Xue Fucheng (1838–1894) was a Chinese diplomat of the Qing Dynasty in the late 19th century. He served as the Qing government's ambassador to Great Britain, France, Belgium and Italy. He wrote a diary during his last four years in the civil service, describing his diplomatic activities and his impressions of European countries. Apart from documenting records of historical events such as the Taiping Rebellion, he also wrote essays on local legends, the macabre and the supernatural. Xue was a proponent of introducing Western technology into China, and wrote about witnessing new technology such as the telephone while he was abroad.
Xue was born in Wuxi, Jiangsu. A family mansion built in the late 19th century is now a national historical site open to the public. The mansion has a traditional Chinese courtyard and garden, a library building, an open-air opera stage and a billiards room. The mansion was called "half Wuxi city" because of its size reaches 21,000 square metres. It was constructed between 1890 and 1894. As of today, the remains of the mansion cover 6,000 square metres and has 160 rooms. This mansion was designed by Xue himself before he was sent to Europe, and was built by his eldest son Xue Nanming. The Qing government sent him a plaque with the words "Residence of the Imperial Envoy" (钦使第) to recognise him for his diplomatic achievements. The plaque was hung at the entrance of his mansion.
When Xue built this mansion, his official rank was Positive Third Grade (正三品). According to Qing government rules, a Third Grade official's residence cannot exceed five room doors in width, but Xue's mansion was too wide and violated the rules. Xue then thought of separating the nine rooms wide house by three columns of walls so the building looked like nine houses placed together. This design is very unique in China. The Xue mansion also incorporates a lot of western-style features such as western-style sliding doors, coloured glass, and a snooker house imported from Europe. There is a turntable floor building inside which is as wide as 11 rooms in width. The building is called "1st turntable floor in China" for its size.
Xue was the second Qing envoy to Europe. His predecessor also served a few years overseas.
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