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The Sextants Of Beijing Essay, Research Paper
A book The Sextants of Beijing by Waley Cohen view China from a Western point
of view. In this book Chinese emperors, Chinese governments, and Chinese
people were engaged by the outside world, and wanted to study and learn
foreign goods and ideas. However, at the same time they were feared that they
might lose political and moral as well as their Chinese values and
traditions. In each chapter, the author explained the overview of China’s
contracts with other civilizations, how China participated in a network of
international exchange all around the world.
In the book, it started out from the year between 629 through 645, which
was the Tang dynasty. In this time, Han China was interested in establishing
political and commercial relationships with others through trade. China began
to trade silk and gold with Central Asia in regular basis and in return,
China imported spices, woolen fabrics, and military projects from India.
According to Waley Cohen, the trade expanded for a number of reasons during
the Tang dynasty. The first was simply the attractiveness of the success and
cosmopolitan Tang court and society. The second was an increase in seafaring
skills and risky attempts that were learned through trade. The third was the
change of goods that the China was exporting. Skills that China learned was
the most wanted product for all the Chinese. However, ceramics began to up
rise as the leading of exports and the trade of silk production lost when
silkworm cocoons were smuggled out from China. Even though fine silks were
remained in a great deal and were still traded around the world, development
of porcelain was much finer than earlier ceramics. Also, during this period
the most influential features of the traffic were the spread of Buddhism from
India to China. Along with them, they took elements of Confucianism and other
cultural aspects of Chinese civilization.
The China’s first identical interaction with Europe and European culture
was during the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. The urbanization added
series of developments including the spread of literacy among both men and
women, much wider abilities of books, attention to women for more education,
and preparation of civil service exams that were reserved for men. I think a
connection between China and Europe brought China a great deal of expanding
their abilities of study. Many people rose in upper class and began to
collect art objects and antiques on a much larger scales. Also between the
China and Europe in the early modern age took place through the Jesuit
In the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the connection of trade
through Southeast Asia and the trade linked to European nations through their
colonial activities in Asia. The Qing empire didn’t want to allow Europeans
to access China’s market but they played a central part in Qing empire, which
represented a major political and cultural force in the region. Also in the
eighteenth century, the commerce played an important role. The trade brought
China some necessities such as pepper, coconut oil, rice, sugar, copper,
wood, rattan, and sea slugs and took Chinese ceramics, textiles, and other
facilities. China made a trade with Japan, the silver and copper from
Nagasaki, the only port open to foreign trade in Japan, even though China and
Japan were unfriendly to each other. However, the constant need of copper and
silver to China made them trade with Japan.
After the death of Qianlong in 1799, China suffered the series of
treaties that were unequal, and gave the Western powers and rights in China.
Also by the nineteenth century, many educated Chinese learned their culture
deeply because any religions within the Chinese traditions seemed unimportant
to both the Western and Japanese imperialism. China wanted to adopt Western
ways to overcome the West and wanted to preserve its own civilization. Since
then in the nineteenth century, China became some how unique. Nearly one
hundred ports in China opened to foreign trade. Japan and Western powers
competed to establish a field of influence from China. Also during the period
of the foreign powers, China was forced by them effectively to build
railroad, mining, and timber rights. By the end of the century, railroads and
telegraphs helped spread information about the foreign presence into the
interior of China. At this time, China hoped to select and adopt the Western
ways to overcome the West and to preserve its own civilization. To study and
learn more about the West, Chinese started to go out to overseas and
increased their experience of study.
In the late teens and early twenties, it was the time for second and also
the third generations for young Chinese to study in overseas. Not only the
number of women who studied in overseas were increased, but also their
environment changed. The new trend of acquiring knowledge and gaining powers
from the west was effective to compete. The intention of the Chinese to study
in the west was to bring home the knowledge of Western technology. Even
though Chinese students had some difficulties, they went all over the world
to study. Among France and Britain, many Chinese students preferred to study
in Japan since they offered sense of shared civilization. Also many people
thought it would be a shortcut to study in Japan to gain Western knowledge
because the modernization was more advanced than China’s. When they were
outside of their country, Chinese students enjoyed much greater freedom of
thought and freedom of expressions about anything and about their traditions
than when they were back home. If the Chinese wanted to learn about the west,
it would be better for them to learn directly from the west. However, since
Japan was near and they had Asian pride, most remained in Asia and studied in
These experience for international relationship brought China a great
view and gained many thoughts. For taking the risk of going out to overseas
led them achieve a lot of knowledge and technology. They adopted the system
of international treaties as a mean of establishing Chinese diplomatic
representation overseas. China always wanted to be a center of attention so
those efforts made China become civilized state.
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