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"The Self-Strengthening movement was conditioned bysituations and its achievements were rather limited" - Discuss.

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Introduction

"The Self-Strengthening movement was conditioned by situations and its achievements were rather limited". Discuss. China was facing the Western threat and the Anglo-Chinese wars in the beginning of the 19th C. The continuous defeated by the superficial Westerners made the Chinese realized that they were weak technologically, and needed a reform to strengthen themselves militarily. They started the Self-strengthening movement in 1864. But the defeated of China by her student, Japan in the 1st Sino-Japanese War, illustrated that the self-strengthening movement was a failure. Foreigners defeated China in both Anglo-Chinese wars. By this, China was forced to sign many unequal treaties with them, such as the Treaty of Nanjing, Treaty of Bogue and Treaty of Tianjin. These treaties opened China completely and brought humiliation to the Chinese. There were fixed tariff, heavy indemnity, and erosion of China's sovereignty, extraterritoriality and the most favored-nation treatment. The people was discontented and started to rise up against Qing's rule which led to the Mid Century Rebellions. Although these rebellions were all failure, they led to the rise of Chinese leaders such as Tseng Guo-fan, Li hungzhong, Zuo-zongtong, these leaders later led the Self-Strengthening movement. Also by opening of treaty ports, helping of the Ever Victories Army and Imperial Maritime Custom Service, their contacts with the West had been increased. ...read more.

Middle

It was just a waste of money to produce the low quality weapons. But because they did not have the technology, they could not product the weapons by themselves. Therefore, from 1881 onwards, China returned to the purchase of western weapons. Government controlled businesses. They administrated the businesses and would borrow the profit of the investors. By investing in the businesses large amount of investment was needed. But as the officials were corrupted and the government was inefficient, the government wasted a lot of money in the businesses projects. Also, money was spent on heavy industries, in producing weapons, arsenals. Light industries were neglected. Therefore the common people did not really gained a better live by the government investment. The provincial leaders were responsible for carrying out provincial projects. They were lacked of co-operation due to their self-interest. They were competing among themselves in order to gain power and support. This led to the bad organization and lack of discipline of army. For diplomatic modernization, Zongliyamen was originally established to deal with foreign officers, collecting the tribute and treated foreigners as barbarian. But after 1864, Tongwenguan and Custom office were under Zongliyamen. Prince Gong and some officers supervised it, but because they all have other posts, as it was just a concurrent post and an additional duty, they did not fully devoted to their jobs. ...read more.

Conclusion

Students were educated for being soldiers or translators of military books. Chinese were still conservative and with cultural superiority. They uphold Confucianism and supported classical learning. . The officials did not want changes which might threaten their positions. Cixi was anti-foreign due to the lost in the two humiliating wars. She opposed reforms, but was forced to change. Central government gave limited help. The mass was ignorant and the reforms were mostly in military, they did not support this movement. Therefore, there was a lack of planning and leadership. There was more oppositions to the reforms. The reform was part of the Tong Zhi Restoration and was looking backward, as they were conservative. China could not be fully modernized by limited reform aspect. Although the Self-Strengthening was limited in scope and with limited support. China stressed on military reforms, but the defeat of China in the 1st Sino-Japanese War illustrated the failure of the military reforms. It achievements were limited. It did have some achievements. It brought about the increasing of capitalism with growing industry development, cites, towns and a new generation of leaders and intellects. The people were more demanding and critical to the government. China also learnt a lesson that in order to have a successful reform, it couldn't be half hearted and needed to gain support of the mass. ...read more.

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