In 1886, the explorer H. Evan James claimed to discover pristine nature in Manchuria; the only order in Manchuria, he enthused, was Nature itself. Strikingly, a century and half earlier, China’s Qianlong emperor (r. 1735-1795) celebrated the region in similar language. Still further, his court went to extraordinary lengths to defend both the Manchu homeland and its unspoiled nature. What, then, constituted pristine nature in the Qing?
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