Gentry in China During 1900-1927

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History Group Discussion
Role: Local Gentry

I am one of the scholar gentry in Shandong . For dynasties, the other scholar gentries and I have been the leaders of the common people. We represent them, help them to settle local disputes, preach them with Confucian ideals. We maintain peace and order and also assist the government in collecting taxes in our provinces. We have always been the symbol of morality and virtue. However, when the foreign missionaries came to preach in China in the late 1800s, our prestige was threatened. The missionaries preached beliefs that were against Confuncianism as well as other Chinese traditions. We had to stop them from indoctrinating our people! Thus, many of us secretly funded the anti-foreign activities. But we didn’t expect such activities would lead to a massive uprising of the Boxers. We knew the foreign countries would take actions against the Qing court for supporting the Boxer Uprising. Therefore, before Cixi declared war to the foreigners, we supported the signing of the “Southeast Mutual Protection” with the Eight Powers Alliance to guarantee our safety during their expedition. This was our first open opposition to the imperial decree but it did save us from destruction of war.

After the Eight Power Expedition, the central government decided to introduce the Late Qing Reform as a means to save the dynasty. When it was first launched, I welcomed the reform as I believed that a constitutional government would benefit my interests. By setting up local and national assemblies, we the scholar gentries would be able to secure our positions in local provinces and at the same time, control the power of the central government. We wanted the constitution to be granted as soon as possible but the Qing court seemed way too insincere in carrying out its promise. All we could say was that we were disappointed and later, furious when the cabinet was introduced. Almost every member of the cabinet was royal members! And the...
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