The Rise of the Manchus

Although the Manchus were not Han Chinese and were strongly resisted, especially
in the south, they had assimilated a great deal of Chinese culture before
conquering China Proper. Realizing that to dominate the empire they would have
to do things the Chinese way, the Manchus retained many institutions of Ming and
earlier Chinese derivation. They continued the Confucian court practices and
temple rituals, over which the emperors had traditionally presided. The Manchus
continued the Confucian civil service system. Although Chinese were barred from
the highest offices, Chinese officials predominated over Manchu officeholders
outside the capital, except in military positions. The Neo-Confucian philosophy,
emphasizing the obedience of subject to ruler, was enforced as the state creed.
The Manchu emperors also supported Chinese literary and historical projects of
enormous scope; the survival of much of China\'s ancient literature is attributed
to these projects.

Ever suspicious of Han Chinese, the Qing rulers put into effect measures aimed
at preventing the absorption of the Manchus into the dominant Han Chinese
population. Han Chinese were prohibited from migrating into the Manchu homeland,
and Manchus were forbidden to engage in trade or manual labor. Intermarriage
between the two groups was forbidden. In many government positions a system of
dual appointments was used--the Chinese appointee was required to do the
substantive work and the Manchu to ensure Han loyalty to Qing rule.

The Qing regime was determined to protect itself not only from internal
rebellion but also from foreign invasion. After China Proper had been subdued,
the Manchus conquered Outer Mongolia (now the Mongolian People\'s Republic) in
the late seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century they gained control of
Central Asia as far as the Pamir Mountains and established a protectorate over
the area the Chinese call Xizang () but commonly known in the West as Tibet. The
Qing thus became the first dynasty to eliminate successfully all danger to China
Proper from across its land borders. Under Manchu rule the empire grew to
include a larger area than before or since; Taiwan, the last outpost of anti-
Manchu resistance, was also incorporated into China for the first time. In
addition, Qing emperors received tribute from the various border states.

The chief threat to China\'s integrity did not come overland, as it had so often
in the past, but by sea, reaching the southern coastal area first. Western
traders, missionaries, and soldiers of fortune began to arrive in large numbers
even before the Qing, in the sixteenth century. The empire\'s inability to
evaluate correctly the nature of the new challenge or to respond flexibly to it
resulted in the demise of the Qing and the collapse of the entire millennia-old
framework of dynastic rule.

Emergence Of Modern China

The success of the Qing dynasty in maintaining the old order proved a liability
when the empire was confronted with growing challenges from seafaring Western
powers. The centuries of peace and self-satisfaction dating back to Ming times
had encouraged little change in the attitudes of the ruling elite. The imperial
Neo-Confucian scholars accepted as axiomatic the cultural superiority of Chinese
civilization and the position of the empire at the hub of their perceived world.
To question this assumption, to suggest innovation, or to promote the adoption
of foreign ideas was viewed as tantamount to heresy. Imperial purges dealt
severely with those who deviated from orthodoxy.

By the nineteenth century, China was experiencing growing internal pressures of
economic origin. By the start of the century, there were over 300 million
Chinese, but there was no industry or trade of sufficient scope to absorb the
surplus labor. Moreover, the scarcity of land led to widespread rural discontent
and a breakdown in law and order. The weakening through corruption of the
bureaucratic and military systems and mounting urban pauperism also contributed
to these disturbances. Localized revolts erupted in various parts of the empire
in the early nineteenth century. Secret societies, such as the White Lotus sect
() in the north and the Triad Society () in the south, gained ground, combining
anti-Manchu subversion with banditry.

The Western Powers Arrive

As elsewhere in Asia, in China the Portuguese were the pioneers, establishing a
foothold at Macao ( or Aomen in pinyin), from which they monopolized foreign
trade at the Chinese port of Guangzhou ( or Canton). Soon the Spanish arrived,
followed by the British and the French.

Trade between China and the West was carried on in the guise of tribute:
foreigners were obliged to follow the elaborate, centuries-old ritual imposed on
envoys from China\'s tributary states. There was no conception at the imperial
court that the Europeans would expect or deserve to be treated as