"Every perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination."
-- Gerald Edelman, Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
3 China’s Lessons and Its Ways of Operating5 China’s Lessons and Its Ways of OperatingChina’s Lessons and Its Ways of OperatingChapter 6: The Big Cycle of China and Its Currency2020-10-09Journal
Geographically China is basically one giant plain surrounded by big natural borders (mountains and seas) with a giant population in that plain. For that reason most of China’s world was within those borders and most wars were for control of it and were fought within those natural borders, mostly between the Chinese themselves, though sometimes between foreign invaders and the Chinese.
As far as wars and the philosophies about them are concerned, the goals have traditionally been to ideally win wars not by fighting but by quietly developing one’s power so that it is greater than the opponent’s so that one can then show it and have the opponent capitulate without fighting. There is also the extensive use of psychology to influence the opponents’ behaviors to produce the desired results.\[8\] Still there have been numerous violent wars inside of China over the dynasties, though there haven’t been many outside of China. Those that were outside China were for the purpose of establishing China’s relative power, security, and trade, not for occupation. Scholars believe that China’s lack of significant expansion of its empire outside of China is because the land mass of China is so large that controlling it has been more than enough to handle, because it is has largely been self-sufficient in resources, and because they have preferred to maintain their culture with a purity that is best achieved through isolation. Unlike other great empires that have conquered and occupied other countries, it was relatively uncommon for China to occupy distant states. Traditionally the Chinese have preferred to enter into relations with empires outside their borders in a manner that is similar to what one might expect from the previously mentioned philosophies—i.e., with the parties knowing their places and acting accordingly and with their places determined by their relative powers. For example, if China is more powerful, which was typically the case in its region, the less powerful states typically paid tribute to China with gifts and favors and in return typically received guarantees of peace, recognition of their authority, and trading opportunities. These subordinate countries typically maintained their customs and experienced no interference in how their countries were run.\[9\]