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Defeat at the hands of the Europeans after the Opium War helped to set off a series of rebellions against the Qing.
In the 1850s and 1860s, the Taiping rebellion, a semi-Christian movement under a prophetic leader, called for land redistribution, the liberation of women, and the destruction of the Confucian scholar-gentry. When the local gentry became sufficiently alarmed, provincial forces finally defeated the rebellion. Honest officials at the provincial level began to carry out much needed reforms, including railway construction and military modernization. Resources moved from the central court to the provinces, until the provincial leaders posed a real threat to the Qing government. The Manchus continued to obstruct almost all programs of reform, despite repeated defeats at the hands of the Europeans and the Japanese.
The last decades of the dynasty were dominated by Cixi, the dowager empress. Cixi refused all attempts at reform. The dowager empress clandestinely supported the Boxer Rebellion from 1898 to 1901 as a means of ousting foreign influence.
The Taiping Rebellion led to the deaths of millions of Chinese so that, in and of itself, is a huge effect. However, its more lasting effect was to further weaken the Chinese imperial government.
The Taiping Rebellion itself was so big and so dangerous to the government of the Qing Dynasty that the government was forced to rely on aid from Britain and France to defeat it. In addition, it caused many other rebellions to spring up, further weakening the government.
By weakening the government and making it rely more on foreigners, the Rebellion had the effect of opening China even further to the West. In this way, it helped weaken China and make it more vulnerable to being dominated by the West.
The Qing Dynasty suffered economic losses and population growth issues as the population grew. Natural disasters also struck China and feudal rule became corrupt.
The Taiping Rebellion was a large-scale anti-government rebellion that ravaged much of China. Led by Hong Xiu Quan, who proclaimed himself as the younger son of God, the movement sought the creation of a new Christian kingdom in China, known as the Taiping Tianguo (Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace) and the destruction of the Manchus, who were regarded as an alien dynasty ruling over China. To achieve his aims, Hong launched a series of military campaigns against the Qings, covering many provinces, such as Guangxi, Hunan, Anhui and Jiangsu. In March 1843, the Taipings captured Nanjing and made it their capital. Western missionaries were initially excited about the prospects of a Christian revolutionary force, which promised social reforms and the defeat of the Qing empire, but soon found Hong’s Christian ideology too eccentric to be accepted. Foreign merchants also feared that Hong’s absolute ban on opium smoking would damage the extremely lucrative and profitable opium trade in China. Therefore, the West decided to back the Qing government in suppressing the rebellion and the revolt was crushed in 1864. The Taiping Rebellion had a large impact on Chinese society - more than 50 million people were killed and much of the productive regions of the Lower Yangtze were laid to waste. Such internal turbulence also severely weakened the conservative Qing dynasty, who found themselves having to depend on the barbaric West for support to deal with their internal affairs.
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