It has been a common belief of students of Chinese history that the “One Hundred Days of Reform” of 1898 got under way only after Weng T'ungho, the imperial tutor and associate grand secretary, popularly known to foreigners as China's prime minister, strongly recommended the reformer K'ang Yu-wei to the Emperor Te-tsung in the spring of that eventful year. So strong has been this impression that Weng was alleged to have said that his own official career hinged upon whether or not K'ang could make a favorable impression upon the emperor in June 1898. Weng, therefore, has been regarded as the sponsor if not the official leader of the reform party. A critical examination of the contemporary Chinese sources, however, reveals that in the spring of 1898, when nationwide reform was in the air, Weng was in reality an opponent of systematic innovation, although he had previously endorsed K'ang and his program. It is the aim of this article to test the truth of the common belief that Weng was the key high official who persistently patronized the reform movement.

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