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A Bridge between China and the Rest of the World


Imperial Splendor and a life in ruins: Yuanming Yuan as a site of Chinese-European encounters

RASBJ –YuanmingYuan-Saturday October 18th 2014

WHAT   Imperial splendor and a life in ruins: a guided tour of Yuanming Yuan (the Old Summer Palace) 

WHEN  Saturday, October 18, 2014, 2.00 PM - 6.30 PM (details below)

WHERE YuanmingYuan (the Old Summer Palace), starting at the East Gate

COST   Members RMB 100, non-Members RMB 150  (prices include entrance tickets but NOT bus transport – see note below)


The Yuanming Yuan, “garden of perfect brightness”, symbolizes the bandwidth of European- Chinese relations, as in its history we see cultural exchange as well as conflict. In its heyday during the reign of Emperor Qianlong, its buildings were designed in Western rococo style by European Jesuits in collaboration with Chinese architects. 100 years later, on October 18, 1860, British troops (who had allied with the French for this expedition) put the Yuanming Yuan to the torch. The ruins of the buildings in Western style became the distinctive landmark of the Yuanming Yuan.


Our guide and cultural interpreter is Dr. Ines Eben v. Racknitz, who will lead a tour of the ruins of the Yuanming Yuan, explaining its role in the Imperial history of China, the tragic events of 1860 that led to its destruction, and contemporary issues of conservation and restoration of this exceptional Chinese garden and monument.


Dr. Ines Eben von Racknitz currently teaches Chinese history at Nanjing University, focusing on late Qing, as well as global, history.  Her PhD thesis (now published as a book) focuses on the China expedition of 1860 and the destruction of the Yuanming Yuan; she is also an expert on European colonialism in China.


IMPORTANT NOTE ON POSSIBLE BUS: If demand is sufficient, RASBJ can arrange a bus departing from the Hilton Hotel on the E. Third Ring Rd., 400 meters north of Lufthansa Center.  Cost depends on numbers, though will likely approximate taxi fare to/from central Beijing. But we need to decide SOON. If you’re willing to pay for bus transport, please email membership@rasbj.org  NO LATER THAN SEPT. 30, specifying how many seats. If bus is viable, RASBJ will e-mail you to confirm, with exact cost and payment method. THOSE WANTING A BUS MUST PAY FOR IT BY OCT. 11; the bus cost will not be refundable.



2.00 PM —depart Hilton Hotel, N. Third Ring Rd.  by bus, with Prof. v. Racknitz 

3.00PM --arrive YuanmingYuan East Gate

3.15-5.15 PM -- starting at the East Gate, tour includes view of model, ruins, new exhibitions and other sites 

5.30 PM --depart East Gate by bus

6.30 PM   arrive Hilton Hotel  by bus


Numbers will be limited; RASBJ Members have priority until September 30th. 

Location and access: see map below for location. There is no direct public transport to the East Gate. From central Beijing, taxi takes approx. 1 hour and costs approx. RMB70 each way. 


REPLY--Please email membership@rasbj.org to RSVP, stating  whether you want to pay for seats on a bus, and if so how many. 


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