When West met East – and failed.
In 1793, British ambassador George Macartney entered the Peking Court, asking the Son of Heaven to ease restrictions on trade between Great Britain and China. However, the envoys failed to win the trust of the Chinese authorities, in part because Macartney did not observe court ritual and in part because The Qing Empire had long considered all other states to be its vassals, whose representatives were obliged to kowtow. This unresolved clash of visions could be said to lie at the root of the Opium Wars decades later, when England forced its way in; starting with the Emperor’s successor who saw fit to shut down foreign embassies. However, soon after Macartney left, the Qianlong Emperor granted the Dutch ambassador an audience – to the chagrin of Qianlong’s ‘trusted servant’ Heshen, an official extorting money from the populace, and the power behind the throne. The people are disgruntled; White Lotus, a triad of warrior heroines, stirs rebellion; even Chief Censor Qian says the Manchus forfeited the Mandate of Heaven. Amidst mounting turmoil, Lady Cao Baoqin, the protagonist, and erstwhile mistress of novelist Cao Xueqin (who died long ago), is punished for acting as go-between for British brutes who refuse to prostrate themselves. As stubborn as she’s elegant – a ‘two-faced demon’, Heshen calls her – Lady Cao, loyal to her dreams, blows sparks of hope into the sad lives of the Emperor’s discarded concubines. And soon, rumors all over China whisper that the beloved heroine of Cao Xueqin’s Dream of the Red Chamber, featuring in street opera’s and market yarns ever since, is held captive in Court.
Soon available as an Ebook, in January 2017 as a paperback
Size: 379 KB
Publisher: Regal House Publishing
Date published: 2017
Earliest download: 2016-11-16
ISBN: 9780991261239 (DRM-EPUB)