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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume III: The Nineteenth Century$
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Andrew Porter

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205654

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205654.001.0001

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Britain and China, 1842–1914

Britain and China, 1842–1914

Chapter:
(p.146) 8 Britain and China, 1842–1914
Source:
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume III: The Nineteenth Century
Author(s):

Jürgen Osterhammel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205654.003.0008

China excited the British imagination. All sorts of orientalist clichés and racial stereotypes were projected upon China and the Chinese. From the mid-nineteenth century, China formed an integral part of the military, economic, and mental history of European and, in particular, of British imperialism. As China was never turned into any Great Power's colony, its relations with Britain can be narrated in terms of conventional diplomatic history, emphasizing British perceptions and strategies and the intergovernmental contacts between the two countries. The treaty system stamped British presence in China with an overwhelming legalism. In spite of a growing regional diversification of Chinese foreign trade, by 1914 Britain and the British Empire (excluding Hong Kong) were still China's leading trading partners, if only by a slight margin over Japan. The years 1911 and 1914 were dates of equal significance in the history of Britain's special position in China.

Keywords:   regional diversification, China, British imperialism, treaty system, legalism, foreign trade, racial stereotypes

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