Why does China throughout history have had such poor military traditions overall?
Eras where the Chinese empire successfully militarily expanded were considered an abnormality, not an expected outcome.
These states were more militarized in the beginning, and upon reaching their territorial limit stopped expanding for very similar reasons. What started as a militaristic citizen army or aristocratic dynasty developed civic institutions in the wake of their conquest, and before long these institutions took over. Eventually almost all successful and dynamic military leadership came from the frontlines where such influence and control was generally weak, and if not curbed would prove a danger to the bureaucratic class.
What makes you think China wasn't militarily expansive? The region was about as large as most of Europe, and might also cover the same amount of land and population as Rome or the Ottoman Empire. Ask why the Romans couldn't militarily expand beyond the Rhine, the Danube, Iraq, or the Sahara, and you'd have the same answers really for why China couldn't expand beyond a lot of its own geographic borders.
Until modern transportation and communication, there's a limit to how far centralized control can function from a capital.
>What makes you think China wasn't militarily expansive?
If you read up on Chinese history in detail, most of the time the central government was busy with civil administration and refrained from using the military for conquest.
It did. The only difference was Atlantic European shipping technology vastly extended communication and transport on a global scale, while Rome and China and the Ottomans were more limited to the range and speed of river and sea travel by lighter boats or horse and camel range on land.
Which is what Rome and the Ottoman Empire were like at their height. China didn't encompass such a huge amount of territory by some accident, it was conquered and unified like any other big empire. It's after they reached their logistical and administrative limit that expansion became instead defense and other games of state.
Warfare wasn't viewed as a huge virtue in Chinese culture, and professions like government official, scholar, writer etc. were generally more encouraged. China also had a real problem with generals overthrowing the Emperor over and over again, which led to dynasties like the Song doing stupid shit like executing and retiring their generals after successful campaigns. China was involved in a LOT of wars, but a very large amount were defensive, or internal, with the occasional attempts to expand (attempts to take Vietnam, or areas in more central Asia).
I almost feel like you have to look at China as a series of different countries instead of one continuing nation, because the ideals regarding warfare/expansion changed constantly between dynasties. Dynasties like the Han or Qing loved taking more land, and did a pretty damn good job. Dynasties like the Tang or Song were arguably more interested in administration and culture than warfare or expansion.
>I almost feel like you have to look at China as a series of different countries instead of one continuing nation, because the ideals regarding warfare/expansion changed constantly between dynasties.
It's not like people change ideas between period or anything despite being the same nation...
Yes, obviously. My point was that saying "Why didn't China do X throughout all of its history" kind of questions need to be examined with care, because China (like all historic nations, really) change over time.
Put simply, the Chinese had no reason to be as aggressive as other nations.
Unlike say, Rome or the Ottomans, China was, for the most part of it's existence, the undisputed hegemon of it's region and no other power could come close to matching its economic, political and cultural supremacy.
Because of this, rather than outright conquest, the Chinese preferred a system of tribute and vassalisation. If you were a small neighbouring country, so long as you paid your required tribute fees and paid lip service to the emperor, you were more or less free to do you own thing. And, since none of these vassal states could ever hope to challenge Chinese hegemony, there was never any need for a strong military presence to "keep them in line."
Simply put,there was no concept of a Chinese nation state until the late Qing. http://boundary2.org/2015/07/29/born-in-translation-china-in-the-making-of-zhongguo/
The subjugation,acculturation and assimilation of adjacent polities by Sinitic speakers is why Sinitic languages are widespread. Without the Qin conquest or political unification regional identities such as Chu,Wu etc. may very well exist today as separate ethnicties instead of a Han subgroups.
No, colonialism is settling your citizens on a usually uninhabited or underdeveloped frontier. The 13 Colonies were a completely different sort of affair from the conquest and government of India.
To be fair this is kind of like the whole Roman subjugation of Britainnia. Worthless to the Chinese because it would've stretched them out too thin, and honestly doesn't give them much influence at the time. In fact the only purpose that would've served would be to fuel modern day Chinese-Japanese shitflinging.
North America for the British was uninhabited or underdeveloped compared to North Africa or Gaul for Rome, or Wu for China. One was about setting up English outposts on coasts and rivers which edged out the more primitive natives with vastly superior technology and demographic growth, while the others were about conquering and assimilating comparably advanced cultures and setting up a regime to control them.
Redpill me on Tang Taizong
He usually serves as replacement for Mao Tse-Tung in censored history focused gaymes (in similar way you'd see Hitler censored in Germany, kek)
All I know that he was scourge of the turkics
>Dynasties like the Tang or Song were arguably more interested in administration and culture than warfare or expansion.
>Putting the T'ang in line with the Song in terms of warfare.
The T'ang was successful militarily. Its only vs. foreigners was when it fought the Abbasid Caliphate *in Afghanistan* and being betrayed by their Turkic Allies.
It bonked Vietnam on its silly head when it wanted to rebel again.
Yeah, the whole reason the Song were so paranoid of its military officials was because of the An Lushan Rebellion and the decline/fall of Tang, wasn't it? Really odd that those dynasties would be equated in that sense, especially with the extensive amount of power/control the Tang exerted into Central Asia and elsewhere.
Also, the Tang were based.
>Fucking up Yamato Japan so hard at Baekgang that they try to model the samurai off the fubing system.
They didn't have a bad military most of their history. Most of the time, they were very strong.
They just didn't feel like expanding. Even the Yuan, that were Mongols, were not very expansionist after getting the Chinese throne. Being the Emperor of China probably makes you say "I guess I have enough".
Most of China is actually conquered territory. Involving indigenous people conquering other indigenous people, conquering foreigners, being conquered by foreigners and then conquering the conquering foreigners.
But yeah I see a lot of Chinese history as being occupied with administrating and keeping the conquered territory. It is smart and a good thing because it seems the Chinese knew not to bite off more than they could chew or else they'd crash and burn like the Mongols, Romans, Arabs, japs etc.
Recent events change our perception more than past events.
Ask anyone in the 18th or even 19th century about Germany and they will call them lazy drunkards that can't work hard. Now most would consider them hardworking and efficient (but still heavy drinkers)
Ask someone from the 19th century about France and they'll call them militarists with the strongest army in the world. Now we know them as surrender monkeys.
The Ming dynasty had wars with several European countries and beat them, but the more recent Qing dynasty losses and both world wars have shaped our perception of them as militarily incompetent.
>They just didn't feel like expanding. Even the Yuan, that were Mongols, were not very expansionist after getting the Chinese throne. Being the Emperor of China probably makes you say "I guess I have enough"
Kubali tried, he just wasnt very good at it. Having Qaidu be a constant worry didnt help though.
Chinese administration was mostly excellent, but yet all they could administer was China.
Because China was huge, populous, rebellious and very fucking rich.
There was no need to expand their rule, this is why they exorted tributes from neighbouring nation-states (which brought them in a position of vassallage from Chinese perspective).
They literally had no need to expand militarily.
China is a huge but also heavily populated area. And throughout history it's usually at war within the borders of modern China but one must take into account that many different states were founded, flourished and fell within the same borders.
Danes and Swedes fought a shit ton but we always considered them separate peoples and nations.
In China, many different Chinese states fought one another that we would recognize as different until it was united. Someone would have to win those battles after all.
>Why does China throughout history have had such poor military traditions overall?
Everyone thinks they have a better idea for what China should do militarily until they start ruling China.
Case in Point: Manchus and Mongols.
At first they were:
>HAHA, Conquered China, sucks to be you guys. You shouldve had a better army like ours. Mounted Archers. We Emperors Now.
And then, it happens:
>You know what, we do need siege engines, lets get the Chinese to do it.
>We have no idea how to use muskets/cannon. Get the Chinese to do it.
>Wow, maintaining law and order in this big empire is hard if I only rely on my military system. I'm sorry for banning civilians weapons ownership. Here guys, you can your rights to buy weapons back.
>We can't fight in Mountains/Jungles lol. I guess we must utilize local talents in infantry combat.
>How do you navy???
Ruling China contributed to the destruction of the Eight Banners/Tumen System of the Manchus, Mongols respectively. Before long, Chinese military policies and systems come creeping back in. Conscription is back. Private Military Organizations of armed civilians are back.
The Manchus however were successful in adopting Chinese military policies. Mongols insisted on the Tumen system to the very end, and it fucked them up. Way too few soldiers under Yuan Dynasty's employ to effectively keep a lid on the Empire.
Hence one of the reasons why Manchu Dynasty outlasted the short lived Mong one.