Qing Dynasty

The Qing Dynasty lasted from 1644-1911 A.D. By and large, 12 emperors reigned during a period of 268 years with Nuerhachi being the first and Puyi being the last.

At its most prosperous time, the domain of the dynasty once reached 12 million square kilometers. Later, in 1616 Nuerhachi established Jin and in 1636 Huang Taiji changed the dynasty’s name to Qing. Furthermore, in 1644 Li Zicheng led the rebellious peasant army and overthrew the Ming Dynasty. The Qing army had the advantage of the war and defeated the peasants by coming in through the Shanhai Pass. As a result of his defeat, Emperor Chongzhen committed suicide. Beijing was made the capital and the court eliminated other revolts of the peasants and remained southern Ming forces.

In order to appease the people, the Qing government encouraged reclamation of the wasteland and reduced taxes. This allows economic and social development in the in lands and some border areas. The feudal economy reached its new peak in mid 18th century, which is called Kang Qian Sheng Shi (flourishing age from Kangxi to Qianlong). The centralization of state power is strengthened and the nation is thriving steadily. The whole population reached 300 million at the end of 18th century.

In 1661, Zheng Chenggong crossed over the Taiwan Strait with his battleships and defeated the Dutch invaders that occupied Taiwan for 38 years. Taiwan was returned to China the year following the colonists’ surrender.

During the 16th century, Russia spread its power eastward. After Qing left for the inland, Russia ocupied the Yakesa and Nibuchu areas by force. The Qing government requested a withdrawl of the Russians and forced it to agree on a negotiation on the border dispute.

In 1689 representatives of the two parties held a negotiation meeting at Nibuchu and signed the first treaty on bordering problems, namely The Nibuchu Treaty.

During the mid reign of Emperor Qianlong’s, the government squashed the splitting force of Geerdan, a branch of Zhungeer tribe, led by the Hezhuos. Xinjiang was united and a series of policies were carried out for regional growth in economy, culture and traffic.

Prior to Daoguang’s reign, the dynasty had been prosperous in the cultural field. This saw great thinkers like Wang Fuzhi, Huang Zongxi, Gu Yanwu and Daizhen and litterateurs including Cao Xueqin, Wu Jingzi, Kong Shangren and Shitao. Research of history is also fruitful. Great works like Si Ku Quan Shu and Collection of Books from Ancient Times were compiled. New breakthroughs were also made in technology and architecture.

In economy, agriculture is still the backbone. The rulers advocate feudal disciplines and suppress the free-spoken intellectuals. Diplomatically, the rulers were introverted and blindly arrogant.

Social conflicts gradually revealed during the middle period of the dynasty. Revolts against the reign broke out constantly, of which, the White Lotus Organization finally put an end to the flourish of the dynasty.

After the Opium War and invasions of the imperialists in 1840, the Qing court had to sign a series of treaties with the invaders, give out land, compensation and open treaty ports. China gradually became a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country. The situation was even worse during the dynasty’s later reign as the court was corrupted and reluctant to accept anything new. Finally the doom of the dynasty transpired. Revolutions against feudalism and imperialism broke out including the Tianping Tianguo Movement and the Uprising of the Nian Army. To save itself from a downfall, the ruling class carried out some reforms like the Yangwu Movement and Wuxu Reformation, which all ended in vain. People with lofty ideals began fighting for the survival of the nation, forming a surging patriotic period. In 1911, Xinhai Revolution developed, which pulled down the Qing Dynasty together with feudalization that existed in China for over 2,000 years. The history entered a new age.

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