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In the light of 19th-century attempts to universalize history and international law, the purpose of this article is to show how the theory of an Ancient Chinese international law matured and disseminated within one politics of history and helped generate another at the end of the Qing Dynasty. On the one hand, the middleman William Alexander Parsons Martin, who as part of his Christian mission and in order to make international law more acceptable to the Chinese, translated systematically international law into Chinese and attempted to universalize it by finding a proto-international law in Ancient China. On the other hand, Chinese scholars and officials sought to use Martin’s theory to universalize Confucianism and rectify international law according to what they believed to be their own superior morality and history.

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In: Journal of the History of International Law / Revue d'histoire du droit international