How did imperialism affect China?

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Imperialism had a profound and lasting impact on China. Its results are still evident in 2020.

China was ruled by the Manchus and their Qing dynasty from 1644 to 1912. China's contact with foreign nations was very limited until the nineteenth century. Also, the Qing dynasty began to decline at...

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Imperialism had a profound and lasting impact on China. Its results are still evident in 2020.

China was ruled by the Manchus and their Qing dynasty from 1644 to 1912. China's contact with foreign nations was very limited until the nineteenth century. Also, the Qing dynasty began to decline at that time. Therefore, as foreign pressure on China increased, the country's ability to defend itself diminished.

Trade with Britain included the import of opium into China. Opium had a destructive impact on the Chinese people, so the Manchus tried to stop its importation. Britain insisted on exporting the drug to China, so the Opium War (1839–42) resulted. China was defeated and forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing, which gave Hong Kong to Britain.

The Treaty of Nanjing was the first of the "unequal treaties." They were forced to sign other humiliating agreements with France, the United States, and Russia. They forced China into unfair trade arrangements and extraterritoriality, or a form of diplomatic immunity, for foreigners in the country.

China was too weak to resist mounting foreign pressure. The Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864) was a catastrophe for China. The Qing dynasty barely survived.

The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 was an abortive Chinese attempt to end foreign influence. The revolt was put down by an international force.

Japan took advantage of China's predicament and became its greatest threat. Japan defeated China in 1895 and took over Korea. In World War I, the Japanese gained additional rights in China. World War II in Asia stemmed from Japan's full-scale invasion of China.

Communists seized power in China in 1949, and Chinese Communists ended foreign imperialism. They sent troops to fight in the Korean War, and assisted North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. China did not want foreign troops near its borders.

China's actions during the coronavirus outbreak in 2019 and 2020 reflects its continued distrust of foreigners. China has been criticized by many world leaders for its failure to inform foreign nations of the dangers posed by the virus.

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Imperialism had both positive and negative impacts on China.

On the positive side, imperial powers forced China to open more trading ports. Although part of the requirements was viewed to be unfair, the opening of the ports positioned China for accelerated trade developments especially post the imperialism era.

Contact with imperial powers had the effect of motivating China to accelerate its industrialization. The country was introduced to new technologies, which helped them produce more products much faster and more efficiently.

On the negative side, trade relations with imperial powers led to accelerated opium imports into China. The imports were later replaced by growing domestic production that led to an increase in the product and government taxation of the same. Reliance on the drug for taxes and government support for the product left many people addicted to the drug.

Imperialism led to violent conflicts arising from rebellions that sought to fight against European control of the country’s internal affairs.

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Imperialism had devastating effects on China in the nineteenth century. In the first part of the century, British and other European merchants traded opium for the many goods from China that were coveted in Europe. By 1839, the Chinese government had grown so concerned about the effects of widespread opium addiction amongst its people that it confiscated 1,400 tons of opium that British merchants had stored in the country. This, along with a conflict over who had the right to prosecute British sailors who killed a Chinese citizen, led to the First Opium War.  

The British, with their allies France, Russia, and the US, won this war in 1842. The victors forced concessions and unequal treaties on the Chinese. This was followed by the French and British winning the Second Opium War, which forced the Chinese to legalize the opium trade and allow missionaries free access to the country. Over the course of the rest of the nineteenth century, China was run by foreign powers working in concert with a small, corrupt Chinese elite to exploit the country and its resources. 

Imperialism led to the Boxer rebellion from 1898-1901 and then to the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1912. This brought in a Republic, but conditions did not change for the average person until the communists took over in 1949 and finally expelled foreign influences. Some of the effects of imperialism were to cripple the psyche of the Chinese, who came to feel for many years that they were inferior to the West. On a more positive note, imperialism brought aspects of British culture to China and established Hong Kong as a major financial center, which it still is today. 

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Imperialism had a significant effect on China. China was a very weak country around 1900. Due to a lot of infighting between the warlords in China, China was not a strong nation. As a result, European imperial powers looked to carve up China for themselves. China had a lot of items that the European countries wanted. China was in danger of losing its independence as a result of this. European countries had set up spheres of influence throughout China.

The United States was concerned about events in China. We wanted to trade there, and we were very concerned we would lose the ability to do that if Europe colonized China. As a result, the United States issued the Open Door Policy in 1899. This said all countries had equal trading rights in China. We informed the Europeans that we expected this policy to be honored.

The Chinese were concerned about the amount of western influence in the country. As a result, the Boxer Rebellion occurred in 1900. Westerners were killed, and some property was destroyed. The United States convinced Europe not to intervene in China militarily, but to accept financial compensation instead. We were worried a military invasion would lead to the colonization of China. Imperialism had a big impact on China.

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