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The Empress and Mrs. CongerThe Uncommon Friendship of Two Women and Two Worlds$
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Grant Hayter-Menzies

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9789888083008

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888083008.001.0001

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Chinese Christians

Chinese Christians

(p.39) 4 Chinese Christians
The Empress and Mrs. Conger

Grant Hayter-Menzies

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter discusses Empress Dowager Cixi's disapproval of the growing missionary activity in China during the nineteenth century. She did not like the notion of foreigners coming to China to sway the Chinese away from their ancient religious allegiances. Yet it was really not the missionaries Cixi disliked most — it was the Chinese converts. It was they, she believed, who stirred up civil unrest by refusing to obey the laws that had been part of Chinese society for millennia, disrupting the Confucian structure of containment and order, and of respect for the authority of emperor and parents. In November 1894, the Empress was presented with a printed edition of the New Testament, a gift which, as one of her biographers puts it with pointed understatement, “is supposed to have led indirectly to very important developments.” Guangxu, having heard about the New Testament sitting unread in the Zongli Yamen (Chinese Foreign Office), ordered copies of both New and Old Testaments in Chinese from the American Bible Society at Peking, and set to work reading them with the Palace eunuchs. This was the beginning of Guangxu's interest in all things foreign, summed up by the single word “reform.”.

Keywords:   missionary activity, Cixi, Chinese converts, Guangxu, New Testament, Zongli Yamen, Chinese Foreign Office, American Bible Society, reform

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