Statecraft & Identity Creation in the Border Regions of the Qing

9:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 1

  • Organised by Lars Peter Laamann
  • Chaired by Lars Peter Laamann, Wei-chieh Tsai
  • Siping Shan, “Why Could a Late Qing Mongol Prince Not Establish His Own Distillery?”
  • Kang Wonmook, “The Qing Empire’s First Encounter with ‘the Xiyangs’”
  • Akira Yanagisawa, “The Eight Banner System and Ethnic Transformation in 17–19 c. Manchuria”
  • Wei-chieh Tsai, “A Comparative Study on Han Chinese Settler Nativisation along the Qing Empire’s Inner Asian and Maritime Frontiers.”
  • Lars Peter Laamann, “Tungusic Encounters: Manchuria as Late Imperial Russia’s Ultimate Border Zone”
  • Emily Dawes, “Qing Statecraft and Muslim Identity Creation in Amdo during the 1895 Muslim Rebellion”
  • Jinxin Qi, “Designed Identities: Hanjun Bannermen and Naval Battalions in Qing Heilongjiang”
  • Yingzi Wang, “Mongolian or Manchurian? The Jerim League during the Late Qing Reforms”

The Qing Empire was as much defined by its vast border areas as it was by the provinces inhabited by the Han Chinese majority. Whereas the Manchu and Mongol subjects were governed by as banners (Man.: gūsa, Mon: khooshuu, Chin.: qi 旗), socio-military units under the direct command of the dynasty, other populations (Tibet, Turkic Xinjiang, south-western peoples) remained subject to their traditional authorities, who had been effectively co-opted into executing the policies of the Qing state. This panel, divided into two chronological sub-panels, aims to illustrate the polyethnic reality of the northern Qing border zones by means of eight exemplary contributions.

Shan Siping introduces the economic policies of the Mongolian elites, by means of a Mongol prince planning to establish a distillery in his own banner area. The problems he encounters reveal an emerging intercontinental economy. Kang Wonmook analyses the Qing perception of resident Westerners (‘Xiyang people’), chiefly by means of imperial documents in Manchu, as a discrete socio-ethnic group comparable to bannermen (jalan-i janggin) or even lamas. Yanagisawa Akira discusses the complexity of ethnic identity within the banner system. The centralised organisation of the Manchu banner companies nevertheless retained the integrity of the original tribal communities. Tsai Wei-chieh deals with the interface between statecraft and ethnic identity. His paper explores Qing regulations of its subjects’ status and identity and concludes that the imperial policies in Mongolia and Taiwan produced remarkably similar results.
In the second sub-panel, the cohabitation of the northern Qing border zones by Han Chinese, Manchus, Mongols, and Turks will be in the focus. The panel contributions illustrate the correlation between the Qing government’s administrative measures and the social cohesion of the affected regions. Altogether, our eight papers demonstrate the close relationship between the central administration and local identity case by case.

Emily Dawes analyses the interaction by Muslims with Qing officials in the Amdo region around 1895, where Qing officials directly intervened to settle conflicts between ‘ethnic’ or ‘religious’ communal interests. For the ‘new policies’ (xinzheng 新政) decade of the 1910s, Qi Jinxin compares the Chinese migrants to Heilongjiang who had joined the Qing naval battalions in northern Manchuria with Banner organisations of similar origin, arguing that the banner system assimilated Han migrants in terms of occupation, though not in administrative (‘ethnic’) terms. Wang Yingzi takes up the Xinzheng thread, analysing the effects of the administrative reforms on the Mongolian Jerim League, which—for the sake of regional stability—saw itself divided into a Mongolian western part and absorbed into the newly created Manchurian provinces to the east. Lars Laamann, finally, introduces the role of Russian diplomacy, scientific interest, and Orthodox missions during the late Qing as well as during the early Republican era. After the Treaty of Aigun in 1857, Tsarist Russia effectively intervened in the ethnic complexity of the northern border regions.

Siping Shan, “Why Could a Late Qing Mongol Prince Not Establish His Own Distillery?”

In the spring of 1891, a secret report presented to the Qing emperor Zai Tian, also known as the Guangxu emperor, indicated that a Mongol prince of the Aohan banner was trying to establish a distillery on his own domain – an issue which obviously proved to be very sensitive to the emperor. Therefore, secret investigators were deployed by the emperor himself, involving officials from the Grand Council to county magistrates, from the imperial censor to local special agents: every level of the imperial administration was set into motion for this investigation.
In this context, there were two key questions which remained unanswered in the report, and which are extremely important for historical research to understand the nature of this event. Firstly, what motivated a distinguished Mongol prince to establish his own distillery? Secondly, why did such behaviour prove so sensitive during the late Qing period? In answering these questions, this paper will reveal the dynamic nature of the Qing frontier policy, as well as the transformation of local society and power structures in Mongolia. Moreover, these changes can be clearly linked to the emergence of an integrated market in pre-modern Asia, with truly global connotations.

Kang Wonmook, “The Qing Empire’s First Encounter with ‘the Xiyangs’”

This article examines the ‘naturalisation’ process within the Qing Empire, exemplified by the integration of the ‘Xiyang 西洋 people’ as imperial subjects. The Qing empire continually encountered diverse East Eurasian populations during its expansion, who were enlisted into its unique institutional invention known as the Eight Banners. Enlisted peoples included Tungusic Jurchens, Chinese, Koreans, Uighurs and Tibetans along the northern borders and, in the empire’s south, the Vietnamese (Yue 越) and other population groups. From the earliest beginnings of the Qing until the 1820s, Qing rulers thus bestowed on the enlisted populations a new identity as Qing subjects, employing these as translators, ambassadors and negotiators in the diverse ‘foreign’ affairs of the Qing empire. This paper will argue that the same policy was applied to the Europeans serving the Qing dynasty, who enjoyed the considerable privilege of being allowed to reside in the Inner City, which was the exclusive prerogative for Bannermen. Jesuit Xiyang people were bestowed with the banner title jalan-i janggin and were frequently regarded on a par with Tibetan lamas by Qing rulers.

Akira Yanagisawa, “The Eight Banner System and Ethnic Transformation in 17–19 c. Manchuria”

The present population distribution of non-Chinese groups in Northeast China (including the Hulun Buir region) is, in principle, based on the placement of regular and semi-regular Eight Banner garrisons founded in the early and mid-Qing periods. Moreover, the names and boundaries of these populations are at least to some extent connected to the development of the Banner system. The Qing authorities adhered to a concept of “not to divide the clans and tribes” when they organised companies (Man. niru) from the local populations, and thus gave each company a rather fractionalised “ethnic” name. Of course, it is difficult to say to what extent these names reflected “real” ethnic identities, in particular since some companies were composed of more than one single ethnic group. Although the “ethnic” names could well change over time, they attained ethnic substance by the end of the Qing era and proved instrumental in the construction of ethnic identities. This paper exemplifies the process of ethno-cultural formation within companies with “ethnic” names—such as Solon, Dagūr, Sibe, Gūwalca, Barhū, and Oroncon—by means of archival sources and data collected through by interviewing descendants of banner people.

Wei-chieh Tsai, “A Comparative Study on Han Chinese Settler Nativisation along the Qing Empire’s Inner Asian and Maritime Frontiers”

The Qing empire gradually expanded toward the Inner Asian borderlands and maritime frontiers. Rapid population growth and territorial expansion made it possible for Han Chinese settlers to move to the Qing frontier regions from the interior, which made settler nativisation along the frontiers a major task for the Qing authorities. In this paper, “nativisation” is meant to indicate a phenomenon whereby settlers acquired the identity of the native population, through acculturation, intermarriage, identificational and socio-legal assimilation. In the field of Qing history, the sinicisation school provides a prevailing model, which stipulates that all ethnic minorities on the Chinese frontiers ultimately become absorbed (“civilised”) by the more highly developed Han Chinese culture. Accordingly, the “colonisers” should not be expected to “degenerate” into colonised subjects and nativisation thus constitutes a subversion of the invincible civilising power of imperial colonisers. This paper draws on archival sources to compare Han Chinese settler nativisation in Mongolia and Taiwan, analysing civic status and identity, as well as enclosure policies. Whilst it will be argued that Han nativisation in both regions was remarkably similar, there were significant differences in the methods of assimilation: Qing attitude and policies differed considerably depending on the precise nature of the indigenous peoples in question.

Lars Peter Laamann, “Tungusic Encounters: Manchuria as Late Imperial Russia’s Ultimate Border Zone”

This paper attempts to reassess the early modern scientific quest for the Asian Other along and beyond the banks of the Amur. The Muscovite empire had been expanding eastwards through Siberia from the early seventeenth century, influencing the way in which Russians regarded the Ugric, Mongolian and Tungusic populations they encountered, as well as how they perceived themselves. The elites in Tsarist Russia paid particular attention to the Manchus in Qing China, studying their language as well as cultural traits, and collecting Manchu texts. The literature which the linguists and explorers produced still forms the basis for our understanding of the ethnic groups which were to become marginalised during the expansion of the Russian and Chinese empires.
It will be argued that the pursuit of Manchu studies can thus be seen as an expansion of a fascination with, chiefly, the Tungusic populations of the Russian Far East. This fascination helps explain the degree of expertise towards the end of the Qing era – by which time the pervasive use of Manchu in China had already ceded to become the specialist knowledge of the few. The study of Manchuria as an extended border region of Russian Siberia will be exemplified in this paper by three areas of investigation: 1. Linguistics (A.O. Ivanovskii / Aлексеий Осип Ивановский); 2. Ethnography (S.M. Shirokogoroff / Сергей Михайлович Широкогоров); and 3. Religion (S.V. Lipovtsov / Степан Васильевич Липовцов).

Emily Dawes, “Qing Statecraft and Muslim Identity Creation in Amdo during the 1895 Muslim Rebellion”

The Amdo region is a religiously and ethnically diverse, geographically isolated area encompassing parts of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Qing state directly intervened in the social and religious orders of Amdo, imposing legal frameworks, supervising the economy, and defining the roles of officials and local nobility; however, because of the isolation of Amdo and the many other obstacles facing the Qing state, political authority was fragmented. Muslims in Amdo at various times accepted and rejected this intervention, using Qing courts to settle religious disputes, and using violence and other forms of resistance when Qing policies were not accepted, as was the case for the 1895 Rebellion. The 1895 Muslim Rebellion began as a disagreement between Sufi menhuan and spread across the Amdo region as a rebellion against local Qing administration. This paper will examine the interaction between Muslim identity formation and Qing statecraft during the 1895 Muslim Rebellion. It questions the nature of Qing statecraft in the Amdo region during the late nineteenth century, and also how the Chinese Muslims responded to Qing assertions of authority in order to build a discrete identity of their own.

Jinxin Qi, “Designed Identities: Hanjun Bannermen and Naval Battalions in Qing Heilongjiang”

Hanjun 漢軍 troops who served in the Eight Banner system as Han Chinese, played a crucial role in the identity creation of the Manchus, conceptualised as Manzu 滿族 in Chinese research on the Qing. It is, therefore, all the more astounding that Hanjun is only rarely referred to in the archival documentation of Jilin and Heilongjiang from the early Qing period, both as far as the constitutional affiliation with the Metropolitan Banners were concerned or as garrisons in the Han provinces. Early Han-Chinese military migrants in Heilongjiang were inevitably bound to the Eight Banner system, yet classified by occupation as naval battalion troops 水師營, postal couriers 驛站 or official manor keepers 官莊. Hanjun in Heilongjiang in general originated from naval battalion personnel but gained a superior status as bannermen throughout the Qing period. Instead of dwelling on the well-discussed correlation between Hanjun and civilians 民人, this paper compares Hanjun with the naval battalions, an associate Banner organisation with similar origins but different legal status. By means of archival sources, personal statements naval troops and fieldwork data, it will be argued that the Banner system shaped the identity of Han subjects as an occupational group, but not necessarily by altering Han Chinese into Manzu in ethnic terms, even after 1911.

Yingzi Wang, “Mongolian or Manchurian? The Jerim League during the Late Qing Reforms”

When it comes to the creation of local identity, there are few factors that would outweigh the name of the surrounding country. The Jerim League was, for most of the Qing era, within Mongolia, controlled under a dual-management system, in which the League-Banner system and a civilian administrative system coexisted. As a consequence of the late Qing reforms (xinzheng 新政), the number of Han Chinese migrants entering the Jerim League territory increased significantly. The new demographic distribution warranted a series of administrative changes, leading to new institutions which appeared in the eastern part of the Jerim League. This region, bordering Manchuria, was divided in 1907 into three jurisdictions: Shengjing 盛京, Jilin 吉林 and Heilongjiang 黑龍江—mirroring the threefold division of Manchuria into the “Three Provinces of the North East”. While the eastern half of the Jerim League became absorbed into the new Manchurian provinces, its Inner Mongolian west maintained considerable independence—a division which continues to exist until this day. This article argues that in order to maintain stability and to prevent the division of the Inner Mongolian region, the League-Banner system governing the Jerim League had to be adjusted, its eastern half becoming part of post-xinzheng Manchuria. The Jerim League reforms are therefore a case study of Qing frontier policy and of multi-ethnic administration on the cusp of the Republican era.

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Room 1