Are We Changing Places with China?

Feb 19, 2018 by

by Paul S. Ropp –

Mark Twain is reputed to have said “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Whether Twain said it or not, it’s an insight worth considering. One surprising example of such rhyming is a comparison of China in the 19th century with the United States today.

With eyes turned toward Asia, not just with the Winter Olympics, but in concern over the crisis in Korea and what role China has in helping the United States press for a resolution, I’m alarmed in looking from my vantage point as a long-time China watcher, over parallels that I see emerging in how China and the U.S. appear to be trading places on the world stage.

In 1793, China was a large empire in the early stages of decline as the 18th century was closing while Great Britain was emerging as the strongest power in the world. That year Britain sent Lord George Macartney to the court of the Qianlong Emperor to seek expanded trading opportunities, so Britain could sell more products to China to pay for its rapidly growing imports of tea, silk and porcelain. At that point China had been the dominant power in East Asia for two thousand years.

Paul S. Ropp is research professor of Chinese History at Clark University and the author of He is the author of China in World History (Oxford University Press, 2010). This article was first published in the Worcester and is reprinted with permission of the author.

Source: Are We Changing Places with China? | History News Network

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