The Last Embassy

audiobook (Unabridged) The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China

By Tonio Andrade

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George Macartney's disastrous 1793 mission to China plays a central role in the prevailing narrative of modern Sino-European relations. Summarily dismissed by the Qing court, Macartney failed in nearly all of his objectives, perhaps setting the stage for the Opium Wars of the nineteenth century and the mistrust that still marks the relationship today. But not all European encounters with China were disastrous. The Last Embassy tells the story of the Dutch mission of 1795, bringing to light a dramatic but little-known episode that transforms our understanding of the history of China and the West. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, Tonio Andrade paints a panoramic and multifaceted portrait of an age marked by intrigues and war. China was on the brink of rebellion. Enduring a harrowing voyage, the Dutch mission was to be the last European diplomatic delegation ever received in the traditional Chinese court. Andrade shows how, in contrast to the British emissaries, the Dutch were men with deep knowledge of Asia who respected regional diplomatic norms and were committed to understanding China on its own terms. The Last Embassy reveals that the Qing court, mischaracterized as arrogant and narrow-minded by British diplomats and historians, was in fact open, flexible, curious, and very cosmopolitan.
The Last Embassy