Compare and Contrast China and Japan's Responses to Western Penetration During the 19th Century

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Japan and China had some similar, but many different responses to western penetration in the nineteenth century. When western technology was introduced, China resisted and isolated themselves, while Japan gladly accepted it.

To allow for world trading and new changes, Japan changed its policy regarding westernization. United States ports were opened to diplomats and some traders in 1858, when President Millard Fillmore signed the Kanagawa. Japan then continued to make other arrangements like this with other western countries. They then opened up more trading ports for westernization. Japan’s industrialization rate was greatly accelerated by the Meiji Restoration. This made Japan able to participate in trading in the global economy. Previously, porcelain was made mostly by China, but Japan began to produce it, and became a much more important factor in the global economy. In addition to this, Japan also adopted some western culture in their clothing and sciences, while China stuck to their traditional long sleeves and long skirts, with their hair pulled back away from their faces.

From 1840-1940, China went from being a leading civilization to a struggling economy because of their refusal to westernize. From 1894-95, Japan and China both wanted control over Korea, but because of Japan’s new western technologies, they were able to defeat the Chinese and have influence over Korea. This was a shock to most of the world because prior to that, China had always had dominance over Japan.

During this time, China was more concerned with recovering from the Taiping rebellion, industrialization, and the opium wars. China was opposed to westernization, which was shown in the Boxer Rebellion. As a result of China being uninterested in the westernization, their economy began to decline. China did not begin to accept western technologies until the mid-1900s when their economy began to rise again. As a result of the imbalance of trade between western nations and China,...
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