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The Opium War was the one between the British Empire and the Chinese empire at the time of the Qing dynasty in China. The war took place after the Chinese emperor reigning at that moment authorized his army to lay siege to the British opium dealers. In the traditional Chinese community, opium was known for its medicinal value. However, Europeans craved this commodity, and its export increased tremendously over the years. As a result, the Chinese government restricted the use of this drug for any other purpose other than its original one. Since the reigning emperor had ordered the sellers to halt this illegal trade, he was left with no other choice but to take matters into his own hands. Earlier on, the emperor had requested the merchants to stop the opium trade and give away their possessions to the authorities. However, their refusal to comply with the emperor’s demands forced him to arrest and lay siege to some British traders.
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The Suez Canal
The Suez Canal is a waterway in Egypt that separates Asia and Africa. The canal offers the simplest sea route to Europe and other lands situated on the other side of the western Pacific and Indian Oceans. The canal is related to the European penetration into Africa to increase the demands for their agricultural goods and raw materials.
Meiji Restoration is a series of events that led to the reinstatement of imperial rule in Japan under Emperor Meiji. It was significant as it brought changes in the country’s social and political structures. The restoration took place under Emperor Meiji who saw the transformation of Japan into the modernized nation as it is seen today.
The Battle of Plassey
The Battle of Plassey was a combat between the Nawab of Bengal and the East India Company’s forces. The fight took place in a small village between Murshidabad and Calcutta in India. It lasted only for a few hours after which the Nawab of Bengal was defeated by the opposing side. Forgery and treason were the tools used to force the enemy to surrender prematurely. These actions of the British have started the prolonged bitterness of the Indians against the British ever since.
The leader of the Indian army showed a shallowness of his character by selling his own people to the enemy. After this battle, it became the British custom to use bribery as a way of winning any battle. It became impossible for them to win again without using such methods henceforth.
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The Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer was a Chinese society at the time of the Ching dynasty, which was started by the Yihetun or the Righteous Harmony Society to stop foreign influence in China. The movement was formed by peasants from the northern part of the empire who were known for their practice of boxing. At first, the members of the society wanted to destroy the entire rule of that time to get rid of the foreign influence in the kingdom. However, the Chinese empress tried to help them to weed out the aliens.
The movement started by massacring Christians. However, the united forces from various European nations weakened the power of the Ching dynasty to make China a republic.
The words of Emperor Qianlong were written in his letter to King George III. The letter is expressing his sovereignty as an emperor and the sovereignty of his kingdom over the European kingdoms. In this letter, the emperor laid out his demands to the British who wanted to trade with China.
At that time, many European nations including Great Britain yearned to trade with the Chinese empire. Unlike in periods after the letter had been written, the Chinese empire had not opened its territory to other merchants. Because of this, King George III sent Lord Macartney to request the Chinese emperor to allow Great Britain merchants into the Chinese territory.
The words of Honda Toshiaki praise the European nations, which, according to him, were ahead of the Japanese Empire. Toshiaki was known for his intellect in many areas including astronomy, navigation, mathematics, and western languages. His close observation of the western way of ruling and economics prompted him to write these words. At that moment, Japan was passing through hard economic times and was isolated from foreign trade. His admiration for the western culture and way of governance can be clearly felt in this excerpt. Toshiaki opposed the use of Chinese writing and advocated the use of western characters as a way of simplifying education for Japanese learners. At the end of this period, Japan moved from an isolated kingdom to an industrialized nation.
Heinrich von Treitschke
In the following statement, Heinrich von Treitschke is talking about the war in support of national honor and prestige. It was made in line with his beliefs and with those of most Germans that war was the only right path to the greatness of the nation. Back then, the Germans feared democracy and socialism and supported authoritarianism and militarism. Having read the statement, one can conclude that war will always recur as medicine for the human race.
In the excerpt from Burmese Days, Dr. Veraswami is expressing his reverence and respect for the British colonists. He feels that the Burmese cannot do anything on their own since they are inferior to the British. The excerpt represents British colonialism in Burma in times when the country was ruled by Britain together with the Indian empire. The character is used by the author to represent the feeling of inferiority to the British who were governing the Burmese by undermining and treating them unfairly. Since other nations like the Japanese were craving for Burma, Veraswami felt that the British were doing good colonizing Burma because it was protecting them from other countries like Japan.
The excerpt represents the words of Flory in the Burmese Days. In this passage, the character expressed his discontentment with the corrupt nature of the British in Burma during the colonial era. Flory was British, but he abhorred everything the colonialists did to the natives.
As seen earlier, the novel was written at the time of the British reign over Burma. Flory was used by the author who witnessed British imperialism in the country to show his discontent with it. The character presented the British as a corrupt and imperialist nation. To prove this, Flory says, “How can you make out that we are in this country for any purpose except to steal?” He goes on to argue that the work of the British officials is to benefit from the countrymen by “skinning the unfortunate peasant”.