Crisis Management vs Ethnic Tension: The Qing Dynasty's Dilemma

When:19 Aug 2019, 4pm - 5:30pm
Venue:Morven Brown Building, Room 310
Who:Dr. Cyrus Yee, Sun Yat-sen University

Abstract: This talk will examine the migration and settlement of Han Chinese farmers in Inner Mongolia during the Qing period (1644–1911). The presence of large numbers of Han settlements was an outcome desired by none of the concerned parties, especially the Qing rulers, who had tried to keep the two peoples separate since the establishment of the dynasty.

The Qing rulers aside, the loss of lands to Han tillers was also an unforeseen outcome for the Mongol landlords when they first recruited these tillers as a source of cheap labour. For the Han migrants, the decision to break with their own roots and settle in an alien land was against their own wishes. In short, rather than any imperial design, this was the product of the convergence of diverse factors: geography, social condition, human greed and an instinct to survive.

This topic has rarely been dealt with in any depth in the English literature on Qing or Mongol history. Yet the presence of numerous Han settlers has been one of the major historical forces that have transformed ties between modern Inner Mongolia and China, and its effects are still profound today. In this talk, I will focus on the Qing court’s dilemma, and examine why it was unable to resolve it.

Bio: Dr. Cyrus Yee is an Associate Research Fellow I in History at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. He received his PhD (History) from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (2017). He holds two MAs and an MPhil degree in History from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong, respectively. His areas of interest include China’s frontier studies, the history of the Mongol Empire, history of modern China, history and politics of Taiwan, cross-Strait relations, history of China’s foreign relations, and the comparative study of Chinese and Western culture. Major publications include “Han Migrant Farmers in Qing Inner Mongolia: Reluctant Pioneers or Human Great Wall?” (forthcoming) and “Wither Mongolian Consciousness? or Ethnic Politics in Mongolia in Early 20th Century.”

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