Book Launch | China Through European Eyes by Kerry Brown

April 13 , 2022






How the “Orient” was imagined by Europeans is an interesting and import story. How should we evaluate the difference between the West and the East? The answer to this question and many more can be found in Kerry Brown’s book China Through European Eyes: 800 Years of Cultural and Intellectual Encounter.


On Wednesday April 13th, the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) hosted a launch event featuring the release of China Through European Eyes: 800 Years of Cultural and Intellectual Encounter. The book has been jointly released by CCG and its publisher World Scientific Publishing Singapore. We invited the author of this book, Kerry Brown, Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institution at King’s College, Qiao Weibing, President and Editor-in-Chief of the China Translation & Publishing House, Angela Lixi Dong, Assistant Director of World Scientific Publishing Singapore and Wang Huiyao, CCG President to examine the book and discussed relevant topics both historical and current.

China Through European Eyes: 800 Years of Cultural and Intellectual Encounter
 provides a reader’s perspective on the conceptualization of China by Europeans from the time of Marco Polo in the 13th century through 1970. With annotated excerpts of their key China related writings by sixteen highly influential Europeans in literature, philosophy and politics including Voltaire, Ricci, Leibniz, Montesquieu, Marx, Weber, Hegel, Barthes and Kristeva, this collection brings together the visions and ideas of individuals who had a unique impact upon European culture, which can help us answer the unanswerable question – “What is China?” – not just as a physical place, but as a civilization and culture.

Divided into five parts including “Origins”, “Enlightenment Views”, “Cultural Encounters in the Modern Era”, “The Moderns”, and “Talking about a Revolution: Maoist China”. This important selection allows for comparison of perspectives across different times in Europe, enabling readers to map out continuities and evolutions of attitudes towards China, demonstrating that contemporary European attitudes towards China have deep roots. With an extensive introduction, full bibliography and comprehensive annotations on original texts, this book will be of interest to anyone engaged in exploring the role of China in the world today, particularly those interested in how the crucial relationship between China and Europe has developed over time.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted and changed the way we communicate, but it has also made communication more important than ever. With a comprehensive introduction looking at the context of European engagement with China, this book also provides explanations and notes for each of the selections as well as suggestions for further reading. This book also comes at a very poignant time and is helpful for both China and Europe to understand each other and deepen their bilateral relationship.

About the Author

Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College, London. He is an Associate of the Asia Pacific Programme at Chatham House, London, an adjunct of the Australia New Zealand School of Government in Melbourne, and the co-editor of the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, run from the German Institute for Global Affairs in Hamburg. He is also President-Elect of the Kent Archaeological Society.

His main interests are around the development of politics and society in China from 1949 onwards. As the author of almost 20 books on modern Chinese politics, he has written for every major international news outlet, and been interviewed by every major news channel on issues relating to contemporary China. In his book China, published on 2020, he traces this quest for renewal through the major moments of China’s modern history. His works also include A Tale of Five Chinese CitiesThe Future of UK China Relations: The Search for a New ModelChina’s Dream: The Culture of Chinese Communism and the Secret Sources of Its Power, and China’s World: What Does China Want.

Gemma Chenger Deng is a doctoral candidate at King’s College, London, working on Chinese diplomacy and communication.


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