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The New Policies (Chinese: 新政; pinyin: Xīnzhèng), or New Administration of the late Qing dynasty (1644-1912), also known as the Late Qing Reform, were a series of cultural, economic, educational, military, and political reforms that were implemented in the last decade of the Qing dynasty to keep the dynasty in power after the humiliating defeat in the Boxer Rebellion. The reforms started in 1901 and since they were implemented with the backing of the Empress Dowager Cixi, they are also called Cixi's New Policies.
The policies reformed almost every aspect of governmental affairs:
The impact of these reforms varied from place to place. Many regions were virtually unchanged, while the provinces in the lower Yangzi valley had already taken the lead. The province of Zhili (roughly present day Hebei) was a model. With the strong support of the Empress Dowager, Yuan Shikai set up a strong bureaucracy to administer tax collection, local schools and police.
However, there is still debate among the academic community regarding the actual effect that these reforms had on the Chinese people, historian Immanuel Hsü claiming that, apart from the successes in "...the abolition of the civil service examinations… the establishment of modern schools… and the sending of students abroad…”, the reforms were "…essentially a noisy demonstration without much substance or promise of accomplishment…". However, other historians, such as Diana Preston, place much greater weight on the influence of these reforms on the later development of China in its progression towards a more 'developed' society, contending that "…the events of 1900 and their aftermath precipitated reforms that, albeit late [and] grudging, were far-reaching and laid the foundations for a modern state…".
On 22 July 1908 the Qing government issued the Principles of the Constitution (Qinding Xianfa Dagang), modeled on the Japanese Meiji Constitution, which provided for gradual introduction of an electoral system beginning with local elections in 1908, followed in two years by elections for provincial legislatures, then two years later, elections for a national assembly. Special bureaus were set up in each province to prepare for setting up assemblies, directly subordinated to the provincial governor and consisting of scholars and gentry. They set up regulations for carrying out the elections, a timetable for carrying them out, and notices. The first to hold elections for the provincial assembly was the Jiangsu province, in 1909, and elections occurred on time in all provinces except for Xinjiang.
The New Policies are judged now to have been a substantive beginning for China's reorganization which was destroyed after the death of the Dowager Empress in 1908 by the intransigent stand of conservative Manchus in the Qing court.