China Only Yesterday, 1850-1950: A Century of Change

By Emily Hahn | Go to book overview

Chapter Four

The development of Chinese-barbarian relations proceeded at an uneven pace. For Westerners it all depended on where they lived, or sought to five. Hong Kong, the domicile of the British Superintendent of Trade, John Francis Davis--who had succeeded Pottinger--offered fewest problems, for it was now a British colony. The settlement was practically a British creation in any case, no Chinese except a few fisherfolk having chosen to live there in the past. After the war it was Britain's stronghold, and also, though the British did not stress the fact, the center of the opium trade, as it had been before. The other islands occupied by the Westerners during the war, Chusan near Ningpo and Kulangsu near Amoy, were to be ceded to the Chinese in 1846, according to treaty. Though by that time the traders in Canton felt so aggrieved that they held Davis should not give up the islands, both of them were returned. Sir John, as he now was, was not spoiling for a fight.

In the other treaty ports, Ningpo, Foochow, Amoy, and Shanghai, the ordinary natives bore the invasion philosophically. They were not heirs to a tradition of independence and xenophobia, like the Cantonese, nor had they been indoctrinated through the years with contempt for barbarians. Their main complaint as time went on was that so many Cantonese came along with the foreigners: they didn't like their southern brothers. But the official class did resent the barbarians, and resisted the intrusion in every way. To begin with, there were tussles about accommodation for consuls. In the Chinese version of the treaty, rights of residence for the foreigners were ambiguously stated, as were the rights of entry into the towns. The foreigners, however, believed firmly that these rights had been granted to them. In most cases, firmness won the day, as it did for Rutherford Alcock, the British Consul at Foochow. Alcock found

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