History of China/Qing Dynasty

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The Qing dynasty (清朝), lasting from 1644 AD to 1911 AD, was the last legitimate imperial dynasty in Chinese history. It was the second dynasty ruled by traditionally non-Chinese people. The Manchus invaded and conquered China in 1644 AD, yet pacification and forced assimilation of the whole realm took decades longer and many lives. China prospered during the reigns of three consecutive emperors, Kangxi (康熙), Yongzheng (雍正) and Qianlong (乾隆), creating a rich and strong state, thus enabling it to annex surrounding neighbours, including Tibet and Xinjiang in the west. Many borders in China today, both internal and external, can be traced back to the Qing borders.

After around 100 years of prosperity, the country went on a down slope, coinciding with the arrival of large numbers of Europeans trying to set up trading posts and spheres of influence. Initially reluctant to trade with foreigners, the Qing only opened the port of Canton, current day Guangzhou, for trading under tight regulations. However, after being defeated by Britain in 1842 during the First Opium War, China was forced open and was compelled to set up trading ports, pay reparations, grant certain freedoms to Europeans in China and give up the island of Hong Kong. Other Western countries followed suit, and after a humiliating defeat by modernized Japan in 1894, a massive anti-West uprising erupted in 1900, the Boxer Rebellion, which was endorsed by the Empress dowager at the time, Cixi (慈禧). They raided the Western embassies and so a coalition was formed by Britain, France, Germany, the US, Japan, Russia, Italy and Austria-Hungary to put down the rebellion. They stormed Beijing and forced the Emperor to flee. After looting treasures, a treaty detailing even more colonies and legations in China was signed, with parts of important cities like Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai allocated to Westerners.

Revolutionaries like Sun Yat Sen and Song Jiao Ren have been planning to overthrow the Qing government for years before the end of the dynasty. Multiple uprisings were organised by their party, the Chinese United League (同盟會), yet all of them failed except for Wuchang Uprising in 1911, when the army joined the cause and various provinces declared independence from the central Qing government. The child emperor Puyi (溥儀) abdicated and handed power over to Sun Yat Sen as provisional president, thus ending the imperial period lasting 2000 years in China.