The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914 Audible – Vansonphu.com


The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914 I am not going to lie here, reading the first two chapters was really dry, in fact I cannot even remember what I read in that Sure they had some interesting things but they were written pretty boringly Not to mention that I sometimes had to wonder at the sentence structure and I am sure it could have used a fewcommas here and there I had to reread a few sentences to understand what they meant because they were so long.However the third chapter started a bitinteresting and it was i I am not going to lie here, reading the first two chapters was really dry, in fact I cannot even remember what I read in that Sure they had some interesting things but they were written pretty boringly Not to mention that I sometimes had to wonder at the sentence structure and I am sure it could have used a fewcommas here and there I had to reread a few sentences to understand what they meant because they were so long.However the third chapter started a bitinteresting and it was in my eyes an upward trend from there I liked the information on the Qing and how they were and stayed quintessential Manchus and had not been thoroughly sinicizedas some still assume to explain how their tiny elite could keep control for 250 years Also apparently the 1st Opium War was not simple fought because of trade but also because of honor At first I had my problems believing that, but then I realized that tons of people have started bloody conflicts because of their notions of honor, which is often synonymous with prestige In fact according to the book Modern History of Hong Kong it was indeed fought between Britain and China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice for foreign nationals.It was pretty interesting to read about the development of the Sino British trade or better global trade during that time, how the British had always relied on Chinese colleagues especially Cantonese and how the empire had its problems with British Chinese e.g from Singapore whose status as British subjects basically put them outside of Qing law after the treaties and thereby gave them a lot of opportunities, so many in fact that some Qing subjects posed as foreign subjects to gain access to such privileges.With the introduction of the Taiping Rebellion and the dawn of the 2nd Opium War and thereby also the sacking of the Imperial Gardens , the book gotandinteresting There were many things I did not know about, like the inclusion of Chinese laborers during the Arrow war on the British and French sites, the Indians as police officers, the Chinese migrations and the globalization Also when you hear some authors write about this time you get the impression that the European imperial powers where everywhere in China at the time, but in fact for most of China they were a dark rumour from the coast view spoiler , a pirate raid, a vicious interruption to daily life hide spoiler , but maybe some misconceptions are understandable as many of the foreigners believed that they were now supreme which is not really surprising for the ethnocentric British Empire or the exceptionalistic Americans, and the French weren t any better either and this colored nearly all relationships with, and interactions between Chinese, Europeans and Americans Also after reading so many awful and probably racist views on China in late Qing times, that are supposed to be positive, it is truly refreshing reading from an author who gives the Qing a significant role in the scramble for China It was very interesting how they portrayed themselves internationally through their foreign agents, ok it was still exoticized in the end, but that was not their goal Also how they sought to modernize and restore themselves and how unique they thought China was typical for empires However, as interesting as all of the info about the Qing modernization and European imperial power creating their own spaces in Qing China is, I was curious as to when the Japanese will finally enter the stage I was nearly halfway through the book and they were only rarely mentioned, they did appear later but it took some time.It was also too bad that there wasn t much info on Eurasians back in those days apart from some hopes that they might form a good link to promote akindly feeling between European and Chinese while fact was that they were routinely caricatured and hated, and there was no Eurasian bridge This lack of info is understandable to a degree as the marriage between Europeans and Chinese was unwanted and so not much reported about And yes, the dislike came from both sides there is no argument about that Further there was always the element of don t marry our women After this there was also information on Chinese prejudices and stereotypes towards foreigners, including gouging eyes out to make medicine out of them, which is also rooted in Chinese medicine that also used human fluids for medicine so for them it made sense that Europeans would do the same And boy did it get violent in 1870 against the French Also at this point the book had become so exciting that I forgot that it was boring once.There was of course muchafterwards, like the building of lighthouses to make sea routes safer and how they were manned and equipped good fodder for movies by the way , as well as the collection of data and to see the connection of things we would today consider modern and archaic at the same time e.g collecting meteorological data in part due to the theory that disease is caused by gases and how Chinese when gotten the chance adopted new technologies like trains and telegraphs, despite what stereotypes claimed This also includes the world of the comprador the maiban who were the great traders of Hong Kong, Canton and Shanghai powerful men,than equal in splendour and pretensions to Dent s and jardines taipans a new class in Chinese society.What I like especially when the Japanese finally turn up here and the book is at the 1st Sino Japanese was this statement as to why the victory of the Japanese was so devastating to the Chinese But even though the Japanese demands were softened, the Qing lost They lost Taiwan They lost Korea They lost Dalian and the Liaodong peninsula They lost a fearful sum as an indemnity to Japan, and so also the use of those revenues thereby redirected They lost the confidence and loyalty of a generation of their subjects, who howled with rage at this defeat and all it symbolized The European powers had had the advantages of technology in 1842, in 1858 and 1860 The French had too, in 1884 5, though it was a harder fought war Those defeats made a sort of sad sense But Japan was an Asian neighbor, a former tributary state, itself still formally subject to the same style of foreign serving treaty system as China s It had only recently been as unprepared to deal with foreign aggression as the Qing, and like the Qing had set itself to restoration and to self strengthening But the dwarf pirates as officials still routinely called the Japanese, even when they were defeated by them had smashed China s forces, and shattered its pride.But sadly even here the book seems to follow the line of concentrating on Europeans in this scenario aka it does what so many others did before it But at least there was some interesting information on the Sino Japanese relationships.Afterwards we get info on the Qing reformers, empress dowager Cixi back and the distracted court and foreigners when flood and the next year drought hit the empire, causing a chaos from which the violent Boxers emerged whose goal was it to wipe China clean of everything they regarded as foreign and that includes other Chinese Unlike what so many popular myths claim the war was fought between Boxers and Christians, between the Qing armies with Boxer allies, and the Eight Power allied expeditionary force It was fought by British marines and Japanese infantry, as well as by Sikhs, Bengalis, Black Americans, Annamese, Algerians and a British regiment of Chinese from Weihaiwei In fact the last few names I never heard in connection to the Boxer uprising And due to the nature of the Boxers it didn t take long to read about a virulent strain of anti Manchu thought that grew stronger racist in form, drawing the attention of Han Chinese to the slaughters of the mid seventeenth century invasion as backing for lurid calls for arms and revenge It was truly interesting what the author wrote about the usage of the information of the time for romantic, imperialistic, nostalgic or nationalistic purposes Or how the Chinese used the information for their own gains and to form an anti foreigner attitude, even later in the 20th century having popstars singing about being reunified with Hong Kong or how now it shifted to see foreigners among scholars in aneutral light.The book ended for me on a high note when it stated how China was not colonized due to the squabble of European powers and the Qing machinations and how China never really mattered to any of them, except Russia and Japan, and it was Chinese people who actually mattered The book stated in its last pages They mattered as opportunist migrants in California and Australia, and as the subjects of fierce political debate, pogrom, and exclusion acts Their presence and their perceived threat galvanized their opponents to propose racially exclusive understandings of national identity, of being Australian, Canadian, American Chinese were not, could never be, any of those Canada was white , Australia was white , America s immigrant story excised and excluded the Chinese This is a history not yet properly factored into histories of modern China, but diasporas generally get shorter shrift in the domestic histories of their homelands But in fact nobody could predict or understand the ways in which European power and thinking evolved Change was too rapid, and too destabilizing of existing orders political orders, technological orders, economic orders The Europeans themselves were working through these changes, and China and the wider world bore the brunt of their capricious global experiments with violence and power.But at the same time, however, another school of Chinese historians has been quietly factoring this foreign story back into its own accounts of modern China in a different way For decades the foreigners in Shanghai were villains, but now they are in aneutral fashion reinserted into narratives of the development of such cities.Now before I end this I must say I can understand why some people might not like the writing style as it was not exactly written like a standard history book, it did have certain elements of popular culture, but then again, such books tend to be understoodeasily by the general public.So personally I would say you should read this book, but it s not perfect in my eyes My grandfather was in the Service Corp and got posted to China in 1912 to Tiensin In 1914 he was at theBattle of Tsingtoa where w fought with the Japanese against the Germans I read the book to get some idea of why Europeans would be fighting in a foreign country that was not a colony of either The book shows the stages of increasing influence of the Europeans as China owned up to the west Unfortunately the west does not come out too well using violence to gain concessions Book is very deta My grandfather was in the Service Corp and got posted to China in 1912 to Tiensin In 1914 he was at theBattle of Tsingtoa where w fought with the Japanese against the Germans I read the book to get some idea of why Europeans would be fighting in a foreign country that was not a colony of either The book shows the stages of increasing influence of the Europeans as China owned up to the west Unfortunately the west does not come out too well using violence to gain concessions Book is very detailed and at times if hard work but ultimately worth it The final chapter, summing up the past and the effects that it has on modern China is worth the wait Unfortunately the defaulted history end at 1912 when my grandfather arrived Robert Bickers is without doubt the foremost historian currently working on the history of China s treaty ports This book is very much his attempt at a grand narrative within that frame, and its attempt at balance is perhaps best summed up in the jacket blurb that this was a clash of two equally arrogant and scornful cultures The history which Bickers narrates and reflects upon goes well beyond the subtitle s cut off year of 1914, as he discusses the contemporary relevance of much that hap Robert Bickers is without doubt the foremost historian currently working on the history of China s treaty ports This book is very much his attempt at a grand narrative within that frame, and its attempt at balance is perhaps best summed up in the jacket blurb that this was a clash of two equally arrogant and scornful cultures The history which Bickers narrates and reflects upon goes well beyond the subtitle s cut off year of 1914, as he discusses the contemporary relevance of much that happened within China s century of national humiliation which is still very much of relevance today Bickers essential argument is that the way this history is currently being read is ofcontemporary importance to China than it is to the West, something which we could do well to redress in our own reflections on the here and now of such shared history in terms of its influence on the present and potentially the future too Empire Made Me An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai was a tour de force in demonstrating how micro history can be employed to illuminate a bigger picture, however, The Scramble for China in some respects feels somewhat like looking down the opposite end of the same telescope Given that this is such a broad canvas, for all the personal nuances of individual stories which Bickers manages to weave into his narrative, in some places it requires a rather broad brush to make certain necessary narrative leaps where we might otherwise wish he had space to go intodetail eg Taipings Boxers, May 4th, etc That said though, it is still an excellently crafted overview of the period of informal empire , told with Bickers characteristically assured boldness and wit, which makes it an entertaining, as well as a thought provoking and profitable read for anyone interested in Western Imperialism and modern pre Mao China Although China is indisputably today among the world s greatest powers diplomatically, economically, and militarily many Westerners are unaware of what an incredible transformation this represents in less than 70 years China s long civil war, most of it waged at the same time that China was also fighting to repel Japanese invaders, ended in 1949 with the defeat of Chiang Kai Shek s Nationalist forces But it was a poor nation, its people and resources exhausted from decades of war It was Although China is indisputably today among the world s greatest powers diplomatically, economically, and militarily many Westerners are unaware of what an incredible transformation this represents in less than 70 years China s long civil war, most of it waged at the same time that China was also fighting to repel Japanese invaders, ended in 1949 with the defeat of Chiang Kai Shek s Nationalist forces But it was a poor nation, its people and resources exhausted from decades of war It was also still largely a rural, agriculture oriented society Under the leadership of the Communist Party, and aided in the early years by the Soviet Union under Stalin, China began to rapidly industrialize and urbanize, achieving the kind of makeover in mere decades that took most other nations a century If we are to understand China s deep reservations about Western and US motives and intentions we must be mindful of the two centuries of interactions between China and the West before our present time China is a very ancient society with around 5,000 years of history, and her memory runs deep Two excellent books by Robert Bickers that cover the often unhappy relations between China and the West from the early 19th century to the present day are The Scramble for China Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, and Out of China How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination Bickers reveals how the West in the 19th century Great Britain being the chief offender repeatedly insulted China by firing upon her territory, occupying large portions of her coastal regions around key trading ports, and forcing her to agree to commercial terms farfavorable to them than to China While it is customary for nations to regard others diplomatic stations as representing their nations own soil, the British soon followed by the French, the Dutch and the Americans took over entire neighborhoods as if they were their own Chinese streets, alleyways and boulevards therein often became dangerous for Chinese ignoring posted notices warning against trespassing To be sure, this behavior was typical of how, in the latter part of the 19th century, Western nations also behaved towards other nations they deemed lesser as they competed among themselves for commercial advantage and colonial possessions This hardly made the offenses less so in the eyes of the Chinese, though In addition to the impact that trade backed up by force had on China, it quickly became a magnet for another, in many ways evenunsettling, intrusion the arrival of Christian missionaries Some of these came, with similar faulty assumptions about China s alleged backwardness, to save the heathen natives, still others to both share their faith and study the differences between their own societies and China s They often had a positive impact by their habit of establishing schools for local children and interested adults and in offering health care services that clearly helpedisolated areas But their proselytizing, combined with their ignorance of Chinese religious practices, also offended many, especially when they interpreted Chinese reverence for their ancestors as a form of idolatry, calling it ancestor worship From the early 19th century onward, however, many foreigners who journeyed to China quickly learned to admire and respect it for its culture, arts, and remarkable historical longevity Whether they were missionaries, traders, soldiers, or diplomatic personnel, they did all they could to act as a buffer against thevile or forceful intrusions of their own governments Nonetheless, in many ways, China s earliest experiences with the West were both unhappy and destabilizing for Chinese authorities as well as some of their institutions Ever since there has been a back and forth between those in China who admire at least some of the institutions and practices of the West and, therefore, who push for China to adapt them itself and those who loath substantial elements of Western values and institutions because they undermine valued traditions and threaten Chinese interests Since there is a similar contest in the West, too, between those who admire China and wish to develop all possible friendly relations with her and those who regard her as the preeminent threat to the order established by the United States This helps explain the repeating alternating cycles of hot and cold in the relations between China and the West The record in the 20th century remained a mixed one On the one hand, for example, the United States repeatedly sought to support Chinese independence from foreign interference, especially that posed by Japan But, on the other, China s delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference formalizing the end of World War I found that its pleas for assistance were overridden by the both West s infatuation with Japan s rapid rise and, because of Japan s military power, inclination to appease Japan in order to keep the Pacific region stable Frances Wood and Christopher Arnander have examined the relations between China and the West during World War I in their book, Betrayed Ally China in the Great War Even the US s much praised Open Door Policy was designed as much to keep trade with China open to it on an equal footing with other great powers as to prevent predatory nations from reverting to their behavior earlier in the 19th century China also found that her own hopes during the Second World War forvigorous Allied assistance in pushing back Japanese armies within her borders were subordinated to the West s priorities, including Great Britain s resource squandering attempts to keep the Japanese out of other Southeast Asian countries in their hope to maintain their colonies there after the war s conclusion With the end of World War II realizing the long goal of removing Japanese forces from Chinese territory, and the victory of the Communists over Chiang Kai Shek s Nationalist forces in 1949, China embarked on a new phase of rapid industrialization and urbanization, dramatically transforming the country in less than 50 years With China s rapid ascension to great power status, economically and militarily, some old questions are once again new Can China and the West find a way to live together in mutual respect without reigniting the territorial wars that characterized so much of the globe for most of the 19th and 20th centuries And can each side throw off old suspicions about the other to allow the reality of our current day to influence key decisions Only time and considerable luck will tell Bickers does some interesting research but I find his writing style difficult to follow sometimes This is the second book I ve read by him and I had trouble both times. I really was looking forward to this one But unfortunately another one of those instances where the writing style is just too dry for me Seems well researched and all that, but I struggled a bit to finish. In the early nineteenth century China remained almost untouched by British and European powers but as new technology started to change this balance, foreigners gathered like wolves around the weakening Qing Empire Would the Chinese suffer the fate of much of the rest of the world, carved into pieces by Europeans Or could they adapt rapidly enough to maintain their independence This important and compelling book explains the roots of China s complex relationship with the West by illuminating a dramatic, colourful and sometimes shocking period of the country s history Horrible and unfocused It simple cares too much about the wrong topics to be useful Thorough and detailed, this book presents a comprehensive account of Western British intrusion into, and involvement with, the self styled treaty port world of China It is balanced in its assessment of the Westerners treatment of Chinese and the Chinese state, taking into account that the same period was one of imperialism, and one of European domination across the world Even so, it does not attempt to absolve the Europeans of the injustices they pepertrated against the Chinese, instead cho Thorough and detailed, this book presents a comprehensive account of Western British intrusion into, and involvement with, the self styled treaty port world of China It is balanced in its assessment of the Westerners treatment of Chinese and the Chinese state, taking into account that the same period was one of imperialism, and one of European domination across the world Even so, it does not attempt to absolve the Europeans of the injustices they pepertrated against the Chinese, instead choosing to display the facts both positive and negative and demonstrate to the reader that ultimately, one must read past convenient and attractive one sided views on the matter to truly understand China A good book covering the Western power s actions commercial, political, and military in China in the 19th and early 20th centuries A fairly balanced chronological narrative, looking at the combination of misunderstandings and righteous actions which permeated both sides The book does a good job of providing both Chinese and Western perspectives to the many incidences, some good, most bad, which occurred The broad concentration is on the intense interaction of the two cultures and the slow b A good book covering the Western power s actions commercial, political, and military in China in the 19th and early 20th centuries A fairly balanced chronological narrative, looking at the combination of misunderstandings and righteous actions which permeated both sides The book does a good job of providing both Chinese and Western perspectives to the many incidences, some good, most bad, which occurred The broad concentration is on the intense interaction of the two cultures and the slow but steady inclusion of Chinese professionals in the established Western institutions The book ends with a fairly long homily on the importance to Westerners in understanding this history, as it plays such a central role in China s current worldview


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