Division of Hunan and Hubei Provinces in the Qing Dynasty: Pragmatism in the unity of heaven and governance

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Climatic impacts have been closely related to the governance of ancient China as stated by the traditional philosophy of the unity of heaven and man. In this study, the division of Hubei and Hunan Provinces in the Qing Dynasty is statistically reviewed as the first attempt in accordance with the agricultural harvests in Hubei and Hunan Provinces and different climatic factors in the eighteenth century until the division of the two provinces finally gained official acceptance. According to numerical results, the two provinces are affected by different climatic factors: precipitation, Asian summer monsoon, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation are significant for Hubei Province, whereas temperature is significant for Hunan Province. This study shows that “heaven” should be taken as a key concept in the interpretation of culture and politics in ancient China, a view empirically supported further by statistical analysis on the linkages between climate and agrarian economy in Hubei and Hunan Provinces. By considering the unity of nature and governance, pragmatism could be traced back to the Qing Dynasty, which could possibly have a significant influence on the ecological civilization of current Chinese society.

在傳統“天人合一”的哲學中,氣候衝擊與中國古代的治理緊密相連。本研究首次嘗試在統計上回顧清朝時期根據湖北與湖南省的農業收成與不同的氣候因素的兩省劃分,從十八世紀以降至兩省劃分終獲官方接受為止。根據數值結果,兩省受到不同的氣候因素所影響:降水、亞洲夏季雨季、以及太平洋十年濤動對湖北省而言是顯著的,而氣溫則對湖南省而言顯著。本研究顯示“天”應被視為翻譯中國古代文化與政治時的關鍵概念,該觀點在經驗上進一步由湖北省與湖南省的氣候與農業經濟連結之統計分析所支持。通過考量自然與治理的一體,務實主義可回溯至清朝,並可能對中國當代社會的生態文明具有顯著的影響。 Copyright © 2019 by American Association of Geographers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Professional Geographer
Early online dateOct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Oct 2019



Pei, Q. (2019). Division of Hunan and Hubei Provinces in the Qing Dynasty: Pragmatism in the unity of heaven and governance. The Professional Geographer. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00330124.2019.1653775


  • Climate
  • Heaven
  • Hubei and Hunan Provinces
  • Pragmatism
  • Qing Dynasty
  • 氣候
  • 湖北與湖南省
  • 務實主義
  • 清朝
  • Cielo
  • Clima
  • Dinastía Qing
  • Pragmatismo. Provincias Hubei y Hunan