Chinese Politics Reading Notes.docx

East meets west historical background and cultural

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East Meets West: Historical Background and Cultural Legacies Chinese goods, especially silk and porcelain, were in great demand in Europe and fetched a handsome price. At the dawn of the modern era, China was the world’s largest territorial and most populous state, with the biggest economy. It also had the world’s largest cities, where commerce and literature thrived. Modest as European enclaves were initially, they laid the groundwork for a global network of economic, cultural, and military outposts which were critical for the European domination of Asia in the subsequent centuries. Created a world system The expansion of European commercial interests also influenced immigration and cultivation patterns Until the nineteenth century, however, the Asians were relatively successful in holding the European traders and missionaries at bay The Chinese court assumed an aloof and patronizing attitude toward toward these westerners, keeping them confined to the southern port cities of Macao and later Canton. This sense of self-confidence and smugness stemmed from China’s historical role in East Asia Unlike Europe, where several sovereign countries with relatively equal capabilities were constantly competing for power, China was a “world empire” without rivals in East Asia It claimed suzerainty over its smaller neighbors, which had to pay tribute to the Chinese emperor as a sign of submission. The influence of the chinese political and cultural institutions was especially strong in Korea, Japan, and Annam (modern-day Vietnam) The Chinese felt secure in their sense of superiority, for their culture and society had always been able to absorb and assimilate alien forces. The Mongols and Manchus had to rely on the Chinese bureaucracy and Confucian ideology to maintain their rule. Confucianism is a secular ideology or a code of ethics. It stresses the need for proper behavior of and harmonious relationships among various social actors. It values order, hierarchy, and tradition and assigns the central role of maintaining social control and regulation to the extended family. It was their past success in preserving order and continuing that made China ill equipped to cope with the Western assault in the 19th century At the beginning of the 16th century, China possessed an economy larger than those of the European countries and a technology at least as advanced as theirs, it lagged behind Europe in initiating capitalist industrialization. China had a long coastline and many good ports, but didn’t send many naval expeditions or trade missions abroad (except for a short period during the Ming dynasty) Emigration and foreign trade were banned by the imperial court Britain at the same time was able to establish a preeminent political and economic presence in the Pacific region by the middle of the 19th century
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Britain colonized
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