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淸末 官用電報의 問題點
The Problems of the Governmental Telegraph System in the Late Qing

尹煜  
  • 초록

    Li Hongzhang and other Late Qing politicians often praised the usefulness and effectiveness of the wire. Modern scholars also argue that the telegraph had a significant impact on the late Qing politics in various ways. According to them, it helped the Qing government to mobilize armies on the warfront and communicate with Chinese diplomats overseas rapidly. It also redistributed political influence among Beijing, provincial governors, and raising political powers such as students, overseas Chinese and local elites. This paper, however, argues that due to technical and economic problems of the late Qing telegraph system, its influence on the politics was quite limited. In spite of the Qing goverment"s efforts to make the telegraph asufficiently fast, safe and cheap communication method, the lateQing telegraph suffered persistent problems with the speed,stability, service price and information security. Delays of telegramsfrequently occurred in the Qing telegraph network, because ofnegligence of the telegraph workers, and the fact that theland-based telegraph lines crossed many adverse environments, andwere constantly in a bad state of disrepair, and there were fewalternatives for land-based lines. In addition, China"s telegraphcharges were the highest in the world because China did notintroduce more efficient telegraph machines and the ImperialTelegraph Administration (ITA) insisted high telegraph fees inorder to protect its stockholders" interests. Furthermore, everyprotection method (jiajianfa 加減法 and secret code books) had itsown loopholes, and many officials and telegraphers involved in theprocess, which caused ample opportunities for secrets to be leaked.Therefore, Qing officials had insufficient confidence in telegraphic messages. The main reason of these problems rested on incapability of the Qing government. Instead of interfering with telegraph administrations (ITA and provincial telegraph administrations) in order to reduce the telegraph fee, repair old wires, and introduce new technologies, the Qing government left the telegraph system to them with minor adjustments. As the result, the use of the telegraph within the Qing government was mainly limited to the period of diplomatic crisis or social unrest when officials had no choice but to depend on the chance of rapid communication by the wire, while the wire made little contribution in increasing the efficiency of the Qing bureaucracy during routine times.


  • 주제어

    전보 .   관전 .   전신선 .   관선 .   中國電報局 .   관전국 .   电报 .   官电 .   电信线 .   官线 .   中国电报局 .   官电局 .   Telegraph .   governmental telegraph .   wire .   governmental wire .   Imperial Telegraph Administration (ITA) .   provincial telegraph administrations.  

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