In modern history, interaction between the East and the West started in late Ming, and it only became frequent in late Ch’ing. At the end of Ch’ing dynasty, the imperialist powers partitioned China, forcing her to cede territories and pay indemnities, through the instruments of war, any vestige of justice was obliterated. In early Republican era, during the Sino-Japanese War, some of the imperialist powers became allies, so the unequal treaties were eventually annulled, and China’s international status turned around. Near to victory, China, United States, Britain, Soviet Union founded the United Nations, the international prestige of China was then at its height. But soon, mainland China fell to the communists. Surveying modern history, foreign aggression has not succeeded in destroying China, those who destroy China, are Chinese. Why is it so? From the beginning of the communist reign to the end of the Cultural Revolution, within a period of thirty years, traditional culture was totally obliterated, by means of heritage eradication campaigns and genocides. Until today, a degraded form of simplified Chinese is enforced, and Confucian morality has long vanished from the land. When culture perishes, what does China mean?
In time of malaise, one particularly reminisced about those men and women of different nationalities from the last three hundred years, who propagated Chinese culture in the west, writing books and postulating new ideas, so those from the fours seas could know of China. Amongst them were philosophers, missionaries, explorers, diplomats, politicians, political commentators, writers, artists, musicians, novelists, playwrights, connoisseurs, scientists, sinologists and translators. Their works were different, but the intention of their learnings was the same. My countrymen surely know of “Learnings from the West to the East” (西學東漸), it is a pity they are unaware of “Learnings from the East to the West” (東學西漸). I regularly remark that it is not only imperative for Confucianism to recover China now, it should also spread afar to the five continents, to salvage the world from decay. I hereby present the visuals of books and letters by these distinguished men and women from different nationalities, for us to be touched by their determination to illuminate the clouded and submerged silhouette of Chinese culture. This room is thus named: Voyage of Sinology from East to West.