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  • 1947
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the Han dynasty; the second founded the first of the so-called “Five Dynasties” in the tenth century; Chu was the third.

Not until the Mongols had answered Chu’s rising with a tightening of the nationality laws did the revolutionary movement become a national movement, directed against the foreigners as such. And only when Chu came under the influence of the first people of the gentry who joined him, whether voluntarily or perforce, did what had been a revolutionary movement become a struggle for the substitution of one dynasty for another without interfering with the existing social system. Both these points were of the utmost importance to the whole development of the Ming epoch.

The Mongols were driven out fairly quickly and without great difficulty. The Chinese drew from the ease of their success a sense of superiority and a clear feeling of nationalism. This feeling should not be confounded with the very old feeling of Chinese as a culturally superior group according to which, at least in theory though rarely in practice, every person who assimilated Chinese cultural values and traits was a “Chinese”. The roots of nationalism seem to lie in the Southern Sung period, growing up in the course of contacts with the Juchen and Mongols; but the discriminatory laws of the Mongols greatly fostered this feeling. From now on, it was regarded a shame to serve a foreigner as official, even if he was a ruler of China.

2 _Wars against Mongols and Japanese_

It had been easy to drive the Mongols out of China, but they were never really beaten in their own country. On the contrary, they seem to have regained strength after their withdrawal from China: they reorganized themselves and were soon capable of counter-thrusts, while Chinese offensives had as a rule very little success, and at all events no decisive success. In the course of time, however, the Chinese gained a certain influence over Turkestan, but it was never absolute, always challenged. After the Mongol empire had fallen to pieces, small states came into existence in Turkestan, for a long time with varying fortunes; the most important one during the Ming epoch was that of Hami, until in 1473 it was occupied by the city-state of Turfan. At this time China actively intervened in the policy of Turkestan in a number of combats with the Mongols. As the situation changed from time to time, these city-states united more or less closely with China or fell away from her altogether. In this period, however, Turkestan was of no military or economic importance to China.

In the time of the Ming there also began in the east and south the plague of Japanese piracy. Japanese contacts with the coastal provinces of China (Kiangsu, Chekiang and Fukien) had a very long history: pilgrims from Japan often went to these places in order to study Buddhism in the famous monasteries of Central China; businessmen sold at high prices Japanese swords and other Japanese products here and bought Chinese products; they also tried to get Chinese copper coins which had a higher value in Japan. Chinese merchants co-operated with Japanese merchants and also with pirates in the guise of merchants. Some Chinese who were or felt persecuted by the government, became pirates themselves. This trade-piracy had started already at the end of the Sung dynasty, when Japanese navigation had become superior to Korean shipping which had in earlier times dominated the eastern seaboard. These conditions may even have been one of the reasons why the Mongols tried to subdue Japan. As early as 1387 the Chinese had to begin the building of fortifications along the eastern and southern coasts of the country; The Japanese attacks now often took the character of organized raids: a small, fast-sailing flotilla would land in a bay, as far as possible without attracting notice; the soldiers would march against the nearest town, generally overcoming it, looting, and withdrawing. The defensive measures adopted from time to time during the Ming epoch were of little avail, as it was impossible effectively to garrison the whole coast. Some of the coastal settlements were transferred inland, to prevent the Chinese from co-operating with the Japanese, and to give the Japanese so long a march inland as to allow time for defensive measures. The Japanese pirates prevented the creation of a Chinese navy in this period by their continual threats to the coastal cities in which the shipyards lay. Not until much later, at a time of unrest in Japan in 1467, was there any peace from the Japanese pirates.

The Japanese attacks were especially embarrassing for the Chinese government for one other reason. Large armies had to be kept all along China’s northern border, from Manchuria to Central Asia. Food supplies could not be collected in north China which did not have enough surplusses. Canal transportation from Central China was not reliable, as the canals did not always have enough water and were often clogged by hundreds of ships. And even if canals were used, grain still had to be transported by land from the end of the canals to the frontier. The Ming government therefore, had organized an overseas flotilla of grain ships which brought grain from Central China directly to the front in Liao-tung and Manchuria. And these ships, vitally important, were so often attacked by the pirates, that this plan later had to be given up again.

These activities along the coast led the Chinese to the belief that basically all foreigners who came by ships were “barbarians”; when towards the end of the Ming epoch the Japanese were replaced by Europeans who did not behave much differently and were also pirate-merchants, the nations of Western Europe, too, were regarded as “barbarians” and were looked upon with great suspicion. On the other side, continental powers, even if they were enemies, had long been regarded as “states”, sometimes even as equals. Therefore, when at a much later time the Chinese came into contact with Russians, their attitude towards them was similar to that which they had taken towards other Asian continental powers.

3 _Social legislation within the existing order_

At the time when Chu Yuean-chang conquered Peking, in 1368, becoming the recognized emperor of China (Ming dynasty), it seemed as though he would remain a revolutionary in spite of everything. His first laws were directed against the rich. Many of the rich were compelled to migrate to the capital, Nanking, thus losing their land and the power based on it. Land was redistributed among poor peasants; new land registers were also compiled, in order to prevent the rich from evading taxation. The number of monks living in idleness was cut down and precisely determined; the possessions of the temples were reduced, land exempted from taxation being thus made taxable–all this, incidentally, although Chu had himself been a monk! These laws might have paved the way to social harmony and removed the worst of the poverty of the Mongol epoch. But all this was frustrated in the very first years of Chu’s reign. The laws were only half carried into effect or not at all, especially in the hinterland of the present Shanghai. That region had been conquered by Chu at the very beginning of the Ming epoch; in it lived the wealthy landowners who had already been paying the bulk of the taxes under the Mongols. The emperor depended on this wealthy class for the financing of his great armies, and so could not be too hard on it.

Chu Yuean-chang and his entourage were also unable to free themselves from some of the ideas of the Mongol epoch. Neither Chu, nor anybody else before and long after him discussed the possibility of a form of government other than that of a monarchy. The first ever to discuss this question, although very timidly, was Huang Tsung-hsi (1610-1695), at the end of the Ming dynasty. Chu’s conception of an emperor was that of an absolute monarch, master over life and death of his subjects; it was formed by the Mongol emperors with their magnificence and the huge expenditure of their life in Peking; Chu was oblivious of the fact that Peking had been the capital of a vast empire embracing almost the whole of Asia, and expenses could well be higher than for a capital only of China. It did not occur to Chu and his supporters that they could have done without imperial state and splendour; on the contrary, they felt compelled to display it. At first Chu personally showed no excessive signs of this tendency, though they emerged later; but he conferred great land grants on all his relatives, friends, and supporters; he would give to a single person land sufficient for 20,000 peasant families; he ordered the payment of state pensions to members of the imperial family, just as the Mongols had done, and the total of these pension payments was often higher than the revenue of the region involved. For the capital alone over eight million _shih_ of grain had to be provided in payment of pensions–that is to say, more than 160,000 tons! These pension payments were in themselves a heavy burden on the state; not only that, but they formed a difficult transport problem! We have no close figure of the total population at the beginning of the Ming epoch; about 1500 it is estimated to have been 53,280,000, and this population had to provide some 266,000,000 _shih_ in taxes. At the beginning of the Ming epoch the population and revenue must, however, have been smaller.

The laws against the merchants and the restrictions under which the craftsmen worked, remained essentially as they had been under the Sung, but now the remaining foreign merchants of Mongol time also fell under these laws, and their influence quickly diminished. All craftsmen, a total of some 300,000 men with families, were still registered and had to serve the government in the capital for three months once every three years; others had to serve ten days per month, if they lived close by. They were a hereditary caste as were the professional soldiers, and not allowed to change their occupation except by special imperial permission. When a craftsman or soldier died, another family member had to replace him; therefore, families of craftsmen were not allowed to separate into small nuclear families, in which there might not always be a suitable male. Yet, in an empire as large as that of the Ming, this system did not work too well: craftsmen lost too much time in travelling and often succeeded in running away while travelling. Therefore, from 1505 on, they had to pay a tax instead of working for the government, and from then on the craftsmen became relatively free.

4 _Colonization and agricultural developments_

As already mentioned, the Ming had to keep a large army along the northern frontiers. But they also had to keep armies in south China, especially in Yuennan. Here, the Mongol invasions of Burma and Thailand had brought unrest among the tribes, especially the Shan. The Ming did not hold Burma but kept it in a loose dependency as “tributary nation”. In order to supply armies so far away from all agricultural surplus centres, the Ming resorted to the old system of “military colonies” which seems to have been invented in the second century B.C. and is still used even today (in Sinkiang). Soldiers were settled in camps called _ying_, and therefore there are so many place names ending with _ying_ in the outlying areas of China. They worked as state farmers and accumulated surplusses which were used in case of war in which these same farmers turned soldiers again. Many criminals were sent to these state farms, too. This system, especially in south China, transformed territories formerly inhabited by native tribes or uninhabited, into solidly Chinese areas. In addition to these military colonies, a steady stream of settlers from Central China and the coast continued to move into Kwangtung and Hunan provinces. They felt protected by the army against attacks by natives. Yet Ming texts are full of reports on major and minor clashes with the natives, from Kiangsi and Fukien to Kwangtung and Kwangsi.

But the production of military colonies was still not enough to feed the armies, and the government in Chu’s time resorted to a new design. It promised to give merchants who transported grain from Central China to the borders, government salt certificates. Upon the receipt, the merchants could acquire a certain amount of salt and sell it with high profits. Soon, these merchants began to invest some of their capital in local land which was naturally cheap. They then attracted farmers from their home countries as tenants. The rent of the tenants, paid in form of grain, was then sold to the army, and the merchant’s gains increased. Tenants could easily be found: the density of population in the Yangtze plains had further increased since the Sung time. This system of merchant colonization did not last long, because soon, in order to curb the profits of the merchants, money was given instead of salt certificates, and the merchants lost interest in grain transports. Thus, grain prices along the frontiers rose and the effectiveness of the armies was diminished.

Although the history of Chinese agriculture is as yet only partially known, a number of changes in this field, which began to show up from Sung time on, seem to have produced an “agricultural revolution” in Ming time. We have already mentioned the Sung attempts to increase production near the big cities by deep-lying fields, cultivation on and in lakes. At the same time, there was an increase in cultivation of mountain slopes by terracing and by distributing water over the terraces in balanced systems. New irrigation machines, especially the so-called Persian wheel, were introduced in the Ming time. Perhaps the most important innovation, however, was the introduction of rice from Indo-China’s kingdom Champa in 1012 into Fukien from where it soon spread. This rice had three advantages over ordinary Chinese rice: it was drought-resistant and could, therefore, be planted in areas with poor or even no irrigation. It had a great productivity, and it could be sown very early in the year. At first it had the disadvantage that it had a vegetation period of a hundred days. But soon, the Chinese developed a quick-growing Champa rice, and the speediest varieties took only sixty days from transplantation into the fields to the harvest. This made it possible to grow two rice harvests instead of only one and more than doubled the production. Rice varieties which grew again after being cut and produced a second, but very much smaller harvest, disappeared from now on. Furthermore, fish were kept in the ricefields and produced not only food for the farmers but also fertilized the fields, so that continuous cultivation of ricefields without any decrease in fertility became possible. Incidentally, fish control the malaria mosquitoes; although the Chinese did not know this fact, large areas in South China which had formerly been avoided by Chinese because of malaria, gradually became inhabitable.

The importance of alternating crops was also discovered and from now on, the old system of fallow cultivation was given up and continuous cultivation with, in some areas, even more than one harvest per field per year, was introduced even in wheat-growing areas. Considering that under the fallow system from one half to one third of all fields remained uncultivated each year, the increase in production under the new system must have been tremendous. We believe that the population revolution which in China started about 1550, was the result of this earlier agrarian revolution. From the eighteenth century on we get reports on depletion of fields due to wrong application of the new system.

Another plant deeply affected Chinese agriculture: cotton. It is often forgotten that, from very early times, the Chinese in the south had used kapok and similar fibres, and that the cocoons of different kinds of worms had been used for silk. Real cotton probably came from Bengal over South-East Asia first to the coastal provinces of China and spread quickly into Fukien and Kwangtung in Sung time.

On the other side, cotton reached China through Central Asia, and already in the thirteenth century we find it in Shensi in north-western China. Farmers in the north could in many places grow cotton in summer and wheat in winter, and cotton was a high-priced product. They ginned the cotton with iron rods; a mechanical cotton gin was introduced not until later. The raw cotton was sold to merchants who transported it into the industrial centre of the time, the Yangtze valley, and who re-exported cotton cloth to the north. Raw cotton, loosened by the string of the bow (a method which was known since Sung), could now in the north also be used for quilts and padded winter garments.

5 _Commercial and industrial developments_

Intensivation and modernization of agriculture led to strong population increases especially in the Yangtze valley from Sung time on. Thus, in this area commerce and industry also developed most quickly. Urbanization was greatest here. Nanking, the new Ming capital, grew tremendously because of the presence of the court and administration, and even when later the capital was moved, Nanking continued to remain the cultural capital of China. The urban population needed textiles and food. From Ming time on, fashions changed quickly as soon as government regulations which determined colour and material of the dress of each social class were relaxed or as soon as they could be circumvented by bribery or ingenious devices. Now, only factories could produce the amounts which the consumers wanted. We hear of many men who started out with one loom and later ended up with over forty looms, employing many weavers. Shanghai began to emerge as a centre of cotton cloth production. A system of middle-men developed who bought raw cotton and raw silk from the producers and sold it to factories.

Consumption in the Yangtze cities raised the value of the land around the cities. The small farmers who were squeezed out, migrated to the south. Absentee landlords in cities relied partly on migratory, seasonal labour supplied by small farmers from Chekiang who came to the Yangtze area after they had finished their own harvest. More and more, vegetables and mulberries or cotton were planted in the vicinity of the cities. As rice prices went up quickly a large organization of rice merchants grew up. They ran large ships up to Hankow where they bought rice which was brought down from Hunan in river boats by smaller merchants. The small merchants again made contracts with the local gentry who bought as much rice from the producers as they could and sold it to these grain merchants. Thus, local grain prices went up and we hear of cases where the local population attacked the grain boats in order to prevent the depletion of local markets.

Next to these grain merchants, the above-mentioned salt merchants have to be mentioned again. Their centre soon became the city of Hsin-an, a city on the border of Chekiang and Anhui, or in more general terms, the cities in the district of Hui-chou. When the grain transportation to the frontiers came to an end in early Ming time, the Hsin-an merchants specialized first in silver trade. Later in Ming time, they spread their activities all over China and often monopolized the salt, silver, rice, cotton, silk or tea businesses. In the sixteenth century they had well-established contacts with smugglers on the Fukien coast and brought foreign goods into the interior. Their home was also close to the main centres of porcelain production in Kiangsi which was exported to overseas and to the urban centres. The demand for porcelain had increased so much that state factories could not fulfil it. The state factories seem often to have suffered from a lack of labour: indented artisans were imported from other provinces and later sent back on state expenses or were taken away from other state industries. Thus, private porcelain factories began to develop, and in connection with quickly changing fashions a great diversification of porcelain occurred.

One other industry should also be mentioned. With the development of printing, which will be discussed below, the paper industry was greatly stimulated. The state also needed special types of paper for the paper currency. Printing and book selling became a profitable business, and with the application of block print to textiles (probably first used in Sung time) another new field of commercial activity was opened.

As already mentioned, silver in form of bars had been increasingly used as currency in Sung time. The yearly government production of silver was _c_. 10,000 kg. Mongol currency was actually based upon silver. The Ming, however, reverted to copper as basic unit, in addition to the use of paper money. This encouraged the use of silver for speculative purposes.

The development of business changed the face of cities. From Sung time on, the division of cities into wards with gates which were closed during the night, began to break down. Ming cities had no more wards. Business was no more restricted to official markets but grew up in all parts of the cities. The individual trades were no more necessarily all in one street. Shops did not have to close at sunset. The guilds developed and in some cases were able to exercise locally some influence upon the officials.

6 _Growth of the small gentry_

With the spread of book printing, all kinds of books became easily accessible, including reprints of examination papers. Even businessmen and farmers increasingly learned to read and to write, and many people now could prepare themselves for the examinations. Attendance, however, at the examinations cost a good deal. The candidate had to travel to the local or provincial capital, and for the higher examinations to the capital of the country; he had to live there for several months and, as a rule, had to bribe the examiners or at least to gain the favour of influential people. There were many cases of candidates becoming destitute. Most of them were heavily in debt when at last they gained a position. They naturally set to work at once to pay their debts out of their salary, and to accumulate fresh capital to meet future emergencies. The salaries of officials were, however, so small that it was impossible to make ends meet; and at the same time every official was liable with his own capital for the receipt in full of the taxes for the collection of which he was responsible. Consequently every official began at once to collect more taxes than were really due, so as to be able to cover any deficits, and also to cover his own cost of living–including not only the repayment of his debts but the acquisition of capital or land so as to rise in the social scale. The old gentry had been rich landowners, and had no need to exploit the peasants on such a scale.

The Chinese empire was greater than it had been before the Mongol epoch, and the population was also greater, so that more officials were needed. Thus in the Ming epoch there began a certain democratization, larger sections of the population having the opportunity of gaining government positions; but this democratization brought no benefit to the general population but resulted in further exploitation of the peasants.

The new “small gentry” did not consist of great families like the original gentry. When, therefore, people of that class wanted to play a political part in the central government, or to gain a position there, they had either to get into close touch with one of the families of the gentry, or to try to approach the emperor directly. In the immediate entourage of the emperor, however, were the eunuchs. A good many members of the new class had themselves castrated after they had passed their state examination. Originally eunuchs were forbidden to acquire education. But soon the Ming emperors used the eunuchs as a tool to counteract the power of gentry cliques and thus to strengthen their personal power. When, later, eunuchs controlled appointments to government posts, long established practices of bureaucratic administration were eliminated and the court, i.e. the emperor and his tools, the eunuchs, could create a rule by way of arbitrary decisions, a despotic rule. For such purposes, eunuchs had to have education, and these new educated eunuchs, when they had once secured a position, were able to gain great influence in the immediate entourage of the emperor; later such educated eunuchs were preferred, especially as many offices were created which were only filled by eunuchs and for which educated eunuchs were needed. Whole departments of eunuchs came into existence at court, and these were soon made use of for confidential business of the emperor’s outside the palace.

These eunuchs worked, of course, in the interest of their families. On the other hand, they were very ready to accept large bribes from the gentry for placing the desires of people of the gentry before the emperor and gaining his consent. Thus the eunuchs generally accumulated great wealth, which they shared with their small gentry relatives. The rise of the small gentry class was therefore connected with the increased influence of the eunuchs at court.

7 _Literature, art, crafts_

The growth of the small gentry which had its stronghold in the provincial towns and cities, as well as the rise of the merchant class and the liberation of the artisans, are reflected in the new literature of Ming time. While the Mongols had developed the theatre, the novel may be regarded as the typical Ming creation. Its precursors were the stories of story-tellers centuries ago. They had developed many styles, one of which, for instance, consisted of prose with intercalated poetic parts (_pien-wen_). Buddhists monks had used these forms of popular literature and spread their teachings in similar forms; due to them, many Indian stories and tales found their way into the Chinese folklore. Soon, these stories of story-tellers or monks were written down, and out of them developed the Chinese classical novel. It preserved many traits of the stories: it was cut into chapters corresponding with the interruptions which the story-teller made in order to collect money; it was interspersed with poems. But most of all, it was written in everyday language, not in the language of the gentry. To this day every Chinese knows and reads with enthusiasm _Shui-hu-chuan_ (“The Story of the River Bank”), probably written about 1550 by Wang Tao-k’un, in which the ruling class was first described in its decay. Against it are held up as ideals representatives of the middle class in the guise of the gentleman brigand. Every Chinese also knows the great satirical novel _Hsi-yu-chi_ (“The Westward Journey”), by Feng Meng-lung (1574-1645), in which ironical treatment is meted out to all religions and sects against a mythological background, with a freedom that would not have been possible earlier. The characters are not presented as individuals but as representatives of human types: the intellectual, the hedonist, the pious man, and the simpleton, are drawn with incomparable skill, with their merits and defects. A third famous novel is _San-kuo yen-i_ (“The Tale of the Three Kingdoms”), by Lo Kuan-chung. Just as the European middle class read with avidity the romances of chivalry, so the comfortable class in China was enthusiastic over romanticized pictures of the struggle of the gentry in the third century. “The Tale of the Three Kingdoms” became the model for countless historical novels of its own and subsequent periods. Later, mainly in the sixteenth century, the sensational and erotic novel developed, most of all in Nanking. It has deeply influenced Japanese writers, but was mercilessly suppressed by the Chinese gentry which resented the frivolity of this wealthy and luxurious urban class of middle or small gentry families who associated with rich merchants, actors, artists and musicians. Censorship of printed books had started almost with the beginning of book printing as a private enterprise: to the famous historian, anti-Buddhist and conservative Ou-yang Hsiu (1007-1072), the enemy of Wang An-shih, belongs the sad glory of having developed the first censorship rules. Since Ming time, it became a permanent feature of Chinese governments.

The best known of the erotic novels is the _Chin-p’ing-mei_ which, for reasons of our own censors can be published only in expurgated translations. It was written probably towards the end of the sixteenth century. This novel, as all others, has been written and re-written by many authors, so that many different versions exist. It might be pointed out that many novels were printed in Hui-chou, the commercial centre of the time.

The short story which formerly served the entertainment of the educated only and which was, therefore, written in classical Chinese, now also became a literary form appreciated by the middle classes. The collection _Chin-ku ch’i-kuan_ (“Strange Stories of New Times and Old”), compiled by Feng Meng-lung, is the best-known of these collections in vernacular Chinese.

Little original work was done in the Ming epoch in the fields generally regarded as “literature” by educated Chinese, those of poetry and the essay. There are some admirable essays, but these are only isolated examples out of thousands. So also with poetry: the poets of the gentry, united in “clubs”, chose the poets of the Sung epoch as their models to emulate.

The Chinese drama made further progress in the Ming epoch. Many of the finest Chinese dramas were written under the Ming; they are still produced again and again to this day. The most famous dramatists of the Ming epoch are Wang Shih-chen (1526-1590) and T’ang Hsien-tsu (1556-1617). T’ang wrote the well-known drama _Mu-tan-ting_ (“The Peony Pavilion”), one of the finest love-stories of Chinese literature, full of romance and remote from all reality. This is true also of the other dramas by T’ang, especially his “Four Dreams”, a series of four plays. In them a man lives in dream through many years of his future life, with the result that he realizes the worthlessness of life and decides to become a monk.

Together with the development of the drama (or, rather, the opera) in the Ming epoch went an important endeavour in the modernization of music, the attempt to create a “well-tempered scale” made in 1584 by Chu Tsai-yue. This solved in China a problem which was not tackled till later in Europe. The first Chinese theorists of music who occupied themselves with this problem were Ching Fang (77-37 B.C.) and Ho Ch’eng-t’ien (A.D. 370-447).

In the Mongol epoch, most of the Chinese painters had lived in central China; this remained so in the Ming epoch. Of the many painters of the Ming epoch, all held in high esteem in China, mention must be made especially of Ch’in Ying (_c_. 1525), T’ang Yin (1470-1523), and Tung Ch’i-ch’ang (1555-1636). Ch’in Ying painted in the Academic Style, indicating every detail, however small, and showing preference for a turquoise-green ground. T’ang Yin was the painter of elegant women; Tung became famous especially as a calligraphist and a theoretician of the art of painting; a textbook of the art was written by him.

Just as puppet plays and shadow theatre are the “opera of the common man” and took a new development in Ming time, the wood-cut and block-printing developed largely as a cheap substitute of real paintings. The new urbanites wanted to have paintings of the masters and found in the wood-cut which soon became a multi-colour print a cheap mass medium. Block printing in colours, developed in the Yangtze valley, was adopted by Japan and found its highest refinement there. But the Ming are also famous for their monumental architecture which largely followed Mongol patterns. Among the most famous examples is the famous Great Wall which had been in dilapidation and was rebuilt; the great city walls of Peking; and large parts of the palaces of Peking, begun in the Mongol epoch. It was at this time that the official style which we may observe to this day in North China was developed, the style employed everywhere, until in the age of concrete it lost its justification.

In the Ming epoch the porcelain with blue decoration on a white ground became general; the first examples, from the famous kilns in Ching-te-chen, in the province of Kiangsi, were relatively coarse, but in the fifteenth century the production was much finer. In the sixteenth century the quality deteriorated, owing to the disuse of the cobalt from the Middle East (perhaps from Persia) in favour of Sumatra cobalt, which did not yield the same brilliant colour. In the Ming epoch there also appeared the first brilliant red colour, a product of iron, and a start was then made with three-colour porcelain (with lead glaze) or five-colour (enamel). The many porcelains exported to western Asia and Europe first influenced European ceramics (Delft), and then were imitated in Europe (Boettger); the early European porcelains long showed Chinese influence (the so-called onion pattern, blue on a white ground). In addition to the porcelain of the Ming epoch, of which the finest specimens are in the palace at Istanbul, especially famous are the lacquers (carved lacquer, lacquer painting, gold lacquer) of the Ming epoch and the cloisonne work of the same period. These are closely associated with the contemporary work in Japan.

8 _Politics at court_

After the founding of the dynasty by Chu Yuean-chang, important questions had to be dealt with apart from the social legislation. What was to be done, for instance, with Chu’s helpers? Chu, like many revolutionaries before and after him, recognized that these people had been serviceable in the years of struggle but could no longer remain useful. He got rid of them by the simple device of setting one against another so that they murdered one another. In the first decades of his rule the dangerous cliques of gentry had formed again, and were engaged in mutual struggles. The most formidable clique was led by Hu Wei-yung. Hu was a man of the gentry of Chu’s old homeland, and one of his oldest supporters. Hu and his relations controlled the country after 1370, until in 1380 Chu succeeded in beheading Hu and exterminating his clique. New cliques formed before long and were exterminated in turn.

Chu had founded Nanking in the years of revolution, and he made it his capital. In so doing he met the wishes of the rich grain producers of the Yangtze delta. But the north was the most threatened part of his empire, so that troops had to be permanently stationed there in considerable strength. Thus Peking, where Chu placed one of his sons as “king”, was a post of exceptional importance.

In Chu Yuean-chang’s last years (he was named T’ai Tsu as emperor) difficulties arose in regard to the dynasty. The heir to the throne died in 1391; and when the emperor himself died in 1398, the son of the late heir-apparent was installed as emperor (Hui Ti, 1399-1402). This choice had the support of some of the influential Confucian gentry families of the south. But a protest against his enthronement came from the other son of Chu Yuean-chang, who as king in Peking had hoped to become emperor. With his strong army this prince, Ch’eng Tsu, marched south and captured Nanking, where the palaces were burnt down. There was a great massacre of supporters of the young emperor, and the victor made himself emperor (better known under his reign name, Yung-lo). As he had established himself in Peking, he transferred the capital to Peking, where it remained throughout the Ming epoch. Nanking became a sort of subsidiary capital.

This transfer of the capital to the north, as the result of the victory of the military party and Buddhists allied to them, produced a new element of instability: the north was of military importance, but the Yangtze region remained the economic centre of the country. The interests of the gentry of the Yangtze region were injured by the transfer. The first Ming emperor had taken care to make his court resemble the court of the Mongol rulers, but on the whole had exercised relative economy. Yung-lo (1403-1424), however, lived in the actual palaces of the Mongol rulers, and all the luxury of the Mongol epoch was revived. This made the reign of Yung-lo the most magnificent period of the Ming epoch, but beneath the surface decay had begun. Typical of the unmitigated absolutism which developed now, was the word of one of the emperor’s political and military advisors, significantly a Buddhist monk: “I know the way of heaven. Why discuss the hearts of the people?”

9 _Navy. Southward expansion_

After the collapse of Mongol rule in Indo-China, partly through the simple withdrawal of the Mongols, and partly through attacks from various Chinese generals, there were independence movements in south-west China and Indo-China. In 1393 wars broke out in Annam. Yung-lo considered that the time had come to annex these regions to China and so to open a new field for Chinese trade, which was suffering continual disturbance from the Japanese. He sent armies to Yuennan and Indo-China; at the same time he had a fleet built by one of his eunuchs, Cheng Ho. The fleet was successfully protected from attack by the Japanese. Cheng Ho, who had promoted the plan and also carried it out, began in 1405 his famous mission to Indo-China, which had been envisaged as giving at least moral support to the land operations, but was also intended to renew trade connections with Indo-China, where they had been interrupted by the collapse of Mongol rule. Cheng Ho sailed past Indo-China and ultimately reached the coast of Arabia. His account of his voyage is an important source of information about conditions in southern Asia early in the fifteenth century. Cheng Ho and his fleet made some further cruises, but they were discontinued. There may have been several reasons, (1) As state enterprises, the expeditions were very costly. Foreign goods could be obtained more cheaply and with less trouble if foreign merchants came themselves to China or Chinese merchants travelled at their own risk. (2) The moral success of the naval enterprises was assured. China was recognized as a power throughout southern Asia, and Annam had been reconquered. (3) After the collapse of the Mongol emperor Timur, who died in 1406, there no longer existed any great power in Central Asia, so that trade missions from the kingdom of the Shahruk in North Persia were able to make their way to China, including the famous mission of 1409-1411. (4) Finally, the fleet would have had to be permanently guarded against the Japanese, as it had been stationed not in South China but in the Yangtze region. As early as 1411 the canals had been repaired, and from 1415 onward all the traffic of the country went by the canals, so evading the Japanese peril. This ended the short chapter of Chinese naval history.

These travels of Cheng Ho seem to have had one more cultural result: a large number of fairy-tales from the Middle East were brought to China, or at all events reached China at that time. The Chinese, being a realistically-minded people, have produced few fairy-tales of their own. The bulk of their finest fairy-tales were brought by Buddhist monks, in the course of the first millennium A.D., from India by way of Central Asia. The Buddhists made use of them to render their sermons more interesting and impressive. As time went on, these stories spread all over China, modified in harmony with the spirit of the people and adapted to the Chinese environment. Only the fables failed to strike root in China: the matter-of-fact Chinese was not interested in animals that talked and behaved to each other like human beings. In addition, however, to these early fairy-tales, there was another group of stories that did not spread throughout China, but were found only in the south-eastern coastal provinces. These came from the Middle East, especially from Persia. The fairy-tales of Indian origin spread not only to Central Asia but at the same time to Persia, where they found a very congenial soil. The Persians made radical changes in the stories and gave them the form in which they came to Europe by various routes–through North Africa to Spain and France; through Constantinople, Venice, or Genoa to France; through Russian Turkestan to Russia, Finland, and Sweden; through Turkey and the Balkans to Hungary and Germany. Thus the stories found a European home. And this same Persian form was carried by sea in Cheng Ho’s time to South China. Thus we have the strange experience of finding some of our own finest fairy-tales in almost the same form in South China.

10 _Struggles between cliques_

Yung-lo’s successor died early. Under the latter’s son, the emperor Hsuean Tsung (1426-1435; reign name Hsuean-te), fixed numbers of candidates were assigned for the state examinations. It had been found that almost the whole of the gentry in the Yangtze region sat at the examinations; and that at these examinations their representatives made sure, through their mutual relations, that only their members should pass, so that the candidates from the north were virtually excluded. The important military clique in the north protested against this, and a compromise was arrived at: at every examination one-third of the candidates must come from the north and two-thirds from the south. This system lasted for a long time, and led to many disputes.

At his death Hsuean Tsung left the empire to his eight-year-old son Ying Tsung (1436-49 and 1459-64), who was entirely in the hands of the Yang clique, which was associated with his grandmother. Soon, however, another clique, led by the eunuch Wang Chen, gained the upper hand at court. The Mongols were very active at this time, and made several raids on the province of Shansi; Wang Chen proposed a great campaign against them, and in this campaign he took with him the young emperor, who had reached his twenty-first birthday in 1449. The emperor had grown up in the palace and knew nothing of the world outside; he was therefore glad to go with Wang Chen; but that eunuch had also lived in the palace and also knew nothing of the world, and in particular of war. Consequently he failed in the organization of reinforcements for his army, some 100,000 strong; after a few brief engagements the Oirat-Mongol prince Esen had the imperial army surrounded and the emperor a prisoner. The eunuch Wang Chen came to his end, and his clique, of course, no longer counted. The Mongols had no intention of killing the emperor; they proposed to hold him to ransom, at a high price. The various cliques at court cared little, however, about their ruler. After the fall of the Wang clique there were two others, of which one, that of General Yue, became particularly powerful, as he had been able to repel a Mongol attack on Peking. Yue proclaimed a new emperor–not the captive emperor’s son, a baby, but his brother, who became the emperor Ching Tsung. The Yang clique insisted on the rights of the imperial baby. From all this the Mongols saw that the Chinese were not inclined to spend a lot of money on their imperial captive. Accordingly they made an enormous reduction in the ransom demanded, and more or less forced the Chinese to take back their former emperor. The Mongols hoped that this would at least produce political disturbances by which they might profit, once the old emperor was back in Peking. And this did soon happen. At first the ransomed emperor was pushed out of sight into a palace, and Ching Tsung continued to reign. But in 1456 Ching Tsung fell ill, and a successor to him had to be chosen. The Yue clique wanted to have the son of Ching Tsung; the Yang clique wanted the son of the deposed emperor Ying Tsung. No agreement was reached, so that in the end a third clique, led by the soldier Shih Heng, who had helped to defend Peking against the Mongols, found its opportunity, and by a _coup d’etat_ reinstated the deposed emperor Ying Tsung.

This was not done out of love for the emperor, but because Shih Heng hoped that under the rule of the completely incompetent Ying Tsung he could best carry out a plan of his own, to set up his own dynasty. It is not so easy, however, to carry a conspiracy to success when there are several rival parties, each of which is ready to betray any of the others. Shih Heng’s plan became known before long, and he himself was beheaded (1460).

The next forty years were filled with struggles between cliques, which steadily grew in ferocity, particularly since a special office, a sort of secret police headquarters, was set up in the palace, with functions which it extended beyond the palace, with the result that many people were arrested and disappeared. This office was set up by the eunuchs and the clique at their back, and was the first dictatorial organ created in the course of a development towards despotism that made steady progress in these years.

In 1505 Wu Tsung came to the throne, an inexperienced youth of fifteen who was entirely controlled by the eunuchs who had brought him up. The leader of the eunuchs was Liu Chin, who had the support of a group of people of the gentry and the middle class. Liu Chin succeeded within a year in getting rid of the eunuchs at court who belonged to other cliques and were working against him. After that he proceeded to establish his power. He secured in entirely official form the emperor’s permission for him to issue all commands himself; the emperor devoted himself only to his pleasures, and care was taken that they should keep him sufficiently occupied to have no chance to notice what was going on in the country. The first important decree issued by Liu Chin resulted in the removal from office or the punishment or murder of over three hundred prominent persons, the leaders of the cliques opposed to him. He filled their posts with his own supporters, until all the higher posts in every department were in the hands of members of his group. He collected large sums of money which he quite openly extracted from the provinces as a special tax for his own benefit. When later his house was searched there were found 240,000 bars and 57,800 pieces of gold (a bar was equivalent of ten pieces), 791,800 ounces and 5,000,000 bars of silver (a bar was five ounces), three bushels of precious stones, two gold cuirasses, 3,000 gold rings, and much else–of a total value exceeding the annual budget of the state! The treasure was to have been used to finance a revolt planned by Liu Chin and his supporters.

Among the people whom Liu Chin had punished were several members of the former clique of the Yang, and also the philosopher Wang Yang-ming, who later became so famous, a member of the Wang family which was allied to the Yang. In 1510 the Yang won over one of the eunuchs in the palace and so became acquainted with Liu Chin’s plans. When a revolt broke out in western China, this eunuch (whose political allegiance was, of course, unknown to Liu Chin) secured appointment as army commander. With the army intended for the crushing of the revolt, Liu Chin’s palace was attacked when he was asleep, and he and all his supporters were arrested. Thus the other group came into power in the palace, including the philosopher Wang Yang-ming (1473-1529). Liu Chin’s rule had done great harm to the country, as enormous taxation had been expended for the private benefit of his clique. On top of this had been the young emperor’s extravagance: his latest pleasures had been the building of palaces and the carrying out of military games; he constantly assumed new military titles and was burning to go to war.

11 _Risings_

The emperor might have had a good opportunity for fighting, for his misrule had resulted in a great popular rising which began in the west, in Szechwan, and then spread to the east. As always, the rising was joined by some ruined scholars, and the movement, which had at first been directed against the gentry as such, was turned into a movement against the government of the moment. No longer were all the wealthy and all officials murdered, but only those who did not join the movement. In 1512 the rebels were finally overcome, not so much by any military capacity of the government armies as through the loss of the rebels’ fleet of boats in a typhoon.

In 1517 a new favourite of the emperor’s induced him to make a great tour in the north, to which the favourite belonged. The tour and the hunting greatly pleased the emperor, so that he continued his journeying. This was the year in which the Portuguese Fernao Pires de Andrade landed in Canton–the first modern European to enter China.

In 1518 Wang Yang-ming, the philosopher general, crushed a rising in Kiangsi. The rising had been the outcome of years of unrest, which had two causes: native risings of the sort we described above, and loss for the gentry due to the transfer of the capital. The province of Kiangsi was a part of the Yangtze region, and the great landowners there had lived on the profit from their supplies to Nanking. When the capital was moved to Peking, their takings fell. They placed themselves under a prince who lived in Nanking. This prince regarded Wang Yang-ming’s move into Kiangsi as a threat to him, and so rose openly against the government and supported the Kiangsi gentry. Wang Yang-ming defeated him, and so came into the highest favour with the incompetent emperor. When peace had been restored in Nanking, the emperor dressed himself up as an army commander, marched south, and made a triumphal entry into Nanking.

One other aspect of Wang Yang-ming’s expeditions has not yet been studied: he crushed also the so-called salt-merchant rebels in the southernmost part of Kiangsi and adjoining Kwangtung. These merchants-turned-rebels had dominated a small area, off and on since the eleventh century. At this moment, they seem to have had connections with the rich inland merchants of Hsin-an and perhaps also with foreigners. Information is still too scanty to give more details, but a local movement as persistent as this one deserves attention.

Wang Yang-ming became acquainted as early as 1519 with the first European rifles, imported by the Portuguese who had landed in 1517. (The Chinese then called them Fu-lan-chi, meaning Franks. Wang was the first Chinese who spoke of the “Franks”.) The Chinese had already had mortars which hurled stones, as early as the second century A.D. In the seventh or eighth century their mortars had sent stones of a couple of hundredweights some four hundred yards. There is mention in the eleventh century of cannon which apparently shot with a charge of a sort of gunpowder. The Mongols were already using true cannon in their sieges. In 1519, the first Portuguese were presented to the Chinese emperor in Nanking, where they were entertained for about a year in a hostel, a certain Lin Hsuen learned about their rifles and copied them for Wang Yang-ming. In general, however, the Chinese had no respect for the Europeans, whom they described as “bandits” who had expelled the lawful king of Malacca and had now come to China as its representatives. Later they were regarded as a sort of Japanese, because they, too, practiced piracy.

12 _Machiavellism_

All main schools of Chinese philosophy were still based on Confucius. Wang Yang-ming’s philosophy also followed Confucius, but he liberated himself from the Neo-Confucian tendency as represented by Chu Hsi, which started in the Sung epoch and continued to rule in China in his time and after him; he introduced into Confucian philosophy the conception of “intuition”. He regarded intuition as the decisive philosophic experience; only through intuition could man come to true knowledge. This idea shows an element of meditative Buddhism along lines which the philosopher Lu Hsiang-shan (1139-1192) had first developed, while classical Neo-Confucianism was more an integration of monastic Buddhism into Confucianism. Lu had felt himself close to Wang An-shih (1021-1086), and this whole school, representing the small gentry of the Yangtze area, was called the Southern or the Lin-ch’uan school, Lin-ch’uan in Kiangsi being Wang An-shih’s home. During the Mongol period, a Taoist group, the _Cheng-i-chiao_ (Correct Unity Sect) had developed in Lin-ch’uan and had accepted some of the Lin-ch’uan school’s ideas. Originally, this group was a continuation of Chang Ling’s church Taoism. Through the _Cheng-i_ adherents, the Southern school had gained political influence on the despotic Mongol rulers. The despotic Yung-lo emperor had favoured the monk Tao-yen (_c_. 1338-1418) who had also Taoist training and proposed a philosophy which also stressed intuition. He was, incidentally, in charge of the compilation of the largest encyclopaedia ever written, the _Yung-lo ta-tien_ commissioned by the Yung-lo emperor.

Wang Yang-ming followed the Lin-ch’uan tradition. The introduction of the conception of intuition, a highly subjective conception, into the system of a practical state philosophy like Confucianism could not but lead in the practice of the statesman to Machiavellism. The statesman who followed the teaching of Wang Yang-ming had the opportunity of justifying whatever he did by his intuition.

Wang Yang-ming failed to gain acceptance for his philosophy. His disciples also failed to establish his doctrine in China, because it served the interests of an individual despot against those of the gentry as a class, and the middle class, which might have formed a counterweight against them, was not yet politically ripe for the seizure of the opportunity here offered to it. In Japan, however, Wang’s doctrine gained many followers, because it admirably served the dictatorial state system which had developed in that country. Incidentally, Chiang Kai-shek in those years in which he showed Fascist tendencies, also got interested in Wang Yang-ming.

13 _Foreign relations in the sixteenth century_

The feeble emperor Wu Tsung died in 1521, after an ineffective reign, without leaving an heir. The clique then in power at court looked among the possible pretenders for the one who seemed least likely to do anything, and their choice fell on the fifteen-year-old Shih Tsung, who was made emperor. The forty-five years of his reign were filled in home affairs with intrigues between the cliques at court, with growing distress in the country, and with revolts on a larger and larger scale. Abroad there were wars with Annam, increasing raids by the Japanese, and, above all, long-continued fighting against the famous Mongol ruler Yen-ta, from 1549 onward. At one time Yen-ta reached Peking and laid siege to it. The emperor, who had no knowledge of affairs, and to whom Yen-ta had been represented as a petty bandit, was utterly dismayed and ready to do whatever Yen-ta asked; in the end he was dissuaded from this, and an agreement was arrived at with Yen-ta for state-controlled markets to be set up along the frontier, where the Mongols could dispose of their goods against Chinese goods on very favourable terms. After further difficulties lasting many years, a compromise was arrived at: the Mongols were earning good profits from the markets, and in 1571 Yen-ta accepted a Chinese title. On the Chinese side, this Mongol trade, which continued in rather different form in the Manchu epoch, led to the formation of a local merchant class in the frontier province of Shansi, with great experience in credit business; later the first Chinese bankers came almost entirely from this quarter.

After a brief interregnum there came once more to the throne a ten-year-old boy, the emperor Shen Tsung (reign name Wan-li; 1573-1619). He, too, was entirely under the influence of various cliques, at first that of his tutor, the scholar Chang Chue-chan. About the time of the death, in 1582, of Yen-ta we hear for the first time of a new people. In 1581 there had been unrest in southern Manchuria. The Mongolian tribal federation of the Tuemet attacked China, and there resulted collisions not only with the Chinese but between the different tribes living there. In southern and central Manchuria were remnants of the Tungus Juchen. The Mongols had subjugated the Juchen, but the latter had virtually become independent after the collapse of Mongol rule over China. They had formed several tribal alliances, but in 1581-83 these fought each other, so that one of the alliances to all intents was destroyed. The Chinese intervened as mediators in these struggles, and drew a demarcation line between the territories of the various Tungus tribes. All this is only worth mention because it was from these tribes that there developed the tribal league of the Manchus, who were then to rule China for some three hundred years.

In 1592 the Japanese invaded Korea. This was their first real effort to set foot on the continent, a purely imperialistic move. Korea, as a Chinese vassal, appealed for Chinese aid. At first the Chinese army had no success, but in 1598 the Japanese were forced to abandon Korea. They revenged themselves by intensifying their raids on the coast of central China; they often massacred whole towns, and burned down the looted houses. The fighting in Korea had its influence on the Tungus tribes: as they were not directly involved, it contributed to their further strengthening.

The East India Company was founded in 1600. At this time, while the English were trying to establish themselves in India, the Chinese tried to gain increased influence in the south by wars in Annam, Burma, and Thailand (1594-1604). These wars were for China colonial wars, similar to the colonial fighting by the British in India. But there began to be defined already at that time in the south of Asia the outlines of the states as they exist at the present time.

In 1601 the first European, the Jesuit Matteo Ricci, succeeded in gaining access to the Chinese court, through the agency of a eunuch. He made some presents, and the Chinese regarded his visit as a mission from Europe bringing tribute. Ricci was therefore permitted to remain in Peking. He was an astronomer and was able to demonstrate to his Chinese colleagues the latest achievements of European astronomy. In 1613, after Ricci’s death, the Jesuits and some Chinese whom they had converted were commissioned to reform the Chinese calendar. In the time of the Mongols, Arabs had been at work in Peking as astronomers, and their influence had continued under the Ming until the Europeans came. By his astronomical labours Ricci won a place of honour in Chinese literature; he is the European most often mentioned.

The missionary work was less effective. The missionaries penetrated by the old trade routes from Canton and Macao into the province of Kiangsi and then into Nanking. Kiangsi and Nanking were their chief centres. They soon realized that missionary activity that began in the lower strata would have no success; it was necessary to work from above, beginning with the emperor, and then, they hoped, the whole country could be converted to Christianity. When later the emperors of the Ming dynasty were expelled and fugitives in South China, one of the pretenders to the throne was actually converted–but it was politically too late. The missionaries had, moreover, mistaken ideas as to the nature of Chinese religion; we know today that a universal adoption of Christianity in China would have been impossible even if an emperor had personally adopted that foreign faith: there were emperors who had been interested in Buddhism or in Taoism, but that had been their private affair and had never prevented them, as heads of the state, from promoting the religious system which politically was the most expedient–that is to say, usually Confucianism. What we have said here in regard to the Christian mission at the Ming court is applicable also to the missionaries at the court of the first Manchu emperors, in the seventeenth century. Early in the eighteenth century missionary activity was prohibited–not for religious but for political reasons, and only under the pressure of the Capitulations in the nineteenth century were the missionaries enabled to resume their labours.

14 _External and internal perils_

Towards the end of the reign of Wan-li, about 1620, the danger that threatened the empire became more and more evident. The Manchus complained, no doubt with justice, of excesses on the part of Chinese officials; the friction constantly increased, and the Manchus began to attack the Chinese cities in Manchuria. In 1616, after his first considerable successes, their leader Nurhachu assumed the imperial title; the name of the dynasty was Tai Ch’ing (interpreted as “The great clarity”, but probably a transliteration of a Manchurian word meaning “hero”). In 1618, the year in which the Thirty Years War started in Europe, the Manchus conquered the greater part of Manchuria, and in 1621 their capital was Liaoyang, then the largest town in Manchuria.

But the Manchu menace was far from being the only one. On the south-east coast a pirate made himself independent; later, with his family, he dominated Formosa and fought many battles with the Europeans there (European sources call him Coxinga). In western China there came a great popular rising, in which some of the natives joined, and which spread through a large part of the southern provinces. This rising was particularly sanguinary, and when it was ultimately crushed by the Manchus the province of Szechwan, formerly so populous, was almost depopulated, so that it had later to be resettled. And in the province of Shantung in the east there came another great rising, also very sanguinary, that of the secret society of the “White Lotus”. We have already pointed out that these risings of secret societies were always a sign of intolerable conditions among the peasantry. This was now the case once more. All the elements of danger which we mentioned at the outset of this chapter began during this period, between 1610 and 1640, to develop to the full.

Then there were the conditions in the capital itself. The struggles between cliques came to a climax. On the death of Shen Tsung (or Wan-li; 1573-1619), he was succeeded by his son, who died scarcely a month later, and then by his sixteen-year-old grandson. The grandson had been from his earliest youth under the influence of a eunuch, Wei Chung-hsien, who had castrated himself. With the emperor’s wet-nurse and other people, mostly of the middle class, this man formed a powerful group. The moment the new emperor ascended the throne, Wei was all-powerful. He began by murdering every eunuch who did not belong to his clique, and then murdered the rest of his opponents. Meanwhile the gentry had concluded among themselves a defensive alliance that was a sort of party; this party was called the Tung-lin Academy. It was confined to literati among the gentry, and included in particular the literati who had failed to make their way at court, and who lived on their estates in Central China and were trying to gain power themselves. This group was opposed to Wei Chung-hsien, who ruthlessly had every discoverable member murdered. The remainder went into hiding and organized themselves secretly under another name. As the new emperor had no son, the attempt was made to foist a son upon him; at his death in 1627, eight women of the harem were suddenly found to be pregnant! He was succeeded by his brother, who was one of the opponents of Wei Chung-hsien and, with the aid of the opposing clique, was able to bring him to his end. The new emperor tried to restore order at court and in the capital by means of political and economic decrees, but in spite of his good intentions and his unquestionable capacity he was unable to cope with the universal confusion. There was insurrection in every part of the country. The gentry, organized in their “Academies”, and secretly at work in the provinces, no longer supported the government; the central power no longer had adequate revenues, so that it was unable to pay the armies that should have marched against all the rebels and also against external enemies. It was clear that the dynasty was approaching its end, and the only uncertainty was as to its successor. The various insurgents negotiated or fought with each other; generals loyal to the government won occasional successes against the rebels; other generals went over to the rebels or to the Manchus. The two most successful leaders of bands were Li Tz[)u]-ch’eng and Chang Hsien-chung. Li came from the province of Shensi; he had come to the fore during a disastrous famine in his country. The years around 1640 brought several widespread droughts in North China, a natural phenomenon that was repeated in the nineteenth century, when unrest again ensued. Chang Hsien-chung returned for a time to the support of the government, but later established himself in western China. It was typical, however, of all these insurgents that none of them had any great objective in view. They wanted to get enough to eat for themselves and their followers; they wanted to enrich themselves by conquest; but they were incapable of building up an ordered and new administration. Li ultimately made himself “king” in the province of Shensi and called his dynasty “Shun”, but this made no difference: there was no distribution of land among the peasants serving in Li’s army; no plan was set into operation for the collection of taxes; not one of the pressing problems was faced.

Meanwhile the Manchus were gaining support. Almost all the Mongol princes voluntarily joined them and took part in the raids into North China. In 1637 the united Manchus and Mongols conquered Korea. Their power steadily grew. What the insurgents in China failed to achieve, the Manchus achieved with the aid of their Chinese advisers: they created a new military organization, the “Banner Organization”. The men fit for service were distributed among eight “banners”, and these banners became the basis of the Manchu state administration. By this device the Manchus emerged from the stage of tribal union, just as before them Turks and other northern peoples had several times abandoned the traditional authority of a hierarchy of tribal leaders, a system of ruling families, in favour of the authority, based on efficiency, of military leaders. At the same time the Manchus set up a central government with special ministries on the Chinese model. In 1638 the Manchus appeared before Peking, but they retired once more. Manchu armies even reached the province of Shantung. They were hampered by the death at the critical moment of the Manchu ruler Abahai (1626-1643). His son Fu Lin was not entirely normal and was barely six years old; there was a regency of princes, the most prominent among them being Prince Dorgon.

Meanwhile Li Tz[)u]-ch’eng broke through to Peking. The city had a strong garrison, but owing to the disorganization of the government the different commanders were working against each other; and the soldiers had no fighting spirit because they had no pay for a long time. Thus the city fell, on April 24th, 1644, and the last Ming emperor killed himself. A prince was proclaimed emperor; he fled through western and southern China, continually trying to make a stand, but it was too late; without the support of the gentry he had no resource, and ultimately, in 1659, he was compelled to flee into Burma.

Thus Li Tz[)u]-ch’eng was now emperor. It should have been his task rapidly to build up a government, and to take up arms against the other rebels and against the Manchus. Instead of this he behaved in such a way that he was unable to gain any support from the existing officials in the capital; and as there was no one among his former supporters who had any positive, constructive ideas, just nothing was done.

This, however, improved the chances of all the other aspirants to the imperial throne. The first to realize this clearly, and also to possess enough political sagacity to avoid alienating the gentry, was General Wu San-kui, who was commanding on the Manchu front. He saw that in the existing conditions in the capital he could easily secure the imperial throne for himself if only he had enough soldiers. Accordingly he negotiated with the Manchu Prince Dorgon, formed an alliance with the Manchus, and with them entered Peking on June 6th, 1644. Li Tz[)u]-ch’eng quickly looted the city, burned down whatever he could, and fled into the west, continually pursued by Wu San-kui. In the end he was abandoned by all his supporters and killed by peasants. The Manchus, however, had no intention of leaving Wu San-kui in power: they established themselves in Peking, and Wu became their general.

(C) The Manchu Dynasty (1644-1911)

1 _Installation of Manchus_

The Manchus had gained the mastery over China owing rather to China’s internal situation than to their military superiority. How was it that the dynasty could endure for so long, although the Manchus were not numerous, although the first Manchu ruler (Fu Lin, known under the rule name Shun-chih; 1644-1662) was a psychopathic youth, although there were princes of the Ming dynasty ruling in South China, and although there were strong groups of rebels all over the country? The Manchus were aliens; at that time the national feeling of the Chinese had already been awakened; aliens were despised. In addition to this, the Manchus demanded that as a sign of their subjection the Chinese should wear pigtails and assume Manchurian clothing (law of 1645). Such laws could not but offend national pride. Moreover, marriages between Manchus and Chinese were prohibited, and a dual government was set up, with Manchus always alongside Chinese in every office, the Manchus being of course in the superior position. The Manchu soldiers were distributed in military garrisons among the great cities, and were paid state pensions, which had to be provided by taxation. They were the master race, and had no need to work. Manchus did not have to attend the difficult state examinations which the Chinese had to pass in order to gain an appointment. How was it that in spite of all this the Manchus were able to establish themselves?

The conquering Manchu generals first went south from eastern China, and in 1645 captured Nanking, where a Ming prince had ruled. The region round Nanking was the economic centre of China. Soon the Manchus were in the adjoining southern provinces, and thus they conquered the whole of the territory of the landowning gentry, who after the events of the beginning of the seventeenth century had no longer trusted the Ming rulers. The Ming prince in Nanking was just as incapable, and surrounded by just as evil a clique, as the Ming emperors of the past. The gentry were not inclined to defend him. A considerable section of the gentry were reduced to utter despair; they had no desire to support the Ming any longer; in their own interest they could not support the rebel leaders; and they regarded the Manchus as just a particular sort of “rebels”. Interpreting the refusal of some Sung ministers to serve the foreign Mongols as an act of loyalty, it was now regarded as shameful to desert a dynasty when it came to an end and to serve the new ruler, even if the new regime promised to be better. Many thousands of officials, scholars, and great landowners committed suicide. Many books, often really moving and tragic, are filled with the story of their lives. Some of them tried to form insurgent bands with their peasants and went into the mountains, but they were unable to maintain themselves there. The great bulk of the elite soon brought themselves to collaborate with the conquerors when they were offered tolerable conditions. In the end the Manchus did not interfere in the ownership of land in central China.

At the time when in Europe Louis XIV was reigning, the Thirty Years War was coming to an end, and Cromwell was carrying out his reforms in England, the Manchus conquered the whole of China. Chang Hsien-chung and Li Tz[)u]-ch’eng were the first to fall; the pirate Coxinga lasted a little longer and was even able to plunder Nanking in 1659, but in 1661 he had to retire to Formosa. Wu San-kui, who meanwhile had conquered western China, saw that the situation was becoming difficult for him. His task was to drive out the last Ming pretenders for the Manchus. As he had already been opposed to the Ming in 1644, and as the Ming no longer had any following among the gentry, he could not suddenly work with them against the Manchus. He therefore handed over to the Manchus the last Ming prince, whom the Burmese had delivered up to him in 1661. Wu San-kui’s only possible allies against the Manchus were the gentry. But in the west, where he was in power, the gentry counted for nothing; they had in any case been weaker in the west, and they had been decimated by the insurrection of Chang Hsien-chung. Thus Wu San-kui was compelled to try to push eastwards, in order to unite with the gentry of the Yangtze region against the Manchus. The Manchus guessed Wu San-kui’s plan, and in 1673, after every effort at accommodation had failed, open war came. Wu San-kui made himself emperor, and the Manchus marched against him. Meanwhile, the Chinese gentry of the Yangtze region had come to terms with the Manchus, and they gave Wu San-kui no help. He vegetated in the south-west, a region too poor to maintain an army that could conquer all China, and too small to enable him to last indefinitely as an independent power. He was able to hold his own until his death, although, with the loss of the support of the gentry, he had no prospect of final success. Not until 1681 was his successor, his grandson Wu Shih-fan, defeated. The end of the rule of Wu San-kui and his successor marked the end of the national governments of China; the whole country was now under alien domination, for the simple reason that all the opponents of the Manchus had failed. Only the Manchus were accredited with the ability to bring order out of the universal confusion, so that there was clearly no alternative but to put up with the many insults and humiliations they inflicted–with the result that the national feeling that had just been aroused died away, except where it was kept alive in a few secret societies. There will be more to say about this, once the works which were suppressed by the Manchus are published.

In the first phase of the Manchu conquest the gentry had refused to support either the Ming princes or Wu San-kui, or any of the rebels, or the Manchus themselves. A second phase began about twenty years after the capture of Peking, when the Manchus won over the gentry by desisting from any interference with the ownership of land, and by the use of Manchu troops to clear away the “rebels” who were hostile to the gentry. A reputable government was then set up in Peking, free from eunuchs and from all the old cliques; in their place the government looked for Chinese scholars for its administrative posts. Literati and scholars streamed into Peking, especially members of the “Academies” that still existed in secret, men who had been the chief sufferers from the conditions at the end of the Ming epoch. The young emperor Sheng Tsu (1663-1722; K’ang-hsi is the name by which his rule was known, not his name) was keenly interested in Chinese culture and gave privileged treatment to the scholars of the gentry who came forward. A rapid recovery quite clearly took place. The disturbances of the years that had passed had got rid of the worst enemies of the people, the formidable rival cliques and the individuals lusting for power; the gentry had become more cautious in their behaviour to the peasants; and bribery had been largely stamped out. Finally, the empire had been greatly expanded. All these things helped to stabilize the regime of the Manchus.

2 _Decline in the eighteenth century_

The improvement continued until the middle of the eighteenth century. About the time of the French Revolution there began a continuous decline, slow at first and then gathering speed. The European works on China offer various reasons for this: the many foreign wars (to which we shall refer later) of the emperor, known by the name of his ruling period, Ch’ien-lung, his craze for building, and the irruption of the Europeans into Chinese trade. In the eighteenth century the court surrounded itself with great splendour, and countless palaces and other luxurious buildings were erected, but it must be borne in mind that so great an empire as the China of that day possessed very considerable financial strength, and could support this luxury. The wars were certainly not inexpensive, as they took place along the Russian frontier and entailed expenditure on the transport of reinforcements and supplies; the wars against Turkestan and Tibet were carried on with relatively small forces. This expenditure should not have been beyond the resources of an ordered budget. Interestingly enough, the period between 1640 and 1840 belongs to those periods for which almost no significant work in the field of internal social and economic developments has been made; Western scholars have been too much interested in the impact of Western economy and culture or in the military events. Chinese scholars thus far have shown a prejudice against the Manchu dynasty and were mainly interested in the study of anti-Manchu movements and the downfall of the dynasty. On the other hand, the documentary material for this period is extremely extensive, and many years of work are necessary to reach any general conclusions even in one single field. The following remarks should, therefore, be taken as very tentative and preliminary, and they are, naturally, fragmentary.

[Illustration: 14 Aborigines of South China, of the ‘Black Miao’ tribe, at a festival. China-ink drawing of the eighteenth century. _Collection of the Museum fuer Voelkerkunde, Berlin. No. 1D 8756, 68_.]

[Illustration: 15 Pavilion on the ‘Coal Hill’ at Peking, in which the last Ming emperor committed suicide. _Photo Eberhard_.]


The decline of the Manchu dynasty began at a time when the European trade was still insignificant, and not as late as after 1842, when China had to submit to the foreign Capitulations. These cannot have been the true cause of the decline. Above all, the decline was not so noticeable in the state of the Exchequer as in a general impoverishment of China. The number of really wealthy persons among the gentry diminished, but the middle class, that is to say the people who had education but little or no money and property, grew steadily in number.

One of the deeper reasons for the decline of the Manchu dynasty seems to lie in the enormous increase in the population. Here are a few Chinese statistics:

_Year_ _Population_

1578(before the Manchus) 10,621,463 families or 60,692,856 individuals 1662 19,203,233 ” 100,000,000 ” [*] 1710 23,311,236 ” 116,000,000 ” [*] 1729 25,480,498 ” 127,000,000 ” [*] 1741 ” 143,411,559 ” 1754 184,504,493 ” 1778 242,965,618 ” 1796 275,662,414 ” 1814 374,601,132 ” 1850 414,493,899 ” (1953) (601,938,035 “)

[*] Approximately

It may be objected that these figures are incorrect and exaggerated. Undoubtedly they contain errors. But the first figure (for 1578) of some sixty millions is in close agreement with all other figures of early times; the figure for 1850 seems high, but cannot be far wrong, for even after the great T’ai P’ing Rebellion of 1851, which, together with its after-effects, costs the lives of countless millions, all statisticians of today estimate the population of China at more than four hundred millions. If we enter these data together with the census of 1953 into a chart (see p. 273), a fairly smooth curve emerges; the special features are that already under the Ming the population was increasing and, secondly, that the high rate of increase in the population began with the long period of internal peace since about 1700. From that time onwards, all China’s wars were fought at so great a distance from China proper that the population was not directly affected. Moreover, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Manchus saw to the maintenance of the river dykes, so that the worst inundations were prevented. Thus there were not so many of the floods which had often cost the lives of many million people in China; and there were no internal wars, with their heavy cost in lives.

But while the population increased, the tillage failed to increase in the needed proportion. I have, unfortunately, no statistics for all periods; but the general tendency is shown by the following table:

_Date Cultivated area_ mou _per person_ _in_ mou

1578 701,397,600 11.6
1662 531,135,800
1719 663,113,200
1729 878,176,000 6.1
(1953) (1,627,930,000) (2.7)

Six _mou_ are about one acre. In 1578, there were 66 _mou_ land per family of the total population. This was close to the figures regarded as ideal by Chinese early economists for the producing family (100 _mou_) considering the fact that about 80 per cent of all families at that time were producers. By 1729 it was only 35 _mou_ per family, i.e. the land had to produce almost twice as much as before. We have shown that the agricultural developments in the Ming time greatly increased the productivity of the land. This then, obviously resulted in an increase of population. But by the middle of the eighteenth century, assuming that production doubled since the sixteenth century, population pressure was again as heavy as it had been then. And after _c_. 1750, population pressure continued to build up to the present time.

Internal colonization continued during the Manchu time; there was a continuous, but slow flow of people into Kwangsi, Kweichow, Yuennan. In spite of laws which prohibited emigration, Chinese also moved into South-East Asia. Chinese settlement in Manchuria was allowed only in the last years of the Manchus. But such internal colonization or emigration could alleviated the pressure only in some areas, while it continued to build up in others.

In Europe as well as in Japan, we find a strong population increase; in Europe at almost the same time as in China. But before population pressure became too serious in Europe or Japan, industry developed and absorbed the excess population. Thus, farms did not decrease too much in size. Too small farms are always and in many ways uneconomical. With the development of industries, the percentage of farm population decreased. In China, however, the farm population was still as high as 73.3 per cent of the total population in 1932 and the percentage rose to 81 per cent in 1950.

From the middle of the seventeenth century on, commercial activities, especially along the coast, continued to increase and we find gentry families who equip sons who were unwilling or not capable to study and to enter the ranks of the officials, but who were too unruly to sit in villages and collect the rent from the tenants of the family, with money to enter business. The newly settled areas of Kwangtung and Kwangsi were ideal places for them: here they could sell Chinese products to the native tribes or to the new settlers at high prices. Some of these men introduced new techniques from the old provinces of China into the “colonial” areas and set up dye factories, textile factories, etc., in the new towns of the south. But the greatest stimulus for these commercial activities was foreign, European trade. American silver which had flooded Europe in the sixteenth century, began to flow into China from the beginning of the seventeenth century on. The influx was stopped not until between 1661 and 1684 when the government again prohibited coastal shipping and removed coastal settlements into the interior in order to stop piracy along the coasts of Fukien and independence movements on Formosa. But even during these twenty-three years, the price of silver was so low that home production was given up because it did not pay off. In the eighteenth century, silver again continued to enter China, while silk and tea were exported. This demand led to a strong rise in the prices of silk and tea, and benefited the merchants. When, from the late eighteenth century on, opium began to be imported, the silver left China again. The merchants profited this time from the opium trade, but farmers had to suffer: the price of silver went up, and taxes had to be paid in silver, while farm products were sold for copper. By 1835, the ounce of silver had a value of 2,000 copper coins instead of one thousand before 1800. High gains in commerce prevented investment in industries, because they would give lower and later profits than commerce. From the nineteenth century on, more and more industrial goods were offered by importers which also prevented industrialization. Finally, the gentry basically remained anti-industrial and anti-business. They tried to operate necessary enterprises such as mining, melting, porcelain production as far as possible as government establishments; but as the operators were officials, they were not too business-minded and these enterprises did not develop well. The businessmen certainly had enough capital, but they invested it in land instead of investing it in industries which could at any moment be taken away by the government, controlled by the officials or forced to sell at set prices, and which were always subject to exploitation by dishonest officials. A businessman felt secure only when he had invested in land, when he had received an official title upon the payment of large sums of money, or when he succeeded to push at least one of his sons into the government bureaucracy. No doubt, in spite of all this, Chinese business and industry kept on developing in the Manchu time, but they did not develop at such a speed as to transform the country from an agrarian into a modern industrial nation.

3 _Expansion in Central Asia; the first State treaty_

The rise of the Manchu dynasty actually began under the K’ang-hsi rule (1663-1722). The emperor had three tasks. The first was the removal of the last supporters of the Ming dynasty and of the generals, such as Wu San-kui, who had tried to make themselves independent. This necessitated a long series of campaigns, most of them in the south-west or south of China; these scarcely affected the population of China proper. In 1683 Formosa was occupied and the last of the insurgent army commanders was defeated. It was shown above that the situation of all these leaders became hopeless as soon as the Manchus had occupied the rich Yangtze region and the intelligentsia and the gentry of that region had gone over to them.

A quite different type of insurgent commander was the Mongol prince Galdan. He, too, planned to make himself independent of Manchu overlordship. At first the Mongols had readily supported the Manchus, when the latter were making raids into China and there was plenty of booty. Now, however, the Manchus, under the influence of the Chinese gentry whom they brought, and could not but bring, to their court, were rapidly becoming Chinese in respect to culture. Even in the time of K’ang-hsi the Manchus began to forget Manchurian; they brought tutors to court to teach the young Manchus Chinese. Later even the emperors did not understand Manchurian! As a result of this process, the Mongols became alienated from the Manchurians, and the situation began once more to be the same as at the time of the Ming rulers. Thus Galdan tried to found an independent Mongol realm, free from Chinese influence.

The Manchus could not permit this, as such a realm would have threatened the flank of their homeland, Manchuria, and would have attracted those Manchus who objected to sinification. Between 1690 and 1696 there were battles, in which the emperor actually took part in person. Galdan was defeated. In 1715, however, there were new disturbances, this time in western Mongolia. Tsewang Rabdan, whom the Chinese had made khan of the Oeloet, rose against the Chinese. The wars that followed, extending far into Turkestan and also involving its Turkish population together with the Dzungars, ended with the Chinese conquest of the whole of Mongolia and of parts of eastern Turkestan. As Tsewang Rabdan had tried to extend his power as far as Tibet, a campaign was undertaken also into Tibet, Lhasa was occupied, a new Dalai Lama was installed there as supreme ruler, and Tibet was made into a protectorate. Since then Tibet has remained to this day under some form of Chinese colonial rule.

This penetration of the Chinese into Turkestan took place just at the time when the Russians were enormously expanding their empire in Asia, and this formed the third problem for the Manchus. In 1650 the Russians had established a fort by the river Amur. The Manchus regarded the Amur (which they called the “River of the Black Dragon”) as part of their own territory, and in 1685 they destroyed the Russian settlement. After this there were negotiations, which culminated in 1689 in the Treaty of Nerchinsk. This treaty was the first concluded by the Chinese state with a European power. Jesuit missionaries played a part in the negotiations as interpreters. Owing to the difficulties of translation the text of the treaty, in Chinese, Russian, and Manchurian, contained some obscurities, particularly in regard to the frontier line. Accordingly, in 1727 the Russians asked for a revision of the old treaty. The Chinese emperor, whose rule name was Yung-cheng, arranged for the negotiations to be carried on at the frontier, in the town of Kyakhta, in Mongolia, where after long discussions a new treaty was concluded. Under this treaty the Russians received permission to set up a legation and a commercial agency in Peking, and also to maintain a church. This was the beginning of the foreign Capitulations. From the Chinese point of view there was nothing special in a facility of this sort. For some fifteen centuries all the “barbarians” who had to bring tribute had been given houses in the capital, where their envoys could wait until the emperor would receive them–usually on New Year’s Day. The custom had sprung up at the reception of the Huns. Moreover, permission had always been given for envoys to be accompanied by a few merchants, who during the envoy’s stay did a certain amount of business. Furthermore the time had been when the Uighurs were permitted to set up a temple of their own. At the time of the permission given to the Russians to set up a “legation”, a similar office was set up (in 1729) for “Uighur” peoples (meaning Mohammedans), again under the control of an office, called the Office for Regulation of Barbarians. The Mohammedan office was placed under two Mohammedan leaders who lived in Peking. The Europeans, however, had quite different ideas about a “legation”, and about the significance of permission to trade. They regarded this as the opening of diplomatic relations between states on terms of equality, and the carrying on of trade as a special privilege, a sort of Capitulation. This reciprocal misunderstanding produced in the nineteenth century a number of serious political conflicts. The Europeans charged the Chinese with breach of treaties, failure to meet their obligations, and other such things, while the Chinese considered that they had acted with perfect correctness.

4 _Culture_

In this K’ang-hsi period culture began to flourish again. The emperor had attracted the gentry, and so the intelligentsia, to his court because his uneducated Manchus could not alone have administered the enormous empire; and he showed great interest in Chinese culture, himself delved deeply into it, and had many works compiled, especially works of an encyclopaedic character. The encyclopaedias enabled information to be rapidly gained on all sorts of subjects, and thus were just what an interested ruler needed, especially when, as a foreigner, he was not in a position to gain really thorough instruction in things Chinese. The Chinese encyclopaedias of the seventeenth and especially of the eighteenth century were thus the outcome of the initiative of the Manchurian emperor, and were compiled for his information; they were not due, like the French encyclopaedias of the eighteenth century, to a movement for the spread of knowledge among the people. For this latter purpose the gigantic encyclopaedias of the Manchus, each of which fills several bookcases, were much too expensive and were printed in much too limited editions. The compilations began with the great geographical encyclopaedia of Ku Yen-wu (1613-1682), and attained their climax in the gigantic eighteenth-century encyclopaedia _T’u-shu chi-ch’eng_, scientifically impeccable in the accuracy of its references to sources. Here were already the beginnings of the “Archaeological School”, built up in the course of the eighteenth century. This school was usually called “Han school” because the adherents went back to the commentaries of the classical texts written in Han time and discarded the orthodox explanations of Chu Hsi’s school of Sung time. Later, its most prominent leader was Tai Chen (1723-1777). Tai was greatly interested in technology and science; he can be regarded as the first philosopher who exhibited an empirical, scientific way of thinking. Late nineteenth and early twentieth century Chinese scholarship is greatly obliged to him.

The most famous literary works of the Manchu epoch belong once more to the field which Chinese do not regard as that of true literature–the novel, the short story, and the drama. Poetry did exist, but it kept to the old paths and had few fresh ideas. All the various forms of the Sung period were made use of. The essayists, too, offered nothing new, though their number was legion. One of the best known is Yuean Mei (1716-1797), who was also the author of the collection of short stories _Tse-pu-yue_ (“The Master did not tell”), which is regarded very highly by the Chinese. The volume of short stories entitled _Liao-chai chich-i_, by P’u Sung-lin (1640-1715?), is world-famous and has been translated into every civilized language. Both collections are distinguished by their simple but elegant style. The short story was popular among the greater gentry; it abandoned the popular style it had in the Ming epoch, and adopted the polished language of scholars.

The Manchu epoch has left to us what is by general consent the finest novel in Chinese literature, _Hung-lou-meng_ (“The Dream of the Red Chamber”), by Ts’ao Hsueeh-ch’in, who died in 1763. It describes the downfall of a rich and powerful family from the highest rank of the gentry, and the decadent son’s love of a young and emotional lady of the highest circles. The story is clothed in a mystical garb that does something to soften its tragic ending. The interesting novel _Ju-lin wai-shih_ (“Private Reports from the Life of Scholars”), by Wu Ching-tz[)u] (1701-1754), is a mordant criticism of Confucianism with its rigid formalism, of the social system, and of the examination system. Social criticism is the theme of many novels. The most modern in spirit of the works of this period is perhaps the treatment of feminism in the novel _Ching-hua-yuean_, by Li Yu-chen (d. 1830), which demanded equal rights for men and women.

The drama developed quickly in the Manchu epoch, particularly in quantity, especially since the emperors greatly appreciated the theatre. A catalogue of plays compiled in 1781 contains 1,013 titles! Some of these dramas were of unprecedented length. One of them was played in 26 parts containing 240 acts; a performance took two years to complete! Probably the finest dramas of the Manchu epoch are those of Li Yue (born 1611), who also became the first of the Chinese dramatic critics. What he had to say about the art of the theatre, and about aesthetics in general, is still worth reading.

About the middle of the nineteenth century the influence of Europe became more and more marked. Translation began with Yen Fu (1853-1921), who translated the first philosophical and scientific books and books on social questions and made his compatriots acquainted with Western thought. At the same time Lin Shu (1852-1924) translated the first Western short stories and novels. With these two began the new style, which was soon elaborated by Liang Ch’i-ch’ao, a collaborator of Sun Yat-sen’s, and by others, and which ultimately produced the “literary revolution” of 1917. Translation has continued to this day; almost every book of outstanding importance in world literature is translated within a few months of its appearance, and on the average these translations are of a fairly high level.

Particularly fine work was produced in the field of porcelain in the Manchu epoch. In 1680 the famous kilns in the province of Kiangsi were reopened, and porcelain that is among the most artistically perfect in the world was fired in them. Among the new colours were especially green shades (one group is known as _famille verte_) and also black and yellow compositions. Monochrome porcelain also developed further, including very fine dark blue, brilliant red (called “ox-blood”), and white. In the eighteenth century, however, there began an unmistakable decline, which has continued to this day, although there are still a few craftsmen and a few kilns that produce outstanding work (usually attempts to imitate old models), often in small factories.

In painting, European influence soon shows itself. The best-known example of this is Lang Shih-ning, an Italian missionary whose original name was Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766); he began to work in China in 1715. He learned the Chinese method of painting, but introduced a number of technical tricks of European painters, which were adopted in general practice in China, especially by the official court painters: the painting of the scholars who lived in seclusion remained uninfluenced. Dutch flower-painting also had some influence in China as early as the eighteenth century.

The missionaries played an important part at court. The first Manchu emperors were as generous in this matter as the Mongols had been, and allowed the foreigners to work in peace. They showed special interest in the European science introduced by the missionaries; they had less sympathy for their religious message. The missionaries, for their part, sent to Europe enthusiastic accounts of the wonderful conditions in China, and so helped to popularize the idea that was being formed in Europe of an “enlightened”, a constitutional, monarchy. The leaders of the Enlightenment read these reports with enthusiasm, with the result that they had an influence on the French Revolution. Confucius was found particularly attractive, and was regarded as a forerunner of the Enlightenment. The “Monadism” of the philosopher Leibniz was influenced by these reports.

The missionaries gained a reputation at court as “scientists”, and in this they were of service both to China and to Europe. The behaviour of the European merchants who followed the missions, spreading gradually in growing numbers along the coasts of China, was not by any means so irreproachable. The Chinese were certainly justified when they declared that European ships often made landings on the coast and simply looted, just as the Japanese had done before them. Reports of this came to the court, and as captured foreigners described themselves as “Christians” and also seemed to have some connection with the missionaries living at court, and as disputes had broken out among the missionaries themselves in connection with papal ecclesiastical policy, in the Yung-cheng period (1723-1736; the name of the emperor was Shih Tsung) Christianity was placed under a general ban, being regarded as a secret political organization.

5 _Relations with the outer world_

During the Yung-cheng period there was long-continued guerrilla fighting with natives in south-west China. The pressure of population in China sought an outlet in emigration. More and more Chinese moved into the south-west, and took the land from the natives, and the fighting was the consequence of this.

At the beginning of the Ch’ien-lung period (1736-1796), fighting started again in Turkestan. Mongols, now called Kalmuks, defeated by the Chinese, had migrated to the Ili region, where after heavy fighting they gained supremacy over some of the Kazaks and other Turkish peoples living there and in western Turkestan. Some Kazak tribes went over to the Russians, and in 1735 the Russian colonialists founded the town of Orenburg in the western Kazak region. The Kalmuks fought the Chinese without cessation until, in 1739, they entered into an agreement under which they ceded half their territory to Manchu China, retaining only the Ili region. The Kalmuks subsequently reunited with other sections of the Kazaks against the Chinese. In 1754 peace was again concluded with China, but it was followed by raids on both sides, so that the Manchus determined to enter on a great campaign against the Ili region. This ended with a decisive victory for the Chinese (1755). In the years that followed, however, the Chinese began to be afraid that the various Kazak tribes might unite in order to occupy the territory of the Kalmuks, which was almost unpopulated owing to the mass slaughter of Kalmuks by the Chinese. Unrest began among the Mohammedans throughout the neighbouring western Turkestan, and the same Chinese generals who had fought the Kalmuks marched into Turkestan and captured the Mohammedan city states of Uch, Kashgar, and Yarkand.

The reinforcements for these campaigns, and for the garrisons which in the following decades were stationed in the Ili region and in the west of eastern Turkestan, marched along the road from Peking that leads northward through Mongolia to the far distant Uliassutai and Kobdo. The cost of transport for one _shih_ (about 66 lb.) amounted to 120 pieces of silver. In 1781 certain economies were introduced, but between 1781 and 1791 over 30,000 tons, making some 8 tons a day, was transported to that region. The cost of transport for supplies alone amounted in the course of time to the not inconsiderable sum of 120,000,000 pieces of silver. In addition to this there was the cost of the transported goods and of the pay of soldiers and of the administration. These figures apply to the period of occupation, of relative peace: during the actual wars of conquest the expenditure was naturally far higher. Thus these campaigns, though I do not think they brought actual economic ruin to China, were nevertheless a costly enterprise, and one which produced little positive advantage.

In addition to this, these wars brought China into conflict with the European colonial powers. In the years during which the Chinese armies were fighting in the Ili region, the Russians were putting out their feelers in that direction, and the Chinese annals show plainly how the Russians intervened in the fighting with the Kalmuks and Kazaks. The Hi region remained thereafter a bone of contention between China and Russia, until it finally went to Russia, bit by bit, between 1847 and 1881. The Kalmuks and Kazaks played a special part in Russo-Chinese relations. The Chinese had sent a mission to the Kalmuks farthest west, by the lower Volga, and had entered into relations with them, as early as 1714. As Russian pressure on the Volga region continually grew, these Kalmuks (mainly the Turgut tribe), who had lived there since 1630, decided to return into Chinese territory (1771). During this enormously difficult migration, almost entirely through hostile territory, a large number of the Turgut perished; 85,000, however, reached the Hi region, where they were settled by the Chinese on the lands of the eastern Kalmuks, who had been largely exterminated.

In the south, too, the Chinese came into direct touch with the European powers. In 1757 the English occupied Calcutta, and in 1766 the province of Bengal. In 1767 a Manchu general, Ming Jui, who had been victorious in the fighting for eastern Turkestan, marched against Burma, which was made a dependency once more in 1769. And in 1790-1791 the Chinese conquered Nepal, south of Tibet, because Nepalese had made two attacks on Tibet. Thus English and Chinese political interests came here into contact.

For the Ch’ien-lung period’s many wars of conquest there seem to have been two main reasons. The first was the need for security. The Mongols had to be overthrown because otherwise the homeland of the Manchus was menaced; in order to make sure of the suppression of the eastern Mongols, the western Mongols (Kalmuks) had to be overthrown; to make them harmless, Turkestan and the Ili region had to be conquered; Tibet was needed for the security of Turkestan and Mongolia–and so on. Vast territories, however, were conquered in this process which were of no economic value, and most of which actually cost a great deal of money and brought nothing in. They were conquered simply for security. That advantage had been gained: an aggressor would have to cross great areas of unproductive territory, with difficult conditions for reinforcements, before he could actually reach China. In the second place, the Chinese may actually have noticed the efforts that were being made by the European powers, especially Russia and England, to divide Asia among themselves, and accordingly they made sure of their own good share.

6 _Decline; revolts_

The period of Ch’ien-lung is not only that of the greatest expansion of the Chinese empire, but also that of the greatest prosperity under the Manchu regime. But there began at the same time to be signs of internal decline. If we are to fix a particular year for this, perhaps it should be the year 1774, in which came the first great popular rising, in the province of Shantung. In 1775 there came another popular rising, in Honan–that of the “Society of the White Lotus”. This society, which had long existed as a secret organization and had played a part in the Ming epoch, had been reorganized by a man named Liu Sung. Liu Sung was captured and was condemned to penal servitude. His followers, however, regrouped themselves, particularly in the province of Anhui. These risings had been produced, as always, by excessive oppression of the people by the government or the governing class. As, however, the anger of the population was naturally directed also against the idle Manchus of the cities, who lived on their state pensions, did no work, and behaved as a ruling class, the government saw in these movements a nationalist spirit, and took drastic steps against them. The popular leaders now altered their program, and acclaimed a supposed descendant from the Ming dynasty as the future emperor. Government troops caught the leader of the “White Lotus” agitation, but he succeeded in escaping. In the regions through which the society had spread, there then began a sort of Inquisition, of exceptional ferocity. Six provinces were affected, and in and around the single city of Wuch’ang in four months more than 20,000 people were beheaded. The cost of the rising to the government ran into millions. In answer to this oppression, the popular leaders tightened their organization and marched north-west from the western provinces of which they had gained control. The rising was suppressed only by a very big military operation, and not until 1802. There had been very heavy fighting between 1793 and 1802–just when in Europe, in the French Revolution, another oppressed population won its freedom.

The Ch’ien-lung emperor abdicated on New Year’s Day, 1795, after ruling for sixty years. He died in 1799. His successor was Jen Tsung (1796-1821; reign name: Chia-ch’ing). In the course of his reign the rising of the “White Lotus” was suppressed, but in 1813 there began a new rising, this time in North China–again that of a secret organization, the “Society of Heaven’s Law”. One of its leaders bribed some eunuchs, and penetrated with a group of followers into the palace; he threw himself upon the emperor, who was only saved through the intervention of his son. At the same time the rising spread in the provinces. Once more the government succeeded in suppressing it and capturing the leaders. But the memory of these risings was kept alive among the Chinese people. For the government failed to realize that the actual cause of the risings was the general impoverishment, and saw in them a nationalist movement, thus actually arousing a national consciousness, stronger than in the Ming epoch, among the middle and lower classes of the people, together with hatred of the Manchus. They were held responsible for every evil suffered, regardless of the fact that similar evils had existed earlier.

7 _European Imperialism in the Far East_

With the Tao-kuang period (1821-1850) began a new period in Chinese history, which came to an end only in 1911.

In foreign affairs these ninety years were marked by the steadily growing influence of the Western powers, aimed at turning China into a colony. Culturally this period was that of the gradual infiltration of Western civilization into the Far East; it was recognized in China that it was necessary to learn from the West. In home affairs we see the collapse of the dynasty and the destruction of the unity of the empire; of four great civil wars, one almost brought the dynasty to its end. North and South China, the coastal area and the interior, developed in different ways.

Great Britain had made several attempts to improve her trade relations with China, but the mission of 1793 had no success, and that of 1816 also failed. English merchants, like all foreign merchants, were only permitted to settle in a small area adjoining Canton and at Macao, and were only permitted to trade with a particular group of monopolists, known as the “Hong”. The Hong had to pay taxes to the state, but they had a wonderful opportunity of enriching themselves. The Europeans were entirely at their mercy, for they were not allowed to travel inland, and they were not allowed to try to negotiate with other merchants, to secure lower prices by competition.

The Europeans concentrated especially on the purchase of silk and tea; but what could they import into China? The higher the price of the goods and the smaller the cargo space involved, the better were the chances of profit for the merchants. It proved, however, that European woollens or luxury goods could not be sold; the Chinese would probably have been glad to buy food, but transport was too expensive to permit profitable business. Thus a new article was soon discovered–opium, carried from India to China: the price was high and the cargo space involved was very small. The Chinese were familiar with opium, and bought it readily. Accordingly, from 1800 onwards opium became more and more the chief article of trade, especially for the English, who were able to bring it conveniently from India. Opium is harmful to the people; the opium trade resulted in certain groups of merchants being inordinately enriched; a great deal of Chinese money went abroad. The government became apprehensive and sent Lin Tse-hsue as its commissioner to Canton. In 1839 he prohibited the opium trade and burned the chests of opium found in British possession. The British view was that to tolerate the Chinese action might mean the destruction of British trade in the Far East and that, on the other hand, it might be possible by active intervention to compel the Chinese to open other ports to European trade and to shake off the monopoly of the Canton merchants. In 1840 British ships-of-war appeared off the south-eastern coast of China and bombarded it. In 1841 the Chinese opened negotiations and dismissed Lin Tse-hsue. As the Chinese concessions were regarded as inadequate, hostilities continued; the British entered the Yangtze estuary and threatened Nanking. In this first armed conflict with the West, China found herself defenceless owing to her lack of a navy, and it was also found that the European weapons were far superior to those of the Chinese. In 1842 China was compelled to capitulate: under the Treaty of Nanking Hong Kong was ceded to Great Britain, a war indemnity was paid, certain ports were thrown open to European trade, and the monopoly was brought to an end. A great deal of opium came, however, into China through smuggling–regrettably, for the state lost the customs revenue!

This treaty introduced the period of the Capitulations. It contained the dangerous clause which added most to China’s misfortunes–the Most Favoured Nation clause, providing that if China granted any privilege to any other state, that privilege should also automatically be granted to Great Britain. In connection with this treaty it was agreed that the Chinese customs should be supervised by European consuls; and a trade treaty was granted. Similar treaties followed in 1844 with France and the United States. The missionaries returned; until 1860, however, they were only permitted to work in the treaty ports. Shanghai was thrown open in 1843, and developed with extraordinary rapidity from a town to a city of a million and a centre of world-wide importance.

The terms of the Nanking Treaty were not observed by either side; both evaded them. In order to facilitate the smuggling, the British had permitted certain Chinese junks to fly the British flag. This also enabled these vessels to be protected by British ships-of-war from pirates, which at that time were very numerous off the southern coast owing to the economic depression. The Chinese, for their part, placed every possible obstacle in the way of the British. In 1856 the Chinese held up a ship sailing under the British flag, pulled down its flag, and arrested the crew on suspicion of smuggling. In connection with this and other events, Britain decided to go to war. Thus began the “Lorcha War” of 1857, in which France joined for the sake of the booty to be expected. Britain had just ended the Crimean War, and was engaged in heavy fighting against the Moguls in India. Consequently only a small force of a few thousand men could be landed in China; Canton, however, was bombarded, and also the forts of Tientsin. There still seemed no prospect of gaining the desired objectives by negotiation, and in 1860 a new expedition was fitted out, this time some 20,000 strong. The troops landed at Tientsin and marched on Peking; the emperor fled to Jehol and did not return; he died in 1861. The new Treaty of Tientsin (1860) provided for (a) the opening of further ports to European traders; (b) the session of Kowloon, the strip of land lying opposite Hong Kong; (c) the establishment of a British legation in Peking; (d) freedom of navigation along the Yangtze; (e) permission for British subjects to purchase land in China; (f) the British to be subject to their own consular courts and not to the Chinese courts; (g) missionary activity to be permitted throughout the country. In addition to this, the commercial treaty was revised, the opium trade was permitted once more, and a war indemnity was to be paid by China. In the eyes of Europe, Britain had now succeeded in turning China not actually into a colony, but at all events into a semi-colony; China must be expected soon to share the fate of India. China, however, with her very different conceptions of intercourse between states, did not realize the full import of these terms; some of them were regarded as concessions on unimportant points, which there was no harm in granting to the trading “barbarians”, as had been done in the past; some were regarded as simple injustices, which at a given moment could be swept away by administrative action.

But the result of this European penetration was that China’s balance of trade was adverse, and became more and more so, as under the commercial treaties she could neither stop the importation of European goods nor set a duty on them; and on the other hand she could not compel foreigners to buy Chinese goods. The efflux of silver brought general impoverishment to China, widespread financial stringency to the state, and continuous financial crises and inflation. China had never had much liquid capital, and she was soon compelled to take up foreign loans in order to pay her debts. At that time internal loans were out of the question (the first internal loan was floated in 1894): the population did not even know what a state loan meant; consequently the loans had to be issued abroad. This, however, entailed the giving of securities, generally in the form of economic privileges. Under the Most Favoured Nation clause, however, these privileges had then to be granted to other states which had made no loans to China. Clearly a vicious spiral, which in the end could only bring disaster.

The only exception to the general impoverishment, in which not only the peasants but the old upper classes were involved, was a certain section of the trading community and the middle class, which had grown rich through its dealings with the Europeans. These people now accumulated capital, became Europeanized with their staffs, acquired land from the impoverished gentry, and sent their sons abroad to foreign universities. They founded the first industrial undertakings, and learned European capitalist methods. This class was, of course, to be found mainly in the treaty ports in the south and in their environs. The south, as far north as Shanghai, became more modern and more advanced; the north made no advance. In the south, European ways of thought were learnt, and Chinese and European theories were compared. Criticism began. The first revolutionary societies were formed in this atmosphere in the south.

8 _Risings in Turkestan and within China: the T’ai P’ing Rebellion_

But the emperor Hsuean Tsung (reign name Tao-kuang), a man in poor health though not without ability, had much graver anxieties than those caused by the Europeans. He did not yet fully realize the seriousness of the European peril.

[Illustration: 16 The imperial summer palace of the Manchu rulers, at Jehol. _Photo H. Hammer-Morrisson_.]

[Illustration: 17 Tower on the city wall of Peking. _Photo H. Hammer-Morrisson_.]

In Turkestan, where Turkish Mohammedans lived under Chinese rule, conditions were far from being as the Chinese desired. The Chinese, a fundamentally rationalistic people, regarded religion as a purely political matter, and accordingly required every citizen to take part in the official form of worship. Subject to that, he might privately belong to any other religion. To a Mohammedan, this was impossible and intolerable. The Mohammedans were only ready to practice their own religion, and absolutely refused to take part in any other. The Chinese also tried to apply to Turkestan in other matters the same legislation that applied to all China, but this proved irreconcilable with the demands made by Islam on its followers. All this produced continual unrest.

Turkestan had a feudal system of government with a number of feudal lords (_beg_), who tried to maintain their influence and who had the support of the Mohammedan population. The Chinese had come to Turkestan as soldiers and officials, to administer the country. They regarded themselves as the lords of the land and occupied themselves with the extraction of taxes. Most of the officials were also associated with the Chinese merchants who travelled throughout Turkestan and as far as Siberia. The conflicts implicit in this situation produced great Mohammedan risings in the nineteenth century. The first came in 1825-1827; in 1845 a second rising flamed up, and thirty years later these revolts led to the temporary loss of the whole of Turkestan.

In 1848, native unrest began in the province of Hunan, as a result of the constantly growing pressure of the Chinese settlers on the native population; in the same year there was unrest farther south, in the province of Kwangsi, this time in connection with the influence of the Europeans. The leader was a quite simple man of Hakka blood, Hung Hsiu-ch’uean (born 1814), who gathered impoverished Hakka peasants round him as every peasant leader had done in the past. Very often the nucleus of these peasant movements had been a secret society with a particular religious tinge; this time the peasant revolutionaries came forward as at the same time the preachers of a new religion of their own. Hung had heard of Christianity from missionaries (1837), and he mixed up Christian ideas with those of ancient China and proclaimed to his followers a doctrine that promised the Kingdom of God on earth. He called himself “Christ’s younger brother”, and his kingdom was to be called _T’ai P’ing_ (“Supreme Peace”). He made his first comrades, charcoal makers, local doctors, peddlers and farmers, into kings, and made himself emperor. At bottom the movement, like all similar ones before it, was not religious but social; and it produced a great response from the peasants. The program of the T’ai P’ing, in some points influenced by Christian ideas but more so by traditional Chinese thought, was in many points revolutionary: (a) all property was communal property; (b) land was classified into categories according to its fertility and equally distributed among men and women. Every producer kept of the produce as much as he and his family needed and delivered the rest into the communal granary; (c) administration and tax systems were revised; (d) women were given equal rights: they fought together with men in the army and had access to official position. They had to marry, but monogamy was requested; (e) the use of opium, tobacco and alcohol was prohibited, prostitution was illegal; (f) foreigners were regarded as equals, capitulations as the Manchus had accepted were not recognized. A large part of the officials, and particularly of the soldiers sent against the revolutionaries, were Manchus, and consequently the movement very soon became a nationalist movement, much as the popular movement at the end of the Mongol epoch had done. Hung made rapid progress; in 1852 he captured Hankow, and in 1853 Nanking, the important centre in the east. With clear political insight he made Nanking his capital. In this he returned to the old traditions of the beginning of the Ming epoch, no doubt expecting in this way to attract support from the eastern Chinese gentry, who had no liking for a capital far away in the north. He made a parade of adhesion to the ancient Chinese tradition: his followers cut off their pigtails and allowed their hair to grow as in the past.

He did not succeed, however, in carrying his reforms from the stage of sporadic action to a systematic reorganization of the country, and he also failed to enlist the elements needed for this as for all other administrative work, so that the good start soon degenerated into a terrorist regime.

Hung’s followers pressed on from Nanking, and in 1853-1855 they advanced nearly to Tientsin; but they failed to capture Peking itself.

The new T’ai P’ing state faced the Europeans with big problems. Should