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The Sextants of Beijing. Global Currents in Chinese History.

Waley-Cohen, Joanna

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ISBN 10: 0393320510 / ISBN 13: 9780393320510
Verlag: Norton, London, 2000
Gebraucht Zustand: As New Softcover
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Bibliografische Details

Titel: The Sextants of Beijing. Global Currents in ...

Verlag: Norton, London

Erscheinungsdatum: 2000

Einband: Soft cover

Zustand: As New

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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. Maps


The West has long regarded China as monolithic and self-isolated, hopelessly mired in its traditions. By presenting examples of China's open-mindedness, pragmatism, and willingness to experiment with foreign ideas, The Sextants of Beijing explodes this myth. Qianlong's famous rejection of the Macartney mission of 1792, which attempted to establish trade relations between Britain and China--"We have never valued ingenious articles, nor do we have the slightest need of your country's manufactures"--has usually been taken at face value and interpreted as backward-looking arrogance. In fact, when Qianlong issued that statement, he was nevertheless attempting to acquire European-style artillery, following a history of aggressive pursuit of foreign trade going back to the Han dynasty (about 2,000 years ago, that is).

For much of its dynastic history, China has been ruled by its aggressive northern neighbors. This has made China extremely wary of foreign influences and hypersensitive to anything externally imposed, a sensitivity still evident in China today. Joanna Waley-Cohen, professor of history at New York University, analyzes the historical experience that has led to China's raw nerves. She describes China's relations with the West over the last four centuries, beginning with the Jesuit missions, through the Opium Wars and China's near dismemberment by the colonizing European powers, to its rejection of heavy-handed Soviet aid. While clarifying China's ambivalent attitudes toward the West, she shows conclusively that the nation's restraint and reserve should not be defined as isolationism. --John Stevenson

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