Zeng Jing

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Zeng Jing was a Qing Dynasty figure famous for his writings opposing Qing rule.

A scholar from Hunan province who had found little success in the official Confucian exams system, he alleged that the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1722-1735) was a usurper, who had murdered his father and elder brother in order to attain the throne; Zeng was not the only one at the time making such accusations, but historians today generally support Yongzheng's claim to the throne (and refute the accusations of conspiracy or assassination).

Zeng wrote of the Manchu rulers of the Qing that they were barbarians, and were little different than animals; he asserted that they should be driven out of the land, so the Chinese could remain.

These writings came to the attention of the Qing authorities in 1728, when Zeng wrote to the governor of Shaanxi province, Yue Zhongqi, inviting him to join in rising up against the Qing. Zeng and his compatriots were arrested and interrogated, and all the writings of Lu Liuliang (1626-1683), which Zeng drew upon extensively, were sought out and destroyed. Lu's body was even dug up from its grave and mutilated. Eventually, however, Zeng was freed and allowed to return to Hunan as a show of the emperor's magnanimity - an attempt by the Court to improve the emperor's image, and try to boost impressions of his legitimacy.

Zeng's writings, and the emperor's thoughts on the matter, were recorded in a volume entitled Dayi juemi lu (大義覺迷錄), which was then printed in numerous copies and circulated among high and local officials, as well as in local schools, in an effort to teach the "truth" of the emperor's legitimacy.


  • Evelyn Rawski, Early Modern China and Northeast Asia: Cross-Border Perspectives, Cambridge University Press (2015), 219-221.
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