The saying that China is a sleeping dragon is commonly reported to have come from Napoleon. Here is an interesting account that investigates the origin of the quote, one that considers the historical and intellectual context of the times.
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Napoleon’s saying about China
Source – China History Forum, published June 1, 2007
General_Zhaoyun, on June 1 2007, 07:15 PM, said:
I wonder the origin of this phrase. What is his original french saying? In what circumstances did Napoleon say this phrase? Did Napoleon know quite abit about China to say this?
Forum Response by fcharton, on June 01, 2007
Actually, there seem to have been two quotes. The first one is attributed to Napoleon in 1803 (ie before he became emperor), he is said to have pointed to a map, on china and said (more or less, there are many versions of the quote)
“Ici repose un géant endormi, laissez le dormir, car quand il s’éveillera, il étonnera le monde” – “here lies a sleeping giant (lion in other versions), let him sleep, for when he wakes up, he will shock the world” Read the rest of this entry »