Thursday, January 30, 2014

China 1793



Amasa Delano on China in the late 1700s, from his Narrative of Voyages and Travels in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres: Comprising Three Voyages Round the World; Together with a Voyage of Survey and Discovery, in the Pacific Ocean and Oriental Islands (full text via Google Books; p. 531 and following). Delano was in Canton while McCartney's embassy took place in Beijing. See also Koxinga for a comparison of European and Chinese development in this era. In the ensuing century both France and England would adopt examination systems, following the Chinese model, for civil service and university selection.





18 comments:

chartreuse1737 said...

f g

Harry said...

The Han Chinese are homogeneous. There is a coherent overall genetic structure to their population. Dialects are a crude and generally ineffective way to determine genetic closeness of groups of people. Manchus and other minority groups in China are separate and distinct from the Han Chinese—hence the term "minority," or 少数民族—and constitute a relatively minor fraction of the total Chinese population.

steve hsu said...

If you do PCA on Chinese genotypes there is a N-S gradient. If you fly from Shenzhen to Beijing you will notice the height/bulk gradient right away -- like flying from Naples to Copenhagen. It is interesting that the early British, Dutch and American traders not only noticed this but recorded it in their writings.

thdurham said...

I'm not sure what you mean by the Chinese not having a war like the Great War. But the Chinese have had numerous rebellions and such that have had large death tolls. The Taiping Rebellion reportedly resulted in 20,000,000 deaths, reportedly. Also in the 19th Century, the Panthay Rebellion (about 1,000,000 deaths), and the Dungan Rebellion (death toll between 8,000,000 and 12,000,000), and so on. The An Shi rebellion in the 700s resulted in massive death tolls as well, though no one can seem to determine how bad it was.

And this ignores the Civil Wars of the 20th Century.

China may or may not have been more peaceful than Europe, but it was hardly peaceful.

Harry said...

Yes, there is a N-S gradient (and interestingly, not an E-W gradient), but there still exists a coherent overall genetic structure to the Han Chinese. There was a GWAS done which came to this conclusion.

The height gradient is also present in Europe. It seems that the explanation for this is that in colder regions, there has been selection for larger bodies due to the fact that surface area (skin) scales on a factor of 2 but body mass scales on a factor of 3; this means that larger bodies, though they lose a larger absolute amount of heat, also generate and retain an even larger absolute amount of heat.

Incidentally, the same principle constitutes the method of hunting by early homo sapiens, proposed by Harvard paleoanthropologist Daniel Lieberman. They selected the largest animal, and chased it. At this point it would go off to hide in the bushes, and homo sapiens would then track it. Upon finding it again, the cycle of chasing and tracking would resume. Because the animal is so large and retains so much heat, it eventually overheats and collapses to heatstroke, rendering it easy prey. (Further, quadrupeds are not able to pant, and so can only breathe once per gallop. Their main method of heat shedding is not sweating, but breathing, so you can see why the method was effective. The fact that quadrupeds often had fur only made it easier for the hunters.)

Harry said...

To address merely your last sentence: I think that it is nearly unanimously, if not unanimously, accepted by historians that Europe was the most bloody region in the world up until the twentieth century. The comparison of "may or may not" is moot.

thdurham said...

Again, what do you mean by "most bloody"? The Napoleonic Wars had a death total between three and seven million, at a quick glance. (I'm too lazy to go dig out my books at the moment.) That's dwarfed by at least a couple of rebellions in China in the 19th Century. Do you mean number of wars, number of dead, percentage of time in which states are fighting, some sort of average of how much of a region is at war in a given time, deaths as a percentage of population, battlefield deaths, or what? Do you mean percentage of time the Han actually fought each other, as opposed to fighting the other various ethnicities in the region?

Of course, Europe has had more wars between states in the area known as Europe as opposed to wars between states in the area known as China, at least since the time of China's first unification. But that's pretty much by definition. China had to deal with invasions from without, they expanded their borders at times, China was separated into various states at time, there were any number of extremely trying rebellions.

China, by nature of it's large terrain, population densities and overall prowess as a civilization was capable of killing (both directly and indirectly) on a scale not readily possible in Europe for quite long periods of time. Did Europe have any single conflict that can credibly claim as many deaths as what happened in the rebellion started by An Lushan in 755 UNTIL the 20th Century? I'm not saying it doesn't, but I can't think of it off hand. Or is it a sum of many smaller conflicts that is at issue?

So again, what do you mean when you say Europe was "more bloody", or what is meant by saying that China lacked anything like the Great War (WWI) in its history? All I'm seeking is clarification of the claims you're making, as there is plenty of record of a lot of warfare, death and mayhem in Chinese history, too. (Which is to say, they're both human and civilized.) So what, exactly, are you trying to say?

Galtonian said...

I suspect that Amasa Delano may have been an ancestor of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Several years ago I toured the Hyde Park mansion and I recall that the docent mentioned that the Delano family [FDR's mother was Sara Ann Delano (1854–1941)] were merchants who traded with China and shipped porcelain dishes to America , i.e. they imported "China" to the USA.

Harry said...

In general, historians mean the frequency and number of wars, which is a metric that showcases the never-ending warring nature of the region. This number is far higher in historical Europe than historical China. Of course, Europe today is the only place in the world with zero prospect of war, which stands as one of the premier achievements of human civilization. The rest of the world should seek to emulate Europe in this respect.

Keep in mind that there are three participants in this thread. I did not make the initial claim. You seem to be oblivious to this, judging from your phrasing, e.g., "Again, what do you...," etc.

The vast majority of deaths in China's history have been due to famine, not combat deaths—something that you neglect to mention. China has also had a much larger population than Europe, so comparing absolute numbers as you carelessly do is not an effective way: China was much more prosperous technologically and agriculturally than anywhere else in the world (as Delano observes) in the vast majority of the past 5000 years, so of course there would be more Chinese than Europeans. It follows that any disruptions in the system which would kill, say, 0.5% of the population would lead to many more times the deaths in China than in Europe.

Of course China lacked anything like WW1 in its history. For millennia, China has not been fragmented like Europe was, is, and will always be; rebels fought for control of the whole of China, but there was never any question about conquering other sovereign states in neighboring territories because China is a single country. Wars in China were not caused by dominoes falling between two opposing alliances peppered with a dozen states each, but by the center being taken over. The natures of the conflicts were fundamentally different.

There are several other questionable points in your argument, especially the part about "by definition" (we are not dealing with logical relationships but rather the human world here), but I won't get into them.

Richard Seiter said...

Relatives, but apparently not an ancestor. This book says Amasa Delano was childless:
http://books.google.com/books?id=2YlO9qraI4MC&pg=PT304&lpg=PT304&dq=amasa+delano+franklin+delano+roosevelt&source=bl&ots=WnCyIw3h8i&sig=_5IF6YQOBP5WO3VzNRywrjqYHrw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1VLsUtDUJoyCogSpzIK4CQ&ved=0CEMQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=amasa%20delano%20franklin%20delano%20roosevelt&f=false

chartreuse1737 said...

right. i should have referred to 'manchurians' rather than 'manchus', but i was referring to the text steve is quoting where s and n chinese are distinguished. mightn't one say that germans and english are one homogeneous population.

chartreuse1737 said...

all of those are titled 'rebellion' and like the thirty years war their deaths are likely multiplied by 10.

a war between the central states of china and the s and the n states allied, was there ever such a war.

5371 said...

The difference in height is considerably less in China, though.

chartreuse1737 said...

so bipedalism is superior regrading endurance running not just superior as a side effect of having the hands freed. i've heard this before. run your prey to death vs outrun and chomp.

yet how many humans can run a mile in under eight minutes? it seems man has strayed very far from his ancestral athletic abilities. not just in terms of strength.

but then the tarahumara run like other men sleep. they drink like fish but still have the typical primitive bp of 100/60.

chartreuse1737 said...

"China was much more prosperous technologically and agriculturally than
anywhere else in the world (as Delano observes) in the vast majority of
the past 5000 years..."

it is fashionable and pc and all that to say things like this, but like the death tolls this is greatly exaggerated. it's not even apples and oranges.

there is no chinese aristotle or euclid, or indian or persian aristotle or euclid for that matter. there are no chinese cathedrals or ...

"the west is the best get here we'll do the rest" referred to the western us and was written by a moron but the story of...if it weren't for "tao" china would have been the uk of the 19th c. is bs.

the west has done many shameful things but it isn't really "cool" to be ashamed of the west.

Harry said...

I don't think that it's cool to be ashamed of the west. In fact, I think the people who think that are mostly westerners, because they are recoiling from their historical actions, e.g., slavery and colonialism. I think that the west has elevated the conditions of human civilization dramatically, thanks to certain ideas such as free market economics, mass education, the rule of law, emphasis on science and technology, and the axiomatic method.

But how much of history have you learned that is outside of the western curriculum? How much news have you read that is not English—not American media? How much of China or Chinese history do you even know?


I do not know what the answers to these questions are for you, but I know that for the vast majority of English speakers, the answer is "nearly nothing, if not nothing." This is of course even true for immigrants to the US from a non-western ethnic background. They cannot even read and listen to a second language, let alone the Chinese language. How much information about China have you read that is not second- or third-hand? Can you even speak Chinese? Have you even been to China, or India?


Western media and texts naturally refer less to non-western historical figures and ideas, and likewise for other countries, including China.

AG said...

This observation was very accurate since I am from North China. Even as immigrant here, I can only form friendship with fellow northern Han, Mongolian, Manchurians due to mutual understanding. Very hard to form friendship with southerners due to culture conflict or personality conflict.

Northerners are friendly to strangers and easy to engage. Southerners are more like xenophobic nationalist who are never welcome to any outsiders or strangers. Southerners are like to whine and complain about almost every thing. Northerners are always praise and appreciate almost every thing (for respect and politeness). Well, it is just depressing for me to deal with southerners (especially Cantonese). In north, saying thing negative will be interpreted as insult, you better prepare for a physical fight for your negative words. Even today, most patriotic and brave people still come from north. Whoever controls north controls whole China. Most chinese history was that forever north conquering south. If northern hans was defeated by north barbarians, southerners never was able to push invaders back. So northern Hans are also national guards for the whole China. Only northern Hans were able to make successful invasion into land beyond the great walls during Han dynasty and Tang dynasty. Even communists knew only that with north army conquering whole China during civil war between 1947-1949.

My best buddy is a pure blood Inner Mongolian guy, very loyal and trusted friend though he went to jail couple of times due to fight. Strangely he is never a bully. He is nice guy but never back way from any physical fight. My friends from north will never leave me behind in any crisis. With such trust, you can imagine what kind amy these guys can form.

aqua said...

There is a coherent overall genetic structure to their population. Dialects are a crude and generally ineffective way to determine genetic closeness of groups of people. Manchus and other minority groups in China are separate and distinct from the Han Chinese—hence the term "minority peluang usaha 2014 tanpa modal ," or 少数民族—and constitute a relatively minor fraction of the total Chinese population.

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