Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/57

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29
DAYS IN YUNNAN-FU

more the French on the south, peering with greedy eyes and clutching hands over the border. In the last fifteen years commissions of the one and the other have scoured the province with scarcely so much as "by your leave," investigating the mineral resources and planning out practicable railway routes. Within the capital city the French seem entrenched. A French post-office, a French hospital, French shops, hotels, missions, and above all the huge consulate, are there like advance posts of a greater invasion. There is an ominous look to these pretentious establishments holding strategic points in this or that debatable territory. Take the French consulates, here in Yunnan-fu and in Hoi-hou, or the Russian in Urga, the North Mongolian capital, they have more the aspect of a fortified outpost in a hostile country than the residence of the peaceful representative of a friendly power.

And Yunnan is beginning to move. For some time past the Government has been considering seriously the project of a railway across the province on the east to the Si Kiang and Canton, and just before I arrived in Yunnan-fu two engineers (significantly enough Americans) started northwards to make the preliminary surveys for a line connecting the capital with the Yangtse. If these two schemes can be carried through under Chinese control, good-by to the hopes of the French. Just at the time that I was in Yunnan there was much excitement over the Pien-ma matter,