1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hankow

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HANKOW (“Mouth of the Han”), the great commercial centre of the middle portion of the Chinese empire, and since 1858 one of the principal places opened to foreign trade. It is situated on the northern side of the Yangtsze-kiang at its junction with the Han river, about 600 m. W. of Shanghai in 30° 32' 51" N., 114° 19' 55" E., at a height of 150 ft. By the Chinese it is not considered a separate city, but as a suburb of the now decadent city of Hanyang; and it may almost be said to stand in a similar relation to Wu-chang the capital of the province of Hupeh, which lies immediately opposite on the southern bank of the Yangtsze-kiang. Hankow extends for about a mile along the main river and about two and a half along the Han. It is protected by a wall 18 ft. high, which was erected in 1863 and has a circuit of about 4 m. Within recent years the port has made rapid advance in wealth and importance. The opening up of the upper waters of the Yangtsze to steam navigation has made it a commercial entrepôt second only to Shanghai. It is the terminus of a railway between Peking and the Yangtsze, the northern half of the trunk line from Peking to Canton. There is daily communication by regular lines of steamers with Shanghai, and smaller steamers ply on the upper section of the river between Hankow and Ich‘ang. The principal article of export continues to be black tea, of which staple Hankow has always been the central market. The bulk of the leaf tea, however, now goes to Russia by direct steamers to Odessa instead of to London as formerly, and a large quantity goes overland via Tientsin and Siberia in the form of brick tea. The quantity of brick tea thus exported in 1904 was upwards of 10 million lb. The exports which come next in value are opium, wood-oil, hides, beans, cotton yarn and raw silk. The population of Hankow, together with the city of Wuchang on the opposite bank, is estimated at 800,000, and the number of foreign residents is about 500. Large iron-works have been erected by the Chinese authorities at Hanyang, a couple of miles higher up the river, and at Wuchang there are two official cotton mills. The British concession, on which the business part of the foreign settlement is built, was obtained in 1861 by a lease in perpetuity from the Chinese authorities in favour of the crown. By 1863 a great embankment and a roadway were completed along the river, which may rise as much as 50 ft. or more above its ordinary levels, and not infrequently, as in 1849 and 1866, lays a large part of the town under water. On the former occasion little was left uncovered but the roofs of the houses. In 1864 a public assay office was established. Sub-leases for a term of years are granted by the crown to private individuals; local control, including the policing of the settlement, is managed by a municipal council elected under regulations promulgated by the British minister in China, acting by authority of the sovereign's orders in council. Foreigners, i.e. non-British, are admitted to become lease-holders on their submitting to be bound by the municipal regulations. The concession, however, gives no territorial jurisdiction. All foreigners, of whatever nationality, are justiciable only before their own consular authorities by virtue of the extra-territorial clauses of their treaties with China. In 1895 a concession, on similar terms to that under which the British is held, was obtained by Germany, and this was followed by concessions to France and Russia. These three concessions all lie on the north bank of the river and immediately below the British. An extension of the British concession backwards was granted in 1898. The Roman Catholics, the London Missionary Society and the Wesleyans have all missions in the town; and there are two missionary hospitals. The total trade in 1904 was valued at £15,401,076 (£9,042,190 being exports and £6,358,886 imports) as compared with a total of £17,183,400 in 1891 and £11,628,000 in 1880.