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  1. #241
    Atfirst when Imperial Concubine Zhen had come into the Forbidden City,West Empress Dowager had treated her just as she did to other royalfamily members. She hadn't liked her specially, but hadn't dislikedher, either. Later when Concubine Zhen had done something againstthe palace rules, she had begun to dislike her.
    ConcubineZhen was young, bold and careless. Once she had asked the emperor toallow her to ride on a sedan-chair carried by eight eunuchs, whichcertainly offended the rules, because by tradition only the empressdowager, the emperor and the queen could sit on such a sedan-chair. When West Empress Dowager had been told about it, she hadn't believedit. One day, she had come across Concubine Zhen riding on one, shehad been angry and ordered the sedan-chair to be broken into pieces. Concubine Zhen had been scolded, of course.
    ConcubineZhen liked her photos taken. Her cousin got a camera for her. Onceshe was photographed, dressed in the emperor's formal clothes withpictures of dragons embroidered on them. This was also against therules. When the queen got a photo like that, she showed it to WestEmpress Dowager, who, in her rage, wanted to punish Concubine Zhenfor all the offenses in addition to the acceptance of briberies. Concubine Zhen was thereby confined in a deserted building. It wastoward the end of the year of 1894. The Sino-Japanese war had brokenout that year in Korea, which was then under Chinese protection.
    Vyingfor power happens everywhere. It happened in Korea then. Qinggovernment sent troops to maintain law and order there. Japan alwayswanted to devour Korea. Now this provided Japan with an excuse. So onJuly 23, 1894, Japan sent their army into Korea and occupied theKorean palace, seizing the king. The conflict between the troops ofQing government and the Japanese army began. At first the glory onthe battlefield favored the troops of Qing government, but when Japanreinforced their army, the troops of Qing government were vanquishedon July 28. On August 1, under the pressure of public opinion andmedia, West Empress Dowager declared war against Japan. But Chinesearmies in Korea was finally put to rout after only one battle. It wasbecause the commanders of the Chinese armies were all fools,historians said.

  2. #242
    Nowthe whole nation turned their attention to the navy. In 1885 whenSino-French war ended, everyone felt that China needed a strong navy.On June 21, West Empress Dowager had a meeting with the courtiers anddecided to build a fleet. Lots of silver taels were spent to buywarships from the foreign countries. The navy was at last formed in1888 with twenty-five ships of different sorts and sizes. OnSeptember 17, 1894, when the Chinese fleet was on the way back toLuda harbor, Japanese fleet came suddenly to attack the fleet of Qinggovernment. The unprepared small Chinese fleet shot out like arrowsto meet the Japanese fleet. A maritime campaign took place on theYellow Sea near the coast of China. Most of the small newly-builtfleet was destroyed by Japanese navy. Japanese army crossed theKorean boundary into the Chinese territory. On October 24, anotherJapanese detachment landed on Liaodong Peninsular and on November 22,they occupied Luda. On December 29, Japanese army set foot onShandong Peninsular. On December 31, thirty-four thousand Japanesesoldiers finished their landing and detoured to the back of WeihaiweiTown. On February 2, 1895, they took the town and captured theremaining ten ships. In early March of 1895 Japanese army occupiedthe Liaodong Peninsular. Qing government had no hope to even recovertheir lost territory and so they had to start a negotiation. On April17, 1895, a treaty was signed in Japan.
    Afterthe defeat in Sino-Japanese war in 1895, all the courtiers who didn'tdare to blame West Empress Dowager blamed Governor Li for it. It wasGovernor Li who had built the fleet. It was he who had controlled thefleet. He had always been against war. And now his long-boasted fleethad been sunk to the bottom of the ocean. This time West EmpressDowager was shocked at the bad news and resented Governor Li for somuch money he had spent on his fleet, but what now? She also needed ascapegoat. So she removed Governor Li from all his duties. But peopleall over the country blamed West Empress Dowager for using the funds,which had originally been planned to strengthen the navy, to buildher Garden of Good Health & Harmony, causing the navy to bedefeated.

  3. #243
    Chapter 41

    Thedefeat in Sino-Japanese war put a big question mark before theChinese people as well as the government: how could China becomestrong both financially and militarily like Japan, which was only asmall country, far too much smaller than China? Discussions in thatfield erupted on newspapers. A sole conclusion was drawn: “We needreform like Japan.”
    Theemperor wanted reform. West Empress dowager wanted reform, too,because she always wished to conquer the foreign invaders forvengeance. So she agreed to the emperor's reform notion in general,though all the conservative courtiers opposed it. Prince Yihuan, theemperor's biological father had died. Now Yixin, the emperor'suncle, who had been removed from office long ago by West EmpressDowager, was appointed to be in charge again, but he also died beforelong. On his deathbed, he advised the emperor to carry out thereform step by step and do nothing against tradition.
    Theemperor appointed a group of officials to design for him a detailedplan for reform. His former tutor Weng, now a secretary, gave theemperor his full support. Official Kang drafted all the reformdecrees for the emperor. Kang's disciple, Official Liang, helped alot and another official Tan was an active participant. On June 11,1898, the emperor issued a statement to declare the beginning ofreform. Then he gave a series of orders, one hundred and eighty or soaltogether, during one hundred days.

  4. #244
    Theorders involved (1) the selection of supporters of reform asgovernment officials; (2) the decision to abandon the old examinationsystem for the selection of officials and to develop a moderneducation system; (3) the change of government administration systemand the elimination of the national corruption; (4) the permission ofthe open expression of opinions for people at large; (5) the rewardto the inventions and the encouragement to the development of trade,agriculture and industry; (6) the rebuilding of a navy.
    However,most governors hesitated. They waited to see whether West EmpressDowager was really a prop to the reform. So most of emperor's orderswere not carried out. Only one thing was successful: a university wasestablished in the capital.
    OnJune 16, West Empress Dowager forced the emperor to give some ordersof appointments and removals. An important one was to appoint Rongluas the Governor of Zhidi Province in charge of the new-trained armies(the capital was in this province). (For a long time Ronglu had beenidle without a position because of bad health. His snail-crawlingpromotion was due to the reason that West Empress Dowager didn't wanther relationship with Ronglu to be known among the courtiers. So shecould not give him rocketingly fast promotion. Now when time came,Ronglu's fate turned for the better. When Prince Yihuan was takenseriously ill and stayed in bed, as he was partly paralyzed, WestEmpress Dowager had to use Prince Yixin again. Prince Yixin knew thatRonglu was talented and prudent. He suggested to West Empress Dowagerto appoint Ronglu as the commander of the garrison division to guardthe capital. West Empress Dowager had no objection, of course. Nextyear Ronglu was made the minister of Military Ministry. Then he wasgiven the title of a prime minister. When Emperor Guangxu, influencedby new concepts, wanted to reform like in Japan, West Empress Dowagertrusted the military forces to Ronglu, hence the above appointment.It was an essential move on the chessboard of West Empress Dowager,who was now a mature politician.)

  5. #245
    Theother order was to remove the courtier Weng, who had been theemperor's tutor, from his office of the secretary of state and expelhim back to his hometown, which made the emperor lose his mostimportant supporter. Then a statement was issued that West EmpressDowager and the emperor would go to Tianjin City to watch themilitary parade. A rumor was prevalent that West Empress Dowagerwould force the emperor to abdicate when they were there.
    OnAugust 30, the emperor made a public decision to merge six uselessgovernment bureaus, because their responsibilities were functioned bycorresponding ministries, but the merging would put a lot ofofficials out of job. Many old courtiers implored West EmpressDowager to stop the reform, but she didn't agree. She wanted to waita while longer to see how far the emperor would carry his reform.
    Theemperor became impatient and angry because most officials refused tocarry out his orders. On September 4, the emperor decided to banishsix high-rank courtiers in Etiquette Ministry from office andappointed his own officials next day, which seemed to organizeanother administration.
    OnSeptember 7, the emperor removed two courtiers in charge from theForeign Affairs Yamen dealing with foreign countries. Furthermore,the emperor wanted to appoint two foreigners to be his advisers, onean English priest and the other a Japanese, an ex-prime-minister inthe cabinet of Japan. All the conservative courtiers were in a panicthat the foreigners would control Qing government and thereforereported it to West Empress dowager, who, though mad about it, stilldecided to wait a bit longer.
    OnSeptember 14, when the emperor went to see West Empress Dowager shereprimanded him for it. The rupture in their relationship becameopen. The emperor's supporters knew that if the emperor didn't haveany military forces under control the reform would eventually fail.They suggested that the emperor should send for Yuan Shikai, who wasa general training his army in a western style somewhere near TianjinCity. His army was called New Army.

  6. #246
    WhenYuan came to the capital, the emperor received him and gave him asecret written order, urging him to bring his New Army to Peking, tosurround the Garden of Good Health & Harmony and confine WestEmpress Dowager. Yuan knew that most courtiers and all the governorssupported West Empress Dowager. If he wanted to keep his position, orbetter to get a promotion, he must take the side of West EmpressDowager and betray the emperor, the inexperienced, over-ambitious,stupid political novice.
    Whenhe returned to Tianjin City, he revealed the secret to Ronglu, whoimmediately took the night train back to Peking and asked to see WestEmpress Dowager. He showed her the secret written order of theemperor, which Yuan had given him.
    OnSeptember 19, Wet Empress Dowager confined the emperor on an islandin the middle of a lake in the Forbidden City. The island wasconnected to the other parts of the Forbidden City only by a smallfoot bridge. He was treated very badly, no fire in the room and justenough food to keep him from starving. He was declared to beseriously sick. The prescriptions of the royal doctors wereproclaimed everyday to show that the emperor was really sick. Butpeople thought differently. The newspapers said that the proclamationof the prescriptions was only a preliminary step towards the deposalof the emperor.
    Othernew officials whom the emperor had appointed were all dismissed fromtheir posts. Official Kang, who had been the most active andenthusiastic in the reform, had escaped on board a British ship toJapan. Official Liang, Kang's disciple, fled into the Japaneselegation and then was escorted to Japan, too. Another new officialTan decided to stay, because if he ran away, the government would gethis father instead. So he had to stay and face whatever would befallhim. Tan had a sworn brother Wang, who had kungfu and liked to helppeople. His job was like a bodyguard or property guard, or both. If arich man or a rich family wanted to travel a long way with valuableluggage, he or the family would hire Wang to protect him or thefamily all the way to the destination against any potential robbers.

  7. #247
    WhenWang knew that Official Tan was in trouble, he went to see him atnight. He didn't want to be seen entering Tan's house. He jumped overthe wall from a side street and went to his study. They discussed howthey could deliver the emperor out of the confinement to transfer theemperor to the southern provinces. Once the emperor was out of thecontrol of West Empress Dowager, everything would be fine. By theirplan, as soon as the emperor was out of the Forbidden City, theywould hide him either in some foreign legations or smuggled him intoany of the foreign colonies in Tianjin City. Then they would escorthim on a foreign ship to the southern provinces, their destination.They thought where there was the emperor there was the power center.The emperor could issue orders from anywhere he was. Any courtiersand governors should carry out his orders. That was their theory.
    Wangtook the matter into his hands. He knew some eunuchs in the ForbiddenCity. He found a eunuch and invited him to a restaurant. While eatingand drinking they were engaged in a conversation. Eunuchs liked tobrag about the life and things in the Forbidden City. Wang showedgreat interest in what the eunuch was telling. Wine makes peopletalk, plus a good listener. The eunuch even drew a sketchy map of theForbidden City at Wang's request. Next night, Wang went to theForbidden City. He slung up a hook, which held fast on a battlement.He climbed up nimbly like a monkey and jumped over the city wall in ajiffy. His black clothes made him melt into the dark night. Buteither the map was not very accurate or Wang didn't remember thedetails, he didn't find the place where the emperor was confined. Hehad to beat a retreat before dawn and would try again another night.

  8. #248
    OnSeptember 23, a ceremony was held for West Empress Dowager to takeback the power. Then she issued orders to annul all the emperor'sdecisions and restored almost everything that had been changed by theemperor, but she said that she would carry on the reform, only stepby step.
    Thenan order was given to arrest all the emperor's supporters. Two ofthem had escaped abroad. Seven were imprisoned. Six of them werebeheaded publicly on September 28, including Official Tan and thelast one was exiled to Xinjiang Province, the farthest of all theprovinces. This was called the One Hundred Day Reform in the historyof China.
    WestEmpress Dowager summoned all the high-rank courtiers to her presence.The emperor was there, too. West Empress Dowager blamed the emperorbefore the courtiers, saying that she had agreed to the reform, butthe bottom line was not to change traditional things and now theemperor had gone over the brim. Then she asked the emperor what hewould have done if Yuan had brought in his New Army. “Did you wantto kill me?” Her voice was loud and stern. The emperor could onlyhang his head low. What could he answer? The conquered has no saywhatsoever. But she hated Kang most, because he had drafted all thedecrees. When she asked if Kang had been under arrest yet, she gotthe answer “Escaped.” One of the courtiers said, “If we knowwho leaked to him for the escape, we should arrest that person.”West Empress Dowager glanced at the emperor and said, “It's Emperorwho wrote to advise him to do so.” No one said anything any more.
    Kang'splace had been ransacked and all the documents found there werepresented to West Empress Dowager. Among them was a letter from theemperor to order him to go to Shanghai to publish a newspaper. It wasa code sentence. So Kang took to his heels.
    Itwas said that if the emperor could have done one thing at a time andwaited to see the reactions and had not bombarded the country withhis reform orders so radically and carelessly, the history of Chinamight have changed.

  9. #249
    Chapter 42

    WhenWest Empress Dowager was meditating the deposal of Emperor Guangxu,all kinds of surmises appeared on the newspapers in Shanghai. Anofficial, who was taking care of the Telegram Bureau in Shanghai,sensed it and drafted a petition to the effect. He gathered onethousand two hundred and thirty-one signatures on it, including manyfamous scholars and telegraphed it to the Foreign Affairs Yamen. Theofficials in that yamen could not conceal it and sent it to theSecretarial Bureau. Ronglu, now the head secretary of the Bureau,took it to West Empress Dowager, who asked Ronglu how to deal withit. Ronglu said that the best way to quench a rumor was to let themknow the emperor was still the emperor. So they made a publicstatement in the name of West Empress Dowager that next year it wasthe thirtieth birthday of the emperor and a celebration would beheld. But they didn't have more money for the ceremony as WestEmpress Dowager had used up all the possible funds to build hergarden. Next day the emperor made another public declaration thatsince the government was tight with finance, he didn't want thecelebration, thanks to his adopted mother. It showed that he wasstill the emperor. Mother wanted to celebrate the son's birthday andthe son refused it owing to the financial difficulties. It painted apicture of a harmonious family.
    Butbefore long another rumor prevailed among people in most provincesthat the emperor had escaped from the Forbidden City and wastraveling south in disguise.
    Last edited by xlwoo; February 8th, 2019 at 03:47 PM.

  10. #250
    Asmall group of seven men came to lodge in a temple just outsideQizhen Town in Hubei Province. One looked like the master, anobleman, dressed in elegance. Another looked like the butler. Fourmen looked like the servants or bodyguards without uniforms and thelast one looked like a cook, shouldering some utensils. They rentedan independent housing unit in the backyard with fifty taels ofsilver as the deposit. The master kept to himself, staying in hisroom most of the time. The butler was busy, in and out, in and out.The four servants were waiting on the master. The cook went out everymorning shopping for food, then came back and did the cooking. Themonk, whose duty was to receive visitors, thought that these peoplewere suspicious and reported to the local yamen. Some policemen weresent in plain clothes to watch over them. The policemen even followedthe butler and the cook everywhere, but nothing unusual happened.Only this group of people seemed mysterious. So the mayor discussedthe matter with his aide. The aide suggested that he should pay avisit to the master to feel the pulse first. The mayor consented. Theaide went to the temple and found the monk, who told him that theyspoke the Peking dialect and seemed to come from the capital. Thebutler and the servants acted like serving a prince. The aide askedhow the master looked. The answer was lean, pale, about thirty.


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