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China as a Sea Power, 1127-1368

A Preliminary Survey of the Maritime Expansion and Naval Exploits of the Chinese People During the Southern Song and Yuan Periods

Jung-pang Lo, edited by Bruce A. Elleman

Lo Jung-pang (1912‒81) was a renowned professor of Chinese history at the University of California at Davis. In 1957 he completed a 600-page typed manuscript entitled China as a Sea Power, 1127‒1368, but he died without arranging for the book to be published. Bruce Elleman found the manuscript in the UC Davis archives in 2004, and with the support of Dr Lo’s family prepared an edited version of the manuscript for publication.Lo Jung-pang argues that during each of the three periods when imperial China embarked on maritime enterprises (the Qin and Han dynasties, the Sui and early Tang dynasties, and the Song, Yuan, and early Ming dynasties), coastal states took the initiative at a time when China was divided, maritime trade and exploration peaked when China was strong and unified, and then declined as Chinese power weakened. At such times, China’s people became absorbed by internal affairs, and state policy focused on threats from the north and the west. These cycles of maritime activity, each lasting roughly five hundred years, corresponded with cycles of cohesion and division, strength and weakness, prosperity and impoverishment, expansion and contraction.In the early 21st century, a strong and outward looking China is again building up its navy and seeking maritime dominance, with important implications for trade, diplomacy and naval affairs. Events will not necessarily follow the same course as in the past, but Lo Jung-pang’s analysis suggests useful questions for the study of events as they unfold in the years and decades to come.

Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd

Half title, title and copyright page

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pp. v-vii

List of Tables and Figures

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pp. viii

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pp. ix-xiii

In the field of China studies, one of the most important unanswered questions is whether Beijing does or does not have the strategic ambition to acquire a blue water navy, the first step to becoming an acknowledged maritime power. To date, China clearly has historical desires for a great navy, has a viable naval acquisition program...

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pp. xiv-xviii

The three hundred years from the beginning of the twelfth century to the beginning of the fifteenth was a period of fundamental and profound metamorphosis for China. It was a period of transition as tremendous as the change from the chaos and disunity of the Warring States to the absolutism of Qin and Han, as far-reaching as the change...

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p. xix-xix

The editor would like to thank Fern Quon, Professor Lo Jung-pang’s late spouse, and his three children, Sandra, Anthony, and Victoria, for granting permission to publish this book. Dr. Geoff Wade, at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, first suggested approaching NUS Press to publish this book, and...

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Editorial Note

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pp. xx

When Dr. Lo wrote this book, the use of the Wade-Giles transliteration system predominated, as did the use of complex Chinese characters. To adhere as much as possible to Dr. Lo’s original design, the first time a name, place, object, or event is mentioned...

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pp. 1-20

The name Lo Jung-pang is synonymous with studies of the maritime realm and particularly of China’s naval history. During his lifetime, which extended from the first year of the Chinese republic (1912) until his death from a heart attack in 1981, Professor...


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1 China’s Rise as a Naval Power

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pp. 23-58

The rugged southeastern coast of China extends from Hangzhou in the north to the border of Indochina in the south. Its shoreline is 3,050 miles, or 57 per cent of the total length of China’s shoreline of 5,360 miles. Islands and headlands, inlets and bays, form...

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2 The Shift to the Sea

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pp. 59-92

What were the factors that made China a sea power during the late Song, Yuan, and Early Ming period? Why at this particular time and not at an earlier or later epoch? The basic conditions were perhaps the same as those that made other nations sea powers...

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3 The Foundation of Chinese Maritime Power

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pp. 93-126

The shift of the economic, political, and demographic centers of gravity from the hinterland of the Northwest to the coastal regions of the Southeast was but the physical force that moved the Chinese during the Song, Yuan, and early Ming periods to expand out to sea. Coincident and concomitant with the environmental changes...


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4 Creation of the Southern Song Navy

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pp. 129-153

On 9 January 1127, Kaifeng, then known as Pien-ching 汴京, the capital of the Song Empire, fell to the assaults of the Jurchen Tartars. Under cover of a heavy snowfall, the attackers dashed across the frozen moat to scale the walls and to drive back the city’s defenders..

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5 The War of 1161 and the Expansion of the Navy

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pp. 154-185

The peace between Song and Jin was precarious. The Jurchens were warlike and the wealth and resources of the land below the Yangzi presented a constant temptation to them. Only the prudent policy of their ruler, Hola, restrained them from launching an invasion. But in 1150, Hola was murdered by his cousin Digunai,...

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6 Development of Maritime Trade

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pp. 186-208

The collapse of Chinese resistance in North China, which culminated in the fall of the Northern Song capital, Kaifeng, in 1127, was due to economic causes as much as to military and political causes. Indeed, the economic deterioration arguably preceded...

Part III THE YUAN PERIOD 1260–1367

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7 The Emergence of the Yuan Navy:The Battle of Yaishan, 1279

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pp. 211-246

In the first 50 years of the Mongols’ spectacular expansion, when their armies rampaged through the North China empire of Jin, annexed Qara Khitai and the Tangut state of Xia, conquered the Khwarezmian khanate, invaded Russia, Poland, Silesia, Moravia, Hungary, and eastern Austria, and pushed into Asia Minor, their advances...

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8 Yuan Campaigns in the Eastern Sea

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pp. 247-283

The year 1260 marked a turning point in the history of the continent of Eurasia. In the first decades of their eruption from the Gobi Desert, the expansion of the Mongols had been in all directions, but, with the exception of their destruction of the Jin empire...

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9 Yuan Naval Campaigns to the South

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pp. 284-320

The extension of Mongol power southward into Indochina was undertaken about the same time as the khans consolidated their domination of the Korean peninsula and began to look across the sea towards Japan. In the winter of l257–8, as part of their...


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Conclusions: The Collapse of the Yuan, Rise of the Ming, and China as a Sea Power

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pp. 323-343

The Yuan navy gradually declined following the death of Qubilai Qan in 1294. His successors halted the preparations for further expeditions against Japan and Annam, and, despite rumors of Japanese plans to invade China, as happened in 1304, the Yuan...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 344-352


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pp. 353-378

E-ISBN-13: 9789971696207
Print-ISBN-13: 9789971695057

Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 4 images

Edition: New