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Stearns research paper: Chinas influence on Japan, Korea, and Vietnam Essay

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In the postclassical era, China had become very successful in their development as a civilization making other cultures, such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, want to imitate their routine so they could compare to China’s power.

After The Taika Reforms, an attempt to empower the Japanese emperor, in 646 CE, Japan, upon seeing China’s success, decided to follow in their footsteps causing a total makeover to their own culture. Starting with some political revamps, Japan adopted Confucian education, Chinese written language, and China’s political etiquette. Japan also transformed their monarchy, making the emperor divine or the “son of heaven”, this also shifted the government to an official Bureaucracy. Moving on to religion, Japan’s Shinto customs fused with China’s Buddhism beliefs for lower classes while Japan’s elites went all in, taking Buddhism completely. All of this can’t last forever and soon, after the Taika reforms collapse, Japan starts reverting back to some of their old customs. Some lasting effects on Japan from China include; new social values and statuses, achievements in literary works, and an impact on women’s rights. In the end Japan abandons the Chinese influence altogether and their political structure collapses causing the Daimyos to take control.

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Korea also had the same idea as Japan, cultural borrowing from China. They copied Buddhism, China’s art & architecture, and Confucian learning. Korea tried bureaucracy as well but they failed, having no support form nobles. Korea was soon almost re-conquered by Tang to take advantage of internal divisions, establish a tribute system instead with new Silla kingdom, 668 CE, this made the boundaries of Korea effectively unchanged from this point forward. Korea started taking after China’s culture again, having an almost total adoption, excluding bureaucracy. After all of this the Yi dynasty was created, lasting from 1392-1910 CE. Korea maintained Chain’s relationship and influence.

Vietnam was most removed from China’s influence and had a sophisticated culture before Chinese influence. They were very conflicted over the benefits of taking up Chinese culture and losing their national identity. When early military conflicts occurred there was cultural diffusion but no political control. Vietnam had a closer connection with SE Asian groups which meant Chinese language, women’s rights, art and literature, and family values differed greatly. But soon Han China conquested Vietnam and Vietnam cooperated in order to learn and adapt. The adoption of Chinese political, military, and farming techniques led to control of neighbors and a population explosion. These adoptions failed to affect Vietnam’s peasants resulting in resistance. Independence was eventually won from the Tang dynasty in 939 CE maintaining this freedom from Mongols and Ming china. After this long conflict and political independence was won, cultural adaptation continued. Vietnam finally established a small-scale bureaucracy relating to the peasants and all was well in Vietnam.

This all shows the power of cultural and political diffusion among different civilizations. Focusing on the postclassical China influencing three different cultures and regions shows how far and wide this diffusion can impact.