguyen rulers wanted a secure to the Chinese books and literatures for their intellectual desires by maintaining regular tributes to the Chinese court. Additionally, the Vietnamese rulers were hopeful of building their firm cultural and national identity as the civilized state. It is factual that this is not the only reason the Nguyen dynasty accepted the tributary system. Two other factors should perhaps be taken into consideration: security and economy. Out of these two, security is ranked at the first place.Although the Vietnam-China connection was often regarded as the relationship between the subordinate state and the suzerain state, the tributary system was practically insufficient to the political system. In reality, the Vietnamese believed that their cultural status was equal or sometimes even superior to that of the Chinese. This paper focuses its discussions on the very fact that the previous studies on this theme often tended to neglect the abovementioned ideas about the Vietnamese-Chinese mutual relationship under the influence of the so-called Sinocentric viewpoint.(First part)

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