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Manchu(măn'cho͞o`, măn`cho͞o'), the last of the Imperial dynasties of China.
The Ch'ing dynasty was established by the ManchusManchu
, people who lived in Manchuria for many centuries and who ruled China from 1644 until 1912. These people, related to the Tungus, were descended from the Jurchen, a tribe known in Asia since the 7th cent. They were first called Manchu in the early 17th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. , who invaded China and captured Beijing in 1644, and lasted until 1911. The term Ch'ing means "pure," and it was used to add legitimacy to an alien rule. The Manchus adopted many aspects of Chinese culture, won widespread Chinese collaboration, and ruled China in some ways while preserving special privileges for themselves. Although many Chinese officials were employed in central and local governments, the Manchus held half of the high offices to assure control over administration.
The Early Ch'ing
, 1654–1722, 2d emperor of the Ch'ing dynasty of China (1661–1722). He extended Manchu control and promoted learning in the arts and sciences. K'ang-hsi conquered the feudatories of S China (1673–81), took Taiwan (1683), established China's first
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 1661–1722) consolidated the Manchu regime by suppressing rebellions (1673–81) and defeating the Mongols and Tibetans. In 1689 the Ch'ing signed the Treaty of Nerchinsk with Russia, demarcating the northern extent of the Manchurian boundary at the Argun River. When Jesuit missionaries appeared, K'ang-Hsi issued (1692) an edict of toleration and employed some of them as astronomers and artists in the palace. But the Roman Catholic Church's decision not to allow the Chinese converts to worship Confucius and their ancestors led to the expulsion of the missionaries in the early 18th cent.
Under Emperor Ch'ien-lungCh'ien-lung
, 1711–99, reign title of the fourth emperor (1735–96) of the Ch'ing dynasty, whose given name was Hung-li. Under his vigorous military policy, China attained its maximum territorial expanse; Xinjiang in the west was conquered, and Myanmar and Annam in
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 1735–96), China attained its greatest territorial expansion: Outer Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, and Turkistan were included in the empire. The economy and commerce greatly expanded. Handicraft industries, such as porcelain manufacture, prospered. Painting, especially the "literati painting" (wen-jen-hua), by which artists tried to express personal feelings, flourished. The Beijing Opera was patronized by Manchu aristocrats. The Manchus, however, maintained an autocratic cultural policy of suppressing subversive writings. Many Chinese authors were jailed, exiled, or killed for criticizing the regime or commenting on current affairs. Study of the ancient classics thrived, and numerous works were compiled and cataloged.
The early Ch'ing's foreign trade policy was affected by considerations of national security. As China's economic growth attracted the attention of European maritime powers, the dynasty tried to limit contacts between foreigners and potential rebels. An imperial edict in 1759 allowed maritime trade only at the port of Guangzhou.
Western Imperialism and Internal Pressures
By the 19th cent. British merchants, who had actively traded in S China, pressured their government to make repeated attempts (1793, 1816, 1834) to open China's market by establishing official trade relations with the Ch'ing government. All these attempts failed. But Britain's victory in the first of the Opium WarsOpium Wars,
1839–42 and 1856–60, two wars between China and Western countries that marked the shift of wealth and power from East to West. The first was between Great Britain and China. Early in the 19th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. (1839–42) forced China to sign the Treaty of Nanjing (1842), the first of the unequal treaties that China signed with Western countries. By these treaties China was forced to open coastal and later internal ports to foreign trade and residence, cede Hong Kong to Great Britain, and establish extraterritorialityextraterritoriality
privilege of immunity from local law enforcement enjoyed by certain aliens. Although physically present upon the territory of a foreign nation, those aliens possessing extraterritoriality are considered by customary
..... Click the link for more information. for Western nations.
The Manchu regime, already weakened by Western encroachments, was further enfeebled by internal rebellions. The Taiping RebellionTaiping Rebellion,
1850–64, revolt against the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty of China. It was led by Hung Hsiu-ch'üan, a visionary from Guangdong who evolved a political creed and messianic religious ideology influenced by elements of Protestant Christianity.
..... Click the link for more information. (1851–64) nearly brought the dynasty to an end. However, the Manchu regime suppressed the major rebellions and embarked on a policy of diplomatic, technological, and military modernization led by Tseng Kuo-fanTseng Kuo-fan
, 1811–72, Chinese general and statesman of the Ch'ing dynasty. He organized (1853) the Hunan army, the first of the great regional armies that were raised to suppress the Taiping Rebellion. Appointed governor-general of Jiangsu, Anhui, and Jiangxi provs.
..... Click the link for more information. (1811–72) and Li Hung-changLi Hung-chang
, 1823–1901, Chinese statesman and general. His first success was as a commander of forces fighting the Taiping Rebellion. As viceroy of the capital province of Zhili (1870–95), he controlled Chinese foreign affairs for the Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi.
..... Click the link for more information. (1823–1901). These statesmen played important roles in the T'ung Chih restoration (1862–74), during which the dynasty attempted to restore the traditional order by reasserting Confucian social values and importing modern weaponry from the West.
China yielded to Western demands for permanent diplomatic representation in Beijing (1860) and continued to suffer territorial encroachments. Russia occupied Ili, Japan incorporated the Ryukyu islands, France made Annam a protectorate, and Great Britain completed its annexation of Burma (Myanmar). The First Sino-Japanese WarSino-Japanese War, First,
1894–95, conflict between China and Japan for control of Korea in the late 19th cent. The Li-Ito Convention of 1885 provided for mutual troop withdrawals and advance notification of any new troop movements into Korea.
..... Click the link for more information. (1894–95) deprived China of its suzerainty over Korea and Taiwan, and the war was followed by the partition of mainland China into "spheres of influence." The general agreement was that Great Britain should predominate in the Chang (Yangtze) valley, France in the extreme south, and Russia in Manchuria. After the Russo-Japanese WarRusso-Japanese War,
1904–5, imperialistic conflict that grew out of the rival designs of Russia and Japan on Manchuria and Korea. Russian failure to withdraw from Manchuria and Russian penetration into N Korea were countered by Japanese attempts to negotiate a division of
..... Click the link for more information. (1904–5), Japan took over Russia's sphere.
Efforts to strengthen the dynasty against foreign imperialism were undertaken by Kang Yowei (1858–1927) with the support of the emperor Kuang-hsuKuang-hsu
, 1871–1908, emperor of China (1875–1908). Although he was not in the direct line of succession, he was appointed to the throne by his aunt, the dowager empress and regent, Tz'u Hsi. He began his rule in 1889.
..... Click the link for more information. . These efforts, however, were frustrated by the dowager empress Tz'u HsiTz'u Hsi,
, 1834–1908, dowager empress of China (1861–1908) and regent (1861–73, 1874–89, 1898–1908).
..... Click the link for more information. , who aborted the reform movement in a coup. She supported the Boxer UprisingBoxer Uprising,
1898–1900, antiforeign movement in China, culminating in a desperate uprising against Westerners and Western influence.
By the end of the 19th cent. the Western powers and Japan had established wide interests in China.
..... Click the link for more information. , however, in a vain attempt to dislodge the foreign powers (1898–1900).
Collapse of the Dynasty
Following foreign suppression of the Boxer Uprising, Tz'u Hsi changed course and allowed some moderate educational and administrative reforms. However, the dynasty acted slowly upon the demands of intellectuals, social leaders, and progressive provincial governors for a national assembly and a change to constitutional monarchy.
From abroad Sun Yat-senSun Yat-sen
, Mandarin Sun Wen, 1866–1925, Chinese revolutionary. He was born near Guangzhou into a farm-owning family. He attended (1879–82) an Anglican boys school in Honolulu, where he came under Western influence, particularly that of Christianity.
..... Click the link for more information. helped to foster and lead a movement for the revolutionary overthrow of the Manchus and establishment of a republic. A coalition, which included moderate leaders in S China, revolutionary students who had returned from the West, and military officers, finally overthrew the dynasty in the Revolution of 1911. Following the collapse of the Ch'ing, China abandoned its 2,000-year tradition of monarchic rule in favor of a republican form of government.
See S. Y. Teng and J. K. Fairbank, China's Response to the West (1954); F. Wakeman, Jr., The Fall of Imperial China (1975) and The Great Enterprise: The Manchu Reconstruction of Imperial Order in Seventeenth-Century China (2 vol. 1985); I. C. Y. Hsü, The Rise of Modern China (1990); J. D. Spence, The Search for Modern China (1990).