Yang Guangxian Analysis

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Portuguese traders began arriving in China around 1515. They were interested in trading new goods but also intended to spread Christianity, so they brought Jesuits along with them. Matteo Ricci, the leader of the Jesuits, aimed to convert members of the elite, who he hoped would then assist in spreading his religion among the Chinese people. The Jesuits were highly educated and served the Ming and Qing emperors as advisers, astronomers, cartographers, and painters, but they were generally unsuccessful in converting. They attempted to explain how the people can believe in both Confucian and Christian teachings.
Yang Guangxian (1597-1669) wrote “I Cannot Do Otherwise” in response to the Jesuit teachings between 1659 and 1665. He, along with the majority of Chinese officials, was in opposition to the Jesuits and denounced Christianity. In the first paragraph, Guangxian restates that the Jesuits claimed that “the Qing dynasty is nothing but an offshoot of Judea.” He does not like how the Jesuits were trying to persuade “the people of Qing into rebelling against the Qing” dynasty and following Christianity. Confucian teaching emphasizes relationship hierarchy and being respectful to elders. In the second paragraph, Yang criticizes Jesus for not recognizing these relationships between ruler and subject because he was crucified for plotting against his country. Guangxian did not understand how Christians could
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He says, “those who argue like this [Christians] are no more than beasts able to speak a human language.” Even though Ricci and other Jesuits attempted to convert the Chinese people by emphasizing the similarities between the two religions, there were too many differences between the two teachings to create a significant impact. Yang Guangxian demonstrated that asking someone to abandon so much of their beliefs is quite
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