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Why did China fail?

Discussion in 'World History' started by marshal zhukov, Jul 13, 2002.

  1. marshal zhukov

    marshal zhukov good economist wannabe

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    I don't know almost anything about history but I am interested in it.

    So China invented the Compass, the Gunpowder, and other things.
    Why did they fail to take advantage of those improvements to expand or to at least assure their sovereignty in the later centuries?

    Was that a problem of goverment or lack of ambition or even lack of competion ?
    Or their size prevented them of making full use of their superior position in XIV and XV centuries ?
     
  2. MadScot

    MadScot Brandy's back!

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    One suggestion as to why China 'failed' to become the dominant civilization she had the potential for is...

    The dominant Chinese governing philosophy, Confucianism, stressed continuity, stability, standardisation, etc. This was a very conservative philosophy, and it ran through every dynasty - while the people at the top changed, the bureaucracy remained the same - even the Mongols had to work through the existing officials to administer the country.

    This system enabled China to recover from numerous set backs, dynastic overthrows, etc.

    But the inherent nature of the system also opposed change for change's sake. So the Chinese system never really permitted the kind of innovation that the somewhat anarchic european philosophies allowed for.

    (One can just as easily ask, why did Egypt 'fail' - after all, she was another early civilization with apparently great potential. Again, we see a very conservative culture.)

    To say China 'failed' is perhaps a little strong; after all, Chinese culture was one of the few in the world strong enough to even partially resist the corrosive influence of the europeans. If you judge a culture by technological advances, then China failed. But if you wish to conserve the status quo, then european culture is a manifest failure. Think how appalled a european of say 500 years ago would be with the state of our civilisation. Yes, our toys and gadgets would impress - but we'd be condemned to eternal hell as soulless atheists!:satan:
     
  3. marshal zhukov

    marshal zhukov good economist wannabe

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    I used 'failed' in a vague manner, my bad
    'failed' is related to world dominance. The kind of power and influence France, Spain, England and maybe Russia had over the world during the XVI to the XIX centuries. Because it seems at first that China had everything to be a super power

    TK for the explanation MadScot.
     
  4. napoleon526

    napoleon526 Emperor

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    The Chinese also had a superior view of themselves and their culture, which discouraged contact with outsiders. They imported no western ideas the way Japan did, and continued living as they had for centuries. The result was China's domination by the rest of the world and Japan become a major power.
     
  5. Oddible

    Oddible signal / noise > 1

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    Uh, Japan not a good example. Japan resisted any outside influence for 250 years until the US Commodore Perry sailed giant frigates into her harbors to force a treaty in 1854. Then the Japanese decided that perhaps these technologies and tactics of other cultures might be superior to their own so they better invite the Americans to teach them how to build a navy. Which they then used to obvious advantage not 100 years later.
     
  6. napoleon526

    napoleon526 Emperor

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    Ah, but Japan is a good example. The Japanese saw western culture and technology and knew that they had to adapt or be destroyed as a nation. The Chinese saw western culture and technology and did nothing. Hence, Japan's elevation to the region's most powerful nation.
     
  7. Toasty

    Toasty Old Guard

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    Japan was esentially 'raped', shall we say, into observing Western ideals and how to use them. China was simply subjugated.
     
  8. Alcibiaties of Athenae

    Alcibiaties of Athenae Imperator

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    I think that's an unfair statement, toasty.

    Certainly the US wanted trade with Japan, but a real grivence was the Japanese habit of executing ship-wrecked sailors.

    The Shogunate was comiting out-right murder for no good reason, Perry's orders were clear, if no formal trade and relations could be established, at the very least he was to secure the Japanese promise to stop killing these sailors.
     
  9. Ozz

    Ozz Deity

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    Culture
     
  10. elfstorm

    elfstorm Warlord

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    Why did China fail? Who says it's failed? In 100 years time maybe we'll be asking why did the west fail and view the 20c. as a strange period when china briefly fell behind the west... :)

    Seriously, China had a huge lead around the 13th century - as you said they invented gunpowder and recent historical work shows they had avery advanced industrial base, some people have even speculated that they were on the brink of an industrial revolution.

    BUt then the Mongols invaded, there was plague and famine and over a quarter of the population died. A slight setback?
     
  11. Damien

    Damien Emperor

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    Na,i'd say because of Confucianism.Confucianists didn't like trade and called for respect for the state.
    Imagine a Franciscan Europe.
     
  12. Archbob

    Archbob Ancient CFC Guardian

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    During the Tang dynasty China was probably the most powerful nation on earth and continued to be in the lead until the late ming/early Manchu Dnasty. Its because china closed themselves to the rest of the world and did not make uses of the advances that were being achieved elsewhere.

    It was during the Reign of Kangxi(considered by some to the greatest emperor of the Manchu dynasty) that China really started to fall behind technologically. Sure Kangxi did drive alot of border tribes out of China and took care of the country well, but he failed to make china advance and take note of the technologies being discovered elsewhereIf Kangxi had been more like Peter the Great(who lived at the same time), china would not have fallen behind. That is why Peter the Great is known throughout the world as "Peter the Great" and why Kangxi is not known throughout the world as "Kangxi the great" because Peter did do more for Russia than Kangxi did for china. China took another hard blow during the Reign of Sean Feng, especially his his wife zhi shi. She took 4,500,000,000 ounces of silver which has supposed to be used for the military to build the summer palace garden and her corrupt officials let foreigners take over china without a fight.
     
  13. ranskaldan

    ranskaldan Chieftain

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    China got ahead first because of her large size and unity, and hence, political and economic prowess.

    China fell behind because of conservatism and complacency.
     
  14. feistymongol

    feistymongol Warlord

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    Who says China has failed yet? They have suffered setbacks the last 400 years but for a nation with a 5,000 year history that's a drop in the bucket of time. Their culture is intact,the people are intact,and now the country has been reunified for the last 50 years. If anything they are the last surviving ancient civilization to make its transformation into modern times. What will the future hold? It's hard to tell really..clouded is China's future :) they seem to be progressing at a decent economic clip but they really need to reform their communist system even more to be competitive. I believe that is the intention of the people and communist party. Most of them learned a valuable lesson from the fall of U.S.S.R. that a communist system is not infinitely sustainable in this world without serious market/social reforms. Then again with a 1.3 billion person labor force you can literally do anything. Look at how China is starting to dominate the export industries. The Chinese are also the largest ethnic population in the world..Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language next to Hindi. There are several countries with majority Chinese populations such as Singapore, Taiwan, etc.. Even the U.S. and Canada have significant ethnic Chinese populations. It's really only a matter of time before China is at the edge of success again.


    By the way, the decline of China can be charted by 4 major events. 1) The rule of the Manchus 2) WW1 japanese imperialism 3) British antagonism and expansion in the area 4) WW2
     
  15. Archbob

    Archbob Ancient CFC Guardian

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    China is on the upswing again yes, but I think in time its large population will start to be a burden more than a blessing. China's natural resources are already drained and I'm not sure if she can support such as large population.
     
  16. Gandalf13

    Gandalf13 Imperator

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    I think that there is a big chance that the Chinese will be the next super power. If they shed their communist government, their economy could quickly overtake the United States, but it would be awhile before they would be a match militarily.
     
  17. Rodgers

    Rodgers Following YOUR child home

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    I've been to China and I can tell you it's a dump - I think it will be a lot longer than people are claiming before it really takes off. Sure, the workforce is massive but when the overwhelming majority of them are peasant farmers that doesn't sound so impressive.

    Also, their dominance of the export market is largely due to the fact that western companies use cheap Chinese labour to produce their products over there. Can you think of any homegrown Chinese products we're all deperate to buy, except maybe rice?When they start developing technologies/products of their own then they'll really become an economic "power"

    The country itself is huge but it is only the eastern coastal strip that is experiencing any real economic growth,with the hinterland plodding along behind. The big cities are sucking the labour off the land and I would be suprised if some sort of crisis isn't triggered by this in the medium/long term.

    All in all it's not that impressive
     
  18. feistymongol

    feistymongol Warlord

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    Really, which part of China did you visit? I've been to Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and the inner provinces of Sezchuan and Guangzhou and none of it looked as bad as you described. By the way, you might want to take a more in depth look at the economics of China. Obvious western cultural biases aside, I think China has had good economic growth considering it's been through 2 catastrophic events in the past 50 years (WW2 and civil war almost back to back.) A lot of their investment and growth is also domestic and much of it is regional. Based on the CIA worldfactbook statistics the U.S. has about the same amount invested in China as Taiwan does. Japan is practically the 2nd most prolific investor..that's hardly mostly "western" investment as you alluded to. It's obvious that you were implying that China is only there because of the good "graces" of western investment however that just isn't true.

    By the way.. when you denigrate "Chinese" products you should do it carefully since chances are you're probably using a chinese manufactured motherboard/ram right now. A lot of Taiwan based mobo manufacturers contract out work to China for their computer hardware. This includes Abit, Asus, Tyan, and several ram companies.
     
  19. redtom

    redtom Proudhonist

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    The funny thing about Chinese history is that they sent many voyages out. They circumnavigated the world in a fleet with ships 5 times the size of caravelle. There are wrecks in the Carribean and Philipines. But despite visiting all continents, they considered the rest of the world worthless except for giraffes. The emperor heard of such creatures and wanted one!

    One of the reasons for Chinese isolationism was how the China was created. Think of early china as like Europe in the 15th century with many strong powers fighting endlessly and having seperate language, currency etc.. This, according to a documentary i watched, had a strong effect on Chinese foreign policy has it felt i was large enough and feared war and change
     
  20. Fayadi

    Fayadi Technocrat

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    China failed in 18,19 and 20 th century because of incompetence emperors,stupid manchus who ruled the country and the communist tragedy.
    However I am pleased that Chinese economy is rocketing now,by 2020 we would have returned to the place where belongs in the past,The World only superpower.The chinese have learnt their mistake of isolation and when we return to the superpower seat,we are going to be the superpower forever.
    Why ,China is the only civilization who has developed itself and advanced rapidly.No other civilization in the world can develop by itself,Western civilizations are interdependant on each other for advance(technology,society).


    "When China wakes ,it will rock the world" Napeleon
    "China will be the greatest player in the history of man"Lee Kuan Yew,Singapore Senior Minister
     

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