Anglo-Chinese Encounters Before the Opium War, A Tale of Two Empires Over Two Centuries

Liu, Xin orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8200-0412 (2022) Anglo-Chinese Encounters Before the Opium War, A Tale of Two Empires Over Two Centuries. Routledge. ISBN 9780367741679

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The book is a ground-breaking study of the fascinating encounters between the two historic empires from 1583 to 1840, starting with Queen Elizabeth I’s letter to the Chinese Emperor, and ends with the letter from Lord Palmerston to the Minister of China just before the Opium War. What happened in between was a long journey from cultural diplomacy to gunboat diplomacy. By interweaving the most known diplomatic efforts at the official level with the much unknown intellectual interactions at the people-to-people level, from missionaries to scholars, from merchants to travelers, and from artists to scientists, this book adopts a novel ‘mirror’ approach by pairing and comparing people, texts, commodities, artworks, architecture, ideologies, operating systems and world views of the two empires. Using letters, gifts and traded goods as fulcrums, and by adopting these unique lenses, it puts China into the world history narratives to contextualise Anglo-Chinese relations, thus providing a fresh analysis of the surviving evidence and casting a new light on understanding the Sino-centric and Anglo-centric world views in driving the complex relations between the two empires, and the reversals of power shifts that are still unfolding today. Intended for a general audience with an interest in history.

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