The decade between 1870 and 1880 was a significant one in the history of the development of modern China. At the beginning of this period the internal disturbances caused by the great T'ai-p'ing rebellion had subsided. Under the stress and strain of the rebellion Tseng Kuo-fan and Li Hung-chang emerged as the two most powerful provincial officials in the Chinese mandarinate. Both men were forward-looking and fully realized that the sheer necessities of national existence required the Chinese to replace their traditional disdain for the “barbarian” West with a desire to seek out and learn the secrets of the strength of the Western nations. Both of these great Chinese officials, however, conceived of this strength in the narrow sense of military and naval prowess. Their primary concern, therefore, was to learn from the West the technical knowledge upon which western military and naval power rested, in order that China might create an army and navy as a protection against the aggressive tendencies of the Occidental nations.

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