The Search for Modern China

By Jonathan D. Spence | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10 New Tensions in the Late Qing

SELF-STRENGTHENING AND THE JAPANESE WAR

The Confucian statesmen whose skill, integrity, and tenacity helped suppress the rebellions of the mid-nineteenth century showed how imaginatively the Chinese could respond to new challenges. Under the general banner of restoring order to the Qing Empire, they had managed to develop new structures to handle foreign relations and collect custom dues, to build modern ships and weapons, and to start teaching international law and the rudiments of modern science. "Self-strengthening" had not proved an empty slogan, but an apparently viable road to a more secure future. Progressive-minded Chinese and Manchus seemed able to work together in order to preserve the most cherished aspects of their traditional cultures by selectively adapting elements of Western learning and technology to China's needs. It was true that there remained complex problems of continuing rural militarization, new local autonomy over taxation, landlord abuses and bureaucratic corruption, and bellicose foreign powers with their military, diplomatic, and missionary encroachments. But with forceful imperial leadership and a resolute Grand Council, it appeared that the Qing dynasty might regain some of its former strength.

Unfortunately for the survival of the dynasty, forceful leadership was not forthcoming. Tongzhi, in the name of whose rule the Tongzhi Restoration of central and provincial government had been undertaken, died suddenly at the age of eighteen in January 1875, shortly after taking up power in person. The official cause of death was smallpox, but it was widely rumored that he had exhausted himself with wild living and overindulgence in the

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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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