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The Chinese thought that the Europeans were barbarians who were worst than the Manchurians and the Mongolians who were also barbarians in the eyes of the Chinese. Europeans had to bow down to the Chinese when they wanted to trade with the Chinese. The Chinese however did not abuse their power on the Europeans because the Chinese saw themselves as the "Middle Kingdom" and believed that all other nations and people in the world will eventually adopt the Chinese ways. The Chinese don't shove their culture down other people's throats. I would say that the Chinese thinking was arrogance and vanity at its best.

Source: Prelude to Opium War Qing Dynasty
The Chinese thought that the Europeans were barbarians

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