1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Manchuria

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26678041911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 17 — ManchuriaRobert Kennaway Douglas

MANCHURIA, the name by which the territory in the east of Asia occupied by the Manchus is known in Europe. By the Chinese it is called the country of the Manchus, an epithet meaning “pure,” chosen by the founder of the dynasty which now rules over Manchuria and China as an appropriate designation for his family. Manchuria lies in a north-westerly and south-easterly direction between 39° and 53° N. and between 116° and 134° E., and is wedged in between China and Mongolia on the west and north-west, and Korea and the Russian territory on the Amur on the east and north. More definitely, it is bounded N. by the Amur, E. by the Usuri, S. by the Gulf of Liao-tung, the Yellow Sea and Korea, and W. by Chih-li and Mongolia. The territory thus defined is about 800 m. in length and 500 m. in width, and contains about 390,000 sq. m. It is divided into three provinces, viz. Hei-lung-kiang or Northern Manchuria, Kirin or Central Manchuria, and Shēng-king or Southern Manchuria. Physically the country is divided into two regions, the one a series of mountain ranges occupying the northern and eastern portions of the kingdom, and the other a plain which stretches southwards from Mukden, the capital, to the Gulf of Liao-tung.

A system of parallel ranges of mountains, culminating in the Chinese Chʽang pai Shan, “the long white mountains,” on the Korean frontier, runs in a north-easterly direction from the shores of the Gulf of Liao-tung. In its course through Eastern Manchuria it forms the watershed of the Sungari, Usuri and other rivers, and in the south that of the Ya-lu and many smaller streams. It also forms the eastern boundary of the great plain of Liao-tung. The mountains of this system reach their greatest height on the south-east of Kirin, where their snow-capped peaks rise to the elevation of 8000 ft. The scenery among them is justly celebrated, more especially in the neighbourhood of Haichʽēng, Siu-yen and the Korean Gate.

The three principal rivers of Manchuria are the Sungari, Mutan-kiang and Usuri already mentioned. Of these the Sungari, which is the largest, rises on the northern slopes of the Chʽang pai Shan range, and runs in a north-westerly direction to its junction with the Nonni, from which point it turns north-east until it empties itself into the Amur. It is navigable by native junks above Kirin, which city may also be reached by steamer. In its long course it varies greatly both in depth and width, in some parts being only a few feet deep and spreading out to a width of more than a mile, while in other and mountainous portions of its course its channel is narrowed to 300 or 400 ft., and its depth is increased in inverse ratio. The Usuri rises in about 44° N. and 131° E., and after running a north-easterly course for nearly 500 m. it also joins the Amur. The Mutan-kiang takes its rise, like the Sungari, on the northern slopes of the Chʽang pai Shan range, and not far from the sources of that river. It takes a north-easterly course as far as the city of Ninguta, at which point it turns northward, and so continues until it joins the Sungari at San-sing. It is navigable by junks between that city and Ninguta, though the torrents in its course make the voyage backwards and forwards one of considerable difficulty. Next in importance to these rivers are the Liao and Ya-lu, the former of which rises in Mongolia, and after running in an easterly direction for about 400 m. enters Manchuria in about 43° N., and turning southward empties itself into the Gulf of Liao-tung. The Ya-lu rises in Korea, and is the frontier river of that country.

Provinces and Towns.—Mukden, or as it is called by the Chinese Shēng-king, the capital city of Manchuria, is situated in the province of Shēng-king, occupies a fine position on the river Hun-ho, an affluent of the Liao, and is a city of considerable pretensions. Liao-yang, which was once the capital of the country, is also in the province of Shēng-king. The other cities in the province are Kin-chow-fu on the west of the Gulf of Liao-tung; Kin-chow, on the western extremity of the Liao-tung peninsula; Kai-ping, on the north-western shore of the same peninsula; Hai-chēng, on the road from Niu-chwang to Mukden; Ki-yuen, a populous and prosperous city in the north of the province; and Sing-king, east of Mukden, the original seat of the founders of the present dynasty. The most important commercial place, however, is the treaty port of Niu-chwang, at the head of the Gulf of Liao-tung. According to the custom-house returns the value of the foreign imports and exports in the year 1880 was £691,954 and £1,117,790 respectively, besides a large native trade carried on in junks. In 1904 the value of foreign imports had risen to £2,757,962, but the exports amounted to £1,742,859 only, the comparatively low figure being accounted for by the Russo-Japanese war.

The province of Kirin, or Central Manchuria, is bounded on the N. and N.W. by the Sungari, on the S. by Shēng-king and Korea, on the W. by Mongolia, and on the E. by the Usuri and the maritime Russian province. It contains an area of about 90,000 sq. m., and is entirely mountainous with the exception of a stretch of plain country in its north-western corner. This plain produces large quantities of indigo and opium, and is physically remarkable for the number of isolated conical hills which dot its surface. These sometimes occur in a direct line at intervals of 15 or 20 m., and elsewhere are scattered about “like dish-covers on a table.” Kirin, the capital of the province, occupies a magnificent position, being surrounded on the north, west and south by a semicircular range of mountains with the broad stream of the Sungari flowing across the front. The local trade is considerable. A-She-ho, on the Ashe, with a population of 60,000; Petuna (Chinese, Sing-chung), on the Sungari, population 30,000; San-sing, near the junction of the Sungari and Mutan-kiang; La-lin, 120 m. to the north of Kirin, population 20,000; Harbin or Kharbin and Ninguta are the other principal cities in the province.

Hei-lung-kiang, or Northern Manchuria, which contains about 195,000 sq. m., is bounded on the N. and N.E. by the Amur, on the S. by the Sungari, and on the W. by the Nonni and Mongolia. It is traversed by the Great and Lesser Khingan mountains and their offshoots. This province is thinly populated, and is cultivated only along the lines of its rivers. The only towns of any importance are Tsitsihar and Mergen, both situated on the Nonni and Khailar in the west.

Climate, Flora, Fauna.—The climate over the greater part of the country varies between extremes of heat and cold, the thermometer ranging between 90° F. in the summer and 10° below zero in the winter. As in the north of China, the rivers are frozen up during the four winter months. After a short spring the heat of summer succeeds, which in its turn is followed by an autumn of six weeks’ duration. The great plain in Shēng-king is in many parts swampy, and in the neighbourhood of the sea, where the soil emits a saline exudation such as is also common in the north of China, it is perfectly sterile. In other parts fine crops of millet and various kinds of grain are grown, and on it trees flourish abundantly. The trees and plants are much the same as those common in England, and severe as the weather is in winter the less elevated mountains are covered to their summits with trees. The wild animals also are those known in Europe, with the addition of tigers and panthers. Bears, wild boars, hares, wolves, foxes and wild cats are very common, and in the north sables are found in great numbers. One of the most noticeable of the birds is the Mongolian lark (Melanocorypha mongolica), which is found in a wild state both in Manchuria and in the desert of Mongolia. This bird is exported in large numbers to northern China, where it is much prized on account of its extraordinary power of imitation. The Manchurian crane is common, as also are eagles, cuckoos, laughing doves, &c. Insects abound, owing to the swampy nature of much of the country. The rivers are well stocked with fish, especially with salmon, which forms a common article of food. In such immense shoals do these fish appear in some of the smaller streams that numbers are squeezed out on to the banks and there perish.

Products and Industries.—In minerals Manchuria is very rich: coal, gold, iron (as well as magnetic iron ore), and precious stones are found in large quantities. Gold mines are worked at several places in the northern part of Manchuria, of which the principal are on the Muho river, an affluent of the Amur, and near the Russian frontier. Mines are also worked at Kwanyin-shan, opposite the Russian frontier town of Radevska, and at Chia-pi-kou, on an affluent of the upper Sungari. Indigo and opium are the most lucrative crops. The indigo plant is grown in large quantities in the plain country to the north of Mukden, and is transported thence to the coast in carts, each of which carries rather more than a ton weight of the dye. The poppy is cultivated wherever it will grow, the crop being far more profitable than that of any other product. Cotton, tobacco, pulse, millet, wheat and barley are also grown.

Population.—The population is estimated as follows for each of the three divisions:—

Province of Shēng-king (Fēng Tʽien) 4,000,000
”  Kirin 6,500,000
”  Hei-lung-kiang 2,000,000
Total 12,500,000

Communications.—Four principal highways traverse Manchuria. The first runs from Peking to Kirin via Mukden, where it sends off a branch to Korea. At Kirin it bifurcates, one branch going to San-sing, the extreme north-eastern town of the province of Kirin, and the other to Possiet Bay on the coast via Ninguta. The second road runs from the treaty port of Niu-chwang through Mukden to Petuna in the north-western corner of the Kirin province, and thence to Tsitsihar, Mergen and the Amur. The third also starts from Niu-chwang, and strikes southward to Kin-chow at the extremity of the Liao-tung peninsula. The fourth connects Niu-chwang with the Gate of Korea.

The original Manchurian railway was constructed under an agreement made in 1896 between the Chinese government and the Russo-Chinese bank, an institution founded in 1895 to develop Russian interests in the East. The Chinese Eastern Manchurian Railways.Railway Company was formed by the bank under this agreement, to construct and work the line, and surveys were made in 1897, the town of Harbin being founded as headquarters for the work. The line, which affords through communication from Europe by way of the Trans-Siberian system, enters Manchuria near a station of that name in the north-west corner of the country, passes Khailar, and runs south-east, near Tsitsihar, to Harbin. Thence the main line continues in the same general direction to the eastern frontier of Manchuria, and so to Vladivostok. In 1898 Russia obtained a lease of the Liao-tung peninsula, and a clause of this contract empowered her to connect Port Arthur and Dalny (now Tairen) with the main Manchurian railway by a branch southward from Harbin. In spite of interruption caused by the Boxer outbreak, through communication was established in 1901. Under the Russo-Japanese treaty of August 1905, after the war, supplemented by a convention between Japan and China concluded in December of the same year, Japan took over the line from Port Arthur as far as Kwang-chēng-tsze, now known as the Southern Manchurian railway (508 m.). Branches were promoted (a) from Mukden to Antung on the Yalu, to connect with the Korean system, and (b) from Kwang-chēng-tsze to Kirin. The rest of the original Manchurian system (1088 miles) remains under Russian control. In the south-west of Manchuria a line of the imperial railways of Northern China gives connexion from Peking, and branches at Kou-pang-tsze to Sin-min-ting and to Niu-chwang, and the link between Sin-min-ting and Mukden is also under Chinese control. The lines now under Russian control were laid down, and remain, on the 5 ft. gauge which is the Russian standard; but after the Russian control of the southern lines was lost the gauge was altered from that standard.

History.—Manchu, as has been said, is not the name of the country but of the people who inhabit it. The name was adopted by a ruler who rose to power in the beginning of the 13th century. Before that time the Manchus were more or less a shifting population, and, being broken up into a number of tribes, they went mainly under the distinctive name of those clans which exercised lordship over them. Thus under the Chow dynasty (1122–225 B.C.) they were known as Sewshin, and at subsequent periods as Yih-low, Wuh-keih, Moh-hoh, Pohai, Nüchih and according to the Chinese historians also as Khitan. Throughout their history they appear as a rude people, the tribute they brought to the Chinese court consisting of stone arrow-heads, hawks, gold, and latterly ginseng. Assuming that, as the Chinese say, the Khitans were Manchus, the first appearance of the Manchus, as a people, in China dates from the beginning of the 10th century, when the Khitans, having first conquered the kingdom of Pohai, crossed the frontier into China and established the Liao or Iron dynasty in the northern portion of the empire. These invaders were in their turn overthrown two centuries later by another invasion from Manchuria. These new conquerors were Nüchihs, and therefore direct ancestors of the Manchus. On assuming the imperial yellow in China their chief adopted the title of Kin or “Golden” for his dynasty. “Iron” (Liao), he said, “rusts, but gold always keeps its purity and colour, therefore my dynasty shall be called Kin.” In a little more than a century, however, the Kins were driven out of China by the Mongols under Jenghiz Khan. But before the close of their rule a miraculous event occurred on the Chang-pai-Shan mountains which is popularly believed to have laid the seeds of the greatness of the present rulers of the empire. Three heaven-born maidens, so runs the legend, were bathing one day in a lake under the Chang-pai-Shan mountains when a passing magpie dropped a ripe red fruit into the lap of one of them. The maiden ate the fruit, and in due course a child was born to her, whom she named Aisin Gioro, or the Golden. When quite a lad Aisin Gioro was elected chief over three contending clans, and established his capital at Otoli near the Chang-pai-Shan mountains. His reign, however, was brief, for his subjects rose and murdered him, with all his sons except the youngest, Fancha, who, like the infant Haitu in Mongolian history, was miraculously saved. Nothing is recorded of the facts of Aisin Gioro’s reign except that he named the people over whom he reigned Manchu, or “Pure.” His descendants, through the rescued Fancha, fell into complete obscurity until about the middle of the 16th century, when one of them, Nurhachu by name, a chieftain of a small tribe, rose to power. Nurhachu played with skill and daring the rôle which had been played by Jenghiz Khan more than three centuries before in Mongolia. With even greater success than his Mongolian counterpart, Nurhachu drew tribe after tribe under his sway, and after numerous wars with Korea and Mongolia he established his rule over the whole of Manchuria. Being thus the sovereign of an empire, he, again like Jenghiz Khan, adopted for himself the title of Ying-ming, “Brave and Illustrious,” and took for his reign the title of T‛ien-ming. Thirteen years later, in 1617, after numerous border fights with the Chinese, Nurhachu drew up a list of “seven hates,” or indictments, against his southern neighbours, and, not getting the satisfaction he demanded, declared war against them. The progress of this war, the peace hastily patched up, the equally hasty alliance and its consequences, being matters of Chinese history, are treated in the article China.

Manchuria was claimed by Russia as her particular sphere of interest towards the close of the 19th century, and in the course of the disturbances of 1900 Russian troops occupied various parts of the country. Eventually a Manchurian convention was arranged between China and Russia, by which Russia was to evacuate the province; but no actual ratification of this convention was made by Russia. The Anglo-German agreement of October 1900, to which Japan also became a party, and by which it was agreed to “maintain undiminished the territorial condition of the Chinese empire,” was considered by Great Britain and Japan not to exclude Manchuria; but Germany, on the other hand, declared that Manchuria was of no interest to her. The Anglo-Japanese treaty of 1902, however, was ostensibly directed towards the preservation of Manchuria in Chinese hands. British capital has been invested in the extension of the Chinese Northern railway to Niu-chwang, and the fact was officially recognized by an agreement between Great Britain and Russia in 1899. One result of the Russo-Japanese War was the evacuation of Manchuria by the Russians, which, after the conclusion of peace in 1905, was handed over by Japan to China.

See H. E. M. James, The Long White Mountain (London, 1888); D. Christie, Ten Years in Manchuria (Paisley, 1895); F. E. Younghusband, The Heart of a Continent: a Narrative of Travels in Manchuria (London, 1896); P. H. Kent, Railway Enterprise in China (London, 1907). (R. K. D.)