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Conservatism and the Self Strengthening Movement in China Essay

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Updated: Nov 27th, 2019

Historical Process

The neo-conservatism that is often associated with the Chinese[1] in the early 1990s was a movement that gave credence to the reform agenda both in policy and principle through a strategic stage based process that often involved revolution and overthrow of the government system. This movement had little relation with the actual neo-conservatism movement that was in progress at the same time in the United States.

There was an existing crisis that was affecting the progress of economies around the globe. In actual sense the crisis took its toll on the Chinese at this time because the British stronghold had taken its share of command as far as they could possibly have gone. China was at its early stages of colonization and influence of western and other ideologies was beginning to take its toll on the Chinese culture and tradition.

The long traditional authoritarian culture that had been motivated by the Chinese tradition was also taking a hard blow from the democracy ideology that came with the British influence. Conservatism had fought a losing battle and it was time to embrace the inevitably popular ideology of capitalism and democracy. The situation was made worse by the humiliating treaties and the rise fall and defeat of the various rebellions such as the Taiping rebellion and the Muslim rebellion which culminated in the foreign occupation of Beijing.

It was undeniably obvious that the then Manchus regime had little choice but to comply with the turn of the tide. The continued contact with the western world led to more trade relation and opening of its ports to the influence of western initiatives. The effects culminated in a high level of innovation to become one of the most progressive years in the history of china.

The final years of the 19th century still remain a historical landmark for the history and jurisprudence of china. Lee chose to set the stage in this setup narrating story of the average as well as the well of Chinese citizen in the twist of the events that were experienced during this period.

The story takes little notice of the historical regime shifts both in economic policy and that was characteristically identified and explained in detail by Robert hooker. Lee however passes by these turn of events in the narration of the transition of the country’s general sectors. The education sector was also gradually embracing the western based education the

Conflict and pattern

Lewes position can be purely secured by the objective of tell tale by the missing elements of the historical ambit. Rev Dr Brown[2] was an appointed agent of the transition of the educational sector. He was presumed to be the designated proponent who would presumably influence the bearing of the future of the Chinese empire.

The wide familiarity of his credentials as having made it through preparatory school through to college and making an entrance into the Yale University of Yale with a distinction in the courses he took. He became a point of reference from his name Yung Wing as a role model of lofty ambition.

This was only one among many other scholars who under British protection were used to engage the conservatism regime with ideology feeding the population with adoptive ways of incorporating these ideas into their traditions and practices. According to Wright the scholarly attempts were quite successful in securing peace against the conservatism rebellions that were hesitant to give away their command and control of the economy.

She suggests that it was these Confucian scholarly officials that facilitated a seize fire and suppression of the Tai-ping Rebellion as well as three other major uprisings and aided to a great extent the creation and reestablishment of the current civil government. The reacquisition and facilitation of the local gentry and the western based policies and treaties for the furtherance of the agrarian and economic objects is also associated with the works of these individuals.

The continued relations led to the creation of a foreign office Zongli Yamen (Office of Foreign Affairs) that was followed by the creation of a foreign cooperation policy that embraces the cultural restrictions of the Chinese. The compromise was set by making the prince the chief councilor of the foreign office for the purposes of peaceful adoption.

Socially the Chinese were offered an opportunity to learn the foreign language with the government offering to sponsor at least one hundred boys to be sponsored to undergo the American education system. This was part of the first face of the self strengthening initiative of the regime. It involved learning the western technology and gaining proficiency in the language and modes of operation of the industry that was being proposed by the western civilization proponents.

It was the compromise for the removal of the conservatism ideas and the last attempts at sustaining its propositions. It was the conservative’s view that the success that was seen against the rebellions and the rebirth of china was as a result of the influence that still existed in the imperial government.

They also suggested that the political departmentalization that was displayed by the Chinese political system[3] was the very best at addressing the common mans views as opposed to all other systems in the world. It was therefore important to retain the positive moral basis of this system even on the onset of westernization. It would be retrogressive to lose the unificative value of the system that was sharply contrasted to the aggression and conflict anarchy as well as selfish encounters that came along with capitalism.

The first face was explained by Lee’s reference to the education initiatives that offered the boy in the last three chapters a chance to visit the United States under a plan that would see one hundred boys go through the education system. The cultural values were to be compulsorily replaced by the western cultures. The boy while leaving the mother would not hug or kiss his mother since the Chinese tradition had a different way that involved bowing four times. The boy upon arrival is received in the western way through hugs and kisses at the embarrassment of his friends who found it all too funny. As they would then come to learn that this was actually the warmest of receptions that they would ever receive.

Religion also had its share of transformation with the Chinese being forced to embrace Christianity and its doctrines. The transition was facilitated by the scholarly efforts of journalists and prolific writers who engaged the regimes with the Christianity ideas. It took the boys some time to learn the new concept. This was seen in their initial scare at the sight of a church. The religion despised a great deal of spiritual practices and signification that was otherwise used by the Chinese religion.

The conservatisms proposition that the Chinese culture should be preserved was upheld by the self strengthening approach. The boys were fed with the doctrines and provisions of the Chinese history to ensure that even in the face of the new contradictory culture and the need and crave for adventure into the new world, they would still remember the teachings of early childhood of their origins.

Lee characteristically recognizes the element in the story. The boy upon reaching Shanghai is enrolled into a school in which the timetable had within its timetable a lesson in which excerpts of the Chinese history were recited and memorized. This set the stage for a perfect Chinese back ground since it also formed part of the evaluation criterion for those who were to be successfully sponsored to undergo the American education.

The second face of the self strengthening initiative was taking its toll on the military segment[4]. The Chinese was beginning to embrace western military equipment and training. As historians have it the most important objective of the self strengthening movement was to ensure that the military industries were set up for the manufacture improvement and development of military arsenals.

The government heavily funded the process and dedicated state resources to this process that involved the building and construction of ships that were specifically suited for war. This would however mark the beginning of the end of the self strengthening motivated Ch’ing government.

This was mainly because of the fact that the regime had failed to unify and stabilize the federal government. The very last chicks of the self strengthening and conservatism ideology were felt by the trade sector. The initial face of this process saw the opening of the company’s ports through the signing of treaties that facilitated the trade relations between these states.

The tale by Lee fails to keep track of these historical events that were developing in the economic sector. The government was funding the development of new industries indiscriminately including the construction sector in the last and final phase of the self strengthening process. This development also saw the drug sector grew tremendously since the demand for these commodities was high and the court system was still weak.

The immigrants were used to move these drugs across the border in the name of the education development and with the intention of concealing the trade. Due to the increase I the technologies that were being used, the various sectors that were reliant on human labor and primitive machines became highly mechanized and increased their productivity during this phase. Industries such as textile and cotton weaving developed rapidly.

These events were recognized by Wright in her prolific criticism of the consequences of the reduced concentration on the success and failures in the controversy that was presented by modernization on one hand and Confucian stability[5] on the other.

The economy had moved to a point of no return since a restoration of the original leadership mechanism would lead to a compromise of the scientific objective[6] of increasing mans control over nature alongside the opposing force of the contrasting humanistic mutual adjustment ideology.

She has set her writing has informed the Chinese history from the perspective of the needs of the modernist Chinese specialist perspective. To this extent she presents this period as one of the outgrowth of the Asian country into the hands of the new world.

Lee in his writing supports this perspective that has been furthered by Wright[7]. They present a common ground that there was a more than necessary transition from the authoritarian conservatism regime into the strengthening movement which acted as a safety net for the collapse of conservatism

Works Cited

Hooker, Richard. Ch’ing china: Self strengthening. 1996. Web.

Yan, Lee. When I Was a Boy in China. Boston Lothrop: Lee & Shepard Co, 2006, 28-38.

Wright, Mary. The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism: The T’ung-Chih Restoration, 1862-1874. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957.pp 426.

Footnotes

  1. Wright, Mary, C. The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism: The T’ung-Chih Restoration, 1862-1874. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957.pp 426
  2. Yan, Lee. When I Was a Boy in China. Boston Lothrop: Lee & Shepard Co,2006 28-38
  3. Hooker Richard:Ch’ing china “:Self strengthening” 1996.
  4. Hooker Richard, Ch’ing china: Self strengthening 1996.
  5. Wright, Mary, C. The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism: The T’ung-Chih Restoration,1862-1874. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957.pp 426
  6. Hooker Richard:Ch’ing china “:Self strengthening” 1996.
  7. Wright, Mary, C. The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism: The T’ung-Chih Restoration, 1862-1874. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957.pp 426
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