China and the USA: cooperation or conflict?
China and the USA: cooperation or conflict?

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

China and the USA: cooperation or conflict?

1.4 Western Advance

Gradually, however, the outside world sought access to the resources of the interior of Asia while also seeking to generate new lucrative markets, although the vastness of China and its large population ensured that East Asia did not succumb to colonisation to the same extent as other parts of the world. In 1792, the British envoy, Lord Macartney, in seeking an audience with the Chinese Emperor, Qianlong, was required to kowtow before the emperor. Britain, the most economically developed and most powerful European country was seen as an inferior state by the Chinese Empire. Macartney did kowtow, but only on one knee, signalling the start of a struggle between Western states and China.

Within seventy years, the much weaker and, by then, archaic Chinese fleet was ‘reduced to matchwood’ by Britain’s iron-clad steamers and heavy armaments (Pagden, 2001, p. 67). China was then subjected to unequal treaties through which Western states extracted privileged rights over Chinese territory to secure valuable resources which were paid for, in the British case, by opium from its Indian colony. These unequal treaties remained in place until the Second World War, by which time China was embroiled in a civil war and British leadership in the international system had given way to US dominance.

Described image
Figure 3 1792 satirical cartoon of Macartney’s kowtow

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371