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What was the aim of the Tongzhi Restoration?

The aim of the Tongzhi Restoration was to restore the traditional order and strengthen the Qing Dynasty in China.

The Tongzhi Restoration, named after the Tongzhi Emperor, was a period of attempted reform in the Qing Dynasty during the late 19th century. The primary aim of this restoration was to restore the traditional order, which had been disrupted by the Taiping Rebellion and other internal and external crises. The Qing court sought to strengthen the dynasty by adopting certain Western military technologies and administrative techniques while maintaining the core of traditional Chinese social and political order.

The restoration was initiated by the regents of the young Tongzhi Emperor, Empress Dowager Cixi and Prince Gong. They sought to restore the authority of the Qing court, which had been severely weakened by the Taiping Rebellion, the Second Opium War, and other challenges. The restoration aimed to achieve this by adopting 'self-strengthening' policies, which involved learning from the West in certain areas, such as military technology and education, while maintaining the core of traditional Chinese values and social order.

The restoration also aimed to restore the traditional Confucian moral order, which had been disrupted by the social upheavals of the mid-19th century. This involved a renewed emphasis on traditional Confucian values such as filial piety, loyalty to the emperor, and the importance of moral character in public life. The restoration also sought to strengthen the civil service examination system, which was seen as a key pillar of the traditional order.

However, the restoration faced significant challenges. The Qing court was deeply divided between conservatives who opposed any form of Westernisation and reformers who believed that more radical reforms were necessary to save the dynasty. Moreover, the restoration was hampered by corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency, and the lack of a clear vision for reform. Despite these challenges, the Tongzhi Restoration represented a significant attempt to modernise China and strengthen the Qing Dynasty in the face of internal and external threats.

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