The subject of confrontation or dialogue of cultures between East and West is often discussed and is quite important for the whole world. Distinguishing societies between the western and eastern infers their state area, as well as an alternate attitude of the people groups living in these domains, that is, the distinction in specific ways and techniques for knowing the world, logical, religious, creative, artistic and otherworldly qualities, fundamental ideologies, socio – economic and political structures. All these differences together with the policy of protection of own goods were the results of the conflict between Qing Empire and Western countries in the period of 1838-1842.
The cultures of East and West are different and even opposite to each other, and their characteristic features can be identified. Obviously, the eastern culture was and stays more steady, it shows up as a strong line. Eastern civilization is exceptionally adaptable; its foundations of civilization remain firm. Contacts amongst China and Europe (referred to in premodern China as the “Far West” or the “Western Ocean”) date from the period of the Silk Route between Han China and the Roman Empire two thousand years back. The two noteworthy powers that cultivated Sino-Western contacts were commerce and religion, and often the two would work in pair, as the exchange course would give admission to Christian preachers into China.
For centuries the Chinese Empire led the policy of protectionism, defending their own production on the international market. Nor is the constitution of the Empire, or the general orders of the State less liable to exception: since that form of Government, which does not in the first place provide for the security of the public against enterprises of foreign powers. From the start of commercial relations between Britain and China’s trade balance had a significant bias in favor of Chinese exports. While in Europe Chinese goods considered exotic, the policy of the emperors of the Qing Dynasty was aimed at isolating the country, guarding it from foreign influence. Officials should be appointed to take care of those who are to be sent to the capital and those, who are to be sent to Macao, to escort them throughout the journey to their respective destinations. Thus, only one port was open for foreign merchant ships, and the traders were not only forbidden to leave its territory, furthermore, even learning the Chinese dialect. The European merchants had little chance to offer their items in China, just fur from Russia and glass from Italy were in great demand. This constrained England to pay their regularly expanding purchases of Chinese products in gold and silver. Attempting to reestablish the balance, the British government sent trade delegations to the Chinese emperors, but the negotiations never ended with success. Albeit no Treaty existed between the Sovereign of England and the Emperor of China, yet British Subjects have kept on turning to China for motivations behind exchange, putting full trust in the equity and great confidence of the Emperor. London Businesses increasingly pushed for a military solution, “Chinese problem.” Rather, for tributary states, the whole procedure essentially spoke to a peaceful way to gain crucial Chinese commodities without stealing them in fringe assaults. The subject of relative status did not much concern them, despite the fact that sometimes needed the acknowledgment by the Chinese emperor.
The fundamental principles of Confucianism, projected on the Chinese system of relations with the outside world, spawned Sino-centrism, which is characterized by vertical connection in international relations – from the highest level to the lowest. The starring Confucian concept of paternalism, hierarchy relationships in the family, in the community and in relations between states played an important role in their creation. This imperial ideology gradually gave rise to a special order of the world in which China and its neighbors coexisted. However, China has never been so powerful as neighboring Mongolia in the times of Genghis Khan, whose army calculated 260 thousand cavalries and 100 thousand infantry could not assert authority over its neighbors by military aggression. Being a world order center, China ( “Middle Kingdom”) asserted its power over its neighbors more in the field of economy and culture, rather than by military aggression, believing that influence is more important than power. And Chinas first impressions of Europeans did little to change their next destination. China’s earliest recorders of the first group of Westerners rarely had sufficiently long time to acquire more than shallow verbal and visual impressions. As untrained historians, these recorders were so enmeshed in their own society that it was troublesome for them to precisely see and fathom the living outlines of different people groups.
It should be recalled that China over a long period of history did not feel the need for economic domination over its neighbors (self-sufficiency); rather, the neighboring states experienced the need for economic ties with China. It is known, that the Chinese invented many “engines of progress” such as gunpowder, paper, porcelain, silk and even the bureaucracy! Not least the fact that China, along with Russia, India, Iran, is a carrier of particular cultural and historical ideas, rooted in ancient times. Speaking about the Chinese remoteness from other countries one may take as an example Russia. According to the Chinese, the Kingdom of Russia had numerous capable men, yet they were conservative-minded, firm, and their contention was moderate. From antiquated times they had never contacted China. Their nation was exceptionally remote from the capital; however, travelers could achieve their region straightforwardly by the land route.
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The first Opium War was the start of a long stretch of debilitating of the state and the common distress in the Qing Empire, which led to the opening of access to the internal market of China to the European powers, in particular to legalizing the import of opium through Chinese ports. Opium sold by the British to China before the war, even more increased and led to a huge spread of drug addiction among the Chinese, degradation and mass extinction of the Chinese population. Western people, in contrast to those of the East, have a different mentality, different views on life, nature, etc. It is hard to define whether East and West are so much opposed to each other, or they assimilate with each other. In order to compare west and east culture differences one need to consider many aspects, that is, differences in art, science, religion, morals, political system, and the components of this.