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Jia-jing: Year 18, Month 5, Day 3

20 May 1539

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Huang Wan, former vice minister of the left in the Ministry of Rites, had been Imperially summoned to Xu-zhou. However, he sent an urgent messenger ahead with a memorial stating that due to illness he could not proceed. Thus, the appointment was missed. The Emperor castigated Wan for not proceeding to the Imperial presence with despatch as thereby, when the boat reached the capital, there was procrastination and delays. As his actions had indicated great disrespect for Imperial orders, Wan was ordered to write a memorial detailing his transgression. Subsequently, Wan explained himself, memorializing: "I received orders to proceed as envoy to Annam and I would not dare to be anything but loyal in the execution of these orders. However, that country has always been known for its guile and deceit, and thus one cannot proceed without first making appropriate plans. Recklessly entering their territory and being subject to their restrictions when there are no special policies decided will result in it being difficult to handle matters. Also, the handling of the ritual matters will also be difficult to fix. If I am not sufficiently careful in this, what harm might befall the state? Thus I hope that Your Majesty will be tolerant and again order me to proceed. Further, Yun-nan, Gui-zhou and Guang-dong/Guang-xi all have senior ministers handling things. In handling matters, they will all indeed have their own ideas and will be unable to find accord. Even though I am carrying out the Emperor's policies, my words will have no backing. I require Imperial orders, instructing the major and minor officials as well as the native officials in these various areas to obey my orders. I will also require the conferral of a guan-fang seal to facilitate the handling of matters. When power is thus unified, it will be of assistance in carrying out the duties of an envoy." The Emperor was pleased that Wan was to perform duties for the country and approved all the requests. Wan also advised: "The country of Annam's rebellion against China or submission and the continuation or replacement of the ruling line of the country, are related to the events when China ordered the punishment of Li and met failure. It is requested that the cabinet be ordered to examine the shi-lu of the successive reigns and record the similarities and differences in handling such matters. Also, the various officials should be ordered to compile a full account of the enfeoffment of the Lis, as well as details of the successive crimes of rebellion by both Li Li and Mo Deng-yong. Also information about the envoys sent by the successive reigns as well as the surnames and personal names of those enfeoffed as kings of the country should be detailed, along with their genealogies and whether or not they requested enfeoffment. These details should then be compiled into a volume which should be provided for me to take as preparation for assessing matters and for responding." The memorial was sent to the Ministry of Rites for deliberation and advice. Wan further said: "In the past when Yue Yang subjugated Zhong-shan, the accusatory letters over-filled a satchel. When Ma Yuan subjugated Jiao-zhi, there were all sorts of slanders against him relating to rhinoceros and pearls. Even two such worthies could not avoid this. Now, I and the Chancellor Zhang Zhi are to jointly handle the matter in Annam. We are both sincere, loyal and solitary. However, when we leave the Imperial gates, we will be travelling 10,000 li to the distance. How can we ensure that there will not be many mouths expressing their hate! It is hoped that the Emperor will sympathize with our concerns and select two able and knowledgable officials who are not involved in cliques, one from an office of scrutiny and one from a Censorate circuit, to accompany us and observe us while we carry out the task. Further the three ministries of Personnel, Rites and War should be ordered to jointly select, from their ministries, two persons who have abilities and are well-versed in the situation in that place, so that they can help with enquiries and provide assistance in emergencies. If, on reaching that place, there are matters of a confidential nature, I will advise with a confidential memorial. It is requested that these be kept under security and not be sent to the ministries so that the contents do not leak out." He also said: "Li Ning, a grandson of the Annam king, has memorialized requesting that he be allowed to temporarily take on management of the affairs of the country, while Mo Deng-yong has submitted a memorial of surrender. They both claim that they are guarding the Imperially-conferred seal. Is this a case of there being two seals for the one country? The memorials which were brought with tribute by that country in the past are stored in the palace. It is requested that they be given to me, so that I can distinguish the differences between the seals. In this way, it will be possible to differentiate the true from the false." The memorial was sent to the Ministries of Rites and War for deliberation and advice.

Shi-zong: juan 224.4a-5a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 81, page 4647/49

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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-18-month-5-day-3, accessed November 20, 2019