Reasons And Consequences Of China’s Attempt To Modernize And Overcome Its Weaknesses - ACS - Essay

1323 words - 6 pages

Examine the reasons for, and the consequences of, China's attempt to modernize and overcome its weaknesses in the period 1862 to 1894.

Since 1644, China had been ruled by the Qing Dynasty which established a country that had a bureaucratic government but was closed off from the rest of the world. However, after a series of events in which China engaged with foreign European powers such as the British and French, the Qing Dynasty decided to modernize China by adopting Western knowledge and technology in schools and the military. This modernization refers to the Tongzhi restoration and the Self-Strengthening movement which took place from 1862 to 1894. Through the Tongzhi restoration and the Self-Strengthening movement, China aimed to reverse the decline of the Qing Dynasty by improving the economy and military and maintaining good relations with Western powers. This essay aims to examine the reasons for modernization in China as well as its consequences. Reasons refer to events that took place before 1862 that led to modernization, while consequences refers to events that took place after 1894 because of modernization. The essay will focus on external invasion and internal rebellion as reasons for modernization and takes the stand that external invasion was the main reason for modernization. Consequences of modernization include: External invasion was the first reason for modernization in China. External invasion refers to the First and Second Opium Wars from 1839 to 1842 and 1856 to 1860 respectively. Since the late 18th century, the British East India Company had been smuggling opium into China despite multiple laws making the opium trade illegal in China. The consumption of opium in China only increased as the Chinese became more and more addicted. In response to the illegal smuggling of opium, the Chinese wrote a letter to Queen Victoria, pleading for the opium trade in China to be halted. This request was ignored, and after failing to get foreign companies to forfeit their opium stores in exchange for tea, the Chinese decided to seize all opium without compensation by force. This started the First Opium War. The British retaliated by sending the British Royal Navy in 1839 to engage in gunboat diplomacy: troops were tasked to impose reparations for the economic losses of the British illegal traders in Canton including financial compensation and to guarantee future security for smugglers. Using its naval superiority, the British dealt a series of crushing defeats on China and forced the Chinese to sign the Treaty of Nanjing, the first of many unequal treaties. The treaty gave the British entry to several Chinese ports for trade. Then in 1856, the Second Opium War began after a cargo ship called the Arrow was seized and 12 of its Chinese crew members arrested. During the Second Opium War, the British and French invaded Beijing, looted the city, and burned the Summer Palace. Westerners enforced their will on China so decisively that China ...

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