Edward Harper Parker.

China, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day online

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From au old picture published by the Chinese Jesuit Pfere Hoang



The sire Zi (ciiuonisod as) WSn-tiiir/ (leanieil,
resolute) iritli Li-isz Mii-l(ti ("jiicius," or
lliccl Matthew) discussiiiy the ]\'unl pictvre














It is just sixteen years since I penned prefatory
remarks to the first edition of this book : this
was when the South African War and the
'* Boxer " trouble were both being settled up,
the first having naturally tied our hands a little
in dealing satisfactorily with the second ; but
the alliance with Japan in 1902 restored a balance
satisfactory to our general interests in China and
the Indian Ocean, whilst two great wars have
had the effect of transferring to Japan a large,
well-merited, and honourable share in the policing
of the China seas as the trusted ally of both
Russia and Britain. Meanwhile China herself
has passed through the throes of an incalculable
upheaval, and a numxber of important events fore-
shadowed in the earlier impressions of this work
have actually taken place. Apart from the
disappearance on very generous terms of the
once prudent and illustrious Manchu dynasty
itself — a picturesque catastrophe which after all
chiefly concerns the family pride of a few foreign
princely families, — means have been found
quietly to merge the mass of settled Manchus,
including their characteristic " pigtail," in the
general body of Chinese- — from whom, especially
in the north, the males are physically almost
indistinguishable- — with liberty to intermarry,
engage in trade, travel freely, and so on ; yet the
" pigtail " is by no means penally tabued, even


among Chinese cranks. Although the Republi-
can flag of five colours, adopted with that end in
view, gave expression to the hope that Mongols,
Tibetans, and Turki (Mussulmans) might also
find in the vast undivided domain a common
level to the general weal, yet separative aspira-
tions to complete independence may in the end
defeat this desire so far as the two first are con-
cerned, whilst the Chinese themselves apparently
now see clearly, so far as touches the third, that
only a modified equality can be arranged for
uncompromising religionists, some Turki speak-
ing, other Chinese speaking, who live largely
under the government of their own princes and
beys, or even under semi-independent Chinese
Muslim generals.

The last of the three new chapters added to
the present edition endeavours to give a succinct
account of how political reform arose from
humiliating foreign defeat, and how the hitherto
suppressed and stunted spirit of democracy as-
serted itself through these vague yearnings for
reform, so there is no prefatory need to labour
this particular point again here. Suffice it to say
that, although in Europe we seem day by day to
hear chiefly of revolts and political squabbles
in China, as a matter of fact the " Eighteen
Provinces " are not in such a very parlous condi-
tion after all, the chief reason for this modicum of
happiness being that China is, as it ever has been,
a nation of small owners and hardy cultivators,
whose ethical teaching has for 2,000 years past
inculcated a spirit of deference and order, a
right to self-protection, and a family or clannish
detachm.ent from public and political authority.
In spite, then, of alarums and excursions on all
sides, the Foreign Customs revenue for 1916 is
in sterling the very highest ever collected, whilst
the Salt Gabelle, under the vivifying influence of


Sir Richard Dane's purifications, promises to
rival the Customs itself in " rich blessings."
Even the Post-office, owing its success to French
brilliancy of strategic management, is a vast
paying concern. I have not given a special
chapter to Railways, for they are diffusing
themselves apace over the Chinese dominions
in such wise that any statistics ventured upon
to-day would be practically obsolete a year hence.
Up to the moment of writing 15,000 miles of
first-class lines have been conceded, of which
total two-fifths are now actually working, with
another fifth under construction. It is under-
stood that Russia, Japan, Britain, and France
are financially interested to the extent of over
sixty million pounds sterling, against seven
millions for Germany and fifteen millions for
China herself (at present high silver rates).
All these railways develop trade in a marvellous
and scarcely hoped-for way by opening up vast
tracts of country twenty years ago almost as
little known to the foreign trader as Tibet, and
by enabling the industrious Chinese farmer to
get rid of vast surpluses of produce formerly too
often an indigestible drug on the local markets :
with the absence of roads and banking facilities
there was previous to the advent of the steam
horse no stimulus to produce m.ore than at best
a prosperous clan subsistence, whereas now the
railway brings exchange imports so to speak
to the very door ; and the foreign commercial
traveller, no longer condemned to sail in cramped
boats over dangerous rapids, or to wheelbarrow
and donkey-riding over apologies for roads,
for weeks at a time, with unrestful repose in
verminous inns, can now fly hither and thither
with his flaming posters, heavy samples, and
cash exchange or credit facilities in a com-
fortable sleeping-carriage, creating demand in


every village for foreign "fancies." Besides, the
Post Parcel Office is teaching the interior Chinese
that a vast miscellaneous trade can be done in
this way too without any effort at all.

Long before the " Boxer " war and the con-
sequent native yearning for better things in their
political administration, it had been evident
that the German merchants were taking more
pains and bestowing more intelligent thought in
the conduct of their business than the conserva-
tive and unimaginative British trader of the old
school. All over the Far East they enjoyed com-
plete "freedom of the seas," and in our colonies
and settlements, where they were much esteemed
as solid and orderly guests, they shared absolute
equality of right and privilege.; but they never
at any time showed any particular inclination to
" rough it " either in the commercial or the
missionary line, and it was only when the French
railway to Yiin Nan and the steamer facilities to
Sz Ch'wan and Hu Nan opened up Central and
West China, in a way never seen before, that the
careful Germans, finding they could operate safely
and comfortably, hastened to take full advantage
of British, French, and Japanese pioneering.
The result has been that they have opened up,
chiefly in Central China, entirely new export
trades in native produce, besides securing almost
a monopoly of electrical, mining, and other
engineering in provinces scarcely even visited,
except by missionaries, twenty years ago. More-
over, in doing all this they have received from
unsuspecting British banks facilities greater than
any German bank would risk. There may have
been good-natured professional envy, often mixed
with admiration, on the part of the less active
British trader of "muddied oaf" tendency,
but there was certainly no angry hostility, still
less any of the malignant Prussian hatred the


existence of which the Great War has generated
and propagated in the naturally meek German
mind : the superior energy and foresight of
the Teuton traders were freely if regretfully ad-
mitted, and many were the occasions on which
British and American consuls, customs officials,
travellers, etc. — the present writer himself often
included' — called attention publicly to the neglect
on the part of British trade generally to revise
its methods ; especially in the direction of adver-
tising, preparing intelligible price-lists, visiting
likely customers on the spot, granting less rigid
terms of credit, shaking off compradoric strangu-
lation, treating the native trader more cour-
teously and indulgently, and so on.

It is right to admit that these lessons have been
taken to heart in a few cases, and it is well known
that certain British tobacco and patent medicine
enterprises have made huge successes on these
new lines ; one or two British exporters of fresh
and frozen provisions, following Teuton example,
have organised proper receiving, cleaning, and
packing establishments for facilitating the col-
lection, shipping, and distribution, and for the
sorting and repacking in workmanlike condition
of edible produce ; and besides this, at least one
British firm or syndicate has secured a strong
controlling position in connection with the out-
put of important Chinese mines ; so there is a
fair prospect that in the near future the old
" sit still at the chief port and as to inland
depend upon the comprador e " system will
gradually be replaced by one of more hustle
and energy, especially as the Shanghai Munici-
pality' — and no doubt other analogous bodies
— has recently seriously roused itself to wake-
fulness upon the necessity of teaching the young
British trader practical Chinese, so that import
agents, buyers, and exporters may move freely


off beaten tracks and visit native exporters,
importers, producers, and consumers at any likely
spot in the interior, making their own transport,
likin^ and credit arrangements, free from the
shackles of compradoric restraint and monopoly.
Honourable competition on these lines may easily
be hoped for in neutral China ; but so long as the
tame and subservient German race remains under
the baleful spell of the neurotic Prussian braggart
and moral abortion whose blasphemous buf-
fooneries have plunged Western civilisation into a
caldron of boiling passion, making both cowards
and bullies even of the non- Prussian army and
navy officers, it will be quite impossible, so far
as British colonies are concerned, to grant or to
allow British banks to grant to German banks
and traders the generous facilities they enjoyed
in such amplitude before the war, and of which
they everywhere took a mean advantage, under
the cunning and unscrupulous wire-pulling of
Potsdam, in order to secure in their own exclu-
sive hands the key-strings of finance, and the
key-commodities of commerce and (ultimately)
of war. Until this contempt of human law and
decency be purged clear, the German — official,
commercial, or other — should be treated as a
lupinum caput, unworthy of trust in or near any
isolated fold, and above all not be suffered to
gain a foothold anywhere in the Far East,
whether at Tsing-tao or in Indo-China. Every
one knows the many innate good qualities of the
genuine Germans ; but the Prussian Old Man of
the Sea must be first cast off by the German
Sinbad, and ample reparation made before pardon
can be granted or any off chances taken. ^

1 In Vol. xxiii. (May-July, 1820) of the Quarterly Review (John
Murray), an able winter who reported on German conditions after
the Napoleonic wars thus delivers himself : — " These very
qualities which we so much admire are liable on the other hand


As things now stand, there is every prospect
of China going smoothly ahead under the con-
ciliatory presidency of Li Yiian-hung, so long
at least as the Prussian viper is not allowed to
find another nestling-place in her bosom, wherein
to brew its poison. Sir Robert Hart, Sir
Richard Dane, M. Piry, Mr. Kinder, Dr. Tim.othy
Richard, may be cited as but a few instances of
Britons and Frenchmen who have loyally served
with great and permanent results the exclusive
interests of China : but where is the German,
official or missionary, who has ever done any
thing disinterested ? The eagerness to under-
take army instruction, to supply men-of-war
and guns, the monopoly in the miscellaneous
arms trade, the greedy hold on mines and
electric engineering, — ^this is all part and parcel
of the ultimate design to secure military control
in the interests of the Potsdam octopus. Japan's
recent attitudes have from time to time been
considered harsh towards China, but it must be
remembered that she also is now fighting for her
future life, and she is as fully determined that
China shall never again have a German-com-

to be perverted in the most naischievous manner. The sincerity
of the Germans exposes them to be the dupes of others to a
dangerous degree ; their enthusiasm is apt to evaporate in absurd
projects, and their perseverance to degenerate into obstinacy. . . .
The composure and secrecy of debate on grievances suit the
genius of the German better than any sudden exertion for their
removal. His imagination dwells with delight on gloom and
mystery, to the neglect of all its gayer and more airy fancies,
whilst the milk of human kindness with which his bosom may
be stored is apt to turn to a mixture of ferocity and sentiment
extremely disgusting. Hence this country has at all times
been fertile in secret and peculiar associations, into which its
natives have entered with an enthusiasm totally unknown in
other parts of the world. . . . The whole system of the Prussian
Government, although carried on with a strict attention to the
principles of justice, is extremely severe in its mode of operation.
Their fiscal regulations are in many respects arbitrary and vexa-
tious in the extreme, especially where their newly acquired pro-
vinces are concerned,"


manded (for that is what German-trained means)
army and navy as she is resolved that Germany
shall never again, if she can prevent it, set foot
in Tsing-tao or any other vantage point on the
China coast : it has recently been " mooted "
(probably indirectly, as a feeler from Potsdam)
that Germany would give back Alsace in ex-
change for Indo-China ; but even if Japan
would tolerate German presence anywhere in
the China seas, France is far too generous and
noble-minded a nation to hand over the effemin-
ate and defenceless Annamese she has christian-
ised to the tender mercies of a pack of unnatural
Karl Peters and Puttkamers, whose cowardly
brutalities in Africa have an appropriate sequel
in the recent Prussian treatment of Belgians,
Serbians, Armenians, and French occupes ; not
to mention the craven business of the Lusitania
and the sinking of numerous hospital ships.
Japan, true, is not of our blood, faith, or habit,
but her record for a generation has been stedfast
and honourable, and she is — despite this natural
separation in sentiment- — a far more noble ally
to cultivate than any wedge-pated Hohenzollern
of Prussia can ever be again ; and, indeed, it is
doubtful if the Po-Russians or " next to the
Russians " are ethnologically related to us at all ;
they seem to have "adopted" German just as
the Bulgarians have adopted Slav.

As to what the real policy of Japan towards
China is to be, no better definition of it could be
desired than that set forth in Viscount Motono's
speech as Foreign Minister delivered in the
Imperial Diet on 23rd January last, and tele-
graphed in extenso to the Times of 27th January.
Certainly, there are some points in the general
settlement of disputes on which China and Japan
have not yet arrived at complete agreement ;
probably this is because Japan cannot well


declare, and China neither feels nor understands,
the importance, in her own interests as well as
in the interests of peace and civilisation, of
extracting the viper's fangs once for all. As
to American suspicions of Japan, these may be
dismissed at once if the United States will only
continue to approach chocs d' opinions in a spirit
of reasonableness ; and indeed some of our own
colonial dominions may well revise their attitude,
if only in recognition of Japan's spontaneous
assistance in scotching the serpent's head.

E. H. P.


8 March, 1917.



Accurate notions of Chinese geography — Eighteen Provinces and
natural Umits — ^Natural movements of popiilation — Significant dia-
tinction between east and west parts — Its bearing upon British
commerce — China has spread outwards : we regard her inwards —
Original movements of ancient Chinese — Changes of Yellow River
stream — Early Chinese capitals — Supposed Babylonian origin —
Attacks by nomads — Line of Chinese further advance — Dialect areas
— Non-Chinese populations in China — How distributed in northern
and southern halves, and in eastern and western halves — Frontier
tribes — Lolo tribes and their system of writing ; the Mission d'Ollone ;
— M. Jacques Bacot and the Moso tribes — ^The Kachyns — Mrs.
Bird- Bishop on some Tibetan tribes — Cave-dwellers of Sz Ch'wan —
Shans in Hainan ; Rev. Samuel Clarke's book — Spread of J early
Chinese through Yang-tsze Valley — By way of the lakes to Canton —
Rise and erratic course of Yellow River — The loss region, and von
Richthofen's theory — Navigability of Yellow River ; Mr. Rodney
Gilbert's travels — Corruption in repairing its banks — China's real
" Sorrow " — Chinese engineers and the dykes ; recent American
plans — Source of the Yang-tsze — Chinese ideas on the subject, and
their reason — Limit of navigation — Rev. S. ChevaUer's great charts
— The Irrawaddy sources — Skill of steamer pilots — True sources of
Upper Yang-tsze — Once a region competed for by Siamese and
Tibetans — The Canton or West River — Its trade and the treaty port
Wu-chou — Chinese have advanced along lines of least resistance —
Its commercial significance — Salt trade ; Sir R. Dane's reforms —
Yang-tsze Valley — Movmtain ranges — Barrier between Tartars and
Chinese — Between Tartars and Tibetans — Between Yang-tsze and
West River valleys — Other ranges — Dr. Bretschneider's excellent
map ; modern changes in city designations . . Pages 1-15



Insipidity of earliest annals — Confucius' " Spring and Autumn "
history — The destruction of the old literature — M. Chavannes and
Sz-ma Ts'ien's great history — Interest begins with foreign relations
and nomad wars — ^The " First Emperor's " unification of China —


The monosyllabic races of men — Roman comparisons — Comparisons
with the states and territories of America — First news of Japan —
The Han dynasty — The Hiung-nu (Huns or Turks) — Corea — The^old
Canton kingdom,_and Wu Ti's conquest — The old Foochow kingdom
— Conquests in Turkestan — Buddhism and India — Burma and
Roman ships during later Han dynasty — ^New division into provinces
— The "Three Empire" period — Sundering of North and South
interests — The West drops into obhvion — Ts'in dynasty, ideally
" Chinese " — Tartar movements and displacement of dialects —
Comparison with the Latin languages — "North and South"
dynasty period — Comparison with the Empire of Charlemagne —
Confusing succession of ephemeral dynasties — Unification under
the Sui dynasty — The Franks — The nomad empire of the Jeujen —
The Turks — Corean compUcations — Annexation of Aimam — Japan's
new name and pretensions — Siam — Loochoo — Formosa — West Turks
— Tibetans — T'ang dynasty replaces that of Sui — " Men of T'ang "
— Rules from Persia to Corea — Turks succeeded by Ouigours — Stone
inscriptions stiU extant — Tribal names apphed to kingdoms — Arabs
— Tibetan inscriptions — Tibetan and Siamese ambitions — Kashmir,
Balti, JNepaul, and India — South Sea peoples — The Franks again —
Hiung-nu and Tinrk ; repetition of history — Ephemeral dynasties
follow that of T'ang — ^I'he Sung dynasty : its character — The
Kitans — The Niichens — Old China and the Tientsin trade area —
North and South empires once more — Displacement of populations
— The Mongol conquests : general transformation — Kublai's vast
empire — The Ming dynasty replaces the Mongols — Great marine
activity in the South Seas — Japanese piracy and Loochoo — Growth
of the Eleuth power — ^Manila — The Franks coining by sea — Dutch
and English — Abandonment of the Chinese in the South Seas by
the Ming and Manchu dynasties — Ming influence in Asia weak —
Miserable collapse of the dynasty — How the Manchus gained head-
way — Nurhachi's wars with China — His son Abkhai — Wu San-kwei
and the Chinese rebeUion — The Manchus seize the opportunity —
Utihse Mongol troops — Conquest of China completed — Conquest of
Western MongoUa, Tibet, and Turkestan — Chmax of Manchu power
— Submission of Nepaul — Annam, Burma, and Siam — Japan and
Loochoo — Sulu — Manchus no aptitude for the sea — Land power
compared with that of Kublai — ^Manchus better than Mongol — The
"Boxers" Paget IQ~AI



Interest begins with relations abroad — Chinese contempt for traderft —
Early ideas on trade — Tribute and trade — Indifference to wealth —
Growth of desire for gain — Early currency — W^ars and scarcity —
Rough treatment of traders — Army contractors — Salt and iron
monopohsts — Arbitrary sumptuary laws — Trade staples — Chines©
standards of wealth — ^Diplomatic trade — Fans and horse trade —
Tungusic trade — Turkestan and Canton trade — Syrian trade with
the Far East — PUny and Ptolemy — Where was Kattigara ? — Limited
number of possible ports — Romans got silk and iron from China —
— Land trade vid Parthia — ^Traders by sea and by land not always
identified — Chinese agents on the Persian Gxilf — Chinese priests make
the round tour by land and sea — Division into two empires accounts


for much ignorance — Hindoo and Arab colonies — Peaceful inter-
national relations — Roman traders at Nanking — Probable Irrawaddy
and Momein route — Authors repeat the same stories — No question
of duties or taxation — Arabs and Franks — Attempt of the Emperor
to reach the Franks — Anachronisms in national names — Active Arab
trade — Arab and Persian attack at Canton — Turkish land trade —
The iron trade again — Tea — Nestorian Stone and foreigners at Si-an
Fu — Decline of Canton monopoly — Rise of Hangchow and Ningpo —
Marco Polo's Zaitun — Rare book on trade by a royal Chinese —
Chinese trade in Indian Ocean — " Faifo " as a place of call — No
trade with Tonquin — Sumatra ports — Marco Polo's accounts :
amply corroborated by Chinese — Colonel Yule's splendid work —
Eunuch emissaries from China to the Indian Ocean . Pages 4:2-58



Two 'main branches of the great road to the West — Karakoram Pass
not to be confused with Karakoram city — Sir Aurel Stein — Sup-
posed " land-compass" and trade road to the South — Discovery of
West River by Chinese — Hosie and Ainscough — Hu Nan route to
Canton — Parthian and Indian road measures — Trade junction at
Kokand — Has a 2,000 year history — No silk went by sea until the
Parthians drove it thither — The Burma route — The travels of the
monk Fah-hien — Cosmas on sixth-century trade — Hiian-chwang'a
travels and Sir A. Stein — The Haiathala, or EphthaUtes — Tokhara
and the Arabs — Chavannes' translation of other monks' travels —
Proof that trade routes existed — Mongols kept to northerly routes —
Justin's mission to the Turks — Persia and the silk trade — Persian
and Arab sea trade — Persian appeal to China — Arab and Persian
struggles round Kokand — Arabs work their way to the Kokonor
region — Arabs and Ouigours — Rodney Gilbert — Arab alliance with
Tartars of North China — Arab missions by sea : their route — Nes-
torians and Jews at this period — Chinese sea trade; Hirth and
Rockhill — Canfu and Zaitun — Arabia and African coast — Persians
and Nestorians confused — Parallel confusion later on between
Franks and EngUsh — Conquests of Genghiz Khan — Roads followed
by his messengers — And by Rubruquis, Haiton's brother, etc. —

Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerChina, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day → online text (page 1 of 35)