In the 18th century, China had no competition, and the Qianlong Emperor was not alone in his belief that China was too civilized and powerful to worry.
However, in less than a century, China would face defeat during the Opium Wars caused by England and France. The century that followed would devastate China until Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power after Mao died.
Other factors that weakened China during the 19th century, were the rebellions caused by converted Chinese Christians and Muslims that would cause more than 30 million deaths.
Now that China has recovered its power, it would be interesting to see if the Chinese have learned from the Qing Dynasty’s mistakes. America could also learn something from the British Empire’s arrogance and why the sun stopped shinning twenty-four hours a day on that empire.
An “old” friend spoke with arrogance when he said that the US would spank China if they didn’t behave, which is evidence that arrogance doesn’t infect only a nation’s leaders.
If America and China were in fact arrogant, it wouldn’t be the first time powerful countries acted that way. In fact, both nations could learn from history what happens when arrogance from too much power influences actions.
The Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) was China’s last Imperial Dynasty, and during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1736 – 1796), the borders of China were expanded to their greatest extent in more than two thousand years. His reign was also a time of great prosperity for China.
With such accomplishments and power, it should not come as a surprise when the Qianlong Emperor rejected King George III’s request to increase trade between Britain and China—an arrogant rejection which would return to haunt China within forty-six years when Britain, acting arrogant, forced China to comply.