Accumulated Distrust: An Archival Analysis of the Diplomatic Tussle between Britain and China (1877-1900)

August 26, 2018

Date: 26 August 2018, Sunday
Time: 2pm – 4.30pm
Venue: SCCC, Recital Studio, Level 6
Ticket Price: $10 (please contact Ms Jazmyn Huang: 6354 4078, jazmynhuang@sfcca.sg)

*Conducted in Mandarin

“Accumulated Distrust: An Archival Analysis of the Diplomatic Tussle between Britain and China (1877-1900)” aims to reassess the extent of success (or failure) of China’s first overseas consulate in protecting the overseas Chinese in Nanyang. Conventional viewpoint holds that the establishment of the consulate in 1877 was a major diplomatic victory for the Late Qing Government, following a series of humiliating defeats which began with the Opium War. However, a closer analysis of the archival materials at the British National Archives and The First Historical Archives of China reveals that the Chinese consulate was almost powerless vis-à-vis the Straits Government when dealing with overseas Chinese affairs. The relationship between the two was never cordial since the beginning, and the distrust only grew deeper as time went by. The Straits Government tried to undermine the consulate’s legitimacy through diplomatic and administrative means, and as a consequence, it provided a much-needed breathing space for the reformists and revolutionaries when they arrived in Nanyang, and indirectly led to the collapse of the Qing dynasty. The speaker will be sharing some rarely seen archival records during the talk, including a parting letter written by Consul-General Huang Zunxian to the Straits Government in December 1894.

 

 

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