Dissenting Views from a Hut near Bin

The result of Feng’s contact with the West was his life’s great work, a small volume “proffering sweeping strategic counsel to the Imperial court on matters ranging from national policy to foreign affairs.”

According to Feng, as quoted in Wealth and Power, the West’s superiority was more than simply advanced weaponry:

The West, he declared, surpassed China in four critical ways: education (“employing people’s talents”), economic development (“profiting from the land”), political legitimacy (“keeping the rulers and people close”), and intellectual inquiry (“calling things by their true names”).

The short book also identified China’s shame as a potential source of motivation for self-strengthening. The volume had some influence on two important Chinese figures at the time, Zeng Guofan and Li Hongzhang, and would also prove an important influence on later reform efforts, as the Qing empire began to crumble at the end of the 19th century.

Read Feng’s Dissenting Views (in Chinese) here: part 1 and part 2.