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  • Print publication year: 1980
  • Online publication date: March 2008

3 - Changing Chinese views of Western relations, 1840–95

Summary
Chinese views of Western relations kept changing during the 1840-95 period, with a quickened tempo after 1860. Generally, foreign policy views changed from a 'closed door' policy in the forties to the 'good faith' policy based on the Confucian principle of sincerity during the sixties. Modern diplomatic skills, especially the idea of international law, were stressed during the ensuing two decades. Power politics, particularly the concepts of balance of power and alliance with strong countries, prevailed during the eighties and nineties. In spite of all these changes, the power of conservatism remained strong. Success in the introduction of things Western into China depended in large measure on the extent to which they were compatible with this tradition. China's inertia can also be seen in the views held by some political leaders towards the West. In addition to the conservatives, many literati-officials who championed Western learning were at the same time anti-Christian. Modernization in some senses meant Westernization.
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