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China
An Imperialist’s Dream
Traditional Chinese Society
• Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist traditions
dominate; Chinese folk religion also prevalent
among peasantry
• Culturally refined
• Technologically advanced
• “Late” imperial period
1368 – 1916
-imperial since 221 BC
Isolationism
• After the 15th century, the Chinese
government felt that its culturally superior
country would have no need to interact with
“lesser” barbarians
• Ironically, their isolation sets them behind
technologically and promotes cultural
stagnation
Empress Dowager – Tzu Hui (Cixi –See
Chee)
• Scapegoated by
history as a cause
of China’s demise
– Did execute
opponents,
amassed wealth
while country was
suffering
– YET, she tried to
reform Chinese
society to avoid
takeover by foreign
powers
Boxer Rebellion – 1898-1901
• Boxers – secret society;
“magic” aspect to their
fighting/call on spiritual
power
• Foreigners were “demons”
as were Chinese who
worked for them
• nationalistic
• Supported by empress
dowager
– Authorized to massacre
Chinese Christian converts
and missionaries
• Put down by foreign power
alliance:
Italy, Great Britain, US, AustriaHungary, Russia, France,
Australia, Germany, Japan,
British India (gee, what could
ALL OF THOSE PLACES WANT?)
• Foreign powers retaliated by
raping and pillaging the
Chinese countryside – in the
name of Christianity
Opium Wars/Anglo-Chinese Wars
• Opium had been used for “medicinal”
purposes since 7th century
• Europeans introduced the idea of mixing it
with tobacco in 1600s
• British flooded market with Indian opium
• Rise in opium addicts led to govt trying to ban
import
• Series of wars in mid 19th century with China
losing rights to own territory to Brits
Arrogance of outsiders
• Western Europe and the US saw no issue with
economic imperialism in China
• Thought the Chinese were inferior culturally
• Read excerpts from the Open Door Policy and the
German Kaiser on how China should be handled.
– Is there an air of social Darwinism in these
documents?
– Were European nations justified in forcing their New
Imperialism on Third World countries?