CHAPTER 10 ‐ Inner and Eastern Asia, 600–1200
After studying this chapter students should:
Understand the role of Buddhism and its relationship to the Tang state and the reasons for and results of the backlash against
Buddhism in the late Tang and Song periods.
Be able to discuss the history and the significance of the relationships between China and its neighbors, including Central Asia,
Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.
Be able to carry out a simple comparative analysis of the different roles of Buddhism in China, Tibet, Korea, and Japan.
Understand the nature and significance of technological innovation in the Song Empire.
The Sui and Tang Empires, 581–755
Reunification Under the Sui and Tang
The Sui Empire reunified China and established a government based on Confucianism but heavily influenced by
Buddhism. The Sui’s rapid decline and fall may have been due to its having spent large amounts of resources on a
number of ambitious construction, canal, irrigation, and military projects.
The Tang Empire was established in 618. The Tang state carried out a program of territorial expansion, avoided
over-centralization, and combined Turkic influence with Chinese Confucian traditions.
Buddhism and the Tang Empire
The Tang emperors legitimized their control by using the Buddhist idea that kings are spiritual agents who bring
their subjects into a Buddhist realm. Buddhist monasteries were important allies of the early Tang emperors; in
return for their assistance, they received tax exemptions, land, and gifts.
Mahayana Buddhism was the most important school of Buddhism in Central Asia and East Asia. Mahayana beliefs
were flexible, encouraged the adaptation of local deities into a Mahayana pantheon, and encouraged the translation
of Buddhist texts into local languages.
Buddhism spread through Central and East Asia, following the trade routes that converged on the Tang capital,
Chang’an. These trade routes also brought other peoples and cultural influences to Chang’an, making it a
To Chang’an by Land and Sea
Chang’an was the destination of ambassadors from other states sent to China under the tributary system. The city of
Chang’an itself had over a million residents, most of them living outside the city walls.
Foreigners in Chang’an lived in special compounds, urban residents in walled, gated residential quarters. Roads and
canals, including the Grand Canal, brought people and goods to the city. With Chinese control over South China
firmly established, Islamic and Jewish merchants from Western Asia came to China via the Indian Ocean trade