The Search for Modern China

By Jonathan D. Spence | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3 Kangxi's Consolidation

THE WAR OF THE THREE FEUDATORIES, 1673-1681

Qing emperors had to grow up fast if they were to grow up at all. Shunzhi had been thirteen when, taking advantage of Dorgon's sudden death, he put himself in power. Shunzhi's son, Kangxi, was also thirteen when he first moved to oust the regent Oboi; and he was fifteen when, with the help of his grandmother and a group of Manchu guard officers, he managed to arrange for Oboi's arrest in 1669 on charges of arrogance and dishonesty. Oboi soon died in prison, and Kangxi began a reign that was to last until 1722 and to make him one of the most admired rulers in China's history.

The most important of the many problems facing the young ruler was that of unifying China under Manchu control. Although in 1662 Wu Sangui had eliminated the last Ming pretender in the southwest, the region had not been fully integrated into Peking's administrative structure. The enormous distances, the mountainous semitropical country that made cavalry campaigning difficult, the presence of hundreds of non-Chinese border tribes who fought tenaciously for their own terrain, the shortage of administrators of proven loyalty—all these made both Shunzhi and Oboi unwilling to commit further Manchu forces to the area. Instead, the whole of south and southwest China was left under the control of the three Chinese generals who had directed most of the fighting there in the late 1650s.

Two of these men, Shang Kexi and Geng Jimao, were Chinese bannermen of distinction who had surrendered to the Manchus in 1633 and thereafter been essential allies in the conquest; both had repeatedly proven

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The Search for Modern China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Search for Modern China i
  • Title Page iv
  • Contents ix
  • Maps xv
  • Tables xvii
  • Preface to the Second Edition xix
  • Preface to the First Edition xxiii
  • Acknowledgments for the Second Edition xxvii
  • Acknowledgments for the First Edition xxix
  • The Use of Pinyin xxxi
  • Conquest and Consolidation 1
  • The Late Ming 7
  • The Manchu Conquest 26
  • Kangxi's Consolidation 49
  • Yongzheng's Authority 74
  • Chinese Society and the Reign of Qianlong 96
  • China and the Eighteenth-Century World 117
  • Fragmentation and Reform 139
  • The First Clash with the West 145
  • The Crisis Within 167
  • Restoration Through Reform 192
  • New Tensions in the Late Qing 215
  • The End of the Dynasty 243
  • Envisioning State and Society 265
  • The New Republic 271
  • A Road is Made" 290
  • The Fractured Alliance 314
  • The Guomindang in Power 342
  • Communist Survival 375
  • War and Revolution 411
  • World War II 419
  • The Fall of the Guomindang State 459
  • The Birth of the People's Republic 489
  • Planning the New Society 514
  • Deepening the Revolution 544
  • Cultural Revolution 565
  • Re-Entering the World 587
  • Reopening the Doors 595
  • Redefining Revolution 618
  • Levels of Power 647
  • Testing the Limits 677
  • Century's End 705
  • Appendixes A1
  • Notes and Permissions A3
  • Further Readings A23
  • Glossary A47
  • Illustration Credits A71
  • A Note on the Calligraphy A75
  • Index A77
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