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How did China respond to European exploration pressures?

China responded to European exploration pressures by adopting a policy of isolation and strictly controlling foreign trade.

In the 15th century, when European explorers began to venture into the East, China was one of the most powerful and advanced civilisations in the world. The Ming Dynasty, ruling at the time, saw no need to engage with these foreign explorers, whom they considered to be barbarians. As a result, China adopted a policy of isolation, limiting its interactions with the outside world.

This policy was further reinforced during the Qing Dynasty, which succeeded the Ming in the 17th century. The Qing emperors maintained a strict control over foreign trade, allowing it only through the port of Canton (now Guangzhou) and under the supervision of the Cohong, a guild of Chinese merchants. This system, known as the Canton System, was designed to protect China's economy and society from foreign influence.

The European powers, particularly Britain, were not satisfied with these restrictions. They sought to open up China to free trade and gain access to its vast market. This led to a series of conflicts, most notably the Opium Wars in the mid-19th century. The British used military force to impose unequal treaties on China, forcing it to open up more ports to foreign trade and cede Hong Kong to Britain.

Despite these pressures, China continued to resist Western influence. The Qing government launched a series of reforms, known as the Self-Strengthening Movement, in an attempt to modernise the country and strengthen its military. However, these efforts were largely unsuccessful, and China was unable to prevent further encroachments by the European powers.

In conclusion, China's response to European exploration pressures was characterised by a policy of isolation and strict control over foreign trade. However, this policy was ultimately unsuccessful in preventing Western encroachments.

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