Author: Krzysztof Gawlikowski
Institution: Uniwersytet SWPS
Year of publication: 2016
Source: Show
Pages: 11-41
DOI Address:
PDF: ap/19/ap1901.pdf

Military operations of the Chinese Empire: their types and characteristics

Wars waged by the Chinese Empire, or civil wars within it, differ significantly from those waged in Europe, owing to differences in the sphere of ideology, predominantly Confucian, and historical realities. There are also cultural differences related to the prevailing attitudes to war, struggle and the use of force. The study presents several of them.

  1. Rebellion against a “morally discredited” dynasty, which already lost her “Mandate of Heaven” (to re-establish moral order in China and in the world)
  2. Re-establishment of “order in the world” by China as the leading Middle State
  3. “Punishment of usurpers” carried out during the division of the Empire (since there could be merely one legitimate Son of Heaven, all other rulers, who pretended to be independent Sons of Heaven, were considered “usurpers”)
  4. Civil wars: “legitimate rebellion against discredited power holders” and “re-establishment of order” on the side of the state authorities
  5. Invasions by the Empire to conquer new lands or enlarge the sphere of its influence (most often to subdue neighbouring states and reduce their status to a vassal country)

The author briefly outlines the “borderlands”, which the Empire wanted to control when it was strong. He also analyses the social, economic and ideological reasons, why in the Empire prevailed isolationist policy and the expansion was carried out merely on a limited scale, mostly to the neighbouring states and lands.

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