Viceroy of Zhili

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The Viceroy of Zhili (Viceroy of Chihli; simplified Chinese: 直隶总督; traditional Chinese: 直隸總督; pinyin: Zhílì Zǒngdū; Wade–Giles: Chih2-li4 Tsung3-tu1), fully referred to in Chinese as the Governor-General of Zhili and Surrounding Areas Overseeing Military Affairs and Food Production, Manager of Waterways, Director of Civil Affairs (Chinese: 總督直隸等處地方,提督軍務、糧餉、管理河道兼巡撫事), was one of eight regional viceroys in China proper during the Qing dynasty of China. Chinese historians often rank the Viceroy of Zhili as the most honorable and powerful, and the Viceroy of Liangjiang as the richest of the eight.

It was an important post, because the territory of Zhili Province (Chihli), which literally means directly ruled, was the area surrounding Beijing. The seat of Viceroyalty was in Tianjin, although the capital of the province was situated at Baoding. The responsibility of the position has never been defined entirely. Generally speaking, the viceroy oversaw the military and civil affairs of Zhili, Shandong and Henan Provinces. In 1870, the responsibility of the Viceroy also merged with the position of Minister of Beiyang Commerce (Minister of Pei-yang Commerce; Chinese: 北洋通商大臣), and the Viceroy was usually a very important player in the Court politics of Beijing.

The position was created and abolished several times. It was initially created by the Shunzhi Emperor on September 30, 1649. However, the Emperor abolished the post on June 1, 1658. The second creation of the post was on November 23, 1661, and cancelled later on July 28, 1669 by Kangxi Emperor. The third creation was taken place on December 14, 1724, during the second year of Yongzheng Emperor's reign, and lasted until the fall of the Qing.

Since the creation of the position in 1649 to 1912, 81 people had held the position. Some eminent individuals included Li Wei, Tang Zhiyu, Fang Guancheng, Zeng Guofan, Li Hongzhang, Ronglu, and Yuan Shikai. Late Qing diplomat, general, and politician Li Hongzhang occupied the position for a period of 25 years in total, during the height of his political career.

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