East Asia Essay

This essay has a total of 1068 words and 5 pages.


East Asia








During the years between 1000 and 1400 the East Asian region saw extensive change and
development concerning the nature of the elites that ruled respective countries. In China
there was the growth of the examination culture, Japan experienced the emergence of the
Samurai, Korea saw the growth of the Yangban, and Vietnam became content with a tribute
system to China. Each of the respective countries grew and developed independently and
for the most part were able to distance themselves from China and begin to form their own
national identity along with their own system of ruling elites.

In China there is a definite beginning to the new political elite which stems from the
transition from the Tang to Song dynasties culminating in 960. The Zhao Brothers, who are
the leaders of the revolution and the only one’s able to consolidate power, know
that they are only military strong men and realize that they need a system that will help
prevent them from loosing power. As a result they look away from the landed aristocracy,
that had previously ruled China and in the fighting has been greatly weakened, and focus
their attention on creating a new political structure to develop government officials.
The Zhao brothers institute the Confucian Examination System (CES), which no longer relies
on recommendation but is merit based. The provincial exams are held every three years,
with the number of people passing the final exam (Jinshi) being around 100-150 out of the
original 100,000. Around this examination system there was now a rise of a new elite, the
Literati. With the beginning of the CES there began a steady decline of military power in
China and the emergence of the Literati. During the Mongol invasion the exams were
stopped, which led to cultural development of the Literati because they had no political
power with the Mongols, but with the re-institution of the exams by the Mongols in 1313
the Literati again begins once again a slow process of consolidating its power and
legitimizing it through the CES.

In Japan the transformation of a the political elite develops into a new military order.
This transformation takes place during the Heian Period of Japan. The capital is moved to
Kyoto and so with it all the Uji, or large landholders of Japan. The Uji become a very
self-centered self-referential group of elites and eventually become very detached from
what is occurring outside the capital. The imposition of the Shoen, tax-free estates,
placed a heavier burden on peasants and small farmers to pick up the slack of the Shoen.
As a result they became rather disenchanted with the ruling political structure at the
capital. Many of the middle ranking farmers and managers of the large estates begin to
come together and fight for the local interests, they are referred to as the Samurai. In
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