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Fortifying the maritime frontier: diagrams of coastal garrisons (Yingxun tu) in the Qing Empire

Po, Ronald C. ORCID: 0000-0002-9678-0536 (2022) Fortifying the maritime frontier: diagrams of coastal garrisons (Yingxun tu) in the Qing Empire. In: Ming Qing Studies. WriteUp Books. ISBN 9788885629387

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The Qing Empire is conventionally presented as a continental power that failed to recognize its maritime obligations and only began to concede the importance of maritime governance after its defeat by the British in the First Opium War. Supposedly, even after that catastrophe, the Qing’s subsequent efforts to strengthen its naval capability were met with frustration and disappointment. Recently, however, a group of maritime historians has challenged the above perceptions, suggesting that the Qing dynasty was not necessarily a land-based power that failed in its attempt to engage with the maritime world but in fact had a sophisticated naval defense doctrine. This paper supports the approaches taken by these historians. It thus features the “new Qing maritime consciousness” through an analysis of a set of yingxun tu or “diagrams of coastal garrisons.” Most of these diagrams are preserved at the British Library but, to date, have received little scholarly attention. For the purposes of this study, the yingxun tu allow us to appreciate certain crucial facets of the Qing dynasty’s projection of sovereign power across its coastal zone prior to a series of Sino-Western military encounters. Collectively, these diagrams reveal that the Qing was not indifferent toward maritime administration, but was proactive in 1) surveying the micro-ecologies and micro-geographies of its maritime frontier; 2) dividing the sea space into inner and outer oceans, both conceptually and practically; 3) cartographically actualizing a land-sea protection tactic; and 4) defining strategic locations and efficient maritime routes for its navies. In the final section of the paper, I will address one additional issue, which is the extent to which those yingxun tu should be viewed not only from a political and naval perspective, but also an aesthetic, iconographic point of view as remarkable and illustrative primary materials among other kinds of historical evidence.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: © 2023 WriteUp Site.
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2023 13:06
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 05:58

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