China Ancient History Part IX

By | October 24, 2021

Qing (Ch’ing, 1644-1911 / 12)

The rise of the Tungusian Manchu, who settled in Manchuria (descendants of the Jurds who ruled northern China in the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries) to become an East Asian great power began at the end of the 16th century with the unification of the tribes that had previously belonged to the Mingreich under Nurhachi (* 1559, † 1626). After the subjugation of the Eastern Mongols and Korea, his son proclaimed Abahai (1626–43) 1636 the Da Qing dynasty (Ta Ch’ing, “Great Pure One”), mostly called Qing for short. Called for help in 1644 against insurgents who had conquered Beijing, the Manchus quickly occupied northern and central China, a country located in Asia according to The conquest of the entire empire with the help of defected Chinese troops and generals (key role of commander of the Chinese northeast front Wu Sangui [Wu San-Kuei, * 1612, † 1678]) was not completed until 1681 after long battles with Ming loyalists and regional rulers, the last with the former ally Wu Sangui. Taiwan, called “Formosa” by the Portuguese, initially developed into a place of refuge for the Ming loyalists, but was then occupied in 1683 and thus came under Chinese rule for the first time.

The command of the “eight banners” (Qi, Ch’i), one from Nurhachi The established military organization was in the hands of the Manchu – at most, their Mongol allies and the “banner Chinese”, who were early members of their followers, came close to their reputation. Manchurian officials also had privileges over the Chinese recruited through exams within the palace and in civil administration. At the same time, the Manchu tried to secure their national identity and demonstrate their dominance in the multiethnic state by means of marriage bans between Manchu and Chinese, the prohibition of Chinese immigration to Manchuria and the obligation of male Chinese to take over Manchu clothing and hairstyle. On the other hand, the Manchu emperors were the first foreign rulers over China to adhere to Confucianism, gave it the status of state ideology and saw itself as a bastion of Chinese culture in general. In line with this basic conviction, they promoted extensive encyclopedias and compilations, in which, however, neither heretical writings of Buddhism and Daoism nor anti-Manchurian literature found their way into. In private circles there was also a philological classic criticism, the modern one Sinologyowes a lot.

The long history of the Qing Dynasty can be roughly divided into the two phases before and after around 1800. The first phase was dominated by three important emperors who, under their motto Kangxi (K’ang-hsi, “Mighty Shine of Lights “, 1661–1722), Yongzheng (Yung-cheng, “Worthy Correctness”, 1722–35) and Qianlong (Ch’ien-lung, “Most High Elevation”, 1735–96) became known.

It was then that China assumed the territorial shape it has essentially retained to this day. In the border treaties of Nerchinsk (1689) and Kjachta (1727) with Russia – China’s first treaties with a European power – the border between the two empires on the Amur was laid down in addition to trade agreements. In the west took place in the Djungarian Wars (1696-1758) the conquest of Tibet (1720), Qinghai (1723) and East Turkestan (1758), which were later incorporated as protectorates. Beyond the southern borders of their empire, the Manchus brought Burma in 1788, Vietnam in 1789 and Nepal in 1792 into tribute relations.

This was also the time of greatest economic prosperity; Its engine was the enormous increase in the population from 150 million by 1600 to around 300 million by 1800. Domestic trade grew accordingly, accelerated by the widespread regional and local specialization of agriculture in agricultural products such as tea, tobacco and cotton. In addition, there was a sharp increase in the money supply caused by massive copper mining in the southwest and a positive foreign trade balance. But then there was a change: Demographic pressure made land scarce for agriculture. Many tenants became impoverished. Reclamation of land caused ecological damage such as soil erosion and sanded rivers, which encouraged flooding. In addition, there was the growing corruption of the bureaucracy and a permanent financial crisis, which was also triggered by the reduction in the amount of money as a result of the smuggling of opium into China and the resulting outflow of silver money.

China Ancient History Qing