Constitutional Movement

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In 1905, the Qing government sent five ministers abroad to survey Western political systems. The next year, the constitutionalists launched the campaign for constitutional monarchy. In 1907, the central government announced the start of preparations for the establishment of a constitutional system. This step provoked an enthusiastic response from the elite national bourgeois. Some of them, like Zhang Jian, Tang Shouqian, Tang Hualong and Tan Yankai, set up local political organizations to support the government's move.

But in 1908, witnessing no progress, these organizations jointly appealed to the central government to call a Congress to enact the Constitution. The requests were rejected and the government suppressed any political opinions supporting the idea.

In 1909, the central government established provincial assemblies usually headed by constitutionalists. But these had no substantive power. Therefore, Zhang Jian launched a campaign in 1910. Representatives from 16 provincial assemblies joined him to appeal to the central government to assemble the Congress. But their efforts again ended in failure.

In 1911, the central government assembled imperial kinsmen to form a cabinet, leaving the imperial dictatorship untouched. At this point, the Constitutional Movement failed. Some of the disaffected constitutionalists turned against the Qing government and later became revolutionaries.