The Hundred Days' Reform or Wuxu Reform (Chinese: 戊戌变法; pinyin: wùxū biànfǎ; literally: 'Reform of the year Wuxu') was a failed 103-day national, cultural, political, and educational reform movement from 11 June to 22 September 1898 in late Qing dynasty China. It was undertaken by the young Guangxu Emperor and his reform-minded supporters. Following the issuing of the reformative edicts, a coup d'état ("The Coup of 1898", Wuxu Coup) was perpetrated by powerful conservative opponents led by Empress Dowager Cixi, though it was never confirmed but rather speculated.
|Hundred Days' Reform|
|Literal meaning||Wuxu (year) reform|
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|Literal meaning||Hundred Days' Reform|
Guangxu (born 1871, reigned 1875–1908) ordered a series of reforms aimed at making sweeping social and institutional changes. He did this in response to weaknesses exposed by China's defeat by Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895, not long after the First (1839–1842) and Second (1856–1860) Opium Wars; this blow came as a major shock to the Chinese, because Japan had been regarded as a tributary state, was much smaller than China, and was regarded as inferior. China also fought France in the Sino-French War from 1884 to 1885. Moreover, the defeat of China by Japan led to a scramble for "privileges" in China by other foreign powers, notably by the German Empire and Russia, further awakening the conservatives.
Before the First Sino-Japanese War, China engaged in technological modernization only, buying modern weapons, ships, artillery, and building modern arsenals to produce these weapons, and only giving their soldiers modern weapons without institutional reform, all the while declining to reform the government or civil society according to western standards – unlike Japan, which adopted western-style government with a Parliament and completely reorganized its army along western lines.
With the help of certain senior officials of the Qing court who supported reform, Kang Youwei was permitted to speak with the Emperor, and his suggestions were enacted. Some of Kang's students were also given minor but strategic posts in the capital to assist with the reforms. The goals of these reforms included:
The reformers declared that China needed more than "self-strengthening" and that innovation must be accompanied by institutional and ideological change.
In addition to the edicts of reform, plans were made to forcefully remove Empress Dowager Cixi from power. Yuan Shikai was supposed to kill Ronglu and take control of the military garrison at Tientsin. He was then intended to return to Beijing with the contingent and imprison the Empress Dowager; however, Yuan had previously promised his support to Ronglu and instead of killing him, told him of the plot. This led to the coup that ended the Hundred Days' Reform.
Opposition to the reform was intense among the conservative ruling elite, who, condemning the announced reform as too radical, proposed instead a more moderate and gradualist course of change. With the aforementioned, tacit support of the political opportunist Yuan Shikai and the backing of conservatives, Empress Dowager Cixi engineered a coup d'état on September 22, 1898, forcing the young, reform-minded Guangxu into seclusion. The emperor was put under house arrest within the Summer Palace until his death in 1908. Cixi then took over the government as regent.
The Hundred Days' Reform ended with the rescinding of the new edicts and the execution of six of the reform's chief advocates, together known as the "Six Gentlemen" (戊戌六君子): Tan Sitong, Kang Guangren (Kang Youwei's brother), Lin Xu, Yang Shenxiu, Yang Rui and Liu Guangdi. The two principal leaders, Kang Youwei and his student Liang Qichao, fled to Japan to found the Baohuang Hui (Protect the Emperor Society) and to work, unsuccessfully, for a constitutional monarchy in China. Another leader of the reform, Tan Sitong, refused to flee and was arrested and executed.
During the Hundred Days' Reform in 1898 Generals Dong Fuxiang, Ma Anliang, and Ma Haiyan were called to Beijing and helped put an end to the reform movement along with Ma Fulu and Ma Fuxiang. Dong Fuxiang and the Muslim Gansu Army stationed in Beijing during the Hundred Days' Reform later participated in the Boxer Rebellion and became known as the Kansu Braves.
The court put into effect some reform measures a decade later, starting with Cixi's New Policies. These included the abolition of the Imperial Examination in 1905, educational and military modernization patterned after the model of Japan, and an experiment in constitutional and parliamentary government. The suddenness and ambitiousness of the reform effort actually hindered its success. One effect, to be felt for decades to come, was the establishment of the New Army, which, in turn, gave rise to warlordism.
On the other hand, the failure of the reform movement gave great impetus to revolutionary forces within China. Changes within the establishment were seen to be largely hopeless, and the overthrow of the whole Qing government increasingly appeared to be the only viable way to save China. Such sentiments directly contributed to the success of the Wuchang Uprising in 1911, barely a decade later.
Views of the Hundred Days' Reform have grown increasingly more complex and nuanced. The traditional view portrayed the reformers as heroes and the conservative elites, particularly the Empress Dowager Cixi, as villains unwilling to reform because of their selfish interests.
However, some historians in the late 20th century have taken views that are more favorable to the conservatives and less favorable to the reformers. In this view, Kang Youwei and his allies were hopeless dreamers unaware of the political realities in which they operated. This view argues that the conservative elites were not opposed to change and that practically all of the reforms that were proposed were eventually implemented.
For example, Sterling Seagrave, in his book "The Dragon Lady", argues that there were several reasons why the reforms failed. Chinese political power at the time was firmly in the hands of the ruling Manchu nobility. The highly xenophobic Iron hats faction dominated the Grand Council and were seeking ways to expel all Western influence from China. When implementing reform, the Guangxu Emperor by-passed the Grand Council and appointed four reformers to advise him. These reformers were chosen after a series of interviews, including the interview of Kang Youwei, who was rejected by the Emperor and had far less influence than Kang's later boasting would indicate. At the suggestion of the reform advisors, the Guangxu Emperor also held secret talks with former Japanese Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi with the aim of using his experience in the Meiji Restoration to lead China through similar reforms.
It has also been suggested, controversially, that Kang Youwei actually did a great deal of harm to the cause by his perceived arrogance in the eyes of the conservatives. Rumours about potential repercussions, many of them false, made their way to the Grand Council, and were one of the factors in their decision to stage a coup against the Emperor. Kang, like many of the reformers, grossly underestimated the reactionary nature of the vested interests involved.
The Emperor set about to enact his reforms largely bypassing the powerful Grand Council. The councillors, angry at the Emperor's actions and fearful of losing the political power they had, then turned to the Empress Dowager Cixi to remove the emperor from power. Many, though not all, of the reforms were cancelled. The Council, now confident in their power, pushed for the execution of the reformers, an action that was carried out ruthlessly.
According to Professor Lei Chia-sheng (雷家聖), Japanese former prime minister Itō Hirobumi (伊藤博文) arrived in China on September 11, 1898, about the same time that Kang Youwei invited British missionary Timothy Richard to Beijing. Richard suggested that China appoint Itō as one of many foreign advisors in order to further push China's reform efforts. On September 18, Richard successfully convinced Kang to adopt his plan in which China would join a federation (合邦) of ten nations.
Kang nonetheless asked fellow reformers Yang Shenxiu (楊深秀) and Song Bolu (宋伯魯) to report this plan to the Guangxu Emperor. On September 20, Yang sent a memorial to the emperor to that effect. In another memorial to the Emperor written the next day, Song advocated the formation of a federation and the sharing of the diplomatic, fiscal, and military powers of the four countries under a hundred-man committee. Lei Chia-sheng argues that this idea was the reason why Cixi, who had just returned from the Summer Palace on September 19, decided to put an end to the reforms with the September 21 coup.
On October 13, following the coup, British ambassador Claude MacDonald reported to his government about the Chinese situation, saying that Chinese reforms had been "much injured" by Kang and his friends' actions. The British and American governments had been largely unaware of the "federation" plot, which appears to have been Richard's own personal idea. The Japanese government might have been aware of Richard's plan, since his accomplice was the former Japanese prime minister, but there is no evidence to this effect yet.
Events from the year 1845 in China.1898 in China
Events from the year 1898 in China (戊戌).Borders of China
China shares international borders with 14 sovereign states. In addition, there is a 30-kilometre (19 mi) border with the special administrative region of Hong Kong, which was a British dependency before 1997, and a 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) border with Macau, a Portuguese territory until 1999. With a land border of 22,117 kilometres (13,743 mi) in total it also has the longest land border of any country.Chen Baozhen
Chen Baozhen (Chinese: 陳寶箴; pinyin: Chén Bǎozhēn; 1831-1900) was a Chinese statesman and reformer during the Qing Dynasty.
Chen was born in a Hakka family in Tingzhou (Now Shanghang County). His family originated from Xiushui County in Jiangxi province. He obtained the second highest degree in the imperial examinations in 1851. During the Self-Strengthening Movement, Chen became closely associated with Zeng Guofan's efforts to rearm China. In 1895, he was appointed governor of Hunan province, where he carried out a reform program with the aid of Tan Sitong and Liang Qichao. Chen's sympathies to the Hundred Days' Reform attracted criticism from his superiors, especially Empress Dowager Cixi who distrusted reformists such as Chen Baozhen.He was dismissed from his post in 1898 after the failure of the Hundred days' Reform. Without the support of Guangxu Emperor Chen was no longer protected from conservatives' criticism. Chen died in Nanjing two years later.
During his term in Hunan, Chen promoted his reform with the goal of modernizing Hunan. It was one of the first actual reform carried out in modern China. He also founded the first school in Hunan province which was known for its revolutionary ideals. During the reform, Chen appointed Liang Qichao and Tan Sitong who were active advocator of modernization. Of course, Chen's move met with the resistance from Hunan's local conservative gentries. The conservatives disdained the implementation of Western schools in Hunan and set up obstacles for reformists. In order to silence his conservative opponents, Chen enforced censorship on local news papers. However, the conservative pressure on Chen's reform eventually brought an abrupt end to the reform.Although Chen did not complete the modernization of Hunan, the younger elites of Hunan was influenced by his endeavour. By the early 20th century, Hunan had become one of the most radical reformist provinces in China. Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic of China, was among the younger elites who were influenced by the Hunanese reformist ideals.
Chen Baozhen's grandson Chen Yinke was an acknowledged historian of Chinese history. One of his great grandsons, Chen Fenghuai, was a pioneer of botanic studies in China.Chinese Learning as Substance, Western Learning for Application
The idea of "Chinese Learning as Substance, Western Learning for Application" (simplified Chinese: 中体西用, traditional Chinese: 中體西用, pinyin: zhōngtǐ xīyòng) was initially proposed by Feng Guifen in his Xiaopinlu kangyi (Protests from the cottage of Feng Guifen), written in 1861 after the Second Opium War. At the time, leading Chinese thinkers were interrogating how to approach the threat posed by encroaching Western states. Feng argued for China's self-strengthening and industrialization by borrowing Western technology and military systems, while retaining core Neo-Confucian principles. These ideas were further elaborated on by Zhang Zhidong in 1898 in his book Quanxue pian as "Traditional (Chinese) learning as substance, New (Western) learning as application" (“舊學為體，新學為用”). “Zhongti xiyong” became a popular slogan used in the late Qing Reforms, including the Self-Strengthening Movement and Hundred Days' Reform. The concept was widespread among intellectuals in the late 19th and early 20th century, and it remains relevant in the modern studies of China-West cultural relationship.Foot Emancipation Society
The Foot Emancipation Society (Chinese: 不缠足会; pinyin: Bù chánzú huì), or Anti-footbinding Society (戒缠足会; Jiè chánzú huì), was a civil organization which opposed foot binding in late Qing dynasty China. It was affected by the Hundred Days' Reform of 1898, and this organization advanced the feminist movement in China.Gongche Shangshu movement
The Gongche Shangshu movement (Traditional Chinese: 公車上書, Simplified Chinese: 公车上书) was a political movement in late Qing dynasty China, seeking reforms and expressing opposition to the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. It is considered the first modern political movement in China. Leaders of the movement later became leaders of the Hundred Days' Reform.Guangxu Emperor
The Guangxu Emperor (14 August 1871 – 14 November 1908), personal name Zaitian, was the 11th Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. His reign lasted from 1875 to 1908, but in practice he ruled, without Empress Dowager Cixi's influence, only from 1889 to 1898. He initiated the Hundred Days' Reform, but was abruptly stopped when the empress dowager launched a coup in 1898, after which he was put under house arrest until his death. His regnal name, "Guangxu", means "glorious succession".Guozijian (Beijing)
The Beijing Guozijian (simplified Chinese: 北京国子监; traditional Chinese: 北京國子監; pinyin: Běijīng Guózǐjiān), located on Guozijian Street in Beijing, China, was China's national university during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and the last Guozijian of China. Most of the Beijing Guozijian's buildings were built during the Ming Dynasty and it remains an important heritage site in China. During the Hundred Days' Reform of the Qing Dynasty, the education and administration of education functions of Guozijian was mainly replaced by the Imperial University of Peking (Jingshi Daxuetang), later known as Peking University. The Guozijian was shut down in 1905.
The Guozijian, often translated into English as the Imperial Academy or Imperial College, was the national central institute of learning in ancient Chinese dynasties. It was the highest institute of learning in China's traditional educational system. Emperors in imperial China would also frequently visit the Guozijian to read Confucian classics to thousands of students.Lin Xu
Lin Xu (1875 – 28 September 1898), courtesy name Tungu (暾谷), was a Chinese politician, scholar, songwriter and poet who lived in the late Qing dynasty. He was also a student of Kang Youwei, a prominent official who was one of the leaders of a reform movement in the late Qing dynasty.Ma Haiyan
Ma Haiyan (1837–1900) was a Chinese Muslim General of the Qing Dynasty. Originally a rebel, he defected to Qing during the Dungan revolt and helped crush rebel Muslims.He was the father of Ma Qi and Ma Lin (warlord) and of Ma Feng 馬風.
Dong Fuxiang, Ma Anliang and Ma Haiyan were originally called to Beijing during the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894, but the Dungan Revolt (1895) broke out and they were subsequently sent to crush the rebels.During the Hundred Days' Reform in 1898 Dong Fuxiang, Ma Anliang, and Ma Haiyan were called to Beijing and helped put an end to the reform movement along with Ma Fulu and Ma Fuxiang.He fought against the foreign Eight Nation Alliance in the Boxer Rebellion with his nephew Ma Biao serving under him, besieged the Catholic Xishiku Cathedral and the legations, and defeated the Alliance at Battle of Langfang, and died of exhaustion while he and the Kansu Braves were escorting the Imperial family to safety. His son Ma Qi took over his posts.
Ma Biao was the eldest son of Ma Haiqing 馬海清, who was the sixth younger brother of Ma Haiyan, the grandfather of Ma Bufang. Ma Haiyuan (Ma Hai-yüan) 馬海淵 was the seventh younger brother of Ma Haiyan, father of Ma Guzhong and Ma Bao (Ma Pao) 馬寶, and grandfather of Ma Zhongying.Ronglu
Ronglu (6 April 1836 – 11 April 1903), courtesy name Zhonghua, was a Manchu political and military leader of the late Qing dynasty. He was born in the Guwalgiya clan, which was under the Plain White Banner of the Manchu Eight Banners. Deeply favoured by Empress Dowager Cixi, he served in a number of important civil and military positions in the Qing government, including the Zongli Yamen, Grand Council, Grand Secretary, Viceroy of Zhili, Beiyang Trade Minister, Secretary of Defence, Nine Gates Infantry Commander, and Wuwei Corps Commander. He was also the maternal grandfather of Puyi, the last Emperor of China and the Qing dynasty.Six gentlemen of the Hundred Days' Reform
The six gentlemen of Wuxu (Chinese: 戊戌六君子; pinyin: Wùxū liù jūnzǐ) refers to a group of six Chinese intellectuals whom the Empress Dowager Cixi had arrested and executed for their attempts to implement the Hundred Days' Reform. The most vocal and prominent member in the group of six was Tan Sitong. Kang Guangren was notable as the younger brother of the reformist leader Kang Youwei. These executions were a part of the large purge in which about 30 men were arrested, imprisoned, dismissed from office, or banished. In many cases the family members of these men were arrested as well.
On September 21, 1898, after growing intolerance of the Guangxu Emperor's hundred days' reform, Cixi and Ronglu successfully attempted a coup d'état in which all substantive power was taken from the Guangxu Emperor and assumed by Ci Xi, and the six troublesome reformers influencing Guangxu were arrested. The traditional view is that Cixi was the main instigator of these executions. However, evidence has surfaced that the conservative "Iron Hat" faction might have threatened her by having a Chinese-Muslim army close to Beijing. The six stood trial on September 28 and were beheaded at Caishikou in Beijing. The six were beheaded in the following order: Kang Guangren (Chinese: 康廣仁), Yang Shenxiu (Chinese: 楊深秀), Yang Rui (Chinese: 楊銳), Lin Xu, Tan Sitong, and Liu Guangdi.South China
South China (simplified Chinese: 华南; traditional Chinese: 華南; pinyin: Huánán) is a geographical and cultural region that covers the southernmost part of China. Its precise meaning varies with context.Tan Sitong
Tan Sitong (Chinese: 譚嗣同, March 10, 1865 – September 28, 1898), courtesy name Fusheng (復生), pseudonym Zhuangfei (壯飛), was a well-known Chinese politician, thinker and reformist in the late Qing Dynasty (1636–1911); he was executed at the age of 33 when the Reformation Movement failed. He was one of the "Six gentlemen of the Hundred Days' Reform" (戊戌六君子). He occupies a place of tremendous importance in modern Chinese history. To many contemporaries, his execution symbolised the political failure of Qing Dynasty's reformation from within itself and turned the intellectual class to seek violent and hostile means, through revolution, to overthrow the Qing Dynasty.Timeline of late anti-Qing rebellions
Numerous rebellions against China's Qing Dynasty took place during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, prior to the abdication of the last Emperor of China, Puyi, in February 1912. The table below lists some of these uprisings and important related events.Wong Nai Siong
Wong Nai Siong (Chinese: 黄乃裳) (1849—1924) as a Chinese revolutionary leader and educator from Minqing county in Fuzhou, Fujian province, China. He served in The Methodist Episcopal Church for many years and participated in the "Letter to Bus" reform, Hundred Days' Reform and also the Xinhai Revolution which resulted in the formation of Republic of China. He also led people from Fujian province to migrate to other countries including Malaysia, especially Sibu, Sarawak.Xiang Chinese
Xiang or Hsiang (Chinese: 湘; pinyin: xiāng; Mandarin pronunciation: [ɕi̯ɑ́ŋ]), also known as Hunanese (English: ), is a group of linguistically similar and historically related varieties of Chinese, spoken mainly in Hunan province but also in northern Guangxi and parts of neighboring Guizhou and Hubei provinces. Scholars divided Xiang into five subgroups, Chang-Yi, Lou-Shao, Hengzhou, Chen-Xu and Yong-Quan. Among those, Lou-shao, also known as Old Xiang, still exhibits the three-way distinction of Middle Chinese obstruents, preserving the voiced stops, fricatives, and affricates. Xiang has also been heavily influenced by Mandarin, which adjoins three of the four sides of the Xiang speaking territory, and Gan in Jiangxi Province, from where a large population immigrated to Hunan during the Ming Dynasty.Xiang-speaking Hunanese people have played an important role in Modern Chinese history, especially in those reformatory and revolutionary movements such as the Self-Strengthening Movement, Hundred Days' Reform, Xinhai Revolution and Chinese Communist Revolution. Some examples of Xiang speakers are Mao Zedong, Zuo Zongtang, Huang Xing and Ma Ying-jeou.Xu Yingkui
First-rank court official Xu Yingkui (Chinese: 許應騤; Wade–Giles: Hsu Ying-k'uei, 1830–1903), courtesy names Jun'an (筠庵) and Changde (昌德), was a 19th-century Qing dynasty politician who served as Viceroy of Min-Zhe, Governor of Fuzhou and General of Fujian from 1898 to 1903. He was one of the two Chinese representatives who signed the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, the other being Li Hongzhang. During Kang Youwei's Hundred Days' Reform, Xu opposed the reform and personally filed a complaint against Kang's conduct and political orientations.
|Hanyu Pinyin||wùxū biànfǎ|
|Hanyu Pinyin||bǎirì wéixīn|
Qing dynasty topics