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Yuan Weishi (袁伟时), is a professor of philosophy at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, China. He was born in Xingning, Guangdong, December 1931.
In the January 2006 issue of Bingdian ,professor Yuan published an essay titled Modernisation and History Textbooks, criticizing the official theme of government issued middle schools history textbooks,claiming that they contain numbers of distortions of the historical accounts. Professor Yuan said:"The public,especially the students, have the right to find out the true historical facts." .". ,
* 1 Modernization and History Text Books
o 1.1 Was the burning of the Yuanming Garden(Old Summer Palace) unavoidable
o 1.2 The role of the Manchu ruler Xianfeng and Prince Sengelinqin
o 1.3 History,according to the school text books
o 1.4 Boxer rebels, murderers or patriots?
* 2 References
 Modernization and History Text Books
Professor Yuan stated that China's early disastrous events such as Anti-Rightist Campaign, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, is the result of the 'drinking of wolf's milk' by the ordinary Chinese population. Recently when he was glancing through some high school textbooks, he "was stunned to find out: our youth are still drinking the wolf's milk!"
 Was the burning of the Yuanming Garden(Old Summer Palace) unavoidable
Professor Yuan asked:"Was the burning of thr Old Summer Palace unavoidable?" The Yuanming Garden was burnt by the British and French invasion forces during the Second Opium War.
Professor Yuan stated that Chinese middle school history textbooks "failed to mention the two basic root causes of this (opium) war".
o The Manchu ruler did not carry out Treaty of Jiangning, in which "an important clause was that the English officials and merchants be allowed to enter and leave Guangzhou city freely", Manchu official simply ignored this request by the British for about ten years, "until it had to be settled in the battlefield".
o The Manchu officials did not carry out the Treaty of Wangsha: "All trade and customs matters may be modified according to circumstances."
Chinese(Han ethnic 漢族 ) scholars and officials such as Zeng Guofan, Li Hongzhang, Feng Guifen, Guo Songdao and others repeatedly sounded warnings to Manchu Imperial court:"do not let the small things create huge trouble" and to no avail.
 The role of the Manchu ruler Xianfeng and Prince Sengelinqin
In 1858, the English, French, Russians and Americans forced the Manchu Court into submission by signing the Treaty of Tianjin, and in 1859 "to complete the legal procedure", letter of approval was to be exchanged in Beijing. Manchu officials instead chose to open fire on French and British envoys, who were there to exchange "letter of approval", resulting in the sinking of four gunboats and damaging six.
The Emperor Xianfeng and Prince Sengelinqin had committed major crimes. Unlike the inaccurate description presented by the school text books, Emperor Xianfeng and Prince Sengelinqin's intention was to have the English and French envoys taking the longer detour, so that ambush on the foreigners can be set up. On 10 April 1859, Prince Sengelinqin's aid Guo Songdao wrote:"Prince Yi has come to the camp....said he has the Emperor's secret order:If foreigners enter without following our rules, you can attack them in stealth, and then blame it on civilian armed forces, not us imperial soldiers. I then suggest, if we as imperial soldiers telling lies, it might not be that convincing; may be we need more discussion. Prince Yi just laugh at me.....Decision was then made for foreigners to enter at Beitong and then detour around to Tianjin. Guo Songdao revealed more details: "Prince Sen's stealth attack of the foreigners was the cause of the foreign disaster. From last year, the Emperor had issued more then a dozen imperial orders to get them to stay outside of the river, while waiting for instructions. When the foreign ships had entered the inner river for as long as nine days, Prince Sen did not make any effort to make contact or to give instructions. Instead, he ordered the soldiers to remove army uniforms, disguised as "armed civilians", then staged military attacks."
Zeng Guofan had told his aides: "In the ninth year(AD.1858) of Xianfeng, the foreigners came to exchange the treaty documents. Prince Sengelinqin set up a trap and sunk their boats, and the whole country celebrated. In the tenth year(1859), the foreigners returned ... the capital fell and the whole country was nearly taken over by the foreigners. I once said that Prince Sen was the cause of this humiliation, he should commit suicide in apology to the whole country." The eye witness account of Great Britian embassador coincide with the description of Zeng Guofan and Gao Songdao. It can be concluded:
+ Emperor Xianfeng had decided to order soldiers to stage stealth attacks on the foreign envoys while disguised as "armed civilians", and he repeatedly ordered that the foreigners must be made aware of the soldiers' intention and ability to attack.
+ Prince Sen carried out the Emperor's order of "stealth attack", but he chose not to demonstrate the intention to attack,and resolutely rejected his aides' advices.He was the sole designer of the plot to trap the foreign envoys.
+ This was a disaster that brought shame and the lost of integrality of the whole country. Many Chinese(Han) officials such as Zeng Guofan, Guo Songdao, Wu Rulun as well as Li Hongzhang, Feng Guifen made severe criticisms and parables towards this disaster.
 History,according to the school text books
What is most shocking, in these 1990s era, our school history text books are still singing to the tunes of Emperor Xianfeng and Prince Sen. The following is the school text books' version of the 1858 Manchu soldiers' ambush of the foreigners:"The English ambassador and French ambassador led their respective fleets north to Daguhou in order to enter Peking to exchange diplomatic documents. The Manchu Court demanded that the treaty envoys land at Beitong and proceed to Peking through Tianjin, and also requested that the armed personnel on the gunboats not to disembark. The English and French ambassadors counted on their military power and insisted that they will land at Daguhou and would march towards Peking along the White River. When the rude and rough fleets invaded Daguhou, the defending soldiers at Daguhou batteries opened fire at the invaders.(note:the foreign diplomatic envoys were there to exchange diplomatic documents, had been delibilately labeled as 'invaders' by the text books editors).Shells were falling accurately on top of the invading arm forces, sinking four gunboats, damaging six gunboats, causing the remaining three gunboats to hoist white flags and flee.During the firefighting, 900 of the invading army try to come on shore, but they were all being fought back. The invading force's casualties came to a few hundreds. Folks from around Dagu ignored the raining bullets and forests of guns, bringing cakes and noodles to the defending warriors, and exhibiting high degree of patriotism." Under the pen of the history text book editors, the ambush was turned into a marching song of patriotic hero, the leading character is soldiers and plain folks. " Is it the true historical account? There are many questions to be asked.
Professor Yuan stated that Hong Kong middle school text books are "much better edited than those in the mainland". Hong Kong text books's "presentation matches the historical reality and does not damage national interests". When it was well known that the Hong Kong editors were better qualified historians, Professor Yuan asked: "Why couldn't the mainland colleagues learn to do the same?"
In the government issued history text books, the 1859's sinking of foreign gunboats are penned as patriotic and heroic act. Professor Yuan argued that the editors of history text books got it all wrong, and stated that had the "letter of approval" were to be exchanged smoothly, the nineteen century Chinese history would have to be rewritten.
o In 1860 British and French forces invaded Peking and Yuanming Garden was rooted and then burnt.
o The new Treaty of Peking impose additional penalties on the Manchu Court. "The compensation to England and France went respectively from the original 4 and 2 million taels(of silver) to 8 million taels(of silver) each".
o Kowloon district was conceded;
o "French missionaries can rent or buy land in all the provinces and build at will."
"Would it be better for China if the battle had not taken place?" Professor Yuan asked.
 Boxer rebels, murderers or patriots?
Professor Yuan scrutinized the accuracy of school history text books, and established that "the United Armies of the Eight Nations entered Peking, arson, murders and looting was committed"; "The Russians committed the shocking massacre at Hailanpao and Jiangdong Liushisitun" Only the above statement is factual, the rest of the text books are full of errors.
o School text books fail to highlight the Boxers' barbaric and murderous hostility towards modern civilization and western foreigners and local Chinese christian converts. Among all the evils the Boxers did:
+ (1)cut down telegraph lines
+ (2)destroyed schools and churches
+ (3) demolished railroad tracks
+ (4)burned foreign merchandise
+ (5) murdered foreigners and all Chinese who had any connection of foreign culture.
Prosessor Yuan mourns:"these criminal actions brought unspeakable suffering to the nation and its people! These are all facts that everybody knows, and it is a national shame that the Chinese people cannot forget. Yet our children's compulsory textbooks will not speak about it."
+ School text books fail to condemn the Boxers' barbaric burning, killing and looting of innocent human beings.Professor stated that, not only the Boxers were savages,the Manchu official Yu Xian was no different. On 27/6/1856, he started with burning down the Taiyuan foreigner owned hospital, and went to a church to round up 210 women and children aged between 5 to 30 years old. Two weeks later, he went to foreigners area again, this time he caught 44 foreigners of all ages, plus 17 Chinese converts, and all of them were beheaded on market place watched by the public. One of the then newspaper even reported:"Foreigners were afraid when news about Peking massacre were reported. When foreigners went to official Yu Xian and asked for protection, but were tricked and round up and annihilated. Yu Xian personally killed a few foreigners using knife. "And Yu Xian was not alone. Dai Lan , Dai Xun , Gang Yi , who were all under imperial order(from Empress Dowager) to command the Boxers,were as savage and violent as Yu Xian,if not more.
Professor Yuan's research had also shown that most of the members of the Boxers were ignorant peasants, and a lot of them were plain robbers and thugs. Between 24 June and 24 July 1900, 231 foreigners were murdered by the Boxers, among them were 23 children. In Shanxii alone, there were 5700 Chinese catholic were murdered; mostly by the Boxers, some by the imperial army. In Liaonin , more then thousands converts were killed. In Hebei, killings were conducted all over the place, and cover every county. In some county thousands were being murdered, and houses were burned down. Even in Zhejiang, thousands of catholic families were burned and murdered. The worst massacre happened in Peking, and nobody will ever know how many, because there was no written record handed down. According to some eyewitness's account:16 June 1900, boxers bandits burned De Ji Drug Store , fire was spreaded to food shop, Lamp City Street , Kwang Yin Buddha Temple , Jewellery Market , about 4000 plus shops were burned down, and the fire continued into daybreak. The Boxers stopped any attempts of putting out the fire. The destroyed area was the capital's most busy districts. Peking city was being looted and burned for days, anyone whom the Boxers were unhappy of, would be called converts, and the whole family would be killed. At least hundreds of thousands of ordinary folks were murdered. Peking at its peak time, the population was near 4 millions.Ever since the start of the Boxers Rebellion, the whole city was being looted and burned, many houses were empty, foxes came out in the daylight, and people were like walking among cemetery. This was the result of the so-called Boxers Revolution.
1. ^ "Modernisation and History Textbook original Chinese text". Retrieved on 2008-09-24.
2. ^ "The High School History Textbook Debate in China By Charles W. Hayford Mr. Hayford is Visiting Scholar, Department of History, Northwestern University.". Retrieved on 2008-09-24.
3. ^ "History Textbooks in China", Eastsouthwestnorth. Retrieved on 2008-10-12.