J. D. Spence, China and the 18th Century World

J. D. Spence, China and the 18th Century World - China and...

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China and the Eighteenth-Century World Jonathan D. Spence MANAGING THE FOREIGNERS The Qing state had no Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Relations with non-Chinese peoples were instead conducted by a variety of bureaus and agencies that, in different ways, implied or stated the cultural inferiority and geographical marginality of foreigners, while also defending the state against them. In the north and northwest, relations with the Mongols, Zunghars, and Russians were handled mainly by the Lifan Yuan, or Office of Border Affairs, which had been founded by Hong Taiji in 1638. Staffed exclusively by Manchus and Mongols, the Lifan Yuan's task was to keep things quiet in China's dangerous northwest crescent, whence so many of her conquerors in the past had come. To this end, the office forged an elaborate system of agreements regulating the visits of central Asian caravan traders to China. Imperial daughters were commonly married off to influential Mongol princes, forming a protective network of personal alliances, bolstered by Qing garrisons located at strategic points in the region. Muslims, some of whom were of central Asian origin and some Chinese, were watched with care but generally allowed to practice their religion in peace; and after a Qing military presence in Lhasa became established under Yongzheng, the tribes that owed religious allegiance to the lamaist Buddhist hierarchy of Tibet ceased to be a grave threat. The variety of tasks coordinated by officials in the Lifan Yuan did, therefore, give the bureaucrats considerable skill and breadth of experience in dealing with "foreign policy" problems, and made the Great Wall largely redundant as an aspect of northwest frontier defense. European missionary contact with China was supervised mainly by the imperial household, an autonomous bureaucratic institution in Peking. This agency managed a wide range of the emperor's affairs, including the stockpiling of bullion and food reserves, the maintenance of imperial estates and palaces, the manufacturies for precious silks and porcelain, and the collection of extra revenues from such items as the salt monopoly and the transit dues on internal and foreign trade. It was most commonly the bondservants in the imperial household—often men of considerable wealth and power—who dealt directly with the missionaries and escorted papal embassies. Their general role in missionary business underlined the prevailing view that this dimension of foreign affairs was an aspect of the court's prestige rather than of national policy. The Jesuits especially found their role much constricted by this arrangement and tried to emphasize their independence in letters back to European colleagues. Some of the Jesuits, along with other Catholic missionaries and Chinese priests, worked secretly inside China, sheltered by their converts. All faced serious punishment if caught by the authorities. Interaction with non-Chinese peoples in Korea and on the southern crescent of China's
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This note was uploaded on 06/17/2008 for the course HIST 122 taught by Professor Iforgot during the Spring '08 term at Philadelphia.

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J. D. Spence, China and the 18th Century World - China and...

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