Due to Russia’s landlocked location, it had initially been relatively isolated from outside cultures. However, around 1697, under the rule of Peter the Great, Russia began to reduce its isolation and became influenced by Western culture.
After Peter’s travel abroad in Europe, he built a new “Window to the West” at St. Petersburg, built houses and public buildings in the baroque (French) style, promoted European fashion, accelerated adoption of European technology and encouraged women’s visibility in court. Similar to many Western rulers, Peter then declared himself absolute ruler, setting a precedent for later tsars. However, despite this ready acceptance of outside European influence, many Russians still detested Cossacks – the groups of nomadic people of different origins that lived outside the farming villages in Russia.Throughout the Ming Empire, emperors often focused on issues inside their empire. For a brief time under Yongle (r. 1403-1423), with the help of Zheng He, China forged diplomatic relations and trade with countries around the Indian Ocean, as well as the Middle East. However, this was restricted at their deaths in the 1430s.
Later on, during the Qing Empire, emperors reopened trade but restricted it heavily, only allowing one port per foreign sector. Although this worked at first due to Europeans admiration of Chinese luxuries such as porcelain and silk, it eventually led to European frustration as multiple attempts at diplomacy failed. In addition, Chinese rulers lived in constant fear of overrule by their northern neighbors, doing all they could to separate and protect themselves from them. In Japan, under the Tokugawa Shogunate, emperors sought maritime contacts to increase commercial revenue. Eventually they made agreements with the Europeans, welcoming them and regulating trade for firearms in exchange for silver.
Traders brought Christian missionaries who were very successful among Japanese peasants and converted thousands of people. Eventually, suspicious of European intentions and wanting to eliminate the spread of Christianity, Japan stopped all European trade except with the Dutch, and began persecutions of Christians.