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The early introduction of international law: Translations and language

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Chapter Summary

This chapter considers the texts and Chinese language for the early Chinese introduction of international law prior to Sino-Japanese war. It also analyses the development of a technical language and the terminology with which international law was introduced into China. The first major impact of the terms and conditions of Western international law on the Chinese may be ascribed to the American missionary and translator William A.P. Martin. Martin’s translation was widely distributed in China and is the single most influential work with regard to the introduction of terminology as well as principles and practice in international law in late Qing times. Martin’s deliberations on a Chinese origin of an international legal code were forcefully advocated by Chinese intellectuals in the late 1890s, a discourse with extensions far into today’s discourse on China in international affairs.

Keywords: Chinese intellectuals; Chinese language; international law; international legal code; late Qing period; William A.P. Martin



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