Roleof trade in Sino-European Relationship
TheeconomicprosperitythatChina is experiencinghas a richhistory.Due to its unprecedentedgrowth,mostEuropean countrieshadnointerestin theChinese marketsuntil whentheChinese productsinfiltrated theEuropean market.Since thetimesof Yuan, tradebetween China andtheEuropean Union startedto developroots.Theitemssoldin theEuropean marketsas wellas thenumberof traderswhopliedbothmarketsnecessitatedthedevelopmentof policiesto givedirectionto tradebetween theregions.Tradeplayeda veryimportantrolein strengtheningtherelationshipbetween China andEurope until during thefirstopiumwar.
Sino-Europeanrelationstandsfortheassociationbetween Europe andChina. Before theopiumwar,globalization wasknockingon thedoorsof world’slargesteconomiesin America andEurope. Theneedto increaseimports andexports to balancetheexchangebecameimperative.Europe produceda lotof goodsthat wereconsumedboth in thelocalandinternationalmarkets.However,Europe’s productioncould not satisfytheneedsof its citizenswithout theinputof othereconomies.ThesituationgaveChina an upperhandto importsilk, porcelainandteathat werein greatdemandin theEuropean markets.After a closeanalysis,tradeadvisors in Europe discoveredthatEuropean goodsdidnot havea placein theChinese marketsbecauseChina wasa self-sustained economy.There was,therefore,needto developa mutualrelationshipin orderto balancethetrade(Ren, 2010).
First,thetradeopenedup China to therestof theworld.Before the19th century,China wasshutof fro therestof theworlddue to two majorreasons.Thefirstis that,thecountrywasproducinga lotof goods,andthegovernmentdidnot findanyneedto courta tradepartner.TheotherreasonwasthattheEuropean Union andAmerica didnot considerChina as a politicaleconomythat would riseto dominatetheeast.Themovementof materialfrom thecountryto theotherstatesin theEuropean Union softenedthestandof thegovernmentbecausetheyriskedbeingsanctionedin theEuropean market.Asone of theoldestandstrongestempires,China enjoyedtheuseof thecompass,powder,andporcelain.Thecitizensregardedthemselves as civilizedanddidnot haveanything to dowith theforeigncultureandtrade.However,thisputtheeconomyat theriskof stagnation iftheydidnot receivethegrowingtrendof globalization. After openingup its shores,thePortuguese andtheDutch campedbuttheyfacedstiffrulesandhugetaxations.However,thismarkedthejourneyof gainingentryinto theChinese market(Ren, 2010).
Mostof theEuropean countrieslike Portugal, Spain, andDutch senttheir shipsto getsilk from China. Due to theinfiltration of foreignersin thecountryandthethreatof interferencein thepoliticalarena,theChinese governmentrestricted thetransferof goodsbetween theChinese citizensandtheforeignersby appointingtraderepresentatives.Itwasonlythrough them thata dealcould be sealed. Theywerefurthermovedto Canton portsothattheir movementscould be easyto monitor.
Thecordbetween China andothercountrieswasveryweak.First,theydetestedthePortuguese foran alleged devaluation of theAsians. Whentheyfirstattemptedtradewith China, theyfaceda lotof hostilities.TheDutch followedthesamesuitandtheycould not tradefreelywith theChinese. Theothercountriesthat cameafter Dutch receiveda morehumanewelcomein orderto dispelthedominance of two tradersmarket.Britain wasone of thecountries.Chinahadnoregardforthequeen’scountrybecauseithadastrongbeliefthatits citizensweremorecivilizedthan theBritons. Givingthem a freetradinggroundwould poisonthesocietywith thepracticesthat werea threatto thesocialfabricthat boundthem together.Throughthisgradualimprovementof tradingtermsandtherelaxationof thelocalrulessurroundingtheprocurementof teaandporcelain,therelationshipbetween theEuropean Union andChina startedto showsignsof a fruitfulfuture(Ren, 2010).
TheEuropean traderswere,however,frustratedby thefactthattheywerefillingthesilver bullions of China butwith nothingto takehomein termsof money.Thefirstpeopleto takesingingwatches,clocksandmechanicaltoysin China weretheJesuit missionarieswhoweretheonlyofficialvisitorsto China. Due to their precision,peoplestartedto buy,andsomeprivatecompaniesstartedtakingthem during thetradevisits.However,theamounttheyfetched wasinsignificantto thesilver theypaidfortea,gunpowderadporcelain(Aggarwal & Newland, 2014).
Thegrantof entryandexittote maintradingportimprovedchina’srelationshipwith theEuropean countries.To easetheprocessof exchanginggoodsandservices,thegovernmentof China appointedmoretradeofficialsto facilitatetheprocess.Themovewasa showof readinessto cooperatewith thetraders.Thetraderstookadvantageof itto obtainbigvolumesof powderandteafortheir markets.However,thebalanceof tradewasveryunfavorablefortheEuropean traders.With theentryof America into thetrade,thingstookthemostunexpectedroute.America hada lotof Opia, anditinfluencedtheEuropean tradersto smugglethecommodityinto China. Asa reservedempireunder thewatchfuleyesof strictemperors,China didnot produceopium,andits citizenswereobliviousof thedrug.Opiumwastheonlycommodityeasyto sellinlargeamountsforvariousreasons.First,thecountrydidnot produceandalsobecauseithadaddictive effects.Consequently, thedemandwould goup thetraderswould finda cointo takehome(Aggarwal & Newland, 2014).
Bythetimeopiumtradegainedmomentumin China, thepopulationof thecountry,wasabout400 million people.Morethan two million peoplebecameaddicts.Theauthoritiesraisedconcernsover this,andtheyappointeda commissionto lookinto it.On findingtheextentof thebusinessat theport,theyconfiscatedmorethan 20, 000 boxesof opiumandlockedup theEuropean traders.TheEuropean countriesespeciallyBritain ragedat themoveandusedher navalpowerto attackChina. TheydestroyedtheYuan palaceandinvadedHong Kong. Othercountriesjoinedforcesin orderto securetradeagreementswith China. Chinahadto comply by openingports fortradewith thewesterncountriesthat includedShanghai, Viz, Canton, Foochow, Ningpo, andAmoy.
Inconclusion,theWest succeededin usingforceto entertheChinese marketas ithadhappenedin Japan. Divisionof theChinese empireto allowforeignersinto their portearnedthem theinfiltration of their citiesby European goodsandcolonizationof Hong Kong. Asof today,china’seconomyis one of thelargestin Asia. Thecountryis alsothesecondlargesttradepartnerinEurope after theUnited States of America. Theneedto developpoliciesthat governtherelationshipbetween thetwo regionscontinuesto be under wayto putthesuspicionsof politicalinterferenceunder feet.
Assess theroles of the Jesuits in China as mediators between Chinese andEuropean culture and thought.
Jesuits refersto the Society of Jesus members. It is a male-only religious factioncomposed of Catholic Church Members. Its primary task is apostolicand evangelization ministry in one hundred and twelve nationsworldwide. The professionals mainly specialize in the promotion ofecumenical dialogue and social justice, cultural pursuits,intellectual research, preaching in parishes and hospitals andprovision of retreats (Millar, 2007). In addition, they contribute inacademic activities such as the establishment of seminaries, collegesand universities. Ignatius of Loyola started the group after hesustained injuries during the battle (Fouraker, 2014).
According toRubies (n.d), the Jesuits describe the society members as highlyeducated, rational and unprejudiced church members who are willing toaccommodate other faiths. In fact, the ideas of the society memberswere widely contested by rival Christians such as the Franciscans andDominicans.
The Jesuitsacted as the Chinese and European mediators because they introducedChristianity education in China. On the same note, they wereopen-minded such that they were willing to accommodate the teachingsof other cultures. As such, they wrote informative informationregarding the culture and beliefs of their hosts. The information wasthen published and spread in Europe. The analysis and comparison theyprovided was critical since it helped Europeans who had notinteracted with the Chinese understand. Previously, the Westalienated the Chinese because they thought they were backward peoplewho could not match their development pace. However, the missionarieshelped to present the Chinese as informative people. The missionreports and other publications from the missionaries convinced Europethat The Chinese people could contribute significantly in theinternational trade (Fouraker, 2014).
In whatways, specifically, did they convey information about China toEurope, and about Europe to China?
Before themissionaries arrived at China, there was a little difference thatseparated religion. Besides, the local Chinese believed that newreligions could compromise their holiness and government. In fact,the education they introduced in China made the government tolerateother faiths as long as they were not interrupting politicalstability.
Furthermore,Jesuits had a vast interest in politics. They analyzed the Chineseadministration structure and policies and then compared it with thatof Europe. The result of the comparison helped them to establish asociety that could accommodate both the Europeans and the Chinese. Assuch, a new environment encouraged the development of attractiveatmosphere between the two distinct cultures. The learned Jesuitsquickly convinced the Chinese that their cause was valuable sincethey were open-minded. They took the time to understand the culturalvalues of their locals and then developed a strategy that could meetthe beliefs of either party (Millar, 2007).
Initially, theChinese resisted the European cultures because they thought they werea threat to the piety and political system that existed in thecountry. Nevertheless, the hosts soon accepted the missionariesbecause they were knowledgeable people with the capability to providevastly valuable information. Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit and oneof the most popular missionary to date, stayed in China in 1588.After he had arrived in China, he progressed to the capital andfocused on establishing a strong relationship with both the emperorand the courts (Rubiés, n.d). Many missionaries impressed thepolitical leaders with western gifts such as maps and clocks.Besides, they taught the hosts Western science such as mathematics,astronomy, calculus and geography. Jesuits such as Ricci riskedincarceration because the courts claimed that they were using crookedmethods to corrupt the leaders so that they can support their courseusing unconventional means. However, the high sophistication andauthentic interests Europeans showed in understanding the Chineseculture made the Ming emperors’ courts accept them. In particular,Ricci portrayed powerful skills of making telescopes, as well asforecasting eclipses (Fouraker, 2014).
Anothersignificant impact of the Jesuits as a cultural broker between thecivilizations was their dedication to “proto-Sinology”. Theyinvested their time to study the Chinese literature as well astranslate it into English so that the curious Europeans could readthe reasoning of their colleagues. On the same note, they alsotranslated the English scholarships into Chinese. For instance, theywrote the work of Confucius into English. On the same note, theJesuits assisted the Chinese intellectuals with translated Westernscientific knowledge on astronomical facts (Fouraker, 2014).
Fouraker (2014)argues that the Jesuits also conveyed the European information toChina through Christianity teachings outside the capital. A group ofapproximately 20,000 ministers entered China, and they managed toconvert approximately 200,000 Chinese locals (Rubiés, n.d). Thepreachers often underwent a 9-year training program, which includedmastery of new languages. Nevertheless, the missionaries were forcedto establish an institution for teaching the Chinese language becausemany individuals were not skilled in the language, and it is a bitdifficult to master it (Fouraker, 2014).
Initially,Jesuits such as the Ricci taught the elite Chinese Christian faithpassively. He invited the individuals into the house so that theycould learn about Christianity by observation of the items he owned.This kind of religious teaching continued until early 1600s when newpreachers such Niccolò Longobardo began moving from one city to theother conducting active preaching (Rubiés, n.d). Actually, thelatter informed the people of the regions he anticipated to visit afew days before so that they could wait for him. His ministry wassuccessful because he recruited numerous educated locals. He taughtthem the Christian gospel, such as the Ten Commandments as well asJesus. He then provided each with pamphlets to guide them inministering to other people (Fouraker, 2014).
Which ofthese two processes do feel to have been more significanthistorically?
In my view, theprocess of conveying the information of China to Europe played agreater role in changing the history. The Western cultures believedthe Chinese were inferior, primitive and not worth establishing linkswith them. Nevertheless, the Jesuits changed this perception throughtranslation and distribution of Chinese beliefs, knowledge andculture. Subsequently, the information helped parallel cultures toappreciate.
On the samenote, Chinese piety and politics were based too much on religionmorality. As a result, it restrained acceptance of people fromdifferent backgrounds. The introduction of the western culture,technology and sophistication help to improve the weaknesses of theConfucian philosophy which dominated the local scholars. Furthermore,the introduction of European knowledge made the Chinese a favoritehub as the country was producing raw materials for foreign industriesin abundance. For example, Sink became a primary commodity thatseveral ships ordered from the Kingdom.
Aggarwal,V. K., & Newland, S. A. (2014). Respondingto China`s Rise.Springer: New York.
Ren,H. (2010). Neoliberalismand Culture in China and Hong Kong: The Countdown of Time.Routledge: New York.
Fouraker,L. (2014). Historical Legacy of Jesuits in China," Verbum,6 (1), 18.Available at:http://fisherpub.sjfc.edu/verbum/vol6/iss1/18
Rubiés,J.P. (n.d). The concept of cultural dialogue and the Jesuit method ofaccommodation: between idolatry and civilization.
Millar,A.E. (2007). The Jesuits as knowledge brokers between Europe andChina (1582-1773): Shaping European views of the Middle Kingdom. Web.Retrieved on May 11, 2015 fromhttp://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/pdf/WP105.pdf