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

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By the Editor.

The province of Kansu derives its name from the first characters of two of its leading cities, Kanchow Fu and Suchow. It is situated at the extreme north-west of China proper, if Sinkiang be excepted, and is bounded on the north by Mongolia, on the west by The Sinkiang and Tibet, on the south by Szechwan, and on the east by Shensi. Its area is 125,450 square miles, which is slightly larger than Norway, while its population is estimated at 10,385,376, or twice as many as Sweden. As this gives only 82 persons to the square mile, it is the most sparsely populated of any province in China, with the exception of Kwangsi, which has 67 to the square mile, Yunnan coming next with 84.

In former times the province of Kansu was included in the province of Shensi, though the latter province was even then known by the two names of I-si, the western portion (now Kansu), and I-tong, the eastern portion (now Shensi). At that time the Viceroy of modern Kansu, Shensi, and Szechwan resided at Sian Fu, while Lanchow Fu, the present capital of Kansu, was only a second-rank city and dependent upon Kingyang Fu. Now Lanchow Fu is the seat of the Viceroy of both Kansu and Shensi.

More recently the unwieldy north-west portion of Kansu was for administrative purposes divided from that province and made into the new province of Sinkiang, or New Dominion. The date of this division is differently given. The Far East says 1877, it being the result of Tso Tsong-tang's great campaign against the successors of Yakob Beg. The Jesuits' recent work, Geographie de l'Empire de Chine, gives it as 1882, while others say 1884.

As a rough indication of the vast tracts of country covered by Kansu and Sinkiang, it may be mentioned that it is about seventy-two days' journey from Hankow to Lanchow Fu, and the same again from Lanchow Fu to Urumtsi, the capital of Sinkiang. In the latter province it is the common thing for the traveller to travel by night, so as to avoid thirst, as the water-supply is very scarce. With the exception of the few trade routes which traverse the province, the means of communication are few. Along these main routes wheel traffic is possible, but as on the other routes it is often difficult for animals to be employed, the goods are carried by men. The Yellow River is not properly navigable, though it is used for rafts.

The principal routes are from Sian Fu in Shensi to Lanchow Fu, following along the valley of the King River. This route also leads on past Lanchow to Sining and on to Tibet. There is also a more difficult road from Sian Fu to Lanchow, which passes by Tsin Chow in the south. Another road leads from Ningsia Fu into Sinkiang, passing Liangchow Fu, Kanchow Fu, and Suchow. Among places of special interest in this province should be mentioned Gumbum, which lies to the south-west of Sining Fu. Here there is an important lamasery — with a living Buddha — which is visited by many pilgrims.

The climate of the province is very dry and cold in the north, though naturally less so towards the south. The weather is generally very fine, but the dust, which, on account of the dryness of the atmosphere and the lightness of the soil, covers the roads to a great depth, is very trying. The province is on the whole mountainous, inter- spersed with a few wide fertile valleys. The east of the Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/257 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/258 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/259 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/260 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/261 Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/262 such, for instance, as when he had a tract handed back to him with the following remark, "I don't want a tract with pigs in it." The tract was on the story of the Prodigal Son.

In addition to the China Inland Mission, the Scandinavian China Alliance, in association with the China Inland Mission, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance, are at work in the province. The Scandinavian Alliance have occupied the cities along the high-road from Sian Fu in Shensi to Lanchow Fu, and have a school for the children of its missionaries at Pingliang Fu; while the Christian and Missionary Alliance have settled in the west of the province. The missionaries are separated by long distances, the character of the country not allowing of any close chain of stations.

In connection with the China Inland Mission, including the associated work of the Scandinavian Alliance, there are 10 stations with 1 out -station, 11 chapels, and 42 foreign workers, including wives. There are also 1 9 Chinese helpers, while 223 persons have been baptized from the commencement. There are also 2 boarding and 4 day schools, 1 hospital, 4 dispensaries, and 2 opium refuges.

On the whole, indifference rather than open hostility has been the attitude of the people towards the Gospel, but since 1900 there has been a more eager and respectful attention to the things taught.