By Wensheng Wang

The reign of Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820 CE) has lengthy occupied a clumsy place in experiences of China's final dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911 CE). comfortably marking a watershed among the wealthy eighteenth century and the tragic post-Opium warfare period, this region century has however been glossed over as an unremarkable interlude setting apart well-studied epochs of significant transformation. White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates presents a huge reassessment of this misunderstood interval by means of studying how the emperors, bureaucrats, and foreigners replied to the 2 crises that formed the transition from the Qianlong to the Jiaqing reign.

Wensheng Wang argues that the dramatic mix of inner rebellion and transnational piracy, instead of being a trademark of inexorable dynastic decline, propelled the Manchu court docket to reorganize itself via a sequence of adjustments in policymaking and bureaucratic constitution. The ensuing Jiaqing reforms initiated a technique of nation retreat that pulled the Qing Empire out of a cycle of competitive overextension and resistance, and again onto a extra sustainable song of improvement. even if this pragmatic striving for political sustainability was once not able to save lots of the dynasty from final cave in, it represented a sturdy and positive method of the compounding difficulties dealing with the overdue Qing regime and helped maintain it for an additional century. As some of the most complete bills of the Jiaqing reign, White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates provides a clean realizing of this important turning aspect in China's lengthy imperial history.

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Many of them played an important role in justifying the “Middle Kingdom’s” expansive power, as they were considered moral beneficiaries of the civilizing impulse from the center. Extraordinary disturbances in the fringe areas, conversely, might suggest moral decay at the political center, thus jeopardizing its legitimacy in the eyes of China’s tributary states and, furthermore, precipitating reform on the highest levels. 7 This reflexive relationship entails that the seemingly orderly process of official frontier construction could neither obscure the internal contradictions of 40 A VIEW FROM THE BOTTOM empire-building nor overshadow the significance of social protest.

This acute challenge compelled Qianlong to rely on inner-court confidants of Manchu origin in order to regain central control and to ensure what Michael G. ”50 Yet this effort had unintended consequences, as Heshen’s meteoric rise caused serious disequilibrium in court politics and pushed the Grand Council, the major institutional handmaiden of Qing autocracy, into deep crisis. Consequently, relentless imperial pressure spawned more bureaucratic corruption and malpractices, which translated into an increasing burden on those lower down the sociopolitical ladder.

Qianlong as a Fortunate Emperor Times could not have been better to this high Qing ruler. He had the fortune to grow up and rule in one of the most affluent periods in China’s imperial history. The fiscal success of his grandfather Kangxi and his father, Yongzheng, put the economy on an upswing, which, in Seth L. 10 The phenomenal spurt of empire-building under his predecessors, furthermore, enabled him to preside over and develop a highly centralized bureaucratic state. From a structural point of view, this was one of the most critical political changes in Qing history.

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