1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tongking

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TONGKING,[1] a province of French Indo-China, and protectorate of France, situated between 20° and 23½° N. and 102° and 108½° E., and bounded N. by the Chinese provinces of Kwang-Tung, Kwang-Si and Yun-nan, W. by Laos, S. by Annam, and E. by the Gulf of Tongking. Area, about 46,000 sq. m. The population is estimated at 6,000,000, including 33,000 Chinese and about 4000 Europeans. Geographically, Tongking comprises three regions: (1) the delta of the Song-Koi (Red river), which, beginning at Son-Tay and coalescing with the delta of the Thai-Binh, widens out into the low-lying and fertile plain within which are situated the principal cities. (2) Two mountainous tracts, to the north and west of the delta, running approximately from north-west to south-east, one separating the basins of the Song-Koi and the Canton river, the other those of the Song-Koi and the Mekong. (3) A region of plateaus and low hills forming a transition between the delta and the mountains. The main geographical feature in the country is the Song-Koi, which, taking its rise near Tali Fu, in Yun-nan, enters Tongking at Lao-Kay (the Lao boundary), and flows thence in a south-easterly direction to the Gulf of Tongking. It was this river which mainly, in the first instance, attracted the French to Tongking, as it was believed by the explorers that, forming the shortest route by water to the rich province of Yun-nan, it would prove also to be the most convenient and expeditious means of transporting the tin, copper, silver and gold which are known to abound there. This belief, however, has proved fallacious. The upper course of the stream is constantly impeded by rapids, the lowest being about thirty miles above Hung-Hoa. Beyond Lao-Kay navigation is impracticable during the dry season, and at all other times of the year goods have to be there transferred into light junks. Below Lao-Kay larger junks, and in the summer months steam launches of shallow draught use the river. Within the limits of Yun-nan the navigation is still more difficult. Near Son-Tay the Song-Koi receives the waters of the Song-Bo (Black river) and the Song-Ka (Clear river), parallel affluents rising in Yun-nan, and from that point divides into a network of waterways which empty themselves by countless outlets into the sea. The Song-Cau rises in north-eastern Tongking and below the town of Sept Pagodes, where it is joined by the Song-Thuong to form the Thai-Binh, divides into numerous branches, communicating with the Song-Koi by the Canal des Rapides and the Canal des Bambous.

The coast line of Tongking from Mon-Kay on the Chinese frontier to Thanh-Hoa, near that of Annam, has a length of 375 m. From Mon-Kay as far as the estuary of the Song-Koi it is broken, rugged and fringed with islands and rocky islets. The bay of Tien-Hien, to the south of which lies the island of Ke-Bao, and the picturesque bay of Along, are the chief indentations. Beyond the island of Cac-Ba, south of the Bay of Along, the coast is low, flat and marshy, and tends to advance as the alluvial deposits of the delta accumulate.

The climate of Tongking is less trying to Europeans than that of the rest of French Indo-China. During June, July and August, the temperature ranges between 82° and 100° F., but from October to May the weather is cool. The country is subject to typhoons in August and September.

In the wooded regions of the mountains the tiger, elephant and panther are found, and wild buffalo, deer and monkeys are common. The delta is the home of ducks and many other varieties of aquatic birds. Tea, cardamom, and mulberry grow wild, and in general the flora approximate to that of southern China.

The Annamese (see Annam), who form the bulk of the population of Tongking, are of a somewhat better physique than those of the rest of Indo-China. Savage tribes inhabit the northern districts—the Muongs the mountains bordering the Black river, the Thôs the regions bordering the Clear river and the Thai-Binh. The Muongs are bigger and stronger than the Annamese. They have square foreheads, large faces and prominent cheek-bones, and their eyes are often almost straight.

Rice, which in some places furnishes two crops annually, is incomparably the most important product of the delta. Elsewhere there are plantations of coffee, tobacco, ramie, paper-tree (Daphne odora), cotton, jute, sugar-cane, pepper and mulberry. The cultivation of silkworms is of growing importance.

Gold, copper, tin, lead and other metals are found in the higher regions of Tongking, but only gold and tin are exploited, and these only to a very limited extent. There is a large output of coal of inferior quality from Hon-Gay on the bay of Along and there are coal-workings on the island of Ke-Bao.

Hanoi, Hai-phong and Nam-Dinh carry on cotton-spinning, and Hanoi and Nam-Dinh are well known for the manufacture of carved and inlaid furniture. The natives are skilful at enamelling and the chasing and ornamentation of gold and other metals. The manufacture of paper from the fibrous bark of the paper-tree is a widespread industry and there are numerous distilleries of rice-spirit.

The imports of Tongking, which in 1905 reached a value of £3,501,422, comprise railway material, cereals, flour, liquors, woven goods, petroleum, glassware, paper, prepared skins, clocks and watches, arms and ammunition, &c. Exports (valued at £1,393,674 in 1905) comprise rice, rubber, manila hemp, ramie, lacquer and badian oils, raw skins, silk-waste, coal, Chinese drugs, rattan, mats, gamboge.

The transit trade via Tongking between Hong-Kong and the province of Yun-nan in southern China is of considerable importance, reaching in 1905 a value of £1,146,000. This trade is entirely in the hands of Chinese houses, the tin of the Yun-nan mines and cotton yarns from Hong-Kong constituting its most important elements. Goods in transit enjoy a rebate of 80% of the customs duties. Goods are carried on the Song-Koi to Lao-Kay or Man-Hao, thence on mules. The waterways of the delta are lined with embankments, the causeways along which form the chief means of land communication of the region. (For railways, see Indo-China, French.)

The protectorate of Tongking approaches nearer to direct administration than that of Annam, where the conditions of the protectorate are more closely observed. Till 1897 the emperor of Annam was represented in Tongking by a viceroy (kinh-luoc), but now the native officials are appointed by and are directly under the control of the resident-superior, who resides at Hanoi, presides over the protectorate council, and is the chief territorial representative of France. Tongking is divided into nineteen provinces, in each of which there is a resident or a vice-resident, and four military territories, the latter administered by commandants. In each province there is a council of native “notables,” elected by natives and occupied with the discussion of the provincial budget and public works. There is also a deliberative council of natives (instituted 1907) for the whole of Tongking. The provincial administration, local government and educational system are analogous to those of Annam (q. v.). Two chambers of the court of appeal of Indo-China and a criminal court sit at Hanoi; there are tribunals of first instance and tribunals of commerce at Hanoi and Hai-Phong. When both parties to a suit are Annamese, it comes within the jurisdiction of the An-Sat or native judge of the province.

The following is a summary of the budgets of 1899 and 1904:—

 Receipts.   Expenditure. 

£ £
 1899  461,235 427,993
1904 756,648 494,034

The chief source of revenue is the direct taxes (including especially the poll-tax and land-tax), which amounted in 1904 to £417,723, while the chief items of expenditure are the cost of the residencies and general staff, public works and the civil guard.

For the early history of Tongking, see Annam and Indo-China, French. Tongking was loosely united to Annam until 1801, when Gia-long, king of Annam, brought it definitely under his sway. Having, by the treaty of 1862 and the annexation of Cochin China, firmly established themselves in Annamese territory, the French began to turn their attention to Tongking, attracted by the reported richness of its mineral wealth. They found a pretext for interfering in its affairs in the disturbances arising from the invasion of its northern provinces by the disbanded followers of the Taiping rebels. The Franco-German War of 1870-71 put an end to the project for a time, but the return of peace in Europe was the signal for the renewal of hostilities in the East. The appearance of Garnier's work on his expedition up the Mekong again aroused an interest in Tongking, and the reported wealth of the country added the powerful motive of self-interest to the yearnings of patriotism. Already Jean Dupuis, a trader who in the pursuit of his calling had penetrated into Yun-nan, was attempting to negotiate for the passage up the Song-Koi of himself and a cargo of military stores for the Chinese authorities in Yun-nan. Meanwhile Captain Senez appeared from Saigon, having received instructions to open the route to French commerce. But to neither the trader nor the naval officer would the Tongkingese lend a favourable ear, and in default of official permission Dupuis determined to force his way up the river. This he succeeded in doing, but arrived too late, for he found the Taiping rebellion crushed and the stores no longer wanted.

On the return of Dupuis to Hanoi, the Tongkingese general at that place wrote to the king of Annam, begging him to induce the governor of Cochin-China to remove the intruder. An order was thereupon issued calling upon Dupuis to leave the country. This he declined to do, and, after some negotiations, Francis Garnier with a detachment was sent to Hanoi to do the best he could in the difficult circumstances. Garnier threw himself heart and soul into Dupuis's projects, and, when the Tongkingese authorities refused to treat with him except on the subject Of Dupuis's expulsion, he attacked the citadel in November, 1873, and carried it by assault. Having thus secured his position, he sent to Saigon for reinforcements, and meanwhile sent small detachments against the five other important fortresses in the delta (Hung-yen, Phu-Ly, Hai-Duong, Ninh-Binh and Nam-Dinh), and captured them all. The Tongkingese now called in the help of Lu-Vinh-Phuoc, the leader of the “Black Flags,”[2] who at once marched with a large force to the scene of action. Within a few days he recaptured several villages near Hanoi, and so threatening did his attitude appear that Garnier, who had hurried back after capturing Nam-Dinh, made a sortie from the citadel. The movement proved a disastrous one, and resulted in the death of Garnier and of his second in command, Balny d'Avricourt.

Meanwhile the news of Garnier's hostilities had alarmed the governor of Saigon, who, having no desire to be plunged into a war, sent Philastre, an inspector of native affairs, to offer apologies to the king of Annam. When, however, on arriving in Tongking Philastre heard of Garnier's death, he took command of the French forces, and at once ordered the evacuation of Nam-Dinh, Ninh-Binh and Hai-Duong—a measure which, however advantageous it may have been to the French at the moment, was most disastrous to the native Christian population, the withdrawal of the French being the signal for a general massacre of the converts. In pursuance of the same policy Philastre made a convention with the authorities (March, 1874) by which he bound his countrymen to withdraw from the occupation of the country, retaining only the right to trade on the Song-Koi and at Hanoi and Hai-Phong, and agreed to put an end to Dupuis's aggressive action.

For a time affairs remained in statu quo, but in 1882 Le Myre deVillers, the governor of Cochin-China, sent Henri Rivière with a small force to open up the route to Yun-nan by the Song-Koi. With a curious similarity the events of Garnier's campaign were repeated. Finding the authorities intractable, Rivière stormed and carried the citadel of Hanoi, and then, with very slight loss, he captured Nam-Dinh, Hai-Duong, and other towns in the delta. And once again these victories brought the Black Flags into the neighbourhood of Hanoi. As Garnier had done, so Rivière hurried back from Nam-Dinh on news of the threatened danger. Like Garnier also he headed a sortie against his enemies, and like Garnier he fell a victim to his own impetuosity (May, 1883).

In the meantime the Annamese court had been seeking to enlist the help of the Chinese in their contest with the French. The tie which bound the tributary nation to the sovereign state had been for many generations slackened or drawn closer as circumstances determined, but it had never been entirely dissevered, and from the Annamese point of view this was one of the occasions when it was of paramount importance that it should be acknowledged and acted upon. With much more than usual regularity, therefore, the king despatched presents and letters to the court of Peking, and in 1880 he sent a special embassy, loaded with unusually costly offerings, and bearing a letter in which his position of a tributary was emphatically asserted. Far from ignoring the responsibility thrust upon him, the emperor of China ordered the publication of the letter in the Peking Gazette.

The death of Rivière and the defeat of his troops had placed the French in a position of extreme difficulty. M. Jules Ferry, who had become premier of France in February 1883, determined on a vigorous forward policy. But for the moment the outlying garrisons, except those of Nam-Dinh and Hai-Phong, had to be withdrawn and Hanoi itself was besieged by the Black Flags. Reinforcements brought by Admiral Courbet and General Bouet were insufficient to do more than keep them at bay. So continued was the pressure on the garrison that Bouet determined to make an advance upon Son-Tay to relieve the blockade. He attacked Vong, a fortified village, but he met with such resistance that, after suffering considerable loss, he was obliged to retreat to Hanoi. In the lower delta fortune sided with the French, and almost without a casualty Hai-Duong and Phu-Binh fell into their hands. Meanwhile, in order to put more effective pressure upon the court of Hué, Dr Harmand, commissary-general, supported by Courbet, proceeded with a naval force to the Hué river. They found that, though King Tu Duc was dead, his policy of resistance was maintained, and therefore stormed the city. After a feeble defence it was taken, and Harmand concluded a treaty with the king (August 1883) in which the French protectorate was fully recognized, the king further binding himself to recall the Annamese troops serving in Tongking, and to construct a road from Saigon to Hanoi.

Though this treaty was exacted from Annam under pressure, the French lost no time in carrying out that part of it which gave them the authority to protect Tongking, and Bouet again advanced in the direction of Son-Tay. But again the resistance he met with compelled him to retreat, after capturing the fortified post of Palan. Meanwhile, on the determination to attack Son-Tay becoming known in Paris, the Chinese ambassador warned the ministry that, since Chinese troops formed part of the garrison, he should consider it as tantamount to a declaration of war. But his protest met with no consideration. On the arrival of reinforcements an advance was again made; and on the 16th of December 1883, after some desperate fighting, Son-Tay fell.

During 1884 the French made themselves masters of the lower delta. Throughout the campaign Chinese regulars fought against the French, who thus found themselves involved in war with China. While hostilities were in progress M. Fournier, the French consul at Tientsin, had been negotiating for peace, so far as China was concerned, with Li Hung-chang, and in May 1884 had signed and sealed a memorandum by which the Chinese plenipotentiary agreed that the Chinese troops should evacuate the northern provinces of Tongking “immédiatement.” In the following month another treaty, signed at Hué, confirmed the French protectorate over Annam and Tongking. It was not, however, followed by a cessation of military operations. A misunderstanding arose between the French and the Chinese as to the exact date for the evacuation of their posts by the Chinese, and in June General Millot, then commander-in-chief of the French forces, dispatched Colonel Dugenne at the head of a strong force to occupy Lang-Son. The expedition was badly arranged; the baggage train was far too unwieldy; and the pace at which the men were made to march was too quick for that scorching time of the year. They advanced, however, to Bac-Le, within 25 m. of Lang-Son, when they suddenly came upon a Chinese camp. An irregular engagement began, and, in the pitched battle which ensued, the Chinese broke the French lines, and drove them away in headlong flight. This brought the military operations for the season to a close.

During the rainy season fevers of all kinds became alarmingly prevalent, and the number of deaths and of men invalided was very large. In the meantime, however, an expedition, led by Colonel Donnier, against the Chinese garrison at Chu, about 10 m. south-east from Lang-kep, was completely successful; and in a battle fought near Chu the Chinese were defeated, with a loss of 3000 killed, the French loss being only 20 killed and 90 wounded. In the skirmishes which followed the French were generally victorious, but not to such a degree as to warrant any enlargement of the campaign.

In January 1885 large reinforcements arrived and Brière de l'Isle, who had succeeded Millot as commander-in-chief, ordered an advance towards Lang-Son. The difficulties of transport greatly impeded his movements, still the expedition was successful. On the 6th of February three forts at Dong-Song, with large supplies of stores and ammunition, fell into the hands of the French. Three days' heavy fighting made them masters of a defile on the road, and on the 13th Lang-Son was taken, the garrison having evacuated the town just before the entrance of the conquerors. With his usual energy General Négrier, who commanded a division under Brière de l'Isle, pressed on in pursuit to Ki-Hea, and even captured the frontier town of Cua-Ai. But Brière de l'Isle had now to hurry back to the relief of Tuyen-Kwan, which was doggedly resisting the attacks of an overwhelming Chinese force, and Négrier was left in command at Lang-Son. The withdrawal of Brière de l’Isle's division gave the Chinese greater confidence, and, though for a time Négrier was able to hold his own, on the 22nd and 23rd of March he sustained a severe check between Lang-Son and That-Ke, which was finally converted into a complete rout, his troops being obliged to retreat precipitately through Lang-Son to Than-Moi and Dong-Song. Brière de l'Isle reached Tuyen-Kwan, the garrison of which was commanded by Colonel Dominé, on the 3rd of March, and effected its relief. The disaster at Lang-Son caused the downfall of the Ferry ministry (March 30). Shortly afterwards Sir Robert Hart succeeded in negotiating peace with China. By the terms agreed on at Tientsin (June, 1885), it was stipulated that France was to take Tongking and Annam under its protection and to evacuate Formosa and the Pescadores. (For further history, see Indo-China.)

See J. Dupuis, Le Tong-kin et l’intervention française (Paris, 1898); C. B. Norman, Tonkin or France in the Far East (London, 1884); Prince Henri d'Orléans, Autour du Tonkin (Paris, 1896); J. Ferry, Le Tonkin et la mère-patrie (Paris, 1890); J. Chailley, Paul Bert au Tonkin (Paris, 1887); E. Lunet de Lajonquière, Ethnographie du Tonkin Septentrional (Paris, 1906); A. Gaisman, L'Œuvre de la France au Tonkin (Paris, 1906); also the bibliography under Indo-China, French.

  1. See also Indo-China, French, and Annam.
  2. Bands of Chinese rebels who infested the mountainous region of Tongking.