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sufficient military units spared costs when soldiers practiced cultivationand defense in rotation. Once they brought their families to join them, thesoldier-settlers formed the nucleus of permanent settlements. Merchantsfollowed, linking the garrisons with interior trading networks. Then peas-ants arrived, relieving population pressure in poor interior provinces, di-minishing the prospects of famine or revolt, and mixing non-Han peoplewith more loyal settlers from the interior. In Chinese terms, military colo-nies were a policy ofyiju liangde(killing two birds with one stone).In fact, permanent military colonies faced great difficulties. The Han dy-nasty, in the second centurybce, had set up military colonies beyond theGreat Wall, as did the Tang and others, but these colonies were expensiveto maintain. During the great Debates on Salt and Iron, in 81bce, literatiattacked the policy of establishing salt and iron monopolies in order to paythe expenses of military colonies on the Han northwestern frontier.1The abandoned garrison towns of Jiaohe and Gaochang in the Turfanoasis testify to the haunting presence of these ephemeral imperial efforts atcolonization.2Jiaohe reached a peak population of five thousand underthe Tang dynasty. Its ruins now stretch for 1,700 meters north-south and300 meters east-west on top of high cliffs west of Turfan. Gaochang, evenlarger, also began as a Han garrison town and expanded by the seventh cen-tury to become a large Buddhist community and the center of the Uighur
kingdom of KaraKhoja in the ninth century. The Mongol invasion de-stroyed both cities in the fourteenth century. Rediscovered by Germanarchaeologists Albert Grünwedel and Albert von Le Coq in the early twen-tieth century, Gaochang yielded large numbers of manuscripts, mosaics,frescoes, and statuary to these modern-day adventurers and plunderers.The fate of the famous cave paintings of Bezeklik nearby, taken to Berlin byvon le Coq and partly destroyed by American bombs during World War II,epitomizes the vulnerability of these lost Central Eurasian cities.Ming emperors and officials made valiant efforts to develop militarycolonies on a large scale. They quickly failed.3Zhu Yuanzhang, the firstMing emperor, expanded them on an unprecedented scale, especially on thenorthwest frontier and in Liaodong. By the end of his reign, 33,500 soldiershad opened over 16,000qing(400 square miles) of land in Gansu province.Zhu boasted of his ability to support over 1 million men in an army with-out using any civilian grain production at all. Two-thirds of the soldiers inShaanxi were ordered to cultivate fields, while the rest stood watch. But thetroops made poor peasants. By 1392 two-thirds of them had run away. Thelow yields of frontier lands, hardships of agricultural labor, and embezzle-ment of funds by officers made soldiering very unattractive, and renderedit impossible to produce enough grain to feed the troops. In the fifteenthand sixteenth centuries, reformers repeatedly proposed changes to restoreproduction and reduce corruption, to no avail. As Arthur Waldron notes,