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Jia-jing: Year 16, Month 10, Day 6

8 Nov 1537

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The Censor Yu Guang, regional inspector of Guang-dong, memorialized on the matter in Annam, saying:

"If the timing is not appropriate, plans will not go well, while if the measures are not in accord with the situation, success will not be achieved. In the past, Gou Jian plotted against Wu for 20 years before despatching forces. That involved planning in advance. When Dong Jin pacified Bian, the pacification was carried out in a morning. That involved responding swiftly. Previously, while in the capital, I heard of the Annam matter, and it appeared that there were three sides contending. It seemed like the situation of the snipe and the mussel, whereby the fisherman could obtain the benefits. That is what I believed then. Now, I have entered the area and discussed this with the three offices, and actually the situation is not thus. Mo Deng-yong holds all the land, and all the chieftains obey him. Li Ning has fled far off and his whereabouts are unknown. Further, the Lis were oppressive rulers and were bandits under the Chens. They have alternately obtained power and rebelled, and during our dynasty have been the chief rebels. Now they have lost power and fled. Perhaps Heaven has given power to Deng-yong to repay them for their deeds. 

"Among the yi and di, the usurping of power is truly a regular occurrence. Since the Song dynasty, the Dings gave way to the Lis (李), the Lis had their ruling power taken away by the Chens, and the Chens were subject to usurpation by the Lis (黎). Now rule has passed on to the Mos. The Chens were bandits to the Lis and the Lis were bandits to the Chens. Now the Mos are bandits to the Lis. This is the way of those who are fond of revenge. If we again establish the Lis (黎) as rulers, it will involve wrongly restoring tyrants and their power will not last long. The fate of the yi and di is that once they are defeated they do not revive.

"The splendour of the Liao and the Jin has not been revived. Our dynasty established the Zhong-shun Prince, but has been unable to bring Tu-bo under control. Although China was once divided into the five dynasties and the six courts, these cannot be revived. Those who arose were inevitably subject to Heaven's punishment, while those who followed the correct road of unity were able to enjoy prosperity. If Li Ning should be appointed, he will be eventually overthrown by someone else. What then? An uprooted tree cannot be replanted and remnant ashes cannot be blown into flames. This is the way of Heaven.

"Thus today, in respect of Annam, we should just enquire as to why they have not come to Court and require them to admit their vassalage and agree to bring tribute to the Court. If they agree to submit, they should be appointed. This will be in accord with the situation and it will not be necessary to trouble with sending troops. Further, an expedition of elimination would be difficult to follow through to the end and it would be difficult for the troops to long remain stationed there. Armies long at war easily rebel and the benefits will not be seen.

"I humbly trust in the Emperor's perspicacious sagacity to follow the ancients who, when sending ministers beyond the borders to bring peace to the country, charged them entirely with the task. On the one hand officials can be sent to that territory to make known the Heavenly majesty, to question them on their failure to come to Court, and to require them to declare themselves vassals and to come to offer tribute, while on the other hand urgent memorials can be sent to advise of the results. Taking on rule without requesting Imperial permission is a crime which they cannot evade. Waiting for a response will result in delay and opportunities might easily be lost. Further, Guang-dong is over 8,000 li from the capital and, to Annam, it is a further 4,000-plus li. If memorialized requests have to be sent backwards and forwards before action is taken, the appropriate opportunities will be lost. In the handling of matters on distant borders, as long as actions are of benefit to the Court, then even improper and suspicious actions should be shown sympathy. If someone fears improper actions, he will not be loyal, while if he shuns suspicious actions, he will not be truthful. I am certainly not one who acts thus. It is humbly requested that the Imperial sagacity be spread to the distance and that I be permitted to handle matters as the situation requires."

When the memorial was submitted, the Emperor said: "The Ministry of War is to investigate the matters in the memorial as well as the references to the five dynasties and the six courts and advise." 

The Ministry responded, saying: "What has been set forth in the memorial is inappropriate, the comparisons are out of place, and his actions were rash. It is appropriate that punishment be meted out."

It was ordered that Guang's salary be suspended for a year.

Shi-zong: juan 205.2a-3a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 80, page 4277/79

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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/jia-jing/year-16-month-10-day-6, accessed November 20, 2019