CASE 4:  China and International Law in the 19th Century

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The English text of Article 51 begins as follows:

It is agreed that henceforward the character “I,” 夷 [barbarian] shall not be applied to the Government or subjects of Her Britannic Majesty in any Chinese official document issued by the Chinese authorities either in the Capital or in the Provinces.

Notice that both the English and Chinese texts of Article 51 contain the Chinese character 夷. In the English text, it occurs in its romanized pronunciation “i,” as well as with a translation as “barbarian.”

To understand how the English translation came to “govern” the meaning of the Chinese character yi, we must consider ARTICLE 50.

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