This is the first of two volumes in this major history dealing with the decline of the Ch'ing empire. It opens with a survey of the Ch'ing empire in China and Inner Asia at its height, in about 1800. Modern China's history begins with the processes recorded here of economic growth, social change and the deterioration of central government within China. Contributors to this volume study the complex interplay of foreign invasion, domestic rebellion and Ch'ing decline and restoration. Special reference is made to the Peking administration, the Canton trade and the early treaty system, the Taiping, Nien and other rebellions, and the dynasty's survival in uneasy cooperation with the British, Russian, French, American and other invaders. Each chapter is written by a specialist from the international community of sinological scholars. Many of the accounts break new ground; all are based on fresh research. This volume has been designed both to be consulted as a work of reference and to be read continuously. No knowledge of Chinese is necessary; for readers with Chinese, proper names and terms are identified with their characters in the glossary, and full references to Chinese, Japanese and other works are given in the bibliographies. Numerous maps illustrate the text, and there are a bibliographical essays describing the source materials on which each author's account is based.