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4 - East Asia’s First World War, 643–668

from Part II - The East Asian System over Time

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 October 2020

Stephan Haggard
Affiliation:
University of California, San Diego
David C. Kang
Affiliation:
University of Southern California
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Summary

Between 643 and 668 CE, East Asia was engulfed by a war that drew in nearly every state in the region. During the preceding centuries, peripheral states used tribute and investiture relations to balance competing Chinese empires against each other, but the unification of China under the Sui disrupted this strategy. As tension emerged between Koguryŏ and the Chinese empires, Silla and Paekche repeatedly sought to advance their interests by drawing the Sui and Tang into conflicts on the Korean peninsula. The result was a massive reconfiguration of the region: Paekche and Koguryŏ were destroyed, Silla consolidated control of the Korean peninsula, and Yamato entered a period of rapid centralization, while the Tang retreated. These events demand our attention because they offer insight into the flexibility of East Asian tribute and investiture relations, which shifted but endured throughout this period of extreme volatility.

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East Asia in the World
Twelve Events That Shaped the Modern International Order
, pp. 67 - 80
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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