Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Great Britain
(2,679 words)

The first British ships to reach Chinese waters arrived off the southeast coast in 1637. The British were latecomers to China, although they had links with Japan from about 1600. The Portuguese had established a position at Macau in the 1550s and other Europeans followed. The Britons reception was unfriendly, but they persevered and trade began. By the end of the 17th century, the East India Company, founded in 1600, had set up a factory, or trading house, in Guangzhou. The Company, in theory, had a monopoly of Britain's China trade.

Attempts to establish diplomatic contacts failed. I…

Cite this page
Hoare, James E., “Great Britain”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 07 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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