CHAPTER VI
POLITICS AND EDUCATION

It is easy to suggest methods by which, in the course of the next half-century, China could improve her agricultural and industrial organisation. What is technically feasible, however, may be politically impracticable, and the question whether the conditions of public life permit the necessary steps to be taken raises different issues. To forecast the future is impossible. The country is so vast; the interests involved so various and complex; the absence of the settled forms and habits of political procedure, which canalise action elsewhere, so conducive to abrupt deviations and unpredictable changes; the uncertainties caused by foreign intervention so multitudinous and distracting.

Political forces in China resemble Chinese rivers. The pressure on the dykes is enormous, but unseen; it is only when they burst that the strain is realised. The visitor, who sees only the externals, inevitably miscalculates the force of the current. Nor, when he turns for instruction to foreign residents in China and to his Chinese acquaintances, can he always be certain of receiving enlightenment. Both are apt to be more interested in the problems arising from contacts between China and foreign nations than in those of China herself. The former may have investigated the economic and social life of the interior of the country, which is not that of the ports; but, unless they have done so, their opinion on Chinese politics is not necessarily more authoritative than is that of Kensington on the conditions of the Durham coal-field or the Lancashire cotton industry. The latter are not infrequently too exasperated by the weakness of China in the face of foreign Powers to be disposed to consider the internal circumstances to which, in part, it is due.

Their attitude is natural; but mere indignation is futile and undignified. The Treaty of 1922, by which it was intended to

Land and Labour in China L

-161-

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Land and Labour in China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • By the Same Author 4
  • Title Page 5
  • Prefatory Note 7
  • Contents 9
  • Chapter I- Introductory 11
  • Chapter II- The Rural Framework 23
  • Chapter III- The Problems of the Peasant 51
  • Chapter IV- The Possibilities of Rural Progress 78
  • Chapter V- The Old Industrial Order and the New 109
  • Chapter VI- Politics and Education 161
  • Index 203
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