Question by Vlad: How did China open itself up to foreign trade?
I am currently working on a story where the Soviet Union opens itself to foreign trade like China did and manages to survive. My only question is, how exactly did China go from a poor isolated country to a rich manufacturing center with economic links to the rest of the world.
Any description of the process that lead to these changes, along with any online (non-book sources), would be welcome.
Answer by Ken
Well China was Isolationist after the Yongle Emperor.
Western nations used gunboat diplomacy to open up trade with China by force in the 1800s.
Several wars later (opimium wars) The dying embers of the Qing Dynasty signed the 3 unequal treaties giving access to all the choke points of China, mostly all the port cities and river cities.
They had a huge grip on China for quite some time while china was weakened by famine, disunity and civil war (Taiping rebellion and boxer). Then WWI happened weakening the imperial powers.
Japan was the only major power in the region for quite some time as Europeans and US were shooting each other in WWI till 1919.
China then had a big war against the Japanese.
Then an even bigger war happened WWII then a civil war between the KMT and the communists.
The communists under mao made all the mistakes the soviets did i.e. collectivism and bad economic policies. 50+ million died.
Then they had a stalinist type purge named the cultural revolution. Which was bad because it killed all the experts and tall poppies.
Mao died in 76, Xiao Ping wrestled control of the CCP, and they decided to copy the Japanese model of modernisation using Japanese style merchantilism, on steroids (i.e. the home market is closed, but they export like crazy). And industrialised properly.
The the 90s the made the western powers sign a deal with the devil, their tech and manufacturing and being allowed to open nigh on slave labor camps in China and pollute all they wanted. China got the technology and expertise.
The western corporates who only care about profit, signed this deal.
20 years later Europe and the US were devoid of most of the manufacturing jobs and their economies are wrecked.
Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!