The Scotland/China Collection

While the current connections between Scotland and China are numerous and growing, there have been links between the two countries for at least two centuries. Many Scots have lived and worked in China as government officials, soldiers, business people, missionaries and travellers while in smaller numbers, Chinese people have been coming to Scotland to study and work since the mid 19th century.  

This collection focuses on books that show the links between the two nations. It is held in the Confucius Institute library and will be catalogued in the University of Edinburgh system.

The initial collection of over 40 books covers a variety of topics, including :

  • early diplomatic contacts with China, by George Bogle in Tibet around 1780 and John Napier at Hong Kong in 1834
  • government officials like James Stewart-Lockhart and Reginald Johnston, who served in Hong Kong and Wei-hai-wei in the late 19th and early 20th century – Johnston was also, of course, tutor to Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China
  • merchants and business people, like Jardine Matheson and Co., and the Melrose tea family
  • scientists and travellers such as botanists Robert Fortune and George Forrest, photographer John Thomson, doctor Patrick Manson, and journalist Archibald Colquhoun
  • missionaries such as John Gilmour in Mongolia, Dugald Christie in Manchuria and Eric Liddell in Shandong
  • in the opposite direction, Chiang Yee's classic The Silent Traveller in Edinburgh, recently reprinted by Mercat Press
  • some less well known people like John Bell, who reached Beijing overland from Russia in 1721
  • also a few UK/China connections, too

Many of these old connections still have a resonance today. Jardines are still very much in business. Bogle's writings on Tibet occasionally feature in modern political debate. The Royal Botanic Garden's links with Chinese botanists grew from the early work of George Forrest. Scottish churches still support Dugald Christie's old hospital in Mukden, now Shenyang.   And of course Eric Liddell's name is well-known in Scotland and beyond, and his Shandong connections have brought benefits to several Scottish businesses in recent years. This is not dead history.

Read on and discover more !

For details of how to visit the collection, contact the Confucius Institute.  We will be developing the collection with new books and other materials in the coming months.

Additional donations to this collection are very welcome.

List of the collection

Diplomats and Officials


Scientists and travelers



Chinese in Scotland