Pre-modern China

A nineteenth Century Japanese Politician once described China as an elephant that is unable to quickly change speed or direction. Identify and explain factors that would inhibit China's ability to respond to changing circumstances. Remember to include physical, cultural, political and economic factors.
The dynamics of Chinese society were radically different to those of Western societies at the time. The value system that was behind every facet of Chinese civilisation created a different way of evaluating new circumstances and thus different ways to respond. The educational system that formed the backbone of the government system was based upon conservative, traditional thinking that involved applying traditional techniques rather than seeking solutions to new circumstances. The social hierarchy placed little value on the merchant class who would have been a potential driving force for technological and economic adaptation and development, and instead preferred to rely upon the traditional peasant class to provide for the country. This was made possible by the vast fertile lands surrounding the three major rivers in Middle China. On top of these internal factors, the Chinese view of the history of the world led to a conclusion that China was the civilised centre of the world and thus all problems could be solved internally.
Confucianism provided the values and principles that dictated how to act in all situations. Confucianism was based upon strict, unquestioning, obedience to the Hierarchy of society . The importance of utmost respect for elders naturally made Chinese society more conservative and left less room for new generations to question the past traditions and develop ideas of their own.'Confucianism venerated the past and the old – whether customs, traditions, learned texts, ancestors, or society's elders – and therefore resisted change' . This value system brought about a society that att…


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