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Thread: Empress dowager cixi

  1. #16
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    They put up slogans so that people could know what was their goal. Their slogans were: If there's land, plough together; if there's food, eat together; if there're clothes, use together; if there's money, spend together. And absolute equality everywhere. Enough food and clothes for everyone. These slogans fascinated and attracted a vast number of poor people, and hence swelled the Peaceful Army.
    Their sublime aim was to overthrow Qing Dynasty and drive the Mandarin Clan out beyond the Great Wall, back to where they had come from. An order stated that anyone in the Peaceful Army, if coming in possession of anything, must hand in to the Heavenly Treasury and everyone could get a share from it when needed. Therefore, unlike the armies of Qing government, the Peaceful Army had good discipline and was supported by the people. Many young beggars and vagabonds joined it. Another edict was given that people of the Han Clan should grow their hair on the front part of their pate and restore the hairstyle of Han Clan. The male hair style of the Mandarin Clan was to shave the front part of the pate clean and braid the back part of the hair into a pigtail. When the Mandarin Clan had built up their Qing Dynasty, they had ordered all the male people of the Han Clan to wear their hair in the same style. Whoever had refused would have been beheaded. Their slogan was: hair or head. (It meant that if you wanted your hair, you could not keep your head on your shoulders.) So when the Peaceful Army grew their hair, Qing government called them Long-Hair.
    While the Peaceful Army was celebrating their victory and newly-founded regime, Qing government gathered large troops and encircled YongAn City. In March, 1852, the Peaceful Army concentrated its forces and wedged out from the enclosure of the government army. The government army pursued, but was put to rout. The Peaceful Army headed for Guilin City, the capital of Guangxi Province. They surrounded the City for a month, but could not take it. So they quit and marched northbound.
    The emperor sent three detachments to attack the Peaceful Army, but were also beaten. Then the government troops gathered in Wuchang City for the purpose to prevent the Peaceful Army from going further north. The emperor issued an order to allow cities, towns and even villages to organize and train their own people for self-protection.
    On December 7, 1852, the Peaceful Army split itself into two sections. One section went on land and the other by water. They obtained plenty of ships from the government army. Their goal was the Wu-Han area, which included Wuchang City, Hanyang City and Hankou City. The Three Cities were the important military strategic area on the upper Yangtze River. Within ten days the Peaceful Army occupied the three cities one after another. The Heavenly King and all his other kings stayed in Wuchang City to celebrate and recruit while the emperor ordered his army commanders to set up defense lines in Hunan Province, Hubei Province and Anhui Province to blockade the advance of the Peaceful Army towards Nanking City.

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    On February 9, 1853, after the Chinese New Year, the Peaceful Army left Wuchang City, dividing itself again into two sections. They went on land alongside and by water on the Yangtze River. They aimed at Nanking City. They took over many cities and towns along the way, like Jiujiang City, Anqing City, which was a very important spot in the military point of view, and Wuwu City. On March 18, the Peaceful Army entered Nanking City. They changed the name to Tianking City. (Tianking means the Heavenly Capital.)
    The Peaceful Army established new law and order in the City. It was very simple: those who killed others would be executed. No robbery or theft happened because the excessive things must go to the warehouses of the Heavenly Treasury. Every twenty-five families formed a social unit. A unit leader was elected. A strong male adult was chosen from every family to form the basic military unit. The twenty-five families worked together and lived together. There was a treasury warehouse in every unit. Everything they got was stored there and everything necessary for the living was supplied from there. It was said that the foreign governments sent their representatives to have a look in Nanking City, surprised at all these. They thought it was a revolutionary army and hereby kept strictly neutral between the two regimes.
    When the message reached the Forbidden City, the emperor lost his appetite in anxiety. He appointed new commanders to organize two detachments. One set up their camp in the area of Purple Golden Mountain not far from Nanking City on the southern side of the Yangtze River. It was called the South River Camp. The other camped in Yangzhou City on the northern side of the Yangtze River, hence called the North River Camp.

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    Chapter 6

    The historians have discussed why the Qing government armies were so easily defeated and their conclusions are: (1) The military system of Qing Dynasty was that the army controlled by the central government was called Eight-Flag Army and those belonged to the local government were named Green-Camp Army. The Eight-Flag Army could no longer fight after long time of peace (almost two hundred years) and lack of training and practice. The old fighters had long been dead. The new generation of soldiers all came from rich or well-to-do families. They joined the Army as an honor since there was no occasion for fighting at that time. There really were days fixed for training, but most of them just hired some poor young men to be drilled in their names for roll-calling. No one knew who's who by face. Now the time came for the combat, but they didn't know how to fight. As for the Green-Camp Army, their sole duty was to defend the city or town they belonged to against small groups of outlaws. They had no experience in big-time fight on the battlefield, like forming a phalanx, and no training whatever for that matter. (2) Every commander wanted to be independent and fought separately. They couldn't unite as a strategic whole. Especially so was the Green-Camp Army. They were accustomed to the way that once they chased the rebels out of their jurisdiction, their duties were performed. The fleeing rebels were the problem of another jurisdiction. (3) There were conflicts of ideas and interests between officials and officers of the Mandarin Clan and those of the Han Clan. The latter looked down upon the former and wouldn't obey the former. The commanders were all from the Mandarin Clan and all were no good. (4) In Qing Dynasty, officials were above officers in status and ranks, but they didn't know how to fight. So officers often disobeyed them. Quite a few officials just ran away in the face of the enemies. (5) The government officers and soldiers often did nasty things to common people like extorting, and so they couldn't get universal support. When the Peaceful Army assaulted Nanking City, there were only five thousand government soldiers to defend it. This was a big city with the circumference of forty-eight kilometers and more than fifteen thousand battlements. Every soldier should safeguard three battlements. No wonder the Peaceful Army entered the city like back into their own home.
    After the Heavenly King settled in Nanking City as his capital, he issued two orders. His Heavenly General and Earthly General (their position equivalent to that of a commander) would march twenty thousand strong northbound, detouring Yangzhou City where the government army camped. His Spring General would start from Pukou Town northward. The instruction given to them was to advance towards Peking to overthrow Qing Dynasty. They fought their easy way through Anhui Province and met resistance in Hunan Province. But they penetrated the defense line of the government army and approached Kaifeng City, the capital of Hunan Province. They assailed the city, but couldn't break through. So they went in a roundabout way and ferried across the Yellow River at Yixin Town. They enclosed Huaiqing Town and conquered the government army there, headed by the governor of Zhidi Province (It's Hebei Province now on the map). They hoofed towards Baoding City, close to Peking.

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    The emperor was chocked by the message. He scraped up all his forces on hand, including the regiment of his bodyguards, one hundred and fifty thousand in all. By that time, the detachments of the Peaceful Army had reached Tianjin City. The mayor had a section of the dike dug open. The water from the Grand Canal deluged the area and blocked the advance of the Peaceful Army. It was winter already. The soldiers of the Peaceful Army were all from the south of China, where the climate is warm. They could not stand the cold of the north and had to beat a retreat. They were assaulted by the government army in their way to withdraw. The Qing government used Mongolian cavalry to attack the Peaceful Army. Four hooves were much quicker than two feet. Spring General of the Peaceful Army was killed in the battle. Heavenly General was surrounded, waiting for rescue. The Heavenly King did send reinforcement twice, but the reinforcement didn't reach Heavenly General because it was blocked by the government army. The Mongolian cavalry that was encircling Heavenly General broke a part of the dike of a nearby river. The flood soaked the provisions and gunpowder of the Peaceful Army. As a result, Heavenly General was captured and executed. Earthly General escaped with two thousand soldiers, but was ambushed, captured and executed, too. The goal to seize Peking failed, because forty thousand of the Peaceful Army could not fight against one hundred and fifth thousand of the government army. It was in 1855.
    However, warfare went on at both sides of the Yangtze River. In April, 1856, Swallow King of the Peaceful Army vanquished the North River Camp of the government army. Then in July of the same year, Swallow King and Wing King together beat the South River Camp. The Peaceful Army had the control of the entire area of the Yangtze River. The revolutionary cause reached its summit.
    Emperor Xianfeng ordered some of his courtiers to organize new troops in the southern provinces. One of the courtiers was Zeng Kuofan of the Han Clan. Zeng was born in 1811 in a landlord family. He passed all the government tests in 1838 and was promoted to be the Right Deputy Minister of Etiquette Ministry. When Emperor Xianfeng succeeded to the throne, he got another title of the Left Deputy Minister of Judicial Ministry.
    Zeng exercised the self-education of his own character. He believed in patience, perseverance, honesty and hidden wisdom (to show you are not clever, or even stupid). These were his principles in all the things he undertook. There were different ways to organize troops. The way Qing government adopted was that everyone at the right age could join the troops, and the officers were appointed by the government. The officers and soldiers didn't even know each other. There were no other ties between them. Zeng followed another way. He appointed those he knew well as his officers and let his officers recruit their own soldiers, mostly from the same village or from the same neighborhood. They were familiar with each other and cared for each other. The ties between them were not mere military disciplines. So the morale was different. Furthermore, most of his officers were literate, some even learned, while many officers in the government army were illiterate; some even couldn't write his own name, or know his own name if when shown to him. The high-rank government officers if illiterate, had secretaries to do the writing job for them when needed.

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    Zeng named his army Xiang Army. (Xiang is the substitute word for Hunan Province just like N. Y. for New York State. This was invented for telegram purpose. One word that stands for a province can save money when sending a telegram.) In 1853 when Xiang Army was just born, it wiped out a group of outlaws like testing the sharpness of the edge of a new sword. Then it beat a division of the Peaceful Army. At that time, two detachments of the Peaceful Army had been fighting in the area of the Yellow River, trying to reach Peking. Some other detachments went back westward and took Anqing City and Wuchang City again. They met with Xiang Army in the district between the Xiang River and the Puyang Lake and defeated the young and inexperienced Xiang Army there. As Zeng gathered his beaten troops, he reorganized and trained them, both on land and on the Yangtze River. After that, Xiang Army marched eastward and conquered the detachments of the Peaceful Army and took back Wuchang City once more. Wuchang City was like a ball being played in the field, sometimes falling into the hands of the Peaceful Army and sometimes gotten by the government army. But the detachments that had been defeated were not the main forces of the Peaceful Army. Now Xiang Army advanced further eastward, both on land and by water, and suddenly faced the Wing King of the Peaceful Army at Jiujiang City. Troops headed by Wing King were one of the main forces of the Peaceful Army and so Xiang Army was subdued again. Wing King proceeded towards the upper Yangtze River and occupied Wuchang City once again. Now the Peaceful Army controlled a vast area of the Yangtze River, from Wuchang City in the west to Nanking City in the east, like the sun clambering at the zenith. It was 1856.
    The fatal turning point of the Peaceful Army from victory to failure was the inside murdering of each other. It happened in that same year. When the Peaceful Army had just been formed, Heavenly King had made East King take charge of everything like his prime minister. Later, South King and West King had been killed in the battles. When they had settled in Nanking City as the capital, except for Heavenly King, there were only three powerful kings left: East King, North King and Wing King. Other kings were not so powerful. East King was very conceited and often bullied other kings. He had even no proper decorum for Heavenly King, who began to suspect that East King might usurp his position as the head king. Other kings, especially North King, harbored a grudge against East King, who didn't even know. When they had been fighting the government army, they had known the significance of unity and solidarity. But when they had won the day over the North River Camp of the government army, the victory had turned their heads. Heavenly King and North King commenced to plot against East King, who never had thought that such lethal danger could have come to him.

  7. #22
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    One day, Heavenly King and North King sent their faithful men to assail the residence of East King, who didn't have enough bodyguards to defend himself and was slain. Then the massacre began. His family, his
    Relatives and his faithful followers were sought after and all put to death. It was said that the number of the people butchered amounted estimably to twenty thousand. All that time, Wing King was in Anqing City. When
    He learned the bloody incident, he hurried back to the capital to blame North King for the slaughter. North King flared up in rage and schemed to assassinate Wing King, who got the wind of it and escaped under the cover of night back to Anqing City. North King had the family of Wing King murdered. When back to Anqing City, Wing King gathered his troops. He had a great deal of supporters among the Peaceful Army because he was always trustworthy and nice to people. When Heavenly King got the message that Wing King would bring his troops to the capital, he panicked and executed North King. Then he had the severed head of North King sent to Wing King to pacify him. When Wing King arrived in the capital, many other kings suggested that Wing King should take charge of everything like East King had done before. But Heavenly King feared that Wing King would become a threat to him some day and so he made his two brothers kings to help him. His eldest brother was made Safety King and his second brother Fortune King. The two kings often interfered with whatever Wing King was carrying out. This made Wing King uneasy. Being afraid to lose his life senselessly like East King and North King, Wing King had to leave the capital with his own troops to go westward for his own independent development. From then on, he didn't keep in contact with Heavenly King anymore. He didn? want to have anything to do with Heavenly King.
    Four kings were dead and one king was forced to leave. This greatly weakened the Peaceful Army. The government army seized the opportunity to counterattack. Xiang Army occupied Wuchang City finally. Another government army took Hanyang City. A detachment of Xiang Army had Jiujiang City in control. Therefore, the banners of the Peaceful Army were no longer perceived in Hunan Province and Jiangxi Province. Wing King fought his way from Zhejiang Province through Jiangxi Province and Fujian Province, then across Hunan province, back to Guangxi Province, where he had taken up arms in revolt five years before. Qing government reorganized their North River Camp and South River Camp, which approached Nanking City again.
    With five kings gone, two of the other kings became powerful. One was Shrewdness King, who was in Anqing City and the other was Loyalty King, who stayed in the capital to defend it.

  8. #23
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    With five kings gone, two of the other kings became powerful. One was Shrewdness King, who was in Anqing City and the other was Loyalty King, who stayed in the capital to defend it.
    In Spring of 1857, in the provinces between the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, there arose another rebellion, which was known as the Nian Army, one hundred thousand strong. They often allied with the Peaceful Army. Qing government had to divide its forces to combat both the Nian Army and the Peaceful Army simultaneously. The Nian Army also called the leaders kings. Every king led a detachment, but they did not have a head king. They fought separately, never unified as a whole, though they assumed the same name. They never set up a capital. They went here and there, never stayed at one place long. The leader of the largest detachment was called Fertility King with eighty thousand fighters. In 1858, he took control of Fengyang town and aimed at Peking. In September of 1858, the Peaceful Army led by Swallow King and Loyalty King subjugated North River Camp again at Pukou Town, and then annihilated a detachment of Xiang Army of six thousand soldiers in Anhui Province. A brother of Zeng was killed in the action. No more threat to Nanking City from the north. Then Action King and Loyalty King of the Peaceful Army worked out a stratagem. Loyalty King marched toward Hangzhou City, the capital of Zhejiang Province, feigning an attack to it. This area was very important to the government army because they got all the provisions from there. So the South River Camp maneuvered eastward to defend the city. A tiger, once out of its lair, was vulnerable. Now Loyalty King turned around to meet the advancing South River Camp of the government army while Shrewdness King, Action King, Service King, Assistant King and five generals attacked the rear and flanks of South River Camp, which couldn't resist the blow of ten fists and were scattered on May 5, 1860, and its commander committed suicide. Besides Jiangsu Province (Nanking City is its capital), the Peaceful Army possessed Zhejiang Province and Fujian Province, though they lost all the provinces west to Anqing City, which had been attacked since spring of 1860 by Xiang Army under the command of another brother of Zeng (Younger Zeng to distinguish from Elder Zeng).
    When the shocked reports of the defeats of the two Camps lay on the emperor's desk, he was too downhearted to even have a meeting with his courtiers. He had been ambitious when he had succeeded to the throne many years before. He had wanted to restore his empire to its former glory and prosperity. But contrary to his fond hopes and wishes, the whole situation turned from bad to worse. He felt too tired and depressed to prod the leaning empire, nodding to fall. He gave up his hope and ambition. He didn't want to read any more of such sad reports. He would play the ostrich, burying his head in the sands. So he started to indulge himself in sex and merry-making.

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    In Qing Dynasty, a royal maid serving in the Forbidden City would either be released to her parents' home or be married to anyone the emperor's whim took to when she reached the age of twenty-five unless she had become the emperor's concubine before that age. So almost every year, the emperor would select some new ones to replace those released. This took place even in the heat of the warfare between the rebels and the government. Girls from thirteen to seventeen of age must be reported to the Clan Affairs Management, which would do the sifting among girls on the list. After that, only a small group of most suitable girls were qualified to be presented before the emperor, who would choose from them himself. That day, many urgent reports from the war districts appeared before the emperor, demanding his immediate attention. He must read them at once and discuss with the courtiers about the military situations there and about how to instruct his commanders to maneuver their troops. He was back to his palace later than usual.
    All the time, the girls were standing in the receiving room of the emperor, waiting for him. They were not permitted to sit down. Just imagine: if you were as young and standing for hours, how would you feel? Hungry. Exhausted. Irritated, maybe. Dare not complain. Wishing you were dead then and there. One of the girls was bold enough to complain aloud, "It's the war time. Emperor still selects maids." The eunuch in charge panicked because if the emperor heard of it, not only the girl would be executed, but he would also be punished. He bellowed at her, "Shut up. You'll be beaten if you complain again." He was told that the emperor would soon come. He didn't want the girl to cause trouble for him, and for her, too. But the girl continued as if she hadn't been interrupted, "I'm not afraid of death, let alone beating." The eunuch was really piqued. He raised his right hand, intending to slap her face.
    The emperor just entered the room in time to save her skin. All the girls kowtowed to the emperor and were bidden to stand up. Now, the emperor said to the girl, ?ou can say what you have to say. I won't take offense.The girl went on, "Emperor must know there's war in southern provinces and people died hundreds by hundreds everyday. There's flood south of the Yellow River. So many people lost home and everything. In this critical time, Emperor should spend his precious time and energy on these important matters, not on the selection of maids." Cold sweat wetted the clothes of everyone else in this room. They thought the emperor would have her beheaded once she finished, but to everybody's astonishment, the emperor didn't show any wrath. He only ordered that the girls be sent back to their respective homes. It was because the emperor heard a huge-roomful of flattering words everyday and was bored with them. Now such a young girl could tell him the cruel truth to his face. He was surprised and fascinated. So he pardoned her.
    Last edited by xlwoo; 08-25-2017 at 08:37 AM.

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    Chapter 7

    Despite that it was already over the hunting season, Emperor Xianfeng declared that he would go to the Summer Palace in Rehe. Emperors in Qing Dynasty went there in hunting season, (generally from May to September) really for the purpose of training their armies. But this time Emperor Xianfeng used it as a pretext, because the joint armies of the foreign invaders had occupied Tianjin City in July, 1860, and would soon reach the capital, Peking. It was called The Second Opium War in the history of China.
    Some courtiers tried to dissuade the emperor from flight, but in vain. On September 21, the combined foreign troops were very close to the capital. The emperor could hear the sound of cannons in the Forbidden City. On September 22, in the late morning, the emperor left Peking with his family, followed by a few courtiers and two thousand bodyguards.
    The Autumn scenes along the escaping route, the yellow leaves on the trees and on the ground, the chilly winds blowing, the melancholy caws of the crow, all added up to the sorrow of the emperor having to flee from his warm luxury Forbidden City. He felt he was a sinner to his ancestors.
    Now the royal family was in the Summer Palace: the emperor, the queen, Concubine Yan and her son, and Concubine Li and her daughter. Other concubines didn't have time to follow the emperor. When they came to learn the tidings that the emperor had fled, it was too late for them to catch up with him. The emperor left his brother Prince Yixin in Peking to negotiate with the foreigners, who entered the Round-Bright Garden on October 6, to pillage and then set fire to it. (The burned ruins can still be seen even when the author is writing this book.)
    The emperor was sick and weary of dealing with all the troubles. He trusted the state affairs to his favorite courtier, the younger brother Sushun, even though he was not a secretary of state then. Emperors of Qing Dynasty had established a secretarial bureau and appointed five or sometimes six courtiers as secretaries of state, with one as the head secretary. The bureau handled all the state affairs, and the military affairs as well, working under the emperor. The prime ministers were no longer in charge of the national affairs. But they still had some indefinite duties to perform.
    There were six ministries. Every ministry had two ministers, one from the Mandarin Clan and the other from the Han Clan. And it had four deputy ministers. One Right Deputy Minister and one Left Deputy Minister were appointed from the Mandarin Clan and the other Right Deputy Minister and the other Left Deputy Minister were chosen from the Han Clan, to balance the racial problem.

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    Personnel Ministry took care of the appointments and the removals of all the officials and officers in the central and local governments all over the country and of their promotions and demotions based on their self-evaluations and criticisms from others. For that matter, a critique official could throw a lot of weight around and a critique report on any officials or officers would count. So there were good critique officials and there were bad critique officials. Corrupt officials and officers were afraid of good ones since they wouldn't take money or even gifts, but all officials and officers dreaded bad ones, who would hint a bribery, or a critique report would appear on the emperor's desk, based on mere rumors and gossips. And it was allowed by law. If no critique came in for an official or officer, it meant that he was good. If instead there were praises, it would be better. Therefore, some mayors, though corrupt, forced the people in his district to give him something as an evidence of praise when he left his office, such as an umbrella with as many signatures on it as possible. It was called People of Petition Umbrella which denoted that people there wanted him to remain in office, the highest form of praise for a mayor.
    Internal Revenue Ministry kept the records of population statistics, and based on them, made decisions how many taxes the local governments should collect and a certain percentage of the local tax collections should be sent to the central government. It also determined the special tax collections like salt tax. There was a lot of salt smuggling going on to avoid paying salt tax. An officer was thereby placed in the area that yielded salt. He headed an army to force the tax collection. This ministry also controlled the expenditure of the central government since it had the control of the national financial affairs. The local governments had their departments for that purpose. This ministry often had the most difficult time among all the ministries. If there was a war, it must provide the financial support for armies to get provisions and arms. If the emperor needed more money for his personal use, it was the responsibility of this ministry to gratify him. If the emperor was dissatisfied with the performance of their duties, the minister would be removed from office or even put into prison and a new one appointed. But it also served the minister and his subordinates as Ali Baba's cave. They were buried in treasure and could embezzle the hoard bit by bit. If they were discreet enough, no one could notice it.
    Etiquette Ministry was a poor but respected ministry, which would make rules of rituals for certain occasions in reference to the rules used by the previous dynasties and act as master of ceremony where needed. Any new rules must be discussed among the high-rank officials and then approved by the emperor. The job was easy. Only no extra money came in. People would bribe the Personnel Minister for a better position. But for what purpose would they bribe the Etiquette Minister?

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    Military Ministry took charge of all the war business. It would make all the necessary preparations for a war, including to suggest who could be the generals for armies, what were the best strategies to use, which should be discussed among all the high-rank officials and officers and then be approved by the emperor. Since war was a life and death business and the empire was staked on it, the emperor made the final decisions for everything concerning the war. This ministry would be in joint efforts with the Internal Revenue Ministry to supply the armies with equipment and provisions. In the peaceful time, it would look over how the local garrison troops worked and would train recruits to replace those not fit any more to fight.
    Judicial Ministry made all kinds of laws, which would be discussed among all the high-rank officials and then be approved by the emperor. It would interpret laws and try cases concerning government officials and officers. If common people wanted to bring in a lawsuit against an official to the Judicial Ministry, he or she must go through a fatal procedure to prove that he or she had nowhere else to go for justice. A piece of wood was put before the gate of the ministry building with the sharp ends of the nails upward on it. He or she must throw himself and herself on it. If he or she was not dead after that, the judicial minister would accept the lawsuit. But often, he or she would wear enough thick clothes to do that, even in summer time. This was allowed. The ministry didn't accept lawsuits of common people against other common people.
    The duties of Construction Ministry were to build new structures and fix old ones that belonged to the central government within the capital. Although its power was limited, it had extra money to be embezzled. The approved budget for the building was always much higher than the real cost. It's the same everywhere, the same anytime through the history, and will remain the same till the remotest future. The government is always like a gigantic cake and everyone around it thinks that he has a right to bite a morsel from it. The greedy ones will have two morsels or more.

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    Besides these six ministries, there were some departments in the central government. The Critique Department had the responsibilities to watch that no officials and officers did anything wrong and against laws. If they came to know or hear of such wrong doings, they could send in critique reports to the emperor. They were even assigned the right to criticize the emperor himself if he did something against etiquette rules or laws. The positions in that department could not be bought. Only those who had passed the final test in the capital were entitled to such appointments. Since all the officials in that department were deemed scholars, they wrote their critique reports in great endeavors for the beautiful wording that sometimes the wording gave the emperor a deep impression even if he didn't agree to the opinions. The impression would inevitably imprint the name of the writer on the mind of the emperor and later when the emperor needed somebody to fill a certain position, the name would pop up first. Besides that advantage, those who could write better-worded reports were more esteemed among the scholars and had hereby more influence. So those so-called scholars would not condescend to mingle with the officials who had bought their titles, which created ill feelings among the latter.
    There was a Supreme Court, which would try all cases that came its way. The head judge was lower in rank than the ministers and the head critique official. If there was a specially important case, like treason of a high official or officer, it should be tried by the three heads: the judicial minister, the head critique official and the head judge in the supreme court building. The huge courtroom had a big long table put in the center near the back wall. The judge sat behind it on a chair. If three heads were present in a special case, three chairs were put behind the long table. Sometimes three smaller tables were placed there instead of a big long one. Some torture equipments were displayed along both sidewalls and the prison police stood in two rows on either side before the long table. When a prisoner was being brought in, a threatening sound was issued in unison from the policemen standing straight there: huuuuuuuuuu weiiiiiiiiii----till the prisoner was on his knees before the long table. Then the trial began. Usually the prisoner would claim his innocence, but sometimes he really didn't commit the alleged crime. But in either case, since the judge couldn't be sure that the prisoner was innocent or guilty, he invariably ordered the torture equipment used. The first torture for a man was the beating on his bare butts with a thick wooden stick. How many beatings he would get depended on the mood of the judge or the seriousness of the offense. Generally thirty to a hundred. Often the prisoner would bleed on the butts. But the first torment for a woman was slaps on the face with a leather piece shaped like a hand. If the judge was not satisfied with the prisoner's confession, if any, a second torment would be administered. For a man, it was two long pieces of wood with ropes on both ends. The prisoner's forelegs were put between the two wooden pieces. When the ropes were tightened on both ends, there would be sharp pain on the shins, which could even be broken when really pressed hard. For a woman, it was ten short wooden sticks with ropes connected, looking like toy fences. The woman's eight fingers were put in, each between two sticks. Then the ropes were tightened. The pain on the fingers for a woman was also unbearable. Under such tortures, even the innocent would repeat whatever the judge wanted him or her to confess. If the prisoner was a high-rank official or officer, the judge was prohibited to use tortures and he must produce evidence. Even if the judge made the verdict, it should be approved by the emperor, who could change any verdict, even death sentence, as a special favor.
    Since many foreign countries established their legations in Peking, the Qing government had to have set up a new department to deal with foreign governments. On January 13, 1861, Prince Yixin sent in a report from Peking to the Summer Palace, requesting the setup of the Foreign Affairs Yamen. On January 20, the emperor approved it. Its head was always a prince. And now Prince Yixin was the head.

  14. #29
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    Chapter 8

    Since the Secretarial Bureau was set up, many decisions had been made by the secretaries instead of the prime ministers and ministers, who formed the Cabinet, and all the orders or statements must be issued through the Cabinet. The Secretarial Bureau acted only as the emperor? private consulting office and it was not part of the central government. The emperor gave power to the Secretarial Bureau, not to the Cabinet. But a secretary could be simultaneously a prime minister, a minister or even one ranking lower in the official position than a minister. Now only four secretaries followed the emperor to the Summer Palace.
    But the emperor still needed to read all the reports sent in by the courtiers in Peking or the governors in all the provinces, twenty-three in all at that time. He must make decisions and gave written orders when required. As his health deteriorated due to tuberculosis, he coughed blood and easily got tired. He let Concubine Yan read the reports for him, and for minor things even let her make the decisions. Concubine Yan was a woman of talent and ambition, aspiring after power. This supplied her with an excellent opportunity to get familiar with the procedures how to handle the state affairs a useful practice to prepare her for her political career later.
    The ancestors of Qing Dynasty had had instructions written to forbid women to interfere in politics. But Emperor Xianfeng had developed a headache whenever he had to read those sad reports. He had to have someone to help him read them and Concubine Yan seemed to be the most suitable person to do it at the time. When he felt a little better, he would sit up on the bed with stack of pillows behind his back and head, watching Concubine Yan reading. In that peaceful moment, he would munch some pieces of fruit cut for him by Concubine Li. If not for his bad health, if not for the rebellion in the southern provinces, if not for the foreigners who had driven him out of his palace in the capital, he would enjoy life better, with one beauty taking over his tedious daily task of reading the reports and with another beauty serving his food. After a while the emperor began to notice that Concubine Yan showed great interest and zeal in political affairs. She sometimes even suggested some solutions, which might be good, but was not appropriate from a woman. He became aware that she was not a mediocre woman like the queen. He suspected that she might seize power after his death as an empress dowager, because her son would succeed to the throne. (The rule in Qing Dynasty was that when the son became the emperor, the natural mother must be the empress dowager, no matter who she was or what status she was in.) At first he wanted to execute her for the safety of the empire, but he thought of his son, who was only six then. Such a small child should have a mother to look after him. Besides, he knew by then that the younger brother Sushun was also a man of ambition and might do something evil to his son when he died. He himself could control Sushun, but his son was too young to stand up against him if Sushun wanted to usurp the throne. He would let Concubine Yan contend with him and defend their son. Only he should think of a way to restrain Concubine Yan. And he got one now. He was really pleased with himself for coming up with such a good strategy.

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    Except for the emperor, the younger brother became the most powerful man in the empire, even before the Second Opium War, because the emperor always listened to him, and what the emperor did was really what he wanted to do. He wanted to establish his authority, wanted other courtiers to be afraid of him. By what? By killing.
    Sushun handed in a report, saying that Qinying must be executed immediately. In 1856, the joint foreign armies occupied the Bay of Dagukou and commenced to attack Tianjin City. The emperor sent Qinying to negotiate with the foreigners. But he came back to the capital without fulfilling the task, not even asking for the emperor's approval to return. The emperor was really angry. Prince Yixin, his brother, proposed to hang Qinying next autumn. (Qing Dynasty often executed prisoners in autumn.) But Sushun insisted that Qinying should be executed at once to set an example for other courtiers so that no one dared to do such things later. So the emperor commanded Qinying to die by his own hand. (Generally by hanging or drinking poison, which was deemed better than being beheaded publicly.)
    Next was another courtier, Paijun, who had offended Sushun before. In 1858, Paijun was appointed the chief examiner in charge of the government exam. Since Tang Dynasty, every subsequent dynasty had held government exams to select future officials. This was a very important event. It happened that an actor passed the exam, ranking the seventh place. The regulations then inhibited actors to take such exams, because they were considered among the lowest caste in social status. The emperor got furious and ordered Sushun to investigate. Now he got a chance to revenge. The result of the investigation revealed that many officials handling this examination had accepted briberies, though no evidence showed that Paijun did it. But the actor got his wish through a servant to his concubine, who persuaded Paijun to let the actor pass the exam. Therefore, Paijun was guilty of breaking the rules. Everyone of the officials got certain punishment according to the degree of his offense. Paijun, as the head examiner, was executed at the insistence of Sushun. Many such things occurred. So Sushun made a lot of enemies.

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