Floods and lack of infrastructure – Oliver

Impact of flooding and lack of infrastructure on China

In 19th century China, flooding and general lack on infrastructure slowed  modernization in China (Spence p 91).

Flooding was common but in the mind of the government,  providing people with emergency food supplies was sufficient enough and the flooding problem was left unsolved.

Even though ”Silt filled yellow river” was bad for crops?

The government did not ‘solve the problem of flooding; they just accepted it, and provided ”flood relief measures” and past out food supplies. (Oliver- confucianism? Do as the ones before me did, ”they did not fix it, why do i have to?”)

The government built dikes to prevent flooding (p92 ?) but land retrieval projects engineered altered the flow of the river and flooded them anyways? (= famine?)

floods = common. (p14, 20) and again, food supplies and emergency measures.

No ”fixing?” (p21)

And as rapidly became apparent, neither the court nor

the bureaucracy in Peking or the countryside seemed to have the ability,

the resources, or the will to do very much about it'[flooding].’

infrastructure issue: (p144)

”He Changling was himself not just an exponent of statecraft thinking,

but also an administrator of experience and insight. It is ironic that at just

the same time that Hegel was discussing China’s rejection of the sea, He

Changling was trying to develop an elaborate plan to circumvent the decaying

Grand Canal system by transporting government grain supplies from

central and southern China to the north by sea. In 1826, on his advice, 4.5

million bushels of rice were shipped successfully in this way, on a fleet of

over 1,500 junks. But He’s plan was soon canceled, mainly in response to

the vested interests of those who worked on the Grand Canal system. Had

it been allowed to continue, the plan might have led to considerable growth

of China’s commercial ocean shipping.”

Dont change the ways of those before them? Not welcome to change?


”Unlike the Taiping, the Nian had no clear-cut religious affiliation, political

ideology, strategic goals, or unified leadership. Yet for the first fifty

years of the nineteenth century, they steadily grew in numbers and strength.

Some Nian had connections with White Lotus groups, Eight Trigrams

followers, or Triad societies, while others were connected with the smugglers

who made money by evading the government monopoly on salt sales.

But most were poor peasants or ex-peasants struggling to survive in a bleak

environment of worked-out soil, harsh winters, and unstable river systems

subject to appalling floods.”

Due to floods the triads and other such groups grew succesful. (floods = economic issue for the country -why not fix it?)


After 1851, when serious floods in northern Jiangsu brought fresh hardship,

affiliation with Nian groups rose dramatically, and the Qing officially

took note of them as rebels. In 1855, two years after the Taiping seized

Nanjing, the Yellow River climaxed a long series of floods by breaking out

of its main restraining dikes east of Kaifeng and carving a new channel

into the gulf north of the Shandong peninsula; the ensuing misery brought

ever more recruits to the Nian gangs.


Boxers recruited local farmers

and other workers made desperate by the disastrous floods that had been

followed by droughts in Shandong;

floods sparked rebellions?


Torrential rains in the Yangzi and Huai valleys during 1910 and

1911 caused catastrophic flooding, ruined millions of acres of crops, drove

up grain prices, led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, and forced millions

of refugees into major cities for relief.

= expensive for the government.

From start of the Qing dynasty to 1911, floods is an issue that is never fixed.


One response to “Floods and lack of infrastructure – Oliver

  1. Pingback: RESEARCH #1 : Delay of modernization in 19th century China | History of Stuff

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