Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/53

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25
DAYS IN YUNNAN-FU

miles in length, once perhaps washed the west wall, but it is gradually silting up, and to-day it is five miles away and is reached by heavy sampans which ply the narrow canals that intersect the rice-fields. Farm buildings, tea-houses, and temples buried in groves of bamboo are dotted over the plain, which is crossed at intervals by high, stone-paved dykes lined with trees. The rich cultivation of the lowland is in sharp contrast with the surrounding hills, bare and barren save where the presence of a temple has preserved the forest.

Yunnan-fu, with a population of some eighty thousand, seems a fairly prosperous town. Copper is found on the neighbouring hills, and the metal-work of the place is famous, although by law all copper mined must be sent to Peking. But the importance of the city depends mainly upon its trade. It is the centre of a large though rather scantily populated district abounding in the great staples, rice, beans, and millet, as well as in fruit and vegetables. Formerly Yunnan stood in the forefront of opium-producing provinces, but when I was there not a poppy-field was to be seen. The last viceroy, the much respected Hsi Liang, the one Mongol in the Chinese service, himself not an opium smoker, had shown great determination in carrying out the imperial edicts against its use or production, and rather unwillingly Yunnan was brought into line with the new order.