Would a china that had undergone a successful Meiji like reform in the mid to late 19thC have been a major or even superpower by the 1930s?

This has a pre-1900 POD but I'm interested in the 20th century implications. Japan with its reforms found itself as one of the greatest military powers by the 1930s. China is a much larger country both geographically and population wise. Would this be a nation rivaling the great powers of the 1930s, The UK, France, USA, Germany, USSR, perhaps even surpassing most of them?
 
It's a much taller order for China to do this than was the case for Japan.
Would that have been any more improbable than the rapid growth we've seen with modern China over the last 30 years? The idea of China overtaking Japan and challenging the US for largest world economy was probably seen as outlandish in 1990.
 
The first World War OTL was, in geopolitical terms at least, partly a consequence of China's military and technological weakness. If China hadn't "pulled a Meiji" but had merely moderately reformed to the degree of say Ottoman Turkey and been only roughly 75% as militarily effective as Ottoman Turkey, I doubt very much if war would have broken out in 1914. OTL, China was no significant threat in the rear to the Russian Empire. A moderately modernised and militarily effective China allied to Germany could have placed the Franco-Russian alliance in check. Russia would probably have been less aggressive in supporting Serbia and France would have had to calculate the risk of potentially losing Indochina and would have been less keen to go along with Russia. And Britain would have been concerned about losing Hong Kong and Weihawei. Germany would probably also have abandoned the Schlieffen Plan. OTL, they wanted to knock France out quickly and then concentrate on Russia. TTL, they would be well aware that their Chinese ally was weaker than Russia and, to keep Russia overstretched with a three front war ( Eastern Front, Far Eastern Front and Caucasian Front) without them first knocking the Chinese out, they would have to significantly engage the Russians before taking any action against France.
And, if war did break out in 1914, the Western allies would have had a labour crisis by 1917 without the Chinese Labour Corps of OTL.
 

Grey Wolf

Gone Fishin'
I did that in A Feast of Eagles. IIRC the Sino-French War was the catalyst and instead of the Dragon Empress and all that we got the legitimate dude coming to power on his majority and surrounding himself with reformers. About 18 years since I wrote that story, maybe more, so the details are lost in the mists of my memory, but it made sense at the time.

OTL China even in complete chaos coming in waves had dockyards that could build small cruisers etc, and sustain larger ships. If they held onto Manchuria, Lushun (Port Arthur) would be very important in their development.

Industry needs a purpose - arsenals are always a good purpose.
 
Would that have been any more improbable than the rapid growth we've seen with modern China over the last 30 years? The idea of China overtaking Japan and challenging the US for largest world economy was probably seen as outlandish in 1990.
Arguments my analogy don't fly. If you had said 1980 instead of 1990, you might sort of had a point. Still, it's apples and oranges.
 
China almost achieved such a revolution in the 1850s called Ti-Ping. Started by a bright young scholar who had a nervous break down when the Man Chu would not let him have a government job. When he was down he had these vivid dreams but did not act upon them until he discovered a book writing by a Chinese convert describing Christianity. He founded a quasi Christian religion without missionary assistance and started a revolution against the Manchu. At their peak they controlled most of South China and with a bit more forethought could of captured Peking and ended Manchu, foreign and Mongol, rule after 300 years of oppression. From a memoir I read from an English admirer and ally they were very devout and moral, did not tolerate the abuse of civilians, governed fairly. They were extremely pro western and keenly interested in western technology and modernization. Their biggest flaw is they did not allow opium use so the British actively helped the Manchu crush the rebellion to protect their opium profits.

This revolt would be your POD for your timeline. The world would be a far different place if China in 1850 was Christian, pro western, fair government ruled by ethnic Chinese, and modernizing.
 
OP is aking about the implications in the 1930, so this the right place for the thread
"General discussion about alternate history scenarios where the divergence from real history happens from 1900 AD onward. Post "what if" questions and talk about the results. NOT debates about present-day politics."
 
"General discussion about alternate history scenarios where the divergence from real history happens from 1900 AD onward. Post "what if" questions and talk about the results. NOT debates about present-day politics."
In which way I said anything about present day politics?
 
The first World War OTL was, in geopolitical terms at least, partly a consequence of China's military and technological weakness. If China hadn't "pulled a Meiji" but had merely moderately reformed to the degree of say Ottoman Turkey and been only roughly 75% as militarily effective as Ottoman Turkey, I doubt very much if war would have broken out in 1914. OTL, China was no significant threat in the rear to the Russian Empire. A moderately modernised and militarily effective China allied to Germany could have placed the Franco-Russian alliance in check. Russia would probably have been less aggressive in supporting Serbia and France would have had to calculate the risk of potentially losing Indochina and would have been less keen to go along with Russia. And Britain would have been concerned about losing Hong Kong and Weihawei. Germany would probably also have abandoned the Schlieffen Plan. OTL, they wanted to knock France out quickly and then concentrate on Russia. TTL, they would be well aware that their Chinese ally was weaker than Russia and, to keep Russia overstretched with a three front war ( Eastern Front, Far Eastern Front and Caucasian Front) without them first knocking the Chinese out, they would have to significantly engage the Russians before taking any action against France.
And, if war did break out in 1914, the Western allies would have had a labour crisis by 1917 without the Chinese Labour Corps of OTL.
Wow. This totally changes my perspective on the geopolitics of 1914. Thank you.
 
Arguments my analogy don't fly. If you had said 1980 instead of 1990, you might sort of had a point. Still, it's apples and oranges.
Can you provide any sources of anybody in 1990 predicting China would emerge past Japan and challenge the US economy? At that time some were still predicting Japan would overtake the US economy.
 
This has a pre-1900 POD but I'm interested in the 20th century implications. Japan with its reforms found itself as one of the greatest military powers by the 1930s. China is a much larger country both geographically and population wise. Would this be a nation rivaling the great powers of the 1930s, The UK, France, USA, Germany, USSR, perhaps even surpassing most of them?
Superpower empire pulled it later so..Maybe?
 
19thC China was a bunch of spinning plates. Get it wrong and the whole thing falls down. It is easy to look at the mess in the imperial palace but to do so gets the priorities wrong. Sure failure to modernise (politically and organisationally) is the long term point of failure. But the dynasty was dealing with short term day to day survival issues. You can't plan for the long term if you are dead. The difficulties of Meiji are simple compared to China.
 

CalBear

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China almost achieved such a revolution in the 1850s called Ti-Ping. Started by a bright young scholar who had a nervous break down when the Man Chu would not let him have a government job. When he was down he had these vivid dreams but did not act upon them until he discovered a book writing by a Chinese convert describing Christianity. He founded a quasi Christian religion without missionary assistance and started a revolution against the Manchu. At their peak they controlled most of South China and with a bit more forethought could of captured Peking and ended Manchu, foreign and Mongol, rule after 300 years of oppression. From a memoir I read from an English admirer and ally they were very devout and moral, did not tolerate the abuse of civilians, governed fairly. They were extremely pro western and keenly interested in western technology and modernization. Their biggest flaw is they did not allow opium use so the British actively helped the Manchu crush the rebellion to protect their opium profits.

This revolt would be your POD for your timeline. The world would be a far different place if China in 1850 was Christian, pro western, fair government ruled by ethnic Chinese, and modernizing.
This may be one of the more... unique descriptions of the Taiping Rebellion I've encountered. The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, led by Hong Xiequan (who believed he was the second son of Shangdi, hence the younger brother Jesus Christ) who did indeed have a nervous breakdown after he FAILED the examination given to all applicants for Imperial civil servants. His rebellion resulted in at least as many fatalities as the entire First World War (with some estimates indicating a death toll 50% greater than WW I, i.e. 30 million), and was liberally sprinkled with what, in modern terms, were henious war crimes (including, but far from limited to, murdering large numbers of Manchu civilians, both men and women by Xiequan forces)

It seems unlikely that someone who literally thought that they were Divine, and gave every indication of being quite insane, would follow up a bloody civil war meant to place them in absolute power, with whole sale liberalization and industrial reforms.
 
This has a pre-1900 POD but I'm interested in the 20th century implications. Japan with its reforms found itself as one of the greatest military powers by the 1930s. China is a much larger country both geographically and population wise. Would this be a nation rivaling the great powers of the 1930s, The UK, France, USA, Germany, USSR, perhaps even surpassing most of them?
Short version... Yes. Look at China's progress since the 1970s and push that back to around say 1870. Talent and opportunity was there. it was just a corrupt government that failed the Chinese people's talent and resources.

The first World War OTL was, in geopolitical terms at least, partly a consequence of China's military and technological weakness. If China hadn't "pulled a Meiji" but had merely moderately reformed to the degree of say Ottoman Turkey and been only roughly 75% as militarily effective as Ottoman Turkey, I doubt very much if war would have broken out in 1914. OTL, China was no significant threat in the rear to the Russian Empire. A moderately modernised and militarily effective China allied to Germany could have placed the Franco-Russian alliance in check. Russia would probably have been less aggressive in supporting Serbia and France would have had to calculate the risk of potentially losing Indochina and would have been less keen to go along with Russia. And Britain would have been concerned about losing Hong Kong and Weihawei. Germany would probably also have abandoned the Schlieffen Plan. OTL, they wanted to knock France out quickly and then concentrate on Russia. TTL, they would be well aware that their Chinese ally was weaker than Russia and, to keep Russia overstretched with a three front war ( Eastern Front, Far Eastern Front and Caucasian Front) without them first knocking the Chinese out, they would have to significantly engage the Russians before taking any action against France.

And, if war did break out in 1914, the Western allies would have had a labour crisis by 1917 without the Chinese Labour Corps of OTL.
Cooperation with Germany is contraindicated. Wilhelm the Second's East Asia policies were outrageously awful. Germany and China were NOT allies in any sense of the word, but opportunistic co-travelers at some few marginal points in time. Closest relations were during the Weimar period after WWI. Even then, the Americans and Russians were on "friendlier" terms, if you can call neo-colonialist interlopers "friendly".
 
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No nation could pull a Meiji. It was a unique event possible only to Japan due to historical, cultural and religious circumstances. If one takes myths for facts Imperial family of Japan is the oldest continuously ruling dinasty in history. They assumed rule when Native Egyptians last rules ancient Egypt, before Persian conquest. They claim to be descendants of literal gods and up until recently maintained that claim while people actually believed it and worshipped them. In 20th century. China meanwhile changed dynasties like socks but always remained China. There was a pervasive belief that no matter what happens and who ruled China will remain.

You need greater respect of Royal institutions. You need to do away with ancient tests that have served China for centuries. You need to avoid wars as much as possible. You need to find a way to control the largest population in the world to do exactly what you want them to do. For China it’s impossible.
 
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