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China – The End of the Qing Dynasty, 1842-1911

5. Self-Strengthening Movement: Phase III, 1885-95

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In this module, we think about the third phase of the Self-Strengthening Movement (1885-95), ending with the expansion of Japan into Korea and northern China and Chinese defeat in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-5). In particular, we think about: (i) the increasing wealth of the Chinese population, especially those involved in business and international trade; (ii) the embrace of western values in this period; (iii) the increased importance of private traders in this period, especially those working in infrastructure (e.g. ship-building, railway construction); (iv) the increase in Russian activity in and around Manchuria, and in central and east Asia more generally; (v) the development of the Chinese customs system in this period; (vi) the incorporation of Korea into the Japanese sphere of influence and the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95); (vii) the reasons for Japanese victory in the Sino-Japanese War, and the impact on Chinese, Japanese and Russian interests in the region; and (viii) the extent and strength of the Japanese Empire by the end of the twentieth century.


In this course, Dr Lars Laaman (SOAS, University of London) explores the history of China between the end of the First Opium War (1839-42) to the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911. In the first module, we think about the immediate aftermath of the First Opium War and the growing influence of the western powers up to the sweeping changes introduced by the Treaty of Tianjin in 1858. After that, in the second module, we shift our focus to two huge rebellions that took place almost simultaneously in different parts of the country – the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) and the Nian Rebellion (1851-68) – before turning in the third, fourth and fifth modules to explore the three phases of the Self-Strengthening Movement (1861-72, 1872-85, 1885-95). In the sixth module, we think about the Hundred Day’s Reform – an abortive attempt to introduce sweeping cultural, political and educational reforms to the Qing Empire – before turning in the seventh module the causes, course and consequences of the Boxer Rebellion (1898-1900). Finally, in the eighth module, we look at the final decade of Qing rule, in which the Qing administration made one last attempt at reform before its final collapse in 1911.


Dr Lars Laamann is a Lecturer in the History of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. He specialises in the history of imperial China, including popular religion, medicine, drugs and healing and Manchu culture in the Qing empire. His publications include Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs in China (co-authored with Frank Dikotter and Xun Zhou, 2004) and Christian Heretics in Late Imperial China (2006).

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APA style

Laamann, L. (2021, January 25). China – The End of the Qing Dynasty, 1842-1911 - Self-Strengthening Movement: Phase III, 1885-95 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Laamann, L. "China – The End of the Qing Dynasty, 1842-1911 – Self-Strengthening Movement: Phase III, 1885-95." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 25 Jan 2021,