1st Edition

Ancient Beijing and Western Civilization

By Zhesheng Ouyang Copyright 2025
    462 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the historical interactions between Beijing and the West before the Opium War. It focuses on the experiences of Western travellers, missionaries and envoys who visited Beijing during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

    As the capital of Imperial China since the Yuan dynasty, Beijing has been central to communication between China and the West. The study uses first-hand historical materials such as travelogues, memoirs, letters, Ming and Qing archives, and scholarly works from both the West and China. It examines their journeys to Beijing, their lives in the city, and their interactions with imperial officials and ordinary people. The book reconstructs Western perceptions of Beijing and their observations of its architecture, customs, geography, and China's history, culture, and political system. It also addresses important historical issues in Sino-Western relations, including the controversy over Chinese rites between Beijing and the Vatican, attempts to trade with Beijing, sinological studies and intelligence gathering. The insights gained greatly enhance our understanding of the history of cultural exchange between China and the West.

    The book will appeal to a wide readership interested in the history of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, the history of Beijing, Sino-Western relations and international Sinology.

    1. Introduction  2. Westerners’ Experience in Khanbaliq  3. Peking in the 17th Century Through the Eye of Jesuits  4. The “Beijing Experience” of 18th-Century French Jesuits  5. Rivalry Between Civilizations and Game of Power  6. The “Beijing Experience” of Portuguese and Dutch Embassies from the 16th to 18th Centuries  7. The “Beijing Experience” of the Russian Orthodox Mission  8. The “Beijing Experience” of the British Macartney and the Amherst Embassies



    Zhesheng Ouyang is Professor at Peking University, China. His research expertise includes the history of Chinese modern thought, academics of the Republic of China and China-West communication.