Japan yielded to the western demands of opening up to trade, while China refused. The two choices marked the beginning of the differences in the way the two countries eventually opened up. Trade relations with Western countries allowed Japan to enjoy the benefits of early economic growth and development, while China was lagging behind with its closed economy that did not take part in trade with the Western world. Trade had early cultural influences on Japan and contributed to the successful cooperation of the country with the rest of the Western countries, other than Netherlands that enjoyed first entry privileges to the market (Valentini par. 2).
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China persisted in refusing the Westerners’ access to its markets, other than Canton where all international trade with the Western world took place. However, the Westerners continued to work restlessly convincing the country to open up and sometimes dialogue did not suffice. A series of disagreements between China and Britain led to wars, which were later dubbed the Opium wars that led to the defeat of China and the withdrawal of its adamant stand against Western foreigners’ access to the mainland. After the wars, China had to sign a number of treaties that favored Western nations taking part in trade with it (Valentini par. 3-4).
In Japan, dialogue with Western nations was successful from the onset. Unlike China, the Japanese did not view the non-Japanese world as barbaric. Japan signed the Treaty of Kanagawa to end its seclusion from international trade after negotiations with Commodore Perry from the United States. Notably, this was after the Western countries were already at war with China. Japan’s agreement to open up for trade was informed by the growing influence of the Westerners in the region and the fear of severe repercussions, such as war. Previous interactions with the Westerners in cultural exchanges had also softened the hearts of many Japanese rulers towards the trading demands of the Westerners.
Japan relaxed laws against western knowledge and Christian influence in the 18th century. The action paved way for increased popularity of the Dutch studies. In 1811, the country established the Institute for the Investigation of Barbarian Books to help it understand Western knowledge, which aided its early industrialization ahead of China. While China remained closed to world participation, Japan was already modernizing and naturally saw the rationale behind opening its borders for trade. Knowledge allowed the Japanese to understand the importance of structural development of their economy and its integration with the rest of the world economy. Unfortunately, China failed to capitalize on the knowledge and the development of early structural components of its economy that would allow it to benefit from trade that occurred after the Opium wars.
Even after signing treaties for trade after the Opium wars, China’s political system still encouraged a skeptical view of Western engagement throughout the early years of the 20th century. The Chinese saw themselves as an advanced civilization without the need for Western involvement. China’s continuous involvement of Westerners only happened due to the emergence of different political views and cultural movements. For example, the anti-traditionalism movement differed with the view of Chinese superior civilization and advocated for Westernization. The effects of the movement were responsible for the diffusion of Western principles in the country, which remained founded in its cultural roots and only embraced Western learning for application purposes (Introduction to China’s Modern History para. 8).
Introduction to China’s Modern History. 2009. Web.
Valentini, Giulia. “China and Japan Responses to the West in the 19th Century.” E-International Relations Students. 2013. Web.