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construction and maintenance of the lighthouses and day marks on the coasts and rivers of China, and many works of conservancy in Chinese harbors and rivers, not a single Chinese man has been trained to responsible administrative work of that sort or any similar sort during the entire 'existence of the service. No Chinese has ever been appointed to anything above a clerkship in that service; and the consequence is now that the government cannot get from that service a single man, Chinese by birth, who is fit for the public service in similar departments. How natural that a Chinese statesman should hear with impatience even the name of the Imperial Maritime Customs Service!
The next unifying influence for China, as, indeed, it has been all over the world, is the provision of the necessary means of intercourse for travelers, pedlars, and traders, and of the distribution and exchange of goods. I never before was in a country without roads. I had lately visited several parts of the Far East which are under foreign supervision, as, for instance, some British colonies in the East, and had found admirable roads in great numbers, thousands of miles of hard, smooth roads constructed in the British colonies, for example; and suddenly I came to China and found it a country without made roads. The western parts of our own country existed for some time without anything that deserved the name of roads; railroads anticipated country stoned roads, and enabled us to communicate with new settlements along lines running east and west or north and south, and even crossing the continent. The railroad often preceded the settlement of the country through which it passed. Now China has not only no well-built common roads, but it possesses to this day only an insignificant amount of railroad lines. The number of miles of railroad in China now in operation does not exceed five thousand. Many a single state in our union has much more than that. I did not see a single macadamized, well-built road in China, outside a British or other foreign concession, except one. That one ran from the winter palace in Pekin out to the summer palace, and was sixteen miles long; it was constructed for the passage of the imperial household twice a year. It is impossible for us to imagine the close limitation of intercourse and traffic caused by this absence of roads. In order to unify China it is absolutely indispensable that an immense increase should be made in the mileage of railroads in that huge country. But what does that mean? That means the borrowing of thousands of millions of dollars for purposes of construction.
A long time has lately been spent in endeavoring to effect a trifling loan of $300,000,000 for the Republic. Nearly a year those negotiations have lasted, and still there is no end of them. But that amount will not take care of the government itself for more than eighteen months. Now China is going to need railroads, long and many, and will need them urgently; and the railroads will have to be state railroads. The corporation is not sufficiently developed in China itself, among Chinese people, to be useful for the construction of the great mileage of railroads which the country needs. The state will have to do it. "When?" we may ask. Only when China has procured and set in operation a system of taxation that will yield a stable, sure revenue for the central government. That is the first thing that needs to be done in China. To this end laws are needed, public action of all sorts is needed, and foreign advisers are needed; indeed, they are indispensable, in order that the government may obtain a stable, trustworthy national income. When that is accomplished, then all things will be possible.
Sir Robert Hart in 1904 devised a plan for providing the imperial government of that day with a stable and sufficient revenue by means of a moderate land tax. It had never possessed such a thing as a revenue in the modern sense. The imperial government exacted tribute from each of the provinces; and about half the tribute in money, rice, and silks which started from each province finally reached Pekin. But that tribute was for the support of the imperial household and the Manchu clan. It was never regarded as a national revenue in our sense or in the sense of any modern government, and when the Manchus abdicated they left to the new government no established system of collecting a national revenue. They had never studied Sir Robert Hart's admirable scheme.
There are other means of national intercourse, of intercourse between the widely separated parts of a great country, of intercourse between city and city, village and village, and between town and country-posts, telegraphs, and telephones. Sir Robert Hart devised and organized a system of posts for China, and finally made it over to the government long before his retirement; and that system exists today. It is still presided over by a foreigner, but it exists. Also there are a moderate number of telegraph lines, and in some of the cities and towns a telephone system begins to be developed; but all these means of intercourse are still imperfect and inadequate. What can you expect in the way of posts in a country where there are so few railroads, no roads, and where most of the transportation is on the backs of men and animals? Here, too, you see clearly the urgent need of an immense expenditure by the central government of China, before the proper means of intercommunication can be had for unifying the nation.
What I have already said implies that the great need of China at this moment is a strong central government. The government is provisional. The elections for permanent officers are to take place next January. Up to this moment there has been only a provisional organization. What is its nature? They call it a republic; but it is a republic in a sense in which we should not use the word. It is a republic based in the first place on a very limited suffrage. Nobody knows how many persons really took part in the election of the first assembly which met at Nanking, or in that of the body now sitting at Pekin; and nobody knows accurately the process by which those selections were made. Secret societies had much to do with the selections. The president is not a republican president in our sense. It was not possible that he should be. He is a dictator under republican forms. It was necessary that it should be so. It is not to be helped. Not until the next elections have been held will it be possible for us to say of China that even the form of government is genuinely republican.
When I landed in China nobody knew what the qualifications for the suffrage were to be. I asked a dozen of the officials I first met what they thought the qualifications for the suffrage should be, and found a serious division of opinion. The majority thought that the qualifications should be only educational. The others thought that there should be, as in Japan, first an educational qualification, and secondly, a property qualification. At the same moment no decision whatever had been reached as to the division of powers between the central government and the provincial governments. You will remember that one of the most serious difficulties we encountered after the Revolutionary War was to determine the division of powers between the separate states and the federal government. We finally obtained in our constitution a strict definition of that division. Unfortunately we did not make so good a one as our neighbor Canada made not long afterward.
A strong central government is indispensable to unification. The government is not strong. No government can be strong that has no revenue; and when I asked the then premier what dependable income the Republic had, he mentioned but one item, namely, the receipts from the government monopoly of salt, and he immediately added that the government manufacture of salt was badly conducted, that the salt was dirty and impure, containing many ingredients it should not contain, and that the manufacture would have to be reformed. That reform will take at least a year, and probably more; and it might be added that salt is one of the worst sources of revenue that has ever been resorted to; for it bears as heavily on the poorest as on the richest.
Nevertheless, in spite of its poverty the republican government is gaining strength all the time. It has repressed the early disorders, opened again all existing means of communication, advanced through discussion the adoption of a permanent constitution, reorganized the government bureaus at Pekin, detached the government from the ancient popular superstitutions, abolished the former official ceremonials, proclaimed religious toleration, and helped to free the people from inconvenient or injurious customs like the wearing of the queue and the binding of girls' feet. It has made a large number of projects for great improvements in the public services and in education. It cannot carry out these projects until it has a revenue. Think how little the Manchu Empire, which has been governing China for centuries, left to the Republic! No elements of a strong government were transmitted from the Empire to the new government; no army, no navy, no school system, no national system of taxation, no courts or police of national quality. Indeed, the Manchu Empire transmitted to the Republic no government organization whatever. It was not a real government in the modern sense. It has not been for centuries. If the Republic, or the revolutionary movement, had done nothing else except to rid China of the Manchus, it would have fully justified its coming into existence. The deliverance of China from the Manchus was a necessary step to the coming of China into the group of great nations. The Republic gives promise of organizing a strong government if it can have as much time as we had in our country to organize the government which has conducted our national affairs since 1789. It took us thirteen years with all our experience of local government, with all our fighting quality, with all our trading experience. It took us thirteen years with a comparatively homogeneous people, and with a common language and a common religion. China will need at least as long a period of reconstruction; and the western world ought to stand by China with patience, forbearance, and hope, while she struggles with her tremendous social, industrial, and political problems.
But you will be thinking that all the considerations I have thus far adduced, and all these means of unifying China, have a very material look. They do indeed relate to language, means of transportation, and the organization of government agencies for carrying on the business of the people; and it is quite true that nations cannot be unified by such means alone. Nations are unified, and come to be strong moral units by common sentiments, feelings, and passions; and the first of those sentiments is that of national