The Vietnamese Confucian Diplomatic Tradition and the Last Nguyễn Precolonial Envoys’ Textual Communication with Li Hongzhang
The Vietnamese envoys’ records during their diplomatic journeys to Beijing, especially poems and prose, have attracted increasing academic attention, from both international and local scholars. Some studies have comprehensively examined the Vietnamese envoys’ routes when visiting China, literary works, diplomatic strategies, and Confucian beliefs, such as the Taiwanese scholar Chen Yiyuan’s (陳益源) journal paper, which specifically problematizes the absence of filial expression related to the envoys’ journey in Xiaogan (孝感), Hubei Province. The systematic works of Liam C. Kelley and Peng Qian (彭茜) chiefly delineate the harmonious and normal communication based upon the long-developed cultural congruity between Vietnam and China. Their studies and other relevant research show the sophisticated impact of Chinese Confucianism on the Vietnamese envoys. However, there is so far insufficient investigation into the official representatives’ transformation and violation of Confucian manners and thoughts at specific historical moments. Hence, this paper intends to specify the practices of Confucian discourses in the final negotiation between the states of the Nguyễn and the Qing in 1883, both of which encountered the military threat from France and other Western countries. Our findings suggest that although those last envoys, including Phạm Thận Duật and Nguyễn Thuật, utilised a Sinocentric and Confucian manner to bargain with the Chinese for military aid, overall the Nguyễn adopted a Machiavellian approach instead. This means there was a division between political utility and ritual ethics, and the Vietnamese envoys, as pragmatic politicians, prioritized national security while discussing military aid in terms of Confucian rhetoric and values.
Chen, Yiyuan 陳益源. 2015. “Qingdai Yuenan shijie yu Xiaogan 清代越南使節與孝感 (Vietnamese Envoys and Xiaogan ).” Journal of National Cheng Kung University 50: 85–108.
——. 2016. “Zai Minnan yu Yuenan zhijian - Yi Yuenan shijie Li Wenfu Jiazu wei li 在閩南與越南之間 - 以越南使節李文馥家族為例 (Between Fujian and Vietnam―Taking the Vietnamese Envoy Lý Văn Phứ as an Example).” Journal of Applied Chinese 17: 1–16.
Đinh, Dung. 1997. “Thử tìm hiểu ảnh hưởng của Nho giáo trong đường lối ngoại giao của triều Nguyễn nửa đầu thế kỷ XIX (Confucianism Influence on the Nguyễn Dynasty’s Foreign Policy during the First Half of the XIX Century).” Research on History (295): 73–78.
Đinh, Xuân Lâm, and Vũ Trường Giang. 2014. “Tìm hiểu một số đặc điểm của ngoại giao Việt Nam thời phong kiến (On Some Characteristics of Vietnamese Foreign Policy during Feudal Period).” Southeast Asia Studies (67): 3–10.
Forde, Steven. 1992. “Classical Realism.” In Traditions of International Ethics, edited by Terry Nardin, and David R. Mapel, 62–84. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Guo, Tingyi 郭廷以, and Wang Yujun 王聿均. 1962. Zhong Fa Yuenan jiaoshe dang 1875–1911 中法越南交涉檔 1875–1911 (On Sino-French Vietnamese Negotiations 1875–1911). Taipei: The Institute of Modern History Academia Sinica.
Hồ, Ngọc Minh. 2017. “Nghiên cứu và phiên dịch tác phẩm Mỗi hoài ngâm thảo 每懷吟草 của Hà Đình Nguyễn Thuật (Research and Translation of Hà Đình Nguyễn Thuật’s Mỗi hoài ngâm thảo 每懷吟草).” MA thesis, Hochiminh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Iona, Man-Cheong. 2004. The Class of 1761: Examinations, State, and Elites in Eighteenth-Century China. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Kelley, Liam C. 2005. Beyond the Bronze Pillars: Envoy Poetry and the Sino-Vietnamese Relationship. Honolulu: The University of Hawaiʻi Press.
Kleinen, John. 1999. Facing the Future, Reviving the Past: A Study of Social Change in a Northern Vietnamese Village. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Lê, Thị Lan. 2015. “Tư tưởng trị quốc của Gia Long (The Ideology of Governing the Country of Emperor Gia Long).” Tạp chí Khoa học xã hội Việt Nam (Vietnamese Journal of Social Sciences) 12: 33–40.
Li, Chenyang. 2013. The Confucian Philosophy of Harmony. Abingdon: Taylor and Francis.
Li, Xue. 2018. Making Local China: A Case Study of Yangzhou, 1853–1928. Münster: LIT Verlag.
Liu, Yujun 劉玉珺. 2007. Yuenan Han Nan guji de wenxianxue yanjiu 越南漢喃古籍的文獻學研究 (A Philological Study of the Hán Nôm Records). Beijing: Chunghwa Book.
Lý, Văn Phức 李文馥. 2010. “Minxing zayong 閩行雜詠 (Miscellaneous Lyrics of the Fujian Journey).” In Yuenan Hanwen Yanxing wenxian jicheng (Yuenansuo cangbian) Di 12 ce 越南漢文燕行文獻集成 (越南所藏編) 第12冊 (Full Collection of Vietnamese Yanxing Literature (The Vietnam Edition, vol. 12), edited by The Literature and History Research Institute of Fudan University and The Vietnamese Institute of Hán Nôm. Shanghai: Fudan University Press.
Nguyễn, Thị Mỹ Hạnh. 2016. “Nho giáo trong nền ngoại giao Việt Nam thời trung đại (Confucianism and the Vietnamese Foreign Policy during Feudal Period).” Khoa học xã hội Việt Nam (Vietnamese Journal of Social Sciences) 12: 55–62.
Nguyễn, Thuật 阮述. 1980. Wang Jin riji 往津日記 (A Diary of Visiting Tianjin). Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Press.
Nguyễn, Tư Giản 阮思僴. 2010. “Yanyao shiwen ji 燕軺詩文集 (The Collection of Essays and Poems of Yanyao).” In Yuenan Hanwen Yanxing wenxian jicheng (Yuenansuo cangbian) Di 20 ce 越南漢文燕行文獻集成 (越南所藏編) 第20冊 (Full Collection of Vietnamese Yanxing literature, The Vietnam Edition, vol. 20), edited by The Literature and History Research Institute of Fudan University and The Vietnamese Institute of Hán Nôm. Shanghai: Fudan University Press.
Peng, Qian 彭茜. 2014. “Chaogong guanxi yu wenxue jiaoliu: Qingdai Yuenan lai Hua shichen yu Guangxi yanjiu 朝貢關係與文學交流：清代越南來華使臣與廣西研究 (Tribute and Literary Exchange: The Study of Vietnamese Envoys to China in the Qing Dynasty and Guangxi).” MA thesis, Guangxi University for Nationalities.
Phạm, Thanh Hằng. 2015. “Ảnh hưởng của Nho giáo đến kế sách ngoại giao, quân sự thời phong kiến và ý nghĩa đối với hiện nay (The Impact of Confucianism on Foreign and Military Policy during Feudal Period and its Contemporary Meanings).” Tạp chí Lý luận chính trị (Journal of Political Theory) 8: 13–19.
Phạm, Thị Lan. 2017. “Vai trò xã hội của Nho giáo Việt Nam từ thế kỷ XV đến nửa đầu thế kỷ XIX (The Social Value of Vietnamese Confucianism from the XV to the First Half of the XIX Century).” PhD diss., Institute of Social Sciences, Hanoi.
Phan, Ngọc. 2013. “Nền tảng của truyền thống ngoại giao Việt Nam (The Foundation of Vietnamese Foreign Policy Tradition).” Tạp chí điện tử Văn hiến Việt Nam (Online Vietnam Culture Journal), September 25, 2013.
Shin, Doh Chull, To-ch’ol Sin, and To-chʻŏl Sin. 2012. Confucianism and Democratization in East Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 2010. “From A Critique of Postcolonial Reason, chap. 3: History (Can the Subaltern Speak?)” In The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, edited by Vincent B. Leitch et al. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Trần, Ngọc Thêm. 2001. Cơ sở văn hóa Việt Nam (Outlines of Vietnamese Cultural Foundation). Hà Nội: Education Publishing House.
Trần, Trọng Kim. 2018. Việt Nam sử lược (A Brief History of Vietnam). Hà Nội: Literature Pulishing House.
Trần, Trọng Phiến. 2011. “Văn hóa đối ngoại Việt Nam thời Minh Mạng (Vietnamese Foreign Policy Culture during Minh Mang).” MA thesis, Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Wang, Zhiqiang 王志強. 2012. “Yuenan Hanji Ruanshu Wang Jin riji yu Jianfu yuannian ru Qing richeng de bijiao 越南漢籍《阮述〈往津日記〉》與《建福元年如清日程》的比較 (A Comparaison between the Vietnamese Chinese Records Nguyễn Thuật’s A Diary of Visiting Tianjin and The Daily Record of the Qing Journey in Kiến Phúc First Year).” Around Southeast Asia 12: 56–59.
——. 2013. “Li Hongzhang yu Qingdai zuihou de Yuenan lai Huan shijie 李鴻章與清代最後的越南來華使節 (Li Hongzhang and the Last Vietnamese Envoy to China in the Qing Dynasty).” Lantai World 28 (3): 67–68.
Wu, Sen 吳森. 1995. “Qing yu Zhongguo wenhua 情與中國文化 (Love and Chinese Culture).” In Zhongguo wenhua zhuanti 中國文化專題 (The Selected Topics of Chinese Culture), edited by Lin Qiyan 林啟彥, and Huang Yanli 黃嫣梨. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Educational Publishing Company.
Xu, Wentang 許文堂, and Xie Qiyi 謝奇懿, eds. 2000. Đại Nam Thự Clục Chính Biên 大南寔錄正編 (The Principal Veritable Records of the Great South). Taipei: Taiwan Academia Sinica Southeast Asia Regional Research Program.
Yu, Kam-por. 2010. “Confucian Views on War as Seen in the Gongyang Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals.” Dao 9 (1): 97–111.
Yu, Ping 禹平, and Xiao Keyi 肖可意. 2018. “Qing Yue chaogong liyi zhi zheng de sixiang genyuan 清越朝貢禮儀之爭的思想根源 (The Mind Source of the Disputes between Qing and Vietnam Concerning the Tribute Ritual).” Social Science Front 1: 133–40.
Zhang, Zhenkun 張振鵾, ed. 2002. Zhongguo jindai shi ziliao congkan xubian - Zhong Fa zhanzheng (Di si ce) 中國近代史資料叢刊續編 – 中法戰爭 (第四冊) (The Edited Data Series of Chinese Modern History―Sino-French War (vol. 4)). Beijing: Zhonghua Book.
Copyright (c) 2020 Gabriel F. Y. Tsang, Hoang Yen Nguyen
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors are confirming that they are the authors of the submitting article, which will be published (print and online) in journal Asian Studies by Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Aškerčeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia). Author’s name will be evident in the article in journal. All decisions regarding layout and distribution of the work are in hands of the publisher.
- Authors guarantee that the work is their own original creation and does not infringe any statutory or common-law copyright or any proprietary right of any third party. In case of claims by third parties, authors commit their self to defend the interests of the publisher, and shall cover any potential costs.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.