The Life of Empress Cixi
The Decline of The Qing Dynasty
Finally, Empress Dowager Cixi caused the decline of the Qing Dynasty because she was greedy for power and would use unscrupulous means to seize it. In 1898, Cixi staged another coup against Guangxu and imprisoned him again when she found that he was introducing reforms without her approval. She began to rule the country behind the curtain. Cixi was conservative and opposed to any reforms. She showed little concern towards the Self-Strengthening Movement. Her use of Naval funds to build her summer palace affected China"s naval strength and helped to cause her defeat in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). However, Cixi herself declared reforms after the Boxer Rebellion (1900). But her purpose was to strengthen the Manchu regime in the face of growing discontent and an approaching revolution rather than from any ideological intentions to modernise China. Because of her ignorant and blindly anti-foreign persuasions, she believed in the magic power of the Boxers and encouraged their anti-foreign activities. This led to the Eight Power Expedition (1900) to Beijing and the harsh terms of the subsequent Boxer Protocol. As a result many people joined the revolutionary movement themselves and took part in the republican uprisings.
The importance of Empress Cixi"s life should not be underestimated, as it was she who effectively ruled China during the half century form the birth of her son until her death at the age of seventy three (15th November 1908). As mentioned above she had a great political ability; in her strategies and in practice.
Unfortunately, Cixi did not use her strength to help China; however, because of her hubris, her conservative outlook, her ignorant and blindly anti-foreign policies, and her poor administration her rule was a large factor causing the decline of the Qing Dynasty and the revolution in 1911.