What Were the Effects of the Taiping Rebellion?


The Taiping Rebellion lasted for more than a decade and cost 20 million Chinese people their lives. It brought to light the dissatisfaction of the lower class and introduced radical ideas that offered a more egalitarian society, which would lead to another civil war almost 50 years later. The rebellion forced the Qing Dynasty to seek foreign aid, creating a vacuum that pulled imperialist powers further into China.

The Taiping Rebellion was one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. The 20 million dead were all Chinese. After 15 years of strife, over 600 cities in the south were completely destroyed, which would never receive the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts they needed. The poor to lower-middle class Chinese still living went back to waiting for equality and were quick to buy into the revolutions of the following century.

During the rebellion, the foreign powers — Russia, France and Britain — who had been eyeing Chinese land, started carving the country up. After years of conflict, the Qing leadership finally accepted foreign aid from the French and British, which quickly silenced the rebellion. The two powers had a foothold in China, though and began taking port cities and forcing China to cede land to them. Japan took interest as well, leading to an all-out war from 1894 to 1895. Japan left with Chinese ports, money and two islands in tow. China was politically and culturally humiliated on the global stage and lost much of its ability to self-govern.