To and many other foreign languages, this continued from

To understand the
reasoning behind Emperor Kuang Hsu passionate reforms towards the Chinese education
system, we need to look at the historical period of which it was set, and what
was the state of the country and its people at the time. After China’s defeat
in the Opium War of 1842, the question of how to regain their loss of
sovereignty became a crucial issue for China. This is how the “self-strengthening”
movement was born in the 1870’s, there was a rift in the heads of authority as
most of those responsible for leading China favored to continue the policies of
the past while others advocated this new reform.

aim of the “self-strengthening” movement in the late 19th century was
ultimately to master Western technology in order to better resist Western
pressure, to
strengthen China against the West, and so many modern ideals and innovations
were implemented in China. Emperor Kuang Hsu was for the movement, he wanted
modernization. All his actions were a direct translation of his own life, he was
first sent the “China’s Only Hope” and many consider this to be what led him to
enter upon the universal reform and the adoption of the new educational system.
The Emperor went on to explore English and many other foreign languages, this
continued from 1894 till 1898, during which time his example was followed by
tens of thousands of young Chinese scholars throughout the empire. Kuang Hsu’s goals
was also an effort to make China strong enough to resist the incursions of the
European powers. He saw that Germany had taken Kiaochou, Russia had taken Port
Arthur, Japan had taken Formosa, Great Britain had taken Weihaiwei, France had
taken Kuangchouwan, and that even Italy was anxious to have a slice of his
territory, while all the English newspapers in the port cities were talking of
China being divided up amongst the Powers, and it was these things which led
the Emperor to enter upon his work of reform.

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summer of 1898, he sent out an edict to the effect that: “Our scholars are now
without solid and practical education; our artisans are without scientific
instructors; when compared with other countries, we soon see how weak we are.
Does anyone think that our troops are as well drilled or as well led as those
of the foreign armies? Or that we can successfully stand against them? Changes
must be made to accord with the necessities of the times. Keeping in mind the
morals of the sages and wise men, we must make them the basis on which to build
newer and better structures. We must substitute modern arms and western
organization for our old regime; we must select our military officers according
to western methods of military education; we must establish elementary and high
schools, colleges and universities, in accordance with those of foreign
countries; we must abolish the examinations and obtain a knowledge of ancient
and modern world-history, a right conception of the present-day state of
affairs, with special reference to the governments and institutions of the
countries of the five great continents; and we must understand their arts and
sciences.” The Emperor preached to his people that they had to improve
their military, they must ‘Westernize’ themselves as a form of protection against
the West, they had to convert to Western methods of education, and that the Confucian
classics are not helpful anymore. In fact, in 1898 he issued a series of edicts
ordering schools and colleges to be set up for European learning, even
establishing a department for the translation of foreign literature,
encouraging foreign travels and the study of foreign literature and sciences.
He also attempted to reform government, military and economy by abolishing several
‘useless’ offices, reorganizing the army, and civil service. The entire period
of reform extended only over just one hundred days and came to be known as the
“Hundred Days” of reform.

            However, Kuang Hsu’s was appointed emperor at an early
age and struggled throughout his reign to break away from the power of his
conservative aunt, the Empress Cixi, who at one point in time was the ultimate
political authority in China. The Empress, was completely against the reforms,
and the introduction of European innovations rouse a strong reaction from her
as she appointed herself at the head of the reactionary party. Empress Cixi and
her supporters were successful in stripping the Emperor of all his powers and
put him under arrest, she then cancelled the reform edicts as well as put to
death some reforming colleagues of the Emperor. Even though the 100 Day reform had
technically failed, it overall attempted bring educational and administrative reform,
introduced a little about democracy, it resulted in more schools, opportunities,
exploration in science, and the decrease Confucianism and Confucian scholars into
also set stage for Boxer Rebellion of 1899 –1901, and the final outcome was the
successful revolution of 1911 and the establishment of the first republic in
Chinese history.


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