The Failure Of The Qing Dynasty

1255 words - 5 pages

The Failure of the Qing Dynasty

Although some short term successes were achieved for China when
dealing with western demands of diplomatic relations and free trade,
in the sense that it retained their pride in their tributary systems,
such responses were in flawed in the long term. Focusing on the time
period 1793-1839, this essay will investigate what were the western
attempts and demands in diplomatic relations and free trade. It will
also investigate what was the reason to the failure of the Qing
dynasty to respond effectively to western demands of diplomatic
relations and free trade. The two aspects will be explored
respectively. It will be argued that the Qing government’s failures in
responding effectively had led to long term grievances towards China’s
existing system by the West, as well as exacerbated silver outflow of
Chinese economy. The main factor leading to failures in effective
response to western demands was China’s construct that it was superior
to any other alien powers.

Western demands for diplomatic relations can be seen in the three
missions from 1793-1834 (Macartney, Amherst and Napier), but Qing’s
rejection of Western demands resulted in Western grievances towards
the existing system. The failure for Qing to respond effectively to
Western demands was due to its world view that it was superior.

The Macartney mission was a relative success, for communication
between the West and China had been established, but the latter two
missions were failures in term of establishing a friendly relationship
between powers. The main objectives of the missions were to open the
whole East to British trade, place relations with China on a regular
basis, and the dissemination of Christianity, for which Qian-long
however found it “utterly unreasonable”. More friction could be seen
between the West and China with Amherst’s reluctance in conforming the
kowtow ritual. Emperor Jaiqing viewed such act as an insult to the
Middle Kingdom due to British pride and arrogance, and added that no
more attempts need be made to send mission to Beijing. The Chinese
emperor was further humiliated by Napier’s breaking of five important
regulations: did not apply for permission to go to Guangzhou, had no
customs permit to reside in the Guangzhou factory, sent his
communication to the viceroy not as humble “petition” from an inferior
to a superior but as a “letter” to an equal, the letter was in Chinese
not in English, and he tried to get the letter delivered directly and
not through the Cohong merchants.

It was a failure for the Qing in the long term for it aroused Western
grievances in the Chinese system. Such view was supported by the
historian Vohra, for he argued that incidents like the Emily incident
although showed Westerners were willing to cope with such inferior

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