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  • Cited by 34
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2008
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This is the second of two volumes in this major Cambridge history dealing with the gradual decline of the Ch'ing empire in China (the first was volume 10). Volume 11 surveys the persistence and deterioration of the old order in China during the late nineteenth century, and the profound stirring during that period, which led to China's great twentieth-century revolution. The contributors focus on commercial and technological growth, foreign relations, the stimulation of Chinese intellectual life by the outside world, and military triumphs and disasters. They show that the effects of the accelerating changes were to fragment the old ruling class and the ancient monarchy, finally bringing the Chinese people face to face with the challenges of the new century. For readers with Chinese, proper names and terms are identified with their characters in the glossary, and full references to Chinese, Japanese and other works are given in the bibliographies.

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  • 1 - Economic trends in the late Ch'ing empire, 1870–1911
    pp 1-69
  • View abstract


    This chapter provides an analysis of the structure and development of Chinese agriculture in the nineteenth century and its implications for the rest of the economy. It discusses the single rural handicraft in the nineteenth century. The agricultural sector of the Chinese economy in the last decades of the Ch'ing dynasty was characterized by a factor mix in which land and capital were in short supply and the superabundance of labour was subject to some diminishing returns. Handicraft and modern industries in late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century China were subservient to foreign capitalism. The economy of late-Ch'ing China was, at its given level of technology, characterized by a high degree of commercial development. Goods and traders moved extensively throughout the country and, to a limited extent, the domestic economy had developed links with the world market. In brief, the fiscal system of the central government like other aspects of its administration was quite superficial.
  • 2 - Late Ch'ing foreign relations, 1866–1905
    pp 70-141
  • View abstract


    Late Ch'ing foreign relations must be examined both in the global context of intensified imperialism and shifting power configurations among the leading Western states and Japan, and also against the background of the progressive decline of Manchu rule and the disintegration of the imperial tradition of foreign intercourse. The last three decades of the nineteenth century were a period of accelerated foreign imperialism in China. Korea, regarded by the Chinese as a valuable 'outer fence' of North China, was a leading tributary state during Ming and Ch'ing times. The Japanese minister in Peking warned Prince Ch'ing that any concession on the Russian occupation of Manchuria would lead to the partition of China. It was clear that if the Anglo-Japanese Alliance led to a Russo-Japanese understanding, China would be the loser, and if it led to a war, Chinese territory would be the battleground, and China would be at the mercy of the victor.
  • 3 - Changing Chinese views of Western relations, 1840–95
    pp 142-201
  • View abstract


    Chinese views of Western relations kept changing during the 1840-95 period, with a quickened tempo after 1860. Generally, foreign policy views changed from a 'closed door' policy in the forties to the 'good faith' policy based on the Confucian principle of sincerity during the sixties. Modern diplomatic skills, especially the idea of international law, were stressed during the ensuing two decades. Power politics, particularly the concepts of balance of power and alliance with strong countries, prevailed during the eighties and nineties. In spite of all these changes, the power of conservatism remained strong. Success in the introduction of things Western into China depended in large measure on the extent to which they were compatible with this tradition. China's inertia can also be seen in the views held by some political leaders towards the West. In addition to the conservatives, many literati-officials who championed Western learning were at the same time anti-Christian. Modernization in some senses meant Westernization.
  • 4 - The military challenge: the north-west and the coast
    pp 202-273
  • View abstract


    By the early 1870s, the Ch'ing forces undoubtedly had acquired the capacity to suppress rebellion in most areas of China proper. However, it remained questionable as to whether they could stand up to foreign invaders on the coast or even deal with rebels in the difficult terrain of the North-West or Central Asia. Before imperial China's forces could get to Sinkiang, they had first to overcome the Chinese Muslims in Shensi and Kansu. The Sino-French War of 1884-5 was the first external test of China's new military and naval programmes of the past two decades. From beginning to end, the Sino-Japanese War had been an unmitigated disaster. In the peace negotiations, China's most effective bargaining point was not the remaining strength of her military and naval forces, but rather Japanese guilt over the wounding of Li Hung-chang by a Japanese fanatic.
  • 5 - Intellectual change and the reform movement, 1890–8
    pp 274-338
  • View abstract


    The contribution of the Wan-kuo kung-pao to the intellectual ferment of the reform period should be gauged by the kind of influence it had on contemporary Chinese literati. The publication of the reformist writings in the early 1890s contributed to the changing intellectual climate in the decade, their aggregate impact was far less than that of an intellectual and political movement started at the time by a group of young Cantonese scholars whose leader was K'ang Yu-wei. From the very beginning, K'ang saw the threat of Western expansion as not simply socio-political but cultural and religious as well. After the Ch'ing court clamped down on K'ang Yu-wei's campaign in Peking in early 1896, the reform movement had to confine its activities to ideological propaganda in Shanghai and Macao in order to gain public support. But new developments were meanwhile under way in Hunan, which soon brought the centre of the reform movement to the capital, Changsha.
  • 6 - Japan and the chinese revolution of 1911
    pp 339-374
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    The modern transformations of China and Japan were inextricably interrelated. As the urgency of modernization became apparent, Japan's modernized institutions became the objects of study, and Japan itself a breeding ground for revolution in China. Since China and Japan interacted so importantly in their respective modern histories, it is useful to look at both sides of the relationship. China's contribution to the modernization of Japan provides an appropriate beginning for this discussion. Its dimensions were several. Meiji Japan held a very special place in the minds of the Confucian reformers of late Ch'ing times. Japan served to strengthen the students' consciousness of nationality in many ways. Japan made a more positive contribution to Chinese nationalism through example. To the intellectual and educational impact there was added a direct personal and political contact between Japan and the Chinese revolutionary movement. It is a contact that has been a good deal more noted in Western and Japanese scholarship than in Chinese studies.
  • 7 - Political and institutional reform 1901–11
    pp 375-415
    • By Chuzo Ichiko, Center for Modern Chinese Studies, Toyo Bunko, Tokyo
  • View abstract


    This chapter reviews the political and institutional reforms made by the Ch'ing government after 1901 with some conspicuous points. First, there were many self-defeating contradictions among the reform plans. For example, while creating the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies in order to widen the path for the expression of public opinion as part of the preparation for constitutionalism, the government put increasingly strict controls over all expression of thought. Once the Ch'ing had accepted the idea of constitutionalism, Chinese intellectuals began to demand the immediate opening of the parliament. Secondly, all the participants in the reform programmes sought their own interest. The reforms after 1901 were promoted mainly by Jung-lu, a Manchu grand councillor, and Chang Chih-tung, Liu K'un-i and Yuan Shih-k'ai, who were Chinese governors-general. Finally in 1908, when the emperor and the empress dowager both died, and Prince Ch'un became the prince regent, Yuan Shih-k'ai was forced to retire to Honan.
  • 8 - Government, merchants and industry to 1911
    pp 416-462
  • View abstract


    Many scholar-officials' main emphasis was on modern industry. They generally assumed that commercial enterprises could at best play a supporting role. Influential officials who became major sponsors of modern enterprise were especially partial to industry. From the early 1870s, Li Hung-chang argued that guns and gunboats alone did not make a nation strong; their operation required the support of industry in manufacturing, mining and modern communications; industry would create new wealth - a further source of national strength. Chang Chih-tung, too, realized the link between military power and economic development. Chinese promotion of modern enterprise in the late nineteenth century was inspired by the political necessity of quickly achieving respectable national strength. This fundamental goal united government officials of various persuasions in a common commitment to industrialization. A few modern enterprises were able to avoid either official sponsorship or comprador management. Hua-hsin was in fact a private enterprise in which official and merchant shareholders collaborated as individuals.
  • 9 - The republican revolutionary movement
    pp 463-534
  • View abstract


    The unity achieved by the revolutionaries in 1905 was a higher degree of unity than the ten-year-old movement had previously reached. Much of its cement was supplied by ideology, but this is only to say that in the realm of ideas the revolutionaries were somewhat less divided than they were otherwise. There was no widely accepted doctrine in the republican revolutionary movement. The widening area of consensus and the sharpening points of ideological conflict help us to understand the character of the republican revolutionary movement and its place in China's modern history. The widening consensus embraced many so-called 'reformers' as well as revolutionaries. The main outlines of revolutionary ideology were provided by Sun Yatsen. Supporters such as Hu Han-min, a leading People's Report writer, defended Sun's ideas, and the Revolutionary Alliance openly appealed for foreign help. The revolutionaries had always insisted that the Ch'ing reforms were designed only to strengthen the dynasty; now they had fresh ammunition and new targets.
  • 10 - Currents of social change
    pp 535-602
  • View abstract


    This chapter elucidates the internal dynamic of China's social evolution at the end of the Ch'ing by looking at the rural world which still contained some 95 per cent of the total population. In the very last years of the monarchy, division among the new privileged classes grew from within and was actually more ideological than social. Instability and precariousness more aptly characterize lower class conditions in Chinese society at the end of the monarchy than do models of continuous evolution. Among the many factors contributing to changes in Chinese society during the last forty years of the monarchy, the foreign intrusion, in various forms, was of primary importance. The force behind the changes which shook Chinese society at the end of the imperial era perhaps lay more in the progressive deterioration of the agrarian situation and especially in landowners' relationships with their tenants.
  • Bibliographical essays
    pp 603-626
  • View abstract


    This bibliography presents a list of titles that help the reader to understand the China's modern economic history. Published sources for the economy in the late Ch'ing period include two large collections of documents photographically reproduced from the archives of the Tsungli Yamen and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese diplomatic history must begin with documented studies in the several major languages, and be supplemented by consideration of the Chinese social, political, economic, intellectual and psychological milieu which set the stage for China's foreign relations. Historical sources for the study of China's perception of Western relations during the late Ch'ing period are rich but scattered. The main source materials on the outspoken scholar-officials are their own writings. The reform movement of the 1890s is an under-researched subject. The military system of the late Ch'ing was outlined in 1930 by Wen Kungchih.


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