Ambassadors from the Island of Immortals: China-Japan Relations in the Han-Tang Period (Asian Interactions and Comparisons)

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9780824828714: Ambassadors from the Island of Immortals: China-Japan Relations in the Han-Tang Period (Asian Interactions and Comparisons)

Using recent archaeological findings and little-known archival material, Wang Zhenping introduces readers to the world of ancient Japan as it was evolving toward a centralized state. Competing Japanese tribal leaders engaged in "ambassador diplomacy" and actively sought Chinese support and recognition to strengthen their positions at home and to exert military influence on southern Korea. They requested, among other things, the bestowal of Chinese insignia: official titles, gold seals, and bronze mirrors. Successive Chinese courts used the bestowal (or denial) of the insignia to conduct geopolitics in East Asia.

Wang Zhenping brings diplomatic history to life in his descriptions of the diplomats and their personalities and literary talents as well as their ambitions and frustrations. He explains in detail the rigorous criteria of the Chinese and Japanese courts in the selection of diplomats and how the two prepared for missions abroad. He journeys with a party of Japanese diplomats from their tearful farewell party to hardship on the high seas to their arrival amidst the splendors of Yangzhou and Changan and the Sui-Tang court. The depiction of these colorful events is combined with a sophisticated analysis of premodern diplomacy using the key concept of mutual self-interest and a discussion of two major modes of diplomatic communication: court reception and the exchange of state letters. Wang reveals how the parties involved conveyed diplomatic messages by making, accepting, or rejecting court ceremonial arrangements. Challenging the traditional view of China’s tributary system, he! argues that it was not a unilateral tool of hegemony but rather a game of interest and power in which multiple partners modified the rules depending on changing historical circumstances.

In addition to its masterful analysis of the role of language manipulation, Ambassadors from the Island of Immortals distinguishes itself from other works on China-Japan relations with its "people-centered" approach to diplomatic history, thus revealing the human face of diplomatic institutions.

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Product Description:

Using recent archaeological findings and little-known archival material, Wang Zhenping introduces readers to the world of ancient Japan as it was evolving toward a centralized state. Competing Japanese tribal leaders engaged in "ambassador diplomacy" and actively sought Chinese support and recognition to strengthen their positions at home and to exert military influence on southern Korea. Wang brings diplomatic history to life in his descriptions of the diplomats and their personalities and literary talents as well as their ambitions and frustrations. He explains in detail the rigorous criteria of the Chinese and Japanese courts in the selection of diplomats and how the two prepared for missions abroad. He journeys with a party of Japanese diplomats from their tearful farewell party to hardship on the high seas to their arrival amidst the splendors of Yangzhou and Changan and the Sui-Tang court. The depiction of these colorful events is combined with a sophisticated analysis of premodern diplomacy using the key concept of mutual self-interest and a discussion of two major modes of diplomatic communication: court reception and the exchange of state letters. Wang reveals how the parties involved conveyed diplomatic messages by making, accepting, or rejecting court ceremonial arrangements.

From the Back Cover:

"This splendid work, with its well-selected illustrations and copious and stylish translations, covers in detail the relations between China and Japan during the long period from late Han until the end of the Tang. It presents a new and convincing interpretation of the "Chinese Tribute System," which the author sees not as a system of submission to the Chinese ruler, but as a relationship voluntarily accepted and based on mutual self-interest. It lets us see medieval diplomacy between the two countries, and the individuals involved, in vivid detail and with a new clarity."—Denis Twitchett, professor emeritus, Princeton University, co-editor of The Cambridge History of China

"Ambassadors from the Islands of the Immortals provides, in wonderful detail, the inside story of a series of important embassies sent from the Japanese islands to Sui and Tang China. These missions shaped the future course of Japanese history. Through them Japan learned the details of Chinese imperial rule, government institutions, tax systems, Buddhist and Confucian ideas, art, and architecture. Zhenping Wang, who is equally fluent in the Japanese and Chinese documentary sources, weaves from a wide range of texts the clearest analysis yet of these missions. Challenging the standard approach, which emphasizes the Chinese rulers insistence on tributary relations, Professor Wang stresses the importance of reciprocity and mutual self-interest in the international relations of the period."—Martin Collcutt, Princeton University

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Zhenping, Wang, Wang, Zhenping
Published by University of Hawaii Press (2005)
ISBN 10: 0824828712 ISBN 13: 9780824828714
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Book Description University of Hawaii Press, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110824828712

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