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Thread: Empress dowager cixi

  1. #331
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    Now the whole nation turned their attention to the navy. In 1885 when Sino-French war ended, everyone felt that China needed a strong navy. On June 21, West Empress Dowager had a meeting with the courtiers and decided to build a fleet. Lots of silver taels were spent to buy warships from the foreign countries. The navy was at last formed in 1888 with twenty-five ships of different sorts and sizes. On September 17, 1894, when the Chinese fleet was on the way back to Luda harbor, Japanese fleet came suddenly to attack the fleet of Qing government. The unprepared small Chinese fleet shot out like arrows to meet the Japanese fleet. A maritime campaign took place on the Yellow Sea near the coast of China. Most of the small newly-built fleet was destroyed by Japanese navy. Japanese army crossed the Korean boundary into the Chinese territory. On October 24, another Japanese detachment landed on Liaodong Peninsular and on November 22, they occupied Luda. On December 29, Japanese army set foot on Shandong Peninsular. On December 31, thirty-four thousand Japanese soldiers finished their landing and detoured to the back of Weihaiwei Town. On February 2, 1895, they took the town and captured the remaining ten ships. In early March of 1895 Japanese army occupied the Liaodong Peninsular. Qing government had no hope to even recover their lost territory and so they had to start a negotiation. On April 17, 1895, a treaty was signed in Japan.
    After the defeat in Sino-Japanese war in 1895, all the courtiers who didn't dare to blame West Empress Dowager blamed Governor Li for it. It was Governor Li who had built the fleet. It was he who had controlled the fleet. He had always been against war. And now his long-boasted fleet had been sunk to the bottom of the ocean. This time West Empress Dowager was shocked at the bad news and resented Governor Li for so much money he had spent on his fleet, but what now? She also needed a scapegoat. So she removed Governor Li from all his duties. But people all over the country blamed West Empress Dowager for using the funds, which had originally been planned to strengthen the navy, to build her Garden of Good Health & Harmony, causing the navy to be defeated.

  2. #332
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    Now the whole nation turned their attention to the navy. In 1885 when Sino-French war ended, everyone felt that China needed a strong navy. On June 21, West Empress Dowager had a meeting with the courtiers and decided to build a fleet. Lots of silver taels were spent to buy warships from the foreign countries. The navy was at last formed in 1888 with twenty-five ships of different sorts and sizes. On September 17, 1894, when the Chinese fleet was on the way back to Luda harbor, Japanese fleet came suddenly to attack the fleet of Qing government. The unprepared small Chinese fleet shot out like arrows to meet the Japanese fleet. A maritime campaign took place on the Yellow Sea near the coast of China. Most of the small newly-built fleet was destroyed by Japanese navy. Japanese army crossed the Korean boundary into the Chinese territory. On October 24, another Japanese detachment landed on Liaodong Peninsular and on November 22, they occupied Luda. On December 29, Japanese army set foot on Shandong Peninsular. On December 31, thirty-four thousand Japanese soldiers finished their landing and detoured to the back of Weihaiwei Town. On February 2, 1895, they took the town and captured the remaining ten ships. In early March of 1895 Japanese army occupied the Liaodong Peninsular. Qing government had no hope to even recover their lost territory and so they had to start a negotiation. On April 17, 1895, a treaty was signed in Japan.
    After the defeat in Sino-Japanese war in 1895, all the courtiers who didn't dare to blame West Empress Dowager blamed Governor Li for it. It was Governor Li who had built the fleet. It was he who had controlled the fleet. He had always been against war. And now his long-boasted fleet had been sunk to the bottom of the ocean. This time West Empress Dowager was shocked at the bad news and resented Governor Li for so much money he had spent on his fleet, but what now? She also needed a scapegoat. So she removed Governor Li from all his duties. But people all over the country blamed West Empress Dowager for using the funds, which had originally been planned to strengthen the navy, to build her Garden of Good Health & Harmony, causing the navy to be defeated.

  3. #333
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    Chapter 41

    The defeat in Sino-Japanese war put a big question mark before the Chinese people as well as the government: how could China become strong both financially and militarily like Japan, which was only a small country, far too much smaller than China? Discussions in that field erupted on newspapers. A sole conclusion was drawn: “We need reform like Japan.”
    The emperor wanted reform. West Empress dowager wanted reform, too, because she always wished to conquer the foreign invaders for vengeance. So she agreed to the emperor's reform notion in general, though all the conservative courtiers opposed it. Prince Yihuan, the emperor's biological father had died. Now Yixin, the emperor's uncle, who had been removed from office long ago by West Empress Dowager, was appointed to be in charge again, but he also died before long. On his deathbed, he advised the emperor to carry out the reform step by step and do nothing against tradition.
    The emperor appointed a group of officials to design for him a detailed plan for reform. His former tutor Weng, now a secretary, gave the emperor his full support. Official Kang drafted all the reform decrees for the emperor. Kang's disciple, Official Liang, helped a lot and another official Tan was an active participant. On June 11, 1898, the emperor issued a statement to declare the beginning of reform. Then he gave a series of orders, one hundred and eighty or so altogether, during one hundred days.

  4. #334
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    Chapter 41

    The defeat in Sino-Japanese war put a big question mark before the Chinese people as well as the government: how could China become strong both financially and militarily like Japan, which was only a small country, far too much smaller than China? Discussions in that field erupted on newspapers. A sole conclusion was drawn: “We need reform like Japan.”
    The emperor wanted reform. West Empress dowager wanted reform, too, because she always wished to conquer the foreign invaders for vengeance. So she agreed to the emperor's reform notion in general, though all the conservative courtiers opposed it. Prince Yihuan, the emperor's biological father had died. Now Yixin, the emperor's uncle, who had been removed from office long ago by West Empress Dowager, was appointed to be in charge again, but he also died before long. On his deathbed, he advised the emperor to carry out the reform step by step and do nothing against tradition.
    The emperor appointed a group of officials to design for him a detailed plan for reform. His former tutor Weng, now a secretary, gave the emperor his full support. Official Kang drafted all the reform decrees for the emperor. Kang's disciple, Official Liang, helped a lot and another official Tan was an active participant. On June 11, 1898, the emperor issued a statement to declare the beginning of reform. Then he gave a series of orders, one hundred and eighty or so altogether, during one hundred days.

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  6. #336
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    The orders involved (1) the selection of supporters of reform as government officials; (2) the decision to abandon the old examination system for the selection of officials and to develop a modern education system; (3) the change of government administration system and the elimination of the national corruption; (4) the permission of the open expression of opinions for people at large; (5) the reward to the inventions and the encouragement to the development of trade, agriculture and industry; (6) the rebuilding of a navy.
    However, most governors hesitated. They waited to see whether West Empress Dowager was really a prop to the reform. So most of emperor's orders were not carried out. Only one thing was successful: a university was established in the capital.
    On June 16, West Empress Dowager forced the emperor to give some orders of appointments and removals. An important one was to appoint Ronglu as the Governor of Zhidi Province in charge of the new-trained armies (the capital was in this province). (For a long time Ronglu had been idle without a position because of bad health. His snail-crawling promotion was due to the reason that West Empress Dowager didn't want her relationship with Ronglu to be known among the courtiers. So she could not give him rocketingly fast promotion. Now when time came, Ronglu's fate turned for the better. When Prince Yihuan was taken seriously ill and stayed in bed, as he was partly paralyzed, West Empress Dowager had to use Prince Yixin again. Prince Yixin knew that Ronglu was talented and prudent. He suggested to West Empress Dowager to appoint Ronglu as the commander of the garrison division to guard the capital. West Empress Dowager had no objection, of course. Next year Ronglu was made the minister of Military Ministry. Then he was given the title of a prime minister. When Emperor Guangxu, influenced by new concepts, wanted to reform like in Japan, West Empress Dowager trusted the military forces to Ronglu, hence the above appointment. It was an essential move on the chessboard of West Empress Dowager, who was now a mature politician.)

  7. #337
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    The orders involved (1) the selection of supporters of reform as government officials; (2) the decision to abandon the old examination system for the selection of officials and to develop a modern education system; (3) the change of government administration system and the elimination of the national corruption; (4) the permission of the open expression of opinions for people at large; (5) the reward to the inventions and the encouragement to the development of trade, agriculture and industry; (6) the rebuilding of a navy.
    However, most governors hesitated. They waited to see whether West Empress Dowager was really a prop to the reform. So most of emperor's orders were not carried out. Only one thing was successful: a university was established in the capital.
    On June 16, West Empress Dowager forced the emperor to give some orders of appointments and removals. An important one was to appoint Ronglu as the Governor of Zhidi Province in charge of the new-trained armies (the capital was in this province). (For a long time Ronglu had been idle without a position because of bad health. His snail-crawling promotion was due to the reason that West Empress Dowager didn't want her relationship with Ronglu to be known among the courtiers. So she could not give him rocketingly fast promotion. Now when time came, Ronglu's fate turned for the better. When Prince Yihuan was taken seriously ill and stayed in bed, as he was partly paralyzed, West Empress Dowager had to use Prince Yixin again. Prince Yixin knew that Ronglu was talented and prudent. He suggested to West Empress Dowager to appoint Ronglu as the commander of the garrison division to guard the capital. West Empress Dowager had no objection, of course. Next year Ronglu was made the minister of Military Ministry. Then he was given the title of a prime minister. When Emperor Guangxu, influenced by new concepts, wanted to reform like in Japan, West Empress Dowager trusted the military forces to Ronglu, hence the above appointment. It was an essential move on the chessboard of West Empress Dowager, who was now a mature politician.)

  8. #338
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    The other order was to remove the courtier Weng, who had been the emperor's tutor, from his office of the secretary of state and expel him back to his hometown, which made the emperor lose his most important supporter. Then a statement was issued that West Empress Dowager and the emperor would go to Tianjin City to watch the military parade. A rumor was prevalent that West Empress Dowager would force the emperor to abdicate when they were there.
    On August 30, the emperor made a public decision to merge six useless government bureaus, because their responsibilities were functioned by corresponding ministries, but the merging would put a lot of officials out of job. Many old courtiers implored West Empress Dowager to stop the reform, but she didn't agree. She wanted to wait a while longer to see how far the emperor would carry his reform.
    The emperor became impatient and angry because most officials refused to carry out his orders. On September 4, the emperor decided to banish six high-rank courtiers in Etiquette Ministry from office and appointed his own officials next day, which seemed to organize another administration.
    On September 7, the emperor removed two courtiers in charge from the Foreign Affairs Yamen dealing with foreign countries. Furthermore, the emperor wanted to appoint two foreigners to be his advisers, one an English priest and the other a Japanese, an ex-prime-minister in the cabinet of Japan. All the conservative courtiers were in a panic that the foreigners would control Qing government and therefore reported it to West Empress dowager, who, though mad about it, still decided to wait a bit longer.
    On September 14, when the emperor went to see West Empress Dowager she reprimanded him for it. The rupture in their relationship became open. The emperor's supporters knew that if the emperor didn't have any military forces under control the reform would eventually fail. They suggested that the emperor should send for Yuan Shikai, who was a general training his army in a western style somewhere near Tianjin City. His army was called New Army.

  9. #339
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    The other order was to remove the courtier Weng, who had been the emperor's tutor, from his office of the secretary of state and expel him back to his hometown, which made the emperor lose his most important supporter. Then a statement was issued that West Empress Dowager and the emperor would go to Tianjin City to watch the military parade. A rumor was prevalent that West Empress Dowager would force the emperor to abdicate when they were there.
    On August 30, the emperor made a public decision to merge six useless government bureaus, because their responsibilities were functioned by corresponding ministries, but the merging would put a lot of officials out of job. Many old courtiers implored West Empress Dowager to stop the reform, but she didn't agree. She wanted to wait a while longer to see how far the emperor would carry his reform.
    The emperor became impatient and angry because most officials refused to carry out his orders. On September 4, the emperor decided to banish six high-rank courtiers in Etiquette Ministry from office and appointed his own officials next day, which seemed to organize another administration.
    On September 7, the emperor removed two courtiers in charge from the Foreign Affairs Yamen dealing with foreign countries. Furthermore, the emperor wanted to appoint two foreigners to be his advisers, one an English priest and the other a Japanese, an ex-prime-minister in the cabinet of Japan. All the conservative courtiers were in a panic that the foreigners would control Qing government and therefore reported it to West Empress dowager, who, though mad about it, still decided to wait a bit longer.
    On September 14, when the emperor went to see West Empress Dowager she reprimanded him for it. The rupture in their relationship became open. The emperor's supporters knew that if the emperor didn't have any military forces under control the reform would eventually fail. They suggested that the emperor should send for Yuan Shikai, who was a general training his army in a western style somewhere near Tianjin City. His army was called New Army.

  10. #340
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    When Yuan came to the capital, the emperor received him and gave him a secret written order, urging him to bring his New Army to Peking, to surround the Garden of Good Health & Harmony and confine West Empress Dowager. Yuan knew that most courtiers and all the governors supported West Empress Dowager. If he wanted to keep his position, or better to get a promotion, he must take the side of West Empress Dowager and betray the emperor, the inexperienced, over-ambitious, stupid political novice.
    When he returned to Tianjin City, he revealed the secret to Ronglu, who immediately took the night train back to Peking and asked to see West Empress Dowager. He showed her the secret written order of the emperor, which Yuan had given him.
    On September 19, Wet Empress Dowager confined the emperor on an island in the middle of a lake in the Forbidden City. The island was connected to the other parts of the Forbidden City only by a small foot bridge. He was treated very badly, no fire in the room and just enough food to keep him from starving. He was declared to be seriously sick. The prescriptions of the royal doctors were proclaimed everyday to show that the emperor was really sick. But people thought differently. The newspapers said that the proclamation of the prescriptions was only a preliminary step towards the deposal of the emperor.
    Other new officials whom the emperor had appointed were all dismissed from their posts. Official Kang, who had been the most active and enthusiastic in the reform, had escaped on board a British ship to Japan. Official Liang, Kang's disciple, fled into the Japanese legation and then was escorted to Japan, too. Another new official Tan decided to stay, because if he ran away, the government would get his father instead. So he had to stay and face whatever would befall him. Tan had a sworn brother Wang, who had kungfu and liked to help people. His job was like a bodyguard or property guard, or both. If a rich man or a rich family wanted to travel a long way with valuable luggage, he or the family would hire Wang to protect him or the family all the way to the destination against any potential robbers.

  11. #341
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    When Yuan came to the capital, the emperor received him and gave him a secret written order, urging him to bring his New Army to Peking, to surround the Garden of Good Health & Harmony and confine West Empress Dowager. Yuan knew that most courtiers and all the governors supported West Empress Dowager. If he wanted to keep his position, or better to get a promotion, he must take the side of West Empress Dowager and betray the emperor, the inexperienced, over-ambitious, stupid political novice.
    When he returned to Tianjin City, he revealed the secret to Ronglu, who immediately took the night train back to Peking and asked to see West Empress Dowager. He showed her the secret written order of the emperor, which Yuan had given him.
    On September 19, Wet Empress Dowager confined the emperor on an island in the middle of a lake in the Forbidden City. The island was connected to the other parts of the Forbidden City only by a small foot bridge. He was treated very badly, no fire in the room and just enough food to keep him from starving. He was declared to be seriously sick. The prescriptions of the royal doctors were proclaimed everyday to show that the emperor was really sick. But people thought differently. The newspapers said that the proclamation of the prescriptions was only a preliminary step towards the deposal of the emperor.
    Other new officials whom the emperor had appointed were all dismissed from their posts. Official Kang, who had been the most active and enthusiastic in the reform, had escaped on board a British ship to Japan. Official Liang, Kang's disciple, fled into the Japanese legation and then was escorted to Japan, too. Another new official Tan decided to stay, because if he ran away, the government would get his father instead. So he had to stay and face whatever would befall him. Tan had a sworn brother Wang, who had kungfu and liked to help people. His job was like a bodyguard or property guard, or both. If a rich man or a rich family wanted to travel a long way with valuable luggage, he or the family would hire Wang to protect him or the family all the way to the destination against any potential robbers.

  12. #342
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    When Wang knew that Official Tan was in trouble, he went to see him at night. He didn't want to be seen entering Tan's house. He jumped over the wall from a side street and went to his study. They discussed how they could deliver the emperor out of the confinement to transfer the emperor to the southern provinces. Once the emperor was out of the control of West Empress Dowager, everything would be fine. By their plan, as soon as the emperor was out of the Forbidden City, they would hide him either in some foreign legations or smuggled him into any of the foreign colonies in Tianjin City. Then they would escort him on a foreign ship to the southern provinces, their destination. They thought where there was the emperor there was the power center. The emperor could issue orders from anywhere he was. Any courtiers and governors should carry out his orders. That was their theory.
    Wang took the matter into his hands. He knew some eunuchs in the Forbidden City. He found a eunuch and invited him to a restaurant. While eating and drinking they were engaged in a conversation. Eunuchs liked to brag about the life and things in the Forbidden City. Wang showed great interest in what the eunuch was telling. Wine makes people talk, plus a good listener. The eunuch even drew a sketchy map of the Forbidden City at Wang's request. Next night, Wang went to the Forbidden City. He slung up a hook, which held fast on a battlement. He climbed up nimbly like a monkey and jumped over the city wall in a jiffy. His black clothes made him melt into the dark night. But either the map was not very accurate or Wang didn't remember the details, he didn't find the place where the emperor was confined. He had to beat a retreat before dawn and would try again another night.

  13. #343
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    When Wang knew that Official Tan was in trouble, he went to see him at night. He didn't want to be seen entering Tan's house. He jumped over the wall from a side street and went to his study. They discussed how they could deliver the emperor out of the confinement to transfer the emperor to the southern provinces. Once the emperor was out of the control of West Empress Dowager, everything would be fine. By their plan, as soon as the emperor was out of the Forbidden City, they would hide him either in some foreign legations or smuggled him into any of the foreign colonies in Tianjin City. Then they would escort him on a foreign ship to the southern provinces, their destination. They thought where there was the emperor there was the power center. The emperor could issue orders from anywhere he was. Any courtiers and governors should carry out his orders. That was their theory.
    Wang took the matter into his hands. He knew some eunuchs in the Forbidden City. He found a eunuch and invited him to a restaurant. While eating and drinking they were engaged in a conversation. Eunuchs liked to brag about the life and things in the Forbidden City. Wang showed great interest in what the eunuch was telling. Wine makes people talk, plus a good listener. The eunuch even drew a sketchy map of the Forbidden City at Wang's request. Next night, Wang went to the Forbidden City. He slung up a hook, which held fast on a battlement. He climbed up nimbly like a monkey and jumped over the city wall in a jiffy. His black clothes made him melt into the dark night. But either the map was not very accurate or Wang didn't remember the details, he didn't find the place where the emperor was confined. He had to beat a retreat before dawn and would try again another night.

  14. #344
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    On September 23, a ceremony was held for West Empress Dowager to take back the power. Then she issued orders to annul all the emperor's decisions and restored almost everything that had been changed by the emperor, but she said that she would carry on the reform, only step by step.
    Then an order was given to arrest all the emperor's supporters. Two of them had escaped abroad. Seven were imprisoned. Six of them were beheaded publicly on September 28, including Official Tan and the last one was exiled to Xinjiang Province, the farthest of all the provinces. This was called the One Hundred Day Reform in the history of China.
    West Empress Dowager summoned all the high-rank courtiers to her presence. The emperor was there, too. West Empress Dowager blamed the emperor before the courtiers, saying that she had agreed to the reform, but the bottom line was not to change traditional things and now the emperor had gone over the brim. Then she asked the emperor what he would have done if Yuan had brought in his New Army. “Did you want to kill me?” Her voice was loud and stern. The emperor could only hang his head low. What could he answer? The conquered has no say whatsoever. But she hated Kang most, because he had drafted all the decrees. When she asked if Kang had been under arrest yet, she got the answer “Escaped.” One of the courtiers said, “If we know who leaked to him for the escape, we should arrest that person.” West Empress Dowager glanced at the emperor and said, “It's Emperor who wrote to advise him to do so.” No one said anything any more.
    Kang's place had been ransacked and all the documents found there were presented to West Empress Dowager. Among them was a letter from the emperor to order him to go to Shanghai to publish a newspaper. It was a code sentence. So Kang took to his heels.
    It was said that if the emperor could have done one thing at a time and waited to see the reactions and had not bombarded the country with his reform orders so radically and carelessly, the history of China might have changed.

  15. #345
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    On September 23, a ceremony was held for West Empress Dowager to take back the power. Then she issued orders to annul all the emperor's decisions and restored almost everything that had been changed by the emperor, but she said that she would carry on the reform, only step by step.
    Then an order was given to arrest all the emperor's supporters. Two of them had escaped abroad. Seven were imprisoned. Six of them were beheaded publicly on September 28, including Official Tan and the last one was exiled to Xinjiang Province, the farthest of all the provinces. This was called the One Hundred Day Reform in the history of China.
    West Empress Dowager summoned all the high-rank courtiers to her presence. The emperor was there, too. West Empress Dowager blamed the emperor before the courtiers, saying that she had agreed to the reform, but the bottom line was not to change traditional things and now the emperor had gone over the brim. Then she asked the emperor what he would have done if Yuan had brought in his New Army. “Did you want to kill me?” Her voice was loud and stern. The emperor could only hang his head low. What could he answer? The conquered has no say whatsoever. But she hated Kang most, because he had drafted all the decrees. When she asked if Kang had been under arrest yet, she got the answer “Escaped.” One of the courtiers said, “If we know who leaked to him for the escape, we should arrest that person.” West Empress Dowager glanced at the emperor and said, “It's Emperor who wrote to advise him to do so.” No one said anything any more.
    Kang's place had been ransacked and all the documents found there were presented to West Empress Dowager. Among them was a letter from the emperor to order him to go to Shanghai to publish a newspaper. It was a code sentence. So Kang took to his heels.
    It was said that if the emperor could have done one thing at a time and waited to see the reactions and had not bombarded the country with his reform orders so radically and carelessly, the history of China might have changed.

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