Look at any one of the Turning Points covered in this topic and consider the historical circumstances that caused it to happen when it did. Was the Turning Point predictable or did it happen without warning?.
The Opium War of China, beginning in January 1840, was a major Turning Point in history which subsequently affected a great number of the Chinese population of 400 million. Retrospectively, for an historian the outbreak of war between the British and the Chinese is predictable for many reasons. However, initially it is unlikely that neither the Chinese at the time nor the British would have expected it. The British always knew that war was a viable option, yet it was not entirely predictable. However, to say that the Opium War happened completely without warning is a completely inaccurate. As the devastation inflicted by the Opium increased through time and as the Chinese government became more desperate to stop the flow of the drug, it would have become more obvious to the Chinese that war with Britain was going to be inevitable. On the other hand, by not acting at all the decay on Chinese society was only going to worsen, eventually leading to a complete collapse of the civilisation. .
In the nineteenth century and before, China was one of the most advanced and populated nations in the world. The population was enormous, and was made up predominantly of the peasantry, but consisted of not only Chinese but Tibetans, Manchu's, Turks and other similar nationalities. China was an agrarian country, and was ruled over by an Emperor. The centralised system of government was in fact foreign, where the ruling class was made up of the Manchurians; foreigners who had invaded China hundreds of years earlier. The Chinese themselves were a very traditional and proud people, viewing themselves as above everyone else. They referred to foreigners as "barbarians", and believed that the Chinese people were living halfway between heaven and earth.