IN THE BACKGROUND OF THE CHINESE OLYMPICS I THOUGHT I WOULD PRESENT YOU SOMETHING ON CHINA YOU MAY NOT BE AWARE OF.
I CAN GIVE MORE DETAILS FOR THOSE INTERESTED. PPR
P P R’S U S MAIL 2--CHINA
Having decided not to return by sea, Hieun Tsang and his party turned to the northeast. They took the route via Hindu Kush. His biographer stated that their caravan consisted only of 5 priests, 20 followers, 1 elephant, 10 asses and 4 horses. At length they descended to Kunduz on the Oxus river and reached the Pamir Knot. On the other side of the Pamirs Hieun Tsang’s caravan met tragedy when they were attacked by robbers in a very narrow defile. His elephant was chased by bandits, fell into the river and drowned. Hieun Tsang wept piteously mourning the loss of the elephant, which he was very keen to take to China. Read more of this in the delightful travel book of K.P.S.Menon entitled “Delhi—Chunking Diary”.
I give extracts from a classic letter written by the Chinese Emperor Chien Lung of the Manchu dynasty to King George III.
Note how the Emperor concludes.
In the summer of 1793, after a nine-month sea voyage from England, the British expedition led by Lord Macartney dropped anchor to begin the overland journey to the Imperial court at Peking. King George III's ambassador had been instructed to deliver a personal letter from the king to the emperor requesting permission to post a representative to the imperial court and allow the expansion of trade with China which, for all foreign countries, could only be conducted under strict regulation at the southern port of Canton. The request was unprecedented and, as far as the emperor was concerned, impossible to grant. The monumental arrogance and indifference to diplomatic niceties of the Son of Heaven conveyed in the emperor’s refusal to accept the request was enshrined in a letter he wrote to King George III.
Wrote the Emperor inter alia .Entire letter is worth reading but I give a few paras.
. . . ..As to your entreaty to send one of your nationals [namely, Lord Macartney] to be accredited to my Celestial Court and to be in control of your country's trade with China, this request is contrary to all usage of my dynasty and cannot possibly be entertained. It is true that Europeans, in the service of the dynasty, have been permitted to live at Peking, but they are compelled to adopt Chinese dress, they are strictly confined to their own precincts and are never permitted to return home. You are presumably familiar with our dynastic regulations. Your proposed Envoy to my Court could not be placed in a position similar to that of European officials in Peking who are forbidden to leave China, nor could he, on the other hand, be allowed liberty of movement and the privilege of corresponding with his own country; so that you would gain nothing by his residence in our midst.. .
Our dynasty's majestic virtue has penetrated unto every country under heaven, and kings of all nations have offered their costly tribute by land and sea. As your Ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country's manufactures. This then is my answer to your request to appoint a representative at my Court, a request contrary to our dynastic usage, which would only result in inconvenience to yourself. I have expounded my wishes in detail and have commanded your tribute Envoys to leave in peace on their homeward journey. It behoves you, O King, to respect my sentiments and to display even greater devotion and loyalty in future, so that, by perpetual submission to our Throne, you may secure peace and prosperity for your country hereafter. . .
If, after the receipt of this explicit decree, you lightly give ear to the representations of your subordinates and allow your barbarian merchants to proceed to Chekiang and Tientsin, with the object of landing and trading there, the ordinances of my Celestial Empire are strict in the extreme, and the local officials, both civil and military, are bound reverently to obey the law of the land. Should your vessels touch the shore, your merchants will assuredly never be permitted to land or to reside there, but will be subject to instant expulsion. In that event your barbarian merchants will have had a long journey for nothing. Do not say that you were not warned in due time! Tremblingly obey and show no negligence! . .
I I I
My third item is a new book by Simon Winchester which I am reviewing for Free Press Journal. .
The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom by Simon Winchester.
In sumptuous and illuminating detail, Simon Winchester, the bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa brings to life the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who unlocked the most closely held secrets of China, long the world's most technologically advanced country.
Needham was determined to tell the world what he had discovered, and began writing his majestic Science and Civilisation in China, describing the country's long and astonishing history of invention and technology. By the time he died, he had produced, essentially single-handedly, seventeen immense volumes, marking him as the greatest one-man encyclopedist ever. After his death 8 more volumes have been brought out by his disciples at Cambridge. I have handled –of course not read--the 17 volumes—available in the Asiatic Library in Mumbai.
P P R