Liang Shao, Renmin University of China
Scholars usually imply that the Chinese began to take a coercive universal empire for granted since the Eastern Zhou and Qin dynasties. However, by process-tracing and comparative methods, this paper analyzes relevant qualitative empirical materials and finds: 1 In early imperial China, the Chinese initially were not able to take a coercive universal empire for granted because the separatism of different regionally subcultural areas was the predominant tendency right after the Qin dynasty because of the regional subcultures and the territorial identities forming during the Warring States period. 2 Due to the restrictions on officials’ native places implemented in the Western Han government, in the patron-client relations between senior officials and their subordinates forming during the Western Han dynasty, the elites born far from one another were loyal to the same patrons, which prevented the separatism during the Western Han and led to the predominant tendency of reunification during the disunited period before the Eastern Han dynasty. 3 Due to the restrictions on officials’ native places implemented in the later dynasties, in the patron-client relations generally existing after the destruction of the medieval Chinese aristocracy during the late Tang dynasty, the elites born far from one another were loyal to the same patrons, preventing the locally embedded elites from pursuing separatism.
Presented in Session 24. Empire and Its Perils