The Amherst embassy and British discoveries in China

Gao, Hao (2014) The Amherst embassy and British discoveries in China. History, 99 (337). pp. 568-587. ISSN 0018-2648

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The Amherst embassy to China has long been viewed as a major diplomatic failure in Britain’s early relations with China. This article concentrates on the greatly overlooked aspect of the Amherst mission – the delegation’s discoveries in China after the official proceedings were concluded. Since the embassy was given unprecedented freedom of movement during its four-month return journey from Beijing to Canton, British observers were able to explore the interior of China and to communicate more fully with the Chinese government and people than ever before. As a consequence, the Amherst embassy not only provided valuable first-hand observations which increased and improved Britain’s knowledge of China, but developed the view that the Qing government was the chief obstacle to the progress of Chinese civilization and to the general welfare of the Chinese people. These important perceptions laid the foundation for future changes in Sino-British relations and led, indirectly, to the outbreak of the Opium War.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Depositing User: Hao Gao
Date Deposited: 12 May 2014 10:35
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2015 15:55
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