The Old Summer Palace contain the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, one of a series of lavish imperial gardens destroyed in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Today the shattered pillars, stone foundations, and abandoned archways are a vivid reminder to visitors of the “Century of Humiliation” and the tragedy of imperialism in 19th-century China. The events of that century continue to play a role in shaping how China views the world today.
We will discuss the background to the Opium Wars and how the memories of the imperialist era are kept alive as part of China’s contemporary political culture. Along the way, we will wander the ruins and explore one of Beijing’s most beautiful historic parks. From May to October, we will also get a chance to see parts of the park by boat as well as by foot.