Born 1794; died 1857. Chinese thinker, historian, geographer, and poet.
Wei Yüan was the author of Maps and Descriptions of Overseas Countries (1844), one of the first Chinese books about European countries, as well as several works on Chinese history and philosophy. He called for the encouragement of private initiative. He advocated strengthening the defensive capacity of the country through the adoption of European military technology. He propagandized chauvinistic views on the superiority of China over other countries of the world. Wei Yuüan’s ideas greatly influenced the development of social thought in China and Japan.