The first comprehensive programme of reform was proposed by Sheng Hsuan-huai, or better known as Sheng Kung-pao, then junior secretary in the Foreign Office. Mr. Sheng has shown himself to be a constructive statesman, although during his last period of Office as Minister of Communications he was responsible for the downfall of the Manchu dynasty in 1911. Mr. Sheng's proposal, briefly stated, advocated the adoption of a coinage system based on the Chingping tael, 900 fine. A central mint was to be established at Peking with branches at Canton, Hupeh, Shanghai and Tientsin. Taxes were to be made payable in the national coin and the use of bullion as currency was to be prohibited. Gold coins and subsidiary silver coins were also arranged to be minted. He proposed the establishment of a bank for foreign trade with a capital of Tls. 5,000,000 to be subscribed entirely by Chinese, the bank to be situated at Shanghai and to be known as the Imperial Chinese Bank of International Commerce. Sheng was, and is still, heavily interested in the China Merchants' Steam Navigation Co.; and he pledged the shareholders to supplying the bank, with one-fifth of its share capital. The bank was to have the right of coinage; the powers and privileges were comprehensive, including the right to coin money, issue notes, handle all Government funds and establish branch banks in the provincial capitals, open ports, in Europe and in America. An Imperial decree was issued on February 26, 1897, sanctioning Sheng's scheme, and giving authority, as soon as the bank was established, to strike 100,000 coins based on the Chingping tael in accordance with his proposal; these coins were to be put into circulation as an experiment; and if successful the bank was to continue and extend the coinage. Although this proposal was sanctioned it was not put into effect, mainly because the Government was heavily embarrassed in other ways. Currency reform was only one of the proposals that was claiming the attention of the Government at the time and, compared with the political and fiscal problems then awaiting solution, it was not half so pressing. The liabilities of the country had increased considerably after the unsuccessful termination of the Chino-Japanese war. The gold price of silver had depreciated considerably, increasing the difficulties of the Government with regard to the payment of interest and redemption of the gold loans made to pay out the Japanese war indemnity. It was characteristic of the fantastic ideas that were then prevailing that one of the junior secretaries of one of the boards in Peking should advocate in 1897 the adoption of the sovereign as the unit and suggest the prohibition of the exportation of gold from China. Before any definite step could be taken the Boxer outbreak put everything else into the shade, and no steps were taken till the latter part of 1901.