Free China's New Deal

Free China's New Deal

Free China's New Deal

Free China's New Deal

Excerpt

Very few people in the United States still remember the judgment of an American commentator, made after the fall of Hankow and Canton in October, 1938, that "Japan has won the war hands down." But the fall of China's last major seaport and of her one remaining industrial center after the loss of Shanghai, Tientsin, and other coastal cities did signify an important turn in the history not only of China but also, in the long range, of the Pacific area. What came to an end in those fateful October days was not China but a particular hundred-year-old phase in China's relations with the world, a century that had begun with the Opium War in 1839 and is called the "treaty port era."

The result of that phase had been Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tientsin, Canton, Hankow, and a score of minor ports under foreign control. These new trading centers, which carried on the world-wide commerce the West had so insistently demanded, were all harbors. Situated either on the seacoast or on the sprawling Yangtze River, they were small open windows turned seaward through which blew in the breeze -- or the storm -- of a new age: the age of the machine.

Industry followed the maritime trade. The foreigners with their gunboats and banks and world-wide merchant firms started factories. Certain raw materials were plentiful, and labor was cheap. The ports teemed with people anxious to earn a pittance. Secured by rights wrung from a feeble, corrupt Imperial government, Western business boomed.

The Chinese, supreme masters of the whole Far East for two thousand years, were slow to acquire the new ways. It was humiliating that they, old, venerable, experienced teachers to whom all neighboring peoples had been looking for guidance, had of a . . .

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