At the end of the 18th century, Britain was developing its worldwide trading system. China was considered a vital part of their plan. The Chinese leadership was reluctant, which was difficult for the British at the time to grasp. After all, these were two large empires existing without acrimony and, therefore, they shared in the British view need for healthy, vigorous trade. Unfortunately, the British seemed unable to grasp the particulars of Chinese court conduct. A mutual incomprehension seems to have guided Emperor Hongli’s decision to not allow the establishment of a British embassy in Beijing. This paper will attempt to unpack how these two systems of court conduct were unable to communicate effectively. Lord Macartney was appointed...The end:
.....ould even exist. Or maybe Britain’s contact with India led Macartney to believe the Chinese would be similarly easy to win over. It is also possible that Macartney underestimated the indifference Hongli’s court felt toward foreigners and foreign trade. Two irreconcilable worldviews: Macartney represented England, an up-and-coming superpower where free trade was all the rage. Hongli represented the Chinese tradition, with its official disdain for trade and suspicion of all things foreign. Macartney wanted China to collaborate in trade, but Hongli was committed to keeping him – and all foreigners – at arm’s length. This failed exchange teaches us today the importance of knowing the interests and customs of the people with whom we negotiate.