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Why the Qing Dynasty Fell

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Why the Qing Dynasty Fell The main reason why the Qing Dynasty fell was Western influence. China was a very ethnocentric country and they chose to be isolated form the rest of the world. Their isolation caused them to fall behind the West, so many of the Western advancements caught them unprepared. Although the Western influence did cause the fall of the Dynasty, the weakening of the dynasty was already occurring because of the dynastic cycle. Government was less efficient, intellectual life declined, and there was a lot of popular unrest.
Western influence caused the decline to happen more abruptly. An example of this was the Opium Wars. British merchants began smuggling Opium into China. The opium itself contributed to the fall because some leaders and officials were addicted to it, which led to incapable rulers. When China attempted to stop this they ended up in a War with Great Britain and eventually other Western countries. Since China was not match for the military and weaponry advancements of the British they were easily defeated and forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing. The treaty allowed for the ports of China to be open to the British. Within years other Western countries also gained access to China’s ports. The Chinese were not open to change and not willing to have all their ports opened to Westerners, which caused another war that resulted in even more Western countries gaining access to even more ports. (Treaties of Tianjin (1858) France, Russia, and the United States). It also caused a lot more foreign influence and changes in China. China agreed to open 11 more ports, permit foreign legations in Beijing, sanction Christian missionary activity, and legalize the import of opium. Again China was not okay with the changes and their inability to deal with the changes and Britain’s determination to enforce the treaty led to a renewal of the war, in which British and French troops occupied Beijing and burned the imperial summer palace. This led to a reinforcement of the Treaty with additional concessions. These wars were very expensive for China, and the monetary losses alone helped contribute to the fall. China’s control of it own country suffered because of these wars along with its economy and military.
Not only were the Opium wars devastating to China on their own, but they also brought about other movements that weakened China and led to it fall. One of the movements they led to was the Boxer rebellion. The opium wars contributed to growing feeling of animosity towards the western world, and foreigners in general. The Boxer rebellion was a group of people who disliked and distrusted foreigners. At first they wanted to destroy the Qing Dynasty and rid the country of foreigners, but after being backed by Empress Dowager, their aim was solely to get rid of all foreigners and foreign influence. They killed many Christian missionaries, Chinese Christians, and foreign ministers, until Western forces, which overpowered them again, finally stopped them. The Boxer Rebellion weakened the Qing dynasty Western influence, among other things, played a huge role in the weakening and the eventual collapse of the Qing dynasty. Although the Qing dynasty was on a gradual decline anyway, westerners definitely speeded up the process. For the most part it was Western influence and the inability of the Chinese to change or adapt that led to the fall of the Qing dynasty.

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