China Only Yesterday, 1850-1950: A Century of Change

By Emily Hahn | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter Three

Ch'i-ying had assumed an impossible task, of pleasing everybody, which in the end proved too much for him. But that end was a long way in the future. In the meantime his methods seemed to be successful in the extreme. The barbarians were behaving better than the administration had expected, and in Peking face was saved. The necessity of saving face and keeping the Emperor reassured was the greatest weakness of the Manchu Dynasty, and for that matter of other dynasties as well. It meant that the Emperor heard only watered down versions of events when his reign was in jeopardy. It may seem to foreign eyes, reading Ch'i-ying's memorials today, that the Imperial Commissioner was tactful with his sovereign to the degree of deceit, but as a matter of fact he was by far the most outspoken of the Emperor's officials. They were all victims of an occupational hazard: if they sent unfavorable reports they were likely to be reprimanded and degraded, if not put to death. Naturally, therefore, those men who had dealings with the British during the latter days of the war and in the postwar period of the discussions on the supplementary treaty were very careful indeed when writing memorials to the throne. The actual, bitter fact of defeat was played down, and the language of the Imperial edicts in reply continued in the old strain of hauteur: nothing had yet occurred, according to the Court's attitude, to change the basic situation. The Son of Heaven was still ruler of the world. Though China had surrendered, the British were still referred to as "rebel barbarians."

Nevertheless, the Chinese admitted that a thing or two might be learned from these despised outlanders. (This suppleness in Oriental mentality has always been the despair of Western logic-choppers.) An official who knew his facts might safely venture to criticize the prowess of Imperial troops if he made it clear that by so doing

-41-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
China Only Yesterday, 1850-1950: A Century of Change
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 434

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?