THE REVOLUTION OF 1911 – Part 3

  1. Economic domination of the West

The country was partitioned into so many spheres of influence by the Western powers.  In their respective spheres of influence each of the powers opened mines, constructed railways, etc., and started exploiting the region as if were a colony.  This economic domination of the West resulted in the impoverishment of the handicraft industries as the respective spheres of influence were used by the powers as their market for their mass-produced goods.  The Manchu government did not take steps to industrialise the country in a manner that would absorb the displaced artisans.  Not only did they fail to industrialise the country, but they freely allowed the foreigners to exploit the economic resources of the land.

  1. The death of Dowager and the loss of Leadership

At a time when the country was in need of strong and efficient leadership, the Empress Dowager died, and left a vacuum in the political leadership of the country.  The Empress, in spite of her many drawbacks, was a strong and forceful personality who managed to keep the revolutionaries at bay as long as she was alive.  The puppet prince also died more or less simultaneously making the situation further worse.  Along with these royal personages, many of the important and capable leaders who guided the destinies of the Manchu dynasty also disappeared from the scene.  So the dynasty which was bereft of leadership succumbed before the rising tide of revolution.

  1. The defeat of China at the hands of Japan

The Sino-Japanese War delivered a death-blow to the absolutist monarchy of China.  The victory of tiny country like Japan over China proved the efficiency and effectiveness of constitutional government.  Japanese example clearly showed that parliamentary form of government necessarily meant strong and capable government.  So it was not without reason that China modeled her constitution after Japan.  Since the Manchus had set their face against all reforms, it became clear that constitutional reforms could be carried out only when the Manchus were overthrown.

  1. Humiliating defeats and imposed treaties

The Manchus suffered defeats in the hands of westerners.  These defeats not only brought national humiliation but also forced her to submit to the dictated terms of the westerners.  As the result of these imposed treaties, China lost her territories, control over her tariff system, and sovereign powers.  These treaties proved as iron bars that encircled her freedom.  Hence the Manchu government forfeited her right to rule as well as the confidence of the people.

  1. Russo-Japanese War

When the Chinese saw that Japanese scored a brilliant victory over the Russians in 1905 they also wanted to follow the path of Japan.  They saw that the conservative Manchus were the only obstacles in their progressive path.  The Japanese victory not only infused national spirit but also strengthened the Anti-Manchu elements.

IMMEDIATE CAUSES OF THE REVOLUTION

The railroad nationalization by the government provided the necessary spark to an already explosive situation.  From 1905, Chinese financiers were forming combines for building railroads, side by side with foreigners.  In 1911, the government nationalized the private railway building rights.  The purpose was to mortage these rights to raise a foreign loan of six million pounds.  This was constructed by the revolutionaries and the provincial authorities as a bid to crush the revolt with foreign money.  When a protest march was in progress, the Viceroy ordered the arrest of the leaders and firing on the mob.  On October 10, 1911 an accidental explosion at Hankow in the house of a Russian revealed the activities of the revolutionaries.  Fearing repression the revolutionaries broke out into open rebellion.