By Wang Gungwu
Wang Gungwu's examine of the connection among China and the chinese language with imperial Britain examines the chances, in addition to the boundaries in their encounters. past the clichГ©s of opium, combating, and the diplomatic talents had to fend off competitors and enemies, Gungwu probes components of extra intimate encounters, now not least of that is the start of a broader English-speaking destiny among the 2 nations.
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Extra resources for Anglo-Chinese Encounters since 1800: War, Trade, Science and Governance
After all, the British and the Chinese traded for at least two centuries before they went to war. Did the British, with their East India Company, not have something to teach the Chinese decades before the end of the eighteenth century? Were they not better traders from at least that time? If the Chinese had learnt to trade like them earlier, perhaps they would not have had to fight. The simple answer is that this was not how the Chinese saw it before the second half of the nineteenth century. xml 48 CT003/Wang-Gungwu January 8, 2003 13:58 Anglo-Chinese Encounters It was not until late in that century that they began to acknowledge that there was something about British methods of trading that was worth learning.
The history of the English East India Company is a story of how the British sought to compete with its European rivals, notably the impetus following the defeat of the Spanish armada and the success of the Dutch against the Portuguese in India and the East Indies. Trade supported by the state arose in response to political conditions in Western Europe. The rise of the London merchant in English politics led to the use of armed trading vessels backed by the state. Although this may have seemed, at the beginning, little more than sanctioned piracy that enriched rulers and merchants alike, the armed merchant ships were ultimately regulated in order that they performed only defensive tasks.
Unfortunately, it was thought enough to master a few key texts. Once these were available for study, that served the purpose of the mandarins. Why was the updating of such texts taken less seriously and systematic translation of new works not followed up? The reasons for this are complex. I shall come to this in chapter four when questions of conversion and education are dealt with. Here I shall concentrate on the more immediate advantages of turning to Japan rather than to Britain in order to learn how to fight modern wars.