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Wan-li: Year 30, Month 11, Day 4

16 Dec 1602

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The Yun-nan Regional Inspector Song Xing-zu memorialized:

"Since I arrived in Yun-nan, I have heard that Si Zheng, the son of Si Hua, the associate administrator of the Man-mo Pacification Commission, had been habitually fierce and cruel and had massacred the various yi, bringing destruction to Long-chuan and causing disturbance in Mu-bang. Ava then joined with the troops of the various yi and pushed toward Man-mo. Si Zheng could not resist and thus, with his elephants and leading his family, he fled to Teng-yue to seek our assistance. A huge force of Ava and Mu-bang troops pursued him, and passing through the three pacification commissions and crossing the various passes, they arrived at Huang-lian Pass and deployed their forces only 30-plus li from Teng-yue. There was great disturbance within the borders and the Vice Commissioner Qi Wen-chang and the Assistant Regional Commander Kong Xian-qiang, worried that the subprefectural walls were not secure, bound Si Zheng and killed him. Our troops took his head and instructed the Ava forces to take an arm. At that time, it was a necessary contingency measure to alleviate the situation.

"However, I am concerned about this as Man-mo is a strategic meeting point for the water and land routes of Ava-Burma. If Man-mo is held, then externally the three pacification commissions will be screened, internally Teng-yue and Yong-chang will be protected, and, in the distance, links can be maintained with the six pacification superintendencies. As soon as Man-mo is delivered over to Ava, the six pacification superintendencies will be lost and the three pacification commissions will be subject to depradations. Then, if they unexpectedly engage in rebellion, what is to be done?

"In years gone by, the punishment of Si Hua was proposed, but the Grand Coordinator Chen Yong-bin advocated making special allowances for him, and he was retained to defend against Ava-Burma. Subsequently, for his achievements in the expedition against Ava-Burma, he was appointed as associate administrator. After Si Hua died, Si Zheng gave allegiance to China like before. Now, in a emergency, he was not saved and instead was killed! All the dependent yi will now be worried and say: ‘Being attached to China will not guarantee the lives of our leaders or our territory, while attaching ourselves to Ava-Burma will ensure our security.’

"I have had such intimations from various yi and their hatred has grown. I have heard that there is a dong chieftain named Meng Li who has strong troops and who was on good terms with Si Zheng. He despatched troops to attack Mu-bang, to require it to look to China. Thereupon, Ava and Mu-bang speeded back to protect their lairs. If Si Zheng had been held for three days and not been killed, the Ava forces would have departed. We have a reputation for assisting the yi who have come to allegiance, and Si Zheng valued the Court's virtuous power. In defending the inner territory from outside attacks, we did not demonstrate sufficient patience. Also Si Zheng's 20,000 to 30,000 troops could have carried out the military defence by themselves. This affair involved unnecessary killing in alarm and it is indeed a sad occurrence. With a large force of Ava-Burma yi troops pressing on the border, the situation was indeed extremely dangerous and some of the responsible officers in the locality said: ‘How can we show concern for a chieftain and not safeguard the borders. Arrangements had to be made hurriedly. The only option for alleviating the situation was the killing of Si Zheng’.

"How can I, subsequent to the events, dare to suggest that they did wrong? However, I have heard that Ava occupied the Jin-sha River and was building boats in preparation to attack and kill those in Toungoo and Meng-nai, as revenge for them previously assisting the Court in attacking Ava-Burma. However, Yun-nan had no troops to assist them. Also, Man-mo provided an obstruction and there was no route by which to travel. Supposing all of the yi who have been swallowed up submit to Ava-Burma and are used by Ava-Burma! This Ava-Burma used to be thousands of li away. Now it alternates with us in occupying territory. How can this not be of concern to the defenders?

"Before there was only one Ava-Burma (一緬), but now all the yi are Ava-Burmese (諸夷皆緬). However, we have only one Yun-nan Province, and we can make it strong or leave it weak. If Yun-nan is without defences, without troops, without law, without food and without screens, then when the various yi join forces and combine their strengths, and they happen to wage an attack, it will bring troubles to the gate and endanger Teng-yue and Yong-chang. Also, Shun-yi is a rear avenue to Ava-Burma. It is a new city and has a weak troop force. The chieftain might try to make his way through here. Then Meng-hua and Da-li will be endangered.

"As far as Yun-nan is concerned, we can either provide grain supplies for the troops in advance, or swiftly eliminate the root of the troubles. These are the only two options. Yun-nan is surrounded by native offices. When there are troubles, we should mobilize the native office troops and use yi to attack yi. Deploying them without grain is not feasible, as without grain they cannot be sustained. Yun-nan is 10,000 li in the distance. Memorialized requests take half a year to reach the Court. If we want to defuse an emergency, and we have to wait until grain has been requested and we can mobilize the troops, the situation will already be out of hand. I propose that the mining taxes from Yun-nan should all be retained in Yun-nan to provide for troop rations. If the Ava-Burma chieftain remains submissive and untroubling for a few years, the previously-mentioned mining taxes should again be forwarded to the Emperor for use.

"I have heard that when Ava was pursuing Si Zheng, the person who claimed to have received orders from above to act as negotiator was the precious stone purchaser and Assistant Regional Commander Wu Xian-zhong. Xian-zhong had long before received Imperial orders allowing him to return to his domicile. However, the taxation supervisor Yang Rong retained him as an assistant and sent him to Ava to open precious stone mines. Xian-zhong used great benefits to lure the yi and obtained precious stones in exchange from them. The precious stone mines are in Ava-Burma's territory, several thousand li distant. The yi obtain benefit from them. Why would they need China's taxation official before they opened a mine. They suddenly began to kill our subordinate yi and brought on calamity by destroying our screen. The lands and the people who have attached themselves to China have been discarded and now Ava-Burma and ourselves are neighbours and danger is nearby. The Emperor and Sage could perhaps consider the stopping of the levying. Precious stones are just little bits of rock, things to enjoy looking at for a short time. They are of no benefit to the empire or state. Opening precious stone mines or protecting the borders -- which is to have precedence? Thus I hope that the procurement of precious stones will be stopped and the levying of taxes will cease, so as to swiftly bring an end to the troubles. It is humbly hoped that the Emperor will quickly issue an Imperial command recalling Yang Rong, and issue orders requiring the preparatory provision of troops and grain, so that future problems can be guarded against and Yun-nan has no further calamities."

There was no response to the memorial.

Shen-zong: juan 378.3b-5a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 113, page 7108/11

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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/wan-li/year-30-month-11-day-4, accessed October 23, 2019