- 東洋学報 = The Toyo Gakuho (ISSN:03869067)
- vol.100, no.3, pp.59-93, 2018-12
The Qing’s fledgling diplomatic system in the late 19th century was supported both domestically and abroad by Westerners employed as diplomatic staff in its legations and consulates; as auxiliary advisors primarily outsourced from the Imperial Maritime Customs Service on an ad-hoc basis by provincial governors; and by Robert Hart, Inspector General of the Imperial Maritime Customs Service. However, scholars have yet to provide an in-depth analysis of the role and significance of the Western staff in the Qing’s legations and consulates. In order to begin to clarify the role of such individuals, this paper analyses the function of Halliday Macartney, a Scotsman who served as Counsellor to the Qing Legation in London, in informal negotiations during the Sino-French War which were overseen by his direct superior Zeng Jize, the then incumbent Qing Minister to Britain and Russia. Past studies have typically portrayed Zeng’s diplomacy as a singlehanded effort, and have failed to recognise the contributions of Macartney. This author demonstrates how, in the case of Zeng’s diplomacy during the Sino-French War, while ultimate accountability lay with Zeng, Macartney was responsible for: (1) overseeing informal negotiations with agents of the French government; (2) acting as go-between for the Qing Legation with the British Foreign Office when attempting to elicit both formal and informal British assistance; and (3) drawing up all treaty drafts produced by the Qing London Legation in this period. Moreover, this paper demonstrates how Macartney’s bicultural identity and bicultural understanding benefited the Qing side in these negotiations. It argues that Macartney’s social standing within European society, and the concomitant personal networks it enabled, helped to initiate the informal negotiations referred to above. It further demonstrates how Macartney’s multilingual talents and familiarity with both traditional Chinese and Westphalian systems of interstate relations enabled him, in a last-ditch attempt at achieving rapprochement between the two parties, to clarify for the French side the enigmatic demands of the Qing relating to a purely nominal acceptance of the continuation of the ‘suzerain-vassal’ relationship between China and Vietnam, after accepting French sovereignty over Vietnam. The author concludes that Zeng’s diplomacy ought to be interpreted in light of these contributions by Macartney.