Here is an abstract for a paper I presented at the 1998 International System Dynamics Conference in Quebec City.
The Perilous Frontier:
East Asian Cultural Ecology and Two Millennia of Chinese Dynastic Succession
The majority of Chinese have lived within a unitary state for most of the last 2,000 years. Yet those states have been ruled by a number of dynasties diverse in origin, strength, and policies. There have been native dynasties, frontier dynasties, and even a nomadic (Mongol) dynasty. Throughout most of Chinese history, there have been distinct entities in the Yellow & Yangtze River valleys; the Northeast (Manchuria); and the steppes (Mongolia). Despite the advent of firearms and sophisticated artillery in the 18th century, this cycle continues today.
The author examines the characteristics of Han China, Manchuria, and the steppes as they relate to this succession of rulers: their economic wealth, their military power, and their internal strength. It also examines the characteristic appeasement policies of the Han and the confrontational policies of the Northeastern dynasties with respect to the peoples of the steppes, and how they affected their position with respect to each other. The unique conquest of Han China and the Northeast by the steppes under the Mongols is considered
This paper draws primarily from Thomas Barfield (The Perilous Frontier, p. x), who applies "anthropological models of tribal and state development to the available historical data on the tribes who bordered China's northern frontier." This paper also builds on the research the author presented at ISDC '95 in a paper entitled "Sustainable Civilization: Cohesion, Capacity, and External Contacts," and ISDC '97 titled "Byzantine, Bulgarian, and Ottoman: The Dynamics of Empire at the Crossroads of Europe and Asia." It differs from those previous works in that it discusses a different geographical setting (China, Manchuria, and Mongolia), and that it treats in detail the different policies of confrontation vs. cooperation of Han and Manchu dynasties towards the nomad states.
Presentation (in Lotus Freelance Graphics):