1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hankow

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HANKOW, China (see 12.919). At the mouth of the Han river a great commercial entrepôt is provided for China by the three large cities, Hankow, Hanyang and Wuchang, at the point where the Han flows into the Yangtsze. Prior to the commencement of disorder in 1911 the development of railway communications in the interior of China had largely increased the wealth and importance of this great distributing centre. Hankow, on the N. bank of the Yangtsze, is the terminus of the completed Peking-Hankow trunk line, and Wuchang, on the S. bank, the terminus of the line, in process of construction, from Canton. But during the turmoil of the revolution, and on more than one occasion thereafter, Hankow suffered materially because of its strategical importance to the contending factions. On Nov. 1 1911 two-thirds of the city was destroyed by fire as the result of a bombardment by the imperialists; nevertheless, the population of the three cities united was reckoned by the Maritime Customs in 1916 at 1,321,280 and in 1920 at about 1,500,000.

The black-tea trade, Hankow's staple industry in former days, declined steadily between 1915 and 1920, partly because of the competition of Indian and Ceylon teas, but chiefly because of the elimination of the Russian buyer — the total amount of black leaf shipped abroad from China in 1919 being 288,398 piculs, as against 771,141 piculs in 1915. But in other directions the trade of the port expanded steadily, in spite of political excursions and alarms; its net value in 1919 was 200 million taels, as against 170 millions in 1917. The industrial development of the district, increasingly active after the conclusion of the World War, was reflected in a large demand for machinery and plant for new factories. In 1919 Hankow-milled yarn was selling at a higher price than yarn imported from Japan. The export trade in wood-oil and sesamum-seed, of which Hankow is the chief centre, increased very rapidly.

The number of residents in the British Concession recorded by the census of 1920 included 163 British and 341 Japanese out of a total of 678. The German Concession, like that at Tientsin, was taken over by the Chinese authorities after China's declaration of war on the side of the Allies; early in 1920 it was understood that Japan was negotiating with the Chinese Government to acquire it by purchase.

(J. O. P. B.)