However, since Europe was also effected by the plague, I cannot understand why Europe would be more technologically advanced than China was afterward.
A common, though obviously in its scope limited explanation is that Europe somehow got around to show the 'right reaction' to the massive shortage of labour caused by the plague, that is to expand labour-saving devices. Such a model is at least often forwarded in connection with the spread of so-called industrial watermills in medieval Europe (sawmills, tanning mills, ore-crushing mills, etc.). However, culturally, European society was massively traumatized by the effects of the plague, and deeply indulged in pessimism and doomsday beliefs. Just see the famous paintings of Hieronymus Bosch for what must have haunted the ordinary people then.
One also has to understand that Europe was the fastest growing world region then. Contrary to a wide-spread belief, medieval Europe was quite inventive, and unlike what Needham likes to postulates, evidence is that much, if not most of Europe's technology was invented independently. Out of the top of the head:
1140 rib vault (Gothic style)
1150-1350 blast furnace
1170 front-wheel wheelbarrows
1180 Vertical windmills
1185 pintle-and gudgeon stern rudder
13th century spinning wheel
1220 Treadwheel cranes
1220 Arabic numerals
1270-1350 Mechanical clocks (=weight driven clocks)
1280s Paper mills
1300 Dry compass
1345 Segmental arch bridge
1346-49 Great Plague
That means that the continent could build on a solid expansion of its technological foundation when coping with the plague. When you look at the following developments, despite the miserable mental and bodily condition of much of European population, then progress seemed to continue almost uninterrupted:
late 14th century plate armour, steel crossbow, quarantine, floating cranes, jacobs staff
15th century pile-driver
1420s double shell dome, grain powder, breach loading cannon
1430 laws of pespectivity
1445 printing press
mid-1400s railways (wagonways)
1474 patent law
1480 polygonal fortifications
1490 wheel lock
In a word, I would argue that the moment Colombis set foot on san Salvador, this was not the beginning of the so-called 'Rise of the West', but a stop-over. Actually, this movement had alreayd begun in the 11th century (Romanesque style) and there were only two events which could have forestalled it: The Mongol invasion which did not materialize, and the plague which could have put Europe back into the early Middle Ages, but may have had the reverse effect and accelerated progress and innovation.
I was aware that more recent scholarship has placed greater emphasis on the desastrous demographic effects of the plague (which actually may have ultimately come from Yunnan as one of McNeill's theories goes), but not that scholarly opinions on the Mongol policy towards the Chinese population has been so much revised (note that I am not exposed to Han nationalist literature anyway).