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Emperor Jiajing eliminated the corrupt Heshan within a month of Qianlong's death in 1799. He then removed six of the top eleven governors and directors, but he had a difficult time attempting to curtail the extensive corruption that had developed in the last years of the Qianlong regime. Jiajing asked for criticism and received secret memorials directly to bypass the council. He stopped the gifts to officials in bordering provinces and wore patched imperial robes. However, Jiajing remained under the influence of aging advisers such as Dong Gao. Tax collectors, officials, and the gentry absorbed so much graft that the peasants paid most of the taxes. Large households got better tax rates and collected a share for paying the taxes of smaller ones. As taxes were raised, the gentry negotiated larger exemptions; more poor taxpayers were dispossessed, resulting in smaller revenues. Many peasants had to pay their taxes in silver, and the exchange rate for their copper coins (cash) doubled during the Jiajing era. Those who paid their tax in grain had to pay about three times as much. About 275,000 tons of rice from their total production of about 400,000 had to be shipped from the Yangzi provinces to the Beijing granaries. Shipping grain by the Grand Canal involved so many middlemen and corruption that these vested interests prevented using the sea route. When shortages in government granaries had to be filled, officials enforced purchases at very low prices.
Population was increasing rapidly, and the number of educated clerks far surpassed the official positions. In 1799 Hong Liangji warned the new emperor that population was growing faster than food production and that scholars and officials had become morally degraded. Hong was sentenced to death for "extreme indecorum," but his sentence was commuted to exile. Bribery, favoritism, and nepotism were rampant. Official salaries ranged from only 33 taels to 180 taels. Even when "anti-corruption fees" of a hundred times were added, this was not enough to keep officials from squeezing out more money. Magistrates were allowed to keep land taxes collected above a certain quota. Many prefects in three years received a hundred thousand taels. Manchus were an idle class that hired Chinese to work their land. In the military Manchu bannermen were paid three times as much as Chinese soldiers. The Chinese Green Standard army was also corrupt, and most of the funds for suppressing rebellions were kept by the officers.
The White Lotus movement goes back to efforts in the 13th century against invading Mongols and the rebellions in the 14th century that overthrew the Yuan dynasty. Derived from Pure Land Buddhism, they had married clergy and vernacular scriptures. They were often vegetarians with macrobiotic diets and elements of Daoism. They believed that the future Buddha (Maitreya) would lead the way to peace and prosperity. The largest White Lotus uprising in Shandong was put down in 1622. When the Manchus took power, they aimed to restore the Ming dynasty. Uprisings also derived from the aborigines such as the Miao. In 1781 the White Lotus leader Liu Song was arrested and exiled. Government harassment led to arrests and revolt in 1793. Military factions developed for self-defense, and bandits cooperated with peasant villages. In 1796 the rebellion coalesced with a Miao uprising and spread from central China to Sichuan, Hubei, Shaanxi, Gansu, and Henan. The imperial regime was too corrupt to win the guerrilla war; but local gentry organized militias and strategic fortresses, hired local mercenaries, and suppressed the revolt by 1805. The imperial government spent 120 million taels on this nine-year war.
Lin Qing taught millenarian Buddhism and in 1808 was beaten for this. He promised that contributions to his cause would yield a tenfold reward in the future. The movement developed the aim of overthrowing the Qing regime. In 1813 a White Lotus sect called the Heavenly Reason Society revolted in the north and even attacked the Forbidden City in the capital. This was stopped, and Lin Qing, who had stayed home, was executed by the painful method of slicing. The Triad Society in southern China was more difficult to control. Named after the harmony of heaven, earth, and humanity, this secret organization was started in 1674 at a Buddhist monastery in Fujian to overthrow the Manchus and restore the Ming dynasty. Women were welcomed as members. A Triad uprising was quickly suppressed on Taiwan in 1786. The Triads became involved with Annamese pirates, and their network spread into the Guangxi valley and Guangdong in 1802. These secret societies appealed mostly to the oppressed lower classes, and in rituals they became blood brothers. Their organized crimes included extortion, gambling, smuggling opium and salt, and bribing officials. Piracy was a problem for twenty years until the chief of the Fujian pirates was drowned in 1809 and most were dispersed the next year.
In 1811 an order renewed the effort to slow down Chinese migration into Manchuria. The Kirin governor sent troops into the mountains to drive out illegal ginseng-diggers. Another law prohibited slaves from buying their emancipation, and in 1813 the banishing of criminals to Manchuria was suspended. The Qing empire had 15,000 post stations for government communication, and 70,000 men with 40,000 horses were used for urgent messages.
In 1800 the Roman Catholics counted 300,000 Christians in China with 198 priests, 89 of whom were Chinese. Jiajing continued the persecution. In 1805 a seized letter led to arrests. Five renounced the faith after being beaten, and thirteen were sent to Central Asia as slaves. In 1815 in Sichuan 800 Christians were arrested; two leaders were strangled, and eleven were sentenced to wear the cangue (wooden yoke) for the rest of their lives.
Emperor Jiajing continued China's tributary system that invested neighboring countries as vassals of the "middle kingdom." Korea brought tribute annually, Annam (Vietnam) every other year, Ryuku and Siam every three years, and Burma and Laos every decade. The envoys and merchants had to kowtow but were allowed to sell goods; the gifts they received were worth much less than the tribute they brought. Envoys with large delegations were sent to invest new rulers in Korea, Ryuku, and Annam, and these courts had to pay their large expenses. Tributary kings were given some protection against foreign invasion and relief during natural disasters. Gradually commerce by Chinese junks outside the tributary system increased in Southeast Asia.
The Hong merchants contributed 600,000 taels to help suppress the White Lotus rebellion 1796-1804 and the same amount for the campaign against the Muslim rebellion under Jahangir in Xinjiang in the 1820s. The merchants gave a total of 1,950,000 taels for the river conservancy in 1801, 1804, 1811, and 1820. The Hong agents also contributed to public charity, hospitals, clinics for smallpox vaccinations, and schools. Customs duties were low at about three percent, but officials often collected double or even more. The English shipped mostly tea, averaging 26 million pounds annually after 1808. Between 1800 and 1810 some 26 million taels of silver flowed into China. When indigo imports from India slumped in 1801, they were replaced by cotton and opium. Seals from America were nearly exterminated by 1806, but sandalwood from Hawaii and Fiji was not exhausted until
1830. Most of the trade was by the British East India Company,
private traders they licensed, and Americans.
Shen Fu was born in 1763 in Suzhou. He wrote an autobiography called Six Records from a Floating Life, but the last two chapters on his experiences in Taiwan and on the way of life are missing. The first chapter tells of his happy relationship with his wife Yun. Shen had been betrothed to someone who died in her eighth year. In 1775 he met his cousin Yun. She had memorized Bo Juyi's poem "The Pipa Player" and taught herself to read. Shen read her poems and told his mother that he would not marry anyone but her. They became engaged that year and married in 1780. They loved to discuss literature and maintained courtesy towards each other. Yun liked old books and fragments of paintings more than pearls. They loved each other so much that Shen suggested that in their next life she could be a man and he would become her (his) wife. Like many scholars of this time, Shen had difficulty making a living, but they enjoyed wearing cotton clothes and eating rice and vegetables. Shen wanted his wife to be able to see a temple and so suggested that she dress as a man in order to attend. They played literary games, drinking wine as a forfeit. In 1794 Yun wanted to find her husband a sing-song girl (courtesan) with both beauty and charm. Yun found Hanyuan and loved her too, so much that she was grief-stricken when Hanyuan left to be married.
In the second chapter Shen Fu wrote about his little pleasures such as gardening, burning incense, and discussing poetry and painting with friends. They made rules against mentioning official promotions, gossiping about current affairs, discussing eight-paragraph essays for exams, and playing cards or dice. The penalty was to provide the wine. The four things they all approved were generosity, romantic charm, free expression, and quiet. They played a game in which they each wrote couplets, and the winner became the examiner for the next round; losers paid for the wine. Shen believed that a poor scholar should be economical but also clean and artistic.
Shen's third chapter is a tale of his sorrows. In 1790 Yun found a girl to give Shen's father comfort, but Shen's mother found out and became angry. The father became ill and got angry that his wife blamed it on the girl. The father learned that Yun borrowed money and wrote Shen to dismiss her. Shen hurried home to prevent Yun from committing suicide. He and Yun moved away for two years until his father learned the truth. Yun had female problems, but she was cheered up when Hanyuan came to live with them. After an influential man purchased Hanyuan, Yun's illness became chronic. Shen was out of work and tried to sell books and paintings from their home. Yun worked hard embroidering a Buddhist book, but this made her illness worse. Shen guaranteed a loan for a friend, who ran off. His father became angry and threatened to prosecute him for filial impiety. Yun had a friend who had married Hua and offered to let Yun and Shen live with them. Their daughter Qingzhun married, and their son Fengsen became an apprentice. Shen carried the weak Yun on his back. Nearly destitute, Shen found an old friend who owed him money, and he survived. Shen became a secretary in the salt bureau at Yangzhou, but he was laid off in 1802. They turned to a relative of Yun. She became weaker and hoped that Shen would find someone to take her place. He said he would never marry again, and Yun died in 1803. Shen warned married couples neither to hate nor be too attached to each other. Shen prayed to his departed wife and learned that his father died. In 1806 Shen discovered that his son Fengsen had died, and his friend Chotang gave him a concubine.
In the fourth chapter Shen described his travels. He worked for thirty years as a government clerk in almost every province. He became so discontented with dirty politics that he went into private business; but Lin Shuangwen's rebellion in Taiwan disrupted the wine traffic, and Shen went back to a salaried position. His friend Xiufeng introduced Shen to sing-song girls. Shen stayed with the one he liked, Xier, while Xiufeng went from girl to girl. After Shen left to work for a magistrate, he learned that Xier had attempted suicide several times. In 1807 Shen's patron Chotang became a member of the Hanlin Academy, and they moved to Beijing. Nothing is known of Shen's life after 1809. Born in an era of peace and prosperity, Shen Fu's memoir described the increasing difficulties for scholars. Yet his philosophical and artistic attitude toward life helped him find much happiness.
Li Ruzhen (1763-1830) was born in Hebei province. He declined to conform to the bagu essay form and never went beyond the county examinations. He worked on his novel Flowers in the Mirror for fifteen years, completing it in 1827. In the prolog to this imaginative work the Lady of the Moon challenges the Fairy of a Hundred Flowers to make all her flowers bloom at once. She agrees only if the earthly ruler commands this. After the Tang dynasty replaced the Sui, revenge is planned through the Spirit of the Heart-Moon Fox becoming Empress Wu (r. 684-704), who usurps power from her own son and wins a civil war with 30,000 troops. Shu Jingye and Luo Binwang send messages to their sons written in their own blood. Empress Wu has the four passes guarded by her brothers. One winter evening she is drunk and orders all the flowers in the Forest Park to bloom the next day. Low-ranking flowers agree to obey, and eleven others decide to go along. When the peonies do not bloom, she orders them punished until the buds appear.
The Fairy of a Hundred Flowers is humiliated by this violation of nature and in penance decides to incarnate a hundred fairies on Earth. She herself is born into the family of the scholar Tang, who is called Ao. He is married to Lin, who gives birth to the girl Little Hill and the boy Little Summit. Little Hill studies and wants to take the examinations even though they do not have them for women. Tang Ao wins a high rank in the imperial exams but is stripped of this title when the Empress learns he was associated with the rebels Shu and Luo. Ao goes to a Daoist temple for advice and is told that to perfect himself he must do 300 acts of charity. He decides to travel to find the spirits of the hundred flowers who have come to Earth.
Ao goes to his brother-in-law, the merchant Lin, whose daughter Pleasant is also being educated. Ao buys some pig-iron and flower pots to go on a voyage with Lin. The helmsman Old Tuo is their guide as they visit various exotic countries. Red Lotus kills a tiger with an arrow. She wants to go with them but stays to take care of her grandfather, who is the father of the rebel Luo. Old Tuo explains that tigers do not attack children or other innocent humans who have a special radiance. In the Country of Gentlemen they meet people who care more about others than their own selfish interests. Their motto is "Only kindness is precious." Ao buys an enslaved girl for a hundred strings of cash, and she gives him a large pearl, which is not valued there. They meet her poor mother Liang, and Ao gives them silver to pay a teacher for the son.
In the Country of Giants people walk on clouds of different colors, which indicate the goodness of one's character. Old Tuo notes that Father Heaven knows who does right and wrong. In the Country of Black-bottomed people Ao meets his old teacher Yin Yuan, who was Imperial Censor until he advised Empress Wu to abdicate. They take Yin Yuan and his family to live with the Liang family. The Country of Sexless People has no distinction between men and women; they do not crave gain, power, and fame, and they use no violence. They believe these lusts are like being intoxicated, because everything is like an illusion. Ao, Tuo, and Lin see many unusual birds in the Country of White People, and Purple Cherry recognizes Tang Ao as her uncle. They rescue Marsh Orchid from persecution by the Royal Son-in-law, who took her from her fiancé Shu Chengchi. Ao and Lin help young Shu to escape.
In the Country of Two-faced People, Tang Ao's niece Beautiful Hibiscus uses archery to save them from bandits. She decides to return to the Earth kingdom with her cousin Shu. After visiting the countries of Flaming People, Witches, Restless People, and Split-tongued People, where they find Sweet Asarum, Fragrant Angelica, and Melody Orchid, they arrive at the Country of Women. There the "King" is a woman, and women dress like men and men like women. The merchant Lin is captured to become a consort of the King and is forced to undergo the painful foot-binding, reversing by sex and satirizing the way the Chinese treat females. Ao promises to repair their canals if they free Lin, and he uses the pig-iron to forge the metal tools they lack. The female "Prince" changes to girl's clothes and escapes with them as Yin Flowerlike.
On the way home Ao Tang runs off to the Country of Immortality, and the others have to return without him. They tell his wife Lin that he passed the imperial examinations and attained the rank of Tanhua. The Empress announces examinations for women, and Little Hill studies hard. Little Hill goes with Lin and Tuo to search for her father Tang Ao. An old nun sings that she is the Fairy of a Hundred Plants from Penglai and gives ill Little Hill a magic plant that makes her well. A yellow-faced priest and a black-faced priest also help Little Hill. The nun transforms four demons to pips. Flowerlike accompanies Little Hill searching on the Penglai mountain. A woodcutter gives them a letter from her father Tang saying that his daughter will not see him until she passes the imperial examinations. Little Hill is able to read a tablet that lists one hundred spirits of flowers as talented ladies, but Flowerlike and others cannot read the characters. Lin reads the letter and promises to bring her back after she passes the exam, and he notes that her father wants her to be called Daughter of Tang. Lin dislikes the Two-faced people because he wishes that they would not conceal that they are only interested in his money. Bandits capture the Daughter of Tang, Flowerlike, and Pleasant, but the bandit chief's wife angrily stops him from making them his concubines. The black girl Red Rose joins them on the junk. The nun tells the Daughter of Tang that the Cave of Ultimate Happiness is located in the area of the heart. Tuo gives them large grains of rice that eradicate hunger for long periods of time.
At home Tang's wife Lin is sad that her husband has not returned. Little Summit is to marry Luo Red Lotus. A white gibbon that has found the Dao takes a heavenly record book, and Purple Silk can travel fast with a letter. Eleven young ladies study. Daughter of Tang places first in the county exams, but Mistress Zu is first in the district tests. Those going to the capital swear to be sisters. Yen Yi teaches the art of war to rebels. Purple Jade says that drinking tea harms the body. Old Tuo finds a place to stay for 45 ladies at the capital Chang'an. The Empress allows 33 daughters of examining officials to take ministerial examinations. In the final exams the Empress places the second ten first, and so Daughter of Tang is listed as 11th and Flowerlike as 12th. The Empress offers Flowerlike flying carriages so that she can return to rule her Country of Women; three new lady scholars from other countries go with her. The Lady of the Moon and Aunt Wind resent the honors given the Fairy of the Hundred Flowers and complain about Daughter of Tang's spontaneous prose-poem; but the Daoist nun persuades them to leave. The nun recites a poem that indicates the fates of the young ladies; many will be killed, and some will commit suicide in the tragic war. She says that length of life is not as important as one's purpose. The young ladies go home, and several weddings take place. Daughter of Tang lets Purple Silk go with her to find her father because she also realizes they may not come back. Lin takes them to Penglai Mountain and brings back two letters to his sister.
The Wen brothers discuss tactics for the rebellion, and they decide to attack the capital. The Empress's brothers Wu guard the passes with spell-bound areas. Wu Number Four uses wine to lure thousands of rebels to their deaths, but eventually they learn how to break the spell by abstaining. Prisoners have learned that they need forbearance and patience. Wu Number Five uses a spell-bound area that attracts men by using beautiful women. Wu Number Six casts a spell that preys upon those who seek money, and eight hundred men are caught in their own illusions. Honeybush has lost many men and women to the sorcery of the Wu brothers; but he perseveres with young Luo and Shi and enters the city with Emperor Zhongzong, as the Empress is demoted to dowager. The gibbon takes the record of the story to a descendant of Lao-zi, and eventually the Flowers in the Mirror is written in a hundred chapters.
This fantasy novel is filled with transparent allegories that promote Daoist ideas, folklore, and rights for women. Historically it is not accurate in that no exams for women were ever held during the reign of Empress Wu or in any other up to that time. Yet this imaginative story offers many spiritual principles in an entertaining genre. The folly of foot-binding and treating concubines as sex objects become especially apparent when the sex roles are reversed. As more women in China were learning how to read, write, and paint, this novel expresses the growing trend toward the emancipation of women especially by means of education.
Emperor Daoguang (r. 1821-50) relied on the advice of the conservative Confucian Cao Zhenyong, who corrected memorials more for calligraphy and composition errors than for substantive content, ignoring criticism. His pedantic standards for the metropolitan examinations also discouraged creativity. Gong Zizhen found in the Gongyang commentaries on the ancient Spring and Autumn Annals a theory that societies developed in three stages from chaos to increasing peace and finally to universal peace. He argued that China was currently in the lowest stage, and he criticized the judicial system, disparities in wealth, female foot-binding, opium smoking, and foreign trade. Gong used the metaphor of a feast to describe economic inequalities. In the ancient Shang and Zhou dynasties the people shared the same bowl of soup; rulers had their own dish, ministers large spoons, and common people small spoons. Fighting with each other can cause the kettle to be toppled, and so Gong argued for more equal distribution.
In the province of Mongolia the princes exploited the poor, and the lamas took advantage of the monks. A remarkable prince named Toghtakhu Toro traveled and learned Chinese, Manchu, and Tibetan. In 1821 he began using the tribute from his banner subjects to establish farms. He promoted hunting, fishing, and plant gathering to reduce the consumption of meat from the herds. He developed the use of mineral springs for healing. He invited Chinese artisans to immigrate and set up textile mills. Gold, salt, and soda were mined. Toghtakhu Toro made schooling compulsory for all the children in his banner and prepared teaching materials himself. He gathered knowledge on animal husbandry and published a book. In 1837 he decided to consolidate eleven local monasteries and came into conflict with the lamas and monks for five years. Monks demonstrated, and the league authorities had the protesters arrested. However, the Qing government opposed the combining of secular and ecclesiastical power in Mongolia and broke up the consolidated monastery. Toghtakhu Toro became captain-general of the league in 1859.
In the western territory of Xinjiang in 1817 the Kokand khan demanded special trading privileges in Kashgar, but the Qing court stopped his allotment of money and tea. Samsaq's son Jahangir proclaimed a jihad (holy war) and gathered an army of Kirghiz to return to Altishahr. The Qing army routed them, and Jahangir fled with a few followers back to Kokand, which regained its trading privileges in 1821 and disowned Jahangir. In 1825 Kokand asked for an exemption on customs duties. A Qing force of 200 cavalry massacred a camp of Kirghiz women and children, arousing 2,000 Kirghiz horsemen to slaughter the Qing troops. This victory by Jahangir's allies revived his cause. He organized a coalition of Kashgarians, Kokandis, Kirghiz, and Kazakhs, and in 1826 they invaded Altishahr again. Their army grew to ten thousand and besieged the Kashgar citadel while seizing merchandise and punishing Chinese merchants. The Kokand khan Muhammad 'Ali with about nine thousand cavalry joined the khoja Jahangir, but the two leaders suspected each other of treachery and separated. After ten weeks the Qing garrison ran out of water; the commanders committed suicide, and the fleeing soldiers were slaughtered except for four hundred who adopted Islam. When the people of Yangi Hisar, Yarkand, and Khotan resisted Jahangir, he had their cities razed and paraded the captives in Bukhara, Kunduz, Balkh, and Khiva. Jahangir confiscated property in Kashgar to pay his army and allowed much killing that alienated the Afaqiyya.
In 1827 a Qing army of 22,000 forced Jahangir to flee into the mountains. They left 8,000 men to garrison Kashgar and formed a Muslim militia; 9,000 troops went back to China. The Emperor appointed Zhili governor-general Nayanceng to govern Altishahr and offered a reward for Jahangir. Ishaq ibn Muhammad Hudawi lured Jahangir back in 1828, and he was captured. The Qing appointed Ishaq hakim beg of Kashgar, but the people made the story of the betrayal into a popular Turki song. The campaign to defeat Jahangir's revolt had cost the Qing government ten million taels. Nayanceng embargoed all trade from Kashgar and confiscated the property of rebels and all Kokandis who had lived in Altishahr less than ten years; they were deported, and their women and children were enslaved. The Qing won over the Kirghiz by giving them confiscated tea and rhubarb. The economic deprivation in Kokand provoked another invasion of Altishahr in 1830, but their army of about 8,000 was repulsed from Yarkand by cannon fire. Troops went back to Kokand to defend it from Bukhara. Changling was appointed commissioner for Altishahr and came to realize that Nayanceng's embargo had caused more warfare. Trade was allowed to resume, and in 1832 the Qing court accepted Changling's recommendation to exempt all merchants trading at Kashgar and Yarkand from customs duties. After 1834 the Qing government urged the poor to emigrate to Xinjiang, especially to Altishahr, and in 1835 Kokand gained a very favorable commercial treaty with the Qing government.
After the Napoleonic wars ended, the English and others became more interested in trading with China. In 1816 the Amherst mission was quickly expelled. Agents in Guangzhou (Canton) worked for private merchants to sell goods, charter ships, handle freight, insure cargoes, remit funds, and cover debts. The British purchased tea in China and exported textiles from Lancashire to India, which produced the opium. Tobacco-smoking spread from America to China, and this stimulated the smoking of opium. Selling and using opium had been banned in 1729; importation and domestic production were prohibited in 1796, but despite repeated efforts the use of opium spread to those who could afford it until the number of Chinese addicts was in the millions. Officials connived at the drug trade. Cohong merchants in Guangzhou were expected to make donations to the imperial court and local officials. Ruan Yuan was governor from 1817 to 1826, and he founded the Xuehai Tang academy in 1820. The next year he tried to stop opium dealing in Macao and opium smoking in Guangzhou. In 1825 the censors informed Emperor Daoguang that in the past five years China's favorable trade balance had become a major deficit as silver went to the British for opium from India. Ending the British East India Company's monopoly in 1833 opened up trade to numerous foreign merchants. In the west the Qing emperor allowed Kokand to station commercial residents in Kashgar and Yarkand in 1835. He also agreed to let Muslims pay only half the five percent tariffs, and goods exported from Altishahr to Kokand were duty-free.
Scholar Qian Yong (1759-1844) wrote about the evils of popular religion as summarized by Li Jiantian. The common people worship ghosts and spirits, and the ritual practices at the temples become debased. Paying for religious festivals strains the finances of many families, and their occupations are disrupted. During these festivals men and women mix together, fires break out, gambling occurs, robbers and thieves are attracted, fighting results, and social customs are damaged. Thus Li and Qian recommended that such religious festivals be banned. Yu Zhi founded an Infant Protection Society in 1843 in the province of Jiangsu that supported between sixty and a hundred infants each year for ten years. Female babies were more likely to be drowned, but some male children were also killed because of poverty.
When Cao Zhenyong died in 1835 at the age of eighty, he was succeeded as head of the secretariat and council by the bureaucratic Muchanga (1782-1856), who was corrupt and drained the treasury down to eight million taels by 1850. The government had to reduce the salaries of officials and provincial budgets in 1843. By 1848 land tax arrears equaled the national reserves. Deflation caused increases in real tax rates and provoked growing tax resistance, especially in the Yangzi Valley. However, in the provinces philosophical discussions occurred, and some experiments were implemented. The number of muyu experts hired by officials increased during the Qing era. Many scholars worked for private employers; laborers were hired to work on the canals; the army paid militiamen; and private traders sold grain.
Wei Yuan (1794-1856) is an outstanding example of an effective muyu. In 1824 silting and floods halted the grain shipments in the Grand Canal. Wei Yuan and his patron He Changling advised shipping grain to the north by sea, and in 1826 Jiangsu governor Tao Zhu sent 1,500 shiploads that transported 4.5 million bushels of rice, but the vested interests got this program cancelled. By 1845 the sea route had to be adopted to prevent food shortages in Beijing, and the canal route was abandoned completely, causing much unemployment. Wei Yuan compiled more than two thousand essays on Qing statecraft in 1827. He moved to Yangzhou in 1831 to advise Tao Zhu on reforming the Huaibei salt administration. Wei Yuan's book on military reform was published in 1842 after the disaster of the Opium War. He advised better training and European strategies of naval deployment. He suggested monitoring military rosters to prevent desertions and false registration that caused so much graft. Wei recommended better accounting procedures and ending periodic tax remissions by the emperor. Wei Yuan studied the classics for political guidance, and he found a dynastic cycle of three stages that ended with degeneration. He argued that Qing rulers had reformed many abuses such as influence by eunuchs, heavy taxation, and use of corvée labor, but he warned that the degeneration was imminent. Wei tried to awaken awareness of frontier dangers and recommended developing Xinjiang (Eastern Turkestan) with emigration to relieve over population.
During the Opium War Commissioner Lin Zexu turned over to his friend Wei Yuan translations related to western countries. From these Wei published the Illustrated Gazetteer of the Countries Overseas in 1844 with expanded editions coming out in 1847 and 1852 that were widely read. These collections provided the Chinese with the first realistic information on western geography and conditions from the western perspective. Wei suggested practical projects and efforts, namely using the foreigners' armaments and technology to control the foreigners. He suggested they could win victories by applying the proverb of Sun-zi from his classic, The Art of War, "If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."1 Fujian governor Xu Jiyu got atlases from a missionary and other foreigners, and in 1850 he published A Brief Survey of the Maritime Circuit. Even though his writing was rather xenophobic, he was recalled the next year for being intimate with foreigners.
After the Opium War, British merchant vessels were armed and collected fees for protecting Chinese junks and fishing fleets from pirates. The British navy also suppressed piracy along the coast. In four years the British government paid British merchants twenty pounds a piece for 7,000 pirates they killed or captured. Tea exports increased to beyond a hundred million pounds, and the silk trade expanded also. Silver from the illegal opium trade helped the British pay for these. The Qing government did not enforce its ban on emigration either. The worldwide effort to end slavery stimulated the movement of Chinese coolies as contract labor to Southeast Asia, Hawaii, Peru, and the West Indies. After 1848 many Chinese laborers emigrated to the gold rushes in California and Australia. In the 1850s mobs in Guangzhou killed some who had abducted coolies and sold them to foreign shippers, and officials executed others.
The London Missionary Society sent Robert Morrison to Guangzhou in 1807, and he learned Chinese and had translated the Bible by 1819. American Protestants published the monthly magazine, The Chinese Repository, from 1832 to 1851. Editor S. Wells Williams compiled a dictionary and wrote The Middle Kingdom in 1848. Medical missionary Peter Parker started a hospital at Guangzhou in 1835 and treated Commissioner Lin Zexu for a hernia in 1839. Dr. Parker directed the hospital for twenty years, treating more than fifty thousand patients. Most of the missionaries strongly opposed the use of opium, but sometimes they traveled on the opium ships. Liang Afa was the first convert to write Christian tracts. Married Protestants were less tolerant of Buddhists and Daoists and were more of a threat than the unmarried Catholics, who were able to blend in and travel in the interior. A French diplomat in 1844 persuaded the imperial court to exempt sincere Chinese Christians from punishment, and two years later the toleration policy extended to restoring Christian ownership to old church buildings. Newspapers in English were available from 1845 with the founding of the China Mail in Hong Kong and from 1850 with the China Herald in Shanghai. Protestants completed their "Delegates' Version" of the New Testament in 1850.
In 1773 the British East India Company began a monopoly on Patna opium, which was of higher quality than the Malwa opium the Portuguese traded. In 1796 the Company began selling opium at public auctions in Calcutta to private traders who sold it in Macao. The opium traffic through Macao in the first two decades of the 19th century was about 300 tons a year. Competition lowered prices and increased consumption, doubling imports in the 1820s. China's trade imbalance turned negative in 1826, and from 1828 to 1836 China lost 38 million taels of silver. About one in five government officials smoked opium, twice as many in the provinces as in the capital. Estimates vary, but the total number of addicts in China was probably around four million.
The British Parliament ended the Company's monopoly in 1833, and private trade quickly increased. Foreign secretary Palmerston appointed William John Napier as superintendent of trade at Guangzhou in 1834, but Napier ignored Governor-General Lu Kun by going from Macao to Guangzhou without permission and by trying to contact the Emperor directly. His letter was rejected, and Lu imposed an embargo with a military blockade. The arrogant Napier had to retreat to Macao, where he died of malaria in October. Quiet John Francis Davis became superintendent, but British merchants began demanding warships and reparations. In 1835 James Matheson went to London to lobby. Navy captain Charles Elliot became superintendent in 1836 and was more diplomatic, as 1,820 tons of opium were imported into China. One silver tael had been worth one thousand copper cash, but by 1838 the exchange rate had increased to 1,650 copper cash. The copper mines of Yunnan were being depleted, and the government debased the copper coins such that during Daoguang's reign the rate would reach 2,700.
This huge opium business was illegal, and Guangdong had a fleet of patrol boats to catch opium-runners since 1826; but they began collecting fees of 36,000 taels a month to let them alone, and in 1832 the patrols were cancelled until Deng Tingzhen's effort to stop smuggling five years later. Efforts to suppress the drug traffic by using the baojia system of informing failed. In May 1836 Xu Naiji suggested making opium legal as a medicine. This was discussed at court and approved by Guangzhou authorities in September, but after four months the Emperor decided to try to end the opium trade. In 1837 the provincial judge closed down the smoking rooms and had two thousand dealers arrested. Local traffic slowed, but the smuggling still flourished along the coast. In 1838 imports reached a high of 2,800 tons. In June, Beijing official Huang Jue-zi proposed punishing addicts with the death penalty.
In July 1838 the experienced and respected governor Lin Zexu wrote a memorial that outlined a comprehensive program in which the state would offer addicts rehabilitation and implement increasing enforcement in four stages. While governing Hubei and Hunan, he had confiscated 5,500 pipes and 12,000 ounces of opium. Emperor Daoguang appointed Lin imperial commissioner, and he arrived at Guangzhou on March 10, 1839. He hired translators to develop his own intelligence service, and he gave the local gentry more power to stop the use of opium. In the next two months more than 1,600 Chinese were arrested, and 35,000 pounds of opium and 42,741 pipes were confiscated. Lin ordered foreigners to turn in their chests of opium and declare in writing what weapons they owned. He offered tea as a reward but never mentioned compensation. When the traders only turned over 1,036 chests, Lin ordered Lancelot Dent arrested; but the traders refused to surrender him. Two leading Hong merchants were made hostages and had to wear chains around their necks.
On March 24, 1839 Lin Zexu ordered all foreign trade stopped and the foreigners in the thirteen factories blockaded. Three days later he explained in writing four reasons why the foreigners must surrender their opium. First, he considered it unethical for them to be trading poison to millions of victims for silver. Second, China has made it a capital crime to ship opium in the future. Third, if the foreigners do not stop the opium trade, then China will stop all trade. Fourth, because China is forgiving the past, they should stop the crime in order to be honest. Not having sold a chest of opium in the past five months, Elliot turned over 21,306 chests of opium in May, and the blockade was removed. Three million pounds of opium were mixed with water, salt, and lime in three huge trenches and then washed down to the sea. Matheson commented that the Chinese had fallen into the snare of British power. Lin found an argument for a nation's right to control its foreign trade in Vattel's Law of Nations, and he wrote two letters to Queen Victoria, asking how she would feel if foreigners were imposing such a drug on her people.
When drunk English sailors killed a Chinese man in July 1839, Charles Elliot refused to submit them to Chinese jurisdiction. Under Chinese pressure, the British retreated to Macao. Lin pressured the Portuguese to make the British leave, and in August they occupied barren Hong Kong (Xianggang), which had a good harbor and became a base for fifty British vessels. Americans exported tea for the British, and the coast trade of opium continued. William Jardine went back to London with $20,000 for lobbying, and three hundred firms in London, Manchester, and Liverpool demanded action. Elliot fired on a Chinese fleet that would not submit in September. He refused to sign the bond promising not to engage in the opium trade because of the death penalty, but some British traders signed against his orders. The captain of the Royal Saxon was one, and in November 1839 he tried to trade with the Chinese at the Bogue and was attacked by the HMS Volage. In the battle with the British, four Chinese junks were destroyed. As Lin arrested dealers and addicts in Guangdong, the price of opium went from $500 per chest to $3,000.
In April 1840 William Gladstone made a passionate speech in the House of Commons, suggesting that they could simply stop the illegal smuggling of the opium; he said he knew of no war more unjust and warned that it would be a "permanent disgrace." However, the Tory resolution censuring the war was defeated 271-262. On the China coast the British navy enabled the merchants to sell opium, and the price went down to $350 per chest. A British fleet arrived at Macao in June 1840, left a blockade around Guangzhou without attacking its defenses, and moved north. They blockaded Ningbo and seized Zhoushan (Chusan) in July 1840. Although Admiral George Elliot forbade the sale of opium, smugglers unloaded it for only $100 per chest. Lin collected sixty warjunks, fortified the Bogue with newly purchased foreign guns, and blocked the river with iron chains.
Governor-General Qishan from the capital province of Zhili began negotiations and persuaded the British to return to Guangzhou. Emperor Daoguang appointed Qishan governor-general of Guangxi and Guangdong, and he banished Lin Zexu to Ili for having failed to suppress the opium trade and for causing troubles. In January 1841 Qishan signed the Chuanbi Convention, agreeing to cede Hong Kong, pay $6,000,000 indemnity, allow the British direct contact with the Qing empire, and reopen trade at Guangzhou within ten days. Daoguang disliked this agreement so much that he ordered Qishan executed and confiscated his immense fortune that included 425,000 acres, 135,000 ounces of gold, and ten million pounds of silver, but later the Emperor commuted his sentence to exile. Palmerston was also upset by the agreement and replaced Elliot with Henry Pottinger in May, the month the British destroyed 71 warjunks and sixty shore batteries at Huangpu (Whampoa). General Fang broke a truce, and about 20,000 peasants attacked the foreigners with spears, knives, and hoes; but the Guangzhou prefect ordered the gentry to stop this and keep the truce so that Elliot would not bombard the city. Guangzhou officials then agreed to pay a $6,000,000 ransom.
Pottinger arrived in August with ten warships. He went north with an armada of 32 ships and 27,000 men, and their forces surrounded Xiamen (Amoy) before taking it in October, losing only two killed and fifteen wounded. Two more were killed as they recaptured Zhoushan, but General Gough was wounded. Chinese troops fled from Ningbo before it was taken. The Chinese military had become very weak and corrupt; many of the troops smoked opium and robbed the people. Wherever they were defeated, local mobs looted. The new iron steamers of the British were superior to the Chinese junks, and the British flintlocks were much more effective than the antiquated matchlocks the Chinese used.
Yijing tried to attack Ningbo in March 1842 at the tiger-hour on the tiger-day in the tiger-month during the tiger-year; but the vanguard was left to 700 aborigines from Sichuan armed with knives, and they were slaughtered by English guns. The Chinese chief of staff was distracted smoking opium, and the Zhoushan marines sailed along the coast sending in false battle reports. In the spring 25 warships and 10,000 men arrived from India. The British stormed into abandoned Shanghai in June and seized 360 guns with nine tons of gunpowder, accepting a $300,000 bribe not to loot. They entered Zhenjiang in July, blocking the Grand Canal at the Yangzi River. General Gough tried to prevent looting and raping, and some Indians were executed by their own officers. At Zhenjiang 1,600 Manchu bannermen refused to surrender; instead they killed their own children and cut their wives' throats before hanging themselves from their barracks' rafters.
When the British besieged Nanjing in August 1842, the Chinese could raise only half the $600,000 the English demanded. Nanjing's viceroy Yilibu surrendered; then he and imperial commissioner Qiying negotiated with the British and the Emperor to achieve the Treaty of Nanjing. The Chinese agreed to pay the British $12 million for military expenses, $6 million for the destroyed opium, and $3 million for the Hong merchants' debts. The Cohong monopoly was abolished. Hong Kong was ceded to the British, who were allowed to trade and reside at Guangzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai. Official correspondence was to be on equal terms, and a fixed tariff was to be established. The treaty was approved by the Emperor in September and by Queen Victoria at the end of the year. Pottinger was ordered to prohibit opium traffic in Hong Kong, and he warned British subjects with contraband that they would not be protected from Chinese edicts. The Treaty of the Bogue was signed in October 1843 and set reasonable import and export tariffs. The British were exempt from Chinese law and had their own criminal jurisdiction. Opium was still illegal even though it was not mentioned in the treaty. In gaining a "most-favored nation" clause, any concessions, privileges, or immunities China gave to another country were to apply also to the British. China made treaties with the United States in July 1844 and with France in October; these allowed Christian activity in the five cities. The US, France, and Russia also became most-favored nations. Because China made most of the concessions under military pressure, these treaties have been called unequal and semi-colonial.
After Qiying and Pottinger signed the 1843 treaty, they became close friends. They worked to resolve conflicts, though Qiying was fiercely criticized for favoring the foreigners. The British foreign office approved of Pottinger's policy that the English should not take advantage of the Chinese. However, when John F. Davis replaced Pottinger in 1844, he disparaged the Chinese and would not cooperate with Qiying. Residents of Guangzhou refused to let the British inside the city. Exports from Guangzhou fell sharply as Shanghai gained most of the trade. British consuls facilitated trade, and they were ordered to take no legal action against opium smuggling. Eighty clipper ships were transporting opium to and from Hong Kong by 1845. Shanghai was soon importing 20,000 chests of opium annually.
When Qiying proclaimed that Guangzhou was open to the British in January 1846, mobs attacked the prefect and burned his yamen (office). In April, Qiying relieved British fears of French encroachment when he conceded that no other power would be given the Zhoushan Islands; Davis agreed to postpone British entry into Guangzhou. Rural militias and urban mobs rioted against the British, and Davis ordered a retaliation that spiked 827 cannons in the Bogue forts. In April 1847 Qiying promised that the British could enter Guangzhou within two years. Qiying lost credibility and was recalled to the capital in 1848. His replacement, Xu Guangjin, and Guangdong governor Ye Mingchen took a hard line. After demonstrations with a hundred thousand Chinese, Hong Kong governor George Bonham agreed to a postponement.
Emperor Daoguang died in 1850 and was succeeded by his 19-year-old son Xianfeng. He dismissed the moderates Qiying and Muchanga and promoted xenophobic officials. Ye Mingchen replaced Xu Guangjin and refused to meet with western diplomats. In the 1850s opium smuggling reached 60,000 chests a year. The poppy was also cultivated in China, and this production would eventually replace the imports from India. Applying the agreement to revise the treaties after twelve years, in 1854 the two British ministers demanded tariff revision, legations in Beijing, access to Tianjin, the right to buy land in the interior, legalizing opium imports, and abolishing inland transport dues. The imperial court rejected all these demands and in 1856 denied even minor changes.
On October 8, 1856 Chinese soldiers boarded the Arrow to search for a pirate, and they arrested the Chinese crew. The ship had been registered with the British, but this had lapsed. Harry Parkes, the British consul at Guangzhou, claimed the British flag had been insulted. Ye Mingchen released the crew but refused to apologize. On October 23 British gunboats began bombarding Ye's yamen every ten minutes except on Sunday. Ye ordered an attack on October 28, and the British captured the yamen the next day. In December the angry Chinese burned down the foreign factories in Guangzhou. In March 1857 Gladstone criticized the military action, and Palmerston lost a vote of confidence. After Palmerston's party won a majority in the general election, Lord Elgin led the expedition to China that was joined by French forces because of the execution of missionary Abbé Auguste Chapdelaine. Elgin's objectives were reparations, treaty fulfillment at Guangzhou, compensation for British subjects, diplomatic access to Beijing, and treaty revision to extend trade up the rivers. The French also wanted treaty extension and diplomatic representation, and they added freedom for religious propagation. William B. Reed of the United States communicated that it had no territorial designs on China, and Russia's Admiral Putiatin acted as a mediator in order to keep the northern Manchus in power during the Taiping revolution. When Elgin arrived at Hong Kong in July 1857, his troops were immediately diverted to help put down the Sepoy Mutiny in India.
In December 1857 Elgin and Baron Gros demanded that Ye Mingchen negotiate and pay an indemnity. Ye refused and was captured when the Anglo-French forces stormed Guangzhou. Ye was shipped to Calcutta and died there a year later. Parkes took control, and the Manchu Bogui was a puppet governor for the next three years. Elgin and Gros went north and took the Dagu forts and Tianjin while looking for someone with the power to negotiate. Half-blind Qiying was sent but was embarrassed by a memorial he had written in 1844. Qiying left without authorization, and he was tried and sentenced to death by the imperial court. In June 1858 the Chinese made treaties at Tianjin with the British, France, the United States, and Russia. British diplomats were allowed permanent residence in Beijing, and the French, American, and Russian envoys could visit. As most favored nations, they all gained the following concessions: ten new ports were opened; foreigners could travel in China with passports; inland transit dues were limited to 2.5 percent; Britain received an indemnity of four million taels and France two million; and Catholic and Protestant missionaries were allowed to move freely anywhere in China. The British were no longer to be called barbarians. Opium importation was legalized by the setting of a tariff, but only the Chinese were allowed to carry it in the interior. The British agreed to withdraw from Tianjin and the Dagu forts.
In June 1859 British envoy Frederick Bruce demanded the right to go from Shanghai to Beijing by ship. Marines sent to remove the blockade got stuck in the mud and suffered 434 casualties as four ships were sunk. The British attacked the Dagu forts again and were supported by the American naval commander Josiah Tattnall, who cried, "Blood is thicker than water." The American envoy, John E. Ward, agreed to travel by cart, but the British and French ministers went back to Shanghai. Bruce was criticized in England, and Elgin was sent again with 41 warships and 11,000 soldiers along with 6,700 French troops. In August 1860 they landed and captured the Dagu forts, threatening Beijing. Ten miles from there during a negotiation, Parkes insulted the new imperial commissioner, Prince Yi, and was arrested. Twenty men with him died in captivity before Parkes was released. Russia's Nikolai Ignatiev urged a hard line and gave British general Hope Grant a map of Beijing. The Anglo-French forces invaded the capital, but the Emperor fled to his summer palace in Jehol (Rehe). Ignatiev and France's Baron Gros persuaded Elgin not to burn the Forbidden City, but instead he burned the Yuan Ming Yuan summer palace in Beijing that Castiglione had designed. Ignatiev persuaded Prince Gong not to flee but to accept the European terms in order to avoid worse destruction.
On October 24, 1860 Elgin dictated the terms for the Convention of Beijing, and Prince Gong agreed on behalf of the absent Qing court. The indemnity to England and France was raised to eight million taels each; Tianjin was opened to trade with residence; and the British acquired the Kowloon (Jiulong) Peninsula next to Hong Kong. Ignatiev also persuaded the allied troops to depart before the rivers froze. Then the Russians made a supplementary treaty that certified their territorial acquisitions east of the Ussuri River and those mentioned in the 1858 Treaty of Aigun that Muraviev had negotiated. The Russians had already secured part of Xinjiang in the 1851 Treaty of Ili. All together Russia had gained about 350 million square miles of new territory, and they established the port of Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. In 1862 Russia signed a trade treaty with Prince Gong, giving Russian merchants one-third less duties imported overland from the north than those Europeans paid on goods they imported by sea.
While population was growing rapidly, the arable land in China had actually decreased since 1812. More than half of the land was owned by the rich. Rent was half the yield, and the loss of silver from increasing opium imports made the rent payments thirty percent higher. In 1836 Lan Zhengzun led Yao tribes in a White Lotus revolt in southern Hunan that was suppressed. Many workers on the Grand Canal lost their jobs when grain shipments shifted to the sea route. Government was corrupted by the selling of offices, and salt smuggling caused disruptions and conflicts for officials. Lin Zexu had urged the Triad lodges to fight the British, and in May 1841 they won a battle against a British patrol at Sanyuanli. As trade shifted away from Guangzhou to Shanghai, the bandit gangs became larger. Rebellion erupted again in 1847 under Yao chief Lei Zaihao, but it was crushed by militias led by local gentry. Silting in the Grand Canal caused the Yellow and Huai rivers to flood, resulting in a famine in Guangxi province in 1849. Lei's Triad follower Li Yuanfa led a siege of Xinning that failed.
Hong Xiuquan was born on January 1, 1814 into a family of the Hakka minority that had migrated south centuries before. He studied, but four times he failed the exam for a degree. In 1836 he met the Protestant missionary, Edwin Stevens, and was given the Christian tracts by Liang Afa (Fa) in Good Words to Admonish the Age that emphasized the Old Testament. Two utopian essays by the Confucian Zhu Ciqi also influenced him. The next year after his third exam failure he had a series of visions in which a woman washed him and took him to see his father, a man with a beard, who gave him a sword, and a younger man, who told him how to overcome evil spirits; he also saw Confucius confessing to the old man. Hong worked as a school teacher for the next six years and then failed the shengyuan exam again. He began reading the Bible and the Christian tracts, coming to believe that the two men in his vision were God and Jesus, whom he called his older brother.
Hong first converted his cousins, Li Jingfan and Hong Ren'gan, and then his schoolmate Feng Yunshan. Hong preached, baptized, and destroyed Confucian shrines, for which he lost his teaching job in 1844. Feng organized the Society of God Worshippers, and in eastern Guangxi they gained many converts among the Hakka and mountain tribes. In 1847 Hong and Ren'gan studied the Bible with an American southern Baptist named Issacher Roberts, who refused to baptize Hong because other jealous converts had tricked him into offering money. Wang Zuoxin had Feng arrested for destroying an idol, but Lu Liu and a group of followers forced his release. Then Wang had the constable detain Feng and Lu by using bribery. Lu died in jail before the charcoal workers could gather the money to liberate Feng.
In 1848 the uneducated Yang Xiuqing claimed that God possessed him, that he could speak for God, and that sickness could be transferred to his body. The 1849 famine in Guangxi stimulated Triad members to revolt against the rich, and Hong Xiuquan soon had ten thousand followers. Hong, Feng, and Yang were joined by Wei Changhui and farmer Xiao Chaogui, who claimed to speak for Jesus Christ and became Hong's brother-in-law. Shi Dakai was from a wealthy family and brought in others with money. Many miners, who were skilled in using explosives, joined the movement. Ex-soldiers and legal clerks joined along with bandits and pirates. They were called "long-haired" because the men stopped shaving the front of their heads and cut off their queues. Hong emphasized the ten commandments and was very puritanical, banning opium, alcohol, prostitution, dancing, gambling, and contact with women, who were considered equal but were separated. Taiping society outlawed footbinding, concubinage, and the purchase of wives, and they created six grades of nobility for women. In June 1850 the God Worshippers were urged to sell their property and put their money in one public treasury to share with all. Food and clothing were provided for everyone, and they lived in collective camps.
Hong had organized 20,000 people by the time the Qing government attacked them at Thistle Mountain in December 1850. The Manchu commander was killed, as the local Qing forces dissolved. While celebrating his birthday in 1851, Hong was proclaimed Heavenly King of the Heavenly Kingdom of the Great Peace (Taiping Tianguo). Yang became East King, Feng the South King, Xiao the West King, Wei the North King, and Shi the Assistant King. The women were governed by Hong's sister. Hong accepted members of anti-Manchu secret societies if they renounced idol worship. Yang and Xiao issued a proclamation accusing the Manchus of various crimes that included forcing men to wear "animal tails" (queues) and barbarian clothes, debauching Chinese women and adulterating the race, imposing Manchu laws and the Mandarin language, subjugating the Chinese, withholding relief from natural disasters to reduce the Chinese population, tolerating corrupt officials, allowing bribery, and killing relatives of rebel leaders. Written Taiping laws were very strict with decapitation as the punishment for various infractions.
The Taiping army seized the city of Yongan and grew to 60,000. In 1852 Hong began his own solar calendar with a year of 366 days and a seven-day week. In February 1852 King Hong ordered that the commandment against adultery and licentious behavior be enforced by beheading; at the same time he was decreeing how his imperial consorts were to be addressed. In the spring of 1852 the Taiping army failed to capture the Guangxi capital of Guilin despite the heroic efforts of the women's battalion, and in Hunan the South King Feng and the West King Xiao were killed. However, in December the Taiping occupied the wealthy town of Yuezhou, gaining 5,000 boats and weapons that had been abandoned by the rebel Wu Sangui in the 1670s.
Zeng Guofan was away from the Qing court mourning his mother in 1852 when he was ordered to recruit militia in Hunan. He also organized a naval force on the Yangzi River and raised money for his Xiang army by charging lijin transit dues. In January 1853 the Taiping army gained more boats and silver from the provincial treasury at Wuchang. The next month they took silver, cannons, and food from Anqing. Then in March 1853 they stormed into Nanjing and made it their capital for eleven years. They slaughtered all of the 40,000 Manchus they could find. British envoy George Bonham visited Nanjing in April; after being treated as inferior, he advised England to remain neutral. Yet both sides bought weapons from European arms dealers.
A Triad society called Small Swords rose up and took over Shanghai in September 1853. They claimed to be part of the Taiping revolution, but King Hong sent a commissioner to investigate and eventually rejected them for having immoral habits. The foreigners in Shanghai kept to their neutral policy as the Qing forces besieged the city. When in April 1854 an imperial squad killed two Englishmen and attacked other foreigners, a force of 400 British and American troops landed from ships and drove the imperial troops from the foreigners' settlement. In December, French troops allied with the Qing army in an attack on the insurgents that resulted in the death of 1,200 imperial troops and 64 French casualties. Bombardment caused the evacuation of the city in February 1855; most of the rebels escaped, but 300 who surrendered were beheaded. The imperial troops looted the city and decapitated 1,500 people alleged to be rebels. As a reward the French were given a larger settlement. Trade was disrupted during this rebellion; but while imports such as cotton languished, growing opium sales provided cash that helped exports from Shanghai increase in 1855.
In 1854 Zeng Guofan led his Xiang army of 17,000 from Hunan into Hubei, proclaiming that the Taiping rebels disrupted villages, abolished private property, destroyed temples, and violated Confucian propriety. The rebels had occupied Wuchang in June, but Zeng regained it in October. Hong sent an army into northern China; but they failed to win support, and the two leaders were captured and executed in 1855. That year the Taiping community abandoned the policy of separating men and women. The Taiping army cut the Hunan army into two parts and in April 1855 conquered Wuchang for the third time. Taiping forces in Nanjing attacked the imperial camps on the Yangzi River in 1856, and the imperial commissioner committed suicide.
Yang Liuqing had been going into his own trances and claiming that he was the Holy Ghost. He took operational control of the government and military while Hong was secluded with his many concubines. Money was kept in a common treasury and was supposed to be shared by all. They devised their own examinations based on the Bible and Hong's literary works. Women could take the exams and serve in administrative positions. Most of those taking these exams passed. Every 25 families had a sergeant who settled disputes, supervised their education, and preached to them every Sunday. They proclaimed complete equality and promised that all would be fed and clothed. All men and women over sixteen years were to receive one share of land, and dependents under that age counted as a half share. Yet Taiping efforts to implement land reforms affected very few places, as their armies usually foraged for food during the continuing civil war.
Yang Liuqing treated other Taiping kings arrogantly and almost had King Hong himself caned for having in his palace four female officials who were relatives of ministers. In 1856 Yang was planning to depose Hong on Yang's birthday in September. King Hong sent for the North King Wei; he and Qin Rigang assassinated Yang and had thousands of his followers slaughtered. Fearing revenge, they had King Hong invite Yang's supporters to witness the beating of Wei; 5,000 were let into a palace without weapons and were massacred. The bloody civil strife went on for days in the streets. Assistant King Shi arrived and tried to mediate. When Wei became angry and threatened him, Shi fled. After Wei had Shi's family murdered, Shi marched on the capital with an army of nearly 100,000. Wei had King Hong's palace surrounded but was defeated by the forces combined against him. Then King Hong had Wei beheaded and turned over the government to his two brothers.
Hong promoted Assistant King Shi Dakai to Righteous King, but Hong's brothers formed a clique against Shi. He left the capital with an army of 200,000 and declined Hong's invitation to return in 1857. Shi's army grew to 300,000 and was difficult to support. Many left, and at one point he had only 20,000; but he invaded Sichuan in 1862 with 200,000 troops. Eventually his army was reduced by starvation. After traveling 6,000 miles through fifteen provinces, Shi was finally captured and executed by slicing in 1863.
King Hong once again withdrew into his palace. Many officers only stayed with the Taiping regime because of the Qing policy of decapitating any rebels who surrendered. Chinese residents in Nanjing resented the Hakkas and attempts to separate the women. Their attempts to coordinate with the Nian revolt in the north and Red Turbans' rebellion in the south were not successful. Hong's unusual version of Christianity was disliked by missionaries, and traders resented the ban on opium.
Hong's cousin Ren'gan had lived in Hong Kong and tried to westernize the Taiping government. In 1859 he was named Shield King and prime minister, but his ideas for European legal and banking systems, public construction projects, a postal service, and newspapers were not implemented. Instead, his reforms included adjusting the calendar by having a year of 28-day months once every forty years, using a more vernacular literary style, promoting Chinese culture, regulating marriages, reorganizing the examination system, and using central military planning. Hong Ren'gan's attempt to regain the upper Yangzi valley failed. Loyal King Li Xiucheng managed to win some victories in 1860 and destroyed the Qing camp below Nanjing, but he could not take Shanghai. That year Zeng Guofan was appointed imperial commissioner and was put in command of the war against the Taiping rebels with his army of 120,000. He appointed Hu Linyi to govern Hubei, Zuo Zongtang in Zhejiang, and Li Hongzhang in Jiangsu. The Loyal King damaged the imperial forces at Anhui, but Zeng's brother Guoquan defeated the rebels at Anqing in September.
After the Loyal King led a Taiping attack on Shanghai in 1860, the westerners allied with the Qing. The American Frederick T. Ward organized a force, which after his death from a wound in 1862 was led by Charles G. Gordon. Emperor Xianfeng named them the Ever Victorious army, and they were under Chinese command. In May the Green Standard army with help from British and French troops and four British gunboats recovered the port of Ningbo. Zeng Guofan began the siege of Nanjing in June 1862 with 20,000 men. The Englishman Alexander Michie had visited Nanjing in 1861 and reported that the rebels were hated for murdering, destroying, prohibiting trade and industry, collecting high taxes, and plundering, but others reported Taiping taxes were lower. Issachar Roberts declared that Hong was crazy and did not know how to govern.
Zeng gave Li Hongzhang 3,000 troops as a nucleus for the Huai army of 70,000 he recruited. In 1862 they defended Shanghai from the attack led by the Loyal King with 50,000 troops. Li bought rifles and artillery from the westerners and was given permission to hire French and British officers to train his troops in Shanghai. In 1863 Li's Huai army with help from the Ever Victorious army captured Suzhou and slaughtered 20,000 Taiping troops. Gordon complained that Li had executed eight captured Taiping officers, and in March 1864 Palmerston ordered Gordon to withdraw from the imperial ranks. Yet before he received the order and dissolved the Ever Victorious army in May 1864, Gordon participated in the conquest and massacre of prisoners in four more cities. Gordon got Li to admit his responsibility for the Suzhou massacre and urged him to follow the international law against killing prisoners in the future.
Ill and weakened by malnutrition during the siege, King Hong refused to take medicine and died in June 1864. His 16-year-old son Hong Fu succeeded him with the Shield King Ren'gan as regent. Zeng Guoquan's Qing troops stormed Nanjing on July 19 and massacred about a hundred thousand Taiping believers, some of whom refused to surrender and burned themselves to death. In fourteen years the Taiping revolution had spread to sixteen of the eighteen provinces and captured more than six hundred cities, but they had not been able to govern them while fighting a civil war against the Qing empire. The young king fled to Jiangxi as the Loyal King gave him his horse and was captured. Zeng Guofan had the Loyal King write an autobiographical history of the Taiping revolution and then executed him in August. Hong Ren'gan was captured in October and executed in November. In December 1865 Wang Haiyang captured the last city for the Taiping at Jiaying in Guangdong, but in February 1866 a Qing army of 70,000 killed 10,000, and the last 50,000 Taiping surrendered.
Historians have estimated that at least twenty million people
died in battle or by starvation in the region under Taiping influence
between 1853 and 1864, as its industry and intellectual centers
were devastated. The Taiping revolution failed for many reasons.
Their beliefs were based more on the ten commandments than on
the teachings of the Christ, and their massive use of violence
brought on the consequences that destroyed them. Because they
were constantly fighting the civil war, they could not implement
their land reforms. Their destruction of temples and rejection
of Confucian philosophy alienated the Chinese, especially the
literati. Although chastity was supposed to be enforced by capital
punishment, that Hong had 88 concubines and Yang 36 indicates
their hypocrisy. Yet in many ways women were empowered in their
revolution more than ever before. The kings fought each other
in 1856, and they missed any possibility of an alliance with Christian
foreigners because of poor diplomacy and by attacking Shanghai.
Most western Christians considered Taiping beliefs and practices
blasphemous. Ren'gan's reforms seemed to come too late, and only
the brilliant generalship of the Loyal King and his determined
fighters kept the revolution alive for so long.
Extensive poverty and political corruption caused widespread social disturbances in much of China. The government had increased the sale of rank to raise money for the imperial army. The Nian rebellion drew from the White Lotus groups and Triad secret societies but included many poor peasants and bandits. The name Nian means "twisted" and may have referred to the paper torches they used while robbing houses at night, but Nians came to mean bands of robbers, who often took from the wealthy to help the poor. Female infanticide to reduce population growth had resulted in twenty percent more males in some areas, and they had difficulty finding wives. The Nians raided crops and transport vehicles, and they abducted wealthy landlords for ransom.
The Yellow River began changing its course in 1851, making people homeless, and the massive flooding in 1855 caused many refugees to join the rebels. The rebellion began in 1851 and spread through Anhui, Jiangsu, Shandong, and Henan to Hebei in 1853, alarming the Beijing government. Eighteen Nian chiefs selected the salt smuggler Zhang Luoxing as their leader in 1852. For a time he was co-opted to be a militia leader for a local prefect, but in 1855 he coordinated the Nian bands, organizing them under five banners with 20,000 in each. Nian forces had cavalry and were often well equipped with rifles and artillery. They established secure bases north of the Huai River and raided the countryside. Their leaders issued decrees with capital punishment for raping and unauthorized looting, but they were often ignored. Taiping King Hong named Zhang the Enrichment King (Wu Wang) for his wealth, and his men had long hair. In 1858 Nian warriors led by Li Zhaoshou helped the Taiping revolution in Anhui; but differences in religious and moral beliefs divided them, and Li defected to the Qing.
Miao Peilin commanded a rebel force in Huai that emerged in 1856 and grew to more than a hundred thousand by 1860. He negotiated with the Qing commander Yuan Jiasan and the governor at Suzhou. He was given control over the stations on the Huai River collecting the lijin tax, but in October 1861 he occupied Suzhou as well. In March 1862 Miao rekindled his friendship with Qing commander Shengbao and turned against the Taipings and the Nians, turning in Chen Yucheng to Qing officials. Miao is an example of an unprincipled warlord, but he was defeated and killed by several provincial armies and Senggelinqin's cavalry in December 1863.
The Qing general Senggelinqin, who had repulsed the British attack on the Dagu forts in 1859 but let them enter Beijing the next year, was assigned to quell the Nian rebellion. He used Mongol cavalry and well trained Manchus to defeat a reported 200,000 Nian forces in northwest Anhui. Zhang Luoxing was captured in March 1863. His nephew Zhang Zongyu became the leader, and the Nian warriors used guerrilla tactics against strung-out Qing troops and the scorched-earth tactic of burning crops, boats, and houses. In March 1864 a Taiping force in Hubei was blocked from relieving Nanjing and joined the Nian rebels. The coalition under joint command led by Obedient King Lai Wenguang and the Liang king Zhang Zongyu invaded Hubei. When the Taiping revolution collapsed in 1864, many joined the Nian rebels. The Qing army launched a major campaign against the Nian forces, but in 1865 the rebels' counter-offensive ambushed and killed Senggelinqin, capturing 5,000 horses. The Emperor appointed the hero of the Taiping war, Zeng Guofan. He ordered rebel leaders to be executed but promised amnesty to village leaders and followers who surrendered. Zeng had to rely on the Huai army of Li Hongzhang, who was governor-general of Jiangsu, Jiangxi, and Anhui.
Zeng resigned in December 1866 on account of health, and Li
Hongzhang became imperial commissioner. The rebels marched on
Beijing in 1867. The troops preferred Li, and he made use of gunboats
as well as 30,000 foreign rifles and artillery. He set up a blockade
on the Grand Canal. Zhang Zongyu crossed the Yellow River with
17,000 troops, and by February 1868 his cavalry was only eighty
miles from Beijing. In May the Qing court ordered Li Hongzhang
to exterminate the Nian rebels or be punished. Li organized 80,000
men to trap the rebels between the Canal and the Yellow River.
In July 1868 they were defeated, and Zhang Zongyu jumped into
the Tuhai River. Zuo Zongtang had helped quell the Taiping forces,
and in 1866 he became governor-general of Shaanxi and Gansu. Zuo
defeated the Nian rebels there in August 1868.
About a quarter of the people in the southwestern province of Yunnan were Muslims, and they suffered heavy taxes and political discrimination under Chinese officials. A dispute over a silver mine escalated into a rebellion by the Muslims against the Chinese in 1855. The Muslims captured the city of Dali and besieged the capital Kunming. In 1856 their leader Du Wenxiu proclaimed himself Sultan Suleiman over Pingnan Guo (Kingdom of the Pacified South). In 1862 Ma Rulong, who had control over much of southern and central Yunnan, surrendered to the Qing and helped them against Du. Qing commissioner Shengbao was appointed in 1862 but was removed for corruption the following January. His replacement Dolonga broke the blockade at Sian in August 1863 and chased the Muslims into western Shaanxi until he died in 1864. Many of these Muslims joined Ma Hualong's revolt in Gansu. Yet by 1868 Du Wenxiu had 360,000 men and was ruling over 53 cities. Qing forces were not deployed against him until 1872, but in January 1873 they slaughtered Muslims at Dali; Du killed his family, took poison, surrendered, and was executed. As a result of this civil war Yunnan lost more than half its population. Also in 1873 a Miao uprising was suppressed in Guizhou.
In the northwest many Muslims followed the New Teachings of the Naqshbandiyya Sufis that had been taught by Ma Mingxin in the 1760s. The Qing regime had tried to ban them in the early 1780s, provoking uprisings. Shaanxi had six million Muslims and Gansu eight million. In 1862 a Taiping general instigated an anti-Qing revolt that appealed to Muslims having conflicts with the Chinese. The Muslims formed an army, besieged the cities Tongzhou and Xi'an, and ravaged the countryside. Ma Hualong started from Jinjibao and led the revolt into Gansu, Shaanxi, Ningxia, and Xinjiang in 1864, but in 1865 he surrendered a thousand foreign arms and ten thousand swords and spears to the Qing forces. Kokand general Ya'qub Beg with a few men joined Jahangir's son, Buzurg Khan. Their numbers increased, and they took over Kashgar. The leaders quarreled, and Ya'qub Beg had Buzurg detained at Yangi Hisar for eighteen months. Ya'qub was given a religious title by the emir of Bukhara and founded many madrasas (Islamic schools).
Qing general Zuo Zongtang was assigned to quell the Shaanxi revolt in 1867 and organized an imperial army of 55,000. He ordered that no distinctions be made between Chinese and Muslims, only between the innocent and rebels. However, he would not pardon adherents of the New Teaching. Zuo's army pacified Shaanxi in 1869 by killing a reported 20,000 Muslims. Ma Hualong tried to negotiate for peace, but Zuo rejected his offer. More of Ma's devotees of the New Teachings from Gansu joined the revolt. In February 1870 Zuo's forces were defeated south of Jinjibao while the Qing general Liu Songshan was killed by the Yellow River. Lin Zexu's former secretary advised Zuo to punish the meanest Muslim leader while being careful not to harm law-abiding Muslims. Zuo besieged Jinjibao for sixteen months, reducing them to cannibalism. Ma Hualong surrendered again in March 1871 and was executed by slicing along with his family; eighty of his officers and a thousand troops were also put to death. About 11,000 men were deported to Pingliang; 20,000 women, children, and old men were put in refugee camps in southern Gansu; and Muslims were prohibited from settling in Jinjibao. The New Teaching was proscribed, and those renouncing it were pardoned. In 1872 the rebel Ma Chanao won a victory and then negotiated peace, giving up ten thousand weapons and 4,000 horses. Muslims in Gansu were organized into baojia communities. In October 1873, Suzhou surrendered to Qing forces. Zuo recorded that he executed 6,973 Muslims. Yet some continued to resist the Qing farther west in Hami.
Ya'qub Beg was ruling Kashgaria by 1870. The next year General K. P. von Kaufman sent Russian troops to occupy the Ili valley, keeping Ya'qub out of Dzungaria. In 1872 the Russians signed a commercial treaty with Ya'qub Beg, who had invaded and ruled the Tarim basin from Kokand. Ya'qub got 3,000 rifles and 30 cannons with three Turkish military instructors from the Ottoman sultan in 1873 and also made a trade treaty with the British the next year. After having completed his seven-year campaign in Shaanxi and Gansu in 1873, Zuo borrowed five million taels from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank for an expedition, crossed the desert with his army, and invaded the Tarim basin. Ya'qub Beg had an army of about 45,000, but he was defeated and died mysteriously in 1877. Zuo did not pacify Xinjiang until the next year, though the Russians still occupied Ili. This campaign would eventually cost a total of forty million taels, 14.7 million of which was borrowed from British banks.
As Emperor Xianfeng fled from the Anglo-French invasion in 1860 to Jehol, Prince Gong and Wenxiang remained in Beijing to negotiate a treaty with the European invaders. Sushun had advised Xianfeng to apply capital punishment to officials for bribery in 1858, and he had risen to become assistant grand secretary. Zeng Guofan had commented that vacillation with severity did inestimable harm. After the Emperor died at Jehol, probably of tuberculosis, in August 1861, the princes Yi and Zheng and Yi's half-brother Sushun formed a regency council of eight advisors for Xianfeng's five-year-old son, who was proclaimed Emperor Tongzhi. They proclaimed dowagers his mother Empress Cixi and Empress Cian, whose only child was a daughter, but in Beijing the empresses took control along with Prince Gong and accused the eight advisors with the crimes of arrogating imperial authority, deceiving the late emperor, and giving bad advice on foreign policy. Yi and Zheng were sentenced to slicing but were allowed to hang themselves. Sushun was beheaded, and Empress Cixi took over his enormous fortune.
Cixi was the first female Manchu to wield imperial power. She had already been reading memorials, and now she held audiences from behind a screen. Cian lived in the eastern side of the palace and was called the Eastern Empress, but she was considered virtuous and did not engage in politics. This era was called Tongzhi (Returning to Order), and conservative Confucian policies attempted to rebuild the devastated empire. Irrigation works in the northwest had been destroyed, and the mulberry trees used for silk worms in central China had been cut down. During the civil wars the local governors had gained more authority, and they were mostly Chinese instead of Manchus. Agriculture and literary officials continued to be the basis of Chinese society. The sale of rank and degrees with higher quotas to raise money during the civil wars had increased the number of gentry to about 1,450,000. The taboo against the gentry engaging in military defense dissolved under the pressure of the Opium Wars and rebellions. The gentry organized military defense organizations (tuan lian) and hired mercenaries. Beijing could still replace governors if they did not deliver their apportioned revenue. After the wars the local gentry wanted more self-government. Despite the civil wars most of the examinations had been held, and by 1870 they had made up those that had been postponed.
The generals Zeng Guofan (1811-72), Li Hongzhang (1823-1901), and Zuo Zongtang (1812-85) were also scholarly administrators and applied Confucian principles to economic recovery. Zeng was a Neo-Confucian and emphasized personal ethics based on education. In his famous essay "The Fundamentals of Talent" he argued that the current crisis of moral decay could only be remedied by virtuous and wise men leading by example. He encouraged studying and limited the sale of offices and rank. Zeng chose his staff based on integrity, awareness, efficiency, and intellectual ability, rejecting opium addicts and those coarse in speech and manner. Several of them went on to successful careers. In 1858 he wrote a song called "Love the People" to lift army morale, but by then most of the officers had been hardened by battles. Later Zeng said that he hired men with virtue or competency, because finding both together was very rare. Behind in paying them, Zeng released his army of 120,000 in stages from 1864 to 1866. He returned expelled landlords, reassessed taxes, and tried to prevent exploitation of tenants. Zeng urged officials to give agriculture the greatest importance by reducing taxes and corvée service, improving irrigation, and providing loans for poor farmers to buy cattle.
Agrarian taxes were about thirty percent less than they had been before the Taiping revolution. The local lijin dues on transported merchandise were continued, but foreign imports were exempt. After 1862 the British and American ships dominated the Yangzi River trade. Robert Hart had been foreign inspector at Guangzhou since 1859; in 1863 he became Inspector General for eleven ports, and by 1875 he had 408 western employees and 1,417 Chinese employees in the Customs Service. Hart prevented smuggling and insisted on accurate accounting. They helped the Chinese government gain large sums of money for use in education and modernizing projects. Land tax still made up the largest portion of government revenue; but by 1869 lijin tax revenues reached 14.6 million taels compared to ten million taels from maritime customs.
Scholar Feng Guifen (1809-74) agreed with Wei Yuan that they should learn the superior techniques of the barbarians in order to control them, and he wrote Protest from the Jiaobin Studio about 1860. Feng recommended Chinese wisdom as a foundation and western knowledge for practical application. He advised Zeng Guofan that the Chinese should strengthen themselves by using western science, technologies, and weapons, but they had to be financed by foreign capitalists. Feng noted that England and France were much smaller than China but had become more powerful. He suggested that western skills could improve their human resources, agricultural efficiency, political connection between rulers and the people, and bring deeds into accord with words. They must look for the causes of their problems within themselves. The one thing they could learn from the westerners was how to make strong ships and effective guns.
Feng believed that by learning from westerners, the Chinese could eventually surpass them. He suggested that half of China's scholars should pursue physical studies and the manufacture of armaments. Western books were best on mathematics, mechanics, optics, light, and chemistry. Chinese students should learn western languages. In a memorial to Li Hongzhang and Zeng Guofan, Feng urged abolishing extra-legal surcharges and the distinction between major and minor households by which the gentry exploited the poor. Feng's essays also criticized the low salaries of officials, administrative complexity, corrupt clerks and runners, sale of offices, and unfair tax assessments. He proposed the local leaders be elected by villagers with paper ballots. In 1864 Feng advised Li to reduce the Green Standard army so that those remaining could be better trained and equipped.
Li Hongzhang was influenced by Guo Songdao, who had opposed war with the Europeans in 1858. Guo warned that once war is started, affairs are difficult to settle. He suggested understanding the foreigners' motivations and considering realities as well as principles. In 1862 Zeng Guofan began applying the policy of "self-strengthening" to make explosive shells and steamships. He sent Yung Wing, who was the first person from China to graduate from a western university (Yale in 1854), to buy machinery in the United States for an arsenal in China. John Fryer and others translated many scientific and technical treatises into Chinese. Local academies were reopened, and new ones were founded. Examination questions were made more practical, and the sale of degrees was curtailed. Provincial officials had practical books printed and often denounced novels. Zeng resigned in December 1866 on account of health, and Li Hongzhang became imperial commissioner. In 1869 Zeng published his famous essay "Exhortation to Learning." He recommended studying moral principles, textual research, literature, and statecraft. Unlike Chen Li who suggested studying the entire history of scholarly commentaries, Zeng focused on the Song Confucians, especially Zhu Xi.
After signing the 1860 treaty on behalf of China, Prince Gong came to respect the British. He realized they were not trying to conquer China but only wanted profits. In January 1861 he and war minister Wenxiang established the Zongli Yamen as a foreign office and used the rebellions as an excuse for purchasing foreign arms. Their change in policy persuaded the British minister Frederick Bruce and American minister Anson Burlingame to formulate a policy of cooperation with China. Thus they ended their neutrality and began to support the Qing campaign against the Taiping revolution. In 1862 Prince Gong and Wenxiang got a language college opened in Beijing, and that year the Zongli Yamen ordered the purchase of a fleet from England with officers and a crew.
However, Horatio Lay made a contract that Captain Osborn only had to obey imperial orders that Lay chose to pass on to him. As inspector-general Lay also expected to be in charge of disbursing all the customs revenue to foreign-trained contingents. Li Hongzhang told the Zongli Yamen that Lay was "arrogant, dangerous, and deceitful." In October 1863 Lay gave the Zongli Yamen two days to accept his contract with the result that the fleet was sent back to England as the Chinese paid the British for their trouble. The Zongli Yamen replaced the offensive Lay with Hart as the inspector-general of customs. In 1865 and 1866 Hart and Thomas Wade submitted memoranda to the Zongli Yamen urging China to send diplomatic representatives abroad and recommending the usefulness of railways, steamships, telegraphs, and mining. In 1866 Hart traveled with ex-prefect Binchun to London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Brussels, and Paris.
Prince Gong had his staff revise Hart's and W. A. P. Martin's translation of Henry Wheaton's Elements of International Law, which proved helpful. After Prussia seized three Danish ships in China's territorial waters in 1864, they got the Prussian minister to release them and pay China $1,500 compensation. Gong then paid for 300 copies of the book to be published and sent to provincial officials. Language schools were also started in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Fuzhou. In 1866 astronomy and mathematics were added to the curriculum of the Beijing college over the opposition of conservative Grand Secretary Woren. In 1867 historian Xu Jiyu became its director. He wrote about the astonishing kingless government of the United States in which policies were trusted to public opinion, and he also admired George Washington. Xu retired in 1869 and was succeeded by Martin, who had a doctorate in international law and expanded the eight-year curriculum. A printing office was established in 1873.
In 1862 Li Hongzhang founded three gun factories at Shanghai. In 1864 Li proposed to Prince Gong that the examination system should have a new category for technology. In his memorial for the Jiangnan Arsenal, Li suggested that in addition to weaponry, western machinery can produce equipment for farming, weaving, printing, and pottery-making. Li and Zeng Guofan established the successful Jiangnan Arsenal at Shanghai in 1865, but the shipyard took seven years to construct five ships. The translation bureau produced 47 books on natural science and 45 on technology and the military. In 1866 French engineers helped Zuo Zongtang build shipyards and a naval academy near Fuzhou; they turned out fifteen ships by 1874 and graduated officers from their naval school. Li Hongzhang founded the Chinese Steamship Company in 1872 and had a monopoly on the sea transport of tributary rice from the Yangzi River to Tianjin. The competition provoked the British and American companies to drastically reduce their prices. Li warned that Japan was modernizing its armed forces and looked down on China, which should spend on guns and warships for self-defense. Also in 1872 Zeng and Li recommended that thirty boys each year be sent to the United States for schooling. Zeng died in 1872, but Li Hongzhang was governor-general of the capital province of Zhili (1870-95).
Wang Tao (1828-97) worked on the Delegates' Version of the New Testament and was baptized at Shanghai in 1854. During the 1860s he helped the Scottish James Legge translate the Chinese classics into English, and he wrote a history of France in 1871. In an essay on reform about 1870 Wang wrote prophetically,
After a few hundred years the
Way will achieve a grand unity.
As Heaven has unified
the south, north, east, and west under one sky,
it will harmonize the various teachings of the world
and bring them back to the same source.2
He observed that Heaven had opened the minds of westerners to developing skills and techniques. They came east and gathered in China in an unprecedented situation. Thus the Chinese must consider making changes. Wang suggested discarding essay exams for selecting civil servants and recommended that military training be changed. Imperial troops were unreliable, and local militias once assembled were not disbanded. Government should reduce regulations and directives so that people could be treated with frankness and justice.
The treaties gave the Catholic and Protestant missionaries not only permission to travel freely in China with judicial immunity but the right to purchase property as well. The Church gained extensive land in the Sichuan province and the ports of Tianjin, Shanghai, and Nanjing. By 1870 some 250 European Catholics were ministering to nearly 400,000 Chinese Christians, as the church established schools, seminaries, and orphanages. The Protestants remained mostly in the ports because of their families, and their 350 missionaries had less than 6,000 converts by 1870. Confucian scholars criticized Christianity, and an 1861 pamphlet entitled "A Record of Facts to Ward off Heterodoxy" accused the missionaries of sexually abusing children in their orphanages. Proselytizing missionaries often competed with the gentry over education and social services. Unlike the previous Jesuits in the imperial court, the missionaries appealed to the lower classes and the discontented. Evangelist Hudson Taylor recruited missionaries of all denominations and went inland in 1866. Two years later British consul Rutherford Alcock sent four gunboats to protect Taylor from a mob. Foreigners had extraterritorial immunity but could press charges against their adversaries, and in the 1860s they won several heavy indemnities. Missionaries often alienated the gentry by backing the claims of their converts.
In 1870 the French used four gunboats in Hankou while negotiating missionary cases with provincial officials. That year in Tianjin the Chinese became suspicious of Sisters of Charity offering money for orphans and because missionaries were endeavoring to baptize children before they died. After the French consul Henri Fontanier shot dead a magistrate's servant, a mob killed him, ten nuns, and French and Russian traders-a total of twenty foreigners; they also burned the orphanage and four British and American churches. After an investigation using torture, Zeng Guofan suggested executing fifteen people, but Grand Secretary Woren objected to the punishment without criminal evidence and called Zeng a traitor. The court sent the ailing Zeng to Nanjing as governor-general and transferred Li Hongzhang to Tianjin as governor-general of Zhili. Li settled the case by paying the French 400,000 taels, sentencing eighteen Chinese to death, and banishing for life the senior Chinese officials involved. Envoys were sent to Versailles to apologize in 1871.
Although Chinese physicians excelled at diagnosis, acupuncture, and herbal treatments, they discovered that western doctors could use surgery to remove tumors and treat cataracts. In the 1860s missionary doctors and other westerners built hospitals in the port cities. The British moved their supreme court from Hong Kong to Shanghai, but Dutch cases were heard in Batavia, Spanish cases in Manila, and Russian cases in Vladivostok. In 1864 the first "mixed court" in Shanghai combined a Chinese magistrate with a consular assessor and gave defendants trials by the laws of their own countries. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was formed in 1865.
Many Chinese laborers emigrated to Southeast Asia and America, and some were abducted and exploited by unfair labor practices. Consul Anson Burlingame persuaded the United States to sign a treaty in 1868 protecting Chinese rights of immigration and promising non-interference in China. In 1869 British consul Alcock negotiated mutual concessions with Wenxiang; but both were disappointed when merchants persuaded the House of Commons to reject them. The British were especially concerned that a Chinese consul in Hong Kong would be a revenue officer and a spy. After a half million Chinese settled in the Singapore area, the Qing government established a consulate there in 1873. A commission began investigating the labor abuses in Peru and Cuba, and this led to some reforms after 1875. The Suez Canal shortened European sea travel in 1869, and Shen Baozhen was successful in getting a telegraph line to connect Shanghai and Hong Kong by 1871. However, the Chinese resisted western efforts to build telegraph lines and railroads. The Zongli Yamen was concerned that they would lose control of military areas, disturb graves by violating feng shui (geomancy), and endanger the people's welfare. The Chinese wanted to build their own railroads.
In 1865 Empress Cixi chastised Prince Gong and removed his title as "deliberative prince," and she promoted his younger brother Prince Qun, who had married her sister. Qun accused the Zongli Yamen of being too favorable toward the foreigners. In 1869 Gong had a eunuch beheaded for leaving the capital on a lavish journey. Dowager Empress Cian wanted Gong executed, but he survived and was less active for a while. Emperor Tongzhi did not receive diplomats until 1873, when they were allowed to bow instead of kowtow; but he overindulged in his pleasure quarters and died of illness in January 1875. Some believed that his empress was pregnant, but Dowager Empress Cixi got her three-year-old nephew, the son of Prince Qun, named Emperor Guangxu so that she could rule again as regent. The possibly pregnant empress died from an overdose of opium.
In 1870 the Meiji government of Japan sent an envoy to Beijing, and the next year a commercial treaty was signed that included non-aggression toward each other and alliance against a third power. When Taiwan aborigines killed 54 stranded Ryukyuan sailors, Japan complained. China still received regular tribute from Ryukyu, but Japan had subjugated the northern part in 1609. Japan argued that China did not have sovereignty there, and their modernized army invaded Taiwan for the first time in 1874. Shen Baozhen was ordered to defend the island, but the cannons were not functional. British minister Thomas Wade mediated, and Prince Gong eventually paid 400,000 taels for the Japanese barracks on Taiwan and 100,000 taels for the Ryukyu victims. Li Hongzhang and westerners argued that this debacle could have been avoided if the Chinese had had an envoy in Japan. Li supported the efforts of the Fuzhou Navy Yard's imperial commissioner Shen Baozhen and recommended him for the position of Lianjiang governor-general, which he became in May 1875. At a court conference that month Wenxiang supported Li's proposals for railways, telegraphs, and schools with western learning. For the last time the Qing empire had a net surplus in trade for the years 1872-76.
1. The Art of War by Sun-zi tr. James Clavell, p. 18.
2. Bianfa 1:11 by Wang Tao in Sources of Chinese Tradition, Volume 2 ed. Wm. Theodore de Bary, p. 56.
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