China’s history is lost in antiquity.
Prior to the 19th century, China’s rulers did not think of China in terms of being a modern nation state … it was, instead, the central kingdom, a civilization due respect, if not fealty, from all who approached it. This contrasted with the West where, beginning with the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, western governments conducted trade and diplomacy based on rules governing actions between sovereign nations.
This difference in world views created a conflict based on perceptions when western navy’s confronted China in the 1800s.
China viewed itself as having a superior society where all other peoples were to recognize the Middle Kingdom as being superior in knowledge and culture. Neighbors were expected to recognize the blessings of acceding to the Middle Kingdom’s superiority. Suzerainty is the term that fits the situation before the arrival of western navies.
China’s view of the world…
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