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Review of lecture:The State Structure of Western Chu and Pengcheng's Political Status in the Qin and Han Dynasties

On the afternoon of November 28, 2020, at the invitation of School of Social Development of Nanjing Normal University, the researcher and director of the Institute of Ancient History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the professor at the University of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a doctoral supervisor, a member of the State Council History Discipline Review Group, President of the History Research Association and Hongguo Chair Professor of Nanjing Normal University Mr. Bu Xianqun, gave an academic lecture entitled "The State Structure of Western Chu and Pengcheng's Political Status in the Qin and Han Dynasties" in Room 401, Xuezheng Building, Xianlin Campus. Wu Xuefei, Associate Professor, School of History and Culture, Shandong University, Fu Kui, School of History, Zhejiang Normal University and scholars from other schools also participated in the lecture. This lecture was hosted by Mr. Xu Feng, the deputy dean of the School of Social Development.

Teacher Bu explained the theme from four aspects.

First of all, Mr. Bu briefly introduced the theme of this lecture, and verified the geographical location of Pengcheng. He pointed out that Pengcheng was actually located between the Eastern and Western Chu. He believed that Western Chu should be examined in the process of great historical change between the Qin and Han Dynasties. Teacher Bu analyzed the state structure of Western Chu from the perspective of the evolution of the state structure between the Qin and Han Dynasties. At the beginning of the Qin Dynasty, the people's awareness of the Warring States Period still existed, and their identification with the Qin Dynasty's prefecture and county system was weak. After briefly introducing the six rebel forces in the late Qin that called for the restoration of the country, Teacher Bu summarized the historical trend of the national order and social order established after the reunification of the Qin Dynasty gradually returning to the Warring States between the Qin and Han Dynasties.

Secondly, Teacher Bu launched an explanation of the state structure and nature of Western Chu characterized by "dominance of the world". Teacher Bu pointed out that to understand the nature of Western Chu, we need to start with the evolution of "Chu" between the Qin and Han Dynasties. Strictly speaking, "Zhang Chu" was just a regime and did not have the characteristics of a country, but from an objective point of view, it opened the precedent of the enfeoffment system in the Qin and Han dynasties with the posture of "ordering the world", which had an important influence on the choice of the state structure of Western Chu . Teacher Bu pointed out that the record of Xiang Yu dividing the world and establishing princes in the "Historical Records of Xiang Yu" is very important to explain the state structure of Western Chu. Xiang Yu both respected the emperor and restrained his power, indicating that he implemented the enfeoffment of Chu after the extermination of Qin The structure of the country is well thought out.

According to historical data, this kind of enfeoffment is different from the Zhou system enfeoffment. The internal structure of the vassal states, including Xichu, still implements the administrative management of prefectures and counties, but there is also a vassal relationship between the princes and Chu. Therefore, it is different from Qin’s prefecture and county system of state structure. Teacher Bu calls this the state structure relationship of “dominance of the world” in Western Chu. Regarding the reason for Western Chu’s adoption of this state structure, Teacher Bu believes that although the “dominant world” state structure determines that Western Chu is a loose federation of nations, it after all turned the divided state between the Qin and Han Dynasties into a unified despotism. The state form of centralized power has taken a step forward and cannot be compared with the "independence" of the six countries in terms of state form.

Finally, Teacher Bu made a summary: During the Qin and Han Dynasties, among the different political center transfer theories, the status of Chu was undoubtedly the most important, and the political center with Pengcheng as the core existed for the longest time (207 BC-202 BC), the most representative. The Western Chu took the divided Politburo one step closer to the direction of centralization, laying the foundation for the reunification of the Han.

In the interactive session, Teacher Bu had a lively discussion with the teachers and students present. Regarding the question about how the descendants of the nobles of the Six Nations at that time viewed Xiang Yu's military merits, and how their views affected Xiang Yu's final defeat, Teacher Bu responded: Xiang Yu's entrustment of princes and kings was based on military merits on the surface Actually, it was carried out based on the distance between the princes and their political groups. Xiang Yu actually adopted a policy of differentiation and weakening of the groups of the princes and kings. This approach should have an impact on Xiang Yu’s defeat, but we still  lack of more specific historical evidence to prove what  the specific impact is. Mr. Xu Feng summarized the lecture and expressed his heartfelt thanks again to Mr. Bu on behalf of the teachers and students of our school. The lecture ended successfully with the warm applause of teachers and students!

The text/ Xu Shimin

The picture/ Qi Zhengyang