Prof. Zhang Zhilian,
Professor of Modern European History, Beijing University
British Embassy Residence
In a further lecture in our “East Meets West” series, Professor Zhang Zhilian, Professor of Modern European History at Beijing University, will talk about Britain's first attempt to establish relations with China at the end of the 18th century. In mid-September this year, Professor Zhang – who has been awarded the prestigious Legion of Honor for his work in French history – organized a well-supported international symposium marking the bicentenary of this mission. It was held in Chengde to coincide with the date and place that Lord McCartney came face to face with Qing Emperor Qianlong, on 14 September 1793. Lord McCartney's mission failed. The gulf between the two cultures, the one representing the dynamism of the Age of Reason, the other, the immutability of Confucian culture, was too great. But opportunities were missed on both sides. Much has changed in Europe and China in the intervening two centuries, but do the ghosts of McCartney and Qianlong linger on today?