China today is one of the economic juggernauts in our world. However, it has not always been all highs for the Asian nation. It once experienced some hard times courtesy of different influences from different western civilizations. Studying China’s drop and re-emergence to power would give us a chance to learn about its previous rise and fall, as well as the external and internal threats that affected its rise to economic power.
In the 1100’s China was a leader in steel production, textile manufacturing, paper production, book printing, and firearm manufacturing. These goods were transported all over the world using larger commercial ships than that of England. China was the leading trading nation, with long distance trades reaching Africa, Middle East, and Europe. The British and the Europeans were following China. They were eager to attack and take a hold of China’s advanced and lucrative market. China was dominating the globe up until the rise of the British imperialism at around the 1800’s.
Britain, not able to overpass China in economic power, relied on its military power. It used its different armed forces from its different colonies to force its products on China. Britain was imposing their exports to China led to unequal treaties that lowered tariffs. As a result, China was flooded with one of Britain’s major export opium and then was the start of the First Opium War. This is the start of the period of intervention by western imperialism which was also coined as the hundred years of national humiliation. The First Treaty signed was the Treaty of Nanking. It forced China to accept foreign traders to its soil and allow British citizens extraterritoriality. Also, China had to cede Hong Kong to Britain for 99 years. For the next century, China agreed to a series of similar treaties. Some major treaties signed where the Treaty of Wanghia with the United States and Treaty of Whampoa with France. These treaties expanded the rights of extraterritoriality which led to foreigners obtaining independent legal systems within treaty ports. Other treaties were the Treaty of Tianjin, Treaty of Aigun, Treaty of Beijing and the Treaty of Shimonoseki with the later resulting to China ceded Taiwan to Japan. As a result of these, the penetration of the western civilizations has colonized China’s market. Imperialism has forced exploitation of the great number of Chinese peasants and workers. This made Chinese leaders finance the trade deficits imposed by the different treaties.
At the end of the 20th century, China was broken. It fell from economic power, appeared colonized by the western imperialists and became a deprived population. Most of the major ports of China were controlled by the imperialists and was under the corrupt ruling of the imperialists. China was in pieces.
Modern China’s rise to power was made possible because of the Chinese communist revolution. China was able to defeat the Japanese Imperial army, then the US imperialists. The Communist government abolished the extraterritorial privileges of western imperialists which drove out all the millionaire warlords and traffickers. It all started in the 1950’s with the removal of the European, Japanese, and US imperialists draining China of its wealth. Then at around the 1980’s, China has opened its soil to large-scale foreign investors. China’s leaders started importing technical know-how and accessing overseas markets in exchange for cheap labor. China was in a transition of capitalism. It privatized numerous industries and implemented income generation through concentrating on a class of wealthy local capitalists who are linked with foreign capitalists. The capitalist class together with its foreign partners were all responsible for the rise of China to become the world’s second-largest economy. This has ended the century of the humiliation of the Republic of China.