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Dynasty warriors: Ming vs. Qing smackdown

Sinica brings you a little levity for this Thanksgiving weekend: In one of the last live events taped at the storied Bookworm in Beijing, which shut its doors this month, the Royal Asiatic Society of Beijing sponsored a debate over a simple proposition: The Ming was better than the Qing. Four seasoned China-watchers battle it out for dynastic supremacy. Who will prevail?

Kaiser Kuo

Kaiser Kuo is co-founder of the Sinica Podcast and editor-at-large of SupChina.

2 Comments

  1. Craig Brisco Reply

    This was a fun show. I was struck by several points:

    1. From what I remember from reading the book ‘Vermeers Hat’, the influx of silver from the New World did not lead to a boom for the Ming economy, but rather grave inflation – “inflation being everywhere and all times a monetary phenomenon”. The Ming went so far as to ban trade along the coast in an effort to stop the flow of silver coming from Manilla, but to no avail. This influx of silver being one of the many factors contributing to the demise of the dynasty. It would seem that Team Ming got this one wrong.

    2. I was struck that Zheng He was only mentioned in passing. His voyages would have been an obvious glory for Team Ming to cite. And a falling of the Ming for Team Qing to cite. (e.g. Look at those useless Ming: on the verge of ‘discovering’ Europe and they gave up on the entire enterprise and turned inwards.”)

    3. I was also struck that queues were only mentioned in passing. This would have been an obvious one for Team Ming to cite as an example of Qing inferiority. (e.g. “Look: they imposed these on the native Chinese. How cruel. How unrespecting of other cultures.”)

    I have never lived in Beijing, nor been to The Bookworm, but it sure sounds as though it was a wonderful place. From some of the comments that were made in passing, I assume that it fell victim to the increasingly repressive environment of contemporary China? I guess The Party did not want a place around where the laobaixing could be exposed to something other than their version of the truth? Sad.

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