Free trade but imagine trade in China going back to the Opium Wars when Britain was hungry for trade say in silks and teas together with the import duties earned but China wanted to keep overall control of their trade and kept a closed door policy. Opium from India came in via British merchants.
In 1839 in Canton the Chinese prohibited Opium and took actions that lead to attack by the British navy who were successful and China was compelled, mind you, to open more ports to trade - Shanghai and Hong Kong had their beginings. France applied pressure to win access for missionaries!
Inroads by the West led to second thoughts by the Chinese who tried to resist. The second Opium war in 1856 found the enemy right in Beijing. Drastic incidents lead to a very punitive act when the Old Summer palace was burnt down by the British in the main.
While loss of life is of most concern, just imagine the Palace which had 350 splendid, opulent hectares of unique buildings and priceless treasures in a magical landscape. All destroyed. The quaint unique palace that visitors see today, does not compare with the original.
Struggle by the Chinese did not end there and trade and dealings with the West were not for the faint hearted. The writer, Jung Chang, sheds light on this period in the book, Empress Dowager Cixi, published 2013. Jung Chang was featured on Nightlife on ABC radio. Her book is not sold in China.