From a European perspective China is a far away place, not only in the geographical sense, but also culturally. This is one reason why Europe has for centuries been interested in and even fascinated by the Middle Kingdom and its culture. The European perception of China up to contemporary times has often shifted from one extreme to the other. However, more often than not this reveals more about the position of the observers than about the object being observed. With the notable exception of Jesuit writings, the image of China in Europe, particularly during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was that of an inferior country far below European standards. Western arrogance, influenced in part by Anglo-Saxon conservative Protestantism, informed this perception. In 1860, for instance, the British magazine Punch published a cartoon entitled ‘What we ought to do in China’ depicting Saint George killing a huge ugly dragon.1