Western powers carved out spheres of influence throughout China. What area was occupied by Japan beginning in 1897?
During the rebellion, Europeans kept up pressure on China. Russia seized lands in northern China. It then built the port of Vladivostok on the Pacific coast.
How did the Taiping Rebellion and other internal problems weaken the Qing dynasty?
By the mid-1800s, educated Chinese were divided over the need to reform China by adopting Western ways. Most saw no reason to build new industries because China's wealth came from land. Although Chinese merchants were allowed to do business, they were not seen as a source of economic prosperity for the country.
Scholar-officials also disapproved of the ideas of Western missionaries, whose emphasis on individual choice challenged the Confucian order. They saw Western technology as dangerous, too, because it threatened Confucian ways that had served China successfully for so long.
The imperial court was a center of conservative opposition. By the late 1800s, the empress Ci Xi (tsih shih) had gained power. A strong-willed ruler, she surrounded herself with advisers who were deeply committed to Confucian traditions.
Some Chinese, however, wanted to adapt Western ideas. In the 1860s, reformers launched the “self-strengthening movement.” They imported Western technology, setting up factories to make modern weapons.
They developed shipyards, railroads, mining, and light industry. The Chinese translated Western works on science, government, and the economy.
The movement made limited progress though, because the government did not rally behind it. Also, while China was undertaking a few selected reforms, the Western powers—and Japan—were moving ahead rapidly.
The island nation of Japan modernized rapidly after 1868. It then joined the Western imperialists in the competition for a global empire.
In 1894, Japanese pressure on China led to the Sino-Japanese War. It ended in disaster for China, with Japan gaining Korea and the island of Taiwan. When the two powers met at the peace table, there was a telling difference in outlook. Japanese officials dressed in Western-style clothing while the Chinese wore traditional robes.
The crushing defeat revealed China's weakness. Western powers moved swiftly to carve out spheres of influence along the Chinese coast. The British took the Chang River valley.