China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The Qing emperors of the long eighteenth century, namely Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong, and Jiaqing, were capable of propelling political-administrative control across the maritime frontier, under various circumstances, by establishing a navy and customs structure that better prepared the empire for (potential) crises that originated from the sea. In order to reinforce the fact that the Qing was not necessarily a land-based power which failed to develop its maritime awareness before the First Opium War, this paper focuses on the connection between maritime militarization and frontier management through a set of yingxun tu or “diagrams of coastal garrisons.” Most of these diagrams are preserved at the British Library but, to date, have received little scholarly attention. For the purposes of this study, the yingxun tu allow us to appreciate some crucial facets of the Qing’s projection of its sovereign power across its coastal waters prior to a series of Sino-Western military encounters. Collectively, these diagrams help illustrate the fact that the Qing was not apathetic towards its maritime administration; rather, it was proactive in a number of maritime endeavours, including 1) surveying the micro-ecologies and micro-geographies of its maritime frontier; 2) dividing the sea space into inner and outer oceans, both conceptually and practically; 3) actualizing a land-sea protection tactic, cartographically; and 4) defining strategic locations and efficient maritime routes for its navies.