In this short paper, I argue that the conflicts and commerce between the Xiongnu and China gradually changed according to their interactions through the establishment of the Silkroad. This point it extrapolated from the “Selections from the Han Narrative Histories.”

Indeed the Silk Road opened up trade routes across Eurasia, and it introduced different types of goods and merchants to different states. However, its establishment caused conflicts between China and Xiongnu. When Wu-ti first ascended the throne, for instance, he tried to maintain a peaceful relationship with the Hsiung-nu. As cited from the primary source: “In 135, however, they requested a renewal of the treaty of peace, which was agreed to by the emperor after some deliberation, and an explicit declaration as to the stringency of the stipulations. The Hsiung-nu were treated liberally; the market at the barrier was continued, and handsome gifts were forwarded; so that from the Shen-yu downwards, the Hsiung-nu all became firmly attached to the Chinese, and confined their excursions to the outside of the Great Wall.” However, gradually, some conflicts on the border began to bother the emperor, as we can see from the paragraph:

An influence in an opposite direction, however, was at work at court, and within two years of the signing of the treaty a deep laid plot was set on foot by the Chinese, for cutting off the great body of the Hsiung-nu. Nee Yih, an old man, a native of Ma-yeh, was sent as it were clandestinely to negotiate with the Shen-yu. He pointed out to the latter the wealth that might be obtained by the capture of Ma-yeh, and pretended to sell the city to him. Allured by the prospect of gain, and trusting to the representations of Nee, the bait began to take. The Shen-yu entered the Woo-chow stockade with a hundred thousand mounted troops, while the Chinese had more than three hundred thousand troops lying in ambush in a valley near Ma-yeh.

The high dignitary Han Gan-kwo was general of the covering force, to protect the four generals who were to draw the Shen-yu into the ambuscade. …Discovering the state of matters, the general Wang Kwei led forward his forces beyond Tae, intending to overtake and capture the Hsiung-nu store waggons; but on hearing that the Shen-yu had returned, the greater part of the troops refused to proceed. Considering that Wang Kwei was the originator of this plot, and now having failed to follow up the fugitives, he was condemned to death by the emperor. From that time the treaty was abandoned by the Hsiung-nu, who attacked the stockades on the high road, and were constantly committing acts of brigandage on the border, too numerous to mention. They were very glad, however, to avail themselves of the market at the barrier, having become fond of Chinese commodities; and the Chinese were very desirous to cultivate this barrier traffic, as a means of enfeebling their rivals….

澳洲IT代写_澳洲pte代考_代考一般多少钱The first conflicts between Han China and the Xiongnu created different incentives and strategies for conquests. China did not deal with the Xiongnu who invaded to steal goods and resources from China when they were not familiar with the conflicts before the Silk Road was established. It was only after China negotiated with the Xiongnu and began to send them tribute on a regular basis that Xiongnu stopped their incursions for a time.

Furthermore, interactions between China and the Xiongnu opened ways for future forms of conquests. For Chinese government, the Xiongnu people were barbarians who had the strong powers that they had never encountered before, therefore they initially thought that they would be able to suppress and dominte them based on their advantage in numbers. Xiongnu leaders were well-known for their ferocities and cruelty, which at the first place, was difficult for the Chinese court to imagine.

澳洲IT代写_澳洲pte代考_代考一般多少钱As the Xiongnu mainly invaded for Chinese goods and commodities, the use of tributes and gifts developed to be for more than simply commerce; they were tinted with political and military colors. It was stated by Chung-hing Yue that “The presentation of silks and grain from the Han to the Hsiung-nu is merely a clever device to estimate their numbers.” This is an example of the Chinese using tribute in part as a military strategy in order to determine whether they should stay peaceful with the Xiongnu or attempt to drive them out and secure more territories for China.  For China by them, it was difficult for them to get accurate information of the Xiongnu.

Trade between Han China and the Xiongnu also marks the beginning of tribute in the form of people of high social status, namely princesses. Such practices would be undertaken by other states when interacting with China, an indicator that such acts became customary . However, the human tributes sent could also be seen as hostages, so as to prevent an reignition of conflict and war between the states. China wanted for the Xiongnu to become dependent of its markets, people and goods so the Xiongnu can be assimilated. The usage of goods was aimed to yield more than simply commerce, they were also burdened with the tasks of securing foreign relations as the Silk Road became increasingly popular throughout Eurasia. Since the establishment of the Silk Road and Chinese-Xiongnu interactions the use of commodities in the countries have gained multiple layers of uses not a part of their initial design.

Therefore, China began to build the Silk Road, which was not for commercial purposes but rather for defensing the Xiongnu from their territories. They would cooperate with all the forces in the western region to defeat the Xiongnu, They sent Zhang Qian to the west to fulfill the ambition of the emperor. However, because they did not have enough information about the situation in the West, they were finally controlled by Xiongnu. After ten years’ itinerant life, Qian fortunately escaped from them and returned to Chang’an.

Although Qian did not finish the task, surprisingly, he made an excellent summary and analysis of the local customs, landscapes and military forces of each state he saw during his trip. After seven years, when the military forces of Xiongnu were not so strong as before, Qian successfully defeated them, joining the forces of other states in the west. During this battle, he also successfully brought goods from Han to other states along the Silk Road, which led to the establishment of the Silk Road.

In conclusion, it can be estimated that the establishment of the Silk Road had an important effect on shaping the forms of conflicts and commerce among Xiongnu, China and other western states. The ways in which the nomadic culture of the Xiongnu and sedentary community of Han China interacted allowed for the exchanges of ideas, culture, and goods which became prevalent throughout. It would have been interesting to see if such interactions still would have happened or not if the Silk road was never established. Nonetheless, these interactions were irreplaceable in the effects they had on both states, and eventually the rest of the continent to those would become influenced by such ideals in the future.