to Mr. Bayard
Peking , March 8, 1887. (Received April 29.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith an important article entitled “China: the Sleep and the Awakening,” written by the Marquis Tseng, and published in the Asiatic Monthly Review.
The first part of this article describes the condition of China up to 1860. She was then asleep. “The light of the burning palace, which had been the pride and delight of her Emperors, awoke her.”
She did nothing desperate then, but she quietly accepted her reverses, and “set about throwing overboard the wreckage and to make a fair wind of the retiring cyclone.”
Then came the “awakening.” China is not aggressive. The emigration of her people must be accounted for rather by “the poverty and ruin in which they were involved by the great Taiping and Mohammedan rebellions than by the difficulty of finding the means of subsistence under ordinary conditions. In her wide domains there is room and to spare for all her teeming population.”
The colonization of her “immense outlying territories has become indispensable.” But, besides the occupation of waste lands, another agency to absorb the overflow of population will be “the demand which will soon be afforded by the establishment of manufactures, the opening of mines, and the introduction of railways.”
To supply the 300,000,000 of her population, these industries will employ an immense number of hands. For these reasons China is indifferent to emigration. The outrageous treatment of Chinese in other countries, which is characterized in strong language, furnishes another argument against emigration. But a better disposition has of late been manifested. “The United States Government, on a recent occasion, energetically suppressed a hostile movement directed against Chinese, and awarded to them compensation for the losses to which they had been subjected.”
The French war, although China was successful, did not cause her to change her bearing towards foreigners. Her policy of moderation will be continued. China will soon attain a position of perfect security.” She is now fortifying her coasts and building a navy. She will proceed in this policy and will not now be diverted from it by the building of railways. China will extend and improve her relations with the treaty powers, ameliorate the condition of her subjects in foreign countries, and place on a less equivocal footing the position of her feudatories. A commission has recently been appointed to visit foreign countries and report on the condition of the Chinese.
“The warden of the marches is now abroad, looking to the security of China’s outlying provinces—of Corea, Thibet, and Chinese Turkestan.” Any interference with the affairs of these countries will be taken as a declaration of a desire to discontinue friendly relations with China.
China is not reconciled to the treaties caused by the events of 1860. “In the alienation of sovereign dominion over that part of her territory comprised in foreign settlements,” and in other respects, China feels that the treaties ought to be denounced “on the expiry of the” present decennial period.” To this end she will “surely and leisurely proceed to diplomatic action.”[Page 197]
China desires the nations of the east to sink jealousies and combine in an attempt to reform the treaties.
This résumé of the article in question shows * * * by turns denunciation for injuries inflicted, and flattering statements of awakening sense of justice. We have the promise of great material progress in good time. We have denunciation of the treaties, but a statement that the attack is to be “surely and leisurely” diplomatic.
The marquis is probably laying out more work for China than can be accomplished in a generation.
With regard to the denunciation of the treaties, the process proposed is destined to be so lengthy that the subject need not now be discussed. But it may be asserted with absolute certainty that the foreign powers will not abandon their extraterritorial jurisdiction until China shall have remodeled her civil and criminal codes and abolished the cruel practices prevailing under them.
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The marquis has nothing to say on the treatment of missionaries. Yet, of all questions this has been considered by natives and foreigners alike as the most practical and important question in China. It is not that foreign nations care about religious propagandism. They interest themselves simply in the protection of their people.
The war of 1860, as far as France was concerned, was waged for no reason except that a French missionary bishop had been executed in the interior. From that day to this the serious riots have been against the Catholics. But all foreigners have suffered more or less by them. In October, 1871, Prince Kung used this language: “The missionary question affects the whole question of peaceful relations with foreign powers—the whole question of their trade.”
It is singular that some reassuring words as to religious toleration did not form a part of the document under consideration.
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I have, etc.,