The War of the Three Feudatories, 1673-1681
At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, Qing emperors had to grow up fast. Kangxi, one of the most admired rulers in China’s history, arrested Oboi when he was fifteen. The most significant problems that Kangxi was facing was to make China under Manchu’s control. However, Southwest part of China had not been fully integrated into Peking’s administration. Due to the long distance, extreme climates, and shortage of official loyal to his sovereign, Peking’s Administration left the south and southwest China to three Chinese generals. Those three Chinese generals controlled their territories independently and their territories seemed like countries. They were too big that the lands under their control were equivalent to a combination of France and Spain. Those three generals controlled all taxes and they requested lavish subsidies from Peiking.
In 1673, Wu sangui refused to leave his territory peacefully and declared a new dynasty. He moved all these armies to Hunan and the other two generals joined Wu in 1674 and 1676. Wu suggested restoring Ming’s customs so that the Chinese can be loyal to him. He also tried to find offspring from Ming dynasty so that he could build up his own dynasty. Wu commanded Kangxi to leave Chinese territory and build up a new kingdom in Manchuria and Korea. Kangxi refused Wu’s option and killed Wu’s son, Wuyingxiong in Peiking.
Wu’s armies had better financial and governed supports than any of Ming’s loyalist princes had. Although many of the Chinese were loyal to Qing resisted service to Wu, they were still in minority and they had to obey Wu during that period. Qing dynasty was dividing and Peking’s government seemed to lose any control of all of China south of the Yangzi River. However, although Kangxi was young, he could unify his governors and fought back to Wu. Moreover, Manchu’s generals were untried in battle. And the Three Feudatories could not fight against Qing together. All of those facts suggested that Kangxi would win this warfare.
Wu sangui finally declared himself emperor of the new Zhou dynasty in 1678 but it was meaningless. He died at the same year and his grandson still fought with Qing for three more years. Finally, his grandson suicided since he was in the trap by Manchu generals. Wu’s followers were all executed, and his other two rebellious Feudatories surrendered to Kangxi and Emperor Kangxi had accepted their surrender.
Three Feudatories war ends in 1681. Kangxi nominated his close advisor and took away the rights of all officers who support the rebel. After that process, China became a stronger country although Kangxi nearly lost the kingdom. After the distinction of the Three Feudatories, taxes were sent back to Peking and the Kangxi renewed the examination again that began in those areas. But the rebellion was still in Kangxi’s mind. He did not trust any government from those four provinces and he barely went to Hunan, Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guizhou. Kangxi had never regretted the decision he made.
Taiwan and Maritime China
The integration of Taiwan into China’s history dates from the mid-seventeenth century. In the 1640s and 1650s, Zheng’s family was a pirate and trader between Fujian, Japan, and Taiwan. Although Zheng Zhilong surrendered to Qing, his son, Koxinga still fought with Qing. Koxinga was born in 1624. His mother is Japanese, and his father is a Chinese who spanned his business from Nagasaki to Macao. In the 1650s, Koxinga fought with the Manchus along with China’s east coast and he made Amoy become an international entrepot. Koxinga traded goods into naval supplies and gunpowder. He attacked Nanjing but failed. Then he fought with the Dutch and took control of Taiwan in 9 months. Since Koxinga kept fighting with Qing, his parents were executed in Peiking. He died in 1662. Although Oboi removed the Chinese coastal population from 1661, Qing still could not take control of Taiwan at that time. Qing government and the Dutch had two expeditions against Taiwan but were fizzled out. And due to the Three Feudatories war, Zheng’s family had enough time to develop the economy and trades without any disturbance by the Qing’s government. Over hundreds of thousands of Chinese people were under Zheng’s family control. They produced large quantities of rice and sugarcane and conducted considerable business in salt, refined sugar and shipbuilding.
After the Three Feudatories war, ShiLang controlled three hundred war vessels and defeated Zheng’s family. Three months later, Taiwan surrendered. Kangxi did not execute Zheng’s family. He sent them to protect the north of China. Finally, Taiwan was into the Qing empire and it became a prefecture of Fujian province. Kangxi also sent 8000 troops to be left permanently on Taiwan island. Further Chinese emigration to Taiwan was also limited.
Wooing the Intellectuals
Kangxi showed the respect for Confucian and in 1670, he issued to the nation a series of sixteen maxims that were designed to be a summation of Confucian moral values. Kangxi wanted to use this way to control Chinese people. Since Chinese people used to follow Confucian doctrines. Kangxi improved by those years and his advisors and governors knew that Kangxi learned a lot of Chinese customs and knowledge. Kangxi also published Fifty Special Degrees Awards. He ordered that nominations be sent from the provinces for a special examination. All the scholars were sent to help compile the official history of the Ming dynasty.
During that period, three scholars stood out both for their actions and their writings. The first one was the Hunanese Wang Fuzhi, who wrote a history of the prince of Gui’s court. The second one was Huang Zhongxi, who believed that the emperors themselves should have less power. The third one is called Gu Yanwu, who believed that philology was a fundamental tool for evaluating the exact meaning of China’s earlier scholarly legacy. But he barely participated in any examinations held by the Qing government. There are also a number of early Wing painters who used their art to show their agitation and lack of faith in the regime. The artistry of Kong Shangren was accepted by Kangxi and his play about the Ming Dynasty was played in Kangxi’s court. All of those facts show that Kangxi was open-mind and he wanted to unify the Chinese under his control.
Defining the Borders
Kangxi still allowed the Portuguese to retain Macao as the base for their east Asian trade. But for Russia, Kangxi had a different point of view. Kangxi had been preparing for attacking the Russian’s Albazin on the Amur River. In 1685, Manchu took the control of Albazin. But Russian troops fought back in 1686. Kangxi decided to attack Albazin again. But finally, Qing and Russia made the Treaty of Nerchinsk. It was one of the most important treaties in Chinese history since the territory of China did not change a lot until now. Taiwan was divided into China since that time. After signed the treaty with Russia, Kangxi decided to fight with Galdan. He had been to Galden by himself to show his talented leadership in the warfare. On the other hand, he did not trust too much on his generals. After a long warfare, Galdan finally surrendered. Then, the Qing took control of Tibet and made the Dalai Lama become the leader in Lhasa, Tibet. After those long foreign wars, Qing secured the places that their ancestors lived and there was no dynasty can control wider territories than Qing did. All of those wars indicated that Qing had the capacity of the mobilization of the military to fight with foreign nations. Kangxi was proud of his intelligence on warfare.
A Mixed Legacy
Kangxi set Yinreng as the next emperor. Yinreng was taught as the next leader of the nation and he did rule the country while Kangxi was in Galdan in 1696 to 1697. However, when Kangxi return to Peiking, he started to hear that Yinreng’s behaviors were not proper for an emperor. Kangxi developed a new program called the Grand Secretariat to did surveillance to his eight sons. Since he kept receiving messages of disadvantages of Yinreng, he terminated Yinreng’s Heir-apparent conditions and executed Yinreng’s close friends. Since this event, Kangxi did not set the next emperor again. In the last decade of Kangxi’s control, Kangxi supported the developments of the Christian religion in China. And he asked Christians to accept that Chinese rites of the ancestors. However, Kangxi weaken the power of Catholic churches in China. Kangxi’s action made a barrier between Eastern and Western culture so that Western technology could not be sent to China.
Kangxi also did not build up a well-developed taxation system and rural administration. Since there was not any accurate data about population and taxation during that time, Kangxi did not pay much attention on the developments of countryside. He did not fix the issues in economies because he still believed that China has a great financial progress. Kangxi said that he was worried about making mistakes on politics in his last years. He died in December 1722 and became the ruler that holds the longest time of control in China.