The Collapse of the Qing Dynasty

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Explain the key reasons for the collapse of the Qing Dynasty.

The Qing Dynasty’s collapse was due to three main influences, with underlying reasons involved in each. The first being foreign intervention related strongly to militarism, gunboat diplomacy, imperialism and the rise of unequal treaty systems. The second influence was China’s failure to reform and uprisings, such as the boxer rebellion and lastly economic decline. These three factors ultimately resulted in the downfall of the dynasty.

The Qing Dynasty relied heavily on the effectiveness of its fighting forces. However, due to corruption and loss of skills the military began to crumble. Militarism, the use of army for political advantage, became very influential for a large power as having military power gave huge stability and security to the empire. It was in conjunction with militarism that ‘gunboat diplomacy’, the practice of asking for something with no intent on agreeing to any other arrangement, occurred used more and more. The Manchu government lied about the number of soldiers that they had in their units in order to receive extra money for supplies and salaries, so by 1850 only half of the soldiers on the enlistment forms actually existed.

Imperialism, or the practice of conquering and developing another area usually for trading purposes, was also a major contributor to the decline of the dynasty. The Sino-Japanese war was very humiliating for the Chinese people because it once again highlighted defeat on China by a foreign power, and as well internal troubles, this increased the xenophobic feeling toward outsiders, which resulted in a lot of resentment for foreigners, which meant that leaders such as Cixi who were opposed to foreigners and modernization gained a lot of support from the population.

Unequal treaties, such as the ‘Treaty of Nanjing’ and the ‘Treaty of Whampoa’ and ‘Treaty of Wanghia’ impacted severely on China. When forced to sign the treaties, China was forced to...
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