[Ancient Xi’an Diplomacy] Central Asia, West Asia, and North Africa
en.xa.gov.cn     Updated: 2019-09-18

Through the ancient Silk Road, Chang’an (now Xi’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi province) made extensive exchanges with countries in Central Asia, West Asia, and North Africa during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

During the early Tang Dynasty, safeguard agencies were set up to unify the ethnic groups in Northwest China, making the Silk Road more extended and prosperous.

Countries in Central Asia kept close contact with ancient China during that period. Merchants of Central Asia were good at identifying jewelry and they handled the jewelry industry in Chang’an. Some people from Center Asia served as government officials of the Tang Dynasty due to their military merits.

Ancient Afghanistan in Central Asia always served as the transportation hub from the western regions of China to Persia (now Iran) and India. The diplomatic missions from Afghanistan paid frequent visits to ancient China, and two sides also helped each other to defend their territories against enemies.

Envoys from the Eastern Roman Empire visited China seven times during the Tang Dynasty, spreading the medicine and acrobatic arts of the Eastern Roman Empire to China. The silks of China were popular in the Eastern Roman Empire, which became an important transfer station of Tang silks.

The diplomatic relations between the Arab Empire and ancient China started from the year 651, and envoys from the Arab Empire visited China 36 times during the Tang Dynasty. A number of Arab merchants did business in China, and some even served as government officials at the royal court.

The papermaking technology of China was spread to Europe through the Arab Empire, contributing to western culture. In the later Tang Dynasty, saltpeter, which is the main component of gunpowder, was spread to the Arab Empire. The medicine and medical books of the Tang Dynasty also influenced the Arab Empire.

The astronomy, calendar, mathematics, architecture, and medicine of the Arab Empire affected ancient China as well.