China and Japan had very different experiences with Western Imperialism . Their reactions to western interference would lay a foundation for their destiny in a world that was rapidly progressing forward , leaving the traditional world behind . China viewed themselves as totally self sufficient , superior , and the only truly civilized land in a barbarous world. They were inward looking and were encouraged by the conservative Confucianistic beliefs of their emperors to cling to the ancient and traditional ways of the past .
They slid rapidly behind n industrial development , refusing to acknowledge the need for shipbuilding or naval development , and saw no importance in European trade . Then in the 1800’s , Europe thrust its way into the heart of the Middle Kingdom, shattering and destroying its isolation forever. China would then be involved in four wars during the nineteenth century ; Britain’s opium war (1839- 1842), a second war (1856-1860) fought by British and French , the Sino-Japanese war (1894-1895) , and a final western invasion involving British , French , German , Japanese and U. S troops (1899-1900).
Chinese Emperors were compelled to sign unequal treaties and were forced to open a number of ports , as well as agree to other territorial concessions . China was also forced to open its seacoasts and its rivers to Western intruders . The Europeans also exploited China’s land by securing rights to build railways and develop its natural resources . China had been unwilling to learn the ways of the West and so became the next victim to fall prey to Western Imperialism , Japan however, was more open to foreign influences , therefore its outcome to western imperialism was quite ifferent.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries , Japan also turned inward seeking its own isolation from the larger world . Then in 1853 , Commodore Mathew Perry of the U. S arrived with a naval squadron and Japan signed its first unequal treaty . Soon other western countries would follow , but in 1868 a new ruler was put into power and Japans fate would soon change . Under the sixteen year old emperor – the Meiji , (“Enlightened Rule “) Japan began preparing to resist Western penetration and in the process engineered a remarkable transformation of its country .
The Japanese emperor set out to Westernize Japan and adopt Western methods of education , transportation , communication , industry , agriculture , banking and most of all Japan’s military was updated and modernized . Politically and economically , Japan was a nation in rapid growth and vigorous transition . Japan also won two victories over the world’s two largest empires – China in 1895 and Russia in 1905 , which gave Japan Korea, the Liaotung peninsula in North China , and a new status as a world power .
Between 1900 and 1940 , Japan’s exports would triple , manufactured oods multiplied a dozen times , and it’s population would climb to 78 million by 1940. Japan’s expanding commercial , industrial and financial economy was due mainly through the small group of wealthy business families known as the Zaibatsu . These included industrial dynasties such as Mitsubishi , Mitsui , Kawasaki , and other major firms . The Japanese used the most effective way to maintain their national identity , which was to adopt Western techniques , become “civilized ” in the Western view , and deal with foreigners on equal economic and diplomatic terms .
Japan succeeded in understanding the basic political and moral ideas of Western civilization whereas China had not . Both had wanted to rid foreign intervention , however Japan learned the ways of the West to prevent Western intervention and control. Japan rose from an isolated nation to a world power able to control its own destiny and future of its people . China however, with its traditional and steadfast ways , succumbed to Western Imperialism , and was left behind by the ever progressing world and the power of change .