Li Hung-chang

Li Hung-chang

Li Hung-chang (lē ho͞ong-jäng), 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. Li was the chief negotiator of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895), which ended the First Sino-Japanese War. In 1896 he negotiated the treaty that granted Russia the right to build the Trans-Siberian RR across N Manchuria. He protected foreigners when he was viceroy of Guangzhou during the Boxer Uprising (1900), and he was able to reduce the demands of the foreign powers for reparations. His moderately progressive internal policy included modernization of the army and railroad building.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Li Hung-Chang


Born Feb. 15, 1823, in the district of Hofei, in the province of Anhwei; died Nov. 7, 1901, in Peking. Chinese statesman and diplomat.

Li Hung-chang played a large role in crushing the Taiping Rebellion of 1850–64 and the Nien Rebellion of 1853–68. Vicegerent of the capital province of Chihli, he supported and was instrumental in carrying out the policies of the “self-strengthening movement” (borrowing foreign expertise in modernizing the armed forces and creating China’s own military industry in order to struggle against popular movements).

As a diplomat, Li Hung-chang conducted the policy called “using the barbarians to curb the barbarians”; that is, he attempted, at the cost of concessions and agreements with one imperialist power, to counteract aggression from another imperialist power. In his capacity as head of the Chinese delegation at peace negotiations with Japan, Li Hung-chang signed the Shimonoseki Treaty of 1895, a treaty unfavorable to China. In 1896 he concluded a secret agreement with Russia providing for a military defense pact against Japan and concessions to Russia for the building of the Chinese-Eastern railroad. In 1901 he signed the Protocol with the powers that had participated in the imperialist intervention which crushed the I Ho T’uan (Boxer Rebellion) in China.


Liang Ch’i-ch’ao. Likhunchzhan, ili Politicheskaia istoriia Kitaia za poslednie 40 let. St. Petersburg, 1905. (Translated from Chinese.)
Novaia istoriia Kitaia. Moscow, 1972. (See the name index.)
Efimov, G. Vneshniaia politika Kitaia 1894–1899 gg. Moscow, 1958.
Spector, S. Li Hung-chang and the Huai Army. Seattle, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
No individual bureaucrat played a larger role in directing China's efforts to respond to the foreign and domestic challenges of the late nineteenth century than did Li Hung-chang. A successful military commander and modernizer, Li also helped develop arsenals, shipyards, and steamship transport -- all while playing a key role in diplomacy.
Liu notes in his essay on "Li Hung-chang's formative years," that Li undermined long-term success by a pragmatic accomodation of the existing military and by his failure to confront corruption among his subordinates (18; 25-26).
An intelligent and able scholar-administrator, Tso was particularly gifted as a logistical planner; his long-distance campaigns in northwest China and Sinkiang compare favorably with contemporary operations of European armies; equally remarkable was his unusual stamina, for most of these operations were carried out while he suffered from recurring bouts of malaria and dysentery; with Li Hung-chang and Tseng, a founding member of the Self-Strengthening Movement.