Monday, October 10, 2011

Dawn of Qing Dynasty

Dawn is the time that marks the beginning of the twilight before sunrise. It is recognized by the presence of weak sunlight, while the sun itself is still below the horizon. Dawn should not be confused with sunrise, which is the moment when the leading edge of the sun itself appears above the horizon. 100 years ago, today Qing Dynasty, China's last empire was facing its dawn day in history.....

The founding of Qing Dynasty 1644

Qing Dynasty(清朝),last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912. The Qing Dynasty was founded not by Han Chinese, who form the majority of the Chinese population, but a hunting, fishing, and farming people who would come to be known as the Manchus, and who are today an ethnic minority of China. The Manchus believed themselves to be descended from Jurchens (女真), a Tungusic people who lived around the region now comprising the Chinese provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang. During Hong Taiji(爱新觉罗氏皇太极,1592-1643)'s reign, the official name of "Manchu" (滿族) for all Jurchen people in November 1635. He also changed the name of his empire from Jin(金, historically known as later Jin 后金)to Qing(清). He is also known as Hóng Tàijí (洪太極) or Huáng Táijí (皇台吉). He continued the expansion of the state in the region later known as Manchuria, pushing deeper into Mongolia and raiding Korea and Ming China. His personal military abilities were widely praised and he effectively developed the military-civil administration known as the Eight Banners or Banner system. This system was well-suited to accept the different peoples, primarily Chinese and Mongols, who joined the Manchu state either following negotiated agreements or military defeat. Hong Taiji died on 21-9-1643, just few months before his army seize control of Beijing.

In 1644, the Ming Dynasty's capital of Beijing was sacked by a coalition of rebel forces led by Li Zicheng(李自成,1606-1645) a former minor Ming official who became the leader of the peasant revolt. The last Ming ruler, the 16th Ming emperor, Chongzhen Emperor(明思宗)committed suicide when the city fell. This make the official end of the Ming dynasty. Li Zicheng proclaimed himself as the Emperor of Shun Dynasty, and ruled over China briefly from 1643-1645, less than 2 years.

The Manchus then allied with Ming general Wu Sangui and seized control of Beijing and overthrew Shun Dynasty. Li's army was defeated on May 27, 1644 at the Battle of Shanhai Pass by the combined forces of Ming turncoat general Wu Sangui(吳三桂,1612-1678) and the Manchurians, Li fled from Beijing towards his base in Shaanxi. Historically, he disappeared and where about unknown. The empire of Han had ended, and China was ruled by foreigner, Manchu under Qing Dynasty, the mandate of heaven was given to a foreign race.

The first emperor of Qing Dynasty was Aisin Gioro Fulin(爱新觉罗福臨,1638-1661), the son of Hong Taiji who ruled from 1644-1661. He was actually the 3rd emperor of the Qing Dynasty but the first emperor to rule over China. He was given the title of The Shunzhi Emperor (順治帝), a child emperor. He ascended to the throne at the age of five (six according to traditional Chinese age reckoning) in 1643 upon the death of his father Hong Taiji, but actual power during the early part of his reign lay in the hands of the appointed regents, Princes Dorgon.

The dawn of Qing Dynasty

Qing empire was facing humiliation from foreign power,First Sino-Japanese War, Opium Wars, and was politically weak. It was in dilemma, facing the pressure from their own people to change and modernize. The reformists and revolutionists were actively fighting for their agenda. The Qing emperor was worry these movements were going after the country as a whole or their own power base. Initially they were for reformation, but later was fearful that they may lost their imperial power under Constitutional Monarchy. Ultimately the time was short for Qing, they no longer has luxuries of ample time to decide. It was the dawn time....

The Four Bandits and later Hsing Chung Hui(兴中会)in 1894 , Yang Heling(杨鹤龄) , Sun Yat-sen(孙中山), Chen Shaobai(陈少白) and You Lie(尤列)had arrived, Huang Xing(黄兴), Song Jiaoren(宋教仁) of The Huaxinghui(華興會) in 1904, and the same year Guāngfùhuì (光復會) formed by Cai Yuanpei(蔡元培),Tao Chengzhang (陶成章) ,龔寶銓、魏蘭, joined by Xu Xilin(徐錫麟)、Qiu Jin(秋瑾), Zhang Taiyan(章太炎). There were many more revolutionaries planning to overthrow Qing for the formation of Republic, they later become members of Tongmenhui. Never mind if you cannot remember the names, they were the names that make the history of modern China....

From 1889 to 1898, the Empress Dowager lived in the Summer Palace in semi-retirement. Guangxu Emperor was given the opportunity to actually walk out from her shallow of this powerful de factor ruler of China. But the opportunity was also too short, otherwise the fate of Qing may had changed.

After losing to Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Guangxu Emperor initiated the Hundred Days' Reform, in which new laws were put in place and some old rules were abolished. Newer, more progressive-minded thinkers like Kang Youwei(康有为/康有為, 1858-1927) were trusted and recognized conservative-minded people like Li Hongzhang(李鸿章, 1823-1901) were removed from high positions. The reform movement,The Hundred Days' Reform(百日維新), was short-lived, for only 104 days. It ended in a coup d'état ("The Coup of 1898") by powerful conservative opponents led by Empress Dowager Cixi, in 1898. He was put under house arrest until his death.

Empress Dowager Cixi(慈禧太后, 1835-1908), issued an imperial edict in 1901 calling for reform proposals from the governors-general and governors and initiated the era of the dynasty's "New Policy", also known as the "Late Qing Reform". Cixi and the Guangxu Emperor(光绪帝, 1871-1908) both died in 1908, leaving a relatively powerless and unstable central authority. Aisin-Gioro Puyi(愛新覺羅.溥儀, 1906-1967, the oldest son of Prince Zaifeng(愛新覺羅載沣, 醇親王,1883-1951) was appointed successor at the age of two, leaving Zaifeng with the regency.

In April 1911 Zaifeng created a cabinet, in which there were two vice-premiers. Nevertheless, this cabinet was also known by contemporaries as "The Royal Cabinet" because among the thirteen cabinet members, five were members of the imperial family or Aisin Gioro relatives. This brought a wide range of negative opinions from senior officials like Zhang Zhidong(张之洞, 1837-1909).

Puyi's father, Prince Zaifeng(the 2nd Prince Chun), served as a regent until 6 December 1911 when Empress Dowager Longyu(隆裕皇后, actually Empress Xiao Ding Jing (孝定景皇后)) took over in the face of the Xinhai Revolution. She is best remembered for signing the abdication on behalf of the child Emperor Puyi, in 1911, ending imperial rule in China.

The dawn was too short for them.... Oct 10th 1911, Wuchang Uprising by the new army started the Xinhai Revolution, and the end of Qing Dynasty. The people had decided to change, by overthrowing the Qing emperor, by changing the political system of China, to become a republic.....

Today was the 100 years after the fall of Qing Empire....

Is the past lesson on the political history tell us something? We need to understand the people, otherwise the anger and desire for change by the people will decide the fate of the government.

It does not matter how long the government has ruled the country; the Jasmin flowers will always ready for the government who are not for the people.... just like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya...and the Qing Dynasty 100 years ago.....

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