This essay proposes to establish a connection between the concept of “trans-systemic society” and the concept of “region” mainly for two reasons. On the one hand, the idea of region, which is distinct both from nation-state and from ethnicity, and which is based on a special human geography and culture, is uniquely hybrid, fluid, and integrated. Thus, it affords us a perspective that transcends nationalism with which to reinterpret China and its historical evolution. On the other hand, the idea of trans-systemic society shows a society composed of different ethnic groups or nationalities, religions, and even civilizations, which is also intertwined with the concept of trans-societal system. For example, the tributary system in Chinese history is not only a mode of contact in a trans-systemic society but also a form of network in the trans-societal system. It links various political communities within a broader region. Therefore, revisiting the idea of region, especially the idea of ethnic region, through the lens of trans-systemic society and trans-societal system, is crucial to addressing such questions as “How do we understand China?” or “What is China?”

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