The Government of China (1644-1911)

By Pao Chao Hsieh | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
CHANGES AFTER 1898

A form of government designed 3,000 years ago to meet the needs of an agricultural community1 was found, at the end of the nineteenth century, inadequate to satisfy a people who, in their attitude towards government, had grown from a stage of passive recognition to one of desire for active participation. With weaklings and minors on the throne, petticoat tyrants pulling the wires behind, adventurous eunuchs helping the pulling, ignorant and unscrupulous men in the offices, the civil service laws defunct, and the civil service examinations prostituted, the Tsing Dynasty tottered through the second half of the 19th and the first decade of the 20th century. But internal rot was not the only disease that the Manchu Dynasty had contracted. Outside of Peking and the provincial offices, the thinking portion of the people, taught either by the traditional Chinese philosophy of the superiority of the Chinese and the ultimate expulsion of the Manchus or by European ideas of nationalism, liberty and freedom, secretly and yet insistently worked for the termination of the Tartar regime. Outside of China, the powerful states of Europe and Japan, having their territorial ambitions aroused by the weakness, and their economic desire stimulated by the richness, of China, had the desire to partition the old Empire, as partition seemed the best means of attaining their political and economic ends. Both from within and without, then, the life of the Manchu Dynasty seemed unsustainable unless changes were made.

____________________
1
The fundamental features of this government and its principal organizations can be found in Chou Li, or Institutions of the Chou Dynasty. The kings of the Chou Dynasty reigned from 1122 to 255 B. C.

-343-

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