The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey/The Province of Chihli

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By the Rev. Thomas Bryson, London Missionary Society.

Chihli, as the name "Direct Rule" implies, is the seat of the supreme government of the Empire, and therefore the most important of all the provinces of China. Some foreign maps (see Encyclopædia Britannica) erroneously limit its northern boundary by the Great Wall. That monumental landmark really divides the province into two nearly equal parts, the northern portion being occupied by a thinly scattered Mongol population, under the jurisdiction of Mongol princes, but subject also to the authority of Chinese officials who reside in the towns beyond the Great Wall.

The province is bounded on the north by the Hsilamulun river, a tributary of the Liao ho, and Inner Mongolia; on the west by Shansi; on the south-west by Honan; on the south-east by Shantung; and on the west by the Gulf of Pechihli and the Manchurian province of Shengking.

Confining our attention to the part south of the Great Wall, we notice the prevailing physical feature of the province is its Dutch-like dead level, subject to inundation in the wet season and from frequent bursting of the river embankments. The delta on the east is the flattest portion of that vast plain which, beginning near the capital, stretches southward for 700 miles through Honan to the Yangtse valley. The late Rev. Jonathan Lees has for ever described the sensations of the traveller who takes his first "Winter's Ride through Chihli."

It were best to leave behind
All hopes of an æsthetic kind,
Eye, ear, or nose small joy will find
Upon the plain of Chihli.

Look not for lake or rippling rill.
Or giant tree, or wood-crowned hill.
Or sweet wild-flower, or aught to thrill
Your artist sense in Chihli.

As a set-off, however, to this depressing flatness of the land, the climate may fairly claim to be the most invigorating and healthiest in China. The summer months are hot, the winters often intensely cold, with a cloudless sky almost all the year round.

For administrative purposes the province is divided, according to Consul Playfair's The Cities and Towns of China, into 11 prefectures, 3 sub-prefectures, 6 independent departments, 17 departments, and 124 districts. Of these beyond the Great Wall there are 1 "fu" or prefecture, 1 "ting" or sub-prefecture, 1 department or "chow," and 3 districts or "hsiens."

The principal cities are Peking, Paotingfu, Tientsin, Jehho, Tungchow, Chentingfu, Shanhaikwan, and Hochien. For nearly one thousand years, through varying fortunes with each change of dynasty, Peking has been the metropolis of the Empire. Paotingfu is the capital of the province, and, before treaties with foreign powers existed, was the residence of the Governor-General. During Li Hung-chang's viceroyalty, for convenience of intercourse with consuls and diplomatists, the yamen was transferred to Tientsin. Paotingfu witnessed the murder of several American and English missionaries during the Boxer year, and for this crime was visited by the allied troops, and severe punishment inflicted upon its responsible officials.

Tientsin, memorable as the place where Lord Elgin signed the Treaty of 1858, where the massacre of 1870 took place, and which shared with Peking the siege and bombardment of 1900, stands next to Shanghai in the volume of its trade and the extent of its foreign population. Five miles of frontage on the right and left banks of the Peiho river are owned and governed by foreign powers. As a result of the Treaty of 1860, the British and French had concessions allotted to them. The Japanese, after the war of 1895, acquired the same right; and now, since 1900, there are in addition concessions belonging to Germany, Russia, Austria, and Belgium. Jehho or Jehol lies outside the Great Wall, and is chiefly interesting to foreigners because Lord Macartney's embassy of 1793 was there received in audience by the Emperor Kien-lung; and to Jehho the Emperor Hien-fung fled before the advance of the Allies on Peking in 1860. Tungchow lies 12 miles east of Peking, and is now connected with the capital by a branch line of railway. Its former glory has departed. The imperial grain fleets which crowded the river and unloaded their harvest of tribute rice from the southern provinces at this northern terminus of the Grand Canal arrive here no more. Coasting steamships and railways have displaced the old junk traffic. The granaries of Tungchow are empty—its importance now is as an educational centre. Here are the splendid group of college buildings and professors' residences which constitute the North China Union College of the American Board Mission, with the Rev. Dr. Sheffield as Principal. Chengtingfu on the Chinghan railway, the residence of a Roman Catholic bishop, held its gates closed against the Boxer rebels, and sheltered within its walls a few Protestant missionaries who would otherwise have been massacred in 1900.

Shanhaikwan, a strongly fortified town at the eastern extremity of the Great Wall, has been occupied by detachments of foreign troops since the Boxer year, and has also a small European community of railway employés.

Hochien Fu was the scene of the recent military manœuvres of the Northern Army under H.E. Yüan Shih-kai, which so greatly impressed the foreign attaches and newspaper correspondents who were invited to witness it.

The population of the province is stated as nearly twenty-one millions. Peking and Tientsin are supposed to contain a population of about one million each.

Under the enlightened rule of powerful viceroys such as H.E. Li Hung-chang and the present H.E. Yuan Shih-kai, Chihli has been foremost in the adoption of Western ideas and industries. The first mining enterprise conducted with foreign machinery was started at Tangshan; and the Kaiping collieries are to-day the largest in China. From the pit-head to Hsu Kochuang, a distance of 7 miles, the first line of railway was laid. From Hsu Kochuang to Lutai the first canal on European principles was constructed, and at Tangshan the first locomotive was built. No longer is the Lutai canal needed for its original purpose, to carry coal to the river, for the railway has been extended to Tientsin and Peking in one direction, and to Shanhaikwan and Newchwang on the other. Gold mining has been tried, but with less satisfactory results.

To these industrial enterprises have to be added various educational reforms dating from the establishment in 1861 of the famous Tung wen College, under the patronage of the Government and the presidency of Dr. Martin, down to the great revival of learning, mainly under Japanese guidance and teaching, since the close of the Russo-Japanese War. The old order of education has changed. The old system of examinations has been abolished. New schools are being everywhere established; and we may soon see a law passed enacting compulsory education.

For lack of sufficient Board School accommodation, the old temples, cleared of their idols, are being freely used. Attention is also being paid to Industrial and Technical Schools, Girls' Schools, Normal and Medical Colleges, Prison Reformatories, and Sanitary Science. Of newspapers, there are in Tientsin alone seven dailies published, and the Public Lecture Halls have been opened in the city to spread the modern ideas among the adult population. A great wave of patriotism is spreading through all ranks of the people. The spirit of independence and emulation is abroad; and the electric tramway now running on broad Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/161 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/162 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/163 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/164 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/165 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/166 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/167 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/168 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/169