China's History of Humiliation

Article excerpt

For those who are puzzled at Chinas aggressive behavior towards its neighbors, one must look at its past in order to gain a perspective of where it is coming from, where it stands now, and where it is headed in the near future. Students of history will remember Chinas History of Humiliation, when the Middle Kingdom was suddenly thrust into the reality of modern technology and the predatory ways of invaders and colonialists. In a comprehensive article by Alison A. Kaufman, appearing after her testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, she said that Chinas Century of Humiliation started in 1839, when British gunboats sailed up the Yangtze River and compelled Chinas rulers to open their ports and markets to the opium trade the beginning of what came to be known as the First Opium War. Other Western nations made similar demands for trade access and highlighted imperial Chinas military and diplomatic weakness in the face of Western power. Kaufman says this became Chinas founding narrative, in the same way that colonial Americans hated the British for their unjust taxation that led to the battle for independence. …