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  • Civilizing the Great Qing:Manchu-Korean Relations and the Reconstruction of the Chinese Empire, 1644–1761

On June 6, 1644, forty days after the suicide of the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty, the Manchu forces of the Great Qing occupied Beijing without a fight. They were able to do so with the support of the Ming general Wu Sangui, who allowed the Manchu troops to enter inner China from their Manchurian homeland by way of the Shanhai Pass. In the Forbidden City, the Manchu commander, Prince Dorgon, accepted the capitulation of the Chinese officials of the Ming, all of whom had shaved their foreheads in the Manchu style. The Manchus, whom the Ming Chinese regarded as yi ("barbarians"), became the new rulers of the civilized center — China, the Middle Kingdom or Zhongguo in Chinese.1 [End Page 113]

This scene is familiar to all scholars of the Qing (1636–1912), but the following episode is generally absent from their narratives. Among those who attended the ceremony with the Manchus was the crown prince of Chosǒn Korea (1392–1910), Yi Wang (1612–45).2 Yi had been living in Mukden (Shenyang) for seven years since 1637, when the Manchus, who in Chosǒn accounts were orangk'ae ("barbarians"), had conquered Chosǒn and taken him and his younger brother, Yi Ho (King Hyojong,r. 1649–59), as hostages.3 As a result of the 1637 expedition, the Qing established a Zongfan (i.e., tributary) relationship with Chosǒn by taking over the central and patriarchal superior position occupied by the Ming in the bilateral framework that governed relations between the two powers. This framework had been institutionalized in 1401 and the Yongle emperor (r. 1403–24) of the Ming had awarded the king of Chosǒn a robe commensurate with the rank of first-degree prince (Ch. qinwang, a brother of the emperor) in 1403, adding Chosǒn to the Ming Zongfan system, an arrangement acknowledged by Chosǒn and later endorsed by the Qing.4 In addition to the crown prince and his attendants, a Korean officer, Ch'oe Hyo-il, who had begun his anti-Manchu activities in the Korean city of Ǔiju when the Manchus first invaded Chosǒn in 1627 and [End Page 114] later joined General Wu's army, was also in Beijing on the day of the Manchu occupation. Ch'oe refused to shave his hair in a Manchu queue or to prostrate himself in front of the Manchu prince. Instead, dressed in a Ming-style robe, he went to Chongzhen's tomb to mourn for the Ming. After a seven-day hunger strike, he died there. General Wu buried his body and commemorated him in an elegy.5

Ch'oe died, but his anti-Manchu spirit did not. In 1715, even as Chosǒn was being applauded by the Qing as the most loyal "subordinate country" (Ch. shuguo; Ma. harangga gurun; i.e., tributary state) and "outer fan" (Ch. waifan; Ma. tulergi gurun; likewise, vassal state), King Sukchong (r. 1675–1720) in Hansǒng (today's Seoul) enthusiastically granted Ch'oe a posthumous rank for his spirit of commitment to the Middle Kingdom and the Heavenly (Ming) Dynasty (Ch. tianchao; K. ch'ǒnjo; the dynasty possessing the Mandate of Heaven [Ch. tianming]). Chosǒn continued to celebrate Ch'oe's martyrdom in 1755, 1756, and 1762 in pro-Ming and anti-Manchu rites carried out in Chosǒn territory.6

Recent scholarship has focused on the Korean regime's unprecedented efforts to strengthen its identity as "Little China" (Ch. Xiao Zhonghua; K. So Junghwa) after the fall of the Ming and on the various manifestations of an anti-Manchu mentality in Chosǒn (both by the government and among the people) that were informed by the time-honored politico-cultural discourse of the civilized-barbarian distinction (Ch. Hua-yi zhi bian; K. Hwa-i Ǔi chai). This work has called into question the picture of harmonious tributary relations painted by the Qing side and has revealed the multilayered and centrifugal nature of the Chinese world order.7 However, it has not touched upon the grave challenge that the civilized-barbarian discourse posed to the Qing in its contacts with Chosǒn and, further, with the entire Chinese world. Consequently, the process through which the Qing constructed and institutionalized Zongfan norms and transformed its politico-cultural [End Page 115] identity from the "barbarian" into the "civilized" remains largely unexamined.

Historiographically, the nationalist historical narratives popular in twentieth-century East Asia have also significantly concealed the role played by Chosǒn in helping the Qing transform its identity. The outer fan system of the Qing had two sides, consisting of the countries represented by Chosǒn whose contacts with China were supervised by the Board of Rites, and those political entities in Inner Asia such as Inner Mongolia that contacted Beijing via the Mongolian Superintendency (Ch. Lifan yuan; Ma. tulergi golo be dasara jurgan).8 The Qing annual calendars (Ch. Shixian shu; Ma. erin forgon i ton i bithe) suggest that for a long time the Qing regarded many of these outer fan as part of the empire, including Chosǒn in the list enumerating "all provinces" (Ch. gesheng; Ma. yaya golo).9 In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the majority of Inner Asian outer fan became part of the Chinese state, whereas their counterparts governed through the Board of Rites did not. Since then, the latter have been largely overlooked in historical narratives of late imperial China. Chosǒn was a typical case.10 The Korean nationalist narrative embarked on a process of "decentering the Middle Kingdom" as early as 1895, when the Sino-Japanese War terminated the Qing-Chosǒn Zongfan relationship.11 In fact, since the end of the war, if [End Page 116] not earlier, neither the Chinese nor the Korean side has applauded Ch'oe's martyrdom.

As a corollary, in contrast to their increasing efforts to examine the Qing through the Mongolian, Xinjiang, and Tibetan perspectives, scholars of the Qing have barely considered Chosǒn as an indispensable factor contributing to the development of the Qing imperial enterprise before and after 1644. By introducing Chosǒn into this analysis, this article argues that after 1644 the Qing used the status of Chosǒn as a prototypical subordinate country within the Qing-centric world order, which was informed by discourse of Hua-yi and orthodox legitimacy (Ch. zhengtong), to construct a new identity for the Qing as the civilized center of the known universe and as a new Chinese empire. The article adopts the term "Chosǒn model" (Ch. Chaoxian shili), a pattern by which a country or a political entity could follow Chosǒn into the Qingcentric Zongfan system primarily by receiving imperial investitures from the Qing, adopting the regnal titles of the Qing in its calendar, and sending tributary emissaries to the Qing.12 It demonstrates that the Qing used this model as an institutionalized tool to pursue a twofold transformation: the Qing cast itself as the new civilized center of the world, with the hallmarks of "China" and the "Heavenly Dynasty," and converted Chosǒn and other countries into "countries of barbarians" on the periphery. This prolonged process of "centering" the Qing between 1644 and 1761 enabled the Qing to reconstruct a Chinese empire by formulating, legitimizing, refining, and popularizing its new identity as the civilized center of the world.

The Qing as "China" and the "Heavenly Dynasty"

On October 30, 1644, the Shunzhi emperor (r. 1644–61) offered a grand sacrifice to Heaven and Earth in Beijing. During the ceremony, he [End Page 117] asserted that the Qing would "pacify China" (Ch. sui Zhongguo) and "set a good example for ten thousand countries" (Ch. biaozheng wanbang).13 For many people, this event marked the rise of the Qing as the equivalent of China.14 In 1767, after finding that a magistrate in Yunnan had failed to refer to the Qing as "China" or the "Heavenly Dynasty" in an official note to the "outer yi" (Ch. waiyi, roughly "foreign barbarians") of Burma, the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736–95) furiously pointed out that "it is the rule for one to refer to the court as the 'Heavenly Dynasty' or 'China' when one mentions it to the men from afar. Our country has unified the central area and external areas, and even the barbarians know the virtue and civilization of the Great Qing."15 Historians of Qing China tend to follow Qianlong, or at least the political discourse that was considerably developed by the emperor, by treating "China" and the "Heavenly Dynasty" as two synonymous terms referring to the Qing. Yet what the emperor did not mention — or was perhaps not able to realize — was that the Qing did not acquire the two titles simultaneously when it replaced the Ming in the early seventeenth century. As the emperor indicated, the two terms were used for the Qing almost exclusively in the context of foreign relations, whereas in the domestic context, they were replaced by others, such as the "Great Qing" (Ch. Da Qing), "our dynasty" (Ch. wochao, benchao, or guochao), "our country" (Ch. wo guojia), and the "imperial dynasty" (Ch. huangchao). In the first years after 1644, some Qing officials described the regime as the "Qing Dynasty" (Ch. Qingchao) as a successor to the "Ming Dynasty" in the context of Qing foreign policy toward Siam,16 but such neutral terms describing the Qing position in China's dynastic lineage remain rare in the Qing documents.

As the Qing took over Beijing in 1644 and consolidated its rule over inner China afterward, it completed its transformation into China, but its remaking into the Heavenly Dynasty had barely started. In the late 1640s, when the Manchu Eight Banners were marching into South [End Page 118] China, Southwest China, and Northwest China, the Qing began to use Chosǒn to construct its new image as the Heavenly Dynasty; however, the process turned out to be difficult and even embarrassing. According to early Qing archives, Qing intellectuals called the Qing the "Heavenly Dynasty" for the first time in a draft imperial edict in 1649 investing Yi Ho as the king of Chosǒn. The manuscript of the edict was written by Fu Yijian (1609–65), a Han Chinese literatus from Shandong, who had taken the first place in the dynasty's first imperial examination in 1645.17 By writing that the king should be "an important subordinate serving the Heavenly Dynasty" (Ch. pinghan tianchao) and loyal to the "central civilized country" (Ch. Huaxia), Fu equated the Qing, which had become China, with the Heavenly Dynasty and central civilized country. The final edition sent to Chosǒn, however, deleted the latter two terms and continued to use "upper country" (Ch. shangguo) to refer to the Qing, suggesting that the Qing was not yet prepared to claim to be the Heavenly Dynasty.18

"China," or Zhongguo, in a general geographical sense could be defined by the empire's borders, no matter how much they were expanded and reinvented, so long as the Qing took over Ming territory, or at least the Central Plain (Ch. Zhongyuan).19 In fact, after 1644, when the Qing rulers began writing and revising their pre-1644 history, they deliberately deleted some Manchu terms referring to the Ming as China. For example, Hongtaiji in his letter to the Ming on July 29, 1632, complained that "the Ming officials in Liaodong did not follow the way of China" (Ma. liyoodung i hafasa dulimbai gurun i doroi tondoi beiderakū), using the Manchu term Dulimbai gurun in clear reference to China/Zhongguo. Later, the narrative written in Chinese replaced the phrase "way of China" (Ch. Zhongguo/Zhongyuan zhi dao; Ma. Dulimbai gurun i doro) with "way of rightness" (Ch. zhengzhi zhi dao). While Hongtaiji in 1632 called the Ming "your China" (Ma. suweni dulimbai gurun), the post-1644 Chinese edition replaced the term with "your country" (Ch. erguo), deleting the word for "China."20 It is worth noting that the Qing exploited its hierarchical contacts with Chosǒn to nourish its Zongfan norms [End Page 119] already before 1644, when the Qing positioned itself as the only civilized center of the world and described Chosǒn as a "remote" country of "men from afar" (Ch. yuanren) and the Ming as a "place of barbarians" (Ch. manzi difang). At least since 1639, the Qing referred to itself in Manchu as amba gurun (Ch. daguo; big country) and dergi gurun (Ch. shangguo; upper country), terms that would refer only to China after 1644.21 When Ch'oe died for the Ming, he was blind to the ongoing transformation of the Qing into the civilized Middle Kingdom.

Given the ethnic background of the ruling house of the Qing, many scholars have been interested in establishing when the Qing court officially used the Manchu term Dulimbai gurun to define itself as China/Zhongguo. A consensus has emerged that it was the year 1689, in the Treaty of Nerchinsk signed by the Qing and Russia.22 In fact, the Qing court had used this Manchu term to present its identity much earlier. A good example is the negotiations with Zheng Jing (1642–81) in Taiwan. While Zheng never questioned the identification of the Qing with China, he argued that Taiwan was not a part of China in order to pursue an independent status like that of Chosǒn. The Kangxi emperor (r. 1662–1722), however, emphasized, at least in a decree of 1669, that Zheng belonged to the "people of China" (Ch. Zhongguo zhi ren; Ma. Dulimbai gurun i niyalma).23 In the late Kangxi period, the Qing presented itself as China in a very favorable and definitive way. For example, in his travelogue, the Manchu official Tulišen (1667–1740), who was dispatched to the Turgūt Mongols in Russia as an envoy in 1712, generally referred to the Qing as Dulimbai gurun (China) or meni dulimbai gurun (our China), later rendered into Chinese as Zhongguo or Zhonghua when the journal was published in 1723 in both languages. Tulišen also consistently translated terms such as "our place" (Ma. meni bade) as "our China" (Ch. wo Zhongguo), while all people of the Great Qing, such as the Manchus, Han Chinese, and Mongolians, were "people of China." More important, [End Page 120] following the Kangxi emperor's instructions, Tulišen introduced Russia to a Confucian China by underlining that "our country takes fidelity, filial piety, benevolence, justice, and sincerity as fundamentals" (Ch. wo guojia yi zhong xiao ren yi xin wei genben; Ma. meni gurun i banjire tondo hiyoošun, gosin, jurgan, akdun be fulehe da obumbi).24

In contrast, the "Heavenly Dynasty," or Tianchao, could not be delineated in the same way since it was based on the notion of "all-under-Heaven" (Ch. tianxia) — a China-centered politico-cultural term with no connection to the concept of borders in the geographical sense. Put another way, the Qing could define itself as China from within, while it could not identify itself as the Heavenly Dynasty without support from outside the Qing: the new regime would first have to build up a new, Qing-centric, and multinational Zongfan system. The expectation at the time that the Qing would become a new imperial power required the regime to transform the countries that the Ming had represented as its fan into fan in the Qing orbit. The Ming had pursued the same policy when it "became the ruler of China" (Ch. zhu Zhongguo) in 1368 and immediately sent envoys to those countries that had served as the Yuan Dynasty's fan with the aim of converting them into fan relative to the Ming.25 However, unlike the Ming, the Manchu rulers in 1644 faced the tremendous challenge of overcoming their stigmatized status as "barbarians." Compared with the mission to identify the Qing as China and as the legitimate successor to the Ming within Qing borders, the quest to [End Page 121] construct the Qing as a new Heavenly Dynasty beyond its borders called for extraordinary effort.

From the perspective of comparative philology, the Chinese term Tianchao was not initially widely adopted in the Manchu language, in which it was literally rendered as abkai gurun ("heavenly country"). The Manchu rulers had difficulty identifying with this term and the Chinese political concepts behind it before 1644. In July 1637, for example, after reviewing the draft edict of investiture to the king of Chosǒn, Hongtaiji(r. 1627–43) commented that he did not like to equate himself with Heaven as the Ming had done.26 Still, the task of reconstructing the Qing as the new China in the seventeenth century left the Manchu rulers with no choice but to embrace this term and the rationale behind it. As demonstrated during the visit of the fifth Dalai Lama to Beijing in 1653, when the Shunzhi emperor followed Han Chinese officials' advice that as the "ruler of all countries under Heaven," (Ch. tianxia guojia zhi zhu) he should not violate conventions by meeting with a lama in person outside the capital, the Manchu emperor had to adjust to fit his role as Son of Heaven in the Confucian sense too.27

The Rise of the Chosǒn Model within the Qing-Centric Chinese World

The Qing was not alone in its efforts to construct its new dual identity. Chosǒn, the first Confucian outer fan of the Qing, played an unparalleled role in providing the Manchu regime with resources to form and articulate a new identity. As early as February 1650, in his memorial to the Shunzhi emperor, the king called the Qing the "Heavenly Dynasty," even though the Qing court itself was still reluctant to use the term.28 The foundational role of Chosǒn in the Qing-centric Zongfan world can be clearly observed in two historical phases: the seven years from 1637 to 1643 and the 251 years from 1644 to 1895. In the first phase, Chosǒn began serving as the outer fan of the Qing by obeying the well-formulated and institutionalized discipline of the Sino-Korean Zongfan system, which had functioned between the Ming and Chosǒn for more than two centuries. The Qing could thus make a significant [End Page 122] move toward the transformation of its identity by taking the place of the Ming in the framework of Sino-Korean relations. The frequent visits of Korean tributary emissaries to Mukden provided the Qing with good opportunities to emphasize and practice its centrality in the known world.29

After 1644, the Qing found itself in the position of having to manage relations with multiple neighboring countries, such as Annam (Vietnam), Ryukyu, Lanchang (Laos), Siam (Thailand), Sulu (the Philippines), and Burma, that had served as subordinates to the Ming. Having inherited these fan from the Ming, the Qing needed to resume and refashion the Zongfan system according to its own standards. In this regard, the Qing had gained valuable experience from its institutionalized communications with Chosǒn since the 1630s and developed a mature model of a Qingcentric Zongfan system. The Chosǒn model was a pattern centered on rituals. In practice, the Qing progressively reduced the tribute of Chosǒn until, by the late 1730s, it was less than one-tenth of what it had been in the late 1630s and became a mere symbol of political subordination.30 The tribute was accompanied by performances of a set of highly programmed formalities that demonstrated the new Qing hierarchical and normative Zongfan order. In the first years after 1644, the Qing found the Chosǒn model the most powerful and practical way of managing its relations with other countries and extending its influence and authority.

The Shunzhi emperor articulated the importance of Chosǒn as a model in 1647 after the Qing army conquered Zhejiang, Fujian, and Guangdong and prepared to establish relations with Ryukyu, Annam, Siam, and Japan. On March 17 and August 25, the emperor announced that the Qing would "give preferential treatment to these countries like that given to Chosǒn" (Ch. yu Chaoxian yiti youdai) as long as they "subordinated themselves to 'the civilized' and paid tribute to the court" (Ch. qingxin xianghua, chengchen rugong).31 In this way, the Manchu rulers publicized the status of Chosǒn as the prototypical fan and established the QingChosǒn relationship as a yardstick for relations between the Qing and other countries or political entities. Rather than adopting the aggressive [End Page 123] colonial policy of the Yuan, the Qing learned from Ming Zongfan relations, applying a sophisticated Chosǒn model to maintain stability on its frontiers and to construct a new Chinese world order beyond them.

As a result of the Qing rulers' efforts at promulgating the Chosǒn model after 1644, some political units beyond Qing control also regarded it as an ideal way of solving conflicts with the Qing and retaining their own privileges. Between 1662 and 1669, for example, when the Qing tried to persuade Zheng Jing to surrender in Taiwan, Zheng insisted on "following the Chosǒn model" (Ch. zhao Chaoxian shili) into the Qing Zongfan system by "proclaiming subordination and paying tribute" but refraining from cutting his hair in the Qing style.32 For Zheng, the Chosǒn model appeared to offer the most favorable and promising way to resolve his standoff with the Qing. The Kangxi emperor refused this proposal on the grounds that Chosǒn was "always a foreign country" (Ch. conglai suoyou zhi waiguo; Ma. daci bihe encu gurun), whereas Zheng belonged to the "people of China."33 The negotiations show how the applicability and coverage of the Chosǒn model was widely perceived at this time when either independence or complete annexation was not an immediate or acceptable solution.

"Barbarianizing" Chosǒn and "Civilizing" the Qing in Qing-Chosǒn Zongfan Practice

The following sections examine four aspects of the Chosǒn model to showcase in practice how the Qing used Chosǒn to promote its identity as the civilized center. These four aspects were embodied in ritual and texts, and they have not to date been well examined by scholars.

Tribute Missions, Imperial Missions, and Cherishing Men from Afar

The Qing-Chosǒn exchange of missions started in 1637 and continued without interruption until 1894. The frequency of the missions of Chosǒn to the Qing was so high that no other country could compete with it. Whereas other subordinate countries sent tribute missions to Beijing every other year (Ryukyu), every three years (Siam), every four years [End Page 124] (Annam), every five years (Sulu), or every ten years (Burma), Chosǒn dispatched several missions every year.34 From 1637 to 1894, Chosǒn used twenty-six or so reasons to justify about 698 official missions to the Qing, an average of 2.71 missions per year.35 A Korean tribute mission had thirty official members, but as a special privilege to Chosǒn there was no limit placed on the number of attendants and servants attached to the mission. Thus, many Korean scholars and businessmen visited Beijing as mission attendants or servants in order to experience Chinese culture or to seek their fortunes. As a result, a Korean mission often numbered several hundred people.36

In contrast, the Qing sent far fewer and smaller missions to Chosǒn. From 1637 to 1894, the Qing dispatched 172 missions to Hansǒng, an average of 0.67 missions per year.37 In the early Qing, the Manchu court frequently dispatched envoys to investigate cases of homicide and smuggling on the border, to negotiate with the king about the resolution of these cases, and sometimes to discuss with the king punishment of Korean officials who failed to satisfy the Qing. Since the Shunzhi period, the Manchu court began to reduce the number of such envoys because of the Zongfan idea of "cherishing the small" (Ch. zixiao; K. chaso). In May 1653, in the course of investigating a cross-border case of homicide, the Board of Rites proposed to ask the emissary of Chosǒn in Beijing to carry the imperial documents to the king instead of dispatching an envoy for the purpose, given that "Chosǒn is a country of men from afar" (Ch. Chaoxian guo xi yuanren). The Shunzhi emperor endorsed this proposal.38 By the middle period of the reign of the Kangxi emperor, such envoys to Hansǒng disappeared entirely.39 From this point on, the imperial missions were of two primary types: for investiture (Ch. cefeng), [End Page 125] through which the emperor gave each new king a patent of appointment through a book of investiture (Ch. fengtian gaoming; Ma. abkai hesei g'aoming), and for conferring noble rank on a deceased king or privileged members of the royal house (Ch. fengshi). Both types related to power shifts that required the emperor's bestowal of legitimacy. The members of an imperial mission significantly dropped after 1658, when the Shunzhi emperor called for the end of Manchu trade in Hansǒng, and fell to fewer than thirty members after the early nineteenth century.40

All imperial envoys to Chosǒn, from the first envoy in 1637 to the last one in 1890, were Manchu officials. They included some members of the Mongol and Han Chinese Eight Banners but no non-banner Han Chinese, while envoys to Annam and Ryukyu were mainly non-banner Han Chinese rather than Manchus.41 By at least the 1760s, Han Chinese intellectuals were fully aware of this ethnic phenomenon, though some of their Korean counterparts were not.42 The door was never opened for Han Chinese participation in the missions partly because of the implicit demands of the Hua-yi distinction: The Manchu court needed to demonstrate, maintain, and consolidate its legitimacy as the human and institutional agent of the Mandate of Heaven and to strengthen its claim to civilized centrality and Chineseness through the hierarchical relationship. For this reason, the Chosǒn Zongfan affairs had to be in the hands of the Manchu rulers, rather than their Han Chinese subordinates. Still, many Manchu envoys, such as Akdun (1685–1756) in 1717, identified themselves from a cultural perspective as "Han envoys" (Ch. Hanjie) and emphasized the status of the Qing as "central civilized country" (Ch. Zhonghua; Zhongxia).43 In addition, all fan emissaries to the Qing were required to follow their set tributary routes. For example, emissaries from Ryukyu were instructed to arrive at Min'an in Fujian, those from western countries were to travel via Macau in Guangdong, and those from Annam were to arrive at Taiping in Guangxi. At the designated places, the emissaries would first be greeted by the governor-general and [End Page 126] the governor, who would report their arrival to the Board of Rites and instruct subordinate officials to accompany the emissaries onward to Beijing.44 Emissaries from Chosǒn, however, had no such relations with officials in the provinces through which they passed, and communicated directly with the Board of Rites in Beijing. In other words, the contacts between Chosǒn and the Qing were controlled directly from Beijing, which made it easier for the Qing court to use Chosǒn to foster an image of harmonious Zongfan order.

Humble Palace Memorials, Books of Investiture and Decrees, and Orthodox Legitimacy

The imperial court in Beijing and the royal court in Hansǒng interacted through meticulously formatted court documents written in accordance with highly institutionalized hierarchical norms. Since 1637, the official documents that Chosǒn submitted to the Qing, among which the king's "humble palace memorials" (Ch. biao; K. p'yo) represented the most important category, generally followed the format that had been used in the Ming. Beijing laid down a set of new criteria for syntax in 1705 that Chosǒn adhered to for the next 190 years.45

The humble memorials were aimed at strengthening Qing centrality and authority by reiterating and consolidating the reciprocal and hierarchical relationship between the emperor and the king. The memorial to congratulate the Kangxi emperor on his birthday, submitted April 14, 1721, by the crown prince and deputy king of Chosǒn, Yi Yun (King Gyǒngjong, r. 1721–24), serves as an example. Terming himself "your minister" (Ch. chen; K. sin) of a vassal (Ch. fanfu), who could hardly bear his separation from the court (Ch. queting), Yi proclaimed that "Your Majesty raises all people of the world by assuming the Mandate of Heaven. The world is peaceful and imperial civilization extends to all places. Your Majesty has pacified the four seas, and ten thousand countries have come to revere Your Majesty [Ch. sihai yi er wanguo laiwang]."46 [End Page 127]

In such highly formalized memorials, the king frequently termed himself "subordinate" or "minister," Chosǒn the "small country," and the Qing the "big country," the "upper country," the "big dynasty," the "central dynasty," or the "Heavenly Dynasty."47 These Qing-mandated terms exploited the subordinate status of Chosǒn to highlight Qing centrality in the early eighteenth century. Year after year, Chosǒn, as the representative of the "others," helped to consolidate Qing hegemony. Upon receipt of the king's humble memorials, the emperor generally wrote on the cover in red ink, "I have learned of the appreciative memorial that you, the king, respectfully presented. Let the relevant board [the Board of Rites] know." The comments were made in Manchu (Wang sini kesi de hengkileme wesimbuhe be saha, harangga jurgan sa.), or in Chinese (Lanwang zouxie. Zhidao liao. Gaibu zhidao.).

On the Qing side, the imperial decrees granting a deceased king noble rank or investing a new king with a patent of appointment also served to consolidate the hierarchy. The special terms used in these edicts had their own rules, which underwent a process of institutionalization after 1644. When the Qing invested Yi Jong as king in January 1638 (the first investiture that the Qing performed), the imperial decree stated only that Chosǒn would be recognized as fan to the Qing forever. But after 1644 the Manchu court began to include additional terms with strong political meanings. The decree of investiture in 1649, for example, clearly defined Chosǒn as an outer fan in a "remote area" (Ch. xiahuang) that submitted itself to the virtues and civilization of the Qing.48 In 1675 the phrase "cherishing the eastern country" (Ch. huairou dongtu) appeared in the decrees.49 These terms substantially broadened the scope of Qing political and cultural ideology and transformed its identity in the context of the Hua-yi dichotomy.

In March 1725, the Yongzheng emperor (r. 1723–35) issued a book of investiture and a decree to Yi GǓm (King Yǒngjo, r. 1725–76) to instate him as the king and his wife as the queen. In the book of investiture, the emperor stated, "The great strategy is simply to extend civilization [Ch. jiaohua; Ma. tacihiyan wen] to the countries from afar [Ch. haibang; Ma. goroki gurun].… Generations of your court have been sincerely loyal and [End Page 128] trustworthy and have been paying tribute diligently [Ch. zhigong qinxiu; Ma. tušan alban be kiceme faššambi]." In investing Yi GǓm as "king of Chosǒn" [Ch. Chaoxian guowang; Ma. Coohiyan gurun i wang], the emperor underlined that the king "shall serve as the fence on the eastern land [Ch. pinghan dongfan; Ma. dergi bade fiyanji dalikū], devoutly use the imperial calendar [Ch. qiangong zhengshuo; Ma. forgon ton be olhošome ginggulembi], pacify the land, and assist the imperial house forever [Ch. jiafu yu huangjia; Ma. ejen i boode aisilame wehiyembi]." The emperor advised the king to "use a pure and genuine mind to serve the heavenly court [Ch. tianshi; Ma. abkai gurun]."50 A decree to the king at the same time articulated this point again by stating that "You should be loyal forever and efficiently govern the land as a minister from afar [Ch. houfu; Ma. jecen i golo], while you should be loyal and obedient and serve as a fence [Ch. pinghan; Ma. fiyanji dalikū] for the heavenly house [Ch. tianjia; Ma. gurun boo]."51

The Chinese and Manchu terms of the imperial edicts portrayed the king vividly as a member of the Qing-centric family, and they became more sophisticated in the Qianlong period. The edicts to the king in 1757, for instance, referred to Chosǒn as a "fence," a "subordinate country" (Ch. shuguo; Ma. harangga gurun), a "remote submission" (Ch. yuanfu; Ma. goroki i jecen), and a "lower country" (Ch. xiaguo; Ma. fejergi gurun) of the "Middle Kingdom" (Ch. Zhongchao, Zhongbang; Ma. Dulimbai gurun). The edicts also emphasized that the king's court (M. wang ni boo) had been loyal to and had received special rewards from the heavenly court (Ch. tianshi; Ma. han i hargašan).52 By invoking these norms, the Qing explicitly presented itself as the civilized center — China and the Heavenly Dynasty — in both Chinese and Manchu terms.

In all his memorials, the king of Chosǒn used a gold seal received from the Qing. From early 1637 to early 1653, the seal had only Manchu writing, which read Coohiyan gurun i wang ni doron ("Seal of the king of the country of Chosǒn"). On April 22, 1653, the Shunzhi emperor, evidently displeased by the absence of Chinese script from the seal, instructed the Board of Rites to make a new seal adding "Chinese characters" (Ch. Hanzi). The words Chaoxian guowang zhi yin ("Seal [End Page 129] of the king of the country of Chosǒn") were thus added.53 The emperor did not explain his rationale for the change, but his decision emphasized the new dynasty's Chineseness. On the Qing side, the emperors, in their orders to Chosǒn, always used the "Seal of declaring imperial order," which has both a Chinese text, Zhigao zhi bao, and a Manchu one, Hese wasimbure boobai, exactly the same text that appeared on the books of investiture issued to the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Erdeni in Tibet.54 The combination of languages reflected the polyglot politics of a multiethnic empire.55

The investiture of the king helps explain a paradox in the Qing period: certain Confucianized countries, in particular Chosǒn and Annam, were privately reluctant to identify the Qing as the supreme representative of Chinese culture, even though in practice they never challenged its status as the superior country; quite the contrary, they frequently sent tribute missions to Beijing to display their obedience. In fact, the missions fulfilled a fundamental purpose in establishing not only the legitimacy of the Qing, but also the legitimacy of the fan monarchs. The Zongfan relationship between the Qing and its fan was an incarnation of this symbiotic and synergistic legitimacy, namely, the orthodox legitimacy that was embodied in highly programmed rituals involved in the exchanges of emissaries. This orthodox legitimacy was the goal for which King Taksin (r. 1767–82) of the Thonburi regime of Siam sent tribute missions to Beijing to pursue investiture after the fall of the Ayutthaya regime (1350–1767), even though the understanding of "paying tribute" (Ch. jingong) held by King Taksin was very different from that held by the Qing.56 The need for legitimacy could also explain why Nguy˜ên Huˆ. e (r. 1788–92), the leader of the peasant rebellion against the Lê Dynasty (1428–1788) of Annam, defeated the Qing army in 1789, but accepted Qing investiture in 1790. It was also in 1790 that Burma accepted investiture after winning the Burmese-Qing War in the early 1770s.57 Beyond pragmatic concerns reflecting geopolitics and China's military [End Page 130] might, pursuing China's endorsement of their political legitimacy proved crucial for these regimes' own rule and security.

Tribute, Gifts, Court-to-Court Interactions, and Qing Emperor's Dynamic Role

The Qing ritual code clearly listed the types and quantities of tribute that Chosǒn had to present for different purposes. After 1644, these fell into eight major categories.58 Except for the most official category of annual tribute, designated as "standard tribute" (Ch. zhenggong), the king generally referred to the items in the other seven categories, such as those for the imperial birthday, the lunar New Year, or the winter solstice, as "gifts" or "local products." The Qing accepted all of the items and did not challenge the king's choice of terms, although it preferred to refer to the items as "tribute."59 After the Yongzheng emperor settled the content and amount of the annual tribute in 1728, the annual tribute was less than ten percent of what had been given in the 1630s and became a symbol of the subordination of Chosǒn to the Qing.

While the annual tribute marked a country-to-country relationship, all other tribute, which was presented specifically to the emperor, the empress, and the dowager empress, suggested a strong court-to-court tie. The Board of Rites accepted all annual tribute as a routine matter, but it needed to submit memorials to the emperor in order to receive instructions on how to handle tribute in all of the other categories. In the early Qing, the Board of Rites forwarded all items to the Board of Revenue and later to the Imperial Household Department, which was in charge of the affairs of the Manchu royal house and had its own financial system independent of the one managed by the Board of Revenue.60 In this sense, although the Qing-Chosǒn relationship seemed to manifest itself mainly in hierarchical country-to-country interactions, it was a dual system involving the two countries and the two courts rather than the monolith many scholars have assumed.

The gifts the imperial envoys carried to Chosǒn were directed at specific members of the royal family, including the king, the queen, the [End Page 131] crown prince, and the dowager queen. Usually these were first-rate silk for official robes. When imperial missions were dispatched to extend the emperor's condolences on the death of core royalty, the gifts were meant to be consumed at the funeral ceremonies.

After the emissaries of Chosǒn presented tribute gifts to the emperor, the emperor would bestow gifts upon them and the king. These were known as "routine gifts from the throne" (Ch. lishang). At least since the Shunzhi period, the Qing presented tribute missions with gifts whose value exceeded that of the tribute, based on detailed calculations.61 The gifts and their quantities varied according to the category of the missions; in addition, when the envoy was a member of the Chosǒn royal house, the amount and quality of the gifts would increase. The silk and satin among the gifts were taken from the Imperial Household Department, rather than the Board of Revenue, in order to show the emperor's personal favor toward the "king of the fan" (Ch. fanwang). To mark the imperial birthday and the lunar New Year, the Qing would give the king a second-class horse with bridle and each of the two envoys a third-class horse with bridle, gifts that highlighted the Manchu character of the Sinocentric system at the time.62

Some scholars have argued that the routine imperial gifts were an institutionalized part of the overall mechanism and hence offered little flexibility.63 Yet the emperor could break this routine at his discretion by awarding the emissaries extra gifts during audiences.64 The practice of giving extra gifts further highlights the Qing policy of "giving more to the visitors and benefiting less from them" (Ch. houwang bolai), as the Qianlong emperor underlined in 1736 to Chosǒn.65 The emperor thus played an important individual role in moderating the system. In the late eighteenth century, Qianlong disbursed even more extra gifts while the amount of tribute sent by Chosǒn remained very stable (see Figure 1). As the figure shows, the extra imperial gifts reached their peak in the 1790s, [End Page 132] a time when Qianlong was particularly keen to enhance the image of his dynasty, for which Chosǒn served as the best foil. Given these priorities, the Qing court was not concerned about maintaining a balance between the value of the tributes and that of the imperial gifts. A Korean emissary acknowledged in 1793 that the Qing treated Chosǒn in such a favorable way that the spending of the Qing on accommodations for the Korean emissaries and the value of the various imperial gifts far exceeded the value of the "local products" sent by Chosǒn.66

Figure 1. The Decrease in Chosǒn Tribute and the Increase in Extra Gifts from the Qing Emperor, 1630s–1850s.
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Figure 1.

The Decrease in Chosǒn Tribute and the Increase in Extra Gifts from the Qing Emperor, 1630s–1850s.67

Receptions, Ritual Performances, and the Civilized Qing

Upon reaching their residence in Beijing, namely, the Foreign Emissaries' Common Accommodations (Ch. Huitong siyi guan), the Korean emissaries first visited the Board of Rites to present the king's memorials and the list of tributes. In the main hall of the board, the emissaries would pass the king's memorials on to the head officials and would kneel down three times, each time making three prostrations (Ch. san gui jiu koutou, the highest level of kowtow during the Qing period) toward an imperial tablet.68 The board would submit the documents to the emperor the [End Page 133] next day. The emissaries then returned to their residence to wait for the imperial audience, where they were treated to abundant meals under the policy of "cherishing men from afar" (Ch. huairou yuanren; Ma. goroki niyalma be bilume gosimbi).

While staying at the hostel, the emissaries had responsibilities to fulfill. If there was a grand court assembly of officials in the Forbidden City, the emissaries had to attend and pay homage, occupying a place just behind the Qing civil officials. A major task was to pay a formal visit to the emperor either in Beijing or in Rehe (Chengde). After the audience, they would be invited to attend certain activities.69 All rituals between the Chinese emperor and foreign emissaries were minutely regulated and fastidiously practiced. Such rituals had been regulated and institutionalized at least since the "great rituals" laid out in The Rituals of the Great Tang (Ch. Da Tang Kaiyuan li), compiled in 732.

In the Ming and the Qing, the rituals became extremely elaborate, and the Korean emissaries were always required to rehearse the complicated ceremonies in advance as a sign of their loyalty and as part of the process that would "civilize the yi in the four quarters" (Ch. feng siyi).70 Rituals in this context helped to maintain the political arrangement and strengthen the identities of all participants.71 In grand court gatherings, emissaries from Chosǒn were usually the first representatives of the outer fan to perform the rituals for the emperor, as on February 9, 1675, at the Lantern Festival, when the Chosǒn emissaries congratulated Kangxi, followed by their Russian, Kalka Mongol, and Mongol counterparts.72 Chosǒn played an especially prominent role in the late eighteenth century during the Qianlong period, when the Qing in many cases "followed the model for Chosǒn" (Ch. zhao Chaoxian zhi li) in managing its bilateral exchanges with Annam, Ryukyu, and Siam.73 Chinese intellectuals at the time also widely regarded Chosǒn as the "model for other countries" (Ch. zhuguo zhi zhang).74 [End Page 134] The emissaries also attended two major official banquets, one held at the Board of Rites and the other at the emissaries' residence. Each of the three key members of the mission was treated to a fifth-level Manchu banquet and the other members to a sixth-level one, preferential treatment not afforded emissaries from any other countries. The high cost of the banquets was fully covered by the Qing, and, not surprisingly, the banquets were replete with ritual performances undergirding the bilateral hierarchical order.75 The imperial code included an "illustration of the banquets for the tributary emissaries of Chosǒn" (Ch. Chaoxian gongshi yantu) and specified that the seating arrangements for banquets for emissaries from other countries should follow the Chosǒn pattern (Ch. geguo gongshi fangci).76

During their sojourn in Beijing, the emissaries, particularly scholars without official status or responsibilities, were enthusiastic about socializing with the Qing literati. The tradition of such interactions had started in Ming times, but had been suspended in the MingQing transition period because of anti-Manchu attitudes in Chosǒn. Indeed, before the eighteenth century, the three key members of the mission barely left their residence to meet with Chinese because many Korean scholars saw the Qing as a barbarous country and regarded the tribute mission as a humiliation.77 In the 1760s, however, literary social gatherings again became frequent and continued until the 1890s. Versed in the same Confucian classics, adhering to the same neo-Confucianism, and using the same Chinese characters, the Qing and Chosǒn scholars could easily identify one another as men of the same caliber. They met for drinks, composed poems, and exchanged their own compositions and calligraphy. That Chosǒn was known as "Little China" might also have lent these transnational literary social gatherings a homogenous cultural identity. These savants formed an informal, perennial, and transnational club in which they exchanged ideas about history and literature and improved their perceptions of each other's countries. Their communications also "assured Korea of a constant stream of information and knowledge concerning the latest intellectual trends in China."78 [End Page 135]

Yet when they gathered with their Han Chinese friends, the Korean guests usually showed their aversion to Manchu customs, such as the Manchu-style official robe and hairstyle, and were very proud of their Ming-style robes and hats, in keeping with the civilized-barbarian dichotomy. But in 1766, when Hong Tae-yong (1731–83) expressed contempt for Manchu control of China, he found to his surprise that his Han Chinese counterparts in Beijing, such as Yan Cheng (1733–67), did not appreciate his anti-Manchu sentiments; rather, Yan and his colleagues applauded the Qing support for civilization. After intensive conversation with his Chinese friends, Hong conceded that Koreans on a fundamental level still belonged to the "barbarians by the sea" (K. haesang Ǔi iin). By arguing that "the Hua and the yi are the same" (K. hwa-i il ya), he acknowledged the civilized status of the Qing.79

Like the emissaries from Hansǒng who experienced a combination of hardship and comfort as they made their way to Beijing, Qing imperial envoys also had to endure discomfort until they passed through Fenghuang Gate toward Ǔiju. There they were welcomed and well treated by the Korean side. Although the land between the gate and the Yalu River was Qing territory, the Korean prefect of Ǔiju was able to dispatch Korean officers, Manchu interpreters, and servants to welcome the envoys at three stations in this area. At each station and later in Ǔiju, the Koreans would provide the envoys with hearty meals. Receptions along the way from Ǔiju down to Pyǒngyang and then to Hansǒng were even more luxurious, and the cost was significant.80

In contrast to their Korean counterparts in Beijing, the Manchu envoys in Hansǒng confined themselves to ritual exchanges. No transnational literati club like the one in Beijing ever formed. Beijing-style literary social gatherings did take place in Shuri, the capital of Ryukyu, but not in Hansǒng, where the envoys, along with their assistants, never left their lodgings to converse with local officials or scholars.81 After 1658, when the Shunzhi emperor put an end to Manchu trade in Hansǒng, the envoys were always temporary visitors who returned home as soon as their mission was accomplished. During their sojourn in Hansǒng, the envoys performed four major ceremonies in which the king participated. [End Page 136] The first was the welcome at the Gate of Receiving Imperial Favors (K. YǒngǓn mun) outside the West Gate of the city. The king bowed once to the imperial documents, then returned to his palace in the city. The second, conducted inside the king's palace, was the transferal of imperial documents and other items to the king. The king kowtowed four times to the imperial edicts. The third ceremony was the king's visit to the envoys at their residence, the South Palace Annex, where the Koreans honored the envoys with several tea banquets. Finally, there was the send-off at the Hall of Admiring the Central Civilized Country (K. Mohwa gwan) on the city's outskirts, the king providing a tea ceremony for the departing envoys. Contact between the two sides was always conducted through the Korean Board of Rites. All of the procedures in these ceremonies were regulated by ritual codes and were executed faithfully until the 1890s.82 This stylized interaction between the Qing and Chosǒn in Hansǒng endowed the monarch of Chosǒn with political legitimacy, continuously consolidating reciprocal and hierarchical Zongfan relations between Chosǒn and the Qing.

The Qing Frames Chosǒn as "Barbarians" in the Zongfan Discourse

The Changing Meaning of "Barbarians" from Yongzheng to Qianlong

Qing attitudes toward the Hua-yi distinction underwent a sharp change in the transitional days between the reigns of Yongzheng and Qianlong. In the late 1720s, the Yongzheng emperor had made the "barbarity" of the Qing a public issue among Qing scholars because of his response to the case of Zeng Jing (1679–1735). Encouraged by the Hua-yi discourse, Zeng plotted to rebel against the Manchu "barbarians." But after he was prosecuted, Zeng reversed his stance and endorsed the Qing, whereupon the emperor released him from prison. In June 1733, while Zeng was in the provinces giving lectures about the dynasty's virtues, the emperor issued an edict to prohibit changing Chinese characters with the meaning of "barbarian" (Ch. hu, lu, yi, and di) in books. The Manchu monarch defined the term yi geographically and confessed that the ancestors of the current dynasty could be called "eastern yi" (Ch. dong yi). This tone [End Page 137] had been set by his great-grandfather Hongtaiji in 1636 in his letter to the king of Chosǒn,83 and Yongzheng himself had repeated the same points in his book responding to Zeng, Great Righteousness Resolving Confusion (Ch. Dayi juemi lu) in 1729. By proclaiming that "people living both within and outside China are in the same family" (Ch. zhongwai yijia), Yongzheng insisted that the Hua-yi distinction should not be understood in a cultural sense, and even if it were, only those who were "beyond civilization" (Ch. wanghua zhi wai), like the Zunghar, might be called "barbarians."84 In this sense, the outer fan of the Qing also seemed to be excluded from the definition of barbarians.

Yongzheng's statements suggest that the Manchu rulers embraced cultural egalitarianism in order to redistribute cultural resources within the multiethnic empire.85 It is safe to say that the Yongzheng emperor tried to overcome the prejudice of the stereotypical civilized-barbarian distinction among Han Chinese intellectuals in the prolonged process of consolidating the Manchu regime's legitimacy. This sustained effort can also be explained by the fact that Yongzheng's father and grandfather had considerably expanded the list of monarchs in Chinese history whose names were enshrined in the Temple of Ancient Monarchs (Ch. Lidai diwang miao), establishing the Qing as the exclusive legitimate successor to previous dynasties that had been identified as "China."86 As a result of Yongzheng's policy, the yardstick for judging "barbarians" suddenly snapped, since the ruling dynasty identified itself with both the ancient rulers — and with the eastern barbarians.

After assuming the throne in 1735, the Qianlong emperor not only quickly revoked his father's pardon and executed Zeng, but also reversed Yongzheng's approach by clearly differentiating the "civilized" Qing from the countries surrounding it. Qianlong thus brought the Huayi discourse back to its pre-Yongzheng context, according to which cultural factors played a pivotal role. He exploited his father's heritage by turning the latter's policy of permitting the free and public use of all Chinese characters for "barbarian" into a tool for propagating the opposite message in the context of the Hua-yi discourse. No longer [End Page 138] would the Great Qing downgrade itself to the rank of barbarian.87 Consequently, in the Qianlong period the use of the term waiyi in official documents reached its historical zenith,88 and through this terminology the Qing combined its civilized centrality with cultural superiority. Qianlong achieved this goal by formally describing all other countries as barbarians, along with the majority of the ethnic groups under his rule, and one of the most important targets of this "barbarianization" was Chosǒn.

When the Yongzheng emperor published his book defining "barbarian," some Manchu envoys to Chosǒn visited Jizi Shrine in Pyǒngyang on their way back from Hansǒng.89 Jizi was said to be the founding father of the ancient Korean regime, who was invested by the Chinese monarch of the Zhou Dynasty with the lands of Chosǒn and who maintained a familistic and tributary relationship with the central court of China. Given the intense debate around ethnicity and the Hua-yi dichotomy in the late years of Yongzheng's reign in the Qing, the Manchu envoys' visits to Jizi could help the Manchu regime bolster its Chineseness and claims to legitimacy beyond its borders. When the Qing overcame the challenge of the civilized-barbarian distinction in the first half of the Qianlong period within China, visits to Jizi Shrine disappeared, although the Chinese historical records continued to celebrate the "familial relationship" between the Chinese and Koreans.

The Qing Frames Chosǒn and Others as Barbarians

In June 1751, Qianlong instructed the governors-general and governors on the borders to draw pictures of "domestic and foreign barbarians" (Ch. neiwai miaoyi, waiyi fanzhong) in order to demonstrate the flourishing of the Qing.90 The emperor was following the tradition of the Taizong emperor (r. 627–49) of the Tang Dynasty, who was believed to have [End Page 139] brought China the most prosperous days of the pre-Qing era. Since Tang Taizong commissioned paintings of the "barbarians" to celebrate the great moment in which "ten thousand countries came to revere the emperor" (Ch. wanguo laichao), Qianlong had every reason to commemorate his dynasty's accomplishments in the same way.91 Even during the Qing expansion into Central Asia, Qianlong identified "the efforts of the Han and Tang dynasties to extend Chinese power into Central Asia" as "historical milestones" by which to measure his own progress.92

Beyond the obvious political factors, as a big fan of Chinese opera who contributed greatly to the birth of Peking Opera, Qianlong may also have been influenced by certain popular operas that extolled the virtues of the civilized center of the world. These operas can be dated at least to the Yuan period, but in the Ming and early Qing they were still being performed in cities such as Beijing. The scripts of these operas described the Ming as the "Heavenly Dynasty," the "upper country," or the "central civilized country," bordered by "yi in four directions" (Ch. siyi, lit. "four barbarians") paying tribute and presenting palace memorials to the emperor. The "yi in four directions" in these operas were primarily represented as Chosǒn, Annam, and political units in Inner Asia.93 Such contemporary popular culture could have contributed to Qianlong's motivation to initiate the project.

Ten years later, in 1761, the first edition of the Illustrations of Subordinate Peoples of the Imperial Qing (Ch. Huang Qing zhigong tu), was published in four volumes, featuring 600 pictures of people from outer fan of the Qing and from "barbarian places" within Qing territory or on its periphery. The first picture in the collection was of a Korean official who wore a Ming-style official robe but was labeled as "barbarian official of the country of Chosǒn" (Ch. Chaoxian guo yiguan) (see Figure 2).94 Once again, Chosǒn served as the model for others in the collection and its prototypical role was made clear by Qing scholars in the Essentials of the Complete Library of the Four Branches Catalogue (Ch. Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao).95 Chosǒn was thus institutionally converted into a country of "barbarians" in Qing political discourse. [End Page 140]

Figure 2. The Chosǒn Official in Illustrations of Subordinate Peoples of the Imperial Qing.
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Figure 2.

The Chosǒn Official in Illustrations of Subordinate Peoples of the Imperial Qing.96

Following Chosǒn, other countries, including Ryukyu, Annam, Siam, Sulu, Lanchang, Burma, Britain, France, Japan, the Netherlands, and Russia, likewise became "barbarian" in the Qing nomenclature, as did many of the diverse peoples within Qing territory. In nearly every case, the Qing narrative constructed an imperial pedigree by reviewing a long history of Zongfan relations with the foreign "country" (Ch. guo; Ma. gurun) or domestic "tribe" (Ch. buluo; Ma. aiman) from the Zhou Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty and emphasized that it was the merits of the Qing that made the "barbarians" "send emissaries to come to pay tribute" (Ch. qianshi rugong; Ma. elcin takūrafi albabun jafanjimbi) or "come to kowtow with tribute" (Ch. chaogong; Ma. albabun jafame hengkilenjimbi).97 In this way, the Qing systematically assimilated the historical legacies of previous dynasties into its own relations with these countries and tribes and consolidated its legitimacy as the civilized center.98 In the same year, in order to celebrate the empress dowager's seventieth birthday, the Qing published another magnificent collection, Illustrations of the Great Celebration (Ch. Luhuan huijing tu). The first [End Page 141] illustration carried the title "Ten thousand countries came to revere the emperor" (Ch. wanguo laichao), precisely the phrase the Tang Dynasty had used, and the emissaries of Chosǒn occupied a distinguished position within it.99 If there was a "documentary institutionalization" for the Qing, this process was substantially accomplished in 1761 with respect to the construction of the identity of the Qing as the civilized center of the world.100

Behind the cheerful façade of the great multiethnic empire lay the Qing centrality in the world. And that world, of course, often found its way to the Qing threshold. As already mentioned, Britain, known as "the country of Ying ji li" ("Ying ji li" is a transliteration of "England"; Ch. Yingjili guo; Ma. Ing gi lii gurun) by the Qing, was one of the countries portrayed as "barbarian" in the collection of 1761. At the end of that year, the emperor instructed his representatives in Guangzhou (Canton) to notify the "men from afar" and "foreign barbarians" there — the British merchants — that "the Heavenly Dynasty has everything it needs, so it does not need foreign barbarians to bring trivial goods for trade."101 The edict was a result of petitions from James Flint in 1759 and Captain Nicholas Skottowe in 1761, representatives of the British merchants who wanted to change the Canton system of trade, which channeled all trade with the west through that southern port. Their efforts were not only futile but in fact led to stricter regulations on western traders in China. In this sense, the rebuff that George Macartney's mission received from the emperor in 1793 was merely a repetition of the institutionalized rhetoric that had been directed at the British in China more than thirty years earlier.

Popularizing the Status of Chosǒn as Waiyi in Qing Imperial Discourse

This prolonged construction of a new Qing identity and the reorientation of its political discourse vis-à-vis other countries was not the result of the emperor's personal activities or political motivations, imposed upon the administration from the top down. Neither should it be [End Page 142] understood purely as a process of implementing the political will of the Manchu court. Rather, Qing officials at the local level, from counties to prefectures to provinces, also contributed to this construction from the bottom up. As a result, in the eighteenth century, the status of Chosǒn as waiyi ("foreign barbarians") was popularized within Qing foreign-relations norms.

This point is illustrated by the Qing policy toward shipwrecked fishermen from Chosǒn, Ryukyu, Annam, and other countries who were rescued by local Chinese officials on the coast. At least from the early Qianlong period, the Qing officials called these victims "barbarians who suffered from storms" (Ch. zaofeng nanyi; Ma. edun de lasihibufi jobolon de tušaha i niyalma) and sent them to Beijing or to the nearest provincial capitals, from whence they could return home with embassies from their countries. From the 1730s to the 1890s, the Qing archives were full of such reports of local officials looking after shipwrecked fishermen, and reports concerning Chosǒn were particularly prominent.102 By accommodating these victims on humanitarian grounds, the Qing sought to highlight its policy of "cherishing men from afar" and to "display the deep and outstanding merits of the Heavenly Dynasty" (Ch. zhao tianchao rouyuan shenren; Ma. abkai gurun i goroki urse be gosire šumin gosin be iletulembi). This sort of rhetoric, aimed at justifying and consolidating the "way of the Heavenly Dynasty" (Ch. tianchao tizhi; Ma. abkai gurun i doro yoso), reached its peak in the Qianlong period.

Chosǒn, again, represented the best agent of the "way of the Heavenly Dynasty," a fact that permeated many aspects of Qing-Chosǒn contacts. For instance, in 1776, 1,000 taels of silver belonging to a Korean mission were stolen by Chinese thieves near Mukden. Qianlong instructed the Manchu general of Mukden to compensate the mission for its losses in order to "uphold the way of our Heavenly Dynasty" (Ch. he wo tianchao tizhi; Ma. musei amba gurun i doro de acanambi). The emperor emphasized in his Chinese edict that "the Chosǒn were people of waiyi" (Ch. Chaoxian nai waiyi zhi ren), further explaining in the Manchu version of the edict that "the people of the country of Chosǒn are people of foreign barbarians" (Ma. Coohiyan gurun i niyalma serengge, tulergi aiman i niyalma).103 This case was not exceptional, and the wealth of similar cases indicates the maturation of the Qing Zongfan discourse.104 [End Page 143]

Conclusion

In the late eighteenth century, the Qing completed the systematic institutionalization of its Zongfan discourse around its new identity as the civilized Middle Kingdom and the Heavenly Dynasty. It achieved this goal by extensively exploiting the Hua-yi discourse, which crystallized in the context of the dynasty's intensive contacts with Chosǒn. While the Qing regularly, materially, and institutionally reenacted centrality through the Chosǒn model within and outside of Qing borders, Chosǒn, along with Ryukyu, Annam, and other countries, could gain its own identity as a subordinate of China in the Zongfan system, and its king, like those of the other fan, could obtain legitimacy as a monarch to govern his country as an agent of the Son of Heaven. The Qing-centric system thus unfolded alongside the reconstruction of the Chinese Empire from the 1640s to the 1760s, and it functioned in a stable and systematic way.

Qing great efforts paid off on the Korean side. Hong Tae-yong, who had traveled to Beijing in 1765 and conceded that Koreans belonged to the "barbarians by the sea," returned home with a new view of the Qing and contributed to the rise of the School of Northern Learning (K. Pukhak p'ae). This school blurred the entrenched Hua-yi distinction and encouraged Koreans to learn "practical knowledge" (K. sirhak) from Qing China. In the nineteenth century, Chosǒn would embrace the civilized status of their larger neighbor and continued to serve as a country of "barbarians" as well as a loyal outer fan in Qing China's politico-cultural discourse until 1895. [End Page 144]

Yuanchong Wang
The University of Delaware
Yuanchong Wang

Yuanchong Wang is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Delaware.

GLOSSARY

benchao 本朝
biao / p'yo
biaozheng wanbang 表正萬邦
buluo 部落
cefeng 冊封
chaogong 朝貢
Chaoxian gongshi yantu 朝鮮貢使宴圖
Chaoxian guo yiguan 朝鮮國夷官
Chaoxian guowang zhi yin 朝鮮國王之印
Chaoxian nai waiyi zhi ren 朝鮮乃外夷之人
Chaoxian shili 朝鮮實例
conglai suoyou zhi waiguo 從來所有之外國
Da Qing 大清
Da Tang Kaiyuan li 大唐開元禮
Dayi juemi lu 大義覺迷錄
fanfu 藩服
fanwang 藩王
feng siyi 風四夷
fengshi 封謚
fengtian gaoming 奉天誥命
geguo gongshi fangci 各國貢使仿此
gesheng 各省
guochao 國朝
haesang ǔi iin 海上之夷人
haibang 海邦
Hanjie 漢節
he wo tianchao tizhi 合我天朝體制
houfu 侯服
houwang bolai 厚往薄來
huairou dongtu 懷柔東土
Huangqing zhigong tu 皇清職貢圖
Hua–yi zhi bian 華夷之辨
Huitong siyi guan 會同四譯館
hwa i il ya 華夷一也
jiafu yu huangjia 夾輔於皇家
jingong 進貢
Lanwang zouxie. Zhidao liao.  
Gaibu zhidao. 覽王奏謝. 知道了. 該部知道.
Lidai diwang miao 歷代帝王廟
Lifanyuan 理藩院
lishang 例賞
Luhuan huijing tu 臚歡薈景圖
manzi difang 蠻子地方
Mohwa gwan 慕華館
neiwai Miao yi 內外苗夷
pinghan tianchao 屏翰天朝
Pukhak p'ae 北學派
qiangong zhengshuo 虔恭正朔
qingxin xianghua, chengchen rugong 傾心向化, 稱臣入貢
queting 闕庭
san gui jiu koutou 三跪九叩頭
shangguo 上國
shuguo 屬國
Sirhak 實學
Shixian shu 時憲書
tianjia 天家
tianshi 天室
tianxia 天下
tianxia guojia zhi zhu 天下國家之主
waifan 外藩
waiyi fanzhong 外夷番眾
wanghua zhi wai 王化之外
wanguo laiwang 萬國來往
wo guojia yi zhong xiao ren yi xin wei genben 我國家以忠孝仁義信為根本
wochao 我朝
xiahuang 遐荒
Xiao Zhonghua / So Junghwa 小中華
Yingjili guo 英吉利國
YǒngǓn mun 迎恩門
yu Chaoxian yiti youdai 與朝鮮一體優待
yuanren 遠人
zaofeng nanyi 遭風難夷
zhao tianchao rouyuan shenren 昭天朝柔遠深仁
zhenggong 正貢
zhengtong 正統
zhengzhi zhi dao 正直之道
zhuguo zhi zhang 諸國之長
Zhigao zhi bao 制誥之寶
Zhigong qinxiu 職貢勤修
Zhongxia 中夏
zixiao / chaso 字小
Zongfan 宗藩
Zhongwai yijia 中外一家
Zhongyuan 中原

WORKS CITED

ABBREVIATIONS

LBZL

Qinding libu zeli (The regulations and cases of the Board of Rites, imperially ordained). Beijing, 1844.

LFZZ

Junjichu hanwen lufu zouzhe (The Chinese copies of palace memorials of the Grand Council). Archive catalog no. 3–163–7728–7730. Zhongguo diyi lishi dang'anguan, Beijing.

LKSS

Neige like shishu (Chronicle of the Board of Rites censorate section of the Grand Secretariat). Archive catalog no. 2–1. Zhongguo diyi lishi dang'anguan.

QSL

Qing shilu (Veritable records of the Qing emperors). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1985–1987.

WJSL

Chosǒn wangjo sillok (Veritable records of the kings of the Chosǒn dynasty). Seoul: Kuksa p'yňch'an wiwǒnhoe, 1984.

WJZA

Neige waijiao zhuan'an, Chaoxian (Diplomatic cases concerning Chosǒn at the Grand Secretariat). Archive catalog no. 564–2–190. Zhongguo diyi lishi dang'anguan.

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Footnotes

* I want to express my sincerest thanks to Chen Jian, Sherman Cochran, Haijian Mao, Young-seo Baik, Bum-jin Koo, Kawashima Shin, Osamu Takamizawa, Zachary Howlett, Danielle Cohen, Nianshen Song, and Hanna Siurua for their constructive feedback on drafts of this article. My genuine thanks also go to Tobie Meyer-Fong, Dorothy Ko, and the anonymous reviewers for Late Imperial China for their critical and helpful comments.

1. This article uses the Pinyin Romanization system for Chinese (referred to as "Ch."), Möllendorff for Manchu ("Ma."), and McCune-Reischauer for Korean ("K."). I have generally translated the Chinese term yi as "barbarians" and make use of the term to analyze the Sinocentric hierarchical arrangement between Qing China and other countries imagined in Qing imperial discourse. As the following sections show, yi, used to describe outsiders in the context of Sino-foreign relations, did not necessarily carry a pejorative meaning. In acknowledgment of the insufficiency of any general translation and the complexity of the term yi as applied in different contexts, this article uses yi or Hua-yi, rather than "barbarians" or "civilized-barbarian," in some cases to clarify related statements.

3. Chosǒn had used the indigenous term orangk'ae to denote the Jurchens/Manchus long before the Manchu invasions, and this label possessed a strong pejorative meaning. As a result of the humiliating memory of the second Manchu invasion in 1637, Korean intellectuals strengthened the cultural mentality of Chosǒn as "Little China" and never stopped using this term and similar ones such as ho ("barbarians") to disparage the Qing after 1644. In 1780, for instance, Pak Chi-wǒn, who was shocked by the prosperity of the Qing during his travels to Beijing, used his young servant's voice to comment that "Chungguk ho ya" ("China is barbarian"); see Pak, Yǒlha ilgi, vol. 1, 10b.

4. See Chosǒn wangjo sillok (hereafter WJSL) (Sejong), vol. 2, 483; vol. 4, 699; Qinding Da Qing huidian shili, vol. 502, 8a-9b. For Ming-Chosǒn relations, see Clark, "Sino-Korean tributary relations under the Ming," 272-300. This article uses the Chinese term "Zongfan," rather than its English counterpart "tributary," to refer to this Sinocentric system. For the discrepancy between this system and the western understanding of it, see, for example, Chang Chihsiung, "Dongxi guoji zhixu yuanli de chayi," 54-57; Hevia, Cherishing Men from Afar, 9–15; Nelson, Korea and the Old Orders in Eastern Asia, 288–97; Okamoto Takashi, ed., Sōshuken no sekaishi, 90–118; Wills, "Tribute, Defensiveness, and Dependency," 225–29; Zhang Feng, "Rethinking the 'Tribute System'," 545–74. For the adoption of the term "Zongfan," see, for example, Chang Tsun-wu, Qing Han Zongfan maoyi, 2–15; Nianshen Song, "'Tributary' from a Multilateral and Multi-layered Perspective," 156–57; Zha Luo, Qingdai Xizang yu Bulukeba, 80–119.

6. WJSL (Sukchong), vol. 40, 552; WJSL (Yǒngjo), vol. 43, 605, 613; vol. 44, 418.

9. Chongzhen lishu, vol. 2, 1670–71; Qintian jian tiben zhuanti shiliao, R. 4–7; Neige like shishu (hereafter LKSS), no. 2–8; Da Qing shixian li/shu, the years of 1646, 1679, 1696, 1731, 1756, 1796, 1842, 1862, 1895, 1900, and 1909.

10. The Gaogouli/Koguryǒ controversy among China, North Korea, and South Korea in the 2000s reflects the conflict between Chinese national history and its Korean counterpart in post-imperial times. See Rawski, Early Modern China and Northeast Asia, 235–63. In the course of the controversy, the First Historical Archives of China reclassified almost all archives regarding Qing-Korean contacts. So did the provincial archives in Manchuria.

11. Schmid, Korea Between Empires, 1895–1919, 11, 55–100, 257–60. Meanwhile, "decentering China" can also refer to the efforts by China's neighboring countries to assert their own centrality and civilized status after the demise of the Ming. See, for example, Haboush, "Constructing the Center"; Rawski, Early Modern China and Northeast Asia. The prolonged process of decentering the Middle Kingdom in Korea was substantively accomplished in the 1960s as a result of the conflict between the People's Republic of China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). In the conflict, DPRK strongly criticized Korea's Sadaeism ("-ism of serving the great") and China's Taegukism ("-ism of serving as the great country") in history in order to consolidate Kim Il-sung's ideology of Chuch'e ("thought of self-reliance"); see Shen Zhihua, Saigo no tenchō, vol. 2, 181–82.

12. For the original use of the term "Chosǒn model," see Gao Hongzhong's memorial to Hongtaiji in 1630. Gao, a Han Chinese official, suggested that the Manchu regime "follow the Chosǒn model to receive the [Ming's] investiture with kingship and to use the regnal title [of the Ming] to count the date" (Ch. bi Chaoxian shili, qingfeng wangwei, cong zhengshuo). Ming Qing shiliao, series 3, vol. 1, 45. Not all scholars endorse the approach to regarding Chosǒn as a "model tributary"; see Larsen, "Comforting Fictions," 233–42; Lim Jongtae, "Tributary Relations between the Chosǒn and Ch'ing Courts to 1800," 153–73. For a description of how the model was practiced, see Qinding libu zeli (hereafter LBZL), vol. 173, 6b–10a; vol. 174, 8a–13b; vol. 175, 5b–6a; vol. 176, 6b–8a.

13. Qing shilu (hereafter QSL) (Shunzhi), vol. 3, 91–92.

14. For the identification of the Qing as China after 1644, see Zhao, "Reinventing China," 6–10.

15. QSL (Qianlong), vol. 18, 643. As this article shows, the use of the term waiyi also underwent changes, as the line between the discourses of nei-wai ("inner-outer") and Zhongwai ("Chinese-foreign") became blurred between the early seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries.

16. LKSS, no. 2–3.

17. Ming Qing shiliao, series 7, vol. 5, 404b; Qingshi gao, vol. 32, 9496.

18. QSL (Shunzhi), vol. 3, 363.

20. Manbun rMtM, vol. 5, 790–92; QSL (Hongtaiji), vol. 2, 165.

21. For more information, see Wang, "Claiming Centrality in the Chinese World," 95–119. In Sinocentric discourse, manzi refers specifically to "southern barbarians" (Ch. nanman), while yi means "eastern barbarians" (Ch. dongyi). The Manchu regime's choice to refer to the Ming as a place of manzi suggests that the regime was positioning itself at the center of the Chinese world, years before the Manchus took over Beijing.

23. Zhaofu Zheng Jing chiyu.

24. Chuang Chi-fa, Man Han Yiyu Lu jiaozhu, 11–12, 143–44, 148, 167–68, 185, 191, 193, 195. Kangxi's instructions help explain why this article uses "Chinese Empire," instead of "Manchu Empire" or "Qing Empire," to describe the Qing. As the advocates of "New Qing History" have shown in their substantive research, the multiethnic and multicultural Eurasian empire of the Qing manifested itself differently in different contexts. But Kangxi's instructions to his Manchu envoy to Inner Asia suggest that the Manchu rulers, who exhorted their fellow Manchus to maintain and strengthen their ethnic identity, still preferred to present the Qing as a country based on Confucianism. In the long run, it was this Confucian identity and an established politico-cultural discourse informed by Confucianism, instead of the Manchu characteristics or the realpolitik that the Qing practiced along the newly conquered frontiers in Inner Asia, that determined the orthodox legitimacy (Ch. zhengtong) of the dynasty in the lineage of the Middle Kingdom in the post-Song period and helped it obtain Confucian orthodox legitimacy (Ch. daotong), through which the regime unified intellectuals. It was also this identity that helped the Qing win strong support from Han Chinese intellectuals in the constant domestic crises of the nineteenth century.

25. Da Ming jili, vol. 32, 7a–8b.

26. QSL (Hongtaiji), vol. 2, 455.

27. QSL (Shunzhi), vol. 3, 530–54.

28. QSL (Shunzhi), vol. 3, 376–77.

29. For more discussion on the Manchu regime's construction of its centrality through its relations with Chosǒn Korea in the pre-1644 period, see Yuanchong Wang, "Claiming Centrality in the Chinese World."

31. QSL (Shunzhi), vol. 3, 251, 272; Lidai baoan, vol. 1, 107.

34. LBZL, vol. 172, 1b; vol. 173, 1a; vol. 174, 1b; vol. 176, 1a; vol. 177, 1a; vol. 175, 1a.

35. Tongmun hwiko, vol. 2, 1700–44; Ch'ǒng sǒn go, vol. 2, 404–502; Liu Wei, Qingdai zhongchao shizhe wanglai yanjiu, 154–251.

36. See, for example, Langkio's memorial on Feb. 9, 1653, in LKSS, no. 2–1; Yi Kon, Yǒnhaeng kisa, vol. 58, 314; Junjichu Hanwen lufu zouzhe (hereafter LFZZ), 3–163–7728–8, 3–163–7730–25/35; T'ongmun'gwan ji, vol. 1, 94–98.

37. Hae-jong Chun indicates that the Qing sent 247 missions from 1636 to 1880, including those in which the imperial commands were carried by Korean emissaries. See Chun, "Sino-Korean Tributary Relations in the Ch'ing Period," 101.

38. Langkio's memorial, May 28, 1653, in LKSS, no. 2–4.

39. Tongmun hwiko, vol. 1, 903–1044; vol. 2, 1045–245, 1747–71.

40. Qingdai gongzhongdang zouzhe ji junjichu zhejian, 072667, 076837; T'ongmun'gwan ji, vol. 1, 215–18.

43. Akǔkton si, 5; Fengshi tu, no. 9 and no. 11.

45. Tongmun hwiko, vo. 1, 672; Neige waijiao zhuan'an, Chaoxian (hereafter WJZA), no. 564–2–190–4.

46. Yi Yun's memorial to the Kangxi emperor, Apr. 14, 1721, in WJZA, 564–2–190–4.

47. See, for example, LFZZ, no. 3–163–7729–42; Chaoxian shiliao huibian, vol. 20, 513–73.

48. WJSL (Yǒngjo), vol. 34, 709; QSL (Shunzhi), vol. 3, 363.

49. QSL (Kangxi), vol. 4, 678–79.

53. Imperial decrees issued on Apr. 22, 1653, in LKSS, no. 2–3.

58. LBZL, vol. 172, 1b–5b; Hae-jong Chun, "Sino-Korean Tributary Relations in the Ch'ing Period," 90–111.

59. LKSS, no. 2–3; LFZZ, 3–163–7729–16/17/26/27/29/31/45/46, 3–163–7730–32/33.

60. LBZL, vol. 172, 6a–7b; Ming Qing shiliao, series. 7, vol. 5, 469b.

61. See, for example, Langkio's memorial to the Shunzhi emperor on May 18, 1653, in LKSS, no. 2–4.

62. LBZL, vol. 172, 8b–9b.

63. Iwai Shigeki, "ChMkM to goshi," 137.

64. LBZL, vol. 172, 11a–12a.

65. QSL (Qianlong), vol. 9, 477.

67. Tongmun hwiko, vol. 2, 1474–75, 1494–1503; LBZL, vol. 172, 9a–19a; Chun Hae-jong, Hanjung kwan'gye sa yǒnggu, 79–82. The quantities of tributes and extra gifts between 1637 and 1643 were roughly taken as 100 and 10, respectively, as reference points.

69. LBZL, vol. 171, 3b–4a, 11b–15a; Qinding Da Qing tongli, vol. 43, 1–6.

70. Sadae mungwe, vol. 42, 14b–15b.

71. As Haboush points out in the contemporary Korean context, "in the cultural matrix of the time, ritual was seen as the manifestation of order as well as a means through which order was preserved and restored." See Haboush, "Constructing the Center," 70–71.

72. QSL (Kangxi), vol. 4, 678.

73. See, for example, QSL (Qianlong), vol. 26, 9.

75. Guanglu si zeli, vol. 23, 4b–6a; vol. 36, 1a–15a; LBZL, vol. 299, 7a–7b; vol. 200, 1b–4a.

76. LBZL, vol. 1, illustration no. 5.

80. Manbu jich'ik sarye, 12, 19–20, 25–26, 29–31, 36–37.

83. Manbun rMtM, vol. 6, 1005–06.

84. QSL (Yongzheng), vol. 8, 696–97.

87. For Qianlong's sharp rejection of his father's position in this case and his emphasis on the dynasty's "unique and inherent favor by Heaven," see Crossley, A Translucent Mirror, 246–62.

88. Kishimoto Mio, "'Chūgoku' to 'gai i'," cited with the author's permission.

89. The envoys of 1729, 1731, 1736, 1748 and 1750 did so, see Ch'iksa ilgi, vols. 4–9.

90. QSL (Qianlong), vol. 14, 120–21. Again, "domestic and foreign barbarians" is an approximate translation of the emperor's phrases neiwai Miao yi and waiyi fanzhong, which literally mean "inner and outer yi of the Miao" and "the foreign people of outer yi."

91. Jiu Tangshu, vol. 16, 5274.

93. "Zhu wanshou wanguo laichao," in Guben Yuan Ming zaju, vol. 4, 1–12.

98. See Chuang Chi-fa, Xie Sui zhigong tu manwen tushuo jiaozhu, 60–61, 78–79; Smith, Mapping China and Managing the World, 75–76. Casting the collection of illustrations as the embodiment of "cultural imperialism (seen by its makers in a positive sense)," Hostetler further points out that "the work not only proclaimed the Qing's centrality, but also reflected and recorded the variety of ethnic and cultural diversity within and beyond the empire." See Hostetler, Qing Colonial Enterprise, 47–49.

101. QSL (Qianlong), vol. 17, 259–60.

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ISSN
1086-3257
Print ISSN
0884-3236
Pages
113-154
Launched on MUSE
2017-06-27
Open Access
No
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