※ Chair Professor of Humanities at Peking University, China
◆題目：「1524：The End of the Silk Road」
◇概要：In 1524, the imperial court of the Ming made a decision: to relocate seven frontier garrisons in the country’s northwest border areas (Guanxi Seven Garrisons, 關西七衛 ) from their original stations outside Jiayu Pass (嘉峪關) at the western end of the Great Wall to their new stations within the pass. Though this decision with its implementation hasn’t attracted much attention of historians, it is an event of farreaching significance in world history: It marked the closing of the Silk Road which stretched across the Eurasia Continent and was seen a “great channel of international trade” regarded by many scholars. This decision was not an indiscretion of Jiajing Emperor of the Ming dynasty on impulse without counting the cost, but the result of much thought of the top policymakers of the Ming state: Years earlier, memorials were submitted to the throne to suggest to “Close the door [to the barbarians in West China] and Suspend the tribute trade [with them], and never have dealings with them (閉關絕貢，永不與通 ).” The suggestion was supported by the Board of War. Though it was not indorsed by the crown then, it heralded the decision. Some deep-seated reasons stood behind the decision.