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  • Print publication year: 1980
  • Online publication date: March 2008

7 - Political and institutional reform 1901–11

This chapter reviews the political and institutional reforms made by the Ch'ing government after 1901 with some conspicuous points. First, there were many self-defeating contradictions among the reform plans. For example, while creating the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies in order to widen the path for the expression of public opinion as part of the preparation for constitutionalism, the government put increasingly strict controls over all expression of thought. Once the Ch'ing had accepted the idea of constitutionalism, Chinese intellectuals began to demand the immediate opening of the parliament. Secondly, all the participants in the reform programmes sought their own interest. The reforms after 1901 were promoted mainly by Jung-lu, a Manchu grand councillor, and Chang Chih-tung, Liu K'un-i and Yuan Shih-k'ai, who were Chinese governors-general. Finally in 1908, when the emperor and the empress dowager both died, and Prince Ch'un became the prince regent, Yuan Shih-k'ai was forced to retire to Honan.
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