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Causes of 1911 Chinese Revolution 1. Foreign intervention in Chinas politics a.

In the 19th century, China had 400 million people, equating to a huge potential market. Realizing this, Western powers pressurized China to open up trade with the West. However, the Chinese were proud of their ability to achieve self-sufficiency, and therefore would not want to rely on trade. Hence, the Chinese only opened one port at Kwangtung. The Western powers remained discontented and forced the Manchu rulers to sign unequal treaties in 1842 dictating the control of Hong Kong and Shanghai by British as well as other parts of China by Russians, French and Germans. b. Rising discontent grew against the foreigners, and this eventually culminated in the Boxer Rebellion where 200 foreigners were killed. This gave the Western powers an opportunity to demand huge sums of compensation, amounting to approximately 67 million pounds. The Boxer Protocol of 1901 also gave foreign powers the right to station troops in Beijing and 11 other major cities. c. The intervention of Chinas politics by the Western powers was regarded as a huge humiliation for the Chinese. The Manchu rulers were merely just puppets of Western powers, unable to stand strong against foreign intervention. It was the incompetency of the rulers that resulted in the terms stated in the unfair treaties, leading to the Boxer Rebellion, which brought about even more economic losses and political humiliation. As a result of the Qing Dynasty losing much reputation and political power, the anger and humiliation suffered became directed towards the government. 2. Weakness of the Qing ruler a. In the Qing dynasty, the Qing emperor held absolute power, so administration in Beijing was efficient only if he was an able man. However, in the 19th century, there was a lack of capable Manchu leaders. Without an able emperor to supervise the officials, political power could no longer be centralized in Beijing. Since the Taiping Rebellion, the Qing court permitted the creation of regional armies in an attempt to suppress rebellions, especially because the traditional Eight-Banner forces became weak and useless over the years. Regional armies were financed by local money and trained to obey provincial officials like Tseng Kuo-fan and Li Hung-Cheng. b. Due to the weakness of the Qing ruler, he was unable to keep the political power of his officials in check. As the strength of regional armies grew, the power of these provincial officials increased to such an extent that it surpasses that of the Qing ruler. Keeping in mind of their self-interests, many of these officials were unwilling to suppress the rebellions during the Wuchang Uprising as it would require a lot of financial support coming from their own pockets. Since the Qing emperor had little control over the regional armies, he was left with no strong military support, resulting in the success of the Wuchang Uprising and hence, the success of the Xinhai Revolution. 3. Failure of reforms in late-Qing a. In the late-Qing period, several reforms were carried out, such as the Self-Strengthening Movement, Hundred Days reform and Late Qing reform. These were originally directed at modernising China to advancement in industry, economics and military strength. b. However, Empress Dowager Cixi, who held the Qing court in her hands, vehemently opposed to the idea of reform movements, and hence she did not give her full support to the reformation efforts. c. As such, there was a lack of adequate capital to conduct the reforms and the Qing court increasingly relied on the sale of government posts to enlarge its income. Most of the wealthy and affluent merchants acquired government posts in this way. On becoming officials, corruption became extremely prevalent throughout the government. High officials often received bribes from low officials. In turn, low officials put government money into their pockets. The heavy taxes imposed on the people were used to support the corrupt government instead of directing it to the reform movements. Without enough capital, the reforms were rendered useless. d. The failure of the reforms clearly indicated to the people that the Qing government was power-hungry and corrupt, adhering to their self-interests instead of the interests of the country and the people. This convinced the Chinese that only be revolutionizing and overthrowing the government can the funds be appropriated to reform movements to modernise China. 4. Strength of the revolutionaries

a. Through missionary efforts and treaty ports, modern ideas such as democracy and republicanism were introduced and popularized among the Chinese intellectuals. They were greatly influenced by examples of great European revolutions and national unifications such as the French Revolution and the German Unification of 1871. b. Most of the late-Qing overseas students such as Sun Yat-sen and Huang Hsing were sent to Japan. On coming into contact with modern, Westernized cities like Japan, they realized how backward China was. The Western education they received encouraged them to participate in more radical activities against the backward government. Many anti-Manchu organisations were established by these intellectuals. By making use of the overseas students nationalistic feelings and anti-imperialism mentality, Sun Yat-sen exploited the stark difference between the Chinese and the Manchus and condemned the government for the worsening problem of imperialism in China. Many intellectuals hence turned to the rising revolutionaries. c. The umpteen revolutionary uprisings by revolutionaries such as Sun Yat-sen culminated in the Boxer Rebellion, which made the intellectuals realise that China could only be saved by a revolution that eradicates the Qing government, and not by reform. Because of the strong voices of the revolutionaries, the intellectuals believed in the cause of revolution for China to keep up with the progressive Western societies, and hence supported the revolutionaries. 5. Social poverty a. China had 400 million people, of which 90% are peasants. Cultivable lands was limited, and owned by the rich and powerful landlords. They gave exorbitant land rents, heavy taxes in trade of goods and paid low wages for hard work. This meant that there was no equal pay for equal work, and the meagre income of the workers were mostly used to pay the rents and taxes, leaving little money left to support the family financially. b. In addition, China relied heavily on agriculture for income, but China was plagued with famines and other natural disasters, which greatly affected agricultural output. As such, the small-scale peasant economy was unable to support the vast population. Most of the people therefore lived in hunger due to this food shortage. c. Since China was still very backward then, without much industrial development, it led to excessive manpower where many people were unemployed. This exacerbated the social poverty, whereby the people slipped into deeper financial problems, unable to feed themselves or support their family. d. The governments neglect of this social poverty sowed seeds of dissent in the people, and highlighted the governments nonchalance towards the welfare of the people. As the living and working conditions worsened, they vented their anger onto the Manchu government. The peasants support of the antiManchu movement to overthrow the Qing government displayed the peoples desire to be freed from the capitalist exploitations and to alleviate the starvation and financial problems brought about by social poverty.