Modern Chinese history began with the 1840 Opium War. The decaying empire was humiliated and forced to open up to the industrialised world, but the uneasy contact with foreign countries was made worse by China's undemocratic culture.
Chinese emperors were regarded as having golden mouths and whatever they said was final. Dissenters would be severely punished. Such power sent a backward China to fight against all the super powers of the day and brought disasters to China one after another. Many patriotic Chinese tried to save their country by overthrowing the monarchy, fighting colonialism, warlords and foreign invaders. Many sought salvation for China from Communism. Yet the pernicious big and small golden mouths are still entrenched in China today.