Empress Dowager Cixi Influence On Society

Superior Essays
How effective were the Late Qing Reforms of Empress Dowager Cixi in modernizing early 20th century China 1902-1908
INTRODUCTION
Empress Dowager Cixi (alternatively Tz’u-his) has traditionally been characterized as a powerful obstacle to reform; promulgating Qing conservatism, Manchu values and neo-Confucianism, and, throughout the second half of the 19th century, stolidly resisting political reform. However, from her return to court in 1902 to her death, a dramatic revolution in Cixi’s approach towards Western influence brought China across the threshold of the modern world with “no foot-dragging” (Cixi correspondence, First Historical Archives of China, 1996, page 1020). Though she may not have directly initiated the transition into modernity,
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(Viceroy Duanfang et al.). In order to facilitate a resurgence of Chinese industry Cixi was forced to revoke her 19th century attempts to retardate the Western modernizing influence in China upon her return to court. This sudden and dramatic revolution of Cixi’s attitude towards Western-style industry was largely the result of dual pressurizing factors; internal agitation and foreign coercion forcing Cixi’s hand in bringing Western industry to China. In this endeavor Cixi embarked on a seven year effort to reconcile China’s transition from traditional medievalism into modern society. The first definitive step in this direction was made in the late years of the 19th century, during which official envoys were dispatched to observe various external political institutions and cultural practices, predominantly America, Japan and Europe. Accounts of ‘the railway’, ‘defense’, and ‘trading ports’ were couriered back to China and this information was utilized in the systematic implementation of Western technologies and organization (e.g. R. Hart’s pioneering of the Chinese Post Office, the Imperial Telegraph Administration, expansion of the coal mining industry and railway, the regulation of currency (yuan)) the renovation of China’s navy and arms (iron-clad warships were purchased from France, men were sent to be educated in the naval regulations of Britain, and factories were established in the production of modern guns and munitions) These remedial measures not only caste a greater connectivity over vast disjointed topography of China opened a number of new occupational positions, assumed, notably, by Chinese civilians to prevent ‘foreigners control everything and make crucial decisions for us” thus burgeoning industry in China effectively heralded the emergence of a middle class, indicative of the mitigation of social stratification characteristic of successful modern states(Suitably

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