Edward Harper Parker.

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

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(34-46) There are still a number of ports or
quasi-ports which ought to be casually noticed.
The trade of Indo-China for 1899 amounted
to nearly £10,000,000 (say 70,000,000 taels),
of which Tonquin took over £2,500,000 (say
17,500,000 taels). Reports are irregular and
unsatisfactory, but I take it £20,000,000 and
£5,000,000 would be nearer the mark for 1913.
The trade with Mengtsz ( Yiin Nan) via Haiphong,
the Red River, and Hokow on the French
frontier, was opened in 1889, and amounted in
1899 to 5,250,000 taels, all conducted by Chinese
merchants, and mostly carried on, in mere transit,
through Tonquin, with Hongkong ; the figure
for 1913 was 19,750,000 taels, and would have
been much larger but for the cessation of. the
opium traffic. As early as 1140 the new Li
dynasty of Tonquin had opened a port, corre-
sponding with the modern Haiphong, to the
trade of Siam and Burma, but there is no specific

A.D. 1140-1913] REMOTE " PORTS " 178

mention of it in Chinese history. Trade seems
to have then centred at Tourane, or rather
at " Faifo," about 20 miles up the river. The
*' port " of Lungchow (Kwang Si) was also
opened in 1889 : the trade in 1899 was not
only contemptible in amount, but was abso-
lutely declining — the total was under 86,000
taels. After the extension of the Langson
railway, in 1902, it rose gradually to 900,000
taels in 1908 : reports are scarce, but as its
customs revenue for 1913 only barely reached
5,000 taels, and as in any case the French
only are concerned, we may ignore the place.
Sz-mao (Yiin Nan) promises better. It was
opened to the French in 1895, and to the
British in 1896, as already stated under the head
" Arrival of Europeans." The average annual
trade in 1899 had been about 225,000 taels — so
far, chiefly cotton from the British Shan states ;
but both in total trade and in revenue it is
little better off than Lungchow, and consuls no
longer report upon it. Of Kwang-chou Wan,
the new French station in the Lei-chou Peninsula,
leased in 1898, it is difficult to say anything,
except that there is a good native trade with
Macao and Kongmun ; however, it is a free port,
and in no way falls under the Chinese (Foreign
or Maritime) Customs.

Kongmun and Kumchuk have both been
mentioned as being under Sam-shui (p. 153) ;
but in the Foreign Customs revenue lists avail-
able to me Kongmun ranks (separately) higher
than its parent port, whilst Kumchuk is not
enumerated at all. Ch'ang-sha has been treated
of under the head of its parent and guardian
Yochou (p. 161), whose revenue it more than
doubles. Nan-ning, which was declared an open
" port " in 1907, has already been discussed
under Wu-chou (p. 155), though it has separate

174 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

customs mention as one of the forty-seven. Man-
chouli, Aigun, Hunchun, and Suifenho on or near
the Russian frontiers ; Lungchingtsun in Kirin ;
Antung and Tatungkow on or near the
Japanese (Corean) frontiers ; and Harbin where
Russian and Japanese interests meet, are all in
the list of forty-seven revenue ports managed
by the Inspector-General at Peking ; but there
are special arrangements with both Russia and
Japan as to the nationality of the officials in
charge, and other matters ; besides which British
interests are only remotely concerned in Man-
churian regions except in so far as preferential
freights and duties are on the tapis. Finally
there is Momein or T'eng-yiieh (pp. 74, 101) which
was opened in 1902 and achieved its humble
" record " of 475,000 taels in 1913 with a customs
revenue of 65,000 taels ; but de minimis non
curat lex : when the railway from Bhamo joins
up with it, no doubt the world will discover its

Then there are Kiang-tsz, Gnatong or Yatung
(Darjiling), and Gartok (source of the Indus),
which (Tibet being independent) the Foreign
Customs has ceased to mention. Also Ta-chien-lu
(Darchendo), the trade for 1913 in which place Mr.
Assistant King (presumably from the Ch'eng-tu
Consulate-General) surprises us by describing this
very year (1916) ; as the Tibetans every now and
again eject the Chinese, and as the Chinese soldiers
themselves periodically sack the town in order
to recover their pay, it must be a parlous spot for
capitalists just now. Then there is Yiin-nan Fu
(the word/?^ now abolished), which was opened as
a " voluntary " port in 1905 ; P'u-k'ou, opposite
Nanking (pp. 164-5), sanctioned in 1915 because
Nanking's shore port Hia-kwan is not convenient
for transhipments ; two high officers have been
appointed to supervise the building arrange-



A.D. 1896-1916] ODDS AND ENDS 175

ments. Lung-k'ou on the north side of the Shan
Tung promontory was made a subordinate office
of the Chefoo customs in 1915 : the Japanese
for some years before the war had been making
use of this place, and they made it a sort of
land base in 1914 for taking the Germans in the
rear. In 1905 the great marts of Chou-ts'un
and Wei Men in Shan Tung were made sub-
sidiary to the Tsi-nan customs when established
(p. 170). Ch'ih-feng in North Chih Li (well
north of Jehol) was declared a trading mart by
mandate of January last (1916). In 1905 quite
a number of " voluntary " places for trade were
opened in different parts of Manchuria — to wit,
Feng-hwang, Liao-yang, Sin-min-t'un, T'iehling,
T'ung-kiang-tsz, Fak'umen, K'wan-ch'eng-tsz
(that is, Ch'ang-ch'un), Kirin, Ninguta, Sansing,
Tsitsihar, etc. Kin Men (Kin-chou Fu) was
" voluntarily " opened in February 1916, and
Mukden would seem to be another voluntary

In enumerating these odds and ends of
" ports " over and above the orthodox 47, I
must appeal for consideration in the matter
of spelling. First there is the old-fashioned
customary spelling ; then there is Sir Thomas
Wade's Pekingese (as modified by myself) ;
then there is the irregular Chinese official Post-
Office spelling ; and finally the spelling adopted
by the Foreign Customs. It is almost impossible
so to decide in each case as to please everybody.

(47) Soochow has not often been included in
the special trade reports issued by the Foreign
Office, and is really a mere appendage of Shang-
hai. Still, in 1896 it acquired the dignity of
being an " open port " on its own basis (see
p. 116), and its separate trade under the Foreign
Customs had in 1899 already reached 1,500,000
taels a year ; for many years subsequent to that

176 MODERN TRADE [chap, vii

it oscillated above and below 5,000,000 taels ; but
besides this there is the trade which pays the
likin offices rather than the Foreign Customs,
which cannot be " squared." Foreign influence
is, however, more specially concerned there in
developing spinning mills and silk filatures.
The Shanghai-Nanking railway brings it within
easy reach. There is a University, and there are
a few foreigners in the Customs, Post-office, etc.



At first sight it might appear that, in describing
the Government of China, we should begin with
the Emperor, or at least, now that a Republic
has been established, with the Central Admini-
stration at Peking. But as a matter of fact the
Manchu power was a mere absorptive machine,
whose very existence (as recent events have
shown) was a matter of comparative unconcern
to the provinces, each of which is even now
sufficient unto itself; and exists, tries to exist,
or can exist as an independent unit. Hence, just
as, for the moment, we have in the first chapter
eliminated Tibet, Mongolia, Manchuria, etc.,
from the field, and have confined our preliminary
geographical view of the Empire to the Eighteen
Provinces, so do we for the present dismiss the
President and his Ministry, as we formerly did
the Emperor and his Court, from consideration,
and limit our survey to what is really the living
and active administration — to wit, the general
constitution of China Proper, a confederation. of
more or less homogeneous provinces.

It will be noticed from the list given in the first
chapter that nearly every one of these provinces
has an ancient and purely territorial name, in
addition to its present practical or descriptive
appellation ; this ancient or literary name is,
notwithstanding political changes, still used in


Its THE GOVERNMENT [chap, viii

official documents quite as often as the modern
one. Thus the Canton Military Governor, who
in effect replaces the former Viceroy, says :
" Your despatch has reached Yiieh " ; and the
Shan Si Civil Governor, in discussing likin, in
the usual terse literary style, talks of '" Tsin
Zi." It is just as though the modern French
departmental prefects were to use the old pro-
vincial terms Gascony and Burgundy more
freely than they do ; or as though we English
should, for elegant purposes, retain the official
use of such words as Mercia and Wessex.

Now, subject to qualifications which will
hereinafter be made, the main idea which runs
throughout the republican provincial organisa-
tion is as follows : Each province has both a
Military and a Civil Governor, who report on all
formal matters to the Board at Peking, and of
late have shown a tendency to " wire " their
sentiments direct to the President : affairs on
this point have not yet consolidated themselves.
About 320 years ago pairs or triplets of provinces
began to have a temporary Viceroy or Governor-
General in addition to the governors ; and when
the Marichus came to consolidate their power,
in 1640-50, such viceroys became permanent;
until, after various re-shufflings, they settled
down to a definite distribution, very nmch as
they were until 1911. The original motive in
appointing a viceroy was not unlike our idea
in appointing Sir Bartle Frere or Sir Hercules
Robinson as High Commissioner for South
Africa ; that is, military or other urgent con-
siderations rendered it expedient for one strong
man to deal with some wide question, involving
more than one gubernatorial or divisional interest.
But now one very radical change has taken place
in China, and shows every sign of permanency ;
each province is free from the joint rule or part


superintendence of any other province. True, the
precise relative duties of the Mihtary Governor
and Civil Governor are not yet permanently
fixed, but at all events they do not " move "
for each other's consent and signature any
longer, and the Penlow-Jorkins farce that used
to characterise the joint powers of the Viceroy
and the Governor in Manchu times has entirely
ceased. The rendering of both officials' titles has
changed three or four times since the provinces
" pronounced " in 1911, but now it seems de-
finitely settled that Tuh-kiln (Army Director)
and Sheng-chang (Province Senior) are most in
accord with democratic needs. It is still "good
form " to avoid using personal (" Christian ")
names; but the old appellations of "great
man" (excellency), "old grandfather" (your
honour), etc., have gone by the board, and now
every man, from the President downwards, is plain
Sien-sheng, or " Mister " ; that is, " former born,"
or Senor. It happens occasionally that the
Military Governor acts also for the Civil, or
vice versa, and no special qualifications are (as
yet) required for either ; but no doubt, as the
Republic " finds its helm," these matters will
gradually be righted.

Those picturesque functionaries the Treasurer
and the Judge, whose joint or several recom-
mendations used to " move " the Viceroy and
Governor (jointly or separately) to " act," still
in a measure exist (after many shiftings) under
the names of Finance Senior and Interior Affairs
Senior; but they are both now in a more sub-
ordinate position, and moreover both take orders
direct from the Peking Boards.

More or less successful attempts had been made

by the Manchus since 1905 to separate the

Executive from the Judicial powers, and these

efforts have been continued under the Republic.


180 THE GOVERNMENT [chap, viii

Thus we have three grades of Judges and Justices
in each province, appointed by the Peking
Ministry of Justice, and (as I understand it) in
no way responsible to the Mihtary or Civil
Governor, or to their subordinates the Finance
and Interior Elders or Seniors.

Nominally, at least, each of the " Eighteen
Provinces " (that is, twenty -two) is equal to
the others, but naturally a rich or important
province still continues to be coveted by the
avaricious or ambitious man. Yet there are a
few further irregularities in detail which some-
what upset the perfect symmetry of this com-
paratively simple arrangement as a whole. In
order to deal adequately with the Mongols,
Tibetans, Turki, and other non-Chinese peoples,
it has been found necessary to keep up certain
military proconsulships on the basis of indepen-
dent provinces. Thus the extramural part of
Chih Li remains under the tu-fung of Jehol, and
the extramural part of Shan Si under the tu-fung
of Kukukhoto, undemocratic titles included.
Evidently it would not do to shock the Mongol
princes, dukes, etc. (who still carry Manchu
titles), by placing them under a mere citoyen.
In the same way there are special arrangements
for the Kokonor, Hi, Altai, and Tibetan frontiers,
at all which places, however, it has been found
possible to abolish the old Manchu titles in
favour of miore democratic appellations ; still,
when the Boards send circular orders to the
provinces, the " scratch " governors of these
more or less foreign-infected regions are treated
quite on the basis of " real men."

As to Outer Mongolia, after declaring its
independence under the Urga "Saint" and ac-
cepting Russian protection in a certain measure,
it has come back to the Chinese fold under
conditions regulated by treaty between Russia


and China ; the only unsettled question (as
I write) is whether his Holiness should send
members to the Chinese Parliament.

The ejected Manchus give no trouble at all.
The princes and nobles enjoy their pensions
and private estates under the liberal arrange-
ments solemnly made by President Yiian Shi-
k'ai in 1912, and no doubt he was wise in thus
purchasing their innocuousness. A few able
Manchus are still employed as high republican
officials, but the bulk of the mixed Pekingese
and the purer provincial garrison Manchus seem
to have quietly " relapsed " into Chinese, just
as Bosnians, Greeks, Serbians, Bulgarians, etc.,
with facility relapse into " Turks " when occa-
sion required. The "wild" Manchus, Tungusic
hunters, etc., remain as they were, and are
probably unaware that any important change
has taken place at all ; they are of no more
political importance than our gipsies.

Now, each of these Eighteen Provinces is, as
already suggested, a complete state in itself,
whose corporate existence is in no way dependent
upon any other state, except in so far that the
poor ones dun the rich ones for the money which
the Central Government still in theory " appro-
priates to them,". — when, indeed, it has even itself
any money to work upon at all. Each province
had its own army, navy, system of taxation,
and its own social customs ; but, as regards the
army and navy, things are still in a state of flux,
though the tendency is, of course, to gather
power as much as possible into central hands : so
it is better not to attempt any closer definitions
at present. The Salt Gabelle has been com-
pletely revolutionised and improved under the
able direction of Sir Richard Dane, and this
source of revenue is now almost as important
as the Maritime Customs. Still, as regards

182 THE GOVERNMENT [chap, vm

provincial " rights," it is too early to make any
satisfying statement.

Many new taxes have been introduced, both
under the Manchus and the Republic, since war
indemnities and loans practically absorbed the
whole "regular" revenues of China. This did
not matter so much to Peking, for the existence
or non-existence of a central bureaucracy was
never essential to the corporate life of China ;
but the democratic "King's Government" in
the provinces had to be carried on, and therefore
innumerable new levies in the shape of wine,
tobacco, and house duties; stamp, licence, and
various other excise duties ; transfer fees, gam-
bling farms, and other " special " charges and
monopolies have one after the other been in-
troduced or developed by way of " raising the
wind " for the sailing of the provincial barque.

Nor is the provincial government more essen-
tial to popular life than the central, from which
it only differs in this' — ^that it can get at the
people directly. China can get on very well' —
so long as bandits do not disturb order- — without
any government at all ; it is like a vast india-
rubber ball, which immediately rights itself after
each squeeze. Amid all this welter, one thing
is now certain. Peking can no longer " sell "
each province to the highest bidder or present
it to the first favourite. Corruption seems to be
as bad as ever ; but at least the Chinese stew
in their own juice, and are not dished up for the
sole delectation of idle Manchus ; moreover, the
huge first charge on all provincial revenues for
" Peking Contingent " no longer exists except
in the moderated shape of pensions granted to
the former ruling classes in consideration of their
retiring from the empire trade, and this sum (if
paid) is not " appropriated " from the provinces.

In justice to Peking, however, it must be con-


fessed that it does and has done much for justice,
education, means of communication (railways,
telegraphs, etc.), postal facilities, encourage-
ment of industries, improvement of water-
courses, some sanitary matters, and a thousand
and one minor things in many instances totally
ignored by the Manchus ; in spite of the dismal
tale of revolutions, China has marched, but
she still remains the " free and easy " country
she always was. There are no passports, no
restraints on liberty, no frontiers, no caste
prejudices, no food scruples, no finnikin
sanitary measures, no moral laws except popular
customs and criminal statutes. China is in
many senses one vast republic, in which personal
restraints have no existence; — in a word, Kip-
ling's ideal place " east of Suez." The Manchus,
as the ruling race, had certainly a few privileges,
but, on the other hand, they suffered just as
many disabilities. Barbers, play-actors, and
policemen in Manchu times were under a mild
tabu — more theoretical than real ; but now the
barber has partly disappeared with the pigtail ;
male play-actors are not given to the vices of
Manchu fashion so much, w^iilst real women
now act, and very often the modern policemen
are quite exemxplary individuals. On the other
hand, aboriginal " barbarians " always could and
still can easily become Chinese by reading books
and putting on breeches — or " some veskits,"
as Artemus Ward used to say : in fact several
of the most prominent Military Governors of the
moment are by descent of the Shan or the
Miao-tsz race. This being the happy-go-lucky
condition of high office in China, there is (apart
from accidental or special causes) no jealousy or
class feeling in the country ; it is simply a
question of big fish feeding on little fish, unless
and untiHthe little fish can keep out of the way,

184 THE GOVERNMENT [chap, viii

eat their way up, and become big fish them-
selves ; and, so far, things under the Republic
seem too much as they were under the Empire,
private gain, as before, taking precedence of the
public weal. The exceptions are rare.

Each provincial government being thus a
state in itself, how does it go to work ? It
must be explained in ansv/er to this question
that the true official unit of Chinese corporate
life is the Men, or " city district," and for 2,000
years past there have been some 1,300 of them ;
even allowing for the recent republican changes
(shortly to be described), there cannot be much
over 1,600. Each average province is divided
into from 70 to over 100 hien, a term variously
translated by Europeans " district," " depart-
ment," " canton," or " prefecture." The half-
barbarian province of Kwei Chou has only
thirty-four ; but then it has numerous " autoch-
thonous " districts besides; that is to say, dis-
tricts ruled by " barbarian " magistrates, usually
hereditary, but responsible to the nearest genuine
Chinese magistrate in serious matters. Chih
Li has nearly 140 ; but this total includes the
Peking and Mongol districts of the Jehol com-
manderie. A hien is in area about the size of
an English county, or a French department,
with the same uncertainty or irregularitj'' as to
area and importance. It alinost always con-
sists, in purely Chinese tracts, of a walled city
and an area of, say, 500 or 1,000 square miles
round the town. Very often an enormous city
of lower rank forms an appendage to a sleepy
old hien ; until recently this was the case with
Hankow : it has a parallel in England, when big
new towns (as, for instance, Liverpool in relation
to Walton) " iDclong " to mere village parishes,
until they receive their own chartered "rights."
Every Chinaman is described first of all as


belonging to a given Men ; and so strong is the
association that it follows him through life, if,
he gains distinction, much as the territorial
surroundings of a Scotch or French magnate
easily attach to his family name. Thus Li
Hung-chang is often currently described as the
" Hoh-fei statesman," because he hails from the
Men of Hoh-fei ; whilst his illustrious rival
Chang Chi-tung is similarly called by newspaper
men the " Nan-p'i viceroy," from a city of that
name on the Grand Canal, south of Peking ;
so the President Yiian Shi-k'ai on the day of
his death was spoken of as Hiang-ch'eng (his
birthplace) : it is like our " Thank ye, thank
ye, Hawthornden."

The Men magistrate is still, under the Republic,
the very heart and soul of all official life and
emolument, his dignity and attributes, in large
centres such as Canton or Chungking, not falling
far short in many respects of those of the Lord
Mayor of London. His comparatively low rank
places him in easy touch with the people, w^hilst
his position as the lov/est of the yu-sz, or com.mis-
sioned " executive," clothes him with a status
which even a Military Governor must respect. He
is so much identified with the soul of the State,
that the Emperor or Government itself used to
be elegantly styled Men-kwan, or " the district
magistrate." He was before 1912 judge in the
first instance in all matters whatsoever, civil or
criminal, and also governor of the gaol, coroner,
sheriff, mayor, head-surveyor, civil service ex-
aminer, tax-collector, registrar, lord-lieutenant,
aedile, chief bailiff, interceder with the gods ;
and, in short, what the people always call him
— " father and mother officer " ; but the new
republican organisation has shorn him of many
of these attributes ; indeed (as just said) in the
last years of the Manchus the executive and legis-

186 THE GOVERNMENT [chap, viii

lative functions were bv way of bein^ separated
throughout the whole official body, whilst the new
Gendarmerie Board at Peking has remodelled the
police. The hien cuts a very different figure in
a remote country district from that accepted
by him in a provincial metropolis like Canton,
where he is apt to be overshadov^^ed by innumer-
able civil and military superiors ; just as in
London the Lord Mayor is outshone in a sense,
even at his grand " spreads," by the Court and
the Cabinet Ministers. In his own remote city
the hien is autocratic and everybody, though
possibly now the new local councils and provin-
cial parliaments may be beginning to assert
themselves. He had no technical training what-
ever in Manchu times, except in the Chinese
equivalent for " Latin verse " ; if he had ob-
tained his post by purchase he had not even that.
Now, under the Republic, there have been sug-
gested, if not established, training schools for ad-
ministration, based on the Japanese system of
education, which even in the last Manchu years
was seriously proposed as a general educational
model for China.

The " value " of every hien in the empire is of
course perfectly well known ; but although there
are bribery and corruption at Peking as well as
in the provinces, the solid basis of government

Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerChina, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day → online text (page 16 of 35)