The Mongol Wars and the Evolution of the Gun, 1211–1279

The rise of the Mongols was a key event in the evolution of gunpowder technology. Their wars drove military developments in East Asia and spread gunpowder technology westward. You’d think this statement would be uncontroversial. After all, the Mongols created the world’s largest empire, connecting East Asia to South Asia, Western Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Mongol commanders excelled at incorporating foreign experts into their forces, and Chinese artisans of all kinds followed Mongol armies far from home. Yet oddly, experts disagree about the extent to which—or even whether—Mongols used gunpowder weapons in their warfare, and some deny them a role in the dissemination of the technology.

How can there be disagreement about such a fundamental question? One reason is that most historians have a poor understanding about what early gunpowder weapons were like and what they were used for—they expect to find gunpowder weapons blasting down stone walls, as cannons would eventually come to do in the West. As we’ve seen, that’s not how gunpowder weapons worked in this period. Even the iron bombs of the Jin—the most powerful gunpowder weapons yet invented—were used not to batter walls but to kill people or, at most, to help destroy wooden structures. Moreover, at the time of the Mongol Wars, the most common gunpowder weapon was still the gunpowder arrow, used primarily as an incendiary. There’s no shortage of accounts referring to blazing arrows and fiery orbs hurled by Mongol catapults, but historians have argued that these were not gunpowder weapons on the grounds that gunpowder weapons would have attracted much more attention.

Another problem is that the Mongols left few historical documents to posterity. Even the records left by the Mongols’ regime in China—the Yuan dynasty—are fragmentary, and China is a place that takes its history seriously. The official History of the Yuan Dynasty, compiled by scholars in China after the fall of the Yuan in 1368, is sloppy and patchy compared to other official histories in the Chinese canon, and Sinologists have noted that Yuan documents are particularly reticent about military details. Scholars must piece together Mongols’ history from the sources of their beleaguered enemies, whose records tended not to survive burning cities. So although we can paint a fairly clear picture of the development of firearms technology during the Song-Jin Wars, our understanding of the more intense and catalytic Mongol Wars is less complete.

Even so, there seems to be little doubt that the Mongols were proficient in gunpowder weapons. No one fighting in the Chinese context—and the Mongols met their most determined resistance in the Chinese realm—could remain unconvinced about the power of gunpowder, which by the early 1200s had come to play an essential role in warfare.

Indeed, the Mongols had a chance to learn about gunpowder weapons from the masters of their use, the Jin dynasty.

The Mongol-Jin Wars

Genghis Khan launched his first concerted invasion of the Jin in 1211, and it wasn’t long before the Mongols were deploying gunpowder weapons themselves, for example in 1232, when they besieged the Jin capital of Kaifeng. By this point they understood that sieges required careful preparation, and they built a hundred kilometers of stockades around the city, stout and elaborate ones, equipped with watchtowers, trenches, and guardhouses, forcing Chinese captives—men, women, and children—to haul supplies and fill in moats. Then they began launching gunpowder bombs. Jin scholar Liu Qi recalled in a mournful memoir, how “the attack against the city walls grew increasingly intense, and bombs rained down as [the enemy] advanced.”

The Jin responded in kind. “From within the walls,” Liu Qi writes, “the defenders responded with a gunpowder bomb called the heaven-shaking-thunder bomb. Whenever the [Mongol] troops encountered one, several men at a time would be turned into ashes.” The official Jin History contains a clear description of the weapon: “The heaven-shaking-thunder bomb is an iron vessel filled with gunpowder. When lighted with fire and shot off, it goes off like a crash of thunder that can be heard for a hundred li [thirty miles], burning an expanse of land more than half a mu, a mu is a sixth of an acre], and the fire can even penetrate iron armor.” Three centuries later, a Ming official named He Mengchun ( 1474–1536) found an old cache of them in the Xi’an area: “When I went on official business to Shaanxi Province, I saw on top of Xi’an’s city walls an old stockpile of iron bombs. They were called ‘heaven-shaking-thunder’ bombs, and they were like an enclosed rice bowl with a hole at the top, just big enough to put your finger in. The troops said they hadn’t been used for a very long time.” Possibly he saw the bombs in action, because he wrote, “When the powder goes off, the bomb rips open, and the iron pieces fly in all directions. That is how it is able to kill people and horses from far away.”

Heaven-shaking-thunder bombs seem to have first appeared in 1231 (the year before the Mongol Siege of Kaifeng) when a Jin general had used them to destroy a Mongol warship. But it was during the Siege of Kaifeng of 1232 that they saw their most intense use. The Mongols tried to protect themselves by constructing elaborate screens of thick leather, which they used to cover workers who were undermining the city walls. In this way the workers managed to get right up to the walls, where they began excavating protective niches. Jin defenders found this exceedingly worrisome, so according to the official Jin History they “took iron cords and attached them to heaven-shaking-thunder bombs. The bombs were lowered down the walls, and when they reached the place where the miners were working, the [bombs were set off] and the excavators and their leather screens were together blown up, obliterated without a trace.”

The Jin defenders also deployed other gunpowder weapons, including a new and improved version of the fire lance, called the flying fire lance. This version seems to have been more effective than the one used by Chen Gui a century before. The official Jin History contains an unusually detailed description:

To make the lance, use chi-huang paper, sixteen layers of it for the tube, and make it a bit longer than two feet. Stuff it with willow charcoal, iron fragments, magnet ends, sulfur, white arsenic [probably an error that should mean saltpeter], and other ingredients, and put a fuse to the end. Each troop has hanging on him a little iron pot to keep fire [probably hot coals], and when it’s time to do battle, the flames shoot out the front of the lance more than ten feet, and when the gunpowder is depleted, the tube isn’t destroyed.

When wielded and set alight, it was fearsome weapon: “no one dared go near.” Apparently Mongol soldiers, although disdainful of most Jin weapons, greatly feared the flying fire lance and the heaven-shaking-thunder bomb.

Kaifeng held out for a year, during which hundreds of thousands died of starvation, but ultimately it capitulated. The Jin emperor fled. Many hoped the Jin might reconstitute the dynasty elsewhere, and here and there Jin troops still scored successes, as when a Jin commander led four hundred fifty fire lance troops against a Mongol encampment: “They couldn’t stand up against this and were completely routed, and three thousand five hundred were drowned.” But these isolated victories couldn’t break Mongol momentum, especially after the Jin emperor committed suicide in 1234. Although some Jin troops—many of them Chinese—continued to resist (one loyalist gathered all the metal that could be found in the city he was defending, even gold and silver, and made explosive shells to lob against the Mongols), the Jin were finished. The Mongols had conquered two of the three great states of the Song Warring States Period, the Xi Xia and the Jin. Now they turned to the Song.

The Song-Mongol Wars

It’s striking that the Song, this supposedly weak dynasty, held the Mongols off for forty-five years. As an eminent Sinologist wrote more than sixty years ago, “unquestionably in the Chinese the Mongols encountered more stubborn opposition and better defense than any of their other opponents in Europe and Asia.”

Gunpowder weapons were central to the fighting. In 1237, for example, a Mongol army attacked the Song city of Anfeng, “using gunpowder bombs [huo pao] to burn the [defensive] towers.” (Anfeng is modern-day Shouxian, in Anhui Province.) “Several hundred men hurled one bomb, and if it hit the tower it would immediately smash it to pieces.” The Song defending commander, Du Gao, fought back resourcefully, rebuilding towers, equipping his archers with special small arrows to shoot through the eye slits of Mongol’s thick armor (normal arrows were too thick), and, most important, deploying powerful gunpowder weapons, such as a bomb called the “Elipao,” named after a famous local pear. He prevailed. The Mongols withdrew, suffering heavy casualties.

Gunpowder technology evolved quickly, and although sources are sketchy, scattered references to arsenals show that gunpowder weapons were considered central to the war effort. For example, in 1257, a Song official named Li Zengbo was ordered to inspect border cities’ arsenals. He believed that a city should have several hundred thousand iron bombshells, and a good production facility should produce at least a couple thousand a month. But his tour was disheartening. He wrote that in one arsenal he found “no more than 85 iron bomb-shells, large and small, 95 fire-arrows, and 105 fire-lances. This is not sufficient for a mere hundred men, let alone a thousand, to use against an attack by the … barbarians. The government supposedly wants to make preparations for the defense of its fortified cities, and to furnish them with military supplies against the enemy (yet this is all they give us). What chilling indifference!”

Fortunately, the Mongol advance paused after the great khan died in 1259. When it resumed in 1268, fighting was extremely intense, and gunpowder weapons played significant roles. Blocking the Mongols’ advance were the twin fortress cities of Xiangyang and Fancheng, which guarded the passage southward to the Yangze River. The Mongol investment of these cities was one of the longest sieges of world history, lasting from 1268 to 1273. The details are too numerous to examine here, but two episodes are salient, each of which involved a pair of heroes.

The first was a bold relief mission carried out by the so-called Two Zhangs. For the first three years of the siege, the Song had been able to receive food, clothing, and reinforcements by water, but in late 1271 the Mongols had tightened their blockade, and the inhabitants had become desperate. Two men surnamed Zhang determined to run the blockade and take supplies to the cities. With a hundred paddle wheel boats they traveled toward the twin cities, moving by night when possible, red lanterns helping them recognize each other in the darkness. But a commander on the Mongol side learned about their plans and prepared a trap. As they approached the cities they found his “vessels spread out, filling the entire surface of the river, and there was no gap for them to enter.” Thick iron chains stretched across the water.

According to the official Song History, the two Zhangs had armed their boats with “fire-lances, fire-bombs, glowing charcoal, huge axes, and powerful crossbows.” Their flotilla opened fire, and, according to a source recorded from the Mongol side, “bomb-shells were hurled with great noise and loud reports.”30 Wang Zhaochun suggests that the fire bombs used on the two Zhangs’ boats were not hurled by catapults but were shot off like rockets, using the fiery coals the vessels carried. This would be exciting, but unfortunately the evidence is inconclusive. Historian Stephen Haw suggests that the vessels carried guns, which is also possible, but again the evidence is inconclusive.

In any case, the fight was brutal and long. The Zhangs’ soldiers had been told that “this voyage promises only death,” and many indeed died as they tried to cut through chains, pull up stakes, hurl bombs. A source from the Mongol side notes that “on their ships they were up to the ankles in blood.” But around dawn, the Zhangs’ vessels made it to the city walls. The citizens “leapt up a hundred times in joy.” When the men from the boats were mustered on shore, one Zhang was missing. His fate remains a mystery. The official Yuan History says one Zhang was captured alive. The official Song History has a more interesting story. A few days after the battle, it says, “a corpse came floating upstream, covered in armor and gripping a bow-and-arrow.… It was Zhang Shun, his body pierced by four lances and six arrows. The expression of anger [on his face] was so vigorous it was as though he were still alive. The troops were surprised and thought it miraculous, and they made a grave and prepared the body for burial, erected a temple, and made sacrifices.” Other sources suggest that Zhang Shun was indeed killed in battle. He was later immortalized in the famous novel The Water Margin.

Alas, the supplies didn’t save Xiangyang, because the Mongols had a pair of heroes of their own. Two Muslim artillery specialists—one from Persia and one from Syria—helped construct counterweight trebuchets whose advanced design allowed larger missiles to be hurled farther. They came to be known in China as “Muslim catapults” or “Xiangyang catapults,” and they were devastating. As one account notes, “when the machinery went off the noise shook heaven and earth; every thing that [the missile] hit was broken and destroyed.” Xiangyang’s tall drum tower, for example, was destroyed in one thundering crash. Did these trebuchets hurl explosive shells? There’s no conclusive evidence, but it would be surprising if they didn’t, since, as we’ve seen, bombs hurled by catapults had been a core component of siege warfare for a century or more. In any case, Xiangyang surrendered in 1273.

The Mongols moved south. A famous Mongol general named Bayan led the campaign, commanding an army of two hundred thousand, most of whom were Chinese. It was probably the largest army the Mongols had commanded, and gunpowder weapons were key arms. In the 1274 Siege of Shayang, for example, Bayan, having failed to storm the walls, waited for the wind to blow from the north and then ordered his artillerists to attack with molten metal bombs. With each strike, “the buildings were burned up and the smoke and flames rose up to heaven. What kind of bomb was this? The sources on the Battle of Shayang don’t provide details, but earlier references suggest that it was a type of gunpowder bomb. A reference to it appears in an account of a battle of 1129, when Song general Li Yanxian was defending a strategic pass against Jin troops. At one point, the Jin attacked the walls day and night with all manner of siege carts, fire carts, sky bridges, and so on, and General Li “resisted at each occasion, and also used molten metal bombs. Wherever the gunpowder touched, everything would disintegrate without a trace.” The molten metal bomb was a probably a catapult projectile that contained gunpowder and molten metal, a frightening combination. It didn’t work for General Li in 1129: he lost the battle and either committed suicide or was killed, depending on which account you believe, but it did work for Bayan in 1274. He captured Shayang and massacred the inhabitants.

Gunpowder bombs were also present at a more famous Mongol massacre, the Siege of Changzhou of 1275, the last major battle of the Mongol-Song Wars.46 Bayan arrived there with his army and informed the inhabitants that “if you … resist us … we shall drain your carcasses of blood and use them for pillows.” His warnings were ignored. His troops bombarded the town day and night with fire bombs and then stormed the walls and began slaughtering people. Perhaps a quarter million were killed. Did his troops get new pillows? Sources don’t say, but it seems that a huge earthen mound filled with dead bodies lasted for centuries. Bones from the massacre were still being discovered into the twentieth century.

The Song held out for another four years, often with mortal bravery, sometimes even blowing themselves up to avoid capture, as when, in 1276, a Song garrison managed to hold the city of Jingjiang in Guangxi Province against a much larger Mongol force for three months before the enemy stormed the walls. Two hundred fifty defenders held a redoubt until it was hopeless and then, instead of surrendering, set off a huge iron bomb. According to the official Song History, “the noise was like a tremendous thunderclap, shaking the walls and ground, and the smoke filled up the heavens outside. Many of troops [outside] were startled to death. When the fire was extinguished they went in to see. There were just ashes, not a trace left.”

Bombs like this one were the most significant gunpowder weapons in the Song-Mongol Wars, but in retrospect the most important development was the birth of the gun.

The Gun

What is a gun? The efficiency of a projectile-propelling firearm is directly related to how much of the expanding gas from the gunpowder reaction can get past the projectile. The technical term is “windage,” and less windage means more energy imparted to the projectile. A true gun therefore has a bullet that fits the barrel. During the Jin-Song Wars, fire lances were loaded with bits of shrapnel, such as ceramics and iron. Since they didn’t occlude the barrel, Joseph Needham calls them “coviatives”: they were simply swept along in the discharge. Although they could do damage, their accuracy, range, and power were relatively low.

In the late 1100s and the 1200s, the fire lance proliferated into a baffling array of weapons that spewed sparks and flames and ceramics and anything else people thought to put in them. This Cambrian Explosion of forms is similar to that found in the early gunpowder period itself—the fire birds, rolling rocket logs, and so on—and a famous military manual known as the Book of the Fire Dragon, compiled in the Ming period but partially written in the late 1200s, describes and illustrates many of these weapons, which historians have called, as a general category, “eruptors.”

These eruptors had fantastic names. The “filling-the-sky erupting tube” spewed out poisonous gas and fragments of porcelain. The “orifice-penetrating flying sand magic mist tube” spewed forth sand and poisonous chemicals, apparently into orifices. The “phalanx-charging fire gourd” shot out lead pellets and laid waste to enemy battle formations. We find these and other weapons jumbled together in the Book of the Fire Dragon, which makes it difficult to determine when they emerged and how they were used. But unfortunately, we must use whatever sources we can find, because starting in the Song-Mongol Wars, our documentary record becomes sparse, and it remains so through the Mongol period that followed, whose leaders, as I’ve noted, left unusually poor documentation relative to other Chinese dynasties.

It is clear that fire lances became common during the Mongol-Song Wars. In 1257, a production report for an arsenal in Jiankang Prefecture refers to the manufacture of 333 “fire-emitting tubes”, and two years later the Song History refers to the production of something quite similar, a “fire-emitting lance”, which emitted more than just fire: “It is made from a large bamboo tube, and inside is stuffed a pellet wad. Once the fire goes off it completely spews the rear pellet wad forth, and the sound is like a bomb that can be heard for five hundred or more paces.” Some consider this “pellet wad” to be the first true bullet in recorded history, because although the pellets themselves probably did not occlude the barrel, the wad did.

Yet a truly effective gun must be made of something stronger than bamboo. Traditionally, historians have argued that metal guns emerged after the Mongols defeated the Song and founded the Yuan dynasty in 1279. Researcher Liu Xu, for instance, writes, “It was the Yuan who completed the transition from the bamboo- (or wood- or paper-) barreled firearm to the metal-barreled firearm, and the first firearms in history appeared in China in the very earliest part of the Yuan.” Similarly, other scholars, including Joseph Needham, have suggested a date of around 1280.

Archaeological evidence tends to corroborate this view. Take, for instance, the Xanadu gun, so named because it was found in the ruins of Xanadu, the Mongol summer palace in Inner Mongolia. It is at present the oldest extant gun whose dating is unequivocal, corresponding to 1298. Like all early guns, it is small: just over six kilograms, thirty-five centimeters long. Archaeological context and the straightforward inscription leave little room for controversy about the dating, but it was certainly not the first of its kind. The inscription includes a serial number and other manufacturing information that together indicate that gun manufacture had already been codified and systematized by the time of its fabrication. Moreover, the gun has axial holes at the back that scholars have suggested served to affix it to a mount, allowing it to be elevated or lowered easily for aiming purposes. This, too, suggests that this gun was the product of considerable prior experimentation.

The Xanadu gun is the earliest dated gun, but undated finds may predate it. One famous candidate is a piece discovered in 1970 in the province of Heilongjiang, in northeastern China. Historians believe, based on contextual evidence, that it is from around 1288. One careful analysis argues persuasively that it was likely used by Yuan forces to quash a rebellion by a Mongol prince named Nayan. Like the Xanadu gun, it is small and light, three and a half kilograms, thirty-four centimeters, a bore of approximately two and a half centimeters.

Yet archaeologists in China have found evidence that may force us to move back the date of the first metal firearms. In 1980, a 108-kilogram bronze gun was discovered in a cellar in Gansu Province. There is no inscription, but contextual evidence suggests that it may be from the late Xi Xia period, from after 1214 but before the end of the Xi Xia in 1227 (Gansu was part of Xi Xia territory). What’s intriguing is that it was discovered with an iron ball and a tenth of a kilogram of gunpowder in it. The ball, about nine centimeters in diameter, is a bit smaller than the muzzle diameter of the gun (twelve centimeters), which indicates that it may have been a coviative rather than a true bullet-type projectile. In 1997, a bronze firearm of similar structure but much smaller size (just a kilogram and a half) was unearthed not far away, and the context of its discovery seems to suggest a similar date of origin. Both weapons seem more primitive than the Xanadu gun and other early Yuan guns, rougher in appearance, with uneven casting. Future archaeological discoveries will develop our understanding with greater certitude, but for now, it does seem possible that the earliest metal proto-guns were created in the late Xi Xia state, in the early 1200s.

Although historians debate the precise date of the gun’s origin, at present the disputes are in terms of decades. It seems likely that the gun was born during the 1200s and that the Mongols and their enemies aimed guns at each other. After defeating the Song dynasty in 1279 and founding the Yuan dynasty, the Mongols and their Chinese troops invaded Japan, Vietnam, Burma, and Java, wars that stimulated further innovation, although, alas, records are few and say little about gunpowder weapons.

Equally important, although the Yuan brought relative peace within the borders of the Middle Kingdom itself, it was not a lasting peace. As the Yuan dynasty dissolved during the early 1350s, guns played a central role in the bloody wars that followed. The most successful gunpowder lord was a poor monk named Zhu Yuanzhang, whose gunmen succeeded in establishing one of the most impressive dynasties in China’s history, the great Ming, which scholars now call the world’s first gunpowder empire.

Battle of Fatshan Creek 1857

A Royal Navy force defeated a flotilla of Chinese war junks during the Battle of Fatshan Creek, before the Second Opium War.

Sir Henry Keppel, (1809-1904) British admiral. Born in Kensington on 14 June 1809, son of the Fourth Earl of Albemarle, Henry Keppel joined the Royal Navy in 1822. He was educated at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. He held a number of assignments, most of them in Asia and the Pacific. Keppel fought in the First Opium War against China (1839-1842). As commander of the HMS Dido in the mid-1840s he sailed to Singapore, Borneo, and other parts of East Asia, subduing local pirates. He was so revered in Singapore that its harbor was named for him. In the early 1850s Keppel again battled pirates in Borneo and Sumatra. He then fought in the Baltic and Black Seas in the war against Russia, 1853- 1856, especially around the Sevastopol in 1854. In 1856 Keppel returned to the Far East as commodore of the China Station. He commanded British forces in the Battle of Fatshan Creek, in which 70 Chinese junks were destroyed. During 1867- 1869 he commanded a seven-nation force that finally ended piracy in Chinese coastal waters and throughout most of East Asia and the Pacific.

A British force consisting of four gunboats and two hired steamers towed the flotilla’s boats 5km (3 miles) upstream, to where a large fleet of Chinese junks was moored on Fatshan Creek. The British commander, Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, took the fort on the southern bank with a detail of infantry, while Commodore Henry Keppel steamed ahead. The Chinese vessels stood their ground, moored across the stream. During a heated exchange, the gunboats grounded on mudbanks, but the ships’ boats were sent forward and boarded the junks before the Chinese could reload to repel the attack. Keppel ordered the junks burned, then continued upstream. The British boats grounded again 366m (1200ft) from another body of junks, forcing them to retreat and attack again when the tide was higher. Faced with further British attacks, the surviving Chinese vessels fled upriver towards the village of Fatshan.

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In the midst of the domestic turmoil that accompanied the Taiping Rebellion, piracy increased dramatically; often, whether true or not, these pirates claimed political allegiance with the Taipings. In January 1856, the British instituted a scheduled north–south convoy system, sending a well-armed man-of-war with the British merchant ships. Chinese-owned ships registered in Hong Kong were also allowed to join the convoy and fly the British flag. By doing so, these Chinese-owned ships tacitly gained the same extraterritorial rights and protections from Manchu intervention as other British ships along the China coast. This decision soon led to conflict with Manchu authorities, who insisted that all Chinese-owned ships remain under the administrative authority of China.

On 8 October 1856, Guangzhou police boarded a Chinese-owned, but Hong Kong-registered, ship called the Arrow. This ship had a British captain but a Chinese crew. Hauling down the British flag, the police arrested twelve crew members. Immediately, Harry Parkes, the British Consul, demanded that Ye Mingchen, the Imperial Commissioner in Guangzhou, apologize for this “insult” to the flag. Commissioner Ye offered to release nine of the arrested sailors but refused to apologize, thereby disputing the British practice of registering Chinese ships and allowing them to fly British flags.

This incident gave Governor of Hong Kong, John Bowring a long-sought for opportunity to demand treaty revisions from China. After consulting with Admiral Michael Seymour, commander of the British fleet, it was decided to send Commodore George Elliot to Guangzhou with the Sybille, the Barracouta, and the Coromandel, and later the steam frigates Encounter and Sampson were added to this number. Under the threat of naval shelling, Commissioner Ye proved willing to return all twelve arrested sailors, but would not apologize for violating the British flag. The resulting British action has been described in detail by Gerald Graham:

Admiral Seymour proceeded to assault the four barrier forts, some five miles below the city. Carrying Royal Marines and the boats’ crews of the Calcutta, Winchester, and Bittern, the Sampson and the Barracouta, accompanied by the boats of the Sybille under Commodore Elliot, set out from Whampoa. Arriving at Blenheim Reach on 23 October, the two steam sloops, Sampson and Barracouta, ascended the Macao Passage in order to block the alternative backwater channel. Blenheim Fort capitulated quickly, as did Macao Fort, a well-sited bastion on an island in mid-river, mounting 86 guns. This later stronghold, Seymour prepared to hold and garrison.

By 25 October 1856, more than 150 Chinese cannon had been taken and spiked, while marines took control of the foreign factories and defended them successfully against a Chinese attack. Casualties during this three-day engagement were extremely light, with the British avoiding even a single death and the Chinese reportedly suffering only five troops injured.

With a strong military advantage on his side, Governor Bowring unexpectedly “upped the ante” by bringing in a new issue for discussion. Even though the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing gave British officials the right to enter Guangzhou’s city walls, this stipulation had never come into effect. Now, Bowring insisted that Commissioner Ye agree to allow British representatives free access both to the authorities and the city of Guangzhou. When Ye refused, the British breached the city wall on 28 October. On the following day, they entered and looted the Commissioner’s yamen. Although the British continued to solidify their position in the following days—sustaining one dead and a dozen injured—the Chinese Commissioner refused to back down.

China could not realistically hope to challenge the British fleet, but Commissioner Ye’s forces inside Guangzhou were estimated at 20,000 while the British had fewer than 1,000 marines and seamen. With this superiority of numbers, Ye felt confident that he could repel any attempt to take Guangzhou by force. The British retained their hold over the foreign factories along the Whampoa—at one point stationing about 300 troops in entrenchments dug in the factory gardens—but, by the end of January 1857, were forced to withdraw everywhere except for Macao Fort on Honam Island. The Chinese interpreted this retreat as a victory, and triumphal arches were raised throughout Guangzhou in Ye’s honor.

The war was far from over. During May and June 1857, the British succeeded in wiping out the majority of the Chinese Navy protecting Guangzhou; seventy to eighty Chinese war junks were captured and burned. This task was not an easy one, since the Chinese sailors had learned from their earlier mistakes and made great progress in maneuvering their fleet and concentrating their fire, and the British casualties numbered eighty-four killed or badly wounded. According to Admiral Seymour, the British victory was precarious, and during an engagement on 1 June 1857 the Chinese fleet “opened a new era in Chinese naval warfare” by showing greater judgment in disposing their fleet, as well as defending their ships with “skill, courage and effect.”

During spring 1857, the Palmerston government appointed James Bruce, the eighth Earl of Elgin, to be H.M.’s High Commissioner and Plenipotentiary to China. His task was to lead a naval and military expedition to the mouth of the Bei He River near Beijing to demand reparations for past injuries, diplomatic representation in Beijing, and treaty revisions that would grant Britain greater access to China’s river trade. Action was delayed by mutiny in India, but the arrival of the Sans Pareil, the newest screw-operated battleship, allowed Admiral Seymour to blockade Guangzhou on 3 August 1857.

The French joined the advance on Guangzhou, and by early December 1857 thirty ships and more than 5,000 troops had been assembled. Elgin issued a final ultimatum on 12 December to Ye, who refused it. Beginning on 15 December 1857, British troops took Honam Point while the British ships Nimrod, Hornet, Bittern, Actaeon, and Acorn moved within shelling range of Guangzhou. Shelling commenced on 28 December, and on the following day the combined British and French forces scaled Guangzhou’s southeastern walls. The British casualties numbered ninety-six and the French thirty-four.

Finally in full control of Guangzhou, the next goal was to find and capture Commissioner Ye. Although the best thing would have been to move into the “hinterland to carry on the campaign,” Qing law stated that “any official who lost his city should lose his head.” Unable to flee, Commissioner Ye was captured on 5 January 1858. With Ye’s subsequent removal on the Inflexible for a life of imprisonment in a British-owned villa outside Calcutta, the remaining Chinese troops in Guangzhou were soon disarmed.

With Guangzhou safely in British and French hands, the next goal became Beijing. This Franco-British “Northern Expedition” was delayed until mid- April 1858, when Elgin sailed aboard the Furious northward to the Bei He. During the next eleven weeks the expedition remained inactive while negotiations with Beijing were attempted; during this delay, the size of the British forces increased gradually as they were joined by stragglers. By 20 May 1858, all was in order, and at 10:00 a.m.—following Beijing’s decision to ignore an order to surrender—the siege of the forts at Dagu began. Opposition was light, and after an hour-and-a-half the fighting was over. British casualties were five killed, seventeen wounded, while the unexpected explosion of a Chinese magazine killed six and wounded sixty-one Frenchmen. With the taking of the Dagu forts, the riverine path to Beijing was now open; foreign ships docked for the first time at Tianjin on 26 May 1858.

Rather than fighting this foreign force, the Manchu Emperor quickly relented and sent Imperial Commissioners to Tianjin. On 26 June 1858, the fifty-six-article Treaty of Tianjin was signed with Great Britain. At almost the same time a separate treaty was signed with France, and several non-belligerents— Russia and the United States—gained similar advantages in their own bilateral treaties. By means of the Treaty of Tianjin, Britain received a more than £1 million indemnity for its losses in Guangzhou, tariff revisions, and the opening of five new treaty ports, including along the Yangzi River as far inland as Hankou. Most importantly, Beijing was now open to a British representative who would be treated as an equal by the Chinese officials. However, Elgin later agreed to modify this clause by stationing the British residence outside Beijing proper. This change gave “face” to Beijing and helped prop up the Qing Dynasty’s embattled “Mandate of Heaven” in its domestic quarrel with the Taipings.

Battle of Baliqao 1860

ATTACK ON BALIQIAO BRIDGE

General Collineau’s column stormed Baliqiao bridge, which ivas defended by Qing Imperial Guard. According to all accounts, these Qing troops were the most determined and professional of the Chinese forces.

The Battle of Baliqao was the culmination of the Second Opium War. An Anglo – French force of 4000 men soundly defeated a Qing Army of 30,000 east of Beijing. The allied victory was followed by the sacking of the Imperial Summer Palace northwest of the city, and the conclusion of the conflict.

Prince Seng-ko-lin-Chin, one of the most successful Qing generals and Prince Sengbao, brother of the Emperor, blocked the road to Beijing with troops drawn from the Green Standard Army, reinforced by Imperial Guard troops of the Banner Army. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Anglo – French force led by French General Cousin de Montauban and British General Sir John Hope Grant attacked the Qing positions at the front and flank. After hard fighting the Qing cavalry was repulsed. The Imperial Guard held the bridge at Baliqao, but French artillery, and a determined bayonet charge by experienced infantry, dislodged them with heavy losses for the Chinese.

The Second Opium War

The Second Opium War (1856-60) was brought to an end by the battle of Baliqiao (Palikao), which involved an Anglo-French advance guard of 4000 troops against a Qing army of 30,000 men. The five-hour engagement ended with a clear victory for the Allied forces, and with Beijing (Peking) at their mercy. In the days following the battle, the Anglo-French forces seized the Imperial Summer Palace northwest of the capital and sacked it. The battle of Baliqiao was not, however, a victory of an army with superior technology against an antiquated foe. Indeed, the technological disparities were minimal; the victory went to the more disciplined army with a superior officer corps. As was the case in Afghanistan in 1842, technology rarely decided the victory in wars of empire.

Rather, the key to victory was the European powers’ determination, aided by domestic factors among the conquered peoples. The sacking of the Imperial Summer Palace in September I860 was not a foregone conclusion. As with many of the colonial wars, the Second Opium War had begun with a humiliating defeat at the hands of the indigenous armies.

The Second Opium War began when the Chinese Imperial Government refused to comply with unfavourable commercial agreements forced upon them at the end of the First Opium War (1839-42). The China trade, in opium and other goods from India, was vital to Britain’s burgeoning imperial economy. For France, the emergence of the Second French Empire meant the attainment of Bonapartist glory on the European peripheries, as in the Crimean War (1854-56) or further extension of the empire in North Africa. At the moment a French military expedition prepared to sail for China in spring 1859, Napoleon III intended on committing the vast majority of his army to a major war in Italy. There were few troops to spare, and no more than a division was dispatched to Asia under General Count Cousin de Montauban (1796-1878). The French expeditionary force consisted of two brigades of infantry and a small cavalry contingent.

The British committed a division as well, and drew forces more easily from India, where they maintained a significant military presence; their expedition was commanded by General Sir James Hope Grant (1808-1875).

The Taku Forts

The governments in Britain and France wanted a rapid conclusion to this commercial war. The British and French commanders developed a strategy of the direct approach, seizing the port of Tangku and advancing rapidly upon Beijing along the Peiho river, compelling the Chinese to accept terms. The British sent Lord Elgin (1811- 1863), and the French, Baron Gros to accompany the armies and offer terms as quickly as possible. Anglo- French hubris was fortified by the speedy destruction of Chinese junks hardly capable of offering anything but targets to the combined Allied fleet.

The attempt to force their way past the Taku Forts, protecting the port, was met with unexpected fierce resistance, however, and a humiliating repulse. At the end of July I860, the Allied fleets landed their expeditionary forces and laid siege to the forts, taking them after fierce fighting, by the end of August. The Chinese Imperial Army, commanded by Mongol general Prince Seng-ko-lin-ch’in, tried to disrupt the siege but was repelled. The prince withdrew to the road to Beijing, hoping to stop the Anglo-French army as it advanced beyond the support of the guns of the European fleet.

The Qing Army

Prince Seng-ko-lin-ch’in was an experienced and successful general who had won a number of impressive battles against the Nien and Taiping rebels. At the time of the Second Opium War, two rebellions – the Taiping in southern China, and the Nien in central and eastern China – wracked the country. The Qing (Manchu) Dynasty had ruled China since the seventeenth century. Its military might was impressive, and extended at one time from Xiangiang to Mongolia to Indochina and Burma. The organization of its armies through the eighteenth century provided well-trained men and highly skilled officers of a professional standing army. The primary forces of the Qing were the Eight Banners armies. To police the interior, and ensure provincial security, the Qing created the Green Standard Army. Green Standard troops were dispersed throughout the empire, and by the nineteenth century officers were rotated from garrison to garrison frequently to prevent them from developing bonds with their troops – a product of the paranoia caused by internal rebellion.

The vast majority of the troops under the command of Seng-ko-lin-ch’in were Green Standard soldiers, supplemented by Banner troops and cavalry. Unlike the infantry of the Banner armies, the cavalry remained relatively provincial and largely Mongol. The weapon used by the Chinese element of Seng-ko-lin-ch’in’s cavalry was primarily the lance, but it had little adequate battlefield training. For their part, the Mongols rode smaller steppe ponies and used the bow and lance. As the army withdrew closer to the imperial capital, the prince was reinforced by troops of the Imperial Guard, whose yellow silk clothing edged with black made a distinct impression on the battlefield.

The Chinese did not suffer from a lack of firepower. They had invented gunpowder, and their infantry carried muskets, but unlike their European contemporaries, both the Banner and Green Standard armies were equipped with flintlocks. Prince Seng-ko-lin-ch’in’s troops had, until recently, been armed with matchlocks! The flintlock provided an increased rate of fire over the matchlock, but they remained smooth-bore, and therefore limited in range and accuracy. They did not, however, lack artillery. The prince’s army boasted more than 100 cannon to support approximately 20,000 cavalry, including 6000 Mongols, and 10,000 infantry.

Victory at Chang chi wan: 18 September 1860

After failing at Tangku, Prince Seng-ko-lin-ch’in withdrew his army to Tanjian and then to Chang chi wan. There he waited for the Allied advance guard to approach the open ground where he could take full advantage of his superiority in cavalry. The Allied commanders, Grant and Montauban, coordinated their march as well as one could expect of Anglo-French cooperation. The French had little cavalry, not more than a troop of Spahis and Chasseurs d’Afrique, and therefore advanced with the Peiho River on their right and the British column to their left. General Grant’s command included the brigade of cavalry, which guarded the Allied left as they advanced along the Peiho. Combined, Montauban and Grant’s forces numbered 3000.

Grant and Montauban marched on Chang chi wan. On 18 September, reinforced by the arrival of Michel’s British battalions and more artillery, the Allies advanced towards Toung-chou (Tungzhou). A short distance before Chang chi wan, Grant and Montauban spied 15,000 of Seng-ko-lin-ch’in’s army deployed in a wide arc more than 5km (3 miles) in length. Artillery covered their front, with infantry in the town on the Allied left. The prince hoped to dissuade the Allies from continuing their advance. The British and French deployed their guns, which supported the rapid advance of the French and British columns. The Chinese possessed far more cannon, but their pieces were in a poor state, and the powder compromised. Accurate Allied gunnery, particularly from the British Armstrong rifled cannon, took a devastating toll on the cavalry. The infantry advanced with great discipline, and the combined effort of artillery fire, volleys and esprit de corps shattered the resolve of Seng-ko-lin-ch’in’s troops. His army fled, leaving 1500 dead and 60 guns on the field to 35 Allied casualties.

Battle of Baliqiao (Palikao): 21 September 1860

The victory at Chang chi wan over vastly superior lbrd. es gave Grant and Montauban even greater confidence in reaching the capital. As the Allies were en route to Toung-chou, the 101st Regiment under General Jamin arrived, further increasing French strength. After spending the night ; encamped outside the walled town, Grant and Montauban followed a canal tributary of the Peiho towards Baliqiao and its stone bridge, which carried the metalled road to the imperial capital. On the morning of 21 September, as the British and French columns moved out of their encampments past Toung- chou, they found Prince Seng-ko-lin-ch’in’s army, reinforced by Imperial Guard soldiers under General Prince Sengbaou, brother of the emperor. Some 30,000 strong, it stood in position before Baliqiao bridge.

The Chinese position was formidable, with its left on the canal, reinforced by the village of Baliqiao, another village in the centre, and a third on the far right. The road to Beijing passed through the rolling and wooded terrain and veered towards the canal and its stone bridge. Seng-ko-lin- ch’in had brought order to his routed army, and strengthened its resolve with several thousand troops from Beijing. The prince’s position was supported by more than 100 guns in the villages, across the canal defending the bridge, and along the entire front. His army included a division of Banner soldiers, but the majority were drawn from the Green Standard Army and assorted cavalry. The Imperial Guard were kept in reserve at the bridge, but the main army under Sengbaou was disposed with strong cavalry on the flanks deployed in depth of squadrons and interspersed between the infantry battalions in and behind the villages. The Chinese front covered a distance of 5km (3 miles) but lacked substantial depth. Yet, there were significant knots of trees, which obstructed the line of sight of both armies.

Keeping to the line of battle used at Chang chi wan, Grant took the left and Montauban the centre and right with the canal to protect his flank. Montauban used the wooded terrain to mask his paltry numbers, sending the first column in a slightly oblique attack against the Chinese centre. General Jamin would move to Collineau’s right and against the Chinese left. Grant moved to the far left of Collineau, hoping to flank the Qing army with his column. General Collineau’s advance guard comprised the elite companies of the 101st and 102nd Regiments, two companies of the 2nd Chasseurs a pied (elite light infantry), an engineer detachment, two batteries of horse artillery and a battery of 4-pound foot artillery. Montauban and Jamin commanded the 101st Regiment along with two more companies of the 2nd Chasseurs a pied, a battery of 12-pounders and a Congreve rocket section.

Collineau’s infantry advanced through the woods towards the Chinese centre. The rapidity of the movement startled Sengbaou, and he moved much of the cavalry from the wings to protect his centre. The French advance guard moved in skirmish order, and formed out along the road towards Baliqiao. Montauban ordered Jamin’s brigade forward. Two large bodies of Qing cavalry, some 12,000 in all, charged each of the French columns. Collineau’s artillery poured fire into the serried ranks of Mongol and Manchu cavalry, while the elite companies found security in the ditch that ran along the main road. Accurate fire took its toll on the cavalry, but Collineau soon found himself embroiled in hand-to-hand fighting around his position. Generals Montauban and Jamin also managed to deploy their guns and fire with devastating effect while their infantry formed two squares just before the cavalry hit their position. The French 12-pound battery was positioned between Collineau and Jamin’s brigades and continued to pour canister into the enemy. After some time, the cavalry broke off their attack, having failed to break the French squares or overrun Collineau’s precarious position. The respite allowed Montauban to take stock, re-form and advance upon the villages held by the Green Standard battalions.

Cavalry Redeployed

Sengbaou and Seng-ko-lin-ch’in did not renew their cavalry assault, as Grant’s column moved against their right. Montauban could not see the British advance because he was in one of the squares during the attack. Grant’s appearance forced the Qing generals to redeploy their cavalry to the flank, thereby allowing Montauban to attack the village closest to the centre. With an abundance of cavalry, it remains unclear why Singbaou or Seng-ko-lin-ch’in did not leave a substantial body to retard the advance of the French. Grant’s force was larger, had more guns and cavalry, and one can only surmise that they perceived this threat to the flank as a priority and underestimated the elan of the French assault.

The 101st stormed the village of Oua-kaua-ye in the centre, dispersing with ease the infantry defending it, and suffering little from their ineffective artillery. Following up, Montauban ordered both brigades to attack the village of Baliqiao, which was defended by more determined troops. Qing infantry defended the road across which Collineau advanced. His elite companies made short and bloody work of these soldiers and continued towards the village. Large cannon in the streets and across the canal fired on the French columns. Jamin brought up his batteries to silence the Chinese guns while the infantry moved in from two directions. The village and bridge at Baliqiao were defended by the Imperial Guard. These soldiers did not give ground. Collineau brought his cannon up to form crossfire with Jamin’s batteries.

Collineau Storms the Village

After tearing the Imperial Guard troops apart, Collineau formed his troops into an attack column and stormed the village. Fighting raged at close quarters for more than 30 minutes. Montauban led the 101st to Collineau’s support securing the village. Not wanting to lose momentum, Collineau re-formed his command and advanced rapidly upon the bridge, with the French batteries providing effective and deadly fire. The Chinese artillerists manning their guns were killed, and the Imperial Guard gave ground under the canister, followed by Collineau’s attack. The bridge was taken.

Grant’s column helped the Chinese along as its attack on the left dislodged the Green Standard troops from their village, while the British and Indian cavalry rolled up the line, overwhelming Qing cavalry that tried to hold their ground. The British attack was swift, but hard-fought. Grant’s line of attack brought him within sight of a wooden bridge that crossed the canal some 1.6km (1 mile) west of Baliqiao. The arrival of the British on Seng-ko-lin-ch’in’s far right, and the collapse of his forces in the face of their attack, compelled the general to pull his army from the field before it was trapped on the far bank of the canal. By noon, only five hours after the battle began, Grant’s British were on the far side of the canal across the wooden bridge, while Collineau’s elite companies established a bridgehead at Baliqiao. The victory sealed the fate of the imperial government.

The Allied expedition sacked the Imperial Summer Palace northwest of Beijing, and the emperor capitulated to European demands. Napoleon III, flush with victory over Austria the year before, rewarded Montauban with elevation to the rank of Count of the Empire, as Comte de Palikao’. Little did Montauban know that he would end his illustrious career as Minister of War in 1870, presiding over the collapse of the Second Empire and the fall of France to German armies.

The Dragon Goes to Sea

Model of Battle in Bach Dang River in 938 AD

When the rulers of China and Japan thought about trade they were constantly aware of the distinction between tribute, received in exchange for gifts, and private trade. Buddhism tended to encourage moneymaking, and even Buddhist monasteries traded actively, including those in Kyoto. In ancient and medieval China, attitudes were more complicated. From the perspective of some of the most influential exponents of Confucian thought, as in ancient Rome, trade was something inherently rather disreputable. Tribute, on the other hand, expressed acknowledgement of the superiority of Chinese (or Japanese) civilization over those who brought it, and fitted very well into Confucian ideas of hierarchy and the respect of those lower down the social and political scale for those higher up. Nations had to be ranked just as courtiers were; and calling many of them ‘barbarian’ was a way of saying that, if they knew their manners, they would pay tribute. Japan and Korea were occasionally treated as civilized nations, but this was not automatic, and the assumption that they were culturally inferior remained firm. The condescending attitude to Roman envoys, which was mentioned earlier, reflected both an awareness that there did exist another great empire far to the west, and an unwillingness to treat it as the equivalent of the Heavenly Kingdom ruled by the Chinese emperor. Tribute had another function beyond the political: the imperial court genuinely craved exotic luxuries, either for its own use or for redistribution to members of the ruling clan, great nobles and the army of scholar-officials who had earned their place at court by passing the most difficult examinations in human history. The imperial court was not greatly interested in the availability of foreign luxuries to the wider population, while the vast majority of the emperor’s subjects in any case lived barely above subsistence level. For many of them, ship-borne trade meant the thousands of large rivercraft that carried huge amounts of grain from the estates where they toiled to the big cities that – particularly from the tenth century onwards – were gobbling up the grain and rice they cultivated.

All this should not be taken to mean that trade was outlawed when the Chinese emperors demanded that exchanges should consist of tribute. Embassies were large and their members carried goods that they traded privately. Besides, there were plenty of opportunities to escape the surveillance of the Chinese customs offices, or shibo, whether one was a Chinese, a Japanese, a Korean, or even a Malay or Indian merchant. The tribute/trade alternative was a fiction maintained at some periods at the Chinese court and revived by historians who had perhaps read too many official documents, and who did not yet have access to the rich archaeological evidence showing that vast amounts of copper and porcelain left medieval China by sea, to which one can confidently add goods that have not tended to survive so well underground or under water, notably silk textiles. In reality, there was no period in Chinese history when overseas trade consisted solely of exchanges of tribute against gifts; nor did the court want that to be the case, so strong was demand at court for exotic goods from the Indian Ocean, the interior of Asia and beyond: emeralds, rock crystal, lapis lazuli, only to mention a few types of precious stone. The best cobalt for making the famous blue-and-white porcelain of the Ming period came from Iran. Although some was produced in China itself, sugar, which was first cultivated in Borneo, became a favourite import as well, for it still had great rarity value, and was prized in the medicine cabinets of the Chinese nobility.

Only at the start of the third millennium has China energetically begun to build a large navy, at the same time as it has been reasserting long-forgotten claims to rule over most of the South China Sea. Yet in the Song period, from the tenth to the thirteenth century, China did turn towards the sea and did encourage overseas trade; interest in trade became even stronger after 1126, when the north of China was lost by the Song and the ‘Southern Song’ reigned in their capitals first at Kaifeng and later at Hangzhou. Kaifeng is famous as the major centre in China of Jewish merchants, who over the centuries became quite assimilated into Chinese culture (while still avoiding pork, like the Muslims, with whom they were often confused); these Jews appear to have arrived from Persia and India, and continued for centuries to speak a form of Persian among themselves, and some are thought to have arrived by sea, since there were also communities in Quanzhou, Hangzhou and other cities close to or beside the sea. This is just one example of the different ethnic and religious groups that filtered into China as its trade to the wider world opened up.

Meanwhile, Chinese merchants established themselves in overseas ports as far south as what is now Singapore; there, they were rather modest folk, and rather than trading all the way to China they made it their business to wend their way back and forth across the strait, visiting the Riau islands (now part of Indonesia) and Johor (the southernmost province of mainland Malaysia), working closely with Malay partners and with the big-time Chinese traders who passed their way every now and again. A Chinese colony in Korea can be traced back to 1128. Sometimes these expatriate Chinese married local women, as in Japan. This also occurred in Champa, in Indo-China; there, some of the Chinese women were wealthy enough to invest in trade, though it is unlikely that they would have taken the risk of actually travelling long distances on board ship.

The Song dynasty presided over what has been called a ‘commercial revolution’, during which a major international centre of trade emerged at Quanzhou, which will be examined shortly; and it was a time during which the central government reaped rewards in sizeable tax revenue.6 Still, the scale of this revenue should not be exaggerated. It stood at less than 2 per cent of total revenue from all the economic activities in lands under Song rule. That said, the wish to foster overseas commerce reflected new attitudes: the imperial dynasty did not simply require luxury goods for itself; it also had to find the means to pay for its exceptionally heavy spending programmes, which were consumed as much by grandiose projects at Hangzhou and other centres of power as by constant warfare on the Song frontiers, notably with the Chin dynasty that held on to power in northern China. By encouraging trade and industry (including the production of silk and porcelain, both of which were exported in large quantities), and by building shipyards and harbours, the Song emperors moved a little way towards closing the large gap between income and outlay.

The turn to the sea took place gradually. The first Song emperor, Taizu, had experience of naval warfare before he gained the throne in 960; he maintained a war fleet and enjoyed staging mock sea battles, although most of this force was deployed along the rivers and close to shore. Naval wars against Annam and Korea took place during the tenth century, suggesting that the knowhow for ocean voyages did exist; however, the major task of the navy, which was treated as an auxiliary service lower in status than the army, was the suppression of piracy. Piracy betokens trade. Trade was the motive for the majority of sea journeys away from the coast of China in this period – either that or pilgrimage, which accounted for much smaller numbers of travellers. In 982 the imperial court gave way to pressure from Chinese consumers, who were complaining that they could not buy the foreign aromatics they craved. No doubt the need to use these perfumes in temple worship influenced the decision to permit thirty-seven different perfumes to be released from government control. Merchants could now trade in them without having to take them to official markets. This did not bring about a business revolution, but it marked the beginning of gradual relaxation of control over the movement of goods. Within a few years, the government had doubled customs duty from 10 to 20 per cent, while withdrawing further from control of the markets. The imperial court now saw commercial taxes rather than the direct management of goods as the best way to profit from trade.

All this was accompanied by a shift away from reliance on tribute to an acceptance that overseas trade was profitable not just for merchants but for the government: foreign merchants were increasingly welcomed in ports along the coast of the South China Sea, and, from 989 onwards, Chinese merchants were given the freedom to sail abroad. They still had to register their arrival and departure, and they were expected to return within nine months to the port from which they had originally sailed, so that their goods could be weighed and taxed. This meant that they could only be absent for a single monsoon cycle, and that they could not range as far as they would have wished, beyond the Strait of Malacca and into the Indian Ocean. A very intense network of exchanges within the South China Sea came into existence, as Chinese merchants with their substantial amounts of cash boosted existing networks within the area, and as Song traders did business alongside Malays, Thais and other non-Chinese peoples. At the start, only two ports, Hangzhou and Mingzhou, were designated as departure points, with Guangzhou added later; but it became obvious by 1090 that these restrictions did more harm than good, and thereafter ships could set out from any prefecture that was willing to issue permits. In the middle of the eleventh century foreign products officially imported into China were said to be worth over 500,000 strings of cash, and the amount continued to rise, reaching 1,000,000 before 1100. Meanwhile, in 1074 a century-long ban on the export of copper cash was abolished, enabling Chinese merchants to satisfy strong foreign demand for Chinese bullion; payment in cash became the normal way to settle foreign bills, rather than barter and exchange, though every now and again paper money was issued in the hope of stemming the flow of copper outwards, and there were schemes to mint iron coins for the use of foreign merchants. Liberalization of maritime commerce worked; a commercial revolution was indeed under way. The fact that another commercial revolution was under way in the Mediterranean and northern Europe (particularly in Italy and Flanders) at the same time is a curious coincidence. However, both commercial revolutions would have a similar effect in the Indian Ocean and south-east Asia: demand for spices and perfumes grew exponentially, and the produce of the Indies was sucked north to China and west towards the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

What has been described so far was not simply a change in economic orientation. It was also a change in China’s attitude to the outside world. The land routes that traversed the long and fragile Silk Road across Asia were too vulnerable to withstand the pressure of nomadic raiders; their importance, always overestimated by romantic historians, diminished still further, though there was a revival later during the Mongol period (from the late thirteenth to the late fourteenth century). But the sea was the great highway, and in the Song period Chinese travellers as well as Malays and Indians followed its routes. The Song period stands out as a period of three centuries during which China remained more accessible, and took more interest in contact with its neighbours, than at any other time. This openness, though only relative, became more obvious after 1126, when the Song capital at Kaifeng was captured by northern nomads, the Jurchen, who created an empire of their own in large tracts of northern China, with the result that the Song court decamped from Kaifeng and made Hangzhou its centre of operations. The northern lands were the very areas that had been afflicted by floods, droughts and wars, and their wealth seemed to be in sharp decline, while southern China flourished: new irrigation works boosted the production of rice, and stimulated population growth, while gold, silver and copper flowed into the Song court from taxpayers in the southern provinces. This boded well for the maritime traders, as Hangzhou lay near the coast and already functioned as a licensing station for ships setting out across the South China Sea.

The imperial court was not blind to the opportunities that now loomed. Honours (consisting of an official rank) were showered on merchants who brought in foreign goods worth 50,000 strings of cash, and tax officials who had managed to collect more than 1,000,000 strings from the massive trade in frankincense were also accorded higher rank. Lists were compiled of the types of goods that were arriving by sea, and differential rates of tax were imposed, depending on whether they were regarded as high- or low-value commodities. Reversing earlier decisions to cash in on trade by sea by charging high customs rates, the imperial court pushed these rates down to 10 per cent, and to 6⅔ per cent for lower-value items in 1136; and, far from depressing revenues, this acted as a stimulus to private shipowners, so that by the middle of the twelfth century the imperial court could congratulate itself on revenues of 2,000,000 strings of cash each year. Oddly, the rates on some luxury goods required at the imperial court, such as rhinoceros horn, were increased in 1164 and remained at the same level until the Mongols overthrew the Song in 1279; but this only pushed the maritime traders towards a greater emphasis on the lower-value goods, such as drugs and perfumes, which were moving around in much larger quantities and which were in demand beyond the narrow circles of the imperial court.

The effects of urban growth reached much deeper into Chinese society. As people moved towards the cities and as the balance between urban and rural population changed, demand for foodstuffs in the cities soared. This led to the development of commercial networks in the countryside as well, as farmers produced for the urban market. Foreign demand for Chinese goods stimulated the industries for which China was most famous: silk production and the ceramics industry. Other exports to south-east Asia included Chinese metalwork, iron ore (sometimes found in wrecks) and rice wine, contained in ceramic jars. But copper, whether as ingots or as cash, was in constant demand. One way to ensure that the outflow of copper cash did not drain all the bullion out of coastal China was to dump vast amounts of ceramics in foreign markets (though the term ‘dump’, favoured by economic historians, should not be taken to indicate that what was dumped was rubbish – the ceramics were much appreciated, but the quantities were massive). Commercialization proceeded rapidly. The coastline grew in importance as a source of wealth for rulers and ruled. China was being transformed. All this seems uncannily similar to what has been happening in China since the 1980s, even if the scale of economic growth in modern times is immeasurably faster and vaster.

Alexander the Great’s Legacy I

Bactrian warriors under the Achaemenids (400 to 330 BC)

Alexander the Great and the Greek Influence in Central Asia

Events in the mid-fourth century disrupted the political development of Central Asia and B.C. seriously changed the course of history for several centuries. In the eyes of Central Asians, the Greek-Macedonian army led by Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) probably came out of nowhere. He appeared from the west to move triumphantly through Mesopotamia and Persia, defeating the Persian army, one of the world’s most powerful military forces until that time. Alexander successfully fought against the Persian garrisons, campaigning between 330 and 327 B.C., and then suddenly left the region and never returned.

The political situation in Central Asia, along with its economic development, on the eve of Alexander’s invasion contributed significantly to his success. The Persian Achaemenian empire had controlled the Central Asian states in one way or another for about 200 years. By the mid-fourth century this control was already significantly weakened. The centralized Persian Empire had been considerably undermined by internal strife, excessive expenditures on the royal family’s lavish court life, public constructions and numerous military campaigns that siphoned revenues from a shrinking state budget. On top of that, there was growing strife between the center and the Central Asian periphery over taxes and the recruitment of conscripts and mercenaries into the Persian army.

Alexander the Great probably entered Central Asia in 330 B.C., after campaigning in Persia for about four years in pursuit of the Persian King Darius III (380-330 B.C.). Darius III gathered large armies several times but lost all the decisive battles. Step by step he retreated further to the east, probably hoping that the remoteness of his Central Asian satrapies would give him shelter against the advancing Greek troops. However, entrepreneurial Greek merchants, craftsmen and colonists had probably settled in or visited Central Asia and were able to provide help to Alexander. Darius’s military mismanagement and mediocrity angered many of his followers and supporters. In 330 B.C. he was murdered by his own governor Bessus, the satrap of Bactria. Bessus declared himself Darius’s successor and adopted the name Artaxerxes V.

With the rise of Bessus-Artaxerxes V as a self-nominated ruler of the Persian Empire, the war entered a new stage. Alexander and his army faced the threat of a protracted guerrilla war in the difficult mountainous terrain of Bactria and later Sogdiana, where Bessus Artaxerxes V sought refuge. The war did not quite end there, for Spitemenes, a satrap of Sogdiana, rose to lead the local resistance.

Before Alexandria-the-furthest could be begun, news arrived of rebellion, not among the Scyths, but in the rear. Since landing in Asia, Alexander had asked his men to march dreadfully hard, often without food, but he had never entangled them in a slow and self-sustaining struggle with guerrillas. Now for the first time his speed was to be halted. This Sogdian rebellion would exhaust his army’s patience for eighteen unsatisfactory months, make new demands on his generalship and induce a mood of doubt among his entourage. The causes were simple; four of Bessus’s henchmen still ranged free, led by Spitamenes the Persian whose name has a link with the Zoroastrian religion. All four now began to work on the native mistrust of the Macedonians. There was ample reason for it. Anxiously searching for food in the Sogdian desert, Alexander’s army had plundered ricefields, looted flocks and requisitioned horses, punishing all resistance severely. His thirty thousand soldiers could not be fed from any other source, but it was a dangerous way to behave. Meanwhile, the natives saw garrisons installed in their main villages; Cyrus’s old town was being changed into an Alexandria, and already, as in Bactria, Alexander had banned the exposure of dead corpses to vultures, because it repelled his Greek sensitivities. Like the British prohibition of suttee in India, his moral scruples cost him popularity, for Sogdians had not seen Persia overthrown only to suffer worse interference from her conquerors. It was time to be free of any empire, especially when a conference had been ordered at Balkh which the local baronry were expected to attend. If they went they might be held hostage. Bactrians, therefore, joined the resistance, the same Bactrians no doubt, whom Bessus had timorously abandoned, and from Balkh to the Jaxartes Alexander found his presence challenged.

Ignoring the nomad skirmishers who had gathered to rouse the south along the Oxus, Alexander turned against the nearest rebellious villagers. Here his garrisons had been murdered, so he repaid the compliment to the seven responsible settlements in a matter of three weeks. The mudbrick fortifications of the qal’ehs were treated contemptuously. Though siege towers had not yet been transported over the Hindu Kush, collapsible stone-throwers were ready to be assembled if necessary; they were not needed at the first three villages, which succumbed in two days to the old-fashioned tactics of scaling parties backed up by missiles; the next two were abandoned by natives who ran into a waiting cordon of cavalry, and in all five villages the fighting men were slaughtered, the survivors enslaved. The sixth, Cyrus’s border garrison at Kurkath, was far the strongest, because of its high mound. Here, the mud walls were a fit target for the stone-throwers, but their performance was unimpressive, perhaps because there was a shortage of ammunition; stone is very scarce in the Turkestan desert and it cannot have been possible to transport many rounds of boulders across the Hindu Kush. However, Alexander noticed that the watercourse which still runs under Kurkath’s walls had dried up in the heat and offered a surprise passage to troops on hands and knees. The usual covering fire was ordered and the king is said to have wormed his way with his troops along the river-bed, proof that his broken leg had mended remarkably quickly. The ruse was familiar in Greece, and once inside, the gates were flung open to the besiegers, though the natives continued to resist, and even concussed Alexander by stoning him on the neck. Eight thousand were killed and another 7,000 surrendered: Alexander’s respect for his newfound ancestor Cyrus did not extend to rebellious villagers who wounded him, so Kurkath, town of Cyrus, was destroyed. The seventh and final village gave less trouble and its inhabitants were merely deported.

Seemingly unmoved by wounds and the August sun, Alexander left the Oxus rising and returned to plans for his new Alexandria. The only available materials for building were earth and mudbrick, hence the walls and main layout were completed in less than three weeks. Nor was there any shortage of settlers after the recent besieging and razing: survivors from Kurkath and other villages were merged with volunteer mercenaries and Macedonian veterans and were consigned to a life in the hottest single place along the river Jaxartes, where the sun rebounds at double heat from the steeply rising hills on the far bank. The houses were flat-roofed and built without windows for the sake of coolness, but of the comforts of life, of the temples and meeting-places, nothing can now be discovered. The new citizens were chosen from prisoners as well as volunteers, and given their freedom in return for garrison service: they would have to live with Greeks and veteran Macedonians, fiercely tenacious of their native customs and aware that they had been chosen as much for their unpopularity with their platoon commanders as for their physical disabilities.

If the rebels further south had been unwisely forgotten in the first excitements of an Alexandria, it was not long before they forced themselves abruptly to the fore. The sack of seven nearby villages had done nothing for the true centre of revolt; Spitamenes and his nomad horsemen were still on the loose behind the lines, and during the building news arrived that they were besieging the thousand garrison troops of Samarkand. The message reached the Scyths on the frontier-river’s far bank: they gathered in insolent formations, sensing that Alexander was under pressure to withdraw. This was a serious situation, for Alexander’s troops stood at their lowest level of the whole campaign after the recent Alex-andrias and detachments; caught between two enemies, he chose to deal with the nearer and detached a mere 2,000 mercenary troops to relieve Samarkand, leaving himself some 25,000, no more, to shock the Scyths. Two generals from the mercenary cavalry shared the command of the Samarkand detachment with a bilingual Oriental who served as interpreter and as staff officer. They were never to be seen again.

As the relief force rode south, Alexander stayed to teach the Scyths a lesson. At first he ignored their provocations and continued to build, ‘sacrificing to the usual gods and then holding a cavalry and gymnastic contest’ as a show of strength. But the Scyths cared little for Greek gods, less for the competitors, and started shouting rude remarks across the river; Alexander ordered the stuffed leather rafts to be made ready while he sacrificed again and considered the omen. But the omens were deemed unfavourable and Alexander’s prophet refused to interpret them falsely: rebuffed by the gods, Alexander turned to his arrow-shooting catapults. These were set up on the river bank and aimed across the intervening river: the Scythians were so scared by the first recorded use of artillery in the field that they retreated when a chieftain was killed by one of its mysterious bolts. Alexander crossed the river, Shield Bearers guarding his men on inflated rafts, horses swimming beside them, archers and slingers keeping the Scyths at a distance.

On the far bank combat was brief but masterly. Scythian tactics relied on encirclement, whereby their horsemen, trousered and mostly un-armoured, would gallop round the enemy and shoot their arrows as they passed; others, perhaps, kept the foe at bay with lances. Alexander too had lancers, and he also had Scythian Mounted Archers who had been serving for a year in his army. He knew the tactics and dealt with them exactly as at Gaugamela; first, he lured the Scythians into battle with a deceptively weak advance force; then, as they tried to encircle, he moved up his main cavalary and light-armed infantry and charged on his own terms. For lancers, not bowmen, it was the only way to repulse nomad archers and the Scyths were jostled back with no room to manœuvre: after losing a thousand men, they fled away into the nearby hills, safe at a height of some 3,000 feet. Alexander pursued sharply for eight miles but stopped to drink the local water ‘which was bad and caused him constant diarrhorea so that the rest of the Scyths escaped’. He was still suffering from his recent neck-wound which had also lost him his voice, and an upset stomach was a convenient excuse for giving up a hopeless chase, especially as his courtiers announced that he had already ‘passed the limits set by the god Dionysus’. Like the cave of Prometheus, this mythical theme, important for the future, must not be treated too sceptically. In Cyrus’s outpost, stormed by Alexander, altars had been found for Oriental cults which the Macedonians equated with the rites of their own Heracles and Dionysus. If Dionysus had not reached beyond Cyrus’s outpost, furthest site of his equivalent Oriental cult, then Alexander could indeed be consoled for losing the Scythians. The omens had been justified by his sickness and failure.

Bursting the bounds of Dionysus was scant reward for what followed. While the Scythian king sent envoys to disown the attack as the work of unofficial skirmishers, Alexander heard a most unwelcome report from behind the lines. The 2,000 troops who had been sent back to Samarkand to deal with the rebel Spitamenes had arrived tired and short of food; their generals had begun to quarrel, when Spitamenes suddenly appeared and gave them a sharp lesson in fighting a mobile battle on horseback. Unlike Alexander, the lesser generals did not know how to deal with the fluid tactics of mounted Scythian archers, especially when they were outnumbered by more than two to one: their entire relief force had been trapped on an island in the river Zarafshan and killed to a man. The difference between frontline generals and reserves could hardly have been pointed more clearly, especially when Alexander had misjudged an enemy, not so much in numbers as in ability. Even if a larger force could have been spared from the scanty front line, Spitamenes’s speed might still have destroyed it; what was needed was a first-class general in sole command, whereas Alexander had appointed three wrong men and left them to argue. The error was galling and nothing was spared to avenge it.

On the first news of the disaster, Alexander gathered some 7,000 Companions and light infantry and raced them through the 180 miles of desert to Samarkand in only three days and nights. Such speed through the early autumn heat is astonishing, but not impossible, yet Spitamenes easily escaped from another tired and thirsty enemy, disappearing westwards into the barren marches of his attendant nomads. There was nothing for it but to bury the 2,000 dead, punish such nearby villages as had joined the nomads in their victory and range the length of the Zarafshan river for any signs of rebels. The search was unrewarding and eventually even Alexander gave it up: recrossing the Oxus, he quartered for the winter at Balkh, where he could only ponder the most conspicuous mishap of the expedition and the decrease in his forces which were now close to a mere 25,000.

Two wounds, a continuing rebellion and shortage of men and food had made his past six months peculiarly frustrating. But just when his prospects seemed at the worst, hope for a new strategy was to arrive most opportunely in this winter camp. From Greece and the western satraps, 21,600 reinforcements, mostly hired Greeks, had at last made their way to, Bactria under the leadership of Asander, perhaps Parmenion’s brother. and the faithful Nearchus who had given up his inglorious satrapy in Lycia to rejoin his friend in the front line. Far the largest draft as yet received, they allowed the army to be brought up to its old strength; they could be split into detachments, and at once Alexander’s problems would be reduced. Sporadic raiders could be beaten off by independent units and the theatre of war would narrow accordingly. The rocks and castles of the east were fortunately untroubled; north beyond the Jaxartes one raid had so impressed the Scyths that they had sent envoys to offer their princess in marriage. In central Sogdia, 3,000 garrison-troops had been added to a region which had twice been punished; the new mercenaries could now hold Balkh and the Oxus, so that only the adjacent steppes to the west and north-west remained open to Spitamenes. Even here, his freedom was newly restricted.

To Balkh came envoys from the king of Khwarezm, not a hushed desert waste as poets suggested, but the most powerful known kingdom to the north-west of the Oxus, where the river broadens to join the Aral Sea. It had left little mark on written history until Russian excavations revealed it as a stable and centralized kingdom, defended by its own mailed horsemen, at least from the mid-seventh century B.C.: now, it hangs like a dimly discerned shadow over a thousand years of history in outer Iran. In art and writing, it shows the influence of the Persian Empire to which it had once been subject; it was a home for settled farmers, and its interests were not those of the nomads who surrounded it in the Red and Black Sand deserts. Spitamenes was using these deserts as his base, and safety inclined Khwarezm to Alexander’s side. Its king even tried to divert the Macedonians against his own enemies, offering to lead them west in an expedition to the Black Sea. Alexander refused tactfully, though glad of a solid new ally: ‘It did not suit him at that moment to march to the Black Sea, for India was his present concern.’ It was the first hint of his future: ‘When he held all Asia, he would return to Greece, and from there he would lead his entire fleet and army to the Hellespont and invade the Black Sea, as suggested.’ Asia, then, was thought for the first time to include India, and not just the India of the Persian Empire. But polite refusals are no certain proof of his plans and it was easy to talk of the future in winter camp, the season when generals talk idly; it was only to hold back Spitamenes that the king of Khwarezm was wanted. Hopes in this direction had been raised for an early victory: the new reinforcements were brigaded and four Sogdian prisoners were conscripted into the Shield Bearers, because they were noticed by Alexander, going to their execution with unusual bravery. As winter passed, the traitor Bessus was sent to Hamadan, where the Medes and the Persians voted that his ears and nose should be cut off, the traditional treatment for an Oriental rebel.

Alexander decided that his positions were strong enough and he turned to conquer India. Before leaving for India, however, he decided to cement his stand in the region by making some strategic arrangements, one of which was a dynastic marriage. In 327 B.C., by accident or by an accord, he met and married Princess Roxana (Roshanak-“little star” in Persian), the daughter of an influential local leader and one of the most beautiful women in Asia. Other arrangements included the establishment of several cities as Greek-Macedonian strongholds and colonies. Ancient sources traditionally report that Alexander established six such centers in Central Asia: Alexandria of Margiana (near present-day Merv in Turkmenistan); Alexandria of Ariana (near present-day Herat in northern Afghanistan); Alexandria of Bactria (near present-day Balkh in northern Afghanistan); Alexandria on the Oxus (on the upper reaches of Amu Darya, which the Greeks called Oxus); Alexandria of Caucasum (close to present-day Bagram in northern Afghanistan); and Alexandria Eschatae (near present day Khojand in northern Tajikistan).

Bactria and Sogdiana were included in Alexander’s world empire, though very soon after his death in 323 B.C. these provinces began experiencing political turmoil. The empire was shattered by internal instability and infighting and rivalries among his generals. Between 301 and 300 B.C. Seleucus, one of Alexander’s generals, consolidated his control over the Persian possessions and founded the Seleucid Empire. In 250 B.C. Diodotus, governor of Bactria, broke away from the Seleucids and established an independent Greco-Bactrian kingdom. This kingdom flourished for 125 years, between 250 and 125 B.C., as an island of Hellenism in Central Asia. The Greco-Bactrian state prospered and became known as the land of a thousand cities, leaving significant cultural marks among both the settled and nomadic populations of Central Asia. At its zenith it extended its control well into Sogdian territory in the north and to areas of northern India, although it struggled against militant nomadic tribes that regularly attacked the kingdom from the north.

The final blow to the Greco-Bactrian kingdom came from the Eurasian steppe, where powerful nomadic tribal confederations of the Huns and Yueh-Chih fought fiercely for influence in the second century B. C. The Yueh-Chih lost to the Huns and were forced to move to the territory between the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers, eventually regaining strength and destroying the Greco-Bactrian state, probably between 126 and 120 B. C.

CAIC Z-10 Attack Helicopter

Z-10/H/K Thunderbolt at Chinese Military Aviation

The seven tonne Z-10, built by CAIC, entered service with the Chinese Army in 2012. While some French and Israeli hard- ware is reportedly used on the Z-10, all mission software is reportedly indigenous. The digital cockpit features HUD, multi- function displays, night-vision goggle compatibility, fully-integrated navigation systems and a fly-by-wire control system. Later aircraft are equipped with terrain- avoidance and terrain following radar.

The primary mission for the treetop hugging WZ-10 is battlefield interdiction, eliminating the enemy ground fixed and mobile forces, and concurrently certain air combat ability. Development of a dedicated attack helicopter began in the mid-1990s at the 602 Institute and Changhe Aircraft Industry Company (CHAIC) in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province.

The design uses the power plant and transmission derived from the Harbin Z-9, with the fuselage modified to accommodate two pilots.

The helicopter can carry up to 8 ATGMs, or IR-guided short-range AAMs. Although the helicopter might still not be as capable as the U.S. AH-64 Apache, it will probably play a significant role in Army Aviation modernisation and force compabilities.

The navigation and avionics are probably from domestic sources. The navigation system consists of radioaltimeter, doppler radar and GPS.

Reports indicate that the WZ-10 has an optics system that relays sensor information to the pilots helmets; essentially a system similar to the US Integrated Helmet and Display Sighting System (IHADSS). The helmet system also controls the direction that the machine gun is aiming. This allows the pilots to have an improved situation awareness as they can monitor flight systems and observe the terrain.

Two wings along the fuselage that are roughly 4.32 meters long may carry 1,500 kilograms of munitions, including a 57.0 mm multibarrel rockets, the red arrow 10(HJ-10) anti-tank missile. A 23 mm machine gun is fixed to the cabin at the front of the helicopter.

The fire control system is similar to the French Starry Night digital integration design.

The WZ-10 is also equipped with radar warning systems and with systems that will alert the crew that it has been targetted with laser range finders. The helicopter is also equipped with passive countermeasures and in an effort to reduce fratricide is equipped with IFF.

The cabin’s bulletproof glass may resist 7.62 millimeter ammunition and composite armor under the cabin resists 12.7 millimeters machine gun fires. The cabin is equipped to maximize fire protection and thw WZ-10 is also outfitted with ejection seats similar to the Ka-50.

China’s Z-10 attack helicopter can carry the HJ-10 SAL-guided missile. Also known as the AKD-10, this has a range of up to 8 km. The HJ-10 (AKD-10) is China’s third-generation of battlefield anti-tank missile (after the HJ-8 and HJ-9), and the first to be developed as an airborne weapon from the outset. The HJ-10 forms part of the wider weapons and systems package that has been produced for the Changhe Z-10 (WZ-10) combat helicopter. The HJ-10 is in the same class as the US AGM-114 Hellfire but follows a slightly different design approach. The status of the HJ-10 is closely linked to that of the Z-10 attack helicopter which has been under secretive development in China since the late 1990s. The Z-10 is China’s first modern combat helicopter but it has received considerable technical assistance and direct design input from several Western suppliers. The main obstacle to progress for the programme has been to secure a suitable indigenous powerplant. A handful of Z-10 prototypes flew with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C turboshafts, but production standard aircraft (perhaps designated Z-10A) are to be powered by a Chinese-built WZ-9 engine. Delays in fully developing and producing these engines have slowed the Z-10’s entry into service with the People Liberation Army (PLA).

Variants

Z-10

    Prototype for basic tests. Not all has the same layout in that some had fenestron configuration while others had traditional tail rotor configuration; some had chin gun turret while other had chain gun; some had nose mounted electro-optical system while others had mast mounted electro-opical system. During test flights, test pilot had to make numerous dangerous emergency landings due to various malfunctions.

Z-10H

    Pre-production series powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-76 turboshaft engine.

Z-10K

    Simplified Z-10H powered with domestic Chinese WZ-9 engine of 930 – 950 kW range. Due to the drastic reduction of power by nearly a third, MASWS, IRCM and some other subsystems removed; armor is also greatly reduced to save weight.

Z-10M

    3 samples built for Pakistan[14] with equipment missing in Z-10K added back, powered by WZ-9C engine with maximum power around 1000 – 1100 kW. Was not selected by Pakistan after evaluation, but the design was used to upgrade Z-10 built earlier when more powerful engine became available.

Z-10ME

    Upgraded variant first unveiled in 2018 with active and passive countermeasures, missile approach warning system, radar warning receiver, new engine exhaust nozzle pointed upwards to reduce infrared signature, new intake filtration systems and armor panels, more powerful 1200 kW engine, larger ammunition magazine, appliqué graphene-based armor panels, infrared jammer, and a new IFF interrogator.

Z-10 millimeter wave radar

    Equipped with Z-19’s millimeter wave radar for ground testing.

General characteristics

    Crew: 2

    Length: 14.15 m (46 ft 5 in)

    Height: 3.85 m (12 ft 8 in)

    Empty weight: 5,100 kg (11,244 lb)

    Gross weight: 5,540 kg (12,214 lb)

    Max takeoff weight: 7,000 kg (15,432 lb)

    Powerplant: 2 × WoZhou-9 (WZ-9) turboshaft engines, 1,000 kW (1,300 hp) each

    Main rotor diameter: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)

Performance

    Maximum speed: 270 km/h (170 mph, 150 kn)

    Cruise speed: 230 km/h (140 mph, 120 kn)

    Range: 800 km (500 mi, 430 nmi)

    Service ceiling: 6,400 m (21,000 ft)

    g limits: +3

    Rate of climb: 10 m/s (2,000 ft/min) +

Armament

    Guns: 1x 23 mm (0.906 in) revolver gun or 1x 25 mm (0.984 in) M242 Bushmaster chain gun

    Hardpoints: 4 with a capacity of 1,500 kg (3,307 lb) useful load,

    Rockets: 57 mm (2.244 in) or 90 mm (3.543 in) unguided rocket pods

    Missiles: ** Up to 16 HJ-10 air to surface / anti-tank / anti-helicopter missiles. ADK10 is reported to be the official name of HJ10 missile.

        Up to 16 HJ-8, HJ-9 missiles

        Up to 16 TY-90 air-to-air missiles

        Up to 4 PL-5, PL-7, PL-9 air-to-air missiles

Avionics

    YH millimetre-wave fire-control radar

    Helmet mounted sight with night vision goggles

    BM/KG300G self protection jamming pod

    Blue Sky navigation pod

    KZ900 reconnaissance pod

    YH-96 electronic warfare suite

KAI-HSIA 203 B.C.

Forces Engaged

Han: 300,000 men. Commander: Liu Pang, also known as Kao-ti.

Ch’u: 100,000 men. Commander: Hsiang Yu.

Importance

Liu Pang’s victory removed his last rival for power in China and allowed him to establish the Han dynasty.

Historical Setting

Established in the eleventh century b.c., the Chou dynasty had been seriously weakened after the loss of its capital city in 771. The dynasty reestablished itself to the east in Loyang in the central Chinese plains. It flourished for a time, but by the fourth century b.c. a number of rulers began to claim independence for their regions. Eight kingdoms emerged, and, although the Chou dynasty officially still existed, each of the kings strove to establish his own ruling line. The eight fought each other for a century and a half (401–256 b.c.) in what has come to be called the Era of the Warring States. In 256, a new ruler came to the throne of the westernmost state, Ch’in. As ruler, his title was Ch’in Shi Huang-ti. Between 230 and 221 b.c., Shi Huang-ti conquered his seven rivals and unified China into an empire. His reign was relatively brief, and he left behind no strong successor after his death in 210, so rebellions quickly began breaking out across the new empire.

Two men fought their way into contention to replace the falling dynasty. One was Hsiang Yu, a professional soldier described as a huge, uncultured man, but an outstanding military leader. His homeland was Ch’u, in modern east-central China, and had been the largest of the warring states. His main rival was Liu Pang, born a commoner but rising to hold a minor bureaucratic position in the administration of Shi Huang-ti.

Hsiang Yu established his reputation while leading Ch’u forces against those of the dying Ch’in Empire. That recognition brought support from other regions in rebellion, which were willing to follow him. He, along with his uncle, had started an uprising in the province of Ch’u in 209, and he soon led a growing army north-westward toward the capital city of Hsien-yang. Liu Pang, who had been raising forces in the north in modern Hubei province, marched to join Hsiang Yu in the fourth month of 208. Together they named a new king of Ch’u as a rival to the Ch’ins and then marched to relieve a Ch’in siege of Chu-lu; there Hsiang Yu scored a major victory that vaulted him to preeminent command of all the provinces arrayed against the Ch’in.

While Hsiang Yu was engaged at Chu-lu, the king of Ch’u had dispatched Liu Pang to attack the territory around the Ch’in capital at Hsien-yang. In that area, Liu Pang scored a number of victories, culminating with a battle at Lan-t’ien in the tenth month of 206. After that battle, the final Ch’in king fell into his hands, and that allowed Liu Pang to occupy the capital. The records indicate that Liu Pang was a wise and tolerant victor, and he began reforming some of the harsher Ch’in legal practices under which much of the population had suffered. All was peaceful in Hsien-yang until Hsiang Yu arrived 2 months later. He ordered the Ch’in king executed and then allowed his men to pillage the city after he had looted the treasury for himself and his officers. Such actions alienated Liu Pang, who for a time remained passive.

Hsiang Yu began reorganizing China, not along the Ch’in lines of centralized rule but by decreeing the creation of nineteen minor kingdoms, which were to operate within a confederacy, which he would lead. He was able to assume that position by killing the king he had recently enthroned in Ch’u. Liu Pang was awarded with one of the three kingdoms carved out of the original Ch’in territory, his being located in the southern part of the region, that is, the most remote. Probably Hsiang Yu was looking to distance himself from a leader who was a strong potential rival. That territory had been the region of Han, and Liu Pang named himself the king of Han. The reward of such a poor area in return for his services, as well as rumors that the advisors of Hsiang Yu were recommending that he have Liu Pang assassinated, motivated the new king of Han to challenge his former ally.

The Battle

Liu Pang went on campaign in the fifth month of 206, beginning by conquering the other kingdoms of the west that had made up the old Ch’in homeland. As he advanced toward Loyang, word came that Hsiang Yu had murdered the king of Ch’u. That inspired Liu Pang to call for a general rising of the provinces to aid him in punishing a regicide. A quick strike at Hsiang Yu’s capital city of P’eng-ch’eng was a disaster, however, and Liu Pang found himself defeated by his enemy’s army. Only a timely storm covered his escape along with only a few dozen cavalry. Things looked grim; not only were the provincial kings beginning to join Hsiang Yu but also he had captured some of Liu Pang’s family, including his father. The only positive in this entire situation was the work of Liu Pang’s loyal generals, who continued to raise troops for him and seize provinces away from the main theater of battle.

Liu Pang’s luck did not improve. In a strike at Hsing-yang on the Yellow River, he once again found himself besieged and escaped with only a few men. Hsiang Yu was unable to take advantage of this because Liu Pang’s subordinate, General Han Hsin, was conquering provinces in the east. At one point, the enemy armies encamped for several months on either side of the Yellow River at Guangwu. Hsiang Yu threatened to execute Liu Pang’s father, but to no avail. Failing that, Hsiang Yu challenged his foe to determine everything in single combat, but Liu Pang knew that he was no physical match for Hsiang Yu. From a distance, however, Hsiang Yu was able to hit Liu Pang with a crossbow bolt that wounded but did not kill him. Liu Pang withdrew from the river to the nearby city of Chenggao, where Hsiang Yu once again besieged him.

Liu Pang’s subordinates were so successful in liberating provinces that Hsiang Yu had conquered and harassing his supply lines, that Hsiang Yu was forced at one point to take a part of his army to recover some of his losses. While Hsiang Yu was gone, Liu Pang’s army provoked a battle with the remaining besiegers and defeated them. Hearing of that, Hsiang Yu marched his men back, but Liu Pang refused to give battle, retreating into the mountains. Hsiang Yu at this point (203 b.c.) offered Liu Pang a deal: divide China between them, with Liu Pang being lord of the west and Hsiang Yu being lord of the east. Liu Pang agreed and received his hostage relatives in return. The agreement was short-lived. Liu Pang’s subordinates convinced him that the tide had turned and that many of the provincial leaders now supported him. That, plus the fact that the Ch’u forces were exhausted from their continued marching and were short on supplies, convinced Liu Pang to return to the east for a final battle.

The confrontation took place at Kai-hsia, in modern Anhui province. For the first time, some of Liu Pang’s subordinates hesitated to join him, but with assurances that they would be rewarded with provinces of their own after the war, they marched. At Kai-hsia, Hsiang Yu built himself a walled camp, which Liu Pang’s forces surrounded in the twelfth month of 202. The only relatively contemporary account describes Liu Pang in command of 300,000 men and Hsiang Yu in charge of 100,000. The battle started with General Han Hsin attacking the Ch’u center, but failing to break through. He withdrew, and Generals Kong and Bi attacked from the flanks. As the Ch’u army began to flater, Han Hsin renewed his attack in the center, and the enemy retreated to its camp.

After a night of drinking and tears with his wife, Hsiang Yu gathered 800 cavalry and broke out of his surrounded camp in the early morning darkness. The following morning, when Liu Pang learned what had happened, he dispatched 5,000 cavalry in pursuit. Hsiang Yu crossed the Huai River at the head of only 100 horsemen. Lost, he stopped and asked a farmer for directions. He was tricked and rode into a swamp, where the Han cavalry cornered him. Surrounded, Hsiang Yu was defiant. He swore to his men that Heaven was against him and that nothing he had ever done in battle had warranted such a fate. To prove his worthiness, he told his men, “For your sake I shall break through the enemy’s encirclements, cut down their leaders, and sever their banners, that you may know it is Heaven which has destroyed me and no fault of mine in arms” (Sima Qian, Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty I, pp. 45–46).

Promising to kill an enemy general, he divided his remaining men into four squadrons, each to ride down from their encircled hilltop in a different direction, and then reassemble on the east side. His charge scattered the Han cavalry, and he did kill a general and then rejoined his men. They formed into three groups this time, and the returning Han horsemen did not know which group Hsiang Yu was in, so they divided into three groups as well and again surrounded them. Another charge resulted in Hsiang Yu killing a colonel and a reported 50 to 100 men. Again regrouping, he found that his force had lost only 2 men. This running battle drifted southward toward the Yangtze River. There a boatman offered to aid his escape, but Hsiang Yu would not delay Heaven’s judgment. He gave the man his horse, which he had ridden in 5 years of combat, and then led his men dismounted back to face the Han. After a fierce fight and being wounded numerous times, Hsiang Yu was surrounded. Knowing a price was on his head as a reward, he removed it with his own sword.

Results

After Hsiang Yu’s death, all of his domain of Ch’u surrendered, except for the city of Lu. Liu Pang set out with his entire army to capture the city, which refused to submit. Moved by their courage, Liu rode up to the city walls with Hsiang Yu’s head. Upon seeing that, they surrendered and were treated with honor. He also buried the dismembered body of Hsiang Yu with full honors and refused to execute any of his family.

After the battle, Liu Pang’s subordinates urged him to take the title huang-ti, emperor. He accepted the title, and thus he began the Han dynasty, taking the throne name Kao-ti. He was regarded as a good emperor, reigning until 195. After a few years of struggle, he had inherited the united empire formed by Ch’in Shih Huang-ti, and he and his successors improved and expanded it.

Although at first anti-intellectual, Kao-ti realized over time the benefits of wise men, and he overturned the ban on books that Shih Huang-ti had implemented. Kao-ti embraced the teachings of Confucianism; he saw in it the means to rule well. Confucius taught that a good leader would inspire his people, and so Confucian scholars in a bureaucracy, leading the administration, should be the path to a secure and prosperous country. The bureaucracy that administered China until the twentieth century began here and survived through multiple successive dynasties. Kao-ti attempted to retain the administrative organization of the Ch’in emperor, keeping the country divided into provinces overseen by appointed imperial governors. He had to keep his promise, however, to reward his generals. He did so, but over time transferred them around until they became more governors than lords.

The most successful of the Han emperors was Wu Ti (147–81), who extended Han borders well to the west. He was successful in defeating the Hsiung-nu, driving them westward across Asia’s steppes until they arrived a few hundred years later in western Europe as the Huns. The Han dynasty also revived and expanded the trade with the west along the famous Silk Road. Securing that trade route, as well as mounting military and exploratory expeditions, Han envoys reportedly traveled as far as Parthia (modern Iran), where the Roman Empire occasionally fought. The dynasty that Liu Pang established in the wake of his victory at Kai-hsia consolidated the beginnings of the empire that Shih Huang-ti instituted, handing down to later dynasties a unified population, which to this day call themselves the “people of Han.”

References:

Grousset, René. The Rise and Splendour of the Chinese Empire. Translated by Anthony Watson-Gandy and Terence Gordon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1953; Sima Qian. Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty I. Translated by Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993; Twitchett, Denis, and Michael Loewe. The Cambridge History of China, vol. 1. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

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HUAI HAI (SUCHOW)

Communist forces’ campaigns during November 1948 up to January 1949, the northern one being the Ping-Jin campaign, and the southern one being the Huai-Hai campaign.

Map showing the Huaihai campaign as one of the three campaigns during Chinese Civil War.

7 November 1948–10 January 1949

Forces Engaged

Communist: 500,000 men. Commander: General Chen Yi.

Nationalist: 500,000 men. Commander: General Pai Chung-hsi.

Importance

A Communist victory sealed the fate of Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek, who was forced to resign as president. This led to destruction of the Nationalist army and government in China, establishing Communist rule on the mainland and Nationalist rule on Formosa (Taiwan).

Historical Setting

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was formally established in 1921 as the Chinese government was recovering from Japanese domination during World War I. In the mid-1920s, the CCP cooperated with the ruling Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, but in 1927 started a civil war that raged until 1937. In that year, the Japanese invaded out of Manchuria and drove deep into China down the coast toward Hong Kong. This external threat convinced Communist leader Mao Tse-tung to conclude a wary alliance with Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. Mao’s forces operated in the northern part of China, whereas Chiang’s armies, aided by the Americans, fought in the southern and western parts. Mao’s forces, never well equipped, did their best to harass and pin down Japanese troops while Chiang held the south and cooperated with U.S. and British activities in Burma.

When the Japanese were defeated in August 1945, Communist-Nationalist cooperation evaporated. Both parties proclaimed their desire for peace, but neither did anything to accomplish it. Instead, they both scrambled to grab land and materiel owned by the Japanese during the war. From late August to early October 1945, Mao and Chiang met in Chung-king for discussions that were overseen by U.S. ambassador Patrick Hurley and resulted in a statement of mutual peaceful goals. However, both Chinese leaders continued to struggle for control of the resource-rich province of Manchuria. Later that year, U.S. President Harry Truman sent General George Marshall to broker talks between the Communists and Nationalists, resulting in a temporary cease-fire. An agreement on an updated version of the 1936 constitution was also announced after 3 weeks of talks, but both sides soon showed their unwillingness to exhibit any true cooperation. Unsuccessful, Marshall left in January 1947.

Fighting continued in Manchuria, where the cease-fire agreement did not apply, and soon was general throughout the country. Since late 1946, the Nationalists had been seizing key cities and towns from the Communists; in March 1947, they pushed the Communists out of their stronghold in the city of Yenan, some 400 miles southwest of the capital of Peking (Beijing). The Communists did the most to make political capital out of these aggressive actions, both to motivate support in China as well as to lessen U.S. support for Chiang. Communist-inspired demonstrations wore down the morale of the Kuomintang troops and probably hastened the withdrawal of U.S. troops from China in early 1947. U.S. military aid to Chiang dried up as well. With growing mass support, the Communists on 10 October 1947 issued a call for the overthrow of Chiang Kai-shek’s administration. They also promised a number of personal freedoms, an easing of land taxes, and a democratic government.

Mao Tse-tung’s forces gathered growing support, not only through their propaganda but through their actions. Where Kuomintang troops had looted the cities they occupied, Communist troops were under strict orders to behave themselves. The peaceful nature of the Communist takeover of cities, with very little retribution, had the same effect on the population that similar strategies have done through the ages: Cyrus the Great of Persia, Alexander the Great of Macedon, and Genghis Khan all were magnanimous to cities that did not resist, thus encouraging the others.

On the battlefields, the Communists were enjoying similar successes. In April 1948, they recaptured Yenan, reestablishing Mao’s headquarters. By May, Communist forces had isolated much of the Kuomintang army by capturing Hopei and Shansi provinces. This placed their forces in two masses: Manchuria was almost completely under their control, with the second area stretching from the coast to the Yellow River. Only a strip of Nationalist-controlled railway running east-west from Tientsin through Peking to Paotow separated the Communist armies. Meanwhile, in the south, large Communist partisan groups operated inland from Hong Kong, Canton, and Indochina. In east-central China, Chiang’s army controlled a cross-shaped area of land along two railroad lines: east-west from Kaifeng through Suchow to the coast, and north-south from Nanking to Tsinan. It was at Kaifeng and Suchow that the Communists would launch their largest offensives in 1948 and where they would find success.

The Battle

Until the summer of 1948, the Communists had depended on guerrilla tactics, using harassment of supply and railroad lines, attacks on isolated outposts, and localized numerical superiority to establish the widespread control they had attained. They now felt strong enough to engage in traditional warfare, and the battle for the city of Kaifeng was their first attempt. They were aided in their effort by Nationalist political actions. During the elections for president in April, Chiang Kai-shek’s choice for vice-president was rejected by the National Assembly. This rejection was an indication of Chiang’s weakening political power. He was able to fill military positions, however, and Generals Ku Chu-tung and Yu Han-mou became chief of the supreme staff and commander in chief, respectively. They were notable both for their strong loyalty to Chiang and their lack of strong military ability.

Kaifeng, capital of Honan province and situated at a key railroad junction, was defended by 250,000 regular Kuomintang forces and about 50,000 auxiliaries. The Communists attacked with about 200,000 regular troops supported by guerrillas. After 2 weeks of maneuvering beginning in late May 1949, Communist General Chen Yi received intelligence that the garrison defending the city had been weakened in response to the maneuvers. He thus launched an immediate attack on the city on 17 June. Communist forces quickly captured the city’s two airfields, and then the city itself fell on 19 June. This was a major defeat that Chiang could not afford, so he took personal command of the operations to respond. Ordering attacks from east and west down the railroad lines, he force Chen Yi to abandon Kaifeng, retreating southward, where the Kuomintang pincers inflicted a defeat on the Communists. Chen Yi, after inflicting 90,000 casualties on the Nationalists, ordered his troops to disperse. The Nationalists regained Kaifeng, but their success was primarily the result of superior numbers rather than tactical ability, in which they proved lacking. Again, the behavior of Communist troops during their occupation of Kaifeng was exemplary, and the Communists had time to plant saboteurs and party organizers throughout the city.

Through the summer of 1948, realization of the growing power of Mao’s forces became apparent even to the Nationalists. The defense minister openly criticized generals who enriched themselves in the midst of the crisis, and many generals openly criticized the defense ministry for meddling in operations, giving conflicting orders, and disseminating unchecked intelligence reports. It was also reported that the forces of the two enemies were now almost equal, each with about a million soldiers under arms and with almost equal artillery; 2 years earlier, the Kuomintang forces had outnumbered the Communists under arms by almost five to one. Almost half the Communists were in central China, showing a shift in emphasis from Manchuria to the southern region. The battle at Kaifeng illustrated both the strength and the shift in strategy that the Communists now employed.

The autumn of 1948 was disastrous for the Nationalists. They were forced to surrender Tsinan, their final city on the Shantung Peninsula, strengthening the Communist hold on the northeast coast. The few remaining Kuomintang garrisons besieged in Manchurian cities also were defeated. By early November, all of Manchuria was under Communist control, and almost half the Nationalist army was captured or killed. The Nationalists also ceded to the Communists vast amounts of weapons and materiel. With no threat to their rear, the Communists could now face southward and carry on the war against a greatly reduced enemy force. Their next target was the major Kuomintang force in the south based at Suchow, near the Huai Hai (River).

Communist General Chen Yi teamed with General Liu Po-cheng to field a force of almost 600,000 men. Kuomintang command fell to General Liu Chih, who also commanded about 600,000 men in four army groups: 2nd, 7th, 13th, and 16th. The 13th was based in Suchow, the 7th to the east at the junction of the Lunghai railroad and the Grand Canal, the 2nd to the west on the railroad to Kaifeng, and the 16th to the south along the railroad to Peng-pu on the Huai. The battle opened on 5 November when Chen Yi attacked from the east at the 7th Army Group while Liu Po-cheng drove the 2nd Army Group in the west back into Suchow and then swung south to drive back the 16th into the city. Chen Yi’s attack was facilitated by the defection of two Kuomintang generals and 23,000 men. The 7th Army Group was quickly encircled 30 miles east of Suchow, their retreat hampered by even more defections as well as the rapidity of Chen Yi’s attack.

Chiang ordered fifteen divisions from the 2nd and 16th Army Groups to relieve the surrounded 7th, but they moved too slowly and lost too many men, only to learn of the 7th’s defeat and surrender on 22 November; only 3,000 of its original 90,000 men escaped. In spite of the fact that the Nationalists had complete air superiority and flew as many as 500 sorties per day, the air forces failed to work cooperatively with the ground forces and were therefore rarely effective. A relief column comprised of the Nationalist Eighth Army and 12th Army Group was also ineffective; poor coordination kept them from linking up before being attacked by Chen Yi’s forces from the east and Liu Po-cheng’s from the northwest. The 12th Army Group, 125,000 strong, found itself surrounded at Shwangchiaochi on 26 November.

At this point, Chiang decided to abandon Suchow. He hoped that the troops remaining in the city could march to the rescue of the 12th Army Group and then escape southward. The 13th Army Group marched out of the city on 1 December, but, because of poor leadership, poor morale, or both, they found themselves outmaneuvered, pushed westward, and surrounded at Yungcheng on 6 December. Inside that encirclement were the remnants of the 2nd, 13th, and 16th Army Groups, numbering about 200,000 men, with all their artillery and tanks. Although nine infantry divisions remained free to act along the Huai Hai, they were too small and uncoordinated to relieve either of the surrounded forces. The isolated embattled forces were living off what food could be scrounged from local farms or dropped by parachute, but low morale soon hit rock bottom. Huge numbers of troops, sometimes entire divisions at once, defected to the Communists.

Chiang’s last hope was to commit his Sixth Army from Peng-pu, but 15 days of fighting netted them only 17 miles against fierce guerrilla attacks. By 15 December, the Communist noose closed on the 12th Army Group. At Yungcheng, the remains of the three army groups had been reduced by half from combat and defections. Bombarded by propaganda as much as artillery, the Kuomintang troops had almost no fight left in them. After 3 weeks of only light skirmishing, the Communists launched their final assault on 6 January 1949; by 10 January the battle was over.

Results

Virtually the entire Nationalist force of 600,000 men around Suchow ceased to exist. Approximately 327,000 men had either been captured or had voluntarily given themselves up to the Communists. Every Kuomintang general in the battle had been captured or killed. The military disaster merely reflected the condition of the Nationalist government. Inflation was so rampant that the currency was worthless. Black marketeers operated openly and with the support of the population. Attempted currency reform failed. The countryside was filled with bandits and looters while food supplies rapidly diminished. U.S. aid came under close government scrutiny in Washington, with George Marshall (now secretary of state) stating that the only way to save the Chinese administration from Communist takeover was to have Americans completely take over, an option he did not relish: “The present regime has lost the confidence of the people, reflected in the refusal of soldiers to fight and the refusal of the people to cooperate in economic reforms” (Chassin, The Communist Conquest of China, p. 202). All aid was suspended on 20 December 1948.

Faced with nothing but disaster all around him, Chiang Kai-shek on 21 January 1949 resigned the presidency. The next day, Peking surrendered to the Communists and Mao transferred his capital to that city. When new Nationalist President Li Tsung-jen sent representatives to Mao on 1 April to discuss peace terms, “unconditional surrender” was the response. Unable to comply, the Nationalists continued to try to wage war, but with decreasing positive results. Communist forces crossed the Yangtze River on 20 April, followed by the rapid capture of most of south China’s major cities: Nanking on 22 April, Nanchang on 23 May, and Shanghai on 27 May. The Nationalists kept shifting their capital city, from Nanking to Canton to Chungking to Chengtu, and finally to Formosa, completely off the mainland of China.

The victory at Suchow broke the Nationalists’ back, which had long been bending. When Chiang, the heart and soul of the Nationalist cause since the 1920s, gave up power in the wake of the battle, no clearer sign of their demise could have been given. He was able to reorganize a government in exile on the island of Formosa, naming it Taiwan, on 7 December 1949; he also retained control of three small islands between Formosa and the mainland. More importantly, Chiang kept international recognition of his position as leader of the Chinese people. Although Mao Tse-tung established a de facto government that was recognized by Communist regimes around the world, the Nationalists kept western recognition and assistance, as well as a seat on the Security Council in the United Nations. That seat, as well as the question of sovereignty in general, led to Sino-U.S. tensions for the following two decades, not eased until the administration of Richard Nixon. Mao’s accession to power gave him control over the largest Communist population in the world, but differences in philosophical and political matters kept him from being solidly in Moscow’s camp. The Moscow-Beijing rivalry probably went a long way toward keeping the Cold War relatively cold, for neither China nor the Soviet Union could focus on the United States with a suspicious neighbor at its back.

References:

Chassin, Lionel Max. The Communist Conquest of China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965; Fairbank, John K., and Albert Feuerwerker, eds. The Cambridge History of China, vol. 13. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986; Houn, Franklin W. A Short History of Chinese Communism. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967; Morwood, William. Duel for the Middle Kingdom. New York: Everest House, 1980.