China Modernizes?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Faeelin, Nov 19, 2006.

  1. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    We've discussed a Siam that Reforms; we've discussed Japan opening earlier, but have we ever discussed the Qing reforming in the 19th century?
     
  2. Fabilius AH.com´s most active lurker

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    I´d be very surprised if we hadn´t at some point?

    Although that doesn´t make it any worse a subject to discuss.

    First of, is it possible? Most certainly we could get a more lucky China than China was in the 19th century, but can the Quing actually modernize?
     
  3. DuQuense Commisioned Officer CSN

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    So Have something Ramdom happen to Yuan Shikai shortly before he betrays the Emperor.
    The Dowager is the one that gets looked up. And the hundred days continue.
     
  4. WhatIsAUserName Professional Catatonic

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    I don't think many people in China really had the force of will to stand up to T'zu Hsi. And it's not like she lacked support, I bet the conservatives would take her side against sweeping reformists. Of course, Yuan Shikai wasn't exactly the most popular man alive; maybe he gets axed after getting involved in the first Sino-Japanese War.

    I think a better time to start would be with the Qianglong and Jiaqing Emperors, when the gap between the Europe and China began to grow larger.
     
  5. NapoleonXIV Banned

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    That's a very good scenario, but is it possible given the Chinese state at the time? China in 1898, IIRC, was a prostate nation in regard to the West; while still powerful in sheer size and nos, it had long since been carved up into Western 'spheres of influence' and was pretty much a satrapy of Europe, it's only real independence coming from playing off one Western overlord against another. Would the West allow the Chinese any real modernization that might allow it to throw them off?

    One book I've read makes the point that China was, in some ways, a victim of her great cultural strength rather than any cultural weakness. Any other civilization, suffering the terrible wars and reverses of the 19thc, would fall apart and become a maelstrom of anarchy, too dangerous to exploit all that effectively. China, despite terrible wars and oppression by foreigners, remained functional enough to be wealthy, and a tempting target for even more foreign robbery.

    IMO you have to make the POD earlier, the Chinese must modernize right along with the West, at least from the the time of the Middle Qing or the West will not permit the modernisation.

    They only permitted Japan to do so because Japan had what was known to be a fairly modern and numerous army at the beginning of isolation and Japan didn't have evidence showing it to have a lot to steal until after isolation ended. After that, the modernisation was too fast and the Japanese were able to hold off the Great Powers diplomatically for the requisite time.

    Japan was, arguably, among the wealthiest and most populous countries in the world when it was opened, and it was this wealth, accumulated by the unique conditions Sakoku permitted, that permitted such an extraordinarily fast modernisation. I don't think the same conditions existed in China.
     
  6. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    This isn't really accurate; the spheres of influence didn't arrive until after the Boxer Revolt, and the European powers didn't want a prostrate China.They wanted one they could trade with and invest in. This is why the British kept pushing for the Chinese to develop railroads with foreign capital, for instance.
     
  7. DuQuense Commisioned Officer CSN

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    So whe go back to the 1400's and the Mongol Dyasty stays in Power, Zang Da contintunues his Vovages, and in 1482, Eight Chinese War Junks drop anchor in Lisbon harbor.
    Problem, The butterflies are so thick that I can't see a reconizable Europe by the time of industruilazation.

    ?So How about whe get China caught in the same european power struggle that India ended up in?

    Between 1640 and 1670 three New trading compaies where formed, the English, french and dutch -China companies.

    by 1680 all three are trying to break down China's trade Barriers, There had been a few incidents between Company troops and the Chinese Army, but nothing to alarm the Chinese.
    Then in 1682 a fleet of Dutch and Portugese troops occupied a few island off the coast. Macau, and Hong Kong. The two groups started trading on the mainland, China send a couple thousand troops to evict the squatters, 2000 Chinese against some 400 Europeans, the European Mercanaries devistated the Chinese. With in a year both England and France had done the same of the port of Shanghia. With the same result for the Chinese.

    By 1685 all four european powers had built forts and brought in Soldiers and Settlers.
    In 1687 China again sent Troops against the Europeans, again not taking the threat seriouly enuff to mobilize the number of troops needed, Sending enuff to give the Europeans trouble, But not enuff to push them out.
    In 1688 the Europeans reponded to the Chinese withdraw after defeat, by advancing, establishing a few forts on the mainland and recruiting, more Soldiers and Settlers.

    This same pattern was repeated in 1691-1692. By 1694 the Europeans had established a third line of forts outside the 1692 line, They also enlisted several company of Chinese Sepoys.

    In 1695, the Chinese had had enuff, a new General of the Armies had been appointed, and he vowed to Push the Foriegnors out of China and destroy their settlements.

    in 1696, the British and the French were pushed back past the 92 line to the 88 line, while the Dutch and portugese were puchd off the mainland entire. there the matter stood in 1698 when General Wu arrived along with his staff, to inspect the assault.

    Master gunner Anders Sigurd Thogsen had no Idea who the Guys in the Fancy dress strolling along the Chinese was, but he knew two things.
    One] The head Fancy dresser seemed angry with the Chinese Troops.
    Two] He and his Fancy Boys had just walked in range of his Gun.

    General Wu Strolled along the Troops, Berating them for Cowardness in the way they were lieing down and not standing to face the Enemy. He had just raised his Sword to chopp off the head of one soldier, who was insistant that He General Wu, should get down, When a hail of Grape shot from the forts guns swept him and the entire staff to meet their Ansectors.

    By the end of the year, the Chinese, had withdrawn and the Europeans had advanced to the 1692 lines again.

    In 1703 Queen Anne's War breaks out, along with the American and India fronts, there are a few shots fired between the Powers in China. but just as China finally gets together to take advanage of the War between the Europeans, the war ends, and the chinese lose a little more to the British and French.
    this goes on for the 1720's war, and the 1740's war. In 1761 during the French/Indian war, A new general trys a major attack, the French and the British had been building up their forces for a attack on the other.
    The chinese walk into the Buzzsaw as the Europeans again put aside there differences in the face of a common Foe.

    In 1763 China is forced to deed the territories the four powers hold in Pepriturity.

    in 1765 A new Chinese Emperor takes the Throne, he orders the Army to Modernize to be able to defeat the Europeans, Students are sent to study in Europe, and they begin bringing back not just european military tatics buy the steam enginee and power looms, the Beginings of the industrial revolution is transplanted to China.
     
  8. NapoleonXIV Banned

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    Weren't the SOI just formal recognition of a situation that had existed for some time?

    And yeh, they wanted a China that could trade but did they want one that could fight? My original and main idea still stands, I don't think they would have been at all happy with a China that was suddenly making Mausers and hiring Japanese instructors for its military. They probably did permit some of that to go on, but if it had been done in a widespread way I think the Western powers would find some pretext for war pretty soon.

    Come to think, is that scenario what the Boxer Rebellion actually was?
     
  9. WhatIsAUserName Professional Catatonic

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    Yeah, kinda, only the Boxer Rebellion made an excellent Casus belli with missionaries and diplomats being murdered and killed. Of course, I don't think that the Europeans ever really believed that China could ever be a threat; it took till around WWII for them to see eye to eye with Japan. So even if the Chinese modernized, they'd have to fight a European power to pretty much prove it.
     
  10. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    They were recognition of areas where there were predominant interests, but nothing more, really.


    Depends on the power. Germany would have liked a modernizing China, to counter Britain's alliance with Japan; and it provided advisors to China during the early 20th century.

    America would've supported it halfheartedly.

    Certainly no power would've gone to war to prevent it.
     
  11. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    France might do well for this.
     
  12. The Ubbergeek Insane internet demigod (TN)

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    France did had a presence in the south, and concessions - just look at Souten no Ken, who have much time in Shangai and who show the french side of the 'devils city'. They could.... Or Britain, if Germany gain too much influences.
     
  13. Tony Jones Dr Insidious

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    Monarchy World; a more visionary emperor replaces the real-world Emperor Qianlong, opens China up to the rest of the world much more than in OTL, and prevents it stagnating.
     
  14. Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy Banned

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    Wasn't the Chinese fleet that the French destroyed in the early 1880s actually built with their help?
     
  15. Hendryk Banned

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    I would agree with that. The sclerosis of the 19th century was caused by a series of factors that were themselves the results of bad decisions taken in the second half of the 18th century (or good decisions not taken), so the POD would have to be during Qianlong's reign.

    I suggest having Qianlong's fifth son, Prince Rong a.k.a. Yongqi, not die prematurely in 1766 at the age of 25. Butterflies will probably preempt the rise of the infamous Heshen, who got his first position at the Imperial court in 1772 and manoeuvered his way to the status of Minister of the Imperial Household within a few short years, which put him in control of tax revenue. He then proceeded to pocket as much of it as he could get away with, and appointed self-serving toadies at various key posts. The resulting corruption and mismanagement of public funds could be overlooked while the going was good, but they contributed to the crippling of the Chinese economy in the following century (herein, BTW, lies a lesson for empires at the height of their power: Don't think you can put corrupt embezzlers in charge and get away with it ;) ).

    But the reason I think the POD has to be a longer-living Prince Rong rather than, say, Heshen dying in infancy, is because the very length of Qianlong's reign was itself a factor of sclerosis. An impatient Prince Rong would either "convince" his father to step down or have him discreetly assassinated, bringing with him a comparatively fresh governing team that would be more open to ideas of reform and modernization, whether at the prompting of Western embassies such as Macartney's or on their own initiative. And with a less entrenched corruption, the funds would be there to experiment with new things and new technologies.

    This, of course, is the optimistic hypothesis, as there is another structural problem that still needs addressing, and one that has no ready solution--at least none that the Qing would readily contemplate. China in the late 18th century was actually a victim of its success; in barely a century its population had practically doubled, and land shortage and rural pauperisation were becoming serious issues. The obvious solution would have been emigration, but the Qing would have needed a good reason to let their own subjects leave (legally at least, since some illegal emigration did take place). One of the reasons the 19th century was such a troubled time for China was the large number of people who no longer found a place in the Chinese agrarian economy, stuck as it was in a high-level equilibrium trap. Those became ready recruits for subversive secret societies such as the White Lotus and revolutionary movements such as the Taiping. The paradox is that, had an industrial revolution begun in time (while there was still capital to spend in it), this redundant manpower would have found employment as factory workers.

    Chinese population trend.gif
     
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  16. Keenir Banned

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    Egypt pulled it off, as did the Ottomans (and later Turkey), and even Mao to an extent.
     
  17. Keenir Banned

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    why would they have to prove anything?

    (then again, I might be misunderstanding the subject line "China modernizes" not "China recognized as equal to Europe")
     
  18. JHPier Member

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    Two problems. The Portuguese didn't need to do this: they possessed Macao from the mid-16C.
    The Chinese had experience fighting Europeans having had several spats with VOC-forces and kicking them out of Formosa. So they wouldn't underestimate this latest attempt.

    And keep in mind that in Chinese conceptions a 'small' army was lots bigger than the European one.
     
  19. Wendell Wendell

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    I think the idea being expressed by the post you have quoted is that Japan "proved" itself to be a power when it won the war with Russia in the first decade of the twentieth century.
     
  20. M.Passit Member

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    Hmmm, from my personal opinion, the Qing may won't do anything unless the outside threat/pressure are becoming obvious. Is removing Xici too late? I believe she made many big mistakes that jeopardized the Qing and China as a whole.