Liu Hung-Chang and China’s Early Modernization

Kwang-Ching Liu, Samuel C. Chu

“Opportunity for high office is a matter of fate”
-Tseng Kuo Fan advising Li Hung Chang. (Page 21)

Li was a son of a Chin-Shih degree holder. He himself moved through the examination system rapidly and won the Chin-Shih degree, age only 24. He moved up the ranks of the Ching dynasty rapidly under the mentorship of Tseng. He was ambitious.

Li was the single most important officer in the Ching dynasty from 1860 to 1900. In 1884 he was both the war minister and foreign minister in the disastrous defeat against the Japanese.

Recognizing that China needed to modernize to resist the encroachments by the ‘foreign devils ‘, he started the infrastructure to make industrial China possible.

To my knowledge, this is the most recent book-length study of Li in English. It is not a biography. Instead, we have 13 essays on His Rise, his Role as an official, as a diplomat, and as a Moderniser.

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