In 1792 and again in 1816, King George III of Britain sent ambassadors George Macartney and then William Pitt Amherst to China to negotiate the opening of trade between the leading nation of the West and the leading nation of the East.
In both cases, the British envoys were sent packing after refusing to kowtow as they approached China’s “celestial emperor” because they found it humiliating. The kowtow usually required the person approaching the throne to kneel three times and touch his forehead to the floor three times each to acknowledge the superiority of the Middle Kingdom.
By Richard Halloran
The Washington Times
Today, among the thousands of recommendations being thrust upon President-elect Barack Obama comes one urging him to perform a virtual kowtow to the leaders of China by going to Beijing shortly after his inauguration.
The proposal is most ill-advised and shows little understanding of China, past or present. Rather, the new president should invite the Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, to Washington with full honors at an appropriate time.
China’s Hu Jintao.(AP Photo/Xinhua, Ma Zhancheng)
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