EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI - Page 22

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  1. #211
    Chapter 37


    Franceand China were then at war about the Vietnam issue. Vietnam wasalways under China's protection. In the summer of 1862, Vietnam wasforced to sign a treaty with France that Vietnam was under Frenchprotection. During next five years the French navy landed on thesouth of Vietnam and gradually occupied the southern part. In 1873,France invaded the northern part. The Vietnamese government sentGeneral Liu to resist the French army. General Liu was a Chinese andhad joined the Peaceful Army. After the Peaceful Army had failed, hehad escaped into Vietnam. He brought his troops there, which werecalled Back Banner Army because the banners he used were black. TheBlack Banner Army went to fight the French army and killed itsgeneral. So next year France and Vietnam signed a new treaty inSaigon. Qing government kept neutral at that time because they werebusy dealing with Japan about the Taiwan issue.
    WhenFrance encroached on the north of Vietnam again, China was dulyinvolved. Many courtiers favored to wage war against France inVietnam. Prince Yihuan leaned to that opinion, but Prince Yixin hadhis own view that China could not cope with France in Vietnam and itwas better to have a peace talk. Since the opinions were notunanimous, the policy could not be decisive as to whether to declarewar or to have a peace talk. When West Empress Dowager finally madethe decision to prepare for war while seeking a peace talk, thechance for some military actions were missed. A great number ofFrench army already set foot on Vietnam and began to attach the BlackBanner Army. If Qing government could have sent its army into Vietnamto reinforce the Black Banner Army and occupied all the strategicallyimportant places before the French army had done, the final victorymight have belonged to China.

  2. #212
    Qinggovernment promised to provide the Black Banner Army with ammunitionand provisions through Guangxi Province, but the governor of GuangxiProvince gave the black Banner Army only a little of the promisedstuffs. How could they resist the attack of the French army? TheBlack Banner Army was beaten this time. Then Qing government didlaunch some detachments into Vietnam for reinforcement, but amongthose detachments, they could not strategically support each otherwhen required by the situation. The result was that they were alsooverpowered by the French army. News about the loss of some occupiedtowns in Vietnam came to the capital, the courtiers made angrycomments and one of the critique official wrote a report that thesecretaries should be blamed. So West Empress Dowager blamed Yixinfor it and removed him from all his offices. She then changed allmembers of the Secretarial Bureau and put Yihuan, her brother-in-lawand the biological father of the present emperor, in charge. ButYihuan was not a bit as talented as Yixin. Therefore, things didn'tget any better, even though the Qing government army and the BlackBanner Army did win some battles later in Vietnam.
    SomeFrench warships came to cruise near the coast of Fujian Province withthe intention to land there. Someone suggested that the Chinesesouthern sea navy could take the initiative to sink the Frenchwarships, but those who wanted a peace talk, including Governor Li ofZhidi Province, opposed to it. They held the opinion that Chinashould not initiate the war. Then the French warships began to attackthe small Chinese navy and sank four Chinese warships. West EmpressDowager was really enraged and declared war against France. SinceChina could not fight France on the sea, the strategy was to let theFrench soldiers come on the land and to ambush them. But Frenchsoldiers didn't come on the shore.
    TheFrench navy went to attack Taiwan. China didn't have any warships atTaiwan. The general who guarded Taiwan sank some boats to block theentry into the Fresh-Water Harbor. The one thousand French soldierslanded on Taiwan and had a fight with the Chinese soldiers, whooutnumbered them. The French soldiers were driven back onto the sea,to their warships. So China won battles on land and France on thesea. However, no war can go on forever. It must end one way or theother, either in entire conquest or in a truce. A treaty was signedbetween Qing government and France.

  3. #213
    AfterSushun had been executed, Yihuan had been appointed as the head ofthe royal bodyguards, the special division, with Ronglu as hisassistant. Yihuan had all the ambition, but lacked the abilities. When Yixin had been in charge, Yihuan had envied him. Now as Yihuantook over the charge of the state affairs, Yixin said to a friend,“There is a Chinese saying. It goes like that: when you seesomeone shouldering a burden, you don't know how heavy it is.”After only a few months, Yihuan came to feel the heavy burden on hisshoulders, but none he could shift it to.
    Oneday Yihuan went to see Yixin and said, “I really envy you of yourleisure, no responsibilities.”
    Howcan that be?” Yixin smiled at him.
    Couldyou help me?” Yihuan really needed someone who could share hisburden. But what could Yixin say? He had been forced to retire whenthe empire needed him. So he just sighed. Yihuan knew that itdepended on West Empress Dowager, not on Yixin himself. So later, atan earliest chance, he hinted to West Empress Dowager that she shouldlet Yixin resume some of the responsibilities, but West EmpressDowager was adamant about her earlier decision, because many thingsshe wanted to do and Yixin would say NO.
    WestEmpress Dowager could never forget that when she had wanted torebuild the Round-Bright Garden, many courtiers, headed by Yixin,strongly opposed to it. Her plan had failed. Now Yixin was out ofthe way and so were many of his supporters. If she wanted to rebuildthe garden now, no one would say NO to her. But where was the moneyfor it? The cost was too much, she knew it herself. Finally shedecided to repair the buildings at the Three Lakes and made it aroyal garden. She named it the Garden of Good health & Harmony. But there was still the question: where was the money?

  4. #214
    Someonesuggested to her head eunuch Li that they could use part of the moneythat was supposed to build a strong navy. After the Sino-French war,which was resulted in a treaty that Vietnam became under the Frenchprotection after a lot of bargaining, West Empress Dowager and theSecretarial Bureau had had a meeting and had decided to build astrong navy. The money needed came from customs duties and salt taxcollections, and also from the contributions of all the provinces. West Empress Dowager thought that since the war already ended therewas no urgency to build a strong navy immediately. That was why thesmall Chinese fleet was defeated on the sea by Japan in 1894.
    WestEmpress Dowager ordered to set up the Navy Yamen and made Yihuan thehead of it. All the expenses in the construction of the garden camefrom the Navy Yamen and Yihuan could never say NO. Why didn't WestEmpress Dowager order the Internal Revenue Ministry pay the expenses?That ministry should be a reasonable place to pay for theexpenditure. It was because Minister Yan would refuse to pay unlesshe was removed. And West Empress Dowager didn't want to remove himfor no reason at all, or for that reason. She still wanted to keep agood image in the eye of people. So the repair work was under waysecretly.
    Herhead eunuch Li thought of another way to get fund for the building.The emperor would soon reach the age to get married. They needed toprepare for the wedding. So West Empress Dowager ordered the InternalRevenue Ministry to collect money for that purpose. Though it was abit early, Minister Yan could not refuse that. And West EmpressDowager transferred the money to the reconstruction.

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