Chinese Culture 1800-1900

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It goes without question from 1800-1900 China was experiencing a decline, which had not been seen for quite some time. Problems such as overpopulation started to take its toll on the once-known elite nation, sending them into famine, lower standard of living, extreme mistreatment of females, especially at young ages and an unfit government that allowed chaos to unfold. Conflict arose in China, but was it due to internal affairs of the Chinese people and government, wanting to maintain its superiority over the West, or were outside forces to blame for the extreme change in culture? Both of these aspects united to form seemingly the perfect storm that sent Chinese culture into a downward spiral for excess of 60 years.

At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, peace was brought to a majority of China and allowed population to grow rapidly, and was estimated to be at about 300 million by the beginning of the nineteenth century. In a mere 50 years, China’s population increased by approximately 100 million. A 33 percent increase in just 50 years. Such increases had harsh impacts regarding the agricultural front. Food became a prized commodity as China’s overpopulation led to a famine, which the nation had never experienced during a stable and productive agricultural period. Every mountainous and hilly area was terraced and double-cropped in effort to produce a sufficient quantity of nourishment for everyone, but to no avail. As an effect, people began dying of starvation and malnutrition.

Jobs were few and far between for the crowded work industry, leaving people unemployed and virtually worthless in the government’s eyes. This problem was not helped in any sense, when the British finally found the one item the Chinese would buy was opium. A drug which was once used for medicinal purposes was now being used in a recreational manner. Use of the drug created addictions among many people, having to feed their addictions by selling their children to receive the...
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