Must-Read: I would add Mongkut and Chulalongkorn in Thailand, and Mohammed Ali in Egypt, to Pseudoerasmus's list here...
In a good world, this would be not a blogpost but a symposium. This would be a conference. Admittedly, since Pseudoerasmus is and probably must remain anonymous, he/she would have to teleconference in her/his disguised-voice avatar:
State Capacity & the Sino-Japanese Divergence: "Why China did not industrialise before Western Europe may be a tantalising and irresistible subject, but frankly it’s a parlour game...:
...What remains underexplored, however, is the more tractable issue of why Japan managed, but China failed, to initiate an early transition to modern growth and convergence with the West. A recent paper argues that the gap in state capacity between Qing China and Tokugawa Japan was responsible for the divergence.
Please note, this blogpost disputes that argument: