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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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