Friday, April 8, 2011

Boxer Rebellion Part 5: Failure to Communicate

Stage Five: Failure to Communicate
            This is the stage in which I cannot really understand the course of action that is taking place.  The Alliance has seized the capital, leadership of the Chinese has either fled, been crushed under military marching, or committed suicide.  Huge territory was already controlled by each of the powers and they had an exiled Emperor ready to step into place as a replacement ruler who could help to legitimize China turning into a parliamentary democracy with the help of foreign ministers and political scientists.  And instead the foreign governments demand money, take away guns, dismantle forts, and put a stop to government testing, hardly an enlightened nation building effort.

            First was the fine calculated at 67,500,000 pounds.  Which was astronomical at the time.  "America objected that this was too high and would bankrupt China; they wanted the sum reduced by a third... America's policy was to bring 'permanent safety and peace to China' and to preserve China's territorial integrity." (Preston, pg310)  Needless to say other powers were not of the same sentiment, and under pressure China agreed that the debt would be paid in full, though it ultimately ended the payments after 39 years.

            Second were the restrictions.  To limit military growth and armament while tensions cooled and so money could be spent on domestic reconstruction, at least I optimistically project that was a motivator, China would be allowed to not buy weapons for two years.  During that same period the Civil Service Examination would be suspended, the motivations for this move I do not quite understand.

            The Civil Service examination was a centuries old system of creating some sort of meritocracy based system for the government, but had failed to be reformed in that time, so it stood as an un-evolving relic which was held in place because to remove it would call into question the entire body politics qualifications for their own positions.  And not removing it had caused any rival path of education to languish because there were no guaranteed benefits for any other form of social promotion.  Suspending this test was a good idea, a forward thinking one and was part of the reformist movements prior to the Dowager's take over and Boxer Rebellion, but suspending for such a short time is silly, and would not in and of itself prompt any other reform, so I have no idea why they insisted on this.

            I suspect a certain moderate and measured mentality is to blame for China not simply being sliced up into provinces for the various powers, but never the less with the deaths of so many leaders, and the Dynasty fleeing before the military power of the Alliance, the Dynasty was walking dead.  The long term authority and legitimacy of the institutions were shattered, the countdown to revolution, a revolution that would replace the Divine Right nature of the monarchy's authority, was begun.

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