Self-strengthening movement of China (1861-94) and Japan (1868-94) -Alek

Question: Compare and contrast the self-strengthening movement of China (1861-94) and Japan (1868-94)

Answer: Both movements primary aim was to improve the nation in a political, economical, social and military sense yet while China accomplished little during this movement, Japan was able to industrialize and become a powerful nation, which was proven during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 where Japan totally dominated China.


“The slogan ‘self-strengthening’ did not bring to China a systematic and planned modernisation. It was rather a series of sporadic projects and adventures carried out by different assertive personalities.” (TheCorner) The Chinese government was poor on finance + they had a high rate of corruption. This hindered the process of self- strengthening. During the Movement, China (in political sense) was decided into two blocks – the conservatists who were strongly against the movement and the progressives. “Judging from the conservative, limited and corrupt nature of the self-strengthening movement, it was clear that the movement was doomed to failure.” (The Corner) However, military was improved to some extent (yet, again not sufficient enough which was proven during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895) “Yet all these accomplishments were still meagre and insufficient. The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 revealed clearly the limited achievements of the movement” (The Corner)

“In Japan, the reform movement that followed the Meiji Restoration in 1868 had produced rapid changes in Japanese society and had fueled an industrial growth unmatched in all of human history.” (Hooker) The Meiji Restoration and then later Bakumatsu period were the times when Japan’s industrial growth exceeded of any countries of the world. The ‘self-strengthening’ concept was very effective and made Japan on the same line with other European powers of that time. The Japanese had a isolation policy yet they still managed to obtain knowledge from the west, as well as arms from independent suppliers like the Portuguese. The effectiveness of the restoration proven to be successful during the First Sino-Japanese war since both countries had a self-strengthening program yet Japan won obviously because they were more industrialized and better equipped due to their successful reforms before the war.

Research 3:

“Meiji Restoration – New World Encyclopedia.” Info:Main Page – New World Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Sept. 2010. <;.

“Meiji Restoration.” Main Page. Web. 30 Sept. 2010. <;.

Richard Hooker. “Ch’ing China: “Self-Strengthening”” Washington State University – Pullman, Washington. 1996. Web. 27 Sept. 2010. <;.

“SS Movement.” TheCorner. Web. 27 Sept. 2010. <;.

Thomas L.Kennedy. “Self-Strengthening Movement from Modern China: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Nationalism |” | Study Guides, Lesson Plans, Book Summaries and More. Web. 27 Sept. 2010. <;.


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