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wise maintained a strict seclusion against foreigners. Lord
Macartney in 1 792 and Lord Amherst in 1 803 were dispatched
as British Envoys with the object of negotiating a commercial
treaty with the Chinese Government, but the arrogance
of the Court, its ignorance of the outside world, and its
unwillingness to have anything to do with Western Powers
(except Russia) made the two missions absolutely fruitless.



China's Foreign Relations 149

The principal merchandise then in exchange between the
British and the Chinese was opium, the import of which
would, it was thought, lead to a moral and physical deteriora-
tion of the Chmese. A strict prohibition was then enforced
and opium-smokers were made liable to capital punishment,
but this did not deter the English as well as the Chinese
merchants from the malpractice of smuggling the poisonous
^rug. In 1839 a special Commissioner appointed by the
Emperor to investigate into the case confiscated the whole
stock of opium in Canton and set fire to it. British firms
who did not surrender their stock of their own accord were
searched and made subject to harsh treatment.

A war then broke out during which the British force
occupied many important towns on the coast and on the
Yangtze. After two years' struggle, the Chinese Govern-
ment consented to cede Hong Kong to Great Britain and
to open five ports to her trade, apart from the payment of
an indemnity which was a condition of the British evacua-
tion of the occupied districts. It is, indeed, doubtful
whether the war was justifiable from the moral point of
view on the part of Great Britain, as it was waged to impose
on China the acceptance of a poisonous drug ; but the
stupidity, the misunderstanding, and the barrier of language
on both sides were largely responsible for hostilities. China
had then no notion of the modern conception of equality
of States. She treated all other States as ' barbarians ' and
all diplomatic missions as tribute-bearers. On the other
hand, Great Britain had no respect for her policy of isola-
tion and did not think it worth while to approach her with
arguments and persuasions.

All these considerations apart, the treaty of 1842 opened
a stormy and romantic chapter in the long history of the



150 A Historical Sketch of

Chinese Empire. It was followed hy treaties with France
and with the United States in 1844, and with Norway and
Sweden in 1847, granting them similar commercial rights
in the five opened ports.

In 1856, the Arrow, a Chinese boat flying the British
flag, was captured by the Chinese authorities on the ground
that it was the property of Chinese outlaws, who sought
foreign protection to evade the Chinese law, and whom
the Government had taken steps to suppress. The British
Consul, however, considered it a serious insult to the
British authority and demanded a release of the captured
crew. The Viceroy of Canton yielded, but, on the new
demands put forth by Sir Harry Parkes being ignored, the
bombardment of Canton by the British Fleet commenced.
Next year an Anglo-French Expeditionary Force was
dispatched to China and on December 29 captured the
city of Canton and imprisoned its Viceroy. He afterwards
died in Calcutta, in despair of seeing, as he had hoped,
the Queen of England, whom he thought to be the only
person of British blood able to understand reason. In
1858, with the Allied Squadron in the Gulf of Pei-chili,
the Chinese Government signed treaties with Great Britain
and France which authorized the establishment of mutual
diplomatic representations ; the toleration and protection
by Chinese authorities of persons teaching or professing
the Christian religion ; the appointment of Consuls ; and
the exercise by them of extra-territorial rights over their
compatriots. The most-favoured-nation treatment, which
had been granted to France by the treaty of 1844, was now
confirmed, and it was also guaranteed by a clause inserted
in the treaty with Great Britain. The River Yangtze was
opened to British trade by the new treaty, but the most-



China's Foreign Relations 151

favoured-nation clause made it automatically open to the
French as well. Seven more ports were opened to trade ;
British or French subjects were to have the right to enjoy
in them the same privileges as they did at the ports already
open, ' including the right of residence, of buying or renting
houses, of leasing land thereon, and of building churches,
hospitals, and cemeteries '.^

The treaty was, however, not ratified till an incident had
occurred which in the seriousness of its consequence over-
shadowed the war. The River Pei-ho, which connected
Tientsin with Peking, was defended and not opened to any
vessel under a flag other than the Chinese. The French
and the British Envoys, on their way to the capital to get
the treaties ratified, forced its entry and destroyed the river
defence. On their repulse by the gunfire from the banks,
a second expeditionary force was dispatched from Europe
to enforce the ratification of the treaties and to demand
an explanation of the incident. After the capture of the
Taku forts and the occupation of Tientsin (August 25,
i860) the Anglo-French troops marched into Peking,
flying the Union Jack and the Tricolour, requisitioning its
inhabitants for military supplies, capturing priceless treasures
of jewels and jade, pictures and sculpture, bronze and
pottery, and finally setting fire to the Imperial Summer
Palace (Yiian Ming Yiian), built by centuries of architectural
efforts and enriched by a collection of art thousands of years
old. The Emperor had previously fled to Johol and Prince
K'ung, assured by the Russian Minister that the safety of
his person would be respected, was authorized by an
Imperial Ordinance to conduct the peace negotiation.

^ Art. IX, Treaty with Great Britain, 1858, Hertslet's China Treaties,
vol. i, p. 23.



152 A Historical Sketch of

A convention was then signed which provided that the
treaty of 1858 was to come into operation immediately after
the ratifications, which were to be exchanged without delay ;
that Tientsin was to be opened to foreign trade ; that
a portion of Kowloon, opposite Hong Kong, wa^ to be ceded
to England ; and that indemnities were to be paid to France
and Great Britain.

During all these times of confusion and humiliation
Russia, though she did not participate in the war, had not
neglected her scheme of expansion. A treaty had already
been signed in 1 85 1 to regulate the trade between Hi and
Tarbagatai, and to provide for the appointment of Russian
Consuls and Chinese functionaries as agents of the respective
Governments. To settle the Manchurian boundary disputes,
which had engaged the attention of the two Empires since
1689, a new treaty was signed in 1858 which provided that
' the left shore of the Amour River from the Argoun to the
mouth of the Amour was to be Russian ; that its right shore
downstream up to the River Ussuri was to be Chinese ;
and that the territories and endroits between the Ussuri
and the sea were to be possessed by the two Empires in
common '. For the first time China renounced her sovereign
rights over the regions north of the Amour, the mastery of
which had been in dispute, but which had always been
considered a part of the territory inhabited by the Manchus
before they came to rule China.

Another treaty signed in the same year (1858) granted
the Russians the right to trade in ports opened or to be
opened to foreign commerce ; the right to most-favoured-
nation treatment ; and the right to exterritorial jurisdic-
tion. Mutual diplomatic representation was established,
and following the French precedent created by the treaty



China's Foreign Relations 153

of 1844, Russian vessels of war were permitted to visit China,
to maintain order among Russian subjects, and to support
the authority of their consuls. The convention of i860 fixed
the boundary of the two Empires as almost coincident
with the courses of the Chilka, the Argun, the Amour, the
Ussuri the Belon, and the Hunchun ; the territory east of
them being made Russian and the west remaining Chinese.

A peaceful settlement of boundaries by a commission in
which the Chinese diplomatists were much outwitted by the
Russian, caused the Celestial Empire to lose a few thousand
square miles of territory east of the Ussuri. China was then
weak, and had just recovered from the shock of the war
with England and France. She was forced by circumstances
to cede territories, the occupation of which Russia con-
sidered essential to her policy of obtaining an ice-free port
in the Far East through which to control the Pacific.

In 1 871, when a revolt broke out in Chinese Turkistan,
Russia occupied Kouldja and IH under the pretext that the
occupation was necessary for the maintenance of order on
her frontier, but in 1878 the revolt was successfully sup-
pressed by the Chinese Government and Russia was obliged
to withdraw her army of occupation. As an indemnity for
her military expenditure, China, under the treaty obligation,
contracted in the following year to pay Russia 9,000,000
roubles and opened a few towns in Mongolia and in Hi to
Russian trade free from any taxation by the Chinese Govern-
ment. Thus, the Russians not only enjoyed the same
privileges of trading by sea as all other treaty States, but
were also placed in a special position to trade by land.^

The opening of the country to commerce and to missionary

^ Hoo Chi-tsai, Les Bases conventionnelles das Relations modernes
entre la Chine et la Riissie, pp. 353-433.



154 ^ Historical Sketch of

propaganda was sure to promote conflict with a people that
did not understand the foreigner. In 1870 Margary, a
British subject on a diplomatic mission to the interior of
Yunnan, was murdered by brigands. To apologize for the
occurrence of this unhappy event, the first Chinese Minister
was dispatched to the Queen of Great Britain. The Chefoo
Convention, signed in 1876, which stipulated the payment
of an indemnity by China to Great Britain for the loss of
her diplomatic servant, pledged China to open another five
ports to foreign trade and to allow the import of opium
under a scheduled tariff.

From 1877 to 1885, China was inconflict with France over
the destiny of Annam, which had always been tributary to
China, but which was treated by France as an independent
State. Under the treaty of 1874, Annam practically placed
herself under French protection without the consent of the
Chinese Government. To their protest lodged through
Marquis Tseng, the Chinese Minister in Paris, the Govern-
ment of the Quai d'Orsay replied that France did not believe
in any historical relations between Annam and China. The
lack of foundation for this reply was confessed even by
France herself, when she consented to a negotiation for
establishing a joint protectorate. The change of government
in Paris put an end to this proposal of conciliation, and an
expeditionary force was dispatched to occupy Annam by
arms. The incident at Langsan between the Chinese and the
French troops, causing casualties to both sides, was taken by
the French Minister in Peking as a casus belli, and the blockade
of Formosa and the province of Chekiang was proclaimed.
The Chinese Government, realizing its own impotence, had
always been reluctant to fight ; and when the French fleet
bombarded the Arsenal at Foochou, Chinese naval officers



China's Foreign Relations 155

had not yet received orders to prepare for war. Although
the Chinese Navy suffered a serious defeat, the land force
in Kwangsi gained a victory over the French, The insta-
bility of the Government in France precluded her from
vi^aging a long war, and the Chinese Government had always
been ready to listen to any proposal of compromise. Sir
Harry Parkes, the British Minister in Peking, gave his good
offices ; and the two belligerent Powers agreed to a treaty
by which China recognized the French protectorate over
Annam and opened two towns in Southern China to French
trade. By the skilful diplomacy of Li Hung-chang, the
demand for indemnity and for the right to build railways
in the interior of China was foiled.

While China was engaged in her controversy with France,
Great Britain, with her powerful army and adventurous
explorers, occupied the capital of Burma and deposed its
King. Hitherto, Burma had always been considered as a
vassal state of China and paid her an annual tribute, but,
with the impotence of the Suzerain and his inability to pro-
tect his tributary states, it was no surprise that it should
have surrendered to the conquering Power. By the time
China finished her trouble with France, the incorporation
of Burma in the Indian Empire had almost become an
established fact, and it was only to satisfy diplomatic
etiquette that her sanction was asked for the transfer of the
sovereign power. The treaty signed in 1894 delimits the
Chino-Burmese frontier and restores the two Burmese states,
Munglem and Kiang Hung, to their former possessor on the
condition that they shall not be ceded to any other Power.

The tottering Empire had lost two of its vast possessions,
and time had now come to decide the fate of its suzerainty
over Korea. After numerous controversies with Japan over



156 A Historical Sketch of

the right of the respective Governments to dispatch troops
to Korea for the purpose of maintaining order, and after
the rejection of the Japanese proposal for a joint intervention
in the internal administration of the Hermit Kingdom, the
Government of China was forced to appeal to arms to settle
the disputes. The mobilization of Japan was followed by
the military preparation of her prospective foe, and war
was formally declared on August i, 1894.

Viceroy Li Hung-chang, the leading Chinese statesman
of his day, had reasons to expect a victory over Japan,
Unlike Great Britain and France, Japan was not a military
power ; and the physique of her troops had always been
considered inferior to that of the Chinese. Moreover, since
her reverse in the war with France, China had trained an
army on European models with the help of European officers.
Efforts had been made and money spent to build a fleet ;
and to all intents and purposes her naval force was stronger
than the Japanese. In fact, it was not inferiority in arms
that was responsible for the defeat of the Chinese. It was
the treachery of their provincial governors, the uncertainty
of the Court, and the incompetence of their naval and
military commanders that undermined their strength.
Throughout the whole campaign, there was not a single
commander who showed any power to command. With the
notable exception of Admiral Ting, regiments and squadrons
all surrendered to the enemy without making any serious
attempt to resist. Rifles and guns had been stored in
provinces far from the sphere of operations, and no attempt
was made to bring them up for action. In several cases it
was found that shells were actually filled with sand and
pebbles instead of bullets and shrapnel, and it was hopeless
for the army or the navy to fight when it was controlled



China's Foreign Relations 157

by officials who had enriched themselves by making profit
out of the funds intended for munitions and equipment.
Moreover, the army trained by the Viceroy Li Hung-chang
was the only one equipped with modern appliances, and all
the other provincial troops were still fitted with sandals,
bows, and arrows.

With morale so corrupt and organization so imperfect,
the Chinese fell an easy victim to the more daring and more
audacious Japanese. In the first two naval battles, the whole
Chinese fleet was practically destroyed ; and the land force
was exposed to the serious danger of being outflanked. After
the fall of Wei-hai-wei, Li Hung-chang realized the hope-
lessness of the situation and began to open negotiations for
peace. European Powers and the United States were
interested in the restoration of peace in the Far East, and
both belligerents were approached with the object of bring-
ing about a cessation of hostilities. Li Hung-chang was sent
to Japan to conduct the negotiations with Marquis Ito ;
and on April 17, 1895, the treaty of Shimonoseki was signed,
by which the independence of Korea was recognized by
China and the Liaotung Peninsula and Formosa were ceded
to Japan. In the same year, a treaty of commerce was
concluded which granted Japanese subjects in China the
most-favoured-nation treatment and exterritorial juris-
diction.

The cession of the Liaotung Peninsula placed Peking
under the direct menace of the Japanese and would put an
end to the Russian ambition of obtaining an ice-free port
on the Pacific. Li Hung-chang, forced by circumstances to
yield to the Japanese, turned to the Russian [Government
for a helping hand. No one understood Russian ambition
better than Li Hung-chang, and it was clear that Russia



158 A Historical Sketch of

would not render any service to China without a substantial
compensation. But China was defeated, and the danger to
her from Japan was more imminent than that from any-
other Power. Moreover, Russia was no Oriental Power,
and her expansion would probably be limited by her capacity
to govern an Asiatic race, whereas Japan, having a written
language almost the same as the Chinese, and inheriting the
same traditions, would prove a much more formidable and
uncontrollable foe. Secret envoys were sent to Europe and
telegrams exchanged by Li Hung-chang with various Euro-
pean capitals to ask them to support his policy of utilizing
the influence of One country against another.

Russia, in alliance with France and with the co-operation
of Germany, demanded from Japan a renunciation of the
cession of the Liaotung Peninsula on the ground that the
cession would destroy the balance of power in North China.
Japan, now exhausted by the war and nearly bankrupt
pending the payment of the indemnity by her defeated foe,
was not in a position to defy Russia and two other European
Powers. Moreover, the Russian garrison at Vladivostock
had already been reinforced by fresh troops from Siberia
and was fully prepared to fight the Japanese. The Japanese
statesmen were wise enough to grasp the situation and
speedily consented to restore Liaotung to China.

To extend further help to China, Nicholas II issued
a decree which guaranteed a loan then issued in Paris and
St. Petersburg to provide China with the means to pay her
indemnity to Japan. The rumour was current that Count
Cassini, the Russian Minister in Peking, had concluded
a secret treaty of alliance with Li Hung-chang ; but Li was
oiit of office after the settlement with Japan, and no other
member of the Chinese Government had the courage or



China's Foreign Relations 159

foresight to sign so momentous an instrument. At the
suggestion of Count Cassini, Li Hung-chang was dispatched
in 1896 as a special Ambassador to convey the congratula-
tions of the Emperor of China to the Tsar on his coronation,
and to express to him his gratitude for his intervention in
the preceding year. In Moscow and St. Petersburg Li
Hung-chang was received with royal honours, and after
a few interviews with the Tsar and with Witte, then Russian
Minister of Finance, he signed a secret treaty which provided
that in the event of a Japanese attack on the Russian Far
Eastern possessions or on Chinese or Korean territory, the
two contracting Powers would mobilize all their military
and naval resources for mutual protection ; and that China
would grant Russia the right to build a railway through
Manchuria to connect the Trans-Siberian line with Vladi-
vostock, in order to facilitate her military transport in time
of war. Next year, a convention was signed by China with
the newly-formed Russo- Asiatic Bank to authorize it to issue
loans for the Chinese Government, to undertake Govern-
ment enterprise, and to build railways in the interior of
China. The railway syndicate to be formed was to have
the right to open mines and to establish police in regions
near the railway line.

It is evident that considerable advantages accrued to
Russia from her alliance with China ; and that mutual
protection was purchased by China at the expense of her
sovereign rights in Manchuria. Subsequent events have
obliterated the importance of the alliance and have put an
end to it before the stipulated time of its expiration, but
the fact that it was concluded makes a new epoch in the
new chapter of China's history which was opened with
the ratification of the treaty of 1842 with Great Britain.



i6o A Historical Sketch of

For the first time in the four thousand years of a wonderful
and sensational history, China discarded the idea that she
was the only civilized country on the earth. As a modern
State she began to contract alliances with other Powers and
entered into the entanglements of modern diplomacy, which
had been unknown to her statesmen and alien to her
traditions. For good or evil, the great wall which
separated her from the rest of the world had now been
broken down, not only by foreign Powers, but also by her
own Government.

Up to this time, Germany had not acquired a place in
the sun in the Far East, but her ambitions were Sone the
less apparent. Although it was provided in the Franco-
Chinese treaty of 1858 that France was to assume protection
over the Roman Catholics, the Iron Chancellor, Prince
Bismarck, instructed the German Catholic Missions in 1885
to put themselves under the direct protection of the German
Government. After his fall in 1890 the policy of expansion
in China was pursued by the Emperor. For years he had
planned for the occupation of a suitable base in the China
Sea in accordance with his scheme of naval construction,
and having been informed by the German Asiatic Squadron
that the Kiaochou Bay was an ideal harbour and could be
easily converted into the finest port in the Far East, he
seized the opportunity of landing troops at that place in
1897 on the excuse that China should be punished for the
murder of two German missioners in the province of Shan-
tung ' in circumstances beyond the control of the local
authorities '. To show the innocence of the Chinese garri-
son officials, it should be pointed out that they offered hearty
welcome and charming hospitality to the German blue-
jackets, because they thought they only came to the shore



China's Foreign Relations i6i

for the purpose of sight-seeing and recreation. In the
following year, under the unscrupulous diplomacy of Prince
Henry of Prussia, China was constrained to grant Germany
the lease for ninety-nine years of Kiaochou Bay, includ-
ing both sides of its entrance and several adjacent islands,
the total area amounting to 193 square miles. It was alleged
that Russia instigated Germany to take this unreasonable
step, because it would give her an excuse to occupy Port
Arthur and Ta-lien-wan (Dalny).

It is beyond the scope of the present work to prove that
the allegation is true, but it is evident that it is not devoid
of foundation when it is remembered that, in the same year,
Russia demanded from China a lease of Port Arthur and
Dalny for twenty-five years on the ground that her interests
in Manchuria must be protected against German penetra-
tion. China was then powerless and found herself at the
mercy of the Western States. She had to agree to all the
demands, and even the disinterested proposal of Great
Britain that the leased territory should not be made a naval
base but opened as a commercial port, was rejected by
Russia on the ground that she should not be deprived of
a concession similar to that acquired by the German Empire.
The treaty which legalized the lease conceded to Russia the
right to build a railway line from Harbin to Port Arthur,
as a branch of the Chinese Eastern Railway already conceded
under the secret treaty of alliance. The Russian Far Eastern
Province was then constituted with Port Arthur as its capital
and administered as an integral part of the Empire of the Tsar.

Faithful to the principle of the balance of power in the
Far East, France and Great Britain pressed China for further
concessions. After the ratification of the Russo-Chinese
secret treaty, France obtained some railway and mining

1832.13 I^



i62 A Historical Sketch of

rights in Southern China and Great Britain the assur-
ance that the Yangtze valley would not be alienated
to a third Power. With the firm estabhshment of Russia
and Germany on the main Asiatic continent, France
demanded the lease of Kwang-chou-wan for ninety-nine
years, and England that of Wei-hai-wei for as long as Russia


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Online LibrarySih-Gung ChengModern China, a political study → online text (page 12 of 28)