|The New (Beiyang) Army|
NEED FOR CHANGE
The one hundred days of reform are actually one hundred and three and mark an important change of direction in the destiny of the Chinese. The reforms that took place did not manage to last, instead they fed the need of change that was in the minds of almost every Chinese scholar of the time.
The press also tried to push for reforms, Tan Sitong, the head of "Nan xue hui" (Hunan studies society) started the publishing of the newspaper "Hunan studies newspaper", in this way playing an important role in the reform movement. Many others wrote articles and books promoting change, like Chen Qiu who wrote numerous books advocating the parliamentary system. Also, in Hong Kong, Xua Huan Ri Bao newspaper openly eulogized the Japanese parliamentary system.
The Manchus, the ruling elite simply put, were in strong opposition to the reforms. The main ideas at that time were the self-strengthening movement, parliamentary system, constitutional monarchy, republic, educational reform through the adopting of western sciences, overall the development of the country and society by mixing the west with the east and the new with the old. Let's take the example of railways, for a good period of time, Chinese officials and even the average people, initially rejected the construction of this type of infrastructure because it challenged the way people saw their lives. Because of the speed and efficiency it was the best choice compared to roads and canals and many believed that it will destroy jobs. Ultimately the Qing discovered that railways really are useful because these could be used to transport troops.
The last years of the empire could be seen just like this, a contradiction between tradition and modernization and even with the best reforms, for things to change there was a need to destroy the old order. It is worth to mention that Yuan Shikai, who will later become China's first president, started a process of modernizing in the army.
In February 1899, a Manchu army was created mapping the scheme used by Yuan Shikai, responsible for this was Ronglu. It was structured in five divisions, Ronglu being marshal and general of the middle division and Yuan being in command of the army on the right side. This new army will play a major role in future events and many of its generals became warlords after the death of Yuan Shikai.
END OF REFORM
On September 21st, 1898, Empress Dowager Cixi stage a coup d'etat, many intellectuals supporting the reforms being killed while others managed to fled to Japan, among them were Kang Youwei and Liang Quichao. There, the Baohuand Hui (Protect the Emperor Society) was organized and work on a constitutional monarchy system for China was started.
In the next part you will be able to read about the Boxer Rebellion and the Revolution of 1911.
WILKINSON, Endymion - Chinese History, a manual, Harvard University Press, London, 200