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Epilogue: Why Ho Ching-Ming?

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Chapter Summary

It would be many decades before Westerners gained a foothold in China, and centuries before they began to affect Chinese life decisively, but a historical process had now been set in motion that Ho Ching-ming and his friends would have found not only appalling, but literally unthinkable. It was this very unthinkability that lay at the heart of what would become the culminating dilemma for traditional Chinese civilization. What the West brought to China was a challenge not simply to its economic or military supremacy but to its centrality, its position as the 'middle kingdom'. The relative poverty of Ho Ching-ming's world stands in striking contrast to the affluent commercial society of the southern wen-jen and their patrons. There should also be little surprise in the persistence of cultural structures and habits in China from Ho Ching-ming's day to our own.

Keywords: China; cultural structures; Ho Ching-ming; Westerners



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