As trade was an important source of wealth for the Yue tribes of coastal China south of the Yangtze River attracted the attention of Emperor Qin Shi Huang to undertake a series of military campaigns to conquer it. Attracted by its temperate climate, fertile fields, and relative security from the warring factions from the west and northwest, the wealth and access to luxury products from Southeast Asia motivated the First Emperor to send an army to conquer the Yue kingdoms. The emperor craved for the resources of the Baiyue and ordered military expeditions against the region between 221 and 214 BC. With dynastic changes, wars, and foreign invasions, Han Chinese living in Central China were forced to expand into the unfamiliar and southern barbarian regions. For a long time, the southern parts of contemporary China and Northern Vietnam was considered a barbarian region, as it was populated by numerous non-Chinese minorities.
|Qin's campaign against the Yue tribes|
In 214 BC, the Qin dynasty undertook a military campaign against the Baiyue in Lingnan to conquer the territories of what is now southern China and northern Vietnam. Motivated by the region's valuable exotic products, Emperor Qin Shi Huang secured his boundaries to the north with a fraction of his large army (300,000 men), and sent the majority (500,000 men) south to seize still more land and attempted to subdue the barbarian Yue tribes of the southern provinces. At that time, southern China was known for its fertile land, elephant tusks and jade production. Prior to the events leading to Qin dominance over China, the Baiyue had gained possession of much of Sichuan to the southwest. The Qin army was unfamiliar with the jungle terrain, and was defeated by the southern Yue tribes' guerrilla warfare tactics, suffering casualties of over 100,00 men.
However, Qin did manage to construct the Lingqu Canal to the south, which they used heavily to supply and reinforce their troops during a second attack to the south. Building on these gains, the Qin armies conquered the coastal lands surrounding Guangzhou and took areas of Fuzhou and Guilin. After these victories in the south, the First Emperor moved over 100,000 prisoners and exiles to the newly conquered area to colonize them. Though the Qin emperor was victorious against the Yue kingdoms, Chinese domination was brief and the collapse of the Qin dynasty led the Yue peoples to regain their independence.
By 208 BC, the Qin Chinese renegade general Zhao Tuo had reached Cổ Loa Citadel, capital of the state of Âu Lạc. There, he defeated An Dương Vương and established the Nanyue kingdom during the same year.