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Zeng Guofan and modern Chinese science and technology

Wang Yusheng, Zeng Xiongsheng (CAS, Beijing)

Zeng Guofan (1811 - 1872) was a feudal Chinese statesman and strategist with high official title in the late Qing dynasty, as well as the leader of bureaucratic advocators of Westernization Movement from the 1860s to 1890s. He made great contributions to the introduction of western science and technology and to the development of modern Chinese science and technology.

1. In 1861, Zeng Guofan prepared to establish a munitions factory in Anqing, Anqing ordnance institute, in which machines were tried out; and he successively invited famous scientists such as Xu Shou, Hua Hengfang and Li Shanlan to inner ordnance division bureau to develop power-driven vessels. In 1865, the first self-made Chinese steamship named "Huang Hao" was completed. Zeng Guofan made detailed description of the organizational system especially the working principle of this steamship in his "new-made steamship folder" (memorial to the throne) and diary, which was valuable modern scientific and technical materials.

2. In 1866, Zeng Guofan made preparations for the setting up of a munitions factory with greater scale, Jiangnan Machine Bureau, in the meantime he subsidized Li Shanlan to publish 15 Volumes of "Euclidean Elements" and 13 volumes of "Ze Gu Xi Zhai Suan Xue" and made "Introduction to Euclidean Elements" with signature. He regarded his unknowing about astronomy and mathematics as the greatest disgrace. As a result, he sent his younger son Zeng Jihong to mathematician Ding Quzhong to study mathematics and astronomy. Later on, Zeng Jihong became a mathematician with great achievements, who wrote such books as "Detailed Interpretation of Logarithm" and "Textual Researching on Circumfernce Ratio" and so on.

3. Zeng Guofan paid much attention to agronomy and agricultural production, regarding books, vegetables, fishes and pigs as the housekeeping knowledge. As a practice, he planted vegetables and cultured fishes.

4. Zeng Guofan didn't believe in medicine, monks and witches as well as celestial beings; however, he was particular about the way to keep good health, and advocated the science for preserving health.

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