It should be noted that the issue of territorial sovereignty has always been important for the Asian states. The relationships between Korea, Japan, China, and Ryukyu during early modern times were quite complex since each country wanted to consolidate its territorial borders. The purpose of this paper is to summarize and analyze the information provided in the articles by Robinson and Watanabe regarding this issue.
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The article by Robinson concentrates on maritime relations between the countries in the period from 1392 to 1592. In particular, it discusses the setting in which Korea engaged in seafaring commercial activity with China and dwells upon the maritime diplomacy between Japan and Ryukyu. According to the author, the maritime diplomacy of the state was rather controversial (Robinson 119). Although it was built on a Sinocentric approach, Korea did employ a strategy, which was far more complex. Korea was a tributary of China in its relations with the state while it became a patron of other areas and asserted its imperial possession.
Therefore, the state tried to build its world order based on a Chinese construct. Also, Chosŏn was an independent territory, and it replicated the practices of the imperial court by monopolizing legitimate violence and using institutional technologies. At the same time, it opposed the land-related claims made by the Emperor of Ming China and imposed a mandatory levy on the residents while trying to restrict them territorially (Robinson 122). Moreover, Chosŏn had diplomatic maritime relationships with the Ryukyuan people, but they were built on the terms of Chosŏn.
The article by Watanabe allows interpreting the East Asian maritime relations from a different perspective. The author vividly explained why Ryukyu had to conceal their relations with Satsuma. On the one hand, they wanted to protect themselves from Satsuma’s interference. On the other hand, this way, they were trying to create an area in which they would be able to act autonomously (Watanabe 106). Furthermore, the text reveals the way the Japanese world order confronted the Chinese one. The arguments provided allow assuming that the only way out in this setting was direct repatriation.
It can be concluded that both articles reveal the different ways Asian states tried to claim their territorial sovereignty. Each country strived for observing diplomacy with the neighbors based on its ideational world order, which was nation-specific. The interpretations of this notion did not coincide for these countries, and each of them pursued its objectives, which inevitably led to a clash of ideologies.