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Nationalist Yearnings and the Modernization of China and Japan: The Importance of Economic Changes in Society to Revolution and Imperialism

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  1. Introduction
  2. The nationalists want for modernization
  3. Chinese defeats in the Opium War and the Boxer Rebellion
  4. Creation of zaibatsu in 1880
  5. Yamagata Aritomo's reforms: Lower classes brought in touch with samurai ethics
  6. The Japanese occupation of Manchuria
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works cited

Western nations like Portugal or England did not simply encroach upon China's territory in the name of some abstract imperialist ideal. They had strong economic interest in the area, especially in keeping the tea trade alive. When diplomacy failed to win over the Chinese, military force was used to subdue them during the Opium War and Asia was rudely awakened to the power and political thought of the West. In China intellectuals blamed the country's downfall on the foreign origins of the Qing and believed that nationalism would unite the people and inspire them to rise to the challenge of foreign might. But it wasn't the Qing's foreignness which allowed Westerners to take over the country, there was a deeper problem of corruption and financial backwardness which would needed to be dealt with. The Japanese had succeeded in rapidly modernizing by unifying their country under a national principle and creating a stable economy.

[...] This indemnity in turn funded naval development which gave the Japanese a significant advantage when they defeated the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War. Economic advantages from nationalist imperialism were vaulting Japan into the modern world, but perhaps a more significant and subtle result was the effect they had on modernizing China when they entered Manchuria in 1931. Up until that time China had been embroiled in various civil struggles. The Nationalist party had succeeded in uniting the country tenuously under Chiang Kai-shek. [...]


[...] Liang concluded that China's woes lay in its peoples' lack of a ?concept of the nation? (298) and that China would follow the path of Athens, who had claimed that its ?culture was the best in the world until it became subservient to other peoples, was unable to rise up, and eventually was shattered? (298). Thus, China's struggle was phrased in terms of its need to defeat the foreigners, those ?other peoples? to whom she was subservient. Revolutionaries latched onto love of their nation, for they believed that China already did have the best culture and that all they needed to do was topple the foreign dynasty. [...]

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