Page images
PDF
EPUB

1901.)
China.-The Manchurian Negotiations.

[363 serious consequences arose between the British and Russian military authorities over the ownership of a small strip of land at Tien-tsin. The land in question was being used by the British to make a siding for the railway which was mortgaged to British bondholders. The Russians on their part claimed that this land formed part of the recently acquired Russian concession. British and Russian sentries were posted within a yard of each other in order to maintain rival rights. Before a collision occurred it was agreed by the two Governments that work should be temporarily suspended, and that the dispute should be referred to arbitration.

The Russian concession at Tien-tsin, which was obtained from Li Hung Chang the previous year, and which stretches along the left bank of the river Peiho opposite the British concession, was opened with much ceremony on July 13. Its acquisition was viewed with alarm by those interested in the prosperity of the port, for at this part of the river there is barely room for steamers to moor; and any wharves or other works which the Russians might construct on their side would seriously obstruct navigation.

Other Powers also, who can have no real use for a separate concession or settlement, took advantage of the general confusion to secure one, and now Tien-tsin boasts five or six separate concessions-& state of things which will inevitably give rise to troublesome international disputes in the future.

Early in the year it became known that, side by side with the Treaty of Peace which the foreign Powers in concert were negotiating with China, Russia was on her own account trying to negotiate a separate treaty about Manchuria. Li Hung Chang used every endeavour to obtain the Empress's consent to the Russian terms; but Chinese public opinion, in so far as it could make itself heard, and the powerful Yang-tsze Viceroys Liu Kun-yi and Chang Chih-tung were strenuously opposed to the Russian demands. These, after various modifications, took the following shape : (1) The civil administration of Manchuria to be restored to China. (2) Russia to maintain a military force for the protection of the Manchurian railway. (3) Russia to assist China in keeping order. (4) No munitions of war to be imported, and no military force to be maintained in Manchuria without Russia's consent. (5) Chinese officials who prove themselves obnoxious to Russia are not to be retained in office. (6) No foreigners except Russians to be employed in organising land or sea forces in North China. (7) The district of Chinchow to pass under Russian administration. (8) No mining or railway concessions to be granted to foreigners in Manchuria, Mongolia, or Turkestan. (9) Indemnity to be given for injury to Russian interests and for Russian expenses in Manchuria. (10 and 11) The damage caused to the Manchurian railway may be liquidated by granting new concessions, or

modifying old ones. (12) A railway to be built connecting the Manchurian line with the Great Wall.

Russia fixed a date before which these terms must be accepted, but China, being strongly advised by Great Britain, Japan and other Powers not to enter into a separate arrangement with Russia, refused to sign the treaty. Russia thereupon addressed a circular to the foreign Powers, stating that her object had been to arrange terms with China which would enable Russia to restore Manchuria, but as it now appeared that the proposed arrangement was likely to involve China in trouble, Russia would withdraw from the negotiations and await the course of events. Later in the year, after the final peace protocol between the foreign Powers and China had been signed and friendly relations had been re-established, the new Russian Minister, M. Lessar, again attempted to negotiate a revised treaty, which was much the same in effect as the discarded one. The Chinese negotiator was again Li Hung Chang, who, as before, seemed disposed to accede to the Russian demands; his death occurred before he could sign the treaty, and Russia seems to have lost her chance of getting her terms accepted ; but as her troops remain in Manchuria and she is in a position to exercise all the rights which the proposed treaty would have conferred on her, China's refusal to give her written assent does not materially alter the status quo.

Russia's doings in Manchuria brought to light a strange divergence of views regarding the Anglo-German agreement of October, 1900, respecting the integrity

of China. The German official view was that the agreement did not include Manchuria, whereas the British official view was that the agreement had reference to all parts of the Chinese Empire. Throughout the year the Russians remained in occupation of the Treaty port of Niuchwang, and exercised control over the Chinese population.

In the spring a British vessel of war captured some Chinese pirates in the Elliot group to the south of Manchuria. The Russian admiral complained to Admiral Seymour that these were Russian waters, which had been ceded to Russia at the same time as Port Arthur, but his Britannic Majesty's Government would not admit that there was any validity in the Russian claim.

An Ottoman mission under Enver Pasha left Constantinople for China in May with the object of cultivating relations with Chinese Mahomedans. The mission stayed a few weeks in Shanghai, and before it had effected anything it was recalled, and returned to Turkey via the Siberian Railway.

A Tibetan Mission went from Lassa to Moscow in June. The Russian official Press gave out that its object was to obtain religious liberties for the Buddhist subjects of the Tsar. This diplomatic rapprochement between Tibet and Russia caused a good deal of uneasiness in Pekin.

1901.)
China.-Famine and Floods.

[365 With a certain degree of secrecy a French steamer, escorted by a man-of-war, laid a cable between Haiphong and Amoy. At Amoy it connected with the Danish cable that is laid between that port and Vladivostok; and telegraphic communication was thus established between Tongking and France independently of any English lines.

The extensive coalfields in the province of Chihli, which had been worked by a Chinese company for some twenty years with small profit to the shareholders, were acquired by an English company under the name of the Chinese Engineering and Mining Coropany, Limited. The coalfields extend for about twenty miles along the Tien-tsin-Shanhaikuan railway, and there is easy access to shipping wharves. Good coal is known to exist in practically unlimited quantities, and the prospects of the company are exceedingly good.

The province of Shensi suffered from drought, and a severe famine was the consequence. In the month of August it was estimated that 2,500,000 had died. The Yang-tsze region also suffered from floods ; in some parts the river assumed the proportions of a large lake 200 miles wide. Some 10,000,000 people . were rendered homeless and destitute—such floods had not been known for seventy years. In both these cases of distress British missionaries collected money and did their best to give relief.

The brevet rank of Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent was conferred on Sir Robert Hart in recognition of his services during the peace negotiations. It is an honour usually bestowed on Viceroys of provinces.

The port of Ching Wang-tao, in the Gulf of Pechili, was opened to foreign trade in December. It is hoped that during the ice-bound season in the north communication between Shanghai and the north may be kept open with this port, which is on the line of the Pekin-Šhanhaikuan railway.

Throughout the year piracy, which is always rife in the Canton rivers, increased to such an extent that foreign pressure had to be put on the Viceroy to take more energetic measures for its suppression. On the advice of the British admiral the Viceroy decided to commission several fast gunboats, manned by foreigners, to patrol the waters of his province.

The island of Ku-lang-su, which forms the settlement where most of the foreign merchants reside at the treaty port of Amoy, was made into an international settlement by the local authorities. This gives the foreign residents the power to make their own sanitary and police regulations.

The Siberian Railway was completed in November—that is rails are now laid all the way from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, with the exception of the section on the south of Lake Baikal, but much work remains to be done before the line can be considered ready for traffic. Great progress was made in developing Russia's new port on the Pacific-Dalny as it is now called, or Ta-lien-wan as it is known in Chinese. This will be

the terminus of the Siberian Railway, and all that can be done to attract shipping in the way of docks and wharves is being pushed forward at great expense.

Considerable progress has also been made on the Lu-han railway, the line that is to connect Pekin and Hankow. At the nkow end it is completed as far as Sin-yang, a distance of 130 miles, and at the northern end as far as Cheng-ting, a distance of 150 miles from Pekin. No work has yet been undertaken on the Canton-Wuchang line, for which an American syndicate has a concession, but the Belgian syndicate which is constructing the Lu-han line has acquired from the Americans an interest in this future southern trunk line.

At Wuchang the Viceroy Chang Chih-tung gave notice that a site on the river bank, which it is intended shall be the terminus of the southern line, had been marked out as a treaty port open to all foreign merchants. Those who hoped to see the rich province of Szu-chuan tapped by a line from Burmah were discouraged by the declaration of Lord Curzon at Rangoon that the scheme was not to be entertained, and that work on the Kunlun Ferry line must be discontinued before it reached the province of Yunnan. The French, as will be seen under the heading of Tongking, are making progress with their railway to Yunnan.

In the month of August H.M.S. Sandpiper ascended the West River as far as Nan-ning in Kwangsi. This port was opened to foreign trade, but on account of reefs of rocks and rapids navigation for steamers is very risky. In December H.M.S. Woodcock reached Kiating in Szu-chuan. This is the highest point on the Yang-tsze that has been reached by a steamer.

The P. & 0. mail steamer Sobraon was wrecked on Tungying Island off Foochow on April 24, one day after leaving Shanghai. The mails and passengers were saved, but the vessel became a total wreck.

A German church was opened in Shanghai in October. The German Emperor announced his intention of presenting a window.

II. JAPAN,

In April the Crown Princess gave birth to a son; the event was a cause of great rejoicing to the nation, which has come round to the view that the Crown should only pass to the offspring of a legitimate union.

In March the House of Peers refused to pass the Taxation Bills, and by order of the Emperor the House was prorogued for ten days. Eventually the Peers gave way in deference to the express wish of his Majesty.

Much discussion took place in connection with the tenure of land by foreigners in the so-called settlements. The treaty

[ocr errors]

1901.) Japan.-Attitude with regard to Manchuria. [367 states that “existing leases in perpetuity, under which property is now held in the settlements, shall be confirmed, and no conditions whatsoever, except those contained in such existing leases, shall be imposed in respect of such property. No such title as "perpetual lease” is recognised by Japanese law, and the Japanese authorities proposed to register the land under the term "superficies,” which is the Japanese equivalent of perpetual lease. The foreign residents held out for the strict letter of the treaty, and ultimately the Japanese Diet had to pass a special act to meet the case ; this was done in the month of March. Another question arising out of the same treaty article was the tax on houses within the settlement area. Foreign residents claimed that they were exempt, but the Japanese authorities threatened to enforce the tax by process of law. The matter has not yet been settled, but it has been proposed by foreign Powers that the question be submitted to arbitration.

Great excitement prevailed in the early part of the year, caused by the attempt of Russia to force the Manchurian Treaty on China. Japan made representations to Russia on the subject, and Russia's reply was that the proposed arrangement was an affair between China and herself, but that it would be found the terms were not injurious to Japan. In this connection the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs made an important declaration in the Diet. Japan, he said, considered that Manchuria came within the scope of the so-called AngloGerman Agreement, to which Japan was a party; and that Japan's intention was to adhere to the plain terms of the agree. ment without regard to the forced interpretation which any other Power chose to put upon it.

In March the treaty between Spain and Japan was ratified. It stipulates amongst other things that each shall give to the other the most favoured treatment in respect of exports and imports.

In June the Ito Cabinet, which had held office since the previous autumn, resigned, ostensibly over the financial question, but it was believed that there were other underlying causes at work. The new Premier was Viscount Katsura, a man of no great political reputation, and his colleagues also were not of such mark as to give hope that this Government was more than a stop-gap.

In June M. Hoshi Toru, the head of the Liberal party, was assassinated by a man who held a good position in Tokyo. The motive for the crime as declared by the assassin was a sense of duty which impelled him to remove a man who was unfitted by his dishonesty and self-seeking to hold the position he did on the Tokyo City Council and on the Council of Education. The murderer gave himself up at once, and was tried, and sentenced to imprisonment for life, the death penalty being withheld, probably to prevent the criminal from becoming an object of

« PreviousContinue »