China and Japan’s Responses to Western Influence
During the 19th and 20th centuries, much of the western world had at the very least, begun to modernize. Countries on this side of the globe were becoming booming metropolises. Trade with many other nations brought lots of new things to these western countries and also resulted in the Europeans observing a good deal of places that were not yet modernized. These observations later lead to the western nations wanting to make changes. They began trying to do this by setting up spheres of influence, sending missionaries, proposing treaties and other agreements, and in some cases, completely taking over. Some countries fought back, and resisted modernization, and others submitted to the inevitable changes that were coming their way. China and Japan are great examples of this, both countries were strongly opposed to Western influence but in the end, the two countries reacted to the changes very differently. Prior to western contact, China and Japan held the belief that they were superior civilizations. Both countries felt that any contact with westerners would corrupt their perfect societies. Also, because they felt they already were perfect, they didn’t think modernization was necessary. The people of both countries were comfortable with their traditional, more old fashioned ways of life and saw no reason to change.
The westerners however, would not take no for an answer, they were determined to make China open ports to them so they could trade and work to modernize the country. The westerners were very interested in obtaining silk and tea from China but the problem was, the westerners didn’t have anything the Chinese wanted in exchange besides gold and silver. This resulted in an unfavorable balance of trade. To fix this, the westerners really needed something the Chinese wanted so they began growing opium in India and illegally smuggling it into China. The habit of opium smoking caught on...
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