The Government of China (1644-1911)

By Pao Chao Hsieh | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUES: FINANCE AND TAXATION

In the administrative sextet of the Peking Monarchy, the Department of Revenue was second in rank and influence, being outranked by only the Department of Civil Service. At the head of the department, above the regular ministers, there was a supervising minister, traditionally a Manchu and occasionally a Chinese. Then came the two ministers, (one Manchu and one Chinese) and four vice-ministers, (two Manchus and two Chinese). The duties of these officials, as defined by Ta Tsing Hui Tien, were as follows: --

To assist His Majesty in his duty of providing for the myriads, the ministers and vice-ministers shall control the land; keep a record of the territories of the Empire and the boundaries of the provinces; and take a census of the population. In all collections of taxes and excises, payments of nobles and government employees, auditing of the accounts of the provincial and central treasuries and granaries, transportation of taxes and tributes, officials shall submit their accounts and plans to this department: its ministers and vice-ministers, together with their staff, shall decide on the cases and enact their decision except in very important cases which shall be reserved for the decision of the emperor.

Aside from these, the department was responsible, along financial lines, for currency and coinage, direction, control and custody of customs houses, granaries, and treasuries. It concurrently exercised the right of determining the standards of weights and measurements with the Department of Works, and issued commercial regulations, seafaring directions and passports to the seagoing adventurers. It presented all financial officials to the court. It initiated agricultural ceremonies, protected the forests and encouraged silk culture. Judicially, it reviewed all civil cases: it had concurrent jurisdiction with the Department of Justice if,

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