6. Modern communication system and press

The improved means, communication, the extended posts, telegraphs and railways helped the rapid spread of revolutionary ideas throughout the empire.  Added to this was the Chinese vernacular press which now included a number of reformist and revolutionary papers, carrying the new ferment far and wide.

7. Indifference of provincial authorities

The attitude of the provinces was one of non-co-operation with the centre.  The provincial chiefs asserted their powers, taking advantage on the weakness of the central government.  There was constant friction between the central and provincial authorities.  One of the sources of friction was the new contracts that were being assigned to foreigners for the construction of the railways.  The provincial authorities wanted to have a voice in the centre’s decision relating to their areas.  When they found the centre irresponsive to their activities of the revolutionaries.

8. The superiority complex

The Chinese generally considered themselves as the only civilized people in the whole world and on the basis of this logic, all outsiders were barbarians.  The Manchus had this superiority complex even in a larger measure.  This complex prevented them from learning from experience.  They refused to adapt themselves to new ideas not only in civil but also in military matters.  The result was that the Chinese armies could not face the Western forces successfully.  In contrast, Japan which had a more or less similar back ground learnt from the West, built herself into a strong power and there by earned the respect and admiration of the western countries.

9. Weakness of the centre

China was territorially decentralized.  This territorial decentralization weakened the centre greatly.  The regional and provincial chiefs asserted themselves in authority and did not cooperate with the centre even in times of emergency.  For instance, at the time of the Opium Wars, there was no unified military effort.  The provinces that were not directly affected by the hostilities remained aloof, and did not contribute their shares to the common cause.  Likewise during the Sino-Japanese war, the provinces not directly affected, treated the war as the personal affair of Li Hung Chang.  Thus each region and province tried to look after its own interests without concern for the integrity of the country as a whole.  The later Manchus were weaklings and could not check the growth of regionalism.  They were more interested in the pleasures of the palace life than properly administering the country.

10. Poor system of administration

The Manchu rulers did not introduce any sound system of civil administration.  The writ of imperial authority did not run throughout the country.  In the first place, there was no coordination between the centre and the provinces.  In the second place, there was no co-ordination between the provinces and the local administration.  The result was each local unit behaved as if it were an independent entity by itself.  At the centre the officials were utterly corrupt and inefficient.  The provincial chiefs were interested only in strengthening their position.  The system of checks and counter-checks that once restrained the provincial administrators were no longer being enforced.  The financial administration was unscientific.  The local authorities were allowed to squeeze as much as possible so long as they contributed their quota of revenues to the centre.  The dynasty failed to check all there evils with the result that the people desired to overthrow it.

11. Indifference to reforms

The Manchus wanted to be absolute monarchs and were unwilling to share their power with other parliamentary institutions.  The Manchus showed an utter disregard to all progressive reforms.  By means fair or foul, they foiled all reformist movements in the country.  The Taiping Rebellion, the Hundred Days Reform and the Boxer Uprising indicated the new consciousness that was awakening among the people.  The Manchus suppressed all the movements ruthlessly and did not realize that the time had come for popular reforms.  When the reforms came, they were too late in coming and too inadequate to meet the needs of the situation.

12. Manchus as foreigners

All through the 18th century, the secret societies in the South were agitating for the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty.  The Manchus were not strictly speaking Chinese, but belonged to the ethnic group of Mongols.  They never identified themselves with the aspirations of the Chinese people.  Therefore the people regarded the Manchus as foreigners and usurpers.  Thus, there was already a latent hatred among the people against the Manchus.

13. The Western impact

The most significant factor which was responsible for the collapse of the Manchus was the Western impact on China.  The Chinese hated the western ‘barbarians’; at the same time they were profoundly impressed by their military efficiency and by their liberal ideas and institutions.  The western ideas of democracy, independence, human rights and freedom exerted a profound influence upon the Chinese.  At the treaty ports, the Western, settlements served to disseminate Western ideas and practices.  These liberal influences weakened the tradition of the emperor’s mandate from heaven.

The Confucian code of filial piety, the division of classes, etc., were seriously undermined.  The Manchu rulers who were conservative and reactionary in their outlook could not bring about the necessary adjustments to meet the needs of the changing times.  Their repeated defeats at the hands of the foreigners exposed their utter weakness providing the necessary, temptation for rebellion.