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Old March 1st, 2017, 09:19 PM   #1

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Which was more advanced, China or Japan?


I'd like to know what country you think was more advanced before they became Westernized? That means before Meiji restoration, or even before both countries came in contact with Western powers in a significant way. I know that probably during some periods one country was more advanced than the other, but not necessarily during all history. I'm not an Asian history expert but I think China was more advanced than Japan during most(or all) of the Ancient age. What about 600-1800 CE? Did China keep their advantage over Japan during that time?
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 04:28 PM   #2

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What about 600-1800 CE? Did China keep their advantage over Japan during that time?
There was direct Western influence as far back as the 16th century. For example, the Japanese were introduced to arquebus technology by the Portuguese. But even then, it wasn't enough for the Japanese to conquer China, which Hideyoshi of Japan attempted to do by crossing through Korea. The Tokugawa Shogunate continued trade with the Western countries for a while. After 1635, this shogunate allowed only the inbound shipments from China, Korea, and the Netherlands.

The time when Japan really started to overtake China was during the late 1800s.
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 05:55 PM   #3

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China. Japan was always a copycat, but it had brief, then permanent periods of ascendance, first at the end of the sengoku jidai which forced rapid military development, then after its modernization.
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 08:34 PM   #4

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China throughout its history - that I mean since the beginning of the written language till the Industrial Age - was always more advanced than Japan.

Japan was a late starter in the history of civilisation and had a peripherical and almost tributary position when compared and in relations with the "Middle Kingdom". In fact it was only after the Meiji period that Japan not only surprassed China, but became an important player among nations.
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 08:38 PM   #5

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China gave the world many inventions such as gunpowder, compass and I think paper. Japan was a copy of China at the start heavily influenced by the Chinese and they were Chinese vassal state. China also contributed to math, astronomy, warfare etc. They even developed paper money and had beautiful art that survived throughout the centuries. Japan is awesome.and fascinating to say the least, but they can't compare to China.
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Old March 3rd, 2017, 12:00 AM   #6

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Well, comparing the history of China with Japan is like comparing history of Greece with Sweden.

If we just concentrate on the 19th century, then both Qing China and Tokugawa Japan were declining during the first half of 19th century. Both were very isolated. During the later half of 19th century, Qing China continued to decline whereas in Japan, the Meiji Restoration not just saved it from decline but made it the Imperial Power.
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Old March 3rd, 2017, 07:12 PM   #7

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Interesting. How were Japanese seen in the eyes of the Chinese? I know during Ming and Joseon, the Chinese had certain sympathy for the Koreans since they shared the Confucian traditions and were a tributary state. But what about the Chinese and the Japanese? Did they see them as barbarians?
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Old March 3rd, 2017, 09:57 PM   #8

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Interesting. How were Japanese seen in the eyes of the Chinese? I know during Ming and Joseon, the Chinese had certain sympathy for the Koreans since they shared the Confucian traditions and were a tributary state. But what about the Chinese and the Japanese? Did they see them as barbarians?
Japan was initially a Chinese tributary. I think the name used for Japan or at least some parts of Japan was Wa. So the Japanese were most likely seen as inferior to the Chinese. Chinese also consider later Japanese embassies to China as tributary missions, such as the missions to Tang and Ming. I have also read that Ashikaga Yoshimitsu called himself "a royal Japanese servant" in letters to the Ming. However, eventually the Japanese created a sense of superiority, especially after their victory against the Mongols. They never created their system of tributary states though. Both China and Japan considered Westerners barbaric though. We also have the story of early 7th century Japanese ambassador to China, Ono no Imoko who gave the Chinese emperor the following message:

From the sovereign of the land of the rising sun to the sovereign of the land of the setting sun.

This is supposedly the origin of Japan's name and some interpret this as the show of Japanese arrogance by calling China the land where the sun sets (=decline). Emperor Yang of Sui who ruled at the time reportedly became angry at this letter. So if this is true, then it seems even in the 7th century, Japan had some sense of superiority.
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Old March 3rd, 2017, 10:31 PM   #9

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Emperor Yang of Sui who ruled at the time reportedly became angry at this letter. So if this is true, then it seems even in the 7th century, Japan had some sense of superiority.
It sounds more arrogant than anything really. The Japanese could afford to appear arrogant because no sane king or emperor would declare war on an island so far away simply because of a letter.

In the 7th Century, the Yamato kingdom could not be compared any of the three Proto Korean kingdom and definitely not the Sui.
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Old March 4th, 2017, 01:13 AM   #10
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China was among the most advanced civilisations for most of Human's recorded history.
As for Japan, they did not even have any solid written languange before Japan adopted Chinese characters or Kanji. It was only after Meiji restoration that Japan overtaken China.
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