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- China - 80/83 -

military and naval administration. As a matter of fact, nothing had been accomplished, when, in 1897, a blow fell which brought the Middle Kingdom face to face with the prospect of immediate partition. In November of that year, without any preliminary notice or warning to the Pekin government, two German men-of-war entered the harbor of Kiao Chou, and ordered the commandant to give up the place in reparation for the murder of two German missionaries in the province of Shantung. Germany refused to evacuate Kiao Chou unless due reparation should be made for the outrage on the missionaries, and unless, further, China would cede to her the exclusive right to construct railways and work mines throughout the extensive and populous province of Shantung. This, of course, was equivalent to the demarcation of a sphere of influence. For a time, the Pekin government showed itself recalcitrant, but, in January, 1898, it consented to lease Kiao Chou to Germany for ninety-nine years, and to make the required additional concession of exclusive rights in Shantung. Russia, on her part, did not wait long after the German seizure of Kiao Chou, to put forward her claim for compensation on account of the services rendered in the matter of the revision of the Shimonoseki Treaty. The terms of the Cassini agreement were now gradually revealed. In December, 1897, the St. Petersburg government announced that the Chinese had given permission to the Russian fleet to winter at Port Arthur; in February, 1898, Russia added Talienwan to Port Arthur, but essayed to disarm criticism by declaring that the first-named port would be opened to the ships of all the great powers like other ports on the Chinese mainland. This promise was subsequently qualified, and on March 27 a convention was signed at Pekin giving the Russians the "usufruct" of Port Arthur and Talienwan, which, practically, meant that Russia had obtained those harbors unconditionally, and for an indefinite period. France, on her part, obtained possession of the port of Kwangchowfoo, which is the best outlet to the sea for the trade of the southern province of Kwangsi; she also secured a promise that the island of Hainan should not be ceded to any other power; and, finally, she gained a recognition of her claim, first advanced in 1895, to a prior right to control the commercial development of the province of Yunnan. This claim is as reasonable as that put forward by Germany with reference to the province of Shantung, but it is incompatible with the northeastward development of British Burmah. While these acts, which, virtually, amounted to mutilations of the Middle Kingdom, were being committed by Germany, Russia and France, England undertook to assert the principle of the "open door," the principle, namely, that, whatever territorial concessions might be made by the Pekin government, no nation could be deprived of its treaty rights in the ports ceded. That is to say, American citizens, British subjects, or the subjects of any other power which has a treaty with China containing "the most favored nation" clause, must be allowed to enjoy precisely the same rights in Talienwan, Kiao Chou and Kwangchowfoo as they would have enjoyed had not those places been surrendered to Russia, Germany and France respectively. This principle could only have been enforced by war, in which England would have needed the assistance of Japan; but Japan was not yet ready to engage in a contest, for the reason that she still had to receive $60,000,000 of the war indemnity due from China, and because the war vessels which she had ordered to be constructed in foreign shipyards were not yet sufficiently near completion. Being thus constrained to abandon the hope of maintaining its treaty rights in the ceded parts of China, the British Foreign Office changed its ground and fell back on the policy of exacting an equivalent for the advantages gained by Russia, Germany and France. In the pursuance of this policy it obtained Wei-hai- Wei, which, as we have said, is one of the two keys to the Gulf of Pechihli. It is, however, very inferior to Port Arthur; only by the expenditure of a large sum of money could it be made a naval fortress of high rank, and, even then, it would require a large garrison for its protection. This was not all that England gained, however; she secured a promise from the Pekin government that the valley of the Yangstekiang should never be alienated to any foreign power except Great Britain. The limits of the valley, nevertheless, were not defined, and the Pekin authorities have acted on the hypothesis that the covenant against alienation did not debar them from giving commercial and industrial privileges within the basin to the subjects of European powers other than England. The right to build, for instance, a railway from Pekin to Hangchow has been conferred upon a syndicate nominally Belgian, in which, however, it is understood that Russia is deeply interested. On the other hand, in spite of protests from St. Petersburg, the privilege of extending to Newchwang in Manchuria the railway which already extends some distance in a northeasterly direction from Tientsin, has been secured by a British corporation.

In September, 1898, a palace revolution occurred at Pekin. For some time, the Emperor Kwangsu had been known to be under the influence of a highly intelligent and progressive Cantonese named Kang Yu Wei. At the latter's suggestion, edicts were put forth decreeing important administrative reforms which would have deprived the mandarins of their opportunities of embezzlement, and also indicating an intention to reorganize the educational system of China upon European models. The necessity of such changes is obvious enough if China is to follow Japan in the path of progress, but it is equally plain that the advocacy of them would render the emperor obnoxious to the whole body of mandarins and of the literati. The unpopularity caused by his proposed innovations proved fatal to Kwangsu; for the party at court, headed by the Empress-dowager Tsi An, took advantage of it to arrest and imprison him. Kang Yu Wei, having received warning of the conspiracy, had fled, and succeeded in gaining an asylum under the British flag, but many of the emperor's personal followers were put to death. On September 22, appeared an edict ostensibly signed by Kwangsu announcing that he had requested the empress-dowager to resume authority over the affairs of State. It has been since reported that he has been killed. The immediate effect of the _coup d'etat_ was to place all power at Pekin in the hands of Manchus least friendly to the adoption of European ideas, and more willing to lean upon Russia than upon any other foreign power. The early restoration to high office of Li Hung Chang, who has, for some time, been a useful tool of the St. Petersburg government, and who is a favorite of the empress-dowager, may be looked upon as probable.


It is obvious that arterial communication is the first organic need of all civilized States, and pre-eminently of a country so vast and various in its terrestrial conditions as is China. This need has been recognized by the ablest of its rulers, who, from time to time, have made serious efforts to connect the most distant parts of the empire by both land and water routes. The Grand Canal, or Yunho ("River of Transports"), is pronounced as memorable a monument of human industry in its way as is the Great Wall. It is not, however, a canal in the Western sense of the word, but merely, as Richthofen has explained, "a series of abandoned river beds, lakes and marshes, connected one with another by cuttings of no importance, fed by the Wanho in Shantung, which divides into two currents at its summit, and by other streams and rivers along its course. A part of the water of the Wanho descends toward the Hoangho and Gulf of Pechihli; the larger part runs south in the direction of the Yangtse." The Grand Canal links Hangchow, a port on the East China Sea, south of the Yangtse, with Tientsin in Chihli, where it unites with the Peiho, and thus may be said to extend to Tungchow in the neighborhood of Pekin. When the canal was in order, before the inflow of the Yellow River failed, there was uninterrupted water communication from Pekin to Canton, and to the many cities and towns met with on the way. For many years past, however, and especially since the carriage of tribute-rice by steamers along the coast began, repairs of the Grand Canal have been practically abandoned. The roads in China, confined generally to the northern and western sections of the country, are described as the very worst in the world. The paving, according to Baber, "is of the usual Chinese pattern, rough bowlders and blocks of stone being laid somewhat loosely together on the surface of the ground; 'good for ten years and bad for ten thousand,' as the Chinese proverb admits. On the level plains of China, where the population is sufficiently affluent to subscribe for occasional repairs, the system has much practical value. But, in the Yunnari mountains, the roads are never repaired; so far from it, the indigent natives extract the most convenient blocks to stop the holes in their hovel walls, or to build a fence on the windward side of their poppy patches. The rains soon undermine the pavement, especially where it is laid on a steep incline; sections of it topple down the slope, leaving chasms a yard or more in depth." Where traveling by water is impossible, sedan chairs are used to carry passengers, and coolies with poles and slings transport the luggage and goods. The distances covered by the sedan chair porters are remarkable, being sometimes as much as thirty-five miles a day, even on a journey extending over a month. The transport animals--ponies, mules, oxen and donkeys--are strong and hardy, and manage to drag carts along the execrable roads. The ponies are said to be admirable, and the mules unequaled in any other country. The distances which these animals will cover on the very poorest of forage are surprising.

The rapid adoption of steamers along the coast and on the Yangtse has paved the way for railways. Shallow steamers have yet to traverse the Poyang and the Tungting Lakes, which lie near the Yangtse, and Peiho and Canton Rivers, as well as many minor streams. It is the railway, however, that is the supreme necessity. Mr. Colquhoun has pointed out that, except along the Yangtse for the thousand-odd miles now covered by steamers, there is not a single trade route of importance in China where a railway would not pay. Especially would a line from Pekin carried through the heart of China to the extreme south, along the existing trade routes, be advantageous and remunerative. The enormous traffic carried on throughout the Celestial Empire in the face of appalling difficulties, on men's backs, or by caravans of mules or ponies, or by the rudest of carts and wheelbarrows, must be, some day, undertaken by railways. In the judgment of careful observers, too much stress should not be laid on the introduction of the locomotive for strategic purposes. The capital aim of railway construction should be, they think, the development of the interprovincial trade of China, the interchange of the varied products of a country which boasts so many climates and soils. This would bring prosperity to the people, render administrative reforms possible, and open China for the Chinese quite as much as for the European merchant or manufacturer. From the viewpoint of Chinese interests, the most useful lines would be two that should connect Pekin, Tientsin and all the northern part of the country with central and southern China. Trunk lines could be constructed for this purpose without any difficulty. They would pass along the old trade tracks, and would encounter populous cities the whole way. Through eastern Shansi and Honan, for example, to Hangchow on the Yangtse; thence to the Si Kiang and Canton; such lines would be shafts driven through the heart of the Middle Kingdom, connecting the North and the South. For the entire distance, some 1,300 or 1,400 miles, the extent, fertility and variety of the soil are described as remarkable. From the North, abounding in cotton and varieties of grain and pulse, to the South, where many vegetable products of the Orient are met, the redundancy of the population is a striking feature. A constant succession of villages, towns and cities would be transformed into a picture of bustle and business.

The internal economical conditions of China to-day are very much the same as were those of India when railways were introduced. The only difference is that the Chinese people are better off per man, and that the Chinese and Indo-Chinese, unlike the natives of India, are born travelers and traders. Yet, even in India, contrary to expectation, the passenger traffic on the railways has, from the first, exceeded the goods traffic. In 1857, the number of passengers carried by railway in India was 2,000,000; in 1896, it had risen to 160,000,000. In the first named year, the quantity of goods transported was 253,000 tons; in 1896, it was 32,500,000 tons. There has been witnessed in India during those forty years an expansion of commerce which, at the outset of the period, would have been deemed incredible. The imports and exports rose in that time from 400,000,000 to 2,000,000,000 rupees. Forty years ago, India was

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