Pacific Rim Report No. 50, December 2008
Here Be Dragons: China in Western Eyes from the Jesuits to the Internet
by Elisa Oreglia, M.A., M.I.M.S.
Elisa Oreglia is a graduate of the USF Center for the Pacific Rim’s Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies program. She first became interested in European views of China, and in particular in the role that the Jesuits played in shaping them in the 16th and 17th centuries, while working at the Center’s Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History. After leaving USF, she worked as a web-producer and consultant for non-profit organizations in London and in Beijing, including The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies.
She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Information Management and Systems at UC Berkeley, where she specializes in Information and Communication Technologies and Development, with a focus on China. The program has allowed her to bring together her diverse interests in China and new technologies. She has done research on the internet in China, and on the use of new technologies by migrant women in Beijing. She is presently engaged in looking at how non-governmental organizations have incorporated new technologies in their response to the Sichuan earthquake.
The author would like to thank Ron Anton, Director of the Beijing Center, whose splendid collection of rare books by Europeans about China inspired this paper; Jean-Paul Wiest, for clarifying many aspects connected with the Jesuit letters and archives; and Quentin Hardy and Mark Mir for discussing the ideas presented here and suggesting several improvements.
We gratefully acknowledge The Kiriyama Chair for Pacific Rim Studies at the USF Center for the Pacific Rim for underwriting the publication of this issue of Pacific Rim Report.
“China, within living memory so remote from our own lives as to constitute the very epitome of an alternative reality, is now firmly part of our world, yet remains, despite the rapid pace of change, ineluctably different.”
T.H. Barrett, A Little Knowledge. The Times Literary Supplement, Oct 27, 2006
Chronicling the exotic Middle Kingdom has long been a favorite activity of Westerners, from merchants to travelers, from diplomats to missionaries, from scholars to casual observers. In the past, reporting about China was limited to a few people who either had been there or had access to people who had, or to the few books about the country. The quality of the reporting was quite variable. Some writers were perceptive while others never managed to get beyond clichés; some were truly insightful and others hopelessly superficial.
The current combination of an open China with its booming economy once again attracting all sorts of foreigners, and the internet, with its own set of attractions, has provoked a sharp increase in writing about the country from experts as well as by casual observers and in traditional as well as new media. However, this quantitative increase has yet to yield an increase in quality. And there is a big difference in contrast to the past: using the internet makes it very easy to combine or compare different sources. Whether or not this capability allows us to understand a complex reality that would otherwise remain unreachable remains to be determined.
Travelers’ Tales, Intrepid Missionaries, and the Birth of the Mysterious Orient
It all began with Marco Polo, the celebrated Italian merchant who traveled to China, became a good friend of the Emperor—or at least, so he claimed—came back to Italy, and told his story to anyone who would listen. Born in Venice in 1253 into a family of merchants who traveled often to the Middle East on business, he accompanied his father and uncle in 1271 on their second journey to the court of Kubilai Khan, the Mongol emperor of China and founder of the Yuan dynasty. Kubilai liked the young Venetian and appointed him to various administrative positions within the empire. For the following 17 years Marco traveled around China and to neighboring countries in the service of the Emperor. He returned to Italy around 1294 and would have settled down to an obscure life as a merchant had he not been taken prisoner during a war that Venice fought with Genoa. While imprisoned, Marco shared his quarters with Rustichello da Pisa, a writer of romances, and soon began to dictate to him the story of his Chinese travels. The manuscript, known as The Description of the World, or The Travels of Marco Polo, but also as Il Milione (The Million, supposedly because it told a million lies) quickly became popular because of its tales of exotic lands, strange customs, and bizarre phenomena. It was the first time Europeans had heard first-hand stories of China and the ‘Far East’, and most people dismissed them as mere fiction. A continent where men existed that had “heads like dogs” belonged to the realm of the imagination, not to reality, and China continued to be a fabled land in the mind of most Europeans.
In a way, Marco Polo can be considered the grandfather of many modern-day bloggers. He writes about fabled lands, but he is verbose, repetitive, prone to endless digressions and to omissions and inaccuracies. Il Milione reads as a mix of formulaic pages from the romance tradition Rustichello specialized in, filled with pedantic descriptions of the geography and habits of people, with an eye always open for business opportunities. The fact that Polo was the first to write about the country, however, made his story stand out and made him a model of success for any aspiring writer of exotic places. He popularized a writing style built on anecdotes, which today is the defining characteristic of most blogs. The best among them use amusing, unusual, sometimes poignant sketches as a starting point for a deeper reflection on bigger issues. Most blogs, however, are limited to descriptions that can be interesting at first but feel empty and unsatisfying in the long term—just like Polo’s stories, which were a great success when there was no other source of information but which today strike us as rather tedious.
A minority of well-educated men, however, had begun to take China more seriously, thanks to the reports written by their envoys there. These envoys were the clergy of the Catholic church, who had been sending missionaries to the Tartar court since the mid-13th century. The church was interested in expanding its reach to Asia and mounted a serious effort to understand the history and customs of far-away populations in order to convert them. Between the end of the 15th century and the early 16th century, the flow of missionaries to the Far East slowly but steadily increased, and their first-hand accounts of the Far East—and, soon, of China proper—were published with greater frequency. Among these early works, one of the most detailed was written by the Augustinian friar Juan González de Mendoza, the Historia de las cosas más notables, ritos y costumbres del gran reyno de la China which was published in Rome in 1585. Mendoza shared his epoch’s enthusiasm and hope for the new Eastern missions, and had in vain hoped to go to China himself. Instead, Pope Gregory XIII assigned him to compile a history of all that was known about the country. The book was a huge success, partly because of the thirst for knowledge—in the vernacular—about the Far East, partly because it had the authority of a publication commissioned by the Pope himself and also because of Mendoza’s engaging and lively style. His book covers in depth most aspects of Chinese society ranging from chronology to government organization, to the Chinese language, to the country’s legal system, business practices, and industry. Mendoza used both primary and secondary sources, including accounts of Dominican and Franciscan friars, personal conversations with native Chinese who resided in Spain and Mexico, Chinese books brought back to Spain, and Jesuit letters.
Jesuits were the most prolific authors of books about the country that were published in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Their books were hugely influential; they not only shaped the perception of China in Europe at the time, but they remain important sources of information today. The most important of these books might be De christiana expeditione apud Sinas, better known as Matteo Ricci’s ‘Journal’, published in 1615 by Ricci’s fellow Jesuit, Nicholas Trigault.
Matteo Ricci was born in Macerata, Italy, in 1552. After studying in Macerata and in Rome, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1571 and studied theology and philosophy, but also mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy. In 1577 he asked and was given permission to go to Asia and subsequently embarked for Goa, where he stayed until 1582 when Father Alessandro Valignano, who was in charge of the Jesuit Missions in the East Indies, sent him to Macao to study Chinese and prepare to go to mainland China. Finally, in 1583 he arrived in Zhaoqing (near Guangzhou), where he purchased a plot of land on which he built a house and a chapel, the first mission residence built in China since the Franciscans during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368).
The Jesuits were aware of the need for missionaries who were well educated, fluent in the language, and prepared to fully engage with the locals in order for the mission to be a success, and in Ricci they found a champion of this approach. Cultural accommodation was not only the approach for which Ricci had been trained, it was also his nature to practice such accommodation, as is evident from his journal and letters. During his years in China he kept a detailed description, written in Italian, of his experiences and progress in setting up the Jesuit mission and of his interactions with the Chinese. After his death in 1610, Ricci’s journal found its way back to Europe, and a modified Latin translation of it was published in Augsburg in 1615 with the title De Christiana Expeditione apud Sinas (On a Christian Expedition to China.) It took Europe by storm and opened a ‘golden age’ of writing about China, when authors were keen, sympathetic, and culturally aware observers of the country without either ‘going native’ or imposing an adversarial outlook on their observations.
In general, the Jesuits were outstanding observers of the places and cultures they were sent to, and usually very perceptive writers, as witnessed by the letters sent from their foreign posts to inform ‘headquarters’ of the situation regarding their missions, reports which are preserved today in the Jesuit Archives in Rome. These letters were often sent to patrons of the Order to inform them of how the money they donated was being spent. They described in detail the daily life and events of the people among whom they were living, from the most mundane aspects (what people ate, how their houses were built) to more general observations about customs and traditions. A selection of these letters was first published for the general public in 1703 with the title Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses Ecrites des Missions Etrangères, par Quelques Missionnaires de la Compagnie de Jesus. The book contained several letters from the Jesuits of the China mission and was so successful that it was reprinted in quite a number of differing editions over the ensuing decades. The writing style varied widely, as did the background and eloquence of the writers, but again the common thread was an open mind and a desire to understand the ‘other’.
This attitude was evident in the work of another Jesuit missionary in China, Martino Martini. Born in Trento, he had an Italian name but considered himself German and spent most of his life in China. He arrived in Hangzhou in 1643 and was therefore a direct witness to the years of upheaval surrounding the fall of the native Ming dynasty and the rise to power of the Manchu Qing dynasty in 1644. He chronicled these events and published De Bello Tartarico Historia on the occasion of his journey back to Europe in 1655 to report to the Pope about the question of the Chinese Rites. The book immediately became a bestseller: it was translated into five languages and reprinted in 25 editions over the following 50 years with many variations in terms of text, maps, and illustrations. The Historia is more a work of a chronicler, although a very careful one, rather than the work of a historian. Martini describes events that happen while he is in China, some of which he witnesses first-hand, and he offers his personal judgment of many of the protagonists and events, sometimes contradicting himself and often at odds with the way the evidence has since been interpreted by modern historians.
Mendoza’s Historia, a work in which the author makes an extensive use of a variety of sources, including original ones in translation had begun the tradition of ‘academic’ writing about China in 1585.
Today, the tradition of the professional historian deciphering China for lay readers is alive and well in the material world, but less so on the internet because academics have not taken up the new technologies with the same gusto as businesspeople have, and have thus relegated themselves to the margins of these new chronicles. In reality, academics interested in Asia, especially historians, set up their online community fairly early. In 1994, Steven A. Leibo of the Sage Colleges and Suny-Albany and Frank F. Conlon of the University of Washington founded H-Asia, an electronic discussion forum that is part of the H-Net Humanities Online initiative hosted by Michigan State University to “facilitate electronic communications among historians and other social scientists.” The group is still going strong today, but its members are mostly academics discussing minute and specialized details of Chinese history among themselves rather than interpreting China for a wider public.
A group of academics who are trying to reach beyond the walls of academia has set up a collective blog, Frog in a Well. The bloggers are nine historians, and they write about their in-progress or published research focused on China, Korea and Japan, both in English and in the native languages of these countries, and often with links to current events. Despite the academic aura, the blog is extremely readable and is often a useful source to see in a larger context what is currently happening in northeast Asia. Another interesting experiment that bridges academia and new media is The China Beat – Blogging How the East is Read, again a group blog where historians, anthropologists, journalists, and writers look at how China is portrayed in western media.
If Marco Polo is the ancestor of bloggers, Martini is certainly the forefather of foreign correspondents, at least the best of them. He did not have the perspective that is required of historians and his views were heavily influenced by theological considerations, but he had the directness of a good observer, and his observations, although often destined to be supplanted by more accurate historical works, could capture the ‘spirit’ of an event in a way that historians often miss or anyway forego. This is what characterizes the best reporting from western journalists in China today—people such as Jane Macartney, descendant of the 1792-94 British ambassador to China, Lord Macartney, and the correspondent for the London Times. Macartney prefaces her blog with a stern “Like her ancestor, Britain’s first envoy to China, she tries not to kowtow,” and usually stands by it. Many of her colleagues, however, are quite different: they don’t always speak Chinese, so they seem to rely considerably on local assistants, translators, the official English-language paper China Daily and, of course, on blogs. For a regular reader of the most popular China blogs it will be very easy to spot the source of inspiration of many feature pieces that appear in print in English.
Journalists often also keep their own personal blogs where they can go beyond official duties to report on curios, personal adventures, and the weather but rarely in an inspired way. Part of the problem is that they see China as their ‘next three-year assignment’—sometimes a good move from a career viewpoint because China is ‘hot’ and other times a bad move because they are far away from the centers of power, and after all there is no war in China that gives them an opportunity for headlines. Reading most foreign correspondents’ reports is similar to reading memoirs from the 19th century missionaries to China. The writers were no longer the pioneers discovering a new place as their predecessors—who were personally interested in China’s culture and history—had been. Instead these missionaries were an army of people with only one goal: to convert locals away from their heathen ways. The fact that these locals were Chinese hardly mattered; they could have been anywhere else in the world, and the attitudes and techniques of the missionaries would not have changed. For many journalists China just happens to be the country about which they write today, and their articles often reflect this reality very clearly.
Four Hundred Million! One Billion!! More than One Billion Customers!!!
At the end of the 18th century, the sacred once again gives way to the profane, and this time diplomats and merchants, in particular the British, are the ones who take the place of missionaries as the primary chroniclers of China. Despite the failure of Lord Macartney’s 1792-94 mission to open trade ports, Europeans would not be turned away from such a promising and rich market, and the theme for the following two centuries is, more than ever, commerce.
In 1937 Carl Crow, an American businessman who ran an advertising agency in Shanghai promoting Western goods to the Chinese market, published 400 Million Customers: An American Businessman Looks at China, and if this sounds like One Billion Customers written in 2005 by journalist-turned-businessman James McGregor, well, it is. “No matter what you may be selling, your business in China should be so enormous, if the Chinese who should buy your goods would only do so,” wrote Crow, whereas McGregor warns his readers that business in China is conducted with a lot of subterfuge, and nothing is ever what it seems. The image of the ‘inscrutable Oriental’ is still well-embedded in the western consciousness, but now more than ever the ‘Oriental’ seems eager to buy western goods. In this period culture and history still exist in Westerners’ writings about China but are largely left to travelers and missionaries, who produce interesting and occasionally engaging still-lifes but nothing as ambitious and all-encompassing as the work of their predecessors.
After World War II China closed its doors, and for a long time news to the West was limited to dubious reports by enthusiastic Maoists and wild guesses by practitioners of the ‘China watcher’ art. The most brilliant among the latter group was once again a Jesuit, the Hungarian Lazlo Ladany, who from 1953 to 1982 published China News Analysis, “the only English newsletter about China based on Chinese sources“.... “with the purpose of serving all those who want to follow events inside China.” Ladany poured over all the official Chinese sources he could find in Hong Kong, where he lived, and based on what was written—and even more on what was left out—he interpreted the politics and the social upheavals of the country for his western audience. Initially he relied on a collection of 25,000 clippings that he had gathered during his initial years in Hong Kong, but he subsequently began adding radio transcripts. By 1982 when he retired, he had accumulated around 330,000 news clippings and 43,000 hand-written radio transcripts (now preserved at Fu Jen University in Taiwan) and he had published 1,250 issues of his newsletter. Ladany’s technique could be compared to what search engines do today: he filed away clippings about the most diverse topics and every so often would collate information that had appeared at different times, in different newspapers, to interpret other more recent data that seemed otherwise meaningless or inexplicable. Unlike search engines, however, he was aware that the value of information was all in the context in which it appears, and the true added value he provided was based on a powerful combination of information gathering and organization. Modern search engines are arguably more efficient in putting information in front of a user, but still have a long way to go to achieve meaningful organization of that data as part of the process.
In the late 1970s Deng Xiaoping opened up the country once again to the foreign devils (and their investments.) The economy took off, and the foreign media were back to their task of interpreting ‘mysterious’ China both for businesspeople eager to conquer a virginal market and for a public curious about a country that could now be newly rediscovered. Despite the brief slowdown in economic and political reforms that followed the Tiananmen ‘incident’ in 1989, interest in the country has continued to increase, and the arrival of the internet has made it possible for many more people to document and share their views of China and their interaction with the country. In the past three years, in particular, the number of foreigners blogging about China has grown exponentially.
The largest group of foreigners, numerically, is comprised of young post-college youth, typically native and near-native English speakers lusting for adventure and exoticism after completing their university degrees and who find themselves teaching English in different (possibly remote) areas of China. Their blogs tend to be very predictable: Chinese food in China is not like Chinese food back home; today I ate a snake/a scorpion/a cicada; Chinese people spit; Chinese traffic is insane. Indeed, the topics are so ubiquitous they could almost be included in a ‘China blog template’. Such blogs are generally all about the writer and their readership is limited.
Then there are the professional expatriates, better known as expats. These are often people who have been in China for a while, speak the language at various degrees of proficiency, and might be businesspeople, consultants, or lawyers. Their blogs tend to cover their professional interests and can be very informative regarding the ‘how-to’ aspects of business and law (the two typical fields) with occasional insights into other aspects of Chinese society and/or politics. China Law Blog features two lawyers telling all about the legal aspects of doing business in China; Diligence China is a consultancy for Westerners who want to do business in the country. All Roads Lead to China defines itself as nothing less than “China’s Leading Source for China Related Business Analysis and Commentary”. All Roads and sites like China Business Services all offer abundant advice which is sometimes insightful and other times obvious. In addition, these blogs are a great resource for answers to specific questions. For the general user, however, they tend to blur into one giant ‘how-to’ approach to China that leaves the reader more confused than enlightened. A common thread in many professional blogs continues to be an ‘Us versus Them’ mentality that very few escape—where the ‘us’ is everybody who is not Chinese (and is presumably a Western businessman) and ‘them’ is every single Chinese.
If Matteo Ricci were alive today, he would probably keep a blog to chronicle his efforts at understanding China’s society and learning her language while converting her people. Mutata mutandis, his blog would probably be similar to the EastSouthWestNorth blog, which translates a lot of Chinese newspaper articles from the most varied sources, about the most different topics, and often with very little comment, thereby allowing people with no knowledge of Chinese to have a detailed glimpse of what Chinese people are reading. Even more interestingly, the articles EastSouthWestNorth chooses to translate frequently have nothing to do with what mainstream foreign media consider ‘hot topics’ in China, yet the site’s author seems to be much closer to the popular zeitgeist in China than any foreign correspondent has ever managed to be. EastSouthWestNorth is the best among these sites, but the number of bloggers who are informed, opinionated, and very good writers—and even better readers—is quite remarkable. The amount of information they manage to gather, digest, and serve to their readers, usually from both Chinese and foreign sources, is truly astonishing.
The quality and variety of information and commentary about China available in cyberspace is huge, but it is questionable whether or not access by foreigners to this huge increase in information quantity corresponds to an increase in understanding of the country. All the energy spent analyzing and reporting about specialized niches seems to have enhanced the West’s conflicted and at times schizophrenic attitude towards the country rather than enhanced its understanding. China is portrayed as the market that will save Western corporations that have saturated their native markets, but at the same time China is encouraged to curb its consumption before it uses up all of the planet’s resources; Chinese workers are portrayed as stealing Westerners’ jobs, but it is also claimed that cheap Chinese manufacturing has made many goods affordable to these same Western consumers who couldn’t previously buy them—and so on, in an endlessly alternating cycle of hope and despair.
The broad narrative of China that was so prominent in early reports, even when completely wrong and misguided, seems now completely lost in this sea of fragmentary vignettes. Each writer corners a niche focus, but the bigger picture gets murkier rather than clearer, while the smaller picture is often weighed down by clichés that are hard to dismantle and which the more astute commentators already recognized as such 500 years ago. What is worse, amid this abundance of information nobody dares to tackle the bigger picture anymore because the details may well be imprecise if not downright wrong, and can—for the first time—be proven wrong in real time.
Peter Hessler, chronicler extraordinaire of China, who lived and worked in China for several years, first as an English teacher and then as a correspondent for The New Yorker, and one who attempts to look at this bigger picture, summarizes the effect very well as he describes the reverse problem, namely how Chinese (students) understand America from what they read:
“In Fuling [on the Yangtse River], during my time as a teacher ... my students used a textbook called Survey of America, which included a chapter about ‘Social Problems’:
'In 1981, in California University, robbery and rape increased one hundred and fifty percent. In a Cathedral school of Washington District, a girl student was raped and robbed by a criminal with a hunting knife while she was studying alone in a classroom. In a California university, a football coach was robbed on campus by someone with a gun. It is said that, in South Carolina University, gangs of rascals have been taking girl students, women teachers and wives of teachers working in this university as their targets of rape, which has caused a great fear.'
It was hard to teach from a book like that. The details themselves are probably true—certainly, there were rascals in South Carolina—but that did not make this information a useful starting point for a student in a remote Chinese city. They needed context, not trivia; a bunch of scattered facts only confused them.”
New technologies have ushered in an era of pervasive information and a constant streams of news, updates,and commentaries, but the overall effect is that the more information we have, the less we know. Foreigners and Chinese know more about each other than previously and can communicate directly online via bulletin boards, blogs, email, etc., but most of the time they end up talking over each other rather than to each other. Old prejudices are as alive as they were in Matteo Ricci’s day (nobody gets the death penalty for teaching foreigners Chinese as they did then, but many Chinese complain that foreigners want to talk to them to learn Chinese for free, and vice versa with English), perhaps even more alive, because proximity and exposure to information gives the illusion of context. And this is perhaps the biggest downside of the instant communication era. When Marco Polo, for example, told his stories, the audience dismissed them as fabrications partly because they could simply not conceive of the land he recounted—it was far away, inhabited by strange people with strange customs, and nothing could really be known about them in a definitive way. Cultural distance corresponded to physical distance, and those who wanted to shorten this space knew they had to travel a long way. Today we have lost the sense of physical distance: ‘we’ can see news from China, we see Chinese films, we read about the Chinese in many different media. ‘They’ see foreign television and movies and, despite censorship, have access to a great deal of information about the West. This virtual proximity gives everybody the illusion of real proximity, and we do not see the road that still needs to be traveled to understand the information we have in context, to make sense of it and see what it really means that the internet in China is censored, and what it really means that robbery and rape increase 150% in an American university.
This is not to say that many bloggers and journalists do not do a good job in providing us with valuable news and commentaries about the Middle Kingdom—in fact, they do, and they make far fewer factual errors compared to their predecessors. We might wish only that there were more people willing to take the risk of showing us more about the big picture so that we might get some idea of how much distance we have yet to travel before we see information with greater focus and also gain the capacity for understanding what it means.
1. “And I assure you all the men of this island Angamanain have heads like dogs, and teeth and eyes likewise; in fact, in the face they are all just like big mastiff dogs!” Marco Polo. The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian: Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East. Edited by Henry Yule and Henri Cordier. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903. Vol 2, p. 309. [Return to Text]
2. The Church remembered well Europe’s close brush with the pagan and barbarous Mongol hordes, and Innocent IV, Pope from 1243 to 1254, sent a legation to their Khan to try to convert him, and to assess the size of his army and whether he was planning to once again move westward. The Italian Franciscan friar Giovanni da Pian del Carpine headed the mission, and upon his return wrote Historia Mongolorum (History of the Mongols, 1247), the first ‘scholarly’ work about the region ever published. In addition to chronicling his voyage to the Khan’s court, he wrote extensively about the history, traditions, politics and everyday life of the Mongols. [Return to Text]
3. Fonti Ricciane: documenti originali concernenti Matteo Ricci e la storia delle prime relazioni tra l’Europa e la Cina (1579-1615), edited by Pasquale M. D’Elia, 3 volumes; Roma, La libreria dello Stato, 1942-1949, and Matteo Ricci. Lettere (1580-1609), Edited by Piero Corradini. Macerata: Quodlibet, 2001. [Return to Text]
4. “It is no exaggeration to say that [the book] took learned Europe by storm. Between 1616 and 1648 four additional editions of the Latin appeared. In 1616-1617-1618 three French versions of the Latin were published; a German one in 1617; a Spanish and also an Italian, from the Latin of course, in 1621.” James R. Ware, review of L. J. Gallagher, China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Matthew Ricci: 1583- 1610. In Isis, Vol. 45, No. 4 (Dec, 1954) p. 397. [Return to Text]
5. Franco Demarchi and Riccardo Scartezzini, eds. Martino Martini, A Humanist and Scientist in Seventeenth Century China. Trento, Italy: Università degli Studi di Trento, 1996. [Return to Text]
6. www.h-net.org/~asia/about.html [Return to Text]
7. www.froginawell.net/china/ [Return to Text]
8. http://thechinabeat.blogspot.com/ [Return to Text]
9. Sinofile Times Online weblog, http://timescorrespondents.typepad.com/sinofile/ [Return to Text]
10. Now conveniently available online at www.chinadaily.com.cn/ [Return to Text]
11. Roland Soong, aka EastSouthWestNorth has a wonderful post about this: “Foreign correspondents do not come to a website such as EastSouthWestNorth and just copy-and-paste. Anyone who does that will probably be dismissed by their employers very quickly. It is more appropriate to think of EastSouthWestNorth as a tipster calling up the newspaper hotline. The important thing to note is that EastSouthWestNorth is not a source itself.” The entire post is really worth reading: www.zonaeuropa.com/20060915_1.htm. [Return to Text]
12. The British government was the first European government to send a legation, led by Lord Macartney, to establish directly controlled trade ports. The mission was a failure. In the Qianlong emperor’s famous reply to King George III, “The Celestial Empire, ruling all within the four seas, simply concentrates on carrying out the affairs of Government properly, and does not value rare and precious things… We have never valued ingenious articles, nor do we have the slightest need of your country manufactures.” John King Fairbank and Ssu-yu TENG. China’s Response to the West: A Documentary Survery, 1839 – 1923. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1954, p. 19. [Return to Text]
13. From the introduction to the 1937 edition. [Return to Text]
14. CNA China News Analysis, Hong Kong, No. 145, August 24, 1956, p.5. [Return to Text]
15. CNA China News Analysis, Hong Kong, No. 1, August 25, 1953, p.1 [Return to Text]
16. From the introduction to the cd-rom edition of the entire collection of China News Analysis, published by the Social Cultural Research Center of Fu Jen University in Taiwan. The publication of the newsletter was suspended for two years after Ladany retired in 1982, and was resumed under the direction of four Jesuits. In 1994, the operations were moved to Taiwan, and in December 1998 the publication was stopped altogether. [Return to Text]
17. www.zonaeuropa.com/weblog [Return to Text]
18. The Canadian Asia Pundit (www.asiapundit.com/ Asia Pundit) performs the same duty as your RSS reader, except that he selects and briefly comments on the items he finds worthwhile. Peking Duck has been around since 2002 and writes longer commentaries about specific items (not always about China). He is quite opinionated, and his blog is so popular that it has a forum section with numerous posts. His readers are as opinionated as he is, which produces great threads of comments. [Return to Text]
19. Peter Hessler. Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present. HarperCollins, 2006, p 302-303. [Return to Text]
20. The China Daily bbs is an interesting example of a forum (in English) where both Chinese and foreigners post: http://bbs.chinadaily.com.cn/index.php. [Return to Text]
21. TV shows and movies that circulate in China—on regular television or on DVDs—are often American, but there are also many movies from Europe and from other Asian countries. [Return to Text]
CNA China News Analysis, Hong Kong. No. 145, August 24, 1956, p.5. No. 1, August 25, 1953, p.1
Fonti Ricciane: documenti originali concernenti Matteo Ricci e la storia delle prime relazioni tra l’Europa e la Cina (1579-1615), edite e commentate da Pasquale M. D’Elia, sotto il patrocinio della Reale Accademia d’Italia (Edizione nazionale delle opere edite e inedite di Matteo Ricci) 3 voll.; Roma, La libreria dello Stato, 1942-1949.
Crow, Carl. Four Hundred Million Customers: The Experiences —Some Happy, Some Sad of an American in China, and What They Taught Him. Harper & Brothers, 1937.
Demarchi, Franco and Scartezzini, Riccardo, eds. Martino Martini, A Humanist and Scientist in Seventeenth Century China. Trento, Italy: Università degli Studi di Trento, 1996.
Fairbank, John King and Teng, Ssu-yu. China’s Response to the West: A Documentary Survery, 1839 – 1923. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1954.
Hessler, Peter. Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present. HarperCollins, 2006.
McGregor, James. One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China. Freepress, 2005.
Polo, Marco. The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian: Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East. Edited by Henry Yule and Henri Cordier. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903. Vol 2, p. 309.
Ricci, Matteo. Lettere (1580-1609), Edited by Piero Corradini. Macerata: Quodlibet, 2001.
All Roads Lead to China – www.allroadsleadtochina.com
Asia Pundit – www.asiapundit.com
The China Beat – http://thechinabeat.blogspot.com/
China Business Services – www.chinabusinessservices.com/blog
China Daily – www.chinadaily.com.cn/
China Law Blog – www.chinalawblog.com
Diligence China – www.diligencechina.com/blog
EastSouthWestNorth – www.zonaeuropa.com/weblog
Frog in a Well – www.froginawell.net/china/
Jane Macartney’s blog – http://timescorrespondents.typepad.com/sinofile/
Peking Duck – www.pekingduck.org