The Draft History of Qing (Chinese: 清史稿; pinyin: Qīng Shǐ Gǎo) is a draft of the official history of the Qing dynasty compiled and written by a team of over 100 historians led by Zhao Erxun who were hired by the Beiyang government of the Republic of China. The draft was published in 1928, but the Chinese Civil War caused a lack of funding for the project and it was put to an end in 1930.[1] The two sides of the Chinese civil war, the People's Republic of China and Republic of China have attempted to complete it.


The Qing imperial court had long established a Bureau of State Historiography and precompiled its own dynastic history.[1]

The massive book was started in 1914, and the rough copy was finished in about 1927.

1,100 copies of the book were published. The Beiyang government moved 400 of the original draft into the northern provinces, where it re-edited the content twice, thus creating three different copies of the book.

It was banned by the Nationalist Government in 1930. Historian Hsi-yuan Chen writes in retrospect, "Not only will the Draft History of Qing live forever, but also Qing history as such will forever remain in draft."[1]


The draft contains 529 volumes. It attempts to follow the format of previous official histories, containing four sections:

Shortcomings of draft

Because of the lack of funding, the authors were forced to publish quickly, and consequently this project was never finished, remaining in the draft stages. The authors openly acknowledged this, and admitted there may have been factual or superficial errors.[2]

The draft was later criticized for being biased against the Xinhai Revolution. Notably, it does not have records of historical figures in the revolution, even those that had been born before the end of the Qing dynasty, although it includes biographies of various others who were born after the collapse of the Qing dynasty. The historians, who were Qing loyalists and/or sympathizers, had a tendency to villainize the revolutionaries.[3] In fact, the draft completely avoided the use of the Minguo calendar, which was unacceptable for an official history meant to endorse the rise of a new regime.[1][needs update]

Modern attempts

In 1961, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of China, the Republic of China government in Taiwan published its own History of Qing, added 21 supplementary chapters to the Draft History of Qing and revised many existing chapters to denounce the Communist Party as an illegitimate, impostor regime. It also removed the passages that were derogatory towards the Xinhai Revolution.[4] This edition has not been accepted as the official History of Qing because it is recognized that it was a rushed job published for political purposes. It does not correct most of the many errors known to exist in the Draft History of Qing.[1]

An additional project, attempting to actually write a New History of Qing incorporating new materials and improvements in historiography, lasted from 1988 to 2000 and only published 33 chapters out of the over 500 projected.[1] The New History was abandoned because of the rise of the Pan-Green Coalition, which saw Taiwan as a separate entity from China and therefore not as the new Chinese regime that would be responsible for writing the official history of the previous dynasty.

In 1961, the People's Republic of China also attempted to complete writing the history of the Qing dynasty, but the historians were prevented from doing so by the Cultural Revolution.[3]

In 2002, the PRC once again announced that it would complete the History of Qing.[5] The project was approved in 2003,[6] and put under the leadership of historian Dai Yi.[7] Initially planned to be completed in 10 years,[8] the project suffered multiple delays, pushing completion of the first draft to 2016.[9] Chinese Social Sciences Today reported in April 2020 that the project's results were being reviewed.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Chen, Hsi-yuan (2004). "Last chapter unfinished: The making of the official Qing History and the crisis of Traditional Chinese Historiography". Historiography East and West. 2 (2): 173–204. doi:10.1163/157018606779068306. ISSN 1570-1867. S2CID 153377177.
  2. ^ Preface, The Draft History of Qing Revised Edition, 1977, 中华书局
  3. ^ a b Wilkinson, Endymion (2012). Chinese history : a new manual. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Asia Center. pp. 834–5. ISBN 978-0674067158.
  4. ^ 台灣版《清史》一年速成 筆墨官司幾上幾下. (in Chinese). Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  5. ^ Huáiràng, Yuè (3 April 2019). 新修《清史》已进入稿件通读阶段,预计今年出版问世. Péngpài Xīnwén 澎湃新闻 (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 13 April 2019.
  6. ^ Mao, Liping; Ma, Zhao (2012). ""Writing History in the Digital Age": The New Qing History Project and the Digitization of Qing Archives". History Compass. 10 (5): 367–374. doi:10.1111/j.1478-0542.2012.00841.x.
  7. ^ Chéng, Chóngdé (3 January 2021). 戴逸先生与清史纂修前的准备工作. Guangming 光明 (in Chinese).((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ 中新社网站 (26 August 2003). 两岸学者聚京共商清史纂修大计 预计10年完成. 新浪军事 (in Chinese).
  9. ^ Rèn, Mǐn (18 December 2013). Sòng, Yǔchéng (ed.). "Guójiā Qīngshǐ Biānzuǎn Gōngchéng yǐ wánchéng chūgǎo" 国家清史编纂工程已完成初稿 [The first draft of the National Qing History Compilation Project has been completed]. Běijīng Xīnwén 北京新闻 (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 19 December 2013.
  10. ^ Guo, Fei (21 April 2020). Ma, Yuhong (ed.). "Dai Yi speaks on Qing history national compilation project". Chinese Social Sciences Today. Archived from the original on 14 September 2021.