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Li Hongzhang
2006-07-04 17:16 ¡¡ ¡¡

Li Hongzhang (1823- 1901) was born in Hefei, Anhui Province. When he was young, he excelled in learning. His service to the imperial cause attracted the attention of Zeng Guofan, the generalissimo in command. In the Emperor Xian Feng's third year (1853), he came back to his hometown to train civil corps to resist Taiping Army. Later on, he joined Zeng Guofan, and became a commanding officer there. He incorporated soldiers into his own forces to found Huai Army to repress Taiping Army and Nian Army. In 1870, he was, as a natural consequence, appointed to the viceroyalty of the metropolitan province of Zhili, and justified his appointment by the energy with which he suppressed all attempts to keep alive the anti-foreign sentiment among the people. For his services he was made imperial tutor and member of the grand council of the empire, and was decorated with many-eyed peacocks¡¯feathers. 76 Historic Figures Simultaneously he held the post of the governor of the coastal provinces of Liaoning, Hebei and Shandong. He was in charge of foreign affairs, military affairs, and economic affairs and became the leader of the Westernization Movement in the Qing Dynasty. From 1860s, he began to create the modern military industry and civil industry, including mainly Jiangnan Manufacturing General Bureau, Jinling Machine Bureau, Steamboat Bureau, Kaiping Coal Mine, Mohe Gold Mine, Tianjin Telegram Bureau, and Tianjin-Chongqing Railroad Corporation. He used the taxes levied by customs to buy ammunitions and warships and founded Beiyang Navy School and Beiyang Navy Army. The Westernization Movement that Li Hongzhang initiated objectively pushed forward the development of modern capitalist national industries and speeded up the spread of western scientific civilization. However, a number of unfair treaties he signed with foreign countries on behalf of the Qing Government brought heavy calamities to the nation.

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