This research clarifies the process of modernization in Manchuria Frontier in the Late Qing era through Cao Tingjie(曹廷杰)‘s investigative travels in Manchuria, 1885, and eventually, investigates how modern Chinese state changed Manchuria into his north-eastern frontier.
Cao Tingjie served as a local civilian officer of Jilin and as historian during the late Qing Era. After 1860, the Russian Empire and colonized Amur basin and threatened the Qing’s sovereignty in Manchuria. For this reason, in 1885, Cao Tingjie investigated Qing-Russia Manchurian frontier and he recorded the reform agenda of the frontier defense in Manchuria for Qing court. In his reform agenda, Cao tingjie suggested economic reforms in Manchrian Frontier through the cultivation of wild lands and operation of gold mines in Amur River basin. Finally, Qing court adopted Cao tingjie’s reform agenda and started the policy of Manchurian frontier reformation in 1890s, including the operation of gold mines.
Cao Tingjie’s investigation and records on Manchuria are rich resources on the Qing Dynasty’s modernization policies in Manchuria Frontier and Han Chinese scholars’ plans to evolve the Qing Empire’s birthplace into a ‘Chinese modern state’s north-eastern frontier. Consequently, Cao Tingjie’s investigative travel has importance for understanding Qing Empire’s Modernization policy in Manchuria.