About Maximapedia


CHINA, a country of eastern Asia, the principal division of the Chinese empire. In addition to China proper the Chinese Empire includes Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet and Sin-kiang (East Turkestan, Kulja, Dzungaria, etc., i.e. all the Chinese dependencies lying between Mongolia on the north and Tibet on the south). Its most southern point is in 18° 50' N.; its most northern in 53° 25' N.; its most western in 74° E., and its most eastern in 135° E. It lies, however, mainly between 20° and 50° N. and 80° and 130° E. It is considerably larger than the whole of Europe. Though its area has not been exactly ascertained the various estimates closely approximate, varying between 4,277,000 and 4,300,000 sq. m. It is bounded N.W., N. and N.E. by Asiatic Russia, along a frontier extending some 6000 m.; E. by Korea and those parts of the Pacific known as the Yellow Sea and China Sea; S. and S.W. by the China Sea, French Indo-China, Upper Burma and the Himalayan states. It is narrowest in the extreme west. Chinese Turkestan along the meridian of Kashgar (76° E.) has a breadth of but 250 m. It rapidly broadens and for the greater part of its area is over 1800 m. across in a direct N. and S. line. Its greatest length is from the N.E. corner of Manchuria to the S.W. confines of Tibet, a distance of 3100 m. in a direct line. Its seaboard, about 5000 m. following the indentations of the coast, is almost, wholly in China proper, but the peninsula of Liao-tung and also the western shores of the Gulf of Liao-tung are in Manchuria.

China [1] proper or the Eighteen Provinces (Shih-pa-shOøΩng) occupies the south-eastern part of the empire. It is bounded N. by Mongolia, W. by Turkestan and Tibet, S.W. by Burma, S. by Tongking and the gulf of that name, S.E. by the South China Sea, E. by the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea, Gulf of Chih-li and Manchuria. Its area is approximately 1,500,000 sq. m.

This vast country is separated from the rest of continental Asia by lofty tablelands and rugged mountain ranges, which determine the general course - west to east - of its principal rivers. On the north and west the Mongolian and Tibetan tablelands present towards China steep escarpments across which are very few passes. On the S.W. and S., on the borders of Yun-nan, high mountains and deep valleys separate China from Burma and Tongking. On the narrow N.E. frontier the transition from the Manchurian plateau to the alluvial plain of northern China is not abrupt, but, before the advent of railways, Manchuria afforded few and difficult means of access to other regions. Thus China was almost cut off from the rest of the world save by sea routes.

I. The Country

Western China consists of highlands often sparsely, and eastern China of lowlands densely peopled. Western China contains the only provinces where the population is under 100 per sq. m. From the Tibetan and Mongolian tablelands project mountain ranges which, ramifying over the western region, enclose elevated level tracts and lower basins and valleys. East of this mountainous region, which extends into central China and covers probably fully half of the kingdom, are, in the north a great alluvial plain and in the south a vast calcareous tableland traversed by hill ranges of moderate elevation (see OøΩOøΩ Mountains and Geology). In north-eastern China there is only one mountain system, the group of hills - -highest peak 5060 ft. - -forming the Shan-tung peninsula. This peninsula was formerly an island, but has been attached to the mainland by the growth of the alluvial plain. Besides the broad division of the country into western and eastern China it may also be considered as divided into three regions by the basins of its chief rivers, the Hwang-ho (Yellow river) in the north, the Yangtsze-kiang in the centre, and the Si-kiang (West river) in the south. In the northern provinces of Kan-suh and Shen-si the basins of the Hwang-ho and Yangtsze-kiang are separated by a mountain chain with various names - the eastern termination of the Kuen-lun range of central Asia. These mountains, in China, attain, in the Tsing-ling Shan, a maximum elevation of 13,000 ft. East of Shen-si, in Ho-nan the Fu-niu-shan continue the range, but with decreasing elevation, and beyond this the deltaic plain is entered.

The watershed between the Yangtsze-kiang and that of the Si-kiang is less clearly marked. It traverses the immense tableland which occupies a great part of the south-west provinces of Yun-nan and Kwei-chow and is continued eastward by the lower tableland of Kwang-si and the Nanshan hills (whose elevation seldom exceeds 6000 ft.). The basin of the Yangtsze-kiang forms the whole of central China. Its western border, in Sze-ch'uen and Yun-nan, is wholly mountainous, with heights exceeding 19,000 ft. Central Sze-ch'uen, which is shut in by these mountains on the west, by the Yun-nan and Kwei-chow plateau on the south, by the Kiu-lung range on the north, and by highlands eastward (save for the narrow valley through which the Yangtsze-kiang forces its way), is a vast red sandstone tableland of about 1600 ft. elevation. It is exceedingly fertile and supports a dense population. Eastward of Sze-ch'uen the Yangtsze valley is studded with lakes. Finally it enters the deltaic plain. The basin of the Si-kiang fills the two southern provinces of Kwang-si and Kwang-tung and contains no very striking orographic features. It may be added that in the extreme S.W. portion of China is part of a fourth drainage area. Here the Mekong, Salween, Song-koi (Red river), etc. flow south to Indo-China.

The Coast. - The coast-line, following all the minor indentations, is reckoned at over 4500 m.; if only the larger inlets and promontories be regarded, the coast-line is about 2150 m. in length. Its shape is that of a semicircle, with its most easterly point midway (30° N.) between its northern and southern extremities. At either end of this semicircular sweep lies a peninsula, and beyond the peninsula a gulf. In the north are the peninsula of Shan-tung and the gulf of Chih-li; in the south the Lien-chow peninsula and the gulf of Tongking. Due south of Lien-chow peninsula, separated rom it by a narrow strait, is Hai-nan, the only considerable island of China. From the northern point of the gulf of Chih-li to 30° N., where is Hang-chow bay, the shores are flat and alluvial save where the Shan-tung peninsula juts out. Along this stretch there are few good natural harbours, except at the mouths of rivers and in the Shan-tung promontory; the sea is shallow and has many shoals. The waters bordering the coast of Chih-li are partly frozen in winter; at 10 m. from the shore the water is only 20 ft. deep. The proximity of Peking gives its few ports importance; that of Taku is at the mouth of the Peiho. In Shan-tung, deeply indented on its southern coast, are the ports of Chi-fu, Wei-hai-wei and Tsing-tao (the last in Kiao-chow bay). South of Shan-tung and north of the mouth of the Yangtsze huge sandbanks border the coast, with narrow channels between them and the shore. The estuary of the Yangtsze is 60 m. across; it contains islands and sandbanks, but there is easy access to Wusung (Shanghai) and other river ports. The bay of Hangchow, as broad at its entrance as the Yangtsze estuary, forms the mouth of the Tsien-tang-kiang. The Chusan and other groups of islands lie across the entrance of the bay.

South of Hang-chow bay the character of the coast alters. In place of the alluvial plain, with flat, sandy and often marshy shores, the coast is generally hilly, often rocky and abrupt; it abounds in small indentations and possesses numerous excellent harbours; in this region are Fu-chow, Amoy, Swatow, Hongkong, Macao, Canton and other well-known ports. The whole of this coast is bordered by small islands. Formosa lies opposite the S.E. coast, the channel between it and Fu-kien province being about 100 m. wide. Formosa protects the neighbouring regions of China from the typhoons experienced farther north and farther south.

Surface. - -As already indicated, one of the most noticeable features in the surface of China is the immense deltaic plain in the north-eastern portion of the country, which, curving round the mountainous districts of Shan-tung, extends for about 700 m. in a southerly direction from the neighbourhood of Peking and varies from 150 to 500 m. in breadth. This plain is the delta of the Yellow river and, to some extent, that of the Yangtsze-kiang also. Beginning in the prefecture of Yung-p'ing Fu, in the province of Chih-li, its outer limit passes in a westerly direction as far as Ch'ang-p'ing Chow, north-west of Peking. Thence running a south-south-westerly course it passes westward of ChOøΩng-ting Fu and Kwang-p'ing Fu till it reaches the upper waters of the Wei river in Ho-nan. From this point it turns westward and crosses the Hwang-ho or Yellow river in the prefecture of Hwai-k'ing. Leaving this river it takes a course a little to the east of south, and passing west of Ju-ning Fu, in the province of Ho-nan, it turns in a more easterly direction as far as Luchow Fu. From this prefecture an arm of the plain, in which lies the Chao Lake, stretches southward from the Hwai river to the Yangtsze-kiang, and trending eastward occupies the region between that river and Hangchow Bay. To the north of this arm rises a hilly district, in the centre of which stands Nanking. The greater part of this vast plain descends very gently towards the sea, and is generally below the level of the Yellow river, hence the disastrous inundations which so often accompany the rise of that river. Owing to the great quantity of soil which is brought down by the waters of the Yellow river, and to the absence of oceanic currents, this delta is rapidly increasing and the adjoining seas are as rapidly becoming shallower. As an instance, it is said that the town of P'utai was one Chinese mile [2] west of the seashore in the year 200 B.C., and in 1730 it was 140 m. inland, thus giving a yearly encroachment upon the sea of about 100 ft. Again, Sien-shwuy-kow on the Peiho was on the seashore in A.D. 500, and it is now about 18 m. inland.


Some of the ranges connected with the mountain system of central Asia which enter the western provinces of China have been mentioned above, others may be indicated here. In the eastern portion of Tibet the Kuen-lun range throws off a number of branches, which spread first of all in a south-easterly direction and eventually take a north and south course, partly in the provinces of Sze-ch'uen and Yun-nan, where they divide the beds of the rivers which flow into Siam and French Indo-China, as well as the principal northern tributaries of the Yangtsze-kiang. In the north-west, traversing the western portion of the province of Kan-suh, are parallel ranges running N.W. and S.E. and forming a prolongation of the northern Tibetan mountains. They are known as the Lung-shan, Richthofen and Nan-shan, and join on the south-east the Kuen-lun range. The Richthofen range (locally called Tien-shan, or Celestial Mountains) attains elevations of over 20,000 ft. Several of its peaks are snowclad, and there are many glaciers. Forming the northern frontier of the province of Sze-ch'uen run the Min-shan and the Kiu-lung (or Po-mOøΩng) ranges, which, entering China in 102° E., extend in a general easterly course as far as 112° E. in the province of Hu-peh. These ranges have an average elevation of 8000 and 11,000 ft. respectively. In the south a number of parallel ranges spread from the Yun-nan plateau in an easterly direction as far as the province of Kwang-tung. Then turning north-eastward they run in lines often parallel with the coast, and cover large areas of the provinces of Fu-kien, Kiang-si, Cheh-kiang, Hu-nan and southern Ngan-hui, until they reach the Yangtsze-kiang; the valley of that river from the Tung-ting Lake to Chin-kiang Fu forming their northern boundary. In Fu-kien these hills attain the character of a true mountain range with heights of from 6500 to nearly 10,000 ft. Besides the chief ranges there are the Tai-hang Mountains in Shan-si, and many others, among which may be mentioned the ranges - part of the escarpment of the Mongolian plateau - which form the northern frontier of Chih-li. Here the highest peak is Ta-kuang-ting-tzu (6500 ft.), about 300 m. N.N.E. of Peking and immediately north of Wei Ch'ang (the imperial hunting grounds).

Rivers and Canals. - The rivers of China are very numerous and there are many canals. In the north the rivers are only navigable by small craft; elsewhere they form some of the most frequented highways in the country. The two largest rivers, the Yangtsze-kiang and the Hwang-ho (Yellow river), are separately noticed. The Hwang-ho (length about 2400 m.) has only one important tributary in China, the Wei-ho, which rises in Kan-suh and flows through the centre of Shen-si. Below the confluence the Hwang-ho enters the plains. According to the Chinese records this portion of the river has changed its course nine times during 2500 years, and has emptied itself into the sea at different mouths, the most northerly of which is represented as having been in about 39° N., or in the neighbourhood of the present mouth of the Peiho, and the most southerly being that which existed before the change in 1851-1853, in 34° N. Owing to its small value as a navigable highway and to its propensity to inundate the regions in its neighbourhood, there are no considerable towns on its lower course.

The Yangtsze-kiang is the chief waterway of China. The river, flowing through the centre of the country, after a course of 2900 m., empties itself into the Yellow Sea in about 31° N. Unlike the Yellow river, the Yangtsze-kiang is dotted along its navigable portions with many rich and populous cities, among which are Nanking, An-ch'ing (Ngank'ing), Kiu-kiang, Hankow and I-ch'ang. From its mouth to I-ch'ang, about 1000 m., the river is navigable by large steamers. Above this last-named city the navigation becomes impossible for any but light native craft or foreign vessels specially constructed for the navigation, by reason of the rapids which occur at frequent intervals in the deep mountain gorges through which the river runs between Kwei-chow and I-ch'ang. Above Kwei-chow it receives from the north many tributaries, notably the Min, which water the low table-land of central Sze-ch'uen. The main river itself has in this province a considerable navigable stretch, while below I-ch'ang it receives the waters of numerous navigable affluents. The Yangtsze system is thus all important in the economic and commercial development of China.

Perhaps the most remarkable of the affluents of the Yangtsze is the Han-kiang or Han river. It rises in the Po-mOøΩng mountains to the north of the city of Ning-kiang Chow in Shen-si. Taking a generally easterly course from its source as far as Fan-cheng, it from that point takes a more southerly direction and empties itself into the Yangtsze-kiang at Han-kow, "the mouth of the Han." Here it is only 200 ft. wide, while higher up it widens to 2600 ft. It is navigable by steamers for 300 m. The summer high-water line is for a great part of its course, from I-ch'eng Hien to Han-kow, above the level of its banks. Near Sien-t'ao-chOøΩn the elevation of the plain above low water is no more than 1 ft., and in summer the river rises about 26 ft. above its lowest level. To protect themselves against inundations the natives have here, as elsewhere, thrown up high embankments on both sides of the river, but at a distance from the natural banks of about 50 to 100 ft. This intervening space is flooded every year, and by the action of the water new layers of sand and soil are deposited every summer, thus strengthening the embankments from season to season.

The Hwai-ho is a large river of east central China flowing between the Hwang-ho and the Yangtsze-kiang. The Hwai-ho and its numerous affluents (it is said to have 72 tributaries) rise in Ho-nan. The main river flows through the centre of Ngan-hui, in which province it receives from the N.W. the Sha-ho, Fei-ho and other important affluents. Formerly it received through the Sha-ho part of the waters of the Hwang-ho. The Hwai-ho flows into the Hungtso lake, through which it feeds the Grand Canal, not far from the old course of the Hwang-ho, and probably at one time joined that river not far from its mouth. It has a length of about 800 m. and is navigable from the point where it leaves the hill country of Ho-nan to Lake Hungtso. It is subject to violent floods, which inundate the surrounding country for a distance of 10 to 20 m. Many of its tributaries are also navigable for considerable distances.

Grand Canal

Next in importance to the Yangtsze-kiang as a water highway is the Yun-ho, or, as it is generally known in Europe, the Grand Canal. This magnificent artificial river reaches from Hang-chow Fu in the province of Cheh-kiang to Tientsin in Chih-li, where it unites with the Peiho, and thus may be said to extend to Tung-chow in the neighbourhood of Peking. According to the itineraries published by POøΩre Gandar, the total length of the canal is 3630 li, or about 1200 m. A rough measurement, taking account only of the main bends of the canal, makes its length 850 m. After leaving Hang-chow the canal passes round the eastern border of the Tai-hu or Great Lake, surrounding in its course the beautiful city of Su-chow, and then trends in a generally north-westerly direction through the fertile districts of Kiang-su as far as Chin-kiang on the Yangtsze-kiang. In this, the southern section, the slope is gentle and water is plentiful (from 7 ft. at low water to 11 ft., and occasionally 13 ft. at high water). Between Su-chow and Chin-kiang the canal is often over 100 ft. wide, and its sides are in many places faced with stone. It is spanned by fine stone bridges, and near its banks are many memorial arches and lofty pagodas. In the central portion of the canal, that is between Chin-kiang and Tsing-kiang-pu, at which latter place it crosses the dry channel which marks the course of the Yellow river before 1852, the current is strong and difficult to ascend in the upward (northern) journey. This part of the canal skirts several lakes and is fed by the Hwai-ho as it issues from the Hungtso lake. The country lying west of the canal is higher than its bed; while the country east is lower than the canal. The two regions are known respectively as Shang-ho (above the river) and Ssia-ho (below the river). Waste weirs opening on the Ssia-ho (one of the great rice-producing areas of China) discharge the surplus water in flood seasons. The northern and considerably the longest section of the canal extends from the old bed of the Yellow river to Tientsin. It largely utilizes existing rivers and follows their original windings. Between Tsing-kiang-pu and the present course of the Yellow river the canal trends N.N.W., skirting the highlands of Shan-tung. In this region it passes through a series of lagoons, which in summer form one lake - Chow-yang. North of that lake on the east bank of the canal, is the city of Tsi-ning-chow. About 25 m. N. of that city the highest level of the canal is reached at the town of Nan Wang. Here the river Wen enters the canal from the east, and about 30 m. farther N. the Yellow river is reached. On the west side of the canal, at the point where the Yellow river now cuts across it, there is laid down in Chinese maps of the 18th century a dry channel which is described as being that once followed by the Yellow river, i.e. before it took the channel it abandoned in 1851-1853. The passage of the Yellow river to the part of the canal lying north of that stream is difficult, and can only be effected at certain levels of the river. Frequently the waters of the river are either too low or the current is too strong to permit a passage. Leaving this point the canal passes through a well-wooded and hilly country west of Tung-p'ing Chow and east of Tung-ch'ang Fu. At Lin-ching Chow it is joined at right angles by the Wei river in the midst of the city. Up to this point, i.e. from Tsing-kiang-pu to Lin-ching Chow, a distance of over 300 m., navigation is difficult and the water-supply often insufficient. The differences of level, 20 to 30 ft., are provided for by barrages over which the boats - having discharged their cargo - are hauled by windlasses. Below the junction with the Wei the canal borrows the channel of the river and again becomes easily navigable. Crossing the frontier into Chih-li, between Te Chow and Tsang Chow, which it passes to the west, it joins the Peiho at Tientsin, after having received the waters of the Keto river in the neighbourhood of Tsing Hien. [3]

The most ancient part of the canal is the section between the Yangtsze and the Hwai-ho. This part is thought, on the strength of a passage in one of the books of Confucius, to have been built c. 486 B.C. It was repaired and enlarged in the 3rd century A.D. The southern part, between the Yangtsze and Hang-chow, was built early in the 7th century A.D. The northern part is stated to have been constructed in the three years 1280-1283. The northern portion of the canal is now of little use as a means of communication between north and south. [4] It is badly built, neglected and charged with the mud-laden waters of the Yellow river. The "tribute fleet" bearing rice to Peking still uses this route; but the rice is now largely forwarded by sea. The central and southern portions of the canal are very largely used.

The Peiho (length about 350 m.) is of importance as being the high waterway to Peking. Taking its rise in the Si-shan, or Western Mountains, beyond Peking, it passes the city of T'sung-chow, the port of Peking, and Tientsin, where it meets the waters of the Hun-ho and empties itself into the gulf of Chih-li at the village of Taku. The Peiho is navigable for small steamers as far as Tientsin during the greater part of the year, but from the end of November to the beginning of March it is frozen up.

The Si-kiang

In the southern provinces the Si-kiang, or Western river, is the most considerable. It has a length of over 1000 m. This river takes its rise in the prefecture of Kwang-nan Fu in Yun-nan, whence it reaches the frontier of Kwang-si at a distance of about 90 li from its source. Then trending in a north-easterly direction it forms the boundary between the two provinces for about 150 li. From this point it takes a generally south-easterly course, passing the cities of Tsien Chow, Fung-e Chow, Shang-lin Hien, Lung-ngan Hien, Yung-kang Chow and Nan-ning Fu to Yung-shan Hien. Here it makes a bend to the north-east, and continues this general direction as far as Sin-chow Fu, a distance of 800 li, where it meets and joins the waters of the Kien-kiang from the north. Its course is then easterly, and after passing Wu-chow Fu it crosses the frontier into Kwang-tung. In this part of its course it flows through a gorge 3 m. long and in places but 270 yds. in width. Both above and below this gorge it is 1 m. wide. Some 30 m. above Canton it divides into two main and several small branches. The northern branch, called Chu-kiang, or Pearl river, flows past Fat-shan and Canton and reaches the sea through the estuary called the Bocca Tigris or Bogue, at the mouth of which is the island of Hong-Kong. The southern branch, which retains the name of Si-kiang, reaches the sea west of Macao. Near the head of its delta the Si-kiang receives the Pei-kiang, a considerable river which flows through Kwang-tung in a general N. to S. direction. Like the Yangtsze-kiang the Si-kiang is known by various names in different parts of its course. From its source to Nan-ning Fu in Kwang-si it is called the Si-yang-kiang, or river of the Western Ocean; from Nan-ning Fu to Sin-chow Fu it is known as the Yu-kiang, or the Bending river; and over the remainder of its course it is recognized by the name of the Si-kiang, or Western river. The Si-kiang is navigable as far as Shao-king, 130 m., for vessels not drawing more than 15 ft. of water, and vessels of a light draught may easily reach Wu-chow Fu, in Kwang-si, which is situated 75 m. farther up. In winter the navigation is difficult above Wu-chow Fu. Above that place there is a rapid at low water, but navigation is possible to beyond Nan-ning Fu.

II. The People


China is noted for the density of its population, but no accurate statistics are forthcoming. The province of Shan-tung is reputed to have a population of 680 per sq. m. The provinces of central China, in the basin of the Yangtsze-kiang - namely Sze-ch'uen, Hu-peh, Ngan-hui, Kiang-su and Cheh-kiang - contain probably a third of thes total population, the density of the people in these provinces being represented as from 490 to 310 per sq. m. Ho-nan, which belongs partly to the basin of the Hwang-ho and partly to that of the Yangtsze-kiang, as well as the S.E. coast provinces of Fu-kien and Kwang-tung, are also densely peopled, Ho-nan being credited with 520 persons per sq. m., Fu-kien with 490 and Kwang-tung with about 320.

The Chinese government prints from time to time in the Peking Gazette returns of the population made by the various provincial authorities. The method of numeration is to count the households, and from that to make a return of the total inhabitants of each province. There would be no great difficulty in obtaining fairly accurate returns if sufficient care were taken. It does not appear, however, that much care is taken. Mr E.H. Parker published in the Statistical Society's Journal for March 1899 tables translated from Chinese records, giving the population from year to year between 1651 and 1860. These tables show a gradual rise, though with many fluctuations, up till 1851, when the total population is stated to be 432 millions. From that point it decreases till 1860, when it is put down at only 261 millions. The Chinese Imperial Customs put the total population of the empire in 1906 at 438,214,000 and that of China proper at 407,253,000. It has been held by several inquirers that these figures are gross over-estimates. Mr Rockhill, American minister at Peking (1905-1909), after careful inquiry [5] concluded that the inhabitants of China proper did not exceed, in 1904, 270,000,000. Other competent authorities are inclined to accept the round figure of 400,000,000 as nearer the accurate number. Eleven cities were credited in 1908 with between 500,000 and 1,000,000 inhabitants each, and smaller cities are very numerous, but the population is predominantly rural. In addition to the Chinese the population includes a number of aboriginal races such as the Lolos (q.v.), the Miaotsze (q.v.), the Ikias of Kwei-chow and Kwang-si, the Hakka, found in the south-east provinces, and the Hoklos of Kwang-tung province. [6] The Manchus resident in China are estimated to number 4,000,000. According to the Imperial Customs authorities, the number of foreigners resident in China in 1908 was 69,852. Of these 44,143 were Japanese, 9520 Russian, 9043 British, 3637 German, 3545 American, 3353 Portuguese, 2029 French, 554 Italian and 282 Belgian.


The Chinese are a colonizing race, and in Manchuria, Mongolia and Turkestan they have brought several districts under cultivation. In the regions where they settle they become the dominant race - thus southern Manchuria now differs little from a province of China proper. In Indo-China, the Malay Peninsula and throughout the Far East Chinese are numerous as farmers, labourers and traders; in some places, such as Singapore, Chinese are among the principal merchants. This colonizing spirit is probably due more to the enterprise of the people than to the density of the population. There were Chinese settlements at places on the east coast of Africa before the 10th century A.D. Following the discovery of gold in California there was from 1850 onwards a large emigration of Chinese to that state and to other parts of America. But in 1879 Chinese exclusion acts were passed by the United States, an example followed by Australia, where Chinese immigration was also held to be a public danger. Canada also adopted the policy of excluding Chinese, but not before there had been a considerable immigration into British Columbia. Two factors, a racial and an economic, are at work to bring about these measures of exclusion. As indentured labourers Chinese have been employed in the West Indies, South America and other places (see Coolie).

In addition to several million Chinese settlers in Manchuria, and smaller numbers in Mongolia, Turkestan and Tibet, it was estimated in 1908 that there were over 9,000,000 Chinese resident beyond the empire. Of these 2,250,000 were in Formosa, which for long formed a part of the empire, and over 6,000,000 in neighbouring regions of Asia and in Pacific Islands. In the West Indies (chiefly Cuba) the number of Chinese was estimated at 100,000, in South America (Brazil, Peru and Chile) at 72,000, in the United States at 150,000, in Canada at 12,000, and in Australia and New Zealand at 35,000. There are comparatively few Chinese in Japan (if Formosa be excepted) and Korea. The number is given in 1908 as 17,000 in Japan and 11,000 in Korea.

Social Life.

The awakening of the East which has followed the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 has affected China also. It is too soon to say how far the influx of European ideas will be able to modify the immemorial customs and traditions of perhaps the most conservative people in the world; but the process has begun, and this fact makes it difficult to give a picture of Chinese habits and customs which shall be more than historical or provisional. Moreover, the difficulty of presenting a picture which shall be true of China as a whole is enhanced by the different characteristics observable in various regions of so vast a country. The Chinese themselves, until the material superiority of Western civilization forced them to a certain degree to conform to its standards, looked down from the height of their superior culture with contempt on the "Western barbarians." Nor was their attitude wholly without justification. Their civilization was already old at a time when Britain and Germany were peopled by half-naked barbarians, and the philosophical and ethical principles on which it was based remain, to all appearances, as firmly rooted as ever. That these principles have, on the whole, helped to create a national type of a very high order few Europeans who know the Chinese well would deny. The Chinese are naturally reserved, earnest and good-natured; for the occasional outbursts of ferocious violence, notably against foreign settlements, are no index to the national character. There is a national proverb that "the men of the Four Seas are all brothers," and even strangers can travel through the country without meeting with rudeness, much less outrage. If the Chinese character is inferior to the European, this inferiority lies in the fact that the Chinaman's whole philosophy of life disinclines him to change or to energetic action. He is industrious; but his industry is normally along the lines marked out by authority and tradition. He is brave; but his courage does not naturally seek an outlet in war. The jealously exclusive empire, into which in the 19th century the nations of the West forced an entrance, was organized for peace; the arts of war had been all but forgotten, and soldiers were of all classes the most despised.

The whole social and political organization of the Chinese is based, in a far more real sense than in the West, on the family. The supreme duty is that of the child to its parent; on this the whole Chinese moral system is built up. Filial piety, according to the teaching of Confucius, is the very foundation of society; the nation itself is but one great family, and the authority of the government itself is but an extension of the paternal authority, to which all its children are bound to yield implicit obedience. The western idea of the liberty and dignity of the individual, as distinct from the community to which he belongs, is wholly alien to the Chinese mind. The political unit in China is not the individual but the family, and the father of the family is supposed to be responsible for the qualities and views of all his kin. He is rewarded for their virtues, punished for their faults; the deserts of a son ennoble the father and all his ancestors, and conversely his crimes disgrace them.

An outcome of this principle is the extraordinary importance in China of funeral rites, especially in the case of the father. The eldest son, now head of the family, or, failing him, his first-born or adopted son, fixes one of the three souls of the dead in the tablet commemorating his virtues, burns incense to his shade, and supplies him with paper money and paper representations of everything (clothes, servants, horses) that he may require in his journey to the other world. Mourning lasts for three years, during which the mourners wear white garments and abstain from meat, wine and public gatherings. Custom, too, dictates that wherever the Chinaman may die he must be brought back for burial to the place of his birth; one of the objects of the friendly societies is to provide funds to charter ships to transport home the bodies of those who have died abroad. Annually, in May, the white-clad people stream to the graves and mortuary temples with flowers, fruit and other offerings for the dead. Christian missionaries have found in this ancestor worship the most serious obstacle to the spread of a religion which teaches that the convert must, if need be, despise his father and his mother and follow Christ.

The same elaborate ceremonialism that characterizes the Chinese funeral customs is found also in their marriage rites and the rules of their social intercourse generally. Confucius is reported to have said that "all virtues have their source in etiquette," and the due observance of the "ceremonial" (li) in the fulfilling of social duties is that which, in Chinese opinion, distinguishes civilized from barbarous peoples. The Board of Rites, one of the departments of the central government, exists for the purpose of giving decisions in matters of etiquette and ceremony. As to marriage, the rule that the individual counts for nothing obtains here in its fullest significance. The breeding of sons to carry on the ancestral cult is a matter of prime importance, and the marriage of a young man is arranged at the earliest possible age. The bride and bridegroom have little voice in the matter, the match being arranged by the parents of the parties; the lifting of the bride's veil, so that the bridegroom may see her face, is the very last act of the long and complicated ceremony.

In the traditional Chinese social system four classes are distinguished: the literary, the agricultural, the artisan and the trading class. Hereditary nobility, in the European sense, scarcely exists, and the possession of an hereditary title gives in itself no special privileges. Official position is more highly esteemed than birth and the bureaucracy takes the place of the aristocracy in the west. There are, nevertheless, besides personal decorations for merit, such as the yellow jacket, five hereditary rewards for merit; these last only for a fixed number of lives. A few Chinese families, however, enjoy hereditary titles in the full sense, the chief among them being the Holy Duke of Yen (the descendant of Confucius). The Imperial Clansmen consist of those who trace their descent direct from the founder of the Manchu dynasty, and are distinguished by the privilege of wearing a yellow girdle; collateral relatives of the imperial house wear a red girdle. Twelve degrees of nobility (in a descending scale as one generation succeeds another) are conferred on the descendants of every emperor; in the thirteenth generation the descendants of emperors are merged in the general population, save that they retain the yellow girdle. The heads of eight houses, the "Iron-capped" (or helmeted) princes, maintain their titles in perpetuity by rule of primogeniture in virtue of having helped the Manchu in the conquest of China. Imperial princes apart, the highest class is that forming the civil service. (See also OøΩ Government and Administration.) The peasant class forms the bulk of the population. The majority of Chinese are small landowners; their standard of living is very low in comparison with European standards. This is in part due to the system of land tenure. A parent cannot, even if he wished to do so, leave all his land to one son. There must be substantially an equal division, the will of the father notwithstanding. As early marriages and large families are the rule, this process of continual division and subdivision has brought things down to the irreducible minimum in many places. Small patches of one-tenth or even one-twentieth of an acre are to be found as the estate of an individual landowner, and the vast majority of holdings run between one and three acres. With three acres a family is deemed very comfortable, and the possession of ten acres means luxury.

The only class which at all resembles the territorial magnates of other countries is the class of retired officials. The wealth of an official is not infrequently invested in land, and consequently there are in most provinces several families with a country seat and the usual insignia of local rank and influence. On the decease of the heads or founders of such families it is considered dignified for the sons to live together, sharing the rents and profits in common. This is sometimes continued for several generations, until the country seat becomes an agglomeration of households and the family a sort of clan. A family of this kind, with literary traditions, and with the means to educate the young men, is constantly sending its scions into the public service. These in turn bring their earnings to swell the common funds, while the rank and dignity which they may earn add to the importance and standing of the group as a whole. The members of this class are usually termed the literati or gentry.

The complex character of the Chinese is shown in various ways. Side by side with the reverence of ancestors the law recognizes the right of the parent to sell his offspring into slavery and among the poor this is not an uncommon practice, though in comparison with the total population the number of slaves is few. The kidnapping of children for sale as slaves is carried on, but there is no slave raiding. There are more female than male slaves; the descendants of male slaves acquire freedom in the fifth generation. While every Chinese man is anxious to have male children, girls are often considered superfluous.

The position of women is one of distinct inferiority; a woman is always subject to the men of her family - before marriage to her father, during marriage to her husband, in widowhood to her son; these states being known as "the three obediences." Sons who do not, however, honour their mothers outrage public opinion. Polygamy is tolerated, secondary wives being sometimes provided by the first wife when she is growing old. Secondary wives are subordinate to first wives. A wife may be divorced for any one of seven reasons. The sale of wives is practised, but is not recognized by law. Women of the upper classes are treated with much respect. The home of a Chinese man is often in reality ruled by his mother, or by his wife as she approaches old age, a state held in veneration. Chinese women frequently prove of excellent business capacity, and those of high rank - as the recent history of China has conspicuously proved - exercise considerable influence on public affairs.

Deforming the feet of girls by binding and stopping their growth has been common for centuries. The tottering walk of the Chinese lady resulting from this deformation of the feet is the admiration of her husband and friends. Foot-binding is practised by rich and poor in all parts of the country, but is not universal. In southern and western China Hakka women and certain others never have their feet bound. It has been noted that officials (who all serve on the itinerary system) take for secondary wives natural-footed women, who are frequently slaves. [7] Every child is one at birth, and two on what Europeans call its first birthday, the period of gestation counting as one year.

In their social intercourse the Chinese are polite and ceremonious; they do not shake hands or kiss, but prostrations (kotowing), salutations with joined hands and congratulations are common. They have no weekly day of rest, but keep many festivals, the most important being that of New Year's Day. Debts are supposed to be paid before New Year's Day begins and for the occasion new clothes are bought. Other notable holidays are the Festival of the First Full Moon, the Feast of Lanterns and the Festival of the Dragon Boat. A feature of the festivals is the employment of thousands of lanterns made of paper, covered with landscapes and other scenes in gorgeous colours. Of outdoor sports kite-flying is the most popular and is engaged in by adults; shuttle-cock is also a favourite game, while cards and dominoes are indoor amusements. The theatre and marionette shows are largely patronized. The habit of opium smoking is referred to elsewhere; tobacco smoking is general among both sexes.

Except in their head-dress and their shoes little distinction is made between the costumes of men and women. [8] Both sexes wear a long loose jacket or robe which fits closely round the neck and has wide sleeves, and wide short trousers. Over the robe shorter jackets - often sleeveless - are worn, according to the weather. For winter wear the jackets are wadded, and a Chinaman will speak of "a three, four or six coat cold day." A man's robe is generally longer than that of a woman. Petticoats are worn by ladies on ceremonial occasions and the long robe is removed when in the house. "It is considered very unwomanly not to wear trousers, and very indelicate for a man not to have skirts to his coat." No Chinese woman ever bares any part of her body in public - even the hands are concealed in the large sleeves - and the evening dress of European ladies is considered indelicate; but Hakka women move about freely without shoes or stockings. A Chinese man will, however, in warm weather often strip naked to the waist. Coolies frequently go bare-legged; they use sandals made of rope and possess rain-coats made of palm leaves. The garments of the poorer classes are made of cotton, generally dyed blue. Wealthy people have their clothes made of silk. Skirts and jackets are elaborately embroidered. Costly furs and fur-lined clothes are much prized, and many wealthy Chinese have fine collections of furs. Certain colours may only be used with official permission as denoting a definite rank or distinction, e.g. the yellow jacket. The colours used harmonize - the contrasts in colour seen in the clothes of Europeans is avoided. Dark purple over blue are usual colour combinations. The mourning colour is white. Common shoes are made of cotton or silk and have thick felt soles; all officials wear boots of satin into which is thrust the pipe or the fan - the latter carried equally by men and women. The fan is otherwise stuck at the back of the neck, or attached to the girdle, which may also hold the purse, watch, snuff-box and a pair of chop-sticks.

Formerly Chinese men let their hair grow sufficiently long to gather it in a knot at the top; on the conquest of the country by the Manchu they were compelled to adopt the queue or pigtail, which is often artificially lengthened by the employment of silk thread, usually black in colour. The front part of the head is shaved. As no Chinese dress their own hair, barbers are numerous and do a thriving trade. Women do not shave the head nor adopt the queue. Men wear in general a close-fitting cap, and the peasants large straw hats. Circular caps, larger at the crown than round the head and with an outward slope are worn in winter by mandarins, conical straw hats in summer. Women have elaborate head ornaments, decking their hair with artificial flowers, butterflies made of jade, gold pins and pearls. The faces of Chinese ladies are habitually rouged, their eyebrows painted. Pearl or bead necklaces are worn both by men and women. Officials and men of leisure let one or two finger nails grow long and protect them with a metal case.

The staple food of the majority of the Chinese in the south and central provinces is rice; in the northern provinces millet as well as rice is much eaten. In separate bowls are placed morsels of pork, fish, chicken, vegetables and other relishes. Rice-flour, bean-meal, macaroni, and shell fish are all largely used. Flour balls cooked in sugar are esteemed. Beef is never eaten, but Mahommedans eat mutton, and there is hardly any limit to the things the Chinese use as food. In Canton dogs which have been specially fed are an article of diet. Eggs are preserved for years in a solution of salt, lime and wood-ash, or in spirits made from rice. Condiments are highly prized, as are also preserved fruits. Special Chinese dishes are soups made from sea-slugs and a glutinous substance found in certain birds' nests, ducks' tongues, sharks' fins, the brains of chickens and of fish, the sinews of deer and of whales, fish with pickled fir-tree cones, and roots of the lotus lily. A kind of beer brewed from rice is a usual drink; samshu is a spirit distilled from the same grain and at dinners is served hot in small bowls. Excellent native wines are made. The Chinese are, however, abstemious with regard to alcoholic liquors. Water is drunk hot by the very poor, as a substitute for tea. Tea is drunk before and after meals in cups without handle or saucer; the cups are always provided with a cover. Two substantial meals are taken during the day - luncheon and dinner; the last named at varying hours from four till seven o'clock. At dinner a rich man will offer his guest twenty-four or more dishes (always a multiple of 4), four to six dishes being served at a time. Food is eaten from bowls and with chop-sticks (q.v.) and little porcelain spoons. Men dine by themselves when any guests are present; dinner parties are sometimes given by ladies to ladies. Chinese cookery is excellent; in the culinary art the Chinese are reputed to be second only to the French.

Ethnologically the Chinese are classed among the Mongolian races (in which division the Manchus are also included), although they present many marked contrasts to the Mongols. The Tatars, Tibetans, Burmese, Shans, Manchu and other races - including the Arab and Japanese - have mingled with the indigenous population to form the Chinese type, while aboriginal tribes still resist the pressure of absorption by the dominant race (see ante, Population). The Chinese are in fact ethnically a very mixed people, and the pure Mongol type is uncommon among them. Moreover, natives of different provinces still present striking contrasts one to another, and their common culture is probably the strongest national link. By some authorities it is held that the parent stock of the Chinese came from the north-west, beyond the alluvial plain; others hold that it was indigenous in eastern China. Notwithstanding the marked differences between the inhabitants of different provinces and even between those living in the same province, certain features are common to the race. "The stature is below the average and seldom exceeds 5 ft. 4 in., except in the North. The head is normally brachycephalic or round horizontally, and the forehead low and narrow. The face is round, the mouth large, and the chin small and receding. The cheek-bones are prominent, the eyes almond-shaped, oblique upwards and outwards, and the hair coarse, lank and invariably black. The beard appears late in life, and remains generally scanty. The eyebrows are straight and the iris of the eye is black. The nose is generally short, broad and flat. The hands and feet are disproportionately small, and the body early inclines to obesity. The complexion varies from an almost pale-yellow to a dark-brown, without any red or ruddy tinge. Yellow, however, predominates." [9]

A few words may be added concerning the Manchus, who are the ruling race in China. Their ethnic affinities are not precisely known, but they may be classed among the Ural-Altaic tribes, although the term Ural-Altaic (q.v.) denotes a linguistic rather than a racial group. By some authorities they are called Tung-tatze, i.e. Eastern Tatars - -the Tatars of to-day being of true Mongol descent. Manchu is the name adopted in the 13th century by one of several tribes which led a nomadic life in Manchuria and were known collectively in the 11th century as NOøΩchihs. Some authorities regard the Khitans (whence the European form Cathay), who in the 9th and 10th centuries dwelt in the upper Liao region, as the ancestors of this race. It was not until the 16th century that the people became known generally as Manchus and obtained possession of the whole of the country now bearing their name (see Manchuria). They had then a considerable mixture of Chinese and Korean blood, but had developed a distinct nationality and kept their ancient Ural-Altaic language. In China the Manchus retained their separate nationality and semi-military organization. It was not until the early years of the 20th century that steps were officially taken to obliterate the distinction between the two races. The Manchus are a more robust race than the inhabitants of central and southern China, but resemble those of northern China save that their eyes are horizontally set. They are a lively and enterprising people, but have not in general the intellectual or business ability of the Chinese. They are courteous in their relations with strangers. The common people are frugal and industrious. The Manchu family is generally large. The women's feet are unbound; they twist their hair round a silver bangle placed cross-wise on the top of the head. The Manchus have no literature of their own, but as the language of the court Manchu has been extensively studied in China.

AUTHORITIES - Sir John F. Davies, China (2 vols., London, 1857); OøΩ. ROøΩclus, The Universal Geography, vol. vii. (Eng. trans. ed. by E.G. Ravenstein and A.H. Keane); OøΩ. and O. ROøΩclus, L'Empire du milieu (Paris, 1902); Sir R.K. Douglas, Society in China (London, 1895); J. Doolittle, Social Life of the Chinese (2 vols., New York, 1867); H.A. Giles, China and the Chinese (1902); E. Bard, Les Chinois chez eux (Paris, 1900); A.G. Jones, Desultory Notes on Chinese Etiquette (Shanghai, 1906); Mrs Archibald Little, Intimate China (London, 1899) and The Land of the Blue Gown (London, 1902); E.H. Parker, John Chinaman and a Few Others (London, 1901); J. Dyer-Ball, Things Chinese (Shanghai, 1903); Cheng Kitung, The Chinese Painted by Themselves (Eng. trans. by J. Millington, London, 1885); L. Richard, Comprehensive Geography of the Chinese Empire (Shanghai, 1908).


[1] As to the origin of the names China and Cathay (the medieval name) see below OøΩ History. According to one theory the name China is of Malay origin, designating originally the region now called Indo-China, but transferred in early times to China proper. By the Chinese the country is often called Shih-pa-shOøΩng, "the Eighteen Provinces," from the number of its great territorial divisions. It is also called Chung-kwo, "the Middle Kingdom," properly used of the central part of China, and Hwa-kwo, "the Flowery Kingdom."

[2] A Chinese mile, li, or le = 0.36 English mile.

[3] For the Grand Canal the chief authority is Dominique Gandar, S.J., "Le Canal Imperial. Etude historique et descriptive," Varietes sinologiques No. 4 (Shanghai, 1903); see also Stenz, "Der Kaiserkanal," in BeitrOøΩgen zur Kolonialpolitik, Band v. (Berlin, 1903-1904), and the works of Ney Elias, Sir J.F. Davis, A. Williamson, E.H. Parker and W.R. Carles.

[4] Nevertheless there is considerable local traffic. The transit trade with Shan-tung, passing the Chin-kiang customs and using some 250 m. of the worst part of the canal, was valued in 1905 at 3,331,000 taels.

[5] See W.W. Rockhill, Inquiry into the Population of China (Washington, 1904).

[6] For a bibliography of works relating to the aboriginal races of China see Richard's Comprehensive Geography of the Chinese Empire (1908 ed.), pp. 371-373.

[7] Evidences of the social changes taking place in China are to be found in the strong movement for the education of girls, and in the formation of societies, under official patronage, to prevent the binding of women's feet.

[8] It must be remembered that there is great variety in the costumes worn in the various provinces. The particulars here given are of the most general styles of dress.

[9] Richard's Comprehensive Geography, etc. (1908 edition), pp. 340-341.

Education and the Press.

The educational system of China till nearly the close of the 19th century was confined in its scope to the study of Chinese classics. Elementary instruction was not provided by the state. The well-to-do engaged private tutors for their sons; the poorer boys were taught in small schools on a voluntary basis. No curriculum was compulsory, but the books used and the programme pursued followed a traditional rule. The boys (there were no schools for girls) began by memorizing the classics for four or five years. Then followed letter-writing and easy composition. This completed the education of the vast majority of the boys not intended for the public service. The chief merit of the system was that it developed the memory and the imitative faculty. For secondary education somewhat better provision was made, practically the only method of attaining eminence in the state being through the schools (see OøΩ Civil Service). At prefectural cities and provincial capitals colleges were maintained at the public expense, and at these institutions a more or less thorough knowledge of the classics might be obtained. At the public examinations held periodically the exercises proposed were original poems and literary essays. Three degrees were conferred, Siu-ts'ai (budding talent), ChOøΩ-jOøΩn (promoted scholar) and Chin-shih (entered scholar). The last degree was given to those who passed the final examination at Peking, and the successful candidates were also called metropolitan graduates.

The first education on western lines was given by the Roman Catholic missionaries. In 1852 they founded a college for the education of native priests; they also founded and maintained many primary and some higher schools - mainly if not exclusively for the benefit of their converts. The Protestant missions followed the example of the Roman Catholics, but a new departure, which has had a wide success, was initiated by the American Protestant missionary societies in founding schools - primary and higher - and colleges in which western education was given equally to all comers, Christian or non-Christian. Universities and medical schools have also been established by the missionary societies. They also initiated a movement for the education of girls and opened special schools for their instruction.

Missionary effort apart, the first step towards western education was the establishment of two colleges in 1861, one at Peking, the other at Canton in connexion with the imperial maritime customs. These institutions were known as T'ung Wen Kwan, and were provided with a staff of foreign professors and teachers. These colleges were mainly schools of languages to enable young Chinese to qualify as interpreters in English, French, etc. Similar schools were established at Canton, Fuchow and one or two other places, with but indifferent results. A more promising plan was conceived in 1880, or thereabouts, by the then viceroy of Nanking, who sent a batch of thirty or forty students to America to receive a regular training on the understanding that on their return they would receive official appointments. The promise was not kept. A report was spread that these students were becoming too much Americanized. They were hastily recalled, and when they returned they were left in obscurity. The next step was taken by the viceroy Chang Chih-tung after the Chino-Japanese War of 1894-95. The viceroy wrote a book, China's Only Hope, which he circulated throughout the empire, and in which he strongly advocated a reform of the traditional educational system. His scheme was to make Chinese learning the foundation on which a western education should be imparted. [10] The book was one of the factors in the 1898 reform movement, and Chang Chih-tung's proposals were condemned when that movement was suppressed. But after the Boxer rising the Peking government adopted his views, and in 1902 regulations were issued for the reform of the old system of public instruction. A university on western lines was established in that year at Peking, the T'ung Wen Kwan at the capital being incorporated in it. The new educational movement gained enormously in strength as the result of the Russo-Japanese War, and in 1906 a new system, theoretically almost perfect, was established. The new system comprises the study of the Chinese language, literature and composition, modern sciences, history and geography, foreign languages, [11] gymnastics, drill and, in the higher grades, political economy, and civil and international law.

By 1910 primary and secondary government schools and schools for special subjects (such as agriculture and engineering) had been established in considerable numbers. In every province an Imperial University was also established. The Imperial University at Peking now teaches not only languages and Chinese subjects but also law, chemistry, mathematics, etc. A medical school was founded at Peking in 1906 through the energy of British Protestant missionaries, and is called the Union Medical College. When in 1908, the United States, finding that the indemnity for the Boxer outrages awarded her was excessive, agreed to forgo the payment of £2,500,000, China undertook to spend an equal amount in sending students to America.

The general verdict of foreign observers on the working of the new system up to 1910 was that in many instances the teaching was ineffective, but there were notable exceptions. The best teachers, next to Europeans, were foreign or mission-trained Chinese. The Japanese employed as teachers were often ignorant of Chinese and were not as a rule very successful. (See further CHINESE HISTORY.) A remarkable indication of the thirst for western learning and culture was the translation into Chinese and their diffusion throughout the country of numerous foreign standard and other works, including modern fiction.

The Peking Gazette, which is sometimes called the oldest paper in the world, is not a newspaper in the ordinary sense, but merely a court gazette for publishing imperial decrees and such public documents as the government may wish to give out. It never contains original articles nor any discussion of public affairs. The first genuine native newspaper was published at Shanghai about 1870. It was termed the Shen Pao or Shanghai News, and was a Chinese speculation under foreign protection, the first editor being an Englishman. It was some years before it made much headway, but success came, and it was followed by various imitators, some published at Shanghai, some at other treaty ports and at Hong-Kong. In 1910 there were over 200 daily, weekly or monthly journals in China. The effect of this mass of literature on the public mind of China is of first-rate importance.

The attitude of the central government towards the native press is somewhat undefined. Official registration of a newspaper is required before postal facilities are given. There are no press laws, but as every official is a law unto himself in these matters, there is nothing to prevent him from summarily suppressing an obnoxious newspaper and putting the editor in prison. The emperor, among other reform edicts which provoked the coup d'OøΩtat of 1898, declared that newspapers were a boon to the public and appointed one of them a government organ. The empress-dowager revoked this decree, and declared that the public discussion of affairs of state in the newspapers was an impertinence, and ought to be suppressed. Nevertheless the newspapers continued to flourish, and their outspoken criticism had a salutary effect on the public and on the government. The official classes seem to have become alarmed at the independent attitude of the newspapers, but instead of a campaign of suppression the method was adopted, about 1908, of bringing the vernacular press under official control. This was accomplished chiefly by the purchase of the newspapers by the mandarins, with the result that at the beginning of 1910 there was said to be hardly an independent native daily newspaper left in China. The use of government funds to subsidize or to purchase newspapers and thus to stifle or mislead public opinion provoked strong protests from members of the Nanking provincial council at its first sitting in the autumn of 1909. The appropriation by the Shanghai Taot'ai of moneys belonging to the Huangpu conservancy fund for subsidizing papers led to his impeachment by a censor and to the return of the moneys. [12]


[10] For a summary of Chang Chih-tung's treatise, see Changing China (1910 edition), chap. xxii.

[11] It was announced in June 1910 that the throne had approved a recommendation of the Board of Education that English should be the official language for scientific and technical education, and that the study of English should be compulsory in all provincial scientific and technical schools.

[12] See The Times of the 19th of February and the 3rd of May 1910.


Agriculture and Industry.

China is pre-eminently an agricultural country. The great majority of its inhabitants are cultivators of the soil. The holdings are in general very small, and the methods of farming primitive. Water is abundant and irrigation common over large areas. Stock-raising, except in Sze-ch'uen and Kwang-tung, is only practised to a small extent; there are few large herds of cattle or flocks of sheep, nor are there any large meadows, natural or cultivated. In Sze-ch'uen yaks, sheep and goats are reared in the mountains, and buffaloes and a fine breed of ponies on the plateau. Cattle are extensively reared in the mountainous districts of Kwang-tung. The camel, horse and donkey are reared in Chih-li. Forestry is likewise neglected. While the existing forests, found mainly in high regions in the provinces of Hu-nan, Fu-kien and Kwei-chow, are disappearing and timber has to be imported, few trees are planted. This does not apply to fruit trees, which are grown in great variety, while horticulture is also a favourite pursuit.

The Chinese farmer, if his methods be primitive, is diligent and persevering. In the richer and most thickly populated districts terraces are raised on the mountain sides, and even the tops of lofty hills are cultivated. The nature of the soil and means of irrigation as well as climate are determining factors in the nature of the crops grown; rice and cotton, for example, are grown in the most northern as well as the most southern districts of China. This is, however, exceptional and each climatic region has its characteristic cultures.

The loess soil (see OøΩ Geology) is the chief element in determining the agricultural products of north China. Loess soil bears excellent crops, and not merely on the lower grounds, but at altitudes of 6000 and 8000 ft. Wherever loess is found the peasant can live and thrive. Only one thing is essential, and that is the annual rainfall. As, owing to the porous nature of loess, no artificial irrigation is possible, if the rain fails the crops must necessarily fail. Thus seasons of great famine alternate with seasons of great plenty. It appears, also, that the soil needs little or no manuring and very little tillage. From its extremely friable nature it is easily broken up, and thus a less amount of labour is required than in other parts. The extreme porosity of the soil probably also accounts for the length of time it will go on bearing crops without becoming exhausted. The rainfall, penetrating deeply into the soil in the absence of stratification, comes into contact with the moisture retained below, which holds in solution whatever inorganic salts the soil may contain, and thus the vegetation has an indefinite store to draw upon. [13]

There is no one dominant deposit in south China, where red sandstone and limestone formations are frequent. Cultivation here is not possible on the high elevations as in the north, but in the plains and river valleys the soil is exceedingly fertile, while the lower slopes of the mountains are also cultivated. In the north, moreover, but one crop, in general, can be raised in the year. In the centre two and sometimes three crops are raised yearly, and in the south, especially in the lower basin of the Si-kiang, three crops are normally gathered. In the north, too, the farmer has frequently to contend with drought or with rain or floods; in the central and southern regions the weather is more settled.

Distribution of crops

In the north of China wheat, barley, millet, buckwheat and maize are the staple crops. Beans and peas are also cultivated. Rice thrives in north-east Kan-suh, in some districts of Shan-si, in the extreme south of Shan-tung and in parts of the Wei-ho plain in Shen-si. Cotton is grown in Shen-si and Shan-tung. In Kan-suh and Shen-si two crops are raised in favoured localities, cereals in spring and cotton or rice in summer. Tobacco and the poppy are also grown in several of the northern provinces. Rhubarb and fruit trees are largely cultivated in the western part of north China.

In the central provinces tea, cotton, rice and ramie fibre are the chief crops. Tea is most largely cultivated in Ngan-hui, Kiang-si, Hu-peh, Hu-nan, Sze-ch'uen and Yun-nan. Cotton is chiefly grown in Kiang-su, Ngan-hui and Hu-peh. The seed is sown in May and the crops gathered in September. The cotton is known as white and yellow, the white variety being the better and the most cultivated. The poppy is largely cultivated and, in connexion with the silk industry, the mulberry tree. The mulberry is found principally in the provinces of Sze-ch'uen, Kiang-su and Cheh-kiang. The central provinces are also noted for their gum-lac, varnish and tallow trees.

The crops of the south-eastern provinces are much the same as those of the central provinces, but are predominantly rice, the sugar-cane, ground-nuts and cinnamon. Tea is the chief crop in Fu-kien. The sugar-cane is principally cultivated in Kwang-tung, Fu-kien and Sze-ch'uen. In the south-western provinces the poppy, tea, tobacco and rice are the chief crops. Wheat, maize and barley are also largely raised.

While rice does not, unlike tea and cotton, form the principal crop of any one province it is more universally cultivated than any other plant and forms an important item in the products of all the central and southern provinces. Regarding China as a whole it forms the staple product and food of the country. Two chief varieties are grown, that suited only to low-lying regions requiring ample water and the red rice cultivated in the uplands. Next to rice the most extensively cultivated plants are tea and cotton, the sugar-cane, poppy and bamboo. Besides the infinite variety of uses to which the wood of the bamboo is applied, its tender shoots and its fruit are articles of diet.

Fruit is extensively cultivated throughout China. In the northern provinces the chief fruits grown are pears, plums, apples, apricots, peaches, medlars, walnuts and chestnuts, and in Kan-suh and Shan-tung the jujube (q.v.). Strawberries are an important crop in Kan-suh. In Shan-si, S.W. Chih-li and Shan-tung the vine is cultivated; the grapes of Shan-si are reputed to produce the best wine of China. Oranges are also grown in favoured localities in the north. The chief fruits of the central and southern provinces are the orange, lichi, mango, persimmon, banana, vine and pineapple, but the fruits of the northern regions are also grown. The coco-nut and other palms flourish on the southern coast.

The poppy

As shown above, the poppy has been grown in almost every district of China. In 1906 it was chiefly cultivated in the following provinces: Yun-nan, Kwei-chow, Sze-ch'uen, Kan-suh, Shen-si, Shan-si, Shan-tung, Ho-nan, Kiang-su (northern part) and Cheh-kiang. The poppy is first mentioned in Chinese literature in a book written in the first half of the 8th century A.D., and its medicinal qualities are referred to in the Herbalist's Treasury of 973. It was not then nor for centuries later grown in China for the preparation of opium. [14] There is no evidence to show that the Chinese ever took opium in the shape of pills (otherwise than medicinally). The cultivation of the poppy for the manufacture of opium began in China in the 17th century, but it was not until after 1796, when the importation of foreign opium was declared illegal, that the plant was cultivated on an extensive scale. After 1906 large areas which had been devoted to the poppy were given over to other crops, in consequence of the imperial edict aimed at the suppression of opium-smoking (see OøΩ History).

Mining. - The mineral resources of China are great, but the government has shown a marked repugnance to allow foreigners to work mines, and the mineral wealth has been very inadequately exploited. Mining operations are controlled by the Board of Commerce. In 1907 this board drew up regulations respecting the constitution of mining and other companies. They contained many features against which foreign powers protested.


Coal, iron, copper and tin are the principal minerals found in China; there are also extensive deposits of coal and other minerals in Manchuria. In China proper the largest coal measures are found in Shan-si, Hu-nan, Kwei-chow and Sze-ch'uen. There are also important coalfields in Chih-li, Shan-tung, Shen-si, Ho-nan, Yun-nan, Hu-peh and Kwang-tung - and almost all of the seven other provinces have also coal measures of more or less value. The lack of transport facilities as well as the aversion from the employment of foreign capital has greatly hindered the development of mining. Numerous small mines have been worked for a long period by the natives in the province of Hu-nan. There are two principal local fields in this province, one lying in the basin of the Lei river and yielding anthracite, and the other in the basin of the Siang river yielding bituminous coal. Both rivers drain into the Yangtsze, and there is thus an easy outlet by water to Hankow. The quality of the coal, however, is inferior, as the stratification has been much disturbed, and the coal-seams have been in consequence crushed and broken. The largest coalfield in China lies in the province of Shan-si. Coal and iron have here been worked by the natives from time immemorial, but owing to the difficulty of transport they have attained only a limited local circulation. The whole of southern Shan-si, extending over 30,000 sq. m., is one vast coalfield, and contains, according to the estimate of Baron von Richthofen, enough coal to last the world at the present rate of consumption for several thousand years. The coal-seams, which are from 20 to 36 ft. in thickness, rest conformably on a substructure of limestone. The stratification is throughout undisturbed and practically horizontal. As the limestone bed is raised some 2000 ft. above the neighbouring plain the coal-seams crop out in all directions. Mining is thus carried on by adits driven into the face of the formation, rendering the mining of the coal extremely easy. The coalfield is divided into two by a mountain range of ancient granitic formation running north-east and south-west, termed the Ho-shan. It is of anterior date to the limestone and coal formations, and has not affected the uniformity of the stratification, but it has this peculiarity, that the coal on the east side is anthracite, and that on the west side is bituminous. A concession to work coal and iron in certain specified districts in this area was granted to a British company, the Peking Syndicate, together with the right to connect the mines by railway with water navigation. The syndicate built a railway in Shan-si from P'ingyang to Tsi-chow-fu, the centre of a vast coalfield, and connected with the main Peking-Hankow line; lines to serve coal mines have also been built in Hu-nan and other provinces. The earliest in date was that to the K'aip'ing collieries in the east of the province of Chih-li, the railway connecting the mines with the seaport of Taku. The coal at K'aip'ing is a soft bituminous coal with a large proportion of dust. The output is about 1,500,000 tons per annum. A mine has also been opened in the province of Hu-peh, about 60 m. below Hankow, and near the Yangtsze, in connexion with iron-works.


Iron ore of various qualities is found almost as widely diffused as coal. The districts where it is most worked at present lie within the coalfield of Shan-si, viz. at Tsi-chow-fu and P'ing-ting-chow. The ore is a mixture of clay iron ore and spathic ore, together with limonite and hematite. It is found abundantly in irregular deposits in the Coal Measures, and is easily smelted by the natives in crucibles laid in open furnaces. This region supplies nearly the whole of north China with the iron required for agricultural and domestic use. The out-turn must be very considerable, but no data are available for forming an accurate estimate. The province of Sze-ch'uen also yields an abundance of iron ores of various kinds. They are worked by the natives in numerous places, but always on a small scale and for local consumption only. The ores occur in the Coal Measures, predominant among them being a clay iron ore. Hu-nan, Fu-kien, Cheh-kiang and Shan-tung all furnish iron ores. Iron (found in conjunction with coal) is worked in Manchuria.

Copper, tin, etc

Copper is found chiefly in the provinces of Kwei-chow and Yun-nan, where a rich belt of copper-bearing ores runs east and west across both provinces, and including south Sze-ch'uen. The chief centres of production are at the cities of Tung-ch'uen-fu, Chow-t'ung and Ning-yuen. The mines are worked as a government monopoly, private mining being nominally prohibited. The output is considerable, but no statistics are published by government. Rich veins of copper ore are also worked near Kiu-kiang. Tin is mined in Yun-nan, the headquarters of the industry being the city of Meng-tsze, which since 1909 has been connected with Hanoi by railway. This is an important industry, the value of tin exported in 1908 being £600,000. Tin is also mined in Hai-nan and lead in Yun-nan. Antimony ore is exported from Hu-nan; petroleum is found in the upper Yangtsze region. Quicksilver is obtained in Kwei-chow. Salt is obtained from brine wells in Shan-si and Sze-ch'uen, and by evaporation from sea water. Excellent kaolin abounds in the north-eastern part of Kiang-si, and is largely used in the manufacture of porcelain.

Precious metals

The Chinese government has opened small gold mines at Hai-nan, in which island silver is also found. A little gold-washing is done in the sandy beds of certain rivers, for instance, the Han river and the upper Yangtsze, above Su-chow (Suifu), which here goes by the name of the "Goldsand" river. The amount so extracted is extremely small and hardly pays the labour of washing, but the existence of gold grains points to a matrix higher up. The whole of south-western China has the reputation of being highly metalliferous. gold is obtained in some quantities on the upper waters of the Amur river, on the frontier between China and Siberia. The washings are carried on by Chinese. gold has also been found in quartz veins at P'ing-tu, in Shan-tung, but hardly in paying quantities. There are silver mines in Yun-nan.

Manufactures. - The principal native manufactures before the competition of western nations made itself felt were - apart from the preparation of tea and other produce for the market - those of porcelain and silk. The silks and gauzes of Su-chow and Nanking in the province of Kiang-su, and those of Hang-chow in Cheh-kiang, are highly esteemed throughout China. Silk-weaving is still carried on solely in native looms and chiefly in the cities named. The greater part of the silk spun is used in China, but a considerable export trade has grown up and 27% of the world's supply of raw silk is from China. The reeling of silk cocoons by steam-machinery is supplanting native methods. There are filatures for winding silk at Shanghai, Canton, Chifu and other cities.

The most famous porcelain came from the province of Kiang-si, the seat of the industry being the city of King-te-chen. Imperial works were established here about the year A.D. 1000, and the finest porcelain is sent to Peking for the use of the emperor. At one time 1,000,000 work-people were said to be employed, and the kilns numbered 600. The Taiping rebels destroyed the kilns in 1850. Some of them have been rebuilt. "Activity begins to reign anew, but the porcelain turned out is far from equalling in colour and finish that of former times. At the present day King-te-chen has but 160 furnaces and employs 160,000 workmen." [15] The common rice bowls sold throughout China are manufactured here. The value of the export sales is said to be about £500,000 yearly.

Cotton, etc

The spinning and weaving of cotton on hand-looms is carried on almost universally. Besides that locally manufactured, the whole of the large import of Indian yarn is worked up into cloth by the women of the household. Four-fifths of the clothing of the lower classes is supplied by this domestic industry. Of minor industries Indian ink is manufactured in Ngan-hui and Sze-ch'uen, fans, furniture, lacquer ware and matting in Kwang-tung, dyes in Cheh-kiang and Chih-li, and varnished tiles in Hu-nan. Paper, bricks and earthenware are made in almost all the provinces.

Of industries on a large scale - other than those indicated - the most important are cotton-spinning and weaving mills established by foreign companies at Shanghai. Permission to carry on this industry was refused to foreigners until the right was secured by the Japanese treaty following the war of 1894-95. Some native-owned mills had been working before that date, and were reported to have made large profits. Nine mills, with an aggregate of 400,000 spindles, were working in 1906, five of them under foreign management. There are also four or five mills at one or other of the ports working 80,000 spindles more. These mills are all engaged in the manufacture of yarn for the Chinese market, very little weaving being done. Chinese-grown cotton is used, the staple of which is short; only the coarser counts can be spun.

At certain large centres flour and rice mills have been erected and are superseding native methods of treating wheat and rice; at Canton there are sugar refineries. At Hanyang near Hankow are large iron-works owned by Chinese. They are supplied with ore from the mines at Ta-ye, 60 m. distant, and turn out (1909) about 300 steel rails a day.


The foreign trade of China is conducted through the "treaty ports," i.e. sea and river ports and a few inland cities which by the treaty of Nanking (1842) that of Tientsin (1860) and subsequent treaties have been thrown open to foreigners for purposes of trade. (The Nanking treaty recognized five ports only as open to foreigners - Canton, [16] Amoy, Fu-chow, Ning-po and Shanghai.) These places are as follows, treaty ports in Manchuria being included: Amoy, Antung, Canton, Chang-sha, Dairen, Chin-kiang, Chinwantao, Ch'ungk'ing, Chifu, Fu-chow, Funing (Santuao), Hang-chow, Hankow, I-ch'ang, Kang-moon, Kiao-chow, Kiu-kiang, K'iung-chow, Kow-loon, Lappa, Lung-chow, Mengtsze, Mukden, Nanking, Nanning, Ning-po, Niu-chwang, Pakhoi, Sanshui, Shanghai, Shasi, Su-chow, Swatow, Szemao, Tatungkow, Tientsin, Teng-yueh, Wen-chow, Wu-chow, Wuhu, Yo-chow.

The progress of the foreign trade of China is set out in the following table. The values are given both in currency and sterling, but it is to be remarked that during the period when silver was falling, that is, from 1875 to 1893, the silver valuation represents much more accurately variations in the volume of trade than does the gold valuation. gold prices fell continuously during this period, while silver prices were nearly constant. Since 1893 silver prices have tended to rise, and the gold valuation is then more accurate. The conversion from silver to gold is made at the rate of exchange of the day, and therefore varies from year to year.

Table of Imports and Exports, exclusive of Bullion.

Year. Imports. Exports.
Value in
Taels. Equivalent in
Sterling. Value in
Taels. Equivalent in
1875 66,344,000 £19,903,000 77,308,000 £23,193,000
1885 84,803,000 22,618,000 73,899,000 19,206,000
1890 113,082,000 29,213,000 96,695,000 24,980,000
1895 154,685,000 25,136,000 154,964,000 25,181,000
1898 189,991,000 28,498,000 170,743,000 25,612,000
*1904 344,060,000 49,315,000 239,486,000 34,326,000
*1905 447,100,791 67,065,118 227,888,197 34,183,229

* This marked increase is partly owing to a more complete presentation of statistics; in 1903 an additional number of vessels were placed under the control of the imperial maritime customs.

In 1907 the net imports were valued at £67,664,222 and the exports at £42,961,863. In 1908 China suffered from the general depression in trade. In that year the imports were valued at £52,600,730, the exports at £36,888,050. The distribution of the trade among the various countries of the world is shown in the table which is given below. Hong-Kong is a port for trans-shipment. The imports into China from it come originally from Great Britain, India, Germany, France, America, Australia, the Straits Settlements, etc., and the exports from China to it go ultimately to the same countries.

Imports into China. (000's omitted.)

Imports from 1875. 1880. 1885. 1890. 1895. 1905. 1908.
United Kingdom £6340 £6382 £6396 £6,357 £5,518 £1,971 £9,647
Hong-Kong 8282 8829 9404 18,615 14,331 22,240 20,033
India 4451 6039 4306 2,661 2,753 5,220 4,066
Other British possessions 396 346 542 571 732 963 . .
United States 304 351 884 949 827 11,538 5,499
Continent of Europe (except Russia) 230 671 671 638 1,227 4,295 †3,332
Russian Empire . . . . . . 231 309 302 422
Japan 746 1021 1404 1,909 2,794 9,197 7,000

Exports from China. (000's omitted.)

Exports to 1875. 1880. 1885. 1890. 1895. 1905. 1908.
United Kingdom £8749 £8125 £5864 £3383 £1718 £2,710 £1,673
Hong-Kong 3824 4844 4232 8507 5651 12,218 12,281
India 72 323 157 273 449 408 545
Other British possessions 948 874 818 886 586 647 . .
United States 2302 2906 2213 2109 2499 4,055 3,176
Continent of Europe (except Russia) 2524 3760 1948 3004 3440 4,697 †7,128
Russian Empire 1339 1260 1293 2288 2535 1,419 1,123
Japan 586 642 398 1248 2408 5,320 4,949

Germany, France, Belgium and Italy only.

The chief imports are cotton goods, opium, rice and sugar, metals, oil, coal and coke, woollen goods and raw cotton, and fish. Cotton goods are by far the most important of the imports. They come chiefly from the United Kingdom, which also exports to China woollen manufactures, metals and machinery. China is next to India the greatest consumer of Manchester goods. The export of plain cotton cloths to China and Hong-Kong has for some years averaged 500,000,000 yds. per annum. The only competitor which Great Britain has in this particular branch of trade is the United States of America, which has been supplying China with increasing quantities of cotton goods. The value in sterling of the total imports into China from the United Kingdom long remained nearly constant, but inasmuch as the gold prices were falling the volume of the export was in reality steadily growing. The imports into England, however, of Chinese produce have fallen off, mainly because China tea has been driven out of the English market by the growth of the India and Ceylon tea trade, and also because the bulk of the China silk is now shipped directly to Lyons and other continental ports instead of to London, as formerly was the rule. The growth of the import of Indian yarn into China has been very rapid. In 1884 the import was 35,000,000 lb and in 1904 it reached 217,171,066 lb. The imports into China from all countries for 1908 were as follows: -

Opium £4,563,000 Coal and coke 1,124,000
Cotton goods 14,786,000 Oil, kerosene 2,666,000
Raw cotton 232,000 Rice 3,543,000
Woollen goods 717,000 Sugar 3,514,000
Metals 2,956,000 Fish, etc. 1,028,000

The principal exports from China are silk and tea. These two articles, indeed, up to 1880 constituted more than 80% of the whole export. Owing, however, mainly to the fall in silver, and partly also to cheap ocean freights, it has become profitable to place on the European market a vast number of miscellaneous articles of Chinese produce which formerly found no place in the returns of trade. The silver prices in China did not change materially with the fall in silver, and Chinese produce was thus able to compete favourably with the produce of other countries. The following table shows the relative condition of the export trade in 1880 and 1908: -

Exports of 1880. 1908.
Silk £9,750,000 £11,055,000
Tea 11,774,000 4,384,000
Miscellaneous 4,058,000 21,448,000
Total £25,582,000 £36,888,000

In the miscellaneous class the chief items of exports in 1908 were beans and beancake, £3,142,000; raw cotton, £1,379,000; hides, £1,028,000; straw braid, £1,002,000; furs and skin rugs, £760,000; paper, £458,000; and clothing, £177,000. Sugar, tobacco, mats and matting are also exported. The export of all cereals except pulse is forbidden. Of the tea exported in 1908 the greater part went to Russia and Siberia, the United States and Great Britain. There is a regular export of gold amounting on an average to about a million sterling per annum. A part of it would seem to be the hoardings of the nation brought out by the high price of gold in terms of silver, but a part is virgin gold derived from gold workings in Manchuria on the upper waters of the Amur river.

Customs duty is levied on exports as well as imports, both being assessed at rates based on a nominal 5% ad val.

Shipping and Navigation. - Besides the over-sea trade China has a large coasting and river trade which is largely carried on by British and other foreign vessels. During the year 1908, 207,605 vessels, of 83,991,289 tons (86,600 being steamers of 77,955,525 tons), entered and cleared Chinese ports. [17] Of these 28,445 vessels of 34,405,761 tons were British; 33,539 of 11,998,588 tons, Chinese vessels of foreign type; 103,124 of 4,947,272 tons, Chinese junks; 5496 vessels of 6,585,671 tons, German; 30,708 of 18,055,138 tons, Japanese; 653 of 998,775 tons, American; 3901 of 5,071,689 tons, French; 1033 of 980,635 tons, Norwegian.

Of vessels engaged in the foreign trade only the entrances during the year numbered 38,556 of 12,187,140 tons, and the clearances 36,602 of 12,057,126 tons. The nationality of the vessels (direct foreign trade) was mainly as follows: -

1908. Entrances. Clearances.
No. Tons. No. Tons.
British 4,569 4,678,094 4,614 4,754,087
German 891 1,195,775 928 1,124,872
Norwegian 255 254,211 259 255,295
French 468 629,680 468 616,883
American 136 440,602 131 439,947
Japanese 2,187 2,587,818 2,046 2,461,132
Chinese 29,775 2,001,872 27,888 1,915,258

The tonnage of the Dutch, Austrian and Russian vessels cleared and entered was in each case between 102,000 and 127,000.


External communication is carried on by ancient caravan routes crossing Central Asia, by the trans-Siberian railway, which is increasingly used for passenger traffic, but chiefly by steamship, the steamers being almost entirely owned by foreign companies. There is regular and rapid communication with Europe (via the Suez canal route) and with Japan and the Pacific coast of America. Other lines serve the African and the Australasian trade. The only important Chinese-owned steamers are those of the Chinese Merchants' Steam Navigation Company, which has its headquarters at Shanghai.

Internal communications are by river, canal, road and railway, the railways since the beginning of the 20th century having become a very important factor. In 1898 the Chinese government agreed that all internal waterways should be open to foreign and native steamers, and in 1907 there were on the registers of the river ports for inland water traffic 609 steamers under the Chinese flag and 255 under foreign flags.

Railways. - A short line of railway between Shanghai and Wusung was opened in 1875. The fate of this pioneer railway may be mentioned as an introduction to what follows. The railway was really built without any regular permission from the Chinese government, but it was hoped that, once finished and working, the irregularity would be overlooked in view of the manifest benefit to the people. This might have been accomplished but for an unfortunate accident which happened on the line a few months after it was opened. A Chinaman was run over and killed, and this event, of course, intensified the official opposition, and indeed threatened to bring about a riot. The working of the line was stopped by order of the British minister, and thereupon negotiations were entered into with a view to selling the line to the Chinese government. A bargain was struck sufficiently favourable to the foreign promoters of the line, and it was further agreed that, pending payment of the instalments which were spread over a year, the line should continue to be worked by the company. The expectation was that when the officials once got the line into their own hands, and found it a paying concern, they would continue to run it in their own interest. Not so, however, did things fall out. The very day that the twelve months were up the line was closed; the engines were dismantled, the rails and sleepers were torn up, and the whole concern was shipped off to the distant island of Formosa, where carriages, axles and all the rest of the gear were dumped on the shore and left for the most part to disappear in the mud. The spacious area of the Shanghai station was cleared of its buildings, and thereon was erected a temple to the queen of heaven by way of purifying the sacred soil of China from such abomination. This put a stop for nearly twenty years to all efforts on the part of foreigners to introduce railways into China. The next step in railway construction was taken by the Chinese themselves, and on the initiative of Li Hung-chang. In 1886 a company was formed under official patronage, and it built a short line, to connect the coal-mines of K'aip'ing in Chih-li with the mouth of the Peiho river at Taku. The government next authorized the formation of a Native Merchants' Company, under official control, to build a line from Taku to Tientsin, which was opened to traffic in 1888. It was not, however, till nine years later, viz. in 1897, that the line was completed as far as Peking. A British engineer, Mr Kinder, was responsible for the construction of the railway. Meantime, however, the extension had been continued north-east along the coast as far as Shanhai-Kwan, and a farther extension subsequently connected with the treaty port of Niu-chwang. The money for these extensions was mostly found by the government, and the whole line is now known as the Imperial Northern railway. The length of the line is 600 m. Meanwhile the high officials of the empire had gradually been brought round to the idea that railway development was in itself a good thing. Chang Chih-tung, then viceroy of the Canton provinces, memorialized strongly in this sense, with the condition, however, that the railways should be built with Chinese capital and of Chinese materials. In particular, he urged the making of a line to connect Peking with Hankow for strategic purposes. The government took him at his word, and he was transferred from Canton to Hankow, with authority to proceed forthwith with his railway. True to his purpose, he at once set to work to construct iron-works at Hankow. Smelting furnaces, rolling mills, and all the machinery necessary for turning out steel rails, locomotives, etc., were erected. Several years were wasted over this preliminary work, and over £1,000,000 sterling was spent, only to find that the works after all were a practical failure. Steel rails could be made, but at a cost two or three times what they could be procured for in Europe. After the Japanese War the hope of building railways with Chinese capital was abandoned. A prominent official named Sheng Hsuan-hwai was appointed director-general of railways, and empowered to enter into negotiations with foreign financiers for the purpose of raising loans. It was still hoped that at least the main control would remain in Chinese hands, but the diplomatic pressure of France and Russia caused even that to be given up, and Great Britain insisting on equal privileges for her subjects, the future of railways in China remained in the hands of the various concessionaires. But after the defeat of Russia by Japan (1904-1905) the theory of the undivided Chinese control of railways was resuscitated. The new spirit was exemplified in the contracts for the financing and construction of three railways - the Canton-Kowloon line in 1907, and the Tientsin-Yangtsze and the Shanghai-Hangchow-Ning-po lines in 1908. In the first of these instances the railway was mortgaged as security for the loan raised for its construction, and its finance and working were to be modelled on the arrangements obtaining in the case of the Imperial Northern railway, under which the administration, while vested in the Chinese government, was supervised by a British accountant and chief engineer. In the other two instances, however, no such security was offered; the Chinese government undertook the unfettered administration of the foreign capital invested in the lines, and the Europeans connected with these works became simply Chinese employOøΩs. Moreover, in 1908 the Peking-Hankow line was redeemed from Belgian concessionaires, a 5% loan of £5,000,000 being raised for the purpose in London and Paris. In that year there was much popular outcry against foreign concessionaires being allowed to carry out the terms of their contract, and the British and Chinese corporation in consequence parted with their concession for the Su-chow, Ning-po and Hang-chow railway, making instead a loan of £1,500,000 to the ministry of communications for the provinces through which the line would run. A double difficulty was encountered in the construction and management of the railways; the reconciliation of the privileges accorded to foreign syndicates and governments with the "Recovery of Rights" campaign, and the reconciliation of the claims of the central government at Peking with the demands of the provincial authorities. As to the foreigners, Great Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Russia and Japan, all had claims and concessions, many of them conflicting; while as between Peking and the provinces there was a quarrel mainly concerned with the spoils and "squeezes" to be obtained by railway construction; in some instances the provinces proved more powerful than the central government, as in the case of the Su-chow-Ning-po line, and notably in the matter of the Tientsin-Pukau (Nanking) railway. In that case the provincial authorities overrode the central government, with the result that "for wholesale jobbery, waste and mismanagement the enterprise acquired unenviable notoriety in a land where these things are generally condoned." The good record of one or two lines notwithstanding, the management of the railways under Chinese control had proved, up to 1910, inefficient and corrupt. [18] Nevertheless, so great was the economic development following the opening of the line, that in Chinese hands the Peking-Hankow railway yielded a profit.

The Railway systems

The main scheme of the railway systems of China is simple. It consists of lines, more or less parallel, running roughly north and south, linked by cross lines with coast ports, or abutting on navigable rivers. One great east and west line will run through central China, from Hankow to Sze-ch'uen. Connexion with Europe is afforded by the Manchuria-trans-Siberia main line, which has a general east and west direction. From Harbin on this railway a branch runs south to Mukden, which since 1908 has become an important railway centre. Thence one line goes due south to Port Arthur; another south-east to An-tung (on the Yalu) and Korea; a third south and west to Tientsin and Peking. A branch from the Mukden-Tientsin line goes round the head of the Gulf of Liao-tung and connects Niu-chwang with the Mukden-Port Arthur line. By this route it is 470 m. from Peking to Niu-chwang.

From Peking the trunk line (completed in 1905) runs south through the heart of China to Hankow on the Yangtsze-kiang. This section (754 m. long) is popularly known as "the Lu-Han line," from the first part of the names of the terminal stations. The continuation south of this line from Hankow to Canton was in 1910 under construction. Thus a great north and south connexion nearly 2000 m. long is established from Canton to Harbin. From Mukden southward the line is owned and worked by China.

A railway (German concession) starts from Kiao-chow and runs westward through Shan-tung to Chinan Fu, whence an extension farther west to join the main Lu-Han line at Cheng-ting Fu in Chih-li was undertaken. Westward from Cheng-ting Fu a line financed by the Russo-Chinese Bank runs to T'ai-yuen Fu in Shan-si.

Another main north and south railway parallel to, but east of, the Lu-Han line and following more or less the route of the Grand Canal, is designed to connect Tientsin, Su-chow (in Kiang-su), Chin-kiang, Nanking, Shanghai, Hang-chow and Ning-po. The southern section (Nanking, Shanghai, etc.) was open in 1909. This Tientsin-Ning-po railway connects at Chinan-Fu with the Shan-tung lines.

A third north and south line starts from Kiu-Kiang on the Yangtsze below Hankow and traversing the centre of Kiang-si province will join the Canton-Hankow line at Shao-Chow in Kwang-tung province. The construction of the first section, Kiu-Kiang to Nanchang (76 m.), began in 1910.

In southern China besides the main Canton to Hankow railway (under construction) a line (120 m. long) runs from Canton to Kowloon (opposite Hong-Kong), and there are local lines running inland from Swatow and Fuchow. The French completed in 1909 a trunk line (500 m. long) from Haiphong in Tong King to Yun-nan Fu, the capital of Yun-nan, some 200 m. being in Chinese territory. The French hold concessions for railways in Kwang-si and Kwang-tung. The British government has the right to extend the Burma railway system through Yun-nan and north to the Yangtsze.

There are local lines in Hu-nan and Ho-nan which connect with the trunk line from Canton to Peking. The Peking-Kalgan line (122 m. long) is a distinct undertaking. The Chinese propose to continue it another 530 m. north-westward to Urga in Mongolia, and an eventual junction with the trans-Siberian railway in the neighbourhood of Lake Baikal is contemplated. This line would greatly shorten the distance between Moscow and Peking.

In 1910 there were open for traffic in China (not reckoning the Russian and Japanese systems in Manchuria, q.v.) over 3000 m. of railway, and 1500 m. of trunk lines were under construction.

Roads, rivers, and canals

China is traversed in all directions by roads. Very few are paved of metalled and nearly all are badly kept; speaking generally, the government spends nothing in keeping either the roads or canals in repair. The roads in several instances are subsidiary to the canals and navigable rivers as a means of communication. The ancient trade routes were twelve in number, viz. [19] : -

1. The West river route (W. from Canton).

2. The Cheling Pass route (N.W. from Canton).

3. The Meiling Pass route (N. from Canton).

4. The Min river route (N.W. from Fu-chow).

5. The Lower Yangtsze route (as far W. as Hu-peh and Hu-nan).

6. The Upper Yangtsze route (from I'chang to Sze-ch'uen).

7. The Kwei-chow route.

8. The Han river route (Hankow to Shen-si).

9. The Grand Canal (already described).

10. The Shan-si route.

11. The Kiakhta route.

12. The Manchurian route.

Of the routes named, that by the West river commands the trade of Kwang-si and penetrates to Yun-nan (where it now has to meet the competition of the French railway from Tong King) and Kwei-chow. The Cheling Pass route from Canton is so named as it crosses that pass (1500 ft. high) to reach the water-ways of Hu-nan at Chen-chow on an affluent of the Siang, and thus connects with the Yangtsze. The trade of this route - whence in former times the teas of Hu-nan (Oonam) and Hu-peh (Oopaek) reached Canton - has been largely diverted via Shanghai and up the Yangtsze. The Canton-Hankow railway also supersedes it for through traffic. The route by the Meiling Pass (1000 ft. High) links Canton and Kiu-kiang. This route is used by the King-te Chen porcelain works to send, to Canton the commoner ware, there to be painted with florid and multicoloured designs. The Min river route serves mainly the province of Fu-kien. The Lower Yangtsze is a river route, now mainly served by steamers (though the salt is still carried by junks), and the Upper Yangtsze is a river route also, but much more difficult of navigation. The Kwei-chow route is up the river Yuen from Changte and the Tung-t'ing lake. The Han river route becomes beyong Sing-nagn Fu a land route over the Tsingling mountains to the capital of Shen-si, and thence on to Kan-suh, Mongolia and Siberia. The Shan-si route from Peking, wholly by road, calls for no detailed account; the Manchurian route is now adequately served by railways. There remains the important Kiakhta route. From Peking it goes to Kalgan (this section is now served by a railway), whence the main route traverses Mongolia, while branches serve Shan-si, Shen-si, Kan-suh, Turkestan, etc. By this route go the caravans bearing tea to Siberia and Russia. Other routes are from Yun-nan to Burma and from Sze-ch'uen province to Tibet.

The government maintains a number of courier roads, which, like the main trade roads, keep approximately to a straight line. These courier roads are sometimes cut in the steep sides of mountains or run through them in tunnels. They are, in the plains, 20 to 25 ft. wide and are occasionally paved. The chief courier roads starting from Peking go to Sze-chu'en, Yun-nan, Kweilin (in Kwang-si), Canton and Fu-chow. Canals are numerous, especially in the deltas of the Yangtsze and Si-kiang.

In the centre and south of China the roads are rarely more than 5 ft. broad and wheeled traffic is seldom possible. Bridges are generally of stone, sometimes of wood; large rivers are crossed by bridges of boats. In the north carts drawn by ponies, mules or oxen are employed; in the centre and south passengers travel in sedan-chairs or in wheelbarrows, or ride on ponies. Occasionally the local authorities employ the corvOøΩe system to dig out the bed of a canal, but as a rule roads are left to take care of themselves.

Posts and Telegraphs. - Every important city is now connected by telegraph with the capital, and the service is reasonably efficient. In 1907 there were 25,913 m. of telegraph lines. Connexion is also established with the British lines in Burma and the Russian lines in Siberia. The Great Northern Telegraph Company (Danish) and the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company (British) connect Shanghai by cable with Hong-Kong, Japan, Singapore and Europe. An imperial postal service was established in 1896 under the general control of the maritime customs. [20] By an edict of November 1906 the control of the postal services was transferred to the Board of Communication. The Post Office serves all the open ports, and every important city in the interior. There were in 1910 some 4000 native post-offices, employing 15,000 persons, of whom about 200 only were foreigners. The treaty powers however, still maintain their separate post offices at Shanghai, and several other treaty ports for the despatch and receipt of mails from Europe. During the years 1901-1908 mail matters increased from ten millions to two hundred and fifty-two millions of items; and the 250 tons of parcels handled to 27,155 tons. In postal matters China has adopted a most progressive attitude. The imperial post conforms in all respects to the universal Postal Union regulations.

(G. J.; X.)

Government and Administration

Changes in the traditional form of government in China - an autocracy based on parental rule - were initiated in 1905 when a commission was appointed to study the forms of government in other countries. [21] On the 1st of September 1906 an imperial edict was issued in which the establishment of parliamentary institutions in China was foreshadowed. In 1907 an advisory council - as a sort of stepping-stone to representative government - was established by another edict. On the 27th of August 1908 an edict announced the convocation of a parliament in the ninth year from that date. An edict of the 3rd of December 1908 reaffirmed that of the 27th of August. An edict of the 31st of October 1909 fixed the classes from which an Imperial Assembly (or Senate) was to be selected, and an edict of the 9th of May 1910 gave the names of the senators, all of whom had been nominated by the throne. The assembly as thus constituted consisted of 200 members drawn from eight classes: (1) princes and nobles of the imperial house - 16 members; (2) Manchu and Chinese nobles - 12 members; (3) princes and nobles of dependencies - 14 members; (4) imperial clansmen other than those mentioned - 6 members; (5) Peking officials - 32 members; (6) eminent scholars - 10 members; (7) exceptional property owners - 10 members; (8) representatives of provincial assemblies - 100 members. The national assembly, which was opened by the regent on the 3rd of October 1910, thus contained the elements of a two-chambered parliament. The edict summoning the assembly contained the following exhortations: -

The members should understand that this assemblage of the senate is an unprecedented undertaking in China and will be the forerunner of the creation of a parliament. They are earnestly desired to devote to it their patriotism and sincerity, to observe proper order, and to fulfil their duties in representing public opinion. Thus it is hoped that our sincere wish to effect constitutional reforms in their proper order and to aim at success may be duly satisfied.

Concurrently with these steps towards a fundamental alteration in the method of government, changes were made in many departments of the state, and an elective element was introduced into the provincial administrations. The old conception of government with such modifications as had been made up to 1910 are set forth below.

The laws of the state prescribe the government of the country to be based on the government of the family. [22] The emperor is the sole and supreme head of the state, his will being absolute alike in the highest affairs and in the humblest details of private life. The highest form of legislation was an imperial decree, whether promulgated in general terms or to meet a special case. In either form it was the law of the land, and no privilege or prescriptive right could be pleaded against it. All officers of state, all judges and magistrates, hold their offices entirely at the imperial pleasure. They can be dismissed, degraded, punished, without reason assigned and without form of trial - even without knowing by whom or of what they are accused. The monarch has an advisory council, but he is not bound by its advice, nor need he pretend that he is acting by and with its advice and concurrence. This condition of affairs dates back to a primitive state of society, which probably existed among the Chinese who first developed a civilized form of government. That this system should have been maintained in China through many centuries is a fact into the causes of which it is worth while to inquire. We find it pictured in the records which make up the Book of History, and we find it enforced in the writings of the great apostle of patriarchal institutions, Confucius, and in all the other works which go to make up the Confucian Canon. The reverence with which these scriptures are viewed was the principal means of perpetuating the primitive form of Chinese imperialism. The contents of their pages formed the study of every schoolboy, and supplied the themes at the competitive examinations through which every one had to pass who sought an official career. Thus the mind of the nation was constantly and almost exclusively turned towards them, and their dogmas became part and parcel of the national training. The whole theory of government is the embodiment of parental love and filial piety. As the people are the children of the emperor, so is he the T'ien-tsze or the Son of Heaven.

The emperor

In practice the arbitrary power of the emperor is tempered in several ways. Firstly, although the constitution conferred this absolute and unchecked power on the emperor, it was not for his gratification but that he might exercise it for the good of his people. He rules by divine authority, and as the vicegerent of heaven upon earth. If he rules corruptly or unjustly, heaven will send disasters and calamity on the people as a reproof; if the rule becomes tyrannical, heaven may withdraw its favour entirely, and then rebellion may be justified. The Manchu dynasty came to the throne as foreign conquerors, nevertheless they base their right to rule, not on the power of the sword, but on divine approval. On this moral ground they claim the obedience of their subjects, and submit themselves to the corresponding obligations. The emperor, unless he has gained the throne by conquest, is selected by his predecessor or by the imperial family in conclave. He is usually a son (but seldom the eldest son) of his predecessor, and need not be the child of the empress-consort, [23] though (other things being equal) a son of the empress is preferred. Failing a son another prince of the imperial house is chosen, the choice being properly among the princes of a generation below that of the preceding emperor, so that the new emperor may be adopted as the son of his predecessor, and perform for him the due ceremonies at the ancestral tablets. Apart from this ancestor-worship the emperor worships only at the Altar of Heaven, leaving Buddhism, Taoism, and any other form of worship to his subjects. The emperor's sacrifices and prayers to heaven are conducted with great parade and ceremony. The chief of these state observances is the sacrifice at the winter solstice, which is performed before sunrise on the morning of the 21st of December at the Temple of Heaven. The form of the altar is peculiar.

"It consists of a triple circular terrace, 210 ft. wide at the base, 150 in the middle, and 90 at the top.... The emperor, with his immediate suite, kneels in front of the tablet of Shang-ti (The Supreme Being, or Heaven), and faces the north. The platform is laid with marble stones, forming nine concentric circles; the inner circle consists of nine stones, cut so as to fit with close edges round the central stone, which is a perfect circle. Here the emperor kneels, and is surrounded first by the circles of the terraces and their enclosing walls, and then by the circle of the horizon. He then seems to himself and to his court to be in the centre of the universe, and turning to the north, assuming the attitude of a subject, he acknowledges in prayer and by his position that he is inferior to heaven, and to heaven alone. Round him on the pavement are the nine circles of as many heavens, consisting of nine stones, then eighteen, then twenty-seven, and so on in successive multiples of nine till the square of nine, the favourite number of Chinese philosophy, is reached in the outermost circle of eighty-one stones."

On this occasion, also, a bullock of two years old, and without blemish, is offered as a whole burnt-offering in a green porcelain furnace which stands close beside the altar. The emperor's life is largely occupied with ceremonial observances, and custom ordains that except on state occasions he should not leave the walls of the palace.

For his knowledge of public affairs the emperor is thus largely dependent upon such information as courtiers and high officers of state permit to reach him. [24] The palace eunuchs have often exercised great power, though their influence has been less under the Manchus than was the case during previous dynasties. Though in theory the throne commands the services and money of all its subjects yet the crown as such has no revenues peculiarly its own. It is dependent on contributions levied through the high officials on the several provinces, subject always to the will of the people, and without their concurrence and co-operation nothing can be done. [25] The power of the purse and the power of the sword are thus exercised mediately, and the autocratic power is in practice transferred to the general body of high functionaries, or to that clique which for the time being has the ear of the emperor, and is united enough and powerful enough to impose its will on the others.

China governed by its civil service

The functionaries who thus really wield the supreme power are almost without exception civil officials. Naturally the court has shown an inclination to choose Manchu rather than Chinese, but of late years this preference has become less marked, and in the imperial appointments to provincial administrations the proportion of Manchus chosen was at the beginning of the 20th century not more than one-fifth of the whole number. The real reason for this change is the marked superiority of the Chinese, in whose hands the administration is stated to be safer for the Manchu dynasty. Practically all the high Chinese officials have risen through the junior ranks of the civil service, and obtained their high position as the reward - so it must be presumed - of long and distinguished public service.

Functions of the central government

Through the weakness of some of the emperors the functions of the central government gradually came to be to check the action of the provincial governments rather than assume a direct initiative in the conduct of affairs. "The central government may be said to criticize rather than to control the action of the provincial administrations, wielding, however, at all times the power of immediate removal from his post of any official whose conduct may be found irregular or considered dangerous to the stability of the state." [26] This was written in 1877, and since then the pressure of foreign nations has compelled the central government to assume greater responsibilities, and the empire is now ruled from Peking in a much more effective manner than was the case when Lord Napier in 1834 could find no representative of the central government with whom to transact business.

If the central authorities take the initiative, and issue orders to the provincial authorities, it, however, does not follow that they will be carried out. The orders, if unwelcome, are not directly disobeyed, but rather ignored, or specious pleas are put forward, showing the difficulty or impossibility of carrying them out at that particular juncture. The central government always wields the power of removing or degrading a recalcitrant governor, and no case has been known where such an order was not promptly obeyed. But the central government, being composed of officials, stand by their order, and are extremely reluctant to issue such a command, especially at the bidding of a foreign power. Generally the opinion of the governors and viceroys has great weight with the central government.

Under the Ming dynasty the Nuiko or Grand Secretariat formed the supreme council of the empire. It is now of more honorific than actual importance. Active membership is limited to six persons, namely, four grand secretaries and two assistant grand secretaries, half of whom, according to a general rule formerly applicable to nearly all the high offices in Peking, must be Manchu and half Chinese. It constitutes the imperial chancery or court of archives, and admission to its ranks confers the highest distinction attainable by Chinese officials, though with functions that are almost purely nominal. Members of the grand secretariat are distinguished by the honorary title of Chung-t'ang. The most distinguished viceroys are usually advanced to the dignity of grand secretary while continuing to occupy their posts in the provinces. The best known of recent grand secretaries was Li Hung-chang.

Under the Manchu dynasty the Grand Council (ChOøΩn Chi Ch'u) became the actual privy council of the sovereign, in whose presence its members daily transacted the business of the state. This council is composed of a small knot of men holding various high offices in the government boards at Peking. The literal meaning of ChOøΩn Chi Ch'u is "place of plans for the army," and the institution derives its name from the practice established by the early emperors of the Manchu dynasty of treating public affairs on the footing of a military council. The usual time of transacting business is from 4 to 6 a.m. In addition to the grand council and the grand secretariat there were boards to supervise particular departments. By a decree of the 6th of November 1906 the central administration was remodelled, subsequent decrees making other changes. The administration in 1910 was carried on by the following agencies: -

A. Councils. - (1)The grand council. Its title was modified in 1906 and it is now known as the Grand Council of State Affairs or Privy Council. It has no special function, but deals with all matters of general administration and is presided over by the emperor (or regent). (2) The Grand Secretariat. This body gained no increase of power in 1906. (3) The advisory council or senate (Tu ChOøΩng Yuen) created in 1907 and containing representatives of each province. It includes all members of the grand council and the grand secretariat and the heads of all the executive departments. [27] The members of these three bodies form advisory cabinets to the emperor.

B. Boards. - Besides boards concerned with the affairs of the court there were, before the pressure of foreign nations and the movement for reform caused changes to be made, six boards charged with the conduct of public affairs. They were: (1) Li Pu, the Board of Civil Appointments, controlling all appointments in the civil service from the rank of district magistrate upwards. (2) Hu Pu, the Board of Revenue, dealing with all revenues which reached the central government. (3) Li Pu, the Board of Ceremonies. (4) Ping Pu, the Board of War. It controlled the provincial forces. The Manchu forces were an independent organization attached to the palace. (5) Hsing Pu, the Board of Punishments. It dealt with the criminal law only, especially the punishment of officials guilty of malpractices. (6) Kung Pu, the Board of Works. Its work was limited to the control of the construction and repair of official residences.

As rearranged and enlarged there are now the following boards, given in order of precedence: -

1. Wai-wu Pu. - This was established in 1901 in succession to the Tsung-li YamOøΩn, [28] which was created in 1861 after the Anglo-Chinese War in 1860 as a board for foreign affairs. Previous to that war, which established the right of foreign powers to have their representatives in Peking, all business with Western nations was transacted by provincial authorities, chiefly the viceroy at Canton. The only department at Peking which dealt specially with foreign affairs was the Li Fan Yuen, or board of control for the dependencies, which regulated the affairs of Mongolia, Tibet and the tributary states generally. With the advent of formally accredited ambassadors from the European powers something more than this was required, and a special board was appointed to discuss all questions with the foreign envoys. The number was originally four, with Prince Kung, a brother of the emperor Hien FOøΩng, at their head. It was subsequently raised to ten, another prince of the blood, Prince Ching, becoming president. The members were spoken of collectively as the prince and ministers. For a long time the board had no real power, and was looked on rather as a buffer between the foreign envoys and the real government. The importance of foreign affairs, however, especially since the Japanese War, identified the YamOøΩn more with the grand council, several of the most prominent men being members of both. At the same time that the Tsung-li YamOøΩn was created, two important offices were established in the provinces for dealing with foreign commercial questions, viz. the superintendencies of trade for the northern and southern ports. The negotiations connected with the Boxer outbreak proved so conclusively that the machinery to the Tsung-li YamOøΩn was of too antiquated a nature to serve the new requirements, that it was determined to abolish the YamOøΩn and to substitute for it a board (Pu) to be styled the Wai-wu Pu, or "board of foreign affairs."

2. Board of Civil Appointments.

3. Board of Home Affairs.

4. Board of Finance and Paymaster General's Department.

5. Board of Ceremonies.

6. Army Board or Ministry of War (instituted 1906). [29]

7. Board of Judicature.

8. Board of Agriculture, Works and Commerce (instituted 1903).

9. Board of dependencies.

10. Board of Education (instituted 1903).

11. Board of Communications (instituted 1906).

Each board has one president and two vice-presidents, with the exception of the Wai-wu Pu, which has a comptroller-general and two presidents, and the Boards of War and Education, each of which has a comptroller-general in addition to the president. According to the decree of 1906 no distinction, in filling up the various boards, is to be made between Manchu and Chinese.

Besides the boards named there are other departments of state, some of them not limited to any one branch of the public service. The more important are those that follow: -

The Censorate (Tu Ch'a Yuen). - An institution peculiar to China. The constitution provides a paid body of men whose duty it is to inform the emperor of all facts affecting the welfare of the people and the conduct of government, and in particular to keep an eye on the malfeasance of his officers. These men are termed Yu shih (imperial recorder), generally translated censors. Their office has existed since the 3rd century B.C. The body consists of two presidents, a Chinese and a Manchu, 24 supervising censors attached to the ministries at Peking, and 56 censors, divided into fifteen divisions, each division taking a particular province or area, so as to embrace the whole eighteen provinces, besides one metropolitan division. The censors are privileged to animadvert on the conduct even of the emperor himself; to censure the manner in which all other officials perform or neglect their duties and to denounce them to the throne. They receive appeals made to the emperor, either by the people against the officials or by subordinate officials against their superiors. They exercise, in accord with the Board of Justice, an oversight over all criminal cases and give their opinion whenever the death penalty is to be pronounced. They superintend the working of the different boards and are sometimes sent to various places as imperial inspectors, hence they are called OøΩrh mu kuan (the eyes and ears of the emperor). The censors exercise their office at times with great boldness; [30] their advice if unpalatable may be disregarded and the censor in question degraded. The system of the censorate lends itself to espionage and to bribery, and it is said to be more powerful for mischief than for good. With the growth in influence of the native press the institution appears to lose its raison d'OøΩtre.

The grand court of revision (Ta-li sze) or Court of Cassation exercises, in conjunction with the Board of Justice and the Censorate, a general supervision over the administration of the criminal law. These bodies are styled collectively San-fah sze (the Three High Justices).

The Hanlin College (Hanlin Yuen, literally Forest of Pencils) is composed of all the literate who have passed the palace examination and obtained the title of Hanlin or imperial academist. It has two chancellors - a Manchu and a Chinese. Its functions are of a purely literary character and it is of importance chiefly because the heads of the college, who are presumably the most eminent scholars of the empire, have the right of advising the throne on all public affairs, and are eligible as members of the grand council or of the Wai-wu Pu. The Chinese set fire to it during the fighting in Peking in June 1900 in the hope of burning out the adjoining British legation. The whole of the library, containing some of the most valuable manuscripts in the world, was destroyed.

Provincial government

Each of the eighteen provinces of China proper, the three provinces of Manchuria and the province of Sin-kiang are ruled by a viceroy placed over one, two and in one instance three provinces, or by a governor over a single province either under a viceroy or depending directly on the central government, the viceroy or the governor being held responsible to the emperor for the entire administration, political, judicial, military and fiscal. The most important viceroyalties are those of Chih-li, Liang-kiang and Liang-kwang. The viceroyalty of Liang-kiang comprises the provinces of Kiang-su, Ngan-hui and Kiang-si. The viceroy resides at Nanking and hence is sometimes called the viceroy of Nanking. Similarly the viceroy of Liang-kwang (comprising the provinces of Kwang-tung and Kwang-si) through having his residence at Canton is sometimes styled the viceroy of Canton. The three provinces adjoining the metropolitan province of Chih-li - Shan-tung, Shan-si and Ho-nan - have no viceroys over them; seven provinces - including Chih-li - have no governors, the viceroy officiating as governor. In provinces where there are both a viceroy and a governor they act conjointly, but special departments are administered by the one rather than the other. The viceroy controls the military and the salt tax; the governor the civil service generally.

The viceroy or governor is assisted by various other high officials, all of whom down to the district magistrate are nominated from Peking. The chief officials are the treasurer, the judicial commissioner or provincial judge, and the commissioner of education (this last post being created in 1903). The treasurer controls the finances of the whole province, receiving the taxes and paying the salaries of the officials. The judge, the salt commissioner, and the grain collector are the only other officials whose authority extends over the whole province. Each province is subdivided into prefectures ruled by prefects, and each prefecture into districts ruled by a district magistrate, Chih-hsien, the official through whom the people in general receive the orders of the government. Two or more prefectures are united into a tao or circuit, the official at the head of which is called a Taot'ai. Each town and village has also its unofficial governing body of "gentry." [31] The officials appointed from Peking hold office for three years, but they may be re-appointed once, and in the case of powerful viceroys they may hold office for a prolonged period. Another rule is that no official is ever appointed to a post in the province of his birth; a rule which, however, did not apply to Manchuria. The Peking authorities take care also in making the high appointments to send men of different political parties to posts in the same province.

The edict of the 6th of November 1906 initiating changes in the central administration was accompanied by another edict outlining changes in the provincial government, and an edict of the 22nd of July 1908 ordered the election of provincial assemblies. The edict made it clear that the functions of the assemblies were to be purely consultative. The elections took place according to the regulations, the number of members allotted to each province varying from 30 (Kirin province, Manchuria, and two others) to 140 in Chih-li. The franchise was restricted, but the returns for the first elections showed nearly 1000 voters for each representative. The first meetings of the assemblies were held in October 1909.

The Civil Service. - The bureaucratic element is a vital feature in the government of China, the holding of office being almost the only road to distinction. Officials are by the Chinese called collectively Kwan (rulers or magistrates) but are known to foreigners as mandarins (q.v.). The mandarins are divided into nine degrees, distinguished by the buttons worn on the top of their caps. These are as follows: - first and highest, a plain red button; second, a flowered red button; third, a transparent blue button; fourth, an opaque blue button; fifth, an uncoloured glass button; sixth, an opaque white shell button; seventh, a plain gilt button; eighth, a gilt button with flowers in relief; ninth, a gilt button with engraved flowers. The buttons indicate simply rank, not office. The peacock feathers worn in their hats are an order granted as reward of merit, and indicate neither rank nor office. The Yellow Jacket similarly is a decoration, the most important in China.

The ranks of the civil service are recruited by means of examinations. Up to the beginning of 1906 the subjects in which candidates were examined were purely Chinese and literary with a smattering of history. In 1906 this system was modified and an official career was opened to candidates who had obtained honours in an examination in western subjects (see OøΩ Education). The old system is so closely identified with the life of China that some space must be devoted to a description of it.

As a general rule students preparing for the public examination read with private tutors. There were neither high schools nor universities where a regular training could be got. In most of the provincial capitals, and at some other places, there were indeed institutions termed colleges, supported to some extent from public funds, where advanced students could prosecute their studies; but before the movement initiated by the viceroy Chang Chih-tung after the China-Japan War of 1894, they hardly counted as factors in the national education. The private tutors, on the other hand, were plentiful and cheap. After a series of preliminary trials the student obtained his first qualification by examination held before the literary chancellor in the prefecture to which he belonged. This was termed the Siuts'ai, or licentiate's degree, and was merely a qualification to enter for the higher examinations. The number of licentiate degrees to be given was, however, strictly limited; those who failed to get in were set back to try again, which they might do as often as they pleased. There was no limit of age. Those selected next proceeded to the great examination held at the capital of each province, once in three years, before examiners sent from Peking for the purpose. Here again the number who passed was strictly limited. Out of 10,000 or 12,000 competitors only some 300 or 350 could obtain degrees. The others, as before, must go back and try again. This degree, termed ChOøΩ jOøΩn, or provincial graduate, was the first substantial reward of the student's ambition, and of itself qualified for the public service, though it did not immediately nor necessarily lead to active employment. The third and final examination took place at Peking, and was open to provincial graduates from all parts of the empire. Out of 6000 competitors entering for this final test, which was held triennially, some 325 to 350 succeeded in obtaining the degree of Chin shih, or metropolitan graduate. These were the finally selected men who became the officials of the empire.

Several other doors were, however, open by which admission to the ranks of bureaucracy could be obtained. In the first place, to encourage scholars to persevere, a certain number of those who failed to reach the chOøΩ jOøΩn, or second degree, were allowed, as a reward of repeated efforts, to get into a special class from which selection for office might be made. Further, the government reserved to itself the right to nominate the sons and grandsons of distinguished deceased public servants without examination. And, lastly, by a system of "recommendation," young men from favoured institutions or men who had served as clerks in the boards, might be put on the roster for substantive appointment. The necessities of the Chinese government also from time to time compelled it to throw open a still wider door of entry into the civil service, namely, admission by purchase. During the T'aip'ing rebellion, when the government was at its wits' end for money, formal sanction was given to what had previously been only intermittently resorted to, and since then immense sums of money have been received by the sale of patents of rank, to secure either admission to office or more rapid promotion of those already employed. As a result of this policy, the country has been saddled with thousands of titular officials far in excess of the number of appointments to be given away. Deserving men were kept waiting for years, while inferior and less capable officials were pushed ahead, because they had money wherewith to bribe their way. Nevertheless the purchase system admitted into the service a number of men free from that bigoted adherence to Confucian doctrine which characterizes the literary classes, and more in touch with modern progress.

All candidates who succeed in entering the official ranks are eligible for active employment, but as the number of candidates is far in excess of the number of appointments a period of weary waiting ensues. A few of the best scholars get admitted at once into the Hanlin college or into one or other of the boards at Peking. The rest are drafted off in batches to the various provinces to await their turn for appointment as vacancies occur. During this period of waiting they are termed "expectants" and draw no regular pay. Occasional service, however, falls in their way, as when they are commissioned for special duty in outlying districts, which they perform as Wei yuens, or deputies of the regular officials. The period of expectancy may be abridged by recommendation or purchase, and it is generally supposed that this last lever must invariably be resorted to to secure any lucrative local appointment. A poor but promising official is often, it is said, financed by a syndicate of relations and friends, who look to recoup themselves out of the customary perquisites which attach to the post. Appointments to the junior provincial posts are usually left to the provincial government, but the central government can always interfere directly. Appointments to the lucrative posts of customs, taot'ai, at the treaty ports are usually made direct from Peking, and the officer selected is neither necessarily nor usually from the provincial staff. It would perhaps be safe to say that this appointment has hitherto always been the result of a pecuniary arrangement of greater or less magnitude.

Bribery and torture

During the first five years (1906-1910) of the new method, by which candidates for the civil service were required, in addition to Chinese classics, to have a knowledge of western science, great efforts were made in several provinces to train up a better class of public official. The old system of administration had many theoretical excellencies, and there had been notable instances of upright administration, but the regulation which forbade a mandarin to hold any office for more than three years made it the selfish interest of every office-holder to get as much out of the people within his jurisdiction as he possibly could in that time. This corruption in high places had a thoroughly demoralizing effect. While among the better commercial classes Chinese probity in business relations with foreigners is proverbial, the people generally set little or no value upon truth, and this has led to the use of torture in their courts of justice; for it is argued that where the value of an oath is not understood, some other means must be resorted to to extract evidence.

Justice. - The Chih-Hsien or district magistrate decides ordinary police cases; he is also coroner and sheriff, he hears suits for divorce and breach of promise, and is a court of first instance in all civil cases; "the penalty for taking a case first to a higher court is fifty blows with the bamboo on the naked thigh." [32] Appeal from the Hsien court lies to the Fu, or prefectural court, and thence cases may be taken to the provincial judge, who signs death warrants, while there are final courts of appeal at Peking. Civil cases are usually settled by trade gilds in towns and by village elders, or by arbitration in rural districts. Reference has been made to the use of torture. Flogging is the only form of torture which has been allowed under the Manchus. The obdurate witness is laid on his face, and the executioner delivers his blows on the upper part of the thighs with the concave side of a split bamboo, the sharp edges of which mutilate the sufferer terribly. The punishment is continued until the man either supplies the evidence required or becomes insensible. Punishment by bamboo was formally abolished by imperial edict in 1905, and other judicial reforms were instituted. They remained largely inoperative, and even in Shanghai, under the eyes of foreign residents, gross cases of the infliction of torture occurred in 1909. [33]

For capital offences the usual modes of inflicting the extreme penalty of the law are - in bad cases, such as parricides, "cutting to pieces," and for less aggravated crimes either strangulation or decapitation. The culprit who is condemned to be "cut to pieces" is fastened to a cross, and while thus suspended cuts are made by the executioner on the fleshy parts of the body; and he is then beheaded. Strangulation is reserved for lesser degrees of guilt, it being considered a privilege to pass out of life with a whole body. When it has been granted to a criminal of rank thus to meet his end, a silken cord is sent to him at his own home. No explanatory message is considered necessary, and he is left to consummate his own doom. Popular sentiment regards decapitation as a peculiarly disgraceful mode of death. Constant practice makes the executioners wonderfully expert in the performance of their office. No block or resting-place for the head is used. The neck is simply outstretched to its full length by the aid of an assistant, and one blow invariably leaves the body headless.

Consular jurisdiction

The laws are in accord with the principle which regards the family as a unit. Thus there is no bankruptcy law - if a debtor's own estate will not suffice to pay his debts the deficiency must be made good by his relatives; if a debtor absconds his immediate family are imprisoned. By analogy if one member of a party commits an offence and the guilty person cannot be detected, the whole party must suffer. Foreigners residing in China resented the application of this principle of law to themselves. As a result extra-territorial rights were sought by European powers. They were secured by Russia as early as 1689, but it was not until 1843 that any other nation acquired them. In that year Great Britain obtained the right to try British subjects by its own consuls, a right secured in more explicit terms by the United States and France in 1844. Now eighteen powers, including Japan, have consular courts for the trial of their own subjects according to the laws of their native lands. Mixed courts have also been established, that is, a defendant is tried in the court of his own nationality, the court giving its decision under the supervision of a representative of the plaintiff's nationality. In practice the Chinese have seldom sent representatives to sit on the bench of consular courts, but, as the Europeans lack confidence in the administration of Chinese justice, no suit brought by a foreigner against a Chinese is decided without the presence of an assessor of the plaintiff's nationality.

Defence. - The Chinese constitution in the period before the reform edicts of 1905-1906 provided for two independent sets of military organizations - namely, the Manchu army and the several provincial armies. On the establishment of the dynasty in 1644 the victorious troops, composed mainly of Manchus, but including also Mongols and Chinese, were permanently quartered in Peking, and constituted a hereditary national army. The force was divided into eight banners, and under one or other of these all Manchus and all the descendants of the members of other nationalities were enrolled. They form the bulk of the population of the "Tatar city" of Peking. Each adult male was by birth entitled to be enrolled as a soldier, and by virtue of his enrolment had a right to draw rations - i.e. his allowance of the tribute rice, whether on active service or not. Detachments from one or other of the banners were stationed as garrisons in the chief provincial centres, as at Canton, Fuchow and Hang-chow, etc., and their descendants still occupy the same position. As a fighting force the Manchu garrisons both in the capital and in the provinces had long become quite effete. In the capital, however, the OøΩlite of the Manchu soldiery were formed into a special corps termed the Peking Field Force. Its nominal strength was 20,000, the men were armed and drilled after the European fashion, and fairly well paid. There were other corps of picked Manchus better paid and better armed than the ordinary soldier, and it was computed that in 1901 the Manchu army in or near Peking could muster 40,000, all more or less efficient.

The second organization was termed the army of the Green Standard, being the Chinese provincial forces. The nominal strength was from 20,000 to 30,000 for each province, or about 500,000 in all; the actual strength was about one-third of this. They were enrolled to keep the peace within their own province, and resembled a militia or local constabulary rather than a national army. They were generally poorly paid and equally badly drilled and armed.

The only real fighting force which China possessed at the beginning of the 20th century was made up of certain special corps which were not provided for in the constitution, and consequently used to be termed yung, "braves," or irregulars, but had acquired various distinctive names. They were enlisted by provincial governors, and all had some smattering of foreign drill. They were also fairly well paid and armed. After the Chino-Japanese War of 1894-95 some of these corps were quartered near Peking and Tientsin, and came generally to be spoken of as the Army of the North.

An imperial decree issued in 1901 after the Boxer rising ordered the reorganization of the military forces of the empire, and on provincial lines something was accomplished - especially in Chih-li under Yuan Shih-k'ai, who practically created "the Army of the North." It was not, however, until after the Russo-Japanese War that determined efforts were made to organize a national army on western lines; an army which should be responsible to the central government and not dependent upon the provincial administrations. A decree of 1905 provided (on paper) for training schools for officers in each of the provinces, middle grade military schools in selected provinces, and a training college and military high school in Peking. The Army Board was reorganized and steps taken to form a general staff. Considerable progress had been made by 1910 in the evolution of a body of efficient officers. In practice the administration remained largely provincial - for instance the armament of the troops was provided by the provincial governors and was far from uniform. The scheme [34] contemplated the creation of a force about 400,000 strong in 36 divisions and in two armies, the northern and the southern. Recruitment is on the voluntary principle, except in the case of the Manchus, who apparently enter the new army instead of the "eight banners." The terms of service are three years with the colours, three in the reserve and four in the territorial army. The Japanese system of training is followed. Reservists are called out for 30 days every year and the territorialists for 30 days every other year.

Up to 1909 six divisions and one mixed brigade of the northern army had been organized in Shan-tung, Chih-li and Ho-nan; elsewhere three divisions and six mixed brigades; total strength about 60,000 with 350 guns. (These figures do not include all the provincial foreign trained troops.) The efficiency of the troops varied; the northern army was superior to the others in training and armament. About a third of the 60,000 men of the new army were in 1909 stationed in Manchuria (See also OøΩ History.)

An imperial edict of the 15th of September 1907 reorganized the army of the Green Standard. It was placed under the control of the minister of war and formed in battalions and squadrons. The duty of the troops in peace time remained much as previously. In war they pass under the control of regular officers, though their use outside their own provinces does not seem to be contemplated.

The Chinese navy in 1909 consisted of the 4300 ton cruiser "Hai Chi" (two 8-in., ten 4.7-in. guns) of 24 knot original speed, three 3000 ton cruisers, "Hai Yung," "Hai Schew" and "Hai Shen" (three 6-in., eight 4-in. guns) of 19.5 knot original speed, some modern gunboats built in Japan, a few miscellaneous vessels and some old torpedo boats. With the destruction of the northern fleet by the Japanese at the capture of Wei-hai-wei in 1895, the Chinese navy may be said to have ceased to exist. Previously it consisted of two divisions, the northern and southern, of which the former was by far the more formidable. The southern was under the control of the viceroy of Nanking, and took no part in the Chino-Japanese War. While the northern fleet was grappling in a death-struggle, the southern was lying snugly in the Yangtsze waters, the viceroy of Nanking apparently thinking that as the Japanese had not attacked him there was no reason why he should risk his ships.

The New Scheme. - An edict of the 15th of July 1909 created a naval and military advisory board. Nimrod Sound, centrally situated on the coast of Cheh-kiang, was chosen as naval base, and four naval schools were ordered to be established; a navigation school at Chifu, an engineering school at Whampoa, a school for naval artificers at Fuchow, and a gunnery and musketry school at Nimrod Sound. A superior naval college was founded at Peking. The coast defences were placed under the control of the naval department, and the reorganization of the dockyards undertaken. During 1910 orders for cruisers were placed abroad.

Arsenals and Dockyards. - After the loss of Port Arthur, China possessed no dockyard which could dock vessels over 3000 tons. Many years ago the Chinese government established at Fuchow a shipbuilding yard, placing it in the hands of French engineers. Training schools both for languages and practical navigation were at the same time organized, and a training ship was procured and put under the command of a British naval officer. Some twenty-five or thirty small vessels were built in the course of as many years, but gradually the whole organization was allowed to fall into decay. Except for petty repairs this establishment was in 1909 valueless to the Chinese government. There were also small dockyards at Kiang-nan (near Shanghai), Whampoa and Taku. There are well-equipped arsenals at Shanghai and at Tientsin, but as they are both placed up shallow rivers they are useless for naval repairs. Both are capable of turning out heavy guns, and also rifles and ammunition in large quantities. There are also military arsenals at Nanking, Wuchang, Canton and ChOøΩngtu.

Forts. - A great number of forts and batteries have been erected along the coast and at the entrance to the principal rivers. Chief among these, now that the Taku forts formerly commanding the entrance to Tientsin have been demolished, are the Kiangyin forts commanding the entrance to the Yangtsze, the Min forts at the entrance of the Fuchow river, and the Bogue forts at the entrance to the Canton river. These are supplied with heavy armament from the Krupp and Armstrong factories.


In fiscal matters, as for many other purposes, the Chinese empire is an agglomeration of a number of quasi-independent units. Each province has a complete administrative staff, collects its own revenue, pays its own civil service, and other charges placed upon it, and out of the surplus contributes towards the expenses of the imperial government a sum which varies with the imperiousness of the needs of the latter and with its own comparative wealth or poverty. The imperial government does not collect directly any part of the revenues, unless the imperial maritime customs be excepted, though these, too, pass through the books of the provincial authorities. [35]

It has hitherto been extremely difficult to obtain anything like trustworthy figures for the whole revenue of China, for the reason that no complete statistics are published by the central government at Peking. [36] The only available data are, first, the returns published by the imperial maritime customs for the duties levied on foreign trade; and, secondly, the memorials sent to Peking by the provincial authorities on revenue matters, certain of which are published from time to time in the Peking Gazette. These are usually fragmentary, being merely reports which the governor has received from his subordinates, detailing, as the case may be, the yield of the land tax or the likin for his particular district, with a dissertation on the causes which have made it more or less than for the previous period. Or the return may be one detailing the expenditure of such and such a department, or reporting the transmission of a sum in reply to a requisition of the board of revenue, with a statement of the source from which it has been met. It is only by collating these returns over a long period that anything like a complete statement can be made up. And even then these returns do not represent anything like the total of taxation paid by the people, but, as far as they go, they may be taken to represent the volume of taxation on which the Peking government can draw revenue.

The following table, taken from a memorandum by Sir Robert Hart, dated the 25th of March 1901, shows the latest official estimate (up to 1910) of the revenue and expenditure of China: -


Taels. [37]
Land tax 26,500,000
Provincial duties 1,600,000
Provincial receipts (various) 1,000,000
Grain commutation 3,100,000
Salt gabelle 13,500,000
Li-kin 16,000,000
Native customs 2,700,000
Maritime customs: -
General cargo 17,000,000
Foreign opium 5,000,000
Native opium 1,800,000
- - - -
Total 88,200,000


Provincial 20,000,000
Military and naval 35,000,000
Metropolitan 10,000,000
Bannermen (Manchu "soldiers") 1,380,000
Palace 1,100,000
Customs 3,600,000
Legations 1,000,000
River works 940,000
Railways 800,000
Loans 24,000,000
Contingent reserve 3,300,000
- - - -
Total 101,120,000

A calculation of revenue from all sources published by the Shanghai Shen Pao in 1908, apparently derived from official sources, gave a total revenue of 105,000,000 taels, or about 15 million sterling. This sum is obviously less than the actual figures. In 1907 Mr H.B. Morse, commissioner of customs and statistical secretary in the inspectorate general of customs, drew up the following table based on the amounts presumed to be paid by the tax payer: -

Administration. Provincial
Administration. Local
Taels. Taels. Taels.
I. Land Tax 25,887,000 67,060,000 9,315,000
II. Tribute 7,420,000 15,582,000 2,300,000
III. Native Customs 3,790,000 1,290,000 249,000
IV. Salt Gabelle 13,050,000 26,000,000 25,000,000
V. Miscellaneous 3,856,000 5,998,000 985,000
VI. Foreign Customs 31,169,000 3,942,000 1,230,000
VII. Li-kin 13,890,060 22,502,000 3,639,000
Total 99,062,000 142,374,000 42,718,000

Mr Morse adds that the grand total shown, taels 284,150,000 [38] "is an obviously insufficient sum on which to maintain the fabric of government in an empire like China, but it has been reached by calculations based on a few known facts and ... is offered as throwing some light on a subject veiled in obscurity." [39]

The service of the foreign debt, together with the pressure of other needs - such as the cost of education and the army - made more manifest than previously the chaos of the Chinese fiscal system. A scheme to reform the national finances was promulgated under an edict of the 11th of January 1909, but it did not appear to be of a practical character.

Sources of Revenue. I. Land Tax. - In China, as in most oriental countries, the land has from time immemorial been the mainstay of the revenue. In the early years of the present dynasty there was levied along with the land tax a poll tax on all adult males, but in 1712 the two were amalgamated, and the whole burden was thrown upon land, families not possessing land being thereafter exempted from taxation. At the same time it was decreed that the amount of the land tax as then fixed should be permanent and settled for all time coming. It would appear from the records that this promise has been kept as far as the central government has been concerned. In all its many financial difficulties it does not seem ever to have tried to increase the revenue by raising the land tax. The amount of tax leviable on each plot is entered on the title deed, and, once entered, it cannot be changed. [40] The tax on almost all lands is thus stated to be so much in silver and so much in rice, wheat or whatever the principal crop may be. Except in two provinces, however, the grain tax is now commuted and paid in silver. The exceptions are Kiang-su and Cheh-kiang, which still send forward their taxes in grain. The value of the grain forwarded (generally called tribute rice) is estimated at taels 6,500,000. The total collection in silver, as reported by the responsible officials, amounts in round numbers to taels 25,000,000. The total yield of the land tax, therefore, is taels 31,500,000, or say £4,725,000. It will readily be granted that for such a large country as China this is a very insignificant one. In India the land tax yields about £20,000,000, and China has undoubtedly a larger cultivated area, a larger population, and soil that is on the whole more fertile; but it is certain that this sum by no means represents the amounts actually paid by the cultivators. It is the sum which the various magistrates and collectors have to account for and remit in hard cash. But as nothing is allowed them for the costs of collection, they add on a percentage beforehand to cover the cost. This they usually do by declaring the taxes leviable not in silver, but in copper "cash", which indeed is the only currency that circulates in country places, and by fixing the rate of exchange to suit themselves. Thus while the market rate is, say, 1500 cash to the tael, they declare by general proclamation that for tax-paying purposes cash will be received at the rate of 3500 or 4000 to the tael. Thus while the nominal land tax in silver remains the same it is in effect doubled or trebled, and, what is worse, no return is made or account required of the extra sums thus levied. Each magistrate or collector is in effect a farmer. The sum standing opposite the name of his district is the sum which he is bound to return under penalty of dismissal, but all sums which he can scrape together over and above are the perquisites of office less his necessary expenses. Custom, no doubt, sets bounds to his rapacity. If he went too far he would provoke a riot; but one may safely say there never is any reduction, what change can be effected being in the upward direction. According to the best information obtainable a moderate estimate of the sums actually paid by the cultivators would give two shillings per acre. This on an estimate of the area under cultivation should give for the eighteen provinces £19,000,000 as being actually levied, or more than four times what is returned.

2. The Salt Duty. - The trade in salt is a government monopoly. Only licensed merchants are allowed to deal in it, and the import of foreign salt is forbidden by the treaties. For the purpose of salt administration China is divided into seven or eight main circuits, each of which has its own sources of production. Each circuit has carefully defined boundaries, and salt produced in one circuit is not allowed to be consigned into or sold in another. There are great differences in price between the several circuits, but the consumer is not allowed to buy in the cheapest market. He can only buy from the licensed merchants in his own circuit, who in turn are debarred from procuring supplies except at the depot to which they belong. Conveyance from one circuit to another is deemed smuggling, and subjects the article to confiscation.

Duty is levied under two heads, the first being a duty proper, payable on the issue of salt from the depot, and the second being likin levied on transit or at the place of destination. The two together amount on an average to about taels 1.50 per picul of 133½ lb or 3s. 9d. per cwt. The total collection returned by the various salt collectorates amounts to taels 13,500,000 (£2,025,000) per annum. The total consumption of salt for all China is estimated at 25 million piculs, or nearly 1½ million tons, which is at the rate of 9 lb per annum per head of the population. If the above amount of taels 1.50 were uniformly levied and returned, the revenue would be 37½ million taels instead of 13½. In this calculation, however, no allowance is made for the cost of collection.

3. Likin on General Merchandise. - By the term likin is meant a tax on inland trade levied while in transit from one district to another. It was originally a war tax imposed as a temporary measure to meet the military expenditure required by the T'aip'ing and Mahommedan rebellions of 1850-1870. It is now one of the permanent sources of income, but at the same time it is in form as objectionable as a tax can be, and is equally obnoxious to the native and to the foreign merchant. Tolls or barriers are erected at frequent intervals along all the principal routes of trade, whether by land or water, and a small levy is made at each on every conceivable article of commerce. The individual levy is small, but over a long transit it may amount to 15 or 20%. The objectionable feature is the frequent stoppages with overhauling of cargo and consequent delays. By treaty, foreign goods may commute all transit dues for a single payment of one-half the import tariff duty, but this stipulation is but indifferently observed. It must also be remembered, per contra, that dishonest foreign merchants will take out passes to cover native-owned goods. The difficulty in securing due observance of treaty rights lies in the fact that the likin revenue is claimed by the provincial authorities, and the transit dues when commuted belong to the central government, so that the former are interested in opposing the commutation by every means in their power. As a further means of neutralizing the commutation they have devised a new form of impost, viz. a terminal tax which is levied on the goods after the termination of the transit. The amount and frequency of likin taxation are fixed by provincial legislation - that is, by a proclamation of the governor. The levy is authorized in general terms by an imperial decree, but all details are left to the local authorities. The yield of this tax is estimated at taels 13,000,000 (OøΩl,950,000), a sum which probably represents one-third of what is actually paid by the merchants, the balance being costs of collection.

4. Imperial Maritime Customs. - The maritime customs is the one department of finance in China which is managed with probity and honesty, and this it owes to the fact that it is worked under foreign control. It collects all the duties leviable under the treaties on the foreign trade of China, and also all duties on the coasting trade so far as carried on by vessels of foreign build, whether Chinese or foreign owned. It does not control the trade in native craft, the so-called junk trade, the duties on which are still levied by the native custom-house officials. By arrangement between the British and Chinese governments the foreign customs levy at the port of entry a likin on Indian opium of taels 80 per chest, in addition to the tariff duty of taels 30. This levy frees the opium from any further duty on transit into the interior. The revenue of the maritime customs rose from taels 8,200,000 in 1865 to taels 35,111,000 in 1905.

5. Native Customs, - The administration of the native customs continues to be similar to what prevailed in the maritime customs before the introduction of foreign supervision. Each collector is constituted a farmer, bound to account for a fixed minimum sum, but practically at liberty to retain all he may collect over and above. If he returns more he may claim certain honorary rewards as for extra diligence, but he generally manages to make out his accounts so as to show a small surplus, and no more. Only imperfect and fragmentary returns of the native collectorates have been published, but the total revenue accruing to the Chinese government from this source did not appear up to 1900 much to exceed two million taels (£300,000). In November 1901 native customs offices within 15 m. of a treaty port were placed under the control of the maritime customs, their revenues having been hypothecated for the service of the Boxer indemnity. The result was that the amount of the native customs collected by the commissioners of customs increased from taels 2,206,000 in 1902 to taels 3,699,000 in 1906.

6. Duty on Native Opium. - The collection of the duty on opium is in the hands of the provincial officials, but they are required to rendera separate account of duty and likin collected on the drug, and to hold the sum at the disposal of the board of revenue at Peking. The annual import into China of Indian opium used to amount to about 50,000 chests, the exact amount of opium imported in 1904 being 54,750 piculs, on which the Chinese government received from duty and likin combined about 5½ million taels (£825,000). The total amount of native-grown opium was estimated in 1901 at about 400,000 chests (53,000,000 lb), and if this were taxed at taels 60 per chest, which in proportion to its price was a similar rate to that levied on Indian opium, it should give a revenue of 24 million taels. Compared with this the sums actually levied, or at least returned by the local officials as levied, were insignificant. The returns gave a total levy for all the eighteen provinces of only taels 2,200,000 (£330,000). The anti-opium smoking campaign initiated by the Chinese government in 1905 affected the revenue both by the decreased importation of the drug and the decrease in the area under poppy cultivation in China. In 1908 the opium likin revenue had fallen to taels 3,800,000.

7. Miscellaneous. - Besides the main and regular sources of income, the provincial officials levy sums which must in the aggregate amount to a very large figure, but which hardly find a place in the returns. The principal are land transfer fees, pawnbrokers' and other licences, duties on reed flats, commutation of corvOøΩe and personal services, etc. The fee on land transfers is 3%, and it could be shown, from a calculation based on the extent and value of the arable land and the probable number of sales, that this item alone ought to yield an annual return of between one and two millions sterling. Practically the whole of this is absorbed in office expenses. Under this heading should also be included certain items which though not deemed part of the regular revenue, have been so often resorted to that they cannot be left out of account. These are the sums derived from sale of office or of brevet rank, and the subscriptions and benevolences which under one plea or another the government succeeds in levying from the wealthy. Excluding these, the government is always ready to receive subscriptions, rewarding the donor with a grant of official rank entitling him to wear the appropriate "button." The right is much sought after, and indeed there are very few Chinamen of any standing that are not thus decorated, for not only does the button confer social standing, but it gives the wearer certain very substantial advantages in case he should come into contact with the law courts. The minimum price for the lowest grade is taels 120 (£18), and more of course for higher grades. The proceeds of these sales go directly to the Peking government, and do not as a rule figure in the provincial returns. The total of the miscellaneous items accruing for the benefit of the government is estimated at taels 5,500,000.

Expenditure. - In regard to expenditure a distinction has to be drawn between that portion of the revenue which is controlled by the central government, and that controlled by the several provincial authorities. As the provinces collect the revenue, and as the authorities there are held responsible for the peace, order and good government of their respective territories, it follows that the necessary expenses of the provinces form a sort of first charge on the revenue. (As the tables given show, the provinces spend the greater part of the revenue collected.) The board of revenue at Peking, which is charged with a general supervision of finance matters all over the empire, makes up at the end of the year a general estimate of the funds that will be required for imperial purposes during the ensuing year, and apportions the amount among the several provinces and the several collectorates in each province. The estimate is submitted to the emperor, and, when sanctioned, instructions are sent to all the viceroys and governors in that sense, who, in turn, pass them on to their subordinate officers. In ordinary times these demands do not materially vary from year to year, and long practice has created a sort of equilibrium between imperial and provincial demands. The remittances to the capital are, as a rule, forwarded with reasonable regularity, mostly in the form of hard cash. There is, however, a constant pull going on between Peking and the provinces - the former always asking for more, the latter resisting and pleading impecuniosity, yet generally able to find the amounts required. The expenses which the central government has to meet are: - (1) Imperial household; (2) pay of the Manchu garrison in and about Peking; (3) costs of the civil administration in the capital; (4) cost of the army so far as the expenses are not borne by the provinces; (5) naval expenses; [41] (6) foreign loans - interest and sinking fund. To meet all these charges the Peking government for several years up to 1900 drew on the provinces for about taels 20,000,000 (£3,000,000), including the value of the tribute rice, which goes to the support of the Manchu bannermen. [42] No estimates are furnished of the sums allowed under such heading. The imperial household appears to receive in silver about taels 1,500,000 (£225,000) but it draws besides large supplies in kind from the provinces, e.g. silks and satins from the imperial factories at Su-chow and Hangchow, porcelain from the Kiang-si potteries, etc., the cost of which is defrayed by the provinces. The imperial government has also at its disposal the revenue of the foreign customs. Prior to the Chino-Japanese war of 1894-95 this revenue, which, after allowing for the costs of collection, amounted to about 20,000,000 taels (£3,000,000), was nominally shared with the provinces in the proportion of four-tenths and six-tenths. The whole of the customs revenue is now pledged to foreign bondholders and absorbed by the service of the several loans. Besides supplying its own wants the imperial government has to provide for outlying portions of the empire which are unable to maintain themselves - (1) Manchuria, (2) Kan-suh and the central Asian dominion, (3) the south-western provinces of Yun-nan, Kwei-chow and Kwang-si. Manchuria, or, as it is termed, the north-east frontier defence, costs about taels 2,000,000 over and above its own resources. The central Asian territories constitute a drain on the imperial government of about taels 4,000,000 a year. This is met by subsidies from Sze-ch'uen, Shan-si, Ho-nan and other wealthy provinces. Yun-nan, Kwei-chow and Kwang-si require aids aggregating taels 2,000,000 to keep things going.

External Debt. - Prior to the war with Japan in 1894 the foreign debt of China was almost nil. A few trifling loans had been contracted at 7 and 8%, but they had been punctually paid off, and only a fraction of one remained. The expenses of the war, however, and the large indemnity of taels 230,000,000 (£34,500,000) which Japan exacted, forced China for the first time into the European market as a serious borrower. The sum of £6,635,000 was raised in 1894-1895 in four small loans at 6 or 7% interest. In 1895 a Franco-Russian loan of fr. 440,000,000 (£15,820,000) was raised in Paris. Two Anglo-German loans, each of £16,000,000 (one in 1896, the other in 1898) were raised through the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. The Franco-Russian loan bears 4% interest, the first Anglo-German 5%, the second 4½%. The foreign loans contracted up to 1900 amounted altogether to £54,455,000. The charges for interest and sinking fund, which amounted to over £3,000,000, were secured on the revenue of the maritime customs, and on the likin taxes of certain specified provinces. The net income from these two sources amounted to over taels 24,000,000, equivalent at existing rate of exchange to £3,400,000, which was amply sufficient.

Between 1899 and 1907 (both years inclusive) £12,200,000 was raised on loan for railway purposes. The charges on the first loan - for £2,300,000 - were secured on the revenue of the Imperial Northern railway, the interest being 5%. The same interest was secured on the other loans, save one for £1,000,000 in which the Hong Kong government was concerned, which bears 4% interest.

The foreign debt also includes the indemnities exacted in 1901 by the powers for the Boxer outrages. These indemnities, secured on imperial revenue, are divided into five series amounting altogether to £67,500,000, the amount payable on these indemnities (at 4% interest) in 1907 being £2,824,425. The burden of meeting this amount was apportioned between the eighteen provinces - the sums allocated ranging from taels 2,500,000 for Kiang-su to taels 300,000 for Kwei-chow. In 1909 the grand total of China's indebtedness exceeded £140,000,000 and the interest called for the payment of £7,427,450 in gold.

Banks and Banking. - Native banks for purposes of inland exchange are to be found in most large cities. They are private banks using their own capital, and seldom receiving deposits from the public. The best known are the Shan-si banks, which have branches all over the empire. They work on a small capital, seldom over £50,000 each, and do a small but profitable business by selling their drafts on distant places. None of them issues notes, although they are not debarred from doing so by law. They lend money on personal security, but do not advance against shipments of goods. In some places there are small local banks, usually called cash shops, which issue paper notes for small sums and lend money out on personal security. The notes never reach more than a very limited local circulation, and pass current merely on the credit of the institution. There is no law regulating the formation of banks or the issue of notes. Pawnshops occupy a prominent position in the internal economy of China. They lend on deposit of personality at very high rates, 18 and 24%, and they receive deposits of money from the public, usually allowing 6 to 10%. They are the real banks of deposit of the country, and the better class enjoy good credit. Foreign Banks do a large business at Shanghai and other treaty ports, and a Government Bank has been established at Peking.

Currency. - In the commercial treaty between Great Britain and China of 1902 China agreed to provide a uniform national coinage. An imperial decree of October 1908 commanded the introduction of a uniform tael currency; but another decree of May 1910 established a standard currency dollar weighing 72 candareens (a candareen is the 100th part of the tael ounce) and subsidiary coins of fixed values in decimal ratio. This decree properly enforced would introduce a much needed stability into the monetary system of China.

The actual currency (1910) consists of (l) Silver, which may be either uncoined ingots passing current by weight, or imported coins, Mexican dollars and British dollars; and (2) Copper "cash," which has no fixed relation to silver. The standard is silver, the unit being the Chinese ounce or tael, containing 565 grains. The tael is not a coin, but a weight. Its value in sterling consequently fluctuates with the value of silver; in 1870 it was worth about 6s. 8d., in 1907 it was worth 3s. 3d. [43] The name given in China to uncoined silver in current use is "sycee." It is cast for convenience sake into ingots weighing one to 50 taels. Its average fineness is 916.66 per 1000. When foreign silver is imported, say into Shanghai, it can be converted into currency by a very simple process. The bars of silver are sent to a quasi-public office termed the "Kung K'u," or public valuers, and by them melted down and cast into ingots of the customary size. The fineness is estimated, and the premium or betterness, together with the exact weight, is marked in ink on each ingot. The whole process only occupies a few hours, and the silver is then ready to be put into use. The Kung K'u is simply a local office appointed by the bankers of the place, and the weight and fineness are only good for that locality. The government takes no responsibility in the matter, but leaves merchants and bankers to adjust the currency as they please. For purposes of taxation and payment of duties there is a standard or treasury tael, which is about 10% heavier than the tael of commerce in use at Shanghai. Every large commercial centre has its own customary tael, the weight and therefore the value of which differ from that of every other. Silver dollars coined in Mexico, and British dollars coined in Bombay, also circulate freely at the open ports of trade and for some distance inland, passing at a little above their intrinsic value. Carolus dollars, introduced long ago and no longer coined, are retained in current use in several parts of the interior, chiefly the tea-growing districts. Being preferred by the people, and as the supply cannot be added to, they have reached a considerable premium above their intrinsic value. Provincial mints in Canton, Wuchang, and other places have issued silver coins of the same weight and touch as the Mexican dollar, but very few have gone into use. As they possess no privilege in debt-paying power over imported Mexican dollars there is no inducement for the people to take them up unless they can be had at a cheaper rate than the latter, and these are laid down at so small a cost above the intrinsic value that no profit is left to the mint. The coinage has in consequence been almost discontinued. Subsidiary coins, however, came largely into use, being issued by the local mints. One coin "the hundredth part of a dollar" proved very popular (the issue to the end of 1906 being computed at 12,500,000,000), but at rates corresponding closely to the intrinsic value of the metal in it. The only coin officially issued by the government - up to 1910 - was the so-called copper cash. It is a small coin which by regulation should weigh 1/16 of a tael, and should contain 50 parts of copper, 40 of zinc, and 10 of lead or tin, and it should bear a fixed ratio to silver of 1000 cash to one tael of silver. In practice none of these conditions was observed. Being issued from a number of mints, mostly provincial, the standard was never uniform, and in many cases debased. Excessive issues lowered the value of the coins, and for many years the average exchange was 1600 or more per tael. The rise in copper led to the melting down of all the older and superior coins, and as for the same reason coining was suspended, the result was an appreciation of the "cash," so that a tael in 1909 exchanged for about 1220 cash or about 35 to a pennyEnglish. Inasmuch as the "cash" bore no fixed relation to silver, and was, moreover, of no uniform composition, it formed a sort of mongrel standard of its own, varying with the volume in circulation.

(G .J.; X.)

[13] Another peculiarity of loess in China is that it lends itself readily to the excavation of dwellings for the people. In many places whole villages live in cave dwellings dug out in the vertical wall of loess. They construct spiral staircases, selecting places where the ground is firm, and excavate endless chambers and recesses which are said to be very comfortable and salubrious.

[14] See J. Edkins, The Poppy in China, and H.B. Morse, The Trade and Administration of the Chinese Empire, chap. xi.

[15] Richard's Comprehensive Geography, etc. (1908 edition), p. 144.

[16] In the 18th century foreign trade was restricted to Canton. In the 17th century, however, the Dutch traded to Formosa and Amoy, and the English to Amoy also. The Portuguese traded with Canton as early as 1517. For the early intercourse between Portugal and China see the introductory chapter in Donald Ferguson's Letters from Portuguese Captives in Canton (Bombay, 1902).

[17] From The Statesman's Year Book, 1910 edition.

[18] See The Times of the 28th of March 1910.

[19] See Morse, op. cit. chap. x.

[20] The maritime customs had established a postal service for its own convenience in 1861, and it first gave facilities to the general public in 1876. An organized service for the conveyance of government despatches has existed in China for many centuries, and the commercial classes maintain at their own expense a system ("letter hongs") for the transmission of correspondence.

[21] For the causes leading to this movement and the progress of reform see OøΩ History.

[22] For recent authoritative accounts of the government of China see H.B. Morse, The Trade and Administration of the Chinese Empire, chap. iii.; Richard's Comprehensive Geography, etc., Bk. I. OøΩ v., and The Statesman's Year Book.

[23] The empress-consort is chosen by the emperor from a number of girls selected by his ministers from the families of Manchu nobles. From the same candidates the emperor also selects secondary-empresses (usually not more than four). Concubines, not limited in number, are chosen from the daughters of Manchu nobles and free-men. All the children are equally legitimate.

[24] Recent emperors have been children at accession and have been kept in seclusion.

[25] See "Democratic China" in H.A. Giles, China and the Chinese.

[26] W.F. Mayers, The Chinese Government (1878).

[27] This body is superseded by the Imperial Senate summoned to meet for the first time on the 3rd of October 1910.

[28] Yamên is the name given to the residences of all high officials. Tsung-li Yamên = the bureau for managing each (foreign) kingdom's affairs.

[29] An edict of the 15th of July 1909 created a naval and military advisory board. Up to that time the navy was controlled by the viceroys at Canton, Nanking, Fu-chow and Tientsin; the viceroys at Canton and Tientsin being ministers superintendent of the southern and northern ports respectively.

[30] Thus in 1910 Prince Ching, president of the grand council, was, for the third time, impeached by censors, being denounced as an "old treacherous minister," who filled the public service with a crowd of men as unworthy as himself. The censor who made the charge was stripped of his office (see The Times of the 30th of March 1910).

[31] For details of local government see Richard's Comprehensive Geography, 1908 edition, pp. 301 et seq.

[32] Morse, op. cit., 1908 edition, p. 76

[33] See The Times of the 28th of February 1910.

[34] See The Statesman's Year-Book (1910 edition).

[35] A few of the old native customs stations, which are deemed perquisites of the imperial court, may also be excepted, as, for instance, the native custom-house at Canton, Hwei Kwan on the Grand Canal, and various stations in the neighbourhood of Peking.

[36] The production of a budget in 1915 was promised in one of the reform edicts of 1908.

[37] In this article the tael used as a standard is the Haikwan (i.e. customs) tael, worth about 3s. It fluctuates with the value of silver.

[38] Roughly £43,000,000.

[39] Trade and Administration of the Chinese Empire (1910), p. 118.

[40] Temporary reductions are granted in provinces affected by rebellion, drought or flood.

[41] Information as to what extent the expenses of the new army and navy are met by the central government is lacking.

[42] To meet the expenditure on interest and redemption of the indemnities for the Boxer outrages the Peking government required the provincial authorities to increase their annual remittances by taels 18,700,000 during the years 1902-1910.

[43] It must be remembered that the Haikwan tael is here indicated.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | GDPR