The history of the transmission of Western knowledge to China—Western Learning or Xixue—usually revolves around travelers. What is unmentioned, however, is that the identity of the two types of Chinese travelers of economic knowledge evolved throughout the Western Learning Movement. One-way travelers introduced political economy as a means to improve institutions and statecraft. First-generation Chinese students overseas continued to promote economics as a science capable of enriching a nation's wealth but focused on the theoretical aspect. The second-generation students became economics professionals, who were primarily concerned with practical economic problems and created a scene of practical pluralism of economics during the interwar period. Not all travelers were of the same quality. To judge between the good and bad traveler, further criteria are required. It can be said that good travelers may have a correct understanding of Western theory, and that their translations are faithful, yielding the knowledge they transmitted with integrity. But travelers confronted the problems of trading off faithful and significant knowledge transmissions. Such conundrums can be explained by distinguishing between their distinct conceptions of economics—economics as statecraft, as science, and as a discipline characterized by its practical pluralism—concerning travelers' ideas of solving China's practical economic problems in different periods.

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