Why, by the late 1800ís, was China so in need of reform?
Need of a Reform?
China is located in the Southern Asia, below Mongolia and above Nepal. China is a very mountainous region; therefore are considered secluded and unreachable to half the world. However, the Chinese considered themselves essentially self-sufficient. They had great pride in their own ancient history. But, then why was it that by the late 1800ís China was in need of a modernizing reform? China was falling apart under the unique yet conservative and restricting government, foreign influence was pushing its way in, wars fought over opium cost money and advanced technology, internal affairs were running out of control, and the pressure continued to amount.
China had great potential for the foreign trade. China was rich in silver, salt, tin, and iron mines. These valuable resources were necessary to make the machinery in the industries and therefore in turn make money. The Chinese also produced tea, porcelain, silk, and cotton, vital materials to live in luxury. Most European countries such as England, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, and Portugal, were racing to discover new land to spread their culture and religion and to gain new trading clients. Although China had no interest in trading with foreigners, they did decide to trade with England. At the beginning of this trade alliance it was clearly in Chinaís favor. China earned much more than it spent on imports. Britain of course resented this and therefore thought of a product that would turn the tables around. The product was opium. Opium was very addictive and soon caused many internal conflicts. The Chinese Empire tried desperately to stop the opium trade and but did not succeed. China launched the Opium War in 1839. The war caused great humiliation and suffering for the Chinese. Their ships were outdated and easily ruined by the Britianís strong navy.
After a great victory for the British, the Chinese signed a treaty. The Treaty of Nanjing. In this treaty it was stated that Hong Kong belonged to Britain and the foreign citizens gain extraterritorial rights. These rights gave exemption from Chinese law at four Chinese ports. The Chinese already resented the British for their advanced technology, and now foreigners even got special privileges. Internal quarrels began. Foreigners were not the only uprising problem. The population was continually increasing, and there was not enough food. Many people rebelled against the dynasty, the military was too weak to fight, and that caused the government to go corrupt. Countries like Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Japan gained a strong foothold in China. They all agreed on an Open Door Policy. The policy meant that Chinaís doors were opened to all foreign merchants.
It was no surprise when this long outdated civilization broke down in the clutches of a new world. It was when China realized that they depended solely on foreign power to guide their country that they decided to take charge again. China was unstable at first but it soon learned to accept that it did need to modernize, industrialize, [next page]