17 October 2010
Tremble and Obey: the celestial empire abounds in all things and lacks nothing
Interesting article on the Financial Times website called “Exquisite artifacts from the Forbidden City.” Whats interesting is the section which discusses the Qianlong emperor:
The country’s attitude at the time to non-Chinese “barbarians” is summed up nicely in a letter Qianlong wrote to King George III in response to a trade mission sent by the English monarch to Peking (as Beijing was then known) in 1793.
“As your ambassador can see for himself, the celestial empire abounds in all things and lacks nothing. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious and have no use for your country’s products,” the emperor responded to the English requests for greater access to the Chinese market. Despite King George’s impudence at even suggesting more interaction between Chinese and foreigners, Qianlong forgave him the affront: “I have ever shown the greatest condescension to the tribute missions of all states which sincerely yearn after the blessings of civilisation so as to manifest my kindly indulgence.”
The letter ended with the customary imperial sign-off: “Tremble and Obey.”
I think it speaks for itself….
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