College Essay Examples

Xinhai Revolution

Xinhai Revolution

The Xinhai Revolution is among the most significant events in the history of China. Otherwise known as the Revolution of 1911, the Xinhai Revolution lasted for more than four months resulting to the stepping down from the throne by Emperor Puyi and fall of the Qing dynasty. The essay writer main belligerents of the Xinhai Revolution were the Hatchet Gang, Hongmen or the Society of the Heaven and the Earth, United Allegiance Society or Tongmenghui, Hubein government, and the provisional government of the Republic of China as they were against Qing dynasty. The Qing dynasty managed about 200,000 military personnel against only 100,000 combined soldiers from various secret societies along with the Provisional and military governments of Hubei. The victory of the Chinese Revolutionary Alliance led to the formation of the Republic of China and the onset of nationalism, modern transformation, and political harmony.

            Prior to the fall of the Qing Dynasty, there were several revolutionary organizations and secret societies that wanted to collapse imperialism. Under the leadership of the Heavenly King, Hong Xiuquan started the Taiping Rebellion counter the Qing Dynasty from 1850 to 1864.

Koschorke and Spliesgart mentioned that the leaders of the dreadful Taiping Revolution had considered themselves “as Christians, preached the biblical message to the exclusion of all other doctrines, championed a puritan ethic and aimed at friendly contact with missionaries and other representatives of the West, yet they remained independent in their actions and theology.”[1] Xiuquan strongly believed that he was the younger sibling of the awaited Messiah of the Christian believers, known as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ. He had religious visions that the people were praying to the demons and he was bestowed with a sword by the heavenly Father to eradicate the demons. He destroyed the idols and statues associated with Buddhism and Confucianism as he perceived them as demon worshipping.

He obtained more than 29,000 followers in 1850 and they were surprisingly attacked by small imperial troops sent by the Qing rulers because his growing supporters were seen as a huge threat. Another attack transpired in Jintian town during January 1851 wherein he cut off the head of Manchu commander and established the Heavenly Kingdom of Transcendent Peace. He led his people in attacking Yongan and captured the region for three months until they moved to Nanjing where he created several reforms relating to prohibiting the consumption of opium, banning the practice of marrying several spouses, outlawing prostitution, implementing gender equality, and imposing possession of communal property. Ness explained that the movement of imperial troops during the third quarter of 1863 “cleared the Taiping from the Yangtze valley and Nanjing; Hong died on 1 June 1864, possibly from poisoning after eating weeds near his palace and the city was sacked.”[2] Around 100,000 supporters of Hong were annihilated and the other leaders of the Taiping Revolution were slayed including Hong Rengan.

Another rebellion which transpired during 1851 was the Nian Rebellion. This uprising occurred in Northern China and the rebels believed that the Europeans had a great influence in making the Qing administration ineffective as the latter could not supply relief after the disaster caused by the Yellow River flood in 1851. The uprising was believed to have sparked due to several years of killing of female babies and impact of the White Lotus rebellion during 1794. Li claimed that the “50,000 Nian were splendid horsemen and ferocious fighters, the Qing government appointed Mongol general Senggelinqin to destroy the Nian in 1860; the Nian refined their tactics and killed Senggelinqin in 1865.”[3] The Nian rebels utilized banner colors consisting of blue, yellow, black, white and red, to indicate clans.  Confucian scholar and military commander Zeng Guofan had been appointed to attack these rebels wherein he utilized canals to access the location of the opponents. He was later substituted by General Tso or Zuo Zongtang. The imperial army was able to seize the Nian territory in 1867.

            Qian rebellion or Miao rebellion had begun in 1854 wherein more than 2 million had been part of the casualties. The cause of the uprising was the conflict with Han Chinese, escalating destitution, and ineffective governance of the Qing dynasty. Jenks underscored that the head of Miao rebels adopted the designation of an emperor as part of its established customs, “Miao kings acted as catalysts for millenarian uprisings and grand titles were standard ways to seek legitimacy; in November 1855, they joined local rebels to capture the town of Datang and moved into Guiding and defeated Qing troops.”[4]   The Miao troops believed in the millenarianism movement as a way to transform a disorganized and unsuccessful society.

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            Among the belligerents of the Dungan Revolt were the Kashgaria troops which were backed up by the Ottoman Empire and the British armies. The Taranchi Turkic rebels were also aided by the Russian armies to counter the imperial troops. The Qing leader had outlawed the customary pilgrimage of Muslims to go to the Saudi Arabian desert valley, known as Mecca. Husain, Akhtar, and Usmani explicated that the Qing administration had complicated the dealings among Chinese and Muslims wherein the administration banned the ceremonial killing “of animals followed by the construction of new mosques; the Qing rulers were Manchu and employed tactics of divide and conquer to keep Muslims, Hans, Tibetans, and Mongolians in conflict with each other.”[5] The Manchu rulers of the Qing dynasty had imposed genocide of the Muslims which had also been the reason of the uprising.                    

            The Western Affairs Movement is the time period wherein the Qing rulers decided to make significant transformation in the military tactics by applying the Western style of fighting and use of more advanced artillery. The downfall of the Qing troops during the First and Second Opium Wars had motivated them to strengthen their army. They had been also defeated several times during the Taiping rebellion. Also known as the Self-Strengthening movement or Tongzhi Reforms, the movement was classified into three stages. The initial stage started in 1861 wherein the School of Combined Learning was built to teach English and other subjects consisting of medicine, chemistry, arithmetic, foreign law, and even the study of celestial objects. Chinese learners had been asked to study in the Western countries in order to gain more knowledge about Western military. The first teachers were American and British missionaries. Presbyterian missionary and international law professor William Alexander Parsons Martin was appointed to be the first school president and later the president of Imperial University of Peking in 1898.

The Chinese started to adopt the values of tolerance, loyalty, and gentleness.

The Qing ruler had also ordered the establishment of Imperial Maritime Customs Service for tax collection wherein British diplomat Horatio Lay was the first inspector-general starting 1854 to November 1863. Part of the modernization was the lessening of the old active military army known as the Green Standard forces and the creation of new military workforce called Peking Field Force which was managed by Prince Chun and Wenxiang. A navy school was also built to strengthen the security of the Qing dynasty. The government pushed its Chinese students to get into foreign schools particularly in the US Military Academy and in European and Japanese schools.

During the second phase, “self-strengthening shifted to a policy predominantly domestic affairs upon the scale of macrodevelopment and from 1882 to 1885, agriculture, commerce, and industry received increased attention.”[6]  During the third phase, Hubei Textile Company and Guizhou Ironwords had been built however they were considered ineffective compared to the Shanghai Cotton Cloth Mill.

During the onset of Self-Strengthening movement in 1860, “Empress Dowager Cixi, widow of Xianfeng emperor, becomes the power behind the throne formally occupied by her infant son and the most powerful leader in China – a position she retains until her death in 1908.”[7] She originated from the affluent Manchu family and she became the sixth concubine in the imperial court wherein she had a privilege of having about 6 pounds of meat allowance on a daily basis along with four servants. She wanted to provide counsel due to numerous rebellions that caused the dynasty to decline however she was considered cunning by Emperor Xianfeng as concubines were not allowed to give advice. The emperor declined the offers of the British government in forming diplomatic relations and trading as he perceived foreigners as lower in standing.

In 1861, Emperor Xianfeng died of tuberculosis and concubine Yi and Empress Zhen collaborated in improving the governance by harshly removing the Board of Regents created by the late Emperor, by  means of putting them into prison and demanding them to kill themselves. 

After the event, she changed her name from Yi to Cixi which means blissful and kindhearted. She singlehandedly managed the royal court indirectly by delegating tasks to the loyal men as women in China were deemed as inferior. She partially supported westernization by permitting the creation of railroad and making military upgrades. She acknowledged the Hundred Days Reform however decided to reject the movement as she learned about the scheme of slaying her.

            The Hundred Days Reform was utilized by Guangxu Emperor to remove the sinecures and civil service examination for choosing applicants for the bureaucratic system. This political and national program started during the second quarter of 1898 until the third quarter, which aimed at using capitalism concepts, promoting the royal family in attending foreign schools, altering the government approach to constitutional monarchy, and creating farming institutions. It had numerous objectives such as expanding the curriculum of the China by means of adding science and arithmetic classes and building the Peking University to learn about Western educational system. Cixi headed the coup d’état and the aforementioned ruler was placed in home confinement from 1898 to 1908 while Empress Cixi managed the country as regent.

            She made transformational reforms and utilized comprehensive European and Japanese knowledge about education and law. She allowed conjugal relations among Manchu and Han and prohibited footbinding practice among females. She provided more liberty to the press and changed the governance into constitutional monarchy using votes.

            The Qing dynasty had an immense impact on China for ruling the country from 1644 to 1911. It had been subjected to numerous rebellions however the imperial dynasty succeeded due to its clever and resourceful Empress Cixi who partially embraced westernization and accepted foreign dealings to improve its empire.


Hao, Shiyuan. China’s Solution to Its Ethno-National Issues. Singapore: Springer, 2019.

Ḥusain, Muẓaffar, Syed Saud Akhtar, and B. D. Usmani. A concise history of Islam. New Delhi:

          Vij Books India, 2011.

Jenks, Robert Darrah. Insurgency and social disorder in Guizhou: the “Miao” Rebellion, 1854-

1873. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994.

Joseph, William A. Politics in China: an introduction, Oxford: Oxford University, 2019.

Koschorke, Klaus, and Roland Spliesgart. History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin

America, 1450-1990: a documentary sourcebook. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans,


Li, Xiaobing. China at war: an encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2012.

Ness, Immanuel. Palgrave encyclopedia of imperialism and anti-imperialism. Basingstoke:

Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Noseworthy, William. Gale Researcher Guide for: women’s roles, social reform, and self-

strengthening in china. New York: Cengage Learning, 2018.

[1] Klaus Koschorke and Roland Spliesgart. History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, 1450-1990: a documentary sourcebook (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2007), 81.

[2] Immanuel Ness. Palgrave encyclopedia of imperialism and anti-imperialism (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 745.

[3] Xiaobing Li. China at war: an encyclopedia (Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2012), 321.

[4] Robert Darrah Jenks. Insurgency and social disorder in Guizhou: the “Miao” Rebellion, 1854-1873 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press), 95.

[5] Muẓaffar Ḥusain, Syed Saud Akhtar, and B. D. Usmani. A concise history of Islam (New Delhi: Vij Books India, 2011), 292.

[6] William Noseworthy. Gale Researcher Guide for: women’s roles, social reform, and self-strengthening in china (New York: Cengage Learning, 2018), 38.

[7] William Joseph. Politics in China: an introduction (Oxford: Oxford University, 2019), 27.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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