Author: LI Jierong, Lecturer, Department of Chinese, Guangdong University of Education
Wu Li and Wang Hui were good friends, yet after they died, in Zhang Geng’s Hua zheng lu, he falsely accused Wu Li of not returning Wang Hui’s copy of Huang Gongwang’s painting, causing Wang Hui to sever relations with him. The case was circulated erroneously, and badly tarred Wu Li’s reputation and image. By analyzing the relevant literature and restoring the historical context, we see how the case was closely related to the prohibition of Christianity in the Qing. As a Catholic priest, Wu Li was not accepted by some even before the prohibition against Christianity came into force, and after his death, when the imperial government prohibited Christians from preaching, his descendants concealed his Catholic identity. Wang Tao ascribed the broken-off relations to Wu Li’s religious beliefs; believing the painting was just an excuse. Although the case has been proven false, the defamation spread for two hundred years, and some commentators remain misguided, hence the need to re-analyze the defamation.
Chinese Rites Controversy, Anti-Christian movements, Wu Li, Wang Hui, broken off relations
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