The Ming Dynasty, sometimes referred to as Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, as a result of the fall of the Yuan dynasty that was led by Mongol. The Ming marked the beginning of an orderly government that was also characterized by social stability in human existence, this is considered the last of the dynasty in china. Beijing, which was the Ming capital collapsed in 1644 because of the battle from the rebels led by Li Zicheng who later on formed Shun Dynasty. This was further replaced by Oming Dynasty that was led by Manchu. However, the Ming dynasty was not destroyed following the survival of southern Ming in 1662, a trusted regime to the Ming throne.
The concept of culture has not been received much attention at the international debate until recently. It has been defined in different ways by various scholars. According to Jack Snyder, strategic culture refers to "the body of attitudes and beliefs that guides and circumscribes thought on strategic questions, influences the way strategic issues are formulated, and sets the vocabulary and perceptual parameters of strategic debate." There are a couple of modifications to the definitions with time. Johnston regards Culture as consisting of two major parts: on the one hand, he looks at culture as consisting of primary assumptions regarding the role that war plays in human existence, nature of enemies, probable danger and circumstances under which force is applied.
On the other hand, are assumptions concerning operations? This entails the applicable strategies available for dealing for addressing the environmental threats. The history of China provides a better understanding of how the culture can be used in determining strategic behaviour of a nation. China’s history and cultural continuation makes it an ideal country for studying strategic culture and how it affects the policy making process.
Alastair Johnston was justified in choosing China for his research in strategic culture because of its long history. The long Ming period (1368-1644) demonstrates the trends in strategic culture and grand strategy preferences, in which case, the decision makers were highly informed of the philosophical and textual traditions out of which led rise to strategic culture. This was further strengthened by availability of numerous documented literatures on military strategy.
Seven Military Classics
Alastair Johnston selected the well-known "Seven Military Classics" that started from Sun I Bing Fa in the fifth century B.C. and ended with the Tang Tai Zong Li Wei Gong Wen Dui which was documented in the tenth century A.D. For critique purposes, the classics were evaluated in reference to three interrelated questions. 1) What role does war play in daily human life? 2) The nature of the enemy.3) The effectiveness of the applied aggression and military force. According to the author, "warfare and conflict are relatively constant features of interstate affairs, that the conflict with an enemy tends toward zero sum stakes and consequently that violence is a highly efficacious means for dealing with conflict."
This assumption coupled with the effective capacity of the military to fight and hence destroy the enemy(Parabellum) is a deviation from the Chinese’s long standing history of strategic common image of Confucian-Mencian paradigm which is based on the assumption that conflict can be avoided but if need be, it should be used at minimal level for the purpose of restoring an acceptable political order.
In a period of about three hundred years of Ming rule, decision makers were particularly pre-occupied by the issues of security that were triggered by the Mongols in the north which was a serious threat than the uprisings and rebellions along China's southern and south western borders. Throughout their reign, the Ming dynasty was engaged in 308 external wars of which the war with the Mongols constituted 62 percent. Many efforts by military and other experts were therefore geared towards keeping the northern borders secure from the Mongols. The zero sum nature approach rather than the Confucian-Mencian references was evident among all the Ming perceptions of the Mongol threats. The implication was despising of the adversary. For instance, they were uniformly labeled as "sub-human"- dogs and sheep. The conflict between the Northern Mongols continued to be a security threat throughout the Ming period.
There was a short period when there was a shift from zero sum approach. However, this was not based on principle but it was a result of decreased capacity to deal with the enemies head on. When the Ming finally managed to accumulate substantial resources, they gained back the capacity to deal with their adversaries offensively. The Ming rulers also took advantage of coercive approach towards the Mongols, on realizing that their enemies posed a low threat.
In the periods of scarce resources, the Ming rulers adopted a static defense approach and negotiation was preferred in isolated situations. Immediately on recovering their resource muscles, the Ming reverted to their default offensive against any possible threat. The author developed a model that tries to explain the unconformity of Ming’s’ approach towards strategy and strategic preferences with the Confucian-Mencian paradigm whereby the latter is principle is based on accommodation.
Confucian-Mencian model based on traditional Chinese strategic thought is highly stressed by most of the contemporary scholarship on China. However, their approach has failed to recognize the obvious features of parabellum that inevitably run concurrently in Chinese strategic literature. Other scholars have observed Mao's strategy as one borrowed from Sun Zi or exhibiting some form of relationship. On the contrary, the author successfully asserts that the Mao only borrows from Sun Zi the concept of total flexibility. A good example in this case would be "keeping off from your enemy when they are stronger and only attacking them during their weakest point, as also use of deception for demonstrating an inaccurate form."
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Examples of conclusions relevant to Indian analysts from Johnston’s study include: A research study of 12 foreign policy crises in which PRC was engaged in , out of this it violence was employed in 9(75%) of the cases. This included the Sino Vietnamese naval clashes in Spratlys in 1988. This is by far a relatively higher proportion compared to major powerful countries during the century. For in stance - USA, this was at 18%, USSR-27percentage and Britain 12%. Chinese leaders resorted to force and violence where the issues involved were perceived high value and zero sums.
Another study found out that China was far more likely to use violence in a military-related dispute such as the question over territory. According to the study, China used violence as a way of managing key conflicts in about 80%, which were primarily territory-related issues. This was followed by a conclusion that "decision makers in China most often perceive boundary-related disputes as high value conflicts, partially due to a historical sensitivity to threats to the integrity of the state”
The study observes that there was tendency to clarify political or diplomatic crises as being of a high magnitude that requires a timely legitimate response. Another study conducted on the Korean War, Quemoy-Matsu attack, clashes with USSR and invasion of Vietnam by Chinese demonstrates that the Chinese had a tendency to resort to conflict as it gets comparatively stronger. As observed by Alan Whitefield in his book on the Chinese intervention, he described Korean as one of "defensive deterrence." The same argument cannot be applied blindly to the instance of the Chinese invasion of Vietnam.
The Collapse of Ming Dynasty
The fall of the Ming Dynasty was a well-crafted affair, which began as early as 1600 with the upcoming of the Manchu under Nurhaci. It started as an inter-tribal clash in 1852 between the Ming emperors. This later generated into a campaign to unify the Jianzhou Jurchen tribes. Later Nurhaci pronounced Seven Grievances and openly declared the sovereignty of Ming overlordship to finalize on the unification of those Jurchen tribes that were still affiliated to Ming emperor. The Ming repeatedly put up a fight against the Manchus, but was unable to recapture their rule over the Manchus and the region.