Students of European history always argue that the values and technology of Europe are far superior to any other civilization. Thus, Europe dominated against other civilizations and spread its culture. However, this leaves out a key part of European attempts to colonize the Asian areas and their failure in trying to do so. This leads to the question of why the Asian countries were the one region that remained closed off to European military domination. It was the highly structured and organized Asian culture and political systems that defended themselves against the European global system.
First, remember that the Asian countries were actually the first to develop the main technologies that Europeans would eventually capitalize upon. Marco Polo, in his adventures through the Mongol Empire, would discover the navigational technologies and gunpowder that Europeans would eventually use in colonizing Latin America and Africa. In fact, the Chinese were first major explorers and reached all the way to Eastern and possibly Western Africa under Admiral Zenghe. Europeans only followed in the technological advances of the Chinese and Japanese empires.
Asian empires were highly structured and organized around central divine figures. Each Asian country had a different religious or spiritual system to justify their organizations. However, all of the countries had a central semi or fully divine leader with local warlords who ruled over families and kinship groups. The families were organized in a hierarchical way that resembled the overall structure of the empire. The general ideology of citizenship and organization was based upon the analogy of a chain in which each member was a rung that was connected to the next. This belief created a system of national loyalties and duties. While the Europeans were trying to create nation states, the Asian empires had already created a sense of individual loyalty to the good of the empire and its advancement through the acknowledgement of the emperor as their leader.
This allowed the Asian countries to oppose European domination. Portugal would be the first to try to dominate in Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. The Asian leaders only allowed for limited trading posts. This would continue all the way until the mid-1800s when the US would push an opening to Japanese isolation.
We prize individualism and rights as the European tradition. However, this creates a system of fragmentation that lacks cohesion and organization. Often this creates a sense of confusion that lacks proper investment for future technological advancements. The Asian systems developed an organized national economy and political system. This allowed them to create new forms of military and navigational technologies. Also, it create a sense of clear duties and responsibilities for the individual citizen to both family and empire.