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Lecture

The Collapse of the Qing Dynasty.docx


Department
History
Course Code
HIS280Y1
Professor
Paul Thompson

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HIS280 The Collapse of the Qing Dynasty March 15th 2012
Outline for the Day
- The post-Taiping Rebellion situation
- The Self-Strengthening Movement (c. 1865-1895)
- The Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) and the “Hundred-Days Reform” (1898)
- The background, development, and consequences of the Boxer Uprising (1900)
- The New Politics of 1902 and their momentous importance
- The emergence of a revolutionary alternative: Sun yat-sen and the Revolutionary Alliance
- The Wuchang Uprising of October 10, 1911
The Self-Strengthening Movement
- Zeng Guofan (1811-1972) senior Qing official in charge of the suppression of the Taiping
Rebellion
- In prosecuting the war, he created around himself a far-reaching network of supporters
- He uses his position to place his supporters in provincial governorships
- Fiscal decentralization as a result of the Taiping Rebellion
- Prior to the Taiping rebellion, when people paid taxes they paid them in their local areas to
agents of the central state, and these taxes would be collected and passed up from the localities
to the central level and the central level would set a national budget and send some of those
taxes back down to the provinces
- One of the things that happened during the rebellion was that the provincial level of
government took control of tax collection
- Now, instead of taxes going from the locality to the centre back down to the provinces, the
taxes go from the localities right to the provinces
- The provinces would use the taxes for their own projects
- This was originally justified for the suppression of the rebellion, but after the rebellion it
continued
- The three leaders of the post-Taiping “Tongzhi Restoration”
o Zeng Guofan
o Li Hongzhang
o Zuo Zongtang
- Li Hongzhang was a protégé of Zeng Guofan and would become the most powerful statesmen
for the rest of imperial China, and his protégé Zuo Zongtang would usher out the imperial period
and become the first president of China
- These guys and their associated supporters and their projects come to be known as the Self-
Strengthening movement
- The point of this movement was to strengthen and defend the Qing dynasty
- It was intended to do this while keeping the basic social and political system in tact
- It was undertaken in the name of the Emperor, but the real power lay in the hands of Empress
Dowager Cixi

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HIS280 The Collapse of the Qing Dynasty March 15th 2012
- Cixi had been the favourite consort of the preceding emperor and until 1908 was the most
powerful figure in China
- After the second Opium War (1861), the terms of that treaty was that European and American
missionaries are now allowed to move inland and set up missions wherever they want
- Also, more treaty ports were opened and various western governments attained concessionary
rights over various territories in China that are no longer governed by Qing China but by
concessionary governments of their home states
- Basically the countryside is a disaster area, and if you have the resources to get out it starts to
make a great deal of sense to get out
- This means that more and more local elites are leaving the countryside and seeking refuge in the
treaty ports
- And, they’re taking all of their money and capital with them and using this money to hire agents
to fan out into the countryside and buy up property at cheap prices
- The treaty ports become centers of elite activity, where elites are interacting with Westerners
who are filling their heads with crazy new ideas
- After the Taiping rebellion, certain tendencies are now operative in China, the full culmination of
which will end in the collapse of imperial China
- Self-Strengtheners were convinced of the moral and ethical basic superiority of Chinese culture,
institutions, and Confucian thought
- But, they had been convinced that in terms of economic and military affairs, the west was far
ahead
- So, these people, who are controlling the taxes now, dispense agents all over the world and they
seek to hire foreign experts to help them strengthen the military and economic systems
- Key measures of the self-strengthening movement:
o Large-scale arsenals and shipyard
o Transportation companies
o Mining and land reclamation
o Translation projects for Western scientific and technical knowledge
- From this now emerged a group of people who were versed in Western language and could now
educate themselves in western political thought as well
The Sino-Japanese War and the Hundred-Days Reform
- The Meiji Restoration is happening in Japan at this time, 1868
- The Meiji Restoration, like the Tongzhi Restoration, was undertaken in the name of a restored
emperor, but, as in China, real power lay in the hands of other powerful people who sought to
reform society into a modern industrial power
- In Japan there was a process of industrialization, reorganization of the economy, systematic
import and implementation of western technology, rapid militarization, etc.
- Didn’t happen in China
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