War on the Empires Periphery: Asymmetric Conflict in South-West China
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The Han Chinese, who expanded from the Huang He basin, managed to conquer and assimilate the original inhabitants of what is now southern China. Their conquest of south-western (modern Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi) areas was much slower, because of the difficult terrain and opposition from aborigines. This conflict of the Chinese empire with Thai and Mong-Khmer tribes fits Andrew Macks definition of an asymmetric conflict, so great was the difference in war capabilities between the antagonists. Despite great costs of invasions and of subsequent quelling numerous uprising, the empire persevered in occupying the south-west; the decisive factors were: the need to protect the borders and to build a stable society in frontier areas; large immigration of the Hans into the area; strong belief of Chinese officials that their actions were morally right; the ability to use brutal and inhumane methods of warfare, including attack on civilians; lack of external constrains for the Chinese and lack of external help for the aborigines; and the aborigines inability to influence Chinese public opinion. For these reasons, the Chinese political ability to wage war in the south-west was never undermined, which according to the theory of asymmetric conflict is the decisive factor in winning the war by the stronger of the combatants.
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