1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Swatow

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Swatow (also Shan‘tow), a port of China, in the province of Kwang-tung, opened to foreign trade in 1869. The population is upwards of 60,000. The town is situated at the mouth of the main branch of the river Han, which 30 miles inland flows past the great city of Ch’aochow Fu or Tai-chu (Tie-chu), while the surrounding country is more populous and full of towns and villages than any other part of the province. The climate is good, but being situated at the southern end of the Formosa Strait the town is exposed to the full force of the typhoons, and much destruction is occasionally wrought. English merchants settled on Double Island in the river as early as 1856; but the city, which is built on ground but recently recovered from the sea, was formerly a mere fishing village. The trade of the port has rapidly increased. In 1869 the total value of the trade was £4,800,000, in 1884 £5,519,772, and in 1904 £7,063,579. The surrounding country is a great sugar-cane district producing annually about 2,400,000 cwt. of sugar, and there is an extensive refinery in the town employing upwards of 600 workmen and possessing a reservoir for 7,000,000 gallons of water. Next in value comes the manufacture of bean-cake, which is also imported in large quantities from Niuchwang, Chifu, Shanghai, Amoy and Hong-Kong. Among the leading exports are tea (since about 1872); grass-cloth, manufactured at Swatow from so-called Taiwan hemp (the fibre of the Boehmeria nivea from Formosa); pine-apple cloth, manufactured in the villages about Chieh-Yang (a town 22 m. distant); oranges, for which the district is famous; cheap fans; and pewter, iron and tin wares. Swatow is also a great emigration port and was the scene of many kidnapping adventures on the part of foreigners in the early days. Their outrages gave rise to much hostile feeling towards foreigners who were not allowed to enter the city of Ch’aochow Fu until the year 1861. Of the whole foreign trade of the port upwards of 83% is in British bottoms, the trade with Hong-Kong being of especial importance.

About 1865 the whole Swatow district was still divided into a number of “independent townships, each ruled by its own headmen,” and the population was described in the official gazetteer, as “generally rebellious and wicked in the highest degree.” Mr Forrest, British consular agent, relates that in that year he was witness to the preparations for a fight between the people living on the opposite sides of the estuary, which was only prevented by a British war-vessel. The T‘aip‘ings swept over the country, and by their ravages and plundering did much to tame the independence of the clans. The punishment inflicted in 1869 by Commander Tones on the inhabitants of Otingpui (Ou-ting-pei), about 8 m. from Swatow, for the attack they had made on the boats of H.M.S. “Cockchafer,” showed the Chinese authorities that such piratical villages were not so strong as had been supposed. General Fang (a native of Ch‘aochow Fu) was sent to reduce the district to order, and he carried out his instructions with remorseless rigour.