China’s Debut at the Universal Exhibition in Vienna in 1873 and the Forgotten Port Catalogues

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In 1870, China was invited to attend the Universal Exhibition in Vienna, to be held 1873. The responsibility for organising China’s participation fell, eventually, into the hands of Robert Hart, Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs Service. Although this was China’s first official participation in this type of international exhibitions, its history has received little attention. An
important outcome from this experience was the production of Port Catalogues of the Chinese
Maritime Customs’ Collection at the Austro-Hungarian Universal Exhibition, Vienna, 1873. This volume, a collection of reports from fourteen treaty ports, has important scholarly value, and yet it has been generally ignored. In examining its creation in the context of broader colonial information networks, this article seeks to outline the significance of this publication, and the ways in which it illustrates the development and propagation of a knowledge base across a wide array of areas, from natural resource-driven manufacturing to economic botany.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-39
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of National Taiwan Normal University
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2022


  • Chinese Maritime Customs Service
  • economic botany
  • Robert Hart
  • universal exhibition
  • Edward C. M. Bowra

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