“The Jesuits and Chinese science”

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By Chicheng Ma 馬馳騁 (https://www.fbe.hku.hk/people/academic/chicheng-ma)

Working paper: Hong Kong, November 2019




From 1580, the Jesuits introduced European sciences to China―an autarkic civilization whose intelligentsia was dominated by Confucianism. Based on prefecture-level data on the distribution of the Jesuits and of Chinese scientific publications, this paper documents that the Jesuits stimulated the interest of Confucian literati toward scientific research. But this effect disappeared after the Jesuits were expelled in 1723. Our findings question the conventional wisdom that China’s Confucian literati disparaged science and Western learning, but demonstrate the importance of the opening to knowledge flow in scientific progress in pre-industrial societies.
Keywords: Jesuit mission; Science; Knowledge diffusion; Confucian literati; Human capital; China
1. Introduction Thanks to the missionary expansion of the Jesuits, European sciences were introduced to imperial China beginning in the early 1580s. At the time, China’s intelligentsia had been dominated by Confucian scholasticism for centuries. The Jesuits thus ushered in the first wave of intellectual contact between the two civilizations (Gernet 1985). This article examines how the Jesuits affected Chinese scientific progress, and through this we demonstrate the importance of the opening to knowledge flow in scientific production. The Jesuits were well known for their scholastic achievements. To win the support of China’s cultural-cum-political elites for their missionary work, the Jesuits used novel European sciences to pursue the Confucian literati (Brockey 2007). To do this, the Jesuits translated about 130 European scientific works into Chinese, introduced many scientific inventions, and collaborated with the literati on scientific projects (Tsien 1954). This knowledge diffusion was sustained until the 1720s, when the emperors began to expel the Jesuits due to the Chinese Rites Controversy with the Pope. In terms of the response of the Chinese literati to the European sciences, the classic view is that Confucian cultural triumphalism and closed-mindedness made the literati lack interest in learning from the West (Cipolla 1967; Landes 2006). Such lack of interest might have been reinforced by their overwhelming commitment to the imperial civil examinations or keju. As the primary means of upward social mobility, the examinations kept Chinese scholars occupied with their study of Confucian classics—mainly moral philosophy and literature—rather than science.1 As a result, Chinese science fell into stagnation (Needham 1969; Baumol 1990; Huff 1993; Lin 1995; Bai 2019). In contrast, this paper provides evidence that Chinese scientific production was stimulated by the Jesuits. To assess the effect of the Jesuits, we constructed a panel data of 252 Chinese prefectures between the years 1500 and 1840. Based on the biographies of all 433 recorded Jesuits who came to China, we identified their distributions at the prefectural level over decades. To identify that the effect of the Jesuits on Chinese science came from their introduction of European sciences, we distinguished the Jesuit scientists from the Jesuit priests. The Jesuit scientists refer to those Jesuits who were involved in scientific activities while they were preaching in China. The Jesuit priests refer to those Jesuits who did only missionary work. The Jesuit scientists and priests were similar in almost all aspects except for this difference in the spreading of science. We used the distribution of Jesuit scientists to measure knowledge diffusion, while the distribution of Jesuit priests was used as a placebo. We find that, during the first period the Jesuits were in China (1581–1720), Chinese scholars in prefectures with Jesuit scientists wrote more works of science than those in prefectures without Jesuit scientists. We find no difference in Chinese scientific production between these two groups of prefectures prior to the arrival of these Jesuits. As a placebo, we look also at Chinese scientific production in prefectures with and without Jesuit priests. We find that the presence of Jesuit priests had no effect on Chinese scientific production, suggesting that the effect of the Jesuits on Chinese science worked through the diffusion of European scientific knowledge. This mechanism is reaffirmed by the falsification finding that Jesuit scientists had no effect on the number of Chinese works on history and literature. To address the endogenous distribution of the Jesuits in China, we control for a gamut of potential determinants of the Jesuits’ distribution. These include economic conditions (population size, agricultural productivity and urbanization rate), the number of literati, and the geographic factors of distance to coast, distance to navigable river, ruggedness of terrain, and land area. In addition, we instrument the distribution of Jesuits using a prefecture’s shortest distance to the early missionary route explored by the Jesuit pioneer Matteo Ricci during the years 1582 to 1601. By virtue of his outstanding communication skills and effort, Ricci successfully opened up a missionary route that connected the Jesuits’ Asian base (Macau) to the imperial capital (Beijing). This route played an important role in directing the entry to and expansion in China of later Jesuits. Meanwhile, the distance to the Ricci route is arguably orthogonal to the correlates of Chinese scientific production after we rule out the effects of transportation, important cities along the Ricci route (Beijing and Nanjing), and other geographic factors. The instrumented estimation indicates a significantly positive effect of Jesuit scientists on Chinese scientific production. While the Jesuits stimulated a ‘revival’ of Chinese science after their arrival in 1580, this effect was not sustained due to the withdrawal of the Jesuits from China after the 1720s. After the Chinese Rites Controversy over whether Chinese Catholics could worship ancestors (a traditional Confucian ritual practice) led several popes to rule against ancestor worship, the Qing emperor Yongzheng began to expel and persecute the Catholic missionaries. The intellectual contact between China and Europe declined and was finally broken off after the Pope dismissed the Society of Jesus in 1773. Consequently, Chinese scholars lost the chance of learning from the European scientific frontier in the Newtonian century. Instead, their scientificresearch became―to borrow a term from Mokyr (2017)―“backward-looking”, with an emphasis on rediscovering the glory of ancient classic antiquity by means of “textual studies” or kaoju, rather than applying science in experiment and industrial production, as their European counterparts did in the Enlightenment era (Elman 2005). The findings of this paper indicate the importance of the opening to (Western) knowledge flow in the history of China’s scientific progress. In this sense, the reason behind the Needham Puzzle (Needham 1969)—the mystery of China’s failure to develop modern science after the 14th century—may not have been the Confucian literati’s closed-mindedness or lack of interest in science, but more the lack of communication under an autarkic regime.2 This conclusion is echoed by the modern transition after China was opened up by the Western powers in the 1840s (Jia 2014; Bai and Kung 2015; Yuchtman 2017). Beyond its implications for Chinese economic history, this study provides new historical evidence relevant to the scholarly literature that stresses the importance of knowledge diffusion (or idea flow) in knowledge production (Romer 1986; Mokyr 1990, 2005; Borjas and Doran 2012; F. Waldinger 2010, 2016; Moser et al. 2014;Chaney 2016; Iaria et al.2018), and more broadly in human capital formation and development (Becker and Woessmann 2009; Dittmar 2011, 2019; Cantoni and Yuchtman 2014; Hornung 2014; Squicciarini and Voigtländer 2015; Dittmar and Seabold 2017; Becker et al. 2018). This study also speaks to the literature on the positive role of historical missionaries in human capital formation and development in South America (M. Waldinger 2017; Valencia Caicedo 2018), in Africa (Nunn 2014; Wantchekon et al. 2015), and in India (Castelló‐Climent et al. 2017; Calvi and Mantovanelli 2018), among other places. This study should be the first to empirically examine the human capital consequence of the Catholic mission in the historical context of the Sino-West cultural clash. 2. Historical Background A European Catholic order, the Society of Jesus began its global mission in the mid-16th century. That Macau was occupied by Portugal in 1557 facilitated the Jesuits’ expansion into East Asia. The Jesuits first arrived at Macau in 1562. Later, they were allowed by the local officials of Guangdong Province to enter mainland China in 1582. With the help of some Chinese officials, they managed to expand their missionnorthward. After they were allowed by the Ming emperor to reside in the imperial capital Beijing in 1601, the Jesuit mission in China stabilized and flourished (Brockey 2007). By 1700, their number had reached 128 (Figure 1). In terms of regional distribution, the Jesuits missionized a total of 90 out of the 254 prefectures (35%) of China Proper (Figure 2).3[Figures 1 and 2 about here] 2.1. Jesuit Knowledge Diffusion in China To facilitate their missions in China, the Jesuits sought the support of the literati. In communicating with the literati, Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) found that he was welcomed not because of his Catholicism, but because of his scientific knowledge and instruments. Ricci began to use the European sciences to cultivate the literati. Such novel, superior knowledge could attract the interest of these learned elites and help establish the prestige of the Catholic Church. From then on, science became the principal instrument of the Jesuits’ missionary expansion in China (Gernet 1985). A unique feature of the Jesuits was their distinct academic qualifications. Most Jesuits were well-educated in science and philosophy. Prior to being sent to mainland China, the Jesuits learnt the Chinese language and culture in academies in Rome, Portugal, or Macau (Xiong 1994). Translations. Between 1580 and 1800, the Jesuits translated over 130 European scientific titles into Chinese. The majority pertained to astronomy (67%), followed by mathematics (15%). The other titles were in physics, chemistry, biology, geography, medicine, and engineering, among other fields. Most translations introduced the scientific achievements that had had arisen since the Renaissance.The new knowledge substantially broadened the intellectual horizons of the Chinese literati (Tsien 1954). In astronomy, for instance, after the Chinese astronomer Guo Shoujing (1231–1316) published Shoushi Li (Seasons-Granting Astronomical System) in 1281, no new astronomical work was produced in China until the coming of the Jesuits three centuries later. By compiling Tian Wen Lüe (Summary of Astronomy) in 1615, Manuel Dias introduced Galileo’s astronomy and his design for the telescope to China. Chinese scholars also found the European celestial system to be more accurate than that used in China. Similarly, in mathematics, Matteo Ricci translated Christopher Clavius’ Commentary on Euclid’s Elements into Chinese (Jihe Yuanben) in 1607 (Figure A1, Appendix 1). The Clavius’ Commentary was regarded by Chinese scholars as ‘the crown of Western studies’ (Tsien 1954, p. 308). As for geographical studies, by translating Abraham Ortelius’ Theatre of the World in 1584 under the title Huanyu Gaiguan, Ricci acquainted the Chinese literati with the first modern world map and cartography.4Instruments. The Jesuits also introduced many European inventions and scientific instruments to China. For example, Ferdinand Verbiest (1623–1688) re-equipped the ancient observatory in Beijing with new celestial instruments from Europe (Figure A2, Appendix 1). Another well-known example is the mechanical clock. Matteo Ricci was credited with being the first person to introduce the Chinese to mechanical clocks. The workings and mechanism of these clocks were not only well-received, but impressed the Chinese so much so that many literati wrote poems to express their love for and admiration of the clocks. The Jesuits also brought with them many other novel things; these included the triple prism, microscope, thermometer, cannon, music box, globe, glasses, and other manufactured goods (Tan 2011). King’s Mathematicians. From the early 1680s, the diffusion of European sciences to China reached new heights. This was largely due to the arrival of French Jesuit scientists from the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris. Upon the request of the Society of Jesus, King Louis XIV sent a total of 15 scientists, known as the King’s Mathematicians, to aid the Jesuits’ scientific activities in China (Jami 2012).5These academicians were much more accomplished in mathematics and astronomy than their Jesuit predecessors. Moreover, during their period of work in China, they kept in close contact with the scientific communities in Europe through continual correspondence. For instance, the Royal Society of London regularly delivered the periodical Philosophical Transactions to the French mathematicians in China. Joachim Bouvet (1656–1730), an eminent scientist who worked in China between 1687 and 1730, had 14 recorded instances of correspondence with Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716) as part of their mathematical research exchange (Landry-Deron 2001). The King’s Mathematicians brought more than 30 new scientific instruments with them to China; these included quadrants, micrometers, telescopes, equatorial scale plates, and barometers, among others. Using these instruments, they conducted large-scale celestial observations and ground mapping across China (Landry-Deron 2001). They also taught Chinese scholars mathematics and astronomy at the imperial palace, and assisted with the compilation of encyclopedias on these two subjects. A good example of their influence can be seen in the compilation of Yuzhi Shuli Jingyun (The Essence of Numbers and Their Principles) in 1722, which introduced the logarithmic table, the iterative method for higher-order equations, and the calculation of infinite series. This book influenced a number of Chinese mathematicians in the late 18th century (Du and Han 1992; Elman 2005). Relative to their success in knowledge diffusion, the Jesuits’ missionary achievements are considered trivial. In the heyday of their China mission (around 1700), the total number of Chinese Catholic converts was alleged to be approximately 200,000 (Standaert 1991),6 which accounted for merely 0.1 percent of the Chinese population. 2.2. Chinese Response to European Sciences Despite its early success, Chinese science gradually fell behind that of Europe after the 14th century (Needham 1969). Instead, Confucian moral philosophy dominated the Chinese intellectual realm (Bol 2008). Meanwhile, China had become autarkic upon the establishment of the Ming dynasty in 1368. The Ming authorities imposed a strict ‘sea ban’ policy to crack down on foreign trade and communications,7 and hence China maintained little intellectual contact with the West before the arrival of the Jesuits. The Jesuits’ introduction of European sciences gave the Chinese Confucian scholars a new impetus to learning and knowledge acquisition (Gernet 1985). Conventional View. Given that they were in an environment entrenched in conservative, Confucian traditions, Chinese scholars have often been perceived to have had no interest in scientific research. This is best summarized by David Landes (2006, pp. 11, 12, and 15): [C]ultural triumphalism combined with petty downward tyranny made China a singularly bad learner... The response, then, had to be a repudiation or depreciation of Western science and technology... One consequence was a prudent, almost instinctive, resistance to change. The lack of interest may have been compounded by the incentive scheme under the imperial exams. As a meritocratic institution, the examination system was designed to recruit qualified officials. The keju examination offered commoners a ‘ladder of success’ into the gentry class and officialdom. The scholar-officials were held in the highest regard in imperial China. They enjoyed a high income, and a set of political, social and cultural privileges ranging from the exemption from corporal punishment to ritualistic forms of recognition (Chang 1955).As a result, the imperial exams absorbed talent into the study of Confucian philosophy for exam success rather than into scientific research. Such ‘misallocation of talents’ is deemed as one of the reasons behind the Needham Puzzle (Huff 1993; Lin 1995; Bai 2019). Historical Facts. But many historical narratives suggest an opposite possibility. The introduction of the novel European sciences shocked China’s Confucian intelligentsia. As recorded in Ricci’s diary, when he introduced the principle of European geography and astronomy to China, Chinese scholars found it astounding and beyond their imagination (Ricci and Trigault 1615). This stimulated the literati’s curiosity for new knowledge. After having recognized the backwardness of Chinese science, the literati learnt European science from the Jesuits, and attempted to revisit Chinese classical sciences using the European methods. A representative case is the relationship between Matteo Ricci and the Ming literatus Xu Guangqi (1562–1633) (Figure A3, Appendix 1). The chronological account of Xu Guangqi clearly demonstrates the change in his academic pursuit after coming into contact with Ricci. Through Ricci, Xu was able to appreciate the rationale and methodology behind European science. In the KeTongwen Suanzhi Xu (A Preface for Publishing Tongwen Suanzhi),8 Xu said:In addition to the discoursing on Catholicism, Father Ricci often taught me the principle of mathematics. His religiosity and reasoning are truthful and stripped of rhetoric. Just as leaves adhere to branches, his scholarship in astronomy and mathematics are solidly rooted in sound theoretical foundations. The real renaissance scholars like them are those who have been studying Western subjects for many years. Father Ricci and his colleagues’ mathematical talents are many times those of their peers in the Han and Tang dynasties. We should all learn and benefit from their teaching (Xu 1963 [1619], p. 80). Having recognized the lack of logical reasoning and the mathematical backwardness of Chinese science, Xu applied European sciences to the Chinese studies of mathematics, astronomy, agriculture, and military sciences. Between 1605 and 1633, he finished about 27 works on various sciences.9Xu Guangqi was by no means an exception among the Chinese literati. In fact, many other Ming and Qing scholars who were students of the Confucian classics, such as Li Zhizao (1565–1630), Wang Zheng (1571–1644), and Dai Zhen (1727–1777), all embraced European science after coming into contact with the Jesuits. They attempted to absorb European mathematical methods in re-constructing Chinese classical astronomy and mathematics and to apply scientific methods to study natural phenomena (Tsien 1954; Black 1989; Schafer 2011; Hsiao 2014).10 For example, in the monumental work on Chinese astronomy, Lixiang Kaocheng Houbian (Continuation to An Investigation on the Calendar and Astronomy), Giovanni Cassini’s calendar calculation methods were emphasized (Gernet 1985). Overall, the Jesuits stimulated a wave of intellectual movement that emphasized science and ‘concrete learning’ (shixue) in China from the late 16th century, though this movement was less revolutionary than that of contemporaneous Europe (Gernet 1985; Rowe 2001; Elman 1984, 2005). Henderson (1984) vividly describes this movement as that of cosmology being replaced by astronomy. Or, stated differently, the moral philosophy of Confucianism was replaced by an erudite and critical academic discourse (Yu 1975). Throughout this process, personal communication with the Jesuits was crucial to the scientific achievements of Chinese scholars, who received systematic, nuanced instruction in the novel European sciences from their Jesuit friends. This was especially true of the collaboration between Chinese scholars and the Jesuits that occurred as part of translation. To ensure their Chinese writings were acceptable, the Jesuits needed the aid of Chinese scholars. “It was the usual practice for the text to be orally translated by the foreigners, and for a Chinese then to dictate a correct version” (Tsien 1954, p. 307). This provided the Chinese literati with a good opportunity to systematically study the European sciences. For example, the Ming literatus Wang Zheng (1571–1644) became a renowned physicist because he could “learn from the three Jesuit teachers [Nicholas Longobardi, Johann Schreck, and Johann von Bell] day and night” (Zou 2011, p. 290). He even painstakingly learnt Latin from Nicolas Trigault in his fifties, when he already held a jinshi degree (Terentius and Wang 1985 [1627]).112.3. The Demand for Science Why did the Confucian literati not disparage science? There is no doubt that a scholar’s scientific pursuit could be driven by his inherent hunger for new knowledge. In any case, the degree holders selected through the highly competitive kejuexaminations were an elite among the scholars in Ming-Qing China. They would have been qualified for scientific research by their intelligence, literacy, and years of profound philosophical training. Beyond their curiosity and qualifications, the Chinese literati had also an inclination to study science. The Jesuits’ knowledge supply (partially) met the demand of the literati and provided them with a new way of pursuing success and fame via Western learning. In this subsection, we discuss the demand factors behind the literati’s scientific pursuits. Statecraft. Historically, many administrative affairs in China required knowledge of science. The emperors, for instance, needed astronomers and mathematicians to develop an accurate calendar (otherwise known as nongli or ‘agricultural calendar’); the latter was crucial for agricultural production, as well as to establish the emperor’s legitimacy as the ‘Son of Heaven’. The emperors also needed experts in topography to map territories, and engineers for the production of clocks, glasses and other luxury goods in the royal factories. Likewise, local officials needed to master a variety of practical knowledge for administrative purposes; these included bridge building, water control, famine relief, taxation, and military defenses, among others (Reynolds 1991; Schafer 2011). Officials who were capable in statecraft would undoubtedly have been valued by the emperor. Chen Hongmou (1696–1771), for example, became an eminent official of the Qing dynasty for his remarkable achievement in managing agricultural technology, irrigation works, public finance and military logistics. He was appointed by the Qianlong emperor as the governor of more than nine provinces before being promoted to be the Minister of Personnel (Rowe 2001). Accordingly, unlike the conventional wisdom that China’s civil examinations only tested the candidates’ mastery of Confucian classics, the keju exam never excluded science (though Confucian classics were still the mainstream). In the provincial jurenand national jinshi exams in the Ming-Qing period, the questions consisted of three sections. While the first two tested knowledge of Confucian classics, discourse and judicial terms, the third tested candidates on policy questions or cewen, which required the candidates to write essays on a variety of statecraft issues. Many policy questions pertained to science.12 To answer these questions, candidates had to master a broader and profound concrete knowledge beyond the scope of Confucian classics (Elman 2000; Jiang and Kung 2018).13The Market for Professional Scholars. Another possible motivation behind the Chinese literati’s interest in science may stem from the slim chance of upward social mobility through the imperial examinations. During much of the Ming-Qing period, the likelihood that a shengyuan candidate could become a juren—the passport to entering government service—was merely 6 percent, and that a shengyuan could eventually become a jinshi was only 1 percent (Chen et al. 2017).14A student could not achieve the highest jinshi degree until the age of 34 on average, after painstaking study and repeatedly sitting for the exams for more than 20 years (Wakeman 1975). To make matters worse, candidates found it difficult to obtain a government appointment even after attaining the degree simply because the number of degree holders far exceeded bureaucratic demand. In the 18th and 19th centuries, only about 5 percent of qualified degree holders (juren and jinshi) could obtain government appointments. Even jinshi holders had to wait for years before receiving a government appointment (Wakeman 1975). As a result, the imperial examinations in fact created a large literate group outside the bureaucracy. The educated elites had to pursue alternative outlets for fame and fortune (Elman 2000). Many scholars chose to continue their research careers. They competed for teaching and research positions in the academies, for places on private advisory bodies for officials, for appointment to book compilation projects sponsored by the government, and for academic sponsorship from the government and merchants.15 Others chose to be lawyers, merchants, doctors, and publishers, and experts in other professions (Nivison 1966; Peterson 1979; Chang 1962). Only outstanding scholars, in particular those with new and concrete knowledge, could succeed in this market of scholars. Mei Wending (1633–1721), for example, had no official position, but was highly praised by the Kangxi emperor for his renowned accomplishments in mathematics and astronomy and granted imperial sponsorship (Elman 2005).162.4. The Chinese Rites Controversy and the Retreat of the Jesuit Mission After 1700, however, the Jesuits began to decline in China. The main reason was the Chinese Rites controversy, which lasted roughly from 1700 to 1775. The Popes Clement XI, Benedict XIV, and Clement XIV successively decreed that Chinese Catholics had to abandon the Confucian rites of ancestor worship since the latter constituted a religious rite that contradicted the Catholic faith. The Qing emperor Kangxi could not tolerate this stance and, after this diplomatic failure, he began in 1704 to restrict the Catholic missionary activities in China. The adverse effect of the Controversy became substantial from 1723. In that year, the Yongzheng emperor (r. 1723–1735) ordered the Decree of Suppression, which forbade Chinese from accepting Christianity and began to expel missionaries.Consequently, the number of Jesuits in China plummeted (Figure 1). The prohibition of Christianity was sustained during the reign of the succeeding Qianlong emperor (1735–1795). Meanwhile, the Jesuits had also gradually lost their position in Europe. Portugal and France, for example, banned Jesuit activities in 1759 and 1764, respectively. The Jesuits finally ended their China missions after the dissolution of the order by the Pope in 1773 (Brockey 2007). The last Jesuit in China, L. de Poirot, died in Beijing in 1813 (Standaert 1991). The expulsion of the Jesuits undoubtedly interrupted the knowledge exchange between China and Europe. For instance, no further European mathematics was introduced into China after the mid-18th century. China missed the European discovery of dynamic calculus and engineering. Likewise, China’s astronomical books in the 18th century were out of date by European standards (Elman 2005). 3. Data 3.1. The Jesuits In his Répertoire des Jésuites de Chine de 1552 à 1800, the Jesuit Joseph Dehergne (1973) collected the biographies of all the 433 Jesuits sent from Europe to China. This is the most systematic record on Jesuits and their activities in China for that period (Standaert 1991). Based on the time and place of every Jesuit’s activities in China, we enumerated the total number of Jesuits in each prefecture over the decades. To identify the knowledge diffusion effect, we distinguish the Jesuits who were involved in scientific activities in China and those who did not. According to Li and Zha’s (2002) collection of information on the Jesuits who made scientific contributions in Ming-Qing China, a total of 56 Jesuits participated in scientific activities; these included translating or compiling books about European sciences, introducing European inventions, and conducting scientific surveys, among others.17We define these 56 Jesuits as Jesuit scientists (see the list in Table A1 of Appendix 2). The other 377 Jesuits only did missionary work. We define them as Jesuit priests. The temporal change in the numbers of the Jesuit scientists and priests is consistent with historians’ descriptions (Figure 3). As for the scientists, their first climax in China appeared in the early 17th century, the same period when most of the translations of works of European sciences were undertaken (Tsien 1954). The second was during the late 17th century, when the King’s Mathematicians were sent to China. As for the priests, the temporal change in their numbers was consistent with that of the scientists, suggesting that their expansion and decline were subject to the same reasons (Figure 3). The regional distributions of the two Jesuit groups are shown in Figure 4. The Jesuit priests resided in 84 (33%) Chinese prefectures, which represents a broader distribution than does the 34 (13%) prefectures in which the scientists resided. The striking regional variations allow us to compare the effect between Jesuit scientists and Jesuit priests on Chinese science. In the following empirical analysis, we will use Jesuit scientists to capture the knowledge diffusion effect, whereas we use Jesuit priests as a placebo test. [Figures 3 and 4 about here] 3.2. Chinese Scientific Production To measure Chinese scientific production, we referenced the number of scientific works (book titles) written by Chinese scholars at the prefecture level in each decade. The Chinese literati had a culture of writing books and used this platform to publish their academic achievements. These works were recorded by a variety of historical compilations, for instance, the local gazetteers and the official chronicles compiled by the imperial authorities. We obtained the list of Chinese scientific works from Zhongguo Kexue Jishu Dianji Tonghui (Collection of Classics in Science and Technology from China). Compiled by the Institute for the History of Natural Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1994, the Collection includes a comprehensive record of all the important scientific works in Chinese history. A total of 482 book titles were recorded between 1500 and 1840. The topics included mathematics, astronomy, geography, agriculture, medicine, physics, chemistry, engineering (e.g. irrigation and military sciences) and general sciences. All the books included in the analysis are original works written by Chinese scholars. The Chinese translations of foreign works were excluded. We manually checked each author’s biography and identified the author’s place(s) of residence and the approximate period of publication. For books that have an indeterminate publication period, we imputed it according to the year of the author’s age at midlife. On average, the age at midlife of all the authors in our sample was about 35. This was equivalent to the average age of obtaining the provincial-level (juren) or national-level (jinshi) degree in the imperial examinations (Elman 2000), which tended to be the highpoint of scholarly activity for literati. Alternatively, we also used the author’s year of death to impute the time of publication and found the results to be consistent (not reported). Based on the authors’ places of residence and period of publication, we counted the number of book titles by prefecture and decade. Certainly, the list in the Collection may not cover all the scientific works in Chinese history. For instance, it is possible that books may have been lost or not been recorded. There was also the challenge that the list did not provide systematic information on the quality of the works. Details such as content-sharing on the new or modern sciences in each book, and the influence of the work, were not observed. In other words, we can only measure the quantity of Chinese scientific production. The number of Chinese scientific works increased significantly after the Jesuits entered mainland China and began to diffuse European science in the 1580s (Figure 5). Before then (1501–1580), there were on average 4.4 titles of scientific works produced per decade. After the Jesuits’ arrival (1581–1840), the average number of scientific works per decade increased substantially to 17. [Figure 5 about here] The increase in Chinese scientific works also varied by discipline (Figure A4, Appendix 1). The most remarkable increase was in astronomy and mathematics. This corresponds to the fact that astronomy and mathematics were the primary type of knowledge that the Jesuits introduced to China. Between 1580 and 1840, Chinese scholars wrote 31 books on astronomy, while before 1580, China had not produced new astronomical works for centuries. In mathematics, a total of 296 new books were written between 1580 and 1840. Measured on the decadal average, the number of mathematical works increased by 307 percent as compared to that of the years from 1501 to 1580. In addition, Chinese scientific production also achieved progress in most of the other scientific fields.18The positive relationship between European knowledge diffusion and Chinese scientific production can also be gleaned from their geographical distribution. Figure 2 shows the distribution of the total number of Chinese scientific works produced between 1581 and 1840. A majority were produced in eastern China, in particular the Lower Yangtze Delta region and the greater Beijing area. These two areas were also important bases of the Jesuits’ scientific activities (Elman 2005). 3.3. Control Variables We control for the following observables that may simultaneously affect both the distributions of Jesuits and Chinese scientific production. Population. The number of Chinese scientific works may be correlated with local population size. Meanwhile, the Jesuits may have tended to choose the populous regions to missionize. To control for the possible effect of population, we constructed prefectural-level population data based on Cao (2000). Based on the population records in local gazetteers, Cao estimated the population size of all Chinese prefectures for the time points of 1393, 1580, 1680, 1776, 1820, and 1851. In the following panel data regressions, we estimated the decadal population (in units of 10,000) between these time points using linear interpolation. Literati. Given that the Jesuits sought the help of the literati, they may have tended to preach in areas with more literati. On the other hand, as educated elites the literati also shaped China’s scientific production. We measured the strength of literati presence using a prefecture’s number of candidates who obtained the highest qualification of jinshi in the imperial examinations for each decade, and normalized it by prefectural population. As the cream of the crop among the learned scholars, jinshi holders’ cultural influence was the most far-reaching (Chang 1955; Ho 1962). They were also an intellectual group that the Jesuits tried to cultivate.19The data of jinshi was obtained from Zhu and Xie’s (1980) Ming-Qing Jinshi Timing Beilu Suoyin (Official Directory of Ming-Qing Imperial Examination Graduates). We enumerated the number of jinshi based on their birthplaces (or the places of examination in the event it differed from the birthplace) and the decade of passing the jinshi exam. Certainly, the number of jinshi may not fully capture the real number of literati in a prefecture, because some jinshi would not stay in their home prefectures after getting an official appointment. Having said that, the number of jinshi is arguably a valid proxy for the number of literati, in the sense that it reflects a prefecture’s educational strength and examination success. Economic Prosperity. The distributions of both the Jesuits and Chinese scientific production might be correlated with economic prosperity. Given that Ming-Qing China was an agriculture-dominant society, economic prosperity was largely determined by agricultural productivity. Given the lack of data on actual agricultural output, we used a prefecture’s suitability for planting the prevailing major staple crops (wheat, rice, potatoes, and maize), to measure its potential agricultural productivity. The suitability of each crop is indexed according to a combination of climate, soil, and slope characteristics. The data was obtained from the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (2002) Global Agro-Ecological Zones (GAEZ) database. We also controlled for the urbanization rate around 1580 as an additional measure of economic prosperity. Historically, the urbanization rate was closely related with the level of commercialization in China (Skinner 1977). Moreover, most Jesuits and Chinese literati tended to live in big cities, simply because the cities were political and cultural centers in imperial China. The urbanization rate was measured by the share of urban population in the local prefectural population. This data was obtained from Cao (2017). Geographic Factors. The Jesuits’ locational choices in China might have been shaped by certain geographic factors. The first is the distance to the coast, because coastal areas were economically prosperous in Ming-Qing China. To measure the distance to the coast, we calculated the shortest great circle distance from a prefecture’s centroid to the nearest point on the coastline. As a major form of inland transportation conduit in Ming-Qing China, rivers may have facilitated the Jesuits’ missionary activities and knowledge diffusion. To measure access to rivers, we calculated the shortest great circle distance from a prefecture’s centroid to the nearest point on a major navigable river. The map of navigable rivers of Ming-Qing China was obtained from Harvard China Historical Geographic Information System (CHGIS 2016). In view of how it affected transportation and economic activities, terrain ruggedness may have shaped the regional distribution of the Jesuits and the Chinese educated elites. We controlled for the index of terrain ruggedness by calculating the difference in elevation between adjacent cell grids. The data was obtained from the U.S. Geographical Survey (1996). Last but not the least, to control for the possible effect of prefecture size, we used the prefectural land area as a proxy. The descriptive statistics of all the variables are reported in Table A2 of Appendix 1. 4. The Effect of the Jesuits on Chinese Science 4.1. Cross-Prefectural Evidence The sample regions are the 252 prefectures in the 19 provinces of China Proper in
the Ming and Qing dynasties. The period of analysis is 1501 to 1840.20 To identify the effect of the Jesuits, we divide period of analysis into three subperiods. The first is the pre-Jesuit period of 1501 to 1580, which is used to examine whether prefectures with Jesuits had already produced more scientific works before the Jesuits came to China relative to the prefectures without Jesuits. The second is 1581 to 1720, when the Jesuits entered mainland China and expanded their presence. The third is the post-Jesuit period of 1721 to 1840 when the Jesuits were gradually expelled from China following the Chinese Rites Controversy. For each subperiod, we regress the total number of Chinese scientific works on the distribution of the Jesuits in the years between 1580 and 1720 at the prefectural level. To identify the knowledge diffusion effect of the Jesuits, we use the distribution of Jesuit scientists to measure the knowledge diffusion, whereas we use the distribution of Jesuit priests as the placebo. The specification is: Sciencei = α + JesuitScientisti + JesuitPriesti + Xi + εi (1) where JesuitScientisti measures the cross-prefectural distribution of the Jesuit scientists. The primary measure is a dummy variable that indicates whether a prefecture had Jesuit scientists between 1580 and 1720 (hereafter, Jesuit scientist presence). In addition, to gauge the effect of the Jesuit scientists’ number and duration of presence, we use the aggregation of the decades of presence of all the Jesuit scientists in each prefecture between 1580 and 1720 as an alternative measure (hereafter, Jesuit scientist number). JesuitPriesti denotes the distribution of Jesuit priests, which is measured by the dummy of presence or the aggregation of their number (and duration) at the prefectural level between 1580 and 1720. Xi is a vector of controls on prefectural characteristics; these include population size, number of Chinese literati (jinshi), urbanization rate at 1580, agricultural suitability, distance to coast, distance to navigable river, terrain ruggedness, and prefectural land size.21Validity of the Placebo. The validity of using Jesuit priests as a placebo is based on the reasoning that they were similar to Jesuits scientists in all respects of their China mission, except for the latter’s introduction of European sciences. Specifically, both of them were European missionaries under the authority of the same Catholic order—the Society of Jesus. Both entered mainland China in the early 1580s, and were subject to the same temporal trend (and shocks) in the missionary expansion and decline in China (Figure 3). Meanwhile, there are still sufficient variations in terms of their regional distributions for effective comparison (Figure 4). A remaining concern is whether the regional distributions of the Jesuit scientists and priests were subject to different prefectural factors in China. To examine this, we compared Jesuit scientists and Jesuit priests in terms of their prefectural correlates in Table A3 (columns 1 and 2) of Appendix 2. We regressed the numbers of Jesuit scientists and Jesuit priests on each of the prefectural observables in the period from 1581 to 1720. In addition, to test whether the Jesuits tended to enter areas where there was a respect or demand for science, we employ the number of Chinese scientific works before the Jesuit scientists came to China (1501–1580) as the proxy. The results show that the regional distributions of both Jesuit scientists and Jesuit priests were positively correlated with population size and the number of literati. This is consistent with the Jesuits’ missionary strategy in China: pursuing Chinese elites for help and protection. Their distributions were not correlated with most of the other prefectural observables. The only exception is distance to coast, which was negatively correlated with the presence of Jesuit scientists and priests. This is consistent with the fact that the economically prosperous areas of Ming-Qing China were mostly located along the coasts. Moreover, their distributions were not affected by a prefecture’s scientific production before 1580. Overall, there was no striking difference between Jesuit scientists and Jesuit priests in terms of the determinants of their regional distributions. Baseline Results. To provide a benchmark, we first examine the effect of Jesuit scientist presence on Chinese scientific production (Table 1). We begin with controlling only for the (exogenous) geographic factors before including the (endogenous) population size, number of literati, and urbanization rate. Before the Jesuit scientists came to China (1501–1580), there was no significant difference between the prefectures with Jesuit scientists and those without them in terms of the number of Chinese scientific works (columns 1 and 2). After the arrival of the Jesuits (1581–1720), prefectures with Jesuit scientists produced significantly more Chinese scientific works than the prefectures without Jesuit scientists (columns 3 and 4). On average, the difference in the number of Chinese scientific works is 1.705, which is substantial given that the mean of the number of Chinese scientific works in this period is only 0.73. After 1720, when the Jesuits were gradually expelled from China, prefectures where there had ever been Jesuit scientists still produced 1.248 more Chinese scientific works than the prefectures without Jesuit scientists, but this difference is not statistically significant, suggesting an adverse effect of the Jesuit retreat on Chinese scientific production (columns 5 and 6).22[Table 1 about here] The presence of Jesuit priests had no impact on the composition of Chinese scientific works (columns 1–3, Table 2). Furthermore, we ran a ‘horse race’ between the scientists and the priests, to examine their differential effects on Chinese scientific works in the same specification (columns 4–6). The presence of Jesuit priests still had no effect on Chinese scientific works. The effect of the presence of Jesuit scientists on Chinese science remains consistent with that of Table 1: insignificant before the Jesuits came to China, significantly positive after their arrival, and becoming insignificant after the Jesuits were expelled. Moreover, the coefficient of Jesuit scientist presence in each period remains almost identical with that of Table 1. These results indicate that the effect of the Jesuits on Chinese scientific production came from their introduction of European sciences in China. [Table 2 about here] Results within the Jesuit Prefectures. To further rule out the possible violation of the results by unobserved prefectural factors, we restricted the sample to the 81 prefectures where there were Jesuits between 1581 and 1720 (henceforth, Jesuit prefectures). We compared the 34 prefectures where there were Jesuit scientists withthe other 47 prefectures where there were Jesuit priests but no Jesuit scientists in terms of Chinese scientific production. The reasoning for using this restricted sample is that, if the likelihood that the Jesuits could enter a prefecture was determined by certain prefectural factors, the effect of these factors would be largely ruled out after the non-Jesuit prefectures were removed from the sample. Indeed, within the Jesuit prefectures, the distribution of Jesuit scientists had little correlation with the prefectural observables (columns 3, Table A3 of Appendix 2). Table 3 reports the results. Consistent with the full sample, prefectures with Jesuit scientists produced more Chinese scientific works than the non-Jesuit scientist prefectures did between 1581 and 1720, but not in the pre-Jesuit and post-Jesuit periods. [Table 3 about here] Alternative Measure and Estimation Method. To capture the possible effect of the Jesuits’ number and duration of presence in a prefecture, we use the aggregation of the decades of presence of all the Jesuit scientists in each prefecture between 1581 and 1720 as an alternative measure (Jesuit scientist number). The results are consistent with the dummy measure of Jesuit presence (Table A4, Appendix A2). Now an additional Jesuit scientist would increase the number of Chinese scientific works by 0.347 between 1581 and 1720 (column 2). This is translated to a 47.5 percent increase when evaluated by the mean (0.73) of Chinese scientific works. The results are similar when we restrict the analysis to the Jesuit prefectures only. The large marginal effect of Jesuit scientists is reasonable, in the sense that a single Jesuit scientist could introduce much scientific knowledge and influence many Chinese scholars. If we take Matteo Ricci as an example, he translated as many as 20 European scientific books and introduced many European inventions to China, all while maintaining close relationships with a number of Chinese scholars in various key cities. Given the large share of zero values in the dependent variable (92%, 85%, and 82% in the three periods, respectively), we use the negative binominal regressions to check the robustness of the OLS results (Table A5, Appendix A2). Panel A examines the effect of Jesuit scientist presence only; Panel B runs the ‘horse race’ between Jesuit scientists and Jesuit priests; Panel C restricts the analysis to the Jesuit prefectures only. The negative binominal estimates are consistent with those of OLS. 4.2. Instrumented Results The foregoing analyses may still be confronted with the omitted variable bias. Some unobserved prefectural factors, such as a culture of openness or local gentry’s attitudes towards missionaries, may simultaneously shape the distribution of Jesuits and the scientific production of Chinese literati. To address this concern, we use a prefecture’s shortest (great circle) distance to the early missionary route explored by Matteo Ricci between 1582 and 1601 to instrument the prefectural distribution of the Jesuits. Matteo Ricci. Matteo Ricci was the pioneer and early leader of the Jesuit China mission. The early missionary route taken by him played an important role in directing the entry and expansion of the later Jesuits. Despite their religious enthusiasm, the Jesuits found it difficult and hazardous to preach in China. At the time when the Jesuits arrived in China, China had imposed a strict ‘sea ban’ policy that prohibited contact between Chinese and foreigners.23Foreigners were not allowed to live in China. By virtue of his outstanding communication skills and efforts, Matteo Ricci successfully entered China and established five missionary residences. He first arrived in Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province in 1582.24 With the help of friends who were officials, Ricci successfully expanded the mission northward, and established new residences in Shaozhou in northern Guangdong (1589), Nanchang in Jiangxi Province (1595) and Nanjing in Nanzhili Province (1598), before he finally entered the imperial capital of Beijing in 1601. We connect these five residences using straight lines and refer to it as the Ricci route (Figure 6, a).25After Ricci, the Jesuits entered China along the ‘Ricci route’. This is because the Jesuits now had more information and knowledge about the places along the Ricci route. Moreover, thanks to the political connections that Ricci had cultivated, local officials and elites along the Ricci route were more likely to be hospitable to the missionaries who came after him. In particular, after Ricci was called by the emperor and was allowed to live in the imperial capital, Ricci won greater prestige among these local elites, and thus further facilitated the Jesuit mission in China (Ricci and Trigault 1985 [1615]; Brockey 2007).26Along the Ricci route, the Jesuits managed to expand their mission to nearby regions (Figure 6, b-d). For example, around Nanjing, Lazzaro Cattaneo (1560–1640) established a new missionary station in nearby Songjiang (Shanghai) in 1608 with the help of Xu Guangqi, and then in Hangzhou three years later with the help of Li Zhizao and Yang Tingyun (1557–1627). Moreover, throughout the Jesuit era in China, the Ricci route performed the courier function of delivering information and logistical supplies from the Jesuits’ Macau base to the inland missionary stations. For example, Nanchang in Jiangxi Province was a major transfer station for this purpose. Jesuit correspondence between Macau and the mainland missions was mainly delivered through Nanchang (Tang 2002). We thus expect a positive relationship between proximity to the Ricci route, on the one hand, and the presence of Jesuits, on the other. [Figure 6 about here] We formally test the correlation between the distance to the Ricci route and the distribution of Jesuit scientists in the period from 1581 to 1720 in Table 4. One concern is that the Ricci route was located in eastern China. The distance to the Ricci route may just reflect China’s striking east-west difference in scientific production (compare Figure 2 and Figure 6) rather than a real Ricci effect. To address this concern, we exclude the five provinces in western China: Gansu, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Yunnan. By doing so, we examine the effect of the distance to the Ricci route in a relatively homogenous sample region (Figure A5, Appendix 1). The distance is measured in kilometers (in logarithm). Consistent with historical anecdotes, distance to the Ricci route had a significantly negative effect on the presence of Jesuit scientists, whether or not we controlled for the other prefectural correlates (Table 4, columns 1 and 2). The Ricci route passed through two important political-cum-academic centers in China―Nanjing and Beijing. To disentangle the effect of the Ricci route from the two cities’ spillover effect on Chinese scientific production, we control for a prefecture’s shortest distance to Nanjing and that to Beijing (Table 4, column 3). The effect of the distance to the Ricci route remained significantly negative. This result remains robust when we use the Jesuit scientist number as the dependent variable (column 4). [Table 4 about here] Exclusion Restriction. The distance to the Ricci route is arguably orthogonal to Chinese scientific production. The Ricci route did not pass through China’s economic and cultural centers (besides Nanjing and Beijing). After we control for the distances to Nanjing and Beijing, the distance to the Ricci route has no correlation with a prefecture’s initial economic condition as measured by population size in 1580 (column 1 of Table 5), nor with its cultural or academic strength as measured by the number of jinshi per 10,000 people in the period from 1501 to 1580 (column 2). The validity of the instrument is substantiated by the reduced-form regressions of Chinese scientific works on the distance to the Ricci route (columns 3–5, Table 5). The distance to the Ricci route had no effect on Chinese scientific works before the arrival of the Jesuits (column 3), suggesting that the Ricci route did not play a role in knowledge diffusion. The distance to the Ricci route came to have a significantly negative effect on Chinese scientific works between 1581 and 1770, suggesting that the Ricci route promoted Chinese sciences through facilitating the Jesuits’ expansion (column 4). After the Jesuits were expelled from China, the effect of the Ricci route on Chinese science disappeared (column 5). Last but not least, a potential violation is that the Ricci route may capture the transportation effect. Indeed, the Ricci route was close to the major courier routes in Ming-Qing China (Figure A6, Appendix 1). To rule out the possible effect from the transportation infrastructure, we run a ‘horse race’ between the distance to the Ricci route and a prefecture’s shortest distance to the nearest courier route (Table 5, column 6). The distance to the courier route had no effect on the distribution of Jesuit scientists, whereas the effect of the distance to the Ricci route remains robust. [Table 5 about here] Instrumented Results. The two-stage least squares (2SLS) regression results are reported in Table 6. As with the OLS estimations, we first exclude the endogenous controls variables (population size, number of literati and urbanization rate) before fully including them into regressions. Jesuit scientist presence, which is predicted by the distance to Ricci route, had a significantly positive effect on Chinese scientific works during the Jesuit period (1581–1720) (columns 3 and 4). It had no effect on Chinese scientific works before the Jesuits came to China (1501–1580) (columns 1 and 2) or after the Jesuits were expelled (1721–1840) (columns 5 and 6). The instrumented effect of Jesuit scientist presence in the period from 1581 to 1720 became greater than that of the OLS estimate (1.705); prefectures with Jesuit scientists would produce 4.648 more books than prefectures without Jesuit scientists (column 4). The results remain robust when we use the IV-Poisson estimation to address the zero inflation concern in the number of Chinese scientific works (columns 1–3 of Table A6, Appendix 2), or when we use Jesuit scientist number as an alternative measure of knowledge diffusion (columns 4–6 of Table A6, Appendix 2). [Table 6 about here] 4.3. Panel Data Evidence The Entry Effect. The timing of Jesuits’ first entry varied across prefectures. In a difference-in-differences setting, this sub-section exploits the prefectural variation in the time of entry, and examines whether Chinese scientific works increased after the ‘entry shock’ of the Jesuit scientists. The specification is: Scienceit = α + JesuitScientistENTRYit + JesuitPriestENTRYit + Xit + prefecturei + decadet + εi (2) The unit of observation is prefecture-decade. The period of analysis is 1501 to 1720. We exclude the post-1720 period in order to focus on the entry effect. Scienceitdenotes the number of Chinese scientific works produced in each prefecture in each decade. JesuitScientistENTRYit denotes the Jesuit scientist entry, which is a dummy variable that equals 1 for decades after the Jesuit scientists first entered a prefecture. JesuitPriestENTRYit denotes the Jesuit priest entry, which is a dummy variable that equals 1 for decades after the Jesuit priests first entered a prefecture. To avoid collinearity with the Jesuit scientist entry, we only count the Jesuit priest entry in prefectures without Jesuit scientists. Xit refers to the time-varying controls. One is the decadal population at the prefectural level; the other the number of jinshi per 10,000 people produced in each prefecture in the past 30 years. Given that the average age of obtaining the jinshidegree was approximately 34, and the average life span of the literati was about 60 to 70 in the Ming-Qing period (Chang 1955; Elman 2000), the cumulative number of jinshi over the past 30 years could approximately capture the number literati in a prefecture. The logarithm is taken for both controls. After controlling for the prefectural fixed-effects (prefecturei), the time-invariant prefectural determinants of the Jesuit distribution are ruled out. The effect of common shocks faced by all prefectures are absorbed by the decade fixed-effects (decadet). Historical narratives suggest that the time of Jesuit entry into a prefecture was random. Although the Jesuits may have tended to preach in prefectures with favorable economic conditions and a greater presence of elites, they could not decide the time of entry. Instead, when the Jesuits could enter a prefecture largely depended on coincidence. For example, Matteo Ricci had been planning to establish a missionary station in Beijing. But he did not have an opportunity to do so until he met a prestigious eunuch in Nanjing who appreciated Ricci’s talent. When he returned to Beijing, he took Ricci and recommended Ricci to the emperor in 1601. Likewise, Lazzaro Cattaneo could open the new mission in Songjiang only when his friend Xu Guangqi had to return to his hometown of Songjiang in 1608 to mourn his deceased father for three years according to Chinese custom (Ricci and Trigualt 1985 [1615]). To further confirm the ‘haphazard’ pattern of the time of entry, we checked the records from the Jesuits’ diaries (Ricci and Trigault 1985 [1615]) and studies by historians (Brockey 2007) for the specific means of entry. There were 20 prefectures for which pertinent records were available. This is a representative sample in the sense that these prefectures were the sites of the major Jesuit residences, accounting for 68 percent of the total number-decade of the Jesuit presence in China between 1580 and 1820. The records show that the Jesuits entered all of these 20 prefectures by chance (Appendix 3).27[Table 7 about here] The regression results on the entry effect are reported in Table 7. We first examine the Jesuit scientist entry without controlling for the Jesuit priest entry (column 1). After the Jesuit scientist entered into a prefecture, the number of scientific works produced in a prefecture per decade increased by 0.137. Column 2 runs the ‘horse race’ between Jesuit scientist entry and Jesuit priest entry. The positive effect of Jesuit scientist entry remains robust, whereas Jesuit priest entry has no effect on Chinese scientific works. We further restrict the regressions to the prefectures where there were Jesuits by 1720 (columns 3 and 4). The effect of Jesuit scientist entry remains significantly positive with little change in the magnitude of coefficient. Jesuit priest entry still has no effect on Chinese scientific works. The Expulsion Effect. Likewise, the time of the Jesuits’ retreat also varied across prefectures. After the Yongzheng emperor ordered the expulsion of Catholic missions from China, the retreat of the Jesuits followed a gradual process that was sustained until the late 18th century. Following the same strategy in examining the entry effect, we test whether Chinese scientific works decreased after all the Jesuit scientists retreated from a prefecture. Jesuits’ retreat can be treated as an exogenous shock, simply because it was caused by the Chinese emperor’s prohibition of Catholicism due to the Chinese Rites Controversy with the Pope (see sub-section 2.4). It was not initiated by the Jesuits or Chinese literati in each prefecture. Certainly, in a prefecture, when and to what extent the government implemented the emperor’s decree of expulsion may have been shaped by some time-varying local factors. The most plausible one is the strength of the local literati, reasoning that they were the main protective force of the Jesuits in China.28 This effect can be largely ruled out by controlling for the number of jinshi. On the other hand, the time and extent of expulsion in a prefecture may also have been subject to the turnover of local governors who had different attitudes towards the missionaries. Given this unobservable confounding factor, the coefficient of the expulsion may be biased and hence should be interpreted with caution. [Table 8 about here] We restrict the analysis to between 1700 and 1840, i.e., from a year when the Jesuit China mission was in its heyday to a year after all the Jesuits had retreated from China. We construct a dummy variable of Jesuit scientist expulsion, which equals 1 for the period after all the Jesuit scientists had left at the prefectural level. In the same way, we construct a dummy variable of Jesuit priest expulsion as the placebo. The results are reported in Table 8. After the Jesuit scientists were expelled, the average number of Chinese scientific works per prefecture per decade decreased by 0.354 (column 1). Jesuit priest retreat had no effect on Chinese scientific works (column 2). These results remain similar when we restrict the sample to the Jesuit prefectures only (columns 3 and 4).294.4. Chinese Liberal Arts WorksIf the effect of Jesuit scientists on Chinese scientific production was driven by unobserved local cultural or human capital factors, these factors should also be brought to bear in the book production of other fields. We conducted a falsification test using the number of book titles on two major fields of liberal arts in Ming-Qing academia, history and literature, as the dependent variable. Relative to the works on sciences, these liberal arts works should be less likely affected by European sciences. Of course, the Jesuits also introduced European liberal arts, but most of which was religious works (Tsien 1954). The data on works of history and literature is obtained from the Siku Quanshu(Complete Library of the Four Treasuries) and its continuation, the Xuxiu Siku Quanshu.30Siku Quanshu and its continuation consolidates 808 titles of books pertaining to history and 1,978 titles on literature between 1500 and 1840. Based on biographies of the authors, we enumerated the number of titles by prefecture and decade. Following the same strategy as used in analyzing the books on science, we regressed the number of works of Chinese history and literature on the Jesuit scientist presence at the prefectural level between 1581 and 1720. As reported in columns 1 to 4 of Table 9, Jesuit scientist presence had a negative effect on these historical or literacy works, though statistically insignificant.31 The result is robust if controlling for the other prefectural factors, restricting the sample to only the Jesuit prefectures, and using the distance to Ricci route to instrument Jesuit scientist presence. In a panel data setting, we examine the effects of Jesuit scientist entry and expulsion (columns 5–8). Again, both have no significant impacts on production on works of history and literature by Chinese literati. This suggests that the increasing number of Chinese scientific publications after 1580 was triggered by the introduction of European sciences rather than by any unobserved correlates with book production. [Table 9 about here] 4.5. Regional Spillover Over time, European scientific knowledge might have diffused to areas beyond those where Jesuit scientists resided, allowing the Chinese literati who did not have the opportunity to meet the Jesuit scientists to also have access to the European sciences. Such diffusion was most likely through the translations of European scientific works, correspondence, and word of mouth in literati circles (Xiong 1994), although there are no systematic records on it. As a second-best alternative, we use a prefecture’s shortest (great circle) distance to the nearest prefecture where there were Jesuit scientists between 1581 and 1720 as the proxy for the regional spillover of European science knowledge (hereafter, distance to Jesuit scientists). The distance is measured in kilometers, and its logarithm is taken to capture its nonlinear effect on the number of Chinese scientific works.32The results are reported in Table 10. We report both OLS and 2SLS results. The latter uses the distance to Ricci route as the instrumental variable of the distance to Jesuit scientists. We control for all the prefectural observables as we did in Table 1. The results show that the distance to Jesuit scientists had no effect on Chinese scientific production before the Jesuits came to China in 1580. After then, the distance to Jesuit scientists turns to be significantly negative in predicting the number of Chinese scientific works, suggesting a regional spillover effect of the Jesuits’ scientific activities. In terms of magnitude, the instrumented result shows that a 100 percent increase in the distance from Jesuit scientists’ residence, which is 188 kilometers and roughly spans two prefectures, would decrease the number of Chinese scientific works by 0.784 (column 4). After the Jesuit scientists were expelled from China, the effect of the distance to Jesuit scientists turned to be insignificant; this suggests that the previous spillover of the Jesuits’ knowledge did not persist after the Sino-Europe contact was broken.33[Table 10 about here] 5. Discussion: Science without Development The remaining puzzle is the impact of the Jesuits’ knowledge diffusion on China’s economic development. According to studies by historians (Henderson 1984; Elman 2005), despite the fact that the Jesuits stayed in China for nearly two centuries and stimulated a revival of Chinese science, they had little impact on China’s technological advancement and thereafter, on its industrialization or modern economic growth. This could be partially due to the limitations of the Jesuits’ knowledge diffusion in China; these limitations were manifested in the following aspects.34The first pertains to the scope of knowledge diffusion. The Jesuits aimed to cultivate the small circle of Chinese elites, with the primary purpose of converting them to Catholicism. They did not develop schools and presses to disseminate science and technology to the masses as their Protestants successors did during the late 19thand early 20th centuries. As a result, the sciences introduced by the Jesuits failed to challenge the orthodoxy of Confucian classics among the Chinese intelligentsia, and science never became a standard part of literati education. The already institutionalized and standardized Confucian classics still dominated education and the examinations (Rozman 1981).35Instead, the Chinese literati of the 18th century gradually absorbed the Jesuits’ sciences, especially mathematics, into the Confucian scholastic system (Bai 1995). Their purpose was to recover the glory of Chinese mathematics through the textual or kaoju study of the works by the ancient sages of classical antiquity, rather than to apply mathematics in manufacturing, seafaring, and experiments as did their European counterparts in the Age of Enlightenment (Mokyr 2017). Second, the sciences introduced by the Jesuits were largely those of classical natural philosophy rather than modern science. The Jesuits’ astronomy was basically the Tychonic system.37 Likewise, the Jesuits’ mathematics was essentially the static geometric mathematics based on Euclid and Aristotle. They did not introduce China to the revolutionary analytical geometry, dynamic calculus and mechanics which are the instruments of engineers (Elman 2005). The dissolution of the Jesuit order in 1773 finally ended this wave of Sino-West knowledge contact. China missed out on the advances on the European mathematical frontier in the Newtonian century.38The result was that the Jesuits’ introduction of European sciences mainly inspired the curiosity of a small group of learned elites but failed to ‘enlighten’ the broader population of artisans and craftsmen and, ultimately, did not influence industrial development. This contrasts with the situation in contemporaneous Europe, where the Enlightenment movement had sparked industrialization. China’s industrial enlightenment had to wait until the society was forced to open up after the first Opium War in the 1840s (Spence 1990). This time, the Protestants played a dominant role in knowledge diffusion (Bai and Kung 2015). 6. Conclusion The Jesuits introduced China to the European sciences from 1580. Both historical anecdotes and statistical evidence indicate that many Chinese literati, stimulated by the novel European sciences, deliberately learnt more about them from the Jesuits. They then devoted themselves to scientific research using these new methods to further scientific knowledge in China. Correspondingly, Chinese scientific production increased significantly in the 17th and 18th centuries. Although the Chinese scientific movement was small in scale and less revolutionary compared to that of contemporaneous Europe, it indicates that the Chinese knowledge elites in the Ming-Qing period did not lack an interest in science nor were they opposed to learning from the West. Instead, the imperial examination system cultivated a learned group who contributed to China’s scientific progress upon comprehension of frontier knowledge from Europe. It is beyond the scope of this paper to examine the reasons why China does not appear to have succeeded in developing modern science and industrialization after the 14th century. However, its findings suggest that the reasons behind the Needham Puzzle may not lie in the Chinese scholars’ lack of interest in science, but rather the lack of knowledge exchange with the West, among other factors. 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