During the late sixteenth century, top-tier elites of Ming China wrote mock memorials on behalf of the king of Chosŏn Korea. While the Chinese court developed this prompt to familiarize its officials with the changing geopolitics and test their abilities to elaborate on the greatness of China, up until the sixteenth century, elites turned this exercise into an opportunity to rethink the proper order of the world. Notably, some of them epitomized by Ye Xianggao made the critical step to advocate the Korean perspective with words that were even more “intense” than their Korean counterparts. These mock exercises offer access to an important yet much-underappreciated aspect of political culture in early modern China; accordingly, those who had received or had been receiving rhetorical training were actively exploring alternative possibilities of speaking for political and cultural others in a hierarchical world order.

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