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A Century of Humiliation 1839–1949

The Exploitation of China

Publication Date15th October 2024

Book FormatHardback





An exploration of international relations at a time when Western powers exploited Eastern resources and sought to dominate the economic and political landscape. A powerful insight into the history that helped shaped current political and economic realities.
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From 1839 to 1949, Imperial and Republican China was ruthlessly subjected to territorial, economic and political exploitation by Europe, Japan and the United States. This unrelenting series of shattering blows was to become known as the ‘Century of Humiliation’.

These indignities were achieved through a combination of threats, intimidation and wars that yielded a series of ‘Unequal Treaties’. They granted territorial concessions, extraterritorial rights and other privileges which left China impotent, and millions outcasts in their own country. Thousands more were exploited in faraway lands, working as labourers on railways and plantations, and becoming collateral damage in foreign wars. Consequently, the country faced dissolution and civil war as it struggled to throw off foreign domination.

Seared into the memories of generations of China’s intellectual and political elites, these ordeals serve to explain Beijing’s own contemporary political worldview. This has revealed itself in bullish revanchism towards Taiwan and other parts of AsiaPac, border disputes with states as diverse as India, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines; and wider ambitious global economic aspirations, stretching from Europe to Africa and beyond.

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