The funny thing with Chinese is that, it always depends on which author you're going with. Sinologists have a tough time figuring out who is who, and what is what. The Nan Man you refer to, isn't the same as the Nan Man used generally.
Solely, the two words mean two different things, but depending one what context you put them in is the main thing.
To say that mercenaries don't mean anything is completely wrong. Mercenaries are also hired for their better skill, and better knowledge of the terrain around them. Native-American Scouts were always used by the American military for their expansions across East to West.
Now, putting aside, any idea that the Cantonese "softened them up" (This WAS a JOKE)....
The reason why the Cantonese didn't resist, wasn't because they weren't able to, it's because they were disallusioned by the so-called "riches" China had to offer --Sorry to say. Heck, if the VietNamese began to fight "on the level of the Chinese", that sounds like you guys downgraded yourselves.
As to why I direct you back to the old posts, instead of copy and pasting... I just like loopholes more than copies.
If the Chinese didn't invade anyone else, I'm sure the world would be a less complicated place, with a lot more variety. This, I'll agree with you. However, in the Ming Dynasty, you were once again subdued under Chinese rule, and didn't really obtain independance from the Manchurians and French, until the French pulled out at Dien Bien Phu.
Now, the question remains, "Why did the Cantonese stay under Chinese rule" --which is basically what we've been debating throughout this thread, and the other onehttp://www.chinalanguage.com/forum/read ... 350&t=1350
Running out of time, I'll continue this post later on...