Until the industrial revolution, China was (mostly) an "advanced" or at least "state of the art" country. That is, until it fell behind the West, starting in the late 18th century.
Recently, China has been making great strides in the current information-driven, computer age. This, one might expect from the country that invented the abacus.
My feeling is that China fell behind the West because it didn't "get" the internal combustion engine. Is this true? Put another way, did China "sit out" the Industrial Revolution from 1780-1920?
To dispute this theory, please provide examples of how Chinese "engines" were comparable in sophistication to similar Western engines between 1780-1920, and then explain why they didn't have the positive impact on Chinese society as their western equivalents.
To support this theory, please give concrete evidence of how China lagged behind Western countries in the use of "engines." For instance, until the year 2000, China's consumption of oil (a key fuel for the internal combustion engine), was 1/25th that of the U.S. on a per capita basis, and only a small fraction of America's on an absolute basis, even though China's population was several times larger.