4     China's Foreign Relations (1644-1839)                  


Primary Resources 


Document 4.1

Stamps issued commemorating Jesuit missionary Ferdinand Verbiest

Document 4.2

Excerpts from the Treaty of Nerchinsk signed by China and Russia in 1689


Document 4.3


Excerpts from the letter King George III of England wrote to the Chinese emperor and sent with Lord Macartney, 1792



Document 4.4


Two edicts from the emperor Qianlong in reply to Lord Macartney's mission to China, September 1793

Document 4.5

Requests by English merchants and responses from a Chinese official, 1793


Document 4.6


A description of various European countries and their people by Xie Qinggao, a Chinese sailor, between 1783 and 1797

Document 4.7a

Excerpts from a letter by William Trotter of Philadelphia, trading in Guangzhou, 1797

Document 4.7b

Additional excerpts from a letter by William Trotter, Guangzhou, 1797

Document 4.8

Excerpts from a letter Edward King wrote from Guangzhou to his brother, October 31, 1835

Document 4.9a&b

Examples of chinoiserie (ca. 1800 and ca. 1810)

Examples of chinoiserie (ca. 1800 and ca. 1810)


Document 4.10


Excerpts from a letter of instructions from the owners of the vessel Mentor to Captain John Suter, 1816

Document 4.11

“A Voyage with Opium Smugglers” by William Hunter, between 1825 and 1844 



Supplementary Resources


Item 4.A

Opium Trade statistics

Item 4.B

Qianlong Meets Macartney: Collision of Two World Views, a play by John Watt



Activity Websites


Activity 1 Jesuits

Biography of Jesuit Adam Schall von Bell

Biography ofJesuit Ferdinand Verbiest

Portuguese explorers’ influence on the Chinese

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery exhibit on Portuguese exploration and the explorers’ contact with and influence on the Chinese.

The Jesuits at the Qing Court

A lecture given at the University of San Francisco Ricci Institute.


Activity 1 Extended Activity Verbiest’s Map

Verbiest's Map of the world

Shows five contients and four oceans.

Biography of Verbiest in the Catholic Encyclopedia

Includes a description of competition between Eastern and Western science.

High-resolution image of Matteo Ricci’s world map

Sections can be enlarged for close examination and detail.


Activity 5 Spode Willow Pattern

Spode Official UK Website

The Willow Pattern Wave Essay, by Mary L. Stollard


Activity 5 Asian Export Art/Chinoiserie

Asian export art, Peabody Essex Museum

Photos of chinoiserie

(Search for 25.407 and look in “collections.”) Image of plate with scene of two Europeans fishing, but scenery is of Chinese design.

Chinese export art, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Search for “Chinese export art” from the homepage of the museum website. Room 47f of the collection includes objects made in China and brought to the West by merchants.



Suggested Resources




Brook, Timothy and Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi. Opium Regimes: China, Britain, and Japan, 1839–1952. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.


Ghosh, Amitav. Sea of Poppies. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

A novel set in the nineteenth-century during the Opium Wars.


Kerr, Phyllis Forbes. Letters from China: The Canton-Boston Correspondence of Robert Bennet Forbes, 1838–1840. Mystic, Conn.: Mystic Seaport Museum, 1996.


Spence, Jonathan D. The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. New York: Viking, 1984




Asian Export Art, Peabody Essex Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum holds one of North America’s premier collections of Asian export art with many images available online.


Chinese Export Art, Victoria and Albert Museum

Search for “Chinese export art” from the homepage of the museum website. Room 47f of the collection includes objects made in China and brought to the West by merchants. 


The Chinese Rites Controversy, 1715, Internet Modern History Sourcebook

Decrees from the Kangxi Emperor and Pope Clement XI.


Great Universal Geographic Map, World Digital Library

A map created by Matteo Ricci in 1602 showing five continents. It is the oldest surviving map in Chinese to the show the Americas.


Rise & Fall of the Canton Trade System: China in the World, 1700–1860s, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Visualizing Cultures

Essays and images about the Canton Trade System from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum.


Salem’s International Trade, Salem Maritime National Historic Site

The National Park Service site about Salem, Massachusetts, and trade with China.




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