Zhang Zhidong

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Zhang Zhidong
Zhang Zhidong.jpg
Zhang in official robes
Viceroy of Liangguang
In office
1884–1889
Preceded by Zhang Shusheng
Succeeded by Li Hanzhang
Personal details
Born September 4, 1837
Died October 5, 1909
Occupation Politician

Zhang Zhidong (simplified Chinese: 张之洞; traditional Chinese: 張之洞; pinyin: Zhāng Zhīdòng; Wade–Giles: Chang1 Chih1-tung4; courtesy name Xiàodá (孝達); Pseudonyms: Xiāngtāo (香濤), Xiāngyán (香岩), Yīgōng (壹公), Wújìng-Jūshì (無竟居士), later Bàobīng (抱冰); Posthumous name: Wénxiāng (文襄)) (September 4, 1837 — October 5, 1909) was an eminent Chinese politician during the late Qing Dynasty who advocated controlled reform. Along with Zeng Guofan, Li Hongzhang and Zuo Zongtang, he was one of the "Four Famous Officials of the Late Qing" (四大名臣). He served as the Governor of Shanxi, the Viceroy of Huguang, Viceroy of Liangguang, the Viceroy of Liangjiang, and also served as a member of the Grand Council. In 1966, during the Cultural Revolution, his tomb was destroyed by the Red Guards and his bones were rediscovered in 2007.

Early life[edit]

A native of Nanpi, Hebei, Zhang Zhidong earned a Jinshi degree in 1863 and was elevated to the Hanlin Academy in 1880. In 1881, he was appointed the Governor of Shanxi. The Empress Dowager promoted him to the Viceroy of Huguang in August 1889.

During the Dungan revolt (1862–1877), Russia occupied the Ili region in Xinjiang. After China successfully crushed the Dungan Rebellion, they demanded Russia withdraw from Ili, which led to the Ili crisis.

After the incompetent negotiator Ch'ung-hou, who was bribed by the Russians, without permission from the Qing government, signed a treaty granting Russia extraterritorial rights, consulates, control over trade, and an indemnity, a massive uproar by the Chinese literati ensued, some of them calling for the death of Ch'ung-hou. Zhang Zhidong demanded the beheading of Ch'ung-hou and for the government to stand up to Russia and declare the treaty invalid, and stated that "The Russians must be considered extremely covetous and truculent in making the demands and Ch'ung-hou extremely stupid and absurd in accepting them . . . . If we insist on changing the treaty, there may not be trouble; if we do not, we are unworthy to be called a state.'[1] The Chinese literati demanded the government mobilize the arm forces against Russia. The government acted after this, important posts were given to officers from the Hunan Army and Charles Gordon advised the Chinese.[2]

First Sino-Japanese War[edit]

Zhang Zhidong became involved in the First Sino-Japanese War, although not on the frontlines. He initially advocated foreign aid from European forces near Tianjin in fighting Japan. In October 1894, he telegraphed Li Hongzhang, the Viceroy of Zhili, proposing the purchase of naval equipment, and loans from foreign banks. He further advocated this, and in addition the purchase of arms, alliance with European powers, and the "clear division of rewards and punishments" for troops, once the Japanese crossed the Yalu River into China in late October, threatening the Manchurian provinces. In early 1895, the Japanese had begun an assault on Shandong, and Zhang telegraphed Li Bingheng, the Governor, in an emergency that suggested fast civil recruitments, the building of strong forts, and the use of land mines, to prevent further Japanese advance. He had also sent arms and munitions to aid the campaign.

Taiwan[edit]

Zhang held a strong opinion on the issue of Taiwan, and in late February 1895, he made clear to the Court in Beijing his complete opposition to Taiwan being ceded to Japan. He further offered several methods to prevent such an event. Zhang suggested that huge loans be taken from Britain, who would in turn use its strong navy to protect Taiwan. In addition, Britain would be given mining rights on the island for "ten to twenty years". Developments in May, however, became disappointing to Zhang, as the Qing Court ordered all civil and military officials out of Taiwan. He counted on defence by the people of Taiwan themselves. A request for aid by the troops in Taiwan was refused by Zhang, facing an increasingly hopeless situation after Keelung fell and Taipei became the only stronghold remaining. On October 19, 1895, Liu Yongfu, the last of Qing generals in Taiwan, was defeated and withdrew to Xiamen.

Modernization of China's military[edit]

Zhang created the Guangdong Naval and Military Officer's Academy and also created the Guangdong Victorious Army (Guangdong Sheng Jun), a regional yong-ying army, before 1894. He created the Hupei Military Academy (wubei xuetang) in 1896, where he employed instructors who came from the Guangdong Academy. The majority of the staff were Chinese. He hired some German officers to instruct.[3]

While serving as the governor of Nanjing in 1894, Zhang had invited a German training regiment of twelve officers and twenty-four warrant officers to train the local garrison into a modern military force. After the First Sino-Japanese War, in 1896, Zhang was ordered by imperial decree to move to Wuchang to become the Viceroy of Huguang, an area comprising the modern provinces of Hubei and Hunan. Zhang drew on his experience in Nanjing to modernize the military forces under his command in Huguang.[4]

In Wuchang, Zhang effectively trained and equipped modern units of sappers, engineers, cavalry, police, artillery, and infantry. Of the 60,000 men under his command, 20,000 men were directly trained by foreign officers, and a military academy was established in Wuchang in order to train future generations of soldiers. Zhang armed the troops with German Mauser rifles and other modern equipment. Foreign observers reported that, when their training was complete, the troops stationed in the Wuchang garrison were the equal of contemporary European forces.[5]

During the Boxer Rebellion, Zhang Zhidong, along with some other Governors in China like Yuan Shikai who commanded substantial modernized armies, refused to join in the Imperial Court's declaration of war against the Eight Nation Alliance, Zhang assured the foreigners during negotiations that he would do nothing to help the Imperial Government.

Zhang's troops later became involved in Chinese politics. In 1911 the Wuchang garrison led the Wuchang Uprising, a coup against the local government that catalyzed the nation-wide Xinhai Revolution. The Xinhai Revolution led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and its replacement by the Republic of China.[6]

Later life[edit]

In 1898, Zhang published his work, Exhortation to Study (劝学篇, Quàn Xué Piān). He insisted on a method of relatively conservative reform, summarized in his phrase "Chinese learning for fundamental principles and Western learning for practical application" (中学为体,西学为用, Zhōngxué Wéi Tǐ, Xīxué Wéi Yòng). In 1900, he advocated the suppression of the Boxers. When the Eight-Nation Alliance entered Beijing, Zhang, along with Li Hongzhang and others, participated in the "Mutual Defense of the Southeast" (东南互保) plan. He quelled local revolts and defeated the rebellion army of Tang Caichang. He succeeded Liu Kunyi as Viceroy of Liangjiang in 1901, and moved to Nanjing, where he laid the foundations for the modern University of Nanjing. He was appointed the Minister of Military Affairs in 1906, and worked in Beijing for the Qing Court.

He died from illness in 1909.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ John King Fairbank, Kwang-Ching Liu, Denis Crispin Twitchett, ed. (1980). Late Ch'ing, 1800-1911. Volume 11, Part 2 of The Cambridge History of China Series (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 94. ISBN 0-521-22029-7. Retrieved 2012-01-18. "Countless memorials poured into the court demanding severe punishment of the signatory and rejection of the treaty. The most eloquent of these came from a young librarian of the Supervisorate of Imperial Instruction, Chang Chih-tung (1837-1909), who announced: 'The Russians must be considered extremely covetous and truculent in making the demands and Ch'ung-hou extremely stupid and absurd in accepting them . . . . If we insist on changing the treaty, there may not be trouble; if we do not, we are unworthy to be called a state.' He demanded that Ch'ung-hou be decapitated to show China's determination to reject the treaty, even at the price of war. Because he spoke the mind of the literati and officials, Chang gained immediate fame.41" 
  2. ^ John King Fairbank, Kwang-Ching Liu, Denis Crispin Twitchett, ed. (1980). Late Ch'ing, 1800-1911. Volume 11, Part 2 of The Cambridge History of China Series (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 94. ISBN 0-521-22029-7. Retrieved 2012-01-18. "The court did not intend to precipitate a clash, but was pushed by literati-official sentiment into taking a stronger positions than it wanted. To prepare for the eventuality of war, it installed several Hunan army officers of Taiping fame in key positions, and through Rober Hart invited Charles Gordon to China to help with defence." 
  3. ^ John King Fairbank, Kwang-Ching Liu, Denis Crispin Twitchett, ed. (1980). Late Ch'ing, 1800-1911. Volume 11, Part 2 of The Cambridge History of China Series (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 268. ISBN 0-521-22029-7. Retrieved 2012-01-18. "The only other military academy established prior to 1894 was the military division of Chang Chih-tung's Kwangtung Naval and Military Officers' Academy. In 1885 Chang had begun using German instructors in his newly organized yung-ying force - called the Kwangtung Victorious Army (Kuang-sheng chün). One or two of these German officers taught in the military schools, but Chinese instructors did most of the teaching. Chang was apparently satisfied with their instruction, for he later selected graduates to serve as officers in his Self-Strengthening Army (Tzu-ch'iang chün) organized in Nanking in early 1896, and engaged instructors from the school to teach at his Hupei Military Academy (wu-pei hsueh-t'ang), founded at Wuchang later the same year.178" 
  4. ^ Bonavia 30-31
  5. ^ Bonavia 31-33
  6. ^ Bonavia 33

References[edit]

  • Ayers, William. Chang Chih-tung and educational reform in China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971.
  • Bonavia, David. China's Warlords. New York: Oxford University Press. 1995. ISBN 0-19-586179-5
  • Teng, Ssu-yü (鄧嗣禹) and Fairbank, John K. China's Response to the West: A Documentary Survey, 1839-1923, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1954 & 1979.
Government offices
Preceded by
Zhang Shusheng
Viceroy of Liangguang
1884-1889
Succeeded by
Li Hanzhang
Preceded by
Yulu
Viceroy of Huguang
1889-1894
Succeeded by
Tan Jixun
Preceded by
Liu Kunyi
Viceroy of Liangjiang
1894-1895
Succeeded by
Liu Kunyi
Preceded by
Tan Jixun
Viceroy of Huguang
1896-1902
Succeeded by
Duanfang
Preceded by
Liu Kunyi
Viceroy of Liangjiang
1902-1903
Succeeded by
Wei Guangtao
Preceded by
Duanfang
Viceroy of Huguang
1904-1907
Succeeded by
Zhao Erxun