Sih-Gung Cheng.

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so to a hall. They are provided with Chinese food, cooked
in every camp or factory by a Chinese chef, who is chosen
from among them and specially designated for this pleasant
work of supplying Celestial dishes modified by the use of
European oil and the absence of many Chinese delicacies.



Chinese Labour 273

Both in the French factories and the British camps which
I have seen, labourers are given meat every day, boiled or
fried (but never roasted) in Chinese fashion. Rice takes
the place of bread in one or two meals in the day ; for the
rest the Chinese enjoys bread and butter as much as any
Briton or Frenchman.

The family having already been provided for by separate
allowance, the labourer spends his daily wage on his own
comforts and luxuries. As a rule, he wears a blue coat,
and, when at work, blue shirt and trousers ; but with his
accumulated vvage, he often purchases some worn-out
overcoat from a British or French soldier to decorate
himself. New blankets are procured by himself in addition
to his official supply of bed-clothes. He has even got the
habit of using Parisian toilets and Swiss watches. In
canteens which I visited, very expensive cigarettes and
fountain pens were on sale for the exclusive consumption of
the Chinese. In many ways, they live at greater expense
than the British or the French soldier ; and in their rest
camps or recreation huts they play harps and violins, which
are typical musical instruments in North China and are
said to be of Mongolian origin. Not wearied or worn by
daily work, they sing songs in the evening in the approved
style of the Chinese drama by prolonging their breath as
if they were on the Chinese stage. When holidays come,
they pile up timbers, paint them in red and blue, and make
them into a shrine, in front of which they worship the
spirits of their ancestors who would travel across many
oceans to respond to their reverence and remembrance.
At the new year, they all volunteer to make lanterns and
subscribe money for a feast in which their commanding
officers also join. Lanterns in the shape of tigers and

1832.1.3 J.



274 New Problems since the War

dragons are hung on the gates of their camps and are
carried in procession to different parts of the front.

Labourers, in going to their work and back, all march in
fours. They make a great show, which it was my fortune to
see. The marching columns present a very mixed appear-
ance : some of the men are in Chinese bonnets, some in
helmets, and others in officers' service caps. The colours
of their clothes are as diverse as those of the corn and
vegetables in the field through which they pass. There is
indeed no monotony about them. Each man has his own
colour and taste.

They are not in uniform and not under military dis-
cipline. On the march, they smile and smoke and shout at
officers without observing any distinction of rank. They
are interested in their work and seem to trouble themselves
with nothing else. Happiness and content are the great
sources of their national strength as well as often of their
easy-going character, and are reflected in their manners
when they march.

A drawback I have discovered is that they are all
commanded by British or French officers, as the case may
be. There is no Chinese commander or any other oihcer
among them higher in rank and in responsibility than the
interpreter clerk. This arrangement is explicable. As
China was still neutral when the first contingents of the
Chinese labour corps were shipped to Europe, she was
prohibited by international law from appointing their
officers. But since her entry -into the war she should have
taken over the command to herself so as to make the Labour
Corps a distinctly Chinese force, working side by side
with the Allies. The difficulty however was that, in taking
over the command of her own contingent, she would have



Chinese Labour 275

been obliged to pay all the expenses in connexion with it.
As her financial position does not permit her to take this
responsibility, she has to content herself with the appoint-
ment of a few supervisors to inspect different camps from
time to time, and with the delegation of her diplomatic
and consular officials as agents in communication with the
British and the French War Offices.

Most of the ofiicers in command of the Chinese speak
some Chinese or have some previous experience of them.
Many of the British and the French missionaries in China
have come back to act as interpreters or other commissioned
officers. Long residence in the country and intimate
knowledge of the people may make them eager to promote
the welfare of these labourers ; but the missionaries so
qualified are few, and the so-called Chinese-speaking
officers do not speak the language with fluency and pro-
ficiency. The consequence is that misunderstandings often
happen which could have been easily avoided by a more
competent management. But it must be admitted that
complaints are exceedingly few, considering the number of
labourers employed ; and those which occur are not at
all of a serious nature.

When the armies withdraw from the field and soldiers
return to civilian work, the Chinese will have the right to
be shipped back.^ But there is nothing in the contracts
to compel them to return. Many of them may like to
stay, and the French contract provides that, in the event
of their remaining after the expiry of their stipulated
term of employment, they are still entitled to free passage
when they ultimately return. The question will then arise

^ In April 1919, only a few hundred have been shipped back, the rest
still remaining in the field.

T 2



276 New Problems since the War

whether their stay will arouse opposition from the labour
organizations in Great Britain and France.

So far as England is concerned, the result seems to be
pretty clear. The Chinese have only been employed in the
field and have never landed in this country. It is probable
that in view of the strong opposition of the Trade Unions
against alien labour, the British Government will take care
not to let the Chinese leave France, if they do not go
home. In that case, they will drift into French and not
into British employment.

In the interior of France the Chinese have been employed
on works, many of which will survive the war. The shortage
of labour in France will be serious after the conclusion of
peace, especially in devastated areas where reconstruction
has to be done. As the opposition of the French labour
organizations to the Chinese has never been great, it is
likely that the French Government will prolong and even
extend the employment of Chinese.

The antagonism between European and Asiatic labour,
which has been serious in the past in America and Austral-
asia, is to a very large extent explained by the fact that the
Chinese undersell natives by working longer hours for
lower wages. The safeguard against this undercutting is
to employ the Chinese at exactly the same wage for the
same number of hours as French labourers. This, however,
does not solve the difficulty. Given the same wage and the
same number of hours of work, the Chinese, with their
industry and toil, will always produce a larger output than
Europeans. Moreover, they are able to perform many
services which are beyond the capacity or below the dignity
of European workmen. Further, although the Chinese are
only too pleased to work for the same wage, there is no



Chinese Labour zyy

guarantee that employers will not underpay them by
taking advantage of their loose organization and their
ignorance of the conditions of French labourers.

To find a way out of these difhculties, it will be well to
provide that the Chinese should organize themselves into
unions or guilds, the leaders of which should be made
responsible for their observance of laws and regulations
passed by the French labour federations. Assuming that
the bulk of the Chinese cannot take part with French
manual workers in the framing of laws and regulations,
their leaders should be given the right of direct participation
in doing so. The Chinese, as proved by past experience,
are quite capable of organizing guilds and willing to submit
themselves to the authority of leaders. To prevent any
possibility of molestation, the French Government should
apply to them the same laws of protection as those for its'
own people ; the Chinese Government should also exercise
very rigid supervision over the labourers, and, if necessary,
should see that they are not misrepresented by their
leaders. If these precautions are taken, the antagonism
between Europeans and Asiatics, though not eliminated,
may be reduced to a minimum.

On the part of China, it is not desirable to let her citizens
settle abroad. The painful experiences of those in Jamaica,
in South America, and in other countries, do not encourage
their emigration. Moreover, as she is beginning her
industrial development on a modern scale, the labourers
who have gained some experience in France will be invaluable
to her as pioneers in modern works. It is indeed urgent
that she should utilize their experience by setting up new
factories where they may work and improve their knowledge
just acquired abroad. Their value to the country is all



278 New Problems since the War

the greater, as they have not only gained some industrial
experience, but also some knowledge of the English and the
Frenchlanguages and of the elementary geography and histoiy
of the world taught to them in their camps by the Y.M.C.A.
and by the French Sino-French Educational Society.

§ 4. Ascendancy of Japan in the Far East

The ascendancy of Japan in the Far East is due to two
causes. In the first place, it is due to the preoccupation
of the Western Powers in the war ; and in the second, it
is due to the policy pursued by Japan and her treaty States
for many years before it. The victory of the Japanese army
in the wars with China and Russia, and her alliance and
agreements with Great Britain, France, and the United
States, all enabled her to assume the dominant position in
the Far East in times of need. Since the war began, Japan
has fully utilized her opportunity ; and with the European
and, to a less extent, the American Chancelleries too much
occupied to interest themselves in China, she has asserted
her power and prestige to such an extent that she now takes
precedence over almost all other States in the Council of the
foreign Diplomatic Corps in Peking. It is no exaggeration
to say that, without her approval and consent, Europe and
America will find it difficult to launch any new policy in con-
nexion with their transactions with the Chinese Government.

Let us now examine the privileges acquired by Japan in
China during the past four years.

On January 15, 191 5, the Japanese Minister in Peking
presented to President Yiian Shih-k'ai a series of demands
classified under five groups and consisting of twenty-one
items. On May 7 of the same year, China, under the
pressure of a Japanese ultimatum, accepted the demands as



Ascendancy of Japan in the Far East 279

modified and revised in the conferences between the repre-
sentatives of the two Governments. The chief difference
of the revised from the original form of the demands is due
to the withdrawal by Japan of the fifth group, which consists
of the following items :

' (i) The Chinese Central Government shall employ
influential Japanese advisers in political, financial, and
military affairs ;

' (2) Japanese hospitals, churches, and schools in the
interior of China shall be granted the right of owning land ;

' (3) Inasmuch as the Japanese Government and the
Chinese Government have had many cases of dispute
between Japanese and Chinese police in settling matters
which have caused no little misunderstanding, it is for this
reason necessary that the police departments of important
places (in China) shall be jointly administered by Japanese
and Chinese, or that the police departments of these places
shall employ numerous Japanese, so that they may help to
plan the improvement of the Chinese Police Service ;

' (4) China shall purchase from Japan a fixed amount of the
munitions of war (say 50 per cent, or more) that are needed
by the Chinese Government, or there shall be established
in China a Sino-Japanese jointly worked arsenal. Japanese
technical experts are to be employed and Japanese material
to be purchased ;

' (5) China agrees to grant to Japan the right of con-
structing a railway connecting Wuchang with Kiukiang and
Nanchang and Chaochou ;

* (6) If China needs foreign capital to work mines, build
railways, and construct harbour-works (including dockyards
in the Province of Fukien), Japan shall be first consulted ;

' (7) China agrees that Japanese subjects shall have the
right of missionary propaganda in Buddhist China.'

It is easy to see that, had these demands been accepted,
Japan would have acquired preponderating influence in
many branches of Chinese administration ; would have



28 o New Problems since the War

controlled the Chinese army and its equipment ; would
have converted the maritime province of Fukien into her
sphere of interest ; and would have sent a large army of
missionaries and school-teachers, ostensibly for the propaga-
tion of a cult which was imported into Japan from China
two thousand years ago, but actually to introduce agents
of the Japanese Secret Service into every corner of China,
so as to give the Japanese Government a chance to make
further demands in the event of trouble arising with the
natives. The persistent refusal of the Chinese Government
to consider the fifth group of demands, together with the
sagacity and moderation of the Japanese Elder Statesmen,
caused them to be withdrawn, but it is worthy of remark
that in the note from Japan to the European Powers and
the United States, giving a detail of her demands, this fifth
group was omitted ; and that it was even denied by her
when the Powers were furnished by China with a copy of
the Japanese note as presented to her President. It is
believed by some that Japan did not expect China to accept
this fifth group, and inserted it merely as means to coerce
her to agree to other groups of demands. Others believe
that, as Japan expected China to accept all the demands
before other Powers had time to examine them, she thought
it easier to persuade them to maintain an attitude of indif-
ference towards the negotiations by not disclosing to them
the whole truth. Both speculations are probable, but it is
now established beyond doubt that, had it not been for the
intervention of the British and the American Governments
in favour of a modification of the demands, this fifth group
would have had to be accepted, and the independence of
China would now have become a thing of the past.

The first group of demands accepted by China relates to



Ascendancy of Japan in the Far East 281

the disposition of the German concessions, interests, and
rights in the province of Shantung. This has already been
dealt with in the section on ' The Kiaochow Question ' ;
and it needs only to be mentioned here that, in addition
to China's consent to agree to any arrangement that might
be arrived at between Japan and Germany at the conclusion
of peace, she has declared to the Japanese Government that
* within the province of Shantung or along its coast, no
territory or island will be leased or ceded to any foreign
Power under any pretext '. She also agreed that several
places in the provinces should be opened to foreign trade,
and that the Japanese capitalists would be approached for
a loan in case China herself should build the railway from
Chefoo or Lungkow to connect the Kiaochow-Tsinanfu line,
when Germany has abandoned her right to finance the
Chef 00- Weihsien line. In short, Japan has not only inherited
all the rights formerly held by Germany, but has also
extended them so as to make her position predominant.

So much for the first group. The second group in its
original form stipulates that the consent of the Japanese
Government must be obtained whenever permission is
granted to the subjects of a third Power to build a railway,
or a loan is made with a third Power for the purpose of
building a railway, in South Manchuria and Eastern Inner
Mongolia, the local taxes in the latter case being pledged
as security ; and ' whenever the Chinese Government
employs political, financial, or military advisers or instructors
in South Manchuria and Eastern Inner Mongolia ', These
demands, if accepted, would have converted these two
regions into Japanese possessions and would have closed
their doors to all other Powers.

In the revised and finally accepted form of the demands



282 New Problems since the War

under this group, these conditions are waived, but Japanese
subjects are accorded the right to reside and travel freely in
South Manchuria ; to engage in business and manufacture
of any kind ; and ' to lease land for commercial, industrial,
and agricultural enterprises '. Although the whole of South
Manchuria, except a few towns in it, has not been declared
an open port, where alone such rights can be granted,
a special provision is now made in favour of the Japanese;
and it is doubtful whether the same advantages will be
extended to subjects of other Powers by virtue of the most-
favoured-nation clause. China, faithful to her treaty obliga-
tions, will no doubt deal with all aliens alike, but it may
be beyond her power to enforce her orders in South Man-
churia. Moreover, Japan, by her peculiar consular and
administrative systems in South Manchuria, will always obtain
some advantages for her own subjects which are denied to
those of other States, irrespective of the treaties with China.
At all events, Japan has acquired by treaty the preferential
right over other States in the appointment of foreign advisers
to the Chinese provincial Government in South Manchuria
and in the negotiations of loans for the construction of
railways in South Manchuria and in Eastern Mongolia.

The third group of demands is accepted in a note which
is worded as follows :

' From the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs to the
Japanese Minister in Peking : " I have the honour to state
that, if in future the Hanyehping (Iron and Steel) Company
and the Japanese capitalists agree upon co-operation, the
Chinese Government, in view of the intimate relations
subsisting between the Japanese capitalists and the said
Company, will forthwith give its permission. The Chinese
Government further agree not to confiscate the said Com-
pany, nor, without the consent of the Japanese capitalists,



Ascendancy of Japan in the Far East 283

lu convert it into a state enterprise, nor cause it to borrow
and use foreign capital other than Japanese." '

It is beyond the scope of the present work to prove that
coal and iron are indispensable to modern industry ; suffice
it to say that it was the coal and iron in South Wales that
made England the workshop of the world ; and it was the
coal and iron in Bremen that gave Germany her industrial
power. Japan, though industrially more advanced than
China, is very poorly supplied with mineral deposits and
can hardly exist very long as a modern industrial State,
unless she is assured of an adequate and continuous supply
of material with which to produce steam-power, to build
ships, to manufacture her machinery, and to maintain her
industry. Naturally enough, she looks for supplies in the
country nearest to her ; and for fear of competition from
China herself or from other countries that would open mines
for her, she has employed her ingenious financial methods
to get hold of the richest coal and iron fields in the Chinese
Empire. The loan advanced by the Yokohama Specie Bank
in 1912 to the Hanyehping Company, which, started by
the Chinese as a purely Chinese property, was a combination
of three businesses — the Han Yang Steel and Iron Works, the
Tayeh Mines, and the Pinghsiang Collieries — gave a chance
to Japanese capitalists to acquire the right to appoint an
auditor and a few technical experts, who exercise a con-
siderable amount of control over the whole business. As
a condition of the loan, it is provided that the total output
of the iron ores of Tayeh must be sold to the Japanese
Government Iron Works at rates fixed biennially, but much
below market price. The whole property of the Company
was mortgaged to the Bank as security. The loan was to
be redeemed by the annual delivery of iron ores and pig iron,



284 New Problems since the War

and the purchase money paid to the Company was to be
deposited in the Bank, which has access to all its documents,
letters, and records through the Japanese adviser (nominated
by the Bank), and has the power to adjudicate the appor-
tionment of the money so received to the payment of the
proceeds and the repayment of the capital and interest on
the loan. It has also acquired the preferential right to
advance further loans. While the Bank exercises such strong
control, it is difficult to see how it is possible to realize the
provision in the loan contract that ' in case the profits of
the company have become so large that, after deducting the
dividend and bonus and setting aside reserve funds, there
is still a surplus, the Bank shall agree to the proposal of the
Company to redeem the full amount of the principal anJ in-
terest of this loan, or any sum remaining unpaid at that time '.

The mines in Tayeh, according to a Japanese official report,
are almost inexhaustible and will last for 700 years at the
annual rate of production of i ,000,000 tons. The quality of
the ore is as good as that produced in Germany or the United
States. The introduction of more powerful furnaces would
increase the existing rate of production at the Hanyehping
Iron Works and improve the quality of their steel output.

In the districts surrounding the Tayeh mines there are
many other mines, copper, lead, and zinc, which are not
the property of the Company. Japan, in her original
demands, requested that these mines should not be exploited
without the consent of the said Company (ultimately that
of the Bank). Though this demand is finally withdrawn,
it is the duty of those interested in the industrial develop-
ment of China to see that these mines do not fall into the
hands of any monopolists, Japanese or other nationals, who
desire to exploit them entirely for the benefit of their own



Ascendancy of Japan in the Far East 285



country, and deprive China of an adequate share in the
consumption of coal and iron produced on her own territory.
At the present time, Japanese capitalists are very active
in Peking and are endeavouring to extend their economic
activities in every conceivable direction. In fact, it is said
that since the acceptance by China of the Japanese demands
the Government of Tokyo has changed its policy of open
demand into that of peaceful penetration, in view of the
loss to Japanese merchants caused by the boycott which the
Chinese have maintained against them in revenge for their
ultimatum. Conciliation has now replaced aggression ; and
the economic advantages procurable by this new policy are
likely to be greater than those obtainable by a threat of war.
To show the truth of this statement let us see the following
table, which gives the titles and amounts of the loans recently
advanced by Japan to China :

Title. Amount.

Hanyehping (new loan) . . . $2,500,000

Kwangtung (Provincial) . . . 1,000,000

Chiotung (Ministry of Communication) . 28,000,000

Customs ...... 1,000,000

Paper Mill (at Hankow) . . . 2,000,000

Haingya Co. (Bank) .... 5,000,000

Fengtien (Provincial) .... 3,000,000

Hankow Electric Co. .... 1,000,000

Shih-Chen Railway .... 5,000,000

Canton Cement ..... 1,700,000

Kwangtung (Provincial) . . . 1,500,000

Kiran-Changchum Railway . . 6,500,000

Shantung (Provincial) . . . 1,500,000

Conservancy (Tientsin Flood) . . 5,000,000

Advance of a big loan . . . 10,000,000

Sundry ...... 6,449,000

Kirin Forestry ..... 5,000,000

Telegraph ..... 20,000,000

Tsinanfu-Shunte Railway . . . 20,000,000

Total ..... $124,149,000^

^ The table is not complete, because no official figure has been published
showing the amount of various loans.



286 New Problems since the War

In return for the sum, Japan holds in mortgage the
Chinese Government properties on which the loans are
secured. She has also acquired the right to build several
railways in Shantung and in Manchuria, to exploit the
forestry in the province of Kirin, and to open a bank


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Online LibrarySih-Gung ChengModern China, a political study → online text (page 21 of 28)