The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was the last imperial ruled in China.
It was founded by the
non-Chinese Manchu people Aisin Gioro family who originally lived in the
The early and high
Qing emperors Kangxi (1662-1722), Yongzheng (1723-1735) and Qianlong
(1736-1795) were patrons of the arts and literature. They also substantially
expanded the territory of China by defeating the Oirats or Dzungars (Western
Mongols) that had tried to establish an independent khanate in Central Asia,
and by conquering the Uyghur states (modern Xinjiang), Tibet and the island of
While the early
rulers maintained Manchu culture, they governed using Han Confucian styles and
institutions of bureaucratic government. They retained the imperial
examinations to recruit Hans to work in parallel with Manchus. They also
adopted the ideals of the tributary system in international relations. This
blending of Machu and Han culture would become a feature of their success. Qing
became the most powerful country in the 17th century.
The reign of the
Qianlong Emperor (1735–1796) saw the apogee and initial decline of prosperity
and imperial control. The population rose to some 400 million, but taxes and
government revenues were fixed at a low rate, virtually guaranteeing an
eventual fiscal crisis. Corruption set in, rebels tested government legitimacy,
and ruling elites did not change their mindsets in the face of changes in the
At the end of the
eighteenth century increasing problems began to haunt Qing China. Monetary
inflation and rampant corruption among the officialdom led to numerous Han
peasant rebellions. The long period of peace had contributed to a sharp
increase in population growth, and the Hans were now 77.8%, Manchus only 2.9%
,while all others were 19.3%. This population distribution meant that there
were many Han people not able to nourish themselves. The big problem
exploded in the large Hans purpose: "Overturn Manchu Qing to Recover Hans
Ming" and the Taiping rebellion nearly brought the Qing dynasty to an
Qing China also was
caught in the so-called "high equilibrium trap" (Mark Elvin) with the
combination of a relatively high agricultural productivity but without
technical progress. Very cautious towards the sea and its dangers, the Qing -
like their predecessors, the Ming Dynasty - were hesitant in the question of
promoting international trade. The government only allowed foreigners to
purchase tea, silk and chinaware in one single port, Canton Guangzhou. (
Guanzhou city Guangdong province), but refused to open more ports to British
and other overseas merchants. The question of opium smuggling was the spark
that ignited the first of a series of wars in which Western powers
"opened" China for trade and missionaries.
Peaceful times also
led in to friction in the Aisin Gioro families. Those that had been
tightly knit families now fought with one another. Assimilation of Han culture
weakened the Manchus military culture and the moral resolve of the Aisin Gioro
's Manchu society became increasingly focused on individual self-interest.
An ambitious Hundred
Days' Reform of 1898 was turned back by Empress Dowager Cixi. Cixi's non -
sense passing of her throne to a toddler forced the latter Qing dynasty to
depend totally on Han chancellors led by Shikai Yuan.
Revolution "get rid of the Tartars (Manchus) and restore Han China"
initiated the disintegration of the empire and the founding of a Republic
(1912-1949) without any clear political leader but Sun Yat-sen.
The last emperor
abdicated on February 12, 1912. Shiksa Yuan was the President of the
Republic of China succeeding Sun Yat - sen. (1912-1916) and the last Emperor of
the Empire of China 1916.