China Ancient History Part X

By | October 25, 2021

From the end of the 18th century, uprisings from secret groups spread throughout the empire; in western China the sect “White Lotus” (1796–1804) dominated, in south- western China the non-Chinese Miao rose, and the Muslim population of western China (Hui) reacted in the mid-19th century with revolts to the displacement by land-hungry Chinese settlers. The uprisings culminated in the Taiping Rebellion (1851-64), the worst threat to Manchu rule. It was also a turning point because for years it withdrew rich areas of central China from the treasury and public access.

Weakened in this way, the empire was exposed to the increasingly aggressive demeanor of the European powers who had wanted to open up trade to China since the 16th century and who regarded their cultural values ​​as superior to those of China. The attempt by the Manchus to stop the British opium smuggling into China via Guangzhou, the only foreign port in the empire, triggered the first opium war (1840–42).

In the Treaty of Nanjing (1842), the defeated China had to pay war indemnity, cede Hong Kong and open five other ports, including Shanghai, to British trade (treaty ports). This first “unequal contract” was supplemented in 1844 by extra-territorial privileges and the most-favored nation clause. France and the United States imposed similar treaties on China, a country located in Asia according to That was also due to the “gunboat policy” after the Lorcha War (1856–60) enforced treaties of Tientsin (1858) and Beijing (1860) regulated the establishment of embassies in the Chinese capital and the unhindered missionary activity of the Christian churches throughout the empire. In the treaties of Aigun (1858) and Beijing (1860), Russia lost the area north of the Amur and east of the Ussuri, Tibet Drifted out of Chinese control in 1855, Nepal (1855) and Burma (1886) came under British influence, Vietnam (1862–85) came under French influence. Japan’s attempt to oust China from Korea sparked the first Sino-Japanese War in the summer of 1894. Despite the numerical superiority of the Chinese troops, it ended with the defeat of China after a lost sea battle in the mouth of the Yalu (September 1894), the loss of southern Manchuria and successful Japanese landings in Shandong. In the Shimonoseki Peace Treaty (1895), China recognized the independence of Korea and joined Formosa (Taiwan) and the Pescadores to Japan. In 1897/98 there were further losses of sovereign rights with the forced cession of the leasehold areas from Guangdong (Kwantung) with Port Arthur to Russia, from Weihaiwei in Shandong and the New Territories from Hong Kong to Great Britain, from Jiaozhou (Kiautschou) in Shandong to the German Empire and from Guangzhouwan (Canton Bay) in Guandong to France.

With the successes of Japan and the threatening “sell-out” of China in mind, the so-called reform movement of Kang Youwei (K’ang Yu-wei) convinced Emperor Guangxu (Kuang-hsü, 1875–1908) of the necessity of profound institutional reforms after the Japanese model. But a coup d’état by the conservatives gathered around the powerful dowager Empress Cixi (Tz’u-hsi) ended the reform phase after just 100 days.

The Conservatives also promoted the anti-Christian, xenophobic and anachronistic secret society of boxers, which spread across northern China in 1899; the Boxer Rebellion was suppressed in 1900 by a joint expeditionary army of the Western Powers and Japan (14.8.1900 occupation of Beijing).

In the “Boxer Protocol” of 1901, China had to accept further humiliating restrictions on its sovereign rights and was obliged to pay compensation of 450 million Taël silver, which, combined with older reparations and repayment obligations, far exceeded China’s financial strength. As after the Russo-Japanese War 1904–1905 Manchuria, the home of the imperial family, was divided into a Russian and a Japanese zone of influence, the court gave in to the general demand for reforms: the traditional state examinations were abolished, the ban on mixed marriages was lifted, and a constitution and the formation of provincial parliaments were promised. But this was only tackled half-heartedly and therefore rejected by opponents and supporters of the dynasty. When a local military revolt in Wuhan quickly spread to the empire in 1911 and the court was abandoned by the semi-independent provinces and the “strong man” of the newly established Northern Army, Yuan Shikai (Yüan Shih-k’ai), he thanked him last emperor Pu Yi (P’u-i, 1908–11 / 12) on February 12, 1912 in favor of the republic proclaimed at the end of 1911 in Nanjing by the revolutionaries around Sun Yixian (Sun Yat-sen).

China Ancient History Part X