Source: From Pei-kai Cheng, Michael Lestz, and Jonathon D. Spence, The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection (New York: Norton, 1999), pp. 55-58, slightly modified. elite. Unlike their counterparts in other large empires, the banner armies never turned on the ruling house or used the resources that had been assigned to them to challenge central authority. ••&• .. --?!Mfll!f 11111111_ .......___ ....""7,.,, . ., =·-· CONTACTS WITH EUROPE The Qing regulated its relations with countries beyond its borders through a diplomatic system
--r .. -. 7 "'-"nc;r1us ana me 1}.tng (1600-1800) modeled on the Ming one. Countries like Korea, Ryukyu, Japan, Vietnam, and many of the other states of Southeast Asia sent envoys to the court at Beijing. Europeans were not full players in this system, but they had a marginal presence. Trading contacts with Europe were concen-trated at Guangzhou in the far south (see Connec-tions: Europe Enters the Scene). Soon after 1600, the Dutch East India Company had largely dis-lodged the Spanish and Portuguese from the trade with China, Japan, and the East Indies. Before long, the British East India Company began to compete with the Dutch for the spice trade. In the seventeenth century the British and Dutch sought primarily porcelains and silk, but in the eighteenth century, tea became the commodity in most demand. By the end of the century, tea made up 80 percent of Chinese exports to Europe. In the early eighteenth century, China enjoyed a positive reputation among the educated in Europe. China was the source of prized luxu-ries: tea, silk, porcelain, cloisonne, wallpaper, and folding fans. The Manchu emperors were seen as wise and benevolent rulers. Voltaire wrote of the rationalism of Confucianism and saw advantages to the Chinese political system as rulers did not put up with parasitical aristo-crats or hypocritical priests. By the end of the eighteenth century, British merchants were dissatisfied with the restrictions imposed on trade by the Qing government. The Qing, like the Ming before it, specified where mer-chants of particular countries could trade, and the Europeans were to trade only in Guangzhou, even though tea was grown mostly in the Yangzi valley, adding the cost of transporting it south to the price the foreign merchants had to pay. The mer-chants in Guangzhou who dealt with western merchants formed their own guild, and the Qing government made them guarantee that the Euro-pean merchants obeyed Qing rules. In the system as it evolved, the Europeans had to pay cash for goods purchased and were forbidden to enter the walled city of Guangzhou, ride in sedan chairs, bring women or weapons into their quarters, and learn Chinese. Great Pagoda at' Kew Gardens. A taste for things Chinese led to the construction of a ten-story, 162-foot tall octagonal pagoda in Kew Gardens in London in 1762. It was originally very colorful and had eighty dragons decorating its roofs.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 72 pages?