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Jia-jing: Year 39, Month 3, Day 8

3 Apr 1560

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Previously, the Emperor had sent the Supervising Secretary Guo Ru-lin and the Messenger Li Ji-chun to go to Ryukyu to carry out enfeoffment rites. When they reached Fu-jian, the winds obstructed them and they could not proceed. A while later, the attendant minister and Grand Master for Proper Consultation Cai Ting-hui, who had been sent by that country to offer tribute in gratitude for Imperial grace, arrived. He claimed that he had received orders from the heir and stated that because the winds and seas were unpredictable and the Japanese yi were frequently appearing, it was feared that the [Chinese] envoys might meet mishaps and that they [Ryukyu] would be blamed by China. He thus requested that the enfeoffment be handled like that of Champa during the Zheng-de reign (1506-1521), that persons be sent to present the memorial and the local products to the Court, and then he, together with Liang Xuan, a senior minister of that country, would take the proclamation of enfeoffment back with them. Thereby there would be no need [for China] to go to the trouble of sending envoys. The Censor Fan Xian-ke, regional inspector of Fu-jian advised of this. The Emperor sent the memorial to the Ministry of Rites, which deliberated and advised:

"Ryukyu lies in the ocean. Of the various countries, it is quite able in regard to observance of propriety. Thus, through the various reigns, it has been treated exceptionally well. Whenever a king inherited the throne, it has been necessary for the Court to send a Court official to take orders, robes and credentials there. Now before our envoys have arrived, they advise that they want the enfeoffment carried out from afar. This is like conferring a fief in the wilds. This is the first reason this cannot be permitted. Ting-hui was sent to present a memorial and offer tribute. Now he wants to send officials to present the memorial and products on his behalf. This would obscure the propriety of a small country serving the superior. He would also thereby be abandoning the function for which the heir specifically sent him. This is the second reason this cannot be permitted. Previously, during the Zheng-de reign, vagrant bandits presented obstacles and when the envoys arrived, the Huai-an pacification and surveillance officials provided them with accommodation while they went about their business. They remained there until things were at peace, and then the tribute was sent to the Emperor. The king of the country of Champa was attacked by Annam and fled to reside elsewhere. It was thus that his envoys were ordered to take the Imperial orders back with them. This was a temporary expedient, as their ruler had lost his country. Now, these envoys are using unfounded statements to confuse the Heavenly Court and are citing the example of the Court's enfeoffment of a king who had lost his country as a precedent for enfeoffment of their ruler. This is the third reason this cannot be permitted.

"Having to take trips across the ocean is normal in showing kindness to those who submit. These envoys now cite the problems presented by the Japanese pirates and the dangers constituted by the winds and waves. How many precious tribute goods have been brought in the past and how many times have the yi envoys travelled back and forth? How is it that these envoys have been able to arrive unscathed? This is the fourth reason this cannot be permitted. At that time, although people from Champa took the Imperial proclamation and orders back with them, the king Sha-gu-bu-luo still earnestly requested that a Court envoy be sent so that he would be respected by the man and the yi. However, Ting-hui does not have the personal orders of the heir and does not have a document imprinted with the seal. If we rashly believe his claims, perchance the heir, considering the sending of a Court envoy to be the greatest honour, will feel that enfeoffment from afar is not in accordance with propriety, will refuse to accept the enfeoffment and will again submit a memorial requesting that an envoy be sent, as was the case with Champa. Then, who will take the responsibility? This is the fifth reason this cannot be permitted. It is requested that the Fu-jian defence officials be instructed to handle matters in accordance with the previous commands. As to expressing gratitude prior to the conferral of the fief, this is not in accord with the statutes. They should only be permitted to offer the tribute goods. As to the memorial expressing gratitude for Imperial grace, it should wait until after the heir has received the fief, and then he should send an envoy to present it. In this way, China's great dignity will be maintained and the yi in the four directions will be awed through observing this."

The Emperor approved the Ministry's proposals.

Shi-zong: juan 482.1b-2b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 89, page 8044/45

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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-39-month-3-day-8, accessed September 23, 2019