Subject: Foreign Affairs
Reading Level: Adult / High School
For much of its 4000 year history, China had little use for the rest of the world. Convinced of its own superiority, it wanted nothing from the barbarians that surrounded it. Foreigners who entered the country, under tight restrictions, had to operate according to Chinese custom and rules. Then for approximately 100 years, from the middle of the 19th to the middle of the 20th centuries, China faced great defeat and humiliation at the hands of outsiders, first from the West and then from Japan. The hallmark of the first decades after Communist ascension to power in 1949 was a retreat to isolationism. But the last three decades have witnessed a vigorous return to the international scene, with China using its increasing economic might to restore a former glory and create extraordinary influence in world affairs.