In 1793 Lord George Macartney finally achieved his trade mission's goal of a personal audience with the 83-year old Emperor Qian Long (approximately pronounced "Chyen Loong") in China.
He went down on one knee, according to his own account, and would have kissed the hand of Emperor Qian Long as he did the hand of his own King, except that the hand of the Emperor was held by Chinese to be sacred and not touchable by a foreigner.
Qian Long waited until after his birthday celebrations were over to have his orders transmitted to Macartney, but in fact he had issued them in advance: the barbarians were to be ejected from China.
Borders were expanded but not opened, as Qian Long's grandfather and Qian Long himself sought to keep out potentially destructive forces and to keep in the potentially restive Chinese.
The letter Macartney brought from King George III, which addressed the Emperor Qian Long as a "brother" monarch, generated outrage within the Emperor's court for the British king's appalling presumption of near-equality with the Son of Heaven (Peyrefitte, 1992/1989, p.
Qian Long understood Macartney's petition was for permission to establish a permanent legation in Beijing, and for increased trading privileges for the British traders who had been kept virtually outside the country, on China's south coast, along with other foreigners.
Interaction between Macartney and Qian Long, and Their Schemata
He learned the Emperor's first minister, Heshen, who was also his lover and his son-in-law, was the only person Qian Long trusted, and Heshen acted as gatekeeper to the Emperor (Peyrefitte, 1992/1989, p.163).
According to Peyrefitte, Qian Long felt that it was preposterous for Macartney to suggest:
In 1816 Qian Long's son, Emperor Jiaqing, confirmed he had seen Macartney perform the koutou with his own eyes - although it would have been difficult to watch the British legate while he was prostrate himself.