The 'Cutting' of Beijing and the International Communication Crisis of 1900: Telegraphy, War, and 'New Imperialism' in East Asia

Roger R. Thompson, Associate Professor,Western Washington University

A Sino-Western communication crisis was central to the events of 1900.  In the first international crisis in the new age of telegraphic diplomacy the deficiencies and vulnerabilities of telegraphy affected decision-making by metropolitan authorities.  By contrast, the Qing government could revert to its traditional courier system.  But the Qing’s hybrid communication network and protocols were also vulnerable.  The use of networked telegraphic communications to influence policy-making established a paradox: the state-making potential of telegraphy was offset by a capacity for oppositional social mobilization.  This study is based in part on the Grand Council register of incoming and outgoing documents (Suishou dengji) and published telegraphic archives.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011 | 4:15 pm — 5:30 pm
Okimoto Conference Room, Encina Hall East, 3rd Floor

Center for East Asian Studies