Good Essay About The Relationship Between The Uighur Khagnate And Tang China

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: China, Uighur, Relationships, Economics, Criminal Justice, Marriage, People, Court

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/11/13

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After the Uighurs rebelled against the ruling Gojturk Khagnate in 74, they established a separate state which held a significant importance for Turkic civilization. Initially, the Uighurs controlled a vast area and enjoyed considerable power in the region. They were mostly a warlike people; therefore, it did not take them much time to establish a strong foothold in the territory. They enjoyed power for quite a long time until their decline started in 839.
The Uighurs were defined as strong and sturdy people who were swift with horses and sharp in trade. Their vigor and strength posed a continuous threat to the neighboring states which did not have large armies. Amongst them was Tang China whose military forces were not as powerful as the Uighurs. On the other hand, China was one of the oldest civilizations and Uighurs could attain great benefits from them. This contrast led to volatile economic, diplomatic and cultural relationships between the two. Culturally, being an old empire, China had a great influence on Uighur which was a fairly new state. Also, demographically, China’s population was far greater than Uighur’s, which gave it an added advantage; as even though Uighur comprised of a huge area, its population was scanty. Most importantly, the Chinese were rich in resources and were economically far superior. However, the hostile nature of the Uighurs was alarming for all its neighbors and they felt compelled to cultivate friendly relations with them.
The relationship between China and Ughurn was established during the course of the An Lushan rebellion which broke out towards the end of 755 and was considered to be the largest rebellion of its time. When the weakened Imperial Court realized it did not have the arms and ammunition to defend its people, it turned to the Uighurs for aid. The battle was fought in two phases; one in 757 and the other after five years. Uighur helped them during both the phases in suppressing the rebellion. As a result of this military aid, Uighur became essentially involved with the internal affairs of China (Slobodnik). They established a substantial influence over Chinese politics and reaped great economic benefits as well in the shape of trade. As the Chinese court saw it, the Tangs paid a heavy price for allying with an unreliable neighbor and granting him many undeserved privileges. Another perk bestowed upon the Uighurs by the Chinese was that the Tang court officially recognized each new kegan and gave him an officially appointed title. This gave a sense of recognition and importance to the Uighurs and developed diplomatic relations between the two. This, however, did not sit well with the Chinese court who never saw Uighur to be worthy of such recognition.
The Chinese and the Uighurs influenced each other on economic, political and diplomatic matters. Economically, the Sino-Uighur relationship developed through which Chinese silk was traded for Uighur horses. Being the powerful people that they were, the Uighurs were skilled horsemen and had invaded many territories swiftly because of this. They utilized this asset in attaining many monetary benefits. The usual trade between Uighur-Tang was; one horse for forty pieces of silk. This was more of an imposed trade as a payment in return for military support. This deal left many Chinese distressed as it was an unfair bargain in their view and they felt exploited and underpaid. They did not see much use for the horses which they were getting in return for their expensive silk. This led them to believe that the Uighurs were unreliable and canny people. When the consignment of horses due from the Uighurs started to dwindle, their apprehensions and fears were confirmed and they started to expect that Uighur was just waiting for the right time to attack China. The Chinese had little faith in their armies and defense mechanism. They felt vulnerable as far as their unprotected borders were concerned. They had learnt a lesson after the An Lushan rebellion and knew that they could not blindly trust the Uighurs; they feared that their allies were capable of violating the boundaries, in which case, the Tangs were in no position to defend their people. This military incompetency of the Tangs is one aspect which places them below the Uighurs.
The level of mistrust and suspicion showed by the Tangs towards the Uighurs shows that even though China was a bigger and older state; the later still had a psychological power over the former. After all the agreements, the Chinese still constantly expected the Uighurs to violate the treaties and invade their strategically important areas. The fact that the Uighurs were fully equipped with the knowledge of China’s strategically important geographic locations and were familiar with all the routes and directions, bothered and worried the Chinese to a great extent. They knew that if an attack were to happen, the invaders would be victorious.
The unpredictable relationship between Uighar and Tibet was also worrisome for the Chinese as they did not fully trust either. As until the death of Emperor Daizong, the Uighurs proved to more loyal allies than Tibetans but later on the paradigm shifted and a new strategy to restrain Uighurs was proposed (Slobodnik). Another fear that gripped the Tangs was a possible treaty between the Tibetans and the Uighurs, in which case, the collateral damage was to fall on the Chinese.
Amongst all these apprehensions and threats, a very distinct aspect was the diplomatic marriages between the Chinese princes and Uighurs rulers. During the period 744 to 840, six princes were married to Uighur kagans (Mackerras). But in 813, when Baoyi Kagan asked for the hand of a Chinese princess, he was rejected for the great distress of the Chinese court whose members understood the significance of these marriages. While it was not uncommon in China to get its princes married to foreign rulers, these diplomatic marriages with Uighurs rulers had multiple reasons behind them. The foremost reason being; to maintain peace. Along with the silk-horse trade, these marriages provided an additional reason to refrain from war. Of many advantages that were to come of this union, the first was positive relationships with the Uighurs. The constant fear of being unprepared for an invasion could be subdued if a marriage were to take place and the time earned could be utilized for reassembling the forces on the borders and strengthening the fortresses on the northern border. And with peace maintained on one side, the focus could be shifted to the southern border to avoid any unforeseen disruptions. As Uighur and Tibet were not on good terms, these marriages would aggravate the Tibetans which would create a state on uncertainty within their territory. This would give further security to the Chinese army and allow them to focus on reorganizing themselves. The court also highlighted the fact that the cost incurred in sending the princess to the Uighurs would not be as much as the amount spent on defense. The Chinese had less to lose and much to gain from this marriage. After the initial rejection in 813, Xianzong finally gave his consent in 820.
This marriage was not just an attempt at maintaining peace by the Chinese but also an important matter for the Uighurs. As a token of respect, they sent a big delegation to receive the princess. This shows that it was not only the Tangs who wanted to avoid collision with their neighbors but the Uighurs were also eager to further cement better relationship with the Chinese. Being rebellious by nature, they did not fear invasion from their neighbors but the advantages of having fruitful relationships were not lost on them. The respect and protocol that was given to the Chinese princess became exemplary for inter-state weddings. The marriage paved the way for developing a progressive relationship on economic, political and cultural fronts between Uighar-Tang. This coming together of two completely different civilizations changed the dynamics of not only their regions but the entire world. Therefore, it is suffice to say that even though the Tangs were more apprehensive of Uighur’s existence, the later also believed in avoiding disruptions.
Apart from the military supremacy, Uighur did not have any upper hand on China. Being the older and bigger of the two, China played an integral role in changing the demographics of Uighur. She profoundly influenced this newly established state socially, culturally and economically. The constant quarrel between modern Han Chinese and Uighurs in the Xinjiang province shows that these races have forgotten their association over the years. It is imperative for the Uighurs especially to remain an integral part of China and work for its progress as it is a very rich area.

Works cited

Slobodnik, Martin. “The early policy of Emperor Tang Dezong (799-805) towards Inner Asia”. 1997
Mackerras, Colin. “Relations between te Uighurs and Tang China 744-840”. n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.

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Good Essay About The Relationship Between The Uighur Khagnate And Tang China. Free Essay Examples - Published Nov 13, 2020. Accessed July 23, 2021.

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