Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/117

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69
THE ISLAND OF FORMOSA

property on both sides. It was followed by serious and repeated risings on the part of the people, which were put down with much vigour. Now, after ten years' rule, the whole of the island, with the exception occasionally of the savage districts, is at perfect peace, and the absolute safety of both life and property everywhere is recognised as an immense boon even by the most disaffected. More than 200 miles of railway have been opened, connecting the north and south of the island. Steamship connection between the ports and the rest of the world has been increased. By means of the post office letters are delivered in almost every village of the island. Roads have been made throughout the country, schools have been opened in most of the towns and larger villages, telegraphic communication has been much increased, and many comforts and conveniences of Western civilisation have been introduced. Agriculture has been improved, and a better quality of sugar-cane has been introduced, with proper machinery for crushing it. Undoubtedly in many ways the condition of the people has been improved. The complaints are chiefly of the great increase in taxation, and of the endless registrations, so different from the easy-going methods of the old Chinese régime.

Much was hoped for from the coming of the Japanese in the way of the abolition of opium-smoking. Their original plan of stopping it at once, except in the case of those confirmed smokers who might suffer from being suddenly deprived of the indulgence, to whom permits would be granted, promised well, and would have quickly put an end to the habit if rigidly carried out. For several years, however, permits were given to all and sundry who applied for them. The general feeling among natives and foreigners is that the authorities do not display very much enthusiasm in discouraging the vice. In order to carry out their programme the Government at once made the purchase and sale of opium a monopoly, to which no one could fairly object. The profits from this monopoly are great. And in the present state of Formosan finance it is