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 .

Thank you
Mike Sorrentino

Category: Social Issues