Throughout the final few decades of the Qing Dynasty, China lost several wars to European powers such as France and the British Empire. In 1894 though, they lost to Japan, who - from my understanding - were historically much weaker than China ever was. This was due to the better technology and armaments utilized by the Japanese, from aforementioned European powers, which China (under Qing) violently resisted.
Why did China resist modernization so much, while Japan was much more embracing?
While not really related, even Mao opted to delay modernizing areas of his country. Is this something common to China?
i always assumed because of the size of the nation
Japan was a large enough nation to independently resist foreign interference but still small enough that they could force their entire society to come to grips with changing their way of life at a fundamental level
its forcing a population of like tens of millions of people making a change instead of hundreds of millions
probably still not sufficient to explain i guess
And it's not like the Japanese didn't have massive amounts of resistance to westernization and foreign influence, a civil war was fought over it, it just so happens that the side who resisted modernization lost.
i dunno about that
both sides tried to modernize and both sides thought the best way to throw out the barbarians was to modernize
the tokugawas were just not up to the task as well though and the pro-imperial faction wanted it more
i guess the moral authority of the emperor probably helped things in terms of change as well
note that even after the restoration, people that supported Meiji got mad because they didnt want to lose the privilege of their station in the samurai caste that they thought would be preserved after removing the shogun
this man shows up in your port and is all like "industrialize or get colonized, slant eye"
The caste system shit bricks hard because thr untermensch (mostly vendors and traders) ended up having wayyy more dosh than the ruling class of Samurai. People from the lower ranks overthrew the top fairly easily. Then a couple centuries later Commodore Perry showed up with his black ships and forced Japan to modernize. Add in a few nuclear holocausts and a complete restructuring of society and you have 21st century Japan.
They tried that. Believe it was called the four weeks of modernisation, I forget. Unfortunately implementing modern institutions meant getting rid of the previous nobility whom had dedicated themselves to Confucianism. I'm no expert though, please take this with a grain of salt desu.
As for your other question, I'm no scholar on the Chinese culture (many of them). But they seem to be a consistently pragmatic and cautious culture, meaning they may have been averse to modernization because of the risks inherent.
I think it might have had something to do with China's deep connection to traditions. The Chinese were very stingy about their traditions, and resisted earlier examples of foreign culture. When Buddhism first came to China it was met with stiff resistance from traditional Confucianists. I don't know a lot about China in 1894, but earlier examples would point to this.
Middle Kingdom Philosophy. Basically China sat on Asia's high horse for millenia in cultural, overseas, and hegemonic supremacy. To make their heads even bigger: the Foreign Conquerors of China also became Chinese. Said Foreign Conquerors also bought into the notion that "once we had China we're 1) Chinese too and 2) Top Doge of the world, lel."
As for modernization, this was fucked up by the Mandate of Heaven. The Mandate is basically the Justification for rule over China and is based on 3 Requirements
-Prosperity in the land
-Stability of the realm.
-Defense against barbarians.
And the Qing was failing in all three. The 10 Great Campaigns and famine in 1790 wrecked their prosperity, the Qing was humiliated by Taiping Rebels and Europeans. Therefore the Manchus = lost Heaven's mandate.
Any attempt by the Qing to reform or Modernize is therefore nullified as all the Chinese saw was a failing, (and to boot, foreign) dynasty that ought to be replaced. Send a student abroad to learn Western science? Student goes FUCK YOU IMMA USE THIS SCIENCE TO TOPPLE QING SHIT, WEAKLING EMPERORS.
Case and Point: Late Imperial China did have a modern army: the Beiyang Army. It was British armed and Prussian trained. Instead of groriousry fighting China's wars it did the opposite: the generals realized that they were the most powerful force in the country and just hung back and acted like a power of its own. During the Boxer Rebellion, when the Qing government ordered it to attack the 8 Nation Alliance Army, General Yuan Shikai said "lel I'm sick, sorry." and the Modernized units refused to march.
The Beiyang wouldve probably revolted and took over China as a new Imperial Dynasty if not for Sun Yat-Sen's nationalists rebelling and establishing ROC and destroying the Imperial Institution forever.
>While not really related, even Mao opted to delay modernizing areas of his country. Is this something common to China?
Other way around: he tried to speed up China's modernization. It backfired. Horribly.
>General Yuan Shikai said "lel I'm sick, sorry." and the Modernized units refused to march.
100 Days Reform. You are right about the nobles though, it was a clique within the Qing court led by dowager-empress Cixi which got real sick of the Guangxu emperor's reformation shit and deposed him. A decade or so later they tried to drive the Westerners out through the Boxer Rebellion, but we all know how that worked out.
No I mean they didn't revolt unimpeded.
What happened was westernized Chinese inculcated republican ideals in many Chinese and started to revolt first. The Beiyang-instead of revolting- was initially sicced by the Empire to stop this. Fighting happened but Yuan cut a deal in which he becomes pres with the ROC.
Because Japan had a civil war. The Boshin War started when the Emperor gave the order to expel the barbarians. The Shogun who actually ruled Japan did so because he claimed to be governing Japan for the Emperor (in reality the Japanese emperors were just figureheads since the 7th century and legitimated Shoguns because they had no choice).
The clans who had a long standing grudge against the Tokugawa all gathered together under this slogan of obeying the emperor and expelling the barbarians. They charged the the Shogun was unable to expel the barbarians as the Emperor commanded and was therefore no longer ruling on behalf of the emperor. The civil war quickly saw a modernization of armies and each one was keen to gain the upper hand. By the end of the war, the winning side was the Imperialist because they had modernized the quickest. However then they set up the new Empire of Japan, they ignored the previous emperor's order to expel the barbarian, and the new emperor, the Meiji Emperor was already very westernized himself.
From the mid 19th century on wards, Japan began to embrace the ideas of "Civilization" and "Modernity," which basically meant Western culture. The Japanese didn't have such a stake in traditional Chinese culture, they were on the edge of the Sino-Sphere, they had their own emperor.
By the late 19th century, before Korea opened its borders, Confucian scholars said that the Japanese are now Barbarians (ie Western/ non-Sinophiles) and that they were no longer the Japanese of the past.
Lastly Japanese intellectuals noticed how China was being carved up, and how Japan had to avoid this by learning to be like the westerners. A slogan developed "Enrich the state, strengthen the military," part of that meant modernizing the military.
>During the Boxer Rebellion, when the Qing government ordered it to attack the 8 Nation Alliance Army, General Yuan Shikai said "lel I'm sick, sorry." and the Modernized units refused to march.
Sad thing was that it could have succeeded and the colonial powers were defeated in several engagements but due to infighting and indecisiveness within the Qing chain of command they failed to capitalize on their successes and ended up being beaten.
China had always seen itself (and rightly so for the most part) as the most developed nation in the world (the world being south east Asia in their eyes). So what could the Middle Kingdom possibly have to learn from a bunch of red haired barbarians? Such an arrogant disposition is hard to wash away after being around for millenia.
Japan was more humble and accepted reality when the Europeans bombarded their ports.
You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Especially one that has been the alpha all his life. The younger and subdued dog is easier to sway however.
As for Mao resisting modernization. I think it more has to do with the sheer size of China. China is freaking huge compared to Japan. There are still peasant villages that are living in the late 19th century. Mao was also a communist fanatic. And communism always leads to stagnation so it shouldn't come as a surprise.
Thanks for correcting me. I believe they kept the reformed schools, but rejected the rest.
Didn't the boxers believe they had magical kungfu that would make bullets bounce off of them?
Chinese history is wacky.
In all fairness to Mao, no one told him about how impractical it was until it was already underway. It's easy to get ahead of yourself when people are hailing you as a genius. Although, that cult of personality was his own fault.
>You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Especially one that has been the alpha all his life. The younger and subdued dog is easier to sway however.
this. good metaphor
it's also the reason why Great civilizations of olden days like Islamic civilization and Indians don't seem to favour westernization that much either.
This, China has always been a very insular and ancient society, the Chinese have and always will believe that they are the greatest nation and people, the very way they went about dealing with foreign barbarians by building a fucking huge wall is systemic of this mindset.
An ancient bureaucratic state which has historically had a better tech level than all others will believe itself better.
Check this letter that was sent by Qinglong to George 3rd:
While the emperor was very tactile he was still very inwards looking in foreign policy. If China had opened up to trade and modernized earlier then they would have probably fared better vs the colonial powers. But such was their thinking, anyone who wasn't Chinese was a barbarian and they did not fully respect the power of Europe.
>(7) Regarding your nation's worship of the Lord of Heaven, it is the same religion as that of other European nations. Ever since the beginning of history, sage Emperors and wise rulers have bestowed on China a moral system and inculcated a code, which from time immemorial has been religiously observed by the myriads of my subjects. There has been no hankering after heterodox doctrines. Even the European (missionary) officials in my capital are forbidden to hold intercourse with Chinese subjects; they are restricted within the limits of their appointed residences, and may not go about propagating their religion. The distinction between Chinese and barbarian is most strict, and your Ambassador's request that barbarians shall be given full liberty to disseminate their religion is utterly unreasonable.
Lel. He literally calls Euros barbarians. It's interesting how all these cultures (most famously japanese) hated christian missionaries
also, to add to that, china has been conquered, by manchu and mongolians. yet, Chinese culture prevailed and these mongols and manchus quickly became Chinese and forgot their languages.
It proves to the chinese the power of their culture, and its superiority, that even foreign conquerors cannot resist the power of chinese culture.
I fail to see how that is sad.