Anglo-Chinese Encounters since 1800: War, Trade, Science, and Governance

Anglo-Chinese Encounters since 1800: War, Trade, Science, and Governance

Anglo-Chinese Encounters since 1800: War, Trade, Science, and Governance

Anglo-Chinese Encounters since 1800: War, Trade, Science, and Governance

Synopsis

Wang Gungwu's study of the relationship between China and the Chinese with imperial Britain examines the possibilities, as well as the limits of their encounters. Beyond the clichés of opium, fighting, and the diplomatic skills needed to fend off rivals and enemies, Gungwu probes areas of more intimate encounters, not least of which is the beginning of a broader English-speaking future between the two countries.

Excerpt

It is a great honour for me to be invited to give the Smuts Commonwealth Lectures. I grew up in Ipoh in the state of Perak, a British protected state, and studied Empire and Commonwealth history for my Cambridge School Certificate in a government-funded school named after Governor Sir John Anderson (1858–1918). Jan Christiaan Smuts (1870–1950) was still alive when I went to university in Singapore, in the newly established University of Malaya. I was interested in the extraordinary story of how this Cambridge-educated colonial became first a bitter foe of the British Empire and then a loyal supporter of the Commonwealth. This interest was fuelled by my meeting Keith Hancock (1898–1988) at the Australian National University in 1968 when he had just completed the second volume of his biography of Smuts. I enjoyed reading about the young Boer’s youth and his exploits in the War of 1899–1902. The last stage of his career after 1933 intrigued me even more. Why did he become so loyal to the Commonwealth? Among the reasons that might be offered for this loyalty, two stood out for me as a Chinese sojourner. One was that he was of European descent, a Christian, someone who could identify with British culture and history, and who also trained to be a common . . .

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