Tokyo College Online Event “Last Great Fest within the Tributary Circle” by Prof. GE Zhaoguang - Tokyo College

Tokyo College Online Event “Last Great Fest within the Tributary Circle” by Prof. GE Zhaoguang

2020.06.08 @ 16:00 – 17:00

Following the online Tokyo College lecture titled “Last Great Fest within the Tributary Circle,” we hosted a discussion between Professor GE Zhaoguang and Associate Professor SUGIYAMA Kiyohiko

On June 8, 2020, following Professor Ge Zhaoguang’s lecture, “Last Great Fest within the Tributary Circle,” we held a discussion between Professor Ge and Associate Professor Sugiyama. The lecture and discussion, which had originally been scheduled to occur in March of this year, were postponed as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and ultimately took place in the form of a video recording (the lecture) and live stream (the discussion). 

Associate Professor Sugiyama is the author of Daishin Teikoku no Keisei to Hakki Sei (The Formation of the Qing Empire and the Eight Banner System) (The University of Nagoya Press, 2015), and an expert on Manchu and Qing history. In particular, he researches Qing systems and political culture within the context of the broader Central Eurasian world, which also includes the Jurchen (Manchu). At the beginning of the discussion, Associate Professor Sugiyama stated that he felt Professor Ge’s lecture was successful in analyzing and evaluating history in a multifaceted manner, considering the Qianlong Emperor’s 80th birthday celebrations from the various perspectives of Chinese history, Asian history, and global history.

The discussion then went deeper, as both discussed why the celebrations were held first in Chengde rather than Beijing, and what one should think about the conspicuous absences at the celebrations. The fact that ceremonies began in Chengde and ended in Beijing truly represented the dual character of the Qing emperor as both a monarch in the Central Eurasian world, and as Chinese dynastic son of heaven. Both speakers recognized the benefit of considering the meaning of the celebrations from the perspective of the Central Eurasian world, but Professor Ge explained that he deliberately emphasized the perspective of Asian history because of the need to pay attention not only to the east-west axis but also to the north-south axis. Associate Professor Sugiyama raised Russia and the Dzungar as conspicuously absent at the ceremonies, asking what the “Tributary Circle” really was. In response, Professor Ge pointed out that various other states, including the semi-official tribuatry state of Luzon (now the Philippines), as well as Holland and Great Britain, had similarly not received invitations to attend the celebrations. The reasoning is clear when one considers the relationships between the Qing court and these countries. Only those states demonstrating obedience to the Qing were invited. According to Professor Ge, this makes it clear that the Qianlong Emperor still held tightly to a attitude that saw the Chinese imperial court as central.

The alloted hour flew by, especially given the need for Japanese-Chinese interpreting. Finally, the speakers wrapped up the discussion by stating that they hoped there would be another opportunity in the future to exchange their views on a range of topics that it was not possible to discuss fully on this occasion, such as the transition to the 19th century and the beginning of modern history.

Almost 150 people tuned in to the live stream on the day. With sincere apologies to those who were unable to watch the discussion, unfortunately it was only available on that day. The video of Professor Ge’s lecture continues to be available on the Tokyo College YouTube channel, and can be viewed either on there or on this page.

YouTube LIVE
Date(s) Monday, 8 June 2020, 4:00-5:00 pm

Tokyo College YouTube Channel

Language Chinese and Japanese (Simultaneous translation available)

“Emperor Qianlong’s 80th birthday celebration viewed from Chinese history, Asian history, and global history”
Holding events from areas across Chengde and Beijing, Chinese Emperor Qianlong’s 80th birthday celebration was the most important historical occurrence in the eastern part of Asia in the late 18th century, as well as the last great fest within the tributary circle. This lecture will discuss from three perspectives – Chinese history, Asian history, and global history – why in the history of China, Asia, and the world, the same event demonstrates different meanings. Nowadays, from what perspective, and by what standard, do we evaluate a historical event?


Available on Tokyo College YouTube Channel

【Discussion】Discussion between Prof. GE Zhaoguang and Prof. Kiyohiko Sugiyama (University of Tokyo)
Please watch the Lecture in advance and watch Discussion LIVE on Tokyo College YouTube Channel (

Speaker Profile

Ge Zhaoguang:
Graduated from Peking University with a Master’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature. Full professor of Tsinghua University (history) in 1992. Distinguished Professor of Fudan University in 2006. Guest Professor at Kyoto University (1998), the University of Tokyo (2015), Princeton University (2011-2013), and Chicago University (2015). Research fields include intellectual history, cultural history, and religious history of East Asia and China.

Organized by Tokyo College, The University of Tokyo

Upcoming Events

For a Technodiversity in the Anthropocene (Lecture by Prof. Yuk HUI)


Friday, 2 June 2023, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm JST

The Anthropocene—the geological era dominated by human activities—is often associated with the climate change, ecological crisis, the sixth extinction, etc., or in brief, with an apocalyptic end. The recent acceleration of digital technology added more strength to the eschatological imagination which underlines the philosophy of history in the past centuries. In this sense, the Anthropocene is posed as a problem of modernity and it consequently calls for a new movement of overcoming modernity, which we can identify with the recent efforts of anthropologists such as Philippe Descola, Eduardo Vivieros de Castro, Bruno Latour among others, who want to undo the modern concept of nature. This talk will address this impasse of modernity and introduce what I call technodiversity as a response.

World Environment Day “The Lives, Deaths and Afterlives of Plastic: Global Perspectives”


Monday, 5 June 2023, 5:00 - 7:00pm JST

Plastic is essential for so many of the things we value in today’s world. But excessive and unplanned use of plastic worsens the conditions driving climate change and threatens the land, the seas and the lives of animals and humans.

Speakers on this panel will highlight issues including the chemical challenges plastic poses for the environment; the lives of waste-pickers who minimize the harm caused by discarded plastic; the science and economics confronting small-scale, local reuse of plastic; government mechanisms to coordinate the containment of plastic; and the dangers to animals and humans of micro-plastics in diverse forms.

Increasing Freshwater Supply through Desalination Driven by Renewable Energy (Lecture by Prof. Alberto TIRAFERRI)


Tuesday, 13 June 2023, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Climate change, industrial development, and population growth continuously increase the need for freshwater worldwide. Unconventional wastewater and saline sources must be tapped to reduce the stress on natural resources. However, producing freshwater from unconventional streams requires significantly more energy than traditional ways. While energy needs will always be high, innovative methods will rely on renewable energy, reduce the process complexity, and increase the socio-economic feasibility of desalination. This lecture discusses challenges and opportunities of these methods and the water-energy nexus.

Language and Healthcare Work: Focusing on Trade, Migration, and Policy Discourse (ft. Dr OTOMO Ruriko)


Wednesday, 21 June 2023, 9:00 am - 10:00 am (JST)

By framing the Economic Partnership Agreement as a form of language policy, Dr. OTOMO Ruriko demonstrates that the trade policy represents contemporary language issues that have important consequences for language (education) policies and for discourses about the state, language, migration, and healthcare.

The Global Deal on Taxing Multinationals(Lecture by Michael KEEN, Ushioda Fellow)


Thursday, 29 June 2023, 4:00-5:30 pm

The world is on the brink of genuinely fundamental reform of the century-old arrangements for taxing multinationals. The aims are to reduce the scope for tax avoidance by companies and put a brake on international tax competition between governments. But what exactly will change? And will the proposed reforms achieve their objectives?

Uncovering the Neural Circuits for Social Bonding in Songbird (Lecture by Prof. Sarah WOOLLEY)


Monday, 3 July 2023, 3:00-4:30 pm

Songbirds use learned vocal signals to communicate information about their species, their identity, and even their emotional state. We study how the songbird brain decodes this information to allow songbirds to use song for recognition, mate selection, and forming long-lasting social bonds. By doing so, we gain broad insight into the neural basis of vocal communication across animal species, including in humans.

Previous Events

Foreign Elements: Identity and Hybridity in Japanese Writing Practices (ft. Prof. Peter BACKHAUS)


Monday, 29 May 2023, 3:00 - 4:00 pm (JST)

This talk deals with two interrelated phenomena in Japanese writing practices: (1) the integration of loanwords and (2) the romanization of Japanese vocabulary. I will argue that the two phenomena are in fact complementary, resulting in a high degree of hybridity between what is native and what is foreign.

The ‘Human Right to Science’: Whose Right and Whose Duties? (Lecture by Prof. Samantha BESSON)


Thursday, 25 May 2023, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm JST

International human rights law guarantees a ‘right to participate in and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications’. The lecture will explain why the so-called ‘right to science’ has largely stayed inactive, and what its recently-rekindled participatory dimension implies for its right-holders and duty-bearers. It proposes to interpret the right to science as a public good to help revise the predominant approach to science as an individual, ahistorical and acultural enterprise, and reverse the trend towards its privatization and commodification.

The Shifting Landscape of Modern Memories: Industrial Heritage Sites, Old and New (Lecture by Prof. Andrew GORDON)


Monday, 22 May 2023, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm JST

Professor Andrew Gordon is studying the public history of industrial heritage, beginning with the UNESCO-inscribed World Heritage Sites of Japan’s industrial revolution. He is also interested in sites of industrial heritage which have not been (and probably will not be) nominated to UNESCO. His talk will focus on two such sites. One is old and famous: the Ashio Copper Mine and Refinery. Another is Japan’s newest “industrial heritage site”: the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Scientific Computing in Economics and Finance: Past, Present, and Future (Prof. John STACHURSKI)


Tuesday, 25 April 2023 4:00-5:30 pm

Increases in computer power and computational tools have transformed economic research, as well as many other sciences. This talk will discuss the ways that growing computer power has changed economics and finance, and how recent developments such as deep learning, artificial intelligence and machine learning might transform it in the future.

Cancer Research – Inspiration from the Nobel Prizes (Lecture by Prof. Carl-Henrik HELDIN)


Saturday, 22 April 2023, 4:00-5:30 pm (Doors open: 3:30 pm)

During the last 122 years, almost 1000 Nobel Prizes have been awarded in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. The Nobel Laureates and their great achievements are a tremendous source of inspiration, including for cancer research aiming at understanding why and how we get cancer, and how it can be treated, which is the theme of the presentation.

Loanwords and Japanese Identity: Inundating or Absorbed?


Wednesday, 19 April 2023, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm JST

Is our language inundated by loanwords? Or is it being enriched by absorbing foreign vocabulary? We often hear such discussions in contemporary Japan. Loanwords and Japanese Identity: Inundating or Absorbed? explores the relationship between language and identity through an examination of public attitudes towards lexical borrowing in the Japanese language.