Page images
PDF
EPUB

is so vital a feature of the government of China, that a made to check it, but with indifferent success.

The evil, short notice of the public examinations whereby the ranks however, is not altogether unmixed, as it has admitted into are recruited may not be out of place. As a general rule the service a number of men who are free from that bigoted students preparing for the public examination read with adherence to Confucian doctrine which characterizes the private tutors. There are neither high schools nor uni- literary classes, and more in touch with modern progress. versities where a regular training can be got. In most of All candidates who thus succeed, whether by examination, the provincial capitals, and at some other places, there are recommendation, or purchase, in entering the official ranks indeed institutions termed colleges, supported to a small are then eligible for active employment, but as the number extent from public funds, where advanced students can of candidates is far in excess of the number of appointments prosecute their studies, and where both students and tutors a period of weary waiting ensues. A few of the best receive a small stipend, but they hardly count as factors in scholars get admitted at once into the Hanlin college, or the national education. The work is done by private tutors into one or other of the boards at Peking. The rest are who, on the other hand, are plentiful and cheap. After a drafted off in batches to the various provinces to await series of preliminary trials the student obtains his first their turn for appointment as vacancies occur. During qualification by examination held before the literary this period of waiting they are termed “expectants,” and chancellor in the prefecture to which he belongs. This is I draw no regular pay. Occasional service, however, falls in termed the Siutsai, or licentiate's degree, and in itself their way, as when they are commissioned for special duty confers no claim to office, but is merely a qualification to in outlying districts, which they perform as Wei yuens, or enter for the higher examinations. The number of licentiate deputies of the regular officials. The period of expectancy degrees to be given is, however, strictly limited; those who may be abridged by recommendation or purchase, and it is have failed to get in are set back to try again, which they generally supposed that this last lever must invariably be may do as often as they please. There is no limit of resorted to to secure any lucrative local appointment. A age. Those selected next proceed to the great examination poor but promising official is often, it is said, financed held at the capital of each province, once in three years, by a syndicate of relations and friends, who look to recoup before examiners sent from Peking for the purpose. Here | themselves out of the illegal, but customary perquisites again the number who pass are strictly limited. Out of which attach to the post. The appointments to the junior 10,000 or 12,000 competitors only some 300 or 350 can provincial posts are usually left to the provincial Governobtain degrees. The others, as before, must go back and ment, but the central Government can always interfere try again. This degree, termed Chu jen, or provincial directly. Appointments to the lucrative posts of customs graduate, is the first substantial reward of the student's taotai at the treaty ports are usually made direct from ambition, and of itself, without more, qualifies for the Peking, and the officer selected is not necessarily nor public service, though it does not immediately nor neces- usually from the provincial staff. It would perhaps be sarily lead to active employment. The third and final safe to say that this appointment is always the result of a examination takes place at Peking, and is open to provincial pecuniary arrangement of greater or less magnitude. graduates from all parts of the empire. About 6000 competitors enter for this final test, which is held triennially, cipal religions of China are Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism,

Religion. —As stated in the ninth edition (v. 671), the three prinof whom 325 to 350 succeed in obtaining the degree of To these should be added ancestor - worship, which is practised Tsin shih, or metropolitan graduate. These are the finally universally by all classes, and which as a guiding principle of selected men who in course become the officials and life has a more potent influence over the Chinaman than any administrators of the empire. Several other doors are,

other doctrine. It may be regarded as a branch of Confucianism.

It did not, indeed, originate with that philosopher, having been however, open by which admission to the ranks of bureau- practised long before he flourished, but the duty was strongly incracy can be obtained. In the first place, to encourage culcated by him. He enjoined also the due observance of the scholars to persevere, a certain number of those who fail to ritual prescribed by the state for the worship of all recognized reach the chu jen, or second degree, are allowed, as a reward Emperor, and the worship by state officials of local divinities

deities, including the worship of heaven and earth by the of repeated efforts, to get into a special class from which and deceased worthies who may from time to time have been selection for office may be made. Further, the Govern- canonized by imperial decree. Confucianism has no priesthood. ment reserves to itself the right to nominate the sons and The acts of worship are performed by the Emperor in person, by grandsons of distinguished deceased public servants without within his own prescribed sphere. But Confucianisin has always examination. And, lastly, by a system of “recommenda- been a tolerant and non-aggressive religion. While enjoining the tion,” young men from the institution termed the Im- performance of ancestor-worship, and the observance of the preperial Academy, or from the Manchu schools, or men who scribed formalities to recognized deities, it does not at all object to have served as clerks in the boards, may be put on the roster

devotion being paid to other possible divinities, so long as the

followers do not profess corrupt and heterodox doctrine. The line for substantive appointment. But over and above the of division between what is orthodox and heterodox is more political foregoing, which are all deemed fair and legitimate methods than religious. Any cult which preaches a doctrine subversive of of entering the public service, the necessities of the Chinese the fundamental and sacred principles of the constitution is heteroGovernment have from time to time compelled it to throw

dox and unlawful, and its practice renders the followers liable to open a still wider door, namely, admission by purchase. not recognized by the state is harmless, so long as it does not lead

severe penalties as savouring of rebellion. But mere belief in gods During the Taiping rebellion, when the Government was at to action likely to be subversive of the existing order of things. its wits' end for money, formal sanction was given to what Thus a Confucianist may at the same time be a Buddhist or a had previously been only intermittently resorted to, and

Taoist, or he may be all three. The three religions are not mutusince then immense sums of money have been received by to give any 'statistics of the respective numbers of each.

ally exclusive, but run into one another, and hence it is impossible

The the sale of patents of rank, either to secure admission to Christian religion was long deemed heterodox, but since the conoffice, or more rapid promotion of those already employed. clusion of the treaties it has officially been proclaimed to be perAs a result of this policy, the country has been saddled

missible. A Confucianist might now, from the Chinese point of

view, be also a Christian, and probably many would become so if with thousands of titular officials far in excess of the number

the Christian religion would accept them on these terms. One of of appointments to be given away. The more deserving the powerful congregations of the Roman Catholic Church was in men are thus kept waiting for years, while inferior and less the last century prepared to do so, at least it was prepared to allow capable officials are pushed ahead, because they have money ruled by the Pope, but had it been permitted there would possibly

converts to continue ancestor-worship. The proposal was overwherewith to bribe their way. The evils of the purchase have been by this time as many nominal Christians in China as system are recognized, and efforts from time to time are there are professors of Buddhism, which was itself a foreign religion.

The state of religion in China may thus be summed up :-Con- in most provincial capitals institutions termed colleges, where fucianism in the wider meaning, as including ancestor-worship, is tutors or professors are maintained at the public expense, and accepted universally. Ancestor-worship is practised by practically where a limited number of students are admitted. There are also all classes. Confucianism, in the narrow sense of the worship in every district two or three paid officials who are termed directors of Confucius, is compulsory on all officials, and is voluntarily of studies. Their function, however, is not to teach, but to practised by all scholars and aspirants to literary honours. examine, and they act as registrars of the students entering for Buddhism is more or less practised, so far as occasional visits the public examinations. The object aimed at is not the general to the temples and to sacred shrines are concerned, by about education of the people, but to aid poor and deserving students to half the population. Taoism is practised to a considerably pass the examinations, and so enter the public service. The idea smaller extent. The services of the priests of one or other sect are of educating the people so as to make them more capable citizens generally invoked for funeral ceremonies. The priests of both these is nowhere to be found, and apparently has never been conceived sects live solely in temples and monasteries, and do not enter as one of the duties of Government. At Peking, a college, termed private houses except when invited, in which case their services are the Tung Wen Kwan, was instituted about 1870. and is still paid for. Neither class attempts to exercise any influence over the maintained with a staff of foreign professors and teachers. It is people, and both are held in low esteem. Mahommedanism in a mainly a school of languages to enable young Chinese to qualify modified form is professed by some thirty or forty millions scattered as interpreters in English, French, etc. Similar schools have been over the north and west of China. They usually perform ancestor established at Canton, Foochow, and one or two other places, with worship as well, and if officials, they take part in the Confucian but indifferent results, and as a factor in the education of the ceremonies.

nation they can hardly be said to count. A more promising plan Christian missions, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, are was conceived in 1880, or thereabouts, by the then governor-general now established in every province in China. Freedom to embrace of Nanking, who sent a batch of thirty or forty young students to the Christian faith is guaranteed by the Chinese Government, and America to receive a regular training, on the understanding that as a rule the missionaries have free scope in teaching and preaching, on their return they would receive official appointments. The though local disturbances are not infrequent. The number of promise was not kept, however. A report went about that these Catholic converts is about one million, and that of all Protestant students were becoming too Americanized. They were hastily sects is reported to be slightly over 100,000.

recalled, and when they returned they were left in obscurity. An imperial decree which was made public in 1897, conferring Native Press.—In connexion with the subject of education we a sort of official status on the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic may notice the growth of a native press, which promises to have Church in China, deserves a short notice. Since the conclusion an important influence on the development of the nation. The of the treaties in 1860, permitting the practice and teaching of Peking Gazette, which is sometimes called the oldest paper in the the Christian religion, the missionary question has been one of world, is not a newspaper at all in the ordinary sense, but merely the most important which the Chinese Government has had to a court gazette for publishing imperial decrees and such public deal with. Though the average Chinaman is naturally tolerant documents as the Government may wish to give out. It never and indeed indifferent in matters of religion, the preaching of contains original articles nor any discussion of public affairs. The Christianity has in many parts aroused fierce opposition, leading first genuine native newspaper was published at Shanghai about to attacks on mission stations with loss of life and property. 1870. It was termed the Shen Pao, or Shanghai News, and was These attacks have in turn given rise to serious diplomatic con issued under foreign auspices, the first editor being an Englishman. troversy, and questions connected with missions have formed no It was some years before it made much headway, but success came, inconsiderable part of the work thrown upon the foreign legations and it was followed by various imitators, some published at in Peking. In general, a missionary is under the protection of Shanghai, some at other treaty ports, and at Hongkong. In 1895 his own Government, no matter what his creed may be ; but there were eleven native newspapers in circulation, and since then France has from the first constituted herself the protector of the number has largely increased. There are now some thirty-five Roman Catholic missions, irrespective of the nationality of the in circulation, almost all dailies, of which half are issued from priest concerned, and she has thereby been able to bring pressure Shanghai. Besides the dailies there are at least as many magazines to bear on the Chinese Government out of all proportion to her or other periodicals, most of which are issued from the various commercial interests. An effort was made by the Chinese in 1886 mission presses, and several of which are exceedingly well written. to get rid of French domination by inducing the Pope to send a The effect of this mass of literature on the public mind of China special legate to Peking as controller of Roman Catholic missions. cannot but be of first-rate importance. It must tend, more than The Vatican was disposed to consent; but the French Government anything else, to dispel the darkness and to promote ideas of made such strenuous opposition, threatening to withdraw the reform and progress. The attitude of the central Government concordat in France, that the pa pal authorities were obliged to towards the native press is somewhat undefined. There are no decline. France was unwilling to forgo the political influence press laws, but as every official is a law unto himself in these which the position of protector of one or two thousand priests matters, there is nothing to prevent him from summarily suppressand about a million of converts gave her, and she has used that ing an obnoxious newspaper and putting the editor in prison. influence to obtain redress of grievances and to improve the posi- The Emperor, among other reform edicts which preceded and tion of the Roman Catholic missionaries. In 1896 formal per- provoked the coup d'état of 1898, declared that newspapers were mission was given for the missions to acquire and hold real estate in à boon to the public, and appointed one of them a Government any part of China ; but a still more important privilege is the one organ. The Empress-dowager revoked this decree after the we have mentioned, namely, the giving a recognized official status deposition of the Emperor, and declared that the public disto the several grades of the priesthood, and so placing them on cussion of affairs of state in the newspapers was an impertinence, terms of equality with the local officials. Bishops are to rank and ought to be suppressed. The existence of the press, however, with governors of a province, pro-vicars with judges, taotais, and is tolerated, and by some officials at least would seem to be enso on. International matters are to be discussed and settled couraged. In any case no interference could be offered to those locally, and in grave cases appeal is to be made to the minister native

papers

which are published by foreigners, inasmuch as the of the nation specially entrusted by the Pope with the protec- latter are, by the extra-territorial clauses of the treaty, exempted tion of Roman Catholic missions." This last clause has been from Chinese jurisdiction. The regulation of the press is one of repudiated by the British Government as far as its own nationals those problems which the Chinese Government has yet to solve. are concerned. It is apprehended that the privilege, while en Social Condition.—The social condition of the people relative to hancing the status of the priests, will tend to widen the breach European standards must be put as very low. Agriculture is the already existing between converts and their fellow-countrymen. one great industry. Four - fifths of the population may be put The interference of priests in matters of litigation where one of down as peasant cultivators of the soil. of these fully one-half are their converts is concerned has often been made matter of com small peasant proprietors owning the land they till, subject to the plaint, and the fact that they are in effect authorized to interfere payment of the state taxes. Nearly all the other half hold land is not likely to diminish the friction.

on lease, paying rent; and only a comparatively small proportion Instruction. - Very little was done by the Chinese Government are agricultural labourers. But whether as proprietors or farmers during the period 1875-1900 for the better education of the people. the holdings are always very small—so small that the condition of

Elementary education is still left to take care of itself. The the holders is hardly above that of ordinary field labourers. The * most noteworthy fact to be noticed is the great number of minute subdivision of the holdings is due to two causes-firstly, mission schools that are now maintained in various parts of the over-population ; and, secondly, the land laws. As to the latter, Empire

. Though insignificant as compared with the vast popula- the invariable rule of succession' is equal division among all male tion, these schools are doing valuable service in imparting a know children. Not only is there no primogeniture, but a parent ledge of English to a small proportion of the youth, who in turn, cannot, even if he wished to do so, leave all his land to one son. not infrequently, become instructors to a wider class. But among the great mass of the people the densest ignorance prevails, even

There must be substantially an equal division, the will of the

father notwithstanding. As early marriages and large families are as regards their own language and history, and much more as to the rule, this process of continual division and subdivision has any knowledge of other countries. In respect of advanced educa- brought things down to the irreducible minimum in many places. tion the Chinese Government has done a little better. There are In the Journal of the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society for

sons.

1888 a series of short papers was printed, contributed by mis some portion of the domain being put in mortmain for this pursionaries and others living in the interior of the country, describing pose. When scattered, the collateral branches of such a family the social condition of the peasantry. From these it appears that contrive to keep in touch, the common bond being the ancestral the irreducible minimum is, in the more fertile parts, as low as a hall and the right to join in the family ancestor - worship. sixth of an acre per head. In other words, a family of six persons Numerous instances can be found where families no better off than can make a living out of a farm of one acre. This would make a the commonalty can trace their descent back through twenty possible population of 3840 to the square mile. As a matter of generations. fact, the subdivision has in numberless cases been carried even Finance.-In fiscal matters, as for many other purposes, the below that limit. Small patches of one - tenth, or even one Chinese empire is an agglomeration of a number of quasi-indetwentieth, are to be found as the estate of an individual landowner, pendent units. Each province has a complete administrative staff, and the vast majority of holdings run between one and three acres. collects its own revenue, pays its own civil service, pays its own With three acres a family is deemed very comfortable, and the militia and naval forces, and out of the surplus contributes possession of ten acres or more means luxury. Three acres is about towards the expenses of the imperial Government a sum which the largest quantity which one family can manage without employ- varies with the imperiousness of the needs of the latter and with ing hired labour. In the northern provinces, where wheat, maize, its own comparative wealth or poverty. The imperial Government &c., which do not require irrigation, are grown, five acres can be does not collect directly any part of the revenues, unless we except worked by one household. If the family possesses more land than the imperial maritime customs, though these, too, pass through that the balance is almost invariably let, and always in similar the books of the provincial authorities. We may also except a few small holdings. Nowhere is the system farming by capitalists of the old native customs stations which are deemed perquisites of with hired labour to be found. The following is an instance given the imperial court, as, for instance, the native custom-house at by one of the writers in the above-named journal, and may be taken Canton, Hwei Kwan on the Grand Canal, and various stations in as typical of the bulk of the rural population :

the neighbourhood of Peking. The superintendent of these stations "Pong Hia lives in a village of 300 persons, in which about 30 is a nominee of the court, always a Manchu, who makes his returns are landowners. Pong Hia owns more than any other man in direct to the throne and not to the governors. But otherwise the his class, having 2 acres (12 mow). His family consists of 10 per court and the central Government in Peking are dependent upon

He is 46 years old, his wife is 41, his son is 22, his son's the sums they can levy on the provinces. It has hitherto been wife is 22, his four daughters are from 10 to 17, and his two extremely difficult to obtain anything like trustworthy figures for grandchildren are 3 and 8 years old. He and his son till the the whole revenue of China, for the reason that no statistics are land, hiring help in harvest- time. The womenfolk weave and published by the central Government at Peking. The only availmake clothing for the family, rear pigs and fowls, and do all the able data are, first, the returns published by the imperial Maritime housework. The house in which these ten persons live is worth Customs for the duties levied on foreign trade ; and, secondly, the £12, including the site; the furniture is worth £4:10s., the clothing memorials sent to Peking by the provincial authorities on revenue worth about £4. The family lives comfortably upon the produce matters, certain of which are published from time to time in the of the land, and is reckoned affluent."

Pcking Gazette. These are usually fragmentary, being merely To this it may be added that land such as the foregoing will reports which the governor has himself received from his subordi. yield two, or sometimes three, crops in the year.

The spring crop

nates, detailing, as the case may be, the yield of the land tax or the is wheat, sown in November and reaped in April; the summer or likin for his particular district, with a dissertation on the causes principal crop is rice, planted in May and reaped in August or which have made it more or less than for the previous period. Or September ; and an autumn crop of cabbages, beans, or other green the return may be one detailing the expenditure of such and such stuff can usually be got in, sometimes overlapping with the wheat. a department, or reporting the transmission of a sum in reply to a In the southern provinces two rice crops can be got in succession requisition of the Board of Revenue, with a statement of the source during the summer, besides the winter crop.

from which it has been met. It is only by collating these returns It will be gathered from the foregoing that there is no class of over a long period that anything like a complete statement can be wealthy territorial magnates, corresponding to the aristocracy of made up. And even then it is quite certain that these returns do this and other European countries. The only class which at all not represent anything like the total of taxation paid by the resembles them is the class of retired officials. As the bureaucracy people, but, as far as they go, they may be taken to represent the monopolize all the power in the country, they generally contrive to volume of taxation on which the Peking Government can draw monopolize a good deal of the wealth. This is not infrequently invested in land), and consequently there are to be found in most The following figures 1 give as nearly as can be done the actual provinces several such families with a country seat and the usual revenue of the Chinese empire as returned by the responsible insignia of local rank and influence. On the decease of the heads officers of Government : or founders such families wouldd, in the natural course of things, be broken and the land divided, but it is considered more dignified

1. Land tax in silver .

Taels 25,000,000 for the sons to refrain from dividing, and to live together, sharing

(in grain) value

6,500,000 the rents and profits in coinmon. This is sometimes continued for

3. Salt tax

13,500,000 several generations, until the country seat becomes an agglomera

4. Likin

13,000,000 tion of households and the fainily a sort of clan. A family of this 5. Foreign maritime customs

22,500,000 kind, with literary traditions, and with the means to educate the

6. Native customs

2,000,000 young men, is constantly sending its scions into the public service, 7. Duty on native opium

2,200,000 who in turn bring their earnings to swell the common funds, while

S. Miscellaneous

5,500,000 the rank and dignity which they may earn add to the importance

Total and standing of the group as a whole. The inembers of this class

Taels 90,200,000 are usually termed the literati, or gentry. Though the constitu- !

Equal to £13,530,000. tion does not recognize them as having any share in the local government, yet they can exercise an enormous influence in public Oriental countries, the land hus from time immemorial been the

Sources of Revenue.-1. Lund Tux.-In China, as in most affairs. The peasantry who farm their lands are, of course, under their control." The official rank which most of the members have 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 acquired by promotion or purchase enables them to resist, and i

adult males, but in 1712 the two were amalgamated, and the whole perhaps browheat, the local officials, while they further terrorize

burden was thrown upon land, families not possessing land being the latter by threatening to denounce them to the Emperor,

thereafter exempted from taxation. At the same time it was which they can often manage to do through some one or other of

decreed that the amount of the land tax as then fixed should be their many relations or marriage connexions who may happen to have the car of the court. Being usually intensely bigoted and permanent and settled for all time coming. As a matter of fact conservative, they present a serious barrier to progress, especially

it would appear from the records that this promise has been kept if there is a foreign

element in it, such as the introduction of rail as far as the central Government has been concerned. In all its ways, or making

of roads, or renting of inland residences by foreign many financial difficulties it does not seem ever to have tried to merchants or missionaries. Not infrequently have projects for the

increase the revenue by raising the land tax. The amount of tax improvement of trade, assented to by the local officials, been

leviable on each plot is entered on the title deed, and, once blocked by the opposition of the gentry, the former not daring to

entered, it cannot be changed. The tax on almost all lands is incur their resentment. But such families, unless their wealth 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, kept up by continual accessions, tend, in course of time, to decline through the levelling operation of the law of succession. As the

The

however, the grain tax is now commuted and paid in silver. numbers among whom the wealth must be shared increase rapidly exceptions are the provinces of Kiangsu and Chekiang, which still with every generation, a point is soon reached when the individuals of the family are no better off than the peasantry who till their 1 Throughout this article the tael spoken of is the Haikwan tael, land, and then a break-up is inevitable. If possible, however, the the present value of which is about 3s. It fluctuates with the value eldest branch preserves the family records and the ancestral hall, of silver.

reventie.

up

2.

send forward their taxes in grain. This is despatched in bulk | treaty foreign goods may commute all transit dues for a single through a department of the Government to Peking, where it is payment of one-half the import tariff duty, but this stipulation distributed as rations among the Manchu soldiery and retainers in is but indifferently observed, giving rise to frequent complaints and about the capital. The value of the grain forwarded (gener on the part of foreign merchants. The difficulty in securing due ally called tribute rice) is estimated to amount to taels 6,500,000. observance of this treaty right lies in the fact that the likin The total collection in silver, as reported by the responsible officials, revenue is claimed by the provincial authorities, and the transit amounts in round numbers to taels 25,000,000. The total yield | dues when commuted belong to the central Government, so that of the land tax, therefore, is taels 31,500,000, or say £4,725,000. the former are interested in opposing the commutation by every It will readily be granted that for such a large country as China means in their power. As a further means of neutralizing the this is a very insignificant one. In India the land tax yields commutation they have devised a new form of impost, viz., a £17,000,000, and China has undoubtedly a larger cultivated area, terminal tax which is levied on the goods after the termination of a larger population, and soil that is on the whole more fertile; the transit. The amount and frequency of likin taxation are but it is certain that this sum by no means represents the amounts fixed by provincial legislation—that is, by a proclamation of the actually paid by the cultivators. It is the sum which the various governor. The levy is authorized in general terms by an imperial magistrates and collectors have to account for and remit in hard decree, but all details are left to the local authorities, who in cash. But as nothing is allowed them for the costs of collection, this, as in all other matters, have a general legislative power. they add on a percentage beforehand to cover the cost. This they The yield of this tax is estimated at present at taels 13,000,000 usually do by declaring the taxes leviable not in silver, but in (£1,950,000), a sum which probably represents one-third of what copper “cash,” which indeed is the only currency that circulates is actually paid by the merchants, the balance being costs of in country places, and by fixing the rate of exchange to suit them collection. selves. Thus while the market rate is, say, 1500 cash to the tael, 4. The Imperial Maritime Customs.—The Maritime Customs is they declare by general proclamation that for tax-paying purposes the one department of finance in China which is managed with cash will be received at the rate of 3500 or 4000 to the tael. Thus probity and honesty, and this it owes to the fact that it is worked while the nominal land tax in silver remains the same it is in effect under foreign control. It collects all the duties leviable under the doubled or trebled, and, what is worse, no return is made or treaties on the foreign trade of China, and also all duties on account required of the extra sums thus levied. Each magistrate the coasting trade so far as carried on by vessels of foreign build, or collector is in effect a farmer. The sum standing opposite the whether Chinese or foreign-owned. It does not control the trade name of his district is the sum which he is bound to return under in native craft, the so-called junk trade, the duties on which are penalty of dismissal, but all sums which he can scrape together still levied by the native custom-house officials. By arrangement over and above are the perquisites of office less his necessary between the British and Chinese Governments, the foreign customs expenses. Custom, no doubt, sets bounds to his rapacity. If he levy at the port of entry a likin on Indian opium of 80 taels per went too far he would provoke a riot; but one may safely say there chest, in addition to the tariff duty of 30 taels. This levy frees the never is any reduction, what change can be effected being in the opium from any further duty on transit into the interior. The upward direction. What the actual sums may be which are thus revenue of the Maritime Customs has risen from taels 11,000,000 levied and not accounted for it is impossible to tell, but a rough in 1873, to taels 22,500,000 in 1898. In sterling figures, however, idea may be gathered from a calculation of the probable area under it would seem to have fallen, owing to the fall in the gold price of cultivation and the average actual payment. The area of the silver. The revenue of 1873, converted into gold at the exchange eighteen provinces constituting China proper is roughly 1,300,000 of the day, was about £3,666,000, whereas that of 1898 would only square miles, and assuming that one-fourth of this is under cultiva- give £3, 375,000. From the point of view of the Chinese Governtion, we should have a taxable area of over 300,000 square miles, ment, which values everything in silver, the revenue has satissay 190,000,000 acres, which is probably under the mark. Accord-factorily increased. ing to the best information obtainable à moderate estimate of the 5. Native Customs.The administration of the Native Customs sums actually paid by the cultivators would give two shillings per continues to be similar to what prevailed in the Maritime Customs acre. This for the eighteen provinces should give £19,000,000 as before the introduction of foreign supervision. Each collector is being actually levied, or more than four times what is returned. constituted a farmer, bound to account for a fixed minimum sum,

2. The Salt Duty.—The trade in salt is a Government mono but practically at liberty to retain all he may collect over and poly. Only licensed merchants are allowed to deal in it, and the above. If he returns more he may claim certain honorary rewards import of foreign salt is forbidden by the treaties.

as for extra diligence, but he generally manages to make out his pose of salt administration China is divided into seven or eight accounts so as to show a small surplus, and no more.

Only immain circuits, each of which has its own sources of production. perfect and fragmentary returns of the native collectorates have Each circuit has carefully-defined boundaries, and salt produced been published, but the total revenue accruing to the Chinese in one circuit is not allowed to be consigned into or sold in Government from this source does not appear much to exceed two another. There are great differences in price between the several million taels (£300,000). It is believed that if this department circuits, but the consumer is not allowed to buy in the cheapest were included in the purview of the foreign staff of the Maritime market. He can only buy from the licensed merchants in his own Customs the sum might easily be trebled. circuit, who in turn are debarred from procuring supplies except 6. Duty on Native Opium.-The growth and manufacture of at the depot to which they belong. Conveyance from one circuit opium was up till recent years forbidden by the laws of China. It to another is deemed smuggling, and subjects the article to con was, however, openly connived at by the officials in several profiscation.

vinces, especially in the south-west, where indeed it seems to have Duty is levied under two heads, the first being a duty proper been cultivated from time immemorial, and its taxation formed a payable on the issue of salt from the depot, and the second being main source of their income. The restrictions are now withdrawn, likin levied on transit or at the place of destination. The two and the central Government have been endeavouring to appropritogether amount on an average to about taels 1.50 per picul of ate the taxation to their own uses. The collection remains in the 1333 ib or 3s. 9d. per cwt. The total collection returned by the hands of the provincial officials, but they are required to render various salt collectorates amounts to taels 13,500,000 (£2,025,000) a separate account of duty and likin collected on the drug, and to per annum. The total consumption of salt for all China is hold the sum at the disposal of the Board of Revenue. Opium is estimated at 25 million piculs, or nearly 1} million tons, which is pre-eminently a fit article of taxation, and if the levy were faithfully at the rate of 9 lb per annum per head of the population. If the carried out at a rate corresponding, ad valorem, to that which is above amount of taels 1.50 were uniformly levied and returned, the levied on Indian opium, it would give a revenue sufficient to enable revenue ought to be 371 million taels instead of 137.

the Government to remit the whole likin taxation on internal 3. Likin on General Merchandise.—By the term likin is meant trade. The annual import into China of Indian opium amounts a tax on inland trade levied while in transit from one district to to about 50,000 chests, on which the Chinese Government receives another. It was originally a war tax imposed as a temporary from duty and likin combined about 5 million taels (£825,000). measure to meet the military expenditure required by the Taiping The total amount of native-grown opium is estimated at about and Mahommedan rebellions of 1850-70 ; but the Government has 400,000 chests (53,000,000 ID), and if this were taxed at taels 60 never been able to dispense with it since, and it is now one of the per chest, which in proportion to its price is a similar rate to what permanent sources of income. In the present disorganized con is levied on Indian opium, it should give a revenue of 24 million dition of China it would perhaps be difficult to impose any other taels. Compared with this the sums actually levied, or at least reform of taxation which would yield a like return, but at the same turned by the local officials as levied, are insignificant. The time it is in form as objectionable as a tax can be, and is equally returns so far as published give a total 'levy for all the eighteen obnoxious to the native as to the foreign merchant. Tolls or

provinces of only taels 2,200,000 (£330,000). barriers are erected at frequent intervals along all the principal 7. Miscellaneous.—Besides the foregoing, which are the main routes of trade, whether by land or water, and a small levyis and regular sources of income, the provincial officials levy sums made at each 'on every conceivable article of commerce. The which must in the aggregate amount to a very large figure, but individual levy is small, but over a long transit it may amount which hardly find a place in the returns. The principal are land

The objectionable feature is the frequent transfer fees, pawnbrokers' and other licenses, duties on reed flats, stoppages with overhauling of cargo and consequent delays. By commutation of corvée and personal services, &c. The fee on

S. III. 4

For the pur

to 15 or 20 per cent.

seen.

land transfers is 3 per cent., and it could be shown, from a calcu- of which is defrayed by the provinces. The imperial Government lation based on the extent and value of the arable land and the has also at its disposal the revenue of the Foreign Customs. Prior probable number of sales, that this item alone ought to yield to the Japanese war this revenue, which, after allowing for the costs an annual return of between one and two millions sterling of collection, amounted to about 20,000,000 taels (£3,000,000), was Practically the whole of this is absorbed in office expenses. Under nominally shared with the provinces in the proportion of four-tenths this heading should also be included certain items which, though and six-tenths. It was from this fund mainly that means were not deemed part of the regular revenue, have been so often re found to equip and maintain the northern fleet (almost extinguished sorted to that they cannot be left out of account. These are the by the Japanese war), to build the forts of Port Arthur and Weisums derived from sale of office or of brevet rank, and the sub-hai-wei (now also lost to the nation), and to keep going the scriptions and benevolences which under one plea or another the several arsenals recently established. But the whole of the customs Government succeeds in levying from the wealthy. Raising money revenue being now pledged to foreign bondholders (vide “External by sale of title or official rank has long been and still is a favour- Debt”), and absorbed by the service of the several loans, funds for able device for special emergencies, such as the great famine in these and the like purposes must now be procured, if at all, elseShansi, the inundation of the Yellow river, and so forth, the sale where. An entire readjustment of revenue and expenditure is being stopped when the emergency has passed. But excluding manifestly necessary, but what form it will take remains to be these, the Government is always ready to receive subscriptions, But besides supplying its own wants the imperial Governrewarding the donor with a grant of official rank entitling him to ment has to provide for outlying portions of the empire which are wear the appropriate “button.” The right is much sought after, unable to maintain themselves—11) Manchuria ; (2) Kansuh and and indeed there are very few Chinamen of any standing that are the central Asian dominion ; (3) the south-western provinces of not thus decorated, for not only does the button confer social Yunnan and Kwaichow. Manchuria, or, as it is termed, the northstanding, but it gives the wearer certain very substantial advan east frontier defence, costs about 2,000,000 taels over and above tages in case he should come into contact with the law courts. its own resources. The central Asian territories have from time to The minimum price for the lowest grade is taels 120 (£18), and time absorbed enormous sums, and even yet constitute a drain on more of course for higher grades. The proceeds of these sales go the imperial Government of about 4,000,000 taels a year. This is directly to the Peking Government, and do not as a rule figure in met by subsidies from Szechuen, Shansi, Honan, and other wealthy the provincial returns. The total of the miscellaneous items provinces. Yunnan, Kweichow, and Kwangsi require aids aggreaccruing for the benefit of the Government is estimated at taels gating 2,000,000 taels to keep things going. 5,500,000.

A rough analysis of the expenditure of the Chinese empire, as it Expenditure.-In regard to expenditure, a distinction has to be stood at the commencement of the Japanese war, would show the drawn between that portion of the revenue which is controlled by following division :the central Government, and that controlled by the several provincial authorities. In theory, no doubt, the imperial Govern

Expenditure 1894.

Taels. ment is supreme, and can spend the revenue of the nation in any way it chooses, but in practice it is not so. As the provinces

1,500,000

Imperial household collect the revenue, and as the authorities there are held respons

Central administration, pay of banner troops

19,500,000

and foreign drilled forces ible for the peace, or ler, and good government of their respective Board of Admiralty (Peiyang squadron) territories, it follows that the necessary expenses of the provinces

5,000,000

Southern naval squadron form a sort of first charge on the revenue.

5,000,000 If the Peking Government asks for more than the province can afford, they simply

Forts, guns, and coast defence

8,000,000 Defence of Manchuria

2,000,000 cannot get it. The order is not, in so many words, refused, it is

Kansuh and Central Asia

4,000,000 simply disregarded, and the Peking Government have no means

Aids to Yunnan and kweichow.

1,600,000 of enforcing it. The method of working is as follows :The Board of Revenue at Peking, which is charged with a general supervision

Interest and repayment of foreign loans 2,500,000 of finance matters all over the empire, makes up at the end of the

Railway construction .

500,000

Public works, river embankments, &c. year a general estimate of the funds that will be required for

1,500,000 imperial purposes during the ensuing year, and apportions the

Customs administration, including main

tenance of lighthouses, beacons, revenue 2,500,000 amount among the several provinces and the several collectorates

cruisers. in each province. The estimate is submitted to the Emperor, and, General administration of eighteen provinces 36,600,000 when sanctioned, instructions are sent to all the viceroys and governors in that sense, who, in turn, pass them on to their subordinate officers.

90, 200,000 In ordinary times these demands do not materially vary from year to year, and long practice has created External Debt.—Prior to the Japanese war the foreign debt of a sort of equilibrium between imperial and provincial demands. China was almost nil. A few trifling loans had been contracted The remittances to the capital are, as a rule, forwarded with reason at 7 and 8 per cent., but they had been punctually paid off, and able regularity, mostly in the form of hard cash, and though there only a fraction of one remained. The expenses of the war, howare frequent complaints of the falling-off of revenue, yet, by good ever, and the large indemnity of 230,000,000 taels (£34,500,000) luck, some other fund is found to have a little to spare, and the which Japan exacted, forced China for the first time into the amount can be made up. It would, indeed, appear to be the cue European market as a serious borrower. The foreign loans conof every governor to minimize the resources of his own province tracted up to 1900 amounted altogether to £54,455,000, bearing as inuch as possible, so as to stave ofl' importunate demands from interest mostly at 5 per cent. Some of the earlier and smaller Peking, and get them foisted on to some other province. Hence issues carry 6 and 7 per cent., and one of £16,000,000 guaranteed the frequent references to the Taiping rebellion (a favourite stalk. | by the Russian Government carries 4 per cent. This last was ing-horse, though now a generation old), the lamentations over raised in Paris, the others were all made in London through the the falling-off of revenue, and the decaying state of the province Hongkong and Shanghai Bank. The charges for interest and -all for the most part fictions of the imagination. There is thus a sinking Lund, which amount to over £3,000,000, are secured on constant pull going on between Peking and the provinces—the the revenue of the Maritime Customs, and on the likin taxes of former always asking for more, the latter resisting and pleading certain specified provinces. At present the net income from these impecuniosity, yet generally able to find the amounts required, or two sources amounts to over taels 21,000,000, equivalent at present at all events a percentage. Whatever the provinces can retain can rate of exchange to £3,400,000, which is amply sufficient. Besides be spent practically as they choose. The Peking control over local the foregoing, the Chinese Government recently borrowed £2,300,000 expenditure is very feeble, though nominal accounts are rendered. för railway extension, also at 5 per cent., the charges on which

The expenses which the central Government has to meet are : are secured on the revenue of the Imperial Northern Railway (vide (1) Imperial household ; (2) Pay of the Manchu garrison in and “Railways.") about Peking ; (3) Costs of the civil administration in the capital ; There is no internal debt worth mentioning. The Chinese (4) Pay of the foreign drilled troops termed the army of the North Government have several times attempted to borrow money in as distinct from the provincial troops (ride Army” below); (5) their own country, offering Government bonds as security, but The admiralty so far as regards the northern squadron ; (6) Naval uniformly without success. It is felt that no reliance can be placed dockyards, forts, guns, &c. ; (7) Foreign loans-interest and sink on the good faith of the Government towards its own subjects, and ing fund. To meet all these charges the Peking Government no machinery exists whereby payment could be enforced in case of has, for some years past, drawn on the provinces for about taels default. 20,000,000 (£3,000,000), including the value of the tribute rice, Defence-Army.—The Chinese constitution provides for two which goes to the support of the Manchu bannermen. No estimates independent sets of military organizations-namely, the Manchu are furnished of the sums allowed under each heading. The im army and the several provincial armies. On the establishment perial household appears to receive in silver about taels 1,500,000 of the dynasty in 1614, the victorious troops, composed mainly of (£225,000), but it draws besides large supplies in kind from the pro- Manchus, but including also Mongols and Chinese, were permavinces, e.g., silks and satins from the imperial factories at Soochow nently quartered in Peking, and constituted a hereditary national and Hangchow, porcelain from the Kiangsi potterios, &c., the cost army. The force was divided into eight banners, and under one

« EelmineJätka »