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Department
History
Course
HIS284H5
Professor
Tong Lam
Semester
Fall

Description
SelfStrengthening Movement The SelfStrengthening Movementorc 18611895 was a period of institutional reforms initiated during the late Qing Dynasty following a series of military defeats and concessions to foreign powers To make peace with the Western powers in China Prince Gong was made regent grand councilor and head of the newly formed Zongli Yamen Office of Foreign Affairs By contrast Empress Cixi was virulently antiforeign but she had to accommodate Prince Gong because he was an influential political figure in the Qing court She would however become the most formidable opponent of reform as her political influence increased The majority of the ruling elite still subscribed to a conservative Confucian worldview but following Chinas serious defeats in the First and Second Opium Wars several officials now argued that in order to strengthen itself against the West it was necessary to adopt Western military technology and armaments This could be achieved by establishing shipyards and arsenals and by hiring foreign advisers to train Chinese artisans to manufacture such wares in China It was believed that the intelligence and wisdom of the Chinese civilization was superior to those of Western barbarians and thus China would first learn from foreigners then equal them and finally surpass them As such the selfstrengtheners were by and large uninterested in any social reform beyond the scope of economic and military modernization httpenwikipediaorgwikiSelfStrengtheningMovementOracle Bones Oracle bonesare pieces of shell or bone normally from ox scapulae or turtle plastrons which were used for scapulimancya form of divinationin ancient China mainly during the late Shang dynasty Diviners would submit questions to deities regarding future weather crop planting the fortunes of members of the royal family the military endeavors and other similar topics These questions were carved onto the bone or shell in oracle bone scriptusing a sharp tool Intense heat was then applied with a metal rod until the bone or shell cracked due to thermal expansion The diviner would then interpret the pattern of cracks and write the prognostication upon the piece as well The oracle bones bear the earliest known significant corpus of ancient Chinese writing and contain important historical information such as the complete royal genealogy of the Shang dynasty When they were discovered and deciphered in the early twentieth century these records confirmed the existence of the Shang httpenwikipediaorgwikiOracleBonesChinese Civil Examination System The imperial examinationwas an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the states bureaucracy This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was partly responsible for changes in the power structure of the Tang and Song Dynasties that would hold long after their dissolution The system assisted in the replacement of what had been relatively few aristocratic families with a more diffuse and populous class of typically ruraldwelling landowning scholarbureaucrats organized into clans Established in 605 during the Sui Dynasty the system was used only on a small scale during the Tang Dynasty Under the Song dynasty the emperors expanded the examinations and the government school system in order to counter the influence of military aristocrats increasing the number of those who passed the exams to more than four to five times that of the Tang Thus the system played a key role in the emergence of the scholarofficials who came to dominate
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