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Hong-zhi: Year 12, Month 8, Day 24

28 Sep 1499

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Xie Chao-xuan, investigating censor and regional inspector of Yun-nan, memorialized:

"Si Lu, the yi ruler of Meng-yang, is the remnant spawn of the rebellious bandit of Lu-chuan. He scurried away to live in Yi-xi, beyond the Jin-sha River. During the Cheng-hua reign (1465-87), he occupied Ting-zhan in Ava-Burma. In the seventh year of the Hong-zhi reign (1494/95), his troops were deployed [by us] to cross the river and there they occupied Man-mo in Teng-chong. He then led the troops raised by Mu-bang in attacking and burning the Meng-mi Pacification Office, killing or carrying off over 2,000 yi persons and stealing elephants, horses, gold and precious stones. He intended to annex Meng-mi so as to be subsequently able to recover his former territory. The Yi-xi person Gong Men and the Teng-chong person Duan He were fugitives and they acted as strategists for him. Despite several attempts to win him over, he would not accord. The Commander Huang Sheng, acting on orders, went twice to the yi area, where he obtained letters in Mian script; the wording was greatly contradictory and it was suspected that some collusion was taking place. Thus, the Regional Commissioner Li Zeng and the Surveillance Vice Commissioner Wang Huai were several times sent to investigate and soothe him. However, they only reported on the basis of the Mian script letters and provided nothing conclusive, other than demonstrating that the yi are wily and guileful by nature and cannot be treated lightly.

"I respectfully note that it is very far from the Yun-nan provincial capital to Meng-yang in Teng-chong and it is difficult for majestic influence to reach there, for which reason the Court has established grand defender eunuch directors at Jin-chi and Teng-chong to sway the yi and pacify the people. However, those in the provincial capital delegated powers to those they did not control, while those at Jin-chi and Teng-chong mismanaged matters by allowing their private interests to prevail. Although overtly these persons have refused Si Lu's gifts, many government border troops have nonetheless been harmed. I have heard that since the Eunuch Director Ji Qing assumed his post, he has acted in an avaricious and violent manner, privately established a prison, been excessive in employing the penal laws and has maintained a gang of evil men as his own force. He has privately imposed levies on his subordinates and demanded courtesy presents, fettered military officials until they died, and sold off 400 trained troops from Jin-chi, for whom he received silver utensils. On one occasion when pacified yi were coming across the river, they were panicked and drowned. He lay responsibility for this on the Lu-jiang Pacification Office, requiring it to provide silver in recompense to redeem the souls. Harsh levies were thus imposed, forcing the yi people to flee to other areas.

"On another occasion, he went to Teng-chong and arbitrarily assumed power, shackling and imprisoning officials and clerks. The troops were alarmed and troubled and there was a great hubbub among the people, almost leading to another uprising. Seen from these events, how can we see the offering of presents by Si Lu as anything other than a response to the greed of Ji Qing? How could his refusal have meant anything other than he was waiting for a further offer? I have heard that Man-mo is a place where the water and land routes meet. All of the implements and the things which the yi use go through there. In terms of profits to be obtained from goods, no place is better. It is for this reason that Si Lu, although repeatedly pacified, has not withdrawn.

"Further, in recent years, the revealing of secrets about border conditions has not been restricted to Gong Men and Duan He. Actually, many people have fled there from Jiang-xi, Yun-nan and Da-li. This is because the Zhen-yi Pass Police Office has few powers and little strength to enforce the prohibition. Also, whenever Yun-nan officials are sent to sway the yi, they scheme to take many prohibited goods there both as gifts and for trade. They divulge intelligence about our situation and become cohorts with them. My humble idea is that, as Meng-yang's armed troops cannot number more than those in one or two large counties in China, it should be easy, with Yun-nan's strength close by, to crush them like eggs. How is it that as soon as troops are despatched, Meng-yang comes to offer tribute and, despite being repeatedly pacified, they have not yet withdrawn? All of this originated in loss of control by the grand defender and grand coordinator, was exacerbated by evil persons who fled there and plotted with them, and has come to a head with the soothing officials being corrupt. If these defects are not controlled now, they will inevitably become festering sores.

"It is respectfully hoped that the Emperor will take pity on the border people in their troubles, will order that only one eunuch director grand defender remains in Yun-nan, while the other is withdrawn and employed elsewhere, and will order that the Zhen-yi Pass Police Office be closed and that a regional commissioner or commander be especially appointed as commandant to guard the border and prevent evil persons from fleeing across it. Also, a detailed investigation of the yi-soothing officials should be carried out and if they are found to have goods obtained through bribery, they should be arrested and the details should be advised. If any among the yi-soothing officials can bring about the compliance of Si Lu, so that he returns the territory he has occupied, they should be promoted and rewarded as if for military achievements. If Man-mo and the other areas are returned to Mu-bang, and Meng-mi still causes troubles, it is requested that the Teng-chong Command be shifted to Man-mo, or that it be considered deploying two or three battalions to guard it. If Si Lu continues to ignore our pacification efforts, the decision to use troops should then be taken, and all who live there should be completely eliminated. That will serve as a warning to native officials not to engage in unlawful activities."

The memorial was sent to the Ministry of War which deliberated on it and noted:

"In respect of the Eunuch Director Ji Qing, we previously memorialized that the grand defenders should be maintained like before. It is requested that we be permitted to send a despatch to Qing and so on requiring that, when the miasma has dispersed, the two commands of Jin-chi and Teng-chong be instructed to train troops and horses, collect fodder and grain and have all the nearby native-official offices such as Gan-yai and so on marshal yi troops to show that an expedition is inevitable. As to the other matters, Qing and the others should be instructed to deliberate on plans and advise."

This was approved.

Xiao-zong: juan 153.10b-11b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 57, page 2722/24

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Preferred form of citation for this entry:

Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore, http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/reign/hong-zhi/year-12-month-8-day-24, accessed October 23, 2019