China was never an advanced country.
1) China entered metal age 1000 years later than Middle East, Europe, South Asia.
Bronze Age, Wikipedia
Till the early of 20th century,
most rich people in China had a sedan chair, but not a carriage.
3) The Chinese inventions are jokes.
The compass was invented in Italy.
The pointer of the ancient Chinese compass is as big as a spoon.
The spoon is put on the top of a board, and there is nothing else.
Compass - Wikipedia (China, Si Nan, WiKi Photo)
3.2) Chinese microchip
The chip was later revealed to be a duplicate of a chip developed in the West, with the original identifications sanded away.
Hanxin - Wikipedia
Egypt invented paper (Papyrus) 5000 years ago.
Papyrus is defined as "paper".
The English word "paper" was derived from the word "papyrus".
Papyrus - Wikipedia
China invented " oracle bones " about 2000 years later.
Oracle bone - Wikipedia
There were a number of civilizations invented paper, example, Maya.
Maya codices - Wikipedia
Middle East invented writing 5000 years ago.
Middle East invented Printing 5000 years ago.
Johannes Gutenberg invented Printing press. (the machine)
Gunpowder was invented by Greek - Greek fire, its chief ingredient was saltpeter, and sulfur, making it an early form of gunpowder.
Glass was invented 5500 years ago.
It was before the Chinese history.
The world did not wait for China to invent gunpowder.
4) China was enslaved by Mongol, Manchu, Xianbei, Khitan, Jurchen Empires for over 1000 years.
Genghis Khan's law, Killing a Chinese = killing a donkey.
Mongols killed 50% of Chinese.
5) Manchus ruled China for 300 years till 1911.
The population rate was 1 million Manchus VS 100 million Chinese.
Manchu conquest of China - Wikipedia
When the Manchus defeated China, Chinese men were forced to wear a queue or they would be killed.
Professor Joseph Needham was a biochemist, after he met his Chinese girl friend, he believed China was advanced.
Needham's work has been criticised by some scholars who assert that it has a strong inclination to exaggerate Chinese technological achievements.
Joseph Needham - Wikipedia