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New book explores China-Europe Silk Road exchange

Author  :  ZHANG JINGPING     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2019-07-09


History of China-Europe Exchange Along the Silk Road

The Silk Road was an ancient trade route between China and the West. For the study of world history, the Silk Road is not only a specific research topic but also a perspective and method.

History of China-Europe Exchange Along the Silk Road shows important research results in the past and the latest developments in the study of the history of exchange between China and Europe along the Silk Road—a common effort of several generations of both Chinese and foreign scholars. 

This book divides the history of exchange between China and Europe into two stages: before the 15th century and from the 15th century to the mid-19th century. The book focuses on the exchange of artifacts, technology and art in the first stage. The author Zhang Guogang reorganizes and narrates the introduction of Western religions into China, the spread of papermaking and compasses to the West, and the anecdotes of Kumarajiva (344–413), a famous Buddhist master and translator. In the latter stage, the author concentrates on the collision of ideas between China and Europe in early modern times. The missionaries and the early eastward transmission of Western sciences, the European view of China in the Enlightenment, and the cultural interactions in foreign trade are all explained by the author in a popular and easy-to-understand language.

This book pays attention to how China and the West influence each other. The mainstream study of the history of the exchange between China and Europe has always focused on China. This book observes the China-Europe cultural communication bidirectionally, and puts forward some very meaningful questions after making comparisons. For example, from the 15th to the 18th century, the understanding between China and Europe was equally one-sided and inaccurate, but why, bearing this in mind, did the limited scope that Europeans had of Chinese knowledge and concepts still have a positive impact on the development of the European society? In contrast, China’s relatively accurate translation and introduction of Western works did not have much influence in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The difference is unobservable from a China-centered perspective. 

History of China-Europe Exchange Along the Silk Road introduces the exported products of early modern China according to the latest research results. It vividly shows how international trade embedded Chinese goods into the daily lives of Europeans and how Western cultural needs were brought back to Chinese producers through commercial orders.



(Edited by YANG LANLAN)

Editor: Yu Hui

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