Military Financing in Late Qing Frontier Defense

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.3, 2019


Military Financing in Late Qing Frontier Defense



Liu Zenghe


In the middle of the Guangxu reign, China’s frontiers were being harassed by foreign aggression. Financial difficulties meant that officials at court and those at the frontier had different views on the defense of the frontier, but the Qing government eventually made the decision to mount a defense of the frontier against threats. Negotiations to regain Yili triggered a threat from Tsarist Russia on the northwest and northeast frontiers. The government set up dedicated funding supporting the defense of the northeast frontier. On the northwest frontier, it made Xinjiang a province, while officials including Yan Jingming arranged to bail out the treasury while supporting the defense of that frontier. The crisis provoked by the French invasion of Taiwan drove the Qing to make a province of Taiwan, but the defense of Taiwan and the Penghu islands required further large-scale funding. Fujian tried to maintain the unity of Fujian and Taiwan, providing financial support to Taiwan and financial backing to southeast coastal defense. Military financing of the frontier defense was impeded by the government’s financial difficulties. Pacifying the frontier conflicted with addressing the dynasty’s financial problems, but the two were closely connected, becoming an important test of the Qing government’s ability to pacify the frontier and defend its borders.