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Li Hongzhang, Marquess Suyi ( zh, t=李鴻章; also Li Hung-chang; 15 February 1823 – 7 November 1901) was a Chinese politician, general and diplomat of the late
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
. He quelled several major rebellions and served in important positions in the Qing imperial court, including the
Viceroy of Zhili The Viceroy of Zhili, fully referred to in Chinese as the Governor-General of Zhili and Surrounding Areas Overseeing Military Affairs and Food Production, Manager of Waterways, Director of Civil Affairs, was one of eight regional Viceroy A vi ...
,
Huguang Huguang was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire's terri ...
and
Liangguang The provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, c. 1900. A western part of Guangdong south of Guangxi (Nanlu region) has since been given to Guangxi to give it access to the sea. Liangguang (; Postal romanization: Liangkwang) is a Chinese language, Chinese ...
. Although he was best known in the West for his generally pro-modern stance and importance as a negotiator, Li antagonised the British with his support of Russia as a foil against Japanese expansionism in
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
and fell from favour with the Chinese after their defeat in the
First Sino-Japanese War The First Sino-Japanese War (25 July 1894 – 17 April 1895) was a conflict between the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperi ...

First Sino-Japanese War
. His image in China remains controversial, with criticism on one hand for political and military defeats and praise on the other for his success against the
Taiping Rebellion The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an ...
, his diplomatic skills defending Chinese interests in the era of
unequal treaties Unequal treaty is the name given by the Chinese to a series of treaties signed between China (mostly referring to the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in t ...
, and his role pioneering China's
industrial Industrial may also refer to: Industry * Industrial archaeology, the study of the history of the industry * Industrial engineering, engineering dealing with the optimization of complex industrial processes or systems * Industrial loan company, a f ...
and
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...
modernisation. He was presented the
Royal Victorian Order The Royal Victorian Order (french: Ordre royal de Victoria) is a established in 1896 by . It recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch of the , members of the monarch's family, or to any or senior representative of the monarch ...
by
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
. The French newspaper ''
Le Siècle ''Le Siècle'' ("''The Age''") is a daily newspaper that was published from 1836 to 1932 in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, cons ...

Le Siècle
'' described him as "the yellow
Bismarck
Bismarck
."


Names

Li Hongzhang was also known by other names. His
courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The courtesy ...
s were Zifu () and Jianfu (). His
art name An art name (pseudonym or pen name), also known by its native names ''hao'' (in Mandarin) (), ''gō'' (in Japanese), ''ho'' (in Korean), and ''hiệu'' (in Vietnamese), is a professional name used by East Asian artist An artist is a person en ...
s were Shaoquan (), Yisou () and Shengxin (). The
posthumous name A posthumous name is an honorary name given to royalty, nobles, and sometimes others, in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hem ...
awarded to him by the Qing government was Wenzhong (). He was also referred to as Li Zhongtang () and Li Fuxiang (); "Zhongtang" and "Fuxiang" referred to his honorary appointments as
Grand Secretary The Grand Secretariat (; Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and C ...
and Crown Prince's Grand Tutor respectively. He also held the noble peerage First Class Count Suyi () and was posthumously honoured as First Class Marquis Suyi ().


Biography


Early life and career

Li was born in a
scholar-gentry of Su Shi and Yuan Hongdao; painting by Song Dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the ...
family in Qunzhi Village (), Modian Township (), northeast of central
Hefei Hefei (, ) is the capital and largest city of Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provin ...

Hefei
,
Anhui Province Anhui (; as Anhwei) is a landlocked of the , part of the region. Its provincial capital and largest city is . The province is located across the basins of the and the , bordering to the east, to the southeast, to the south, to the southw ...

Anhui Province
, China. In 1843, he sat for the entry-level
imperial examination The Chinese imperial examinations, or ''keju'' (lit. "subject recommendation"), was a civil service examination system in History of China#Imperial era, Imperial China for selecting candidates for the state Civil service#China, bureaucracy. T ...
in Lu Prefecture and obtained a ''yougong'' (; or ''gongsheng'' ) position. His father, who was serving as an official in the imperial capital
Beijing Beijing ( ), as Peking ( ), is the of the . It is the world's , with over 21 million residents within an of 16,410.5 km2 (6336 sq. mi.). It is located in , and is governed as a under the direct administration of the with .Figures ...

Beijing
, was eager to see his son succeed, so he encouraged his son to come to
Shuntian Prefecture Shuntian Prefecture was an administrative region of China during the Ming dynasty, Ming and Qing dynasty, Qing dynasties, equivalent to Beijing Municipality in today's People's Republic of China. However, the area of the prefecture jurisdiction wa ...
to take the district-level examination. Li then travelled to Beijing. Along the way, he wrote ten poems under the collection ''Entering the Capital'' () to express his feelings. In 1844, Li obtained a ''juren'' () position in the district-level examination, but failed to make it in the metropolitan-level examination. He then started taking classes under
Zeng Guofan Zeng Guofan, Marquis Yiyong (; 26 November 1811 – 12 March 1872), birth name Zeng Zicheng, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This p ...

Zeng Guofan
. In 1847, he sat for the metropolitan-level examination again and obtained a ''jinshi'' () position at the young age of 24, and was admitted to the
Hanlin Academy The Hanlin Academy was an academic and administrative institution of higher learning founded in the eighth-century Tang China The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an in ...
as a shujishi (). At the same time, he also continued taking classes under Zeng Guofan to improve his knowledge. Three years later, he took the ''sanguan'' () examination in the academy and earned the position of a ''bianxiu'' (; an editor).


Suppressing the Taiping Rebellion

In January 1851, the
God Worshipping Society The God Worshipping Society () was a religious movement founded and led by Hong Xiuquan which drew on his own unique interpretation of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on t ...
led by
Hong Xiuquan Hong Xiuquan (1 January 1814 – 1 June 1864), born Hong Huoxiu and with the courtesy name Renkun, was a Hakka people, Hakka Chinese revolutionary who was the leader of the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. He established the Taip ...

Hong Xiuquan
started the
Taiping Rebellion The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an ...
in
Guangxi Province Guangxi (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, locate ...

Guangxi Province
. Within about two years, the rebels had conquered many territories in southern China and established the
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, later shortened to Heavenly Kingdom or Heavenly Dynasty, was an List of historical unrecognized states and dependencies, unrecognized oppositional state in China and Christianity, Christian-Shenism, Shenic Theocracy, ...
with
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
as their capital. In 1853, the rebels, advancing from
Wuhan Wuhan (, ; ; ) is the capital of Hubei Province Hubei (; ; Postal romanization, alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, and is part of the Central China region. The name ...

Wuhan
, captured
Anqing Anqing (, also Nganking, formerly Hwaining, now the name of Huaining County) is a prefecture-level city in the southwest of Anhui province of China, province, People's Republic of China. Its population was 5,311,579 at the 2010 census, with 780,51 ...

Anqing
and killed
Jiang Wenqing Jiang may refer to: *Jiang Zemin, a Chinese politician and a General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002 *Jiang (surname), several Chinese surnames *Jiang, Common of Kang (Korean name) *Jiang River, an ancient river of China ...
(), the ''xunfu'' of
Anhui Province Anhui (; as Anhwei) is a landlocked of the , part of the region. Its provincial capital and largest city is . The province is located across the basins of the and the , bordering to the east, to the southeast, to the south, to the southw ...

Anhui Province
. The
Xianfeng Emperor The Xianfeng Emperor (17 July 1831 – 22 August 1861), or by temple name Temple names are posthumous titles accorded to monarchs of the Sinosphere The East Asian cultural sphere, Chinese cultural sphere or Sinosphere (also Sinic/Si ...
commissioned Lü Xianji (), the Left Vice Secretary of Works, to travel to Anhui Province and recruit civilians to form militias to counter the rebels. Lü Xianji knew that Li was familiar with the local situation in Anhui Province so he secured permission from the imperial court to bring Li along with him as an adviser and assistant. Li was later ordered to remain in Anhui to oversee the militia. In late 1853, the Taiping rebels defeated imperial forces and captured
Shucheng County Shucheng County () is a county in the west-central part of Anhui Province, People's Republic of China. It is located in the southeastern corner of the prefecture-level city of Lu'an and is its easternmost county-level division. It has a population ...
; Lü Xianji committed suicide. In the following year, Jiang Zhongyuan (), the ''xunfu'' of Anhui Province, committed suicide after Lu Prefecture fell to the rebels. Li then became a subordinate of
FujiFuji may refer to: Places China * Fuji, Xiangcheng City (付集镇), town in Xiangcheng City Xiangcheng () is a county-level city in Zhoukou, Henan, People's Republic of China. It borders Shenqiu to the east, Shangcai to the west, Huaiyang County, ...
(), the new ''xunfu'', who ordered him to lead troops to attack the rebels. Li recaptured two counties and Lu Prefecture from the rebels within the following year. For his achievements, he earned the appointment of a ''daotai'' (道台;
circuitCircuit may refer to: Science and technology Electrical engineering * Electrical circuit, a complete electrical network with a closed-loop giving a return path for current ** Analog circuit, uses continuous signal levels ** Balanced circuit, p ...
administrator) and the privilege of wearing a single-eyed peacock feather in his hat. Later, he led troops into the
Huai River The Huai River (), formerly romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken ...
area, but could not get along with his subordinates and was forced to abandon his mission. In the winter of 1858, Li was reassigned to serve in
Zeng Guofan Zeng Guofan, Marquis Yiyong (; 26 November 1811 – 12 March 1872), birth name Zeng Zicheng, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This p ...

Zeng Guofan
's office, where he was in charge of drafting documents. Li led a carefree life, flouted rules and regulations, and often woke up late. Zeng Guofan once chided him, "Shaoquan, now that you're working in my office, I only have this piece of advice for you: 'Commitment' is the only thing that matters to us here." Li was shocked and he improved his behaviour after that. In the same year, Weng Tongshu (), the ''xunfu'' of Anhui, abandoned his post when he came under attack by the Taiping rebels. Zeng Guofan drew from Li's draft when he wrote a
memorial A memorial is an object which serves as a focus for the memory or the commemoration of something, usually an influential, deceased person or a historical, Tragedy (event), tragic event. Popular forms of memorials include landmark objects or wor ...
to the imperial court to accuse Weng Tongshu of failing in his duty. The lines from Li's draft that were included in Zeng Guofan's actual memorial included: "It is my duty, as Your Majesty's subject, o point out the failures of my colleague.I do not dare to let this pass just because of
Weng Tonghe Weng Tonghe (; 1830–1904), courtesy name Shuping (), was a Chinese Confucian scholar and imperial tutor who lived in the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last History of China#Imperial China, imperial ...

Weng Tonghe
's fame and prestige." Although Li earned Zeng Guofan's praise for drafting the memorial, he also caused Weng Tonghe (Weng Tongshu's brother) to bear a grudge against him for what he wrote. While serving under Zeng Guofan, he was put in charge of Yanjianshao Circuit () in
Fujian Province Fujian (; postal romanization, alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a provinces of China, province on the southeastern coast of China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, Guangdong to the south, and t ...

Fujian Province
but did not take up his appointment and remained with Zeng. In 1860, Li was put in command in the naval forces in Anhui and
Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of the leading provinces in finance, education, ...

Jiangsu
provinces to counter the Taiping rebels. After Zeng Guofan's
Xiang Army file:Zeng Guofan.png, 150px, Zeng Guofan, the leader of the Xiang Army The Xiang Army or Hunan Army () was a standing army organized by Zeng Guofan from existing regional and village militia forces called ''tuanlian'' to contain the Taiping Rebell ...
recaptured
Anqing Anqing (, also Nganking, formerly Hwaining, now the name of Huaining County) is a prefecture-level city in the southwest of Anhui province of China, province, People's Republic of China. Its population was 5,311,579 at the 2010 census, with 780,51 ...

Anqing
from the rebels in 1861, Zeng wrote a memorial to the imperial court to praise Li, calling him "a talent with great potential", and sent Li back to
Hefei Hefei (, ) is the capital and largest city of Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provin ...

Hefei
to form a militia. Li managed to recruit enough men to form five battalions in 1862. Zeng Guofan ordered him to bring his troops along with him to
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four Direct-administered municipalities of China, direct-administered municipalities of the China, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the sou ...

Shanghai
. Li and his men sailed past rebel-controlled territory along the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese:  ...
in British
steamboat A steamboat is a boat that is propelled primarily by steam power from Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Cumbria, England A steam engine is a heat engine In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Wo ...

steamboat
s – the rebels did not attack because Britain was a neutral party – and arrived in Shanghai, where they were commissioned as the
Huai Army The Huai Army (), named for the Huai River The Huai River (), formerly romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of la ...
. Zeng Guofan recommended Li to serve as the ''xunfu'' of Jiangsu Province. After gaining ground in Jiangsu, Li focused on enhancing the Huai Army's capabilities, including equipping them with Western firearms and artillery. Within two years, the Huai Army's strength increased from 6,000 to about 60–70,000 men. Li's Huai Army combined forces later with Zeng Guofan's Xiang Army and
Charles George Gordon Major-general (United Kingdom), Major-General Charles George Gordon Companion of the Order of the Bath, CB (28 January 1833 – 26 January 1885), also known as Chinese Gordon, Gordon Pasha, and Gordon of Khartoum, was a British Army officer and ...
's
Ever Victorious Army The Ever Victorious Army () was the name given to a small imperial army that fought rebels in late-19th-century China. It was directed and trained by Europeans. The Ever Victorious Army fought for the Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, offici ...
and prepared to attack the Taiping rebels. From 1863 to 1864, Li led the Huai Army to attack and recapture
Suzhou Suzhou (; ; , Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and c ...

Suzhou
,
Changzhou Changzhou ( Changzhounese: ''Zaon Tsei'', ) is a prefecture-level city A prefectural-level municipality (), prefectural-level city or prefectural city is an administrative division of the People's Republic of China China (), off ...

Changzhou
and other rebel-controlled territories. For his contributions, Li was awarded the honorary appointment Crown Prince's Grand Protector () and an
imperial yellow jacket Imperial is that which relates to an empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empir ...
. After retaking Changzhou, and capturing and executing the rebel leader
Chen Kunshu Chen Kunshu (; died May 1864), prominent military leader of the Taiping Rebellion, and known during his military tenure as the King of Hu (護王) (means Prince Protector). He led Taiping forces to many military victories especially the Second rou ...
, Li received a ''jiduwei'' peerage in recognition of his achievements. An incident connected with the surrender of Suzhou soured Li's relationship with Gordon. According to an earlier arrangement with Gordon, the rebel leaders agreed to yield
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
to imperial forces on the condition that their lives would be spared. However, after the capture of Nanjing, Li ordered the rebel leaders to be executed. This breach of faith infuriated Gordon so much that he grabbed a rifle and wanted to shoot Li, but Li fled. By the end of 1864, the Taiping Rebellion had basically been suppressed by imperial forces. Li was awarded a noble peerage as " First Class Count Suyi" () and the privilege of wearing a double-eyed peacock feather in his hat.


As Viceroy of Zhili

After the suppression of the
Taiping Rebellion The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an ...
in 1864, Li assumed a civil office as the ''xunfu'' of
Jiangsu Province Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of the leading provinces in finance, education, ...

Jiangsu Province
for about two years. However, on the outbreak of the
Nian Rebellion The Nian Rebellion () was an armed uprising that took place in northern China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most popu ...

Nian Rebellion
in
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China The provincial level administrative divisions () are the highest-level administrative divisions of China. There are 34 such divisions claimed by the People's Republic of ...

Henan
and
Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subn ...

Shandong
provinces in 1866, he was ordered to lead troops into battle again. After some misadventures, Li managed to suppress the movement. In recognition of his contributions, he was appointed as Assistant Grand Secretary (). In 1867, Li was appointed as the
Viceroy of Huguang The Viceroy of Huguang, fully referred to in Chinese as the Governor-General of Hubei and Hunan Provinces and the Surrounding Areas; Overseeing Military Affairs, Food Production; Director of Civil Affairs, was one of eight regional Viceroy A ...
, where he remained until 1870, when the
Tianjin MassacreThe Tientsin Massacre (), was the most ghastly of many Chinese attacks on Christian missionaries and converts in the late 19th century during the late Qing dynasty. Sixty people died in attacks on French Catholic priests and nuns. There was intense ...
necessitated his transfer to
Tianjin Tianjin (; ; Mandarin: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Tientsin, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality and a coastal metropolis in North China, Northern China on the shore of the Bohai Sea. It is ...

Tianjin
to handle the diplomatic crisis with the French. He was given the concurrent appointments as Viceroy of
Zhili Province Zhili, Wade–Giles, alternately romanization of Chinese, romanized as Chihli, was a northern administrative region of China from the 14th-century Ming dynasty until 1911, when the region was dissolved, converted to a Provinces of China, province ...
and Beiyang Trade Minister () to oversee various issues in Zhili,
Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subn ...

Shandong
and Fengtian provinces, including trade, tariffs, diplomacy, coastal defence, and
modernisation Modernization theory is used to explain the process of modernization within societies. Modernization refers to a model of a progressive transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'Traditional society, traditional' to a 'modern' society. Modernization theory ...
. He was also conferred the honorary position of "Grand Secretary of Wenhua Hall" (). From the time he became Viceroy of Zhili and Beiyang Trade Minister until his death, with a few intervals of retirement, he shaped the Qing Empire's foreign policy to a large extent. In 1876, he signed the Yantai Treaty with
Sir Thomas Wade
Sir Thomas Wade
to end a diplomatic crisis with Britain caused by the murder of
Augustus Raymond Margary Augustus Raymond Margary (26 May 1846 – 21 February 1875) was a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, British diplomat and explorer. The murder of Margary and his entire staff, while surveying overland Asian trade routes, sparked the Marg ...
in
Yunnan Province Yunnan () is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivi ...

Yunnan Province
. He also arranged treaties with Peru and the Tianjin Convention with Japan, and directed Chinese foreign policy in Korea. Among Li's projects to open China to the world on Chinese terms was support for the
Chinese Educational Mission The Chinese Educational Mission (1872–1881) was the pioneering but frustrated attempt by reform-minded officials of the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last History of China#Imperial China, imperial Dyna ...
, which sent Chinese boys to the United States for education, starting in 1872. The mission was aborted in 1881. On the death of the Tongzhi Emperor in 1875, Li introduced a large army into the capital and effected a coup which placed the
Guangxu Emperor Emperor Guangxu (14 August 1871 – 14 November 1908), personal name Zaitian, was the tenth Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China proper China proper, Inner China or the Eighteen Provinces was a ter ...

Guangxu Emperor
on the throne under the regency of the Empress Dowagers Ci'an and
Cixi Empress Dowager Cixi ( ; mnc, Tsysi taiheo; formerly Romanization of Chinese, romanised as Empress Dowager T'zu-hsi; 29 November 1835 – 15 November 1908), of the Manchu people, Manchu Nara (clan)#Yehe Nara, Yehe Nara clan, was a Chinese nob ...

Cixi
. In 1879, Li was awarded the honorary appointment Crown Prince's Grand Tutor (). In 1886, on the conclusion of the
Sino-French War The Sino-French War (, french: Guerre franco-chinoise, vi, Chiến tranh Pháp-Thanh), also known as the Tonkin War and Tonquin War, was a limited conflict fought from August 1884 to April 1885. There was no declaration of war A declaration ...
, Li arranged a treaty with the French. Li was impressed with the necessity of strengthening the Qing Empire, and while he was Viceroy of Zhili, he raised a large well-drilled and well-armed force, and spent vast sums both in fortifying Port Arthur and the Dagu forts and in strengthening the navy. For years, he had watched the successful reforms effected in Japan and had a well-founded dread of coming into conflict with the Japanese.


Establishing military academies

In 1885, Li founded the Tianjin Military Academy () to train Chinese military officers as part of his military reforms. The move was supported by
Huai Army The Huai Army (), named for the Huai River The Huai River (), formerly romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of la ...
commander Zhou Shengchuan. The academy was to serve Huai Army and
Green Standard Army The Green Standard Army (; Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and ...

Green Standard Army
officers. Various practical military, mathematics and science subjects were taught at the academy. The instructors were German military officers. Another programme was started at the academy for five years in 1887 to train teenagers as new military officers. Mathematics, practical and technical subjects, sciences, foreign languages, Chinese classics and history were taught at the school. Students also took exams. The Weihaiwei and Shanhaiguan military schools copied the Tianjin Military Academy's curriculum. The maritime defence fund supplied the budget for the Tianjin Military Academy, which was shared with the Tianjin Naval Academy.


First Sino-Japanese War

Because of his prominent role in Chinese diplomacy in Korea and strong political connections in
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
, Li found himself directing Chinese forces during the
First Sino-Japanese War The First Sino-Japanese War (25 July 1894 – 17 April 1895) was a conflict between the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperi ...

First Sino-Japanese War
of 1894–1895. In fact, it was mostly the armies that he established and controlled that did the fighting, whereas other Chinese troops led by his political rivals did not come to their aid. Rampant corruption further weakened the Chinese military. For instance, one official misappropriated ammunition funds for personal use. As a result, shells ran out during battle, forcing one navy captain,
Deng Shichang Deng Shichang (4 October 1849 – 17 September 1894), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, incl ...
, to resort to ordering his ship to ram an enemy ship. The defeat of Li's modernised armed forces by the Japanese undermined his political standing, as well as the wider cause of the
Self-Strengthening Movement The Self-Strengthening Movement, also known as the Westernization or Western Affairs Movement (–1895), was a period of institutional reforms initiated in China during the late Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing ...
. Li had received the privilege of wearing a three-eyed peacock feather in his hat – a rare exception because three-eyed peacock feathers had previously been restricted to only members of the – during
Empress Dowager Cixi Empress Dowager Cixi ( ; mnc, Tsysi taiheo; formerly romanised Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well a ...

Empress Dowager Cixi
's 60th birthday celebrations in 1894. However, after the Chinese defeat in the war, Li was disgraced and stripped of his peacock feather. The Qing imperial court initially wanted to send
Zhang YinhuanZhang may refer to: Chinese culture, etc. * Zhang (surname) (張/张), common Chinese surname ** Zhang (surname 章), a rarer Chinese surname * Zhang County (漳县), of Dingxi, Gansu * Zhang River (漳河), a river flowing mainly in Henan * Zhang ( ...
() and Shao Youlian () as their representatives to negotiate with the Japanese, but the Japanese rejected them. Li was selected to take on this mission and was given back his peacock feather. On 24 March 1895, while negotiating with Japan's
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
Itō Hirobumi Duke Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a , or of a member of , or . As rulers, dukes are ranked below s, s, s, s, and sovereign s. As royalty or nobility, they are ranked below princes of nobility and grand dukes. The ...

Itō Hirobumi
and Foreign Affairs Minister
Mutsu Munemitsu Count Count (feminine: countess) is a historical title of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. ...

Mutsu Munemitsu
in
Shimonoseki is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can b ...

Shimonoseki
, Li was attacked by an assassin, Koyama Toyotarō (), who shot him in the left cheek. Koyama was arrested by Japanese police later and he claimed that he desired for the war to continue. Due to the public embarrassment caused by the attack, the Japanese agreed to the immediate ceasefire Li had urged in the days before. On 17 April 1895, Li signed the
Treaty of Shimonoseki #REDIRECT Treaty of Shimonoseki #REDIRECT Treaty of Shimonoseki#REDIRECT Treaty of Shimonoseki The , also known as Treaty of Maguan () in China and in the period before and during WWII in Japan, was a treaty signed at the , Shimonoseki, Japa ...

Treaty of Shimonoseki
with the Japanese, thus ending the First Sino-Japanese War.


Tour of Russia, Europe and North America

In 1896, Li attended the
coronation A coronation is the act of placement or bestowal of a crown '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the stand ...
of
Nicholas II Nicholas II or Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov . ( 186817 July 1918), known in the Russian Orthodox Church as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer, . was the last Emperor of All Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until Abdication of Nicholas II ...

Nicholas II
of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War. ...
on behalf of the Qing Empire and toured Europe, Canada and the United States, where he advocated reform of the American immigration policies that had greatly restricted Chinese immigration after the
Chinese Exclusion Act The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrela ...
of 1882 (renewed in 1892). In a famous interview published by
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of a ...

The New York Times
on September 3, 1896, Li was asked whether he favored the introduction of the newspaper into China as developed in the U.S. or in Europe. Li's answer was stunningly honest: "There are newspapers in China, but the Chinese editors, unfortunately, do not tell the truth. They do not, as your papers, tell 'the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.' The editors in China are great economizers of the truth; they tell only a part of it. They do not have, therefore, the great circulations that your papers have. Because this economy of the truth, our papers fail in the mission of a great press, to be one of the means of civilization." While in Britain, he toured parts of the country by train, keeping with his desire to inspire railway development in his own country while constantly fighting against the prejudices of conservative leaders. He visited the industrial area in
Barrow Barrow may refer to: Places England * Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria ** Borough of Barrow-in-Furness, local authority encompassing the wider area ** Barrow and Furness (UK Parliament constituency) * Barrow, Cheshire * Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire ...
, North West England, and toured Windermere, Lake Windermere on the steamer SY Tern, ''Tern'' operated by the Furness Railway, Furness Railway Company. He also witnessed the Fleet Review, Royal Navy#Queen Victoria, 1896 Royal Naval Fleet Review at Spithead. It was during his visit to Britain in 1896 that
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
made him a Knight Grand Cross of the
Royal Victorian Order The Royal Victorian Order (french: Ordre royal de Victoria) is a established in 1896 by . It recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch of the , members of the monarch's family, or to any or senior representative of the monarch ...
.


Boxer Rebellion and death

In 1900, Li once more played a major diplomatic role in negotiating a settlement with the Eight-Nation Alliance forces which had Battle of Peking (1900), invaded Beijing to put down the Boxer Rebellion. His early position was that the Qing Empire was making a mistake by supporting the Boxers against the foreign powers. During the Siege of the International Legations, Sheng Xuanhuai and other provincial officials suggested that the Qing imperial court give Li full diplomatic power to negotiate with foreign powers. Li telegraphed back to Sheng Xuanhuai on 25 June, describing the declaration of war a "false edict". This tactic gave the "Southeast Mutual Protection" provincial officials a justification not to follow
Empress Dowager Cixi Empress Dowager Cixi ( ; mnc, Tsysi taiheo; formerly romanised Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well a ...

Empress Dowager Cixi
's declaration of war. Li refused to accept orders from the government for more troops when they were needed to fight against the foreigners, which he had available. Li controlled the Chinese telegraph service, whose despatches asserted falsely that Chinese forces had exterminated all foreigners in the siege and convinced many foreign readers. In 1901, Li was the principal Chinese negotiator with the foreign powers which captured Beijing. On 7 September 1901, he signed the Boxer Protocol ending the Boxer Rebellion, and obtained the departure of the Eight-Nation Alliance at the price of huge indemnities for the Chinese. Exhausted from the negotiations, he died from liver inflammation two months later at Xianliang Temple in Beijing. The
Guangxu Emperor Emperor Guangxu (14 August 1871 – 14 November 1908), personal name Zaitian, was the tenth Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China proper China proper, Inner China or the Eighteen Provinces was a ter ...

Guangxu Emperor
posthumously honoured Li as Royal and noble ranks of the Qing dynasty#Notable titles, Marquis Suyi of the First Class (). This peerage was inherited by Li Guojie, who was assassinated in
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four Direct-administered municipalities of China, direct-administered municipalities of the China, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the sou ...

Shanghai
on 21February 1939, allegedly as a result of his support for the Reformed Government of the Republic of China, Nanking Reformed Government.


Family

Li's ancestral family name was actually Xǔ (surname), Xǔ (). His ancestors had migrated from Hukou County, Hukou, Jiangxi, Jiangxi Province to
Hefei Hefei (, ) is the capital and largest city of Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provin ...

Hefei
,
Anhui Province Anhui (; as Anhwei) is a landlocked of the , part of the region. Its provincial capital and largest city is . The province is located across the basins of the and the , bordering to the east, to the southeast, to the south, to the southw ...

Anhui Province
. Li's eighth-great-grandfather, Xu Yingxi (), had given up his second son, Xu Shen (), for adoption by a relative, Li Xinzhuang (). Xu Shen and his descendants had taken Li (surname 李), Li () to be their family name since then. Li's father, Li Wen'an (李文安; 1801–1855), obtained a Imperial examination#Degree types, ''jinshi'' degree in the
imperial examination The Chinese imperial examinations, or ''keju'' (lit. "subject recommendation"), was a civil service examination system in History of China#Imperial era, Imperial China for selecting candidates for the state Civil service#China, bureaucracy. T ...
in 1838 – the same year as
Zeng Guofan Zeng Guofan, Marquis Yiyong (; 26 November 1811 – 12 March 1872), birth name Zeng Zicheng, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This p ...

Zeng Guofan
. Li Wen'an also served as a ''langzhong'' () in the Three Departments and Six Ministries, Ministry of Justice. Li had one elder brother and four younger brothers; he was the second son in his family. His elder brother, Li Hanzhang (; 1821–1899), served as a ''xunfu'' and Viceroys in China, ''zongdu'' in a number of provinces. His third brother, Li Hezhang (; 1825–1880), served as a military officer. His fourth brother was Li Yunzhang (), his fifth brother was Li Fengzhang (), and his sixth brother was Li Zhaoqing (; 1835–1873). Li's first primary spouse, Lady Zhou (), bore him a son, Li Jingyu (), who died prematurely. Lady Zhou died of illness in 1861. Li's second primary spouse, Zhao Xiaolian (), bore him another son, Li Jingshu (). Li Jingshu inherited his father's peerage as Royal and noble ranks of the Qing dynasty#Notable titles, Marquis Suyi (), but died early. Li Jingshu's son, Li Guojie (; 1881–1939), inherited the Marquis Suyi peerage and served in a number of official positions in the final years of the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
. He became an official and industrialist in the Republic of China (1912–49), Republic of China later. Li Guojie also married the daughter of Natong (; 1857–1925), who served in the Grand Secretariat and Grand Council (Qing dynasty), Grand Council. Li's secondary spouse, Lady Mo (), bore him three sons: Li Jingyuan (), Li Jingmai (; 1876–1938) and Li Jingjin (). Among the three, only Li Jingmai survived into adulthood. He served as the Qing Empire's Ambassador to Austria-Hungary and a Right Vice Secretary () in the Ministry of Civil Affairs (). Li had three daughters. One of them, Li Ju'ou (), married Zhang Peilun (1848–1903) and bore the father of the writer Eileen Chang (1920–1995). The other two daughters married Guo Enhou (), the magistrate of Weifang, Weifang County, and Ren Dehe (), the ''zhushi'' () of Yixing, Yixing County. Li also adopted Li Jingfang (1855–1934), a son of his sixth brother Li Zhaoqing. Li Jingfang served as the Qing Empire's Ambassador to Japan and a Left Vice Secretary () in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (). Li's brother Li Hanzhang () had a daughter named Li Peisheng ().


Honours

* Order of the Double Dragon (China) * Knight Grand Cross of the
Royal Victorian Order The Royal Victorian Order (french: Ordre royal de Victoria) is a established in 1896 by . It recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch of the , members of the monarch's family, or to any or senior representative of the monarch ...
(United Kingdom). * Grand Cross of the Order of the Red Eagle (Germany), ''14 June 1896


Legacy and assessment

Li left a word as his self-evaluation: "To know me and judge me is a task for the next millennium" (). Li was regarded favourably in the United States, owing to his reputation for welcoming foreign influence and his 1896 visit to the country. He was wrongly credited with inventing the American Chinese cuisine, American Chinese dish chop suey during the visit. In 1913, William Francis Mannix wrote and published a fabricated ''Memoirs of Li Hung Chang'' which received widespread praise before being exposed as a forgery in 1923. His biographer William J. Hail argued that Li "did perhaps all he could for a land where the conservatism of the people, a reactionary officialdom, and unrestrained international rivalry made each step forward a matter of great difficulty," and praised him as "always progressive, yet patient and conciliatory, it was his fate to bear blame for failures which might have been avoided if he had had his way." The leader of China's New Culture Movement, Hu Shih, was also sympathetic, remarking that if Li had been allowed the opportunity, his achievements for China might have equalled the achievements of his Japanese counterpart,
Itō Hirobumi Duke Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a , or of a member of , or . As rulers, dukes are ranked below s, s, s, s, and sovereign s. As royalty or nobility, they are ranked below princes of nobility and grand dukes. The ...

Itō Hirobumi
, at the 1895
Treaty of Shimonoseki #REDIRECT Treaty of Shimonoseki #REDIRECT Treaty of Shimonoseki#REDIRECT Treaty of Shimonoseki The , also known as Treaty of Maguan () in China and in the period before and during WWII in Japan, was a treaty signed at the , Shimonoseki, Japa ...

Treaty of Shimonoseki
. Chinese nationalists criticised Li's relations with the Western powers and Japan. Liang Qichao's 1902 biography of Li blamed him for China's woes and set the tone for further castigation. In Liang's view, Li was the chief culprit for the Self-Strengthening Movement, which these nationalists condemned for collaborating with the European imperialists and suppressing the masses. Liang Qichao's son, Liang Sicheng, denounced Li in 1951 for "selling out" the country. History textbooks in the People's Republic of China labelled Li as a "Chinese historiography#Marxism, feudalist" and a traitor to the Chinese people. It was not until the 1980s that mainland historians began a serious debate of the sort which had been taking place in Taiwan.


Bribery controversy

Sergei Witte dismissed some rumours during Li's visit to Europe that Li was Bribery, bribed. However, according to the Russian account, Li had urged the Russian government to build a three-million rubles "Li Hongzhang Foundation" to make Li and Zhang Yinheng to support the Li-Lobanov Treaty, Sino-Russia railway treaty and Russia-Qing Convention, Lushun-Dalian Rent Treaty, and a payment of 0.5 million rubles was confirmed. Ma Wenzhong questioned whether the Russian account was reliable.《旅大租借交涉中李鸿章、张荫桓的“受贿”问题 (《学术界》2003年第2期)


Works


Trade Charter Precedents Collection (通商約章成案彙編 1886)


See also

* Battle of Shanghai (1861) * Beiyang Army * Military history of China (pre-1911) *
Self-Strengthening Movement The Self-Strengthening Movement, also known as the Westernization or Western Affairs Movement (–1895), was a period of institutional reforms initiated in China during the late Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing ...
* Tune of Li Zhongtang


Notes


References

* * * * *


Further reading

* * *
Words on Li Hung Chang
from the Papers of Charles Daniel Tenney

from the Papers of Charles Daniel Tenney {{DEFAULTSORT:Li, Hongzhang 1823 births 1901 deaths Politicians from Hefei Chinese people of the Boxer Rebellion People of the First Sino-Japanese War People of the Sino-French War Political office-holders in Guangdong Political office-holders in Hubei Political office-holders in Tianjin Qing dynasty diplomats Qing dynasty politicians from Anhui Honorary Knights Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order Qing dynasty governors of Jiangsu Xiang Army personnel Huai Army personnel Grand Secretaries of the Qing dynasty Assistant Grand Secretaries Viceroys of Huguang Viceroys of Liangguang Viceroys of Zhili Viceroys of Liangjiang Chinese nobility Beiyang Fleet personnel Ministers of Zongli Yamen