7.1 Confrontations between the Northern and Southern Song Dynasties and Liao, Xixia and Jin 南北宋与辽、西夏、金的对峙

       The period from 960 to 1368 saw three historical stages of the Northern Song confronting with Liao and Xixia, the Southern Song confronting with Jin, and the unified Yuan.
       The period from 960 to 1368 saw three historical stages of the Northern Song confronting with Liao and Xixia, the Southern Song confronting with Jin, and the unified Yuan.
 
       The later reign of Emperor Xuanzong was marked by corrupt politics and weakening of power. Eunuchs seized power in the court while the warlords held control over local areas. The empire was rocked by sweeping peasant uprisings at the end of the Tang Dynasty and ended by warlords in 907. In the next 50 years, the Yellow River Valley was under the reign of the Later Liang (907-923), the Later Tang (923-936), the Later Jin (936-947), the Later Han (947-950) and the Later Zhou (951-960), collectively called the Five Dynasties.
 
       The period from 960 to 1368 saw three historical stages of the Northern Song confronting with Liao and Xixia, the Southern Song confronting with Jin, and the unified Yuan.
 
The Song Dynasty, Liao, Xixia
 
       In 960, General Zhao Kuangyin initiated a mutiny and overturned the Later Zhou to establish the Song Dynasty in Bianjing (today's Kaifeng, Henan), called the Northern Song period. The Northern Song successfully quelled the various rebellions and reunited the central plains and spacious southern areas. Having learned the lessons from usurpation by key ministers and the revolts of warlords, the Northern Song applied a series of measures to "deprive their power, control their finance and grain, and reorganize their forces." In the central government, the prime minister's power was divided into three independent sections for the convenience of the emperor's control. Tongpan (magistrates) were established in local counties to supervise local governors. On the military front, the force dispatching and leading rights were separated. The imperial guard troop was regularly changed but the leader did not shift with the troop to avoid usurpation. The central government also selected the elite of local troops to the imperial guard troop to defend the capital and weaken the local units. All taxation income was submitted to the central government except a small part for local expenses. These measures to reinforce centralization were helpful in maintaining unity and stability and promoting economic development. However, some over-corrective actions resulted in repeating structure organizations, low efficiency, enormous expenditure, indirect military direction and low battle effectiveness and other serious negative influences.
 
       In 916, Khitan's chieftain, Yelu Abaoji, living in the desert and northeastern regions, came to the throne and built the Liao regime in Shangjing (today's Lindong Town, Balin Left Banner, Inner Mongolia). The Khitans, who mainly lived on nomadism, fishing and hunting, gradually learned farming, building for settlement and invented characters based on Chinese character components. The Khitan nobles constantly looted southward and forced the Later Jin to cede Youzhou, Jizhou and 14 other prefectures and then occupied the North China Plain.

       In the early Northern Song Dynasty, the nomad Dangxiang ethnic group gradually sprang up in the northwestern regions. In 1038, Dangxiang Chieftain Yuanhao ascended the throne in Xingqing (today's Yinchuan, Ningxia), known as the Xixia. Xixia often invaded the Northern Song and won frequently. However, the battles destroyed the normal mutual trade. The Northern Song's firm defense caused grain shortage and the financial collapse of Xixia. In 1044, Yuanhao offered a peace agreement to the Northern Song. Both parties agreed that Yuanhao would cancel the title of emperor and submit to the Northern Song. The Northern Song gave silver, silk and tea to Xixia as "annual payment" and reopened border trade. From then on, Song and Xia maintained a generally peaceful trade relation.
 
The Southern Song, Jin, and the unified Yuan
 
      In the middle and later Northern Song Dynasty, the Nvzhen ethnic group living on fishing and hunting in the Heilongjiang River Valley steadily rose up in arms against the oppression of the Liao. In 1115, Wanyan Tribe's Chieftain Aguda came to the throne and set up the Jin regime in Huining (today's A' cheng in Heilongjiang). After exterminating Liao in 1125, Jin initiated an invasive war against the Northern Song and captured Bianjing the next year. In 1127, Emperor Huizong and Qinzong were captured, marking the end of the Northern Song.
 
       In 1127, Zhao Gao, a Kang Vassal from the imperial family, ascended to the throne and relocated the capital to Lin' an (today's Hangzhou, Zhejiang), known as the Southern Song Under the leadership of Yue Fei and other famous generals,the military-civil forces of the Southern Song bravely fought against invasion by the Jin troops and won major victories.But, vilified by the surrendering forces, Yue Fei was executed by Emperor Gaozong Zhao Gou under a fabricated charge.In 1141, Song and Jin inked an agreement that the Southern Song emperor would submit to the Jin, cede the region in the north of the Huaihe River and pay silver and silk as annual tributes to the Jin. Thus, the Southern Song only stayed in a corner in the southern bank of the Yangtze River, showing a Song-lin confrontation in the south and north respectively.
 
       Liao, Xixia and Jin's successive southward invasions brought widespread calamity to the central plains. The Song people constantly resisted the northern nomad groups' invasions and effectively fought the battles, winning a relatively sustainable peaceful development environment for the central plains and the southern regions.
 
       The northern ethnic groups also absorbed the advanced culture of the central plains during the expansion. Liao, Xixia and Jin successively imitated the political system of the dynasties in the central plains, awarded reclamation and migrated Han people northward, resulting in further economic exchange and ethnic amalgamation.
 
       The northern ethnic regimes also paid attention to removing the malpractices of the central plains' dynasties in the course of the full implementation of the Han system. Thus, the Han rangers could live a happy life in the north, too.
 
       Through decades of confrontation, collision and communication, the ethnic groups and cultures of the South and North further mixed together based on the culture of the central plains.