Weakness of China in the 19th century

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The weakness of the Chinese empire by the nineteenth century can be explained as much by the superiority of the westerners as by the traditional Chinese society. China's beliefs and traditions, such as the mandate of heaven, the social hierarchy and Confucianism, played a pivotal part in restricting China's growth, and deterring China from acquiring Western technology and science. This then led to the Opium Wars which greatly immobilized China. However the western superiority both technologically and industrially also brought about the demise of the Chinese. Example of the realization of western superiority is the self-strengthening movement, the 100 days of reform and the Taiping Rebellion. Then came the Boxer Rebellion, the final blow to China's weak central government. These problems brought about China's weakness in the nineteenth century.

The First Opium War, 1839-1842, was always going to be won by the British. The victory, was swift and efficient, and a major factor in China's weakness in the nineteenth century. The treaty that followed the Chinese defeat, meant that China had to open several ports to trade, whereas previously only Guangzhou was open to western trade.

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