In the aftermath of the September palace coup, the erstwhile reformers of 1898 placed most of the blame for their failure upon the Manchus. Liang Qichao directed his ire at Associate Grand Secretary Gangyi, whose alleged declaration—that he would rather hand the empire over to “neighboring friends” than let it be seized by “household slaves”—epitomized what seemed to be the Manchus’ narrow-minded ethnic bias. It was then that Liang wrote his commentary calling for tearing down the boundaries between Manchus and Han. Empress Dowager Cixi ignored all such criticisms as she repudiated or shelved many of the Guangxu emperor’s attempted reforms. Her reactionary course soon led her to support the Boxer Rebellion in common opposition to Westerners and to Westernizing reforms. Her refusal to follow up on the emperor’s reforms, of course, simply reinforced the notion among the growing number of critics that the ruling Manchus were the principal, perhaps the only, obstacle to China’s regeneration through reform. The anti-Manchu movement intensified after the Boxer fiasco and reached an initial crescendo around the time of the anti-Russian agitation in the spring of 1903, when the revolutionaries’ indictment against the Manchus was developed. As opposition to the Qing increased, Cixi was forced not only to initiate the comprehensive program of reforms known as the New Policies (Xinzheng) but also to face up to the “Manchu issue” that both reformers and revolutionaries had raised. In the early years of the post-Boxer decade, she began to make some changes in the framework of Manchu-Han relations, but these were rather modest. However, by late 1907, following the assassination of the Manchu governor of Anhui, she was driven to issue two edicts reforming the banner system that went considerably beyond that promulgated by the emperor nine years earlier. Meanwhile, others of Cixi’s New Policies were affecting the banner people no less than they were the civilian population at large.
IN THE WAKE OF THE COUP
The Guangxu emperor’s tentative effort at reforming the banner system was a casualty of Cixi’s coup d’état. The empress dowager, who retrieved the reins of power on 22 September 1898, purged many of the leaders of the reform effort, including those who had spoken up about Manchu-Han relations. Zhang Yuanji was “dismissed permanently” from office and sent home to Shanghai in disgrace; Kang Youwei, of course, fled the country. However, Yuan Chang, the official whose memorial elicited the edict on the banner people’s livelihood, was not punished; to the contrary, he was summoned to Beijing, commended, and assigned to the Zongli Yamen. Yuan was to fall victim to reactionary officials two years later; he was beheaded in July 1900 for criticizing the court’s support of the Boxers. Except for the emperor himself, nearly all of the victims of Cixi’s purge in 1898 were Han. This gave rise to rumors that her court was “treating Manchus as insiders and Han as outsiders” (nei-Man wai-Han), a charge she categorically denied on 8 October.1
With respect to the banner people, on the one hand Cixi shelved the emperor’s plan for solving their economic problems. The decree had lifted the prohibition on their seeking outside employment and appointed Yikuang and others to explore resettlement as a long-term solution. In November 1898, when Yikuang’s committee submitted a proposal for relocating the Metropolitan Banners, Cixi praised their memorial for its thoroughness but asked for additional information.2 Thereafter, nothing more was said or done. The edict of 1898 met the same fate as that of 1865: though never revoked, it was never implemented either. On the other hand, Cixi encouraged the further military modernization of the Metropolitan Banners. In December 1898 she endorsed a proposal by Grand Councilor Ronglu to recruit a new ten-thousand-person army, known as the Center Division of the Guards Army (Wuwei Zhongjun), that was to be made up mostly of banner soldiers. In June 1899 she commended Zaiyi (Prince Duan, 1856–1922) for organizing the Tiger Spirit Division (Hushenying), also ten thousand strong, which was composed entirely of soldiers from the Metropolitan Banners.3
Soon afterward, Cixi embraced the Boxers and their attempt to expel the foreigners from China by force. A disproportionately large number of her supporters in this xenophobic endeavor were Manchus. One was the Tiger Spirit Division commander, Zaiyi, whose wife was Cixi’s niece; in January 1900, their eldest son, Pujun (1886–1929), was designated as heir to the Tongzhi emperor (who had died without issue in 1875) and thus was also the presumptive heir apparent to the ailing Guangxu emperor.4 Another supporter was Grand Secretary Gangyi, who, as the Boxers converged on the capital in June, mediated between them and the court. Not all leading Manchus, however, favored the Boxers. Shanqi (Prince Su, 1866–1922), one of the iron-capped princes, was outspokenly opposed, while Yikuang, head of the Zongli Yamen, was characteristically noncommittal.5 On 20 June 1900, following a series of court conferences, Cixi declared war on the foreign powers.
Many Manchus, particularly in Beijing and Manchuria, took part in the conflict. In the capital, members of the Metropolitan Banners joined forces with the Boxers to attack the Catholic cathedral and besiege the Legation Quarters, both located within the Inner City; it was a soldier in Zaiyi’s Tiger Spirit Division who shot and killed the German minister, Baron von Ketteler.6 Metropolitan Banner soldiers, including those in the Peking Field Force (organized in the 1860s), the Tiger Spirit Division, and the Center Division of the Guards Army later defended the capital from the foreign troops sent to lift the siege. In the process, all three semimodern banner armies were decimated.7 Among the Manchus killed in the valiant but futile defense of Beijing was Lao She’s father. Another casualty was Shoufu, the reform-minded imperial clansman who in 1897 had written of the perils of partition; he committed suicide as the invaders fought their way into the capital.8 Meanwhile, in Manchuria, where the Russians took advantage of the rebellion to overrun the region, it was the banner soldiers who similarly bore the brunt of the attack. As the Russians advanced southward along five routes, one banner garrison after another was destroyed. In Aihun (now Heihe), the garrison on the Amur River in Heilongjiang, which the anthropologist S. M. Shirokogoroff visited fifteen years later,
the Manchu population . . . sustained great losses,—thousands of refugees, in fact all the present population, left their homes and started to the south. Months later they came back only to find their houses in ashes. The Cossacks had come in, burnt the villages and stolen the cattle and horses. On account of this exodus they lost most of their personal property.9
As Cixi and the Guangxu emperor, escorted by a thousand banner soldiers, fled westward toward Xi’an, the victorious allied troops on 14 August 1900 entered Beijing, where they were to remain for thirteen months. The difficult task of negotiating with the foreigners, who were led by the German commander-in-chief, Count von Waldersee, was left to Yikuang and the former governor of Zhili, Li Hongzhang (1823–1901). When they finally met in mid-November, interpreting for the Chinese was the Manchu bannerman Yinchang (1859–1928), an early graduate of the German-language training program at the Beijing Translators College and head of the Tianjin Military Preparatory School.10 In the ensuing negotiations, the foreigners, in addition to demanding heavy reparations, insisted that the Qing punish the principal instigators of the war. Among the pro-Boxer leaders at court, Zaiyi was exiled to Xinjiang, and Gangyi, who had recently died, was dishonored posthumously. Also, Zaiyi’s son, Pujun, was stripped of his designation as Tongzhi’s heir and expelled from the palace.11 Local supporters of the Boxers were punished as well. At Suiyuan, where two hundred banner soldiers had joined an attack on a Catholic church, the garrison’s general and brigade-general were cashiered, while the circuit intendant, a Han, was executed.12 At the same time, former opponents of the Boxers and of the court’s war policy were exonerated; Yuan Chang, for example, was posthumously rehabilitated.13 Cixi herself, however, was not punished. Nor did the Guangxu emperor regain his power, though he was no longer threatened with involuntary abdication.
The victorious powers also demanded that a diplomatic mission be sent to Germany to apologize for the death of Baron von Ketteler and that the envoy be a prince of the first rank. Selected for the task was the emperor’s younger brother, the eighteen-year-old Zaifeng, who had succeeded their father, Yihuan, as the second Prince Chun in 1891; he was accompanied to Berlin by Yinchang. On 4 September 1901, Zaifeng presented China’s formal regrets to Kaiser Wilhelm II. He afterwards toured Germany and attended several military reviews, including one at Danzig in which both Wilhelm and his brother, Prince Heinrich, took a personal part. This three-week visit to Europe was to loom large in Zaifeng’s thinking when he became regent in 1908.14 Yinchang stayed on in Germany, where he served two tours (1901–6 and 1908–10) as China’s minister; he later headed the Ministry of the Army.
Three days after Zaifeng’s audience with the kaiser, the Boxer Protocol was signed. Thirteen days later, on 17 September 1901, the foreign powers withdrew most of their troops from Beijing, leaving only a small detachment to guard the Legation Quarters. Russia, however, remained in occupation of Manchuria. Separate negotiations between China and Russia were not concluded until the following April, when the Russians agreed to pull out in three phases over an eighteen-month period.15 It was the Russian refusal to honor this promise in the spring of 1903 that sparked the first mass nationalist demonstrations within China and among the Chinese students in Japan. Only after the Russians were defeated in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 did they withdraw from Manchuria. Meanwhile, Cixi and the Guangxu emperor had returned to Beijing on 7 January 1902.
CHANGES IN MANCHU-HAN RELATIONS
Before her arrival in the capital, Cixi had already begun to change her stance with regard to reform. A year earlier, on 29 January 1901, she issued in the name of the emperor a watershed edict in which she acknowledged the inevitability of change. Now that peace negotiations had commenced, the edict said, the whole system of government must be radically transformed so that wealth and power might eventually be attained. To this end, the strong points of foreign nations should be absorbed in order to make up for China’s shortcomings. Heretofore those who studied Western ways had focused only on language and technology; these, however, were only the superficial elements of Western technique, not the essence of Western statecraft. By adopting only Western superficialities, how could China achieve wealth and power? Cixi now ordered all high-ranking officials to scrutinize the core institutions of China and the West and to suggest changes in any and all aspects of Qing administration.16 Shortly afterward a new agency, the Office of Governmental Affairs (Zhengwuchu), was created to screen reform proposals and make recommendations to the court. Named to the office were six metropolitan officials, three Manchus (Yikuang, Ronglu, and Kungang [d. 1907] ) and three Han (Li Hongzhang, Wang Wenshao [1830–1908], and Lu Chuanlin [1836–1910]). Except for Yikuang, all were concurrently members of the Grand Council and/or the Grand Secretariat. Also appointed, as consultants to the office, were Liu Kunyi (1830–1902) and Zhang Zhidong, governors-general at Nanjing and Wuchang respectively.17
Officials soon flooded the court with suggestions for reform. Over the course of the next six years, in response to such proposals, Cixi initiated a vast number of changes in a wide range of fields. In part because some of these New Policies harked back to the abortive reform movement of 1898, Cixi was obliged, though with obvious reluctance, to reconsider her harsh treatment of the Hundred Days. In her edict of 29 January 1901, she had insisted that “the new laws [xinfa] propounded by the rebel Kang [Youwei] were mutinous laws [luanfa], not true reforms [bianfa].” By June 1904, on the occasion of her seventieth birthday, she had been persuaded to issue a blanket pardon for everyone guilty of involvement in what she vaguely called the “1898 affair.” The only exceptions were Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, and Sun Yat-sen, whose crimes were said to be too odious to be forgiven. Otherwise, those who had been dismissed from office (such as Zhang Yuanji) were to be restored to their original rank, and those who had been detained were to be freed.18 This, however, was not to be the last word on the political rehabilitation of the 1898 reformers, which remained a source of controversy down to the end of the dynasty.
Although many officials proposed reforms on a wide variety of subjects during the first half of the post-Boxer decade, only two broached the sensitive issue of Manchu-Han relations: Governor-General Zhang Zhidong of Hubei and Hunan and Governor Zhou Fu (1837–1921) of Shandong. Zhang Zhidong had been greatly disturbed by the conduct of the court and its Manchu supporters during the Boxer Rebellion, and, in an effort to prevent the foreign powers from extending their military operations into his jurisdiction, he had so informed the British consul-general at Hankou, Everard Fraser (1859–1922). In mid-December 1900 Fraser summarized Zhang’s sentiments:
He hates the Manchus as do all the Chinese officials I have met because of their hanging on to and eating up China and the absurd way in which they are promoted irrespective of their ability or fitness. There is only one way to reform China—abolish all Manchu privileges—whether of Banner pay or easy entrance to office.
According to Fraser, Zhang would then use the money thus saved from the banner soldiers’ stipends to finance other reforms.19 Seven months later, Zhang Zhidong incorporated these ideas into the second of three wide-ranging and influential memorials that he submitted with Liu Kunyi, his fellow consultant to the Office of Governmental Affairs. Though a joint memorial, it was authored principally by Zhang.20
In their memorial, Zhang and Liu recommended twelve reforms that were “absolutely vital for China,” of which the ninth was “to deal with the Eight Banners’ livelihood.” They noted that the banner people were in dire economic straits and had suffered particular hardships in recent times because of the Taiping and Boxer rebellions. Since the Qianlong era there had been various proposals to improve their livelihood, but all of them had been impractical because they required resettlement beyond the Great Wall. Like Shen Guifen in 1865 and Zhang Yuanji in 1898, Zhang and Liu proposed that the banner people be permitted, if they so wished, to leave Beijing or their provincial garrisons and be reclassified as civilians. As banner soldiers opted out of the system, their places would not be filled. The savings thus realized would then be invested in schools to teach the remaining banner personnel vocational or military skills. Banner soldiers enrolled in such schools would continue to receive their pay, but as they acquired the ability to make their own living, their stipends would cease. In five or ten years, Zhang and Liu concluded, the banner people should be able to overcome most of their economic problems.
Two years later, on 14 December 1903, as he neared the end of a lengthy stay in Beijing, where he had gone to lobby the court on educational matters, Zhang Zhidong reportedly took advantage of a personal audience with Cixi to urge her again to “eradicate the boundaries between Manchus and Han” (huaqu Man-Han zhenyu). This time he proposed that administrative positions in the Eight Banner system not be restricted to Manchus but be opened to Han as well; he also suggested that the banner people be subject to the same criminal law as Han.21 A few months later, in August 1904, Governor Zhou Fu, the only other official to comment on Manchu-Han relations at this time, memorialized that “banner people without a fixed domicile” should be permitted to study or farm as they wished and even to engage in trade. He, too, urged that the banner people come under the legal jurisdiction of the local civil authorities, though they would still be subject to banner regulations.22
Cixi’s response to these proposals from Zhang Zhidong and Zhou Fu was mixed. On the one hand, she blithely insisted, after her 1903 audience with Zhang, that only the ignorant could believe that the Qing court discriminated in favor of Manchus and against Han.23 On the other, she did initiate a few changes that helped to narrow differences between Manchus and Han. These reforms included the granting of permission for Manchus and Han to marry, the appointment of several Han to posts in the banner system, and a departure from the institution of dyarchy.
On 1 February 1902 Cixi issued an edict on Manchu-Han intermarriage. Though claiming that “the court has never distinguished between Manchu and Han,” she nevertheless acknowledged that “ancient precedents [rather than the Qing code] have not permitted intermarriage.” The original reason for the ban, according to the edict, was unfamiliarity with one another’s customs and language, but such was no longer the case. The court therefore ought to heed popular sentiment and “eliminate this prohibition.” She accordingly decreed that henceforth “all Manchus and Han, both officials and commoners, are permitted to marry each other.”24 Cixi’s edict, however, had little immediate effect. When Grand Secretary Natong in early 1907 married his daughter to Li Hongzhang’s grandson, the recently widowed Li Guojie (1881–1939), it was acclaimed in Beijing Women’s News (Beijing nübao), a Manchu reformist daily, as the first Manchu-Han marriage among the top officials. Contemporary newspapers cited only two other marital alliances between prominent Manchu and Han families in this period: that between Duanfang’s younger brother and a great-granddaughter of a Daoguang-era governor-general, and that between the children of Tieliang and Yuan Shikai. Such occasions were newsworthy precisely because they were so rare. As Eastern Miscellany (Dongfang zazhi), the Shanghai reformist monthly, commented in February 1905, Manchu-Han intermarriage had not occurred at the various banner garrisons despite the edict: “The racial boundaries are clearly demarcated and constitute a stout barrier; they can withstand any force.”25
On 29 December 1903, two weeks after her audience with Zhang Zhidong, the empress dowager eliminated another instance of Manchu-Han difference when, perhaps on his recommendation, she abolished the Manchus’ monopoly on posts in the Eight Banner system. She appointed Cheng Dequan (1860–1930), a veteran Han military officer in the northeast, as the brigadegeneral in the Qiqihar garrison in Heilongjiang. (When the Qiqihar post was abolished in 1905, Cheng was promoted to the position of general of Heilongjiang.) Another Han who was named to a position in the provincial garrisons was Li Guojie, who at the time of his marriage to Natong’s daughter in 1907 was brigade-general of the Hanjun contingent at Guangzhou.26 Han officials were appointed for the first time to metropolitan banner posts as well. In January 1906, when Feng Guozhang (1859–1919) became superintendent of the Nobles Military School, he was named concurrently the acting deputy lieutenant-general of the Mongol Plain Yellow Banner. Ten months later, after the metropolitan administration was restructured, several leading Han whose offices had been abolished were assigned to posts of equivalent rank in the Mongol banners and the Hanjun.27
Cixi similarly ended the northeast’s status as a Manchu preserve. By the early post-Boxer era, particularly in view of the Russian invasion, the ban on Han entering Manchuria, which had already been partially relaxed in the late nineteenth century, was no longer in effect. Furthermore, as Han immigrants from over-populated north China flooded into the relatively open spaces of the region, the prohibition on the transfer of property from banner people to civilians, which had been in force in Manchuria even as it was widely ignored within China proper, was lifted in 1905.28 Indeed, the Qing court itself, in an effort to raise money for its depleted treasury, began to sell off some of its extensive land holdings in the northeast. In 1906 it set up a bureau in Jinzhou, in the Liaoxi corridor in Fengtian, to survey the numerous imperial estates nearby preparatory to their sale; by 1909, it had disposed of over two hundred thousand acres.29 Finally, the government of the region was completely restructured. Previously, Manchuria had been divided into three territories, each governed by a banner garrison general who had always been a Manchu. In April 1907 the court reorganized the three territories into provinces, eliminated the three garrison generals, and created a new civilian administration composed of a single governor-general for the entire region and three provincial governors. Named as the first governor-general was Xu Shichang (1855–1939), a Han; the three new provincial governors were also all Han. Beijing Women’s News, speaking for the Manchus, commented that these appointments to a regional administration heretofore monopolized by bannermen demonstrated that the court “harbored not one iota of partiality with regard to Manchus and Han.”30
Last, Cixi departed from, but did not abolish, the ancestral institution of dyarchy when she sanctioned the creation of four new ministries as additions to the existing Six Boards. The first was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, established in July 1901 at the insistence of the foreign powers. The foreigners had long been dissatisfied with the irregular nature of the Zongli Yamen, which was only a nonstatutory committee of the Grand Council; they demanded that the yamen be upgraded into an independent ministry. The new body differed organizationally from the Six Boards in two ways. It revived and formalized the post of supervisor (zongli dachen), the shadowy, ad hoc post that had been widely used in the eighteenth century to oversee the work of a board; both he and his assistant supervisor outranked the ministry’s president. More to the point, the new ministry had only one president, one senior vice-president, and one junior vice-president. This, of course, was contrary to the principle of dyarchy, whereby each board or ministry was headed by two presidents and two sets of vice-presidents, all evenly divided between Manchus and Han. Three other ministries—Commerce, Police, and Education—were created in the early post-Boxer era, and, except that none had a supervisor, they were organized the same way as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.31
Cixi’s departure from dyarchy, however, was quite limited. The structural change was confined to the four new ministries. In the fall of 1905 Zaizhen, the founding minister of commerce, proposed that in the interest of administrative efficiency, dyarchy be eliminated from the rest of the metropolitan administration so that all slots would “not distinguish between Manchus and Han” (bufen Man-Han).32 Zaizhen’s proposal, which harked back to an idea of Zhang Yuanji’s in 1898, was not acted upon at this time. Furthermore, though ethnic slots no longer existed at these new agencies, no radical alteration in the numerical distribution of Manchu and Han ministers resulted. The initial appointees to the two supervisory and three ministerial posts in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for example, were two Manchus (Yikuang and Lianfang) and three Han (Wang Wenshao, Qu Hongji [1850–1918], and Xu Shoupeng [d. 1901]). At the other three new ministries, too, the founding presidents and vice-presidents were almost equally divided between Manchus (four) and Han (five).33 Thus, the spirit of dyarchy lived on, even as its formal structure was dismantled.
If the initial appointments to the four new ministries resulted in only a slight shift toward Han preponderance over Manchus, they nevertheless represented a sharp increase in princely involvement in government, because two of the six Manchu appointees, Yikuang and Zaizhen, were imperial princes. In the early Qing, it had been common for imperial princes to participate directly in state affairs. But after the creation of the Grand Council in the 1720s and 1730s, they all but ceased to do so. In 1799, after naming his brother Yongxing (Prince Cheng, 1752–1823) to the Grand Council, the Jiaqing emperor abruptly rescinded his action, and as he did so he announced that the appointment of an imperial prince to the council contradicted the “established institutions of our state.”34 Thus, from the 1730s to 1861, aside from Yongxing, only one other prince, Yixin, in 1853, was named to the Grand Council, and his tenure on the council (1853–55), like Yongxing’s, was relatively brief. Princes were excluded not only from the Grand Council but also from the Six Boards; thus, according to Qian Shifu’s data for 1830–60, not a single prince was a board president or vice-president during those three decades.35 It should, however, be noted that the prohibition did not bar imperial princes from participating in court politics from behind the scenes. Nor did it apply to those imperial clansmen who were not princes; indeed, as previously explained, they were assigned their own set of “slots” in the metropolitan bureaucracy.
The century-old dynastic tradition articulated by the Jiaqing emperor was first contravened in a significant way at the beginning of the Tongzhi Restoration, when in 1861 Yixin, the boy emperor’s uncle, was reappointed to the Grand Council. In retrospect, we can see that this was the beginning of a long-term trend that culminated, during the regency of Zaifeng, in the “reimperialization” of political authority. Except for brief interruptions, Yixin remained on the Grand Council until ousted by Cixi in 1884, and he was succeeded by another prince, Shiduo (Prince Li, 1843–1914), one of the iron-capped princes, who served until 1901. Also, on two occasions Shiduo was joined on the council by a second prince: first Yixin, for three years during and after the Sino-Japanese War, and later Zaiyi, for one month at the height of the Boxer Rebellion in the summer of 1900. By then, the prohibition against princely participation in the Grand Council had clearly been breached.36 However, imperial princes were still barred from the Six Boards. To be sure, they had been put in charge of the Zongli Yamen (Yixin, followed by Yikuang) and the Navy Yamen (Yihuan), but these two organizations were irregular, nonstatutory bodies, unlike the Six Boards.37
In the early post-Boxer years, the breach with the mid-Qing tradition of princely nonparticipation in state affairs grew considerably wider. At the Grand Council, when Shiduo was dismissed in August 1901, it first appeared as if the tradition had reasserted itself, for the one remaining Manchu on the council was Ronglu, who, though he was soon to marry his daughter to Zaifeng, was himself only an ordinary Manchu bannerman and not a prince.38 However, such was not to be. When Ronglu died in April 1903, he was immediately succeeded by Yikuang, who was to remain on the council for the rest of the decade. More important, the breach with tradition had spread from the Grand Council to the ministries. The catalyst for this came from the foreign powers, who during the Boxer Protocol negotiations insisted not only that the Zongli Yamen be regularized and upgraded into a ministry but also that the new body be headed by an imperial prince. They may have reasoned that the Zongli Yamen had always been presided over by a prince and so therefore should its successor. Whatever the explanation, the appointment in July 1901 of Yikuang as supervisor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs broke new ground, for it marked the first time that an imperial prince headed a statutory administrative office. When his son Zaizhen, a fourth-rank prince, became minister of commerce two years later, the prohibition was violated once more.39
Apart from several other minor changes that called for equality of treatment between Manchus and Han as provincial censors, as honorary licentiates, and regarding home leave for metropolitan officials, these were the only steps that Cixi took during the first half of the post-Boxer era to ameliorate Manchu-Han differences.40 Considering the virulent anti-Manchu propaganda that the revolutionaries were then putting out, it is remarkable how few in number, how narrow in scope, and how limited in effect they were. It is especially noteworthy that Cixi failed to act on the main recommendations of Zhang Zhidong and Zhou Fu to erase the administrative and judicial barriers between banner people and civilians, lift the prohibition on outside employment for banner personnel, phase out the banner stipends, and perhaps even do away with the banner system itself.
With Cixi paying no heed to the problem, the economic plight of the Manchus worsened significantly. On the one hand, the banner people in Beijing and the northeast—who together accounted for the vast majority of the total banner population—had suffered enormous casualties, and their homes and communities had been uprooted and destroyed during the wars with Japan, Russia, and the allied powers. On the other hand, the Qing treasury, burdened by the costs of the wars as well as the postwar indemnities, was not only incapable of helping them with their economic recovery but was forced to cut yet again its payment to the banner soldiers. As well summarized by Pamela Crossley, “Living conditions for the Manchu populations in general [went] from desperate poverty to true misery.” Consequently, more and more Manchus were driven to ignore the ban on outside employment. In Beijing, many poor bannermen, including soldiers whose reduced stipends had been further devalued by inflation, took up rickshaw pulling in order to make ends meet. Yet others became peddlers, petty artisans, day laborers, and trash collectors.41
In the absence of guidance from the central authorities, local banner officials developed various ad hoc solutions to the economic difficulties of the Manchus. One was to resettle banner personnel on wasteland. In Hubei, the Jingzhou garrison decided to send unsalaried banner people to cultivate its pasture lands in Jianli and Gongan Counties, south of the garrison. In Shandong, Governor Zhou Fu planned to allocate wasteland at nearby Guanshan to banner personnel from Qingzhou and Dezhou for them to develop and cultivate. These resettlement plans, however, seem not to have worked. According to Zhou Fu’s successor, the idea of transferring banner personnel to the wasteland near Guanshan was never carried out.42 Another solution was to rent out banner land to civilians to farm, with the rental income going to fund a variety of banner expenses. In Jiangsu, the Nanjing general turned the pasture land at Wanqinghu, near Wuhu, into an “agricultural colony” for tenant farmers whose rental payment would be earmarked for the care of widows and orphans in the Nanjing and Zhenjiang garrisons. In Shandong, as a substitute for relocating banner personnel to Guanshan, Governor Yang Shixiang (1860–1909) proposed to rent out six hundred qing (ten thousand acres) of banner land in Lijin and Lean (now Guangyao) Counties, north of Qingzhou, to tenant farmers. It is unclear if these plans were any more successful than the resettlement schemes. At Wanqinghu, for various reasons including flooding in early 1907 and rioting against onerous rents later the same year, tenants still had not begun providing a rental income to the banner authorities as of 1908.43 Yet another solution was to promote vocational training. In Sichuan, the Chengdu general started a sericulture bureau and encouraged the banner people to plant mulberry trees on the plentiful vacant land inside the Manchu City and raise silkworms. At Zhenjiang, the brigade-general established a vocational training office to teach local bannermen how to dye and weave cloth and draw silk from cocoons; his superior, the Nanjing general, founded a similar agency to instruct banner women in weaving.44
In sum, down to early 1907 Cixi’s New Policies had done relatively little to reduce, let alone eliminate, the various differences between Manchus and Han, or to alleviate the worsening economic distress of the banner population. However, other aspects of the New Policies, notably the military and education reforms, did have a substantial impact upon the banner people.
MILITARY AND POLICE REFORMS
The Boxer Rebellion and the consequent foreign invasion completed the longterm decline of the Metropolitan Banners, whose basic mission was to protect the emperor and his capital. The old elite units—the Escorts, Vanguards, and Guards—had failed miserably in their duties as a palace guard within the Forbidden City, as had the Infantry Division as a police force for the Inner City. Furthermore, all three of the semimodernized armies that had been carved out of the Metropolitan Banners—the Peking Field Force, Tiger Spirit Division, and Center Division of the Guards Army—had been destroyed, as they bore the brunt of the foreigners’ assault. In the wake of this overwhelming military disaster, the court attempted the near herculean task of revitalizing the Metropolitan Banners. It set about finding a new palace guard, developing a new modern-trained, modern-equipped banner army, and establishing a new police force. Local banner garrisons were encouraged to make similar reforms. These changes unavoidably affected the “mounted archery” component of the old Manchu way.
The court’s immediate problem was what to do about a palace guard. When it returned to Beijing in early 1902, it had no option but to rely initially upon Han soldiers, since the banner forces had been shattered. It looked to Jiang Guiti (1843–1922), commander of the Left Division of the Guards Army, who provided a detachment of one thousand soldiers to serve as a palace guard. Known as the Suweiying, this unit later became a part of the Sixth Division, when the new national army was decreed in 1905, and its duties at the palace were assumed by the entire division on a rotating basis.45 The reliance on the Sixth Division, however, was intended as no more than a stopgap measure. Meanwhile, the court was hard at work developing a new, modern banner army that in time could take over its guard duty. On 6 December 1902 it issued an edict assigning up to three thousand soldiers from the Metropolitan Banners to Yuan Shikai for training. Since becoming Zhili governor-general the year before, Yuan had embarked on a program to establish in his province two divisions of “standing army” (changbeijun). By October 1902 he had recruited the first of the two divisions, the Left Division of the Beiyang Standing Army. It was soon after this that the court asked him to take on the additional task of training the Metropolitan Banner soldiers. The edict directed six high-ranking Manchus to confer with Jiang Guiti in selecting the banner personnel to send to Yuan.46
To assist him with the training program, Yuan Shikai requested and obtained the services of Tieliang, the most junior of these six Manchus.47 Tieliang, then about thirty-nine years old, was a Manchu bannerman from the Jingzhou (Hubei) garrison with a licentiate degree that he had acquired by purchase. By the late 1880s he had gravitated to the capital, where he served as a secretary at the Navy Yamen; later, he was on the staff of Zhili governor-general Ronglu. In 1901, along with about forty other Chinese, he was sent to Japan by the Hubei government to attend the Army Officers School (Shikan Gakkō), where he studied infantry for a year or so. He had just returned to China in 1902 when Yuan asked for his help.48 Thus began a long, and eventually stormy, relationship between the two men. On 4 June 1903, Cixi’s court formalized their joint effort by creating the Office for the Training of the Metropolitan Banners (Jingqi Lianbingchu), with Yuan Shikai as head and Tieliang as his assistant. This office, in turn, seems to have been the model for the powerful Office of Military Training (Lianbingchu), which was founded six months later to coordinate and standardize all military reforms throughout the country and which superseded the Board of War as the policy-making body for the military. The Office of Military Training was led jointly by Yuan and Tieliang as well, but with Yikuang as their supervisor.49 In the meantime, Tieliang had returned to Japan to observe the 1903 autumn military maneuvers. He was accompanied by Fengshan and Feng Guozhang, both of whom were to play important roles in banner military affairs.50
The prototype for the new banner force was Yuan Shikai’s Beiyang Standing Army; he and Tieliang accordingly asked that it be designated the Metropolitan Banners Standing Army (Jingqi Changbeijun). The ultimate objective was the formation of a Japanese-style division, with 11,184 soldiers and officers divided among two infantry brigades, one regiment each of artillery and cavalry, one engineer battalion, and one transport battalion. Yuan and Tieliang began at once by organizing one infantry regiment (or half of a brigade). On 21 February 1903, soon after the court’s initial decision, Edmund Backhouse (1872–1944), an informant for G. E. Morrison (1862–1920) of the London Times, wrote that Tieliang had taken “about 1400 young men of good physique and morals” to Baoding, the Zhili provincial capital, for two years of drilling. “In all, I believe about 10,000 Manchus [equivalent to a division] are to be trained, and by the time the training is complete the Throne will have a powerful contingent for the defence of the capital.”51
The training of the new banner force progressed smoothly and was mostly completed in three years. In July 1904 Yuan and Tieliang reported that they had organized one infantry brigade. The following November, half of the brigade took part in China’s first modern war game, the Beiyang Army’s division-strength maneuvers at Hejian, southeast of Baoding. In July 1905, when the various provincial “new armies” (xinjun) were incorporated into the framework of a new thirty-six-division national army, the Metropolitan Banners Standing Army was, in recognition of its ties to the court, redesignated the First Division. Yuan’s Beiyang Army, which in the meantime had increased to five divisions, became the Second through the Sixth Divisions. However, despite its new name, the First Division was then only a “mixed brigade,” since it was still missing a second infantry brigade. In October 1905 it participated as a mixed brigade in the fall maneuvers of the Beiyang Army, which were again held at Hejian.52
A year later, when a second infantry brigade had been trained, the First Division was close to statutory strength. According to the British military attaché, George Pereira (1865–1923), it lacked only an engineer and a transport battalion. Western opinion about the quality of the force was divided. To Pereira, as summarized by Edmund Fung, the infantry battalions were “smart on parade and well drilled.” The American attaché, Henry Leonard, was not so impressed: “Officers and men are physically less fine than the Chinese troops. Years of rice pension, which the Manchus have enjoyed under this Dynasty, have left their mark.” Leonard, however, conceded that the division was well supplied with up-to-date weapons. The infantry was armed with 1903–model Japanese rifles; other units were equipped with Japanese arms also. At the 1906 war games in Zhangde Prefecture, northern Henan, which pitted China’s two best forces—Yuan Shikai’s and Zhang Zhidong’s—against each other, the First Division supplied more personnel to Yuan’s contingent than any other.53
Except for the top command, the First Division was an all-banner army. Ninety percent of the rank-and-file soldiers, according to Pereira, came from the Metropolitan Banners, and the rest from various small banner garrisons in Zhili—such as Shanhaiguan, Baoding, and Miyun—which had arranged to send some of their soldiers to train with Yuan Shikai.54 The overall commander of the division was also a bannerman, Fengshan, the Hanjun who had accompanied Tieliang on his inspection tour of Japan in 1903, whose only prior experience in military affairs was a minor post in the Beijing police department. Perhaps compensating for Fengshan’s relative inexperience, all of the other top officers were Han military professionals. The commanders of the First and Second Brigades were Cao Kun (1862–1938) and He Zonglian (1861–1931) respectively; the chief of staff was Wang Tingzhen (1876–1940). All three were products of the old Tianjin Military Preparatory School; Wang, in addition, had attended the Japanese Army Officers School. All three were also close associates of Yuan Shikai.55
As the First Division reached full strength in 1907, the Qing court was at last able to cut its dependence on the Sixth Division and return the duty of protecting the palace to a banner force. As the Board of War had noted earlier, although the First Division was not intended as a formal palace guard, it could nevertheless function as such until a new separate guard unit was organized. Accordingly, in October 1907, the division was transferred from Baoding, its training site, to Beijing, where it assumed most of the responsibility for guarding the emperor.56
Parallel with and contributing to this successful effort to revitalize the Metropolitan Banners by organizing the First Division were four programs to improve their military education. The first, begun in early 1903 at the urging of Yuan Shikai, was to send a number of “intelligent and literate” soldiers to attend Yuan’s new Military Preparatory School at Baoding.57 Another was to set up a military primary school for the Beijing metropolitan region that would cater to its large banner population. This school was part of the new nationwide hierarchy of military schools decreed in 1904, but unlike the other primary schools (one in each province, to be operated by their respective provincial authorities), the metropolitan school was under the direct control of the Office of Military Training. It offered a three-year course to graduates of a civilian primary school. Though Han natives of Shuntian, the metropolitan prefecture, were also eligible to enroll in the school, its students were predominantly banner people. In 1908, when it had 404 students, three-quarters of them were Manchus. Upon graduation, they were assigned to the first six divisions of the national New Army.58
Yet another program was to establish the Nobles Military School (Lujun Guizhou Xuetang) for the “sons and brothers of nobles and high officials.”59 Like the Metropolitan Military Primary School, the Nobles School was administered directly by the Office of Military Training. Since Yikuang was supervisor of the office, he was nominally the overseer of the school as well, but the actual direction of the school lay with its superintendent, Feng Guozhang. Another graduate of the Tianjin Military Preparatory School and a prefectural degree-holder, Feng was most recently a high-ranking subordinate of Yuan Shikai, with special responsibility for military training and education; he was, however, also on good terms with Tieliang, whom he had accompanied to Japan in 1903. The school began operations on 15 June 1906.60 Roughly equivalent to a military middle school, it offered a five-year course to 120 students between eighteen and twenty-five years of age. The students were an elite group drawn from hereditary princes, imperial clansmen of the fourth rank and above, and civil and military officials of the second rank and above. Though open to both Manchus and Han, the Nobles School was, like the Metropolitan Military Primary School, overwhelmingly Manchu in composition. Edmund Fung, based apparently on a British Foreign Office document, says that of its 120 students in 1908, seventy belonged to the imperial family, twenty-three were sons of Manchu officials, and only twenty-seven were sons of Han officials. When the first class graduated in mid-1909, after its five-year course had been shortened to three, the Political Gazette (Zhengzhi guanbao) listed ninety-six students as having achieved superior or middling grades; the vast majority had Manchu-style names.61
The fourth program to improve the Metropolitan Banners’ military education was study abroad. In early 1904 the Office of Military Training developed an ambitious plan for sending one hundred military students to Japan annually for four years. The plan included members of the Metropolitan Banners, who were assigned an annual quota of six students, the same as a populous province such as Zhili or Jiangsu. The students were supposed to attend the Shinbu School, a preparatory school set up by the Japanese, before transferring to the Army Officers School.62 The first group of students went in the fall of 1904, followed by other groups in later years. As a result, the number of Chinese who graduated each year from the Shinbu School increased steadily from forty-nine in 1904 to 330 in 1907, most of whom then went on to the Army Officers School. At least some of these students were Metropolitan Bannermen. Thus, among the 108 candidates certified by the Office of Military Training in 1905 for military study in Japan were sixteen (not six, as under the original plan) nominees of the Metropolitan Banners’ Training Office.63
Concurrent with the establishment of the First Division as a new (if perhaps only temporary) palace guard were similar efforts to create a new police force for the capital. Previously, law and order in the Inner (or Manchu) City of Beijing had been the responsibility of the Infantry Division, which, like other units of the Metropolitan Banners, had disintegrated amidst the disorder of the Boxer Rebellion and the subsequent foreign invasion. On 29 June 1901, with Beijing still occupied by the foreign powers, the refugee court at Xi’an appointed Hu Yufen (d. 1906), a former prefect of Shuntian and military advisor to Yuan Shikai, to “take charge of troop affairs in the metropolitan region.” In early 1902, after the foreign troops had withdrawn, Hu proposed, and the court agreed, that a Public Works and Patrolling Bureau (Gongxunju) be set up in the capital. Hu’s bureau amalgamated and reorganized the various ad hoc police forces that the foreign powers had installed in the city during the occupation. As its name indicates, the bureau was responsible not only for patrolling the streets but also for building and repairing them. Its jurisdiction was the Inner City. Later, in August 1905, a second bureau was set up for the Outer (or Chinese) City as well. Shortly afterward, both bureaus were merged into the new Ministry of Police. The police reforms were a resounding success. According to G. E. Morrison in 1911, “The police force cannot be too highly praised—a well-paid, well equipped, well disciplined body of men.”64
Beijing’s new Inner City police force was a Manchu organization. It numbered over three thousand, all or nearly all of whom were drawn from soldiers of the Metropolitan Banners who were older than twenty-five. (Those who were younger were reserved for the army recruiters.)65 Not only were the rank and file all Manchus, but so was the top command, even though the original proponent of the police (Hu Yufen) was a Han. The first head of the Public Works and Patrolling Bureau was Shanqi, the iron-capped prince who in 1900 had opposed Cixi’s decision to support the Boxers.66 When Shanqi resigned in January 1904, he was replaced by Natong, a Manchu bannerman and provincial degree holder. However, with Natong preoccupied with his other duties as assistant supervisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the de facto chief of the bureau was the imperial clansman Yulang (1864–1922), who was appointed its director in April 1903, after a three-month tour of Japan to learn about police matters and road building.67 When the bureau was incorporated into the Ministry of Police in 1905, Yulang became the senior vice-minister.
Officers for the Beijing police came from the Police Academy (Jingwu Xuetang), which, like the police force itself, had its origins during the foreign occupation following the Boxer Rebellion. The Japanese, controlling the northern sector of the Inner City, had formed an especially effective police force under the direction of Kawashima Naniwa (1865–1949), an ex-samurai who had gone to China in 1886. To train the financially desperate bannermen who had flocked to join his force, Kawashima early in 1901 had founded a police academy. Yikuang, who (along with Li Hongzhang) had been deputized to deal with the foreigners, was greatly impressed. On 14 August 1901, as the foreign troops were preparing to withdraw, he signed Kawashima to a three-year contract, subsequently extended to five years, to continue to operate the school. The Japanese-staffed academy offered two police courses as well as a class for firefighters, all of which drew most of their students from the Metropolitan Banners.68 As director of the Police Academy, Kawashima worked closely with the Beijing police bureau and its successor, the Ministry of Police. He developed a life-long relationship with the bureau’s first head, Shanqi. And he accompanied Yulang, the bureau’s prospective director, on his study tour of Japan. When the Ministry of Police was founded in 1905, he was named its chief advisor.69
As a part of his contract with the Qing government, Kawashima Naniwa also arranged for the Kōbun Institute in Tokyo to provide police training to a large group of bannermen, whom he escorted to Japan at the end of 1901. The group consisted of twenty-six Manchus and one Han and was headed by a thirty-three-year-old imperial clansman, Changfu. They were one of the largest contingents of Chinese sent to study in Japan in the early post-Boxer years.70 They were still there in May 1903 when the anti-Russian agitation flared up among the Chinese students in Tokyo; indeed, three of these Manchus, among them Changfu, joined the Society for the Education of a Militant Citizenry (Junguomin Jiaoyuhui), an anti-imperialist organization whose members included the anti-Manchu propagandist Chen Tianhua. Changfu also published an open letter to the “young men of the Eight Banners in Zhili and Fengtian” encouraging them to come to Japan to “study for the sake of the nation.” He and his fellow imperial clansman Liangbi (at the Army Officers School) were the two most politically active banner students then in Tokyo. They appear as characters, thinly disguised, in Chen Tianhua’s novel Lion’s Roar.71 Shortly after the anti-Russian protests, Changfu returned to China and to his former employer, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; later on, he was one of the imperially appointed members of the National Assembly. Though he himself did not go into police work, at least one of his fellow Manchu students at the Kōbun Institute, Yanhong, eventually served in the Ministry of Police.72
Kawashima Naniwa’s tight personal control of the Beijing Police Academy ended in 1906, when his contract expired and the Ministry of Police reorganized and renamed the school the Metropolitan Higher Police Academy (Jingshi Gaodeng Xunjing Xuetang). He was given a new three-year contract whereby he retained his title as director, but his responsibilities were restricted to matters of curriculum, including that of liaison with the school’s remaining Japanese instructors. Overall control of the school passed into the hands of a Chinese superintendent.73
Altogether, in the early post-Boxer years, well over fourteen thousand Metropolitan Bannermen were retrained for the First Division of the New Army and Beijing’s Inner City police; educated in the Metropolitan Primary Military School, the Nobles Military School, or the Police Academy in Beijing; or sent to Japan to study military and police matters. The New Army and police did not, however, replace the traditional units into which the Metropolitan Banners were divided. The Infantry Division, for example, continued to exist, even though its primary duty had been assumed by the police.74 Meanwhile, similar types of military and police reforms were taking place at various provincial banner garrisons.
Many garrisons reorganized some of their banner troops into the new military formations, modeled on Yuan Shikai’s Beiyang Standing Army in Zhili, that the Qing court had decreed in 1901. The Jingzhou garrison in Hubei, for example, formed the Awe-Inspiring New Army (Zhenwei Xinjun), which, according to the British military attaché George Pereira in 1907 was “more or less equal to the New Army in training and drill.”75 Furthermore, in accord with a plan devised by Hubei governor Duanfang in early 1904, the Jingzhou garrison sent a thousand soldiers to be trained with the new provincial army in Wuchang. Duanfang’s idea was for the banner soldiers to serve with the army at Wuchang for three years, after which they would return to Jingzhou and be replaced by a fresh batch of bannermen trainees. When Tieliang, the associate head of the Office of Military Training, toured central China in late 1904 and early 1905, he noted with satisfaction that almost 10 percent (more than eight hundred soldiers and twenty officers) of the Hubei Standing Army were from his native garrison. In 1910–11, banner troops from Jingzhou still constituted about 10 percent of the Hubei New Army.76
Some garrisons promoted military education. According to the detailed regulations for military education issued by the Office of Military Training in 1905, three widely separated garrisons—Chahar, Jingzhou, and Fuzhou—were authorized to set up their own military primary schools. The school in Chahar was reorganized from an existing “military preparatory school” and opened in 1905. The Jingzhou school, reconstituted from a training course attached to the garrison’s Awe-Inspiring New Army, began operation in May 1906. Its three-year course was supposed to have ninety students, who on graduation were to go on to the regional military middle school in Wuchang. After the middle school opened in 1909, more than forty of its seven hundred students were indeed from the Jingzhou garrison. The Fuzhou garrison, though permitted to establish a military primary school, failed to do so for lack of funds. Instead, it annually sent ten students to the school operated by Fujian Province. Those garrisons without their own military primary school were entitled, according to the 1905 regulations, to enroll a number of their banner soldiers in the appropriate provincial military schools, much as the Fuzhou garrison did.77
Some garrisons sent their banner personnel to study in Japan. In this, as in most other reform efforts, the Jingzhou garrison was the most active, perhaps because of the dynamic leadership of Zhang Zhidong, who was governor-general of Hubei-Hunan until mid-1907, and Duanfang, the fast-rising Manchu bannerman who was Hubei governor during 1901–4. As of mid-1904, the garrison had sent more than fifty bannermen abroad. Among them were at least five of the first Chinese students (including Tieliang and Liangbi) to attend the Japanese Army Officers School.78 Under the plan drawn up by the Office of Military Training in May 1904, whereby a hundred students were to be selected annually to go to Japan for military training, thirteen garrisons were authorized to nominate one student each. When at the end of 1905 the office had certified 108 candidates as qualified for the program, eleven were nominees of provincial garrisons: three from Shengjing, two from Jingzhou, and one each from Rehe, Suiyuan, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Fuzhou, and Chengdu. They were nominated in addition to the sixteen candidates from the Metropolitan Banners.79
Finally, provincial garrisons also carried out police reforms. On 17 October 1904, at the behest of the Beijing police director, Yulang, the court reportedly ordered each banner garrison to set up its own new police force. In response, the Xi’an garrison in 1905 transformed its traditional infantry unit into a “police division.” A year later, the Nanjing garrison announced plans to form a police force to patrol the Manchu City. Personnel from the provincial garrisons were also dispatched to Japan to study police matters, but they seemed to have been relatively few. One was Tingqi, sent to the Kōbun Institute by the Hubei government, though he himself was from the Zhenjiang garrison in Jiangsu.80
One major consequence of the various military and police reforms among the banner population in both Beijing and the provinces was the further erosion of their ancestral tradition of mounted archery. Perhaps mindful of Hong Taiji’s warning against cultural contamination by the Han, the Qing court in 1901 had clung to the traditional military examinations—with their emphasis upon physical strength and archery skills—for the Eight Banners, even as it did away with them for the Army of the Green Standard. On 21 July 1905, however, it finally issued an edict abolishing the mounted archery requirement for the banners as well. The court noted that formerly military officials had been trained in horse riding and archery, but that in recent years the art of war had changed steadily and so had military technology. It ordered the Board of War to devise new methods for selecting banner soldiers. In a wide-ranging memorial dated 16 December 1905, the board recommended—and the court agreed—that banner soldiers be chosen henceforth on the basis of their ability not to shoot a bow and arrow but to fire a “rapid rifle” (kuaiqiang). Because the new skill could not be attained at once and also because live ammunition was expensive, the board proposed that as a transitional measure banner soldiers be tested first with a Chinese-made, foreign-style “air rifle” (qiqiang), which it said was similar to the “rapid rifle” in accuracy and technique. It allowed the banner soldiers three months to familiarize themselves with the new weapon before they would be tested on its use.81
The board’s expectation of a rapid transition to the new technology was, predictably, far too optimistic. The timetable for the implementation of the new requirement was extended several times. Every five years, all banner personnel were subject to a military review. In February 1907, as the Ministry of the Army, successor to the Board of War, prepared for the next review scheduled for later in the year, it found that at the capital although some units, such as the Outer Detachment of the Firearms Division, claimed to be ready to be examined using at least the ersatz “air rifle,” others, such as the Infantry Division, admitted that they were not prepared to be tested even with the “air rifle” and asked for an extension to the next review five years hence. The ministry advised that, in the provinces as well as at the capital, those who were ready should be examined and those who were not should be given an extension. This concession did not satisfy many banner soldiers. Various metropolitan units, claiming that they lacked both weaponry and training, asked for a postponement of the military review itself. The ministry in May 1907 promised to remedy the shortcomings in arms and training, and although it opposed a delay of the review, it agreed to allow an extra year of training before subjecting the soldiers to a “supplemental” review. However, it appears that as of March 1908 the promised retraining program had not yet begun.82
Nevertheless, despite the difficulty in disseminating the new skills, what was significant was that the traditional skills were no longer prized, that the “mounted archery” portion of the old Manchu way of life had, at long last, been jettisoned. Among the Manchus of Beijing, according to Edmund Backhouse, the decree of July 1905 abolishing the archery competition was not well received: “No reform has excited more indignation than this,” not even the ending of the civil service examinations two months later.83
The post-Boxer New Policies also included extensive educational reforms, in which both Metropolitan Banners and provincial banner garrisons participated. The reforms consisted of, on the one hand, abolishing the traditional examination system (including both the literary as well as the translation examinations) and, on the other, establishing in its place a hierarchy of Japanese-style schools teaching modern subjects. In Beijing as well as in the garrisons, old schools were reorganized to conform to the new system, and new ones, among them schools for banner women, were founded. As with the military and police academies, graduates of these schools were encouraged to go abroad for additional study. Despite such reforms, the court tried to cling to the “national speech” component of the ancestral ways.
Banner schools in Beijing were reorganized and new ones established. In response to an imperial decree on 19 February 1902, existing government schools were amalgamated and converted into new schools, with one primary school for each of the Eight Banners. When the entire educational system was reconfigured in 1904, these eight schools were apparently redesignated as senior primary schools, and fifteen additional junior primary schools were founded. Also, bondservants belonging to the Upper Three Banners, the Light Cavalry Division, and the Firearms Division each established their own primary school. Above these various primary schools were an Eight Banner Middle School and an Eight Banner Higher School.84 Apart from the government, private individuals also founded a number of schools that recruited from among the banner people in Beijing’s Inner City. These included the Chongshi School (Chongshi Xuetang), established in 1905 by the imperial clansman Hengchang, and the Jiaxian School (Jiaxian Xuetang), founded by Shanqi in 1906. The latter school admitted Han students as well as Manchus.85
In the same edict of February 1902 ordering that the banner schools in Beijing be restructured, the Qing court called for similar educational reforms in the provincial banner garrisons.86 Here too, as in military reforms, the Jingzhou garrison was a pacesetter. Spurred by Hubei governor Duanfang, it extensively reorganized its schools in 1903 to conform with the current system. Previously, each of the garrison’s fifty-six banner companies had its own government school; these were amalgamated into eight four-year “elementary” schools, presumably one for each of the Eight Banners, each with 135 pupils ranging in age between seven and eleven years. The garrison’s ten charitable schools were similarly consolidated and converted into four four-year “primary” schools for those between eleven and fourteen. When the national school system was restructured in 1904, the eight elementary schools became junior primary schools, and the four primary schools probably became senior primary schools. Meanwhile, the Fuwen Academy (Fuwen Shuyuan) had been transformed into a four-year middle school for those between fourteen and twenty-four. Later, again at Governor Duanfang’s urging, the garrison established two additional schools—an industrial arts school and a language school—both of which were equivalent to a middle school and which offered a five-year course intended to broaden the vocational opportunities for the garrison’s inhabitants. The Jingzhou garrison, however, did not have its own “higher” school; its middle-school graduates were sent instead to the provincial Higher School at Wuchang.87 Other garrisons carried out similar reforms, but not on the same scale as at Jingzhou. In the Hangzhou garrison, for example, four junior primary schools were established, each with seventy to eighty pupils, and the Meiqing Academy (Meiqing Shuyuan) was converted into a senior primary school to accommodate graduates of the junior schools.88
The pinnacle of the new school system, for both banner and non-banner people in the capital and the provinces, was the Metropolitan University. Founded during the Hundred Days in 1898 but destroyed amidst the Boxer troubles in 1900, it was revived and reorganized in 1902, when it absorbed the old Translators College, which became the university’s translation department. Located within the Inner City of Beijing, the university had a special relationship with the surrounding banner population. For example, to give the graduates of its teachers training class an opportunity for practice teaching, it set up an attached senior primary school that drew its pupils from graduates of the junior primary school operated by the bondservants of the Upper Three Banners. Despite such ties to the banner people, the Metropolitan University, like the Beijing Translators College in its later history, was not itself a banner school. Probably no more than 10 percent of its students were Manchus; among the 105 students of the class that graduated in 1907, for example, only nine were bannermen, of whom three or four were from the Metropolitan Banners and the rest from the provincial garrisons.89
Students at the civilian banner schools in Beijing and elsewhere, like those at the military and police academies, also went abroad for additional study. According to the 1906 alumni directory of the Metropolitan University, four of its graduates who were Beijing bannermen were then in Japan for teachers training. Earlier, in 1902, two Manchus from the Jingzhou garrison had attended the teachers training course at the Kõbun Institute. While most students went to Japan, twelve Manchus and Mongols from the Yangzheng School (Yangzheng Xuetang) in the Yili garrison were sent in 1903 to nearby Alma Ata to study Russian.90
In a radical departure from tradition, a few of the newly founded schools catered to the female half of the banner population. Two of these in Beijing were the Zhenyi Girls School (Zhenyi Nü Xuetang) and the Shushen Girls School (Shushen Nü Xuetang). According to a list of attendees at a memorial service for Empress Dowager Cixi at the end of 1908, all of the students at the Zhenyi School and half of those at the Shushen School were Manchus.91 Two of the new schools in the Zhenjiang garrison in Jiangsu were also for women.92 Unquestionably the most well-known school for banner women was the Zhenwen Girls School (Zhenwen Nüxue) in Hangzhou, founded in 1904 by Huixing, a widow influenced by Zhang Zhidong’s ideas on the importance of education to China’s future. Financed by private contributions from the local banner population, the Zhenwen Girls School taught basic literacy to the women of the garrison. A year later, however, the school was forced to close when it ran out of funds and garrison officials refused to come to its rescue. In despair but also to protest the indifference of her Manchu compatriots, Huixing committed suicide. Her ultimate sacrifice on behalf of women’s education both shamed and stirred the Hangzhou garrison. At a local memorial service, she was lauded as a hero who had given her life for progress and acclaimed as a shining exemplar of “our great Qing dynasty,” “our Tungusic race [Tonggusizu],” and “our East Asian womankind.”93
Huixing’s suicide caught the attention of banner people far and wide. Beijing Women’s News published several reports about her. The young reform-minded Manchu bannerman Jinliang (1878–1962), a fellow native of the Hangzhou garrison and a member of the same Gūwalgiya lineage as Huixing, coauthored a play about her life and, together with another Manchu bannerman, Guilin, had it staged in Beijing in May 1907 at a fund-raising event. By then, Guilin and other supporters of Huixing’s cause had come up with enough money and had also succeeded in securing the support of contrite garrison officials to reopen the school in April 1906 as a government institution. It was renamed in her memory as the Huixing Girls School. At the May 1907 benefit in Beijing, Guilin, the school’s new superintendent, announced that it had six teachers and sixty students. Guilin ran the school until 1911, when he was killed while resisting the revolution. His daughter, for several years at least, continued his work. The Huixing Girls School survived as a middle school down to the mid-1950s.94
As shown by its interest in Huixing, an especially enthusiastic supporter of education for women was Beijing Women’s News, a Manchu feminist daily founded in August 1905 and still publishing at the end of 1908. It is unclear if the newspaper’s publisher and editor, Zhang Zhanyun, was herself a Manchu, but many of its contributors, some of them men, were Manchus, and its coverage was very definitely slanted toward the banner population, particularly women.95 In November 1905, for example, it carried an article titled “On the Degeneracy of Manchu Women” by someone who called herself a “daughter of Changbai,” referring to the mountains along the Korean border from which the Old Manchus had originated. Her article criticized her sister Manchus for thinking that they were better than Han women. She wrote that although Manchu women (Manzhou nüzi) prided themselves on not binding their feet, the “willow-branch feet” they aspired to were not very different from bound feet. Furthermore, their use of rouge on the face would embarrass a stage actor: “I urge our Manchu sisters [Manzhou jiemei] henceforth to stop distinguishing between Manchus and Han [bufen Man-Han] and instead to work together to enliven our spirit and awaken our two hundred million fellow women.” The newspaper did not entirely concur with the “daughter of Changbai,” for it added a brief comment at the end of her piece that took issue with her plea to not make ethnic distinctions: “In our view, there are areas where Han women [Hanren nüzi] really do not measure up to Manchu women.” Yet, it agreed with her on the importance of education as the means by which both Manchu and Han women could attain “civilization.”96
Though Beijing Women’s News presented a Manchu point of view, it was primarily a feminist journal. It was less concerned with Manchu-Han issues than with women’s issues, notably education for women, equality of the sexes, and women’s independence. In 1908 it printed the speech of a second-year student at the Huixing Girls School, a banner woman named Foying, discussing why Chinese parents, regardless of ethnicity, preferred sons over daughters. One reason, according to Foying, was women’s inability to own property, which made them economically dependent on men; the other reason was social customs, whether they be the three-inch bound feet of Han women (Hannü) or the piled-up hairdo and high platform shoes of banner women (qixia de nüzi), both of which constricted and “harmed us women.” She lauded her own school for prohibiting students from wearing makeup and flowery clothing and binding their feet, because only in this way could “women become human.” If, in addition, they could learn to make their own living, she concluded, then they would truly be free.97 Beijing Women’s News was outspoken in its admiration for Empress Dowager Cixi, who reportedly helped finance the paper. It praised her as the foremost woman of China; when she died in 1908, it hailed her, referring to China’s legendary cultural heroes, as “a Yao or Shun among women.”98
In its support for the empress dowager, Beijing Women’s News differed greatly from another Manchu-founded reformist daily newspaper of the time, L’Impartial (Dagongbao) of Tianjin. Begun in June 1902 by Ying Lianzhi (Vincent Ying, 1866–1926), a Manchu bannerman married into the Qing imperial clan and a convert to Roman Catholicism, L’Impartial supported many of the same reform causes, including women’s education, as did Beijing Women’s News, but, from the relative safety of Tianjin’s foreign concessions, it bitterly criticized Cixi for having curtailed the 1898 reforms and it repeatedly called on her to return the reins of power to the Guangxu emperor. Thus, though founded by a bannerman, L’Impartial, unlike Beijing Women’s News, did not focus on banner issues. It was to become one of China’s leading newspapers in the Republican era.99
The Qing court was clearly committed to the new learning, but at the same time it was unwilling to allow the educational reforms to vitiate the “national speech” aspect of the dynasty’s ancestral tradition in the way that the military reforms were undermining the “mounted archery” component. Thus, on the one hand, the Ministry of Education in the spring of 1907 issued a directive that graduates of the new primary schools should henceforth be given first priority when positions in the banner system were being filled. On the other hand, the ministry, headed by the conservative Mongol bannerman Rongqing (1859–1916), urged in 1906 that Manchu-language training, instead of being phased out as new schools were established, should be intensified, particularly since the translation examinations had been abolished. The aim was to make “every son and brother of the Eight Banners aware of the importance of the national speech and the Manchu script [guoyu Manwen].” The ministry stated that all government-operated banner schools in the capital ought to offer a course to teach Manchu to their pupils, and it recommended that schools in the provincial garrisons do likewise.100 Indeed, at the Jingzhou garrison, spoken Manchu (Qingyu) was one of the required subjects taught at all three levels of the new school system, as was written Manchu (Qingwen) at the Language School.101 Other garrisons had similar, if less intensive, programs. The Ministry of Education also founded in Beijing in 1907 the Higher School for Manchu and Mongol Literature (Man-Mengwen Gaodeng Xuetang) so that middle-school graduates could gain advanced training in the subject.102 At the same time, the Ministry of the Army announced that all banner soldiers, even as they were trying to master the new skill of shooting a rifle, were still expected to be competent in the Manchu language. It specified that officials testing the soldiers for marksmanship should also, as before, conduct an oral examination in Manchu. Those soldiers who could not reply appropriately in Manchu would be told to learn the language or face dismissal.103
ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS AND THE POLITICAL STORM OF 1907
Cixi’s New Policies, which in the beginning were hardly more than an extension of the kinds of military and educational reforms associated with Self-Strengthening, eventually led to a far-reaching transformation of the Chinese polity, as the empress dowager was driven to declare in September 1906 her adherence to the cause of constitutionalism. As the Qing prepared to remake itself into a constitutional monarchy, it carried out an extensive reorganization of the metropolitan administration, in the course of which one of the pillars of Manchu-Han relations, dyarchy, was greatly modified. These political reforms also brought into the open a simmering dispute between Tieliang and Yuan Shikai that had overtones of a Manchu-Han dispute.
The empress dowager took the tentative first steps toward adopting a constitutional system in mid-1905, when, following Meiji Japan’s startling victory over Czarist Russia, she came under mounting pressure from both Han and Manchu officials to take Japan as a model. On 2 July the country’s three most powerful governors-general—Yuan Shikai, Zhang Zhidong, and Zhou Fu—submitted a joint memorial recommending that a constitutional regime be established within twelve years.104 While Yuan, Zhang, and Zhou were all Han, Manchus played no less important a role in convincing Cixi of the desirability of constitutionalism. Indeed, according to the Shanghai reformer Zhang Jian (1853–1926), three of the four individuals who had the most influence over Cixi on this matter were Manchus. They were Tieliang (the Manchu senior vice-president of the Board of War and concurrently associate head of the Office of Military Training), Duanfang (governor-general of Fujian and Zhejiang), and Zaizhen (minister of commerce); the non-Manchu among the four was Xu Shichang, Tieliang’s Han counterpart at the Board of War. When, for example, the empress dowager asserted at an audience, “We have inaugurated our New Policies, and we have not overlooked anything,” Duanfang pointed out, “You have not instituted constitutionalism.” She then asked, “What is constitutionalism about?” He answered reassuringly, “If constitutionalism is implemented, then the imperial institution may last forever.”105
As a result of such lobbying, the Qing court, on 16 July 1905, issued an edict complaining that its previous reform decrees had thus far produced few solid results and appointing four leading officials to go abroad “to investigate all aspects of governmental administration with the intention of selecting the best for adoption.” The appointees consisted of two Manchus (the imperial prince Zaize [1868–1930] and Governor-General Duanfang) and two Han (Dai Hongci [1853–1910], a junior vice-president of the Board of Revenue; and Xu Shichang, the Board of War vice-president, newly elevated to the Grand Council as a probationary member). Eleven days later, this ethnic balance was disturbed when a third Manchu, Shaoying, an obscure junior councilor at the Board of Commerce, was, without explanation, added to the group. Zaize, who was married to Cixi’s niece, represented the interests of the imperial clan on the commission. He was a great-grandson of the Jiaqing emperor and a fifth-rank prince (zhenguo gong). (Because of the element gong in his title, he was often mistakenly referred to in the Western-language press as “Duke” Zaize.)106
As the five constitutional study commissioners were about to depart Beijing on 24 September, they were assaulted by the assassin Wu Yue (1878–1905). A member of the revolutionary Restoration Society (Guangfuhui), Wu Yue was incensed at the anti-Han policies of the Qing government. Wu’s original target, according to his valedictory essay entitled “The Age of Assassination,” had been Tieliang, whose sole purpose in life was “to control and annihilate us Han people [Hanren]” and whose distrust of the Han was reminiscent of Gangyi’s. His recent inspection tour of central China, like Gangyi’s a few years earlier, extorted the wealth of the region so that it might be squandered by “their race [zu].” Wu alleged that Tieliang’s aim in organizing the Metropolitan Banners Standing Army was to defend against “household bandits,” not China’s foreign aggressors, and he claimed that Tieliang was trying to monopolize police positions all over the country for Manchus and to deny Han the opportunity to study police matters in Japan. Abetting Tieliang in these anti-Han measures was his young Manchu associate, Liangbi. A collateral member of the imperial lineage, Liangbi was, like Tieliang, a native of the Jingzhou garrison and a graduate of the Japanese Army Officers School. After his graduation in 1903, a year behind Tieliang, he had returned to China to work for the Office of Military Training and had become quite close to its associate head; he accompanied Tieliang on his tour of central China. Liangbi was, according to Wu Yue, behind “all matters relating to the strength and weakness, safety and danger of the Han race [Hanzu]” as well as the policy at the Office of Military Training of “strengthening the Manchus and excluding the Han” (qiang-Man pai-Han). However, by the time Wu Yue was ready to take action, he had turned his attention from Tieliang to the constitutional study commissioners. He wanted to deflate the widespread optimism that their impending trip was generating. As the commissioners prepared to leave for Tianjin, Wu Yue managed to penetrate their security and make his way onto their railroad car. Just then, the train lurched forward, causing the device hidden on Wu’s body to detonate prematurely. He was killed instantly, along with several bystanders. Two commissioners, Zaize and Shaoying, were slightly injured.107
One immediate consequence of the assassination attempt was a tightening of security in Beijing. The wall around the Yiheyuan Summer Palace was heightened.108 And it was then that the court created the Ministry of Police, which, in addition to its national responsibilities, took charge of police matters in the capital as well. The new ministry was headed by Grand Councilor Xu Shichang, with Yulang and Zhao Bingjun (1865–1914) as vice-ministers. Yulang had been police director for the Inner City of Beijing, while Zhao had organized a modern police force in Tianjin for Yuan Shikai. The two existing Public Works and Patrolling Bureaus in Beijing were reorganized as Central Police Bureaus, one for the Inner City and one for the Outer.109
Dramatic as it was, Wu Yue’s assassination attempt had hardly any immediate effect on Manchu-Han relations. The Qing court did call on local officials to curb all talk of “revolution and anti-Manchuism” (geming pai-Man), but this edict was not issued until two months later and may not have been linked to the attack.110 The reason for the court’s surprising nonchalance was that the anti-Manchu motives of the assassin were not then known. Wu Yue had died in the explosion, and his testamentary account, “The Age of Assassination,” and his farewell letter were not published until 1907 in the special Heaven’s Punishment (Tiantao) supplement to The People’s Journal, organ of the revolutionary Alliance.
Wu Yue’s assault delayed the departure of the constitutional investigative tour by only a couple of months. Xu Shichang and Shaoying, who was still recovering from his wounds, were dropped from the commission and replaced by the Shuntian prefect (and former minister to Japan) Li Shengduo (1860–1937) and the Shandong treasurer Shang Qiheng, a Hanjun whose sister was married to Cixi’s brother. Joined with the other original appointees (Zaize, Duanfang, and Dai Hongci), they still constituted three Manchus and two Han. The commissioners, accompanied by a staff of thirty-eight, left Beijing in early December 1905. Dividing into two groups, one led by Zaize and the other by Dai Hongci, they visited Japan, the United States, Britain, and other European countries.111
When the commissioners returned to China eight months later, they predictably recommended to the court that it emulate the constitutional system of Japan. In particular, they urged the creation of a “responsible cabinet” (zeren neige), which they claimed, based on the experience of Meiji Japan, would strengthen, rather than weaken, the authority of the emperor, because it would deflect political criticisms to the cabinet and its prime minister that otherwise would be directed at the emperor himself. This was probably what Duanfang had meant earlier when he reassured the empress dowager that with constitutionalism the imperial institution might last forever.112
In addition, Zaize and Duanfang separately urged Cixi to reform Manchu-Han relations. In a memorial of 23 August 1906, which dwelled on the benefits to the sovereign of a representative system, Zaize addressed the anxious concern of the general banner population that “if a constitutional government were implemented, it would harm the interests of the Manchus [Manren].” Zaize pointed out that, first of all, Manchu-Han differences were now minimal. It had been mostly Han officers and soldiers who suppressed the Taiping, Nian, and Muslim rebellions in the mid-nineteenth century. More recently, the court had lifted the ban on Manchu-Han intermarriage and had opened up posts in the Eight Banners to Han appointees. Furthermore, in the face of imperialist pressure, China needed to be united, not divided. How then, Zaize asked rhetorically, could one consider the narrow interests of the Manchus at the expense of the future of the nation? Zaize finished with a muted call for an end to dyarchy and ethnic slots. As his kinsman Zaizhen had previously advised the court, it was only proper to appoint officials on the basis of ability, not ethnicity.113
Duanfang, in a secret memorial dated 1 September, was far more blunt and detailed in his recommendations than was Zaize. He had come back from his travels in Europe keenly aware of the consequences of ethnic discord upon a country’s political stability. Manchus and Han were comparable to the Austrians and Hungarians, whose strife was tearing the Hapsburg empire apart. Because Manchus and Han had lived in close proximity for more than two hundred years, their language, religion, and customs were largely identical; yet, due to the previous prohibition on intermarriage they remained ethnically distinct. As a result, a few unscrupulous people had falsely charged that the power and privileges of Manchus and Han were unequal. The speeches of the rebel Sun Yat-sen and the publications of the revolutionary party reached and deceived a wide audience. Repression, however, was not the solution. In all countries where the aristocracy and the common people were in conflict, the aristocracy might win the first battles, but the common people inevitably would win the war, as was the case in France. The Qing court had always treated Manchus and Han impartially, but there were “one or two small instances” where the two groups were not equal. The rebel party had seized on these instances as proof of their contention. There were, Duanfang concluded, two remedies for China’s current problems. One was to restore hope to alienated youth by implementing constitutionalism; the other, to undercut the revolutionaries’ charges of ethnic favoritism. With regard to the latter, Duanfang proposed two reforms. Like Zaize, he called for the abolition of dyarchy; ethnic slots had already been eliminated from the four new ministries and so should they be from the rest of the metropolitan administration. In addition, perhaps harking back to the 1901 proposal of Zhang Zhidong, he recommended that the provincial garrisons (though apparently not the Metropolitan Banners) be disbanded. He cited as a recent precedent the disbandment and pensioning off of the Japanese samurai following the Meiji Restoration.114
By the time Duanfang submitted his memorial, Cixi’s court had already, on 25 August 1906, appointed Zaifeng to chair a large ad hoc committee composed of all the leading officials—the grand councilors, the members of the newly created Office of Governmental Affairs, the grand secretaries, and Zhili governor-general Yuan Shikai—to review the findings of the constitutional study commissioners and to make recommendations. This was Zaifeng’s first significant political responsibility since his mission of apology to Germany in 1901. It followed by only a few months the birth on 7 February of his son Puyi, the future Xuantong emperor. After only two meetings, Zaifeng’s committee made its report on the 29th. Three days later, on 1 September, Empress Dowager Cixi issued her historic edict promising, though without as yet specifying a date, to set up a constitutional system. Thus began the age of constitutional preparation in China.115
As a first step toward constitutionalism, Cixi called for a reorganization of the administrative system. On 2 September the court appointed fourteen officials (all of them metropolitan officials except for Zaize and Yuan Shikai) to draw up the plans for the reorganization and another three officials to review those plans. The larger group of fourteen included eight Manchus and six Han. (Zaifeng was not among them.) Six other governors-general were asked to send representatives to Beijing to participate in the deliberations. The smaller group of three charged to review the recommendations was composed of one Manchu and two Han: Grand Councilors Yikuang and Qu Hongji and Grand Secretary Sun Jia’nai (1827–1909).116
The two groups deliberated for two months. One controversial issue that they had to resolve was whether to do away with the Grand Secretariat and the Grand Council and replace them both, as the constitutional study commissioners had recommended, with a “responsible cabinet” headed by a strong, executive prime minister. Another contentious issue was whether to roll back the independent authority of the provincial officials in an attempt to recentralize authority in Beijing. In the thick of both debates was Yuan Shikai, who clashed with Qu Hongji over the former issue and with Tieliang over the latter. While Yuan favored adopting the new cabinet, Qu preferred retaining the existing system; and while Yuan supported the current division of authority between the center and the provinces, Tieliang urged that the independent authority of the provincial officials be curbed. Neither of these was a Manchu-Han issue, as Manchus and Han were ranged on both sides of both questions. Thus, Yikuang, the most likely candidate as prime minister, supported Yuan against Qu in favoring the cabinet proposal, and Duanfang, himself a provincial official, evidently sided with Yuan against Tieliang in opposing the recentralization of authority.117
These bitter deliberations culminated in a report from Yikuang’s three-man committee on 6 November. Their report was notable for what it did not say. It said nothing about reorganizing the provincial administration or about doing away with the provincial banner garrisons, as Duanfang had proposed, and it shied away from replacing the Grand Secretariat and the Grand Council with a cabinet. Its one major reform proposal was to abolish dyarchy and ethnic slots in the core agencies of the metropolitan government. As Duanfang (and, before him, Zhang Yuanji and Zaizhen) had urged, it called for each ministry to be headed by one president and two vice-presidents (as was already the case with the four new ministries), rather than the traditional system of two presidents and four vice-presidents, evenly divided between Manchus and Han. It also recommended that all heads of ministries be barred from holding other important concurrent positions, so that they might concentrate on the affairs of their respective agencies. The only exception would be the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose president was, by the terms of the Boxer settlement, required to sit on the Grand Council.118
Cixi largely went along with the recommendations of Yikuang’s committee. She ordered that the metropolitan agencies be reorganized as his committee had proposed, but she made explicit what had only been implicit in their report, that ministry heads should be appointed “without distinction between Manchus and Han” (bufen Man-Han). Otherwise, she saw no need to create a cabinet. She left unchanged the Eight Banners and several other Manchu-dominated agencies, such as the Imperial Clan Court and the Imperial Household Department. And she postponed restructuring the provincial administration, except that she did reorganize the government of Manchuria the following April.119
Cixi’s court promptly reshuffled the membership of the Grand Council. In line with the proposal from Yikuang’s committee that all heads of ministries be barred from holding other important positions, it dismissed from the council four members who were concurrently board presidents, including Tieliang at the Board of Revenue. It retained on the council only Yikuang and Qu Hongji, both of whom held top posts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the one ministry that was exempt from the prohibition. To replace the others, the court named Grand Secretary Shixu (1853–1921), a Manchu bannerman, as a full member and, in a surprise move, the relatively low-ranking governor of Guangxi, Lin Shaonian (1849–1916), as a probationary member. This new four-member Grand Council was evenly divided between Manchus and Han.120
The court also reorganized the metropolitan administration by expanding the traditional Six Boards to eleven ministries.121 Except again for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with its two additional supervisors, each of these ministries was headed by a single president and two vice-presidents, who were to be appointed without regard to whether they were Manchus or Han. However, as earlier in the post-Boxer era, the ending of dyarchy and the elimination of ethnic slots at these core agencies of the metropolitan administration did not result in any dramatic reduction in the Manchu presence among the top officials. On the contrary, in an extraordinary display of political insensitivity, Cixi’s court proceeded to appoint more Manchus than would have been possible under the old system of dyarchy. Of the thirteen ministry heads (including the two supervisors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), eight were Manchus and only five were Han. The eight Manchus were Yikuang and Natong (at Foreign Affairs), Puting (Finance), Puliang (b. 1854; Rites), Rongqing (Education), Tieliang (Army), Zaizhen (Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce), and Shouqi (Colonial Affairs). The retention of Yikuang and his son Zaizhen as ministry heads also continued to contravene the mid-Qing dynastic tradition of princely nonparticipation in state affairs.122 The revolutionaries greeted these appointments gleefully as confirming their contention that the Qing court was inherently untrustworthy. Writing in The People’s Journal, Wang Jingwei (1883–1944) offered ironic “congratulations” to those reformers who had placed their hopes in “Manchu constitutionalism.”123 There is no evidence that the court had any second thoughts about the appointments.
Meanwhile, the controversy over reorganizing the government had brought the simmering rivalry between Tieliang and Yuan Shikai to the surface. Tieliang had started out as a protégé and ally of Yuan. He was Yuan’s assistant at the Office of Military Training, and their children had married. However, by the time of his highly publicized tour of central China in 1904–5, Tieliang, as senior vice-president of the Board of War, had risen in the central government to where he was beginning to equal his former patron in power. Then, while continuing to oversee the training of the Metropolitan Banners Standing Army (soon to be the First Division), he was promoted to the position of president of the Board of Revenue and appointed to the Grand Council. In mid-1906 both he and Yuan served on the committee that sifted through the findings of the constitutional study commission and made recommendations for the restructuring of the government. It was then that Tieliang openly clashed with Yuan Shikai. He not only favored curbing the independent authority of provincial officials such as Yuan but also opposed the creation of a strong cabinet lest Yuan, who would likely be the deputy prime minister behind Yikuang, accumulate too much power. Tieliang emerged from this initial confrontation victorious by a narrow margin. Although Yuan managed to sidetrack the proposal to reorganize the provincial administration and to get Tieliang removed from the Grand Council, he nevertheless failed to push through the creation of a cabinet. Tieliang, though no longer a grand councilor, became minister of the army.124
Soon afterward, following the October 1906 war games at Zhangde with Zhang Zhidong’s army, Yuan Shikai acknowledged his political defeat. He relinquished control over four of the six Beiyang divisions, including the predominantly Manchu First Division, and turned them over to Tieliang’s Ministry of the Army. He retained only his two oldest units, the Second and Fourth Divisions.125 Tieliang strove quickly to consolidate his control over the army. He created the Metropolitan Training Office (Jinji Dulian Gongsuo) under the jurisdiction of his Ministry of the Army in order to provide a unified command over these four divisions, and he put Fengshan, the Hanjun who had been commander of the First Division, in charge of the office.126 Fengshan was replaced at the First Division by He Zonglian, who, in turn, was replaced as commander of the Second Brigade by Zhu Panzao. Cao Kun remained head of the First Brigade.127
Tieliang’s victory did not go unchallenged. The following summer, in what is known as the “political storm of 1907,” Yuan Shikai, supported by Yikuang, managed to bring about the downfall of many of their political opponents, including Grand Councilor Qu Hongji and his protégé Lin Shaonian, by alleging or fabricating a link between them and the still-blacklisted 1898 reformers.128 Yuan also went after Tieliang, both directly and indirectly. In May 1907 Yuan’s ally, Yikuang, was appointed to the Ministry of the Army as supervisor, thus outranking Tieliang. Then, at the end of July, in a memorial on the appropriate use of human talent, Yuan cited Fengshan, Tieliang’s appointee to the Metropolitan Training Office, as a glaring negative example. He criticized Fengshan, whose provincial examination degree was of the translation variety, for his poor education and for his lack of field experience as a military commander. In a perhaps related move, Yuan Shikai’s associate, Duan Qirui (1865–1936), resigned as commander of the Third Division rather than serve under Fengshan. Finally, in early November, Yuan, perhaps by way of the Ministry of the Army’s supervisor, Yikuang, secured an imperial decree removing Fengshan and transferring him to the Xi’an garrison.129
Unlike Qu Hongji, whose political career ended in 1907, Tieliang managed to beat back these attacks on himself. He reportedly warned the empress dowager that if Yuan were not held in check, the authority of the Manchus would be jeopardized. Also, he seems not to have been unduly constrained by his princely supervisor, Yikuang, who was concurrently supervisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and who may have been stretched too thin. Defending Fengshan’s qualifications, Tieliang persuaded the court to rescind its decision to ship him off to Xi’an, allowing him to remain “temporarily” in Beijing. And he replaced Duan Qirui at the Third Division with Cao Kun, whose former position as commander of the First Brigade of the First Division was filled by Li Kuiyuan (d. 1925). Meanwhile, on 1 August 1907, Tieliang memorialized that the predominantly Manchu First Division had reached full statutory strength. In late October, a mixed brigade from the division, along with mixed brigades from the other three divisions directly controlled by the Ministry of the Army, participated in the 1907 maneuvers, the first not to be conducted by Yuan Shikai. It was also around this time that the First Division relocated to Beijing and took over as palace guard. Thus, contrary to Stephen MacKinnon’s conclusion, Tieliang’s attempt to wrest control of Yuan Shikai’s Beiyang Army had by no means been “thwarted.”130
ENMING’S ASSASSINATION AND ITS REPERCUSSIONS
On 6 July, in the midst of the “political storm of 1907,” the Manchu governor of Anhui, Enming (1846–1907), was assassinated at his provincial capital, Anqing. His assassin Xu Xilin (1873–1907) was no more (or less) anti-Manchu than Wu Yue had been two years earlier, but whereas Wu Yue’s attempt, though occurring at the heart of the capital, had had remarkably few repercussions, Xu Xilin’s brought Manchu-Han relations to center stage. Until then, the Qing court had done relatively little to address the Manchu issue as raised by its critics. Specifically, it had only lifted the ban on intermarriage, opened up the Eight Banners to a few Han appointees, and eliminated ethnic slots from the core agencies of the metropolitan government. The assassination of Enming let loose a flood of proposals for the removal of many other Manchu-Han differences, which in turn led to the issuance of two important edicts in September and October that called for radical changes in the banner system and in Manchu-Han relations.
Xu Xilin’s assassination of Enming was an inside job. The governor was killed as he presided over the graduation ceremony of the provincial police academy; his murderer was the academy’s superintendent. Xu, who was from a wealthy merchant family in Zhejiang, had visited Japan during the Osaka Exhibition in the spring of 1903, when the anti-Russian agitation among the Chinese students was at its height. He became politically radicalized as a result and, like Wu Yue, subsequently joined the Restoration Society. It was through family connections—Xu’s older cousin, Yu Liansan, had once been Enming’s superior—that he obtained his position as superintendent of the Anhui police academy at the end of 1906. Once installed in Anqing, Xu Xilin connived with another cousin, the radical feminist Qiu Jin (1875–1907) in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, to launch a coordinated revolt against the Qing. Their plot, however, was poorly planned and executed. The uprising at Anqing, of which the killing of Enming was to be only the prelude, was easily suppressed, while that at Shaoxing never materialized. Xu was captured almost immediately and, after a brief interrogation, was beheaded later the same day; his heart was cut out and offered as a sacrifice to the dead governor. Qiu Jin, at Shaoxing, was beheaded six days later.131 The severity and barbarity of their punishment horrified many. The Manchu-founded L’Impartial of Tianjin exclaimed, “Such savage ferocity is inconceivable in twentieth-century China!”132
Xu Xilin, during his interrogation, readily confessed that he had killed Enming simply because he was a Manchu. Enming was a Manchu bannerman from the Jinzhou garrison in the Liaoxi corridor outside Shanhaiguan. He had obtained a regular provincial degree in 1873, after which he had risen steadily through the ranks of the provincial bureaucracy. In 1903 he was transferred to Jiangsu, where he was successively provincial judge and treasurer; he was promoted to the position of Anhui governor in early 1906.133 Xu Xilin professed no grudge against Enming personally, nor did he claim that the governor had been particularly hostile toward Han. Rather, Xu’s enmity was directed toward the Manchus in general:
The Manchus [Manren] have enslaved us Han [Hanzu] for nearly three hundred years. On the surface they seem to be implementing constitutionalism, but that’s only to ensnare people’s minds. In reality they are upholding the centralization of authority so as to enhance their own power. The Manchus’ presumption is that once there is constitutionalism, then revolution will be impossible. . . . If constitutionalism means centralization, then the more constitutionalism there is, the faster we Han people [Hanren] will die. . . . I have harbored anti-Manchu feelings for more than ten years. Only today have I achieved my goal. My intention was to murder Enming, then to kill Duanfang, Tieliang, and Liangbi, so as to avenge the Han people. . . . You say that the governor was a good official, that he treated me very well. Granted. But since my aim is to oppose the Manchus, I cannot be concerned with whether a particular Manchu was a good or bad official. As for his treating me well, that was the private kindness of an individual person. My killing of the governor, on the other hand, expresses the universal principle of anti-Manchuism [pai-Man].134
The murder of Enming caused tremendous unease among Manchu officials. Unlike Wu Yue, whose anti-Manchu intentions were not disclosed until much later and indeed whose identity was unknown at the time, Xu Xilin freely acknowledged his thirst for racial vengeance. His confession, with its explicit threats against the Manchus, received wide publicity; it was published, for example, in the 22 July issue of Beijing Women’s News, except that the names of his other intended victims—Duanfang, Tieliang, and Liangbi—had been deleted.135 Because it coincided with a series of revolutionary uprisings in Guangdong that Sun Yat-sen had launched in early May, the assassination was especially upsetting. According to British diplomats, “Everywhere throughout the country the Manchu officials are living closely guarded in their Yamens.” Perhaps none was more worried than Duanfang, who had been promoted to the position of governor-general of Liang-Jiang (hence Enming’s superior) and who was next on Xu Xilin’s hit list. Already unnerved by Wu Yue’s assault two years earlier, he reportedly sent his family back to Beijing, and though he remained at his post in Nanjing, he was accompanied by a special bodyguard everywhere he went.136
Cixi was particularly anxious about Xu Xilin’s anti-Manchuism. At an audience a month later with her foreign minister, Lü Haihuan (1840–1927), the empress dowager was reportedly still wrestling with Xu’s ghost. She insisted to Lü, “The bandit Xu Xilin claimed that there is prejudice between Manchus and Han, but really when we select provincial officials there is no prejudice whatsoever.”137 More to the point, she issued within five weeks of each other two edicts that were clearly prompted by Enming’s murder. The first, promulgated on 8 July, two days after the assassination, called once more upon her subjects to present proposals for reform, but this time her appeal went beyond the elite of top officials who were authorized to memorialize the throne to the much broader group of junior officials and scholar commoners, who were now permitted to have their ideas forwarded to her by either the Censorate or the provincial officials. As evidence of her sincerity with regard to constitutional reform, she noted that she had just the day before ordered the restructuring of the government in Manchuria.138
The initial response to Cixi’s change of direction was tepid, as only a few people responded with suggestions. However, those few who did respond included the three most influential governors-general in the realm: Yuan Shikai of Zhili, Duanfang of Liang-Jiang, and Zhang Zhidong of Hu-Guang. To help achieve constitutionalism, they separately urged the court to take immediate steps to improve Manchu-Han relations. Yuan Shikai’s memorial, dated 28 July, proposed ten sets of reforms, of which one was that “Manchu-Han differences must be dissolved” (Man-Han bixu ronghua ye). He observed that the rebel Sun Yat-sen was stirring up anti-Manchu sentiments among the overseas Chinese by spreading allegations of Manchu plots to exterminate the Han and that Sun was also prodding the Manchus to retaliate against the Han. He suggested that in this situation the empress dowager revert to the policies she had used successfully half a century earlier against the Taiping and Nian rebels: a steady course of action, the wise use of talent, and governmental reforms. Yuan urged that both those who stir up anti-Manchuism and those officials (such as Tieliang, perhaps?) who harbor “biases about Manchus and Han” should be firmly punished. He also recommended that the various proposals that others had advanced in recent years to eliminate Manchu-Han differences should be screened for presentation to the court for adoption. This was the first occasion on which Yuan, despite the key role he had played in retraining the Metropolitan Banners, discussed Manchu-Han relations.139
Duanfang, the one Manchu among the three, had, on his return from the constitutional study tour a year earlier, called on Cixi (with some success) to eliminate ethnic slots and (with no success) to abolish the provincial banner garrisons. His memorial, submitted on 31 July, forwarded a petition from a constituent, the licentiate Li Hongcai from De County, Anhui. Although Duanfang at this time offered no advice of his own, it seems that he fully supported the ideas in Li’s petition, which appears among Duanfang’s collection of memorials as if it were one of his own. Like Yuan Shikai, Li Hongcai took note of the recent upsurge in activity among the revolutionaries, who were spreading rumors, selling bonds, smuggling arms, allying with bandits, and “even assassinating high officials.” He contended that the main reason for such unrest was the “pretext” of Manchu-Han differences and that therefore the only way to restore peace was to eliminate those differences. The court, he said, must clearly state its intention not to exalt Manchus and belittle Han (zhong-Man qing-Han) and not to use Manchus to defend against Han (yi-Man fang-Han). Duanfang’s surrogate concluded by suggesting (as will be discussed below) several specific reforms in Manchu-Han relations.140
Zhang Zhidong, of course, had long been an advocate of reducing Manchu-Han differences. His recommendations, which curiously were made indirectly in response to a query from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rather than directly to the court’s edict, were sent on 7 August. The ministry had asked him for his opinion regarding the implications for China’s security of a recent agreement between Japan and France. Zhang replied that, apart from diplomatic maneuvers, “if one wishes to strengthen frontier defenses, one must first pacify the domestic turbulence. At present the revolutionary party is active everywhere, and the people’s minds are disturbed.” The only solution was for the court to issue a proclamation “eradicating the boundaries between Manchus and Han” (huachu Man-Han zhenyu) and ordering all governmental agencies to recommend concrete reform proposals for immediate implementation. “Once such an edict is issued,” Zhang asserted, “the people’s minds will be settled, and the rebel party and wicked people will have no further excuse [for making trouble].”141 Five days earlier, on 2 August, Zhang Zhidong’s trusted subordinate, the Hubei provincial judge Liang Dingfen (1859–1919), had submitted a very similar memorial. Referring approvingly to the court’s recent abolition of the Manchus’ monopoly of posts in the banner organization, Liang asked the court (in words that were almost identical to those of Zhang Zhidong) to go further and issue a decree “eliminating the boundaries between Manchus and Han” (huachu Man-Han jiexian). He noted that this was a matter that “all officials have wanted to speak about, but they have kept silent. If, however, the empress dowager and the emperor were to speak out, then it would be done.”142
It was Liang Dingfen’s memorial that prompted the empress dowager on 10 August to issue a second edict. Unlike the previous decree of a month before, this one focused specifically on Manchu-Han relations. Cixi maintained, yet one more time, that the Qing dynasty throughout its long history had always treated Manchus and Han impartially, both as officials and as subjects. Nor had it, in recent appointments to the banner system, distinguished between Manchus and Han. These were perilous times when everyone should be working together to devise solutions. How could there be any lingering prejudice? Echoing the advice of Zhang Zhidong and Liang Dingfen, she then called on all officials to offer suggestions on “how to totally eradicate the boundaries between Manchus and Han.”143
Whereas Cixi’s first edict had elicited only a trickle of memorials, the second decree produced a torrent. The memorialists included Manchus and Han, high- and low-ranking bureaucrats, administrators and censors, officials and scholar-commoners. Many cited the revolutionaries’ propaganda and deeds as the compelling reason for the court to take corrective action. For example, Heilongjiang governor Cheng Dequan, the first Han to be appointed to a banner post, referred to “desperadoes” who, ignoring the fact that for over two hundred years the court had treated the Han (Hanren) no differently than it treated Manchus (Manren), preached anti-Manchuism and revolution. The only way to dissipate such talk was to institute constitutionalism, including the elimination of the distinction between Manchus and Han.144 Most of the memorialists urged reform, though a few did not. Collectively they touched on every aspect of Manchu-Han relations, save one. Some focused on matters that were primarily of symbolic importance; others, on issues of substance involving the Eight Banner system itself. Some revisited old ideas previously discussed during the Tongzhi Restoration, the Hundred Days, or the early post-Boxer period; others brought up totally new ones.145
One old issue of symbolic importance was the distinctive name-giving practice among Manchu men, who generally suppressed their family name in public and used only their given name. The censor Guixiu recommended that all Manchus (Manzhou) adopt the Han style by prefacing their disyllabic personal name with a surname, as many Hanjun already did. (Guixiu, judging from his name, may have been a bannerman; if so, he was not practicing what he preached.) Another largely symbolic issue in Manchu-Han relations raised by the memorialists concerned the different style of address used by Manchu and Han officials when memorializing the throne. Whereas Han officials referred to themselves as “your minister” (chen), Manchus called themselves “your slave” (nucai). Li Hongcai, speaking perhaps for Duanfang, said that it was demeaning for Manchus (Manren), even if they were imperial princes, to identify themselves as slaves. Zhao Bingjun, the junior vice-president of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, recommended that Manchu officials adopt the Han terminology. Yet another old issue, but one that was of more than symbolic significance, was the continuing rarity of Manchu-Han marriages despite the lifting of the ban in 1902. The Hanlin scholar Zheng Yuan called on the Qing to do more to popularize intermarriage as a means of reducing Manchu-Han differences. Zheng thought that the court should take the lead in actively arranging marriages between the children of top Manchu and Han officials. As the practice spread among the aristocracy, lower officials would begin to follow suit on their own without compulsion.146
A more substantive matter concerned racial quotas in the bureaucracy. This was not an entirely new concern, since the court, when it reorganized the central administration the year before, had abolished dyarchy in the core agencies and had promised to make its appointments, at least to the top metropolitan posts, “without distinction between Manchus and Han.” Several memorialists urged that ethnic considerations be completely disregarded when making all future appointments. Li Hongcai noted that the 1906 reorganization of the metropolitan bureaucracy had excluded the Grand Council, Grand Secretariat, and Hanlin Academy, where dyarchy still prevailed; he asked that they be put on the same footing as the ministries by eliminating their ethnic slots. Hu Qian, a mid-level functionary at the Ministry of Personnel, added that dyarchy existed at the Censorate as well and also that at all ministries many lower-ranking positions, particularly that of Manchu-language scribe, were still reserved exclusively for Manchus. Such remaining ethnic distinctions should be done away with gradually. One memorialist, a provincial degree holder from Hunan named Li Weiran, ventured to propose not only that the post of Manchu-language scribe be eliminated but that the Manchu language itself be abolished. According to Li,
The founding emperors of the dynasty were unable to coerce the country’s ministers and people to learn the national writing and national speech [guowen guoyu]. Today not even those of banner registry [qiji] necessarily know them. They long ago became a formality. Regardless of imperial edicts, they have become in the eyes of the people of the country one more relic of the division between Manchus and Han [Man-Han fenjie].147
Whereas Li Weiran and many others favored narrowing Manchu-Han differences by having the Manchus become more like the Han (for example, by adopting Han-style surnames or abandoning the Manchu language), a few memorialists proposed the opposite course. Guixiu recommended that Manchu literature (Manwen) be made a compulsory subject in all schools so that everyone in China, Han as well as Manchu, could learn the language and thus “protect the national essence,” and he proposed that the Han emulate the Manchus’ “everyone-a-soldier” tradition as a way of strengthening China militarily. Li Hongcai similarly urged the court to reissue and enforce its 1902 edict prohibiting footbinding, a common practice among Han women, and thus bring the Han into conformity with the Manchus.148
Another issue that the memorialists brought to the attention of the court was the differential treatment of Manchus and Han under Qing law. The official who was most concerned about this was Shen Jiaben (1840–1913), the junior vice-president of the Ministry of Laws and, since 1902, a commissioner for revising and codifying the laws. Shen recommended that the way to pacify popular discontent was to ensure that the laws were uniform. He was referring, of course, to the provisions in the Qing code that permitted banner persons who had been convicted of a crime to have their punishment commuted. Shen was particularly aggrieved that only five months earlier his ministry had upheld the banner population’s right of commutation. He urged instead that the banner people be subject to the same law as the civilian population.149
As few had dared before, a surprisingly large number of memorialists called for the partial or even total dismantling of the Eight Banner system as the ultimate solution to the problem of Manchu-Han differences. Cheng Dequan, in two separate memorials, proposed four reforms: disbandment of the Metropolitan Banners and all provincial garrisons; subordination of the banner people (qiren) to the jurisdiction of local civil officials; abolition of the posts of banner commander, company captain, and garrison general; and elimination of the distinct legal categorization of Manchus and Han and their reclassification alike as “citizens” (guomin). Duanfang submitted a long memorial, this time in his own name, with four similar proposals. First, the entire banner population, both in the capital and in the provinces, should be transferred to the jurisdiction of local civil officials. Second, the banner soldiers in the provincial garrisons should be demobilized gradually, with each disbanded soldier given ten years’ worth of stipends to help him prepare a new means of livelihood. Third, the Metropolitan Banners should, with official assistance, be resettled in Manchuria (Manzhou), which, because of the earlier ban on Han immigration, was still relatively sparsely populated and had plenty of arable land. Last, all bannermen office-holders should contribute 10 percent of their salary for the next ten years to generate some of the funds needed for the disbandment of the provincial garrisons and the resettlement of the Metropolitan Banners.150
Zhao Bingjun asserted that a hereditary military caste such as the banner people was incompatible with the constitutionalist regime China aspired to be. He proposed a three-step process of disbandment. The first step was to conduct a thorough census of the entire banner population to determine who was or was not receiving a stipend. The second was to confer special (non-monetary) honors upon those banner people whose families had rendered meritorious service to the dynasty in the past. The final step was to enlist all able-bodied adult bannermen as New Army soldiers, policemen, or servants at court. Those stipendiaries who were old and weak would be paid until they died. Those who were young would be sent to a school or workshop to learn how to make a living; after a specified number of years, when they should have acquired a vocational skill, their stipends would cease. As for the unsalaried (or idle) bannermen, they could either make their own way in the world or be sent to the northeast, where, with government assistance, they would cultivate the barren land.151
The memorialist who provided the most thoughtful analysis of the economic ramifications of disbanding the Eight Banners was Xiong Xiling (1870–1942), who drew upon Meiji Japan’s prior experience with demobilizing the samurai.152 A metropolitan graduate of 1895, Xiong had been purged in 1898 for participating in the radical reform movement in his native Hunan. Following his political rehabilitation in 1905, he had accompanied Duanfang on his constitutional study tour of Japan and the West. According to Xiong,
Those who today speak of eliminating Manchu-Han differences [huachu Man-Han] advocate adopting Han-style surnames, intermarrying, and eliminating [ethnic] slots. All these are easy decisions. What is difficult is abolishing the provincial garrisons and reorganizing the Metropolitan Banners. These matters affect the very lives of several hundred thousand Manchu, Mongol, and Hanjun [banner soldiers] and cannot all be resolved in one day.
If, on the other hand, the garrisons were not abolished and the Metropolitan Banners reorganized, then “the Han [Hanren] would distrust the Manchus [Manren] because they have fewer rights and privileges, and the Manchus would resent the Han because they are less well off economically.”
Xiong found fault with three existing proposals for financing the disbandment of the banners. One proposal, similar to Duanfang’s, was to pension off each banner soldier with ten years’ worth of stipends. However, the annual cost of the stipends was about ten million taels, which multiplied ten times would be a hundred million taels. When the samurai were abolished in 1876, the Meiji government had spent two hundred million yen. As there were “several times” more banner soldiers than there had been samurai, the Qing government could not possibly afford this huge sum of money. Such being the case, a second proposal was to pay off the banner soldiers with interest-bearing bonds, as was done in Japan. But given the lack of popular confidence in the government’s bonds, this was tantamount to “exchanging a solid stipend for an empty certificate.” A third proposal was to resettle the banner population in the barren wastes along China’s frontier, giving each male adult several hundred mu of land on which they could feed themselves and their families ever after. This had been tried previously and without success. If it were to succeed now, this third option would require a vast infrastructure including transportation, irrigation, markets, and agricultural implements, none of which was presently in place. Furthermore, none of these three proposals addressed the greatest difficulty of all, the habit of dependence that had built up among the banner people over two hundred years. Even if commanded to be economically independent, they simply would not be able to comply.
Xiong Xiling then offered his own three-pronged long-term program for overcoming these various difficulties: establishment of factories and vocational schools throughout the country to teach the young and vigorous banner soldiers the skills they needed to make their own living; investment of half of the banner soldiers’ lump-sum severance pay in a bank, for which they would receive interest-bearing bonds and which would also develop among the banner population the habit of saving money (this was modeled after Okuma Shigenobu’s plan in Japan to found a national bank so as to provide for the livelihood of the Meiji aristocracy); and investment of another part of their severance pay in the building of railroads in Manchuria and Mongolia, thus facilitating the movement of settlers into those regions. Furthermore, annual dividends from their railroad stock, according to Xiong’s wildly optimistic estimate, would equal half of the banner soldiers’ former stipends.
To be sure, not every memorialist responding to Cixi’s edict of 10 August favored eliminating Manchu-Han differences; there were a few who bucked the trend. Enming’s successor as Anhui governor, Feng Xu (1843–1927), himself a Han, attributed accusations that the court favored Manchus at the expense of Han to unspecified “outsiders who make use of such talk to stir up our revolutionaries” and then take advantage of the resultant unrest. In any case, such allegations of differential treatment, Feng said, were baseless. For example, many Manchus (Manren), including members of the imperial clan, were much less well off economically than the Han (Hanren). The court should concern itself only with selecting benevolent officials without regard to whether they were Manchu or Han. If this were done, the Manchu-Han issue would disappear on its own. If, however, the court merely published paper directives removing Manchu-Han differences, the issue would remain for the revolutionary party to exploit. In other words, official misconduct, not Manchu-Han differences, was what needed to be addressed. The censor Jiang Chunlin, most likely a Han, made much the same point. Jiang explicitly dismissed most of the proposed reforms, including the adoption of Han-style surnames and the abolition of the banners, as unnecessary and irrelevant. He insisted that differences and rivalry (between groups such as Manchus and Han) were natural and inevitable, as they were within a family. All that the court had to do, according to Jiang, was to be impartial. While he conceded that there was a preponderance of Manchus in the most “attractive” posts, which needed to be redressed, he did not think it was necessary to do away with the distinction between Manchus and Han (Man-Han zhi jie). Indeed, as he concluded somewhat cryptically, if that distinction were abolished, then “those who were distant” (the Han?) might not feel grateful, while “those who were near” (the Manchus?) would have been dispersed.153
Finally, despite the volume and range of reform proposals, there was one aspect of Manchu-Han relations that no memorialist in 1907 addressed, not even obliquely: the wearing of the queue. It, along with the dress code, had been modified in the early post-Boxer years for some social groups, but remained a contentious matter. When the army and police were reorganized, it became immediately apparent that the Manchu hairstyle did not fit well with the new Japanese-style uniforms. Soldiers in the New Army therefore obtained imperial permission to shorten, though not remove, the queue. So too did policemen, who were authorized to reduce the length of their braid by two-thirds. In Beijing, where most of the police were bannermen, the order to shorten the queue went out late in 1905 and, according to Edmund Backhouse, “caused great heart-burnings in many cases. At one barracks the men refused to obey until their officers had had their own queues taken off. The children in the streets call out foreign devil at them and it is amusing to see how indignant this makes them.” As the army and police adopted the modified queue, students in the new schools, who often wore a Manchu-style jacket and gown topped by a Japanese-type cap, similarly chafed at the odd appearance that the long, trailing braid presented (see plate 7) They began on their own to shorten and even to remove their plaits. In April 1906, when several students at the Shuntian Middle School in Beijing took advantage of the switch to new-style drill caps to cut off their braids, the school director cautioned them to wait until a clear directive had come from above. Though never sanctioned, the new fashion was sufficiently widespread for foreign minister Lü Haihuan to complain in 1907 that students, especially those who had returned from abroad, were recklessly discarding the queue and changing their costume.154
At the same time that students began acting on their own, nonofficial reformist voices were also calling for the abandonment of the queue. In the lead commentary in its September 1907 issue, the Shanghai monthly Eastern Miscellany listed “changing the queue” among four specific reforms that would help resolve the “Manchu-Han conflict” (Man-Han zhi zheng) and speed the way toward the realization of constitutionalism. (The others were adopting Han-style surnames, reclassifying banner people as civilians, and eliminating ethnic slots.)155 Adding to the urgency of the queue question at this moment was the widely circulated news from Korea that King Sunjong, newly installed by his Japanese overlords, had on 16 August cut off his topknot and called on all of his subjects to wear their hair short in the Japanese style. The involuntary nature of Sunjong’s tonsorial decree was a painful warning to Chinese newspaper readers of the price to be paid for failing to reform in time. As the Manchu daily Beijing Women’s News commented, “Alas! Only when the nation was entirely lost did they know to reform! It’s too late!”156 Yet, despite these events at home and abroad, not one of the memorialists in the summer of 1907 recommended any change in the Manchu-imposed hairstyle. Such caution on their part could have been due only to a sense that although every other aspect of Manchu-Han relations, including the banner system itself, was open to reform, the queue requirement was not.
Contributing to the debate about constitutionalism and Manchu-Han relations that the edicts of 8 July and 10 August set in motion was a new journal of political opinion, Great Harmony Journal (Datongbao), which began publishing in Tokyo on 25 June 1907; by late September it had produced three lengthy issues, each over a hundred pages. (It was to put out four more issues before it ceased publication on 30 May 1908.) Great Harmony Journal differed from all of the other Chinese-language periodicals that proliferated in Japan during the post-Boxer decade in that it was published by Manchus and was devoted largely to an examination of what it itself called the “Manchu-Han question” (Man-Han wenti). Its entire editorial staff was Manchu; its two most prolific writers were Hengjun of the imperial clan and Wuzesheng of Jilin, both then students at Waseda University in Japan.157
Like many Chinese political journals since the mid-1890s, Great Harmony Journal protested the widespread apathy of the Chinese people in the face of the imperialist threat. According to Wuzesheng’s “Preface to Great Harmony Journal” in the inaugural issue, the reason for such apathy was China’s two-thousand-year-old “despotic polity,” under which the ruler alone possessed absolute power and the people were deprived of a sense of responsibility. There was, however, a means of salvation: constitutionalism. In a constitutional polity, there is no differentiation between ruler and ruled, and both share the responsibility for the conduct of national affairs. If China were a constitutional country, the foreign powers would no longer be able to throw their weight around. Whereas formerly they might have been able to intimidate one or two officials in the government, they could not do the same to one hundred million aroused citizens. Therefore, if China were to avoid being partitioned by the foreign powers, it had to change to a constitutional polity and empower its citizens. What, Wuzesheng asked, differentiates a constitutional from a despotic polity? Not a constitution, but a parliament. Parliament provides a channel for expressing the citizens’ opinions and also for cultivating their sense of unity and political consciousness. It allows the people to assume responsibility. Without a parliament there can be no “responsible government.” Consequently, the first two of the four stated objectives of Great Harmony Journal were “Establish a constitutional monarchy” and “Summon a parliament in order to create a responsible government.”158 In this regard, Great Harmony Journal closely paralleled the views of Yang Du (1875–1931), then based also in Tokyo, who was the organizer of the Seminar on Constitutional Government (Xianzheng Jiangxihui) and editor of the monthly China New Journal (Zhongguo xinbao). Great Harmony Journal not only carried in its inaugural issue a congratulatory message from Yang, in which he stated that its goals were entirely congruent with his, but later also published his lengthy analysis, “Parliament and the Banner People.”159
The other two objectives of Great Harmony Journal were “Establish equality between the Manchu and Han people” (Man-Han renmin pingdeng) and “Unify Manchus, Han, Mongol, Muslims, and Tibetans as one citizenry,” both of which were intended to answer the self-posed Manchu-Han question.160 According to Hengjun, in a multipart article titled “China’s Future,” the Manchu-Han question was of recent origin. It had arisen only after 1895, when concerned citizens petitioned the government for reforms, only to provoke a conservative opposition, which in turn created an anti-Manchu backlash among many Han.161 Then, as anti-Manchuism intensified after the Boxer troubles, it engendered an anti-Han reaction among some Manchus. Thus, the Manchu-Han question had two components, anti-Manchuism among Han and anti-Hanism among Manchus. According to Wuzesheng, in the fifty-page essay “The Manchu-Han Question,” the ultimate aim of the anti-Manchus was republicanism; that of the anti-Han, increased despotism. Neither was so desirable as a constitutional monarchy.162 Both Hengjun and Wuzesheng acknowledged that differences existed between Manchus and Han, but felt that such differences lay not in immutable racial characteristics but only in “obligations and privileges.” For example, as members of the banner system, Manchus were universally obliged to serve as soldiers, in return for which they were paid a stipend by the state. Han, on the other hand, were obliged to pay taxes, but they were free from military duty.163
Great Harmony Journal urged that, at the very least, these differences in obligations and privileges be eliminated, so that equality between the two peoples could be established. More importantly, it favored the abolition of the Eight Banner system itself. Wuzesheng, in one short but pregnant sentence near the end of “The Manchu-Han Question,” declared that the only way to get rid of all of the differences between Manchus and Han was for the court to “do away with the peculiar institution [tebie zhidu] in order to demonstrate its absolute impartiality.”164 Yang Du, in “Parliament and the Banner People,” provided a detailed justification for the abolition of the banners.165 Finally, at the heart of Great Harmony Journal’s analysis of the Manchu-Han question was its definition of China in political rather than ethnic terms. To be sure, it recognized the existence of different “races” (zu) within China, specifically five—Manchus, Han, Mongol, Muslims (Hui), and Tibetans. This may seem to be no more than a restatement of the Qianlong emperor’s self-image as the all-encompassing ruler of these same five subject peoples, but it had been modified in one very significant way: these peoples now owed their loyalty not to the Qing empire but to China. Hengjun rejected the concept of the anti-Manchus that “China ought to be based upon the Han people.” He also denied the parallel concept, attributable to the anti-Han, that “China belonged not to the Han but to the Manchus.” He insisted instead that members of all five races were “Chinese.” Whatever their ethnic differences, they were all “citizens” of China.166
Whether Great Harmony Journal, as the voice of young reform-minded Manchus, had much influence on the memorialists in the summer of 1907 is unclear, though some of its ideas paralleled those of Xiong Xiling, who likewise called for disbanding the banner system. In any case, Cixi’s court referred all of their memorials to the Office of Governmental Affairs for consideration. The office, created in 1901 to oversee every aspect of administrative reform, was then composed of eight regular members: two grand councilors (Yikuang and Lu Chuanlin); one grand secretary (Sun Jia’nai); two ministers (Rongqing, education; and Tieliang, army); and three governors-general (Xu Shichang, Manchuria; Zhang Zhidong, Hu-Guang; and Yuan Shikai, Zhili). They were divided among three Manchus and five Han.167 In order for them to participate in these important deliberations, two of the three provincial officials, Zhang Zhidong and Yuan Shikai, were transferred to Beijing, where both were named to the Grand Council and given top posts in the metropolitan administration. Zhang became supervisor of the Ministry of Education, and Yuan, president of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (replacing Lü Haihuan). (These appointments would appear to contravene the 1906 rule that prohibited a ministry head from holding another important office. However, Zhang’s post as supervisor may not have qualified technically as a ministry head, though he, like Yikuang at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Army, outranked the minister; Yuan’s position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the one specific treaty-imposed exception to the rule.)168 The appointment of Zhang and Yuan to the Grand Council was another facet of the political storm of 1907, as they were replacements for the powerful Qu Hongji, purged in June, and his ally Lin Shaonian, removed two months later. The expanded six-man Grand Council—consisting of Yikuang, Zaifeng, Shixu, Lu Chuanlin, Zhang Zhidong, and Yuan Shikai—was evenly divided between Manchus and Han. Zaifeng had been added to the council as a probationary member in June.169
Beginning in late August 1907, around the time that Zhang Zhidong and Yuan Shikai arrived in the capital, members of the Office of Governmental Affairs met frequently to discuss the various proposals for the reform of Manchu-Han relations as well as other suggestions for the realization of constitutional government. At these meetings, according to at least one news report, Army Minister Tieliang vigorously opposed any precipitous action to do away with the banner soldiers’ stipends and other privileges of the banner population as contrary to the wishes of the dynastic founders.170
A month later the court issued two edicts, ten days apart, that resolved to drastically change, though not abolish, the Eight Banner system. The first edict, handed down on 27 September, ordered, much as Duanfang had suggested, that the provincial garrisons be disbanded over a ten-year period and their inhabitants be prepared to make their own living. It directed the commander of each garrison, together with the appropriate provincial officials, to take a census of the banner soldiers and then to distribute enough farmland (along with tools, etc.) to each of them so that they might provide for themselves and their families. The officials were to start by dividing up the garrison’s own horse pastures and farm land. At a garrison without any land of its own or with an insufficient amount, they were to purchase the land (at the market price) from farmers in the vicinity. Each year about 10 percent of the banner soldiers at a garrison were to receive land, which they would hold in perpetuity but without the right to sell or mortgage to others. As they were resettled on their allotted land, they would stop receiving their stipends, and they would pass from the jurisdiction of the banner officials to that of the local civil officials and would thenceforth be subject to the same treatment, including the same land taxes and the same laws, as the civilian population. The funds for demobilizing the provincial garrisons would come from the Ministry of Finance and from the savings from the termination of the stipends. The second edict, issued on 9 October, dealt with the customary and legal differences between Manchus and Han, such as the length of the mourning period and the commutation of punishments. It called on the Ministry of Rites together with the Commissioners for Revising and Codifying the Laws (Xiuding Falü Dachen) to draw up a set of ceremonies and penal codes that would apply uniformly to Manchus and Han, excepting only the imperial lineage.171
These two edicts thus accepted many of the proposals advanced by the memorialists after Enming’s assassination. On the face of it, they would have greatly changed the banner system and Manchu-Han relations by disbanding the provincial garrisons and by eliminating the social and legal differences separating Manchus and Han. However, by no means did these two edicts embrace all of the proposed reforms. In particular, they did not heed Xiong Xiling’s call for the disbandment of the Metropolitan Banners, who accounted for half the total banner population. They did not abolish the many remaining ethnic slots in the metropolitan government. Finally, since no memorialist had called for it, they did not, of course, alter the queue requirement. Indeed, in response to Lü Haihuan’s complaint about rampant queue-cutting, the government in the summer of 1907 reiterated its commitment to the requirement. In a joint memorial, the Ministries of Education and the Army, both headed by Manchus (Rongqing and Tieliang), promised to crack down on returned students and soldiers who had removed their queue.172
Meanwhile, in response to the growing demands of the constitutionalist reformers (as exemplified, for example, by Great Harmony Journal), Cixi, in her own name, issued two other edicts that clarified the vague promise that she had made a year earlier to institute a constitutional regime. On 20 September 1907 she declared that her ultimate intention was to establish “a bicameral deliberative body.” As a preparatory step, she ordered the immediate creation of a Consultative Assembly (Zizhengyuan), appointed the fourth-rank prince Pulun (1874–1926) and the elderly grand secretary Sun Jia’nai as its co-presidents, and charged them, together with the Grand Council, to draw up a detailed plan for this new national assembly. A month later, on 19 October, she authorized the formation of provincial deliberative assemblies as well.173 Afterward, she sent Pulun to Japan to learn more about constitutional government at first hand.174
The Qing court’s New Policies initially emphasized military and educational reform, a carryover from the era of Self-Strengthening. It was only after 1906 that they went beyond such old concerns and ventured into the uncharted territory of political reform. As the military and educational systems changed in the early and middle years of the post-Boxer decade, the Manchus adapted to them no less than did the general population. They formed a new military unit (the Metropolitan Banners Standing Army, which became the First Division of the national New Army) and new police forces (notably Beijing’s Inner City police). They founded new schools, both military and civilian, including the Nobles Military School in Beijing and the Huixing Girls School in the Hangzhou garrison, and they sent students to study abroad, principally to Japan. And they founded their own newspapers and journals (L’Impartial in Tianjin, Beijing Women’s News in the capital, and Great Harmony Journal in Tokyo) to present their views on current affairs. In short, the Manchus were active participants in the post-Boxer reforms.
Meanwhile, despite the revolutionaries’ often valid indictment of the Manchus, the early post-Boxer court was remarkably slow to address what Great Harmony Journal itself called the “Manchu-Han question.” On the eve of Enming’s assassination in July 1907, it had lifted the ban on Manchu-Han intermarriage, but to little effect. It had appointed a few Han officials to posts in the banner system and to the new provincial administration in Manchuria. It had abandoned the mounted archery component of the Manchus’ ancestral tradition, but not that of “national speech.” And it had abolished the institution of dyarchy and, with it, the practice of assigning officials to posts that were reserved for specific ethnic or status groups, but only among some agencies of the newly reorganized metropolitan government. A survey of the reform proposals offered by the memorialists in the summer of 1907 shows clearly that as late as the penultimate year of Cixi’s rule, numerous and substantial differences still divided Manchus and Han.
Indeed, the elimination of ethnic slots, which many reformers recommended as an effective way of reducing Manchu-Han differences, had the opposite effect. It made the imbalance among high officials more, rather than less, favorable to Manchus at the expense of Han. Previously, under the institution of dyarchy, the officials at the top of the metropolitan administration had been evenly split between the two groups. At the end of 1906, however, when the metropolitan administration was restructured and dyarchy curbed, the thirteen ministry heads were divided between eight Manchus and only five Han. A year later, in late 1907, the Manchu preponderance had become even greater: nine Manchus and four Han. The Manchus were Yikuang and Natong (at Foreign Affairs), Shanqi (Civil Affairs), Zaize (Finance), Puliang (Rites), Rongqing (Education), Tieliang (Army), Puting (Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce), and Shouqi (Colonial Affairs). The four Han were Yuan Shikai (Foreign Affairs), Lu Runxiang (1841–1915; Personnel), Dai Hongci (Laws), and Chen Bi (1852–1928; Posts and Communications).175 Furthermore, the trend toward greater princely participation in state affairs had become more pronounced. Thus, among the nine Manchus who were ministerial heads in late 1907, three were imperial princes: Yikuang, Shanqi, and Zaize. A year earlier, only two princes—Yikuang and his son Zaizhen—served as ministry heads. (Zaizhen was subsequently removed from the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce for his involvement in a scandal.) The same trend was evident at the Grand Council. In late 1906 only one of the four grand councilors, Yikuang, was an imperial prince; a year later two of the six, Yikuang and Zaifeng, were princes.176
The Qing court did finally awaken to the seriousness of the Manchu-Han question after Governor Enming was assassinated in July 1907. It was then and only then that Empress Dowager Cixi issued her two edicts calling for a substantial revision of the banner system, which the Manchu reformer Wuzesheng called the “peculiar institution,” and the elimination of social and legal differences between Manchus and Han. These edicts did not order the complete abolition of the Eight Banners or the elimination of all Manchu-Han differences. Nevertheless, limited as these mandated reforms were, they were more far-reaching than any of the reforms previously attempted, including those promulgated during the Hundred Days. In 1898 the Guangxu emperor had merely called for lifting the ban on outside employment by the banner people and exploring the possibility of resettling the banner population. His order had greatly alarmed the banner population and was, in part, responsible for the termination of those reforms and the emperor’s removal from power. Now, almost exactly nine years later, the empress dowager had more than come around to his view.