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    Brashier, K.E. 1996. A Poetic Exposition on Heaven and Earth by Chenggong Sui (231-273). Journal of Chinese Religions, Vol. 24, Issue. 1, p. 1.

  • Print publication year: 1986
  • Online publication date: March 2008

6 - Han foreign relations

As Tsou Yen's theory increasingly gained currency, China's self-image of its geographical situation underwent a fundamental change. The Han Chinese world order not only existed as an idea, but, more important, also expressed itself in an institutional form. The Han world order was defined mainly in terms of the so-called five-zone or wu-fu theory. The five-zone theory played an important historical role in the development of foreign relations during the Han period. Central to the institutional expressions of the Han understanding of world order is the development of the famous tributary system. The first great challenge faced by Han statesmen in their shaping of a foreign policy emanated from the steppe-based empire to the north, that of the Hsiung-nu. On the financial and material side, Hu-han-yeh was rewarded for his participation in the tributary system. The financial part of the tributary system proved to be particularly attractive to the Hsiung-nu.
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