China's Warrior King

China's Warrior King

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Who Were the Trung Sisters of Ancient Vietnam?

  • Ph.D., History, Boston University
  • J.D., University of Washington School of Law
  • B.A., History, Western Washington University

Beginning in 111 B.C., Han China sought to impose political and cultural control over northern Vietnam, assigning their own governors to oversee existing local leadership, but unease within the region gave birth to brave Vietnamese fighters like Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, The Trung Sisters, who led a heroic yet failed rebellion against their Chinese conquerors.

The pair, born sometime around the dawn of modern history (1 A.D.), were the daughters of a Vietnamese nobleman and military general in the area near Hanoi, and after the death of Trac's husband, she and her sister raised an army to resist and reclaim freedom for Vietnam, thousands of years before it gained its modern independence.

Qin Shi Huangdi – The Man who unified China – (Viewed as Single Page)

Professor Jeffrey Riegel, of the University of California, Berkeley traveled to China to unlock the truth behind one of the earth’s greatest legends, a man larger than life, the first emperor of China, Shi Huangdi (259-210 BC). This post comes from the documentary film of China’s first emperor.

The first time we visited his tomb was December 1999.

Shi Huangdi was barely thirteen when his father died (246 BC) after being king of Qin for three years. The legends say Shi Huangdi was a tyrant driven mad by power.

He had a tomb built the likes of which humanity has never seen. When the first emperor died, he was the most powerful man on earth. He created an empire that outlasted Rome by a thousand years, he ruled ten times the population of ancient Egypt, and today’s China owes its existence to this man.

Months after becoming king at thirteen, Shi Huangdi overcomes his mother’s desire to rule in his name and took his nation to war. He was the youngest king to wage war and soon proved he was also the greatest warrior.

He soon becomes known as the Tiger of Qin.

Shi Huangdi wages war against his enemies for ten years. At the time, there were seven countries in China besides Qin. The seven countries in what we know as China today were Zhao, Yen, Wei, Han, Chi, Chu and Qin.

During the war to conquer Zhao, Shi Huangdi’s army took ten thousand prisoners. The rules of war say these prisoners must be fed and sheltered. However, Shi Huangdi changed the rules.

He shows his troops what to do by beheading an enemy troop and calls on his army to do the same.

He says, “There is only one way to treat weakness and that is to exploit it. There is only one way for Qin to survive, and that is to conquer.”

All 10,000 Zhao prisoners were beheaded.

By the time Qin Shi Huangdi turns twenty, he had captured thirteen cities from the state of Han and twenty from the other states. Huangdi’s rival countries send a combined army to stop him but they are repelled.

Some of Huangdi’s success is because of the precision weapons Qin craftsmen make for his loyal, highly trained army. Discover more of China’s Warrior King

However, while the king of Qin is conquering China, there is an enemy scheming to replace him.

His mother, the dowager queen, has taken a lover, who masquerades as a eunuch. The queen has had two illegitimate sons with this lover, who steals two royal seals that gives him authority to mobilize troops in an attempt to replace Shi Huandgi with one of the king’s half brothers.

Qin’s prime minister discovers the plot and a trap is set to destroy the rebel army. The dowager queen’s lover is captured, tortured and his mangled body pulled apart by four horses while the queen mother is forced to watch.

While the death sentence is being carried out, Huandgi has his two half brothers strangled to remove this threat to his throne.

With this challenge to the throne removed, Shi Huangdi has learned a lesson. He is ruthless and rids himself of his mother and his prime minister.

There is a dramatic scene where the prime minister asks for forgiveness for letting the queen mother do what she did.

The prime minister is exiled and not allowed to see the queen mother again. Within a year, the disgraced prime minister kills himself.

A scholar, who believes in harsh laws, becomes Huangdi’s closest advisor.

By 227 BC, the Qin state has conquered the states of Han, Wei and Zhao.

The state of Yen knows it is next and sends professional assassins disguised as peace emissaries to kill Shi Huangdi. The emissaries arrive in Xian with gifts and an assassin strikes.

Since no weapons are allowed in the throne room, there are no armed guards to protect the king. Only the king has a weapon and only the king can call the troops to save him.

By 223 BC, Shi Huangdi is ready to unify China. Only the states of Chi and Chu are left, but the Chu army destroys his first invasion force.

Shi Huangdi raises another army and invades again. A million troops face each other and it becomes a standoff. To win, Shi Huangdi tricks the Chu generals to make a mistake, and the last great obstacle to the unification of China falls.

Chi is the last country that has not been defeated. To avoid the slaughter, Chi joins Shi Huangdi without a fight.

At the age of 34, Qin Shi Huangdi was crowned with a veil of stars as the first god emperor of the Qin people and China.

The system of governance put into place will long outlast the emperor.

Qin Shi Huangdi commissions a Terra Cotta army that will guard him in death, and the troops are larger than life. In one pit, more than two hundred sets of armor made of stone have been found with no bodies to wear them.

It is believed that the armor may have been made for the spirits of dead soldiers who suffered violent deaths in combat so the dead would not become vengeful spirits.

The totalitarian philosophy in the new Chinese empire was called legalism.

Rules govern every part of every citizen’s daily life with the punishment spelled out. Physical punishment could mean mutilation.

For example, if two are caught having sex, they will be beheaded. Every aspect of private life is part of Qin law.

In 220 BC, Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi goes on an inspection tour of his empire. With the major wars over, millions of troops are put to work finishing the Great Wall of China, which was designed to stop the nomadic tribes to the north from raiding into China, which they have done for centuries.

The Great Wall is the greatest engineering project of the ancient world. It is thirty feet high and more than three thousand miles long. At one point, over a million people worked on the wall and about a quarter died.

The emperor makes more demands. He sends hundreds of thousands to build a tomb that fits his rank as the first divine emperor of China.

The burial mound, larger than the largest pyramid in Egypt, is at the center of an above ground and underground city. His tomb is made of bronze surrounded by
mercury rivers and oceans.

Recently, using ground penetrating radar and other instruments, a three dimensional model is built of this underground complex.

By 215 BC, Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s tomb is almost finished. The chamber where his body will rest is the size of a football field and will be hermitically sealed.

Then the tomb will be covered with a million tons of earth creating the hill we see today.

However, the Emperor doesn’t plan to die. Seeking advice from his doctor, he is given mercury capsules. At the time, it was believed that mercury would increase longevity.

Having lots of sex with multiple partners was also considered another way to increase life. The emperor follows the doctor’s advice and sends his doctor on an expedition to find an elixir for immortality.

The emperor isolates himself and delegates the power to rule the empire to those he trusts most. These men suppress free thought.

Entire libraries are burned. Those who try to hide documents are branded on the face and sentenced to a life of force labor — mostly on The Great Wall. Anyone who resists is buried alive.

Professor Jeffrey Riegel, of the University of California, Berkeley, says that Chinese archeologists have no immediate plans to unearth the tomb, because there is no way to safeguard the contents from decay.

Chinese alchemists knew liquid mercury as the only substance that could dissolve gold. To the ancient mind, that meant mercury had power that might prolong life.

However, the human body cannot absorb pure mercury so the Chinese alchemists made a compound the emperor could digest.

As the mercury is absorbed, it slowly destroyed his nervous system and brain.

Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi becomes aggressive, argumentative and paranoid. He goes into hiding. Anyone revealing his location is killed. His kidneys’ are failing and he starts talking to the gods.

Thirty-five years after becoming the king of Qin at thirteen, he goes on another Imperial tour. But this time, he is blind to a nation that is bankrupt and near famine.

All the emperor can think about is living forever.

He’s told that giant fish guards the island of the immortals. The emperor dreams that he is a sea god who will kill the giant fish.

Near the end of 210 BC, he visits the ocean hunting the giant fish with a crossbow while wading in the surf.

His advisors plan what to do with China once the emperor dies. On the return to the capital, the emperor falls ill and the Imperial convoy stops.

In the seventh month of 2010 BC, the first emperor’s search for immortality ends. At the age of fifty, Qin Shi Huangdi is dead.

While China’s first emperor is being buried according to his wishes, a power struggle rages outside the tomb.

By tradition, the oldest son should have become the emperor but several ministers want a younger son on the throne. The others are assassinated and there is a slaughter.

The emperor will also not go alone to the afterlife.

While his chosen successors are being assassinated, hundreds of his favorite concubines will stay with their master and die with him.

The tomb’s designers and builders will be sealed in the tomb too. Everyone who knows the way dies.

Qin Shi Huangdi left a legacy—a unified nation with a single written language and a system of administration that is still in use today.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

Ancient Chinese Warriors

It was the archaeologists later who figured out the significance of King Tuts tomb and the nature of society and public consciousness then. The first major sights of this Chinese warrior class have been seen in American museums. Every trip to China is incomplete without visiting Bejing City, the Great Wall of China and Forbidden City and mostly the warrior class of Xian.

It is most difficult to visit Xian. The road routes are bad and one cannot go there by land. There are a couple of new trains and flights which connect to Xian via Lhasa. The city is well kept in its entirety, it would remind you of the warrior times. It is an adventure to visit the place.

The Chinese history absolutely reeks of its glorious past. They are termed as an eternal warrior class. Chinese wars have been famous and their technique of fighting been made famous all around the world. The sharpness of Chinese sword and their skill to kill the enemy was fine and impeccably done. Xian was the town built by chinas the first emperor.

When he passed on, he left behind the legacy of Chinese war skills. The can organize them so well that the end of an enemy cannot be anything but be brutally fatal. The city of Xian has a famous palace with a mercury lake and the place is from where maximum knowledge about the warriors and their times has been excavated.

The archaeologists have studied that mostly to find out about this particular period in history. And there isn’t an inch of doubt about the fact that Warriors of China would be an amazing half a century down the line. And people would learn about their finesse and their skill. The deadly warriors have left their names written in gold in world history forever.

China's Warrior King - History

Task: identify themes in Chinese history throughout the slides.

  • stability
  • isolation
  • innovation
  • centralization
  • patriarchy
  • education
  • multiple belief systems

Task: Read pages 333-335 and take notes on:

  • Lack of unity in E. Zhou dynasty
  • Competition leading to military and agricultural improvements
  • Confucius: ren, learning and practice (filial piety, rectification of names, courtesy)
  • Taoism

Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism

(071016) — JINAN, Oct. 16, 2007 (Xinhua) — Photo taken on Oct. 13, 2007 shows a fresco depicting ancient Chinese philosopher and educator Confucius (551 B.C.-479 B.C.), found in a tomb in an old residential yard in Dongping County, east China’s Shandong Province. The fresco, discovered in a tomb dating back to about 2,000 years ago, is well preserved with images of drinking, dancing, cock fighting, women servants and historical stories in legible colors, heritage workers said. (Xinhua) (clq)/(zlq)

  1. Identify what is at the centre of the Taoism and Confucianism circles on your handout page:
  • one is nature, one is stability. Which is for Confucianism?

2. Practice differentiating between Taoism and Confucianism using the mixed quotes below.

3. Which aspects of Taoism or Confucianism could be useful in today’s society?

4. Another way, that rejected both Confucianism and Taoism, was legalism. The First Emperor was highly influenced by Legalistic thought that emphasized strict laws and harsh punishments to achieve order/obedience/stability.

Task: Take notes on first emperor from pages 337 – 341 – use a T chart to record good actions and bad actions.

To learn more about Confucianism and Taoism:

  • Watch excerpts from Bettany Hughes – Genius of the Ancient World – Confucius (Asia Society) (National Geographic) (Khan Academy article)
  • Watch Taoism: Opening Dao (23 mins) (Asia Society, reading) (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The First Emperor

Take your good and bad actions of the First Emperor. Put them on a timeline with attitude.

Themes for Progress:

Themes for Decline:

From Qin to Han/Tang/Song Dynasties – how much continuity was there?

Did elements of the Qin dynasty continue into the future?

What were the unique features of these three dynasties?

2. transfer the analysis onto the Han/Tang/Song continuity chart.

3. Answer one of the questions at the bottom of the chart:

Re-name the dynasty (if you had to sum up the dynasty in five words or less or a short motto):

Han: new policies which modernized China continued policies, changed mindset unification through new government institutions.

Tang: commoners and women unite new rights for the oppressed progress and didn’t do much?.

Song: open for business, development smoothie? progressed China economically and culturally very progressive, shut down traditions.

What connections can you find between today’s PSD and Confucianism, Taoism, First Emperor, stability, dynastic cycle.

China Comparison Assignment

Foreign Relations and China after the First Emperor

Timeline of Dynasties: SZQHTS– Some zombie quaestors had to sleep.

Dynastic Cycle = Mandate of Heaven (mandate = the perceived right to do something, this case, rule)

Advantages and Disadvantages of Foreign Contact (generally, when one culture comes into contact with another culture)

  • trade
  • diversity (new people)
  • expansion of territory
  • new technology
  • new ideas


  • conflict
  • invasions
  • loss of resources
  • cultural influences
  • economic domination

The Mongols

Note who benefited from (or was unaffected by) Mongol rule (the Yuan Dynasty), and who suffered. Note that there were unintended consequences of Mongol rule of China (textbook pages 354-355).

Know your order of dynasties – see timeline in your handouts (sideways facing page on the back of Taoism/Confucianism circles page)

Ming Dynasty – Attitude Toward Foreign Contact

Chinese rebelled against the Mongols and installed their own dynasty. How would they feel about foreign contact after 200 years of Mongol rule?

What was China like under the Ming?

China was exporting a lot via land and sea (silk and porcelain being the two biggest trade items at this time).

It was mostly a time of political stability with powerful emperors advised by those who had risen through the ranks of the examination system (based on knowledge of the Confucian classics). Wealthy local families (the gentry) tried to help the ordinary people.

It was a time of artistic flourishing echoing back to the Song dynasty. Probably most well known was the calibre of porcelain at this time – durable and fine.

For a time it sent out huge sea-based expeditions under Admiral Zheng He.

Overall, China was very wealthy and dominant in the world. After two centuries of foreign rule, they had come to believe that only “change within tradition” was good. Would this stop them from advancing?

Zheng He’s voyages from Engineering an Empire.

The Mandate of Heaven. This was a very old concept that pre-dated the Ming Dynasty. See the Dynastic Cycle in your handouts on the back of the Taoism/Confucianism circles page. The cycle starts and ends with the new or old emperor either receiving or losing the Mandate of Heaven.

The Ming dynasty’s worldview. Look at your diagram of concentric circles with China at the centre. Those that were closest to the centre had the most similar way of life, such as Korea and Vietnam because they had been influenced by Confucianism. Those farther out on the circles were dissimilar in way of life, such as Mongols (who had invaded China earlier) and Europeans.

The Chinese worldview can be related to their feeling of superiority: Chinese_Superiority_Quotes

Please note how the quotes relate to the Mandate of Heaven.

When Europeans started coming to China they were seen in two lights:

  1. ordinary traders who found that China didn’t want to trade with them, and therefore started to steal/pirate – they were seen as “ocean devils” – on the outside of the circles
  2. Jesuit (Catholic) missionaries were appreciated at the court because of their new innovations that the Chinese liked, such as mechanical clocks, some astronomical advances, and others.

Women in China

Is it fair to compare footbinding in ancient China to plastic surgery such as the “mommy makeover” in modern Canada? We decided to use these criteria to determine:

  • pain factor
  • age at which done
  • voluntary or not
  • whose motivation
  • consequences if not done

In the end, most students felt it was an unfair comparison. But we did discuss how social norms are different in Canada because there are so many more choices in today’s society, whereas in ancient China women probably didn’t have many choices.

We talked about the Confucian hierarchy within the family and how Confucian education generally didn’t get taught to girls and women. Generally, China, like most other ancient civs, was patriarchal.

Introduction to the controversy of footbinding:

Interesting article on footbinding. Here’s a newer interpretation of footbinding.


Byonghyon, C. (2002). The Book of Corrections Reflections on the National Crisis during the Japanese Invasion of Korea. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies.

Linderman, A. (2016). Rediscovering Irregular Warfare: Colin Gubbins and the Origins of Britain’s Special Operations Executive . University of Oklahoma Press.

Lory, H. (1943). Japan’s Military Masters. New York: Viking Press.

Peatite, M., Drea, E., & Van De Ven, H. (2011). The Battle for China. Stanford: Standford University Press.

Rovere, D. (2008). The xingyi quan of the Chinese army : Huang Bo Nien’s Xingyi fist and weapon instruction. Blue Snake Books.

Yan, B., & Li, R. (2011). Looking Back at the Tianjin China Warriors Society. Journal of Chinese Martial Studies .

How would you define China's Warrior Ethos?

I say a presentation by the author of "The Warrior Ethos" and the author maid mostly western references. And I was wondering what would China's warrior ethos be built on beyond the Mao red era "Long March, Anti-Japan and Civil War" tradition.


Senior Member

nationalism, patriotism and loyalty to the party

these are the pillars PLA can fall back to define this 'warrior ethos'

usually such thing evolve and stem from culture, like mentioned in the C-SPAN about duty and honor, but Chinese culture is currently in a limbo, and it has never emphasized much on warrior or war, in fact an averse subject, the core of chinese culture has always been family




Senior Member

hey i knew someone was gonna shoot at me i almost put a final sentence : just a ramble don't shoot, and it did happen lol

cmon delft, ABC78 was asking about what is the defining values of modern Chinese 'warrior ethos' in PLA
let us be honest, noone is a saint in war and as they say as well, all is fair in love and war, what we are really looking into is what motivates and becomes the basis for such warrior ethos, the C-SPAN video is certainly speaking from American perspective, and remember he is speaking in front of an audience of military professionals to promote his work

now try answering ABC78's good question about this interesting topic without trying to put anyone down


Junior Member


Banned Idiot


Senior Member

certainly not a wussy culture, but modern Chinese culture is struggling to find it's identity and soul, ripped away from it by the Cultural revolution

most if not all military organization cultivates the same sense of honor, duty, and servitude or sacrifice as the core values of its members, each with their own methods and reasoning
the nature of conscription, volunteer and professional army also plays a significant effect in how to cultivate this values into a warrior ethos


Junior Member

certainly not a wussy culture, but modern Chinese culture is struggling to find it's identity and soul, ripped away from it by the Cultural revolution

most if not all military organization cultivates the same sense of honor, duty, and servitude or sacrifice as the core values of its members, each with their own methods and reasoning
the nature of conscription, volunteer and professional army also plays a significant effect in how to cultivate this values into a warrior ethos


Junior Member

In the author's presentation he mentions how militaries and warrior caste are forms of tribes.

Is there the possibility that the Chinese people and history had evolved beyond tribalism so long ago?

Without that bit of tribal mindset in existence to help forge the warrior ethos narrative.

Here is a presentation by the author of "The Origins of Political Order" it is about how people moved from tribes to nation states. The author those a brief history of early China and how it was established by war.

Challenging China’s “Wolf Warrior” Diplomats

The world is confronting a very different China, one with the second-largest economy and a large, modern military to support its diplomatic efforts.

Chinese diplomats, many increasingly known as “wolf warriors,” are playing hardball, pushing controversial CCP narratives and countering foreign criticism.

The U.S. must better counter false Chinese assertions rapidly, while engaging in longer-term efforts to promote American diplomatic goals.

As the world copes with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese diplomatic corps has become much more energetic, even aggressive. Far from maintaining a low profile, today’s Chinese diplomats are often both pushing controversial Chinese narratives and loudly countering foreign criticism. Whether it is denouncing the terms “Wuhan flu” and “China coronavirus” or accusing other nations of having brought COVID-19 to China or criticizing their handling of the pandemic in their country, it is clear that the Chinese Foreign Ministry is prepared to play hardball.

This new generation is described by some as “wolf warriors,” after a popular Chinese action film whose stars take on and defeat Western mercenaries and defend Chinese citizens and interests. The transition is often attributed to current Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has certainly reshaped China’s global image into a far more prominent and assertive one. But this shift has been far longer in the making.

Chinese Foreign Policy Before Xi

As China undertook much needed reforms under Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (1978–1992), recovering from the multiple decades of catastrophic economic policies and general chaos under Chairman Mao Zedong, Chinese foreign policy was carefully muted. In the early 1990s, as China coped with global outrage over the Tiananmen Square massacre, Deng famously admonished the rest of the Chinese leadership to maintain a low profile, suggesting, “Observe calmly, secure our position, cope with affairs calmly, hide our capacities and bide our time, be good at maintaining a low profile, and never claim leadership.” REF This was later amended to include “do something” or “work with what you have.” REF Even as China’s economy took off, Deng, who remained a powerful factor albeit behind the scenes, continued to influence Chinese foreign policy, with Beijing refraining from a higher profile role.

This began to shift in the 2000s. Following Jiang Zemin’s rule (1992–2002) and a period of World Trade Organization–associated liberalizations, Chinese leader Hu Jintao (2002–2012) began to assert an increasingly prominent role for China. Hu pushed for greater Chinese foreign direct investment as part of a broader effort to expand China’s global economic presence. Indeed, it was under Hu that the “string of pearls” infrastructure investments in the Indian Ocean region began to take shape. This included investments in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Despite the “peaceful rise” mantra adopted by the CCP under Hu’s leadership, however, China’s stance was not simply one of outreach and investment. In 2010, after a Chinese fishing boat captain was arrested (having rammed two Japanese Coast Guard vessels), Beijing made clear that it expected the return of their citizen. Even after the captain was released, however, Beijing nonetheless imposed an embargo on the export of rare earth elements. This naked display of Chinese economic leverage caught everyone’s attention.

Previously, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had only used its veto three times, twice on issues involving countries that maintained diplomatic relations with the government on Taiwan as opposed to that in Beijing. REF Beginning in 2007, Chinese diplomats began to cast vetoes on other issues, including in defense of the military dictatorship in Burma and the first of a series of vetoes (exercised alongside the Russians) in support of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. China also sought a larger role in the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia. While it was Xi Jinping who, in 2014, called “for the people of Asia to run the affairs of Asia, solve the problems of Asia and uphold the security of Asia,” the groundwork for this “Asia for Asians” message had been laid by Hu nearly a decade earlier.

While Hu’s shift towards a more assertive Chinese foreign policy was generally associated with China’s growing soft power, Hu, in fact, emphasized the importance of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In 2004, Hu issued the “new historic missions” for the PLA. Among other tasks, the PLA was charged with safeguarding China’s interests in the key domains of the world’s oceans, outer space, and the electromagnetic spectrum and information space.

The PLA took these new responsibilities seriously. At sea, not only was the PLA Navy expanding and modernizing, but it also began to challenge U.S. naval vessels operating in what China claimed to be its territorial waters. The harassment of the USNS Impeccable and USS John S. McCain III in 2009 marked the start of a much more assertive Chinese stance in its littoral waters. In space, China tested an anti-satellite weapon in 2007—the most debris-generating event in the Space Age. In the cyber realm, Chinese hackers moved ever more brazenly and extensively.

Chinese military efforts also took on a more multinational aspect, as the PLA exercised with the Russian military for the first time in decades. Under the rubric of “Peace Mission” exercises held by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Chinese and Russian military forces engaged in extensive land, sea, and air maneuvers.

What was missing from the Chinese effort was a strong foreign ministry. The PRC is governed through the equivalent of a dual structure. Policy setting is done by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Its top leadership, represented by the 24 members of the Political Bureau (Politburo) of the CCP Central Committee—and especially the subset comprising the Politburo Standing Committee—is the actual power in the PRC. REF The Politburo and its Standing Committee set priorities, determine policy lines, and generally chart the course of the PRC.

Policy implementation, on the other hand, is by the Chinese state, as reflected in the 25 ministries comprising the State Council. While the Chinese state is ostensibly led by the premier, vice premiers, and other members of the State Council, in reality, these elements are creating plans to support the priorities set by the Politburo. Divining Chinese policy is further complicated by the reality that the members of the State Council are not necessarily the highest-ranking members of the CCP. While the head of the CCP (the General Secretary) and the highest authority in the PRC state (the president) are the same person, Politburo members may be relatively low-ranking ministers. As important, senior government officials may nonetheless be relatively lesser ranked members of the CCP. What matters most is one’s place in the Party, not the state.

This was the situation for the Chinese Foreign Ministry for much of the 2000s. Qian Qichen, China’s foreign minister, state councilor, and vice premier during much of Jiang Zemin’s rule, was also a member of the CCP Politburo. This meant that the Chinese Foreign Ministry had a place among China’s policymakers. But when Qian was replaced by Tang Jiaxuan as Foreign Minister in 1998, Tang was not a member of the Politburo, nor was he subsequently elevated to its membership, even after he rose to the State Council in 2003—nor were his various successors as foreign minister and state councilor for foreign affairs.

Thus, for most of the first two decades of the 21st century, China’s Foreign Ministry was not represented on the highest levels of the CCP (i.e., the Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee). This meant that the Chinese Foreign Ministry had a minimal role in setting China’s foreign policy. While Foreign Ministry officials could be called upon to brief and otherwise advise, they were not necessarily part of the final establishment of policy.

This situation, which has no real parallel in American or Soviet history, may explain a number of awkward situations, including the 2010 Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum meeting. After U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the U.S. was “back” in Southeast Asia and prepared to mediate territorial disputes such as those in the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi disappeared for an hour, returning to give a strongly worded response. REF

Similarly, when the Chinese tested their anti-satellite system in 2007, generating an enormous amount of debris, Chinese diplomats were often summoned to local foreign ministries, only to reveal that they had been as much in the dark as their foreign counterparts. It took the Chinese Foreign Ministry 12 days to issue even the most tepid of statements, leading to speculation in some quarters that the PLA had gone “rogue.” REF

China’s foreign ministers were excluded from the central decision-making body of the Politburo until 2017, when Yang Jiechi, now the state councilor for foreign affairs (more senior than the foreign minister), was elevated to the 19th Politburo of the CCP. This not only integrated Foreign Ministry views into the setting of foreign policy, but also elevated its personnel in terms of China’s internal political structure. It is in this context that China’s diplomats and foreign ministry spokespeople are now undertaking their duties.

Rise of the “Wolf Warrior” Diplomats

With this elevation, the Chinese diplomatic corps has become much more energetic, even aggressive. The most public incident was the tweet by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Responding to President Trump’s characterization of the COVID-19 virus as “Chinese coronavirus” and “Wuhan flu,” Zhao tweeted:

Zhao’s tweet REF and its reference to a conspiracy theory suggesting that the disease might have been deliberately spread by the U.S. military aroused a major global reaction, as media worldwide discussed it. Comparisons were made to the “wolf warrior” series of Chinese action movies, which feature a Chinese special operations force soldier who defeats American mercenaries in battles across Africa. REF

The tweet, however, is neither the first controversial one from Zhao nor the first example of hardball Chinese foreign policy. In 2018, for example, Chinese agents seized Gui Minhai, a Chinese-Swede traveling with Swedish diplomats while seeking medical treatment. He was convicted earlier this year of passing secrets to foreigners. Also in 2018, Canadian former diplomat Michael Kovrig was seized, apparently in response to the Canadian detention of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer. China’s embassy also denounced Italian parliamentarians as “irresponsible” when they invited Hong Kong activist Joshua Wang to testify about China’s crackdown in November 2019. REF

It is the COVID-19 crisis, however, that has bared the teeth of Chinese diplomats. Beijing’s representatives in France, Sweden, and Venezuela have all issued papers and statements that smack of imperial high-handedness. An unnamed Chinese diplomat posted a statement that included the claim that French nurses had abandoned their patients in nursing homes, leaving them to starve. REF The Chinese embassy in Caracas tweeted that Venezuelan officials should “put on a face mask and shut up,” after they had referred to the “Wuhan virus.” REF The Chinese ambassador was summoned to the Swedish foreign ministry after comparing Sweden to a lightweight boxer taking on a heavyweight. REF

Part of this more assertive, even aggressive, foreign policy demeanor is almost certainly rooted in the bureaucratic elevation of the Foreign Ministry. Since they are now part of the policymaking environment, they have far more influence on actual foreign policy of the PRC. Able to influence Chinese foreign policy directly for the first time in two decades, rather than defer to other parts of the system, current Chinese diplomats may well want to differentiate themselves from their predecessors.

In addition, though, this evolution occurs alongside a generational shift in the entire Chinese leadership at the levels below the Politburo and its Standing Committee. Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, was born in 1973. Chinese ambassador to France Lu Shaye was born in 1965. The generational cohort of Zhao and Lu was born during or after the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) and, more importantly, came of age in Deng Xiaoping’s China. Their subordinates, in turn, are in their 30s and 40s. The world these people have experienced is very different from that of their parents’ generation or of Xi Jinping (who was born in 1953).

For all of their lives, unlike for Xi or his premier Li Keqiang, China’s economy has been growing, and China’s political star has been rising. There have been no major, extended disruptions like the Cultural Revolution or the Great Leap Forward. Instead, China has steadily advanced and modernized, and alongside its gleaming cities and uninterrupted economic growth has been a constant growth of its international standing and power. A major international power will inevitably want to chart its own course.

In such a view, it is long past time for China to cease “biding one’s time.” Indeed, any power with such growing capabilities would reasonably want to be heard and seen on the international stage, shaping and molding the world more to its own liking. A robust assertion of Chinese rights and positions is therefore consistent with Xi Jinping’s “China dream” of the “great revival of the Chinese people,” and complements China’s constellations of satellites, massive Internet presence, and modernized military.

With the elevation of Yang Jiechi to the Chinese Politburo, moreover, China’s diplomats are implementing policies for which they were able to determine objectives—and even tone. China’s diplomats may eventually modulate their message, but for the foreseeable future, they are unlikely to hide their lights under a bushel again.

Implications for the Future

For the United States, and indeed the world, this is a very different China that they will confront. The PRC, even without a diplomat in the Politburo, clearly understood the power available to it through such instruments as state-sponsored and state-directed loans, state-directed economic espionage, and the full weight of China’s cyber and network-warfare capabilities. Chinese officials have long taken their places in the senior echelons of international organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union. In these posts, they have operated as Chinese officials, supporting Chinese state goals, rather than as impartial international bureaucrats supporting the functions of the organization.

With a diplomat in the ruling Politburo, however, it is clear that China’s diplomats have found firmer bureaucratic footing, and with it a louder voice. It may not always be so bold and brash, but the days of a retiring, diffident Chinese diplomatic corps have probably passed. As important, with the resources of both the second-largest economy and a modern, large military to support it, China’s diplomacy will undoubtedly be more willing to promote China’s interests, emphasizing China’s concerns, and focusing on China’s benefit.

As important, judging from these initial forays and responses, China’s diplomats are likely to be not only more aggressive but more agile, especially in exploiting all the tools of modern communications. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao, for example, has exploited the global reach of Twitter to push the conspiracy theory of American responsibility for COVID-19.

Recommendations for the United States

To successfully deal with this new generation of Chinese diplomats and diplomacy, it is essential that the U.S. government be better prepared to counter Chinese assertions rapidly, while also engaging in longer-term efforts to both better promote American diplomacy and understand China’s weaknesses. To this end, the U.S. should:

Expand cooperation with foreign legislatures. One important element of America’s alliances and friends is that many of them are robust democracies. Whether France, Germany, the U.K., Japan, or India, there are important roles for parliamentarians and Members of Congress. The U.S. Congress should engage its fellow parliamentarians, whether discussing current policies (e.g., how to bring our respective economies back online) or future legislative efforts (such as the creation of counterparts to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States). This has begun with the newly formed Inter-parliamentary Alliance on China, comprised of lawmakers from now more than 100 legislators from a dozen countries. This is an area in which China simply cannot compete. The Chinese National People’s Congress does not play anywhere near as important a role as democratic legislatures. The American Congress is a co-equal branch of government with the President it should therefore shoulder part of the responsibility of improving ties and coordination with key allies and partners.

Better coordinate public diplomacy and strategic communications. One advantage that Chinese diplomats have is a developed strategy for public opinion warfare, which is integral to their broader view of political warfare. The United States, partly due to historical factors, has a far more fragmented approach. There are a variety of public affairs offices for the various cabinet-level departments, as well as the Global Engagement Center (responsible for countering questionable news) and the Office of Strategic Communications and Outreach (responsible for supporting U.S. arms control efforts) at the State Department. Separately, there is the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which replaced the old Broadcasting Board of Governors and oversees the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and other U.S. government-sponsored media organizations. Such a diverse group of entities, unless tightly coordinated, will not produce a symphony but a cacophony of messages, statements, and memes. While America does not speak with one voice, the U.S. government should.

Re-examine the roles and missions of the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Part of the problem is that, with the end of the Cold War, the U.S. government’s media operations have lost their focus. In a world with CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and a host of other outlets, what is the function of the various government-supported broadcasters? The Agency for Global Media should not be a propaganda outlet for any individual Administration—but neither is it likely to successfully compete against existing news organizations. Arguably, various entities such as Voice of America and Radio Marti, for example, should be investigating and probing the actions of America’s foreign adversaries and rivals while also providing objective information about the United States. Indeed, the VOA’s charter says specifically that it will “serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news. VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive.” REF

As important, the various U.S. government media operations should not only be employing traditional means such as shortwave radio, but also social media and the Internet. One function might be to expand Internet connectivity to places such as the PRC, which actively blocks free and unfettered access to the Internet’s resources. Although China cracks down on virtual private networks, other methods such as “freedom sticks” and proxy networks have been developed (and countered) to allow Chinese netizens better access to the broader global Internet. REF

By better coordinating overall US public messaging and strategic diplomacy, the available resources (which includes some $750 million a year for the U.S. Agency for Global Media) can hopefully be better employed to greater effect.


As the world emerges from the lockdowns and disruptions caused by COVID-19, it will be a new world in many ways. The economic and political impacts have yet to be fully assessed. What is clear is that the Chinese leadership intends to play a major role in shaping that post-COVID-19 world—and its diplomatic corps will aggressively assert China’s interests to that end. The United States should not expect to face a relatively low-profile Chinese effort that plies nations with economic aid in the background, but will instead likely confront a feisty cadre of diplomats equipped with a robust set of tools ranging from economic aid to social media accounts that will challenge them at every turn.

Dean Cheng is Senior Research Fellow in the Asian Studies Center, of The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, at The Heritage Foundation.

Korea's Warrior Knights

You can still go there today. Nestled high in a wooden dale, remote and hidden on Tansok Mountain, lies the Korean temple Shinson, which means "Spirit of Supernatural Being." Outside of Kyongju, past the small village of Ujunggok, climb down to the stream and hike up through the pottery kilns of the village, following a trail to the right of the stream through a terraced rice field. Near several rock slides, the trail crosses the stream and begins a sharp ascent up the left slope. This path reaches a higher valley to the left of the main valley. Hike from the village over an hour, and like the Hwarang warriors of old, enter the grounds of Shinson temple (Shinson-sa), which gained fame during the Silla period when Kim Yushin used these mountain ridges as his training area for the Hwarang.

Historians have been fascinated by the Hwarang in recent years. While there is significant historical material concerning the Hwarang warriors as an institution, there are still considerable mystery and speculation as to their function. We do know that generals from the Silla period - which took place from BC 57- 935 AD Korean Silla Founder King Hyok Gosoi 1 to Korean Silla 56th King Kyongsun 9 - claimed early training with the Hwarang movement. Probably because of this, the Hwarang have become known as "Korean Silla knighthood," with the word hwarang often being translated as "flower knights," though it literally means "flower of manhood," or "flowering manhood."

Modern martial artists should be wary of such simplistic interpretations, though, for the Hwarang movement has no similarities to the knights of medieval Europe. Some believe that Hwarang-do and Japanese Bushido are similar way of warriorship, but the Hwarang movement pre-dates Bushido, and did not gain the political influence of the Samurai class. Silla youth did not remain Hwarang for life, as did the Samurai, and were not born into the class and its privileges. Instead, Koreans and practitioners of Korean martial arts may take special pride in the heritage of the Hwarang movement - a unique spiritual and physical training that has never been duplicated in Korea or anywhere else in the world.

The Hwarang were a group of aristocratic young men who gathered to study, play and learn the arts of war. Though the Hwarang were not a part of the regular army, their military spirit, their sense of loyalty to king and nation, and their bravery on the battlefield contributed greatly to the power of the Silla army.

It should be noted the Hwarang-do was a philosophical and religious code followed by valiant warriors - not a fighting style or combat technique in itself. Generally, King Chinhung (534-576 24th Silla King, reigned 540-576) is acknowledged to have organised Hwarang-do as a philosophical study in the 37th year of his reign. The Hwarang spread their influence throughout the Korean peninsula and excelled in archery - mounted and unmounted. Though they practised fencing, no set fencing or unarmed combat styles developed from the Hwarang warriors. Instead, they focused on studying Chinese classics and military strategies, as well as the fighting arts, and in July and August, an annual national festival was conducted for the Hwarang to demonstrate martial skills.

But it was in their devotion to furthering the unity and well-being of the nation as a whole that the Hwarang played their most important role. They went in groups to the mountains - for physical training, to enjoy the beauties of nature, and to make their peace with the Spirit of the Mountain. They were highly literate, and they composed ritual songs and performed ritual dances whose purpose was to pray for the country's welfare. They also involved themselves directly in intellectual and political affairs.

The Hwarang movement appeared to be a type of schooling for the sons of Silla's aristocrats however, there are cases of sons of low ranking parents belonging to this elite group. The movement was certainly royally supported as kings themselves served as Hwarang before taking their responsibilities on the throne. The Hwarang movement was a Korean warrior corps that adhered to strict philosophical and moral codes. Most of the great military leaders of the Silla Dynasty had been Hwarang. Their exploits were recorded in The Records of the Hwarang (Hwarang Segi) by the Eighth Century scholar Kim Tae-mun. Although this book has not survived, passages and synopses were recorded by Kim Pu-sik (1075-1151), the Koryo historian said to have compiled the History of the Three Kingdoms (Samguk Sagi) in 1145.

Founded by Joo Bang Lee, modern Hwarang-do is an eclectic mix of hard and soft techniques with linear and circular movements that loop or follow an oval, and can be used offensively or defensively. Hwarang-do also utilises fantastic jumping and spinning kicks, locks, throws, chokes, and basic wrestling. Weaponry includes spear, sword, sticks, and knives. Famous modern Hwarang-do practitioners include the first female world champion of professional full-contact karate, Graciela Casillas (1956-), and author and instructor Michael Echanis (1950-1978). Finally, Hwarang is also a Korean form or hyung, named after the Hwarang warriors, which is purported to have originated in the Silla Dynasty.

The legends, history and pageantry of ancient Silla have left a beautiful and mysterious legacy across the Kyongju valley, where in a capital city of one million people, kings and queens once reigned supreme for almost a millennium. The Silla culture's vibrant achievements, carried to unprecedented heights, can still be felt in today's society.

From 57 BC through the next millennium of Silla Dynasty rule, geographic isolation somewhat delayed the kingdom's cultural growth but undoubtedly saved the kingdom from China's predatory advances. The brave young Hwarang warriors were equal to the task of military defence while the rulers knew the advantages of strategic alliances.

In the Seventh Century, Silla turned to defeat the other two Korean kingdoms in a coalition with the T'ang Dynasty (618-906) of China. Paekche fell in 660 and Koguryo 668. Because China was unable to subjugate Silla, she soon left all the territorial peninsula south of the Taedong River to Silla. Unified Silla came to a peaceful end in the Tenth Century, leaving scores of undamaged valuable remains for scholars in the Twentieth Century, and important hints as to the real nature of Hwarang warrior culture.

Nanny Of The Maroons: Jamaica’s Warrior Queen

an artistic impression of Nanny of the Maroons

AFRICANGLOBE – Queen Nanny or Nanny (c. 1685 – unknown, circa 1755), Jamaican National Hero , was a well-known leader of the Jamaican Maroons in the eighteenth century. Much of what is known about Nanny comes from oral history as little textual evidence exists. However, historical documents refer to her as the “rebels (sic) warrior woman,” and they legally grant “Nanny and the people now residing with her and their heirs . . . a certain parcel of Land containing five hundred acres in the parish of Portland . . .” (quoted in Campbell 177, 175). Nanny Town was founded on this land.


The Maroons were defiant Jamaicans who fled their oppressive existence on slave plantations and formed their own communities in the rugged, hilly interior of the island. They were considered skilled fighters and hard to defeat. Under Spanish rule, up to the 1650s, slaves escaped and intermarried with the native islanders, Arawaks, in their communities. Later, when the British assumed control of the colony, more slaves were able to escape from plantations to join the two main bands of Maroons in Jamaica: Windward and Leeward Maroons, headed respectively by Nanny of the Maroons and Captain Cudjoe.

The Maroons mainly consisted of people from the Akan region of West Africa. The Ashanti ethnic group, from which Nanny came, lived in this region. However, Africans originating from other regions of West Africa joined the Maroons in their escapes. For over 150 years, the Maroons helped to free enslaved Africans from the plantations whilst they damaged land and property belonging to White plantation owners.

Life And Work

Nanny was born c. 1686 in Ghana, Western Africa, into the Ashanti ethnic group, and was brought to Jamaica as a slave. It is believed that some of her family members were involved in intertribal conflict and her village was captured. Nanny and several relatives were sold as slaves and sent to Jamaica. Upon arrival in Jamaica, Nanny was likely sold to a plantation in Saint Thomas Parish, just outside of the Port Royal area. Such plantations grew sugarcane for lazy Europeans as the main crop, and the enslaved Africans toiled under extremely harsh conditions.

As a child, Nanny was influenced by other African leaders and maroons. She and her “brothers”, Accompong, Cudjoe, Johnny and Quao ran away from the plantation where they were held captive and hid in the Blue Mountains area of northern Saint Thomas Parish. While in hiding, they split up to organize more Maroon communities across Jamaica: Cudjoe went to Saint James Parish and organized a village, which was later named Cudjoe Town Accompong settled in Saint Elizabeth Parish, in a community known as Accompong Town Nanny and Quao founded communities in Portland Parish. She was married to a Maroon named Adou.

Nanny became a folk hero. Cudjoe went on to lead slave rebellions in Jamaica.

By 1720, Nanny and Quao had settled and controlled an area in the Blue Mountains. It was given the name Nanny Town, and consisted of the 500 acres (2.4 km²) of land that they won by repeatedly defeating the British army. Nanny Town had a strategic location as it overlooked Stony River via a 900 foot (270 m) ridge making a surprise attack by the British practically impossible. The Maroons at Nanny Town also organized look-outs for such an attack as well as designated warriors who could be summoned by the sound of a horn called an Abeng.

Maroons at Nanny Town and similar communities survived by sending traders to the nearby market towns to exchange food for weapons and cloth. The community raised animals, hunted, and grew crops, and was organized very much like a typical Ashanti village in Africa The Maroons were also known for raiding plantations for weapons and food, burning the plantations, and leading Africans who were enslaved by lazy Europeans back to their communities.

Nanny was very adept at organizing plans to free the Africans. For over 30 years, Nanny freed more than 800 slaves, and helped them to resettle in the Maroon community.

Leadership And African Spirituality

Many in her community attributed Nanny’s leadership skills to her Obeah powers (Campbell). Obeah is an African derived religion that is still practiced in Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Belize and other Caribbean countries. It is associated with both good and bad magic, charms, luck, and with mysticism in general. In some Caribbean nations, aspects of Obeah have survived through synthesis with Christian symbolism and practice.

It is also likely that Nanny’s leadership skills resulted from her Ashanti origin, known for its strong resistance to Europeans in West Africa and the New World. As well, she was heavily influenced by her brothers and other Maroons in Jamaica.

It is also known that Nanny possessed wide knowledge of herbs and other traditional healing methods, practiced by Africans and native islanders. This would have allowed her to serve as a physical and spiritual healer to her community, which in turn would elevate her status and esteem.

Death Of A Queen

In the Journal of the Assembly of Jamaica, 29–30 March 1733, we find a citation for “resolution, bravery and fidelity” awarded to “loyal slaves . . . under the command of Captain Sambo”, namely William Cuffee, who was rewarded for having fought the Maroons in the First Maroon War and who is called “a very good party Negro, having killed Nanny, the rebels old obeah woman” (Campbell 177). These hired traitors were known as “Black Shots” (Campbell 37). It is likely that Cuffee was motivated by the reward, a common practice by plantations to discourage enslaved Africans from escaping.

However, in 1739, a parcel of land was awarded to “Nanny and her descendents” (Gottlieb 2000) named Nanny Town. Some claim she lived to be an old woman, dying of natural causes in the 1760s. The exact date of her death remains a mystery, and part of the confusion is that “Nanny” is an honorific and many high ranking women were called that in Maroon Town. However, the Maroons are adamant that there was only one “Queen Nanny.”

Nanny’s remains are buried at “Bump Grave” in Moore Town, one of the communities established by the Windward Maroons in Portland Parish.

Watch the video: Chinas Warrior King. National Geographic (June 2022).


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