How Far Can the ‘Fall of the Qing’ Be Seen as a Turning Point for the Course of the 20th Century?

1978 Words8 Pages
The fall of the Qing dynasty marked the end of an era in Chinese history. The fall spelled the demise of a 200 year old ruling family and a system that had governed the region for over a thousand years. To fully assess whether or not this event can be seen as a turning point for the course of the 20th century, the term must be defined and then it needs to be compared with two other events of a similar magnitude. A turning point is an event which sparks great and decisive change and completely transforms the direction and course of a nation. The event would have to include far reaching consequences that affect the social, political and economic make-up of the country. In 1912 the Qing formally resigned governance of China over to Yuan Shikai. The destruction of the dynastic system had a series of knock on affects that could result in the event being recognised as a turning point. Furthermore it could be argued that the Qing’s fall was the root cause of most of the significant events that occurred in China during the 20th century. Jonathan Fenby argues that the revolution of 1912 brought great opportunity for the prospect of a turning point but the regimes that came directly after “lacked the tools with which to bring about the scale of change required”. The fall of the Qing impacted on a social, political and economic level, not always in a positive fashion but great decisive change nonetheless. Qing China was a time of great political and social repression. However there was some attempt within the Qing period to reform, for instance in the year 1905 the degree system was transformed, ending a thousand-year tradition. Examples like this and the introduction of provincial assemblies in 1909 indicates that social and political reform was happening under the Qing. Perhaps suggestingthat the further reform post fall was an inevitable feature of 20th century China,
Open Document