Reading 28: Chinese Reform, Qing Dynasty
Reading 1: Wang Tao,
I know that within a hundred years China will adopt all Western methods and excel in them. For though
both are vessels, a sailboat differs in speed from a steamship; though both are vehicles, a horse-drawn
carriage cannot cover the same distance as a locomotive train. Among weapons, the power of the bow and
arrow, sword and spear, cannot be compared with that of firearms; and of firearms, the old types do not
have the same effect as the new. Although it be the same piece of work, there is a difference in the ease
with which it can be done by machine and by human labor. When new methods do not exist, people will
not think of changes; but when there are new instruments, to copy them is certainly possible. Even if the
Westerners should give no guidance, the Chinese must surely exert themselves to the utmost of their
ingenuity and resources on these things.
However, they are all instruments; they are not the Way, and they cannot be called the basis for governing
the state and pacifying the world. The ways of Confucius is the Way of Man. As long as humankind exists,
the Way will remain unchanged. The three moral obligations and the five human relations began with the
birth of the human race. When a man fulfills his duty as man, he need have no regrets in life. On this is
based the teaching of the sages.
I have said before that after a few hundred years the Way will achieve a grand unity. As Heaven has unified
the south, north, east, and west under one key, it will harmonize the various teachings of the world and
bring them back to the same source.
Alas! People all understand the past, but they are ignorant of the future. Only scholars whose thoughts run
deep and far can grasp the trends. As the mind of Heaven changes above, so do human affairs below.
Heaven opens the minds of the Westerners and bestows upon them intelligence and wisdom. Their
techniques and skills develop without bound. They sail eastward and gather in China. This constitutes an
unprecedented situation in history, and a tremendous change in the world. The foreign nations come from
afar with their superior techniques, contemptuous of us in our deficiencies. They show off their prowess
and indulge in insults and oppression; they also fight among themselves. Under these circumstances, how
can we not think of making changes? Thus what makes it most difficult for us not to change is the mind of
Heaven, and what compels us unavoidably to change is the doings of men.
If China does not make any change at this time, how can she be on a par with the great nations of Europe,
and compare with them in power and strength? Nevertheless, the path of reform is beset with difficulties.
What the Western countries have today are regarded as of no worth by those who arrogantly refuse to pay