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Conceptualizing the Blue Frontier: The Great Qing and the Maritime World in the Long Eighteenth Century

PO, Chung-Yam

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Most previous scholarship has asserted that the Qing Empire neglected the sea and underestimated the worldwide rise of Western powers in the long eighteenth century. By the time the British crushed the Chinese navy in the so-called Opium Wars, the country and its government were in a state of shock and incapable of quickly catching-up with Western Europe. In contrast with such a narrative, this dissertation shows that the Great Qing was in fact far more aware of global trends than has been commonly assumed. Against the backdrop of the long eighteenth century, the author explores the fundamental historical notions of the Chinese maritime world as a conceptual divide between an inner and an outer sea, whereby administrators, merchants, and intellectuals paid close and intense attention to coastal seawaters. Drawing on archival sources from China, Japan, Korea, and the West, the author argues that the connection between the Great Qing and the maritime world was complex and sophisticated. The evidence reveals beyond doubt that the Manchu administration indeed never lost sight of the harsh strategic and logistical realities of managing, if not ruling, a vast maritime landscape. In summary, this dissertation provides new insights into the East Asian maritime world, China’s regional links on the eve of the modern age, and the area’s deepening role in the development of an increasingly global history. It also has an obvious topical relevance, with the People’s Republic of China’s increasing efforts to extend its control over natural resources and seaways in the Western Pacific. It might be seen as the largely overlooked maritime counterpart to that covered by Peter Perdue’s impressive volume: "China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia," which looks at the history of imperial China’s western landward expansion in the late seventeenth and the eighteenth century.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Fuess, Prof. Dr. Harald
Date of thesis defense: 9 August 2013
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2015 06:08
Date: 2015
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Historisches Seminar
Subjects: 900 Geography and history
950 General history of Asia Far East
Controlled Keywords: Qing, Maritime world , Late imperial China
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