Taiping Movement

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5. 'The Taiping Rebellion was the climax of a half-century of widespread social upheaval that blanketed every part of the Ch'ing Empire at a time when dynastic strength was on the decline.' Discuss the background causes of the Taiping Rebellion in the light of the above statement. Introduction-- Traditional rebellions in China had been caused by the following factors: grave corruption in government, heavy over-taxation of the peasants, ruinously high rent, the growing landlessness of the farmers, the increase of a disgruntling population, the incidence of banditry, general insecurity, the growth of the secret society activities, the growth of the local self-defence units, and frequent small to large scale anti-government activities. The local feuds in Kwangsi were the seedbed for the uprising of the Taipings. The Taiping Rebellion added new dimension to this general picture because the rebellion challenged not only the Manchu Dynasty but the Confucian social order as well. The Taiping rebels were using an imported and heterodox brand of Christianity to reinforce their cohesion and morale, hence their connection with foreign influence was also important in our consideration. Misgovernment and corruption-- The Ch'ing government had become increasingly corrupt and inefficient ever since the beginning of the 19th century. The central government's control over the local districts was loose, superficial and often irresponsible. Local grievances of overtaxation, banditry, landlordism, rural indebtedness were largely ignored. The social functions of the local gentry also began to erode as many of them became an organ of local rackets of oppression and extortion. The local population had little liking for the government authorities and the local bullies and evil gentry.

Corruption was another perennial problem of China. The reign of Chien-lung was marked by corrupt practices of presents, bribes and graft. After the death of Chien-lung, his chief political...
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