Evaluation of the Hundred Days Reform in 1898

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Evaluation of the Hundred Days Reform in 1898 China faced a series of defeat since the First Anglo-Chinese War. After being defeated by Japan in the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, foreign imperialism accelerated as the weaknesses of the Qing government were increasingly evident to the foreign powers. The political-conscious intellectuals now regarded reform not of academic interest but boiling urgency. The programs of the Hundred Days Reform were not too idealistic in fact; its failure was due to other factors, such as weaknesses in leadership. Immanuel Tsu remarked “China at 1898 stood at a turning point in history: whereas success of reform could stave off the breakup, failure could mean the extinction of dynasty.” The objective of the reform was to save China from the ever-increasing foreign imperialism. A reform was said to be successful if it could realize its goals and objectives. Even though China still faced foreign imperialism after the Hundred Days Reform, a closer look can tell us that the reform programs were quite comprehensive compared to that of Self-Strengthening Movement. Politically, the reformers would like to increase administrative efficiency and establish a more effective government. They suggested the abolition of sinecures and useless posts; for example, the president and vice-president of the Board of Rites were dismissed. A budget was also prepared for national finance. Legal codes were simplified to pave the ways for the abolition of extra-territoriality. If the reform were given enough time to carry out, it could successfully tackle the problems the Qing government faced. Economi... ... middle of paper ... ...nalists at the highest level.” Moreover, the reformers were too idealistic and had not real understanding of power politics. Kang and Liang were southern scholars who had no political experience. They didn’t understand the political intricacies of the metropolitan government, thus they were easily defeated when Tuan Shi-kai betrayed them. Guangxu had no actual power also, or he wouldn’t have asked Yuan for help. In short, the reform programs were not idealistic. It was the reformers who were too idealistic to think that they could carry out the reform and overcome the obstacles Cixi put before them. A further proof that showed the programs were not idealistic was presented in the Late Qing Reform, which put many of the reform programs of the Hundred Days Reform into actions and even to a more radical extent.

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