Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

instructors from the University of Peking; but the restriction was removed after a few years. By 1905 students returning from Europe and America found their foreign studies a key, no longer a bar, to advancement. In this year a decree swept away the old systerm of education based entirely on the classics and added the western learning. The traditional system of public examination in the classics as a condition of obtaining employment in the state was swept away everywhere, as it had been in a few places by the final protocol of 1901. Numerous schools and colleges not only for men, but for women also, including normal and technical schools, were established. No complaint is made of lack of funds for the purpose. At Canton, the old examination hall was removed to make place for a college consisting of three blocks of buildings. Temples are being converted into schools.

For fear the passion for western learning and its official adoption might lower the Chinese classics in common estimation, a decree of 1907 elevated Confucius to a higher rank in Chinese worship than he had hitherto occupied, and another decree a week later declared that Chinese studies should be considered superior to western learning

Among the phenomenal reform decrees of 1906 was one abolishing the use of opium gradually, to be complete within ten years. Regulations to effect this were published in November. Both cultivation and smoking were to cease, a little at a time, within that period, under penalty of banishment. In the meantime smokers were to be registered; shops were to be gradually closed; official returns of sales were to be made; medicines to cure the habit were to be distributed; all officials, except those in the palace or of great age, were called upon to abandon the habit. Arrangements were to be made with foreign governments for the restriction and gradual abolition of its import, for its higher taxation and for the enforcement of the new regulations in the foreign settlements. These regulations are moderate compared with others issued at various times during the last century. The temper of the people has changed; and enforcement is comparatively easy, so the regulations are being reasonably enforced and bid fair to accomplish their purpose in the time al

1

900

THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW

[ocr errors]

lotted. Even foreign governments, especially the British Governinent of India, are lending their hearty cooperation. In some places, of course, enforcement is not so easy as in others. An international conference for the study and investigation of opium, its effects, and its abolition, sat at Shanghai in 1909. Its findings are assisting the effort to suppress the evil.66

But the most revolutionary of all the reforms China has undertaken is the adoption of constitutional government and the creation of a parliament. Following Japan’s example of about a quarter of a century earlier, an Imperial Commission was sent in 1905 to study the governments of foreign countries. In July of the following year the commission returned and a committee of high dignitaries was appointed to consider its report.

An Imperial edict declared that the backward condition of China was due to a lack of confidence between the throne, the ministers, and the masses. Foreign powers, it continued, became wealthy and powerful by granting constitutions to the masses and allowing all to participate in the government. A new commission was appointed in 1907 to make a special study of the systems of Great Britain, Germany and Japan, which were to be the chief models. Later decrees explained that the people must be taught patriotism and loyalty, and be given experience in local government before a share in the national could be given. The experiment made at Tientsin of allowing a town council to assist the regular city government was ordered to be imitated in the provincial capitals and gradually throughout the Empire.

It was declared that the formation of a regular national parliament was not then practicable. As a preliminary step, preparations were made to establish an Imperial assembly. It is for the present a consultative body, merely, with no real power except such as its individual members can exert. It is composed of the representatives of the different boards in Peking and nominees of the governors and viceroys of the provinces. In their individual capacity they have great influence. Many wished a speedy consummation of the plan

66 See article by Dr. Hamilton Wright in volume 3 of this JOURNAL and accompanying documents in the SUPPLEMENT.

for a parliament. The first commission sent abroad advised, on its return, fixing the time at five years for the complete adoption of a constitutional system. Finally in 1908, on August 27, the constitution was definitely promised to be completed within nine years, or by 1917, at which time the lower, or representative, body should be convoked.

Numerous voluntary political associations quickly sprung up whose purpose is to aid in the task of educating the masses for their political duties. Such are the Association for Preparing Constitutional Citizenship, Association for the Study of the Constitution, and others. The Imperial edicts had exhorted all the people to unite in the effort to prepare for the new regime.

By the autumn of 1909 the Provincial assemblies created in pursuance of the constitutional decrees of the previous year were chosen. The electorate was narrow. The qualifications were either experience in public office, high educational attainment, or the possession of 5,000 taels worth of property. The councils are for the present consultative only. Their purpose is to discover and voice public opinion as to the needs of the people. The first meetings were in October. The subjects open for their discussion were limited. Procedure was on western models. Reporters had their places. Debates were recorded. Members received payment and traveling expenses.

Thus the promised constitution bids fair to be completed and in operation by the promised year 1917. Much pressure has been brought to bear during the last summer to shorten the period of preparation and even to convoke the popular branch of parliament immediately. But so far it has been successfully resisted. China will probably do better to bide her time, wait patiently the seven years longer, and be the better prepared to enjoy the privileges and responsibilities of a constitutional regime.

This is, in the barest outline only, the story of the wonderful progress of the last few years. It is briefly summed up in the following words closing a lecture delivered last autumn by Harlan P. Beach:

Those who, like myself, can compare the China of twenty-five years ago with the China of this year of grace can scarcely believe our senses.

902

THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW

Steam navigation extending to shallow streams; railways, telegraph lines, and telephones even in the Imperial capital; silk filatures and miniature South Bethlehems belching out occidental pillars of smoke; groaning presses pouring forth books by the million and periodicals without number; waterworks and sanitation for many great cities; a modern army and a navy of occidental type; old examination halls, where within five years as many as 25,000 students have competed for degrees in a single center, demolished to make room for colleges of the modern sort; hundreds of thousands of boys and girls, many in natty uniform, attending the lower schools, from the kindergarten up; opium dens under the ban and footbinding about to leave the home; thousands of students back from Japan and the Occident to leaven the new nation; the tortures of the old law court disappearing while new codes are evolving; great numbers gathering in orderly lecture halls night by night to hear poli. tics, history, education, and reform discussed; (and) a constitutional government promised for a near date. 87

WILLIAM R. MANNING.

67 Blakeslee, China and the Far East; Clark University Lectures, 275. This collection of twenty-two lectures presents in a very interesting form much useful information about the recent history and present conditions and problems of the Far East.

BOARD OF EDITORS OF THE AMERICAN JOURNAL

OF INTERNATIONAL LAW

CHANDLER P. ANDERSON, New York City.
CHARLES NOBLE GREGORY, State University of Iowa.
AMOS S. HERSHEY, Indiana University.
CHARLES CHENEY HYDE, Chicago, Ill.
GEORGE W. KIRCHWEY, Columbia University.
ROBERT LANSING, Watertown, N. Y.
JOHN BASSETT MOORE, Columbia University.
GEORGE G. WILSON, Brown University.
THEODORE S. WOOLSEY, Yale University.

Editor in Chief
JAMES Brown SCOTT, George Washington University.

Business Manager
GEORGE A. FINCH, P. 0. Box 226, Washington, D. C.

EDITORIAL COMMENT

1

THE NORTH ATLANTIC COAST FISHERIES

The Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague handed down its award on September 7th in this long-standing and vexatious dispute between Great Britain and the United States and both countries are to be congratulated that the controversy and principles involved in it have been decided after a prolonged and careful examination for the purpose of determining the rights and duties of each litigant. But the great importance of the arbitration can hardly be said to lie in the award: the example of two great and powerful nations submitting to judicial determination an acute controversy involving a question of sovereignty and its exercise is likely to influence

1 A critical and detailed examination of the arbitration and the award will appear later in the JOURNAL.

« AnteriorContinuar »