Chinese Modernity Analysis

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Introduction & Thesis

Modernity in a Chinese historical context is a significantly more complicated subject as it is in other western societies. This is because the introduction of “modernity” to China was done through arms, not through an enlightenment process as is the case with Europe. The dominance of Confucianism In Chinese society also served to provide a general reluctance to embrace foreign cultures and was also used to defeat any attempts at legal reform. It is for these reasons that that ideas of modernisation and evolution were, for the most part, met with disdain and reluctance.


First Argument & Evidence – Introduction to “Modernity” through arms, not enlightenment, produced a “traumatic experience”

A major issue requiring
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The traditional culture, socioeconomic and political structures and ideologies that constituted the Qing system impeded an adequate response to the ambitions of western powers when the time came3. One such ideology, Haa Yi theory, was a dominant-nation ideology which held that China was the centre of the world, The Haa Yi Theory was widely accepted in China. Diplomatic relations between China and neighbouring countries were essentialy that China was the enfeoffing country and the others were the enfeoffed countries subordinated to China. When foreign envoys were presented at court, they had to kowtow to the emperor. This strengthened the notion of foreign nations having to submit to grand China4. In addition, China was dominant in cultural respects, even the Zhonghua legal system of China was exported to neighbouring nations. Foreign cultures that were incorporated into China, never became prominent or changed the fundamental nature of the Chinese. They were assimilated by Confucianism and generally had a strong superiority feeling and confidence towards the Chinese and their governance and…show more content…
The conservative factions emphasised that only Confucianism could be accepted by the Chinese. The pro-reform factions held that archaic laws such as adultery should not be regulated by a modern Chinese criminal code and should be resolved in other ways even though it ran against Confucianism9. It is significant to Note that the Japanese legal experts of the time, undergoing their own process of modernisation, agreed with the pro-reform factions, asserting that the line between individual ethics and social ethics must be drawn in a modern China10. Cixi eventually grew disdain for western powers and allied with the anti-western and xenophobic Boxer Rebellion. The defeat of China and Empress Dowager and the slow decline of state capacity, blockaded Chinas progressive advancement towards modernity11

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