Tianxia System

Tianxia System

From Tianxia to Unequal Treaties
An Authority Mandated by Heaven Yielded to the Gun Boats

Submitted by-:
Arpita Goswami
Master’s Candidate,
School of South East Asian Studies,
Xiamen University,
P.R. China

Part I – Traditional Chinese World Order and Tribute System
Part II – Relations with Barbarians and Foreigners
Part III – Diplomacy Post Opium War
Part IV – Unequal Treaties – International Law Perspective
Part V – Arrow War and Second Treaty Settlement

1689 – Treaty of Nerchinsk
1842 – Treaty of Nanjing
1843 – Supplementary Treaty of Bogue
1844 – Treaty of Wangshia
1844 – Treaty of Whampoa
1858 – Treaty of Tienstin
Part I – Traditional Chinese World Order and Tribute System
For scholars studying the history, the relations and the thought philosophy of China, the ‘Sino-centric world view’ of the Chinese, is the point of departure, and so it is for this small presentation. Here an endeavor has been made to explain such a central point of view, actively removing the any form of comparison and distinguishing from the Westphalian concept of sovereignty and equality. In the Sinic tradition the ‘tianxia’, or all under the heaven, was not so much of a legal or political structure, but a civilizational structure. This civilizational structure was unique in the sense that it was based more on the superiority of culture giving political mileage rather than political superiority thrusting the cultural influences. In the traditional Chinese world order, there were no boundary, only zones, which were more social in nature than geographical or political.
The internal society was firmly knit together on Confucian principles. The central tenet of which lay on the ‘maintenance of the equilibrium’, which was to be achieved by striving for Harmony and pursuing the path of Peace. Harmony and Peace in the society had to be maintained through the maintenance of the hierarchical order of relationships. In Confucian system law was not a...

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