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China and Japan Essay

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China and Japan Essay

As oriental countries, the West often perceives China and Japan as two countries with similar politics, economics, and social norms. What many Westerners may not realize, however, is that starting in the 19th century, Japan ended its traditional isolationist policies while China sought to become isolationist, and that this distinction strongly influenced both Japan and China's political, economic, and social responses to modernization and westernization. Politically, China and Japan's reaction to Western ideas dramatically differed. When President Fillmore sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry to Japan, the ho-shogun and his advisers first resisted the visit, but finally agreed to trade with the United States upon signing the Treaty of Kanagawa in 1858. (Cohen)As a result, Western diplomats soon inundated the Land of the Rising Sun in order to persuade the nation politically, but more importantly to them, economically. The political-diplomatic, cultural-intellectual, and socio-economic relation that followed was christened the Meiji Restoration. In general, the Japanese gradually became very receptive to the concepts of democracy, liberalism, and laissez-faire, but Meiji leaders planned to remain free of Western imperialism by negotiating with Western diplomats. They did not abandon their isolationist policies of over 200 years under the Tokugawa Shogunate only to be absorbed as a European colony; instead, they wanted to learn Western military and industrialization tactics so that they could compete with Westerners politically and economically in the future. (Craig) China, however, was just the opposite. After experiencing the stresses of the Taiping Rebellion, often dubbed the world's bloodiest civil war, and then latter the horrors of the Opium Wars with Britain, China needed a political recess. They had already been deceived by the British…...

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