Week 13: Empire at the Crossroads

Lecture 1: Reorientation: “Barbarians” at the Gate

I. Internal Concerns

  1. Dream of the Red Chamber (1791)—Cao Xueqin (1715–64) … Jia family
  2. Qianlong and Heshen (800 million ounces of silver)
  3. White Lotus rebellion (1796–1804)

II. External Concerns

  1. International trade—British East India Company … Cohong … Canton
  2. Tea trade—400,000 pounds (1720) to 23 million pounds (1800) … silver (3 million ounces in 1760s to 16 million in 1780s)
  3. George Macartney Embassy (1793)
    • “As your Ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures” (The Qianlong Emperor, “Edict to King George III,” September 1793).
    • “In my researches I often perceived the ground to be hollow under a vast superstructure, and in trees of the most stately and flourishing appearance I discovered symptoms of speedy decay, whilst humbler plants were held by vigorous roots, and mean edifices rested on steady foundations. The Chinese are now recovering from the blows that had stunned them; they are awaking from the political stupor they had been thrown into by the Tartar impression, and begin to feel their native energies revive. . . . In fact the volume of the empire is now grown too ponderous and disproportionate to be easily grasped by a single hand, be it ever so capacious and strong. It is possible, notwithstanding, that the momentum impressed on the machine by the vigor and wisdom of the present Emperor may keep it steady and entire in its orbit for a considerable time longer; but I should not be surprised if its dislocation or dismemberment were to take place before my own dissolution” (George Macartney, An Embassy to China).

Lecture 2: Reorientation

I. History as a Discipline

  1. Sources
  2. Questions
  3. Narratives
  4. Information… knowledge… insight… wisdom

II. China as a Construct

  1. Continuities and change
  2. Unity and diversity
  3. Structure and agency
  4. Power and identity
  5. China and the world—interactions … parallels



External links to Maps:

World Trade | Qing Expansion

Physical Map

Map of Modern China: Physical Geography

Source: National Museum of Chinese History, ed., A Journey into China's Antiquity, vol. 1 (Beijing: Morning Glory Publishers, 1997), pp. 8–9.


Physical Map by Satellite

Map of Modern China: Physical Geography

Administrative Map

Map of Modern China: Administrative Divisions

Source: SACU


External Links to Images:

Illustrations 1 | Illustrations 2


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