China, a Lost Nation
A Lost Nation Krystal Hofacker WOH 1030 What was the cause of the disintegration of China? A number of factors contributed to the spiraled downfall that ultimately destroyed their dynasty.
Was it the Opium War that greatly affected China’s international position? The Taiping Rebellion that destroyed six hundred cities and killed more than twenty million people? Or was it their corrupted government system? All of these events as a whole created a time of “rebellion, lawlessness, and foreign exploitation” (Andrea, 345) that plagued the Qing regime until the Revolution of 1911.Around 1839, Lin Zexu, an official of Emperor Daoguang, was sent to Guangzhou to morally persuade the people of China to stop the use and sale of opium. Zexu wrote a formal letter to Queen Victoria of England urging her to prohibit the manufacture and sale of the drug… but with the letter never being received, it forced Zexu to take more extreme measures, which led to the Opium War with Britain. Zexu believed that Britain was obsessed with material gain, and didn’t care that they were posing harm on the people of China with the importation of opium.In his letter to the Queen, he talks about useful products such as tea, rhubarb, silk and porcelain that are necessities rather than a harmful product used for profit. In China, there was a death sentence for anyone who smoked or peddled opium, in which Zexu blamed their death on the opium traders from foreign countries.
“Heaven is furious with anger, and all the gods are moaning with pain! It is herby suggested that you destroy and plow under all of these opium plants and grow food crops instead, while issuing an order to punish severely anyone who dares to plant opium poppies again…” (Andrea, 348)In 1852, Zeng Guofan wrote a memorandum to Emperor Xianfeng discussing China’s mid-century problems, and what should be looked at closely for some kind of positive change. He assesses the problems of past reigns and sees that when the people lose their faith in the government, despite the country’s material wealth, they ultimately took a plunge for the worst. During the reign of Han Chaodi, they were dirt poor but still managed to keep a secure and peaceful place to live in. Confidence in the government, as well as communication, is the key to keeping a stabilized and undisturbed country.
One of the first problems with the government is the heavy tax load that is put onto the people of Suzhou, Songjiang, Zhangzhou, and Junjiang. Farmers are being forced to sell rice for coins that have to be converted into silver… because of these grievances, there are a larger number of delinquents. Tax collectors are sent out to harass the people of these districts by imposing corporal punishments to those who refuse. With any failure, tax collectors must pay the balance with their own money, risking ruining their own lives and families.With beatings till’ there was blood and flesh, there is no doubt that full-fledged riots occurred very often during tax collection time. An ever bigger problem was the greater increase in the number of bandits across China.
Whenever a crime was reported, soliders would come to the villages after the bandits had already fled, and just burned some of the houses while departing to impress the villagers with his “power” after announcing that the bandit had already been killed.While not caring about the safety of the villagers, many bandits were released with handsome bribes. In turn, many of the bandits victims lost property and went bankrupt due to the idiocy of the officials, and their appeals against them. As far as innocent victims are concerned, many cases ended with the plaintiffs receiving punishment in the end, on the ground that they made false accusations.
If the plaintiff were to fail to present the truth in his petition, he would received one hundred blows by a striking rod. Who can believe that when an ordinary citizen is a plantiff and a government official a defendant, the defendant is always right and the plaintiff always wrong? ” (Andrea, 354) After accessing the three biggest problems of the Chinese government, Zeng goes on to say that the “governors-general and governors are to think carefully about them and to devise a way for their cure”, as well as stabilizing the price of silver.As for the revival of the deteriorated regime, a man by the name of Sat Yat-Sen set out to make large reforms for the future of the Chinese people by forming an ideology called the “three people’s principles”. Sun Yat-sen believes it is absolutely necessary that China undergo a political revolution of democracy…“the vicious politics of today will be swept away after the nationalist revolution triumphs, but it will also be necessary to eradicate the roots of such politics.
As far as the “Principle of the People’s Livelihood”, Yat-sen explains that because of the advancement of civilization, there is less of a need for human labor in all parts of the world. So, because of the development of scientific agriculture, everyone “should be living in a state of plenty and happiness undreamed of antiquity” (Andrea, 354). Since there was an increase in wealth, poverty rose and spread to over several thousands of people throughout Europe… “This is because the power of human labor is no match for the power of capital” (Andrea, 354).Basically, human labor was no match for capitalist industry! With looking at the civilizations of both Europe and America, Yat-sen looks at this as a lesson for China in dealing with both the “good and bad fruits” of their own country… which is the basis of his principle. In respects to land, he believed that there should have been an increase of value over time, and in the end the owner would receive a profit with no loss, which would ultimately eliminate shortcomings. Yat-Sen then says that “the collection of land revenues alone will make China the richest nation on earth.
He believed that after excessive taxes were abolished, the price of consumer goods would fall and the people of China would become more prosperous. While Sun was elected provisional president of the United Provinces of China, his glory was short-lived without an armed force or political party to back him up…forcing him to resign in 1912. In 1917, Sun attempted to establish a parliamentary government, but failed while they fell into warlord rule. As a lost nation, the Chinese faced a number of devastating problems.Results of foreign trade, a corrupted government system, and a spiraling population left China with land shortages, famine, and poverty. On top of that, they also had to suffer through heavy taxes, inflation, and the greediness of Chinese officials.
“Rebellion, lawlessness, and foreign exploitation continued to plague the Qing regime until the Revolution of 1911 caused it, and China’s ancient imperial tradition, to pass into history” (Andrea, 345). Works Cited Andrea, Alfred J. & James H. Overfield.
The Human Record, v. II, 4th ed. Boston & NY: Houghton Mifflin Co. , 2001.Read also: “Gender and optical illusions”
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