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Changes in China and Japan as a result of Western Impact

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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 ...

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...lity and nationalism in Japan after WWII (Craig, 141).

Overall, Japan responded to the West by embracing their help and in turn it allowed them to become one of the colonizers. China on the other hand were hesitant in letting the West in, therefore their economy declined and their country as a whole was not as strong as Japan.

Works Cited

Cheng, Pei-kai, Michael E. Lestz, and Jonathan D. Spence. The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. New York: Norton, 1999. Print.

Dower, John W. Embracing defeat: Japan in the wake of World War II. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1999.

Ryūsaku Tsunoda, WM.Theodore de Bary and Donald Keene, eds. 1958. Sources of Japanese Tradition, vol.II. New York: University of Columbia Press, 131–176.

Zheng, Xiaowei. “The coming of the west and the Chinese response.” April 16, 2014.
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