This thesis examines the influence of Christian missions on Yung Wing (1828-1912) during the nineteenth century, when China was beginning to encounter the West. Yung was the first Chinese graduate student to enter an American institution of higher education (Yale College, 1854). As a Westernized Christian intellectual, he strove to reshape China by following the American model he learned at Yale. His main project was the Chinese Educational Mission or CEM (1872-81).
The CEM was an early initiative of the self-strengthening movement (1861-1895), an experiment in America supported by the Chinese government. Unfortunately, the CEM was cut short in midstream and recalled in 1881. This mission itself was a cross-cultural phenomenon aimed at connecting two different cultures. To examine the causes for the revocation of the CEM, I focus on the cultural and personal conflicts between the Qing officials and Yung Wing.
Yung Wing's life was a paradox with respect to his knowledge of the West. His identification of Western culture was both his strength and his weakness. On one hand, his Western-oriented view helped him perceive China’s weakness and initiate a reformist project. Yet on the other hand, his pro-Western attitude became an obstacle that prevented his plans from being carried out completely. He experienced deep alienation when he returned to China. Though Yung's educational project of Americanizing China was not completed, Yung's life was fulfilled through his students' continuous contribution to China’s modernization. Yung's protégés made crucial contributions to the Chinese state, as they were very active in the New Navy, the Customs Administration, the mines, the railways, and the consular and diplomatic services. Some of them rose to prominence through the fine products of the Chinese Educational Mission, and through them Yung’s dream lived on.
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