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The years between 1500 and 1800 were very crucial years for the Chinese and the Europeans as this was the period they created a bond or what we may call a 'bitter-sweet" moment. The Chinese mostly called the Europe 'the far West', the Western Land' or the 'Western Sea'. This is the period the Chinese accepted the ways and culture of the Europeans then later rejected them. On the other hand, it is the same period the Europeans accepted the Chinese ways and culture then later rejected them. In simple terms, it was a period of trial and error for the two.
The Europeans started by sending missionaries to China which was also referred to as the 'Eastern Sea'. Although they were reluctant at first, the Jesuits were ready to spread the Gospel to such kind of places. Ricci was one of the founders of making the Jesuit reach to China. The Jesuits found a very rich culture in China until they were torn between what to appreciate and what to discard and still not contradict Christianity. The Jesuits were able to win the hearts of the literati (the high and mighty in the Chinese social structure) thus able to penetrate the other Chinese people.
Reasons why Chinese rejected the Western Culture
As time went by, the literati lost interest in Christianity but it never thoroughly died off. However, conversion was still carried on by the Franciscans and Dominicans. The tension between Christianity and Confucianism made the Chinese to start discarding Christianity. There was something they did not understand about Jesus being born by a virgin, the life after death, the miracles Jesus performed, how Jesus died and resurrected and the way God is said to be three in one i.e. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The literati believed that the Chinese culture was superior to other cultures. They believed in Dao tong (transmission of the way), which meant that truth was passed on from the ancients to Confucius, down to literati and finally to the current people. To tell them that there was another religion that made God to be the superior God above all other gods, was quite a bitter pill to take.
Some Chinese discarded Christianity for they viewed it the way they viewed Buddhism or Daoism. These Chinese literati viewed the teachings taught by these religions false as they did not match the Confucius teachings Christianity greatly condemned some practices and beliefs that the Chinese did, especially those to do with sex and slavery. They did not agree with the way the Chinese practiced homosexuality and especially sodomy. This made the two not be in agreement.
Another reason why the Chinese rejected the western culture is the bad behavior some of the priests were depicting. There is a priest by the name Father Bevilacqua who started seducing young catholic women of whom some were married and others were virgins. At one time, he sexually violated a fourteen year old lady who had come to seek help due to her irregular periods. This had raised concern about her fertility and so the only person she knew could help her best was the Father. The Father took advantage of her and slept with her promising her that her cycle would become regular.
Due to embarrassment, the lady wanted to commit suicide but was stopped by the parent's intervention. Another incident was when another missionary, Allesio Randanini, was accused of enquiring sexual favors from a non-Christian woman. Both of these missionaries were sent outside the region by their superiors. Though the affected families vowed never to disclose what had happened to the outside world and the details kept a secret for almost two hundred and fifty years, they were greatly hurt and this made them loose faith in Christianity.
There was another believe among the Chinese that led to their rejection of Christianity and the European culture. They believed that Christians believed in alchemy. Daoist alchemy was in two. One of the versions was to transform base metals into silver, which was more valued than gold and the other was to make things immortal. The Portuguese bought silver and took it to China, Japan, India and America. This was believed to make bodies immortal and was also associated with mercury. This immortality was confused with the Christian immortality. The physical immortality was meant for bodies not to die quickly while the Christian immortality meant that even though one may die physically, he would still live after death.
Reasons why the Europeans rejected the Chinese culture
The Europeans discarding of the Chinese culture was something that slowly got popular as the years went by. They mostly did not like Confucianism. Thiis belief or religion, practiced female infanticide where they killed female infants hence there were less female than male. Another thing they did not like about this religion is that they also practiced homosexuality, polygamy etc. of which they were all against Christianity.
Father Mateo Rippa developed a lot of hate for the Jesuits when he was still serving the court. This is like a brother turning against a brother. Remember that the Jesuits were also Europeans. This may have made him to plot bad things against the other Europeans so that there was no unity amongst the Europeans themselves.
The Chinese rejected the European ways and culture so it cannot be surprising if the Europeans reject the Chinese ways as well. Chinese had many beliefs and practices that they were not ready to let go. This made it a little bit difficult for the Europeans to understand and adopt. In most cases, the Chinese got the wrong interpretation of things. For the Virgin Mary, they interpreted her as the goddess of water, for immortality, they interpreted it as the physical immortality and so on.
Another reason is that the Europeans were never willing to adopt and accept other people's culture and beliefs to begin with. They only wanted other people to adopt and accept their culture as they believe they are the pace setters even today. Towards the end, Chinese became hostile towards the Europeans which left the Europeans with little or almost no choice but to withdraw and go their way as they did before.
As time went by, other religions like the Muslim were also introduced hence put the Europeans at a competition. The Europeans wanted to dominate China as they did in the African countries later, and so when they were unable to completely do so, they were forced to discard the Chinese culture as well.
The Chinese culture was more detailed i.e. they dealt with hierarchies, monarchies and such kind of culture. They also did not value females and the poor. This was more or less the same with the Europeans for they had hierarchies and also had royal families. The Europeans and the Chinese were from two different continents were not what we exactly call best friends.
The Europeans and the Chinese decided to go their separate ways although Christianity is still practiced in China today and the two also work together in many other things like trade.