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Between Misunderstanding and Distortion: The European View on the First Ban on Christianity in Qing China

Wonmook Kang

Pages 263 - 289

This article deals with European missionaries’ misunderstanding (or distortion) of the 1669 ban on Christianity, the first government-level measure of the Qing dynasty to address the European clergy. This misunderstanding is particularly evident in the missionaries’ contrasting interpretations of the 1669 ban and the conclusion reached by the Council of Deliberative Princes and Officials in the same year, the initial form of the ban before it was modifed by the Kangxi emperor. Whereas the latter was perceived as “hopeful, advantageous, just, and fair”, the former was criticized as “unjust and unfair”. However, the council’s conclusion was not as favorable to Christianity as the missionaries thought. Most importantly, it reflected the Qing government’s longtime religious policy which held that the collective practice of religion, or religious gatherings (simiao juhui 寺廟聚會), were undesirable. Under this policy, such gatherings were likely to be prohibited. The Christians’ collective practice of their religion, including the celebration of Mass, was not treated as an exception.

Keywords: 1669 ban; Qing Empire; European; Christianity; religious gatherings; simiao juhui; misunderstanding.


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