Modern Era 1750-1900
Important occurrences in the modern era
Chinese turn down the British
British and Chinese relations in the beginning of the Nineteenth century and on were sketchy at best. The first attempts at trade with the Chinese from the British were swiftly thwarted by the Chinese government on two separate occasions by two separate ambassadors. More information: http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelpregion/asia/china/guidesources/chinatrade/
First Opium War
Britain found itself at a trade imbalance with China. A solution to this problem arose in the 1830s when the British discovered that they were capable of exporting Opium grown in their Indian territories to China, securing their market (through addiction) and increasing trade revenue at the same time. China did not take kindly (after some debate as to what to do), and moved to stop Opium trade within its borders. The British caught wind of this and sent a big 'ole naval fleet to deal with the opposition. The ensuring conflict ended in Britain's favor and in the Chinese signing of the treaty of Najing, which was created largely on British terms.
The Taiping rebellion was the result of many social and economic issues that had arisen in China due to European interference, corrupt rulers, population growth. It occurred between 1850 and 1864, and was led by Hong Xiuquan. The rebellion called for massive reform including the equal distribution of land among men and women, a more industrial China, healthcare for all, and an education system for the public. The rebellion eventually fell to the Qing even after many descisive victories.
Second Opium War
The Second Opium War (1856-1858) was much like the first. In fact, very similar in that China could not effectively respond to European advances and lost several battles that ended up costing them dearly. (Found a nice site about the Opium wars here)
China attempted reform from its current status. They made efforts to modernize and create a more industrial nation, but were cut off by the Boxer Rebellion (1898-1901). The Boxers focused on anti-foreign activities and led attacks on embassies in China. Western powers and Japan came in to put down the Uprising. This act portrayed the fact that China was still a dependent nation, under control of foreign powers.
Fall of the Qing
The Qing had been struggling for a good while when it came to its end. Many groups of more educated Chinese citizens had been organizing into study and reform groups, there were rebellions popping up out of nowhere, and the Qing failed to effectively respond to these threats. After more than 2000 years of rule the Qing fell with only a slight nudge from revolutionary forces.
Ottoman Empire (The sick old man of Europe)
In 1750, the Ottomans still stood tall as a force to be reckoned with in the land of the Middle East. But as time went on the Ottomans lost much of their land (India, Indonesia, West Africa, Central Asia) to European powers and had lost the ability to generate enough revenue to support a country effectively.
Reform in the empire was obviously needed by the 1800s. This was recognized by the Sultan Selim (III), who attempted to adopt some military techniques from the Europeans, but he was overthrown in 1807. Finally in 1839 there was a bigger and more accepted reform called "Tanzimat". These reforms called for the formation of better schools, equal rights for non-Muslims, new industry, etc.
Young Ottomans (And Abd al-Hamid [II])
The young Ottomans were a certain class of new Ottomans that spawned from the recent reform and called for a more Western style nation to be ruled by more than a single ruler. They believed that the Empire could accommodate European technology and still maintain their Islamic identity. They succeeded for a bit with the ratification of a constitution and a parliaments under Abd al-Hamid, but heir hopes were crushed when these changes were reversed for reasons related to the war with Russia.
The Young Turks
Following the overall failure of the Young Ottomans a new group of military and civilian elites formed a group known as the Young Turks. They called for much the same as those who came before them, but with a more secular outlook and an even harder push for reform. They succeeded in a military coup in 1908 and went on to modernize and reform the state.
Tokugawa Japan (1600-1850) was characterized by peace and economic prosperity, influenced largely by the rule of the shogun and its figurehead emperor. The Tokugawa regime had government regulated occupation, residence, dress, hairstyles, etc. and had four separate societal classes. Samurai, peasants, artisans, then merchants. But as the years went on the shogunate lost power to merchants and peasants, who moved to the cities and generated more revenue. (If you want more on the art below click here)
Europe moved on Japan as it did the Ottomans and the Chinese. The Americans sent the Commodore Perry to intimidate the Japanese into moving into better trade habits. Japan fell to his demands, but moved to make massive reforms known as the Meiji restoration. They made a commitment to make a break with the past and accept the new European styles in order to become a better nation.
The Russian defeat against the Japanese in 1905 had effects that rippled all around the world. The news of the victory spread from China to the Turks and gained much fame for the Japanese. Newspapers from all around the world wrote of how Japan was a rising power in the East, and some Turks even gave their children Japanese names in honor of such accomplishment. (Site actually dedicated to war here)