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How Western Imperialism Affects China And Japan Essay, Research Paper

How Western Imperialism affects China and Japan

China and Japan had very different experiences with Western Imperialism .

Their reactions to western interference would lay a foundation for their destiny

in a world that was rapidly progressing forward , leaving the traditional world

behind .

China viewed themselves as totally self sufficient , superior , and the

only truly civilized land in a barbarous world. They were inward looking and

were encouraged by the conservative Confucianistic beliefs of their emperors to

cling to the ancient and traditional ways of the past . They slid rapidly behind

in industrial development , refusing to acknowledge the need for shipbuilding or

naval development , and saw no importance in European trade .

Then in the 1800’s , Europe thrust its way into the heart of the Middle

Kingdom, shattering and destroying its isolation forever. China would then be

involved in four wars during the nineteenth century ; Britain’s opium war (1839-

1842), a second war (1856-1860) fought by British and French , the Sino-Japanese

war (1894-1895) , and a final western invasion involving British , French ,

German , Japanese and U.S troops (1899-1900). Chinese Emperors were compelled to

sign unequal treaties and were forced to open a number of ports , as well as

agree to other territorial concessions . China was also forced to open its

seacoasts and its rivers to Western intruders . The Europeans also exploited

China’s land by securing rights to build railways and develop its natural

resources .

China had been unwilling to learn the ways of the West and so became the

next victim to fall prey to Western Imperialism , Japan however, was more open

to foreign influences , therefore its outcome to western imperialism was quite

different. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries , Japan also turned

inward seeking its own isolation from the larger world . Then in 1853 ,

Commodore Mathew Perry of the U.S arrived with a naval squadron and Japan

signed its first unequal treaty . Soon other western countries would follow ,

but in 1868 a new ruler was put into power and Japans fate would soon change .

Under the sixteen year old emperor – the Meiji , (”Enlightened Rule “) Japan

began preparing to resist Western penetration and in the process engineered a

remarkable transformation of its country .

The Japanese emperor set out to Westernize Japan and adopt Western

methods of education , transportation , communication , industry , agriculture ,

banking and most of all Japan’s military was updated and modernized .

Politically and economically , Japan was a nation in rapid growth and vigorous

transition . Japan also won two victories over the world’s two largest empires -

China in 1895 and Russia in 1905 , which gave Japan Korea, the Liaotung

peninsula in North China , and a new status as a world power .

Between 1900 and 1940 , Japan’s exports would triple , manufactured

goods multiplied a dozen times , and it’s population would climb to 78 million

by 1940. Japan’s expanding commercial , industrial and financial economy was due

mainly through the small group of wealthy business families known as the

Zaibatsu . These included industrial dynasties such as Mitsubishi , Mitsui ,

Kawasaki , and other major firms .

The Japanese used the most effective way to maintain their national

identity , which was to adopt Western techniques , become “civilized ” in the

Western view , and deal with foreigners on equal economic and diplomatic terms .

Japan succeeded in understanding the basic political and moral ideas of Western

civilization whereas China had not . Both had wanted to rid foreign intervention

, however Japan learned the ways of the West to prevent Western intervention and

control. Japan rose from an isolated nation to a world power able to control its

own destiny and future of its people . China however, with its traditional and

steadfast ways , succumbed to Western Imperialism , and was left behind by the

ever progressing world and the power of change .

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Mike Sorrentino


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