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Ban Chao

From Scholar to General: Ban Chao of the Western Regions

Ban Chao (32-102 AD) was a famous diplomat and military figure of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD). In 73 AD, Ban Chao led a force of thirty-six troops to the Western Regions. Emerging from the pass near Lop Nur Lake in the western kingdom of Shanshan (Charkhlik), he used strategic measures to engage and defeat the Xiongnu, who controlled the region. Highly impressed, the king of Shanshan (Charkhlik) switched allegiance from the Xiongnu to the Han Dynasty. Ban Chao reported his accomplishment to the emperor, requesting that an official force be dispatched to establish a military garrison in the Western Regions. Ban Chao was appointed Division Commander, and returned to the Western Regions with the same three dozen troops. This time, Ban Chao's honorable actions gained him the firm support of the kingdom of Shule (Kashgar), where he established his base of operations. In 94 AD, Ban Chao finally defeated the kingdoms of Yanqi (Karashahr), Weixu (Hoxud), and Weili (Korla), vassals of the Northern Xiongnu, bringing the entire Western Regions under the control of the Eastern Han Dynasty. For his achievements, Ban Chao was promoted to the rank of Protector General. Since then he has been referred to as General Ban Chao. Ban Chao spent a total of thirty-one years in the Western Regions, putting down internal unrest and pacifying enemies of the Han Dynasty, and maintaining order and the free flow of goods along the Silk Road.

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