EVER since the days when Marco Polo brought back to Europe the seeming fairy tales of the wonderland of the Far East, the country to which we have applied the name of China has been a field more and more attractive for commercial conquest.
At the close of the nineteenth century, when the ever-rising tide of industrial development has succeeded in sweeping over Europe, America, the better portion of Africa, of Western Asia and India, it is the Chinese Wall alone that resists its waves. The movement, however, is irresistible, and not even the exclusiveness of the Chinese and their extreme disinclination to change their ways will be a sufficient protection against it; the recent so-called 'Boxer 5 outbreak will probably prove to be the death knell to Chinese resistance. Whatever may be the outcome of this outbreak, in so far as it affects the government, or the political integrity of the country, it can be predicated in safety that the commercial and industrial life of China will be revolutionized, and the beginning of the twentieth century will be found to mark the dawning of a new era.
The present moment when we are about to pass from the old into the new state of things is a fitting time to survey the field of industrial enterprise by examining into what has been done and to ascertain the sort of foundation that has been prepared, on which the Chinese people, aided at first by foreigners, will eventually of themselves erect their own industrial structure.
In the consideration of this very interesting land there seems to be a surprise at every turn, and one of the most peculiar is that we are met at the outset by the curious circumstance that it is a country without a name. The Chinese themselves have no fixed designation for their country, using as a general thing either the 'Middle Kingdom,' or the 'Celestial Kingdom,' or the 'Great Pure Kingdom.' The interpretation of the first is that the people consider China to be the center of the world, all the other countries surrounding and being tributary to it; although the term probably originated when what is now the Province of Ho-nan was the central kingdom of several other kingdoms which went to make up a united country. The name 'Celestial Kingdom' is a piece of self-flattery, the Chinese Emperor being called in like manner
- This article will form part of a book entitled "An American Engineer in China," to be published shortly by Messrs. McClure, Phillips & Co.