Shaping the World of Scholars: the Soft Power of Emperor Kangxi (1661-1722)
journal contributionposted on 08.03.2021, 01:45 by Limin Bai
Modern scholarship has noted that the Kangxi emperor’s patronage of scholars is a form of “soft power” that assisted the Qing ruler during the Kangxi reign to achieve success in conquering the minds and hearts of Han Chinese, especially those eminent scholars who remained loyal to the fallen dynasty. This “soft power” emerged after the Kangxi government had decisively quelled the revolt of the Three Feudatories (San fan三藩) (1673-1681). In 1679 the boxue hongru博學鴻儒special examination signalled a significant moment in which the Kangxi emperor adopted a more diplomatic and personal approach to scholars under his rule. This paper examines several examples of scholars’ presenting (jin cheng 進呈）their scholarly works to the emperor/government. By analysing the Kangxi emperor’s tactics for fostering this particular scholarly phenomenon, this study reveals the key elements behind his successful use of soft power in shaping the intellectual milieu of the time.