The 1911 Chinese Revolution Essay, Research Paper
The 1911 Chinese Revolution
A revolution by dictionary meaning is a forcible overthrow of government or social order, a radical or fundamental change in the reversal of conditions. The first revolution to occur in China in the twentieth century saw the break up of the Qing dynasty and overthrew the Emperor, was the 1911 revolution. Numerous diverse factors contributed towards the 1911 revolution. Foreign invasion caused China s traditional systems to collapse, rebellions like the Diabing and Boxer Rebellions further exposed their inability to survive, short term factors such as drought and poverty led the Chinese to believe that the mandate of heaven had been lost, and the failure to bring about reform for the self-strengthening movement.
Until 1911, China was ruled by the Qing dynasty. Pressures on the Qing dynasty came with the arrival of European traders and missionaries. The Qing government had been weakened by its contact with western nations. Its efforts to terminate the British opium trade in China and decrease the outflow of silver led to two disastrous wars in 1840 and 1856, which cause further impoverishment of the Chinese people. China lost both wars and the foreign powers of Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Belgium and America forced China to pay war indemnities and to open more ports to foreign trade. It arranged to allow missionaries to come into China and was obligated to hand Hong Kong over to Britain and allow foreigners to be judged by their own laws. This led to frequent uprisings and rebellions of the dissatisfied population
The Diabing and Boxer Society were formed in North China after the Sino-Japanese war, but weren t well known until 1898 in Shantung. This organization was actually a cult, following strange and absurd practices of defence. It had no central leaders, and the practices varied in different locations. Their goal was to rid China of the foreign menace. The Boxers were different from most other rebels of their time. The members of this group consisted of mostly the criminals, poor, and illiterate of China who wore a simple uniform consisting of a red armband, sash, or waistcloth. These people truly believed that magic would protect them, and help remove the foreigners from China. Through purity and discipline, they would expel foreigners from China, kill all Christians and burn Christian churches. Missionaries were killed, railroads were destroyed, and churches were burned all in the name of independence from foreign rule. Although the empress supported the boxers the boxer rebellion was defeated giving foreigners even more power in China.
Realising that it was to weak to resist foreigners, China embarked on a self-Strengthening movement that aimed to build up military power and modernise enterprises through private capital in order to challenge foreign domination. Taxes were raised and money was produced to increase the effectiveness of China s navy. It failed to bring wealth and power to China, and succeeded only in enriching the provincial officials. This increased the Qing government s ability to further dominate the Chinese people, and strengthened the feudal bureaucracy. China remained industrially underdeveloped. In 1894, China lost another humiliating war; this time to the hands of the Japanese, who annexed Formosa (Taiwan) and took over Korea from China. The war uncovered the corruption and incompetence of the imperial government and this saw the end of the reform movement. It was later declared that the extravagant Empress Dowager Cixi, had spent 36 million taels of Chinese silver on rebuilding the Summer Palace, using funds that had been set aside for reconstructing the navy. By 1900, China was literally divided like a melon.
Another key aspect in the rebellions against the foreigners was a series of natural disasters that swept China during the last decade of the nineteenth centenary. The Boxers were furthermore against the Empress, believing that the Qing had lost the mandate of heaven. Famine struck, droughts prevented the planting of crops, and to top it all, the yellow river flooded, causing the destruction of 1, 500 villages and 2, 500 square miles of countryside. These disasters lead to unhappiness of the people. In order to keep them from turning on the government, the Empress Dowager Cixi, encouraged the peasants to rebel against the foreigners. Some of these angry people joined the Boxers, and others rebelled alone, but they had the Empress behind them, giving them encouragement, and making them feel ready to take on the demons from the West.
The Chinese 1911 revolution certainly did not just happen over night, many dynamic reasons contributed towards the transformation of China s empire. The whole Chinese system was based on virtue, obedience and respect for others. The goal was harmony, however, this was certainly not the case in the years leading up to the 1911 revolution. The monarchs of China were weak, the bureaucracy was fraudulent and foreign powers began to demand that China was opened up to trade. The British wanted to sell Opium to the Chinese in return for trade goods, this led to the Opium wars, one in 1840 and on in 1856. China lost both wars. This shortly led to chaos in China, leading to the Daibing rebellion against the Emperor and to the self-strengthening movement. The reform was the last attempt to deal with China s weakness. It aimed to modernise China, in order to help her resist foreign invasion. Despite these reforms, many people believed they were only window dressing not really bringing enough change, and thought that the only way to reform China was through a revolution.