. 5
( 15)


their hair and tattoo their bodies.”24 Although one might logically assume
that shaving hair and tattooing bodies were Yi-Ti characteristics, since the
category Yi-Ti does not refer to a single identi¬able people, it likely means,
quite simply, “un-Chinese.” Moreover, the Tso-chuan, in 547 b.c., refers to
Chin having taught Wu how to ¬ght a war with chariots, including how to
drive them, shoot from them, and charge the enemy with them.25 Having
shaven heads and tattoos and being unable to drive chariots were charges
that could be leveled at the people of Wu but did not prevent the state from
being accepted within the Chou community. Once again, we ¬nd the bound-
ary between the Yi-Ti and the Chou anything but clearly de¬ned.
The Chan kuo ts™e yields more examples of a similar nature. Several
states were named as “Jung-Ti,” a common binome used, as we have
just seen, to denote foreign peoples outside the control of the Central
Plain states. As with other common binomes, such as “Man-Yi,” the two
components had lost any residual ethnic signi¬cance and were simply meant
to represent the general notion of “foreignness” that was used to stigma-
tize a behavior not consonant with commonly accepted rules. Any state
could at some point be branded Jung-Ti, regardless of its geographic
location “ (for example, southwestern Shu)26 “ and regardless of whether
it was in fact a Chou state. The following passage from the Chan kuo ts™e
articulates this sense of cultural incompatibility about Ch™in: “Ch™in shares
the same customs as the Jung and Ti; it has the heart of a tiger or a wolf;
it is greedy and cruel, and cannot be trusted when it comes to making a
pro¬t; it does not behave according to protocol, righteousness, or virtuous
action.”27 Accusing a state or people of immorality or lack of virtue or
even of inhumanity was to make a political denunciation of unscrupulous
behavior that could be applied to an enemy regardless of “ethnic” or “cul-
tural” differences. Under such circumstances, ethnic differences were noted
rarely; even when they were, they were used to underscore a moral differ-
ence and were not in themselves suf¬cient cause for the exclusion of a
people or a state from membership in what Creel has de¬ned as the Chou
Cultural differences could also function in the opposite direction, that
is, a lack of culture could turn out, in some contexts, to be an advantage.
This emerges in the story of Yu Yü, a Chinese renegade (a native of Chin)

Ch™un-ch™iu Ku-liang chuan, p. 699.
Tso-chuan chu (Hsiang 26), p. 1122 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 527).
Chan-Kuo Ts™e, annotated by Liu Hsiang, 3 vols. (Shanghai: Ku-chi, 1978), 3
(Ch™in 1), 117 (trans. J. I. Crump, Jr., Chan-Kuo Ts™e [Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1970], p. 67).
Chan-Kuo Ts™e 24 (“Wei 3”), 869; cf. Crump, Chan-Kuo Ts™e, p. 436.
Herrlee G. Creel, The Origins of Statecraft in China: The Western Chou Empire
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), p. 217.


who had ¬‚ed to the Jung and then been sent by the king of the Jung to
observe (that is, to spy on) Ch™in. Duke Mu of Ch™in questioned Yu Yü
about governance among the Jung. The duke pointed out that there was
still chaos from time to time in the Central States, even though they had
cultural re¬nement, rituals, and laws, and he asked how, then, the Jung
could govern without having even one of those accomplishments. Yu Yü
answered that in the Central States the arts, rituals, and laws established in
antiquity had deteriorated through the ages and now were being misused
by those above to oppress those below, creating resentment and con¬‚ict. In
contrast, the Jung had preserved their moral virtues uncorrupted, and indi-
viduals both superior and inferior were in perfect harmony. With a nice
turn of phrase that played on regret, popular among philosophers with
Taoist inclinations, for the loss of the ability of kings to rule “without
acting” (wu wei), Yu Yü added that “governing the entire country is
like ruling oneself. We are not aware how it is ruled. This is truly the way
a sage king rules.” At this point, Duke Mu asked his counselors for advice,
and they concocted a plot meant to drive a wedge between the Jung
king and the skillful Yu Yü. Music, held to be the pride of the Central States™
higher culture, would be turned into a political tool and used ¬rst to corrupt
and distract the Jung king and then to detain Yu Yü and thus create a
suspicion in the mind of the king (already distracted by female musicians)
against his loyal advisor. The plot worked beautifully: Yu Yü had a falling
out with the Jung king and ¬nally accepted Ch™in™s invitation to serve that
state. Three years later, the duke of Ch™in, with advice from Yu Yü, attacked
the Jung; as a result, the duke “added twelve states under his rule, expanded
his territory a thousand li and ruled the Western Jung as a Hegemon.”29
Whether or not this story is authentic is hard to say,30 but it surely shows
that the Central States™ “culture” was not regarded in ancient China as an
absolute positive value whose only function was to make a ruler more vir-
tuous and a society more orderly. Music and other cultural features could
also serve less honorable ends for a state seeking to accrue power.
That these statements are the conscious demarcation of a cultural bound-
ary between a Chou universe and a discrete, “barbarian,” non-Chou uni-
verse is cast into doubt when we become aware of their rhetorical charge
and political context. When it comes to foreign peoples, the dearth of ethno-
graphic or other data in the extant historical sources for the period, includ-
ing details on matters valued by Chinese chroniclers, such as rituals and

Shih chi 5, 194 (trans. Nienhauser, ed., The Grand Scribe™s Records, vol. 1: The
Basic Annals of Pre-Han China by Ssu-ma Ch™ien [Bloomington: Indiana Uni-
versity Press, 1994], pp. 100“101).
This story is also reported in the Han Fei Tzu 3 (“Shih Kuo”), 6b-7b (Ssu-pu pei-
yao) (translated in Han Fei Tzu, Basic Writings, trans. Burton Watson [New York
and London: Columbia University Press, 1964], pp. 62“65).


genealogies, suggests a fundamental lack of interest in what we might regard
as “cultural” differences. Compared to the wealth of information about
political relations with non-Chou states, the scarce attention paid to foreign
cultures suggests that the early Chinese chroniclers were interested almost
exclusively in political events, understood as, and dominated by, ethical
norms. The writers did not actively seek actual descriptions of other cul-
tures as an intellectual pursuit. Only in the Shih chi, as we will see in Part
IV of this book, do we ¬nd an explicit description of ethnic cultures, made
as part of a new paradigm of historical knowledge.
Boundaries between presumed cultural communities in the Eastern Chou
period appear to have been drawn ad hoc, according to ever-changing polit-
ical circumstances. Foreign peoples existed, and were identi¬ed as such by
a variety of ethnonyms, but their interaction with the Chou did not occur
along polarized lines of “us” versus “them.” The relatively rare statements
that attempted to establish cultural or political boundaries are inadequate
for us to determine the substance of the sense of cultural consolidation of
the Chou community of states against non-Chou peoples, especially when
we consider the historical context. In the sections that follow, we shall see
how relations on the northern frontier cannot easily be ascribed to any given
philosophical inclination, but form an eminently pragmatic body of doc-
trines based on the main political and military preoccupations of the period:
defense and aggression, survival and expansion, and a relentless search for

Peace or War?

Expressions of the political interaction between Chou states and foreigners
abound but have been analyzed almost exclusively under a “moral” rubric
according to a bifurcated ideological approach: If the statements stressed
“peace,” an attempt was carried out to educate and mold the foreigners
peacefully (the Confucian-Mencian way); if the statements invoked war,
then this was because these “barbarians” could only be tamed manu mili-
tari (the “legalist” approach). Hence the speci¬c choices of Chinese states
in their relations with non-Chinese polities have been explained by making
them ¬t into a paradigm of foreign policy according to which political
choices are dictated by moral convictions.
The so-called paci¬st tendency in the relations between Chou and non-
Chou has often been interpreted as deriving from a “Confucian” stress on
moral cultivation, which prescribed that foreigners should be won over with
virtue and exemplary behavior rather than by brute force. Nonetheless, we
would be hard pressed, if asked, to show how the Chou states conformed
to the teaching of a “Confucian” school of thought in their foreign policy,
or how Chou relations with non-Chou peoples were inspired by a coher-

ent set of moral principles. In the Analects, Confucius himself is reputed to
have endorsed a militaristic view, when he lauded Kuan Chung™s aggressive
foreign policy: “Were it not for Kuan Chung “ he is reputed to have said “
we might now be wearing our hair loose and folding our clothes to the
left.”31 The protection of China™s cultural heritage from menacing loose-
haired hordes justi¬ed the use of force.
In contrast, Mencius™s well-known assertion that the foreigners did not
“change” the Central States is symptomatic of how the discourse was later
de¬‚ected from the political plane to the rare¬ed plane of cultural differ-
ences. If we look closely at his statement, Mencius clearly refers to the state
of Ch™u, taken to be a “foreign” (or “barbarian” in most translations) state
of the yi people.32 The Mencian concept re¬‚ects an ideology of civilization,
or a mission civilizatrice, that postulates a dialectic relationship, indeed, a
struggle, between the Hua-Hsia peoples and the Yi that began with the
mythical Sage Emperor Shun, whose abode was placed next to the land of
the Eastern Yi. According to Mencius, this struggle ended in favor of the
Hua-Hsia because of their moral superiority. These are, however, idealized
forces, philosophical antinomies that transcended the historical plane and
had nothing to do “ at least at the moment of their formulation “ with the
implementation of foreign policy.
When conducting relations with non-Chou peoples, the Chou states
never followed a single overriding doctrine, but were instead ¬‚uid, adap-
tive, and eminently pragmatic. Their foreign policy strategies evolved
over time; “militaristic” or “paci¬st” stances derived from differences in
the process of growth of each state, being the re¬‚ection of its relative
strengths and weaknesses. A clear association between foreign policies
and philosophical doctrines, in particular the linkage of “Confucianism”
and paci¬sm on the one hand and “legalism” and interventionism on the
other, cannot be established before the Ch™in-Han period, and perhaps only
at the time of the Discourses on Salt and Iron, a text attributed to Huan
K™uan (¬rst century b.c.) and written down during the reign of Emperor
Hsüan-ti (74“49 b.c.).33 Before the long period of military confrontation
with the Hsiung-nu, which served as a fertile ground for the formulation
of clearer doctrines of foreign relations, the lines are blurred. Indeed,
for the Spring and Autumn period it is virtually impossible to identify
any philosophical orientation that could be de¬ned as either pro-war or

Arthur Waley, The Analects of Confucius (London: Allen and Unwin, 1938), p.
James Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 2: The Works of Mencius, 2nd ed.
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1895; rpt. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1960),
p. 253.
Michael Loewe, “Yen t™ieh lun,” in Early Chinese Texts, p. 477.

A series of practical doctrines emerged “ couched in the moral language
of the prevailing political discourse “ that re¬‚ect the evolution of Chou
foreign relations.34 Given that their primary political imperatives were to
survive and to expand, the Eastern Chou states articulated their foreign
relations with non-Chou peoples according to the following political and
strategic objectives: ¬rst, to conquer the non-Chou in order to enhance the
processes of strengthening and expanding the state; second, to pursue peace
when the situation required that the state™s resources be preserved; third,
to govern foreigners and incorporate them into the state™s administrative
structure in order to consolidate the state™s power; and, ¬nally, to make
effective use of foreigners for military or economic purposes.
The drive of the Chou state to conquer was expressed, in the political
arena, in a series of speeches and statements demonstrating how the non-
Chou could, indeed why they should, be conquered. The doctrine that virtue
lay in defeating the non-Chou was part of the strategy of several states that
had adopted an expansionist policy in their relations with northern peoples
(Jung and Ti), especially during the late seventh and sixth centuries b.c.
Often, however, a state hesitated to subdue these foreigners lest the enter-
prise itself, even if successful, be so costly that it would weaken the state
and reduce its chances of survival. A state had also to think carefully before
alienating the northern peoples, whose military prowess often made them
strategically important as allies. On the one hand, when peace was regarded
as the wiser course of action, the Chou states established diplomatic rela-
tions; the non-Chou peoples then entered covenants and attended political
conferences just as the Chou states did, and, of course, were bound by the
same rules. On the other hand, when the stronger Chou states managed to
incorporate non-Chou peoples, the need to govern them, and to avoid rebel-
lions and political disruption, resulted in the creation of new administra-
tive units and in the mobilization of these peoples, especially for military
Whether as allies or as newly conquered subjects, the non-Chou came to
be seen as resources to be tapped for the aggrandizement of the state. A
Chou state would adopt a “militarist” or a “paci¬st” course of action
depending on the analysis of the situation by a given political leader or
advisor. Such an analysis dictated whether the state would resort to force
or seek peace: in the end, opinions on how to deal with foreigners differed
based not on philosophical doctrines and cultural leanings, but on individ-
ual perceptions of political and military realities.
The “paci¬st” doctrine was adopted by a Chou state when it needed
to save its resources or wished to gain allies in wars against other Chou

“International” relations in the Spring and Autumn period are the subject of
Richard Louis Walker™s, The Multistate System of Ancient China (Hamden: The
Shoestring Press, 1953).


states. The “militarist” doctrine was pursued by states that wanted to
expand. Wars waged by the states of Ch™i and Chin during the Spring
and Autumn period led to the territorial expansion of these states at the
expense of a number of non-Chou peoples living nearby. Of course, the
same logic of mutual violence underpinned the relations among the Chou
states, but the inability of the Jung and Ti to become full-¬‚edged members
of the Chou “club” made them more vulnerable prey. In their wars against
the Jung and Ti, the Chou states did not have to observe rules of virtuous
behavior, whose violation might otherwise cause political damage to the
Given that in early China political concerns were invariably expressed
in moral terms, when peoples not constituted as Chou states “ located polit-
ically outside the range of the authority of the Chou House “ entered into
con¬‚ict with the Chou states, such clashes were presented as the expression
of a great chasm between civilization and barbarism. If we take this liter-
ally, this rhetorical veneer ¬‚attens and ultimately obscures an undoubtedly
more complex picture. The Chou states dealt with their northern and
western neighbors in a variety of ways, incorporating many of them,
importing some of their ways, and making them a part of their own process
of military, political, and economic growth.

The Non-Chou as Conquerable

Conquering and enslaving a state™s enemies was a popular way to create
larger polities. A pattern of military confrontation between China and the
northern peoples was already underway during the Shang (c. sixteenth
century“1045 b.c.) and Western Chou (c. 1045“770 b.c.) periods. In par-
ticular, the Western Chou fought against a host of northern peoples, among
whom the most prominent were the Hsien-yün and the Jung.35 Because these
peoples are held to be, in later Chinese historiography, the progenitors of
the Hsiung-nu, a few words should be devoted to the early developments
in their recorded encounters with the Chou.

The term jung is often applied in Chinese sources to warlike foreigners. Its general
meaning relates to “martial” and “military,” “war” and “weapons.” In the Tso-
chuan, jung is also used in the sense of “war-chariot” in the phrase yü jung (“to
drive a war chariot”) and in the compound jung ch™e (“war chariot”). Cf. Everard
D. H. Fraser and James H. S. Lockhart, Index to the Tso-chuan (London: Oxford
University Press, 1930), p. 165. Shaughnessy attributes to the word, in the
Western Chou period, the meaning of “enemy ˜belligerents™” rather than “bar-
barians” (Edward L. Shaughnessy, “Western Zhou History,” in The Cambridge
History of Ancient China, p. 324); the “foreignness” of the Jung, however, does
not seem to be in question.

The term “Jung” appears to indicate more than a single people and is
regarded by some scholars not as an ethnonym but as a generic word for
“bellicose” or “warlike.” King Mu (956“918 b.c.) defeated the Ch™üan
Jung in the twelfth year of his reign and attacked the Western Jung and
the Hsü Jung the following year,36 opening a phase of expansion under
this ruler; his journey to the west was romanticized in the fourth century
b.c. in the ¬ctional account Mu T™ien tzu chuan.37 The discourse reported
in the Kuo yü apropos King Mu™s expedition indicates the prevalent Chou
attitude toward the Jung.38 The discourse was pronounced by the duke
of Chai, Mou-fu, who opposed attacking the Jung based on an ideal of
a cosmo-political order that justi¬ed the use of force only when that
order was threatened. Because the Jung were observing their station in
that order, that is, were paying respect to the court and were staying in
their own lands, there was no reason to attack them. But King Mu attacked
them nevertheless. The tense chasm between naked political ambition
and the philosophers™ ideas about clockwork correspondences among
human, natural, and cosmic forces needing to be kept in balance lest dis-
aster strike, is a classic motif in the pre-imperial discussions on relations
with non-Chinese states. As we will see, the Chou tended to overcome
this chasm by justifying the state™s conquest of foreign peoples on moral
Hostilities between the Chou and the Jung did not erupt again until the
seventh year of King Yi (865“858 b.c.), when the Jung of T™ai-yüan
attacked the area of the Chou capital. It was at this time that the Chou
royal family gradually came to depend on other noble families to defend
the realm. In 854 b.c. Kuo Kung attacked the Jung, capturing one thou-
sand horses, but during the reign of King Li (857/53“842/28 b.c.), the
dynasty began to weaken, and both the Western Jung and the Hsien-yün
launched invasions deep into Chou territory.
The Shih ching (Classic of Poetry) contains four songs that mention mil-
itary engagements between the Chou and the Hsien-yün. One of these
songs, “Ts™ai ch™i,” extols the deeds of Fang Shu, who apparently led as
many as three thousand chariots into battle against the Hsien-yün.39 The
song “Liu yüeh” provides geographical information that allows us to place
the battle¬eld very close to the center of the Chou state, between the lower
reaches of the Ching and Lo Rivers and the Wei River Valley. Although

Chu-shu chi-nien 2, 4b-5a (Ssu-pu pei-yao) (Legge, The Shoo King, “Prolegom-
ena,” p. 150).
Loewe, Early Chinese Texts, pp. 342“46. 38 Guoyu, pp. 55“58.
Shih-san ching chu-shu fu-chiao k™an-chi ed. Juan Yüan (Peking: Chung-hua,
1980), 1: 425 (James Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 4: The She King [London:
Trübner, 1862; rpt. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1960], pp.


scholars dispute the exact dates of the attacks, most place them during the
reign of King Hsüan (827/25“782/80 b.c.).40
Toward the end of King Hsüan™s reign there were repeated military
engagements between the Chou state and the Jung. Particularly signi¬cant
was the expedition in 790/89 b.c. (thirty-eighth year of Hsüan™s reign) by
Chin against the Northern Jung, and the king™s expedition the following
year against the Jung of the Chiang clan, who were utterly destroyed.41 The
¬nal period of the Western Chou, under the reign of King Yu (781“771
b.c.), was marked by increasing instability on the northern frontier and by
a series of attacks by the Ch™üan Jung. In 770 b.c. “ the traditional date
for the beginning of the Spring and Autumn period “ the Chou defenses
were overrun, the capital invaded, the king killed, and the court forced to
move to the city of Lo.
Various Jung peoples already lived scattered over a broad area that
encompassed the northern and western Wei River Valley, the Fen River
Valley, and the Tai-yüan region. They were therefore distributed in today™s
northern Shensi, northern Shansi, and Hopei, up to the T™ai-hang Moun-
tains.42 With few exceptions, their attacks against the Chou do not seem to
have been particularly effective. Like the Hsien-yün, they probably used
chariots, but a record from 714 b.c. shows that they also fought on foot.43
These foreign communities seem to have been organized into relatively
small socio-political tribal or territorial units. Still, the “Jung” or “Ti”
groups at times could coalesce into larger formations when pursuing a
common political objective. In 649 b.c., for instance, the Jung of four dif-
ferent villages united to attack the Chou capital.44 On that occasion, they
were able to storm the city by burning down the eastern gate. These joint
actions, however, were atypical for the Jung. The Ti seem to have been
able to create larger unions, but they were also divided into at least two
major groupings, the Ch™ih (Red) and the Pai (White) Ti. Whether “Ti” was
a generic word for “northern foreigners,” or a speci¬c ethnonym, or even
a political unit or a state, cannot be determined.45 Certainly the Ti were a

Shih-san ching chu-shu, 1: 424 (Legge, The She King, pp. 281“84).
Chu-shu chi-nien, 2.10a; Kuo yü (Ssu-pu pei-yao ed.), 1 (“chou yü 1”), 9a;
Guoyu, p. 33, n. 48.
On the geography of this period, see Edward L. Shaughnessy, “Historical Geog-
raphy and the Extent of Early Chinese Kingdoms,” Asia Major, 3rd series, 2.2
(1989): 1“22.
Tso-chuan chu (Yin 9), p. 65 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 28).
Tso-chuan chu (Hsi 11), p. 338.
Prusek discusses at length the nature of the Ti and of their encounter with China.

He attributes the appearance of the Ti and other peoples in northern China to
transcontinental migrations triggered by the evolution of mounted nomadic cul-
tures in Eurasia. See Jaroslav Prusek, Chinese Statelets and the Northern Bar-

barians in the Period 1400“300 B.C. (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1971), pp. 77“87.

political and military force to be reckoned with, recognized by the Chou as
a “state” or “states” through diplomatic activity, exchange of hostages, and
As the authority of the Chou House began to wane by the mid-eighth
century b.c., China was ¬lled with many contenders for political hegemony.
Relations among various political centers often resulted in wars, and in the
absorption of the weaker by the stronger. Non-Chou peoples undoubtedly
participated in this increasing militarization. As the Eastern Chou states
vied for domination, they turned to the conquest of non-Chou peoples,
particularly the Jung tribes or states, many of which seem to have been
vulnerable to their attacks. This shift is nowhere clearer than with the
expeditions of Duke Huan of Ch™i that were often directed against north-
ern, non-Chou, peoples. The conquest of the Jung, wholly consistent with
the process of strengthening of the Chou states, was often justi¬ed on moral
or cultural grounds. Yet as we will see in a number of speci¬c examples,
once referred to their proper historical contexts, these acts of conquest leave
no doubt about the purely political nature of their objectives.
The story of the military offensive launched by Chin in 666 b.c. against
Jung and Ti is one of the most explicit descriptions of the ful¬llment of a
Chinese state™s expansionist goals at the expense of non-Chou peoples:
Duke Hsien of Chin [. . .] married two women of the Jung: Hu Chi of the
Great Jung, who gave him the son Chung-er, and a daughter of the Small
Jung, who gave him I-wu. When Chin attacked the Li Jung their chief [nan,
baron], gave him as wife his daughter Li Chi [. . .]. Li Chi became the favorite
of the Duke, and wanted her son declared heir-apparent. In order to do this
she bribed two of his favorite of¬cials, Liang-wu of the outer court and Wu
from Tung-kuan, and had them speak to the Duke to this effect: “Ch™ü-wu
is the ancestral seat, P™u and the Erh-ch™ü are two frontier territories. They
should have their lords residing in them. If there is no lord in your ancestral
city, the people will not feel awe, if the border areas do not have a lord, this
will make the Jung grow bold. That the Jung may grow bold, and that
the people despise their government, are the calamities of the state. If you
place the heir-apparent in charge of Ch™ü-wu, and Chung-er and I-wu in
charge respectively of P™u and Erh-ch™ü, this will awe the poeple and frighten
the Jung, and also symbolize the lord™s [ability to] subjugate.” She further
made them say: “The marshes and deserts of the Ti will be to the Chin
like a metropolitan area. Wouldn™t it be right to expand the territory of
Marriage diplomacy and the policy of exchanging hostages had brought
several Jung women to the Chin princely house and had made foreigners
an important element in relations between the inner court and outer court.
Although the story™s focus is the court intrigue, it also reveals the position

Tso-chuan chu (Chuang 28), pp. 239“40 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 114).


at court held by the Jung: They are entirely integrated into Chin inner-court
politics. The two Chin of¬cials, goaded by the favorite wife, were able to
persuade the duke to pursue a political program of indisputable astuteness.
At stake were the governance of the newly conquered frontier territories
and the further expansion of Chin. The plan submitted to the duke not only
appealed to an ambitious expansionist ruler but also re¬‚ected some politi-
cal realities. First, the Jung people who lived in the frontier territories had
already been brought within the orbit of the Chin administrative and polit-
ical system but remained dif¬cult to control and potentially hostile. Second,
as a result of the expansion that had brought to it the incorporation of
territories inhabited by the Jung, Chin had come into contact with the Ti
people. Chin™s ability to keep ¬rm control over the Jung was a necessary
condition for the state™s further expansion: To be accepted, a ruler had to
demonstrate his ability to incorporate a variety of peoples under the same
form of government. This must have been an enormous challenge for any
lord of a Chou state.
The importance of the half-Jung offspring of the duke becomes evident:
They were best suited to the government of the frontier because of their
dual nature as both Jung and members of the feudal house. But why
conquer the marshes and deserts of the Ti? Later political doctrines would
make it clear that a state should not expend energy on uneconomical adven-
turism. At this time, the conquest of the Ti marshes and deserts seems to
re¬‚ect the overriding concern of any expansionist state: to increase its power
by demonstrating its ability to subjugate foreigners. Resolving the issue of
control over foreign territories was an essential aspect of Chin state policy,
and that meant, in practical terms, producing mixed-blood offspring for the
purpose of governing new lands, this would be the right course of action.
Another example of “conquerability,” repeatedly mentioned in the Tso-
chuan, is expressed in the rule regarding the presentation of spoils of war.
Here a precise line is drawn between yi (foreign) states and Central States
for the ritual following a victorious battle. From what we can gather from
scattered references, the basic doctrine maintained that, after a victory
against a non-Chou state, the spoils could be offered to the king, but if the
king had ordered an attack against a Chou state, then a victory was to be
followed only by a report to the king on the matter, without any offer of
spoils. In 663 b.c.,47 on the occasion of a presentation of Jung spoils of war
by the marquis of Ch™i to Lu,48 the marquis was found to be in contempt
of ritual. The explanation in the Tso-chuan is that “When the [Chou] lords
obtain a victory against the four Yi, they present the booty to the king, who
uses it as a warning for the Yi, but this is not so among the Central States.

Tso-chuan chu (Chuang 31), pp. 247“48.
Lu was one of the most politically prominent Central States, eventually “extin-
guished” by the southern state of Ch™in in 249 b.c.

The [Chou] lords do not offer booty [taken from the foreigners] to each
This doctrine is alluded to again in 589 b.c., when Chin tried to offer
the booty taken from the state of Ch™i to the Chou king. The offer was
refused with the following argument:
When Man, Yi, Jung, and Ti do not abide by the king™s commands, and, being
dissolute and drunken, violate the norms, if the king orders to attack them,
then the spoils taken from them are presented, and the king personally
receives them and congratulates, so that he would admonish those without
respect and reward those with merit. If [a state] whose ruling family is related
[to the Chou] violates and breaches the king™s norms, and the king orders to
attack them, then there is simply an announcement of the service, but no pre-
sentation of one™s trophies.49
By this time, the presentation of spoils taken from non-Chou states was not
an unusual occurrence. On two occasions, in 594 b.c. and 593 b.c., emis-
saries of Chin went to Chou to present the king with spoils taken from
the Ti.50
The rules regarding the distribution of booty are especially revealing
about the relationship between the House of Chou and the feudal states.
Yet, they also de¬ne a clear principle of demarcation between Chou states
and non-Chou peoples. Chou states established the legitimacy of a military
expedition against the non-Chou by presenting the spoils to the Chou king,
as an act of war sanctioned by a higher authority. When it came to rival-
ries among the Chou states, however, had the king accepted, through the
presentation of the spoils by the winning party, the submission of people
who were already his subjects, the act could be tantamount to relinquish-
ing much of his own formal authority. The acquisition of booty from
the foreigners, in contrast, shows that they were placed outside the author-
ity of the Chou House, that they were regarded as fully conquerable, and
that their submission would contribute to the growth of Chou House
As expansion into foreign lands became a more pressing concern for the
Chou states, the need to seek not only political but also moral justi¬cation
went hand in hand with the campaigns of conquest. In the early part of the
sixth century b.c., Chin, in competition with the rival state of Ch™in,
launched repeated attacks aimed at annihilating various Ti groups. These
campaigns were accompanied by a search for adequate justi¬cations so that
its politicians could protect Chin from other states™ accusations of deliber-
ate aggrandizement.
Tso-chuan chu (Ch™eng 2), p. 809 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, pp. 343, 349).
Tso-chuan chu (Hsüan 15), p. 765; (Hsüan 16), p. 768. On the ¬rst occasion the
envoy was found wanting in courtesy and, as a result, his doom was prophesied.
Only in 593 b.c. was the matter carried out without incidents.


A famous instance of the moral justi¬cation for the conquest of Ti is
Chin™s extinction of the tribe “ or state “ of Lu of the Ch™ih Ti, in 594 b.c.
The chief of Lu, who carried the noble title of tzu, was known by the name
Ying Erh and had married a daughter of the lord of Chin. The real power,
however, was supposedly in the hands of the experienced Lu minister Feng
Shu. Allegedly, Feng Shu had the lady killed (while also wounding his chief
Ying Erh, in an eye), prompting the lord of Chin to attack the Ti against
the advice of some of his dignitaries. The lord was persuaded to do so,
however, by the “moral argument” advanced by another advisor, a certain
Po-tsung. Po-tsung maintained that Feng Shu should be punished for a
range of crimes: neglecting to offer sacri¬ces to the ancestors, drinking,
seizing the lands of the lord of Li (a Chin ally), assassinating the wife of
the head of Lu, and, ¬nally, injuring his own master. But these were mere
pretexts covering a deeper political goal:
His [Feng Shu™s] successor perhaps will respectfully conform to virtue and
justice, and that, serving both spirits and men, will strengthen his rule. Why
then wait? If we do not punish the culprit, but wait for the successor, and
then punish him even though he has merits, would not it be unreasonable?51
Because Feng Shu was old, the lord of Chin was exhorted not to miss the
opportunity to make political capital out of a moral point. Having found
an excuse that could justify the use of violence and lead to expansion, Chin
should use it right away, because in the future the absence of such a pretext
might make justifying the “punishment” more dif¬cult.
The lord of Chin was persuaded by the argument; he attacked the Ch™ih
Ti and destroyed the Lu people. Feng Shu ¬‚ed to Wei, where he probably
hoped to ¬nd protection, since the Ti and the Wei had signed a peace treaty
over thirty years earlier, in 628 b.c., and in the intervening years no hos-
tilities between them were recorded.52 Feng Shu himself might have partic-
ipated in making that treaty, since he was already a prominent politician
just eight years later, in 620 b.c.53 Treaty or not, Wei turned Feng Shu over
to Chin, where he was put to death, and Chin then proceeded to take pos-
session of the Ti territories. This marked the beginning of a series of cam-
paigns of conquest. One year later Chin annexed three other Red Ti tribes,54
and in 588 b.c. “to punish the last remnants of the Ch™ih Ti,” Chin and
Wei together attacked the Chiang-kao-ju. “The Chiang-kao-ju dispersed,
and the chief (shang) lost his people.”55 A possible interpretation is that the
Tso-chuan chu (Hsüan 15), p. 762 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 328). This is not
to be confused with the Chou state of Lu.
Tso-chuan chu (Hsi 32), p. 489.
Tso-chuan chu (Wen 7), p. 561 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 249).
Tso-chuan chu (Hsüan 16), pp. 767“68.
Tso-chuan chu (Ch™eng, 3), p. 814. The Chiang-kao-ju were a tribe that had
been attacked by the Ti in 637 b.c., when the Ti were engaged in a process of


Chiang-kao-ju had broken away from the Ti as a result of Chin™s attack,
and the head of the entire Ch™ih Ti confederation had remained isolated.
Hence Chin managed to destroy any unity that the Ti may have had in the
Chin™s political opportunism is con¬rmed by the different standards
adopted in different situations. In 598 b.c., during its con¬‚ict with the Ch™ih
Ti, Chin made peace with some Ti people who had previously been con-
quered by the Ch™ih Ti and now preferred to submit to Chin. The Chin
minister advised the lord of Chin to go in person to a meeting to accept the
submission of these Ti people rather than request that they present them-
selves at the Chin court, for “if there is no virtue, the best thing is to show
solicitude. Without solicitude, how can we help others? If we can be solic-
itous, there will be a following.”56 The reference to an absence of virtue on
Chin™s side “ that is, presumably, the “good government” that would nat-
urally attract subjects from near and far “ can be interpreted in two ways:
either Chin could not show itself as a “virtuous government” because the
state™s power was not great enough, or it would be useless for Chin to count
on a display of magnanimous rulership because the Ti were insensitive to
it. At any rate, Chin could not count on “virtuous government” to persuade
the Ti to submit. On the other hand, the argument for forcing the Ti to
present themselves as Chin™s subjects could not be invoked because in this
instance the Ti had made a friendly overture and it was in Chin™s interest
to seek their submission by peaceful means. Hence the pragmatic principle
of “solicitude” was invoked.57 In another instance, the Pai Ti “ tradition-
ally less hostile than the Ch™ih Ti “ and Chin concluded a peace treaty in
601 b.c. that led to Chin™s recruitment of these foreigners as allies in its
war against Ch™in. Entering a treaty with the Ti did not pose any moral
questions, and the decision to either conquer them or make a treaty with
the Ti was a matter of political convenience.
Although the Ti continued to be a force to be reckoned with, they became
increasingly vulnerable to the aggressive policies of the Central States.
Taking advantage of a con¬‚ict between Chin and Sung, in 579 b.c. the Ti
launched an attack against Chin but suffered defeat owing to lack of proper
preparation.58 In 562 b.c. Chin signed a major treaty with Ti and Jung, and
in 555 b.c., for the ¬rst time, the Pai Ti submitted to the state of Lu. By
this time, most peoples in the north had ceased to constitute a serious
problem of foreign policy for Chin. Although battles with some minor

expansion, probably starting shortly before 650 b.c., that continued through the
second half of the second century b.c. See Tso-chuan chu (Hsi 23), p. 405.
Tso-chuan chu (Hsüan 11), p. 713 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 310).
The reference is to a quotation from the Shih ching: “King Wen was indeed solic-
itous in all” (Legge, Shih IV i iii, X).
Tso-chuan chu (Ch™eng 12), p. 856.

groupings continued, they resemble mopping-up operations rather than
actual wars. The only non-Chou people with which Chou states continued
diplomatic relations and continued to ¬ght were the Hsien-yü (or Hsien-
yün, also a Ti people), the founders of the state of Chung-shan.
The war waged by Chin against the Hsien-yü is another example of how
little propriety and virtue mattered in wars fought against foreigners. The
Chin army, led by Hsün Wu, had treacherously entered the territory of the
Hsien-yü by pretending it wanted to join the Ch™i army. Once inside, it had
proceeded to capture the city of Hsi-yang, which was the capital of the state
of Fei, and to annex Fei itself.59 This particular action, certainly not an
example of morality, did not prevent the Tso-chuan from placing the com-
mander Hsün Wu on the high moral ground on a later occasion. Then,
Hsün Wu, acting against the opinion of his advisors, who argued that he
was sacri¬cing raison d™©tat to an empty moral principle, refused to obtain
the surrender of the Hsien-yü city of Ku through the treachery of some of
its defenders, preferring to wait until the inhabitants had been starved into
By the time of the Warring States, most of the various Ti peoples who
had settled along the northern Chinese territories had been absorbed into
the Central States™ territories. Chung-shan was attacked by Wen Hou of
Wei in 408 b.c. and conquered by 406 b.c.; Wei ruled for about forty years.
In 377 b.c. it regained its independence.60 The fall of Chung-shan to Chao
in 295 b.c. did not end the history of the Ti. Some of these groups were
attacked by General T™ien Tan of Ch™i as late as the reign of King Hsiang
(r. 283“265 b.c.),61 but by then a different northern frontier had already
started to form.

Tso-chuan chu (Chao, 12), p. 1341 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, pp. 639, 641). From
this account it seems that Fei was probably a small kingdom within a larger ethnic
or political union referred to as Hsien-yü. Both Fei and the Hsien-yü were part
of the much larger grouping of the Pai Ti people.
This state had forti¬ed cities and an army with a thousand war chariots and
capable troops. Archaeological research has shown that, at least from the end of
the fourth century b.c., Chung-shan was fully within the sphere of Chinese civi-
lization. Its bronze production, especially at P™ing-shan, reveals its complete
absorption within the culture of the Central Plain; see Li Hsüeh-ch™in, “P™ing-shan
mu-tsang-ch™ün yü Chung-shan kuo te wen-hua,” Wen-wu 1979.1: 37“41; trans-
lated in Chinese Archaeological Abstracts 3, ed. Albert Dien, Jeffrey Riegel,
and Nancy Price (Los Angeles: The Institute of Archaeology, UCLA, 1985), pp.
804“808. Still, no matter how “Chinese” the rulers of Chung-shan were, refer-
ences to their diversity indicate that for a long time their state was not accepted
as one of the states of the Hua-Hsia cultural sphere. On Chung-shan see Chan
Kuo Ts™e 12 (“Ch™i 5”), p. 436 (Crump, Chan Kuo Ts™e, p. 200); and Chan-Kuo
Ts™e 33 (“Chung-shan”), pp. 1170“74 (Crump, Chan-Kuo Ts™e, pp. 574“76).
Chan-Kuo Ts™e 13 (Ch™i 6), pp. 467“68 (Crump, Chan-Kuo Ts™e, pp. 213“14).


The campaigns of conquest against non-Chou is an overriding theme of
the Eastern Chou period. As we have seen, the moral issues allegedly
involved in these con¬‚icts were, at their best, mere pretexts. Instead, the
Chou states found it relatively easy to conduct military campaigns against
foreign peoples, sometimes leading to their extermination, because there
was no clear moral prescription against conquering them. There was,
however, a political context that militated against the use of brute force.
Less blunt instruments, therefore, such as alliances and peace treaties, were
also adopted by the Chou states, though their ¬nal aim remained the pursuit
of power.

Non-Chou as Allies

Diplomacy was an essential tool in the Chou states™ struggle for supremacy.
From the eighth century onward a system of interstate relations developed
in China that included not only the Chou states but also non-Chou peoples,
organized into bodies that participated fully in all aspects of foreign poli-
tics. At the same time, the non-Chou states were in a more vulnerable posi-
tion because, as we have already seen, their participation in a treaty did not
necessarily protect them in the same way that it may have protected Chou
states. If realpolitik required that an ally be betrayed or an agreement over-
turned, this was more easily accomplished if the partner happened to be
non-Chou. However, peace was a necessary ingredient in the relations
between Chou and non-Chou, and thus during the Spring and Autumn
period a line of foreign policy developed that justi¬ed peaceful relations
with non-Chou states. This “paci¬st” doctrine was not necessarily in¬‚u-
enced by cultural and moral views, and it was more complex than the mere
af¬rmation of the power of virtue brutality of violence. Here we shall
examine what “peace” actually meant, and the passages that more clearly
exemplify the paci¬st orientation.

The Contexts of Peace

Peace between the Chou and non-Chou states involved a series of actions
and a set of norms unrelated to issues of “benevolence” and “virtue,”
belonging, rather, to the realm of foreign politics. Understanding this diplo-
matic dimension is essential because the existence of practices that allowed
agreements to be negotiated was fundamental to the formulation of any
speci¬c peace doctrine. If the non-Chou people had been entirely alienated
from the political practices of the Chou states, as they are sometimes held
to have been, no doctrine based on mutual trust could ever have developed.
This clearly is not the case: court visits (ch™ao), blood covenants (meng),

and other kinds of diplomatic exchanges forged a system of relations that
included the non-Chou peoples from the very beginning.62
From the early Spring and Autumn period, the Chou states seem to
have had little choice but to admit their powerful foreign neighbors to
the highest levels of diplomatic intercourse. In 721 b.c. the state of Lu
held a meeting with the Jung in which Lu rejected their request for a
covenant, but in the autumn of that year Lu yielded to a second request,
and peaceful relations with the Jung were established once again.63 In the
majority of cases, making peace was a three-step process: negotiation,
rati¬cation, and observance of the terms. Negotiations would be out at
gatherings (hui) and concluded with a blood covenant that involved swear-
ing an oath and other ritual practices.64 The terms of the treaty would
include most typically an agreement to cease hostility, establish good neigh-
borly relations, render mutual aid, and form alliances against common
The oath that they swore would ensure, in theory, that the contracting
parties respect the terms of the agreement. Although oaths were sacred,
there are cases in which the Chou states wantonly violated treaties with
foreign peoples. In 590 b.c., for instance, Chin mediated a peace between
the Chou king and the Jung. The brother of the king, Duke K™ang of Liu,
counting on the Jung™s sense of security derived from the peace, was plan-
ning to attack them later. But he was warned that “to violate a covenant
and deceive a great state such as Chin will lead to certain defeat.”66 He

Roswell Britton, “Chinese Interstate Intercourse before 700 b.c.,” American
Journal of International Law 29 (1935): 616“35. On the notion of equality
among early states see also Ch™eng Te-hsu, “International Law in Early China,”
Chinese Social and Political Science Review 11 (1927): 40.
Tso-chuan chu (Yin 2), p. 20 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, pp. 8“9).
The ritual involved in sealing a covenant has been reconstructed by Mark Lewis
on the basis of the blood covenants excavated at Hou-ma. The participating
people puri¬ed themselves through fasting. They erected an altar and dug a pit
where an animal (generally a sheep) was sacri¬ced, after which they cut off its
left ear and placed it into a vessel. They caught the blood in another vessel and
then drank the blood. See Mark Lewis, Sanctioned Violence in Ancient China
(Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990), pp. 43“50.
Treaties between Chou and non-Chou were particularly common starting in the
second half of the seventh century. Around 650 b.c., the time of expansion and
growth for the Ti, several Chinese states entered peace treaties with them. In 628
b.c. Wei entered a covenant after the Ti had requested peace (Tso-chuan chu [Hsi
32], p. 489). In 619 b.c., the state of Lu made a covenant with the Yi-lo Jung
(Tso-chuan chu [Wen 8], p. 567 [Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, pp. 250“51]), and in
601 b.c. Chin concluded a peace with the White Ti (Tso-chuan chu [Hsüan 8],
p. 695).
Tso-chuan chu (Ch™eng 1), p. 782.

proceeded to invade the Mao Jung nevertheless, and in the third month of
the con¬‚ict he suffered a defeat at the hands of the Hsü Wu tribe (or lineage,
shih). Even the guarantee of a state such as Chin had not prevented an oath
with a non-Chou party from being broken.
Formal diplomatic relations also involved the brokerage of peace, so that
a given state would offer its services and send mediators to solve a situa-
tion of potential con¬‚ict.67 A state could, for instance, allow the troops of
another state right of passage through its territory in the course of a mili-
tary expedition. In such cases, the relative strength of the states involved
determined whether permission would be given or refused. Smaller states
often were too weak to deny access, although compliance might lead to the
state™s ruin because such requests often concealed treacherous intentions.68
The establishment of peaceful relations was followed by the exchange of
diplomatic missions, gifts, visits, and other forms of etiquette that regulated
and formalized interstate relations. Not observing some of these rules could
easily result in an insult and carry consequences that would eventually lead
to the breach of the treaty.
The very ¬rst mention of the Jung, in the Ch™un ch™iu, refers to a diplo-
matic visit they made to Chou in 721 b.c.69 Repaid with discourtesy by one
of the Chou ministers, they abducted him while he was on a diplomatic
mission to the state of Lu. Several years later (710 b.c.), the state of Lu and
the Jung concluded a covenant (meng) “to renew the good relations of
old.”70 Whether or not the two episodes are related, both point to an egal-
itarian relationship, in diplomacy, between Jung and Chou states. That the
Jung had been treated badly justi¬ed their action against the imprudent min-
ister and rendered Lu™s covenant with them legitimate. Given that there is
ample evidence that nothing barred the non-Chou from having peaceful
relations with the Chou states, what were the advantages of peace for the
Chou states, and how was the establishment of peaceful relations justi¬ed
in political (and therefore in moral) terms?

In 649 b.c. Chin had acted as a mediator between the Jung and the king. In 648
b.c. the lord of Ch™i sent the famed minister Kuan-chung to mediate a peace agree-
ment between the Jung and the Chou king, and sent Hsi Peng to procure peace
between the Jung and the state of Chin.
During the war against the Hsien-yü, in 530 b.c., Chin treacherously attacked
them after having asked and obtaining the right of passage. Moreover, in 520 b.c.
soldiers of Chin took the Hsien-yü city of Ku by subterfuge, having dressed
like grain merchants and hidden their armor in bundles carried on their shoul-
ders; see Tso-chuan chu (Chao 22), p. 1435 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, pp. 691,
Tso-chuan chu (Yin 7), p. 20 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 9).
Tso-chuan chu (Huan 2), p. 84 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 40).


The Doctrine of Peace

Possibly no better context for demonstrating the pragmatic nature of the
Chou states™ relations with non-Chou peoples exists than that of peace.
Because peace in ancient China seems to have been based upon a more
sophisticated level of rationalization than war “ con¬‚icts were often caused
by a variety of incidental events, linked simply to the pursuit of power or
to instinctive reactions to perceived threats “ peace settlements and strate-
gies can be more revealing than war when we look for the connections
between moral and political reasoning. When negotiating a peace treaty
with the Jung and Ti, the Chou states worked to achieve several implicit
objectives. These were to increase the state™s authority vis-à-vis other states,
to preserve the state™s economic strength by not squandering its resources
in unpro¬table military ventures, and to retain the state™s military
One of the fundamental principles of the Spring and Autumn period was
that war with the non-Chou could weaken a state and therefore offer an
advantage to its (Chou) enemies. Some small Chou states, engaged in a
program of expansionism at the expense of non-Chou populations, were
chastised for their shortsightedness. For instance, the small state of Kuo, in
660 b.c., defeated the Ch™üan Jung, yet the Tso-chuan describes the event
as the prelude to a calamity.71 Two years later Kuo again defeated the Jung.
At this point a seer from Chin predicted certain collapse, because in the
same year Kuo had been attacked by Chin and had lost the city of Hsia-
yang. Kuo™s failure to preserve its forces while in danger was regarded as a
guarantee of disaster,72 and indeed the statelet was eventually annexed by
Duke Hsien of Chin.
Most explicit about the advantages of peace is a well-known passage in
which the “paci¬st” doctrine is squarely presented against the “militarist”
doctrine. In 569 b.c. Chin was offered peace terms by the leader of the Wu-
chung Jung, who are believed to have belonged to the Shan (Mountain)
Jung.73 A gift of leopard and tiger skins was presented to the Chin so that
they would make peace with the “various Jung” (chu jung).74 Chin rejected
the proposal on the grounds that “the Jung and Ti know nothing of affec-
tion or friendship, and are full of greed. The best plan is to attack them.”

Tso-chuan chu (Min 2), pp. 261“62 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 128).
Tso-chuan chu (Hsi 2), p. 283 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 137).
Their location has been traditionally placed by some near present-day Peking, but
they were probably located in the T™ai-yüan region, bordering on Chin. Other
Wu-chung groups, however, appear to have inhabited the region north of the state
of Yen. See Prusek, Chinese Statelets, p. 21, and map, 120.
Tso-chuan chu (Hsiang 4), p. 936 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 424).


This position, not unusual considering the previous aggressive stance
adopted by Chin with non-Chou people, was however contested by Wei
Chiang, who had acted as a diplomat to the Jung and had secured the Jung™s
terms for peace. He stated in no uncertain terms that a war with the Jung
could result in the weakening of the state™s hegemony: “The Jung are like
wild animals: to gain them, and to lose the Hua, that cannot be!” In the
rationale behind this statement, if a state allied to Chin, such as Ch™en, were
to be attacked, Chin, weakened by the enterprise, could not help, thus losing
not only an ally but also the trust and friendship of the other states, and
its position of supremacy among the Chou states.
Wei Chiang then mentioned ¬ve reasons for making peace with the Jung,
thus establishing a paci¬st doctrine based on political strategy. The ¬rst
advantage of peace was that the land of the Jung could be purchased. The
second advantage was that the borderland people would no longer be fright-
ened and would be able to work in the ¬elds. A third advantage was that
if the Ti and Jung were to serve Chin, other enemies of the state would be
terri¬ed and seek Chin™s friendship. The fourth advantage was that by paci-
fying the Jung through “virtue” Chin would suffer no military losses and
its weapons would be spared. And, ¬nally, the ¬fth was that by relying on
“virtue,” people from faraway will come closer, and those close will be sub-
missive. At this point, Chin made a covenant (meng) with the Jung.
Wei Chiang™s argument is worthy of close examination. Besides being
one of the most frequently quoted passages on early Chinese attitudes
toward “barbarian” peoples, it touches on the main points constitutive of
the doctrine of peace. The need for peaceful relations was determined, in
Wei Chiang™s thought, essentially by matters of political, economic, and mil-
itary pragmatism. The ¬rst point is purely economic. Wei Chiang is careful
not to deny the possibility that expansion would be bene¬cial, but argues
that land could be purchased rather than conquered, and he implies that
the ¬rst option would be, over all, less expensive than the latter. His second
point stresses another economic principle: preserving agriculture in the
border regions would allow Chin to reap additional revenues.75 As for
the third point, it seems that gaining the respect of foreign peoples would
be politically useful for intimidating other adversaries.76 Assuming that
Opening up wastelands in the peripheral areas, especially available to frontier
states, was a basic necessity for expansion. This policy found its most coherent
formulation in the economic philosophy of Shang Yang of Ch™in. See Lewis, Sanc-
tioned Violence in Early China, pp. 61“64; id., “Warring States Political History,”
in Cambridge History of Ancient China, p. 613. See also the excellent survey of
Shang Yang™s impact on Ch™in™s politics in Steven F. Sage, Ancient Sichuan and
the Uni¬cation of China (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992),
pp. 92“103.
The peace treaty concluded with the Jung was of a type normally concluded
between sovereign states, as the meng was in fact one of the most solemn types


the treaty was meant to preserve amity and non-belligerence, it also
implied the availability of mutual military aid in case of need. What would
frighten the other states, then, would be Chin™s access to a reservoir of
foreign auxiliary troops whose prowess must have been obvious to Wei
Chiang™s contemporaries. The fourth point is self-evident: Because the
Ti were quite strong, wartime losses of people and materiel would be
extensive. Why squander one™s military strength? Chin, having achieved
the position of “hegemon” among the Chinese states, would ¬nd it impolitic
to become engaged in a potentially expensive and dif¬cult campaign
that might weaken its reaction were a crisis within the Chinese states
to arise. This was necessary, and here we come to the ¬fth point, so
that Chin could continue to control the Central Plain political sphere
and retain its privileged position over the smaller states. The “virtue”
of the fourth and ¬fth points is here synonymous, therefore, with
clear-sighted governance, rather than with following moral precepts. No
obvious moral or cultural values that would have prevented Chin from
attacking the Jung were in Wei Chiang™s doctrine. The motives were all
Seven years after Wei Chiang persuaded the lord of Chin to join in a
covenant with the Jung (562 b.c.), Chin was at the head of a coalition of
states that conquered the state of Cheng. The lord attributed this success
to the peace treaty concluded with the Jung:
You advised this man of poor virtue to make peace with the Jung and Ti in
order to be the leader of the central states. In eight years I have gathered the
heads of state nine times, and they have been harmonious like music and
agreeable to everything.77
This praise was the crowning achievement of Wei Chiang™s strategy and the
clearest indication of the advantages of peace.
There are other episodes that reveal the pragmatism of the Chou states™
policies toward the non-Chou. A decision to opt for peace could be made,
for instance, on the basis of the perception of the enemy™s behavior. When,
in 651 b.c., the Chin commander Li K™o defeated the Ti at Ts™ai-sang, he
refused to pursue them because, according to him, it was “suf¬cient to
frighten them” and not risk “provoking a gathering of the Ti.” Li K™o made
this decision against opposition from both the adjutant Liang-yü Mi, who
maintained that by pursuing the enemy the Chin victory would be com-
plete, and the adjutant Kuo Yi, who thought that “in a year the Ti will
come [back] because we show them that we are weak.”78 Kuo Yi happened

of oaths, which involved the sacri¬ce of an animal and the use of its blood. See
Britton, “Chinese Interstate Intercourse before 700 b.c.,” p. 626; and Richard
Louis Walker, The Multistate System of Ancient China, p. 82.
Tso-chuan chu (Hsiang 11), p. 993. 78 Tso-chuan chu (Hsi 8), p. 322.


to be right; in the summer, the Ti attacked Chin to revenge the defeat at
Ts™ai-sang. These types of consideration weighed on the side of peace. The
Chin commander was afraid that an attack on the Ti deep in their territory
might cause the Ti to join together in a larger force. Not pursuing them
was not a matter of virtue, but one of tactics.
Peace had its advantages, but it remained a temporary solution at best.
As we will see in the next section, the overriding tendency of the Warring
States™ rulers was to incorporate non-Chou peoples and mobilize their
resources in the service of Chou states.

The Non-Chou as Resources

In the context of the deadly struggles among Chou states, the non-Chou
often represented an essential military resource. In 649 b.c. several groups
of Jung, called on by Tai, the son of King Hui, united to attack the impe-
rial capital.79 Their plot failed; Tai was punished and sought refuge in Ch™i.
Relations between King Hsiang and the Jung became strained, and Ch™i had
to serve as mediator between the two parties. In another instance, in 627
b.c., Chin mobilized the Chiang Jung and with their help defeated Ch™in.80
Three years later, however, Ch™in went back on the offensive against Chin,
recovered its lost territories, and became lord of the Western Jung, who
acknowledged its hegemony.81 How had Chin initially been able to use the
Chiang Jung? The exact nature of their relationship emerged only later (559
b.c.) in a quarrel between the chief of the Chiang Jung and the Chin min-
ister Fan Hsüan-tzu. Wishing to prevent the head of the Chiang Jung from
participating in a large interstate conference, the Chin dignitary alleged that
an ancestor of the Jung™s chief had come, dressed only in straw, to seek
Chin™s protection from Ch™in and that he and his people were given land
to cultivate; instead of showing gratitude, the Jung now spread rumors
about Chin that were hurting the state™s reputation among the other Chou
states. Therefore, the Jung chieftain would not be allowed to attend the
The reply by the Jung aristocrat (a “viscount,” or tzu) makes it clear
that Chin had been using the Jung as a resource to strengthen the state.
He said that at the time Ch™in was persecuting them, Duke Hui of Chin,

Tso-chuan chu (Hsi 11), p. 338. This episode should probably be seen as part of
a succession struggle following the accession to the throne of King Hsiang, in 651
Tso-chuan chu (Hsi 33), p. 498 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 225).
Tso-chuan chu (Wen 3), p. 530.
Tso-chuan chu (Hsiang 14), pp. 1005“7 (Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, pp. 463“


who regarded the Jung as descendants of the “Four Mountains,”83 allowed
them to settle on the southern frontier, a desolate land plagued by wolves
and foxes.84 The Jung cleared this land, behaved as loyal subjects, and
even gave military support to Chin against Ch™in: “if the Ch™in army did
not return to its country [i.e., it was annihilated] “ the Jung chief stated “
this was thanks to us.” He pointed out that the Jung had been a valuable
aid to Chin in its military and political rise and were not to blame now if
“some mistake committed by the troops of your of¬cers have created a
distance with the other [Chou] lords.” Before withdrawing, the Jung
chieftain remarked that “the food, drink, and clothes of us Jung are all
different from those of China (Hua), we do not exchange silk with
them, and our languages are not mutually understandable.” This statement,
so often quoted to show the cultural distance between Hua-Hsia and
Jung-Ti,85 indicates, rather, that cultural distance did not mean political dis-
tance: The Jung were an integral part of Chou politics and an additional
source of soldiers and farmers.86 Accusation leveled at Chin in 533 b.c.87
for relying on foreign troops to strike at the heart of the Chou political
system indicates that by this time foreign troops were probably being
used in such large numbers that they constituted a separate force within
the Central States, and their mere presence was becoming a source of
The annexation and use of non-Chou peoples by China™s larger states
parallel the creation of new administrative divisions and growth in the size
of armies. To take once again the example of Chin, in 632 b.c. three
columns were added to the three already existing armies in order to ¬ght
the Ti.88 In 629 b.c. the number of armies was brought to ¬ve, also to ¬ght
the Ti.89 In 588 b.c., after the forced incorporation of Jung and Ti peoples,
Chin™s armies increased to six “ only the Chou House could command a
military force of this size90 “ and it is likely that a good many of the new

The Four Mountains were the ministers of Emperor Yao. The Chiang surname
was descended from one of them.
This took place in 638 b.c. Tso-chuan chu (Hsi 22), p. 394 (Legge, The Ch™un
Ts™ew, p. 182).
It is ironic, in this context, that the Jung chief concluded his speech by singing
the ode “Ch™ing Ying.”
In another episode, in 638 b.c. (Tso-chuan chu [Hsi 22], p. 394) Jung people of
the Lu-hun division (perhaps a clan or tribe) were transferred by Ch™in and Chin
to the “wilderness” (yeh) by the river Yi, where, presumably, there was some
uncultivated land.
Tso-chuan chu (Chao 9), p. 1309. 88 Tso-chuan chu (Hsi 28), p. 474.
Tso-chuan chu (Hsi 31), p. 487.
Tso-chuan chu (Ch™eng 3), p. 815 ((Legge, The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 353). For the dif-
ference in the number of armies between the Chou king and the states, see
Tso-chuan chu (Hsiang 14), p. 1016.

recruits came from the conquered Jung and Ti. Some Ti also submitted
spontaneously to Chou states when threatened by other Ti people, and may
have offered their military services in exchange for protection.91 Some Ti
tribes were also remarkably easy to conquer, as when the state of Lu
defeated the Ken-mou people, who probably belonged to the Ti “galaxy.”92
These examples and others make it clear that, by the end of the sixth
century b.c., Ti peoples were fully integrated in Chinese states™ military
The incorporation of non-Chou peoples into the armies of Chou states,
as well as the protracted ¬ghting with them, contributed also to signi¬cant
changes in Chou military tactics. By 541 b.c. the state of Chin had moved
toward the transformation of its chariot army into an infantry that would
be more adaptable to rugged terrain and was speci¬cally intended to ¬ght
against Jung and Ti foot soldiers.94 Resistance in the ranks to this transi-
tion must have been considerable because the punishment in¬‚icted on sol-
diers who refused to comply was death.
As the victorious Chou states kept incorporating foreign peoples, the
expansion of their polities required new systems of government to absorb
them politically and administratively; thus in the seventh century b.c. the
chou system was created as a new administrative unit meant to incorporate
new subjects, many of whom were in fact non-Chou peoples.95 The ques-
tion of how to preserve their loyalty was also debated. As revealed in a
Ch™u dignitary™s reprimand of his lord in 538 b.c., in which he admonished
the lord that arrogant or impious behavior would cause the Yi, Jung, and
Ti to rebel, the ruler™s ability to govern foreign peoples by fair means rather
than by coercion was a fundamental attribute of his virtuousness.96


The period of the Spring and Autumn saw the rise of a new relationship
between the Chou states and the non-Chou peoples. During the Shang and

Tso-chuan chu (Hsüan 11), p. 710 (598 b.c.).
Tso-chuan chu (Hsüan 9), p. 699. According to Legge, these are Yi people (Legge,
The Ch™un Ts™ew, p. 304).
A note of 529 b.c. (Tso-chuan chu [Chao 13], p. 1359) tells us that the Ti were
used as guards by Chin, while in 491 b.c. (Tso-chuan chu [Ai 4], p. 1627) the
Ch™u minister of war recruited Ti and Jung for a military expedition.
Tso-chuan chu (Chao 1), pp. 1215“16. See also Raimund Theodor Kolb, Die
Infanterie im alten China (Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 1991), pp. 187, 255“56.
Cho-yun Hsu, “The Spring and Autumn Period,” p. 574; Lewis, “Warring States
Political History,” p. 614.
Tso-chuan chu (Chao 4), p. 1252.


Western Chou there had been frequent episodes of warfare between the
Shang (and later the Chou) on the one side and, on the other, a host of
peoples located around the core areas of both dynasties. However, the prin-
ciples that regulated their relations are unclear, and we are left with the
image of a frontier where the force of arms reigned supreme and where
foreign expeditions from Chinese states followed and were followed by the
incursions of foreigners in a cycle of never-ending hostility.
Beginning with the Eastern Chou, however, the political relationship
between Chou states and non-Chou peoples (whose level of political orga-
nization is dif¬cult to assess) became more regular and formalized. This
relationship developed on three levels: conquest by the Chou states of non-
Chou polities, diplomatic exchange between the Chou states and the non-
Chou, and incorporation of non-Chou within the domain of expand-
ing Chou states. Whenever possible, the Chou states attempted to conquer
the northern non-Chou peoples and to incorporate them. This policy was
carried out in particular during the eighth, seventh, and sixth centuries b.c.
by the most aggressively expansionist polities, namely, Ch™i, Ch™in, and
Chin. Through diplomacy “ meetings, treaties, hostage exchanges, and visits
to court “ the Chou states tried to preserve peace with foreign powers for
as long as they could. The states™ goals during times of peace included
sparing their resources (people, arms, equipment, and food), demonstrat-
ing good neighborly relations, and employing foreigners in the defense of
state interests. When they conquered foreigners, the states used them to
increase the size of the armies, guard the borders, and open up new lands.
In this way, the Jung and the Ti became essential factors in the states™ com-
petition for supremacy.
At the same time, various doctrines were formulated that informed the
foreign relations of the Chou states. On a general level, especially in matters
of protocol and procedures, these doctrines were observed by most of the
participating polities, whether inside or outside the Chou political and cul-
tural community. On another level, however, there were signi¬cant differ-
ences in the way the doctrines were applied to non-Chou peoples. In this
respect, I have argued that although presumed differences in morality were
invoked to construe the enemy as “conquerable,” these moral claims were
neither ¬xed nor applicable to every foreign polity. Closer analysis of their
context suggests that they were the product of political developments rather
than an indication of a developing sense of cultural cohesiveness within the
Chou politico-cultural community. The application of the same moral sanc-
tions to states that were not regarded, at least in principle, as foreign, makes
it clear that the idea of a “moral” or “cultural” community was still ¬‚uid.
This ¬‚uidity re¬‚ects the political context of the Eastern Chou: in foreign
relations the moral discourse was fully subordinated to the diktats of war
and intense military and political competition and was adapted to the
exigencies of the moment.

Looking at the Chou states™ relations with foreign peoples from this
angle, whether a “militaristic” or “paci¬st” doctrine emerged was a re¬‚ec-
tion of the objectives of a particular state at a given moment rather than
evidence of a greater Chou (Chinese) cultural consciousness expressing itself
in terms of “moral insiders” versus “immoral outsiders.” The historical
information in the Tso-chuan and Kuo yü also suggests that moral con-
siderations were secondary to what we might call the “rational choices” of
polities locked in deadly combat.
Toward the end of the ¬fth century b.c. the Ti and the Jung seem to have
been by and large eliminated as independent polities. Those that survived,
such as the state of Chung-shan, remained foreign only in name, while in
fact its inhabitants had become culturally indistinguishable from those of
the Chou states. The process of political absorption and cultural assimila-
tion brought the northern Chinese states into contact with another type of
ethnographic and political reality: the northern nomadic peoples. Whereas
the Jung and Ti were, for the most part, farmers and shepherds or moun-
taineers, whose military skill the Chinese states could easily match, the
northern nomads™ military tactics and technology, especially as related to
riding horses, posed a more serious problem. The following phase of the
pre-imperial history of the northern frontier tells the story of this encounter
and of its consequences for both Chinese and Inner Asian history.

chapter four

Walls and Horses
The Beginning of Historical Contacts between
Horse-Riding Nomads and Chinese States


No other period in pre-imperial history transformed the physical aspect and
the political import of the northern frontier as much as the Warring States
period (480“221 b.c.). In China, the growth of state power and the increase
in the size of its armies required a constant expansion of the resources of
the state, forcing each ruler to ¬nd ways to maximize his own resources
and try to neutralize his adversaries™ advantages. During the late Warring
States period, the tendency toward territorial expansion continued steadily,
with the three northern states of Ch™in, Yen, and Chao trying to extend
their control over new lands and peoples. The northern frontier was made
part of this process of state aggrandizement, but in contrast with the earlier
centuries, the Central States were now confronted with a new and far more
dif¬cult situation.
As outlined in Chapter 3, the development of pastoral cultures in north-
ern China brought into existence martial societies of aristocratic mounted
nomads. As a new “anthropological” type, the nomads appear in Chinese
sources under the name of Hu. Their lifestyle was nomadic: they raised
animals, fought on horseback, and excelled at archery. Probably organized
into hierarchical kin-based societies divided into lineages and tribes, the Hu
would soon prove capable of creating empirelike political units. Were they
new to northern China? In the ¬fth and fourth centuries b.c., certainly not,
but our knowledge is based solely on archaeological material, and an
absolute chronology is still not available.1 As we have seen, pastoral

For a critical appraisal of the dating of Hsiung-nu sites, see, for instance,
Sophia-Karin Psarras, “Exploring the North: Non-Chinese Cultures of the Late
Warring States and Han,” Monumenta Serica 42 (1994): 1“125. It needs to be


nomadic cultures probably had matured by the seventh“sixth century b.c.,
though they may have then been limited to fewer centers and mixed with
semi-sedentary peoples.
Judging from their later successes, these martial societies were probably
better organized militarily than were the agro-pastoral communities that
bordered on China. That the Jung gradually disappeared from the histori-
cal record “ although their name continued to be used rhetorically or ves-
tigially “ may well be the result not only of the assimilation of these groups
by the Chinese states but also of the increased power of the nomadic groups
that imposed their rule over these peoples, incorporating them within their
own polities.
During the late Warring States two crucial events occurred: the adoption
of cavalry and the construction, in the north, of military installations known
as “long walls” (ch™ang ch™eng). Precursors of the so-called Great Wall, long
walls constituted the northern lines of military forti¬cations later linked in
a single system by Ch™in Shih Huang-ti after he uni¬ed China. Both devel-
opments contributed to a pronounced militarization of the north and to
the formation of a “harder” border. In this chapter we shall look at the
historical causes of this transformation and at the emergence of direct
contacts between the nomads and the Chinese states.

The Question of Hu

First Encounter

The Chou states ¬rst came into direct contact with the Hu in 457 b.c.:
“Hsiang-tzu of Chao [a family of the state of Chin] annexed the Jung,
conquered Tai,2 and in this way drove out the various Hu.”3 This is
repeated, slightly modi¬ed, in chapter 110 of the Shih chi, which reports
that Hsiang-tzu4 “crossed over Mount Kou-chu,5 annexed Tai and came

pointed out, however, that this author™s dating is based on typological evidence
and is not immune from criticism (see references to Psarras™s work in Emma C.
Bunker et al., Ancient Bronzes of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes from the Arthur
M. Sackler Collections [New York: Arthur Sackler Foundation, 1997]).
Statelet located north of Chao in present-day western Hopei. Chung-kuo Li-shih
ti-t™u chi. The Historical Atlas of China, ed. T™an Ch™i-hsiang [Tan Qixiang] et
al. (Peking: Ti-t™u ch™u-pan-she, 1982), 1: 38, 10“4.
Shih chi 43, 1809 (E. Chavannes, Les m©moires historiques de Se-ma Ts™ien, 5
vols. [Paris: Leroux, 1895“1905], 5: 81).
A high minister of Chin, also known as Wu-hsü; see Tso-chuan chu (Ai 20),
p. 475.
Shih chi chu-yi, 2135; B. Watson, Records, vol. 2: 132. On the reading kou, see
Shih chi chu-yi, 2316.

close to the Hu-Mo.”6 The conquest of Tai was accomplished by treacher-
ous means, as Hsiang-tzu attracted the king of Tai and Tai functionaries to
a banquet, where he had them all killed. He then sent his army to conquer
Tai (of course, the use of murderous stratagems, especially in dealing with
states outside the Chou community, had become a fact hardly worth


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