Genocide and Mass Killing in Chinese History

Victoria Hui, Notre Dame University

In China as elsewhere, then, mass killing goes back millennia. As Mao once said to party cadres in 1958: ‘What does Emperor Shihuang of the Qin dynasty count for? He only buried 460 Confucian scholars. We have buried 46,000 scholars . . . We have surpassed Qin Shihuang by 100 times’.6 Mao thus both testified to a continuity of brutality since the foundingQin dynasty (221–207 BCE), and boasted that his own killings outdid those of the Shihuang (??), the most notorious in Chinese history. In this chapter, I explore the terms ‘genocide’ and ‘extermination’ in the case of China, analyse the primary condition for mass killing, namely state capacity, and then address the validity of statistics in historical sources. The heart of this chapter chronicles the cases of ‘extermination’ that led up toQin Shihuang’s proclamation of China’s first unified dynasty and immediately after. It also briefly introduces examples of ‘genocide’ and ‘extermination’ in the ensuing Han dynasty.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 4. Book Roundtable on the Cambridge World History of Genocide