[Solved] China and Japan

Response to Western Pressures in the 19th Century: The Case of China and Japan


The industrial revolution in the U.S. and Europe created a gap between the West and the East, differentiating the two Eastern countries from western nations in terms of military and technology (Valentini, 2012, n.p). This created a period of isolationism for the giant Asian countries, building pressure to open foreign relations and trade with the West in the 19th Century. Being weaker than the western countries, the nations signed unequal treaties allowing foreign traders into their cities and ports. This paper will explore how these nations responded to western pressures in the 19th Century and the implications of their response to their individual history.

The two nations responded to western pressures in distinct ways. They had both maintained isolationist inclinations, where they had limited trade relations with western countries. In response to the western pressures in the 19th Century, Japan employed stringent measures, allowing only trade relations with the Dutch. On the other hand, China allowed foreign traders into the nation, but they had no privileges. The foreign traders were limited to Cantons and were only allowed to deal with a group of traders-commonly known as the Co-hong. 

Western countries rejected the situations in China and Japan, prompting Britain to send Lord Napier to China in 1834 to push for more open commerce relations. China further did not accept the intentions of the British, thereby creating enmity. During the reigns of the imperial commissioner Tze-Hsu, the animosity between the nations escalated based on a variety of aspects, including the snub by the British to give the Chinese authorities a sailor who was suspected for the murder of a Chinese citizen and the confiscation of approximately 20,000 British Opium chests by the imperial commissioner. Chan (2018, p. 18) indicates that these activities led to the beginning of the Opium Wars in 1839, which ended with a Chinese defeat and the creation of imbalanced treaties.

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