Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PREFACE.

The favour with which former editions of the Chinese Commercial Guide have been received by the mercantile community, indicates that such a compilation meets their wants. The last edition, published at Canton in 1856, contained the treaties and regulations for foreign trade then in force in China, Japan, and Siam, with such additional information respecting the commerce of those countries as could be collected. These treaties and regulations have been mostly superseded by subsequent arrangements, which have extended the commercial as well as political relations of western nations with those kingdoms, and also laid, it is hoped, the basis of new principles of intercourse and better security for the future. The operations of these new arrangements have not yet been fully developed, and further experience is required to show which of them will prove most beneficial, and which of them need alteration or rejection. In China particularly, very important stipulations are contained in the four treaties of 1858,--calculated, in their full development, to introduce radical changes in the policy of its rulers towards foreign nations. Among these, the right of residences at Peking for the representation of the treaty powers, the opening of the navigation of the Yangtsz? Kiang to foreign vessels, and the employment of foreigners in the revenue service at the open ports, are points which involve results of the greatest moment, affecting even the welfare and stability of the empire. The operations of the treaties with Japan have already introduced great commotions and party-disputes among the rulers of that feudal monarchy, which may not improbably result in radical changes in the government of the country.

The principle of ex-territoriality conceded in all the treaties with these nations, involves in itself alone many serious ques

tions of international law (of which it now forms no part in European diplomacy) that must erelong be settled by some better mode than yet exists; for its tendency to impair the supreme rights of the native authorities within their own boundaries in all mixed cases demands great vigilance on the part of the high contracting parties, both foreign and native. One danger in the working of this principle lies in the ignorance of the native rulers, especially in China, of the limits of their own powers ; and another, equally detrimental, lies in their inertness in doing even what they know should be done, and acknowledge to be right. Consequently their subjects learn to lean more and more upon the strong and vigorous arm of foreigners, and look away from their own authorities, for redress, protection, and safety, in times of trouble or cases of dispute.

Still the advantages which attend the carrying out of the provisions of these recent treaties with the three great empires of Eastern Asia are, on the whole, likely to be greater than their difficulties ; and amidst all the imperfections and hindrances connected with these efforts to bring these peoples into their place among the family of nations, progress has been made. The treaties are no doubt far beyond the intelligence of even the rulers in all their bearings, and it is well that they should have a higher standard constantly before them than they would propose if left to themselves ; but a reasonable hope may be indulged that more real benefits may be conferred by foreign influence acting through the operations of these treaties among the three nations than in any other way. It is by comparing the present condition of foreign intercourse in each of them with what it was at the expiration of the charter of the East India Company in 1834, that the advances really made can be best understood.

The preparation of this edition of the Guide has involved more labour than the previous ones; partly caused by the distribution of the foreign trade in China among many ports, whose extremes are nearly two thousand miles apart, and partly in collecting the details respecting the articles and management of the trade, and other points of information usually sought for in a work of this nature. When Canton and Shanghai engrossed four-fifths of the foreign trade, the

pretty much all that was necessary for all China; but when further research showed that every port in the country has its local usages, careful investigation at each was necessary to entire accuracy. This has not been practicable to the degree that was desirable, and this explanation must be taken as the reason and the apology for what is found to be incorrect,--but much more, for what has been omitted.

During the printing of the book, several new regulations have been issued affecting the trade at various ports along the coast, some of them of minor and local operation, and others of a general nature. Among the former is the settlement of the rates of pilotage in and out of the River Min. The Chinese authorities at Fuhchau have lately included the three ports in Formosa, Taiwan, Tanshwui, and Kilung, under the jurisdiction of the Customs at that port, from whence passes for goods and vessels are now issued. The trade with these three places in that island is likely to develop slowly, and not to attain much importance soon at either of them.

The most important change of a general nature relates to the abolition of exemption certificates, which was proposed by Tsunghau, the superintendent of the three northern ports stationed at Tientsin, for reasons very similar to those already alluded to on page 201. He and other officers stationed at the minor ports found that the amount of goods passing through the Customs bore an unduly large proportion to the revenue obtained from them, and demanded some change so as to equalize the receipts on the whole foreign trade. This was brought about by the publication of the following notice :

“ From and after the day of — next, no more exemption certificates will be issued by the Customs; but any merchant re-exporting imports, their marks being unchanged, and the conditions of the Treaty effecting them otherwise being fulfilled, will receive instead a “ drawback," on the face of which it will be stated that the same may be tendered by any merchant in payment of any duties, whether import or export, within the port at which it is issued; but that it will not be a valid tender in payment of duties at any other port."

This change in the plan of paying the duties has already gone into effect, and its advantages over the old system are already appreciated. It involves a modification of Art. XIV. of the British treaty, Art. XXI. of the American. and Art. XXIV. of the French treaty, which will of course be readily made by the contracting parties. The blanks given on pages 174 and 273 are consequently no longer issued. The whole transaction affords a good example of the readiness with which modifications seen to be desirable by those engaged in them

can be brought about when the Chinese authorities are convinced of their propriety,—and much more so when, as in this instance, they make the first suggestion.

In addition to the favourable arrangement, by which the duties on goods are received by those officers who are made responsible for their proper application, the Chinese authorities have extended the time of three months allowed upon native produce coming down the Yangtsz' and stored for reshipment at Shanghae, to a period of one year. This is at present made applicable only at that port, where most of the native produce designed for re-exportation is warehoused, and the regulations inserted on pages 200 and 210 are consequently to be altered to meet this modification.

The difficulties and delays attending the discharge and lading of ships lying outside the bar of Taku have been seriously felt by all parties, but most of them must remain irremediable, until proper tug-boats and lighters are obtained. However, still further to reduce the delay in a ship's business, in addition to the rule already in force of obtaining security for payment of duties on exports, the following notice has been issued, by which all complaints against the Customs on the head of impeding trade would seem to be removed :

NOTICE RESPECTING CLEARING VESSELS AT TIENTSIN. When the import cargo as described in the manifest presented on the vessel's arrival outside the bar, or in the port of Taku, shall have all passed the Customs' office at Taku, and a report to that effect shall have been received from the tide-surveyor stationed there, the captain or consignee of the vessel, if he desire to clear her outwards, without further delay, will hand into the Customs a memorandum, particularizing exactly the nature of the cargo imported, names of consignees, &c.; and the Customs, being satisfied of the accuracy of this memorandum, will thereon compute the duty due upon the cargo of the vessel, and will require of the captain or consignee either a bond or other sufficient security for the amount--such security to be cancelled as soon as the whole of the cargo shall have been cleared. This security being given, the vessel will receive her port-clearance. Any master or consignee not desiring to avail himself of this rule will have to clear his vessel in the manner prescribed by the treaty.

Since the revised regulations of trade on the Yangtsz, given on page 208, have gone into operation, the traffic on that river has been carried on with less violation of law and order. These regulations were simultaneously agreed to at Peking in November, 1862, by the ministers of Great Britain, Russia, and the United States, when they were proposed for their acceptance by the Chinese ; and were published under the authority of each minister to their countrymen in China. They will no doubt receive the approval of the representatives of all other treaty

commerce must be regarded for the present as rather maritime ports, like those along the coast, than as internal towns ; but with this difference, that the river banks between them must soon feel the influence of the traffic, and the towns near them erelong participate in it more directly than they are now able to do. The alteration or enlargement of regulations of trade are now far more readily obtained from the Chinese authorities than was formerly the case; and if peace be restored to the empire, it is probable that they may see their way clear to open the trade of other rivers to foreign vessels.

The foreign trade with Japan and Siam is conducted according to the treaties in its leading forms; but the local usages at the open ports, with details of weights, exchanges, packing, &c., and the history of the leading articles of commerce, are imperfectly described. A large field of inquiry lies open throughout Eastern Asia for the inquiring naturalist; and the two sections which describe the articles of Import and Export give only a portion of what is needed for a full understanding of the trade with these regions.

The sections on the currency, weights, measures, time, &c., of China and the adjacent countries, will prove useful to the merchant in explaining the principles on which Eastern nations have tried to settle them; and showing some of the diversities found in actual use. Those for Siam have been made up chiefly from the Calendar printed at Bangkok by Rev. D. B. Bradley ; and those for Japan corrected by the tables in the Phrase-book of Rev. S. R. Brown. Correction will probably be required here and there in the sections on these subjects. One may here be introduced, rectifying information given on pages 217 and 280, regarding the trade of Niuchwang. “A shih or stone of small green peas weighs 454 lbs. at Yingtsz; of large green peas, 418 lbs.; of yellow peas No. 1, 413 lbs.; of No. 2, 403 lbs.; and of No. 3, 400 lbs.; of millet seed, 424 lbs.; and of millet rice, 436 lbs. These discrepancies arise from the variations in the measures used to contain a shih. A single bean-cake averages 64 lbs., and a picul at Yingtsz' equals 90 catties of the treaty standard; but 104.3 taels are equal to 100 taels at Canton.”

The tables in Chap. VII., for estimating prices, measurement of goods, exchanges, &c., have been selected from those constantly in use among the foreign merchants in China. Those for caloulating the prices of tea in dollars or pence have been

« AnteriorContinuar »