This chapter provides a theoretical framework for understanding the process in which the flow of Western knowledge into China was negotiated and managed by modernizing Chinese elite. It examines a summary of the historical background to China's subordination to the West in the nineteenth century. The chapter details that the historical context, issues and actors responsible for the Chinese apprehension and assimilation of Western ideas in the nineteenth and early twentieth century's and the processes of knowledge flows through which this history was enacted. In continuing the discussion of knowledge flows between different societies, the chapter examines the ways in which members of the Chinese political elite and urban intellectuals appropriated and assimilated Western ideas at a time when China experienced historical subordination to Western political, economic and military dominance from the middle of the nineteenth century. Intellectual entrepreneurs do not simply translate or transfer externally sourced ideas into an established context.