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The Significance of the Qing Period for China-India Relations
November 18, 2019 - 15:00-16:30
For much of history, China and India were connected chiefly through religious and economic ties. Today, their relationship is one between powerful states sharing a long border, in which military and diplomatic relations are particularly salient. The period of the Qing Empire (1644-1912) marks a transitional stage in this relationship, as Manchu emperors pushed their sphere of control to the Himalayas and Pamirs, while British imperial officials solidified their grasp on the southern edge of these ranges. This talk explores the evolving India-China relationship in the Qing period from the perspective of rulers in Beijing. Geopolitically, it explains why the initial expansion of the Qing frontier toward India had little to do with concern about the subcontinent, but was rather driven by rivalries with Inner and Central Asian powers. Intellectually, it considers the manifold sources available in Beijing about historical and contemporary India, and the ways officials and scholars attempted to make sense of them. Against this background it traces the emerging Qing recognition of British India as a near and formidable power, concluding with a reflection on the legacy bequeathed to the present by the meeting of Qing and British imperialism in the nineteenth century.
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