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powerful and stubborn opponent in the south, and the English on the coast of Fukien. Not being traders and being far from the scene of commercial intercourse, they were naturally disinclined to interest themselves with the outside world.
Perhaps, if Europe had had more desirable goods than opium, woolens, cotton, lead, etc., to sell, and if the early European traders and adventurers had conducted themselves properly, China and her rulers might have welcomed and encouraged intercourse. But the circumstances surely did not warrant such an attitude. Restriction of intercourse to Canton alone apparently met adequately the demands of the trade, and so the policy seemed to be justified. Moreover, as the evils of the opium traffic increasingly demoralized the people and rocked the foundation of her economic structure by draining the country of specie, China became more and more convinced that it was better to remain in isolation.
This attitude of mind, this policy of aloofness, persisted throughout the nineteenth century. The Manchu dynasty began to decline in 1796, and the course of events crystallized the conviction. With the governmental administration rife with corruption and inefficiency, with the country seething with rebellion, and with the dynasty becoming increasingly helpless to face the new situation constructively, it became the only policy. The Tai-ping Rebellion (1850-64), which ravaged half of China's fairest provinces and in which over twenty million people were sacrificed, almost spelled disaster to the Manchu throne. With no military defense worthy of the name against the greater and greater pressure applied by foreign nations to pry open the country, China fell back on the old accustomed defense of passive resistance whereby to minimize the results of foreign encroachments.
It is amazing that, in view of the increasing foreign danger, China fell into the error of not taking active steps. to bolster up her resistance by some scheme of adjustment to the new conditions. The dynastic government of the Manchus, however, to which the nation naturally looked for
suggestions for reform, had become so effete as to be incapable of any leadership. But the greatest hindrance to China's recognition and acceptance of the altered conditions lay, perhaps, in her conservatism-the product of an extraordinary longevity. As the oldest of living nations, it reacted to the world of things in much the same way as does an aged person. Her thoughts, temperament, and very ways were distinctly conservative. The occurrence of anything novel to her own experience only caused her to shun it or to become indifferent. Had she not been consistently happy and contented with the life she had led in congenial surroundings for more than three thousand years? Consequently, whatever tended to alter the natural order of things, she invariably resisted. She desired no hasty acceptance of change that might lead her only to entanglements in a cesspool of regrets.
But the course of events became too penetrating in its influence not to produce a significant reaction other than the spirit of passive resistance and seclusion. China's defeat, in 1895, by Japan, the island neighbor that had been traditionally despised as a nation of "dwarfish slaves," immediately aroused the forces of awakening. It was a humiliating blow to the pride of the dynasty, the nation, and the race. Then before the shock was over, it was followed, in 1898, by the spoliation activities of the foreign Powers. Unable to endure any more, the young Emperor, Kuang Hsu in that year took the initial step in the projection of extensive reforms.
The ambitious plans of the Emperor, however, were defeated before they were many days old. Principally because they touched adversely the interests of the conservative and privileged classes of the empire and similarly affected the dynasty, the Empress Dowager, Tzu-hsi, who had been responsible for enthroning the Emperor in 1895, and who was the real ruler behind the curtain, and, perhaps the most conservative person in a conservative empire, would have none of them. Consequently, the "Hundred Days Reform" of 1898 collapsed as suddenly as its rise.
With the pitiful Emperor forced into retirement, the Empress Dowager began to shape the affairs of state to her own liking. She had come to believe that the ills of the empire had their roots in western imperialism. She therefore proceeded to ponder over ways and means to get rid of this foreign danger, and when an anti-Manchu movement appeared, she cleverly diverted its aims so that the result was the Boxer Uprising of 1900. The story of this comic tragedy is too well known to be repeated here. China was severely penalized for the fanatical act of the Empress Dowager. The only good that came of it, perhaps, was her apparent conversion to the necessity of taking a different line of action in order to realize her secret wish. Upon her return, in 1902, from her enforced absence from the capital during its occupation by foreign allied troops, she resurrected the spirit and essentials of the reforms of 1898.
The modernization of China may be said to have its beginning here. Although the cry for reforms had been heard from a small discontented group before the war with Japan, it had elicited no response. The abortive attempt of the young Emperor had not found favor. Now, with the Empress Dowager, who held the real power, advocating and initiating reforms, whether from honest or ulterior motives, the movement began to take on a semblance of reality. The army was ordered reorganized on western lines. Public schools and colleges were established by imperial decrees, and temples were turned over to their use. The imperial examinations, which held for those who passed them successfully official honors and preferment, were abolished, and henceforth graduates of the new educational institutions, taught in the modern histories, sciences, and thought, were decreed eligible for governmental service. Proposing to bring closer together the far-flung empire, a network of railways was planned. Private enterprise was encouraged to enter actively into various fields of economic endeavor. The central departments of government were ordered to be reorganized, and all sinecure offices abolished. And a host of other reforms was contemplated and suggested.
However impressive these efforts might have appeared, the results of the first few years were disappointing. China had rushed into a new era without being sufficiently awakened. The events since 1895 had shaken the popular confidence in the Manchus. There were revolutionary outbreaks now and then that created popular unrest. The Empress Dowager had confined China to the adoption of the externals and non-essentials of the west. And finally, China was nonplused as to the all-important principle that was to govern the reorganization of the empire, whether to westernize it by the wholesale adoption of western institutions and practices or whether to adjust by modification old China to the new conditions. Inasmuch as the latter procedure was the slower one, though more natural, and would work less change in the accustomed life of the nation, westernization was decided upon. This was because China had, for the first time, become conscious of her precarious position and was seeking hastily and blindly a short-cut to rejuvenation. The reform movement therefore continued, unabated in force and unchanged in character. The RussoJapanese War of 1904-5 gave it further impetus. The fact that that war was fought on Chinese soil and over the control or possession of Manchuria by Russia or Japan did not matter. The outstanding fact, the one that opened the eyes of China, accelerated the reform movement, and incidentally caused a few years later the collapse of the Manchu dynasty, was the defeat of the colossal and much feared Russia by the traditionally despised Japan. The victory of Japan became immediately the example and inspiration to China's new ambitions. And it is of the utmost significance that the westernization of China was now thought of as bound up with the ultimate overthrow of foreign domination in China. The reforms and changes that followed were radical in nature, wholly unsuited to the temperament, and strange to the experience, of the nation.
Upon the return in 1906 of two Imperial missions that had been sent abroad to learn the secrets of western progress and strength, and upon their recommendations, a constitu
tion was promised the people. This was an innovation, involving a change in the conception of political authority from that of unlimited power of the emperor to that of restricting its use by popular participation. In order to prepare the people to assume the responsibilities of the proposed new régime, provincial assemblies were established in 1908. Legal, judicial, and penal reforms, also reforms in currency and the opium traffic, were undertaken. The most outstanding reform, perhaps, was the suppression of the traffic in, and the use of, opium.
The reform movement encountered a setback in 1908, when its dominating' figure, the Empress Dowager died. The ill-fated Emperor of 1898 fame had passed away the day previously. These unhappy events altered the course of the Imperial program completely. There was no outstanding or strong personality in the Manchu household to take up the leadership. The successor to the throne was an infant, P'u-yi, a nephew of the late Emperor, who had been selected by the Empress Dowager before her death. The boy Emperor's father, Prince Ch'un, was made regent. Unfortunately, this arrangement turned out to be an irreparable mistake in a grave crisis of the dynasty; sincere and honest as a man, the Prince possessed none of those qualities necessary to a ruler of four hundred millions. In 1911, the dynasty was swept off the political stage by popular enthusiasm. Having had its life prolonged for more than half a century by the iron will of a woman ruler, the untimely death of the Empress Dowager, Tzu-hsi, was the signal for the downfall of the Manchu dynasty.
The Chinese Revolution of 1911 was but a milestone in the westernization of China. Through its success a serious political impediment to progress was removed and a new vista opened for reforms in every phase of Chinese life. Under its impetus one movement after another had been initiated, all with the aim of the liberation of China. Led by a spirited and ambitious minority, the nation has followed acquiescently the experiment in republicanism. The history of the past fifteen years is but a mirth-provoking story of