Edward Harper Parker.

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

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ment noticed in the earlier editions of this work
has now become accentuated to such a degree
that Japan and India practically divide the
whole foreign import in equal shares ; both
these, however, are now threatened in turn by
the activities of Chinese mills, where docile
labour is obtainable at rates defying competi-
tion anywhere abroad. There is an immense
import of native raw cotton, native yarn, and
native coarse cloth into Sz Ch'wan, and much
cotton also comes into Yiin Nan from the Shan
states and Burma ; of course in 1880 nothing
was known of all this last, because Upper Burma
was not yet under our control.

Opium, so prominent a feature in foreign
trade when " China " was first published, has
now happily ceased to interest us except in so
far that arrangements are still incomplete for

146 MODERN TRADE . [chap, vii

working off- stocks in hand under the terms
stipulated with the late Manchu Government.
President Li, as did President Ylian, shows great
determination in the matter.

In 1880 over two-thirds of Chinese exports
(value 81,600,000 taels) were represented by
2,100,000 cwt. of tea, valued at 35,700,000 taels';
and 114,700 cwt. of silk, valued at 29,800,000
taels. It is as sad to find that in 1899 and 1913
the exports of tea only amounted to 1,631,000
and 1,500,000 cwt., valued at about 30,000,000
and 34,000,000 taels, as it is agreeable to notice
the totals 281,000 and 350,000 cwt. of silk,
valued at 90,000,000 and 105,000,000 taels.
Thus tea is better and dearer, whilst silk is more
plentiful and cheaper, no doubt owing to im-
provements in tea assorting and to filature
developments in silk factories. India and
Ceylon have done irreparable damage to the
tea trade of China with Great Britain, who now
ranks positively after Russia, instead of being
six or eight times ahead of her. At present,
however, Russia is beginning to appreciate
Indian and Ceylon teas in ever-increasing quan-

It will thus be seen that the main staples of
trade remain very much what they were before
what may be called the Treaty-port period.
But it must be noted that an enormous business
is now done in many new commodities of which
scarcely aily thing was heard in 1880, still less
in the pre-legation times anterior to the Second
War of 1858 ; for instance, a gigantic and ever-
increasing importation of kerosene oil from
America, Russia, and Sumatra, which in 1897
had already exceeded 100,000,000 gallons,
whilst in 1913 we have 185,000,000, including
about 24,000,000 from a new rival — Borneo.
Then there is cheap flour for South China from

A.D. 1900-1917] "NOT IN THESE TROWSERS" 117

America. These two imports alone, witli a
joint value of over 3.5,000,000 taels, have created
as great a social revolution in China as did the
advent of tea and the introduction of gas into
England. Whiles may be seen by the thousand
in distant Bhamo carrying kerosene oil through
the passes into Yun Nan ; peasants may be met
every evening in Arcadian Hainan carrying
home a neat pound-bag of beautiful white flour,
together with the farthing's-worth of peri-
winkles their ancestors have always brought
home in the evening as a relish for the rice.
Since 1899 quite a new import trade in cigarettes
has gained a firm footing, encouraged, no doubt,
by the ban upon opium : the value for 1913
was 12,500,000 taels. Foreign clothing is in
demand on account of the slump in pigtails and
petticoats for men : happily women have not
imitated the restless and often hideous changes
beloved of their Western sisters, but have con-
fined their democratic yearnings to the tighten-
ing of the once baggy sleeves and trousers ;
if a mere man may venture an opinion, they
looked more modest in the good old " bags."
Aniline dyes and artificial indigo have had a fine
time of late years, to the profit of Germany,
who in 1913 pocketed a trifle of 10,000,000

The importation of miscellaneous articles of
luxury has of late years increased to such an
extent as to vie in aggregate amount with the
totals of " regulation " staples. Thus all China-
men who can afford it now like to have tumblers
and bottles, foreign stockings, soap, lamps,
cigars, preserved milk, sweets, and umbrellas ;
not to mention watches, musical-boxes, bicycles,
motors, and toys. The women are fond of
American and European scents, good mirrors,
fine white sugar for powdering the face, needles,

148 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

and finger-rings. Then there is a curious though
weighty import which is also an export. It
actualh^ pays better to export enormous quan-
tities of coarse Chinese sugar to the " foreign
country " of Hongkong, and re-import it thence,
after refinement, as " foreign sugar," paying one
export, one import, and one half or coast duty,
plus two freights, than to refine it in China
where labour is cheapest, or to import real
foreign sugar. No more eloquent comment on
the suicidal and imbecile financial policy of the
provincial authorities could be made. In 1913
China spent 35,000,000 taels on this " imported "

But besides new-fangled imports, properly so
called, and this hermaphrodite sugar, many new
exports have either shifted bearings, or have
started into prominence since the year 1880.
In that year, after deducting the values of tea
and silk, the total exports from China in foreign
bottoms were only 12,300,000 taels, against
75,000,000 in 1899 and 260,000,000 in 1913.
Thus, the beancake (manure) which used to go
from Chefoo and Newchwang to South China
for sugar cultivation in 1880, now mostly goes
to Japan, and no longer exclusively to Amoy,
Swatow, and such places. The beans from which
the beancake was made (after the extraction of
oil) were almost unknown as an export ten years
ago, but now the beans and the cake each count
for about half of a total of 50,000,000 taels,
and besides about 4,000,000 taels' worth of oil
goes to Belgium and Japan. The Dutch, Danes,
Belgians, and Germans import great quantities
of beans (and various crushed oils) for the manu-
facture of margarine and other foodstuffs. The
Brazilians and the Italians are now growing Soya
hispida of their own in rivalry. Tlie export of
straw-braid from Chefoo and Tientsin has doubled,

A.D. 1880-1917] GERMAN " SLIMNESS " 149

though in 1880, when it first began to attract
serious notice, it had ah-eady nearly trebled
itself in five years ; it was never heard of in
the five-port days : there was a tremendous
fall in 1913 to 5,000,000 taels from 10,000,000
in 1911, no doubt in consequence of fraudulent
and careless behaviour on the part of producers
and dealers. Feathers of all kinds may be
described as an entirely new export, which is
now assuming really great and alarming dimen-
sions owing to the organised hunt for birds
other than domestic fowl. The albumen and
egg export is also quite new. Both these for
Belgium and Germany. The quantity of hides
and skins exported had in 1898 trebled itself
during six years — in 1880 the export was hardly
worth special mention : in 1913 the total value
was about 25,000,000 taels ; here the Germans
have been as active as in the notorious Calcutta
hide monopoly, so dangerous to India. The
trade in mats and matting, hemp, jute, ramie,
leather, native spirit, wine, and oils has been ad-
vancing in a most extraordinary rapid fashion ;
in matting, however, there has been a recent
slump, owing to some hitch in American arrange-
ments. Still, as we get to understand better
some more of the unfamiliar, ingenious uses to
which the long-experienced Chinese put their
numerous oils, barks, and fibres, we shall un-
doubtedly before long create similar large ex-
ports in other directions. There are many
openings in China for the mercantile man with
ideas, and whatever we may think of Kultur,
there is no denying that the Germans are the
most fertile in this thinking-out department.
Caveant consules, therefore.

In the above remarks no account has been
taken of coast trade (730,000,000 taels), which,
added to the foreign trade, amounted in 1899 to

150 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

1,210,500,000 taels, and in 1913 to 1,353,500,000
taels, of which the ships of Great Britain account
for 013,000,000 taels in 1899 and rather less in
1913 ; that is to say, the coast trade has not
increased in proportion to the foreign trade, and
the Chinese and Japanese steamers have taken
much more of the coast trade than formerly.

As to foreign shipping, in 1880 there were
22,970 entrances and clearances of 15,874,352
tons, 60 per cent, being British ; in 1899 the
figm-es were 56,957 entrances and clearances of
38,863,902 tons, of which, again, 60 per cent,
were British— at least so far as tonnage goes ;
in 1913 the figures were 190,738 and 93,334,830,
Britain's share being 32,186 vessels of 38,120,300
tons ; but in 1899 25,350 British ships, averag-
ing over 900 tons each, carried 23,338,230 tons,
whilst it took 22,548 Chinese ships, averaging
over 400 tons each, to carry 8,944,819 tons ;
in 1913 it took 121,768 Chinese ships to carry
19,903,944 tons. Thus the British ships average
about 1,200 tons to the Chinese average of 150
tons ; the explanation is that steam-launches
and the comparatively recent inland navigation
rules have revolutionised local shipping, four-
fifths of the registered " inland " vessels being
Chinese. Japanese shipping has advanced with
giant strides, totalling 22,716 ships of 23,422,487
tons, being more than quintuple the figures for
1899 ; and it will be noticed that the average
is over 100 tons per ship. Other countries are
still so far behind that I need not mention them ;
the only one to make any show at all was Ger-
many, and even she had in 1913 fallen seriously
off since 1903 : of course, now, she has dis-
appeared altogether as the baseless fabric of a

The comparative number of foreign firms
doing business in China (including now, of

A.u. 1880-iyi7j i OREIGNERS IN CHINA 151

course, Manchuria) is thus given for the three
years 1880, 1899, and 1913 :—







Japanese .




Spanish .

Swedish, etc.








! 690



1 296



1 131



' 106









Foreign Firms in China




The Germans and Americans, it will be ob-
served, have increased, at first nearly, and later
more than proportionately with the British.
The Russians made no attempt to go beyond
the bounds of their old tea trade, and their
firms were all at Hankow, Foochow, and Tien-
tsin, until the Cassini Convention presented them
with Manchuria. The French increase in num-
bers does not bulk largely in reference to the
volume of trade done ; but they are especially
active in silk filatures. The Japanese made a
big jump after their v/ar of 1894-5, and a still
more tremendous jump when in 1904-5 they
took half Russia's interest in Manchuria. The
Portuguese pricked up their ears when Senhor
Branco " made the fur fly " in 1904 ; and the
etcetera now includes 39 Italians, 24 Austro-
Hungarians, and 13 Belgians who had not found
grace previous to " Boxer " eye-opening ; also
7 Norwegians, who only separated from Sweden
in 1905. In 1880 the total number of foreigners
in China, including missionaries and other non-
traders, was just over 4,000 ; in 1899 it had gone

152 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

up to about 17,000, and in 1913 (including
Manchuria) to 164,000. Of course all this has
nothing to do with Hongkong, which is no longer
a political part of " China."

Let us now take the ports one by one, glance
comparatively at the years 1880, 1899, and
1913, and see what prospects they give for the
enterprising trader of the future.

(1) Pakhoi is the Ultima Thule of coast ports,
as viewed from a Chinese standpoint. In 1880
the boycotting of steamers by native junk owners
and monopolists had only just recently been
broken up ; opium was the chief import ; cassia
and aniseed the leading exports. In 1899 Indian
cotton yarn alone represented three-sevenths in
value of all imports ; opium was quite insignifi-
cant. Aniseed stands for one quarter of the
exports ; cassia is not even mentioned. Sugar,
hides, and indigo stand for over half the remain-
ing exports. In 1913 the total trade had
dwindled to a third of its 1899 value. Indian
yarn stood for one-fifth of all imports, and
kerosene for one-tenth ; opium was extinct.
Neither aniseed nor cassia is separately men-
tioned ; sugar falls to insignificance ; hides
stand firm, and liquid indigo defies German
dyes. Pigs and fish are now the chief stand-by
of moribund Pakhoi trade.

(2) Hoihow (Kiungchow) in 1880 sent nothing
abroad, and chiefly imported foreign opium, but
in 1913 the import of opium was only one-
twelfth in value of the total imports. Cottons,
principally Indian yarn, were in 1899 far ahead
of opium, and kerosene had shot up to nearly
half the value of that driig. Cottons, still half
Indian yarn, and kerosene now stand for half
the value of the remaining total imports after
the deduction of opium, and kerosene alone is
four- fifths the value of opium. Pigs and sugar

A.D. 1880-1916] CANTON AND ROBERTSON 153

have always been and still are the chief exports,
amounting in 1913 to considerably more than
half the total value. The export of " pine-
apple " hemp and its grass-cloth continues to
be considerable ; the Kew authorities possess
full details (from myself) concerning this im-
portant fibre.

(3) Sam-shui (including the subsidiary ports
of Kongmun and Kumchuk) was only opened in
1897 : cotton goods stand for over half the
total imports ; sugar and tobacco are the most
promising exports. Andad con Dios! for little
is ever reported of you ; in fact nothing, this
century, by any consul.

(4) Lappa (round Macao) and (5) Kowloong
(round Hongkong). These stations were
opened in order to check salt smuggling and to
facilitate the working of the Opium Agreement
of 1886. Their position is peculiar, as Maritime
Customs officers are, practically speaking, in
charge of a purely Chinese junk trade, which does
not concern foreigners directly. The effects of
the Kowloong extension of 1898, apart from the
railway to Canton, concern the colony of
Hongkong, which, possessing no statistics, is
never very illuminating on the subject of trade.

(6) Canton; a strong German shipping and
general trade centre before the war. In 1880
the imports were only one-fifth of the exports ;
most of the opium was (and was still in 1899)
imported in native junks. There had been
singular neglect on the part of foreigners for
twenty-five years past to insist on transit-pass
privileges for imports into Kwang Si and be-
yond. This was chiefly owing to the personal
policy of my former respected chief. Sir Brooke
Robertson, the British Consul, v/ho took a sym-
pathetic view of China's financial straits. The
chief exports wxre silk, tea, sugar, tobacco, and

154 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

iiuitting. In 1899 the foreign imports alone
were worth more than half the exports, of
which silk (filature) was then practically the
sole important one. Matting only stood for
one-twentieth part of the value of silk, although
compared with 1880 there was twice as much
of it in 1899 ; sugar had by no means disap-
peared, and glass bangles were worth as nmch
as tea and tobacco put together. Owing,
however, to matting, tea, and other produce
for Europe at that time all going to Hongkong
largely "by junk, it was quite fallacious to take
the Foreign Customs returns for Canton as a
criterion of the prosperity in export business.

Li Hung-chang took a very important decision
in this province before leaving for Shanghai in
connection with the " Boxer " difficulties of the
summer of 1900. He abolished all likin through-
out Kwang Tung in consideration of 4,000,000
dollars a year to be paid by the seventy-two
leading trades. Were this new plan to succeed
permanently, it might revolutionise the com-
merce of the province or trading " hongs." Be
that as it may. Canton trade is already gal-
vanised into new life, and 1910 was its "record."
Since then wars and revolutions have reduced
it, and must have further reduced it since 1913,
when its total reached 114,000,000 taels; yet
its revenue for that year is a record. Opium
has disappeared, but of course some must be
smuggled. The exports now balance the im-
ports (if we include the bullion on both sides).
The Hoppo, with his nefarious native customs,
is abolished. The chief imports are cotton goods,
sugar, and kerosene. The chief exports remain
as before, that of sugar being one-third of the im-
port, for reasons already explained (pp. 148, 155) ;
and matting having fallen off (p. 149).

(7) Wu-chou (40,000 inhabitants), the gate to


Kwang Si, had no existence as a foreign port
in 1880. After two and a half years of hfe,
by the end of 1899 it was found that practically
the whole trade was with Hongkong. More
than half the imports were cotton goods — as
they still are. It is purely a transhipping centre,
and the surrounding district possesses no impor-
tant products of its own ; motor-boats carry up
country, and bring back, respectively, the imports
from and exports to Hongkong and Canton by
large steamers, which cannot get beyond this
point. In 1907 the " port " of Nan-ning, 500 miles
farther up the river, was opened, and the motor-
boats could even ascend another 500 miles to
Peh-ngai, on the Yiin Nan frontier. After the
revolution of 1912, Nan-ning was made the capital
of the province in place of Kwei-lin ; but in 1915
the Civil Governor went back to the old capital,
the Military Governor remainingat Nan-ning. The
whole trade of Wu-ehou and Nan-ning combined
is negligible in bulk and value, and in any case
does not seriously concern foreigners at present.

(8) At Swatow in 1880 more than half the
value of imports stood for opium, and sugar
was the chief export. In 1889 opium repre-
sented only one-tenth, and cotton goods one-
sixth ; these two together just equal the value
of the opium alone in 1880, and beancake (in-
cluding beans) stood for nearly a quarter of the
imports. Sugar remained the chief export ;
the value of the sugar exported about counter-
balancing that of imported opium and cotton
goods combined. In 1918 opium disappears, and
fine Java sugars are imported in increasing quaji-
tities to the detriment of local exports, the
beancake going to fertilise better-paying crops.

Formosa has now been lost to Cliina for over
twenty years, and there is no more justification
for continuing to discuss its condition under

156 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

Japan than there would be for discussing the
trade of Hongkong and Macao under Great
Britain and Portugal.

(9) Amoy still carries on the old native
" Zaitun " trade with the " Straits," the Indo-
Chinese peninsula, Formosa (now Japanese),
the Dutch archipelago, and the Spanish (now
American) Islands, to which places large num-
bers of emigrants proceed annually, equal num-
bers returning with fortunes made. Opium and
cottons in exchange for tea and sugar were
the chief items in the foreign trade of 1880.
Opium and cottons in 1899 still represent half
the value of the foreign imports, but in 1913
opium is extinct and moreover the local culti-
vation of the poppy is eradicated. Amoy has
long been and still is a declining port; besides, its
trade has little interest for any foreigners except
(as with Swatow) those trading from Hongkong
and the Straits of Java. In no part of China
was government more rotten than in the Fuh
Kien province, to which Swatow really belongs
ethnologically ; possibly the reason is, in part,
because all dialects spoken there are totally
unintelligible to the northern officials ; since the
revolution of 1911, Fuh Kien has been almost a
forgotten region.

(10) The North Fuh Kien port of San-tu Ao
(Samsah Inlet) was voluntarily opened in May,
1899, entirely as a political move. I visited it
and the alum mountain to the north of it in
1884, and travelled throughout the Hinterland.
I am, therefore, in a position to suggest that
tea and alum are likely to be the chief exports ;
the tea at present all goes via Foochow. No
foreign business has, however, yet been reported ;
no foreigner is there or goes there ; it is simply
a question of naval harbour interest.

(11) Foochow lies midway between the last

A.D. 1154-1916] CHEH KIANG PORTS 157

two places. In 1880 it still possessed the
largest tea export, and the memory of glorious
old clipper days was yet green there. Tea in
1913 still stands for four-fifths of the total
exports, as it did in 1899, but the quantity is
only half of that shipped in 1880. The other
noticeable exports are poles, bamboo-made
paper, oranges, and edible bamboo shoots. In
1880 the imports were only one-quarter of the
exports, in value, but now, as in 1899, more
than equal the latter. It is at this port that,
as regards shipping, both the Chinese and the
Japanese flags have made the greatest inroads
upon British tonnage since 1899. Opium in
1899 was still, as it was in 1880, one of the chief
imports, but on a much reduced scale ; the same
may be said of 1913, but the suppression of the
trade made it clear that by 1914 all but the
illicit imports will have vanished.

(12) Wenchow has never been much of a port
in our days, though it was once so in the olden
times, and a good tea trade was expected from
it when we went there in 1878. It is so insigni-
ficant now that the British consuls have ceased
even to report upon it. There is a considerable
and very ancient export of bitter oranges, des-
tined entirely for the Mongol market by way of
Tientsin ; these oranges are mentioned at the
" Manzi " or Sung dynasty's court of Hangchow
in the year 1154.

(13) Ningpo had degenerated from 1880 to
1899 into a mere sleepy branch of Shanghai,
to which place it shipped its tea, mats, fans,
and rush or straw hats by the daily British or
Chinese steamer, taking chiefly opium, metals,
and cotton goods in return. This is still the case
so far as the steamers are concerned, except that
the Chinese tonnage is now far ahead of the
British. The old raw cotton export continues,

158 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

but with great fluctuations. The Shanghai rail-
way to Hangchow, and thence to Ningpo, may
infuse new Hfe into the port, but pohtical condi-
tions and interminable railway squabbles have
seriously compromised its success.

(14) Hangchow was only opened in 1896, and
has already far exceeded the expectations formed
of it, though it is a mere canal appendage of
Shanghai, as Ningpo is a sea appendage. In
1899 its gross trade had already nearly reached
12,000,000 taels ; in 1913 17,300,000 taels. The
chief imports were opium, tobacco, kerosene,
beans, and beancake — but opium has been dis-
placed by cigarettes ; the exports consist prin-
cipally of tea and silk. The Shanghai railw^ay has
disturbed and will further disturb the direction
of trade communications, but in 1913 the railway
directors had to announce a serious deficit, and
both rolling stock and permanent way need

I have now w^orked all the way up to Shanghai
from the south ; but, before touching upon that
great centre, I will bring down the river trade and
the northern trade each to the same focus, and
then collect our consideration of the whole three
groups into one purview, together with that of
the great depot for them all.

(15) Chungking was opened in 1891, but I
resided there for a twelvemonth ten years earlier
than that. The foreign-managed trade had
already in 1899 reached 26,000,000 taels, imports
and exports being equally divided ; in 1913,
despite revolutions, rebellions, and local squab-
bles, which greatly hampered trade, the total
exceeded 30,000,000 taels, or only 8 per cent,
below the " record " of 1909 : of course this total
does not cover the vast commerce of the feeding
rivers, nor that portion of the Yang-tsze trade
which ignores the Foreign Customs. Here the

A.D. 1880-1915] FAR UP-RIVER PORTS 150

tables are tui-ned, and the conditions new ;
there has never been an import of Indian opium,
but more tlian a tliird of the total exports used
to consist of the native drug — now oj^ium is not
even mentioned. White wax and silk between
them make up another third, and efforts are
being made so to improve the silk trade as to

Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerChina, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day → online text (page 14 of 35)