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Chinese 乾隆帝

The Qianlong emperor (1711 – 1800) was ruler of China from 1735 to 1800. He was the fourth son of Yongzheng emperor, and the sixth emperor of the Qing dynasty. He met with the Macartney Embassy, the first British diplomatic mission to China, in 1793. In response to Macartney's request for a trade treaty, the emperor replied, "Our Celestial Empire possesses all things in prolific abundance and lacks no product within its borders. There is therefore no need to import the manufactures of outside barbarians in exchange for our own produce." By European standards China was in fact a very poor county at this time, according to the economic analysis of Adam Smith.[1]


  1. Smith, Adam, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), "The poverty of the lower ranks of people in China far surpasses that of the most beggarly nations in Europe....[On the river near Canton] they are eager to fish up the nastiest garbage thrown overboard from any European ship."