Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chi-êr-hang-a

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CHI-êr-hang-a 吉爾杭阿 (clan name 奇特拉, T. 雨山), d. 1856, June 1, was a Manchu general of the Bordered Yellow Banner. He rose from a clerkship to a second-class secretary in 1843, supervisor of the government granaries at Peking in 1849, and to an expectant intendant in the province of Kiangsu in 1853. In the same year the Taiping Rebels took Nanking and Chinkiang. On September 7, 1853 local insurgents of Shanghai gained control of a considerable portion of that city. They were members of the Hsiao Tao Hui 小刀會 or Small Sword Society, and included adherents of the Triad or T'ien Ti Hui 天地會, an old secret society which aimed at the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty. The leader of the Sword society was a native of Kuangtung, named Liu Li-ch'uan 劉麗川, who for a time was interpreter to Western merchants and later gained popularity at Shanghai as a physician treating the poor without charge.

As the Small Sword Society controlled not only the local government of Shanghai but also neighboring towns such as Pao-shan and Chia-ting, Chi-êr-hang-a, was ordered by Hsiang Jung [q. v.] to assist the governor of Kiangsu in putting down the insurgents. In a short time the government troops reconquered all the cities with the exception of Shanghai which they frequently assaulted. After a few months of fruitless fighting an attempt was made to negotiate peace with the rebels (January 1854) through the mediation of Alphonse de Bourboulon 蒲步龍 (b. 1809), French minister to China. The proposal of an armistice was rejected by Liu Li-ch'uan and the minister's effort was opposed by England as violating the neutrality of foreigners in China. Therefore the war was resumed in February. In April the English and American consuls, irritated by the encroachment of rebel troops upon territory set aside for their use by treaty, appealed to the taotai and then to the governor to remove the offending forces. Seeing that the latter was unable to resolve the situation, the consuls of the two nations with a few hundred troops and several cannon drove the rebel forces across Defense Creek. This engagement is known as the "Battle of Muddy Flat" (April 3, 1854). The actual retaking of the walled city was a long and difficult matter. For this delay the Imperial Government placed the blame partly upon France who had supplied the insurgents with munitions and provisions. The emperor dismissed the governor of Kiangsu and appointed in his place (July 1854) Chi-êr-hang-a, who had been promoted (February 1854) to acting financial commissioner of that province. The new governor's policy was to seek the assistance and co-operation of the Western powers in Shanghai. Though England and America declined to help, preferring to remain neutral, France, after long negotiations between Bourboulon and Chi-êr-hang-a, changed her policy from one favoring the insurgents to one opposing them in order to shorten the war and make it possible to resume trade. By the permission and help of the French a long rampart was built to cut off communications between the insurgents and the foreign settlement. With the consent of the American minister this rampart was later lengthened in order to complete the isolation of the rebels. Thereafter the latter were harrassed by shortage of provisions. Their continual sorties and the erection of a fortress above the rampart irritated the French who after December 9, 1854 took part in the conflict against them. They were attacked by the Imperial forces from all sides, and with the aid of French troops, the walled city of Shanghai was eventually taken from the hands of the rebels on Chinese New Year's Day, February 17, 1855. The leader, Liu Li-ch'uan, was killed. After three days Chi-êr-hang-a entered the city to restore peace and was rewarded with the button of the first rank.

The occupation of Shanghai by the Small Sword Society from September 1853 to February 1855 resulted in the diminution of Chinese authority in the city in three ways: (1) in the absence of properly constituted Chinese officials the collection of customs duties at that port fell into the hands of Westerners, (2) the influx of Chinese refugees into the "area reserved for foreign trade and residence" gave rise to a municipality under foreign control which rejected Chinese authority even over the native population, except as a mixed court preserved the theory of Chinese jurisdiction, and (3) Westerners claimed the power to garrison and administer this cosmopolitan foreign settlement which was regarded as neutral territory to which, since the Battle of Muddy Flat, Chinese armed forces have never been permitted to enter.

No sooner had Chi-êr-hang-a restored peace and order in Shanghai than he was appointed aide to Hsiang Jung with orders to recover Chin-kiang―a necessary step if Nanking, the final goal, were to be retaken. After repeated attacks lasting for a year Chinkiang was still firmly in the grip of the Taipings. In 1856, when his force was êngaged in relieving a neighboring town which was in peril, Chi-êr-hang-a was defeated by the Taiping forces under Ch'ên Yü-ch'êng and Li Hsiu-ch'êng [qq. v.] and was killed in battle. He was granted the posthumous rank of governor-general and the hereditary rank of Ch'ing-ch'ê tu-yü of the first class, and was canonized as Yung-lieh 勇烈.


[1/101/4a; 2/43/15a; 5/56/13a; Yü Yüeh [q. v.], Shanghai hsien-chih (1871); Millac, Arthur (pseud.), Les français à Changhai en 1853-1855, (Paris, 1884); Maybon, Ch. B. et Fredet, Jean, Histoire de la Concession Française de Changhai (Paris, 1929); Morse, H. B., The International Relations of the Chinese Empire, vol. II, pp. 13ff. (London, 1918); 上海市通志館期刊 Shanghai-shih t'ung-chih-kuan Ch'i-k'an, no. 2 of the second year, pp. 327-50; Hsiao I-shan 蕭一山, 近代秘密社會史料 Chi-tai pi-mi shê-hui shih-liao, chüan 2 (Peiping, 1935); Ts'ao Shêng 曹晟, 紅亂紀事草 Hong-luan chi-shih ts'ao and other items in the 上海掌故叢書 Shanghai chang-ku ts'ung-shu (1935).]

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