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China, a History


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Bee Cha
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« Reply #45 on: September 02, 2007, 12:42:48 am »

Interstate relations

During the period a complex system of interstate relations developed. It was partially structured upon the Western Zhou system of feudalism, but elements of realpolitik were emerging. A collection of interstate customary norms and values, which can perhaps be loosely termed international law, was also evident. As the operational and cultural areas of states expanded and intersected, diplomatic encounters increased.

Changing tempo of war

After a period of increasingly exhaustive warfare, Qi, Qin, Jin and Chu finally met for a disarmament conference in 579 BC, where the other states essentially became satellites. In 546 BC, Jin and Chu agreed to yet another truce.

During the relatively peaceful 6th century BC, the two coastal states in today's Zhejiang, Wu and Yue, gradually grew in power. After defeating and banishing King Fu Chai of Wu, King Gou Jian of Yue (r. 496 BC-465 BC) became the last recognized overlord.

This era of peace was only a prelude to the maelstrom of the Warring States Period. The four powerful states were all in the midst of power struggles. Six elite landholding families waged war on each other in Jin. The Chen family was eliminating political enemies in Qi. Legitimacy of the rulers was often challenged in civil wars by various royal family members in Qin and Chu. Once all these power strugglers firmly established themselves in their dominions, the bloodshed among states would continue in the Warring State Period. The Warring States Period officially started in 403 BC when the three remaining elite families in Jin - Zhao, Wei and Han - partitioned the state; the impotent Zhou court was forced to recognize their authority.

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