Rethinking the Decline of China's Qing Dynasty: Imperial Activism and Borderland Management at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rethinking the Decline of China's Qing Dynasty

Imperial Activism and Borderland Management at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century, 1st Edition

By Daniel McMahon


212 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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The many instances of regional insurgency and unrest that erupted on China’s borderlands at the turn of the nineteenth century are often regarded by scholars as evidence of government disability and the incipient decline of the imperial Qing dynasty. This book, based on extensive original research, argues that, on the contrary, the response of the imperial government went well beyond pacification and reconstruction, and demonstrates that the imperial political culture was dynamic, innovative and capable of confronting contemporary challenges. The author highlights in particular the Jiaqing Reforms of 1799, which enabled national reformist ideology, activist-oriented administrative education, the development of specialised frontier officials, comprehensive borderland rehabilitation, and the sharing of borderland administration best practice between different regions. Overall, the book shows that the Qing regime had sustained vigour, albeit in difficult and changing circumstances.


"This book brings a new and significant perspective to the study of China's Qing dynasty, and such a thought-provoking volume will be invaluable to both scholars and students of Chinese borderlands and Qing political history."

Hang Lin, Asian Affairs

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: Transitions in Education and Ideology 1. The Yuelu Academy and Hunan’s Nineteenth Century Turn Statecraft Toward Statecraft 2. Dynastic Decline, Heshen, and the Ideology of the Jiaqing Reforms Part 2: Management of the Hunan Miao Frontier 3. Identity and Conflict on a Chinese Borderland: Yan Ruyi and the Recruitment of the Gelao During the 1795-7 Miao Revolt 4. New Order on China’s Hunan Miao Frontier, 1796-1812 Part 3: Management of the Southern Shaanxi Highlands 5. Qing Reconstruction in the Southern Shaanxi Highlands: State Perceptions and Plans, 1799-1820 6. Southern Shaanxi Border Officials in Early Nineteenth Century China Part 4: Management of the Guangdong Coast 7. Qing Highland Precedent, Yan Ruyi, and the Defense of the Guangdong Coast, 1804-5

About the Author

Daniel McMahon is a Professor in the Department of History, at Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan

About the Series

Asian States and Empires

The importance of Asia will continue to grow in the twenty-first century, but remarkably little is available in English on the history of the polities that constitute this critical area.  Most current work on Asia is hindered by the extremely limited state of knowledge of the Asian past in general, and the history of Asian states and empires in particular.  Asian States and Empires is a book series that will provide detailed accounts of the history of states and empires across Asia from earliest times until the present.  It aims to explain and describe the formation, maintenance and collapse of Asian states and empires, and the means by which this was accomplished, making available the history of more than half the world’s population at a level of detail comparable to the history of Western polities.  In so doing, it will demonstrate that Asian peoples and civilizations had their own histories apart from the West, and provide the basis for understanding contemporary Asia in terms of its actual histories, rather than broad generalizations informed by Western categories of knowledge.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General