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

By Wang Gungwu | Go to book overview

5 “To rule”

In the last chapter, I noted that the Chinese elites were invited to consider a Christian idea of Heaven and the spiritual life it promised, but they were attracted instead to the science that would explain the mysteries in Nature and teach them how to master the resources of Earth. In the Chinese scheme of things, a separation of the three concepts of Heaven, Earth and Man was clearly recognised. This was in contrast to the dualities more familiar in the West, for example, between darkness and light, between body and soul, between what was God’s and what was Caesar’s. The Chinese realms of Heaven, Earth and Man reflected the three stages of life that the elites were trained to face and these found expression through the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. In that context, Christianity at its most spiritual competed with Buddhist metaphysics but most Chinese thought that Christian doctrines did not offer them anything as rational, and some found Christian practices hard to distinguish from features of popular Buddhism, which Christians described as superstition. Science, on the other hand, enriched areas of knowledge on Earth that the Chinese did not have. The ends and means of this science are distinctively secular but, for the Chinese who had no experience of the tensions created by the

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Acknowledgments viii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - "To Fight" 13
  • 3 - "To Trade" 43
  • 4 - "To Convert" 75
  • 5 - "To Rule" 107
  • 6 - Beyond Waley''s List 137
  • Notes 151
  • Index 193
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