A watercolour painting shows the reception of Lord Macartney by the Qianlong emperor in 1793; the British peer’s interpreters found themselves in danger as a result of the mission and a subsequent one. Photo: The British Museum
A watercolour painting shows the reception of Lord Macartney by the Qianlong emperor in 1793; the British peer’s interpreters found themselves in danger as a result of the mission and a subsequent one. Photo: The British Museum

Review |
When translating Chinese into English could be dangerous – Britain’s failed 1793 embassy to China seen through interpreters’ eyes

  • Britain’s Lord Macartney’s interpreters for his embassy to China’s Qianlong emperor were an exiled Chinese priest and a boy who’d had a crash course in Mandarin
  • The priest stayed on in China but was a wanted man; the boy grew up, went back there, translated for a second embassy but fled after threats from the emperor

Topic |   Chinese history
A watercolour painting shows the reception of Lord Macartney by the Qianlong emperor in 1793; the British peer’s interpreters found themselves in danger as a result of the mission and a subsequent one. Photo: The British Museum
A watercolour painting shows the reception of Lord Macartney by the Qianlong emperor in 1793; the British peer’s interpreters found themselves in danger as a result of the mission and a subsequent one. Photo: The British Museum
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