2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

The Formation of the Ancient China System: A Discussion of Cou-Yun Hsu’s “Network Analysis of China System”

Te-chuan Wang

Department of History, National ChengGhi University

The gist of Hsu’s “Network Analysis of China System” is to provide us with a better understanding of how “China gradually became a big integrated system”. To explore the causes of the issue, Hsu quoted and reformed the “Analysis of Modern World System” proposed by Immanuel Wallerstein as well as the “Study on the Development of Farm Land” by Japanese scholar, Masao Kimura.  The macrocosm of Hsu’s analysis was based upon the theory of market economy with the structure of spatial analysis. Nevertheless, both Wallerstein’s theory and that of Kimura were originated from Marxism.  Hsu first excluded the “class exploitation” in Wallerstein’s analysis but retained the world market and regional power pattern. In the same way, Hsu ruled out the production relationship advocated by Kimura but the “2nd Study on the Development of Farmland” was merged into the structure of market economy by structure.

The market-centered system analysis proposed by Hsu and the theory of free market economy prevailing in the West since 18th century share some common tendencies, among which are a market-centered economic analysis, an individual-orientated social analysis, the neglecting of the role-playing of nations, etc. Tracing back the structuring and corroborative process of Hsu’s analysis, we might come to the conclusion that the market theory has limited the validity of his explication. Besides, Hsu underestimated the active function of nations in the aspect of integrating the regional societies.  The conquest of other regional societies either by core zone or core group and the integration of these regional societies through the establishment of systems and organizations molded the China system between Han Dynasty and Tan Dynasty.  The “political measures” are by all means the key to the understanding of the formation of ancient China system. The effect of cross communication and influence in the ancient system consisting of diversified regional societies was not quite evident. It is surprising then that a leviathan political system should be successfully established among the comparatively isolated regional societies and that these regions should be united under a single core power through the establishment of systems.  Reflection on the formation and transition of ancient empires might help us better understand the formation of ancient system.


Keywords: world system, market economy, regional society, core zone, production relationship