The Far East. A Concise History by F. C. Jones and G. M. D. Howat (Auth.)

By F. C. Jones and G. M. D. Howat (Auth.)

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THE MANCHU ADMINISTRATION The Manchu rulers took over the Ming administration and made few changes of consequence. At the head was the emperor himself, the Son of Heaven. Theoretically all-powerful, his actual influence depended in the first place upon his own character, but even a capable and strong-willed emperor had to pay due regard to the force of custom and tradition. Any undue departure from this met with the passive, but effective opposition of the bureaucracy. The highest ranking group of officials in the central government at Peking were the six members of the Grand Secretariat, but under the Manchus the Secretariat tended to become a largely honorary and ornamental body, while policy making was confided to the Council of State — the members of which might include some of the Grand Secretaries and some of the ministers of the six Boards or Departments.

In south Korea two other kingdoms arose, Paikche on the south-west and Silla, on the south-east. On the south coast there was a small region called Mimana, which was for some time under Japanese control. Paikche was generally in alliance with Japan, and at war with Silla, which looked to China for aid. In the mid-sixth century A. D. Silla succeeded in annexing Mimana, profiting by disunity in Japan and a Kogoryu threat to Paikche. In the early seventh century Kogoryu was strong enough to inflict a crushing defeat upon the Sui Emperor Yang who had launched a great invasion.

The Mongols, who had recovered their independence in the middle of the fourteenth century, were a constant menace to the frontier provinces of north China. The paralysis of maritime enterprise after 1431 exposed the coast of China to constant raids by Japanese and Chinese pirates, which necessitated the organization of a coastguard service. From 1592 to 1598 the Ming armies were heavily engaged in Korea against the Japanese invasion set onfoot by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. They were ultimately successful, but at a heavy cost in lives and money, which added to the drain on Ming resources.

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