The Century of Humiliation – Part 1 l HISTORY OF CHINA

It’s not for nothing that the period stretching
around 100 years from the 1840s to the 1940s is known as China’s century of humiliation. During this time, the country suffered huge internal fragmentation, embarrassing loss
of territory, and invasion from powers that had, for thousands of years, been subordinate
to China. Maybe it was nostalgia, maybe it was ignorance, but Chinese rulers should have
seen it coming. Hello and welcome to It’s History. My name’s
Guy, and this episode in our story of China takes you through a series of invasions, uprisings
and revolutions that led to the foundation of the Republic of China, a hastily contrived
state that emerged from the inglorious end to thousands of years of regnal rule. In the wake of the First Opium War, which
resulted from confiscation of British opium shipments, a series of treaties would swing
the balance of power from China to the colonial states. Having prevented just such a loss of influence through strict measures such as the Canton port system, which allowed a
state monopoly to keep a firm grip on all international trade, China now lost Hong Kong
to Great Britain, and had to pay punishing indemnities to compensate for trade losses. These were the “unequal treaties”, so-called because Britain had no obligations to China
in return. Meanwhile, the first major incidence of anti-Manchu
sentiment was just round the corner. In 1851, Hong Xiuquan established the Taiping Heavenly
Kingdom. It was a Christian revolt — evidence that colonial missionaries had been successfully
spreading the Gospel — but also evidence of a severely deluded gentleman. Hong had
failed the Imperial Examinations, and then became very ill. As he recovered from his
fever, he claimed to have a vision — that he we was the younger brother of Jesus. Either
mother Mary had been in a time warp, or Hong had been on something very strong. In spite of the rather whacky justification
for the uprising, Hong’s newly declared kingdom could at least claim to hold high
moral standing. Slavery, prostitution, opium, footbinding and torture were all banned, leaving
only sex for evening entertainment — or letter-writing, which was Hong’s main pastime. In fact,
he withdrew from frontline leadership and ruled exclusively by written decree. His notes
became increasingly cryptic, and then took on the form of sermons. It did not take long to crush the revolt.
In fact, Qing forces were backed up by colonial armies. Hong and his associates had tried
expressly to seal alliances with European powers and the middle classes who’d had
enough of Qing heavy-handedness. The colonists’ religious sympathies might have lain with
Hong and his followers, but the threat they posed to internal stability was too great. Nanjing, the seat of the fated new holy empire, fell in 1864, but Hong had gained cult status and there were still several hundred thousand loyal followers championing his cause. Both
Sun Yat-sen, China’s prized revolutionary, and Chairman Mao cited Hong as an inspiration. The Taiping Rebellion was a major wake-up
call for the authorities, and ushered in a period known as the Tongzhi Restoration starting
in the 1860s. This aimed to reestablish Confucian order and ethics as part of a self-strengthening
movement. The authorities turned back to old times and old thinking to try to avert a crisis, but it was a policy that was never going to work. The revolutionary spirit was rife, and
there was abject failure to see that the theories and practices that had governed China since
prehistory could now only form the backdrop to a much revised approach to politics, trade
and international relations. Empress Dowager Cixi did not help progress. This was her heyday; while well-intentioned rulers tried to introduce changes that might
have restored some faith in Manchu rule, Cixi stubbornly and, rather ignorantly, meddled
to divert the course of modernisation. The first phase of self-strengthening, in
the 1860s, focussed on military prowess and foreign relations. Western firearms, machines
and scientific knowledge and training were the focus of imperial policy. A strong indication
of diplomatic progress was the foundation of the Imperial Maritime Customs Service,
led by diplomat Horatio Nelson Lay (no relation to the great Lord Nelson, Britain’s naval
hero): The Service was designed to collect tariffs
equitably, and generate new revenues for the Manchu court. It was successful in its task, increasing takings from 8.5m taels of silver annually in 1865 to 14.5m in 1885. A tael,
by the way, was a unit of measurement. The second phase focussed on industrial development. Shipping was commercialised, as were railways and mines. This was less than successful,
as core industries were now plagued by nepotism and corruption. The Second Opium War, which resulted from
an unjustified Chinese attack on a British vessel, led to the 1858 Tientsin Treaty, which
dealt a heavy blow to China. All official documentation was now to be written in English, and Britain was to be granted unrestricted access to all Chinese waterways. By now, colonial powers were becoming nervous
about the uprisings that were targeting religious groups. Conservatives in the Qing court wanted
in turn to distance themselves from foreign influence, and Prince Gong, who had been instrumental
in negotiating diplomatic relations, was quietly quashed. The first Sino-Japanese War ending in 1895
came as another huge blow to China. Over the centuries, this comparatively small collection
of islands had been a Chinese puppet. But Japan had seen change on the horizon, and
had opened up to foreign trade in the 1850s. She sent delegations of students all over
the world to study the makings of western governance and progress. 20 years of education
paid off in subduing Korea in 1894, which led to her independence and a large bounty
to Japan that equalled over six times her GDP. Japan’s interference led indirectly
to the formation of the short-lived Republic of Taiwan in 1895, and she entered into a
series of new alliances with western powers that began to encircle China. Emperor Guangxu was on the throne after China’s
heavy losses both to neighbouring and far-away powers. He was shocked by Japan’s rampant
progress, and feared the scramble for privileges in China from German and Russian imperial
prospectors. He initiated the Hundred Days’ Reform, where he intended to introduce widespread
modernisation to China’s administration and defence structures. Guangxu wanted rapid industrialisation throughout
China, and to inspire the capitalist ethic. But China had no tradition of any of these
things, and a decree from an emperor was not going to change the status quo overnight. Moreover, Empress Dowager Cixi loosened her grasp on the ultra-nationalist and fierce
Boxers. Both she and they resented the increasingly suffocating influence that foreign powers
had over China, and it led to war. The damage Japan dealt to China during the
first half of the Century of Humiliation is evidence enough of how imperial China had
lost its way, and how the colonial powers had worked to wrest power from imperial hands.
Japan’s rapprochement with the west had been initiated by the US, and led to alliances
with Great Britain in 1902. She had precipitated Korea’s independence, and Taiwan’s too. Though the colonial powers had been dragged
into war to suppress the Taiping uprising, and been the targets themselves of insurrection
at the hands of the Boxers, they had succeeded in taking advantage of a brief period of reform
during the 1860s and 1870s. But by now, the Qing dynasty’s demise was inevitable. Revolutionary
fervour was rife, and China’s declaration of independence was just a few years away. One of the main events of this serious of uprisings was the Boxer Rebellion. If you’d like to know more about this event in Chinese history click up here! “Adapt or Die” so said Charles Darwin at a time where most of the world was doing just that. The Qing dynasty would have been
wise to take note of the edict. But can the imperial leaders themselves be blamed for
mismanaging the transition to a free-market world? They certainly did not do much to help
necessary changes on their way. But could the imperial powers have been kinder, perhaps
helping to introduce reforms that would have left Chinese rule and order in a stronger
position leading into the twentieth century? And why did nobody assassinate Cixi?! Leave your comments and queries in the section
below. We love the fact that so many of you are inspired by our videos, and we’re
equally happy to engage in debate with you! My name’s Guy, thanks for popping by see you next time.

  1. I never thought of the Taiping rebellion of being easily suppressed, with a possible death toll of up to 20-30 million with a possible 100 thousand dying at the 3rd battle of Nanking

  2. The video uses the wrong Chinese flag at 7:14. That's the communist Chinese flag after WW2, not the correct Nationalist Chinese flag in 1911.

  3. These never pop up on my sub box anymore. I sit here and wait and wait but it never comes. I suppose that's my period of humiliation huehe

  4. The Taiping Rebellion consisted mainly of Cantonese and Hakka southerners, whereas the Boxer Rebellion was a northerners' rebellion. Both convinced the Europeans that a nominally independent China rather than direct colonial control over China would be better for European control.

  5. Great video guys, perhaps in the future you can do a series of videos on the rise and fall of colonial empires and the fate of the former colonies? e.g Australia, New Zealand and the various Asian and African nations that were colonised

  6. For people that can understand Chinese, I highly recommend the documentary series Dragon Banner Aflame. The episode on early railroad development alone is worth seeking it out. The series starts at Taiping Rebellion and ends at the Boxer rebellion.

    The series webpage

    The one on railroad development

    Also if you string the title of each episode together it forms Li Hongzhang's Autobiographical poem, written in the 1890s.


  7. Both Taiping movement and Communism rebellion show the great power of thoughts. The collision between the new-coming with the vested lead to The Clash of Civilizations, cause huge lose of society, derail the possibility of catch-up. Chinese someties are too naive to resist the lure of western Apple.

  8. please try to find some glasses with less reflective surface on the sides, it messes up Guy's head with the green screen 🙂 Otherwise: brilliant as always!

  9. This video, like most, is wrong about Taiwan. Taiwan was given to Japan by the Qing via the Treaty of Shimoniseki and the Republic of Formosa was formed in defiance to the Japanese. The Japanese quickly invaded and took over Taiwan, governing Taiwan as a part of Japanese territory for the next 50 years.

  10. Just want to say I'm grateful for the inclusion of the subtitles. I'm hearing-impaired, and while I catch 99% of what's said (thanks to hearing aids) it's nice, especially during the points where the music gets louder, to see the words along the bottom as well. 🙂

  11. While seeing depictions of sexual activity drawn (from what I assume) by a Chinese artist of the time can be educational and is an insight to how the people thought, I honestly don't feel safe watching IT'S HISTORY at my computer in the teacher's office at the school I work at anymore after this episode.

    I think IT'S HISTORY can be a great resource for the classroom, but explicit images could prevent teachers from using your material in their lesson.

    Anyways, I look forward to watching many more years of IT'S HISTORY.

  12. If other western colonialists hadn't told to do so Japan wouldn't have gone to war with China. same as Japan Russia war. If England hadn't told Japan to do so Japan wouldn't have gone to war with Russia. at that time Japan was called as honorbly white by west and used usufully by west.

  13. Century of Humiliation is No MORE.

    China suffered 100 years of decline and fall, after 3000 years of economic, cultural, and military supremacy, China has fallen for a brief period of 100 years

    now China is back at the TOP of the world order. centuries of Glory and Domination awaits the Chinese people

  14. will you do a series on Japan in the near future? I like this series on China and would be interested a similar one for Japan

  15. The Taiping Rebellion is really given short shrift here, bordering on misinformation. This was a titanic 15 year struggle that did not end 'shortly' as the video says and was one of the most bloody civil wars in all history (and by some estimates the most costly civil war in history- including the 20th). The Qing government had to restructure the military in order to defeat the Taiping and this restructuring that gave much more power to local generals contributed greatly to the coming war lord era of the early 20th century. As an aside, one of the most bizarre laws of the Taiping was that sexual relations was not allowed- even for married couples. Of course, this rule was not applied to the 'Heavenly King', Hong. Its not too late to do an episode focusing on this topic and do it justice.

  16. Japan a Chinese puppet?
    Careful with your choice of words there. Japan was never under much political influence from China. It merely was listed as a tributary state once because Japan traded with China and trading with non-tributaries was unheard of, so the Chinese labelled the import as "tribute" and the export to Japan as imperial gifts to make it work.

  17. "it did not take long to crush the revolt" he says about a nearly 15 year rebellion that killed twice as many people as WW1

  18. "the fall of the Qing was inevitable" if history has taught me something its that nothing was inevitable. it was just very likely that the Qing would fall to some power or another but I can get quite nitpicky

  19. "unjustified Chinese attack of a british vessel"?! WTF?! that ship, "the arrow", was a chinese smugglers ship crewed by chinese sailors, registered as british with the british authorities, but the register had long expired when it was searched. the whole thing was drummed up by british press at home, because, well, britainnia can do no wrong.

  20. The more I learn about all of the Unequal Treaties the European powers proposed, the more I understand the meaning "Gweilo".

  21. Wait, are Britons actually taught that the Opium Wars were totally okay and justified? "unjustified attack on a British Naval Vessel" Just saying that if y'all are… the entire world sorta disagrees…

  22. BUlshit, the Qing collapsed more due to their internal instability rather than Europeans,
    also "colonial" power is not the correct term to use since China was fully independent and still can put a great fight to whoever tried to colonise China,

    what crushed and weakened the Qing was the Taiping rebellion which killed more than 20million people, more than the entire casualties of ww1 and severely weakened the Qing dynasty.

  23. If China don't invade others,some country will wipe him.I hope my country China will invade others in the future

  24. On the 14-year-long Taiping Rebellion, the most deadly civil war ever fought and largest armed conflict of the century: "It did not take long to put down the revolt".

  25. Jumped pretty heavily over the taiping rebellion there…Also I think youre giving an unfair bias on empress dowager cixi.

  26. And now their nationalism will be a scourge and hegemony on the world. No thanks as much as US imperialism is a menace I don't want to live under their rule and greed.

  27. It was called a century of humiliation because China was so self centred and looking down others as inferior without truly assessing her real self.European wanted to trade not to conquer but China wanted to show them her fist before anything else.Make all others to Kowtow to them regardless.Anyone can lose their temper this way.

  28. You can do a series on why increasing number of people from Hong Kong want to protect the British Crown and become increasingly loyal to Britain after June 30,1997.

  29. Hi, I am in search of information about europeans breeding with asians. It seems that many asians have fair skin tones and through 1840-1940 I know that many asians would have been forced to have sex on a mass scale with all the invading powers. This issue is never talked about. Please send info if you have.

  30. China was always a backward civilization and the rise of intelligence and spirit in Europe showed China as she always had been.
    Unlike the Japanese China failed to raise the intelligence of the common people but only targeted the lives to learn science and tech.
    japans dictators did the right thing and chinas didn't. only now is china getting out of a inferiority status and we will see if such a high population is worthy of our attention.
    However get rid of the dictators.

  31. Japan, a Chinese puppet?! OMFG.

    Japan was influenced by China, yes, but only in the sense that the Japanese copied Chinese institutions, writing systems, architecture, etc. China never controlled Japan's political institutions or individuals such as the Shoguns or Japanese Emperors.

  32. 百年羞耻 死了多少人 赔了多少黄金白银 割了多少土地 要是宋朝就进行工业 或者郑和那会不闭关锁国 我就不用学英语了

  33. 7:12 It should be the flag of Taiwan (Republic of China). The fall of Qing was followed by birth of the Republic of China.
    The PRC (People's Republic of China) was after 1949.

  34. No one assassinated Cixi because the western colonial powers could not control all of China, but they could push around the royal family. Also, the "Second Opium War" was not faught because of an 'unjustified attack on a British navel vessel.' You need to look past 160-year-old British propaganda to understand that.

  35. this video makes Japan sounds like a liberator of east asia nations from the ruling of China which is completely wrong.

  36. When we were the Sick Man of Asia, we were called The Yellow Peril.
      When we are billed to be the next Superpower, we are called The Threat.
      When we closed our doors, you smuggled drugs to open markets.
      When we embrace Free Trade, You blame us for taking away your jobs.
      When we were falling apart, You marched in your troops and wanted your fairshare.
      When we tried to put the broken pieces back together again, Free Tibet you screamed, It Was an Invasion!
      When we tried Communism, you hated us for being Communist.
      When we embrace Capitalism, you hate us for being Capitalist.
      When we have a billion people, you said we were destroying the planet.
      When we tried limiting our numbers, you said we abused human rights.
      When we were poor, you thought we were dogs.
      When we loan you cash, you blame us for your national debts.
      When we build our industries, you call us Polluters.
      When we sell you goods, you blame us for global warming.
      When we buy oil, you call it exploitation and genocide.
      When you go to war for oil, you call it liberation.
      When we were lost in chaos and rampage, you demanded rules of law.
      When we uphold law and order against violence, you call it violating human rights.
      When we were silent, you said you wanted us to have free speech.
      When we are silent no more, you say we are brainwashed-xenophobes.
      “Why do you hate us so much﹖”we asked.
      “No,” you answered, “we don't hate you.” We don't hate you either. But, do you understand us?
      “Of course we do, ”you said, “We have AFP, CNN and BBC's ······”
      What do you really want from us?
      Think hard first, then answer ······ Because you only get so many chances.
      Enough is Enough, Enough Hypocrisy for This One World.
      We want One World, One Dream, and Peace on Earth.
      This Big Blue Earth is Big Enough for all of Us.

    From Adrian Fu

  37. God damn this video is so biased, painting western imperialist intervention as justified policy. Fuck this channel

  38. Japan was never a "puppet" to the Chinese. The only reason why Chinese letters appear in the Japanese language is due to trade and commerce between the nations, not national subjugation. Other than being a major cultural influence on Japanese culture, China never conquered Japan, or installed any "puppets".

  39. It was so amusing how this author knew so little about the history and pretended to know about it by misrepresenting the historical facts.

  40. The taiping rebellion was the result of manichean eastern christian missionaries, with lots of followers in the whole of China over hundreds of years earlier, it was not in any way new or western-influenced.

  41. Thank you for doing all this AMAZING work for us for free. This is the only channel I watch without ad block. Wow, you guys are so awesome, so much hard work must have went into this.

  42. china is still a disgusting third world country, beeing communist and treating TIBET like this, what is that? SHAME ON YOU CHINA

  43. "…unjustified attack on British vessel…"? What is that? A praise of colonialism? Shocking amount of misinformation, mistakes, private opinions in the sauce of western superiority, in that video.

  44. It's funny, some of the points in this video contradict the points Indy made on the Opium War and Boxer Rebellion video, this one seems to have a fairer view on how China didn't help itself with all their policies and they were root causes in what happened with Western powers, rather than just "Darn western imperialists".

  45. Japan's expansion didn't lead to the independence of Korea as a Vassal state of China then and Taiwan as China's province but made these two annexed into Imperial Japan as colonies until its surrender in the end of WWII. After WWII Taiwan was returned to China and Korea won its independence but quickly split into two nations, north and south Korea with Soviet and US interference. Very soon after winning the WWII as ally force, KMT, then the ruling party of China was defeated by CPC in the cruel Chinese civil war and then retreated to Taiwan as its final fortress of the Republic of China(ROC). But in the mainland, ROC has been a past tense or a previous dynasty replaced by PRC as the only legitimate government representing China recognized nowadays by most countries in the world. So both the separation of north and south Koreas, and the status quo between Taiwan Strait are the consequences of WWII and the cold war. We can never deny that it is a tragedy for both Korean and Chinese people in their own history.

  46. thanks for the pro-Western view on Chinese history. I'll always remembered what I learned: the second Opium War was China's fault, somehow.

  47. The perfect storm that wiped out the Ming Dynasty! I personally think the Ming is the weakest empire since the imperialism is too focused on the traditions and confusions, the Manchu were more Chinese than the Chinese, so of speech. The ancient dragon that have survived thousand of years and will still be here on earth for a few thousand more! The believe of yin and yang is the perfect description of Chinese history, it rise and it fall, a never ending story, if there is sunlight there will be China!

  48. "The second opium war which resulted from an unjustified Chinese attack on British opium smuggler"

    That's like saying police and customs are unjustified when they arrest Mexican cartels sailing armed gunboats into USA etc. and then Mexican cartels also forcing unequal treaties on USA and if USA breaks those treaties it's "unjustified" to break them.

    How biased.

  49. 'The second opium war, which resulted from an unjustified attack by the Chinese on an English vessel ' the Chinese detained Chinese sailors on an English ship involved in piracy. These are called opium wars because the English were selling opium in China against their will. Blocking this channel

  50. You missed the french conquest of Cochinchina/Indochina. That's an area that comprises Vietnam, Laos and Cambodga that the chinese lost in only a handful of years.

  51. You made a mistake about the sex part. In Hong's kingdom sex is considered evil and all sexual activities are strictly banned, even for married couples. All men and women of any age are separated into male and female camps, and are forbidden to see each other. Those found violating this law get decapitated. But it doesn't apply to Hong himself or other nobels of the kingdom, they each has dozens of concubines. Hong has 88. They also routinely select virgins from the female camps to enter their personal harems.

  52. I do not know how the west justify those wars now, unjustly attack on British ship well they are in their fucking country you ass holes

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