Foreign Education, Ideology, and the Fall of Imperial China

76 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021 Last revised: 10 Jun 2023

See all articles by James Kai-Sing Kung

James Kai-Sing Kung

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Business and Economics

Alina Yue Wang

Northwestern University

Date Written: September 15, 2020

Abstract

This paper examines the important role of ideology – specifically nationalism – in contributing to the revolution that ended China’s 2,000 year-long imperial rule. Using a foreign-educated elite who studied in Japan as a proxy, we demonstrate how the Qing government’s intent to build a modern nation-state by sending the country’s best talent to study in Japan led to its unexpected demise. We identify the effect of this nationalist ideology by exploiting the “ego-centric” or influence network of Zhang Zhidong – a Qing loyalist and the father of overseas study – based on his private correspondence with close colleagues. We find that each additional overseas student in a county led to significantly greater participation by the people in that county in political parties (20.5%), greater representation of its elite in the provincial assembly (10.5%), and a greater likelihood of that county declaring independence (40.6%). We show that schools and newspapers are the primary channels.

Keywords: Foreign Education, Ideology, Nationalism, Political Transformation, Content of Education, Human Capital, Imperial China.

JEL Classification: N45, O15, O53, P48

Suggested Citation

Kung, James Kai-Sing and Wang, Alina Yue, Foreign Education, Ideology, and the Fall of Imperial China (September 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3749022 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3749022

James Kai-Sing Kung (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Business and Economics ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong
China

Alina Yue Wang

Northwestern University ( email )

Kellogg School of Management
2211 Campus Dr
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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