Você está na página 1de 4

Estimate the importance of the Reform movement of 1898 in the

history of china. How would you account for the failure of the
To what extent do you agree with the statement that the efforts of
the 19th century chinese reformers proved to run counter to the
requirements of the chinese state.
What factors contributed to the reform movement of 1898? What is
the importance in chinese history?
In what way did the modern text movement accelerate the process
of hundred days reform. Why did this attempt fail?
Analyze the scope and aims of the hundred days reform movement.
Why did it fail?
Historiography and nature
The 1898 Reform movement in China is not hot cake for the
historians. According to Tan Chung, There is no famous Communist
Chinese historian or Western historian who can be called a specialist
on the Movement. He explains that one reason why the topic is not
the communist historians cup of tea is that reformists does not fit
into the Marxist intellectual framework.
To many Chinese historians, reformism, including the 1898 reform
movement, was a historical current only among the ruling elite.
Analyzing the class nature of the reform Liu Danian in Certain
Issues Concerning Modern History of China says that it was
engineered by the compromising forces of the national bourgeoisie
as against the revolutionary forces of the same class. The reformers
compromised with feudalism and imperialism. He observes that the
reformers did not even touch the foundation of the feudal regime.
They took the greatest care to avoid damaging the feudal ruling
power and hoped to obtain the cooperation of the feudal forces to
carry out certain reforms. According to Tan Chung, The reformers
cherished the illusion that without undergoing grave struggle they
could change Chinas semi-colonial status. (THIS POINT CAN BE
Failure point :
Chinese historians unanimously agree that the reform movement
had serious limitations and was destined to fail. According to Tan
Chung in Reformers Non-violent path to Modernisation, it failed to
grasp the crucial problems of china and thus did not reflect the
aspirations of Chinas revolutionary masses. An illustration almost

always mentioned to substantiate this point is the total unconcern of

the nineteenth century reformers with the grossly unjust land
ownership system that existed in rural china. For Chung it was the
greatest social evil at that time and could not be ignored by anyone
seriously wanting to stem the rot.
However, Mao Zedong mentions the 1898 Reform movement in the
same breath with the Taiping, The Boxer, the 1911 Revolution etc.
as the highlights of the revolutionary movements in the last one
hundred years and as examples of the chinese peoples
indomitable spirit in fighting imperialism and it lackeys.
According to Liu Danian, in the initial stage the Reform movement
had a dual character: leaning on the foreign powers and contesting
them to safeguard the feudal interests. But, gradually, the
movement became more and more pro-imperialist. The newborn
Chinese bourgeoisie demanded independence of the country and
certain democratic reforms by the Manchu government. After the
Sino-japanese war, this ideological current which reflected the
demands of the bourgeoisie, further developed into a bourgeoisie
political movement-the 1898 Reform. (WRITTEN IN NATURE +
According to Tan Chung in Reformers Non-violent path to
Modernisation, the movements ultimate aim was to reinvigorate
Chinas existing socio-political system so as to extricate the ruling
elite from the internal and external crisis they had fallen into.
However, the reform movement mobilized strength within the ruling
elite and did not in the least involve the masses. (AIM OF THE
The positive character of the Reform movement can be spelled out
as follows. First, it symbolized Chinas national awakening. The
national awakening of our country, wrote Liang Qichao, from a
long dream of four thousand off years, began actually from the
defeat in the 1895 war, the cession of Taiwan and the stipulation of
an indemnity of 200 million taels. For him China was like a lamb
surrounded by hungry wolves eager to tear her apart. National
survival was the loudest slogan in the Reform movement. According
to Tan Chung it was the trumpeters of the Reform that really woke
up China to strive for survival in the international jungle for might
is right.
Second, the reform movement was the first conscious national
movement in China to modernize her social and political institutions,
many of the ideas and ideals of which have only been realized by
later political movements.

Victor Purcell has ably summed up the aims of the 1898 Reform
movement- to abolish the old examination system together with the
eight-legs essay; to convert the temples and out-moded
institutions of learning into new-type colleges and high schools; to
reduce the number of the Green Standard troops and to intensify
the training of the army on modern lines; to do away with sinecure
offices; to establish a national bank; to provide a general
administration for mining, railway, agriculture etc; to found a
national Peking university and many more. (AIMS OF THE

According to Tan Chungs view, Two main themes of the movement

were1. modernising and rationalizing administration and the larger
system involving governance of the country like recruitment of
government officials and training of armed forces.
2. Democratizing political life. The reform movement was clearly
an attack on autocracy, an attempt to inject the spirit of
democracy into the Chinese political system. Democracy was
a recurring theme in all of Kang Youeweis thirty memorials
advocating reform measures. Kang also proposed the setting
up of a parliament with the declaration of a Constitution.
It is clear that the factors that contributed to the success of the
reform movement were also the factors which foreshadowed its
failure. Tan Chung in Reformers Non-violent path to Modernisation
highlights the causes for the failure of the reform movement. First,
the pen-pushers without the backing of the guns could not make
much of a fuss under the contemporary political circumstances.
Second, the position of the emperor on which the reformers had
stalked all their hope, was actually untenable. Third, the Empress
Dowager was lurking in the shadow for a kill. The end of the
Hundred Days, drama was not entirely unexpected.
The chinese Communist historians in the book the Reform
Movement attribute the failure to the reformers lack of confidence
in the common people. Hence, their inaction on mobilizing the
masses. (FAILURE)
Mao Zedongs theory of bad teacher explains the failure of the
Reform Movement, and of similar movements aimed at saving China
from ruins by means of emulating the Western road to
modernization. In Maos opinion, the Chinese were not bad pupils at
all. They learnt a good deal from the West. They had all the
knowledge about national salvation. They started as the Western
teachers taught, industries, railways, telegraph office and what not.

They switched over to Western education. They left no stone

unturned in their rage for Westernisation. Only the result evaded
them. The reformers, of course, could be blamed for relying on
outmoded monarchy to carry out modernization. (FAILURE)
1. The Hundred Days Reforms was an attempt by the Guangxu emperor and
Kang Youwei to rapidly modernise China.
2. It followed the failure of the Self-Strengthening Movement and the 1895 defeat
in the First Sino-Japanese War.
3. The emperor issued more than 180 edicts in June-September 1898, making
sweeping changes in many areas.
4. The reforms angered and threatened ministers, bureaucrats and military
officers, who hoped for action from Cixi.
5. On September 21st Cixi, backed by army generals, forced the emperor to
abdicate all state power in her favour. The emperor was held under house arrest
and most of his reforms were abolished and wound back.