reply to post by Merriman Weir
China was, generally, a fantastically advanced civilisation in many ways, but peaked at feudal, pre-industrialised society and there's arguments that
suggest that they stalled and stagnated in a particular direction of their technology because they formulated a 'tea culture'. As tea became such a
fundamental role in their culture, there was no real need to create alternatives to their pottery industry and therefore glass never saw general
manufacture. Without that glass, windows never became an issue, they didn't invent lenses and so on, nor any of the inventions that would result from
any of this. Humans would be the 'Chinese' in this example.
You make some good points but there are some incorrections and some assertions are very dismissive on the general context and external influences.
First China peaked at a Imperialistic stage, not feudal, they had matched and even supplanted technological mostly the Japanese. Japan had several
advantages in comparison, first they were more isolated (Island), smaller and due to the warfare the society was more cohesive, this things did not
happen to China they had to deal with the Mongols (remember the dark age of Europe), and they had the unfortunate idea to fallow a self imposed policy
of isolationism, they we in fact the major power of the region until Western contact started to undermine their social structure, the state of
underdevelopment of Russia and its focus on European contact also did not help.
The real advance in Europe came from cultural and social evolution, started with the Greeks and further developed by the Romans, especially in the
area of laws and religion, social control structures that permitted it to survive the dark ages, from there on the advances were made mostly due to
expansion and discovery and subjugation of other cultures. Imagine if Alexander the great managed to contact China (he reached India and Afghanistan),
the cultural exchange would have made our world completely different. Imagine Romans with explosives
[Ancient Rome (9th century BC – 5th century
AD) - Gunpowder was, according to prevailing academic consensus, discovered in the 9th century in China, attributed to Chinese alchemists searching
for an elixir of immortality]
The real downfall of China started with the contact with the British Empire, after the Anglo-Americans (more than other Europeans, note for example
the the Portuguese, that established the first global empire, they were the first to reach Japan had already a long contact with China), see Macau:
The history of Macau is traced back to the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC), when the region now called Macau came under the jurisdiction of Panyu
county, in Nanhai prefecture (present day Guangd ong).
The first recorded inhabitants of the area were people seeking refuge in Macau from invading Mongols during the Southern Song Dynasty. Under the Ming
Dynasty (1368–1644 AD), fishermen migrated to Macau from Guangd ong and Fujian provinces. Flag of the Government of Portuguese Macau
(1976–1999) Macau did not develop as a major settlement until the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century. In 1513, Jorge Álvares became the first
Portuguese to land in China. In 1535, Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macau's harbours and to carry out trading activities,
though not the right to stay onshore.
Around 1552–1553, they obtained temporary permission to erect storage sheds onshore, in order to dry out goods drenched by sea water; they soon
built rudimentary stone houses around the area now called Nam Van. In 1557, the Portuguese established a permanent settlement in Macau, paying an
annual rent of 500 taels ( 20 kilograms / 44 pounds ) of silver. The Portuguese continued to pay an annual tribute up to 1863 in order to stay in
By 1564 Portugal commanded western trade with India, Japan, and China. But their pride was shocked by the indifference with which the Chinese treated
them. (The senate of Macau once complained to the viceroy of Goa of the contempt with which the Chinese authorities treated them, confessing however
that “it was owing more to the Portuguese themselves than to the Chinese”.) In 1631 the Chinese restricted Portuguese commerce in China to the
port of Macau.
From Wikipedia's Macau
[The Portuguese Empire (and even colonialism) should not ever be confused with the behavior of other nations, there the level of depredation and
exploitation can not even be compared. Things started to get a bit more similar only after a state of competition with and cultural influence from the
UK/Holland. Even the Spanish Empire was probably more inclined to exploitation due to the pressures of its relation with other European nations.]
This clearly shows that the resulting decrepitude was due to the continued policy of isolationism allied with the undermining that happened after
other Western Powers reached China (and Japan), especially the Anglo-Americans (see Opium Wars
edit on 14-12-2012 by Panic2k11 because: (no reason given)