In both China and India, interactions with and pressures from outsiders caused political turmoil and fragmentation, but it did not lead to isolation. The spread of Buddhism and Hinduism from India paved the way for distinctive regional cultures across Asia. While Political and social crises prompted serious questions in countries of traditional beliefs and values, leaders of newly emerging states looked toward China and India as models of political institutions and cultural values. From the nomadic peoples of the steppe, conquering and creating settled societies of their own, to the resurgence of power in China, trade routes created networks for the exchange of religious and political ideas. While many of these exchanges and influences led to the creation of new and lasting states and empires, some, like the Sogdian merchant communities in the Counterpoint of this chapter, linked empires and societies through economic enterprise rather than political or military might.