The Sextants of Beijing: Global Currents in Chinese History

The Sextants of Beijing: Global Currents in Chinese History

Joanna Waley-Cohen

Language: English

Pages: 331


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This powerful work puts to rest the long-held myth that Chinese civilization is monolithic, unchanging, and perennially cut off from the rest of the world.

An inviting history of China from the days of the ancient Silk Road to the present, this book describes a civilization more open and engaged with the rest of the world than we think. Whether in trade, religious belief, ideology, or technology, China has long taken part in fruitful exchange with other cultures. With implications for our understanding of and our policies toward China, this is a must read.












not to propel China into the Bolshevik camp. On the other hand, the agitation contributed significantly to a resurgence of Guomindang power, as its politicians vied with one another to demonstrate their patriotism by displaying ever-greater resolution in the face of foreign domination. By injecting nationalistic fervor into the ranks of the working classes, it also gave a vigorous leg up to the still embryonic Communist Party, whose membership began to swell dramatically. The USSR’s supposed

demonstrations. Citizens turned out to express their support. Journalists working for official newspapers and television channels, unprecedentedly, occasionally expressed views at variance with the party line. Senior scholars returned home from abroad. More than once the numbers of demonstrators in Beijing surpassed one million. An electric sense of excitement spread throughout the cities. As one middle-aged party member put it, for the first time in his entire life he was free from fear. In the

textiles, concealed in a side room walled up almost nine hundred years earlier. Wishing to persuade the priest in charge to allow him access to these ancient texts, Stein described how he had retraced Xuanzang’s footsteps across Asia. His evident familiarity with and admiration for this popular figure of the Chinese past successfully established a bond with the priest, who that same night showed the explorer a small sampling of the treasures under his care. The first texts to emerge from the

number of the major military campaigns of the middle and later eighteenth century, but it was the war in which the advice of the Jesuit missionary Rocha on cannon had rescued his faltering campaign that really made his reputation. Much admired by the Jesuits, Agui was said to be deeply intrigued by Western knowledge, and it is reasonable to attribute his interest at least partly to his wartime experience. His opponent, Heshen, was in charge of embassy liaison in 1793. Heshen had little experience

Nonetheless, the six decades from the death of the Qianlong Emperor to the Convention of Beijing, covered by this chapter, marked a transition from confident autonomy to an only rather precarious independence. Perhaps more than anything, the events of this period show China’s remarkable capacity to resist bullying on the part of Westerners who could not imagine a better way of doing things than their own. CHINA IN THE EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY In retrospect we can see that an era came to an end

Download sample