ACIAC Seminar "China Redefined - G. E. Morrison's China Reports and His Connection with the Reform Party in the Qing Government"


Date: Thursday, 5 July 2018

Time: 1.00 - 2.00pm

Venue: EA.G.03, Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, Parramatta Campus (South), Western Sydney University

Limited seats. RSVP Essential. Please RSVP HERE (opens in a new window) before 4 July, 2018.


G. E. Morrison’s career in China can be divided into two stages, one being the resident China Correspondent from 1897 to 1912 for the London-based newspaper The Times, and the other being the chief political advisor from 1912 to 1920 to Yuan Shikai, the first President of the Republic of China.

Morrison’s focus in his China reports displayed a clear thematic shift, before and after the Westernized reform implemented by the Qing government in the early 20th century, from the struggle for influence and interest between international powers in China to the political and social reforms being considered by the Chinese government. This shift of focus conveyed Morrison’s confidence and optimism towards China’s reform at that time and it had a lot to do with his connection with some progressive bureaucrats represented by the then most powerful Yuan Shikai and Yuan’s Cantonese subordinates such as Liang Tunyen, Liang Shiyi and Tang Shaoyi, all of whom were English-speaking, western-educated high-ranking officials in the central government.

Morrison’s reputation as an authority on China affairs was firmly established by his journalistic profession and it led directly to the offer of a job as political advisor by Yuan’s government. It was further augmented by the fact that he later helped to represent China to the Western world in a very different way via his writing and personal influence, not as a hopeless and static country, but as a hopeful and promising land, even though, secretly in his belief, China was never going to be more than an apprentice of the West in its adoption of the Westernized reform.


Dr. Bing Chen is an Assistant Professor at the School of Foreign Languages at Peking University (PKU), Beijing. Her research interest is the Western representation of China since the end of the 19th century with a particular focus on the non-fictional writings by Western sojourners in China. Her book China Redefined—G. E. Morrison’s China Reports of the Late Imperial China (1897—1912) (Fujian Education Press, 2017) presents a thorough analysis of the Australia-born China correspondent G. E. Morrison’s journalistic representation of China on The Times and an in-depth exploration of how Morrison and his writings got involved in the complicated political landscape in late imperial China. She is currently working on the translation of Morrison’s reports into Chinese, which is scheduled to be published upon completion by the Fujian Education Press. This translation work has been supported by a 2016 FASIC grant for Competitive Research Projects.