World Within a World: China in the Enlightenment, 1650 to 1833



In the Enlightenment — for China the early and middle Ch’ing — China reached a peak of influence in world history. On the one hand, China became more than before part of the Europe-centred world order The European conquest of America, intensified during the Enlightenment and extended by the annexation of Australasia, had altered the shape of the globe. The Chinese economy beat to the rhythms of Europe relayed through Manila, Canton and Kiakhta, her regional conjunctures being no more than counterpoint to the dominant theme. China now figured in universal histories, universal geographies. Her philosophy, flowers and physiocracy were closely observed and her evidence felt to be essential. As Father Amiot said, China was ‘the Peru and Potosi of the republic of letters’.1


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Copyright information

© S. A. M. Adshead 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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