The Government of China (1644-1911)

By Pao Chao Hsieh | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE (LI PU) AND CIVIL SERVICE LAWS

Strictly speaking, there was no difference between civil service and politics in the old Chinese monarchy, at least not in the sense of a difference between political and administrative work as in the Western countries. Technically, however, a difference was made by civil service laws, in that there were different degrees of strictness in the application of civil service laws to officials of the third rank or above and to those below that rank. The advancement of a Chinese official in the administrative hierarchy was marked by the nine ranks, each having two grades, the highest being 1a and the lowest 9b. Those of, or above, the third rank were designated as Ta Yuan (high official). To them civil service laws, except for very few important stipulations, were only loosely applied. The demarcation of administration and politics then, instead of being drawn by the nature of work, was drawn by the altitude of the office or officeholder in the ladder of administrative hierarchy. Being a monarchy, though limited by the required qualities of virtue and tradition, but not by written laws or inflexible constitution, the emperor made much use of his powers in the suppression of party organization which, some day, might prove too powerful for his successful manipulation. The lack of party organization, hence the absence of party differences and group action, made every one in government service a part of the unalterable administrative machinery administering his official duties directly to the good of the emperor and the people instead of accomplishing these ends through the success of the party.

The theory of obligation to service, as we have seen in the first chapter, was that no one could be forced into

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