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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Railway and mining concessions


This

distinction between the special interests of the contracting parties and the interests of China herself, as well as of foreign nations generally, is essential to clear understanding of a situation which subsequently attracted much attention. From the time of the Opium War (1857) to the Boxer rising (1900), each of the great Western powers struggled for its own hand in China, and each sought to gain for itself exclusive concessions and privileges with comparatively little regard for the interests of others and with no regard whatsoever for China's sovereign rights. The fruits of this period were permanently ceded territories (Hongkong and Macao); leases temporarily establishing foreign sovereignty in various districts (Kiao-chou, Weihaiwei, and Kwang-chow); railway and mining concessions, and the establishment of settlements at open ports where foreign jurisdiction was supreme. But when, in 1900, the Boxer rising forced all the powers into a common camp, they awoke to full appreciation of a principle which had been growing current for the past two or three years, namely, that concerted action on the lines of maintaining China's integrity and securing to all alike equality of opportunity and a similarly open door, was the only feasible method of preventing the partition of the Chinese empire and averting a clash of rival interests which might have disastrous results. This, of course, did not mean that there was to be any abandonment of special privileges already acquired or any
surrender of existing concessions. The arrangement was not to be retrospective in any sense. Vested interests were to be strictly guarded until the lapse of the periods for which they had been granted, or until the maturity of China's competence to be really autonomous.

A curious situation was thus created. International professions of respect for China's sovereignty, for the integrity of her empire, and for the enforcement of the open door and equal opportunity co-existed with legacies from an entirely different past. Russia endorsed this new policy, but not unnaturally declined to abate any of the advantages previously enjoyed by her in Manchuria. Those advantages were very substantial. They included a twenty-five-year lease--with provision for renewal--of the Liaotung peninsula, within which area of 1220 square miles Chinese troops might not penetrate, whereas Russia would not only exercise full administrative authority, but also take military and naval action of any kind; they included the creation of a neutral territory on the immediate north of the former and still more extensive, which remained under Chinese administration, and where neither Chinese nor Russian troops might enter, nor might China, without Russia's consent, cede land, open trading marts, or grant concessions to any third nationality; and they included the right to build some sixteen hundred miles of railway (which China would have the opportunity of purchasing at cost price in the year 1938, and would be entitled to receive gratis in 1982), as well as the right to hold extensive zones on either side of the railway, to administer these zones in the fullest sense, and to work all mines lying along the lines.


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