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China's Borderland History and Geography Studies is the only comprehensive academic journal related to china's borderland study. It determines to devote to promoting the development of china's borderland and academic advance in china's borderland history study.
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“Suzerainty” and collapse of the traditional suzerain-vassal relations: from the perspective of the origin of “suzerain-vassal relations”
China's Borderland History and Geography Studies,2017,Vol 27,No. 01
This paper, by tracing the emergence of the Chinese translation of the term, “suzerainty,” pointed out that the term appeared in the last few years of the Qing Dynasty from Japan after the introduction of Japanese international law works. The Chinese traditional vassal relations with surrounding states were different from the “suzerain-vassal” relations of the Western international law in the 19th century and the latter conception represented the potential rule in the international community, so the traditional vassalage system was inevitably challenged and needed adjustment. Meanwhile, due to Qing governments’ slow recognition of “suzerainty,” weakness, and occupation by the imperial powers, the Qing governments could not readjust its relations with traditional vassal states according to the international law of the 19th century, which led to the collapse of its traditional vassalage system. When “suzerainty” and “suzerain” became fixed terms in China, the later scholars used them to rewrite history, hence the “suzerain-vassal relations” and other terms emerged.