French Interests and Policies in the Far East

By Roger Levy; Andrew Roth et al. | Go to book overview

SUPPLEMENT1
THE ECONOMIC RELATIONS OF INDO-CHINA WITH SOUTHERN CHINA

I. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

Although economic relations between French Indo-China and southern China have shown a tendency to develop in recent years, they have always been extremely insignificant, and in certain respects they are still of little importance. The explanation of this state of affairs is to be found in a number of political, geographical and economic factors which will be examined in the following pages.


Political Factors

It is common knowledge that China was most reluctant to open her ports to Western commerce and that the great European powers had to take forceful measures to gain permission for their nationals to settle and trade in a few small districts in China. The agreement signed at Nanking on August 20, 1842, between Great Britain and China signalized the beginning of a penetration which was not always peaceful and never complete or final. The Tientsin treaties of 1858 between China and the principal powers ( Great Britain, France and the United States), the granting of concessions ( Tientsin and Canton in 1861, Shanghai in 1895, Kwangchowwan in 1898, Kulangsu in 1902, etc.) and the multiple commercial conventions were among the numerous and difficult stages in this process of penetration.

There is no point in dwelling on the nature and limits of the trading privileges granted by China through the various treaties and conventions still governing foreign nationals in China. The fact is that, if within their concessions those foreigners enjoy a certain security of person as well as of property and juridical privileges permitting them to defend themselves in the law courts, their position in the cities and open ports is far more difficult. In the rest of the country it is untenable.

____________________
1
Abridged translation of part of an original report prepared by Guy Lacam for the Institute of Pacific Relations, 1939.

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