Self Strengthening Movement

By this movement, new reforms were introduced by the regime, which were considered as necessary, in order to cope with the international pressures from the outside world. Therefore, the adoption of western practices and learning were considered for the better defense of their regime against the Western influence. This movement was divided into three phases. From 1861 to 1872, the first phase continued its working for the recovery of this regime. However, these practices encouraged the Western influences that changed the various aspects of Qing Dynasty from the scratch.

Western firearms, scientific knowledge, machines, were adopted by the Qing regime. A diplomatic office was also established during this movement, which worked for the training of ambassadorial and technical personnel. During this phase, International law and its principles were also adopted that changed the law system and principles of the Qing Dynasty. However, a suitable environment was provided to the China, for the persuasion of its reforms domestically. The beginning of Western education in China started in the year 1867, through the transformation of a school into full fledge college.

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Xu Jiyu was appointed as its first director, by whom West was often admired. In the institutional environment, a breakthrough was signified, since the beginning of educational modernization and westernization was marked by Prince Kung of the Qing Dynasty. In 1872, another reform was brought in during this movement, which was the initiative of sending groups of students to the Western countries for their specialization. However, the students were westernized by this reform too radically in the nature, and therefore, this program was stopped abruptly in the year 1881.

During the Western influences on the China during its Qing Dynasty, the development of military industries were emphasized as the most important of all. In this regard, shipbuilding dockyards were built, in order to strengthen the arsenals and military of the China. Various examples regarding the development of abovementioned factories can be found in these historical facts. The Shanghai Arsenal was established by the regional leader, Zeng Guo Fan. Nanking and Tientsin Arsenal was built by Li Hung Zhang, whereas, Foochow Dockyard and Kiangnan Arsenal was established and constructed by Zuo Zong Tang and Zeng respectively.

Establishment of various schools for the study of mechanical skills and navigation at these dockyards and arsenals, were performed by this Self Strengthening Movement. These schools were directed by the foreign advisers and counselors, which once again influenced a number of students that came to study in these schools. During these establishments, many efforts disappointed the government and the regime. In the year 1871, the production of breech loading rifles was started that ended in the year 1873, resulted in the production of only 4,200 rifles.

This production was more costly and inefficient than the western available ones. The over growth of foreign staff, due to the lack of efficient skilled persons, increased the costs, which affected the Qing’s economy in a drastic manner. The military organization and structure was also targeted for its modernization by another area of the reforms. Cutting down the Green Standard forces was considered as the most necessary reform, which included the modernization of the remainder after its cutting down to swollen numbers.

However, Li Hong Zhang of Qing Dynasty was failed to done this reform regarding the westernization of the military organization and structure. During the second phase of this modernization movement for coping up with the Western world, the launching of 90 percent of the westernization projects had been done by the most important leader of that time, Li Hong Zhang, who played an important role by initiating in many of projects during the period of 1872 to 1885.


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