8.5.2 Crisis before Modern Times 近代之前的危机(二)

       Constraint from the intensive farming mode and control by the system of stereotyped-writing education and official selection were also deadly stings to the science and technologies of the Qing Dynasty. 
       Constraint from the intensive farming mode and control by the system of stereotyped-writing education and official selection were also deadly stings to the science and technologies of the Qing Dynasty. 
       There were little advances in the scientific innovation during the period, leading to the absence of powerful impetus for industrial revolution and social renovation.
 
       Before the 16th century, China's ocean navigation and ship-making techniques took a leading position in the world. From 1405 to 1433, the Ming Dynasty successively sent Zheng He to the Western Oceans on seven separate occasions. Zheng led hundreds of huge ships and thousands of sailors, reaching more than 30 countries in Asia and Africa and increasing friendly exchanges and economic communication. However, the Ming Dynasty highlighted "giving more but getting less" and seldom took economic benefits into account, making production of most goods for export supervised or forced by the official governments. That further led to the fleeing of a vast number of craftsmen and the end of the feat of ocean navigation, which was later considered as a "bad policy." The Qing court posed as a Celestial Empire, believing that it "has abundant resources and products and doesn't need to exchange goods with alien nations." Meanwhile, it closed its doors to the outside world by prohibiting sea trade and foreign trade, in a bid to prevent "alien" invasion and the anti-Qing forces in coastal areas. It closed all the trade ports except the port of Guangzhou, and only allowed "Shisan Hang," an officially-franchised organization, to manage foreign trade. Though the closed-door policy played a certain role in defending the nation against western colonists, it did not narrow the gap between the west and China. Instead, the policy curbed the development of foreign trade and navigation, and made the Qing Dynasty lose the opportunity to tap overseas markets, stimulate capital expansion and promote industrialization through foreign trade. It further caused a deepening obstruction and stagnancy and took China far away from the developmental tide sweeping the world.
 
       Since the Ming Dynasty, the western Jesuits came to China in succession. They helped the spread of advanced western science and technologies while preaching, making the western learning gradually flow into the eastern world. This offered China rare opportunities to broaden its horizons and merge into the tide of industrial civilization. Xu Guangqi at the end of the Ming Dynasty timely put forward the proposal of "overtaking the western counterparts by learning wildly from other's strong points and combining them with local features based on assimilation of knowledge." But the rulers of Qing stuck to the idea that China was different from alien nations and all the western knowledge originated from the Chinese culture. The communication between the east and west came to a halt following the exile of the Jesuits during the reign of Emperor Yongzheng. 
 
       The rapid growth of capitalism put the entire world intohe torrential ride of commodity circulation. The western powers swarmed into other land across the ocean, plundering valuable things, trading slaves and establishing respective colonial rulings. That resulted in a swift change in the comparison between the western power and the Qing Empire, who had always been enthusiastic about Neo-Confucianism and went all out to defend its farming-based ruling. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong, George Lord McCartney (1737-1806), an emissary from Britain, once claimed that only several three-mast battleships would be enough to destroy the whole coastal fleet of the Qing Dynasty if China forbad Sino-British trade or caused severe loss to them. The seemingly ridiculous prediction did come true, and this was why Emperor Daoguang sighed and said, "what a shame it is not to repel the attack of two alien ships! It is no wonder we are despised by the alien nations given our poor military strength."
 
       The Opium War in 1840 finally broke the natural process of China's society and the Chinese people faced the arduous, solemn and inspiring war of gaining national independence and embarked slowly on an arduous, complex and unique road to modernization.