Guo Songtao in London: An Unaccomplished Mission of Discovery

Qingsheng Tong

in China Abroad

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9789622099456
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206687 | DOI:
Guo Songtao in London: An Unaccomplished Mission of Discovery

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Guo Songtao, the first Chinese ambassador to Britain, and his entourage arrived at Southampton. The British public was quick to realize that the establishment of a permanent Chinese embassy in London was an “event unprecedented in the history of the relations between China and foreign countries” and constituted “a proud page of British history.” Inaugurating China's modern diplomacy, Guo's mission was a diplomatic one, but, in an important sense, it was also a journey of intellectual discovery of the West. A prominent scholar, social critic, and statesman in his time, Guo had long been committed to the constitution and development of an informed and enlightened understanding of the West in China. However, for a long time, Guo Songtao had been a target and victim of a vicious campaign organized by those scholar-officials, those “purists” based in the Hanlin Academy. The banning of his journals is just one example of this organized hostility towards him.

Keywords: Guo Songtao; Britain; Chinese embassy; London; China; diplomacy; intellectual discovery; West; Hanlin Academy

Chapter.  7753 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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