Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/89

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
45
THE PROVINCE OF KWANGTUNG

and in the lower ranks of the mandarinate. The Cantonese and Swatow men, on the other hand, have their numerous large towns and cities, and thickly crowded "villages" of large size. The country people are hard-working agriculturists, while the people of the principal towns, and especially those of the sea-ports, are distinguished as the ablest and most enterprising of Chinese merchants. The "Canton Guilds" and the "Swatow Guilds" are the leading powers—and usually rival powers—in most of the trading communities of China, being found in great force in Shanghai, and as far north as Tientsin and Newchwang.

From this province, too, come the most fearless and industrious of emigrants. They are found in large numbers not only in Singapore and the other Straits Settlements, in Borneo and the Philippines, but also southward in Australia, westward as far as South Africa, and eastward as far as British Columbia and California. The number of emigrants from the port of Swatow alone reached 103,202 in 1904, and 95,173 in 1905, or an average of close on 100,000 yearly. There is a return stream of about 83,000 yearly, and, although no figures are procurable, there is a flow of money earned by these emigrants and sent home which must reach to several, perhaps many, millions of dollars annually, and brings a considerable amount of comfort into many homes in the poorer country districts. The conditions of emigration are equitable and allow complete individual freedom. After paying off the cost of passage, which is not a large sum, many become landholders or shopkeepers, and come home for a time to take out with them relatives or friends to assist in their undertakings. Thus in various ways the whole system alleviates substantially the poverty of some country districts in the Kwangtung province. In some cases considerable fortunes are made, and emigrants sometimes return finally to their homes as men of wealth and influence.

The coast towns and villages have a large population of bold and hardy seamen and fishermen, who reap the harvest of the sea, and often suffer terribly from the