Ban Yong and Fu Jiezi
Ban Yong was a well-known general of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). He was the youngest son of Ban Chao, an outstanding military leader, explorer and diplomat in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).
In 101 AD, with the envoys of Anxi (Parthia, in now Iran), Ban Yong was dispatched by Ban Chao to go to Luoyang, the capital of the Eastern Han Dynasty. The following year his father, Ban Chao returned to Luoyang and died there. Ban Yong remained in Luoyang and held an office in the Han Dynasty until 107 AD. At that time, all the states in the Western Regions rose in revolt. Ban Yong and his brother, Ban Xiong were sent by the emperor to Dunhuang to meet the soldiers stationed in the Western Regions. In 119, the Northern Hun united with Cheshi Houbu (in Jimu Sai'er County) to attack Yiwu (Hami). Shanshan (Ruoqiang) sought protection from the Han Dynasty. Many officers persuaded the emperor to give up the Western Regions and close the Yumenguan Pass. However, Ban Yong prevailed over all dissenting views and stated the advantages of uniting the states of the Western Regions.
In 123 AD, Ban Yong was stationed in Liuzhong, in the west of Shanshan, with 500 soldiers. Using clever diplomacy he successfully made a military alliance with Shanshan (the present Ruoqiang), Qiuci (Kuche or Kuqa), Gumo (Aksu) and other states. He then led the soldiers of these states to gradually subjugate Cheshi and beat the Northern Hun. By this time, almost all the states in the Western Regions were under the governance of the Han Dynasty. In 127 AD, Ban Yong enlisted Zhang Lang, the ruler of Dunhuang to fight against Yanqi (Qarashar). In order to take the credit, Zhang Lang reached Yanqi in advance and defeated it. As a result, Ban Yong was accused of delaying tactics over the war and put into prison. Although he was finally pardoned, he died of anxiety and anger before long.
Ban Yong consolidated the dominion of the Han Dynasty in the Western Regions, making a great contribution to the smooth running of the Silk Road. Moreover, because he was born in the Western Regions and lived there for a long time, he was well acquainted with the people, geography, produce, customs and political systems of the various states of the area. His book, the Records of the Western Regions, contains valuable historical data for studying the ancient Western Regions.
Further Reading: Silk Road in Eastern Han Dynasty
Fu Jiezi was an outstanding military adventurer during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). He worked out a way to cleverly kill the troublesome king of Loulan (now Ruo Qiang) and then he overawed the other states in the Western Regions. He was the second greatest person of the time, after Zhang Qian, and made an important contribution to guarantee the peace along the Silk Road.
After the Emperor Wu of Han died, the Hun People (Xiongnu) rallied again, and often invaded the Western Regions. Thus, Loulan and Qiuci (now Kuche or Kuqa) were inclined to cooperate with the Hun. They murdered the envoys of the Han, and seized tribute and detained the envoys dispatched by Anxi (Parthia) and Dawan (in Fergana Basin). They threatened the safety and trade route of the Silk Road.
Fu Jiezi volunteered to go to the Western Regions and brought to justice the kings of Loulan and Qiuci with the imperial seal.
After he arrived in Loulan and Qiuci; he scolded their offences sternly; at that, the two kings both agreed to obey the guidance of the Han Dynasty. Then Fu Jiezi continued his west travel towards Dawan, before long, he heard that the Hun's envoys returned to Qiuci. Therefore, he went back to Qiuci quickly to deal with the Hun's envoys. On hearing this, the Han Emperor Zhaodi (the son of Wudi) was very pleased with what he did and promoted him.
As soon as Fu Jiezi left, Loulan and Qiuci rebelled again, and colluded with the Hun. In order to execute one person as a warning to others, Fu was sent to carry on a task of killing Loulan's king. With more than 100 soldiers, and a great deal of gold and silk, he set out again on his westbound journey. When he reached Loulan, the king was unwilling to receive them. Fu Jiezi’s delegation pretended to leave in good manner. After arriving at the west border of Loulan, he intentionally told the interpreter that he bestowed gold and silk to various states in the Western Regions on behalf of the Han Emperor. Hardly had the king of Loulan heard the news, when he went to the west border to meet the envoys. Fu Jiezi made a junket outside his tent and drank wine with the greedy king, showing him all the gold and silk they brought. The king was so happy that he drank deeply of wine and soon he got drunk. When this happened, Fu Jiezi asked the king to enter his tent so that he could give him a secret message. No sooner had the king entered the tent, than he was killed by two heroes. With military menace, Fu quickly placated officials and attendants here and stabilized Loulan. Then he took the head of Loulan's king to Chang'an. The Han Emperor commended Fu Jiezi's achievements and promoted him to Yiyanghou (a high official).
Further Reading: Silk Road in Western Han Dynasty