Edward Harper Parker.

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

. (page 15 of 35)
Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerChina, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day → online text (page 15 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


make it fill the place vacated by opium. There
is a very large export of musk from Tibet, which
takes in exchange 10,000 tons of coarse tea, by
way of Ya-chou. All the trade, import and
export, used to be done in chartered native junks,
but during the past fcAv years small steamers
and gunboats have found a way over the rapids
and through the gorges, and thus may be said
to have revolutionised transport, at least for six
months in the year. The imports have all to pass
the gauntlet of either Shanghai, Hankow, or
Ichang,^ — sometimes of all three. The chief part
consists of cotton goods, or raw cotton and cotton
yarn (native as well as foreign) to be locally
spun or woven into yarn and cloth. In June
1915 the important city of Wan Men below
Chungking was opened as a branch (Foreign
Customs) of the Chungking office. Though
Chungking exports raw silk, it imports silk piece-
goods, skilled local handiwork not yet being quite
up to the mark, and silk being much worn by all
classes. Chungking, representing also Tibet, is
the drug-exporting place par excellence of China ;
but it is impossible in this rapid sketch even to
name the many new features of trade that have
recently given this vast mart exceptional import-
ance ; what is really wanted is a body of Chinese-
speaking British agents, each agent representing
firms in one particular line ; more especially in
machinery, engineering, and electricity, in which
the Germans have been showing great activity.
(16) Ich'ang, at the mouth of the gorges, made



160 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

a " port " in 1877, was considered a failure
already in 1880, but the opening of Chungking,
with its native opium trade, in 1891 somewhat
changed the face of things, and the total amount
of the trade for 1899 was about fourteen times
as great as that for 1880 ; but only a small part
of it is local, the bulk is all mere transhipment to
or from Chungking. The neighbourhood is too
mountainous and badly supplied with roads for
local trade to develop rapidly ; the total of all
kinds for 1913 was only about 5,000,000 taels
net. As to shipping, the Chinese, and still more
the Japanese are rapidly gaining ground upon the
British. The Hankow-Ich'ang-Sz Ch'wan railway
has not got much beyond the talking stage.

(17) Shashi is, so to speak, the port of King-
chou, which was in very ancient times an an-
cient royal capital, and has always been a great
political centre in the past : it was still up to
1911 the residence of a Tartar garrison. Its
port was opened in 1896, and is so far a failure
that the British consulate has been withdrawn
since 1899. There are great hopes of develop-
ment when the Shashi- Hi ngi railway to Hu Nan,
etc., is started. The total trade at present is
less even than that of Ich'ang, the Chinese mer-
chants preferring junks to steamers, liki7i to
Foreign Customs, and the Back River to the
Yang-tsze. But there is an enormous native
cotton trade Avith Sz Ch'wan. I ought to say
here, once for all, in connection with inter-port
trade generally, that a total for all China of nearly
1,000,000,000 taels would have to be added to
each 500,000,000 taels of foreign trade, if the
coast trade of each port (only that managed by
the Foreign Customs) were in each case included :
it is difficult to guess what the /*Hn-managed
trade would amount to beyond that.

(18) Yochou, the key to Hu Nan, was opened



A.D. 1900-1914] CENTRAL CHINA'S PORT 161

in November, 1899, but it did not properly
" take down its shutters " for business until
1900. It had a fitful career of ups and downs
until, in 1904, the opening of the Hu Nan capital,
Ch'ang-sha, took the wind out of its flapping sails
entirely. Ch'ang-sha, a great mining centre,
especially in antimony, has been a great success
from the beginning, and a vast lake trade has
grown up with the great marts of Hu Nan, in
which the Japanese take a prominent part ; in
fact, their shipping and that of the Chinese
quite equal that of Great Britain. In spite of
general and local political scares, the trade has
risen steadily without a single break from
6,000,000 taels in 1905 to 24,000,000 in 1913 :
opium and the poppy cultivation are effectually
scotched. " Chinese shipping " of course means
steam craft under the Foreign Customs, quite
apart from junk trade.

(19) The great entrepot of Hankow occupies
one of the finest trade positions in the world.
It is the only place in China proper, as distinct
from Manchuria, where the Russians are in really
strong force : the largest ocean steamers from
Odessa and London can anchor opposite the
Consulate doors. After taking source near the
same spot, and flying off from each other thou-
sands of miles, the one towards the desert and the
other towards the south, the Yang-tsze and the
Yellow River approach once more to within a
distance of 300 miles : one of the Hankow rivers,
the Han, taps the whole of the intervening space,
and after a partly navigable course of 1,250 miles
joins the Yang-tsze at Hankow, which is also
exactly half-way between gates or keys of the
two lake systems of Hu Nan and Kiang Si.
Situated as it is in the centre of China, with cheap
water communications in every possible direc-
tion, it naturally trades in almost everything,



162 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

and the Germans have been as enterprising,
since the " Boxer " wars, as the British have
been supine, in estabhshing vigorous new export
trades h^nce.

The trade of Hankow must be studied in con-
nection with that of the ports above and below
it, otherwise the grand total of 67,000,000 taels
for 1899 and 154,000,000 for 1913 (or 85,000,000
taels and 175,000,000 if viewed from another
standpoint) would be misleading ; even the tea,
which is of course a bond fide original cargo
shipped direct for Europe, includes Kewkiang
tea. It is found more paying to bring the leaf up
river this way in native boats than to ship it on
board chance steamers calling at Kewkiang,
simply to fill up there if they have space. The
export of tea was in 1899 fifty percent, greater
than that of Foochow ; in 1913 the export was
three times the value, and the import (for blend-
ing purposes) into Hankow of Ceylon, Assam,
and Java dust was more than half the Foochow
export, the Hankow export of teas thus blended
alone far exceeding the total export from
Foochow. The import of kerosene is enormous,
and two 5,000-ton tanks were destroyed during
the revolution of 1911. The recklessness in the
use of oil-lamps had already in previous years
been the cause of some very destructive fires in
Hankow, which finally received its coup de grace
when imperialist conflagrations, during the 1911
revolt, practically annihilated the whole city, the
rebuilding of which in improved style becomes
more difficult the longer time is wasted. Yet,
what with railways, cloth and paper mills, en-
gineering and cement works, needle and nail
factory, mints, waterworks, electric installations,
arsenals, mining, etc., the whole place buzzes
with " unkempt " activity, and there is no space
to say more here.



A.D. 1880-1913] LAKE AND RIVER PORTS 163

(20) Kewkiang was already a decadent port,
and had been reduced to a British vice-consulate
long before 1880, there being little in the way of
either import or export, beyond sugar, shipping
agencies, and tea, to interest foreigners. On the
whole, though there was a great fall in 1913, tea
is not now dechning, and the Russians in that year
did well in green brick tea, sent via Manchuria
to Mongolia. There is a large native trade in
porcelain from the Kiang Si potteries, but not
much of it is exported to foreign countries ;
no wonder, for eighteen likin " squeezes " must
be paid before it can reach Shanghai ; the Re-
publican Government is taking steps to reor-
ganise and improve the industry. VVith cheap
and comfortable daily, almost hourly, steamers
up and down the river, native merchants
naturally prefer to go to Shanghai or Hankow
to make large purchases and contracts. The
great summer resort of Kuling has sprung into
existence since the first editions of this book
appeared : the " estate " has now attained the
dimensions of a Homburg or a Pdstyen, and is
largely patronised by missionaries : it is five
hours to the cool mountain by " chair " from
sweltering Kewkiang. There was in 1899 some
prospect of a valuable trade in the grass-cloth
plant (Boehmeria nivea), which had just then at-
tracted attention both in England and Germany :
in 1913 the export had reached 116,000 cwts.
Since the Inland Water Navigation rules were
promulgated in 1898, an active steam-launch
traffic for passengers has sprung up on the
Poyang Lake : the commercial activity on this
lake now bids fair to rival that of its rival Tung-
t'ing; but, so far, the Kiang Si capital Nan-ch'ang
has not been " opened." Even the railway to
connect it with Kewkiang progresses slowly—
the Japanese have a strong interest in it, and
18



164 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

also in the lake shipping. There is " talk " of a
new railway, direct, to join the two lake capitals
Ch'ang-sha and Nan-ch'ang.

(21) Wuhu, like all the ports opened under
the Chefoo Convention, was in 1880 considered
to be a comparative failure, and for a long time
no foreigners went there. The fact is, China-
men are conservative, and do not want more
points of contact than they are accustomed to
use, or are gradually brought up to appreciate.
But, after all, 1899 proved its best year, more
than doubling the average total annual trade for
the ten previous years, and passing 20,000,000
taels : after gradually reaching nearly 30,000,000
in 1912, it resumed in 1913 the 1899 figure, the
revolt of that summer having disorganised com-
merce, whilst the rebellious Military Governor
had to flee. The gigantic export of rice (4,000,000
cwt.), largely to Canton and Swatow, was the
chief cause for the unlooked-for increase of 1899 ;
in 1913 the export was only 3,000,000 cwt., but
this is always an uncertain staple, for rice can
scarcely ever be sent abroad, and very special likin
arrangements have to be made whenever shortage
in other provinces renders it urgently necessary
to send cheap rice to other parts of China. Rice,
moreover, is quite an uncertain commodity in
itself, and depends entirely upon the weather.^

(22) Nanking, though nominally available
under the earlier treaties, was not really made an
open port until May, 1899, and by 1913 it had
worked its Vv^ay up to 14,000,000 taels. In spite
of the sacking and destruction of the city during
the 1913 troubles, that was a " record " year^ —
so kindly does the Chinese eel take to skinning.
Nanking now has its University, and is a railway
centre of the first magnitude ; four British firms
do a large business there already, and its prospects
are unbounded.

1 cf. p. 144.



A.D.1600-1916] NEWCHWANG'S VICISSITUDES 165

(23) Chinkiang was in so poor a way in 1880
that it had only three years previously earned
its right to be restored to its position as an
independent consulate ; for some years the
officer-in-charge had to submit matters involving
important changes to the Consul at Shanghai.
It is sickening, now that opium is practically a
hideous dream of the past, to look back to the
statistics of 1899, and see what a prominent part
the drug then took in the trade of Chinkiang —
and of most other ports. The Czar's abolition
of drink in 1914 was not a more beneficial act of
autocracy than the Emperor's (or rather the old
Dowager's) smashing edict of September 1906 ;
and fortunately the Republic sticks to its guns
now that her Majesty's ten-year period of grace
is over. In spite of the 1913 rebellion and the
loss of opium revenue, Chinkiang has a hopeful
future, especially when the new port of P'u-k'ou
opposite Nanking springs into organised exist-
ence. As to shipping, Great Britain still has
50 per cent, of it. But at present it is rather
startling to see it rank in trade volume below
Chefoo, which only serves the trade require-
ments of one tiny corner of Shan Tung.

Having now exhausted, I am afraid in a very
sketchy way, the riverine line of ports, I pass to
the extreme north.

(24) Newchwang is the most northerly port
of all. Although it is said to be in " Manchuria,"
the province of Sheng King had really no
civilised Manchu population to speak of before
A.D. 1600 ; the inhabitants are a mixed Chinese-
Tungusic race, who have been as often governed
by Corea and by Tunguses of various kinds as
by Chinese. In 1880 all the foreign imports
from abroad came via Shanghai or direct from
Hongkong. Russia and Japan had not yet put
in an appearance, nor had a pound of yarn been



166 MODERN TRADE [chap, vil

imported. In 1899 the trade was double that
of 1898, and then having gradually attained its
maximum of 74,250,000 taels in the year of the
revolution, 1911, it had fallen off 25 per cent,
of that figure in 1913 and resumed the lower
total of 1908. Having undergone Russian and
Japanese occupations, the evil effects of Mon-
golian troubles, plague, the reflex action of the
Yang-tsze revolts, and other political disloca-
tions ; having, moreover, suffered from inflated
paper money and general currency chaos, in-
justice in settling native mercantile claims,
drought, and unsatisfactory Liao River condi-
tions, etc., etc., the foreign merchant at New-
chwang has indeed been a sorely tried person
for a whole decade. At present the Japanese
shipping still equals and even exceeds the British,
which in turn is more than that of all other
nations put together. Japan, moreover, still
takes half the total exports. Russia had thirteen
steamers in 1899, but only three in 1913. The
sole export of first-class importance in 1880 was
beancake (and beans) ; now the Soya hispida
export is one of the great features of Chinese
trade. The port has to suffer severe competition
from Dairen or Dalny, but latterly the Japanese
have begun to interest themselves in the New-
chwang trade too. The formerly flourishing
American trade in cotton goods has received
a blow, owing to the successive, and now joint
policies of Russia and Japan. America looks
askance at the latest position, and naturally
tries to " get in " once more.

Port Arthur in 1899 was a great trading place
for many nationalities, but of course in purely
Russian interests. The Japanese, who now use
it chiefly as a naval port, took it from China in
1894, and again from Russia in 1904 ; in 1910
the western harbour was thrown open, but it is



A.D. 1880-1913] GULF OF CHIH LI PORTS 167

not a " port " under the Foreign Customs — in
fact it is a failure in trade.

(25) Ta-lien Wan (Japanese Dairen), or Dalny
as the Russians called it in 1898, is an open port
in territory " leased " first to Russia and then to
Japan. Before the Japanese took it the Russians
had carried out stupendous public works there
with a view to a great future trade, especially in
coal and beans. Express trains carry you hence
direct to Europe, and rapid steamers convey
passengers to and from Shanghai in connection
therewith. The trade for 1913 was considerable,
but 85 per cent, of it was Japanese. The Chinese
Maritime Customs takes cognisance of it, and the
question of duties payable is a matter of arrange-
ment based upon the plan accepted by Germany
at Kiao Chou.

(26) Tientsin exported large quantities of
camels' wool and straw-braid in 1880 ; cotton
goods and opium were the leading imports, but
she ranked fairly low down in the comparative
scale,' — far below such ports as Hankow or Foo-
chow. " Syndicates," bent on " concessions " of
all kinds, then began to arrive ; there was great
activity in connection with China's new navy and
naval stations ; the opening of Corea brought
fresh steamers to the port, and its development
continued through the time of the Japanese war
in 1894-5, and the subsequent extraordinary
energy displayed by the Chinese in raising new
armies (1896-1900). After the " Boxer " peace
settlement of 1901, the Viceroy Yiian Shi-k'ai
completely reformed and rehabilitated the place.
The trade had nearly trebled itself during the
ten years preceding his arrival, and now ranks
next to that of Hankow in value ; even above it
in revenue collection. Wool and raw cotton are
the chief exports. The wool is chiefly sheep's,
which comes in enormous quantities from distant



168 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

Mongolia; just as Tibetan wool, starting from
near the same tracts, goes to Chungking ; but
there is a fair amount of camels' wool too. The
value of hides, skins, and hair is about half that
of the wool. Cotton goods are the leading im-
ports, Japanese yarn being specially prominent.
Others worth special mention are kerosene and
munitions of war. The former immense im.por-
tation of foreign and native opium is a thing of
the past. It will assist us in forming an idea of
the topographical laws which explain the most
ancient Chinese migrations and settlements, if
we accept the dictum that the trade area of
Tientsin embraces all between the sea and the
left bank of the Yellow River up to Mongolia,
including both banks of the northernmost River
Bend down to Ning-hia, the ancient capital of
Marco Polo's Tangut, and to the outposts of
Tibet. In fact, there are three drainage areas
in China for trade, and the sea outlets are Tien-
tsin, Shanghai, and Canton.

(27) Ts'in-wang Tao, nine miles north of the
new sanatorium Pei-tai Ho (near the Shan-hai
Kwan), had since 1898 been much talked of as a
" voluntary port," like San-tu Ao ; but the
trouble with the " Boxers " postponed the
completion of that arrangement until 1903. The
advantage of this port is that it is always free
from ice, and therefore affords a better and
nearer channel for the K'ai-Lan (Anglo-Chinese)
Company's coal export than Taku.

Kalgan, at the Great Wall, is perhaps entitled
to a cursory mention, although, in spite of its
excellent new Peking railway, it is not exactly a
*' port," even in the same limited sense as the
inland and railway connected towns of Meng-tsz
and Lungchow, for it is not under the Foreign
Customs. About 40,000 tons of tea used to
go overland through this place to Mongolia,



A.D. 1870-1914.] RUSSIAN TEA TRADE 169

employing for conveyance about 200,000 camels.
These, it appears, are largely the same animals
that bring sheep's wool to Tientsin from the
region of Kokonor — that is, from the entrepot
of Baotu, on the Yellow River, which has already
been twice mentioned in the chapter upon " Trade
Routes." About the year 1870 I paid three visits
to Kalgan, and even then there was a consider-
able Russian settlement, which in 1900 was des-
troyed by the " Boxers." The Kalgan tea trade
is not so important to Russia now that direct
steamers of the largest size run from Hankow
to Odessa, and even to Cronstadt ; such as it is,
the Russians bemoan its decadence, and the de-
cline of Kiachta energy. In 1913 the export by
Chinese of green brick tea from Kewkiang to
Mongolia was forbidden for a time, and this gave
the Russians a short opportunity as related on
p. 163. In the. year 1872 I went up the Yang-
tsze with the captain of the very first Russian
steamer destined for the ocean trade, and towards
1899 there were about six of them clearing for
the Black Sea or the Baltic every year. The
Russian entries and clearances for 1914 were
55 ships of 55,000 tons, which would give an
average of 2,000 tons a steamer. But these
remarks belong strictly to Hankow.

Kia-yiih Kwan (lat. 40° N., long. 98° E.) pos-
sessed a " foreign " custom-house, supported by
the Hankow office, but there was no European
there. Since 1885 there had been a full staff,
with scarcely any work to do. The idea was to
accommodate the Russians who had begun to
take tea in increasing quantities up the Han
River, navigable for small steamers 300 miles,
and for junks 600 more ; but a natural death
seems to have practically put an end to both
causes and effects.

(28) Chefoo, like Tientsin, was an exporter of



170 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

straw-braid and beancake in 1880 ; her pongee
silks, the product of the " oak-worm " hke those
of Newchwang, were also coming to the front.
They are now well known in Great Britain under
the name of " Shantungs." The total trade for
1899 was in tael value more than three times that
of 1880. The energy of the Germans at Kiao
Chou soon reduced the Chefoo trade to stagnancy,
for in 1913 Chefoo had dropped to 9,000,000 taels,
whilst Kiao Chou had gone up to 65,000,000.
Of course the opening of Corea had considerable
effect on Chefoo's external development up to
1899, for internally the port only deals with its
immediate neighbourhood, and to this day there
is no railway. In cotton goods America still
rules the roost. The cattle and straw-braid
exports, once so prominent, are now dead.
There is an immense annual " export " of coolies
to Vladivostock, and as a port of call Chefoo
shows shipping activity besides being a summer
health resort.

(29) Kiao Chou, or Ts'ing-tao, is another " free
port " of the rather suspicious " leasehold " type ;
but, unlike Ta-lien Wan, it fell almost from the
beginning (since 1st July, 1899) under the ken of
the Foreign or Maritime Customs ; it was offici-
ally opened in May, 1899, during which year the
total trade amounted to 2,200,000 taels. But it
was not " free " to inter-port trade at all ; and
the custom-house was only for the mainland
commerce. However, in 1906 fresh arrangements
were made, its " free " status was abolished,
full import and export duties were levied, and
Germany received 20 per cent, of them for her
trouble as middle-man. Since the Japanese took
it in 1914 it has been standing by in a more or
less limp condition, v\^aiting imtil the war clouds
roll away.

Tsi-nan, the capital of Shan Tung province,



A.D. 1882-1916] THE LION AND THE LAMB 171

became a " port " in 1906, and is connected with
Kiao Chou by railway, now also run by the
Japanese. When the " voluntary settlement "
was opened, it was officially stated that there
would be " no hurry " about a custom-house.
Meanwhile the Germans established themselves
in force, and hustled in their own way until the
Japanese gave them walking orders.

Wei-hai Wei has a status as a " port " even
vaguer than that of its Russian and German
colleagues, and it is not in any way affiliated to
the Foreign Customs. Under the benign rule of
Sir James Stewart Lockhart, the British lion
here lies peaceably with the Chinese lamb, and
as a "naval port" this place alone (since 1916)
enjoys the blessings of a penny postage in
Chinese waters.

Corea, which, as a vassal state, was opened
to foreign ships only in 1882, passed to the
status of an independent " empire " ; but after
being buffeted about between Russia and Japan,
and enduring for a generpvtion the slings and
arrows of outrageous fortune, she has by a facilis
descensus settled down to prosperous obscurity
as a Japanese province under a Governor-
General — Requiescat in pace !

(30) We now come to Shanghai, the great
heart from the pulsations of which nearly all the
above derive their arterial not to say artificial
nutriment, and to the invigorating action of
which they drive their venous not to say venal
blood for further treatment and distribution.
In 1880 this great emporium had a direct trade
of over 92,000,000 taels, two-fifths exports and
three-fifths imports. The foreign complications
with Russia and France helped to depress busi-
ness for some years, but in 1886 trade recovered,
and by 1891 it had totalled 165,000,000 taels.
It must be borne in mind, however, that these



172 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

are gross figures, for a large part of the Shanghai
trade reappears in the form of Tientsin, Hankow,
or even Swatow trade. The true trade of Shang-
hai, less re-exports, for the year 1899 is only
125,000,000 taels, and for 1913, 207,250,000
taels. On the other hand, the gross trade of
Shanghai (including everything from or to any-
where under all conditions) was in 1899 nearly
308,000,000 taels (roughly, £40,000,000), and in
1913, 533,500,000 taels (roughly, £80,500,000).
To understand the complicated distinctions
between gross and net totals, viewed from
various standpoints, it is necessary for those
particularly interested to study the published
returns, customs as well as consular ; and it
must also be borne in mind that the sterling
value of the tael fluctuates widely : at present
(1917) silver is extraordinarily high, partly on
account of Hongkong prohibitions.



Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerChina, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day → online text (page 15 of 35)