China’s economy went through massive transformations in the second half of the 19th century and start of the 20th century. At the beginning of the 19 century, China’s economy was the largest in the world. It was more than twice that of India, which was the second largest economy in the world. It was also six times bigger than that of the Great Britain, which was the largest in Europe and was 20 times that of United States. Their GDP was 84% of the world’s average. By 1870, the country’s GDP had fallen to 60% of the global average. The country went through further recession and by 1980, the country’s GDP was equivalent to 24% of the world’s average. As China’s economy receded during the second part of the 19th century and early 20th century, the economy of other Western countries grew after the Industrial Revolution. The country however implemented market-based reforms that have modernized the country’s economy, which has led to a GDP of 103% of the world’s average. The paper addresses the question, How did historical events such as the Opium war, the Taiping Rebellion, the Warlord Era and the Civil War affect China’s trade with other countries and ultimately their economy?
The question is important because the information reveals the effects of historical events in China on the country’s foreign trade and the economy for the last 150. The study uses China’s import and export data between 1864 and 1926. The data covers annual trade with other countries during 1864 to 1926. The data is used to compare the amount import and export with the various historical events that took place within that period such as the Opium War, Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Revolution and the Warlord Era, which began after the Qing dynasty ended in 1912. The tow Two Opium Wars had significant impact on the Chinese economy until twenty century. The level of foreign trade (import and exports) represents the dependent variable while the historical events between 1864 and 1926 represent the independent variables. The analysis shows the correlation between the historical events and the total amount of import and export.
The biggest origins of imports to China in the 19th century were Great Britain, as well as the British-controlled India, with over 90% them in the 1870’s excluding those going through Hong Kong. The significance of India reduces over the years, which is mostly because of the reduction in opium imports relative to other imports. Other sources of import outside the British Empire principally include Japan, which increases to about 20% by 1900. This is about half of China’s imports from Great Britain. Western countries other than Great Britain are imports from the United States by 1900, which are twice as much as imports from Continental Europe.
When it comes to exports, China traded more with Great Britain toward the start of the period, which accounts about 75% of non‐Hong Kong trade. By 1900, the British exports significantly reduced to 10% (Hao, Yu and Melanie 47). On the other hand, there was an increase in exports to Japan and more so to Continental Europe. As opposed to imports, India is not among the biggest export destination of Chinese products mainly because of the two nations having competitive advantages that overlap. In addition, the British channel and Australia also made up significant export destinations of Chinese products.
At the start of the 20th century, imports and exports significantly reduced as the country was going through the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Revolution that ended in 1912 and the Warlord Era that started immediately in 1916. The business environment was not conducive as other countries implemented sanctions and unfavorable treaties to China. Japan, which is close to China, was the biggest exporter to China, with the United States and Great Britain occupying the second and third spot. The type of products imported from these nations varied, with the United States and Great Britain exporting producer goods and machinery than Japan (Schoppa 172). Other products were likewise imported from a wide range of other proximate countries like Singapore, Australia, French Indo‐China and Dutch East Indies.
While the overall significance of trade with the British Empire had reduced, China’s trade designs were changing along the grounds laid in the nineteenth century. Analyzing Chinese import designs for the mid-twentieth century demonstrates that Japan’s stake changed essentially over the period. Japan’s stake as a trade partner rose from 20% to about 40% of China’s imports between 1915 and 1925, which was during the Warlord Era. The stake however reduced radically towards the end of World War II (Melancon 1837). The effect of the war is replicated in the decreased stake for Germany, which was among the countries that lost power during the World War II. The United States on the other hand was more vital for China in terms of imports over this period. Despite the fact that the emotional increment of the U.S. offer of Chinese imports to more than 60% is attributed to the fact that the United States was the notable nation whose economy had not been affected by World War II.
The US is increasingly more important for China’s trade over the period, representing over 50% of China’s exports. Japan’s significance was high in the 50 years after World War I before it significantly reduced from that point. The total trade with Great Britain during the period accounts for about 10%, making it a significant destination for Chinese merchandise, compared to other European nation. This is an indication of China’s prosperity to enter new markets.
After the Opium War, the Great Britain and other influential European nations were the China’s primary trade partners. This however shifted with time and by the mid twentieth century; the trade emphasis started moving towards different nations like Japan and the United States. This is due to the diverse nature of products traded and the bad blood that developed between China and Great Britain during the Opium War.
Summary and Interpretation
China was a falling economy in the nineteenth century despite holding a superior position at the start of the century. The recession was in the sense that the governing Qing government (1644‐1911) was by then progressively unfits to rule over all aspects of the country. Laws that precluded the opium import laws that were in place since 1729 were generally slighted by runners and authorities. Despite the fact that a traditions device was available, defilement likewise implied that the state did not or could not gather noteworthy measures of incomes to finance open products since neighborhood control contended with authoritatively expressed objectives (Melancon 1837). The CMC adjusted the course of action of outside trade China by displaying a solid plan of rules.
The CMC assembled unequivocal information on trade for China generally just as for individual ports of trade inside China. To the extent that helplessness diminishes financial activity, this trade of a Western association may fabricate trade and welfare, and the confirmation displayed underneath sponsorships that idea. Our examination of China’s outside trade in the midst of the port period yields various disclosures noteworthy for rhythmic movement investigate in all-inclusive trade. At first, regardless of the way that the volume of trade after headway was not significant at the start, there was an extremely famous expansion in the various assortments of thing characterizations and new product that were brought into China, a point that past makers have overlooked. We find that the amount of new product imported by China created by about 6% consistently between the 1940s, which is around 50 percent snappier than what that figure was in the United States among 1970 and 2000 (Hao, Yu and Melanie 47). This shows thing arrangement gains are not obliged to much made countries; without a doubt, they may be progressively noteworthy for increasingly tragic countries.
Second, the expansion of ports achieved more than addition land better than average assortment. It moreover extended the volume of product imported. A critical agent in this procedure was Hong Kong, which filled in as an entrepôt. The criticalness of Hong Kong moreover proposes high fixed learning costs to trade in the midst of this period. We exhibit that greater countries coordinated less of their trade with China through Hong Kong than more diminutive countries. Moreover, following to every change in the trade routine (for instance straightforwardly after the opening of new CMC settlement ports), Hong Kong’s trade intermediation ends up being less critical after some time.
The Treaty of Nanjing where China was constrained to sign, stipulated that a repayment must be paid as compensation presented the time of the Treaty Port System, which suffered from 1842 until 1948. While the Treaty of Nanjing disposed of central parts of China’s outside trade system like making Canton was the fundamental port open to trade, the Chinese Customs expert stayed in charge of taking care of outside trade. In any case, with a tolerably weak central government whose master was crumbled after the Opium War even as it was immersed with smothering private uprisings (explicitly the Taiping Rebellion, 1844‐60), remote trade pay gathering fell fundamentally in the hands of typical and adjacent specialists.
These close-by experts were ill‐equipped to manage the greater volume of trade coming in, and remote trade was not presenting to a relentless course of action of rules. Actually, portion of trade charges included managing power, and flooding with contamination there were five Chinese ports open for outside trade 1842. The Treaty of Nanjing, eleven more were incorporated after China was vanquished in the Second Opium War (1856‐60) through the Treaty of Tientsin, and more were incorporated after some time the turn of the century, which advanced fares and imports with others nations.
The Opium War
By the mid nineteenth century, Britain was spending a great deal of silver to buy Chinese silks, porcelain things, and especially tea. The English “tea” starts from tê, the word for tea in the dialect of Fujian, from which the British traded their things. In any case, China did not require anything Britain was selling, in this manner making an authentic trade disproportion. Splendid British merchants supported the recreational use of opium, which they created in British-controlled India and after that sold in China. The Hong Kong-Shanghai Banking Corporation, by and by known as HSBC, was set up to address the issues of British merchants in China (Melancon 1837). This handled Britain’s trade issue, yet made a reliance crisis in China. Exactly when China attempted to maintain its laws against opium importation, Britain responded by waging war for unhindered exchanging. The precisely prevalent British military pounded the Chinese.
Due to the Opium Wars, China was, in the dull articulations of one Western agent. The United Kingdom and other European powers obliged China to recognize deals that essentially empowered them to manage parts of China’s own district. It was similarly in the midst of this period that Hong Kong was “leased” to Britain. China expected to surrender the district of Hong Kong to British control, open settlement ports to trade with pariahs, and enable excellent rights to outcasts working inside the game plan ports. Also, the Chinese government expected to stay by as the British extended their opium arrangements to people in China. The British did this for encouraged trade and without regard to the repercussions for the Chinese government and Chinese people.
In 1856, a second Opium War broke out and proceeded until 1860, when the British and French caught Beijing and constrained on China another round of unequal arrangements, reimbursements, and the opening of 11 more bargain ports. In less than 30 years, from 1860 to 1890, opium imports to China expanded 10 times.
The Taiping Rebellion
The loss of the First Opium War helped fuel the Taiping Rebellion. The Taiping were a gathering of irregular Chinese Christians driven by a man who claimed that he was Jesus’s brother. Trying to set up an idealistic brilliant kingdom on earth, a large number of obsessive Taiping organized an enemy of government disobedience. The resistance was in the end put down, however not until twenty million Chinese had kicked the bucket on the two sides, due not exclusively to battle, yet to the starvation, disease and wrongdoing related with the contention. To place this in context, the present populace of the territory of New York is additionally around twenty million.
The Taiping Rebellion debilitated the Qing line rulers, driving them to battle the defiance and the Second Opium War in the meantime. The monstrous loss of life in the Yangtze River Delta made a work deficiency that adversely affected the nation’s economy and sustenance creation. Trade was additionally seriously influenced inland while the beach front urban areas stayed open for delivery. Before the finish of the War, outside interests from Europe, America, and Japan picked up a more noteworthy impact over China in return for helping the Qing tradition rout the Taiping rebels. In any case, the Qing government could never again continue power over the whole nation and surrendered substantial districts to neighborhood pioneers who basically worked as warlords (Hao, Yu and Melanie 47). All the more long haul, the Qing tradition never really recuperated, it left them more fragile when managing consequent uprisings, for example, the Boxer Rebellion enduring from 1898 to 1900. In the end, the decay of the Qing rulers that paid attention to a negative turn amid the Taiping Rebellion prompted a definitive breakdown of the Qing tradition and the ascent of Chiang Kai-shek’s National Party and the Chinese Communist Party who battled an awful Civil War between the 1920s and the 1950s.
The Warlord Era
The presence of warlords, who employed critical independent political power based on their own control of military power, was a one of a kind component of mid twentieth century Chinese history. These warlords crushed expectations that the 1911 Revolution would supplant China’s last supreme line with a solid, brought together, and change disapproved of republic. In the early Republic, military leaders to a great extent increased political power in the midst of common wars, which were battled to decide how political power was to be sorted out and who might use it. This political devolution was at first moderated by the unifying endeavors of the primary leader of the Republic, Yuan Shikai. In any case, his dependence on military power likewise encouraged military administrators to catch direct political power in the common wars that pursued his demise.
The Warlord time, from the demise of Yuan Shikai in 1916 to reunification in 1928, was a standout amongst the most harsh and touchy times of disturbance that any nation has ever been attacked. The scale and measure of the factions and parts were on a scale once in a while observed somewhere else. Whole respectful wars in different nations are predominated by the battles of a couple of China’s warlords. The impacts of this on China, other than shortcoming and political disunity, were horrible for the average citizens and workers living under military principle. These clashes are thought to have moderated the pace of financial improvement (Melancon 1837). China’s legislature was compelled to acknowledge unequal arrangements, including opening up ports, paying extensive sums for reparations, surrendering grounds, and making different concessions of sway to outside “ranges of authority”. Coupled with the outside fiascos, local uprisings were uncontrolled the country over, further debilitating an officially temperamental routine. The requirement for men to battle the steady wars that were being battled for influence, riches, and land was extraordinary; the arrangement was perpetually enrollment, and induction on a stupendous scale. Tons of scarcely prepared workers were constrained into armed forces that murdered each other with urgent severity.
Just as languishing over the warlords to pick up influence, the workers endured so they could pick up riches – as high duties. The strained masses experienced significantly hunger, and were kept in line by ruthless disciplines. Executing was the most widely recognized discipline, and even minor violations could be deserving of death. This severe disposition was exceptionally harming for the Chinese individuals.
Warlords sought to discover great companions in the event that anything fortified outside impact in China. Japan, for instance, utilized Manchuria as its intermediary, while other warlord domains depended more on Europe. Overall, Warlord China harmed the nation enormously (Schoppa 172). The impact on ordinary citizens was with the end goal that it caused great misery and enduring and obstructed the nations as of now much-hampered social and mechanical advancement. It debilitated the nation past limit; there would be much demise before China had a solid focal government yet again.
China’s foreign trade over the last 150 years has developed in some expansive cycles. There was first the prohibitive position of the Qing government, which was lifted underweight from Western gunboats in the mid‐19th century. After the year 1949, the tide moved against outside trade again in sort of restrictive systems in light of the Cold War, beforehand broad poor execution of the centrally‐planned economy incited another round of trade opening as an element of the post‐1978 changes. Evidently, China was constrained to open its economy to remote trade the two events. In addition, in the two cases, outside trade extended not long after headway. If China’s economy today is strikingly open to trade, this sets up an important reversal from a prior time. Decently little is known on how China has changed itself. In future work we will use port‐level information on the commonplace flow of China’s inside and outside trade as it was formed in the midst of the deal port period to all the more probable get it the strategy of coordination into the world economy, and how it is related to their monetary improvement. Even more overall, we believe that further research on the joint effort of the institutional legacy from colonization and China’s remote trade will uncover new understanding into various noteworthy progression issues.
Hao, Yu, and Melanie Meng Xue. “Friends from afar: The Taiping Rebellion, cultural proximity and primary schooling in the Lower Yangzi, 1850–1949.” Explorations in Economic History, vol.63, 2017, pp. 44-69.
Melancon, Glenn. Britain’s China Policy and the Opium Crisis: Balancing Drugs, Violence and National Honour, 1833–1840. Routledge, 2017.
Schoppa, R. Keith. Revolution and its past: Identities and change in modern Chinese history. Routledge, 2017.