From the eighteenth century through the early twentieth century, China and Japan had similar views regarding Western penetration, yet both countries responded in different ways. By subverting colonial powers, both countries had to adjust their traditional cultures, economy, and political structures in order keep up with westernization.
In the past, China was always hesitant to foreign occupation and wanted to keep them out as much as possible. During the Qing dynasty, trade was greatly discouraged. China did not keep up with industrialization as much as the Europeans because they believed that their country was already prosperous and productive with its large labor force that produced everything they needed. In addition, they lacked the natural resources to industrialize
(Zheng, lecture). Britain persistently tried to persuade China to expand their trade to them, sending Lord Macartney to the court of the emperor to discuss this expansion, but the emperor declined all requests (Cheng, 103). Because China had a strong culture, the people from the tribute countries of which China did trade with began to immerse in Chinese culture, while the British did not (Cheng, 105). The emperor permitted trade with other European countries, with the intent that they adopted to Chinese culture, unlike the British (Cheng,105).
Because China was seen as a relatively weak country at the time, Western powers tried to impose foreign trade there, therefore a large dispute followed. China tried to retain some power by attempting to prevent foreigners from entering the country’s interior. At the time, opium was introduced to China as an effective solution to the British trade problems (Cheng, 93). However, this caused economic problems in China due to the massive loss of silver in the trade. The emperor recognized opium as a problem and wanted to prohibit as well as completely remove it from China, so he appointed Lin Zexu to control the opium trade in Canton (Cheng, 110). Chinese troops destroyed the opium in Canton, which led to the British accusing China of destroying their property (Cheng, 117). As a result of technological advances of the West, specifically Great Britain, the British were able to force China into succumbing to Western powers by beginning the first Opium War in 1839 (Zheng, lecture). The war resulted in a great loss for China, and the Treaty of Nanjing was drafted and agreed upon. In the terms of this treaty, China would open more ports for foreign trade alongside Canton and also were required to have a fixed tariff for British trade (Cheng, 126). The treaty ended the old Canton System, which included tight regulations regarding trade with the West, as well as created a new infrastructure for China’s foreign relations and oversea trades. China’s defeat in the Second Opium War caused even longer interaction with the West.
China had a struggling economy because of their refusal to westernize, which contrasts Japan whom were more readily able...