Tributary system of China

The tributary system of China (simplified Chinese: 中华朝贡体系; traditional Chinese: 中華朝貢體系; pinyin: Zhōnghuá cháogòng tǐxì), or Cefeng system (simplified Chinese: 册封体制; traditional Chinese: 冊封體制; pinyin: Cèfēng tǐzhì) was a network of loose international relations focused on China which facilitated trade and foreign relations by acknowledging China's predominant role in East Asia. It involved multiple relationships of trade, military force, diplomacy and ritual. The other states had to send a tributary envoy to China on schedule, who would kowtow to the Chinese emperor as a form of tribute, and acknowledge his superiority and precedence. The other countries followed China's formal ritual in order to keep the peace with the more powerful neighbor and be eligible for diplomatic or military help under certain conditions. Political actors within the tributary system were largely autonomous and in almost all cases virtually independent.[1]

Mural from the Qianling Mausoleum in Shaanxi, 706. Tributary envoys are being received at court. The bald man in the middle is from the West and the man to his right is from Silla.


Tributary envoys from Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla. Painting produced 7th century AD by Yan Liben (c. 600–673).

The term "tribute system", strictly speaking, is a Western invention. There was no equivalent term in the Chinese lexicon to describe what would be considered the "tribute system" today, nor was it envisioned as an institution or system. John King Fairbank and Teng Ssu-yu created the "tribute system" theory in a series of articles in the early 1940s to describe "a set of ideas and practices developed and perpetuated by the rulers of China over many centuries." The Fairbank model presents the tribute system as an extension of the hierarchic and nonegalitarian Confucian social order. The more Confucian the actors, the more likely they were to participate in the tributary system.[2]

The Portraits of Periodical Offering of Liang. 6th-century painting in National Museum of China. Tributary envoys from right to left: Uar (Hephthalites); Persia; Baekje (Korea); Qiuci; Wo (Japan); Langkasuka (in present-day Malaysia); Dengzhi (鄧至) (Qiang) Ngawa; Zhouguke (周古柯), Hebatan (呵跋檀), Humidan (胡密丹), Baiti (白題, similar to the Hephthalite people), who dwell close to Hephthalite; Mo (Qiemo).

In practice

A Ming-era painting of a tribute giraffe, which was thought to be a Qilin by court officials, from Bengal

The "tribute system" is often associated with a "Confucian world order", under which neighboring states complied and participated in the "tribute system" to secure guarantees of peace, investiture, and trading opportunities.[3] One member acknowledged another's position as superior, and the superior would bestow investiture upon them in the form of a crown, official seal, and formal robes, to confirm them as king.[4] The practice of investing non-Chinese neighbors had been practiced since ancient times as a concrete expression of the loose reign policy.[5] The rulers of Joseon, in particular, sought to legitimize their rule through reference to Chinese symbolic authority. On the opposite side of the tributary relationship spectrum was Japan, whose leaders could hurt their own legitimacy by identifying with Chinese authority.[6] In these politically tricky situations, sometimes a false king was set up to receive investiture for the purposes of tribute trade.[7]

In practice, the tribute system only became formalized during the early years of the Ming dynasty. The "tribute" entailed a foreign court sending envoys and exotic products to the Chinese emperor. The emperor then gave the envoys gifts in return and permitted them to trade in China. Presenting tribute involved theatrical subordination but usually not political subordination. The political sacrifice of participating actors was simply "symbolic obeisance".[8] Actors within the "tribute system" were virtually autonomous and carried out their own agendas despite sending tribute; as was the case with Japan, Korea, Ryukyu, and Vietnam.[9] Chinese influence on tributary states was almost always non-interventionist in nature and tributary states "normally could expect no military assistance from Chinese armies should they be invaded".[10][11] For example, when the Hongwu Emperor learned that the Vietnamese attacked Champa, he only rebuked them,[12] and did not intervene in the 1471 Vietnamese invasion of Champa, which resulted in the destruction of that country. Both Vietnam and Champa were tributary states. When the Malacca sultanate sent envoys to China in 1481 to inform them that while returning to Malacca in 1469 from a trip to China, the Vietnamese had attacked them, castrating the young and enslaving them, China still did not interfere with affairs in Vietnam. The Malaccans reported that Vietnam was in control of Champa and also that the Vietnamese sought to conquer Malacca, but the Malaccans did not fight back because of a lack of permission from the Chinese to engage in war. The Ming emperor scolded them, ordering the Malaccans to strike back with violent force if the Vietnamese attacked.[13]

According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution covering Vietnam-China relations from 1365 to 1841, "the Vietnamese court explicitly recognized its unequal status in its relations with China through a number of institutions and norms." Due to their participation in the tributary system, Vietnamese rulers behaved as though China was not a threat and paid very little military attention to it. Rather, Vietnamese leaders were clearly more concerned with quelling chronic domestic instability and managing relations with kingdoms to their south and west."[14]

Nor were states that sent tribute forced to mimic Chinese institutions, for example in cases such as the Inner Asians, who basically ignored the trappings of Chinese government. Instead they manipulated Chinese tribute practices for their own financial benefit.[15] The gifts doled out by the Ming emperor and the trade permits granted were of greater value than the tribute itself, so tribute states sent as many tribute missions as they could. In 1372, the Hongwu Emperor restricted tribute missions from Joseon and six other countries to just one every three years. The Ryukyu Kingdom was not included in this list, and sent 57 tribute missions from 1372 to 1398, an average of two tribute missions per year. Since geographical density and proximity was not an issue, regions with multiple kings such as the Sultanate of Sulu benefited immensely from this exchange.[7] This also caused odd situations such as the Turpan Khanate simultaneously raiding Ming territory and offering tribute at the same time because they were eager to obtain the emperor's gifts, which were given in the hope that it might stop the raiding.

Participation in a tributary relationship with a Chinese dynasty could also be predicated on cultural or civilizational motivations rather than material and monetary benefits. The Korean kingdom of Joseon did not treat the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, which invaded Joseon and forced it to become a tributary in 1636, in the same way as the Han-led Ming dynasty. Joseon had continued to support the Ming in their wars against the Qing despite incurring military retaliation from the latter. The Manchus were viewed as barbarians by the Korean court, which, regarding itself as the new "Confucian ideological center" in place of the Ming, continued to use the Ming calendar and era names in defiance of the Qing, despite sending tribute missions.[16] Meanwhile, Japan avoided direct contact with Qing China and instead manipulated embassies from neighboring Joseon and Ryukyu to make it falsely appear as though they came to pay tribute.[17] Joseon Korea remained a tributary of Qing China until 1895, when the First Sino-Japanese War ended this relationship.


The Chinese tributary system required a set of rituals from the tributary states whenever they sought relations with China as a way of regulating diplomatic relations.[18] The main rituals generally included:

  • The sending of missions by tributary states to China[18]
  • The tributary envoys' kowtowing before the Chinese emperor as "a symbolic recognition of their inferiority" and "acknowledgment of their status of a vassal state[18]
  • The presentation of tribute and receipt of the emperor's "vassals' gifts"[18]
  • The investiture of the tributary state's ruler as the legitimate king of his land[18]

After the completion of the rituals, the tributary states engaged in their desired business, such as trade.[18]


Kyrgyz deliver a white horse as a tribute to the Qianlong Emperor of China (1757), soon after the Qing conquest of Xinjiang. Soon, intensive trade started in Kulja and Chuguchak, Kyrgyz horses, sheep and goats being traded for Chinese silk and cotton fabrics.[19]

Tributary relations emerged during the Tang dynasty as Chinese rulers started perceiving foreign envoys bearing tribute as a "token of conformity to the Chinese world order".[20]

The Ming founder Hongwu Emperor adopted a maritime prohibition policy and issued tallies to "tribute-bearing" embassies for missions. Missions were subject to limits on the number of persons and items allowed.[21]


Jinhan and Mahan were recorded paying tribute to the Jin dynasty of China from 280 AD repeatedly in the Book of Jin.[22][23]

The Records of the Three Kingdoms recorded Goguryeo sent envoys to the Han dynasty with tributes to Emperor Guangwu of Han as a principality state in 30 AD.[24] Goguryeo continued to pay tribute to the proceeding Chinese dynasties: Jin dynasty,[25] Northern Wei,[26] Northern Zhou, Sui dynasty,[27] and Tang dynasty.[28]

Baekje was first recorded sending tribute to Northern Wei in the Book of Wei.[29] Baekje sent tribute to the Jin dynasty in 372 AD, recorded in the Book of Jin.[30] It is recorded in the Book of Sui that after the Sui dynasty's founding, Wideok of Baekje sent envoys and tributes to Emperor Wen of Sui.[31] Later, when Sui dynasty was conquering the Chen dynasty, a warship floated to Tamna; on its way back, the ship passed by Baekje, and the King Wideok sent sufficient supplies to the crew along with an envoy to send congratulations for defeating the Chen dynasty to Emperor Wen. Emperor Wen was touched and issued an imperial edict to exempt Baekje's yearly tribute.[32] However, Baekje still sent tributes to Sui dynasty to plea for war against Goguryeo in 598 AD and 607 AD.[33] In 614 AD, Baekje sent last tribute to the Sui dynasty before Sui's fall in 619 AD.[34] Baekje started to send tribute to the Tang dynasty in 622 AD.[35]

Silla was recorded sending tribute to the Sui dynasty in 594 AD by the order of Jinpyeong of Silla, and then Silla started to send tribute yearly from 605 AD.[36] The Old Book of Tang and New Book of Tang recorded Silla sending women (4 in total; all rejected),[37] gold, silver among other things as tribute to the Tang dynasty.[38][39]

If Silla indeed served China wholeheartedly by dispatching tributary ships one after another, why did King Beopheung use his own reign title? This is indeed confusing! From then on, Silla maintained this erroneous practice for many more years, even after Emperor Taizong had learned about it and reproved the Silla ambassador. Now, they eventually adopted the Tang reign title. Although a move out of necessity, we may still say that they have been able to correct their mistake[40]

Gim Busik (1075–1151) writing on the nature of Silla's tributary relationship with China

Goryeos rulers called themselves "Great King" viewing themselves as the sovereigns of the Goryeo-centered world of Northeast Asia. They maintained their own Imperial style, in their setup of government institutions, administrative divisions and own tributary system.[41]

As the struggle between the Northern Yuan and the Red Turban Rebellion and the Ming remained indecisive, Goryeo retained neutrality despite both sides pleading for their assistance in order to break this stalemate.[42] As the Ming eventually gained the upper hand Goryeo paid an enormous tribute to Ming in February 1385 consisting of five thousand horses, five hundred jin of gold, fifty thousand jin of silver and fifty thousand bolts of cotton fabric order to maintain their neutrality.[42]


Early kings of Japan had formal diplomatic inquiries with the Jin dynasty and its subsequent successors and were appointed as "King of Wa". The Emperors of China commonly referred to the ruler of Japan as 倭寇 wōkouwang (wakuō) meaning "King of Wa", while they themselves styled themselves as ōkimi, meaning "Great King" in relation to the Chinese emperor. Internally 天皇 tennō meaning "heavenly king" also used to put the ruler of Japan on the same level as the one of China.

In 1404, Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who held most of the de facto power in Japan, accepted the title "King of Japan", despite the nominal sovereign of Japan still residing in Kyōto. Yoshimitsu was the first and only Japanese ruler in the early modern period to accept a Chinese title.[43] During the Muromachi period Japan accepted the Ming led worldview, but this relationship ended in 1549 when Japan chose to end its recognition of China's regional hegemony and cancel any further tribute missions.[44] Membership in the tributary system was a prerequisite for any economic exchange with China; in exiting the system, Japan relinquished its trade relationship with China.[45] Under the rule of the Wanli Emperor, Ming China quickly interpreted the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598) as a challenge to the Ming centered predominant worldview and order.[46]


Thailand was subordinate to China as a vassal or tributary state from the Sui dynasty until the Taiping Rebellion of the late Qing dynasty in the mid-19th century.[47] The Sukhothai Kingdom, the first unified Thai state, established official tributary relations with the Yuan dynasty during the reign of King Ram Khamhaeng, and Thailand remained a tributary of China until 1853.[48] Wei Yuan, the 19th century Chinese scholar, considered Thailand to be the strongest and most loyal of China's Southeast Asian tributaries, citing the time when Thailand offered to directly attack Japan to divert the Japanese in their planned invasions of Korea and the Asian mainland, as well as other acts of loyalty to the Ming dynasty.[49] Thailand was welcoming and open to Chinese immigrants, who dominated commerce and trade, and achieved high positions in the government.[50]


Vietnam was ruled by China for 1050 years. When Vietnam gained independence in 938, it became a tributary of China until 1885 when it became a protectorate of France with the Treaty of Huế (1884). The Lê dynasty (1428–1527) and Nguyễn dynasty (18021945) adopted the imperial Chinese system, with rulers declaring themselves emperors on the Confucian model and attempting to create a Vietnamese imperial tributary system while still remaining a tributary state of China.[51]

Maritime Southeast Asia

The Sultanate of Malacca and the Sultanate of Brunei sent tribute to the Ming dynasty, with their first rulers personally traveling to China with the Imperial fleets.[52][53]

See also



  1. Chu 1994, p. 177.
  2. Lee 2017, pp. 28–29.
  3. Lee 2017, p. 9.
  4. Lee 2017, p. 13.
  5. Lee 2017, p. 33.
  6. Lee 2017, p. 3.
  7. Smits 2019, p. 65.
  8. Lee 2017, p. 12.
  9. Lee 2017, p. 15-16.
  10. Smits 2019, p. 35.
  11. de Klundert 2013, p. 176.
  12. Edward L. Dreyer (1982). Early Ming China: a political history, 1355-1435. Stanford University Press. p. 117. ISBN 0-8047-1105-4. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  13. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Straits Branch, Reinhold Rost (1887). Miscellaneous papers relating to Indo-China: reprinted for the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society from Dalrymple's "Oriental Repertory," and the "Asiatic Researches" and "Journal" of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Volume 1. Trübner & Co. p. 252. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
  14. David C. Kang, et al. "War, Rebellion, and Intervention under Hierarchy: Vietnam–China Relations, 1365 to 1841." Journal of Conflict Resolution 63.4 (2019): 896-922. online
  15. Lee 2017, p. 17.
  16. Lee 2017, p. 23.
  17. Lee 2017, p. 24.
  18. Khong, Y. F. (2013). "The American Tributary System". The Chinese Journal of International Politics. 6 (1): 1–47. doi:10.1093/cjip/pot002. ISSN 1750-8916.
  19. Millward, James A. (2007), Eurasian crossroads: a history of Xinjiang, Columbia University Press, pp. 45–47, ISBN 978-0231139243
  20. Lee 2017, p. 18.
  21. 2014, p. 19.
  22. "97". Book of Jin. 马韩:武帝太康元年、二年,其主频遣使入贡方物,七年、八年、十年,又频至。太熙元年,诣东夷校尉何龛上献。咸宁三年复来,明年又请内附。
  23. "97". Book of Jin. 辰韩:武帝太康元年,其王遣使献方物。二年复来朝贡,七年又来。
  24. "30". Records of the Three Kingdoms. 当此时为侯国,汉光武帝八年,高句丽王遣使朝贡,始见称王。
  25. "97". Book of Song. 高句骊王高琏,晋安帝义熙九年,遣长史高翼奉表献赭白马...少帝景平二年,琏遣长史马娄等诣阙献方物,遣使慰劳之,曰:"皇帝问使持节、散骑常侍、都督营平二州诸军事、征东大将军、高句骊王、乐浪公,纂戎东服,庸绩继轨,厥惠既彰,款诚亦著,逾辽越海,纳贡本朝。朕以不德,忝承鸿绪,永怀先踪,思覃遗泽。今遣谒者朱邵伯、副谒者王邵子等,宣旨慰劳。其茂康惠政,永隆厥功,式昭往命,称朕意焉。"...太祖世,每岁遣使献方物...琏每岁遣使。十六年,太祖欲北讨,诏琏送马,琏献马八百匹。世祖孝建二年,琏遣长史董腾奉表慰国哀再周,并献方物。大明三年,又献肃慎氏楛矢石砮。七年,诏曰:"使持节、散骑常侍、督平营二州诸军事、征东大将军、高句骊王、乐浪公琏,世事忠义,作藩海外,诚系本朝,志剪残险,通译沙表,克宣王猷。宜加褒进,以旌纯节。可车骑大将军、开府仪同三司,持节、常侍、都督、王、公如故。"太宗泰始、后废帝元徽中,贡献不绝。
  26. "100". Book of Wei. 世祖时,钊曾孙琏始遣使者安东奉表贡方物,并请国讳。世祖嘉其诚款,诏下帝系名讳于其国,遣员外散骑侍郎李敖拜琏为都督辽海诸军事、征东将军、领护东夷中郎将、辽东郡开国公、高句丽王...至高祖时,琏贡献倍前,其报赐亦稍加焉...太和十五年,琏死,年百馀岁。高祖举哀于东郊,遣谒者仆射李安上策赠车骑大将军、太傅、辽东郡开国公、高句丽王,谥曰康。又遣大鸿胪拜琏孙云使持节、都督辽海诸军事、征东将军、领护东夷中郎将、辽东郡开国公、高句丽王,赐衣冠服物车旗之饰,又诏云遣世子入朝,令及郊丘之礼。云上书辞疾,惟遣其从叔升于随使诣阙,严责之。自此岁常贡献...
  27. "81". Book of Sui. 朱蒙建国,自号高句丽,以高为氏...在周遣使朝贡,武帝拜汤上开府、辽东郡公、辽东王。高祖受禅,汤复遣使诣阙,进授大将军,改封高丽王。岁遣使朝贡不绝。
  28. "199". Old Book of Tang. 武德二年,遣使來朝。四年,又遣使朝貢。
  29. "100". Book of Wei. 显祖以其僻远,冒险朝献,礼遇优厚,遣使者邵安与其使俱还。诏曰:"得表闻之,无恙甚善。卿在东隅,处五服之外,不远山海,归诚魏阙,欣嘉至意,用戢于怀。
  30. "9". Book of Jin. 二年春正月辛丑,百濟、林邑王各遣使貢方物...... 秋七月戊戌,遣兼司空、高密王純之修謁洛陽五陵。己酉,葬康獻皇后于崇平陵。百濟遣使來貢方物......
  31. "81". Book of Sui. 开皇初,其王馀昌遣使贡方物,拜昌为上开府、带方郡公、百济王。
  32. "81". Book of Sui. 平陈之岁,有一战船漂至海东牟罗国,其船得还,经于百济,昌资送之甚厚,并遣使奉表贺平陈。高祖善之,下诏曰:"百济王既闻平陈,远令奉表,往复至难,若逢风浪,便致伤损。百济王心迹淳至,朕已委知。相去虽远,事同言面,何必数遣使来相体悉。自今以后,不须年别入贡,朕亦不遣使往,王宜知之。"
  33. "81". Book of Sui. 开皇十八年,昌使其长史王辩那来献方物,属兴辽东之役,遣使奉表,请为军导.....大业三年,璋遣使者燕文进朝贡。其年,又遣使者王孝邻入献,请讨高丽。
  34. "81". Book of Sui. 十年,复遣使朝贡。后天下乱,使命遂绝。
  35. "199". Old Book of Tang. 武德四年,其王扶馀璋遣使来献果下马。七年,又遣大臣奉表朝贡。高祖嘉其诚款,遣使就册为带方郡王、百济王。自是岁遣朝贡,高祖抚劳甚厚...十一年,遣使来朝,献铁甲雕斧...高宗嗣位,永徽二年,始又遣使朝贡...
  36. "81". Book of Sui. 传祚至金真平,开皇十四年,遣使贡方物...大业以来,岁遣朝贡
  37. Bielenstein 2005, p. 142.
  38. "199". Old Book of Tang. 新罗国...武德四年,遣使朝贡...贞观五年,遣使献女乐二人,皆鬒发美色...开元十六年,遣使来献方物,又上表请令人就中国学问经教,上许之...大历二年,宪英卒,国人立其子干运为王,仍遣其大臣金隐居奉表入朝,贡方物,请加册命...八年,遣使来朝,并献金、银、牛黄、鱼牙纳朝霞䌷等。九年至十二年,比岁遣使来朝,或一岁再至...元和四年,遣使金陆珍等来朝贡。五年,王子金宪章来朝贡...十五年十一月,遣使朝贡...长庆二年十二月,遣使金柱弼朝贡。
  39. "199". New Book of Tang. 新罗国...贞观五年,献女乐二...玄宗开元中,数入朝,献果下马、朝霞䌷、鱼牙䌷、海豹皮。又献二女。
  40. Wang 2013, p. 96.
  41. Breuker, Remco E. (2010), Establishing a Pluralist Society in Medieval Korea, 918-1170: History, Ideology and Identity in the Koryŏ Dynasty, BRILL, ISBN 9789004183254
  42. Robinson, David M. “Rethinking the Late Koryŏ in an International Context.” Korean Studies, vol. 41, 2017, pp. 75–98. JSTOR, Accessed 11 Dec. 2022.
  43. Lee 2017, p. 19.
  44. Howe, Christopher. The Origins of Japanese Trade Supremacy: Development and Technology in Asia. p. 337
  45. Fogel, Tributary system of China, p. 27, at Google Books; Goodrich, Luther Carrington et al. (1976). Dictionary of Ming biography, 1368–1644,, p. 1316, at Google Books; note: the economic benefit of the Sinocentric tribute system was profitable trade. The tally trade (kangō bōeki or kanhe maoyi in Chinese) was a system devised and monitored by the Chinese – see Nussbaum, Louis Frédéric et al. (2005). Japan Encyclopedia, p. 471.
  46. Swope, Kenneth. "Beyond Turtleboats: Siege Accounts from Hideyoshi's Second Invasion of Korea, 1597–1598" (PDF). Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies: 761. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-09-07. At this point in 1593, the war entered a stalemate during which intrigues and negotiations failed to produce a settlement. As the suzerain of Joseon Korea, Ming China exercised tight control over the Koreans during the war. At the same time, Ming China negotiated bilaterally with Japan while often ignoring the wishes of the Korean government.
  47. Gambe, Annabelle R. (2000). Overseas Chinese Entrepreneurship and Capitalist Development in Southeast Asia. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 99. ISBN 9783825843861. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  48. Chinvanno, Anuson (1992-06-18). Thailand's Policies towards China, 1949–54. Springer. p. 24. ISBN 9781349124305. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  49. Leonard, Jane Kate (1984). Wei Yuan and China's Rediscovery of the Maritime World. Harvard Univ Asia Center. pp. 137–138. ISBN 9780674948556. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  50. Gambe, Annabelle R. (2000). Overseas Chinese Entrepreneurship and Capitalist Development in Southeast Asia. LIT Verlag Münster. pp. 100–101. ISBN 9783825843861. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  51. Alexander Woodside (1971). Vietnam and the Chinese model: a comparative study of Vietnamese and Chinese government in the first half of the nineteenth century (reprint, illustrated ed.). Harvard Univ Asia Center. p. 234. ISBN 0-674-93721-X. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  52. Anthony Reid (2010). Imperial Alchemy: Nationalism and Political Identity in Southeast Asia. Cambridge University Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0521872379.
  53. Marie-Sybille de Vienne (2015). Brunei: From the Age of Commerce to the 21st Century. NUS Press. pp. 41–44. ISBN 978-9971698188.


  • Chu, Samuel C. (1994), Liu Hung-Chang and China's Early Modernization, Routledge
  • Lee, Ji-Young (2017), China's Hegemony: Four Hundred Years of East Asian Domination, Columbia University Press
  • Smits, Gregory (1999), Visions of Ryukyu: identity and ideology in early-modern thought and politics, Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 0-8248-2037-1, retrieved June 20, 2011
  • de Klundert, Theo van (2013), Capitalism and Democracy: A Fragile Alliance, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited
  • Rossabi, Morris (Oct 15, 1976). "Mansur". In Goodrich, L Carrington (ed.). Dictionary of Ming Biography, 1368-1644, Association for Asian Studies. Vol. 2. Columbia University Press. pp. 1037–1038. ISBN 0-231-03801-1. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
  • Bielenstein, Hans (2005), Diplomacy and Trade in the Chinese World, 589-1276, Brill, ISBN 978-90-474-0761-4

Further reading

  • Cohen, Warren I. . East Asia at the Center : Four Thousand Years of Engagement with the World. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. ISBN 0231101082.
  • Fairbank, John K., and Ssu-yu Teng. "On the Ch'ing tributary system." Harvard journal of Asiatic studies 6.2 (1941): 135–246. online
  • Kang, David C., et al. "War, Rebellion, and Intervention under Hierarchy: Vietnam–China Relations, 1365 to 1841." Journal of Conflict Resolution 63.4 (2019): 896–922. online
  • Kang, David C. "International Order in Historical East Asia: Tribute and Hierarchy Beyond Sinocentrism and Eurocentrism." International Organization (2019): 1-29. DOI:
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