In the 1700s, China was the biggest economy in the world and all silver in Europe flowed to China in asymmetric trade, because Europe wanted what China had but but China didn’t want what Europe had.
The British wrote letters to the Chinese Emperor, begging him to open his ports for British goods but the Chinese Emperor said China needed nothing from Europe.
What is interesting is it was European merchants who went out of their way, to go to China to stock up on the Chinese goods that Europeans were addicted to. More importantly what made China so powerful was regional unification and internal trade. Something we keep encouraging Africa to do.
Eventually, Britain decided to break China’s economic power by sending ships filled with opium, accompanied by ships of the line [naval ships] to force China to take British opium.
When China refused, the British attacked China and forced her to open up her ports for British opium and goods. Today, 300yrs later, the tables are turning to exactly where they were in the 1700s.