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INTRODUCTION TO ASIAN STUDIES UNIT: INTRODUCTION TO ASIAN CULTURES Essay Example

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  • Level:
    Undergraduate
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Question One

In every political or social unit, the political authority must be observed and respected in order for the system to keep running smoothly. It is for this reason that there was always a means that was used to maintain social order and bring people together so that they may appreciate authority and government. Human beings cannot follow a system blindly, but they need a system that serves their immediate needs and is extremely relevant to them. Whenever a political authority or social order does not meet the needs of its people, rebellion was bound to occur. It is for this reason that in the early Chinese, Indian and, Korean forms of social organizations, there were principles that bonded people together and ensured the continued stability of these forms of governments or orders1.

A well-developed political system existed in China as early as in 1000 CE. China was a superpower for a long time, even after the collapse of the Mongol empire2. China was able to have a form of sustained growth until the early days of the industrial revolution when other nations surpassed it but missed the boat. This is a clear implication that the political authority and social order was highly regarded and valued by the citizenry3. Indeed, the structures that existed in China required an operational government in order to function. This is like the well-organized trade system that was supported by the extensive road networks, excellent diplomatic relations and well-regulated trade laws. Without a central government, people would envisage the collapse of that system which they so much depended on. Lack of law and order would be an utmost threat to this thriving business and their way of life. People needed a form of government to carry on the trade. Breakdown in the social order would lead to problems in trade, which not only meant a livelihood for them, but also make it extremely difficult to survive and do business in the country4. It would ensure that there was law and order, which is essential for a community to thrive, which helps to eliminate unwanted and undesirable characters in the society. These were a real threat to the existence of the society in addition, in the absence of an organized political system would require that the communities to organize their own militias and gangs to safeguard their interests.

In the period when there was no distinct world order, there was a need to have a military authority that would provide protection from external invasion5. This is what made people seek a system that would guarantee them sovereignty and group security from any form of invasion. The need for peace and stability would thus form a basis for people to have a working and stable political authority.

The Indian subcontinent was rather isolated and had a unique culture, which made it different from the surrounding countries prior to British invasion6. However, several uniting factors led to the unity of the country for a long time. Internal trade provided for a means to exchange products in the extremely specialized community. There was a lot of interdependence, which would be affected by any form of disruption of the social order that existed. It would also make it difficult to trade with other neighboring regions and even within the society itself. Religious beliefs were and still are a unifying factor in India. Fear of repercussions for disobeying or going against the religious code of conduct involved promoting social unity in this culture7. India has held on to their unique religious culture for a long time, which is observed with a lot of vigor. This helped to deal with ordinary social problems that are a common in many cultures and societies8. This in itself would mean that social order was highly valued as it is consistent with these stringent religious requirements.

India also had a form of aristocratic society, where different social status called a caste system existed for different people. Movement between these social classes was possible but quite limited unless with a lot of hard work and effort. An existence of social order would therefore, guarantee that the status quo was maintained, as well as ensuring that people were able to work effectively and achieve high success and status in life. This also called for a functional government that would facilitate working. The culture of hard work was highly valued in the Indian society.

There are several similarities in the two cultural spheres. The need to maintain functional trade structures is prevalent in both cases. This has led to people in both cultures upholding the political structures that can help them to maintain satisfactory trading environment in both local and international standards. Trade contributed significantly to the growth of the political structures in both countries, as they were deemed necessary for trade to exist9. Threats were available in both local and external threats.

There is also an acceptance of a set social order that was accepted in both societies. Since these cultures existed as distinct social groupings that were unique in every location, they had similar structures that were set to ensure that the society operated normally. The value placed in a unified community existed in both cultures, bringing similarities to the practices that they did to ensure unity10.

Several differences are visible between the two cultures. China exercised a fantastic deal of freedom of worship, allowing people with different religious beliefs to live together and exercise their beliefs11. These religions may have different values and beliefs, including a room for atheists and those who do not have any religious inclination. This is not the case in India, where there seems to be a united religion and many people subscribed to a similar religion12. In India, religion was a significant source of the drive for social order.

The threat from an external invasion seems to be more real to the Chinese country than to India. India is strategically located, being protected by the vast coastline that would necessitate a naval attack in case one wanted to occupy the land. Because of this, India did not need to have a powerful military or government to protect the sovereignty of the nation13. On the other hand, China was consistently faced by the risk of overland invasion, leading to the need for a strong military that would protect the country from any external threat. This served as a unifying factor.

Bibliography

Beaujard, P. (2010). From Three Possible Iron-Age World-Systems to a Single Afro-Eurasian World-System. Journal of World History 21(1): 1- 43

Bickers, R. (2011). China’s Age of Fragility. History Today 61(1): 29-36

Boivin, N. and Fuller, D. (2009). Shell Middens, Ships and Seeds: Exploring Coastal Subsistence, Maritime Trade and the Dispersal of Domesticates in and Around the Ancient Arabian Peninsula. Journal of World Prehistory 22(2) 113-180

Chakrabarty, D. (2008). The public life of history: an argument out of India. Postcolonial Studies 11(2)169-190

Clark, G. (2008). World History. World Almanac & Book of Facts 22.1 651-678

Ezzamel, M. and Xiao J. (2007). Political ideology and accounting regulation in China. Accounting, Organizations and Society 32 (7-8): 669-700

Grypma S. (2007). Withdrawal from Weihui: China missions and the silencing of missionary nursing, 1888-1947. Journal of Nursing Inquiry,14 (4): 306-19

Morris, I. (2010). Latitudes not Attitudes. History Today 60.11 27-33

Nigosian, S. (2010). Religion through the Ages. Theological Review 31(2) 179-202

Qiang F. (2008). Were Chinese rulers above the law? Toward A Theory of the Rule of Law in China from Early Times to 1949 CE. Stanford Journal of International Law 44 (1) 101-146

Wang, Q. (2010). ‘Rise of the Great Powers’=Rise of China? Challenges of the advancement of global history in the People’s Republic of China. Journal of Contemporary China 19(64): 273-289

Xiang X. (2009). World History Studies in Twentieth-Century China. Chinese Studies in History 42(3): 57-96

Yafeng Xia. (2008). The Study of Cold War International History in China. Journal of Cold War Studies, 10(1): 81-115

1
Wang, Q. (2010). ‘Rise of the Great Powers’=Rise of China? Challenges of the advancement of global history in the People’s Republic of China. Journal of Contemporary China 19(64): 273-289

2
Xiang X. (2009). World History Studies in Twentieth-Century China. Chinese Studies in History 42(3): 57-96

3
Chakrabarty, D. (2008). The public life of history: an argument out of India. Postcolonial Studies 11(2)169-190

4
Bickers, R. (2011). China’s Age of Fragility. History Today 61(1): 29-36

5
Qiang F. (2008). Were Chinese rulers above the law? Toward A Theory of the Rule of Law in China from Early Times to 1949 CE. Stanford Journal of International Law 44 (1) 101-146

6
Beaujard, P. (2010). From Three Possible Iron-Age World-Systems to a Single Afro-Eurasian World-System. Journal of World History 21(1): 1- 43

7
Boivin, N. and Fuller, D. (2009). Shell Middens, Ships and Seeds: Exploring Coastal Subsistence, Maritime Trade and the Dispersal of Domesticates in and Around the Ancient Arabian Peninsula. Journal of World Prehistory 22(2) 113-180

8
Grypma S. (2007). Withdrawal from Weihui: China missions and the silencing of missionary nursing, 1888-1947. Journal of Nursing Inquiry,14 (4): 306-19

9
Ezzamel, M. and Xiao J. (2007). Political ideology and accounting regulation in China. Accounting, Organizations and Society 32 (7-8): 669-700

10
Clark, G. (2008). World History. World Almanac & Book of Facts 22.1 651-678

11
Grypma S. (2007). Withdrawal from Weihui: China missions and the silencing of missionary nursing, 1888-1947. Journal of Nursing Inquiry,14 (4): 306-19

12
Morris, I. (2010). Latitudes not Attitudes. History Today 60.11 27-33

13
Boivin, N. and Fuller, D. (2009). Shell Middens, Ships and Seeds: Exploring Coastal Subsistence, Maritime Trade and the Dispersal of Domesticates in and Around the Ancient Arabian Peninsula. Journal of World Prehistory 22(2) 113-180

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