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expenditure, three-quarters representing the cost of the Japanese War and of the Boxer adventure. In the growth of this foreign debt lies the chief key to China's present troubles. No doubt the victories of Japan in 1894–5, the occupation of Peking by the foreign armies in 1900, the absorption of Manchuria by Russia and Japan, the extraordinary spectacle of impotency offered by China during the Russo-Japanese War, waged for the most part on Chinese territory, aroused amongst the Chinese a cumulative sense of bitterness and humiliation. But it may be doubted whether, in remote parts of the Empire, these disasters would have produced the concrete results which we are now witnessing, had not the provinces been called upon to pay in hard cash for the national ruin which Peking had provoked and suffered. The repeated twists given by the Central Government to the financial thumb-screw throughout the Empire brought home to the provinces, as nothing else could, the unpleasant fact that, however little community of interests there was between them and the Central Government, they were expected to share common responsibilities. Even the provincial mandarins, who were least concerned to protect the interests of the provinces they administered, resented the inroads made by Peking on their treasuries which, pro tanto, diminished their own opportunities of enrichment.
Strangely enough, it was in connexion with the loans raised for railway construction that the feud between Peking and the provinces waxed fiercest. The railways, like the mining concessions granted by Peking to foreign financiers, were resented by provincial patriotism on the two-fold ground that they imported dangerous rights of foreign interference into the provinces, and deprived the local gentry of the pickings afforded by such important financial enterprises, of which Peking seemed bent on reserving the complete monopoly. It was a railway quarrel of this kind which, early in September last, kindled in Szechuan the first spark of the great conflagration. The Chengtu Railway League, which had been formed for the defence of Szechuan interests in this matter, assumed an attitude of uncompromising opposition, to which Peking replied by issuing an edict ordering the Governor, Chao Erh-feng, to crush resistance. A popular demonstration ensued against the Governor's yamen, which led to considerable bloodshed; and to restore order in Szechuan the troops, upon whose loyalty Peking thought it could most surely reckon, were despatched from Wuchang. It was their withdrawal that left the three cities of the Middle Yangtsze at the mercy of the revolutionary movement which broke out there a little later.
No doubt the hands into which the power of the Throne passed on the death of the old Dowager were exceptionally feeble. Of the ex-Regent himself very little is known. He has been credited with an amiable disposition and with excellent intentions, to which, if he entertained them, he certainly never gave much effect. But his authority, even within the Forbidden City, was from the first precarious, as he was confronted with the hostility of the powerful Yehonala faction headed by the infant Emperor's mother; while the pious duty which he felt he owed to the memory of his brother, the Emperor Kuang Hsü, compelled him to forgo the services of the only statesman who stood out from the ruck of Chinese mandarins of the old school. He had to avenge the wrongs which Kuang Hsü had suffered at Yuan Shih-k’ai's hands; and, when the latter was driven out of Peking in disgrace, there was none to take his post. The Peking yamens continued to swarm with Highnesses and Excellencies, but amongst them there were few who were not either dangerous intriguers or useless nonentities. The Central Government became a byword throughout the Empire, whilst all the forces, new and old, which made for disintegration acquired fresh energy.
No little responsibility for the subsequent disaster must rest upon the representatives of international finance at Peking, who, exploiting the impotence of China, alternately fought and combined to thrust their loans upon her, and in their eagerness to secure the immediate profits of flotation were prepared at the same time to relax more and more the guarantees which could alone have safeguarded the honest administration and expenditure of the moneys poured into the Chinese Treasury. The causes of the present explosion in China have been many and various; but, as in other eastern countries, scarcely anything has been more mischievous than the facilities
which European credit has given to extravagant borrowing propensities, with little or no forethought for the real interests of the debtor. The penetration of China by railways constructed, owned and controlled by foreign agencies was rightly regarded a few years ago as a serious menace to the integrity of China ; but, when one looks back upon the course of events during the last decade and the stimulus given to disruptive jealousies within the Empire by railway concessions which were supposed at any rate to safeguard Chinese sovereignty, it would seem as if the insidious ascendancy of cosmopolitan finance has been fraught with even more disastrous consequences to China than the undisguised ambitions of her neighbours.
Can any change in the form of government be expected to eradicate the fundamental antagonism between the provinces and the Central Government? Can it, above all, bring any relief to the financial stringency which has of late years intensified that antagonism? On the contary, if a new and stable order of things is to be evolved out of the present chaos, is it not imperative that the Central Government should exercise a much more direct control than in the past over provincial administrations, and not least in the matter of finance? The revolution will not have lightened the burden of Chinese indebtedness. Indeed, the task of restoring order, of disbanding peacefully the armed forces which both parties have put into the field, of initiating any far-reaching measures of reform, must involve fresh and heavy expenditure. The revolt of the provinces has on this occasion assumed an anti-Manchu form, because the Manchus have hitherto been identified with the Central Government. Will the provinces be prepared to accept the control of a Central Government more cheerfully merely because it bears the Republican instead of the Manchu label ? No doubt the natural resources of China are immense, and even existing taxation would yield far larger results in the hands of an honest and more efficient administration. Amongst those who are, for the moment, on the crest of the revolutionary wave there are, doubtless, some men of upright character who are patriotically desirous of introducing into the administration a new spirit of honesty and new methods of efficiency. But not all of them can be credited even with good intentions; and, if they could, where are the materials with which they are to work ? Nor can individual honesty and efficiency of themselves suffice. Discipline and respect for authority are at least equally indispensable; and in these, unfortunately, Young China is scarcely likely to excel. So, at least, we are forced to conclude from the temper that prevails in the Press, and still more in the schools in which the new generation is being trained to service, and from the prominence of the bombthrower and the political bravo at every stage of the revolutionary movement. Was it not by the man who but a few weeks earlier had attempted the life of the exRegent that Sun Yat-sen himself consented to be sworn in when elected to the Presidency at Nanking?
The onlooker is supposed to see most of the game; but in this case, it is clear, even the Japanese onlooker is sorely perplexed. The Chinese reform movement enjoyed from the very first the active sympathy of many influential Japanese. The number of young Chinese who have studied in Japan, and, returning to their own country often with advanced views, have plunged into the fray, must be reckoned in thousands. Since the outbreak of the Revolution not a few Japanese have been called into the inner councils of the revolutionary party. At Nanking Sun Yat-sen's entourage includes such men as Mr Terao, once a professor of the Tokio University, Mr Soyejima, a follower of Count Okuma, and Mr Haraguchi, a well-known engineer, who has been connected with railway enterprise in China. Sun Yat-sen himself has lived a good deal in Japan, and has great admiration for the Japanese; while Yuan Shih-k’ai has long had intimate friends in Japan. The future of China is a problem of vast interest to the whole world, but to Japan it is a problem of absolutely vital interest. Many responsible Japanese view the establishment of a Chinese Republic with disfavour, and dread the contagion of revolution. No country, on the other hand, suffers so much commercially from the continuance of disorders which paralyse one of the chief markets of Japanese industry; and from that point of view any régime calculated to restore order should be acceptable to the Japanese. Whether the Japanese can be expected sincerely to desire the transfor. mation of China, under whatsoever régime, into a power ful and well-organised State is a further question. For the political ascendancy which Japan now enjoys in the Far East would obviously in that event be, to say the least, gravely jeopardised.
In these circumstances, one can hardly be surprised that Japanese influence should appear at times to pull in opposite directions, and that the Japanese Government itself should have seemed disposed at first to go to considerable lengths in supporting the Throne, and at a later stage should have been perhaps unduly anxious to right itself with the powers that be at Nanking. But in all essentials Tokio has abided throughout by its expressed determination to act in complete accord with the British Government. That Government, in its turn, singularly well-served in the crisis by our Minister in Peking, Sir John Jordan, whose wise sympathy and intimate knowledge of China command the confidence and respect of all parties, has steadfastly maintained an attitude of complete neutrality without unfriendliness. To non-intervention all the Powers have indeed pledged themselves. But let us give credit where credit is due. A less prudent Government than that of Tokio might have been sorely tempted to use China's necessity for the extension or the consolidation of the Japanese position in Manchuria and elsewhere. To the statesmanlike self-restraint of Japan the world owes therefore a considerable debt of gratitude, for any onesided attempt at intervention would have rendered the intervention of other Powers almost inevitable; and the one really hopeful feature of the present situation is that, so far, foreign intervention has been kept within the narrowest possible bounds. It is no little gain that the destructive work of a great revolution should have been carried through in such a country as China without provoking grave international complications. But the work of reconstruction has yet to come.
The first phase of the revolution which Prince Ito foresaw three years ago is now consummated, but it is as hard to-day as he found it then to see any definite indication of the constructive forces which China needs if this phase is not to be merely the prologue to a long-drawn and perilous drama.