White Lotus Rebellion


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White Lotus Rebellion,

Chinese anti-Manchu uprising that occurred during the Ch'ing dynasty. It broke out (1796) among impoverished settlers in the mountainous region that separates Sichuan prov. from Hubei and Shaanxi provs. It apparently began as a tax protest led by the White Lotus Society, a secret religious society that forecast the advent of the Buddha, advocated restoration of the native Chinese Ming dynasty, and promised personal salvation to its followers. At first the Ch'ing administration, under the control of Ho-shenHo-shen
, 1750–99, Manchu official noted for symbolizing the widespread corruption of the Ch'ing dynasty of China during its decline. As a favorite of emperor Ch'ien-lung, he rose, within two years, from bodyguard to grand councilor and minister of the imperial household.
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, sent inadequate and inefficient imperial forces to suppress the ill-organized rebels. On assuming effective power in 1799, however, Emperor Chia Ch'ing (reigned 1796–1820) overthrew the Ho-shen clique and gave support to the efforts of the more vigorous Manchu commanders as a way of restoring discipline and morale. A systematic program of pacification followed in which the populace was resettled in hundreds of stockaded villages and organized into militia. In its last stage, the Ch'ing suppression policy combined pursuit and extermination of rebel guerrilla bands with a program of amnesty for deserters. Although the Manchu finally crushed (1804) the rebellion, the myth of the military invincibility of the Manchu was shattered, perhaps contributing to the greater frequency of rebellions in the 19th cent.
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The next two chapters aim to demonstrate the emergence of the crises through "A View from the Bottom" of the White Lotus Rebellion and South China piracy, respectively.
Chapter five, "The Inner White Lotus Rebellion"--an explicit reference to James Polacheck's The Inner Opium War--is perhaps the strongest in the book.
Nonetheless this is an excellent study of the Jiaqing court's response to the White Lotus Rebellion and South China piracy, despite occasional theoretical and rhetorical overreach.