Saturday, April 20, 2013

“Evading Suspicion and Shirking Responsibility”: The Politics of Official Discord in Qing Taiwan, 1725-1726

Don't come any closer!

The Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies hosted an interesting journal article on the complexities of 18th century Qing Administration in Taiwan.....
That is, when Chanjibu impeached Magistrate Zhou Zhongxuan 周鐘瑄 for illegally accepting seven hundred taels of silver from a defendant in a criminal case. Ordinarily, this “crime” would hardly even have aroused the attention of the prefect, much less that of the emperor, particularly when the sum involved was so small. Nevertheless, the case would embroil bureaucracies in Taiwan, Fujian, and beyond, make and break several careers, cause the governor-general—and one of Yongzheng’s most trusted administrators—to lose the emperor’s favor, be handed over for resolution to a new governor, and ultimately require the appointment of two imperial commissioners before its denouement. Clearly, the case was after all not just about squabbling or corrupt officials in Taiwan, or even necessarily the bureaucratic administration there.
Some great little tidbits, like this one:
According to Chanjibu, Jing had also brought a classmate’s nephew to Taiwan for the express purpose of assuming false residence (maoji 冒籍) in Zhanghua 彰化 County in order to take advantage of its generous quota in the civil service examination.
The footnote to this comment is not to be missed. I recall reading in one of the 19th century articles about Taiwan passing mention of people moving to Taiwan to take advantage of better opportunities to pass the imperial exams.

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