Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/33

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some 400 miles would be contiguous to country under French rule and about 800 miles might be described as doubtful.

Vast as is the area of the Chinese Empire, there is naturally a greater interest attaching to its people than to the land itself. In the millions of this Empire the merchant sees one of the largest and most promising markets of the world; the financier recognises an almost limitless field for mining enterprise; the statesman and the soldier perceive political and military problems of the most stupendous magnitude; while the Christian, though not unmindful of other aspects, thinks more of the countless millions of men and women who are living and dying without that knowledge which is alone able to make them wise unto salvation.

The most recently accepted census of the population published by the Chinese Government gives the total population of the Empire as 426,000,000.[1] That so large a proportion of the human race should be located in one empire is an astonishing fact, and it is not to be wondered at that some persons have questioned the trustworthiness of these figures. It is certainly remarkable that about one-quarter of the world's population should be settled in a territory which is only one-twelfth of the whole; or, if reference be made to China Proper only, that one-quarter of the world's population should be crowded into a country which possesses not more than one-thirtieth of the inhabitable land of the globe.

Much as these facts may provoke a doubt in the mind of the student, the only possible data at present is that supplied by the Chinese Government, though other evidences can be adduced to show that these figures are not altogether incredible. The Rev. Arthur H. Smith has — by careful calculations in limited areas to be accepted as a unit of measurement for other districts which to all appearances are equally populated — proved that in some areas there is a population of 531 to the square mile, while in another area

  1. See footnote on p. 2 from The Statesman's Year-Book.