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Why did japan succeed and china fail and isn’t modernization the same thing as westernization.

While walking through the hallways of a high school near the university where I teach, a set of posters hanging outside a classroom caught my attention. The posters had been drawn by students in a tenth grade world history class. Their assignment, I learned later, was to represent in visual form the differences between the modern historical experiences of Japan and China, particularly in relation to the two countries’ responses to Western imperialism in the nineteenth century. 1

The posters provoked in me two different reactions. One was admiration: the projects demonstrated remarkable creativity and insight, and I shuddered to think how my own tenth-grade work would have paled in comparison. I was also pleased to learn that the students were actually studying East Asia in some depth, especially considering the time constraints faced by high school world history teachers. 2 The students in this class were addressing, in a rather sophisticated manner, some of the same issues that professional historians of modern East Asia spend their time discussing— namely, imperialism, modernization, Westernization, and the differences between the historical trajectories of Japan and China since the nineteenth century.

Yet the projects also reminded me of the rift between popular and academic representations of East Asia. These projects expressed many of the central assumptions about East Asia and modernization that professional historians have spilled much ink over the past few decades trying to problematize. Two assumptions stood out prominently in the students’ projects: first, that Japan “succeeded” in modernization and China “failed” because the former embraced the West and China rejected it; second, that modernization and Westernization are synonymous. It was not really a surprise to come across these assumptions, since I see them in my college students all the time. In most cases, students acquire these assumptions not from high school history classes, but from a lifetime of input from popular culture. In the classroom I attempt to confront these assumptions whenever they come up, but I often feel my efforts are too sporadic to be effective. Precisely because these high school projects illustrate these assumptions so compellingly, I decided to use them in an attempt to address them in a somewhat more systematic fashion.

Mine is by no means an unprecedented endeavor. 3 Scholars of Chinese and Japanese history have been problematizing these assumptions since the 1960s. In fact, these assumptions have been so thoroughly critiqued that, at least when speaking or writing to other scholars, it might not seem necessary to argue against them anymore. Yet they persist tenaciously among our students—and, in fact, almost everywhere except within the academy. My goal in this essay is therefore to speak to a somewhat broader audience about why these assumptions are problematic, and about how we might teach the critical moment of East Asian history addressed in these high school projects—Japan’s and China’s nineteenth century response to Western imperialism—without falling back upon these assumptions.

“Success,” “Failure,” and the Reception of Western Influence

How do students view this topic?

and illustration captioned the manipulation of the west: japan's story

Almost all of the students’ projects characterized Japan’s nineteenth-century response to Western imperialism in terms of “success,” while representing China’s response (or lack thereof, as most students saw it) in terms of “failure.” Furthermore, the projects explained the respective fates of the two countries as being a direct result of their attitude toward the West: Japan succeeded because it accepted Western influence, and China failed because it did not. In project #1, Japan before Western imperialism (depicted here as a yellow pickle) is shown resting idly but contentedly in isolation. This student’s depiction of Japan as surrounded by four walls is, of course, deeply familiar: the image of Tokugawa-era Japan (1600–1868) as a “closed country” ( sakoku )—an image that has been demonstrated to be misleading in many respects 4 —has nonetheless figured prominently in popular and scholarly discourse on Japan since the nineteenth century. In frame two of the project, Japan is awakened by a menacing Europe and America (depicted as blue potatoes), knocking on Japan’s walls seeking colonial concessions. In frame three, Japan’s walls have broken down, allowing “new ideas,” “Western technology,” and “industrialization” to come in. Due to these Western influences, Japan emerges in frame four as a powerful nation, to the surprise of the West and the alarm of Korea—who is still behind the same walls of isolation that had previously confined Japan. Japan is now represented by the color green, symbolizing its successful merging of Western (blue) influences and Japanese (yellow) essence. 5

two illustrations, top and bottom. top is a sad person with the caption "china's reaction to western influence the outcome". The bottom is showing a happy girl with money, captioned "Japan's reaction to western influence the outcome"

In projects #2 and #3, students echo this characterization of Japan while contrasting it with a China that stubbornly refuses to accept Western influence. Project #2 juxtaposes a China that responds to Western imperialism by hiding under a bed, with a Japan that eagerly and excitedly opens its arms to Western civilization. In project #3, two Chinese men are looking back over their shoulders towards their past, while a Japanese man holding a telescope can see what the modern West has to offer; he is, in this student’s words, “always open to new ideas and looking ahead.” With his telescope he sees what the Chinese refuse to acknowledge: that Asia is the past, and the West is the future. In the narrative presented by all three projects, Japan accepts Western influence and succeeds, while China rejects it and fails. It is also noteworthy that the students view colonial conquest as a natural result of Japan’s successful modernization. In project #1, a triumphant Japan strengthened by its acceptance of Western influence is now able to menace its Asian neighbors. In project #2, a modernized Japan now holds the deed to Korea; colonial conquest is, in other words, one of the spoils of modernization, the reward for Japan’s decision to embrace the West. By contrast, China’s rejection of the West brings about its own victimization at the hands of modern colonial powers: Britain’s victory over China in the Opium Wars (represented by the sling emblazoned with the Union Jack) is China’s just punishment for resisting Western influence. 6

Why is this view problematic?

1 It is inaccurate to say that Japan accepted Western influence and China rejected it. In the two decades or so following the initial confrontations between East Asia and European imperialism in the mid-nineteenth century, one can identify in both China and Japan a broad range of ideas about how to respond to the new threat. Some commentators arrogantly dismissed the threat. Others responded with violent hostility toward the West. Others expressed the need to adopt Western technology while preserving some sort of Asian essence or spirit. Still others wanted to adopt not only technology but also social and political institutions and, to some extent, cultural values. On the whole, the range of attitudes towards the West was remarkably similar in the two countries.

illustration of china on one side saying "we are always looking to our past, we love the way things were" and japan on the right saying "we are always open to new ideas and looking ahead"

One could argue that the similarity ended after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when Japanese leaders began to build a modern nation-state based largely on Western models. But this effort was neither unanimously supported by the Japanese people nor motivated by an unambivalent embrace of things Western. Furthermore, in China, too, one can identify a number of reform efforts at both the central and provincial levels that were similar in many ways to the Meiji state-building project—except, of course, that Chinese leaders were unable to carry out these reforms effectively on a national scale (a point I’ll return to in a moment).

2 If we view the acceptance or rejection of the West as the key factor behind East Asia’s modern historical path, we reinforce certain stereotypes of a “static” East and a “dynamic” West. These stereotypes were initially generated by a nineteenth-century Orientalist mindset that created an image of Asia to stand in contrast to the West’s own image of itself. While the West’s self-image was characterized by modernity, rationality, and progress, the Orient embodied tradition, mysticism, and resistance to historical change. 7

Even if we avoid the rhetoric associated with this mindset, the narrative of world history presented in both high school and college classes tends to reaffirm the assumptions of that mindset. When students first encounter East Asia in a world history class, they generally study it as one of the major civilizations of the pre-modern world. This “civilizational” approach provides students with a portrait of what East Asia was like before its fateful encounter with modern Western imperialism. To fill out this portrait, many courses focus on a number of recognizable historical figures or institutions or attributes commonly associated with East Asia— Confucianism, samurai, the family system, the imperial institution, Buddhism, the Tale of Genji, the examination system, the Great Wall, footbinding, and so on. All of these are indeed important, as they represent some kind of significant development in East Asian history. What is often lost, however, is the fact that these items belong to very different moments in the history of East Asia— moments often separated by hundreds of years of historical change. As a result, what students usually see is a portrait of a timeless, changeless East Asia composed of elements removed from their specific historical contexts. They often come away with a still-life portrait of “East Asian Civilization” that does not correspond to any actual moment in East Asian history.

After studying East Asia and other non-Western civilizations in this way, students in most world history classes then proceed to examine in some detail the “rise of the West,” focusing on the various changes (scientific revolution, industrialization, and so on) by which the West became modern and powerful. What is significant here is that after encountering non-Western civilizations that seem more or less changeless, students then study the West in a period of revolutionary historical change. Put another way, after seeing traditional East Asia as a still-life, they see the West as a moving picture. This tends to confirm students’ preconception that the West is characterized by historical change and the rest of the world by continuity. (Or, if non-Western change is recognized, it is usually portrayed as cyclical rather than forward-moving.) Since students see change as natural to the West and alien to the non-West, they come to the logical conclusion that nineteenth century East Asia could have changed only if it received change from the West. Japan’s supposed acceptance of the West and China’s supposed rejection of it thus provides a compelling explanation for what happened to the two countries in the second half of the nineteenth century.

3 The notion of “success” and “failure” that informs this view of East Asian modernization often carries with it moral connotations that must be problematized. Specifically, students too often interpret “success” in modernization as a moral good, and “failure” as a moral evil. We can identify such undertones in project #4, which states explicitly what the other projects imply: that China “lost” and Japan “won.” China’s failure to embrace the West and modernize condemned it to a future of opium addiction and a primitive way of life (symbolized by the ox-drawn carriage), while Japan’s success brought with it technology, which students already tend to see as an inherently good thing. In my own classes I frequently detect a tone of contempt or disgust on the part of students who castigate China for not accepting the inevitability of modernization. We need not avoid all moral judgments when teaching history, but we should challenge students to examine the assumptions on which those judgments are made.

How should we address these problems?

1 The issue of how China and Japan viewed the West is undeniably important, and teachers should explore this with their students. However, as I noted above, Japan and China exhibited a similar range of attitudes towards the West in the aftermath of their initial confrontation with Western imperialism. 8 There is no clear contrast between the attitudes of China and Japan as a whole (at least in terms of “acceptance” or “rejection”), and no simple correlation between these attitudes and the subsequent fates of the two countries during the second half of the nineteenth century.

illustration showing a split between the "losing china" and "winning japan"

Rather, the key issue is that, in the half-century after the initial confrontation with the threat of Western imperialism, Japan was able to build a centralized nation-state. On an administrative level, this involved the abolition of the more than 200 largely autonomous domains into which the country had been divided during the Tokugawa period, 9 and the subsequent creation of a nationwide administrative structure directly accountable to the new Meiji government. 10 It also involved the successful mobilization of a critical mass of local leaders to serve in this new government and carry out its initiatives at the local level. But in addition, the process of centralization in Japan involved integrating ordinary people into the institutions of the modern state and cultivating among those people a personal identification with the nation. Together, these centralizing efforts made Japan a nation-state, one whose strength was based upon the collective energies of individuals who believed they had a stake in the country’s future. This far-reaching process of centralization did not occur independent of influences from the West. Many of the institutional reforms carried out by the Meiji government—in schooling, the military, etc.—were indeed based on Western models. But this selective adoption of Western influences was only a part of the bigger and more consequential phenomenon of centralization.

When discussing the history of East Asia during the second half of the nineteenth century, then, the central question is why Japan was able to centralize in this way and why China was not. 11 This is a complex issue, and there are many ways to approach it. This makes it a wonderful opportunity for students to engage in historical analysis and debate. What was the determining factor in centralization? Was it geography? (China is big; Japan is smaller, and is an island nation.) Was it the difference between the two countries’ imperial institutions? (In Japan, the emperor was not tied inextricably to the existing political regime, and thus could be used to legitimize political upheaval; in China, the emperor was bound up in the existing regime in a way that precluded such a development.) Was it because of the political structures of the two countries? (One could argue, for example, that the decentralized nature of Japan’s political order at the time of its confrontation with imperialism brought the crisis to a head more quickly and encouraged Japanese leaders to envision a new kind of political order.) Was it the fact that Tokugawa Japan experienced such a remarkable degree of cultural integration that, after the fall of the Tokugawa regime, the impulse of local leadership was to move toward the new center rather than away from it? 12 Or should we look not to differences between Japan and China, but to those between the United States and Britain? (Scholars have argued that Britain’s interest in the China trade—particularly opium—resulted in more intrusive economic incursions than were exacted upon Japan by the United States.) 13

These are just a few possible factors students might address when studying nineteenth century East Asia. Some aspects of this discussion require more background knowledge of Japan and China than students in high school or college world history classes are likely to possess. However, students can try to answer the question with whatever knowledge they bring to the table. Even when their hypotheses are wrong, they will nonetheless be engaging in historical analysis using evidence. Furthermore, by organizing the discussion around the question of centralization (rather than that of accepting or rejecting the West), they will be forced to look within Japan and China—rather than simply at the West—to explain modern East Asian history.

2 How can we avoid confirming students’ assumptions about a passive and static East Asia and a dynamic West? If we retain the basic structure of most world history classes—snapshots of non-Western societies in their “traditional” state, followed by an examination of the internal dynamics of change that produced the rise of the West, followed by a discussion of the “reaction” of non-Western societies to the challenge of Western modernity—we fight an uphill battle. Nonetheless, there are a few simple ways to counter these stereotypes while working with the general structure of existing world history classes.

First, we can explicitly address stereotypes of a changeless Asia and a dynamic West. When we come across them in our students’ work—or, better yet, in the textbooks or videos we use in class—we can take a moment to talk about these stereotypes and where they come from.

Second, we can avoid presenting the rise of the West as a historical inevitability, as if Europe’s preeminence over the past two centuries emerged necessarily and predictably out of its history and culture. Of course, scholars continue to argue about this point. Some stress that Europe did possess a unique set of cultural values that enabled it to make a historic leap towards modernity, 14 while others portray the rise of the West as more accidental—the product of a fortuitous set of circumstances in the world economic system that Europe was ideally positioned to exploit to its advantage. 15 But even those who adopt the former position would agree, I think, that if one could be transported back to the year 1500—or even 1750—it would be startling, even unbelievable, to hear that Europe would by the late nineteenth century achieve worldwide economic and military dominance. In sum, we should portray the rise of the West as a recent, historically-contingent phenomenon, made possible (at least in part) by a specific set of historical circumstances.

illustration of a man and a woman in a kimono step on two men, with the words "the japanese overcame the west by giving them a taste of their own medicine"

Third, we can help undermine the image of a passive and static Asia by taking time to deal with changes in Asia during the period immediately preceding the Western incursions of the mid-nineteenth century. Both Qing China and Tokugawa Japan underwent major transformations in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries: commercial expansion, urbanization, population increase, substantial growth in schooling and literacy, vigorous intellectual debate, and the emergence of new cultural and artistic forms. Emphasizing these changes will help counter stereotypes about an inert and static Asia. Moreover, if we ignore these changes we deprive students of critical information they need to help them analyze what happened to Japan and China during the second half of the nineteenth century.

3 How do we avoid conferring moral significance to the story of Japanese success and Chinese failure? First and foremost, by making sure that we don’t use morally-laden rhetoric when we present this topic to students. (In fact, it might be a good idea to steer clear of the terms “success” and “failure” altogether.) First, we should avoid the temptation to describe modern Chinese history strictly in terms of dysfunction and tragedy, even though the Chinese themselves have often described it in such terms. Conversely, we ought to avoid telling the story of Japan’s rise to the status of a modern nation-state in a celebratory tone, making sure to remind students that Japan’s “successful” drive to modernization had its own tragic consequences: ultra-nationalism, colonial aggression, militarism, and a catastrophic war. We might also take the opportunity to raise the more general question of whether it is necessarily a good thing to become modern. This issue, of course, requires us to discuss with students what it actually means to become modern—a question to which I now turn.

Modernization and Westernization

Most students tend to view modernization and Westernization as synonymous. They believe that the particular historical experience of the West represents a singular, universal model for becoming modern. To become modern, therefore, is to become Western—which, in the minds of most students, involves a wholesale adoption of Western values and cultural practices.

Students often articulate this idea through the metaphor of clothing. Specifically, the persistence of traditional clothing in China is used as both symbol and evidence of China’s failure to modernize, while Japan’s successful modernization is expressed as a process of shedding traditional clothes in favor of Western garb. In project #5, for example, a Japanese couple wearing 1920s-style Western clothes—the woman in flapper attire, the man with a business suit and briefcase—are depicted standing on the shoulders of Western political and military leaders against the backdrop of a globe. Japan’s emergence as a major world power is thus symbolized, or perhaps even made possible, by the donning of Western clothing and by the larger project of cultural Westernization. Project #6 draws a similar connection between Western clothing and modernization. Japan (represented here in what appears to be the dress of a Chinese scholar-official) is again portrayed as a country behind walls, with an American steamship anchored outside. Japan invites the West inside to master its technology and adopt its political and military systems. As Japan attempts to use its knowledge of the West to transform itself into a modern nation, it gradually abandons its indigenous clothing (robe and sandals) and dons a Western military uniform. Having completed this process, a westernized Japan is now able to “throw [the West] out.”

Project #7 states explicitly some of the assumptions behind these visual representations of the relationship between modernization and Westernization. The modern histories of Japan and China are depicted here as a board game in which the ultimate goal is modernization. The two countries begin at the same square, in a condition of static isolation. This condition could not last forever, however, because, in the student’s words, “change is inevitable.” In the next square, change comes from the outside in the form of Western imperialism; at this point the two countries’ paths diverge. Japan “gives in to Westernization,” and proceeds immediately to modernity. China, however, does not “give in” to Westernization, and as a result, must proceed down a troublesome historical path. This path includes the Opium wars, the rise of Communism, the loss of Manchuria to Japan, and the destructive reform efforts of the CCP; these are viewed as negative consequences of China’s decision to reject the West. China eventually arrives at modernity, but only after it recognizes the need to give in to Westernization. The message is clear: there is a single path to modernity, and it goes through the West.

Why is the view problematic?

1  This view, too, reinforces the stereotype of a dynamic West and a static Asia. Why? Because if modernization is the same thing as Westernization, then for the West modernization is a natural process; the West is defined by the inner capacity to become modern. Asia, by contrast, lacks that capacity. To become modern it must become something other than what it is, and always has been. It must abandon its natural, changeless state—usually referred to as “tradition”—and follow the historical trajectory of the West. That’s why the image of discarding indigenous clothing and putting on the clothing of the West is so compelling to students.

2 This view also fosters a Eurocentric view of world history, in the sense that the European historical experience becomes the lens through which all other areas of the world are analyzed. If we assume that all countries must inevitably follow the historical path taken by Europe, we will tend to think that what is important about European history should be equally important when examining the history of non-Western societies. For example, if we agree with Max Weber that the protestant ethic was instrumental in the rise of capitalism in Europe, we should therefore examine nonWestern societies to see if an analogous ethic can be located there too. 16 Studying non-Western countries becomes an exercise in plotting their history against a backdrop of the trajectory of the West. This methodology prevents us from seeing the history of other countries on their own terms. Moreover, it tends to idealize and oversimplify European and American history, too, making the experience of “the West” appear much more uniform than it actually has been.

drawing over several people in front of rocks. titled how japan controlled tomorrow influence

3 This view accepts the universalistic claims of Western modernity as self-evident. The nineteenth century European and American concept of progress claimed a single path to modernity, and that the West stood at its destination. Therefore, everything that supposedly characterized European and American society at that moment—its economic system (capitalism), its values (for example, individualism), its political system (liberal democracy), its ideological underpinnings (a faith in science and reason), and so on— were viewed as being not just better, but universal. That is, people assumed that all societies must, and inevitably will, embrace these things, because they represent the destiny of humankind. Many instructors and students may still agree that those things are, in fact, desirable for everyone, but historical analysis requires us to stand outside of them and view them critically.

1 Engage students in an attempt to make analytical distinctions between modernization and Westernization. Are modernization and Westernization the same thing? If not, how are they different? These foundational questions, in turn, lead to other, more specific questions: Does a society need to be industrialized to be modern? Does it need to be democratic? Secular? Do societies inevitably become more alike as they become modern? Does a modern society need to have a capitalist economic system? Must it have a certain level of literacy? A mass media? Can a predominantly rural society be modern? Can a society with arranged marriages and multigenerational, extended family households be modern? Do the presence of McDonald’s restaurants and video games serve as markers of a modern society? Can you imagine a modern society that looks substantially different from American society? How would it be different? In what ways would it still be modern, despite the differences? While discussing these questions with students, teachers will at every turn run into undefined terms (like “modern” and “Western”) and unexamined assumptions. These moments provide great teaching opportunities, but instructors should not feel as if they have to clear everything up; the purpose, in my view, is simply to help students think critically about the issues at hand.

Instructors should call attention to the fact that China and Japan have struggled with these same kinds of questions. Following the expansion of European and American imperialism into East Asia in the mid-nineteenth century, both countries grew intensely concerned with the question of whether they could become modern without becoming Western. Such a discussion necessarily involved an attempt to distinguish between “modern” and “Western.” Usually, commentators did this by dividing the material realm from the spiritual or cultural realm—for example, by saying that Asia could become materially modern in terms of technology, institutions, and wealth while maintaining a cultural or spiritual uniqueness rooted in tradition. Most students tend to accept this notion at face value, believing that there is some kind of unchanging Asian essence underlying a veneer of modern material life. Instructors should, however, help students recognize some of the problematic assumptions behind such a view.

illustration of a board game titled china vs japan

On the other hand, attempts by European and American scholars to distinguish between modernization and Westernization have been similarly problematic. In the 1950s and 60s, scholars attempted to create a generic definition of modernization, one not based exclusively on the historical experience of Western Europe and America. 17 This effort has since been widely critiqued, however, and many scholars would now argue that the goal of a culturally neutral definition of modernization is inherently suspect. 18 But even with no consensus on a universal definition of modernization, engaging students in an attempt to define it is worthwhile, as it requires them to hold the concept up to critical scrutiny.

2 Indeed, what is crucial is that teachers treat “modernization” and “modernity” as concepts —historically-bounded ideas that can be subjected to critical inquiry. In the minds of the nineteenth century actors we’re studying, these were not concepts as such, but self-evident descriptions of reality. For Europeans and Americans, “modern” described who they were, the stage in history to which they had evolved. And for the most part, China and Japan internalized this view, even though it placed them “below” the West and generated anxiety and ambivalence about becoming modern. For all parties involved, modernization and Westernization were inseparably linked, even though Japan and China struggled mightily to think about how to achieve the former without the latter. We, too, can try to separate and define them; as I note above, this effort is fraught with problems, but it can be a valuable exercise for students of world history. More importantly, however, we need to help students develop an analytical distance from what nineteenth century historical actors thought about what it means to be (or become) modern. This is not an easy task, particularly since contemporary American culture still views many of these ideas as commonsensical. In the classroom, however, we need to recognize that these ideas about the relationship between modernity and the West emerged at a specific moment in time, in a specific area of the world, and were generated by a specific set of historical conditions. In other words, we need to historicize these ideas, placing them within the context of a specific historical moment and making them the object of historical analysis.

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1. My sincere thanks to these students for agreeing to let me use their posters for this article.

2. These time constraints have always existed, but in Virginia—as in many states—they have become more pressing due to the increasing emphasis on “Standards of Learning” exams as a tool for determining teacher and student success.

3. A great number of articles and books aim to critique the assumptions that undergird both scholarly and popular understandings of East Asia, but one of the most accessible and straightforward is Paul Cohen’s Discovering History in China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984).

4. See Ron Toby, State and Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1984). Toby’s book reveals that the Tokugawa government actively pursued foreign relations in the seventeenth century in an effort to legitimize its claim to domestic power. Of course, in order for diplomacy to serve this legitimizing function, it had to be conducted on the Tokugawa government’s terms; as a result, the government limited its diplomatic linkages to Korea and the Ryūkyū Kingdom, while maintaining links of trade and information with the Dutch and Chinese.

5. This same color scheme was employed in a Chinese documentary called “River Elegy.” The documentary represented Chinese tradition with the color yellow, manifested concretely in the silt of the Yellow River; the West, by contrast, was represented by the color blue. The documentary ends with an urgent plea for China to merge with the path of modern Western civilization—a plea accompanied visually by an overhead shot of the Yellow River emptying into the blue ocean, producing a new, green, civilization.

6. Robert Eskildsen demonstrates that, from the very inception of the Meiji period, many Japanese embraced this idea that colonial expansion was an integral, natural part of the process of modernization. See Eskildsen, “Of Civilization and Savages: The Mimetic Imperialism of Japan’s 1874 Expedition to Taiwan,” The American Historical Review 107, no. 2 (Spring 2002): 388–418.

7. The foundational work on this concept of Orientalism is Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978).

8. Instructors seeking to introduce students to Chinese and Japanese attitudes towards the West can consult Wm. Theodore de Bary, et. al, comp., Sources of Chinese Tradition , 2 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960), and the corresponding volume for Japan, Sources of Japanese Tradition , 2. Students can, for example, compare the excerpted writings of Japanese commentators Aizawa Seishisai and Hirata Atsutane with those of the Chinese Lin Zexu and Feng Guifen.

9. For a brief, synthetic discussion of the nature of the Tokugawa political order, see Mary Elizabeth Berry, “Public Peace and Private Attachment: The Goals and Conduct of Power in Early Modern Japan,” Journal of Japanese Studies 12, no. 2 (Summer 1986): 237–71; and Ronald Toby, “Rescuing the Nation from History: The State of the State in Early Modern Japan,” Monumenta Nipponica 56, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 197–237.

10. For a discussion of the project of political centralization during the first decade of the Meiji period, see Michio Umegaki, After the Restoration (New York: New York University Press, 1988).

11. Those familiar with Chinese history may find this question surprising, insofar as pre-modern China’s claim to fame has often been its centralized political authority. Some historians even argue that it was precisely China’s comparatively high level of centralization that impeded China from playing a more dominant role in the modern world economy. Conversely, they argue that Europe—which until around 1500 had been comparatively backward relative to China and marginal to the world economy—was able to achieve such economic and political dominance because of its decentralized political order. It’s important to point out that I’m speaking here of a different kind of centralization: not just a centralized political structure, but a centralized nation that identifies itself with such a structure. I should also point out here that, when discussing this issue in the classroom, we should focus on the question of why Japan was able to build a centralized nation-state, rather than on the question of why China did not. To focus unduly on the latter often causes students to see something “wrong” or “dysfunctional” with China, when in fact, China’s fate was much more typical of the experience of non-Western countries that faced the threat of European imperialism in the nineteenth century.

12. See Mary Elizabeth Berry, “Was Early Modern Japan Culturally Integrated?” Modern Asian Studies 31, no. 3 (1997): 547–81.

13. Frances Moulder, Japan, China and the Modern World Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977).

14. See, for example, David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Others So Poor (New York: W.W. Norton, 1998).

15. See Andre Gunder Frank, ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998); R. Bin Wong, China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000); Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000). For an excellent summary of this debate, see Gale Stokes, “The Fates of Human Societies: A Review of Recent Macro-histories,” in The American Historical Review 106, no. 2 (April 2001): 508–25.

16. I use this example because a seminal work on Tokugawa religious history attempted to do precisely this. See Robert Bellah, Tokugawa Religion: The Values of Pre-Industrial Japan (Glencoe, Ill: Free Press, 1957).

17. Since Japan was seen at that time as the only non-Western country to have modernized, it was of great interest to scholars seeking to create a culturally neutral definition of modernization. The definitive statement of the theoretical underpinnings of this scholarship is John Whitney Hall, “Changing Conceptions of the Modernization of Japan,” in Marius Jansen, ed., Changing Japanese Attitudes Toward Modernization (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965), 7–43.

18. For a description of the political context for this scholarship, see Michael Latham, Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and ‘Nation-Building’ in the Kennedy Era (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000). For a critique of this scholarship as it relates to the study of Japan, see John Dower’s introduction to his book, Origins of the Modern Japanese State: Selected Writings of E. H. Norman (New York: Pantheon Books, 1975); and Harry Harootunian, “America’s Japan/Japan’s Japan,” in Harootunian and Masao Miyoshi, eds., Japan in the World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 198–221.

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Modern Diplomacy

Abhishek G Bhaya

Chinese President Xi Jinping once remarked that Chinese modernization is “both the most difficult and the greatest” task in the history owing to the colossal challenge posed by the Asian country’s massive population. 

The Chinese leader is certainly not off the mark. In the grand landscape of global development, Chinese modernization indeed stands as a monumental and unprecedented undertaking. With a population exceeding 1.4 billion, greater than the combined populace of developed nations, China’s pursuit of modernization is an expansive endeavor that not only shapes the destiny of a nation but has far-reaching implications for the entire world.

Navigating the complexities of modernization with such a massive population is an intricate dance. Diverse demands for development emerge from a populace engaged in solving challenges ranging from employment and distribution to education, healthcare, housing, and social care. China acknowledges that the key to success lies in forging consensus and promoting inclusive development.

Despite becoming the world’s second-largest economy, China continues to grapple with imbalances and is the first to recognize these disparities. The per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ranks lower than 80th globally, emphasizing the need for inclusive growth. Urban-rural disparities persist, reflecting the vast regional differences within the country. The sheer scale of China’s population presents challenges never encountered in human history, making its modernization a pioneering effort, moving “from zero to one.”

Inspiring impact: A global game-changer

Chinese modernization is not just a national ambition; it’s a transformative force with immense global significance. President Xi Jinping rightly asserts that China’s modernization will rewrite the international landscape.

The sheer scale of China’s modernization endeavors will reshape the international landscape. Unlike high-income countries that represent a mere 15.8 percent of the world’s population, China’s population constitutes 18 percent of the world, and its successful modernization would double the global modernized population, marking an unparalleled achievement in human history.

China’s unique path challenges the notion that modernization equals Westernization. With over 80 percent of the world’s population residing in developing countries, China presents an alternative model, rooted in its own national conditions. It champions inclusive development, demonstrated through growth strategies and practices focussed at “allowing some to get rich first and then helping others get rich.”

Also, China’s modernization opens doors to global opportunities. Over the past four decades, China has lifted over 800 million people out of poverty, expanded the middle-income group to over 400 million, and become the main trading partner for over 140 countries. Its huge population continues to fuel global economic growth, attracting foreign investment and fostering international trade.

Chinese path follows a holistic approach

China’s modernization efforts emphasize the need for continual reform and innovation. The path chosen by China is not merely about achieving efficiency; it is about maintaining a higher degree of social equity. The modernization journey is the modernization of common prosperity for all, an essential contribution to global development.

The Chinese path to modernization extends beyond economic growth. Emphasizing a holistic approach that integrates material and cultural-ethical advancements, this vision encompasses the development of a great modern socialist country. The Chinese route seeks to harmonize material abundance with cultural enrichment, underlining the importance of humanism and humane values as foundational elements of modernization.

While recognizing the potential risks and challenges, the Chinese leadership’s unwavering commitment to a peaceful development path stands as a testament to China’s dedication to a harmonious world order. The Chinese path to modernization prioritizes independence, self-reliance, and mutually beneficial cooperation, fostering a spirit of win-win collaboration in a rapidly changing global landscape.

China’s people-centered governance concept, resonating in the belief that “the country is the people, and the people are the country,” underlines the commitment to prosperity for everyone, leaving no one behind. China’s triumph in eradicating absolute poverty and building a moderately prosperous society underscores the feasibility and success of the Chinese path to modernization.

A driving force for global growth and development

The global impact of Chinese modernization reverberates across various dimensions.

Economically, China’s modernization serves as a robust catalyst for global economic recovery. Its huge market space, combined with abundant human resources, provides a formidable impetus to the world economy. China’s role as a major trading partner, substantial direct investor worldwide, and a magnet for foreign businesses positions it as a key player in shaping the global economic landscape.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Global Development Initiative (GDI) exemplify China’s commitment to common development. With over 75 percent of countries worldwide and 32 international organizations participating in the BRI, it has become a driving force for international investment and job creation. The GDI, supported by over 100 countries and numerous international organizations, contributes significantly to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Culturally and ethically, China envisions a harmonious coexistence of diverse civilizations. President Xi’s Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) emphasizes the respect for the diversity of civilizations, promoting mutual learning, dialogue, and inclusiveness. China actively engages with the international community to foster enhanced exchanges, understanding among different peoples, and the integration of diversified cultures, creating a vibrant tapestry of world civilizations.

Environmental stewardship is integral to Chinese modernization, with an emphasis on harmony between humanity and nature. Leading initiatives in afforestation, renewable energy development, and commitment to climate change mitigation, China positions itself as a global leader in building a clean and beautiful world.

China’s commitment to peaceful development resonates through the Global Security Initiative (GSI), advocating a win-win approach to address security challenges. The GSI emphasizes solidarity and mutual cooperation, steering global development toward a future marked by peace, justice, and progress.

A pioneering mission for humanity

Chinese modernization, under the sagacious leadership of President Xi Jinping, represents a transformative force with profound and far-reaching global implications. China’s colossal population, instead of being a hindrance, becomes a beacon of opportunity for the world.

In the mosaic of global progress, China’s modernization isn’t just a national agenda; it’s a story of shared opportunities and collective growth and well-being of humanity. As China surges ahead, it extends an invitation to the world to join hands in shaping a future where prosperity, equity, and environmental consciousness converge.

The vision encapsulated in Chinese modernization isn’t confined to borders; it is a blueprint for a world where the challenges of today become the stepping stones for a better tomorrow, offering the world new opportunities and unveiling new possibilities for progress.

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Since the beginning of modern times, plagued by domestic crises and foreign invasions, China has constantly been exploring the question of how to modernize into a strong, wealthy nation in ways that suit its national conditions. Throughout this period, China has undergone four critical turning points: the Opium War in 1840, the 1911 Revolution (Xinhai Revolution), the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and the beginning of its reform and opening-up in 1978. It was this last turning point, initiated by Deng Xiaoping, that pulled China out of poverty, backwardness, and seclusion. Since then, China has followed a development path in which opening-up is furthered by reform and reform is, in turn, furthered through the nation’s opening-up.

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North ( 1990 ) conducted useful research on these issues.

Gill and Kharas ( 2007 ).

Cheremukhin et al. ( 2015 ).

Tian ( 2018 ).

Lincoln ( 1953 [1854]).

On March 8, 1982, the State Commission for Restructuring the Economic System was established as a constituent department of the State Council. Its function is to study, coordinate, and guide economic system reform. Premier Zhao Ziyang, Li Peng, and Zhu Rongji have all served as chairman of the committee. In 1998, the Commission was abolished in the reform of the State Council.

The so-called “Tao” refers to the basic truths, principles, norms, and laws of doing things, which is the key concept in the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu.

The translated quotations of Sun Tzu are from https://saass.fandom.com/wiki/Sun_Tzu,_The_Art_of_War_(XXI) .

The New Policies of the late Qing dynasty implemented from 1901 to 1911 provide a typical example of failure. The rulers of the late Qing attempted to jump out of their historical cycle by establishing a constitution but missed their opportunity because of protracted hesitation. It was too late when they finally made the attempt.

Acemoglu, D., and J.A. Robinson. 2012. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty . Crown Business.

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Gill, Indermit, and Homi Kharas. 2007. An East Asian Renaissance: Ideas for Economic Growth . World Bank Publications.

Hurwicz, L. 1972. On informationally decentralized systems. In Decision and Organization in Honor of J , ed. R. Radner and C.B. McGuire, 297–336. Marschak: North Holland.

Hurwicz, L. 1979. On the dimension requirements of informationally decentralized Pareto-Satisfactory processes. In Studies in Resource Allocation Processes , ed. Arrow, K.J. and L. Hurwicz, 413–424. Cambridge University Press.

Lincoln, A. 1953[1854]. Fragment on government. In Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , vol. 2, ed. Roy P. Basler. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

North, D.C. 1990. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance . Cambridge University Press.

Tian, G. 2018. Causes of the deceleration of China’s economic growth. Study and Exploration 4: 5–11.

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Tian, G., Chen, X. (2022). Exploring the Way to China’s Modernization. In: China’s Reform: History, Logic, and Future. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-5470-2_1

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Different societies have evolved their distinctive modernities. The Japanese and Chinese cases are very instructive in this regard. Japan succeeded in remaining free of colonial control and achieved fairly rapid economic and industrial progress throughout the twentieth century. The Chinese resisted colonial exploitation and their own bureaucratic landed elite through a combination of peasant rebellion, reform and revolution. Both these countires are situated in far East Asia, yet, they present a marked physical contrast.

Physical Features

  • Japan is a string of islands, the four largest being Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku and Hokkaido.
  • There is no major river system.
  • More than 50 per cent of the land area of the main islands is mountainous and Japan is situated in a very active earthquake zone.
  • There are various homogenous ethnic group, like there are a small Ainu minority and Koreans who were forcibly brought as labour when Korea was a Japanese colony.
  • Language spoken in mostly Japanese.
  • Japan lacks a tradition of animal rearing.
  • Rice is the staple crop and fish the major source of protein.
  • Raw fish (sashimi or sushi) has now become a widely popular dish around the world as it is considered very healthy.

Political System

  • Japan became a modern country from the days of petty daimyo of Japan.
  • In the twelfth century the imperial court lost power to shoguns, who in theory ruled in the name of the emperor, with the help of samurais ( the warrior class)   and daimyo with their capital in Edo (modern Tokyo).
  • In the sixteenth century, Samurai insured peace and order.
  • Japan was divided into more than 250 domains under the rule of lords called  daimyo.

In the late sixteenth century, three changes laid the pattern for future development.

  • The peasantry was disarmed and only the samurai could carry swords. This ensured peace and order, ending the frequent wars of the previous century.
  • The daimyo were ordered to live in the capitals of their domains, each with a large degree of autonomy.
  • The land surveys identified owners and taxpayers and graded land productivity to ensure a stable revenue base.-
  • By the mid-seventeenth century, Japan had the most populated city in the world – Edo – but also had two other large cities – Osaka and Kyoto.
  • Growth of a commercial economy and a vibrant culture blossomed in the towns, where the fast growing class of merchants patronised theater and the arts.
  • Increased use of money and creation of stock market led the economy in new ways.
  • Social and intellectual changes took place – such as the study of ancient Japanese literature – led people to question the degree of Chinese influence and study of ancient Japanese literature promoted.

The Meiji Restoration

  • The Meiji restoration is termed as one of the most momentous events in the Japanese history.
  • There was demands for trade and diplomatic relations. In 1853, the USA demanded Japan  that the government sign a treaty that would permit trade and open diplomatic relations.
  • Japan lay on the route to China which the USA saw as a major market. At that time, there was only one Western country that traded with Japan, Holland.
  • In 1868, a movement removed Shogun and brought Emperor to Edo. This was made the capital and renamed Tokyo, which means ‘eastern capital’.
  • British dominance in Asia alerted Japan, and scholars there wanted to learn European modern ideas. Many scholars and leaders wanted to learn from the new ideas in Europe; others sought to exclude the Europeans even while being ready to adopt the new technologies they offered. Some argued for a gradual and limited ‘opening’ to the outer world.
  • To develop their economy and build a strong army, the government with the slogan slogan ‘ fukoku kyohei ’ (rich country, strong army), created a sense of nationhood among the people and transform subjects into citizens.
  • The government also built the ’emperor system’ – a system, where mperor along with the bureaucracy and the military, exercised power. The Emperor was treated with reverence as he was considered a direct descendant of the Sun Goddess but he was also shown as the leader of westernisation. His birthday became a national holiday, he wore Western-style military uniforms.

Meiji Reforms

  • Administrative Reforms : The Meiji government imposed a new administrative structure by altering old village and domain boundaries to integrate the nation.   In 1871, feudalism was abolished under the Meiji rule.
  • Economic Reforms : Another Meiji reforms was the modernising of the economy. Japan’s first railway line, between Tokyo and the port of Yokohama, was built in 1870-72. In 1872, modern banking institutions were launched.  Zaibatsu (business families) dominated the economy.
  • Industrial Reforms : Textile machinery was imported from Europe, and foreign technicians were employed to train workers, as well as to teach in universities and schools, and Japanese students were sent abroad. The number of people in manufacturing increased. Over half of those employed in modern factories were women. The size of factories also began to increase.
  • Agricultural Reforms : Funds were raised by levying an agricultural tax.
  • Constitutional Reforms : In 1889, Japan adopted the a new constitution. The Meiji Constitution had created a Diet and declared emperor as the commander of the forces, it was based on a restricted franchise.
  • Educational Reforms:  A new school system began to be built from the 1870s. Schooling was compulsory for boys and girls and by 1910 almost universal. Tuition fees were minimal. Tokyo Universtiy was established in 1877.
  •   Military Reforms :   All young men over twenty had to do a period of military service. A modern military force was developed. The military and the bureaucracy were put under the direct command of the emperor.

Re-emergence of Japan as a Global Economic Power

During the 1930, Japan excercised imperialist policy and invaded China to extend its colonial empire. Japan’s attempt to carve out a colonial empire ended with its defeat by the Allied forces. However, it was defeated in the World War II when US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It resulted in huge destruction of masses. Under the US-led Occupation (1945-47) Japan was demilitarised and a new constitution introduced. Japanese philosopher Miyake Setsurei (1860-1945) argued that each nation must develop its special talents in the interest of world civilisation: The rapid rebuilding of the Japanese economy after its shattering defeat was called a post-war ‘ miracle ’.

  • The new constitution had Article 9, the so-called ‘no war clause’ that renounces the use of war as an instrument of state policy.
  • Agrarian reforms, the re-establishment of trade unions and an attempt to dismantle the zaibatsu or large monopoly houses that dominated the Japanese economy were also carried out.
  • Constitution was democratised.
  • Political parties were revived and the first post-war elections held in 1946.
  • Suffrage was given to women in the elections of 1946.
  • There was close relation between the government, bureaucracy and industry.
  • Japan also introduced better goods at cheaper rates in the market with its advanced technologies.
  • US support, as well as the demand created by the Korean and the Vietnamese wars also helped the Japanese economy.
  • The 1964 Olympics held in Tokyo, it symbolised the maturity of Japan’s economy.
  • The introduction of network of high-speed Shinkansen or bullet trains, started in 1964, which ran at 200 miles per hour, added to it prosperity.
  • In 1960s several pressure groups protested against industrial pollution. Industrialisation was pushed with utter disregard with the growth of civil society movements, due to its harmful effect on health and the environment.
  • Government action and new legal regulations helped to improve conditions.
  • China is a vast continental country that spans many climatic zones.
  • The core is dominated by three major river systems: the Yellow River (Huang He), the Yangtse River (Chang Jiang – the third longest river in the world) and the Pearl River.
  • A large part of the country is mountainous.
  • There are divergent ethnic group – Han, Uighur, Hui, Manchu and Tibetan.
  • Major languages spoken are Chinese and Cantonese.
  • Chinese food reflects this regional diversity. Southern or Cantonese cuisine include dim sum (literally touch your heart), an assortment of pastries and dumpling. While, in the north, wheat is the staple food while in Szechuan spices have created a fiery cuisine. In eastern China, both rice and wheat are eaten.

History of China 

  • The beginning of modern China can be traced to its first encounter with the West in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  • During 1839-42, British won the first opium war in China and snatched power from the Qing dynasty. The second opium war was fought in 1856-60.
  • It revolves around three questions – a) How to regain Sovereignty b) End the humiliation of Foreign Occupation c) Bring out equality and development.
  • There were three views: i) Liang Qichao used traditional ideas in new and different way to meet Western challenges. He popularised Chinese nationalism. ii) Republican revolutionaries Sun Yat Sen inspired by the ideas from the Japan and the West. He was the founder of the modern China and established a republic in 1911 AD. iii) The Communist Party of China (CCP) wanted to end age-old inequalities and dispel foreigners.
  • Later, the Guomindang (the National People’s Party) along with the CCP strived to unite Chinese.
  • Chiang Kai Shek, leader of the Guomindang, militarised China.
  • Mao Zedong, CCP leader, organised a Soviets or peasant councils and fought Japanese colonisation.
  • When Guomindang (the National People’s Party) intensified attacks, the Soviets shifted the base to Yanan, after a ‘Long March’. The Communist Party captured power and established the People’s Republic in 1949.

Establishing the Republic:

  • Manchu dynasty overthrown and a republic established in 1911 under Sun Yat-Sen. He studied medicine but was greatly concerned about the fate of China.
  • Yat-Sen’s programme was called the Three Principles – These were nationalism – this meant overthrowing the Manchu who were seen as a foreign dynasty, as well as other foreign imperialists; democracy or establishing democratic government; and socialism regulating capital and equalizing landholdings..
  • Revolutionaries asked for –  driving out the foreigners to control natural resources, to remove inequalities, reduce poverty.
  • Advocated reforms –  use of simple language, abolish foot binding and female subordination, equality in marriage and economic development.
  • Sun Yat-sen’s ideas became the basis of the political philosophy of the Guomindang which were identified the ‘four great needs –  clothing food, housing and transportation.
  • After the death of Sun, Chiang Kaishek (1887-1975) emerged as the leader of the Guomindang. He launched military campaign to control the ‘warlords’, regional leaders who had usurped authority, and to eliminate the communists.
  • He advocated a secular and rational ‘this-worldly’ Confucianism .
  • He encouraged women to cultivate the four virtues of ‘chastity, appearance, speech and work’ and recognise their role as confined to the household.

The Guomindang despite its attempts to unite the country failed because of its shallow social and political vision:

  • Sun Yat-Sen’s programme of regulating capital and equalising land – was never carried out.
  • the party ignored the peasantry and the rising social inequalities. It sought to impose military order rather then address the problems faced by the people.

The rise of the Communist Party of China

When the Japanese invaded China in 1937, the Guomindang retreated. The long and exhausting war weakened China. Prices rose 30 per cent per month between 1945 and 1949, and utterly destroyed the lives of ordinary people.

. Rural China faced two crises

(a) Ecological Factors:

  • Soil Exhanstion
  • Deforestation

(b) Socio – Economic Factors

  • Exploitative land-tenure systems
  • Indebtedness
  • Primitive Technology
  • Poor Communications

The CCP had been founded in 1921, soon after the Russian Revolution.  Mao Zedong (1893-1976), who emerged as a major CCP leader, took a different path by basing his revolutionary programme on the peasantry. His success made the CCP a powerful political force that ultimately won against the Guomindang. In 1949, Communist Government was established in China and began a new age in the history of China.

Establishing the New Democracy 1949-65

The Peoples Republic of China government was established in 1949. It was based on the principles of the ‘New Democracy’, an alliance of all social classes.

  • Critical areas of the economy were put under government control.
  • Private enterprise and Private ownership of land were abolished.
  • The Great Leap Forward movement launched in 1958 was a policy to galvanise the country to industrialise rapidly.
  • Mao was able to mobilise the masses to attain the goals set by the Party. His concern was with creating a ‘socialist man’ who would have five loves: fatherland, people, labour, science and public property.
  • Liu Shaochi (1896-1969) and Deng Xiaoping (1904-97) tried to modify the commune system as it was not working efficiently. The steel produced in the backyard furnaces was unusable industrially.

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

  • The conflict between the concept of ‘socialist man’ and those who objected to his emphasis on ideology rather than expertise led Mao to launch the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1965.
  • The Red Guards, mainly students and the army, was used for a campaign against old culture, old customs and old habits.
  • Students and professionals were sent to the countryside to learn from the masses.
  • Ideology became more important than professional knowledge. Denunciations and slogans replaced rational debate.
  • The Cultural Revolution began a period of turmoil, weakened the Party and severely disrupted the economy and educational system.
  • In 1975, the party once again laid emphasis on greater social discipline and the need to build an industrial economy.

Reforms of 1978 Deng Xiaoping

  • Deng Xiaoping kept party control strong while introducing a socialist market economy.
  • In 1978, the Party declared its goal as the Four Modernisations  –  science, industry, agriculture and defence.
  • ‘The Fifth Modernisation’ proclaimed that without Democracy the other modernisations would come to nothing.
  • in 1989, on the seventieth anniversary of the May Fourth movement many intellectuals called for a greater openness and an end to ‘ossified dogmas’ (su shaozhi).
  • Student demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in Beijing were brutally repressed.
  • The post-reform period has seen the emergence of debates on ways to develop China.
  • Growing revival of traditional ideas of Confucianism and arguments that China can build a modern society based on its own traditions rather than simply copying the West.

The Story of Taiwan

  • Taiwan had been a Japanese colony since the Chinese ceded it after the 1894-95 war with Japan.
  • The Cairo Declaration (1943) and the Potsdam Proclamation (1949) restored sovereignty to China.
  • The GMD, under Chiang Kai-shek went on to establish a repressive government forbidding the freedom of speech, political opposition banned.
  • They excluded the local population from positions of power.they carried out land reforms that increased agricultural productivity and modernised the economy s
  • Transformation of Taiwan into a democracy after the death of Chiang in 1975.
  • Martial law lifted in 1987 and opposition parties were legally permitted.
  • Diplomatically most countries have only trade missions in Taiwan instead of complete diplomatic ties because it (Taiwan) is considered to be part of China.
  • The question of re-unification with the mainland remains a contentious issue but “ Cross Strait” relations (that is between Taiwan and China) have been improving.
  • China may be willing to tolerate a semi-autonomous Taiwan as long as it gives up any move to seek independence.

Two Roads to Modernisation

  • The histories of Japan and China show how different historical conditions led them on widely divergent paths to building independent and modern nations.
  • Japan was successful in retaining its independence and using traditional skills and practices in new ways.
  • In the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) China faced a humiliating defeat. On 17 April 1895, Treaty of Shimonseki was signed between China and Japan, ending the First Sino-Japanese War.
  • The Chinese became vulnerable after their defeat and declared that both China and Japan needed reforms for modernisation.
  • Sino-Japanese war served the basis for the Anglo-Japanese alliance in 1902.
  • The Chinese path to modernisation was very different.
  • Foreign imperialism, both Western and Japanese, combined with a hesitant and unsure Qing dynasty to weaken government control.
  • The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw a rejection of traditions and a search for ways to build national unity and strength.

Timeline: Refer to page number 248 Keywords : Confucianism, Opium war, Modernisation, Meiji, May Fourth movement   ( 60 years earlier, there was an exciting explosion of new ideas), Communist, Proletarian, Daimyo, dim sum.

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  1. case study on china and japan path to modernization

    case study on china and japan path to modernization

  2. case study on china and japan path to modernization

    case study on china and japan path to modernization

  3. case study on china and japan path to modernization

    case study on china and japan path to modernization

  4. case study on china and japan path to modernization

    case study on china and japan path to modernization

  5. (PDF) China's Path to Modernization: Barrington Moore and Beyond

    case study on china and japan path to modernization

  6. Vohra, China's Path to Modernization: A Historical Review from 1800 to

    case study on china and japan path to modernization


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  1. PDF China's Path to Modernization (1949-2014)

    China's Path to Modernization (1949-2014) Hu Angang In 1949, the People's Republic of China (PRC) was established and ... process has took hundreds of years and for Japan it took 70-80 years ... Institute for Contemporary China Studies, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China e-mail: [email protected]. 32

  2. The Modernization of China and Japan

    III. This, in general, was my theory regarding the modernization of China and Japan. Japan was modernized under the powerful leadership and control of a ruling class, and China, because of the nonexistence of such control from above, was modernized through the long process of free contact, gradual diffusion, and voluntary following. We may ask ...

  3. PDF A Comparative Analysis of the Differences between

    China and Japan 10 2.1. The influences involved in the legacies 10 2.2. Do the legacies affect China and Japan's paths to modernization? 10 2.3. How did the legacies affect China and Japan's way of modernization? 11 2.3.1. China 11 2.3.2. Japan 20 2.4. Comparison of legacies between China and Japan 29 2.5.

  4. (PDF) Japan's Way to Modernization

    JAP AN'S W A Y TO MODERNITY 9. The external pressure, though vital for explaining why modernization was to be required, is clearly not enough to show the potential of future success that has ...

  5. PDF Why did Japan Succeed and China Fail? And Isn't Modernization the Same

    interpret "success" in modernization as a moral good, and "failure" as a moral evil. We can identify such undertones in project #4, which states explicitly what the other projects imply: that China "lost" and Japan "won." China's failure to embrace the West and modernize condemned it to a future of opium addiction and a prim -

  6. Of Modernization in China and Japan:

    Richard J. Smith*. Paul Cohen has recently warned against measuring nineteenth century China's modernization by the yardstick of Meiji Japan. " From the vantage point of Japan's 'success,' " he writes, "the late Ch'ing epitomizes 'failure,' and next to the dynamism of the Meiji. era, China, during the latter half of the nineteenth ...

  7. Japan's "Postmodern" Possibility with China: A View from Kansai

    This case study of Kansai-China relations also reveals the multifaceted nature of Sino-Japanese relations and the relative autonomy of the "periphery" (Osaka) from the center (Tokyo ). Economic interdependency between Osaka and the Chinese mainland did not necessarily coexist with political antagonism, despite right-wing Hashimoto Toru ...

  8. Comparative Research on the Modernization of Chinese and Japanese

    5 Yoshie Yoda, Modernization in Japan: A Comparison with China's Modernization (Tokyo: North Tree Publishing, 1989), 12-7. 6 Yoshie Yoda, A Comparative Research of Modernization in Japan and China , trans. Liqiang Bian (Shanghai: Shanghai Far East Publishers, 2004), 166 - 78.

  9. Why Did Japan Succeed and China Fail? And Isn't Modernization the Same

    We can identify such undertones in project #4, which states explicitly what the other projects imply: that China "lost" and Japan "won." China's failure to embrace the West and modernize condemned it to a future of opium addiction and a primitive way of life (symbolized by the ox-drawn carriage), while Japan's success brought with ...

  10. New Domains of Chinese Military Modernization

    Momentum is growing for Japan to enhance its defense capabilities and update its security policies amid heightened security concerns over China's military modernization. Japanese leaders have become increasingly concerned about China's military-civil fusion strategy to adopt innovative technologies to accelerate its development of a world ...

  11. The Foundations of Japan's Modernization: A Comparison With China's

    Semantic Scholar extracted view of "The Foundations of Japan's Modernization: A Comparison With China's Path Towards Modernization" by Yoda. Skip to search form Skip to main content Skip to account menu. Semantic Scholar's Logo. Search 217,048,275 papers from all fields of science. Search ...

  12. PDF 11 Western Impact and Asian Values in Japan's Modernization: A Weberian

    Western Impact and Asian Values in Japan's Modernization 169 MAX WEBER ON JAPAN At the end of his study on China, Weber draws a systematic comparison between Confucianism and Puritanism. For him, both attain a very high level of formal ra­ tionality. Concerning the realities of everyday life, however, they are rather differ­ ent.

  13. The Path of Chinese Modernization and Its World Significance (2022)

    In essence, Japan followed exactly the same path as Germany. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan's power increased dramatically, and it easily defeated its former teacher, China, in the Sino-Japanese War, as well as Russia, the "steamroller of Europe," Footnote 11 in the Russo-Japanese War. Japan subsequently thought it could represent the ...

  14. The foundations of Japan's modernization : a comparison with China's

    Tracing and evaluating the development in the history of Japanese culture and society that permits Japan's rapid and continuing modernization, Professor Yoda provides a new and original approach to the modernization of Japan. He starts from the assumption that Japan was better equipped for modernization because pre-modern Japan had already started to abandon Confucian influences.

  15. Contrasting Factors in the Modernization of China and Japan

    The method used has been that of a comparative presentation of the cases of China and Japan. This has been done because I have felt that the presentation of those features of China that were similar to those of Japan or offered China even greater advantages in the process would highlight and clarify those factors strategic in the case of Japan. The material presented in both cases has been ...

  16. From tradition to triumph: China's path to modernization and global

    China's triumph in eradicating absolute poverty and building a moderately prosperous society underscores the feasibility and success of the Chinese path to modernization. The global impact of Chinese modernization reverberates across various dimensions. Economically, China's modernization serves as a robust catalyst for global economic ...

  17. Chinese path to modernization: The Way forward

    In conclusion, the Chinese path to modernization is a journey that the nation's leaders are committed to advancing. Xi has outlined the way forward, emphasizing the need to coordinate, plan systematically, and approach the process holistically. The theory of the Chinese path to modernization marks a major theoretical innovation and is a ...

  18. Chinese path to modernization: Does the West understand?_Cooperation

    A highway overpass in Ganzhou, east China's Jiangxi Province, October 27, 2022. /CFP. This could be understood as an ideological character of the Western media. But it's also paradoxical, because it overlooks the Chinese modernization path at new levels. China needs adequate policies to overcome the "middle income trap."

  19. The Foundations of Japan's Modernization

    Tracing and evaluating the development in the history of Japanese culture and society that permits Japan's rapid and continuing modernization, Professor Yoda provides a new and original approach to the modernization of Japan. He starts from the assumption that Japan was better equipped for modernization because pre-modern Japan had already started to abandon Confucian influences.

  20. The politics of grand strategy in an emerging state: a case study on

    The study of grand strategy has been limited to the great powers, such as the United States and China. In the case of small-state studies, scholars do not expect a lot from the military. Instead, they often highlight the role of regional institutions through which small states could project their powers.

  21. China's Path to Modernization (1949-2014)

    Since 1949, China has strongly established itself on the path to modernization. For the first time, China's modern economic growth, namely, the per capita GDP growth rate, has remained consistently at 1.0%. As a modernization chaser, this is the core national objective with which a country can achieve modernization.

  22. Exploring the Way to China's Modernization

    Abstract. Since the beginning of modern times, plagued by domestic crises and foreign invasions, China has constantly been exploring the question of how to modernize into a strong, wealthy nation in ways that suit its national conditions. Throughout this period, China has undergone four critical turning points: the Opium War in 1840, the 1911 ...

  23. Paths to Modernization class 11 Notes History

    The histories of Japan and China show how different historical conditions led them on widely divergent paths to building independent and modern nations. Japan was successful in retaining its independence and using traditional skills and practices in new ways. In the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) China faced a humiliating defeat.