While the Great Powers were squabbling over how best to carve the Chinese dumpling, a political convulsion shook the Manchu Court to its core. The ancient and elaborate edifice of the Ching Dynasty had started to sway with China’s humiliating defeat in the Sino–Japanese War. The Chinese had realised then that their Manchu rulers were not only fallible, but also extremely foolish. And when the Government caved in to German demands over Kiaochow, the birthplace of Confucius, and to Russian demands over Port Arthur, the very foundations started to crack and crumble. To a rapidly growing band of Chinese reformers, led by Kang Youwei, the Cantonese scholar who had written several critical memorials about conditions in the Middle Kingdom to the Emperor since 1895, nothing less than national survival was at stake.