What if China at it's peak continually expanded it's borders in a southern direction conquering all of SE Asia and established colonies in Australia?
I don't really see why they could not have achieved this given their population, superiority to everyone within the region and their maritime prowess.
China only tried to conquer similar cultures
that is they have already accepted chinese culture in bureaucracy (koreans vietnamese etc)
beyond that they never tried and never thought they needed to as long as they paid proper tribute
That isn't really the Chinese mindset.
You're talking about a very insular, ordnung kind of people.
Besides, controlling China itself was such a difficult administrative and political task that Chinese governments routinely fail at it.
>I don't really see why they could not have achieved this given their population, superiority to everyone within the region and their maritime prowess.
Because throughout most of Chinese history, you've seen what are basically colonization efforts in what we think of as china today. I mean, look at it, geographically, China is fucking huge. And the Han people really only originally were a group around the Yellow River. It took ages and ages to really sinoify (is that the right word?) all the way down that coastal plain, and to this day you have vibrantly distinct regional cultures that are distinct from the Han main, like the Cantonese.
True, however - this is more of a 'what if' kind of question. If they had bolstered their military and focused on conquering and colonization there does not seem to be anything apart from the aforementioned mindset and culture that would have limited them.
You're not wrong, however their borders did stay stagnant for quite a while (apart from gaining tibet).
Your argument could also apply to many other countries through like the United Kingdom or Italy for instance.
in Confucian theory there is no just war theory, therefore every military action must be justified as a police action, or an act of self defense.
China of course claimed wide reaching authority, far greater than they actually possessed, and their boarders were constantly shrinking and expanding
Spain and Portugal expanded into the Americas largely because they thought they needed funds and resources in order to beat the other European powers (the Anglicans and Protestants) as well as the Muslims. China didn't have a lot of foreigners to fear. In the mind of the Chinese, the only danger were other Chinese, so they needed to remain as stable as possible.
It was also a conversion race, specially for the spaniards. Very similar to a 16th century version of british "necessity" of expanding civilization and enlightment. There's nothing similar to such motivations in chinese philosophy as far as I know. I doubt they cared much about barbarians being barbarians, that's what they were supposed to be.
I guess when you are Emperor of China you don't feel the need to conquer more.
Other than Japan and Vietnam, did the Yuan dynasty went out of their way to try to conquer other lands?
My impression is that they didn't even care when the other hordes separated from them.
Vietnam was a backwater territory that the Chinese only had a tenuous grasp on, barely administered unless there was some rebellion. And forget it if there's some kind of civil war going on, Vietnam is going to be near dead last on the list of "Things We Should Give A Shit About"
Other way around: one could argue that Vietnam was the only one of Southern Tribes during the Southern Expansion of China (200's BC to 700's AD) that managed to get out of Chinese rule while keeping a hold of their native land.
Well, there were the Thai too, but those guys pussied out and migrated instead to the western provinces of the Khmer Empire. Creating Thailand during the 1400's AD.
Vietnam was relate dto the Hmongs, Miao, Yue, and the tribes China collectively lumped together as "Nanman" (Southern Barbarians) during their march south.
Vietnam was pretty fortunate that they were super far south for effective Chinese subjugation.
Hence the FUCKING NAME of the place: Vietnam => Yuenan => 越南=>"Far South."
They expanded into the Americas because China wanted Silver in exchange for what they made.
Vietnam only became independent with collapse of central authority of Tang dynasty around 900CE. When Song dynasty reunified most of China around 960CE, it faced aggressive Chinese styled nomadic people in the north that also controlled the great wall.
Without the protection of great wall, Song dynasty was forced to station huge number of soldiers to defend their vulernable capital.
Given this strategic outlook, China couldn't give a rat's ass about worthless frontier province of Vietnam.
Viet in Chinese is yue which is tribal people who inhabited southern China. Vietnamese asked Chinese emperor for permission to call themselves namviet(southern yue). Chinese emperor told them to fuck off, and renamed the country as Vietnam(south of the yue).
>Having anything to do with the historical Yue polities that existed in southern China.
A Yue identity makes as much sense as using "Aztec" to refer to all Amerindians.
Out of all the Yue polities only Min Yue and Eastern Ou claimed descent from the Yu Yue rulers.
Hong Bang dynasty is the Vietnamese version of WE WUZ KINGZ.
>You're not wrong, however their borders did stay stagnant for quite a while (apart from gaining tibet).
They gained Tibet, mongolia and the Xinjiang.
The reason they couldn't expand past those is because their control over the region were nominal or weak, so they couldn't use the region to build up troops or culture to expand outwards.
>Because the Chinese could never conquer Vietnam lands
They actually did. Vietnam can only managed tiny revolts which were easily put down. Even during the Nanbeichao period of Chaos China had a full hold on Vietnam.
The collapse of T'ang China during the five dynasties and ten kingdoms period led to the total and complete loss of the province
China is still compromised of 54 different ethnicities, back then the dominance of Han wasn't that visible though, so even if it had less of them at given time because of territorial range it was still 20-30 different nationalities, language groups and so on. They were able to govern it in anyway because they've used the same ideographic writing system in the administration. Imagine annexation of densely populated kingdoms, countries etc. that doesn't have administration able to use their writing. It will be a chore to supervise and govern.