Frontier management and tribute relations along the Empire's southern border: China and Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries
Anderson, James Adams
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From the founding of the Song dynasty (960--1279), the Chinese court at Kaifeng treated the Viẹt people of the Hong River Delta differently from other neighboring societies that supported or competed with the new Chinese leadership. Sino-Viẹt relations were necessarily a complicated affair, because the northern Viẹt region had been an integral part of the Chinese political and cultural empire for nearly one thousand years. The system of Sino-Viẹt relations prior to the Song had been one of a central government directly linked to a web of subordinate local governments. However, the influences of local politics and regional trade during the 10th and 11th centuries led to a transformation of Sino-Viẹt relations, establishing points of contact beyond the control of a central Chinese authority. Eventually, the Song court itself would draw on the precedent of Zhou Dynasty (1122--221 BCE) feudalism or Five Dynasties Period (907--960) frontier management, and not Tang Dynasty (618--905) hegemony, to produce the new terms of interaction. This study demonstrates that Sino-Viẹt relations of the Song period should be distinguished from the relationships of the northern kingdoms within the "multi-state" Chinese empire and from the Sinocentric tribute relations that other Southeast Asian kingdoms would establish with the Song courtMeanwhile, Viẹt rulers used the evolving relationship with China to set the foundations for their own base of power. Local leaders from the Sino-Viẹt border region at first appeared to follow the wishes of the Chinese by sending tribute missions to China and by accepting official titles granted by the Song court. However, formal acceptance of pronouncements from the Chinese court did not imply that Viẹt leaders had abandoned their local political concerns. Soon after the Song's founding, a Viẹt military commander declared locally his region's independence and adopted for himself the title "Ever Victorious King." The emerging Viẹt political order was shaped by an interplay between Chinese signs of authority expressed through the tribute system and local Viẹt responses to and adaptations of these signs. Attempts by both the Song and Dại Co Viẹt (968--1054) courts to push conflicts between minority ethnic groups across the Sino-Viẹt frontier accented this reconfiguring of the Sino-Viẹt relationship.
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