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The Great Encounter of China and the West

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The Great Encounter of China and the West

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  • December 2, 2006
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The Great Encounter of China and the West

When the Chinese and Europeans first came into contact with each other, there was a mutual fascination for the other's culture, or way of life. The Chinese began to look at the European culture. They became interested in Western thinking. They were also beginning to look at the religion that the European missionaries were preaching about, Christianity. On the other end, the Europeans who came in contact with the Chinese were fascinated by their culture and their philosophy, mainly the philosophy of Confucius. While the two cultures seemed to be a good match, each respecting and admiring the other, it came to an abrupt halt. The end result was China and Europe both rejecting the other culture.

During the 1500-1800s many of the Western religions sent over many missionaries to reach out to the Chinese people. The religion credited with the biggest response and following was the Jesuits. The Jesuits had a different way of approaching religion in China. They decided to blend their religion, Christianity with the Chinese philosophy of Confucianism. This new "mixed" religion criticized Buddhism and Daoism. Furthermore, the Jesuits had innate understanding and reverence for the Chinese culture, so much so that it willingly collaborated with Chinese literati. Chinese literati were the intellectuals of China that were in the educated class. The Jesuits tolerated many indigenous Chinese cultural elements. This produced a negative affect within the European Christians.

Other forms of religion included the Franciscans, who emphasized submission and martyrdom and The Confraternity of the Passion, which focused on the pain that Christ underwent during his time of crucifixion. These groups began to have secret meetings, which turned out to be a dangerous idea due to the fact that they became linked with the White Lotus Society. The White Lotus Society was a group of peasants who got together to engage in illegal activities and...