1This book could not have been done without the guidance and support of many people and institutions.

2First of all, I am greatly indebted to Professor Christina Gilmartin. Her broad knowledge, insightful comments, endless support and encouragement have been invaluable sources for my research. I acknowledge a huge debt to Professor Adam McKeown and Professor Patrick Manning who have led me to explore world history that is both dangerous and rewarding. I also express my gratitude to Professor John Wills, who has shared with me his insights both of East Asia and Southeast Asia.

3I would like to thank other scholars, particularly Jerry Bentley, Lu Ren, Liu Xinru, James Lee, Barbara Andaya, Charles Patterson Giersch, Andre Gunder Frank, Sun Laichen, Anand Yang, Cheng Xingchan, Chiou-Peng Tzehuey, Thomas Hall, Zhou Qiong, and Zhang Jun.

4I extend my appreciation to Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore for awarding me the 2004 Dissertation Writing-up Fellowship. I have been greatly benefited from the wonderful academic atmosphere and talks with many scholars, including Wang Gungwu, Anthony Reid, Huang Jianli, and Geoff Wade. Dr. Wade kindly commented on parts of my draft.

5I appreciate the path-breaking Gutenberg-e Prize that has been sponsored by American Historical Association and Columbia University Press to encourage young scholars such as me and initiate e-books such as this one. As one of the 2004 Gutenberg-e scholars, I am sure that the other seven scholars would join me to express our regards to the Gutenberg-e staff who have done an extraordinary job on our publications.

6My fieldwork in summer 2002 was funded by the graduate student research travel grant, the History Department, Northeastern University. I enjoyed and benefited greatly from the Department, and the World History Center (1994–2004) directed by Patrick Manning and joined by many young students, among whom were Eric, Whitney, Jeremy, George, Joshua, John, Stacy, Tiffany, Jeffrey, Deborah, Pamela, and Yinghong, to list a few. I also take the opportunity to thank Snell Library, Northeast University, for its excellent services in obtaining important resources for my work from all over the country. I am also grateful to Michelle Ng, who helped me make nice maps for the book.

7Special thanks to Professor Cheng Yinghong and his family, Zhang Ying, Mimi, and Evan, for their friendship, delicious dinners, and tours around Boston.

8Finally, I would like to thank University of Hawaii Press for the permission to use my article "Silver, Horses, and Cowries: Yunnan in a Global Perspective" in Journal of World History (September 2004), and Cambridge University Press for the permission to use my article "Central State, Local Governments, Ethnic Groups, and the Minzu Identification in Yunnan, 1950s–1980s" in Modern Asian Studies (May 2009).

9All the errors and inaccuracies in the book remain mine and mine alone.