EACS 4B UCSB Tea Trade Between China and Japan Paper In the 19th century, China and Japan both encountered the coming of the West (The Opium War and the Co

EACS 4B UCSB Tea Trade Between China and Japan Paper In the 19th century, China and Japan both encountered the coming of the West (The Opium War
and the Coming of Perry). Describe the reasons for the coming of the West and articulate the two
countries’ different and similar responses to these challenges. As you answer these questions, draw
from at least 2 readings and 2 lectures, and 2 visuals (images or films) that were introduced in this
course.1500-wordmla format Chapter 31
When we attempt to assess the aims and accomplishments of Chinese
reformers in the 1870s and 1880s, the comparison to Meiji Japan is
almost inevitable. In aims there is a strong general resemblance
between the two; in the scope and effectiveness of their reforms a
striking difference. Where the Chinese Self-Strengtheners sought to
preserve the Confucian Way through the adoption of Western
techniques, Japanese modernizers talked of combining “Eastern ethics
and Western science” or spoke of preserving their distinctive “national
polity” (kokutai) in the midst of an intense program of modernization.
Yet, given this general similarity of aims, the process of change in
Japan went further and faster than in China, and to a very different
result. In the one case there was rapid industrialization, political
centralization, educational reform, and social change—all of these
involving a much fuller participation of the Japanese people in the
national effort, contributing to a degree of unity and strength
unprecedented in Japanese history. In China by the 1890s it was
evident not only that the Self-Strengtheners had failed to achieve such
an effective national unity and concerted action, but also that the very
strength they found in local and regional initiatives tended to detract
from central leadership and control. The imperial structure was there,
as well as nominal allegiance to it, but its effective outreach was
If to Wang Tao in the first selection below, a great nemesis of reform
lay in the “multiplicity of governmental regulations and endless number
of directives,” his complaint represented not only a recognition that
bureaucratic red tape left little room for reform but at the same time,
paradoxically, that unless the court exercised its authority in the
direction of reform, local initiatives, lacking such leadership from above,
could not contribute to any overall result.
Under these circumstances, reformers might propose change for the
empire as a whole, but individual Self-Strengtheners in positions of
limited authority could hardly plan for a truly national program of
reform. Within their own spheres of jurisdiction or influence they might
inaugurate projects for the modernizing of their personal armies, the
manufacturing of arms, the building of ships, the promoting of business,
the opening of schools for technical and language training, as well as
for the improvement of the more traditional functions of government in
China; yet the tendency was for even these worthwhile ventures to
take on a strongly bureaucratic character—to become part of an
official sub-empire—without, however, enjoying any of the benefits of
centralized planning or coordination. The net result is typified by the
utter failure of Li Hongzhang’s new army and navy, owing to “squeeze,”
corruption, and inefficiency in the supply system, when put to the test
by the Japanese in the war of 1894–1895. It was this failure that led
directly to demands for more drastic change.
China’s humiliating defeat in the Sino-Japanese War and the seeming
danger of her imminent partition by the foreign powers would have
been cause enough for an outcry of alarm and protest. To these factors
was added a growing sense of dissatisfaction and frustration among
the younger generation of students, who by now had been exposed to
reformist writings and had their eyes opened to the outside world. This
group was by no means large. The educated class had always
constituted a small minority of Chinese, and those affected by new
ideas represented a still smaller fraction. Thus, rather than their
numbers, it was their role as recruits or members of the bureaucratic
elite that gave them influence. Significantly, among the leaders of the
reform group were several from the Guangdong region, where, like
Hong Xiuquan before them and Sun Yat-sen after, they were stimulated
by close contact with the West in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
Increasingly, toward the end of the century, these young men were
being challenged and inspired by the brilliant journalism of a writer like
Wang Tao. Youthful impressions, once wholly formed by the Confucian
classics and native tradition, were now being formed also by the
translations of men like Yan Fu (1853–1921), who made available in
Chinese the works of Thomas Huxley, John Stuart Mill, Herbert
Spencer, and Adam Smith.
Wang Tao (1828–1897) represents a new type of reformer on the Chinese scene. In contrast to
the great reformers of the past (e.g., Wang Mang, Wang Anshi) who were scholar-officials, and
in contrast also to his contemporaries Feng Guifen and Xue Fucheng, who wrote as officials and
worked closely with statesmen like Zeng Guofan and Li Hongzhang, Wang Tao was an
independent scholar and journalist. Sometimes, indeed, he is referred to as “the father of
Chinese journalism.” His work was done mainly in the ports of Hong Kong and Shanghai, under
foreign protection and in close touch with foreigners. For years he assisted the eminent British
sinologue James Legge in his translations from the Chinese classics, and with Legge’s help he
visited England and Western Europe, observing and writing on developments there. Later, too,
Wang visited Japan, where he was well received as a scholar and reformer. When finally he
settled down to a career as a journalist, he did so as a man with foreign contacts, a wide
knowledge of the outside world, and the kind of freedom to express himself that had been
unknown in the past—when not only the right to criticize but even the means (a public press) and
the audience (an influential public opinion) were lacking.
The following is taken from an essay of Wang’s written about 1870, which reiterates many of
the earlier reformers’ basic points but carries them even further. There is the argument from
cyclical change to the need for adapting to the current situation. There is the assertion that
Confucius himself would have advocated change under such circumstances. There is the
distinction between the Way of the sages, which must be preserved, and the instruments
(weapons, methods) of the West, which should be adopted for its defense. At the same time,
Wang insists that change must go deeper and further than mere imitation of the West in
externals and suggests, however vaguely, that a thorough renovation of society is necessary.
Though his specific recommendations here relate primarily to education, eventually he
advocated basic governmental change as well. Consequently the ambiguity in Wang’s use of the
term bianfa for “reform” is even more pronounced than in Xue Fucheng’s essay. Though he
speaks of adopting from the West only “instruments,” he intends that change should extend not
only to technology (“methods”) but to fa in the sense of “basic institutions.” Wang therefore
presages, intellectually, the transition from reformism conceived in terms of immediate utility to a
more radical view of institutional change. It is still, however, change to be directed from the top
down, to be initiated by the imperial court.
The following excerpt is preceded by a discussion of previous changes in Chinese history that
we have already seen echoed by Xue. Here, however, Wang is consciously reexamining
Chinese history to refute the assertion of “Western scholars that China has gone unchanged for
5,000 years.” Contending in effect, that China’s stagnation was a comparatively recent
development, he then goes on to deal with the present situation.
I know that within a hundred years China will adopt all Western
methods and excel in them. For though both are vessels, a sailboat
differs in speed from a steamship; though both are vehicles, a horse-
drawn carriage cannot cover the same distance as a locomotive train.
Among weapons, the power of the bow and arrow, sword and spear,
cannot be compared with that of firearms; and among firearms, the old
types do not have the same effect as the new. Although it be the same
piece of work, there is a difference in the ease with which it can be
done by machine and by human labor. When new methods do not exist,
people will not think of changes; but when there are new instruments,
to copy them is certainly possible. Even if the Westerners should give
no guidance, the Chinese must surely exert themselves to the utmost of
their ingenuity and resources on these things.
However, these are all instruments; they are not the Way, and they
cannot be called the basis for governing the state and pacifying the
world. The Way of Confucius is the Human Way. As long as humankind
exists, the Way will remain unchanged. The Three Mainstays [Bonds]
and the Five Moral Relations began with the birth of the human race.
When one fulfills one’s duty as a human being, one need have no
regrets in life. On this is based the teaching of the sages. [1: 11a]
I have said before that after a few hundred years the Way will
achieve a grand unity. As Heaven has unified the south, north, east, and
west under one sky, it will harmonize the various teachings of the world
and bring them back to the same source. . . .
Alas! People all understand the past, but they are ignorant of the
future. Only scholars whose thoughts run deep and far can grasp the
trends. As the mind of Heaven changes above, so do human affairs
below. Heaven opens the minds of the Westerners and bestows upon
them intelligence and wisdom. Their techniques and skills develop
without bound. They sail eastward and gather in China. This constitutes
an unprecedented situation in history, and a tremendous change in the
world. The foreign nations come from afar with their superior
techniques, contemptuous of us in our deficiencies. They show off their
prowess and indulge in insults and oppression; they also fight among
themselves. Under these circumstances, how can we not think of
making changes? Thus what makes it most difficult for us not to
change is the mind of Heaven, and what compels us unavoidably to
change is the doings of men. [1: 11b–12a]
If China does not make any change at this time, how can it be on a
par with the great nations of Europe and compare with them in power
and strength? Nevertheless, the path of reform is beset with difficulties.
What the Western countries have today is regarded as of no worth by
those who arrogantly refuse to pay attention. Their argument is that we
should use our own laws to govern the empire, for that is the Way of
our sages. They do not know that the Way of the sages is valued only
because it can make proper accommodations according to the times. If
Confucius lived today, we may be certain that he would not cling to
antiquity and oppose making changes. . . .
But how is this to be done? First, the method of recruiting civil
servants should be changed. The examination essays, coming down to
the present, have gone from bad to worse and should be discarded.
And yet we are still using them to select civil servants. . . .
Second, the method of training soldiers should be changed. Now our
army units and naval forces have only names registered on books, but
no actual persons enrolled. The authorities consider our troops
unreliable, and so they recruit militia who, however, can be assembled
but cannot be disbanded. . . . The arms of the Manchu banners and the
ships of the naval forces should all be changed. . . . If they continue to
hold on to their old ways and make no plans for change, it may be
called “using untrained people to fight,”1 which is no different from
driving them to their deaths. . . .
Third, the empty show of our schools should be changed. Now
district directors of schools are installed, one person for a small town
and two for a large city. It is a sheer waste of government funds, for
they have nothing to do. The type of man in such posts is usually
degenerate, incompetent, senile, and with little sense of shame. [1:
Fourth, the complex and multifarious laws and regulations should be
changed. . . . The government should reduce the mass of regulations
and cut down on the number of directives; it should be sincere and fair
and treat the people with frankness and justice. . . .
After the above four changes have been made, Western methods
could be used together with others. But the most important point is that
the government above should exercise its power to change customs
and mores, while the people below should be gradually absorbed into
the new environment and adjusted to it without their knowing it. This
reform should extend to all things—from trunk to branch, from inside to
outside, from great to small—and not merely to Western methods. . . .
[1: 14b]
The advantage of guns lies in the techniques of discharging them;
that of ships in the ability to navigate them. The weapons we use in
battle must be effective, but the handling of effective weapons depends
upon people. . . . Yet those regarded as able men have not necessarily
been able, and those regarded as competent have not necessarily
been competent. They are merely mediocrities who accomplish
something through the aid of others. Therefore, the urgent task of our
nation today lies primarily in the governance of the people, and next in
the training of soldiers. And in these two the essential point is to gather
men of abilities. Indeed, superficial imitation in concrete things is not so
good as arousing intellectual curiosity. The forges and hammers of the
factories cannot be compared with the apparatus of people’s minds. [1:
[Bianfa, in Taoyuan wenlu waibian 1: 11a–15b—CT]
Yan Fu (1854–1921) was best known as an interpreter of Western
liberal thought at the end of the Qing dynasty. His translations, which
bent the originals to his own reformist agenda, included Thomas Henry
Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics (1898), Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations
(1901–1902), Herbert Spencer’s A Study of Sociology (1903), John
Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (1903), and Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws
Having received a classical education until age twelve, when his
father died, Yan Fu was reduced by his family’s impoverishment to the
pursuit of further learning on a stipend at the Fuzhou Arsenal School of
Navigation. There he acquired English and developed a strong
admiration for the scientific rigor of the technical curriculum. In 1877 he
was sent to England for two years’ further study, and there his quest
for the basis of Western military power shifted from technology to
politics, economics, and culture. He enthusiastically embraced Herbert
Spencer’s social Darwinism and found in it the key to the difference
between Victorian England—the epitome of Western civilization—and
Returning to China, Yan failed repeatedly to pass the traditional
examinations and seemed to be stuck in the position of superintendent
of the Beiyang Naval School. After 1905 he rose to a number of
advisory and consulting positions, and then in 1911 to the Naval
General Staff, but the influence of his publications on currents of
thought remained greater than his influence in government. His career
as publicist had begun in the immediate aftermath of the disastrous
Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895). From 1895 to 1897, amid the flood
of reform writings that began to inform educated Chinese about the
realities of the modern world, Yan published four powerful essays,
including one translated in part here, introducing his new understanding
of the world and China’s perilous position in it. His preoccupation with
national strength and survival and his embrace of Western learning and
institutions as a means to achieve them both influenced and mirrored
the tide of emerging Chinese nationalism. In one of the early essays,
“Refutation of Han Yu,”2 Yan Fu attacked the power of Chinese
emperors as a kind of booty acquired by theft and asserted that an
emperor truly concerned to advance the country would allow his people
the freedom to do as they pleased so long as they did not harm their
fellow citizens. Elsewhere, he pointed out that modern science had
discredited the monarchy’s claims to natural legitimacy. His
condemnation of the irrationality, exploitation, and paternalism of the
imperial institution did not, however, lead to political radicalism. Rather,
his sense that China’s survival and progress would require a profound
transformation of her people’s ingrained habits and values inclined him
to reject political revolution as a remedy. A political upheaval, he
believed, would only hinder the real task. Indeed, after the Revolution
of 1911, Yan Fu became deeply troubled by the chaos into which China
fell. Advocating monarchical government under strongman Yuan Shikai
as the only way to preserve minimal order, he also called for the
establishment of Confucianism as a state religion. Further disillusioned
by the destructiveness of World War I in Europe, he lost faith in the
entire project of modernization and rejected the whole New Culture
Movement in the May 4 period (see chapter 33).
Yan’s most important influence on Chinese thinking at the turn of the century was his view of
material progress as driven by Darwinian struggle, especially by competition among nations,
which, following Spencer, he conceived as large-scale organisms. Such a conception of cosmic
struggle differed radically from the idealistic, universalistic, harmony-oriented tradition of the
Chinese elite, whose ideal lay in the past, not the future. In this, his new vision, at once
frightening and exhilarating, Yan contrasted the pragmatic dynamism of Western society to the
stagnation and formalism of China—a contrast quickly echoed in the widely popular reform
writings of Liang Qichao and his colleagues, and later in the New Culture iconoclasm of Chen
Duxiu. Yan’s appreciation of Western progress was deeply colored by his belief, shared by
reformers and revolutionaries alike, that liberty was the factor most responsible for Western
strength and progress.
Such was the message of his essay “On Strength,” originally published in an unfinished,
serialized version in the newspaper Zhibao in 1895. A revised version appeared subsequently in
1901, in a collection of Yan’s writings, and it seems to have been republished at least five times
by 1915. The translation below is based on this later version, which had a wider circulation than
the first and added a more extensive analysis of the citizens’ strengths and virtues, as well as
more concrete recommendations for reform.
Darwin is an English biologist. Heir to his family’s scholarly traditions,
he traveled around the world as a young man, amassing a rich
collection of rare and curious plants and animals. After several
decades’ exhaustive and subtle reflection upon them, he wrote The
Origin of Species. Since the publication of this book, of which nearly
every household in Europe and America now has a copy, there has
been a tremendous change in the scholarship, politics, and religion of
the West. The claim that the revolution in outlook and intellectual
orientation occasioned by Darwin’s book exceeds that of Newtonian
astronomy is hardly an empty one.
His book says that for all their diversity, the species originated from a
single source and that their differences developed slowly, for the most
part in connection with changes in the environment and an abiding
biological tendency toward incremental differentiation. Eventually
divergence from the remote source led to vast and irreversible
differences, but these were brought about by natural processes in later
ages and were not inherent in life at its origins.
Two chapters of the book are particularly noteworthy. . . . One is
called “Competition” and the other, “Natural Selection.” “Competition”
refers to the struggle of things to survive, a…
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