China Meets the West: The First British Embassy to China, 1793

The Macartney Embassy, also called the Macartney Mission, was a British embassy to China in 1793. The Mission ran from 1792 to 1794. It is named for the first envoy of Great Britain to China, George Macartney, who led the endeavour. The goal of the embassy was to convince Emperor Qianlong of China to ease restrictions on trade between Great Britain and China by allowing Great Britain to have a permanent embassy in Beijing, possession of "a small unfortified island near Chusan for the residence of British traders, storage of goods, and outfitting of ships," and reduced tariffs on traders in Guangzhou. The mission failed badly in its attempt to win the trust over the Chinese authorities. The Manchu Qing Empire had considered all other states to be tributary to itself. However, the Macartney Embassy was given special notice for two reasons. First, it was sent by Britain on the pretext of commemorating the Emperor's 80th birthday. Second, the Embassy had travelled a great distance, and had not previously come before the Emperor's Court. The matter was complicated somewhat by the Embassy's insistence on meeting with the Emperor without previous announcement, and Macartney's refusal to observe Court traditions. Nonetheless, the Emperor instructed his officials to lead the Embassy to him with the utmost civility.
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