Coming from Northern Ireland during the Industrial Revolution, Robert Hart seized upon the opportunity to be appointed Inspector-General for the Imperial Maritime Customs Service of the Qing government. He was the best professional manager of the late Qing Dynasty. Under his management, the customs revenue contributed one half of the total national revenue, laying solid foundations for China’ modern industry and national defense.
This episode chronicles the life of Hart and also focuses on the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. Hart, besieged in Beijing along with other foreigners, saw his career in ruins. He asked for help from Li Hongzhang to diffuse the situation. At the meantime, he wrote articles to warn Europeans that the Boxer Rebellion echoed the attack from the West, which had lasted for 50 years. In postwar negotiations, Hart lobbied the West to save China from being partitioned.