Qing Dynasty

Qing Dynasty

Overview
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty
Dynasties in Chinese history
The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they...

 of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration
Zhang Xun (Republic of China)
Zhang Xun was a Qing-loyalist general who attempted to restore the abdicated emperor Puyi in 1917. He supported Yuan Shikai during his time as president....

 in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 and followed by the Republic of China
Republic of China (1912–1949)
In 1911, after over two thousand years of imperial rule, a republic was established in China and the monarchy overthrown by a group of revolutionaries. The Qing Dynasty, having just experienced a century of instability, suffered from both internal rebellion and foreign imperialism...

.

The Qing originated from the Jurchen Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro was the family name of the Manchu emperors of the Qing Dynasty. The House of Aisin Gioro ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which established a republican government in its place. The word aisin means gold in the Manchu language, and "gioro" is the name of the place in...

 clan from northeast of the Great Wall
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

 in modern Northeastern China. Beginning with their khan Nurhachi, who was originally a vassal of the Ming emperors
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, the Aisin Gioro began unifying the Jurchen clans. By 1635, Nurhachi's son Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji , also transliterated as Huang Taiji based on the Chinese language transcription of his name, was the first Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.Hong Taiji was the first Emperor of the Qing dynasty after acceding to the title in 1636...

 could claim they constituted a single and united Manchu people and began forcing the Ming out of Liaoning
Liaoning
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the northeast of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "辽" , a name taken from the Liao River that flows through the province. "Níng" means "peace"...

 in southern Manchuria.
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Encyclopedia
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty
Dynasties in Chinese history
The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they...

 of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration
Zhang Xun (Republic of China)
Zhang Xun was a Qing-loyalist general who attempted to restore the abdicated emperor Puyi in 1917. He supported Yuan Shikai during his time as president....

 in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 and followed by the Republic of China
Republic of China (1912–1949)
In 1911, after over two thousand years of imperial rule, a republic was established in China and the monarchy overthrown by a group of revolutionaries. The Qing Dynasty, having just experienced a century of instability, suffered from both internal rebellion and foreign imperialism...

.

The Qing originated from the Jurchen Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro was the family name of the Manchu emperors of the Qing Dynasty. The House of Aisin Gioro ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which established a republican government in its place. The word aisin means gold in the Manchu language, and "gioro" is the name of the place in...

 clan from northeast of the Great Wall
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

 in modern Northeastern China. Beginning with their khan Nurhachi, who was originally a vassal of the Ming emperors
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, the Aisin Gioro began unifying the Jurchen clans. By 1635, Nurhachi's son Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji , also transliterated as Huang Taiji based on the Chinese language transcription of his name, was the first Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.Hong Taiji was the first Emperor of the Qing dynasty after acceding to the title in 1636...

 could claim they constituted a single and united Manchu people and began forcing the Ming out of Liaoning
Liaoning
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the northeast of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "辽" , a name taken from the Liao River that flows through the province. "Níng" means "peace"...

 in southern Manchuria. In 1644, the Ming capital Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 was sacked by a peasant revolt led by Li Zicheng, a former minor Ming official who became the leader of the peasant revolt, who then proclaimed the Shun dynasty
Shun Dynasty
The Shun Dynasty was an imperial dynasty created in the brief lapse from Ming to Qing rule in China. The dynasty was founded in Xi'an on 8 February 1644, the first day of the lunar year, by Li Zicheng, the leader of a large peasant rebellion. Li, however, only went by the title of King, not Emperor...

.

The last Ming ruler, the Chongzhen Emperor
Chongzhen Emperor
The Chongzhen Emperor was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He reigned from 1627 to 1644, under an era name that means "honorable and auspicious".- Early years :...

, committed suicide when the city fell. When Li moved against Ming general Wu Sangui
Wu Sangui
Wu Sangui was a Ming Chinese general who was instrumental in the succession of rule to the Qing Dynasty in 1644...

, the latter made an alliance with the Manchus and opened the Shanhai Pass to the Manchurian army. Under Prince Dorgon
Dorgon
Dorgon , also known as Hošoi Mergen Cin Wang, the Prince Rui , was one of the most influential Manchu princes in the early Qing Dynasty. He laid the groundwork for the Manchu rule of China.-Early life:Dorgon was born in Yenden, Manchuria , China...

, they crushed Li's forces and swiftly occupied the capital. Portraying themselves as the restorers of imperial order under the young Shunzhi Emperor
Shunzhi Emperor
The Shunzhi Emperor was the third emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the first Qing emperor to rule over China, which he did from 1644 to 1661. "Shunzhi" was the name of his reign period...

, the Qing then expanded into China proper
China proper
China proper or Eighteen Provinces was a term used by Western writers on the Qing Dynasty to express a distinction between the core and frontier regions of China. There is no fixed extent for China proper, as many administrative, cultural, and linguistic shifts have occurred in Chinese history...

 by conquest and alliance, completing its annexation around 1683 under the Kangxi Emperor
Kangxi Emperor
The Kangxi Emperor ; Manchu: elhe taifin hūwangdi ; Mongolian: Энх-Амгалан хаан, 4 May 1654 –20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the first to be born on Chinese soil south of the Pass and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1661 to 1722.Kangxi's...

.

Over the course of its reign, the Qing became highly integrated with Chinese culture
Culture of China
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest and most complex. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces...

, learning Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 and participating in rituals. The imperial examination
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

s continued and Han civil servants administered the empire alongside the Manchu. However, during the period, the queue hairstyle
Queue (hairstyle)
The queue or cue is a hairstyle in which the hair is worn long and gathered up into a ponytail. It was worn traditionally by certain Native American groups and the Manchu of Manchuria.-Manchu Queue:...

 was enforced upon penalty of death and servitude became more common.

The Qing reached its height under the Qianlong Emperor
Qianlong Emperor
The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, he reigned officially from 11 October 1735 to 8 February 1796...

 in the 18th century, expanding beyond China's prior and later boundaries and including parts of modern Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

, Russian Far East
Russian Far East
Russian Far East is a term that refers to the Russian part of the Far East, i.e., extreme east parts of Russia, between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean...

 and Burma, and overlord status over others including Korea
Joseon Dynasty
Joseon , was a Korean state founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul...

, Vietnam
Lê Dynasty
The Later Lê Dynasty , sometimes referred to as the Lê Dynasty was the longest-ruling dynasty of Vietnam, ruling the country from 1428 to 1788, with a brief interruption....

, and Nepal. Subsequently, imperial corruption exemplified by the minister Heshen
Heshen
Heshen or Hešen , from the Manchu Niohuru clan, was a Manchu official of the Qing Dynasty, a favourite of the Qianlong Emperor. Born Shanbao , his given name was later changed to Heshen. His courtesy name was Zhizhai . He was a member of the Plain Red Banner, as well as one of the most corrupt...

 and a series of rebellions, natural disasters, and defeats in wars against European powers gravely weakened the Qing during the 19th century. "Unequal Treaties
Unequal Treaties
“Unequal treaty” is a term used in specific reference to a number of treaties imposed by Western powers, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, on Qing Dynasty China and late Tokugawa Japan...

" provided for extraterritoriality
Extraterritoriality
Extraterritoriality is the state of being exempt from the jurisdiction of local law, usually as the result of diplomatic negotiations. Extraterritoriality can also be applied to physical places, such as military bases of foreign countries, or offices of the United Nations...

 and removed large areas of treaty ports
Treaty ports
The treaty ports was the name given to the port cities in China, Japan, and Korea that were opened to foreign trade by the Unequal Treaties.-Chinese treaty ports:...

 from Chinese sovereignty.

Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 expansion into Manchuria and the German
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 seizure of Qingdao
Qingdao
' also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city with a population of over 8.715 million in eastern Shandong province, Eastern China. Its built up area, made of 7 urban districts plus Jimo city, is home to about 4,346,000 inhabitants in 2010.It borders Yantai to the...

 following the 1897 Juye Incident
Juye Incident
The Juye Incident refers to the events of November 1, 1897, when a band of twenty to thirty armed men broke into a Catholic missionary compound in Juye County and killed Richard Henle and Francis Xavier Nies, two German missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word...

 triggered a "scramble for concessions" that threatened to divide China into a number of colonies tied together by foreign-owned railroads, particularly after an attempt by the Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi1 , of the Manchu Yehenara clan, was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China for 47 years from 1861 to her death in 1908....

 to use the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

 to limit foreign interference failed. The 1911 Wuchang Uprising
Wuchang Uprising
The Wuchang Uprising began with the dissatisfaction of the handling of a railway crisis. The crisis then escalated to an uprising where the revolutionaries went up against Qing government officials. The uprising was then assisted by the New Army in a coup against their own authorities in the city...

 of the New Army ended with the overthrow of the Empress Dowager Longyu
Empress Dowager Longyu
Empress Xiao Ding Jing ; is better known as the Empress Dowager Longyu , . Also , she had the nickname was Xizi (喜子). Empress Xiao Ding Jing was the Qing Dynasty Empress Consort of the Guangxu Emperor who ruled China from 1875 till 1908...

 and the infant Puyi
Puyi
Puyi , of the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan, was the last Emperor of China, and the twelfth and final ruler of the Qing Dynasty. He ruled as the Xuantong Emperor from 1908 until his abdication on 12 February 1912. From 1 to 12 July 1917 he was briefly restored to the throne as a nominal emperor by the...

 on February 12, 1912. Despite the declaration of the Republic, the generals would continue to fight amongst themselves for the next several decades during the Warlord Era
Warlord era
The Chinese Warlord Era was the period in the history of the Republic of China, from 1916 to 1928, when the country was divided among military cliques, a division that continued until the fall of the Nationalist government in the mainland China regions of Sichuan, Shanxi, Qinghai, Ningxia,...

.

Puyi
Puyi
Puyi , of the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan, was the last Emperor of China, and the twelfth and final ruler of the Qing Dynasty. He ruled as the Xuantong Emperor from 1908 until his abdication on 12 February 1912. From 1 to 12 July 1917 he was briefly restored to the throne as a nominal emperor by the...

 was briefly restored to power in Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 by Zhang Xun
Zhang Xun (Republic of China)
Zhang Xun was a Qing-loyalist general who attempted to restore the abdicated emperor Puyi in 1917. He supported Yuan Shikai during his time as president....

 in July 1917, and in Manchukuo
Manchukuo
Manchukuo or Manshū-koku was a puppet state in Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia, governed under a form of constitutional monarchy. The region was the historical homeland of the Manchus, who founded the Qing Empire in China...

 by the Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 between 19321945.

Name


Both in honor of the earlier Jurchen Jin dynasty and his Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro was the family name of the Manchu emperors of the Qing Dynasty. The House of Aisin Gioro ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which established a republican government in its place. The word aisin means gold in the Manchu language, and "gioro" is the name of the place in...

 clan,Aisin is the Manchu
Manchu language
Manchu is a Tungusic endangered language spoken in Northeast China; it used to be the language of the Manchu, though now most Manchus speak Mandarin Chinese and there are fewer than 70 native speakers of Manchu out of a total of nearly 10 million ethnic Manchus...

 for the Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

  (jīn, "gold").
Nurachi
Nurachi
Nurachi is a comune in the Province of Oristano in the Italian region Sardinia, located about 100 km northwest of Cagliari and about 9 km northwest of Oristano...

 originally named his state the Great Jin (lit "Gold") dynasty, since called the Later Jin by historians. His son Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji , also transliterated as Huang Taiji based on the Chinese language transcription of his name, was the first Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.Hong Taiji was the first Emperor of the Qing dynasty after acceding to the title in 1636...

, after uniting the Jurchen clans as one Manchu people in 1635, renamed the dynasty Great Qing (lit "Clarity") in 1636. From the ruling class, it was also known as the Manchu Dynasty.

The state ruled by the dynasty was known internationally as China or the Chinese Empire and considered to comprise China proper or the Eighteen provinces
China proper
China proper or Eighteen Provinces was a term used by Western writers on the Qing Dynasty to express a distinction between the core and frontier regions of China. There is no fixed extent for China proper, as many administrative, cultural, and linguistic shifts have occurred in Chinese history...

, Chinese Tartary, Chinese Turkestan, and Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

. For diplomatic purposes, it was sometimes also known as the Ta Tsing Empire, or in pinyin
Pinyin
Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

, Dà Qīng Dìguó (lit "Empire of the Great Qing").

Formation of the Manchu state


The Qing Dynasty was founded not by Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

, who form the majority of the Chinese population, but a semi-sedentary people known as the Jurchen, a Tungusic people
Tungusic peoples
Tungusic peoples are the peoples who speak Tungusic languages. The word originated in Tunguska, an ill-defined region of Siberia.-Peoples:Tungusic peoples are:*Evenks*Evens*Jurchens *Manchu*Negidals...

 who lived around the region now comprising the Chinese provinces of Jilin
Jilin
Jilin , is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeastern part of the country. Jilin borders North Korea and Russia to the east, Heilongjiang to the north, Liaoning to the south, and Inner Mongolia to the west...

 and Heilongjiang
Heilongjiang
For the river known in Mandarin as Heilong Jiang, see Amur River' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeastern part of the country. "Heilongjiang" literally means Black Dragon River, which is the Chinese name for the Amur. The one-character abbreviation is 黑...

. What was to become the Manchu state was founded by Nurhachi, the chieftain of a minor Jurchen tribethe Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro was the family name of the Manchu emperors of the Qing Dynasty. The House of Aisin Gioro ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which established a republican government in its place. The word aisin means gold in the Manchu language, and "gioro" is the name of the place in...

in Jianzhou
Jianzhou Jurchens
The Jianzhou Jurchens were a grouping of the Jurchens as identified by the Chinese of the Ming Dynasty. They were the southernmost group of the Jurchen people The Jianzhou Jurchens (Chinese:建州女真) were a grouping of the Jurchens as identified by the Chinese of the Ming Dynasty. They were the...

 in the early 17th century. Originally a vassal of the Ming emperors, Nurhachi embarked on an inter-tribal feud in 1582 that escalated into a campaign to unify the nearby tribes. By 1616, he had sufficiently consolidated Jianzhou so as to be able to proclaim himself Khan
Khan (title)
Khan is an originally Altaic and subsequently Central Asian title for a sovereign or military ruler, widely used by medieval nomadic Turko-Mongol tribes living to the north of China. 'Khan' is also seen as a title in the Xianbei confederation for their chief between 283 and 289...

 of the Great Jin in reference to the previous Jurchen dynasty.

Two years later, Nurhachi announced the "Seven Grievances" and openly renounced the sovereignty of Ming overlordship in order to complete the unification of those Jurchen tribes still allied with the Ming emperor. After a series of successful battles, he relocated his capital from Hetu Ala to successively bigger captured Ming cities in Liaodong Province: first Liaoyang
Liaoyang
Liaoyang is a city in China, Liaoning province, located in the middle of the Liaodong Peninsula. The city is situated on the T'ai-tzu River and forms with Anshan a built up area of 2,057,200 inhabitants in 2010....

 in 1621, then Shenyang
Shenyang
Shenyang , or Mukden , is the capital and largest city of Liaoning Province in Northeast China. Currently holding sub-provincial administrative status, the city was once known as Shengjing or Fengtianfu...

 (Mukden) in 1625.

Relocating his court from Jianzhou to Liaodong provided Nurhachi access to more resources; it also brought him in close contact with the Mongol
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 domains on the plains of Mongolia. Although by this time the once-united Mongol nation had long since fragmented into individual and hostile tribes, these tribes still presented a serious security threat to the Ming borders. Nurhachi's policy towards the Mongols was to seek their friendship and cooperation against the Ming, securing his western border from a powerful potential enemy.

Furthermore, the Mongols proved a useful ally in the war, lending the Jurchens their expertise as cavalry archers. To cement this new alliance, Nurhachi initiated a policy of inter-marriages between the Jurchen and Mongol nobilities, while those who resisted were met with military action. This is a typical example of Nurhachi's initiatives that eventually became official Qing government policy. During most of the Qing Dynasty, the Mongols gave military assistance to the Manchus.

Some of Nurhachi's other important contributions include ordering the creation of a written Manchu script
Manchu alphabet
The Manchu alphabet was used for recording the now near-extinct Manchu language; a similar script is used today by the Xibe people, who speak a language descended from Manchu...

 based on the Mongolian
Mongolian script
The classical Mongolian script , also known as Uyghurjin, was the first writing system created specifically for the Mongolian language, and was the most successful until the introduction of Cyrillic in 1946...

 so as to avoid the earlier Jurchen script
Jurchen script
Jurchen script was the writing system used to write Jurchen language, the language of the Jurchen people who created the Jin Empire in the northeastern China of the 12th–13th centuries. It was derived from the Khitan script, which in turn was derived from Chinese...

 which had been derived from Khitan and Chinese
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

 and the creation of the civil and military administrative system which eventually evolved into the Eight Banners
Eight Banners
The Eight Banners were administrative divisions into which all Manchu families were placed. They provided the basic framework for the Manchu military organization...

, the defining element of Manchu identity and the foundation for transforming the loosely knitted Jurchen tribes into a nation.


Nurhachi's unbroken series of military successes came to an end in January 1626 when he was defeated by Yuan Chonghuan
Yuan Chonghuan
Yuan Chonghuan was a famed patriot and military commander of the Ming Dynasty who battled the Manchus in Liaoning. A commander of Cantonese origin, Yuan Chonghuan was known to have excelled in artillery warfare and successfully incorporated Western tactics with those of the East...

 while laying siege to Ningyuan
Battle of Ningyuan
The Battle of Ningyuan was a battle between the Ming Dynasty and the Manchurian Later Jin in 1626. The Ming won this battle. This battle marked the temporary resurgence of the Imperial Ming army after a long series of defeats....

. He died a few months laterOfficially Qing court history states that Nurhachi died from illness. However because the cause of death mentioned is unusually vague, some historians propose that based on historical circumstantial evidence and through reading official History of Ming
History of Ming
The History of Ming is one of the official Chinese historical works known as the Twenty-Four Histories of China. It consists of 332 volumes and covers the history of Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644, which was written by a number of officials commissioned by the court of Qing Dynasty, with the lead...

 Nurhaci might have died from cannon wounds sustained at the siege of Liaoning.
and was succeeded by his eighth son, Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji , also transliterated as Huang Taiji based on the Chinese language transcription of his name, was the first Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.Hong Taiji was the first Emperor of the Qing dynasty after acceding to the title in 1636...

, who emerged after a short political struggle amongst other potential contenders as the new Khan.

Although Hong Taiji was an experienced general and the commander of two Banners at the time of his succession, his reign did not start well on the military front. The Jurchens suffered yet another defeat in 1627 at the hands of Yuan Chonghuan. As before, this defeat was the result of the Ming's newly-acquired Portuguese cannons.

To redress the technological and numerical disparity, Hong Taiji in 1634 created his own artillery corps, the ujen chooha,Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

: .
from among his existing Han troops who cast their own cannons in the European design with the help of captured Chinese metallurgists. In 1635, the Manchus' Mongol allies were fully incorporated into a separate Banner hierarchy under direct Manchu command. Hong Taiji then proceeded in 1636 to invade Korea
Second Manchu invasion of Korea
The second Manchu invasion of Korea occurred in 1636, when the Manchu Qing Empire brought Korea's Joseon dynasty into submission. It followed the first Manchu invasion of Korea of 1627.-Background:...

 again.

This was followed by the creation of the first two Han Banners in 1637 (increasing to eight in 1642). Together these military reforms enabled Hong Taiji to resoundingly defeat Ming forces in a series of battles
Battle of Songjin
The Battle of Songjin in 1640 was fought at Songshan and Jinzhou , hence the name "Song-Jin". It spelled the end of the Ming Dynasty. Hong Chengchou's 130,000 elite troops, which was sent to break the siege of Jinzhou, were crushed by the Eight banner armies of the Qing Dynasty at Songshan...

 from 1640 to 1642 for the territories of Songshan
Songshan
Songshan District is a district of Taipei. The name of the district is historically spelled Sungshan. The Songshan Domestic Airport and the Taipei Arena are located here.-History:...

 and Jingzhou
Jingzhou
Jingzhou is a prefecture-level city in Hubei Province, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the banks of the Yangtze River.Its population is 5,691,707 at the 2010 census whom 1,154,086 in the built up area made of 3 urban districts.-Geography:Jingzhou occupies an area of...

. This final victory resulted in the surrender of many of the Ming Dynasty's most battle-hardened troops, the enlistment of Yuan Chonghuan to the Manchu cause, and the complete and permanent withdrawal of the remaining Ming forces north of the Great Wall
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

.

Meanwhile, Hong Taiji set up a rudimentary bureaucratic system based on the Ming model. He established six boards or executive level ministries in 1631 to oversee finance, personnel, rites, military, punishments, and public works. However, these administrative organs had very little role initially, and it was not until the eve of completing the conquest some ten years later that they filled out their government roles.

Hong Taiji's bureaucracy was staffed with many Han Chinese, including many newly-surrendered Ming officials. The Manchus' continued dominance was ensured by an ethnic quota for top bureaucratic appointments. Hong Taiji's reign also saw a fundamental change of policy towards his Han Chinese subjects. Whereas under Nurhachi all captured Han Chinese were seen as potential fifth column
Fifth column
A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within.-Origin:The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War...

ists for the Ming and treated as chattel
Slavery in China
Slavery in China has taken various forms throughout history. Never as absolute as its Muslim or European models, Chinese slavery still often viewed its objects as "half-man, half-thing"...

including those who eventually held important government postsHong Taiji instead incorporated them into the Jurchen "nation" as full (if not first-class) citizens, obligated to provide military service. By 1648, less than one-sixth of the bannermen were of Manchu ancestry.

This change of policy not only increased Hong Taiji's manpower and reduced his military dependence on banners not under his personal control, it also greatly encouraged other Han Chinese subjects of the Ming Dynasty to surrender and accept Jurchen rule when they were defeated militarily. Through these and other measures Hong Taiji was able to centralize power unto the office of the Khan, which in the long run prevented the Jurchen federation from fragmenting after his death.

One of the defining events of Hong Taiji's reign was the official adoption of the name "Manchu" for the united Jurchen people in November, 1635. The next year, when presented with the imperial seal
Imperial Seal
Imperial Seal refers to the seal used by imperial families to endorse imperial edicts.* Imperial Seal of China* Imperial Seal of Japan* Imperial Seal of Mongolia...

 of the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 by Ejei
Ejei Khan
Ejei Khongghor or Ejei Khan was the son of Lingdan Khan, the last in the Borjigin clan of Mongol Khans, who once ruled over Eurasia as the Mongol Empire in the 13th and 14th centuries. Remnants of the Yuan Dynasty retreated north to Mongolia after 1368, known as the Northern Yuan.-History:By the...

, son of Ligdan
Ligdan Khan
Ligdan Khutugtu Khan was the last in the Borjigin clan of Mongol Khans who ruled the Mongols from Chakhar. His unpopular reign generated violent opposition due to his harsh restrictions over the Mongols...

, the last Khagan
Khagan
Khagan or qagan , alternatively spelled kagan, khaghan, qaghan, or chagan, is a title of imperial rank in the Mongolian and Turkic languages equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a khaganate...

 of the Mongols, Hong Taiji renamed his state from "Great Jin" to "Great Qing" and elevated his position from Khan to Emperor
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

, suggesting imperial ambitions beyond unifying the Manchu territories.

Some sources suggested that the name "Qing" was selected as a reaction to the name of the Ming Dynasty which consists of the characters
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

 for "sun" and "moon" , both associated with the fire element
Five elements
Five elements may refer to: In philosophy: *Five elements *Mahabhuta*Pancha Tattva *Five elements In science:*Boron, element 5*Group 5 element*Period 5 element-See also:...

. The character Qing is composed of "water" and "azure" , both associated with the water element. Others suggested that the new name helped rehabilitate the Manchu in the eyes of the Han, whose historians regarded the earlier Jin as foreign invaders.

Claiming the Mandate of Heaven



Hong Taiji died suddenly in September 1643 without a designated heir. As the Jurchens had traditionally "elected" their leader through a council of nobles, the Qing state did not have in place a clear succession system until the reign of the Kangxi Emperor
Kangxi Emperor
The Kangxi Emperor ; Manchu: elhe taifin hūwangdi ; Mongolian: Энх-Амгалан хаан, 4 May 1654 –20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the first to be born on Chinese soil south of the Pass and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1661 to 1722.Kangxi's...

. The leading contenders for power at this time were Hong Taiji's oldest son Hooge
Hooge, Prince Su
Hooge was a prominent Manchu prince. He was the eldest son of Emperor Huang Taiji of the Qing Dynasty. He was the founder of the House of Prince Su .-Life:...

 and Hong Taiji's agnate half brother Dorgon
Dorgon
Dorgon , also known as Hošoi Mergen Cin Wang, the Prince Rui , was one of the most influential Manchu princes in the early Qing Dynasty. He laid the groundwork for the Manchu rule of China.-Early life:Dorgon was born in Yenden, Manchuria , China...

. In the ensuing political impasse between the two bitter political rivals, a compromise candidate in the person of Hong Taiji's five-year-old son Fulin, was installed as the Shunzhi Emperor
Shunzhi Emperor
The Shunzhi Emperor was the third emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the first Qing emperor to rule over China, which he did from 1644 to 1661. "Shunzhi" was the name of his reign period...

, with Dorgon as regent and de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

leader of the Manchu nation.

The Manchus' nemesis, the Ming Dynasty, was fighting for its own survival against a long peasant rebellion and was unable to capitalise on the Qing court's political uncertainty over the succession dispute and installation of a minor as emperor. The Ming Dynasty's internal crisis came to a head in April 1644, when the capital at Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 was sacked by a coalition of rebel forces led by Li Zicheng, a former minor Ming official who became the leader of the peasant revolt and established a short-lived Shun Dynasty
Shun Dynasty
The Shun Dynasty was an imperial dynasty created in the brief lapse from Ming to Qing rule in China. The dynasty was founded in Xi'an on 8 February 1644, the first day of the lunar year, by Li Zicheng, the leader of a large peasant rebellion. Li, however, only went by the title of King, not Emperor...

. The last Ming ruler, the Chongzhen Emperor
Chongzhen Emperor
The Chongzhen Emperor was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He reigned from 1627 to 1644, under an era name that means "honorable and auspicious".- Early years :...

, committed suicide when the city fell, marking the official end of the dynasty.

After easily taking Beijing, Li Zicheng led a coalition of rebel forces numbering 200,000The exact figure of Li Zicheng's forces at the battle of Shanhai Pass
Shanhai Pass
Shanhai Pass , or Shanhaiguan, along with Jiayu Pass and Juyong Pass, is one of the major passes of the Great Wall of China It is located in Shanhaiguan District, Qinhuangdao, Hebei. In 1961, Shanhaiguan became a site of China First Class National Cultural Site.It is a popular tourist destination,...

 is disputed. Some primary sources, such as the official Qing and Ming court histories , cite 200,000. Modern historians generally estimate Li Zicheng's army to be no larger than 100,000.
to confront Wu Sangui
Wu Sangui
Wu Sangui was a Ming Chinese general who was instrumental in the succession of rule to the Qing Dynasty in 1644...

, the general commanding the Ming garrison at Shanhai Pass
Shanhai Pass
Shanhai Pass , or Shanhaiguan, along with Jiayu Pass and Juyong Pass, is one of the major passes of the Great Wall of China It is located in Shanhaiguan District, Qinhuangdao, Hebei. In 1961, Shanhaiguan became a site of China First Class National Cultural Site.It is a popular tourist destination,...

. Shanhai Pass is a pivotal pass
Mountain pass
A mountain pass is a route through a mountain range or over a ridge. If following the lowest possible route, a pass is locally the highest point on that route...

 of the Great Wall
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

, located fifty miles northeast of Beijing, and for years its defenses were what kept the Manchus from directly raiding the Ming capital. Wu Sangui, caught between a rebel army twice his size and a foreign enemy he had fought for years, decided to cast his lot with the Manchus with whom he was familiar, and made an alliance with Dorgon to fight the rebels.

Some sources suggested that Wu Sangui's actions were influenced by news of mistreatment of his family and his concubine Chen Yuanyuan
Chen Yuanyuan
Chen Yuanyuan , born Xing Yuan , lived near the end of the Ming Dynasty, and was a concubine of Wu Sangui. Her courtesy name was Wanfen . Her actual historical significance is disputed, although it is largely believed that Chen was pivotal in Wu Sangui's campaigns after the fall of the Ming. She...

 at the hands of the rebels when the capital fell. Regardless of the actual reasons for his decision,The motivation for Wu Sangui's actions if there were any apart from obvious self-preservation was never fully explained. Most primary sources including the Ming and Qing official court histories are understandably biased against a person who turned "traitor" to both parties. this awkward and some would say cynical alliance between Wu Sangui and his former sworn enemy was ironically made in the name of avenging the death of the Chongzhen Emperor
Chongzhen Emperor
The Chongzhen Emperor was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He reigned from 1627 to 1644, under an era name that means "honorable and auspicious".- Early years :...

. Together, the two former enemies met and defeated Li Zicheng's rebel forces in battle on May 27, 1644.

After routing Li Zicheng's forces, the Manchus captured Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 on June 6, where the Shunzhi Emperor
Shunzhi Emperor
The Shunzhi Emperor was the third emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the first Qing emperor to rule over China, which he did from 1644 to 1661. "Shunzhi" was the name of his reign period...

 was installed as the "Son of Heaven"
Chinese sovereign
Chinese sovereign is the ruler of a particular period in ancient China. Several titles and naming schemes have been used throughout history.-Emperor Title:...

 on October 30. The Manchus who had positioned themselves as political heir to the Ming emperor by defeating Li Zicheng, completed the symbolic act of transition by holding a formal funeral for the Chongzhen Emperor. However the process of conquering the rest of China took another seventeen years of battling Ming loyalists, pretender
Pretender
A pretender is one who claims entitlement to an unavailable position of honour or rank. Most often it refers to a former monarch, or descendant thereof, whose throne is occupied or claimed by a rival, or has been abolished....

s and rebels.

It also involved huge loss of life, including the infamous Yangzhou massacre
Yangzhou massacre
The Yangzhou massacre took place in 1645 in Yangzhou, China, during the Qing Dynasty. Mass killings of residents in Yangzhou were conducted by Qing troops under the command of Prince Dodo after they conquered the city from forces loyal to the Southern Ming regime of the Hongguang Emperor.The...

 of 1645, when a ten-day rampage by troops in the city with the permission of Prince Dodo
Dodo (prince)
Dodo was a Manchu prince and military general of the early Qing Dynasty. His title was "Prince Yu of the First Rank" .-Family background:...

 resulted in an estimated 800,000 deaths. The last Ming pretender, Prince Gui
Zhu Youlang, Prince of Gui
Zhu Youlang, Prince of Gui, the Yongli Emperor was the fourth and last emperor of the Southern Ming Dynasty of China. His era name means "Perpetual calendar"....

, sought refuge with the King of Burma, but was turned over to a Qing expeditionary army commanded by Wu Sangui, who had him brought back to Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 province and executed in early 1662.


The first seven years of the Shunzhi Emperor's reign were dominated by the regent prince Dorgon, who, because of his own political insecurity within the Manchu power structure, followed Hong Taiji's example of centralizing power under his own control in the name of the emperor at the expense of other contending Manchu princes, many of whom eventually were demoted or imprisoned under one pretext or another. Although the period of his regency was relatively short, Dorgon cast a long shadow over the Qing Dynasty.

Firstly the Manchus were able to enter "China proper" only because of Dorgon's timely decision to act on Wu Sangui's appeal for military assistance. After capturing Beijing instead of sacking the city as the rebels had done before them, Dorgon insisted over the protests of other Manchu princes on making it Qing's capital and largely reappointed Ming officials to their posts. Setting the Qing capital in Beijing may seem a straightforward move in hindsight, but it was then an act of innovation because historically no major Chinese dynasty had ever directly taken over its immediate predecessor's capital. Keeping the Ming capital and bureaucracy intact helped quickly stabilize the country and greatly sped up the Manchu process of conquest. However, not all of Dorgon's policies were equally popular nor easily implemented.

One of Dorgon's most controversial decisions was his July 1645 edict (the "haircutting order") that forced all adult Han Chinese men to shave the front of their heads and comb the remaining hair into a queue
Queue (hairstyle)
The queue or cue is a hairstyle in which the hair is worn long and gathered up into a ponytail. It was worn traditionally by certain Native American groups and the Manchu of Manchuria.-Manchu Queue:...

, on pain of death. The slogan of the order is: "To keep the hair, you lose the head; To keep your head, you cut the hair." To the Manchus, this policy was a test of loyalty and an aid in distinguishing friend from foe. For the Han Chinese, however, it was a humiliating reminder of Qing authority that challenged traditional Confucian
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 values.The Classic of Filial Piety (Xiaojing 孝經) states that "a person's body and hair, being gifts from one's parents, are not to be damaged" (身體髮膚,受之父母,不敢毀傷). Under the Ming Dynasty, adult men did not cut their hair but instead wore it in the form of a top-knot (Wakeman [1985], 648 n. 183). Before capturing Beijing, the Later Jin government implemented a mandatory shaving of the hair in Liaodong in the early 1620s, which led to a rebellion of the Han Chinese of this area in 1622 and 1625, resulting in the death of more than 500,000 people and a stricter separation between Han Chinese and Manchus such as prohibition of intermarriage.

The 1645 order was so deeply unpopular that it triggered strong resistance to Qing rule in Jiangnan
Jiangnan
Jiangnan or Jiang Nan is a geographic area in China referring to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including the southern part of the Yangtze Delta...

 until at least the late 1640s, resulting in massive killing of ethnic Han Chinese in this area. One well documented massacre was the triple massacres at Jiading, in which Li Chengdong, a Han Chinese general who previously served the Ming Dynasty but later surrendered to the Qing, ordered troops to carry out three separate massacres on the Jiading inhabitants within a month, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. At the end of the third massacre, there was hardly any living person left in this city.

On December 31, 1650, Dorgon suddenly died during a hunting expedition, marking the official start of the Shunzhi Emperor's personal rule. Because the emperor was only 12 years old at that time, most decisions were made on his behalf by his mother, the Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, who turned out to be a skilled political operator.

Although Dorgon's support had been essential to Shunzhi's ascent, Dorgon had through the years centralised so much power in his hands as to become a direct threat to the throne. So much so that upon his death he was extraordinarily bestowed the posthumous title of Emperor Yi , the only instance in Qing history in which a Manchu "prince of the blood" was so honored. Two months into Shunzhi's personal rule, Dorgon was not only stripped of his titles, but his corpse was disinterred and mutilated.This event was recorded by Italian Jesuit
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 Martin Martinius in his account Bellum Tartaricum with original text in Latin, first published in Rome 1654. First English edition, London: John Crook, 1654.
to atone for multiple "crimes", one of which was persecuting to death Shunzhi’s agnate eldest brother, Hooge
Hooge, Prince Su
Hooge was a prominent Manchu prince. He was the eldest son of Emperor Huang Taiji of the Qing Dynasty. He was the founder of the House of Prince Su .-Life:...

. More importantly, Dorgon's symbolic fall from grace also signalled a political purge of his family and associates at court, thus reverting power back to the person of the emperor. After a promising start, Shunzhi's reign was cut short by his early death in 1661 at the age of twenty-four from smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

. He was succeeded by his third son Xuanye, who reigned as the Kangxi Emperor
Kangxi Emperor
The Kangxi Emperor ; Manchu: elhe taifin hūwangdi ; Mongolian: Энх-Амгалан хаан, 4 May 1654 –20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the first to be born on Chinese soil south of the Pass and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1661 to 1722.Kangxi's...


The Kangxi Emperor's reign and consolidation



At sixty one years, the reign of Kangxi was the longest of any Chinese emperor
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

. But more importantly, apart from its length, Kangxi's reign is also celebrated as the beginning of an era called "Kang-Qian Golden Age" , also known as "High Qing", during which the Qing Dynasty reached the zenith of its social, economic and military power. Kangxi's long reign started when he was eight years old upon the untimely demise of his father. To prevent a repeat of Dorgon
Dorgon
Dorgon , also known as Hošoi Mergen Cin Wang, the Prince Rui , was one of the most influential Manchu princes in the early Qing Dynasty. He laid the groundwork for the Manchu rule of China.-Early life:Dorgon was born in Yenden, Manchuria , China...

's dictatorial monopolizing of state power during the period of regency, the Shunzhi Emperor, on his deathbed, hastily appointed four senior cabinet ministers to govern on behalf of his young son. The four ministers — Sonin
Sonin
Sonin, also known as Soni, and rarely Sony , was a senior regent of the Four Regents during Chinese Kangxi Emperor's minority in the Qing Dynasty. Sonin was from the Heseri clan, belonged to the Plain Yellow Banner....

, Ebilun
Ebilun
Ebilun was one of the Four Regents and an assistant minister appointed by the Shunzhi Emperor for his successor, Kangxi during the Qing Dynasty. Ebilun worked with Oboi to defeat Suksaha.His mother was the Aisin Gioro princess.-See also:**...

, Suksaha
Suksaha
Suksaha was a one of the Four Regents during the early reign of the Chinese Kangxi Emperor in the Qing Dynasty.Like his father Suna, he was from the Nara clan, but the family fought under the White Banner of the Manchu Eight Banners instead. During the Manchurian conquest of China, he was rewarded...

, and Oboi
Oboi
Oboi was a highly decorated Manchu military commander and courtier who served in various military and administrative posts under three successive Emperors of the early Qing Dynasty. He was one of four regents nominated by the Shunzhi Emperor to oversee the government during the Kangxi Emperor's...

 — were chosen for their long service to the emperor, but also to counteract each others' influences. Most importantly, the four were not closely related to the imperial family and laid no claim to the throne. However as time passed, through chance and machination, Oboi, the most junior of the four ministers, was able to achieve political dominance to such an extent as to become a potential threat to the crown. Even though Oboi's loyalty was never an issue, his personal arrogance and political conservatism led him to come into ever escalating conflict with the young Kangxi Emperor. In 1669 Kangxi, through trickery, disarmed and imprisoned Oboi — a not insignificant victory for the fifteen-year-old emperor, as Oboi was not only a wily old politician but also an experienced military commander.

The Manchus found controlling the "Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimaze rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of...

" a daunting task. The vastness of China's territory meant that there were only enough banner troops to garrison key cities forming the backbone of a defence network that relied heavily on surrendered Ming soldiers. In addition, three surrendered Ming generals were singled out for their contributions to the establishment of the Qing dynasty, ennobled as feudal princes (藩王), and given governorships over vast territories in Southern China. The chief of these was Wu Sangui
Wu Sangui
Wu Sangui was a Ming Chinese general who was instrumental in the succession of rule to the Qing Dynasty in 1644...

, who was given the provinces of Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 and Guizhou
Guizhou
' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its provincial capital city is Guiyang.- History :...

, while generals Shang Kexi
Shang Kexi
Shang Kexi was a chinese general of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. His family had migrated to Liaodong in 1576 and his father, Shangxue Li, served in the army guarding the northeast frontier. As his father did, Shang Kexi joined the army and guarded the frontier against the attack of the Jurchens...

 (尚可喜) and Geng Jingzhong (耿精忠) were given Guangdong
Guangdong
Guangdong is a province on the South China Sea coast of the People's Republic of China. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province...

 and Fujian
Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

 provinces respectively.


As the years went by, the three feudal lords and their territories inevitably became increasingly autonomous. Finally, in 1673, Shang Kexi petitioned the Kangxi Emperor, stating his desire to retire to his hometown in Liaodong province and nominating his son as his successor. The young emperor granted his retirement, but denied the heredity of his fief. In reaction, the two other generals decided to petition for their own retirements to test Kangxi's resolve, thinking that he would not risk offending them. The move backfired as the young emperor called their bluff by accepting their requests and ordering all three fiefdoms to be reverted back to the crown.

Faced with the stripping of their powers, Wu Sangui felt he had no choice but to rise up in revolt. He was joined by Geng Zhongming and by Shang Kexi's son Shang Zhixin (尚之信). The ensuing rebellion lasted for eight years. At the peak of the rebels' fortunes, they managed to extend their control as far north as the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

. Ultimately, though, the Qing government was able to put down the rebellion and exert control over all of southern China. The rebellion would be known in Chinese history as the Revolt of the Three Feudatories
Revolt of the Three Feudatories
The Revolt of the Three Feudatories was a rebellion in the Qing Dynasty during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor. The revolt was led by the three lords of the fiefdoms in Yunnan, Guangdong and Fujian provinces against the Qing central government....

.

To consolidate the dynasty, the Kangxi Emperor personally led a series of military campaigns against the Dzungars
Dzungar people
The Dzungar or Zunghar is the collective identity of several Oirat tribes that formed and maintained the Zunghar Khanate in the 17th to 18th century...

, and later the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. He arranged the marriage of his daughter to the Mongol leader Galdan Boshugtu Khan to avoid a military conflict. Galdan's military campaign against the Qing Empire failed, further strengthening the power of the dynasty. During Kangxi's reign, Outer Mongolia
Outer Mongolia
Outer Mongolia was a territory of the Qing Dynasty = the Manchu Empire. Its area was roughly equivalent to that of the modern state of Mongolia, which is sometimes informally called "Outer Mongolia" today...

 and Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 were invaded by the Dzungars and asked for help from China. The Kangxi Emperor was able to successfully expel Galdan's invading forces from these regions, which were then incorporated into the empire. Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 was also conquered by Qing forces in 1683 from Zheng Keshuang, grandson of Koxinga
Koxinga
Koxinga is the customary Western spelling of the popular appellation of Zheng Chenggong , a military leader who was born in 1624 in Hirado, Japan to Zheng Zhilong, a Chinese merchant/pirate, and his Japanese wife and died in 1662 on the island of Formosa .A Ming loyalist and the arch commander of...

. Koxinga had conquered Taiwan from the Dutch
Dutch Empire
The Dutch Empire consisted of the overseas territories controlled by the Dutch Republic and later, the modern Netherlands from the 17th to the 20th century. The Dutch followed Portugal and Spain in establishing an overseas colonial empire, but based on military conquest of already-existing...

 colonists to use it as a base against the Qing Dynasty. By the end of the 17th century, China was at its greatest height of power since the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

.

The Kangxi Emperor also handled many Jesuit
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 missionaries that came to China. A series of missionaries, including Tomás Pereira
Thomas Pereira
Thomas Pereira or Tomás Pereira , also known as Tomé Pereira, was a Portuguese Jesuit and musician who worked as a missionary in Qing China....

, Martino Martini
Martino Martini
Martino Martini was an Italian Jesuit missionary, cartographer and historian, mainly working on ancient Imperial China.-Early years:Martini was born in Trento, in the Bishopric of Trent...

, Johann Adam Schall von Bell
Johann Adam Schall von Bell
Johann Adam Schall von Bell was a German Jesuit and astronomer. He spent most of his life as a missionary in China and became an adviser to the Chinese emperor.- Life :...

, Ferdinand Verbiest
Ferdinand Verbiest
Father Ferdinand Verbiest was a Flemish Jesuit missionary in China during the Qing dynasty. He was born in Pittem near Tielt in Flanders, later part of the modern state of Belgium. He is known as Nan Huairen in Chinese...

 and Antoine Thomas
Antoine Thomas
Antoine Thomas was a Belgian Jesuit priest, missionary and astronomer in China.- Early life :Born in Namur in 1644, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1660 and first taught in the schools of Armentières, Huy and Tournai...

, also held significant positions as mathematicians, astronomers and advisers to the emperor.

Reigns of the Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors


The reigns of the Yongzheng Emperor
Yongzheng Emperor
The Yongzheng Emperor , born Yinzhen , was the fifth emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty and the third Qing emperor from 1722 to 1735. A hard-working ruler, Yongzheng's main goal was to create an effective government at minimal expense. Like his father, the Kangxi Emperor, Yongzheng used military...

 (r. 1723–1735) and his son, the Qianlong Emperor
Qianlong Emperor
The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, he reigned officially from 11 October 1735 to 8 February 1796...

 (r. 1735–1796), marked the height of the Qing Dynasty's power. During this period, the Qing Empire ruled over 13 million square kilometres of territory.

After the Kangxi Emperor's death in the winter of 1722, his fourth son, Prince Yong (雍親王), succeeded him as the Yongzheng Emperor. Yongzheng remained a controversial character because of rumours about him usurping the throne, and in the late years of Kangxi's reign, he was involved in great political struggles with his brothers. Yongzheng was a hardworking administrator who ruled with an iron hand. His first big step towards a stronger regime came when he brought the State Examination System
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

 back to its original standards. In 1724, he cracked down on illegal exchange rates of coins, which was being manipulated by officials to fit their financial needs. Those who were found in violation of new laws on finances were removed from office, or in extreme cases, executed.
Yongzheng showed a great amount of trust in Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 officials, and appointed many of his proteges to prestigious positions. Nian Gengyao
Nian Gengyao
Nian Gengyao Nian Gengyao Nian Gengyao (Manchu: niyan geng yoo)was a Chinese military commander of the Qing Dynasty. He was born a member of the Chinese Bordered Yellow Banner and had extensive military experience on the western frontier of the Qing empire...

 was appointed to lead a military campaign in place of his brother Yinti
Yinti, Prince Xun
Yinti , born Yinzhen of the Aisin Gioro clan, was the 14th son of the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. He was born to Empress Xiaogongren and was a full younger brother of the Yongzheng Emperor. As his original name was similar to Yongzheng's personal name, Yinzhen , it was changed to Yinti...

 in Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

.

More territory was incorporated in the northwest. Starting in 1727, Qing imperial residents
Amban
Amban is a Manchu word meaning "high official," which corresponds to a number of different official titles in the Qing imperial government...

 were stationed in Lhasa
Lhasa
Lhasa is the administrative capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China and the second most populous city on the Tibetan Plateau, after Xining. At an altitude of , Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world...

, and commanded over Qing garrisons in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

. A toughened stance was directed toward corrupt officials, and Yongzheng led the creation of a Grand Council
Grand Council
The Grand Council or Junjichu was an important policy-making body in the Qing Empire. It was established in 1733 by the Yongzheng Emperor...

, which grew to become the de facto cabinet for the rest of the dynasty.

The Yongzheng Emperor died in 1735. This was followed by the succession of his son, Prince Bao (寶親王), as the Qianlong Emperor. Qianlong was known as an able general. Succeeding the throne at the age of 24, Qianlong personally led the military in campaigns near Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

 and Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

. Revolts and uprisings in Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 and parts of southern China were successfully put down, and the control over Tibet was strengthened.

The Qianlong Emperor also launched several ambitious cultural projects, such as the compilation of Siku Quanshu
Siku Quanshu
The Siku Quanshu, variously translated as the Imperial Collection of Four, Emperor's Four Treasuries, Complete Library in Four Branches of Literature, or Complete Library of the Four Treasuries, is the largest collection of books in Chinese history and probably the most ambitious editorial...

, or Complete Library in Four Branches of Literature. With a total of over 3,400 books, 79,000 chapters, and 36,304 volumes, Siku Quanshu is the largest collection of books in Chinese history as well as the largest series of books ever edited by the feudal authority. Nevertheless, Qianlong had used Literary Inquisition
Literary Inquisition
Literary Inquisition refers to official persecution of intellectuals for their writings in Imperial China. Wénzìyù took place under each of the dynasties ruling China, although the Qing was particularly notorious for the practise. Such persecutions could owe even to a single phrase or word which...

 to silence opposition. The accusation of individuals began with the emperor's own interpretation of the true meaning of the corresponding words. If the emperor decided these were derogatory or cynical towards the dynasty, persecution would begin. Literary inquisition began with isolated cases in the times of Shunzhi and Kangxi, but had become a pattern during Qianlong's reign, during which there were 53 cases of literary persecution.

During the late years of Qianlong's reign, the Qing government saw a return of rampant corruption. Heshen
Heshen
Heshen or Hešen , from the Manchu Niohuru clan, was a Manchu official of the Qing Dynasty, a favourite of the Qianlong Emperor. Born Shanbao , his given name was later changed to Heshen. His courtesy name was Zhizhai . He was a member of the Plain Red Banner, as well as one of the most corrupt...

 was arguably one of the most corrupt officials in the entire history of the Qing Dynasty. Heshen was eventually forced into committing suicide by Qianlong's son, the Jiaqing Emperor
Jiaqing Emperor
The Jiaqing Emperor was the seventh emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the fifth Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1796 to 1820....

 (r. 1796–1820).

In 1796 open rebellion by the White Lotus Society
White Lotus
White Lotus was a type of Buddhist sectarianism that appealed to many Han Chinese, who found solace in worship of the "Unborn or Eternal Venerable Mother" , who was to gather all her children at the millennium into one family....

 against the Qing government broke out. The White Lotus Rebellion
White Lotus Rebellion
The White Lotus Rebellion was a rebellion that occurred during the Qing Dynasty of China. It broke out in 1796 among impoverished settlers in the mountainous region that separates Sichuan province from Hubei and Shaanxi provinces...

 continued for eight years, until 1804, and marked a turning point in the history of the Qing Dynasty.

Rebellion, unrest and external pressure


A common view of 19th-century China is that it was an era in which Qing control weakened and prosperity diminished. Indeed, China suffered massive social strife, economic stagnation and explosive population growth which placed an increasing strain on food supply. Historians offer various explanations for these events, but the basic idea is that Qing power was, over the course of the century, faced with internal problems and natural disasters which were simply too much for the Chinese government, bureaucracy, and economy to deal with.

The Taiping Rebellion
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

 in the mid-19th century was the first major instance of anti-Manchu sentiment threatening the stability of the Qing Dynasty, which significantly weakened the power of the Qing Dynasty. Hong Xiuquan
Hong Xiuquan
Hong Xiuquan , born Hong Renkun, style name Huoxiu , was a Hakka Chinese who led the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty, establishing the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom over varying portions of southern China, with himself as the "Heavenly King" and self-proclaimed brother of Jesus Christ.-Early...

, a failed civil service
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

 candidate, led the Taiping Rebellion, amid widespread social unrest and worsening famine. In 1851 Hong Xiuquan and others launched an uprising in Guizhou
Guizhou
' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its provincial capital city is Guiyang.- History :...

 province, established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom
The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom was an oppositional state in China from 1851 to 1864, established by Hong Xiuquan, the leader of the Taiping Rebellion...

 with Hong himself as king, claiming he often had visions of God and that he was the brother of Jesus Christ. Slavery, concubinage, arranged marriage, opium smoking, footbinding, judicial torture, and the worship of idols were all banned. However, success and subsequent authority and power led to internal feuds, defections and corruption. In addition, British and French troops, equipped with modern weapons, had come to the assistance of the Qing imperial army. It was not until 1864 that Qing army succeeded in crushing the revolt. The rebellion not only posed the most serious threat towards Qing rulers; it was also "the costliest (human life) civil war in history and second bloodiest war of any kind, being only exceeded in casualties by World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Between 20 and 30 million people died during its fourteen-year course from 1850 to 1864." After the outbreak of this rebellion, there were also revolts by the Muslim
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

s and Miao people
Miao people
The Miao or ม้ง ; ) is an ethnic group recognized by the government of the People's Republic of China as one of the 55 official minority groups. Miao is a Chinese term and does not reflect the self-designations of the component nations of people, which include Hmong, Hmu, A Hmao, and Kho Xiong...

 of China against the Qing Dynasty, most notably in the Dungan revolt (1862–1877) in the northwest and the Panthay Rebellion (1856–1873) in Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

.

Although there had been a horrific number of casualties from the Taiping Rebellion and much of the southern lands had been completely devastated, these are often overshadowed by external issues. Changes in technology and ideology in the outside world were dramatic. These ideas and technologies had a tremendous, and ultimately revolutionary, impact on an increasingly weak and uncertain Qing regime.

19th-century China struggled with the concept of international and state to state relations. Prior to the 19th-century, the Chinese empire
Late Imperial China
Late Imperial China refers to the period between the end of Mongol rule in 1368 and the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912 and includes the Ming and Qing Dynasties...

 was generally the hegemonic power in East Asia. Under its imperial theory, the Chinese emperor had the rights to rule "all under heaven". Depending on the period and dynasty, it either ruled territories directly or neighbors fell under its hierarchical tributary system. Historians often refer to the underlying concept of the Chinese empire as "an empire with no boundary". However, the 18th century saw the European empires gradually expand across the world, as European states developed stronger economies built on maritime trade. European colonies had been established in nearby India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and on the islands that are now part of Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, whilst the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 had annexed the areas north of China. In 1793, Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 attempted to forge an alliance with China, sending the Macartney Embassy
Macartney Embassy
The Macartney Embassy, also called the Macartney Mission, was a British embassy to China in 1793. The Mission ran from 1792–94 . It is named for the first envoy of Great Britain to China, George Macartney, who led the endeavour...

 to Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 with gifts for the emperor, including examples of the latest European technologies and art. When the British delegation received a letter from Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 explaining that China was unimpressed with European achievements, and that George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 was welcome to pay homage to the Chinese court, the deeply offended British government aborted all further attempts to reconcile relations with the Qing regime.


When the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 ended in 1815, world trade rapidly increased, and as China's vast population offered large markets for European goods, trade between Chinese and European merchants expanded during the early years of the 19th century. This increased trade, though, led to increasing hostility between European governments and the Qing regime.

In 1793, the Qianlong Emperor stated to the British ambassador Lord Macartney
George Macartney, 1st Earl Macartney
George Macartney, 1st Earl Macartney, KB was an Irish-born British statesman, colonial administrator and diplomat. He is often remembered for his observation following Britain's success in the Seven Years War and subsequent territorial expansion at the Treaty of Paris that Britain now controlled...

 that China had no use for European manufactured products. Consequently, leading Chinese merchants only accepted bar silver as payment for their goods. The huge demand in Europe for Chinese goods such as silk, tea, and ceramics could only be met if European companies funnelled their limited supplies of silver into China. By the late 1830s, the governments of Great Britain and France were deeply concerned about their stockpiles of precious metals and sought alternate trading schemes with China — the foremost of which was addicting China to opium. When the Qing regime tried to ban the opium trade in 1838, Great Britain declared war on China.


The First Opium War
First Opium War
The First Anglo-Chinese War , known popularly as the First Opium War or simply the Opium War, was fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing Dynasty of China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice...

 revealed the outdated state of the Chinese military. The Qing navy, composed entirely of wooden sailing junks
Junk (ship)
A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing vessel design still in use today. Junks were developed during the Han Dynasty and were used as sea-going vessels as early as the 2nd century AD. They evolved in the later dynasties, and were used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages...

, was severely outclassed by the modern tactics and firepower of the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. British soldiers, using modern rifles and artillery, easily outmaneuvered and outgunned Qing forces in ground battles. The Qing surrender in 1842 marked a decisive, humiliating blow to China. The Treaty of Nanjing
Treaty of Nanking
The Treaty of Nanking was signed on 29 August 1842 to mark the end of the First Opium War between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Qing Dynasty of China...

, which demanded reparation
War reparations
War reparations are payments intended to cover damage or injury during a war. Generally, the term war reparations refers to money or goods changing hands, rather than such property transfers as the annexation of land.- History :...

 payments, allowed unrestricted European access to Chinese ports, and ceded Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island is an island in the southern part of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It has a population of 1,289,500 and its population density is 16,390/km², as of 2008...

 to Great Britain. It revealed many inadequacies in the Qing government and provoked widespread rebellions against the already hugely unpopular regime.

The Western powers, largely unsatisfied with the Treaty of Nanjing, only gave grudging support to the Qing government during the Taiping
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

 and Nien Rebellion
Nien Rebellion
The Nien Rebellion was an armed uprising that took place in northern China from 1851 to 1868, contemporaneously with Taiping Rebellion in South China...

s. China's income fell sharply during the wars as vast areas of farmland were destroyed, millions of lives lost, and countless armies raised and equipped to fight the rebels. In 1854, Great Britain tried to re-negotiate the Treaty of Nanjing, inserting clauses allowing British commercial access to Chinese rivers and the creation of a permanent British embassy at Beijing. This last clause outraged the Qing regime, who refused to sign, provoking another war with Britain. The Second Opium War
Second Opium War
The Second Opium War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the British Empire and the Second French Empire against the Qing Dynasty of China, lasting from 1856 to 1860...

 ended in another crushing Chinese defeat, whilst the Treaty of Tientsin
Treaty of Tientsin
Several documents known as the "Treaty of Tien-tsin" were signed in Tianjin in June 1858, ending the first part of the Second Opium War . The Second French Empire, United Kingdom, Russian Empire, and the United States were the parties involved...

 contained clauses deeply insulting to the Chinese, such as a demand that all official Chinese documents be written in English and a proviso granting British warships unlimited access to all navigable Chinese rivers.

Rule of Empress Dowager Cixi



The Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi1 , of the Manchu Yehenara clan, was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China for 47 years from 1861 to her death in 1908....

 (also spelled as Tsu-hsi), concubine
Concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

 to the Xianfeng Emperor
Xianfeng Emperor
The Xianfeng Emperor , born Aisin-Gioro I Ju, was the ninth Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, and the seventh Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1850 to 1861.-Family and his early years:...

 (r. 1850–1861) came to power in 1861 during the Xinyou Coup, when, with the help of Prince Gong, she ousted eight regents (led by Sushun
Sushun
Sushun ; Styled: Yuting was born in the Manchu Aisin-Gioro Clan as the sixth son of Ulgungga , the Prince Zheng....

) whom the Xianfeng Emperor had appointed on his deathbed to rule for the child emperor Tongzhi
Tongzhi Emperor
The Tongzhi Emperor , born Aisin-Gioro Dzai Šun, was the tenth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the eighth Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1861 to 1875. His reign, which effectively lasted through his adolescence, was largely overshadowed by the rule of his mother, the Empress...

, Cixi's son. For 47 years in the Tongzhi era (1862–1874) and during the reign of her nephew, the Guangxu Emperor
Guangxu Emperor
The Guangxu Emperor , born Zaitian of the Aisin-Gioro clan, was the eleventh emperor of the Manchurian Qing Dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China. His reign lasted from 1875 to 1908, but in practice he ruled, under Empress Dowager Cixi's influence, only from 1889 to 1898...

 (1875–1908), Cixi was the de facto ruler of China and the Qing Empire. She was known for "ruling from behind the curtain" .

By the 1860s, the Qing Dynasty had put down the rebellions with the help of militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 organized by the gentry. The Qing government then proceeded to deal with the problem of modernization, which it attempted with the Self-Strengthening Movement
Self-Strengthening Movement
The Self-Strengthening Movement , c 1861–1895, was a period of institutional reforms initiated during the late Qing Dynasty following a series of military defeats and concessions to foreign powers....

. Several institutional reforms were initiated in China, including the formation of modernized armies, such as the Beiyang Army
Beiyang Army
The Beiyang Army was a powerful, Western-style Chinese military force created by the Qing Dynasty government in the late 19th century. It was the centerpiece of a general reconstruction of China's military system. The Beiyang Army played a major role in Chinese politics for at least three decades...

. However, the fleets of "Beiyang" were annihilated in the First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of Korea...

 (1894–1895), which produced calls for greater and more extensive reform. After the start of the 20th century, the Qing Dynasty was in a dilemma.

From 1889 to 1898, the empress dowager lived in the Summer Palace
Summer Palace
The Summer Palace is a palace in Beijing, China. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water....

 in semi-retirement. After losing to Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Guangxu Emperor initiated the Hundred Days' Reform
Hundred Days' Reform
The Hundred Days' Reform was a failed 104-day national cultural, political and educational reform movement from 11 June to 21 September 1898 in late Qing Dynasty China. It was undertaken by the young Guangxu Emperor and his reform-minded supporters...

, in which new laws were put in place and some old rules were abolished. Newer, more progressive-minded thinkers like Kang Youwei
Kang Youwei
Kang Youwei , was a Chinese scholar, noted calligrapher and prominent political thinker and reformer of the late Qing Dynasty. He led movements to establish a constitutional monarchy and was an ardent Chinese nationalist. His ideas inspired a reformation movement that was supported by the Guangxu...

 were trusted and recognized conservative-minded people like Li Hongzhang
Li Hongzhang
Li Hongzhang or Li Hung-chang , Marquis Suyi of the First Class , GCVO, was a leading statesman of the late Qing Empire...

 were removed from high positions. The empress dowager then returned to the imperial court to call off the emperor's reform, and at the same time put him under house arrest and ordered eunuchs faithful to her to keep watch. Cixi continued to centralise her own power base. On her sixtieth birthday, she spent over 30 million taels of silver for the decorations & events, funds that were originally planned to improve the weaponry of the Beiyang Fleet
Beiyang Fleet
The Beiyang Fleet was one of the four modernised Chinese navies in the late Qing Dynasty. Among the four, the Beiyang Fleet was particularly sponsored by Li Hongzhang, one of the most trusted vassals of Empress Dowager Cixi and the principal patron of the "self-strengthening movement" in northern...

.

In 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

, following the murder of the German ambassador by the Righteous Harmony Society, the Eight-Nation Alliance
Eight-Nation Alliance
The Eight-Nation Alliance was an alliance of Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States whose military forces intervened in China to suppress the anti-foreign Boxers and relieve the siege of the diplomatic legations in Beijing .- Events :The...

 entered China as a united military force for the second time. Cixi reacted by declaring war on all eight nations, only to lose control of Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 within a short period of time. Along with the Guangxu Emperor, she fled to Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

. As a military compensation, the alliance listed scores of demands on the Qing government, including an initial hit list, which had Cixi's name as the first on it. Li Hongzhang was sent to negotiate and the alliance backed down from several of the demands.


The Boxer Rebellion's initial objectives were to overthrow the Qing imperial court and expel all "foreign devils" from China. Empress Dowager Cixi had decided to remotely control and, at the same time, intensify the Boxer movement through her ministers. Not long after, the Boxers' banner had a new slogan: "Support Qing; destroy the foreigners!". In early 1900 an imperial edict released by the empress dowager stated that "secret societies were part of Chinese culture and were not criminal".

When the Eight-Nation Alliance's armies marched into Beijing, Cixi fled the capital only to accept peace terms by paying the foreign powers huge amounts of silver. Before her death, on November 15, 1908, she allegedly ordered her trusted eunuchs to poison the Guangxu Emperor.

Fall of the dynasty



By the early 20th century, mass civil disorder had begun and continuously grown. To overcome such problems, Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi1 , of the Manchu Yehenara clan, was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China for 47 years from 1861 to her death in 1908....

 issued an imperial edict in 1901 calling for reform proposals from the governors-general and governors and initiated the era of the dynasty's "New Policy", also known as the "Late Qing Reform". The edict paved the way for the most far-reaching reforms in terms of their social consequences, including the creation of a national education system and the abolition of the imperial examination
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

s in 1905. However, Cixi and the Guangxu Emperor
Guangxu Emperor
The Guangxu Emperor , born Zaitian of the Aisin-Gioro clan, was the eleventh emperor of the Manchurian Qing Dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China. His reign lasted from 1875 to 1908, but in practice he ruled, under Empress Dowager Cixi's influence, only from 1889 to 1898...

 both died in 1908, leaving a relatively powerless and unstable central authority. Puyi
Puyi
Puyi , of the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan, was the last Emperor of China, and the twelfth and final ruler of the Qing Dynasty. He ruled as the Xuantong Emperor from 1908 until his abdication on 12 February 1912. From 1 to 12 July 1917 he was briefly restored to the throne as a nominal emperor by the...

, the oldest son of Prince Zaifeng
Zaifeng, 2nd Prince Chun
The 2nd Prince Chun was born Zaifeng , of the Manchu Aisin-Gioro clan . He was the leader of China between 1908 and 1911, serving as regent for his son Puyi, the Xuantong Emperor.His courtesy name was Yiyun...

, was appointed successor at the age of two, leaving Zaifeng with the regency. This was followed by the dismissal of General Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai was an important Chinese general and politician famous for his influence during the late Qing Dynasty, his role in the events leading up to the abdication of the last Qing Emperor of China, his autocratic rule as the second President of the Republic of China , and his short-lived...

 from his former positions of power. In April 1911 Zaifeng created a cabinet, in which there were two vice-premiers. Nevertheless, this cabinet was also known by contemporaries as "The Royal Cabinet" because among the thirteen cabinet members, five were members of the imperial family or Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro was the family name of the Manchu emperors of the Qing Dynasty. The House of Aisin Gioro ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which established a republican government in its place. The word aisin means gold in the Manchu language, and "gioro" is the name of the place in...

 relatives. This brought a wide range of negative opinions from senior officials like Zhang Zhidong
Zhang Zhidong
Zhang Zhidong ; Pseudonyms: Xiāngtāo , Xiāngyán , Yīgōng , Wújìng-Jūshì , later Bàobīng ; Posthumous name: Wénxiāng ) was an eminent Chinese politician during the late Qing Dynasty who advocated for controlled reform...

.

The Wuchang Uprising
Wuchang Uprising
The Wuchang Uprising began with the dissatisfaction of the handling of a railway crisis. The crisis then escalated to an uprising where the revolutionaries went up against Qing government officials. The uprising was then assisted by the New Army in a coup against their own authorities in the city...

 succeeded on October 10, 1911, which led to the creation of the new central government, the Republic of China
Republic of China (1912–1949)
In 1911, after over two thousand years of imperial rule, a republic was established in China and the monarchy overthrown by a group of revolutionaries. The Qing Dynasty, having just experienced a century of instability, suffered from both internal rebellion and foreign imperialism...

, in Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 with Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen was a Chinese doctor, revolutionary and political leader. As the foremost pioneer of Nationalist China, Sun is frequently referred to as the "Father of the Nation" , a view agreed upon by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China...

 as its provisional head. Many provinces began "separating" from Qing control. Seeing a desperate situation unfold, the Qing government brought an unwilling Yuan Shikai back to military power, taking control of his Beiyang Army
Beiyang Army
The Beiyang Army was a powerful, Western-style Chinese military force created by the Qing Dynasty government in the late 19th century. It was the centerpiece of a general reconstruction of China's military system. The Beiyang Army played a major role in Chinese politics for at least three decades...

, with the initial goal of crushing the revolutionaries. After taking the position of Prime Minister and creating his own cabinet, Yuan Shikai went as far as to ask for the removal of Zaifeng from the regency. This removal later proceeded with directions from Empress Dowager Longyu
Empress Dowager Longyu
Empress Xiao Ding Jing ; is better known as the Empress Dowager Longyu , . Also , she had the nickname was Xizi (喜子). Empress Xiao Ding Jing was the Qing Dynasty Empress Consort of the Guangxu Emperor who ruled China from 1875 till 1908...

.

With Zaifeng gone, Yuan Shikai and his Beiyang commanders effectively dominated Qing politics. He reasoned that going to war would be unreasonable and costly, especially when noting that the Qing government had a goal for constitutional monarchy. Similarly, Sun Yat-sen's government wanted a republican constitutional reform, both aiming for the benefit of China's economy and populace. With permission from Empress Dowager Longyu, Yuan Shikai began negotiating with Sun Yat-sen, who decided that his goal had been achieved in forming a republic, and that therefore he could allow Yuan to step into the position of President of the Republic of China. In 1912, after rounds of negotiations, Longyu issued an imperial edict bringing about the abdication of the child emperor Puyi.

The collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1912 brought an end to over 2,000 years of imperial China and began an extended period of instability of warlord factionalism
Warlord era
The Chinese Warlord Era was the period in the history of the Republic of China, from 1916 to 1928, when the country was divided among military cliques, a division that continued until the fall of the Nationalist government in the mainland China regions of Sichuan, Shanxi, Qinghai, Ningxia,...

. The unorganized political and economic systems combined with a widespread criticism of Chinese culture led to questioning and doubt about the future. In the 1930s, the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 invaded Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 and founded Manchukuo
Manchukuo
Manchukuo or Manshū-koku was a puppet state in Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia, governed under a form of constitutional monarchy. The region was the historical homeland of the Manchus, who founded the Qing Empire in China...

 in 1934, with Puyi, as the nominal regent and emperor. After the invasion by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, Manchukuo collapsed in 1945.

Administrative divisions



Qing China reached its largest extent during the 18th century, when it ruled China proper
China proper
China proper or Eighteen Provinces was a term used by Western writers on the Qing Dynasty to express a distinction between the core and frontier regions of China. There is no fixed extent for China proper, as many administrative, cultural, and linguistic shifts have occurred in Chinese history...

 as well as Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 (Northeast China
Northeast China
Northeast China, historically known in English as Manchuria, is a geographical region of China, consisting of the three provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang. The region is sometimes called the Three Northeast Provinces...

), Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

, Outer Mongolia
Outer Mongolia
Outer Mongolia was a territory of the Qing Dynasty = the Manchu Empire. Its area was roughly equivalent to that of the modern state of Mongolia, which is sometimes informally called "Outer Mongolia" today...

, Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

 and Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

, at approximately 13 million km2 in size. There were originally 18 provinces, all of which in China proper, but later this number was increased to 22, with Manchuria and Xinjiang being divided or turned into provinces. Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, originally part of Fujian
Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

 province, became a province of its own in the 19th century, but was ceded to the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 following the First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of Korea...

 by the end of the century. In addition, many surrounding countries, such as Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 (Joseon Dynasty
Joseon Dynasty
Joseon , was a Korean state founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul...

), Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, were tributary state
Tributary state
The term tributary state refers to one of the two main ways in which a pre-modern state might be subordinate to a more powerful neighbour. The heart of the relationship was that the tributary would send a regular token of submission to the superior power...

s of China during much of this period.
  1. Northern and southern circuits of Tian Shan
    Tian Shan
    The Tian Shan , also spelled Tien Shan, is a large mountain system located in Central Asia. The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Victory Peak , ....

     (later became Xinjiang
    Xinjiang
    Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

     province) - including several small semi-autonomous khanates such as Kumul Khanate
    Kumul Khanate
    The Kumul Khanate was a semi-autonomous feudal khanate within the Qing dynasty and then the Republic of China until it was abolished by Xinjiang governor Jin Shuren in 1930.- History :...

  2. Outer Mongolia
    Outer Mongolia
    Outer Mongolia was a territory of the Qing Dynasty = the Manchu Empire. Its area was roughly equivalent to that of the modern state of Mongolia, which is sometimes informally called "Outer Mongolia" today...

     - Khalkha, Kobdo league, Köbsgöl, Tannu Urianha
    Tannu Uriankhai
    Tannu Uriankhai is a historic region of the Mongol Empire and, later, the Qing Dynasty. The realms of Tannu Uriankhai largely correspond to the Tuva Republic of the Russian Federation, neighboring areas in Russia, and a part of the modern state of Mongolia....

  3. Inner Mongolia
    Inner Mongolia
    Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

     - 6 leagues (Jirim, Josotu, Juu Uda, Shilingol, Ulaan Chab, Ihe Juu)
  4. Other Mongolian leagues - Alshaa khoshuu (League-level khoshuu), Ejine khoshuu, Ili khoshuu (in Xinjiang
    Xinjiang
    Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

    ), Köke Nuur
    Qinghai
    Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

     league; directly ruled areas: Dariganga
    Dariganga
    The Dariganga are an eastern Mongol subgroup who mainly live in Dari Ovoo and Ganga Lake, Sukhbaatar Province.It is believed that the Dariganga were resettled by the Qing Dynasty from Chahar, Khalkha and Ööled to herd horses of the Emperor in the late 1690s.From 1912 on, a Ministry of Internal...

     (Special region designated as Emperor's pasture), Guihua Tümed
    Hohhot
    Hohhot , is a city in north-central China and the capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, serving as the region's administrative, economic, and cultural centre....

    , Chakhar, Hulunbuir
    Hulunbuir
    Hulunbuir is a region that is governed as a prefecture-level city in northeastern Inner Mongolia, in the People's Republic of China. Its administrative center is located at Hailar District, its largest urban area. Major scenic features are the high steppes of the Hulun Buir grasslands, the Hulun...

  5. Tibet
    Tibet
    Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

     (Ü-Tsang
    Ü-Tsang
    Ü-Tsang , or Tsang-Ü, is one of the three traditional provinces of Tibet, the other two being Amdo and Kham. Geographically Ü-Tsang covered the central and western portions of the Tibetan cultural area, including the Tsang-po watershed, the western districts surrounding and extending past Mount...

     and western Kham
    Kham
    Kham , is a historical region covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibetan Autonomous Region and Sichuan province, with smaller portions located within Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces of China. During the Republic of China's rule over mainland China , most of the region was...

    , approximately the area of present-day Tibet Autonomous Region
    Tibet Autonomous Region
    The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

    )
  6. Manchuria
    Manchuria
    Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

     (Northeast China, later became provinces)
  7. Eighteen provinces (China proper
    China proper
    China proper or Eighteen Provinces was a term used by Western writers on the Qing Dynasty to express a distinction between the core and frontier regions of China. There is no fixed extent for China proper, as many administrative, cultural, and linguistic shifts have occurred in Chinese history...

    provinces)
    1. Zhili
      Zhili
      Zhílì was a northern province in China from the Ming Dynasty until the province was dissolved in 1928 during the Republic of China era.-History:...

    2. Henan
      Henan
      Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

    3. Shandong
      Shandong
      ' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

    4. Shanxi
      Shanxi
      ' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

    5. Shaanxi
      Shaanxi
      ' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

    6. Gansu
      Gansu
      ' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

    7. Hubei
      Hubei
      ' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

    8. Hunan
      Hunan
      ' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

    9. Guangdong
      Guangdong
      Guangdong is a province on the South China Sea coast of the People's Republic of China. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province...

    10. Guangxi
      Guangxi
      Guangxi, formerly romanized Kwangsi, is a province of southern China along its border with Vietnam. In 1958, it became the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, a region with special privileges created specifically for the Zhuang people.Guangxi's location, in...

    11. Sichuan
      Sichuan
      ' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

    12. Yunnan
      Yunnan
      Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

    13. Guizhou
      Guizhou
      ' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its provincial capital city is Guiyang.- History :...

    14. Jiangsu
      Jiangsu
      ' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

    15. Jiangxi
      Jiangxi
      ' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

    16. Zhejiang
      Zhejiang
      Zhejiang is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital...

    17. Fujian
      Fujian
      ' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

       (incl. Taiwan until 1885)
    18. Anhui
      Anhui
      Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

  8. Additional provinces in the late Qing Dynasty
    1. Xinjiang
      Xinjiang
      Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

    2. Taiwan
      Taiwan
      Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

       (until 1895)
    3. Fengtian
      Fengtian
      Fengtian is:* The name of an old prefecture under which Shenyang city was administered. Abolished in 1910.* The former name of Liaoning province from 1907 to 1929. Under the Manchukuo regime, the name was revived, but was again abolished in 1945....

      , later renamed and known today as Liaoning
      Liaoning
      ' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the northeast of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "辽" , a name taken from the Liao River that flows through the province. "Níng" means "peace"...

    4. Jilin
      Jilin
      Jilin , is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeastern part of the country. Jilin borders North Korea and Russia to the east, Heilongjiang to the north, Liaoning to the south, and Inner Mongolia to the west...

    5. Heilongjiang
      Heilongjiang
      For the river known in Mandarin as Heilong Jiang, see Amur River' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeastern part of the country. "Heilongjiang" literally means Black Dragon River, which is the Chinese name for the Amur. The one-character abbreviation is 黑...


Territory administrations



The original provinces of Qing China was based on the fifteen administrative units set up by the Ming Dynasty, though some minor reforms took place to become the eighteen provinces (for example, Huguang
Huguang
Huguang was a province of China during the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. It was partitioned in the late Qing Dynasty, becoming the provinces of Hubei and Hunan....

 was split into Hubei and Hunan provinces). Adopted the model used by the Yuan and Ming dynasties, the Qing provincial bureaucracy also contained three commissions: one civil, one military, and one for surveillance. Each province
Province (China)
A province, in the context of Chinese government, is a translation of sheng formally provincial level divisions, which is an administrative division. Provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions, and the special administrative regions, make up the four types of province of administrative division...

 was governed by a civil official called xunfu and a military official called tidu . Below the level of the province were prefectures
Prefecture (China)
The term Prefectures, or the more formal prefectural level divisions, in the context of China, is used to refer to several unrelated political divisions in both ancient and modern China. Other than provincial level divisions, prefectural level divisions are not mentioned in the Chinese constitution...

  operating under a prefect , followed by subprefectures under a subprefect. The lowest unit was the county, overseen by a magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer of the state; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge or prosecutor. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law systems, a...

. These areas under the administration of the eighteen provinces are also known as "China proper". The position of viceroy or governor-general was the highest rank in the provincial administration. There were eight regional viceroys in China proper, each usually took charge of two or three provinces. The Viceroy of Zhili
Viceroy of Zhili
The Viceroy of Zhili , fully referred to as the Governor General of Zhili and surrounding areas; Overseeing Military Affairs, Food Production; Manager of Waterways; Director of Civil Affairs , was one of eight regional viceroys in China proper during the Qing Dynasty of China...

, who was responsible for the area surrounding the capital Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, is usually considered as the most honorable and powerful viceroy among the eight.
  1. Viceroy of Zhili
    Viceroy of Zhili
    The Viceroy of Zhili , fully referred to as the Governor General of Zhili and surrounding areas; Overseeing Military Affairs, Food Production; Manager of Waterways; Director of Civil Affairs , was one of eight regional viceroys in China proper during the Qing Dynasty of China...

    in charge of Zhili
    Zhili
    Zhílì was a northern province in China from the Ming Dynasty until the province was dissolved in 1928 during the Republic of China era.-History:...

  2. Viceroy of Shaan-Ganin charge of Shaanxi
    Shaanxi
    ' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

     and Gansu
    Gansu
    ' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

  3. Viceroy of Liangjiang
    Viceroy of Liangjiang
    The Viceroy of Liangjiang , fully referred to as the Governor General of the two Yangtze Provinces and surrounding areas; Overseeing Military Affairs, Food Production; Manager of Waterways; Director of Civil Affairs , was one of eight regional viceroys in China proper during the Qing Dynasty of China...

    in charge of Jiangsu
    Jiangsu
    ' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

    , Jiangxi
    Jiangxi
    ' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

    , and Anhui
    Anhui
    Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

  4. Viceroy of Huguang
    Viceroy of Huguang
    The Viceroy of Huguang , fully referred to as the Governor General of the Hubei and Hunan Provinces and surrounding areas; Overseeing Military Affairs, Food Production; Director of Civil Affairs , was one of eight viceroys in China proper during the Qing Dynasty of China. The Viceroy had...

    in charge of Hubei
    Hubei
    ' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

     and Hunan
    Hunan
    ' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

  5. Viceroy of Sichuan
    Viceroy of Sichuan
    The Viceroy of Sichuan , fully referred to as the Governor General of the Sichuan Province and surrounding areas; Overseeing Military Affairs, Food Production; Director of Civil Affairs , was one of eight viceroys in China proper during the Qing Dynasty of China. The Viceroy had jurisdiction over...

    in charge of Sichuan
    Sichuan
    ' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

  6. Viceroy of Min-Zhe
    Viceroy of Min-Zhe
    The Viceroy of MinZhe , fully referred to as the Governor General of the Fujian, Taiwan, Zhejiang Provinces and surrounding areas; Overseeing Military Affairs, Food Production; Manager of Waterways; Director of Civil Affairs , was one of eight viceroys of the Qing Dynasty in China...

    in charge of Fujian
    Fujian
    ' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

    , Taiwan
    Taiwan
    Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

    , and Zhejiang
    Zhejiang
    Zhejiang is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital...

  7. Viceroy of Liangguang
    Viceroy of Liangguang
    The Viceroy of Liangguang , fully referred to as the Governor General of Liangguang and surrounding areas; Overseeing Military Affairs, Food Production; Manager of Waterways; Director of Civil Affairs , was one of eight viceroys in China proper during the Qing Dynasty of China...

    in charge of Guangdong
    Guangdong
    Guangdong is a province on the South China Sea coast of the People's Republic of China. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province...

     and Guangxi
    Guangxi
    Guangxi, formerly romanized Kwangsi, is a province of southern China along its border with Vietnam. In 1958, it became the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, a region with special privileges created specifically for the Zhuang people.Guangxi's location, in...

  8. Viceroy of Yun-Gui
    Viceroy of Yun-Gui
    The Viceroy of Yun-Gui , fully referred to as the Governor General of the Yunan and Guizhou Provinces and surrounding areas; Overseeing Military Affairs, Food Production; Director of Civil Affairs , was one of eight viceroys in China proper during the Qing Dynasty of China. The Viceroy had...

    in charge of Yunnan
    Yunnan
    Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

     and Guizhou
    Guizhou
    ' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its provincial capital city is Guiyang.- History :...



By the mid-18th century, the Qing had successfully put outer regions such as Inner
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

 and Outer Mongolia
Outer Mongolia
Outer Mongolia was a territory of the Qing Dynasty = the Manchu Empire. Its area was roughly equivalent to that of the modern state of Mongolia, which is sometimes informally called "Outer Mongolia" today...

, Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

 under its control. Imperial commissioners
Amban
Amban is a Manchu word meaning "high official," which corresponds to a number of different official titles in the Qing imperial government...

 and garrisons were sent to Mongolia and Tibet to oversee their affairs. These territories were also under supervision of a central government institution called Lifan Yuan
Lifan Yuan
The Lifan Yuan was an agency in the Qing government which supervised the Qing Empire's Mongolian dependencies and oversaw the appointments of Ambans in Tibet. It was first created in the 17th century. It has various translations in English, e.g...

. Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

 was also put under direct control of the Qing court. Xinjiang, also known as Chinese Turkestan, was subdivided into the regions north and south of the Tian Shan
Tian Shan
The Tian Shan , also spelled Tien Shan, is a large mountain system located in Central Asia. The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Victory Peak , ....

 mountains, also known today as Dzungaria
Dzungaria
Dzungaria, also called Zungaria, is a geographical region in northwest China corresponding to the northern half of Xinjiang. It covers approximately , lying mostly within Xinjiang, and extending into western Mongolia and eastern Kazakhstan...

 and Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin
The Tarim Basin is a large endorheic basin occupying an area of about . It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west. Its northern boundary is the Tian Shan mountain range and its southern is the Kunlun Mountains on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The...

 respectively, but the post of Ili General was established in 1762 to exercise unified military and administrative jurisdiction over both regions. Likewise, Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 was also governed by military generals until its division into provinces, though some areas of Xinjiang and Manchuria were lost to the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 in the mid-19th century. Manchuria was originally separated from China proper by the Inner Willow Palisade
Willow Palisade
Willow Palisade was a system of ditches and embankments planted with willows intended to restrict movement into Manchuria, built by the Qing Dynasty during the later 17th century...

, a ditch and embankment planted with willows intended to restrict the movement of the Han Chinese into Manchuria, as the area was off-limits to the Han Chinese until the Qing government started colonizing the area with them later on in the dynasty's rule, especially since the 1860s.


With respect to these outer regions, the Qing maintained imperial control, with the emperor acting as Mongol khan, patron of Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

 and protector of Muslim
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

s. However, Qing policy changed with the establishment of Xinjiang province in 1884. During The Great Game
The Great Game
The Great Game or Tournament of Shadows in Russia, were terms for the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813...

 era, taking advantage of the Dungan revolt in northwest China, Yaqub Beg invaded Xinjiang from Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 with support from the Russian Empire, and made himself the ruler of the kingdom of Kashgar
Kashgar
Kashgar or Kashi is an oasis city with approximately 350,000 residents in the western part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Kashgar is the administrative centre of Kashgar Prefecture which has an area of 162,000 km² and a population of approximately...

ia. The Qing court sent forces to defeat Yaqub Beg and Xinjiang was reconquered, and then the political system of China proper was formally applied onto Xinjiang. The Kumul Khanate
Kumul Khanate
The Kumul Khanate was a semi-autonomous feudal khanate within the Qing dynasty and then the Republic of China until it was abolished by Xinjiang governor Jin Shuren in 1930.- History :...

, which was incorporated into the Qing empire as a vassal after helping Qing defeat the Zunghars in 1757, maintained its status after Xinjiang turned into a province through the end of the dynasty in the Xinhai Revolution
Xinhai Revolution
The Xinhai Revolution or Hsinhai Revolution, also known as Revolution of 1911 or the Chinese Revolution, was a revolution that overthrew China's last imperial dynasty, the Qing , and established the Republic of China...

 up until 1930. In early 20th century, Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 sent an expedition force
British expedition to Tibet
The British expedition to Tibet during 1903 and 1904 was an invasion of Tibet by British Indian forces, whose mission was to establish diplomatic relations and trade between the British Raj and Tibet...

 to Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and forced Tibetans to sign a treaty. The Qing court responded by asserting Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, resulting in the 1906 Anglo-Chinese Convention signed between Britain and China. The British agreed not to annex Tibetan territory or to interfere in the administration of Tibet, while China engaged not to permit any other foreign state to interfere with the territory or internal administration of Tibet. Furthermore, similar to Xinjiang which was converted into a province earlier, the Qing government also turned Manchuria into three provinces in the early 20th century, officially known as the "Three Northeast Provinces
Northeast China
Northeast China, historically known in English as Manchuria, is a geographical region of China, consisting of the three provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang. The region is sometimes called the Three Northeast Provinces...

", and established the post of Viceroy of Three Northeast Provinces
Viceroy of Three Northeast Provinces
The Viceroy of Three Northeast Provinces , fully referred to as the Governor General of Three Northeast Provinces and surrounding areas; Overseeing Military Generals of the Three Provinces; Director of Civil Affairs of Fengtian , was the one of nine regional viceroys of the Qing Dynasty in China...

 to oversee these provinces, making the total number of regional viceroys to nine.

Social classes


The low class of ordinary people was divided into two categories- one of them, the good "commoner" people, the other "mean" people. Prostitutes, entertainers, and low lovel government emplyeers were the people in the mean class. the Mean people were heavily discrimated against, forbidden to take the Imperial Examination
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

, and mean and good people could not marry each other.

Central government agencies


The Qing Dynasty inherited many important institutions from the preceding Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

. The formal structure of the Qing government centered on the Emperor
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

 as the absolute ruler, who presided over six Boards (Ministries) , each headed by two presidents ' onMouseout='HidePop("41674")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Manchu_language">Ma
Manchu language
Manchu is a Tungusic endangered language spoken in Northeast China; it used to be the language of the Manchu, though now most Manchus speak Mandarin Chinese and there are fewer than 70 native speakers of Manchu out of a total of nearly 10 million ethnic Manchus...

: Aliha amban) and assisted by four vice presidents . In contrast to the Ming system, however, Qing ethnic policy dictated that appointments were split between Manchu noblemen and Han officials who had passed the highest levels of the state examinations
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

. The Grand Secretariat , which had been an important policy-making body under the Ming Dynasty, lost its importance during the Qing Dynasty and evolved into an imperial chancery. The institutions which had been inherited from the Ming Dynasty formed the core of the Qing "outer court," which handled routine matters and was located in the southern part of the Forbidden City
Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum...

.

In order not to let the routine administration take over the running of the empire, the Qing emperors made sure that all important matters were decided in the "Inner Court," which was dominated by the imperial family and Manchu nobility and which was located in the northern part of the Forbidden City. The core institution of the inner court was the Grand Council
Grand Council
The Grand Council or Junjichu was an important policy-making body in the Qing Empire. It was established in 1733 by the Yongzheng Emperor...

 . It emerged in the 1720s under the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor
Yongzheng Emperor
The Yongzheng Emperor , born Yinzhen , was the fifth emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty and the third Qing emperor from 1722 to 1735. A hard-working ruler, Yongzheng's main goal was to create an effective government at minimal expense. Like his father, the Kangxi Emperor, Yongzheng used military...

 as a body charged with handling Qing military campaigns against the Dzungar
Dzungar people
The Dzungar or Zunghar is the collective identity of several Oirat tribes that formed and maintained the Zunghar Khanate in the 17th to 18th century...

 Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

, but it soon took over other military and administrative duties and served to centralize authority under the crown. The Grand Councillors served as a sort of privy council
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

 to the emperor.

The Six Ministries and their respective areas of responsibilities were as follows:

  • Board of Civil Appointments
The personnel administration of all civil officials - including evaluation, promotion, and dismissal. It was also in charge of the "honours list".

  • Board of Finance
The literal translation of the Chinese word hu (户) is "household". For much of the Qing Dynasty's history, the government's main source of revenue came from taxation on landownership supplemented by official monopolies on essential household items such as salt and tea. Thus, in the predominantly agrarian Qing Dynasty, the "household" was the basis of imperial finance. The department was charged with revenue collection and the financial management of the government.

  • Board of Rites
This board was responsible for all matters concerning court protocol. It organized the periodic worship of ancestors and various gods by the emperor, managed relations with tributary nations, and oversaw the nationwide civil examination system
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

.

  • Board of War
Unlike its Ming predecessor, which had full control over all military matters, the Qing Board of War had very limited powers. First, the Eight Banners
Eight Banners
The Eight Banners were administrative divisions into which all Manchu families were placed. They provided the basic framework for the Manchu military organization...

 were under the direct control of the emperor and hereditary Manchu and Mongol princes, leaving the ministry only with authority over the Green Standard Army
Green Standard Army
Green Standard Army is the name of a category of military units under the control of the Qing Dynasty in China. It was made up mostly of ethnic Han soldiers and operated concurrently with the Manchu-Mongol-Han Eight Banner armies...

. Furthermore, the ministry's functions were purely administrative campaigns and troop movements were monitored and directed by the emperor, first through the Manchu ruling council, and later through the Grand Council.

  • Board of Punishments
The Board of Punishments handled all legal matters, including the supervision of various law courts and prisons. The Qing legal framework
Great Qing Legal Code
The Great Qing Legal Code or Qing Code was the legal code of Qing dynasty . The code was based on the Ming legal system, which was kept largely intact...

 was relatively weak compared to modern day legal systems, as there was no separation of executive and legislative branches of government. The legal system could be inconsistent, and, at times, arbitrary, because the emperor ruled by decree and had final say on all judicial outcomes. Emperors could (and did) overturn judgements of lower courts from time to time. Fairness of treatment was also an issue under the apartheid system practised by the Manchu government over the Han Chinese majority. To counter these inadequacies and keep the population in line, the Qing government maintained a very harsh penal code towards the Han populace, but it was no more severe than previous Chinese dynasties.



  • Board of Works
The Board of Works handled all governmental building projects, including palaces, temples and the repairs of waterways and flood canals. It was also in charge of minting coinage.


From the early Qing Dynasty, the central government was characterized by a system of dual appointments by which each position in the central government had a Manchu and a Han Chinese assigned to it. The Han Chinese appointee was required to do the substantive work and the Manchu to ensure Han loyalty to Qing rule. The distinction between Han Chinese and Manchus extended to their court costumes. During the Qianlong Emperor
Qianlong Emperor
The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, he reigned officially from 11 October 1735 to 8 February 1796...

's reign, for example, members of his family were distinguished by garments with a small circular emblem on the back, whereas Han officials wore clothing with a square emblem.

In addition to the six boards, there was a Lifan Yuan
Lifan Yuan
The Lifan Yuan was an agency in the Qing government which supervised the Qing Empire's Mongolian dependencies and oversaw the appointments of Ambans in Tibet. It was first created in the 17th century. It has various translations in English, e.g...

 unique to the Qing government. This institution was established to supervise the administration of Tibet and the Mongol lands. As the empire expanded, it took over administrative responsibility of all minority ethnic groups living in and around the empire, including early contacts with Russia — then seen as a tribute nation. The office had the status of a full ministry and was headed by officials of equal rank. However, appointees were at first restricted only to candidates of Manchu and Mongol ethnicity, until later open to Han Chinese as well.

Even though the Board of Rites and Lifan Yuan performed some duties of a foreign office, they fell short of developing into a professional foreign service. It was not until 1861 — a year after losing the Second Opium War
Second Opium War
The Second Opium War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the British Empire and the Second French Empire against the Qing Dynasty of China, lasting from 1856 to 1860...

 to the Anglo-French coalition — that the Qing government bowed to foreign pressure and created a proper foreign affairs office known as the Zongli Yamen
Zongli Yamen
Zongli Yamen was the government body in charge of foreign affairs in imperial China during the late Qing dynasty. It was established by Prince Gong in 1861, following the Convention of Peking. It was abolished in 1901 and replaced with a Foreign Office of ministry rank.The former site of the...

. The office was originally intended to be temporary and was staffed by officials seconded from the Grand Council. However, as dealings with foreigners became increasingly complicated and frequent, the office grew in size and importance, aided by revenue from customs duties which came under its direct jurisdiction.

There was also another government institution called Imperial Household Department
Imperial Household Department
The Imperial Household Department was an institution of Qing-dynasty China...

 which was unique to the Qing Dynasty. It was established before the fall of the Ming Dynasty, but it became mature only after 1661, following the death of the Shunzhi Emperor
Shunzhi Emperor
The Shunzhi Emperor was the third emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the first Qing emperor to rule over China, which he did from 1644 to 1661. "Shunzhi" was the name of his reign period...

 and the accession of his son, the Kangxi Emperor
Kangxi Emperor
The Kangxi Emperor ; Manchu: elhe taifin hūwangdi ; Mongolian: Энх-Амгалан хаан, 4 May 1654 –20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the first to be born on Chinese soil south of the Pass and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1661 to 1722.Kangxi's...

. The department's primary purpose was to manage the internal affairs of the imperial family and the activities of the inner palace (in which tasks it largely replaced eunuchs), but it also played an important role in Qing relations with Tibet and Mongolia, engaged in trading activities (jade, ginseng
Ginseng
Ginseng is any one of eleven species of slow-growing perennial plants with fleshy roots, belonging to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae....

, salt, furs, etc.), managed textile factories in the Jiangnan
Jiangnan
Jiangnan or Jiang Nan is a geographic area in China referring to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including the southern part of the Yangtze Delta...

 region, and even published books. The department was manned by booi , or "bondservants," from the Upper Three Banners
Eight Banners
The Eight Banners were administrative divisions into which all Manchu families were placed. They provided the basic framework for the Manchu military organization...

. By the 19th century, it managed the activities of at least 56 subagencies.

Beginnings and early development



The development of the Qing military system can be divided into two broad periods separated by the Taiping Rebellion
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

 (1850–1864). The early Qing military was rooted in the Eight Banners
Eight Banners
The Eight Banners were administrative divisions into which all Manchu families were placed. They provided the basic framework for the Manchu military organization...

 first developed by Nurhachi as a way to organize Jurchen society beyond petty clan affiliations. There are eight banners in all, differentiated by colours. The banners in their order of precedence were as follows: yellow, bordered yellow (i.e. yellow banner with red border), white, red, bordered white, bordered red, blue, and bordered blue. The yellow, bordered yellow, and white banners were collectively known as the "Upper Three Banners" and were under the direct command of the emperor. Only Manchus belonging to the Upper Three Banners, and selected Han Chinese who had passed the highest level of martial exams were qualified to serve as the emperor's personal bodyguards. The remaining Banners were known as "The Lower Five Banners" and were commanded by hereditary Manchu princes descended from Nurhachi's immediate family, known informally as the "Iron Cap Princes" . Together they formed the ruling council of the Manchu nation as well as high command of the army.

As Qing power expanded north of the Great Wall
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

 in the last years of the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, the Banner system was expanded by Nurhachi's son and successor Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji , also transliterated as Huang Taiji based on the Chinese language transcription of his name, was the first Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.Hong Taiji was the first Emperor of the Qing dynasty after acceding to the title in 1636...

 to include mirrored Mongol and Han Banners. After capturing Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 in 1644 and as the Manchu rapidly gained control of large tracts of former Ming territory, the relatively small Banner armies were further augmented by the Green Standard Army
Green Standard Army
Green Standard Army is the name of a category of military units under the control of the Qing Dynasty in China. It was made up mostly of ethnic Han soldiers and operated concurrently with the Manchu-Mongol-Han Eight Banner armies...

, which eventually outnumbered Banner troops three to one. The Green Standard Army so-named after the colour of their battle standards was made up of those Ming troops who had surrendered to the Qing. They maintained their Ming era organization and were led by a mix of Banner and Green Standard officers. The Banners and Green Standard troops were standing armies, paid for by central government. In addition, regional governors from provincial down to village level maintained their own irregular local militias for police duties and disaster relief. These militias were usually granted small annual stipends from regional coffers for part-time service obligations. They received very limited military drills if at all and were not considered combat troops.

Peace and stagnation



Banner
Eight Banners
The Eight Banners were administrative divisions into which all Manchu families were placed. They provided the basic framework for the Manchu military organization...

 Armies were broadly divided along ethnic lines, namely Manchu and Mongol. Although it must be pointed out that the ethnic composition of Manchu Banners was far from homogeneous as they included non-Manchu bondservants registered under the household of their Manchu masters. As the war with Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 progressed and the Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 population under Manchu rule increased, Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji , also transliterated as Huang Taiji based on the Chinese language transcription of his name, was the first Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.Hong Taiji was the first Emperor of the Qing dynasty after acceding to the title in 1636...

 created a separate branch of Han Banners to draw on this new source of manpower. However these Han bannermen were never regarded by the government as equal to the other two branches due to their relatively late addition to the Manchu cause as well as their Han Chinese ancestry. The nature of their service—mainly as infantry, artillery and sappers, was also alien to the Manchu nomadic traditions of fighting as cavalry. Furthermore, after the conquest the military roles played by Han bannermen were quickly subsumed by the Green Standard Army. The Han Banners ceased to exist altogether after the Yongzheng Emperor
Yongzheng Emperor
The Yongzheng Emperor , born Yinzhen , was the fifth emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty and the third Qing emperor from 1722 to 1735. A hard-working ruler, Yongzheng's main goal was to create an effective government at minimal expense. Like his father, the Kangxi Emperor, Yongzheng used military...

's banner registration reforms aimed at cutting down imperial expenditures.

The socio-military origins of the Banner system meant that population within each branch and their sub-divisions were hereditary and rigid. Only under special circumstances sanctioned by imperial edict were social movements between banners permitted. In contrast, the Green Standard Army was originally intended to be a professional force.

After defeating the remnants of the Ming forces, the Manchu Banner Army of approximately 200,000 strong at the time was evenly divided; half was designated the Forbidden Eight Banner Army and was stationed in Beijing. It served both as the capital's garrison and Qing government's main strike force. The remainder of the Banner troops was distributed to guard key cities in China. These were known as the Territorial Eight Banner Army . The Manchu court keenly aware its own minority status reinforced a strict policy of racial segregation between the Manchus and Mongols from Han Chinese for fear of being sinicized by the latter. This policy applied directly to the Banner garrisons, most of which occupied a separate walled zone within the cities they were stationed in. In cities where there were limitation of space such as in Qingzhou (青州), a new fortified town would be purposely erected to house the Banner garrison and their families. Beijing being the imperial seat, the regent Dorgon
Dorgon
Dorgon , also known as Hošoi Mergen Cin Wang, the Prince Rui , was one of the most influential Manchu princes in the early Qing Dynasty. He laid the groundwork for the Manchu rule of China.-Early life:Dorgon was born in Yenden, Manchuria , China...

 had the entire Chinese population forcibly relocated to the southern suburbs which became known as the "Outer Citadel" . The northern walled city called "Inner Citadel" was portioned out to the remaining Manchu Eight Banners, each responsibled for guarding a section of the Inner Citadel surrounding the Forbidden City
Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum...

 palace complex ' onMouseout='HidePop("202")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Manchu_language">Ma
Manchu language
Manchu is a Tungusic endangered language spoken in Northeast China; it used to be the language of the Manchu, though now most Manchus speak Mandarin Chinese and there are fewer than 70 native speakers of Manchu out of a total of nearly 10 million ethnic Manchus...

: Dabkūri dorgi hoton).

The policy of posting Banner troops as territorial garrison was not to protect but to inspire awe in the subjugated populace at the expense of their expertise as cavalry. As a result, after a century of peace and lack of field training the Manchu Banner troops had deteriorated greatly in their combat worthiness. Secondly, before the conquest the Manchu banner was a "citizen" army, and its members were Manchu farmers and herders obligated to provide military service to the state at times of war. The Qing government's decision to turn the banner troops into a professional force whose every welfare and need was met by state coffers brought wealth, and with it corruption, to the rank and file of the Manchu Banners and hastened its decline as a fighting force. This was mirrored by a similar decline in the Green Standard Army. During peace time, soldiering became merely a source of supplementary income. Soldiers and commanders alike neglected training in pursuit of their own economic gains. Corruption was rampant as regional unit commanders submitted pay and supply requisitions based on exaggerated head counts to the quartermaster department and pocketed the difference. When the Taiping Rebellion
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

 broke out in 1850s, the Qing court found out belatedly that the Banner and Green Standards troops could neither put down internal rebellions nor keep foreign invaders at bay.

Transition and modernization


Early during the Taiping Rebellion
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

, Qing forces suffered a series of disastrous defeats culminating in the loss of the regional capital city of Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 in 1853. The rebels massacred the entire Manchu garrison and their families in the city and made it their capital. Shortly thereafter a Taiping
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom
The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom was an oppositional state in China from 1851 to 1864, established by Hong Xiuquan, the leader of the Taiping Rebellion...

 expeditionary force penetrated as far north as the suburbs of Tianjin
Tianjin
' is a metropolis in northern China and one of the five national central cities of the People's Republic of China. It is governed as a direct-controlled municipality, one of four such designations, and is, thus, under direct administration of the central government...

 in what was considered imperial heartlands. In desperation the Qing court ordered a Chinese mandarin, Zeng Guofan
Zeng Guofan
Zeng Guofan was an eminent Han Chinese official, military general, and devout Confucian scholar of the late Qing Dynasty in China....

, to organize regional and village militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

s into a standing army called tuanlian
Tuanlian
Tuanlian Localised militia begun in Zhou Dynasty, offered self-defense for the civilians. In May 1645, Ming rebel leader Li Zicheng was killed by tuanlian of local land owners in Hubei province....

 to contain the rebellion. Zeng Guofan's strategy was to rely on local gentries to raise a new type of military organization from those provinces that the Taiping rebels directly threatened. This new force became known as the Xiang Army
Xiang Army
The Xiang Army was a standing army organized by Zeng Guofan from existing regional and village militia forces tuanlian to contain the Taiping rebellion in China . The name is taken from the Hunan region where the Army was raised. The Army was financed through local nobles and gentry, as opposed...

, named after the Hunan
Hunan
' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

 region where it was raised. The Xiang Army was a hybrid of local militia and a standing army. It was given professional training, but was paid for out of regional coffers and funds its commanders — mostly members of the Chinese gentry — could muster. The Xiang Army and its successor, the Huai Army (淮軍), created by Zeng Guofan's colleague and student Li Hongzhang
Li Hongzhang
Li Hongzhang or Li Hung-chang , Marquis Suyi of the First Class , GCVO, was a leading statesman of the late Qing Empire...

, were collectively called the "Yongying" .

Prior to forming and commanding the Xiang Army, Zeng Guofan had no military experience. Being a classically educated Mandarin his blueprint for the Xiang Army was taken from a historical source — the Ming general Qi Jiguang
Qi Jiguang
Qi Jiguang was a Chinese military general and national hero during the Ming Dynasty. He was best remembered for his courage and leadership in the fight against Japanese pirates along the east coast of China, as well as his reinforcement work on the Great Wall of China.-Early life:Qi Jiguang was...

 who, because of the weakness of regular Ming troops, had decided to form his own "private" army to repel raiding Japanese pirates
Wokou
Wokou , which literally translates as "Japanese pirates" in English, were pirates of varying origins who raided the coastlines of China and Korea from the 13th century onwards...

 in the mid-16th century. Qi Jiguang's doctrine was based on Neo-Confucian ideas of binding troops' loyalty to their immediate superiors and also to the regions in which they were raised. This initially gave the troops an excellent esprit de corps. Qi Jiguang's army was an ad hoc solution to the specific problem of combating pirates, as was Zeng Guofan's original intention for the Xiang Army, which was raise to eradicate the Taiping rebels. However, circumstances led to the Yongying system becoming a permanent institution within the Qing military, which in the long run created problems of its own for the beleaguered central government.

Firstly, the Yongying system signalled the end of Manchu dominance in Qing military establishment. Although the Banners and Green Standard armies lingered on as parasites depleting resources, henceforth the Yongying corps became the Qing government's de facto first-line troops. Secondly the Yongying corps were financed through provincial coffers and were led by regional commanders. This devolution of power weakened the central government's grip on the whole country, a weakness further aggravated by foreign powers vying to carve up autonomous colonial territories in different parts of the Qing Empire in the later half of the 19th century. Despite these serious negative effects the measure was deemed necessary as tax revenue from provinces occupied and threatened by rebels had ceased to reach the cash-strapped central government. Finally, the nature of Yongying command structure fostered nepotism and cronyism amongst its commanders whom as they ascended the bureaucratic ranks laid the seeds to Qing's eventual demise and the outbreak of regional warlordism in China during the first half of the 20th century.

By the late 19th century, China was fast descending into a semi-colonial state. Even the most conservative elements within the Qing court could no longer ignore China's military weakness in contrast to the foreign "barbarians" literally beating down its gates. In 1860, during the Second Opium War
Second Opium War
The Second Opium War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the British Empire and the Second French Empire against the Qing Dynasty of China, lasting from 1856 to 1860...

, the capital Beijing was captured and the Summer Palace sacked by a relatively small Anglo-French coalition force numbering 25,000. Although the Chinese invented gunpowder, and firearms had been in continual use in Chinese warfare since as far back as the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

, the advent of modern weaponry resulting from the European Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 had rendered China's traditionally trained and equipped army and navy obsolete. The government attempts to modernize during the Self-Strengthening Movement
Self-Strengthening Movement
The Self-Strengthening Movement , c 1861–1895, was a period of institutional reforms initiated during the late Qing Dynasty following a series of military defeats and concessions to foreign powers....

 were in the view of most historians with hindsight piecemeal and yielded little lasting results. Various reasons for the apparent failure of late-Qing modernization attempts have been advanced including the lack of funds, lack of political will, and unwillingness to depart from tradition. These reasons remain disputed.
Losing the First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of Korea...

 of 1894–1895 was a watershed for the Qing government. Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

, a country long regarded by the Chinese as little more than an upstart nation of pirates, had convincingly beaten its larger neighbour and in the process annihilated the Qing government's pride and joy — its modernized Beiyang Fleet
Beiyang Fleet
The Beiyang Fleet was one of the four modernised Chinese navies in the late Qing Dynasty. Among the four, the Beiyang Fleet was particularly sponsored by Li Hongzhang, one of the most trusted vassals of Empress Dowager Cixi and the principal patron of the "self-strengthening movement" in northern...

 then deemed to be the strongest naval force in Asia. In doing so, Japan became the first Asian country to join the previously exclusively western ranks of colonial powers. The defeat was a rude awakening to the Qing court especially when set in the context that it occurred a mere three decades after the Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
The , also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868...

 set a feudal Japan on course to emulate the Western nations in their economic and technological achievements. Finally, in December 1894, the Qing government took some concrete steps to reform military institutions and to re-train selected units in westernized drills, tactics and weaponry. These units were collectively called the New Army
New Army
The New Armies were the modernized Qing armies, trained and equipped according to Western standards...

. The most successful of these was the Beiyang Army
Beiyang Army
The Beiyang Army was a powerful, Western-style Chinese military force created by the Qing Dynasty government in the late 19th century. It was the centerpiece of a general reconstruction of China's military system. The Beiyang Army played a major role in Chinese politics for at least three decades...

 under the overall supervision and control of a former Huai Army commander, General Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai was an important Chinese general and politician famous for his influence during the late Qing Dynasty, his role in the events leading up to the abdication of the last Qing Emperor of China, his autocratic rule as the second President of the Republic of China , and his short-lived...

, who exploited his position to eventually become President of the Republic of China
President of the Republic of China
The President of the Republic of China is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the Republic of China . The Republic of China was founded on January 1, 1912, to govern all of China...

, dictator and finally abortive emperor of China.

Economy


By the end of the 17th century, the Chinese economy had recovered from the devastation caused by the wars in which the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 were overthrown, and the resulting breakdown of order. In the following century, markets continued to expand as in the late Ming period, but with more trade between regions, a greater dependence on overseas markets and a greatly increased population. After the re-opening of the southeast coast, which had been closed in the late 17th century, foreign trade was quickly re-established, and was expanding at 4% per annum throughout the latter part of the 18th century. China continued to export tea, silk and manufactures, creating a large, favorable trade balance
Balance of trade
The balance of trade is the difference between the monetary value of exports and imports of output in an economy over a certain period. It is the relationship between a nation's imports and exports...

 with the West. The resulting inflow of silver expanded the money supply, facilitating the growth of competitive and stable markets.


The government broadened land ownership by returning land that had been sold to large landowners in the late Ming period by families unable to pay the land tax. To give people more incentives to participate in the market, they reduced the tax burden in comparison with the late Ming, and replaced the corvée
Corvée
Corvée is unfree labour, often unpaid, that is required of people of lower social standing and imposed on them by the state or a superior . The corvée was the earliest and most widespread form of taxation, which can be traced back to the beginning of civilization...

 system with a head tax used to hire labourers. The administration of the Grand Canal was made more efficient, and transport opened to private merchants. A system of monitoring grain prices eliminated severe shortages, and enabled the price of rice to rise slowly and smoothly through the 18th century. Wary of the power of wealthy merchants, Qing rulers limited their trading licences and usually refused them permission to open new mines, except in poor areas.

By the end of the 18th century the population had risen to 300 million from approximately 150 million during the late Ming Dynasty. The drastic rise in population was due to several reasons, including the long period of peace and stability in the 18th century and the import of new crops China received from the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, including peanuts, sweet potatoes and maize. New species of rice from Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 led to a huge increase in production. Merchant guilds proliferated in all of the growing Chinese cities and often acquired great social and even political influence. Rich merchants with official connections built up huge fortunes and patronized literature, theater and the arts. Cloth and handicraft production boomed.

See also


  • List of rebellions in China
  • Costumes of Qing officials
    Mandarin square
    A Mandarin square , also known as a rank badge, was a large embroidered badge sewn onto the surcoat of an official in Imperial China...

  • Timeline of Chinese history
    Timeline of Chinese history
    The following is a timeline of the history of China. Between the changing of the dynasties, most dates overlap as ruling periods do not transfer immediately...

  • Table of Chinese monarchs
    Table of Chinese monarchs
    The following list of Chinese monarchs is in no way comprehensive. From the Shang Dynasty to the Qin Dynasty, rulers usually held the title "King"...

  • Qing official headwear
  • History of China
    History of China
    Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

  • History of rail transport in China
    History of rail transport in China
    The history of rail transport in China began with foreign assistance. Since then, it has made advances with domestic and foreign technology.-Qing Dynasty era:-Early efforts:...

  • List of Manchu clans

  • List of recipients of tribute from China
  • Military history of China
  • Mongolia during Qing rule
  • Qing dynasty family tree
  • The Rise and Fall of Qing Dynasty
  • Anti-Qing sentiment
    Anti-Qing sentiment
    thumb|[[Sun Yat-sen]], one of the leaders of the [[Xinhai Revolution]] which overthrew the Qing dynasty in 1912. Photo taken in 1907Anti-Qing sentiment refers to a sentiment principally held in China against the Manchu ruling during Qing Dynasty , which was often resented for being foreign and...

  • Timeline of late anti-Qing Dynasty rebellions
    Timeline of late anti-Qing Dynasty rebellions
    Numerous rebellions against the Qing Dynasty took place in China during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, prior to the abdication of the last Emperor of China, Puyi, in February 1912. The table below lists some of these uprisings and important related events.Source: Sunday Morning Post, Hong...



Sources

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  • Rawski, Evelyn S. The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998. ISBN 978-0-520-21289-3.
  • Smith, Richard Joseph. China's Cultural Heritage: The Qing Dynasty, 1644–1912, Westview Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-8133-1347-4.
  • Têng, Ssu-yü, and John King Fairbank (eds). China's Response to the West: A Documentary Survey, 1839–1923, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979. ISBN 978-0-674-12025-9.
  • Tong, Chee Kiong, and Kwok B. Chan (eds). Alternate Identities: The Chinese of Contemporary Thailand, Singapore: Times Academic Press, 2001. ISBN 978-981-210-142-6.
  • Torbert, Preston M. The Ch'ing Imperial Household Department: A Study of Its Organization and Principal Functions, 1662–1796, Harvard University Asia Center, 1977. ISBN 978-0-674-12761-6.
  • Wakeman, Frederic
    Frederic Wakeman
    Frederic Evans Wakeman, Jr. was a prominent American scholar of East Asian history. He also served as presidents of the American Historical Association and Social Science Research Council in the past.-Biography:...

    . The Great Enterprise: The Manchu Reconstruction of Imperial Order in Seventeenth-century China, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985. ISBN 978-0-520-04804-1.
  • Waley-Cohen, Joanna. The culture of war in China: empire and the military under the Qing Dynasty. I.B. Tauris, 2006. ISBN 978-1-84511-159-5.
  • Woo, X.L. Empress dowager Cixi: China's last dynasty and the long reign of a formidable concubine: legends and lives during the declining days of the Qing Dynasty. Algora Publishing, 2002. ISBN 978-1-8929-4188-6.

Further reading

  • Fairbank, John K. and Liu, Kwang-Ching, ed. The Cambridge History of China. Vol. 2: Late Ch'ing, 1800–1911, Part 2. Cambridge U. Press, 1980. 754 pp.
  • Peterson, Willard (ed.). (2002). The Cambridge History of China, Volume 9, Part One: The Ch'ing Empire to 1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-24334-3, 9780521243346.
  • Rawski, Evelyn S. The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (2001) complete text online free
  • Struve, Lynn A., ed. The Qing Formation in World-Historical Time. (2004). 412 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Li Bo, Zheng Yin, "5000 years of Chinese history". Inner Mongolian People's publishing corp, ISBN 7-204-04420-7 (2001).

External links



*Compton's Living Encyclopedia (1995–2008). "Chinese Cultural Studies: Concise Political History of China." As posted on Paul Halsall's web site. Retrieved on 2008-10-19.