The Tsungli Yamen, or Chinese Foreign Office (entrance, above left and interior, above right) was created in 1860. Such a body was unknown within China, since any dealings with the outside world went under the heading of 'other' - which included some of China's outer regions as well. But as China became more attractive to foreign powers and Chinese defense, which was never strong, lessened, the Grand Council of State was forced to implement some kind of foreign policy management.
Until then Britain's affairs with China had been conducted through Hong Kong and direct representation within China actively discouraged. But as foreign Legations were established in Peking over the next few years, much of the business of China's foreign affairs was conducted within Peking itself and China made full use of financial assistance from abroad in her efforts to stave off the aggressive and unwanted attentions of the Russians and Japanese.
In only twenty years, since the days of 'gunboat diplomacy', foreigners within China had won port and trading rights, freedom to travel and of religious expression, and had started the process of setting up world-recognised embassies with fully accredited ambassadors and consuls.
Of course, with foreigners so much in evidence, it was perhaps inevitable that there should be a backlash, fuelled by the Anti-Reformist movement, China's powerful secret societies and backed by the Dowager Empress, which erupted in the Boxer Revolt in 1900. This brought all factions of the country to crisis point and from then on China's government entered a dark era of treachery and power struggles.
By 1911 the fledgling Kuomintang led by Dr. Sun Yat Sen had dispersed the private imperial armies and the Ch'ing Dynasty was disenfranchised.