The Manchus refer to a group of influential people originating from the Northern parts of China Known as Manchuria, and they were thought to be barbaric. This group of people had managed to conquer China and established a dynasty known as the Qing dynasty. It seemed strange that such a small population would conquer a large population like the Hans Chinese and as a result this humiliated the Hans Chinese. The Chinese kingdom was surmounted by one hundred and twenty thousand Manchus.
Their strong point was the fact that they had a military that was brilliant, disciplined, united as well as a well prepared military. The Manchus took advantage of the fact that the Ming dynasty was collapsing due to the rebellion taking place in the year 1644. They then resorted to collaborating with a Ming loyalist and gained entrance into Beijing in June and completed their conquest in 1673 (SACU 1).
The dynasty formed was known as the Qing dynasty and though it was coupled by a myriad of problems initially, it lasted for two and a half centuries. They however got support from the Chinese scholars officials as they approved the Confucian system of government. Their rulership was such that for every two officials, one was Chinese while the other one was Manchu.
Under the leadership of Qing Kangxi and his grandson Qianlong’s, China was successful economically and also experienced an increase in its population. Nevertheless, the economy declined in later years leading to a series of rebellions and consequently leading to the end of the Qing dynasty in the early twentieth century (SACU 1).
The Tributary System refers to the conventional way that the Chinese managed their foreign relations. In this case they established rules and controlled the manner in which alien countries entered into foreign relations with China. The countries engaging with China in the tributary system were expected to be compliant in issues regarding politics, defence, economy and diplomacy with regards to China.
In order for alien countries to be given access of trading in China their rulers had to pay homage to the Chinese Emperor. Once the rulers of these foreign countries paid homage to the Emperor they were given gifts which included local, uncommon and valuable goods. The alien leaders would then gain a status and given a seal and products worth more than they had brought to China. Consequently, the alien leader could trade in China so long as this association was maintained (Fairbank & Ssu- yu 50).
The advantage of this system is that the alien leaders’ economies got to improve their economy and that’s why they could agree to such an agreement.
To the Chinese it meant re-affirmation to the world that they are the centre of civilization and that their leader is supreme as well as a global ruler and given power by heaven. Largely, this system was a measure of Confucian ideals that consisted of a chain of command, that was traditional, and put an emphasis on habitual and moral actions, and the emperor was portrayed as a supreme being.
This scheme reached its height in the Ming dynasty that took place in 1368 to 1644. The expansion of these tributaries included places like Java, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Bengal, South and South East Asia. The loosers were the strong countries that had to pay homage to China making them feel weak (Fairbank & Ssu- yu 50).
Fairbank ,John, and Ssu- yu Teng. “On The Ching Tributary System,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. 6(2) June (1941): 41- 60
SACU (Society for Anglo- Chinese Understanding), Barbarian Emperors. 15 June 2002. 12 May. 2011.