After a century of Western influence, internal and external forces in China brought down the Qing dynasty and led to civil war. The shogunate opened Japan to the West, only to be overthrown. The Meiji Restoration brought reform and industrialization as well as Japanese imperialism.
The Decline of the Qing Dynasty
Rapid population growth, food shortages, peasant unrest, and corruption and incompetence all contributed to the decline of the Qing dynasty. The Empress Dowager Ci Xi ordered the emperor executed and blocked reform efforts. Mounting external pressures only weakened China's ability to address its internal problems. Japan, Russia, and other nations laid claim to Chinese territories. When rebellions in China threatened Western interests, Western nations responded with military force. They also challenged Chinese sovereignty by establishing spheres of influence inside the country. To stabilize relations among the Western nations, the United States declared an Open Door Policy. This gave all Western nations equal trading privileges in China.
Revolution in China
After the Boxer Rebellion, Empress Dowager Ci Xi embraced some reforms. However, an emerging new elite was impatient with the slow pace of change. Meanwhile, increased taxes led to further unrest in the countryside. A young radical named Sun Yat-sen called for a military takeover and the replacement of the Qing dynasty by Sun's Revolutionary Alliance party as preparation for democratic rule. After the death of the empress, Sun's party launched an uprising and installed a military general as president. However, the old political and social order remained entrenched, and China soon lapsed into civil war. The presence of Europeans in China during the nineteenth century had brought changes to the Chinese economy. Cultural changes followed, particularly in China's cities. China was flooded with Western books, paintings, music, and ideas. Intellectuals often displayed contempt for the Chinese past and advocated a new culture based on the Western model.
Revolutionary Chaos in China
As central authority collapsed in China, rival Nationalist and Communist Party forces briefly joined ranks. The two groups split after a Nationalist massacre of Communists. The Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, founded a new Chinese republic in 1928. The Communists, led by Mao Zedong, went into hiding in the cities. Mao's plans, however, were for a revolution led by peasants. In 1933 Mao's forces used guerrilla tactics to break through Nationalist lines closing in on them. They then began the Long March to the last surviving Communist base. Chiang had plans for land reform and a Western-style constitutional government. To make Western ideas palatable, he blended them with Confucian themes. Although he did achieve some meaningful reforms, Chiang's support came mainly from the rural gentry and the urban middle class; his reforms did little to redistribute wealth.
Boxer Rebellion, Chiang Kai-shek, Communist Party, Empress Cixi, extraterritoriality, indemnity, Kuo Ming Tang, Long March, Mao Zedong, Open Door Policy, Opium War, sphere of influence, Sun Yat Sen, Taiping Rebellion.
Assignment: Students are to read chapter 6 in the textbook and answer 3 out of the 5 the following questions in this blog:
- How did the Manchu emperors view other countries and people? Como consideraban los soberanos Manchu a otras personas y a otros paises?
- Why did European countries have an interest in China? Por que los paises Europeos estaban interesados en China?
- How did European imperialism influence the Chinese government? Como influencio el imperialismo Europeo al gobierno Chino?
- How did China resist European Imperialism? Como resistio China al imperialismo Europeo?
- How did China change as a result of the end of Manchu rule? Como cambio China como resultado del final de la era de gobierno de la dinastia Manchu?