China: The Lost Century
Free Free Markets concluded in an article titled China And The Five Baits it was too early for the west to let its guard down about the threat that China posed. If all goes well China will evolve as stated in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine How China Is Ruled, January/February 2014
"But there is also a fourth scenario, in which China’s leaders propel the country forward, establishing the rule of law and regulatory structures that better reflect the country’s diverse interests. Beijing would also have to expand its sources of legitimacy beyond growth, materialism, and global status, by building institutions anchored in genuine popular support. This would not necessarily mean transitioning to a full democracy, but it would mean adopting its features: local political participation, official transparency, more independent judicial and anti-corruption bodies, an engaged civil society, institutional checks on executive power, and legislative and civil institutions to channel the country’s diverse interests."
I am certain China will evolve as described above in Foreign Affairs magazine, however China will not be a wall flower and let the western world push it around. The rest of this essay gives you my rational for reaching this conclusion. China has a lot of pride and history.
China has a long history and long memories. The Chinese are a patient people including their leaders. They remember well the "century of humiliation" dating from the mid-19th century and ending after World War II in the mid 1940's. Much of this humiliation came at the hands of the western powers. They will not forget. The question is can they forgive and become a true trading partner.
In the mid-nineteenth century China decided to crack down on the use of opium while Briton tolerated it. Much of the opium consumed in Briton was obtained from Chinese opium traders. The Chinese, still seeing themselves as the center of power and thought in the world, demanded that Briton take charge of eradicating opium in its' Indian territories. Briton viewed this request to be very condescending. When Briton did nothing China swept in and besieged the British community in China. The result was Briton attacked sections of China with their modern ships, guns and other weaponry and China was forced to accept a humiliating defeat.**
The treaties forced upon the Chinese demanded that Briton and other sovereign nations be looked upon by China as equals , thus shattering the centuries old thought that China was the Middle Kingdom and the rest of the world was lower in culture and tradition. This was very humiliating and distasteful to the Chinese people. Other events that were part of the century of humiliation included unequal treaties where Briton by force imposed one-sided agreements on China, the Taiping Rebellion, which was a civil war from 1850 to 1964 where over 20 million Chinese died, the sacking by the British of the sacred old Summer Palace, the Sino-French War, the First Sino-Japanese War, the Twenty-One Demands by Japan in the early 20th century, and the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945. In this period, China lost all the wars it fought and often forced to give major concessions to the great powers in later treaties.
The United States will need to adjust to living in a world of equals.
Footnote** Please read the comments from ziwangad below for a different perspective. Make no mistake about it Britain was the country infringing on the sovereignty of China.