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Diplomatic Normalcy

A span-high Napoleon stands on the outstretched hand of a full-size George III, who peers at him through a spy-glass.
“James Gillray The King of Brobdingnag and Gulliver.–Vide. Swift’s Gulliver- Voyage to Brobdingnag The Metropolitan Museum of Art edit” by James Gillray – Metropolitan Museum of Art, online collection: entry 391822. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

A few thoughts inspired, believe it or not, by the Hamilton Broadway musical…

In 1793, the Qianlong Emperor penned (or ordered composed) a now legendary letter to King George III, in which he attempted to frame relations between the Qing Dynasty and Great Britain into a traditional Chinese diplomatic framework. Over the centuries, the letter has been taken as evidence of the overbearing arrogance of the Chinese Imperial establishment in the face of the oncoming threat of the West.

More recent interpretations have suggested that the letter includes far more strategic thought than is commonly understood, but there is little question that it remains an artifact of a different era in global diplomacy.

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