In his 1968 edited volume, The Chinese World Order, John K. Fairbank famously presents his “preliminary framework” for a Ming–Qing tributary system. The recent rehabilitation of the tributary system in International Relations scholarship is surprising because debates over the concept ultimately judged a tributary-system model deeply problematic. I therefore ask: (1) Can we speak of states as ontologically stable entities over centuries? (2) How might we distinguish a totalizing tributary system from tributary practice in order to allow for a diversity of context? (3) If we return to the tributary system as the lens through which we understand “China,” what elisions must we thus tolerate? Ultimately, the current manifestation of the tributary system is not an innovation but rather a return to an older school of nineteenth-century China-watching.
본문은 최근 조공체제의 재조명이 19 세기 중국을 관찰하는 옛 방식으로 회 귀한다고 주장하고 세가지 의문을 제시한다. 국가를 수세기에 걸친 불변의 존 재로 볼 수 있는가? 조공체제와 조공 관례를 어떻게 구분할 것인가? 조공체제를 중국을 이해하는 렌즈로 삼으면 무엇을 간과하게 될 것인가?