THE key to the real history of awakened China, since 1895, may perhaps be found in an imperial autograph
proclamation issued in May of that year, which declared that "henceforth the truth will be supported
by the State." China's most deeply seated disease was thus advertised. The document itself laid open
the interior weakness and official corruption in the empire as frankly as an enemy or alien could do
it. China's most prolific source of corruption is "face"; her greatest need is "truth in the inward
Over a half century ago, Dr. S. Wells Williams wrote: "The want of truth and integrity weakens every
part of the social fabric. China, alone, of all the civilized nations of the earth, has even now no
national silver or gold coin and no bank bills, the only currency being a miserable copper-iron
coin, so debased as not to pay counterfeiters to imitate it." Japan has had a gold and silver
coinage since 1871, yet in popular notion, commercial integrity is higher in the older than in the
younger country. Now, happily, China, awakening to the reality of what was stated long ago, seems
more and more determined to rely on
show-  ing the true inwardness of things than of hiding or saving the "face" of them.
After the treaty of Portsmouth, in September, 1905, the Mikado's minister, Baron Komura, went to
Peking. China accepted the situation, realizing that for generations to come that part of her
territory, most sacred in the history of the Manchu dynasty and most promising in her future
development, must remain in the hands of Russia and Japan,—which would doubtless soon, by
absorbing Korea, become a continental power. As matter of fact, the once peninsular kingdom, with
its twelve million souls, was made a province of Japan, under the name of Chosen (Morning Calm) in
Nippon and Muscovy began in earnest to develop trade and railways in Manchuria. The former aimed to
connect the Russian and Chinese systems with those in Korea, so that with steamer communication from
Tsuruga to Fusan and Vladivostok, making a ferry of the Sea of Japan, she would be in quick and easy
touch with Europe. Russia perfected her transatlantic lines of railway. In 1910 the two peoples
lately at war entered into a compact of friendship, with mutual purpose to maintain their rights in
Manchuria. They also rejected a proposition from Washington to have the railways on Chinese soil
open to international capitalization.
YUAN SHI KAI
LI HUNG CHANG'S SUCCESSOR
Soon after the conclusion of the Chino-Japanese
 War, Yuan Shi Kai, who in Korea and at home had made a reputation for energy and patriotism, had
been selected to do the work of creating a modern army, with uniform weapons, equipment, and
commissariat according to the best models. For several years, and with great energy, Yuan gave
himself to this work until a creditable force of infantry, cavalry, artillery, and engineers was
organized, while many young men were sent to Europe to study in its military schools. Later, through
one of the outbreaks at court, between the various struggling and conflicting parties, this mandarin
was deprived of his rank under the "face" of (imaginary) rheumatism and retired to private life, but
the work went on.
Meanwhile there was a great exodus of native students from every province in the Chinese Empire to
Japan. In mind, they were exactly like the Japanese of fifty years before, for most of these eager
youths imagined that they could learn the secrets of Western civilization in a few months, and
having imbibed the knowledge necessary, could reconstruct old China in a very few years. Turning
with contempt from foreigners, missionary or commercial, to their fellow Asiatics, with great
expectations and not infrequently with seditious motives and anti-dynastic hostility, they hastened
to Tokyo to the number of twenty thousand or more, giving the resident Chinese minister and the
Japanese government a problem in keeping
 them in moral harness. The differences in spirit and manners and the difficulties of language
between the Chinese and Japanese, added to those of personal finance, chilled the noble rage of
these enthusiastic young fellows, thus unduly tested. More than half of them soon returned, some
with just enough knowledge to make them dangerous. Returning to China, they led riotous
demonstrations against their magistrates at home with a view of influencing the government to drive
the Japanese out of Manchuria. Thousands, however, remained in Japan, becoming pupils who realized
the greatness of the noble tasks still in the future before them. Hundreds of Chinese girls were
sent to Japan and to Western countries. Nearly five hundred students, including scores of "indemnity
students," have come to the United States at the suggestion of the government at Washington, to be
educated from the funds returned from the overcharge of the Boxer indemnity. These Chinese students
abroad, male and female, have altered their coiffure, dress in Western fashion, hold annual
conventions, belong to cosmopolitan clubs, and in every way are endeavoring to absorb what is best
in the world's civilization.
At home in China, economic and intellectual reconstruction proceeded rapidly. Vernacular newspapers
started up in the seaports, cities, and provinces. Events, persons, and tendencies are
 discussed with startling freedom, which often in the foreign settlements runs into license,
revealing a love of scandal and depths of immorality that are horrible. Yet there is steady
improvement in Chinese journalism.
Even more wonderful is the reconstruction of education. The old examination halls are deserted or in
ruins. Imperial edicts called for the creation of a national system of public schools to be
sustained by taxation. By the decree of 1910, English is made the official language in all the
higher scientific and technical schools. The curriculum of the civil service examinations has been
entirely modernized. The difficulty of finding competent teachers has been one of the greatest
impediments to the educational progress of China. Nevertheless, the desire and intention to master
the secrets of Western progress and a perception of the necessity of being equal to the other
nations in modern knowledge are manifest both in the government and among the people. The old
objections, criticism and denunciation of Christian missionary work, have weakened. All teachers of
religion find a more free spirit of inquiry and open-mindedness to receive new ideas.
Even the riots, which break out from time to time, in which foreign property is destroyed and the
lives of teachers are menaced or lost, are no real indication that the Chinese people decline
enlightenment and a better civilization. On the
 contrary, the real reason for mob violence in China is the same as in Japan before 1868. The object
is to embroil the government with the treaty powers, so that the Manchu rule at Peking may be
overthrown and the people be benefited. However blind or foolish they may be who choose such a
method to improve their condition, the real reason for these outbursts of popular violence is not
what the foreigner, who at once seeks money or vengeance, is apt to imagine.
The real danger now before the Chinese is, that in their eagerness to adopt the best that the world
can offer, they will fail to understand the true principles that underlie Christian civilization,
and will accept a travesty or distortion of them. Hence the determination of leading men in Great
Britain, Canada, and the United States to establish at a central point in China, probably Chang Sha,
a great university, that shall affiliate with it the various foreign schools and colleges now on the
soil. The plan is to have hostels, in which the particular theory or principles of each sect or
denomination may be taught, while the central university shall be devoted to pure science and the
highest order of instruction.
In political matters, steady progress has been made. Imperial princes have traveled abroad. Various
commissions have been sent out by the Peking government to study the armament, re-sources, and
methods, but especially
constitu-  tional history and procedure of Western nations. Eminent men, both Chinese and Manchu, have
repeatedly visited the Western countries, making special investigations,—educational,
military, naval, judicial, political, and economic. While thus, in vital contact with the great
nations, China is acting out her own proverb, "The aged must learn from the younger," there is
growing up in Hawaii and the United States a generation of children born of Chinese parents, who
will be Americans, and, in spite of the barbarians in our own land, they will help to lead China
into the world's brotherhood. The system of provincial assemblies has already been established, but
the eager reformers, who are in haste to have a national legislative assembly which has been
promised by the imperial decree, have been disappointed by repeated postponements,—as was the
ease in Japan, from 1868 until 1889. A parliament in China means the transfer of their power by the
Manchus to the people. One sign, trivial to us, but deeply significant to the Chinese people, is the
choice of a propitious day (January 30, 1911), when Chinamen all over the world were permitted and
encouraged to cut off their queues—first the badge of conquest and then of loyalty—and
thus wear their hair like civilized male humanity.
The "Yellow Peril" is the nightmare of the guilty and the selfish in the Occident, but the
 Chinese, confronted by multiplying dangers from the "White Peril," have strenuously resisted the
importation of opium and prohibited its growth at home, with results that are hopeful.
At the death, in 1908, of the empress dowager, or Holy Mother, preceded the day before by the
decease of the young emperor, there was a great display of the paraphernalia of woe and the
elaborate apparatus for confusing and keeping off the evil spirits. This was probably the last of
the great spectacular funerals, requiring millions of dollars for display, besides heavy drafts
necessary for the expenses of the journey to Mukden, in Manchuria; all of which has to be paid for
in taxation by the common people.
In the development of communications, China has gone ahead rapidly. Her purpose is to keep in her
own hands the control of railways and telegraphs, to build them as far as possible with her own
money, or to borrow from foreign nations in such a way as not to tie her own hands, and to educate
her own sons to be the surveyors, road-builders, engineers, and railway managers. Already Chinese
students, educated abroad, have surveyed, built, and maintained creditable railways. The main line
between Peking and Kalgan, opened in 1910, was constructed solely by Chinese labor, under the sole
direction of Chinese engineers. The purpose is to have trunk lines from Canton to Peking, and
through the great valleys
 of the empire, north, south, east, and west, where nature has already furnished natural highways,
along which the engineering difficulties will be least. One great line is planned also northwestward
through Mongolia. Other lines will connect westward with the Russian, in the southwest with the
British, and in the south with the French roads, in Siberia, India, and Annam respectively. The
comparative ease and thoroughness with which educated Chinese have already constructed and equipped
railroads excites the surprise of British and American engineers. In telegraphy, the "lightning
threads," as the natives call the wires, traverse and are being spread all over the empire. In the
large cities telephones are no longer luxuries, but necessities.
The coal of China probably equals, in its possible workable supply, all the rest of the world's
store, and the iron is situated near the coal. In some places the houses are built against the great
black strata, which, visible at the surface, show by their weathering that this fuel has been
exposed for thousands of years without being used. As the power of Pittsburg to produce steel
altered the economic complexion of the world and dictated history, so now the fact that the Chinese
are able to produce and lay down pig iron in San Francisco, and farther east, more cheaply than it
can be made in America, marks the beginning of another economic revolution. In other branches of
 enterprise the Chinese are moving forward, building and working their own weaving and spinning mills
for the production of textile fabrics in cotton, woolen, flax, and hemp. American finance is aiding
in the railway development of China. In a few years, however, Asia will be economically and
industrially independent of Europe.
While many nations have helped in opening China, to whom is due the greater credit of opening the
Chinese heart? In linguistic scholarship and mastery of the languages of Asia, geographical
exploration, and penetrating statecraft by the men in their superb civil service, of which
Macartney, Elgin, Parkes, Satow, Aston, Wade, Hart, Parker, and many others are shining examples,
the British have excelled. Of all living writers Professor E. H. Parker has in his books given us
the most comprehensive idea of the Chinese, ancient and modern. Americans, led by Dr. Arthur H.
Smith, have striven to understand the mind and open the heart of the Far Easterner. Very remarkable
also has been the progress made by American women, as physicians, artists, and friends, in learning
the true nature of Chinese womanhood, and the real worth of Manchu ladies of the court.
By invitation of the empress dowager, Miss Katharine A. Carl lived some months in the imperial
palace, while painting the portrait of the empress dowager, which the imperial lady presented to the
American people, to be exhibited at
 the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition at St. Louis, in 1906. Professor Headland has opened for us the
Chinese child's world. Mrs. Conger, wife of the American minister, not only received audience of the
empress dowager, but invited to her own house the Manchu princesses and Chinese court ladies. These
interchanges of courtesy between women reared under different civilizations are as important in good
influence as trade, battles, or diplomacy, for by them the way is prepared for mutual understanding
The "Diffusion Society" has excelled in the intellectual regeneration of China. With tons upon tons
of printed matter in the Chinese language it has spread all over China a knowledge of foreign
nations and their great men and women, and the wonders of history and science. Whatever can
enlighten a hermit people, such as the Chinese long were, seems to have been attempted in print.
Rev. Young J. Allen, scarcely known to fame, gave his life to this unique work. Such men as
Williams, Ashmore, Martin, Rockwell, and a host unnamed, and such women as Miss Field, Mrs.
Headland, Mrs. Little, with their sisters of the pen, have published the truth about the Middle
Kingdom and her people.
Even in diplomacy, Americans have long striven to understand the Chinese and to apply the Golden
Rule. In 1899, Secretary of State John Hay secured from the governments of Europe and Japan
 an agreement to respect the rights of China and to observe the principle of "the open door" of
welcome and equality of opportunity to all nations. At the opening of the war in 1904, through Mr.
Hay's insistence, both Russia and Japan agreed to restrict the field of hostilities and to maintain
the integrity of China.
Those who understand the Chinese heart and have sincere sympathy—the key to
interpretation—will make the best conquest of China. Of no nation or people can it be said
more truly than of those who strive to gain victory over the Chinese,—
"Who overcomes by force
Hath overcome but half his foe."
China will in the long run wear out and overcome every conqueror that tries to conquer her people.
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