China which is located in the Asian Continent is the biggest nation in terms of population.China was called as 'Dormant Nation' or a 'Sleeping Nation' as it remained isolated or aloof from the rest of the world till the second half of the 18th century. Reason being that Chinese believed themselves and their culture to be far superior than other cultures of the world.The ancient Chinese society was molded into Confucian philosophy. However this pride was shattered in the coming years and a very powerful and gigantic nation was imperialised.

Events in the time period 1644-1911 with respect to China:

  • Manchu rule was held responsible for bringing China under the reign of Europeans.Manchu are an ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria derives its name.Hence Manchu's who were in minority ruled Chinese majority, this created a rift and Europeans took advantage of this.
  • Portuguese were the first European traders in China who came via sea route. In 1517, Portuguese alighted at the canton port located on the east coast of China where they were allowed trade concessions.Later on they captured the Macau port.After Portuguese,the traders from Holland, England, Russia, Belgium and France too alighted in China and set up there commercial centers in coastal regions.
  • However Chinese attitude towards these foreign traders was very restrictive.Chinese had announced 8 point regulation according to which whoever wanted to enter China had to bow down before the Chinese emperor and this was very humiliating for Europeans.
  • Initially China was very prosperous nation and had very rich civilization who had invented silk, paper, printing and gun powder. Chinese used to earn huge profits by selling these articles to European nations.However the situation reversed after the Industrial Revolution. Now the European goods started flooding in Chinese markets and stream of gold and silver started reaching European nations.In this way imperialist nations established economic dominance over China.

Opium trade : The British merchants used to sell opium brought from India into the Chinese markets.The Chinese government was against this business so European traders started smuggling of opium into China.Chinese exchanged silver to buy opium which led to a stream of silver export to England.

First Opium War (1840-1842) :

Chinese government officials discovered opium cargo and seized it.This led to the first opium war between England and China.China was defeated and a 'Nanjing Treaty' was imposed on China. According to this treaty 4 ports were now open to England and also Hong Kong Island was acquired by them.

Second Opium War (1856-60) :

In the year 1856, England and France waged a war against China.China was again defeated and 'Peking Treaty' was imposed on it.Now 6 more ports were open to Europeans. Christian missionaries were given freedom to spread Christianity in China. Permission was given for Opium business.

Again Russia attacked China in 1860 and captured amour sea coast and later in 1894 Japan defeated China by waging a war on it.

Cutting of Chinese Watermelon : China was being divided under the power sectors of the Imperial nations known as the 'Cutting of Chinese Watermelon. All important services like railways, excise, postal services were now being dominated by the Europeans.

Open Door Policy : America feared that China would be completely parceled out to France,Russia,Germany and Britain like the African continent. So in 1899, USA came up with its open-door policy with a view to avoid political division of China and to grab financial advantage.Open door policy consisted of equal rights for all nations to trade in China. Except Russia, all the imperial nations showed their acceptance towards the American decision.

Hence China remained undivided due to this policy. But in the following years imperial nations exploited China to very large extent.

In this way, a gigantic China was economically dominated and exploited by imperial nations and Chinese pride about their rich culture and superiority was shattered.


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