Traditionalist Versus Reformist Among Colonial Powers

1011 words - 4 pages

Traditionalist and Reformers continually clashed during the 1800’s through the mid 1940’s. Traditionalist wanted to keep all western influence out, while the reformist concluded that without reform their societies would continually be dominated by the west. The Reformist was generally more successful in eventually establishing independence with some exceptions.

The era of western imperialism in Asia was gradual as the western powers being the Dutch at first and then the British created unfair treaties with the Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian countries. One of the most oppressive controls the British had over the Chinese had to do with the Opium trade. The Chinese emperor was aggravated with the continual British importation of opium into china which was ravaging the Chinese country. Many Chinese were becoming addicted to Opium. The tension between the British and Chinese came to a clash in the Opium War 1839-1842. After the war the treaty of Nanjing was imposed on the Chinese to pay for Britain’s war expenses and provided Britain with Hong Kong. Out of these events nationalism began to grow in China and many Chinese came to see the emperor as ineffective. After settling many internal problems the Chinese reformers began the “Self strengthening” movement. This movement’s goal was to reform China using modern European techniques. Many of the reformist and traditionalist came into conflict with each other. One such conflict which is still known as one of the bloodiest wars was the taiping rebellion. The leader of the rebellion was Hong Xiuquan a Chinese religious leader. The reformers slowly gained their goals as the Chinese monarchy was overthrown after the disasters Sino-Japanese war and the Boxer rebellion.

The Japanese were much more successful than their Chinese and Asian counterparts. The Japanese felt the yoke of western imperialism when in 1853 the U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry steamed into edo bath and forced negotiations with the Japanese emperor. After the negotiations two new ports were opened to trading. The U.S. philosophy on this diplomatic exposition was to get the Japanese to behave as a civilized nation. This policy became known as Gunboat diplomacy. As more foreigners began entering Japan through Yokohama after 1858 anti foreign samurai began terrorist movements and assassinations. Eventually Japanese reformist beat the traditionalist samurai and ousted the Tokugawa Shogunate beginning the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji Oligarchs were the ones who organized the ouster of the Shogunate and began running the country in the name of the Japanese emperor. The anthem of the Meiji reformers was “strong army, rich nation.” The Meiji’s began their transformation of Japan by stripping the samurai of their powers and investing in foreign advisors. In 1871 much to the anger of the samurai and other traditionalist all Japanese were declared equal.

One of the successful traditionalist approaches to keep foreign powers out was the...

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