I was brought up with a very western-centric view of the world, and culture continues to frame things in that way. It is therefore intriguing to view the world from a completely different perspective. History can provide a very real way of doing that. One example of this is when the British Empire encountered the Chinese.
The British Empire, one of the largest in history, went through several phases. One critical phase was the American War Of Independence when the colonists in North America broke away from the Empire in 1783. While it did stop British expansion in the west, it resulted in them focusing on the East. Eventually, it lead to the British Raj in India and the next phase of the British Empire.
It also saw them have more contact with the Chinese. At the time, the British were allowed to trade in the Canton port (later Hong Long), but they weren’t allowed a presence in mainland China. What many history books fail to mention is that though the British (along with possibly the French) were the largest European powers, they weren’t the largest in the world. Continue reading “What the Chinese Thought of the British Empire In the 18th Century (2 mins)”