China’s Foreign Places

China’s Foreign Places: The Foreign Presence in China in the Treaty Port Era, 1840–1943

Robert Nield
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Pages: 400
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt17w8gkt
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  • Book Info
    China’s Foreign Places
    Book Description:

    During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the imperial powers—principally Britain, the United States, Russia, France, Germany and Japan—signed treaties with China to secure trading, residence and other rights in cities on the coast, along important rivers, and in remote places further inland. The largest of them—the great treaty ports of Shanghai and Tientsin—became modern cities of international importance, centres of cultural exchange and safe havens for Chinese who sought to subvert the Qing government. They are also lasting symbols of the uninvited and often violent incursions by foreign powers during China’s century of weakness. The extraterritorial privileges that underpinned the treaty ports were abolished in 1943—a time when much of the treaty port world was under Japanese occupation. China’s Foreign Places provides a historical account of the hundred or more major foreign settlements that appeared in China during the period 1840 to 1943. Most of the entries are about treaty ports, large and small, but the book also includes colonies, leased territories, resorts and illicit centres of trade. Information has been drawn from a wide range of sources and entries are arranged alphabetically with extensive illustrations and maps. China’s Foreign Places is both a unique work of reference, essential for scholars of this period and travellers to modern China. It is also a fascinating account of the people, institutions and businesses that inhabited China’s treaty port world.

    eISBN: 978-988-8313-53-2
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgements (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Timeline (pp. xv-xix)
  6. Maps (pp. xx-xxx)
  7. Treaty Ports and Other Foreign Stations (pp. xxxi-xxxvi)
  8. Principal Characters (pp. xxxvii-xl)
  9. Introduction (pp. 1-22)

    History matters in modern China. Not only is the past a different country, it is also replete with unfinished business. From the perspective of the Chinese, the period 1842 to 1943 was a century of humiliation so severe that it is charted in a Dictionary of National Humiliation, four centimetres thick.¹ But this sense of humiliation goes back much further. For much of the previous thousand years, China was ruled by people who originated from outside its borders: the Jin (from present-day Russia), Yuan (Mongol) and Qing (Manchu) dynasties.² In the story told in this volume the major actors are...

  10. Aigun (pp. 23-24)

    For many years Russia had been trying to extend its empire to the Pacific seaboard. In 1858, distracted by the Taiping Rebellion and the Anglo-French invasion, China signed the Treaty of Aigun, ceding the entire left bank of the Amur (Heilong) River to Russia, land equivalent to the size of France. In 1860, with China weakened by conflict, the Treaty of Peking (Beijing) transferred the remaining territory as far as the ocean to Russia; the meaning of Vladivostok in Russian is ‘Ruler of the East’.

    Imperial Russia was still not satisfied. Instead of agreeing that the new border with China...

  11. Amoy (pp. 24-37)

    Amoy’s rare direct access to the sea attracted a succession of European adventurers. The Portuguese arrived in 1516, and from 1575 the Spanish made Amoy the terminus of their trans-Pacific trade to Mexico.¹ In the 17th century the Dutch tried, unsuccessfully, to trade at Amoy. The English East India Company made an exploratory visit in 1670, setting up a factory in 1676;² trade continued until 1681, when the factory closed.³ A lingering Spanish commercial presence remained in Amoy until the early 19th century, long after all other foreign nations had been confined to Canton (Guangzhou).⁴

    In 1806 the Canton firm...

  12. Antung (pp. 37-39)

    As Russia consolidated its position in Manchuria in the early 20th century, two powers were sufficiently concerned to take action. Japan saw Russia’s advance as a threat to its own borders. America was motivated by the apparent trampling on its ‘open door’ policy, aimed at safeguarding the Chinese state’s integrity. For different reasons, each signed a treaty with China on 8 October 1903. Both treaties provided for the opening of Mukden (Shenyang), but the Japanese added Tatungkow*(Dadonggou) and the Americans, Antung. Tatungkow was at the mouth of the Yalu River, the border between Manchuria and Korea, while Antung was...

  13. Baku (pp. 39-39)

    Baku is the principal town in the Pescadores (Penghu) Islands. The Dutch sheltered in Baku’s harbour in 1622 after attempting to capture Macao; deterred by Chinese forces, they colonized Formosa (Taiwan) instead.¹ In March 1885, towards the end of the Sino-French War, the islands were captured by the French, who held them until July.² The 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki ceded the Pescadores to Japan. France, Germany and Russia pressured Japan to agree not to cede them to any other power.³ A few foreign tea-traders established themselves at Baku.⁴ Japan opened the port to foreign shipping in 1913, but its business...

  14. Canton (pp. 39-49)

    At the beginning of our period, Canton was alone among Chinese cities in having extensive experience of foreign trade. British merchants, although successful, claimed the rules were one-sided. Their frustrations erupted with the First Opium War of 1839–42. One of the outcomes of this conflict was that Canton became a treaty port, under the Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing), and a more liberal set of regulations was drawn up. But in reality, life in Canton for foreigners changed very little.

    Canton continued to be a major centre of trade: tea, silk and porcelain were coming out, and cotton, wool and...

  15. Changsha (pp. 49-51)

    At the time of its opening as a treaty port, Changsha was important, but not as a commercial city. With its clean, paved and lighted streets, prosperous shops¹ and handsome public and private buildings,² it was the capital of Hunan Province and a residential and scholastic centre.³ A number of home-grown modern innovations sprang up in Changsha, including steam launches on the river and a modern police system.⁴ Its position at the geographical centre of China was seen as a potential advantage by the foreign mercantile powers. Yet Changsha was for many years an active centre of anti-foreign feeling. The...

  16. Chefoo (pp. 51-66)

    As a treaty port, Chefoo never really existed. The 1858 British Treaty of Tientsin (Tianjin) refers to Tengchow, now known as Penglai. The place chosen by the merchants was just outside the walled city of Yantai, 70 kilometres to the south-east. Chefoo (Zhifu) was the name of a small fishing village north of Yantai, of no interest to the early foreign merchants. But this is the name that the British and French remembered from earlier visits, and so the village found itself thrust into international prominence.

    On their way to Taku (Dagu) to press for the ratification of their respective...

  17. Chengtu (pp. 66-67)

    The fertile plain on which Chengtu sits enabled it to prosper even though, due to the surrounding mountains and inhospitable terrain, its prosperity grew in isolation from the rest of China. The ancient Sichuan provincial capital contained three separate walled cities, similar to Peking (Beijing): the Tartar city, the Imperial and the Chinese.¹ For this reason, coupled with the city’s remoteness, it was an easy decision for the Empress Dowager to remove the Imperial Court there in 1901 when things became too uncomfortable in the capital.

    Chengtu became a focus of foreign missionary activities in the latter years of the...

  18. Chimmo Bay (pp. 67-68)

    Opium was traded illegally at the first treaty ports long before their official opening. To avoid consular attention, principal dealers Jardines and Dents moved their illegal activities to sheltered bays along Fujian’s coast, like Chimmo. As it would have been equally unlawful for cotton to be brought to Chimmo as for opium to be shipped direct to Amoy (Xiamen), 60 kilometres south-east, the two businesses developed separately.¹ Opium was paid for in silver, and the quantities held by the dealers at Chimmo proved irresistible to pirates. They overran the receiving ships in 1847, forcing the business to move 20 kilometres...

  19. Chinchew Bay (pp. 68-68)

    Known to 13th-century Arab traders as Zaiton, Chinchew was with Canton (Guangzhou) one of the two Chinese ports open to foreign trade. Japanese pirates forced Chinchew’s Superintendency of Trade to close in 1522,¹ although Portuguese and Spanish business continued for some years.² In 1832 the sheltered bay attracted first Jardines’³ then Dents’ opium ships.⁴ In 1843 Hong Kong Governor Sir Henry Pottinger suggested to Imperial Commissioner Qiying that Chinchew become officially recognized as an opium depot, thereby keeping the trade out of Hong Kong and the treaty ports. Qiying’s rent demands were too high. The idea lapsed,⁵ but the trade...

  20. Chinkiang (pp. 68-73)

    The British were already convinced of the potential of Chinkiang long before it was opened as a treaty port by the 1858 Treaty of Tientsin (Tianjin). The First Opium War dragged on in a desultory manner from 1839 to 1842, with very little actual fighting. Most action took the form of one-sided naval demonstrations by the British. Chinkiang was the site of one of the conflict’s few military engagements.¹ The Chinese had expected, and planned for, a British assault on the Peiho (Hai) River, the nearest waterway to Peking (Beijing).² The appearance in the Yangtze of General Sir Henry Gough*...

  21. Chinwangtao (pp. 73-75)

    The earliest reference to Chinwangtao comes from the late third century BC, when it won the affections of the third Shi Emperor of the short-lived Qin dynasty. The name ‘Qin Emperor’s Island’ persisted although the island has long since been joined to the mainland. Jumping forward to the late 19th century, Chinwangtao became one of the ‘treaty ports’ that was opened to foreign trade unilaterally by China, without a treaty, in an attempt to control a situation that was rapidly deteriorating.

    The decree was issued on 5 April 1898¹ and, once the Boxer troubles had been dealt with, a Custom...

  22. Chungking (pp. 75-80)

    Over many centuries Chungking grew to be the commercial capital of western China. In a commanding position on the Yangtze, where it was joined by the Jialing, Chungking was over 2000 kilometres from the sea. For the first 500 kilometres the river was treacherous—too shallow in the winter to be safe from rapids and submerged rocks, and too fast-flowing in the summer with the melt-water from Tibet. Incoming trade involved an arduous, dangerous and time-consuming journey. Added to the challenges of getting there, the populous city was perched on a high rocky peninsula between the two rivers, whose water...

  23. Chusan (pp. 80-82)

    Never a treaty port but very nearly a colony, the island of Chusan played a key role at the beginning of our period. Situated 150 kilometres from the mouth of the Yangtze, Chusan’s position was of strategic importance. Vessels based in its sheltered harbour could control, or interfere with, depending on your viewpoint, passing shipping. And Chusan was the largest of many sheltered islands in the archipelago. The East India Company had maintained a presence there at the beginning of the 18th century.¹ Ninety years later Lord Macartney was considering taking possession of the island. Lindsay visited in 1832 and...

  24. Cumsingmoon (pp. 82-82)

    In 1821 fear of official action curbing the opium trade forced foreign traders from Whampoa (Huangpu) to Lintin (Neilingding) Island and, during the typhoon season, Cumsingmoon.¹ By 1843 opium hulks were stationed at Cumsingmoon permanently. Their foreign owners built houses and roads ashore,² before opting for the safety of Hong Kong. Cumsingmoon remained for some years a point of embarkation for coolies.³...

  25. Dalny/Dairen (pp. 82-85)

    The British fleet gathered in Talienwan (Dalianwan) in 1860, before moving on to assault the Taku (Dagu) forts.¹ The sheltered harbour clearly made an impression; Sir Thomas Wade threatened to take it by force when his 1876 negotiations with Li Hongzhang in Chefoo (Yantai) were not going to his liking.² This was exactly what the Japanese did in 1895, claiming the Guandong Peninsula as part of the spoils of their surprise victory over the Chinese. Combined pressure from Russia, France and Germany forced Japan to retrocede the seized territory later in the year, but it became clear that Russia had...

  26. Foochow (pp. 85-95)

    The Portuguese are believed to have traded at Foochow in 1517.¹ Japanese pirates temporarily blockaded the mouth of the Min River in 1557,² and the city traded with the Spanish Philippines in the late 16th century.³ The Dutch tried to open commerce in the 1660s but were unsuccessful. The English East India Company (EIC) established a trading factory at Foochow in 1681⁴ and company vessels were regular visitors until foreign merchants were confined to Canton (Guangzhou) by Imperial Decree in 1757.⁵

    Hugh Hamilton Lindsay called at Foochow in 1832. He found European woollen goods already on sale in the city,⁶...

  27. Haichow (pp. 95-95)

    In 1905, by Imperial Decree Haichow was opened to foreign trade as a defensive measure. China feared losing control of this important commercial centre, linked to the interior by railway and the Grand Canal.¹ However, Haichow’s port, Lienyungchiang (Lianyungang), was sheltered but with poor prospects; access from the sea was difficult.² Besides, the coast was dominated by the larger ports of Tsingtao (Qingdao) and Shanghai. Only in 1933 was a proper harbour constructed at Lienyungchiang.³...

  28. Hangchow (pp. 95-97)

    Marco Polo visited Hangchow in the 13th century and described it as ‘without doubt the finest and most splendid city in the world’,¹ as it may well have been. China’s capital in the Southern Song dynasty (1129–1280), Hangchow was enormous and very wealthy. In 1851 Britain formally requested that Hangchow be swapped for the new treaty ports of Foochow (Fuzhou) and Ningpo (Ningbo), neither of which had met expectations.² The request was denied³ and Hangchow remained a tempting possibility for the next half-century.

    Japan’s 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki opened Hangchow as a treaty port. Much of the silk that...

  29. Hankow (pp. 97-118)

    The official British delegation arriving in Hankow to open the new treaty port hoped to find the great commercial centre of the Chinese Empire—and did.¹ The performance of many of the initial open ports was disappointing but Hankow exceeded that of all the others opened by the 1858 Tientsin (Tianjin) Treaty. Hankow brought the British far more than commercial benefits. Being the furthest that ocean-going vessels could penetrate into the empire’s heartland, it enabled Britain to establish a dominant ‘sphere of influence’ over the thousand navigable kilometres of the Lower Yangtze.

    The three cities that constitute modern Wuhan (known...

  30. Harbin (pp. 118-121)

    When Russia’s expanding empire reached Manchuria in the 17th century, it diverted northwards to avoid encroaching on Chinese territory. Such niceties were not to last. Taking advantage of China’s various troubles in the mid-19th century, Russia entered into two treaties, in 1858¹ and 1860,² which, by appropriating Chinese land, extended Russian territory to the Pacific seaboard and the new port of Vladivostok. Russia was keen to consolidate its hold on this remote outpost by linking it directly to St. Petersburg by railway. In 1891 work began simultaneously at both ends of the largest railway project in the world, almost 10,000...

  31. Hokow (pp. 121-121)

    French territorial aggression in 1885 resulted in a number of treaties and conventions. One such, in 1887, opened the Red River town of Manhao as a treaty port.¹*Another convention in 1896 exchanged Manhao for Hokow,² where a French Vice-Consulate was opened in August 1896 and a customs station the following July. Hokow was picturesque but as a place of foreign commerce very short-lived.³

    Situated opposite the French Tonkin town of Laokai, Hokow facilitated supervision of the extension of the Annam railway into China, and curbed the ‘river pirates’ who opposed French ambitions in the region;⁴ the French referred to...

  32. Hong Kong (pp. 121-133)

    Known to European sailors since at least the late 18th century, Hong Kong’s main attraction was its sheltered deep-water harbour. Contemporary maps indicate there was no certainty that Hong Kong was an island. Lord Amherst’s mission in 1816 visited only the south coast, taking on fresh water from the waterfall that is today next to the Wah Fu housing estate. By 1829 the East India Company was interested in the harbour’s potential as a refuge for its operations.¹ Five years later Lord Napier suggested that Britain take possession of Hong Kong as a less restrictive base for mercantile activity in...

  33. Ichang (pp. 133-135)

    In 1869 Robert Swinhoe, British Consul in Taiwan-fu (Tainan), accompanied a group of British merchants travelling up the Yangtze. Their gunboat, HMSOpossum, was the first steamer to reach Ichang, the furthest such a vessel could travel.¹ They concluded that Ichang was insignificant commercially but, as the head of navigation, it should be opened as a treaty port until somewhere better could be found.² Swinhoe’s separate report included the full Chinese text of a placard he had seen, offering rewards for attacks on foreigners and their property:³ rewards were scaled for killing foreigners, destroying their steamers, etc. Death was the...

  34. Kashkar (pp. 136-136)

    Situated 3000 kilometres from the nearest stretch of navigable Chinese water, Kashkar is the place that stretched the term ‘treaty port’ to the absolute limit. Peking (Beijing)’s hold over the far west of its empire was tenuous and fraught with difficulties, both cultural and geographical. Authority was difficult to exert over a resentful, rebellious, predominantly Muslim population. In 1835, to stop the eastward spread of neighbouring Kokand, China allowed a Kokand diplomat to be based at Kashkar.¹ In an attempt to appease Russian aims, a Sino-Russian treaty in 1860 opened Kashkar to Russian trade ‘as an experiment’.²

    Trade was not...

  35. Kiukiang (pp. 137-140)

    Kiukiang never lived up to foreigners’ expectations. Opened as a treaty port by the 1858 Treaty of Tientsin (Tianjin), it was not even mentioned in the treaty. As the Yangtze valley was still plagued by Taiping rebels, Britain secured the right to open Chinkiang (Zhenjiang) and two others, to be identified ‘so soon as Peace shall have been restored’.¹ The chosen two were Hankow (Hankou) and Kiukiang. For the British, the main attraction of Kiukiang was its position near the mouth of the Po Yang (Boyang) Lake, the large stretch of water from which all the exports of Jiangxi Province...

  36. Kiungchow (pp. 141-145)

    Kiungchow was an outpost where for over a thousand years Chinese officials were banished for offending their emperor. The Haikou Museum is full of their stories. In its early years as a treaty port foreign residents would have been able to appreciate their sense of abandonment. Virtually all the British consular officials who were posted there during the 50 years of the consulate’s existence became seriously ill, although only one died in post.¹ Even in the early 21st century Kiungchow was listed by one American multinational as one of only two ‘hardship postings’ in China.²

    In 1665 British Captain John...

  37. Kongmoon (pp. 146-147)

    Kongmoon, ‘The Gate of the River’ in Chinese, used to be on the coast. The same silting process that has today left it 50 kilometres inland also created a prosperous alluvial plain, and Kongmoon became one of its chief distribution centres.¹

    The Burmah Convention of 1897 opened Samshui (Sanshui) as a treaty port and designated Kongmoon as a port-of-call. It was hoped Samshui, 75 kilometres upstream, would become the great commercial centre for foreign trade on the lower West River. When Samshui disappointed expectations, the British 1902 Commercial Treaty conferred full treaty port status, and Britain’s hopes, on Kongmoon.

    Kongmoon...

  38. Kowloon (pp. 147-150)

    From its inception as a British colony, Hong Kong was a duty-free port and, inevitably, a base for smuggling. Profits could be made smuggling anything into China but the most attractive commodity was opium, especially after its trade was legalized by the 1858 Treaty of Tientsin (Tianjin) and abnormally high rates of duty andlikinwere set. In 1867 the Guangdong customs authority established customs stations along the coast near Hong Kong. Unable to tax at source the Chinese were obliged to patrol both Hong Kong waters and land borders, and tax whomever they apprehended.¹

    The efforts were so successful...

  39. Kuling (pp. 150-151)

    British missionary Edward Little started his career in China in Chinkiang (Zhenjiang) in 1886 and later became the founding entrepreneurial force behind the mountain resort of Kuling, a pun on ‘cooling’.¹ In 1895 he started acquiring over 200 hectares of land in the Lushan Mountains, 15 kilometres south of Kiukiang (Jiujiang) and 1000 metres above sea level. His claim to be merely renting land in the ‘immediate vicinity’ of a treaty port exasperated both the Kiukiang British Consul and the local authorities.² Both the Chinese authorities and local people were aghast at the scale of his ambitions although not denying...

  40. Kwangchowwan (pp. 151-153)

    French hopes for this leased territory on the Guangdong coast failed to materialize. Comprising a sheltered bay, the immediate islands, a strip of coast and a patch of ocean, some 800 square kilometres in total, Kwangchowwan served only as a base from which the French flag could be flown. Having consolidated its hold on Indo-China after the war of 1884–85, France claimed a sphere of influence over China’s south-west provinces. In 1896 French vessels were surveying the harbour at Kwangchowwan, hoping to establish more than just influence.¹ They were attracted by the sheltered harbour, over 30 kilometres long and...

  41. Kweilin (pp. 153-153)

    A canal link northwards to the Yangtze justified Kweilin as the provincial capital of Guangxi, until Nanning took the title in 1914. The Nationalist government made Kweilin their capital in 1936, before moving to Chungking (Chongqing) in December 1937. Never a significant centre of foreign trade, from 1937 Kweilin was the halfway stopover for Hong Kong-to-Chungking flights. Its geographical location made it a base for monitoring Japanese activity in China, so Britain established a consulate-general in August 1942. The station closed on 5 November 1944. Five days later the Japanese captured the city, linking their occupied territories in China and...

  42. Lappa (pp. 153-154)

    The genesis of Lappa as a customs station is similar to that of Kowloon (refer to the Kowloon entry for background and rationale). Lappa, once an island and now part of Zhuhai, is situated opposite Macao’s Inner Harbour. It was one of several islands over which Portugal claimed a loose sovereignty as dependencies of Macao.¹ The Opium Agreement of 1886, although signed in Hong Kong, resulted in a Custom House being established there in 1887.

    There were also two principal supporting stations: Malowchow (today a small hill east of Lianping), at the western entrance to the Inner Harbour, and Chienshan...

  43. Lintin Island (pp. 154-155)

    Lintin’s day came and went before the Treaty Port Era. This solitary outcrop, barely four kilometres by two, was claimed for Portugal by Jorge Alvares in 1513¹ but not pursued. The island later became popular with ships of all nations waiting for permission to proceed to Canton (Guangzhou).² Lintin’s importance increased in 1821 when Whampoa (Huangpu) and Macao’s opium business was curtailed, forcing a move to the ‘outer anchorage’ of Lintin,³ where for the next 20 years commercial activity seethed. The opium hulks, moored in the island’s bays, received and distributed the drug. Whenever winds became too strong, the ships...

  44. Lungchow (pp. 155-156)

    France selected Lungchow as a treaty port following the demarcation of the Tonkin–Guangxi border in 1887.¹ The town was a Chinese military post, its erratic walls constructed in the same year,² perhaps with the French in mind. The Custom House was opened on 1 June 1889. The foreign population of seven in 1891 consisted entirely of consular and customs staff.³ It was not the potential of Lungchow itself that attracted the French. The plan was to extend the Haiphong railway into China, thereby capturing the Guangxi trade from the West River. The first part of this plan was fulfilled...

  45. Lungkow (pp. 156-157)

    For centuries Lungkow was the sea port for much of Shandong. Going north across the Gulf of Chihli to Manchuria were fruit and vegetables. Coming back were beans and beancake (used for fertilizer). Lungkow’s vermicelli was famous; then a cottage industry, now an international brand. Economic ties were strengthened by the summer migration of 60,000–80,000 agricultural workers from Shandong to northern Manchuria.

    Lungkow came to international prominence through Japan’s actions in the First World War. Japan sided with the Allies, undertaking to ‘capture’ Tsingtao (Qingdao), a German possession. To this end, on 3 September 1914 Japan landed 50,000 troops...

  46. Macao (pp. 157-158)

    Portuguese traders visited Macao in the early 16th century, establishing formal occupation in 1557. For almost three hundred years this outpost provided the only nearby refuge for foreign merchants when they were obliged to depart Canton (Guangzhou) at the end of the November-to-May trading season. Twice in the 18th century successive emperors suggested making Macao the centre of all foreign trade. Twice the offer was declined.¹ When the British mercantile community was forced to leave Canton in 1839 they sought refuge in Macao, but were refused. Macao’s commercial status declined once the British colony of Hong Kong was created in...

  47. Mengtse (pp. 158-159)

    France’s war of 1884–85 with China opened the Tonkin borders with Guangxi and Yunnan provinces for Sino-French trade. As those borders remained undefined, the 1885 Treaty of Tientsin (Tianjin) merely said that trade would be conducted at ‘certain spots which shall be settled later’.¹ It was two years before an Additional Convention defined the ‘spots’ as the treaty ports Lungchow (Longzhou), Mengtse and Manhao.² Manhao was the head of junk navigation on the Red River, 40 kilometres south of Mengtse, and was later exchanged for Hokow (Hekou).

    The short journey from Mengtse to its river port of Manhao took...

  48. Mokanshan (pp. 159-160)

    Foreign missionaries in China were skilled in finding resort areas at which they could hide from the rigours of the summer months. Mokanshan was such a resort, about 40 kilometres north-west of Hangchow (Hangzhou) and perched on a 600-metre-high hilltop. The first Western-style house was built there around 1900.¹ Many more followed and by 1917 there were over 100, accommodating a summer population of 700, almost half of them children.² The facilities were run by the Mokanshan Summer Resort Association,³ which looked after sanitation, road maintenance and medical services, also providing recreation facilities such as tennis courts and a swimming...

  49. Mukden (pp. 160-161)

    Taking advantage of China’s defeat by Japan in 1895, Russia extended its Trans-Siberian Railway across Manchuria to Vladivostok. Two years later it forced another concession for a branch line south, through Harbin and Mukden to Dalny (Dalian) and Port Arthur (Lüshun). In 1900, with China preoccupied by the Boxer Rebellion, Russia used its new railways to occupy large tracts of China’s north-east. Japan was deeply concerned about the Russian advances and enlisted American support to object.¹ The two countries signed separate treaties on 8 October 1903, requiring the Chinese government to open Mukden as a place of international residence and...

  50. Nanking (pp. 162-164)

    In 1858 the French Treaty of Tientsin (Tianjin) gave treaty port status to Nanking, but it was not formally opened; the surrounding country was occupied by the Taiping armies, and since 1853 Nanking had been their capital. Establishing a foreign trading post was considered neither possible nor desirable. The rebels were defeated in 1864 with much loss of life. In an orgy of looting and terror, the incoming Hunan troops completed the destruction of the city and its people. Women and small children were run through for sport, not for the last time in Nanking’s history. The imperialists inherited a...

  51. Nanning (pp. 164-166)

    Nanning’s opening for foreign trade had numerous false starts but never achieved prominence. French excursions from Indo-China after the war of 1884–85 were thought to threaten Britain’s commercial and political interests; France intended diverting Guangxi’s trade towards Tonkin. In 1885 Britain proposed a railway from Nanning to Canton (Guangzhou), keeping foreign trade within its sphere of influence. This did not happen.¹ Instead the Burmah Convention of 1897 acquiesced to Britain’s request to open the West River. By a separate note, the Tsungli Yamen confirmed the opening of Nanning as soon as commercial interests justified it.² Britain interpreted this as...

  52. Newchwang (pp. 166-173)

    The first British Consuls at Newchwang would write their dispatches from ‘The Port of Newchwang’ rather than simply ‘Newchwang’. Manchuria consisted of three north-eastern provinces, largely unknown to the foreign powers in the mid-19th century. They did know that the region had one major river, the Liao, and near its mouth was a commercial city called Newchwang (Niuzhuang). Its name in Chinese, ‘Cow Village’, should have raised doubts, but the British planners decided this was the place to establish a treaty port so Newchwang was inserted in their 1858 Tientsin (Tianjin) Treaty.

    They were unaware that Newchwang, over 100 kilometres...

  53. Ningpo (pp. 173-181)

    Ningpo’s early prosperity as a fishing port attracted the attention of pirates, both domestic and Japanese. The islands of the Chusan (Zhoushan) Archipelago both protected the river entrance to Ningpo and provided hiding places for seaborne robbers. Consequently Ningpo, like many Chinese coastal cities, is situated 30 kilometres up a river, the Yung (Yong). The Portuguese arrived in the early 16th century and perhaps were a welcome deterrent to the Japanese.

    They chose to encamp at Chinhai (Zhenhai), at the mouth of the river, the first European colony in China. By 1533 there was a permanent Portuguese settlement,¹ named Liampo,...

  54. Pakhoi (pp. 181-184)

    When Pakhoi opened as a treaty port on 1 April 1877 the Union Jack flew over a fisherman’s shack, raised on stilts, squeezed between similar ramshackle structures and surrounded by open sewers.¹ Consular assistant Alexander Harvey could not even enjoy the comparative comforts of the mud temple available to his counterpart in Newchwang (Yingkou).

    Pakhoi was one of the four treaty ports created by the 1876 Chefoo Agreement. Its opening was sought for many years by Daniel Robertson, a former East India Company man and now a veteran of 33 years with the British consular service in China. Robertson should...

  55. Peitaiho (pp. 184-186)

    Two sources are credited with the discovery of Peitaiho as a seaside resort in the early 1890s. Some say a group of foreign missionaries found its beautiful beaches while escaping the interior’s heat. Others credit Claude Kinder, a British railway engineer engaged by the Chinese government to supervise the building of the line from Tientsin (Tianjin) to Shanhaikwan (Shanhaiguan). By 1893 Kinder had built a holiday cottage in an area that came to be known as West End. Ownership of property by foreign non-missionaries was prohibited, so one of his local contractors became nominal owner.¹ Others followed as news spread...

  56. Peking (pp. 186-187)

    In the eyes of the Chinese, Peking was the imperial capital, the seat of the Son of Heaven and the centre of the known world. All envoys were by definition from vassal states, expected to kowtow and bring tribute. Foreigners were barbarians and, with few exceptions, best kept at bay. In the 16th century, Jesuit missionaries so impressed the palace with their knowledge of astronomy and ability to predict solar eclipses they were permitted to stay, some rising to high positions. In 1727 the Treaty of Kiakhta permitted four Russian Orthodox priests to live in the capital, as well as...

  57. Port Arthur (pp. 188-191)

    For centuries, coastal trading junks used Port Arthur’s bay to escape bad weather. There were mud huts, some simple shops and a few inns to cater for visiting sailors.¹ When the British fleet called in 1860, en route to attack the Taku (Dagu) forts, Admiral Seymour named the bay after Lt. William Arthur, commander of HMSAlgerine, the first British ship to shelter there.² Inability to adequately defend itself against Seymour’s fleet confirmed China’s conviction that it needed its own modern navy. In 1881 Li Hongzhang was charged with creating a credible naval force, with Port Arthur as its main...

  58. Port Hamilton (pp. 191-192)

    Almost surrounded by two islands, and with a diameter of two kilometres, Port Hamilton lies 50 kilometres off South Korea’s southern coast. A survey was carried out by Sir Edward Belcher in 1845, who named the harbour for Captain William Hamilton, Secretary of the British Admiralty. In 1857 Russia obtained permission to establish a coaling station there, but nothing happened. The desirable harbour was to be a key feature of Anglo-Russian relations in the coming decades. In 1875 Sir Harry Parkes, British Minister in Japan, sent another survey team, which concluded the desirability of Port Hamilton’s occupation by Britain was...

  59. Saddle Islands (pp. 192-192)

    The Saddle Islands, an archipelago with sheltered anchorages at the mouth of Hangzhou Bay, provided a base for foreign pilots watching for sailing vessels approaching Shanghai. When the North Saddle Lighthouse was built in 1871 it boasted the most powerful light in China.¹ In 1884 the islands were connected by cable to Port Hamilton, enabling the British to monitor Russian activities. In the spring the islands were home to a Chinese fishing fleet. When they left in mid-June, foreign holidaymakers came to enjoy weather significantly cooler than in Shanghai, eight hours away by steamer.²...

  60. Samshui (pp. 192-195)

    Samshui is an example of a treaty port whose opening, in retrospect, was probably a mistake. The trade potential of the West River was a focus of Britain’s dealings with China in the late 19th century, not least to block French regional aspirations. The 1897 Burmah Convention listed three new treaty ports. Two of them, Samshui and Kongkun Market (Jianggen), were close neighbours and were treated as the same place.¹

    The first British Consul at Samshui, Herbert Brady, arriving at night after a twelve-hour journey from Canton (Guangzhou), found there was no accommodation The Customs Commissioner let him use the...

  61. Sanmun Bay (pp. 195-195)

    In March 1899 Italy, desiring recognition as a ‘Great Power’, demanded a lease on Sanmun Bay for use as a naval and coaling station. Its harbour was ‘capable of sheltering the navies of the world’.¹ Also demanded were three nearby islands, mining and railway rights, and the establishment of Italian influence over much of Zhejiang Province.² Italy had negligible interests in China but its demands were thought to be supported by Britain and Germany.³ China decided enough was enough (even Denmark was reported to be preparing a similar claim)⁴ and refused. America adopted a position of ‘disinterested neutrality’ regarding Italy’s...

  62. Santuao (pp. 195-196)

    The island of Santuao was declared an open city by Imperial Decree on 5 April 1898.¹ It was situated in Samsah Bay (Sansha Wan) one of the many large, sheltered, deep-water harbours found along China’s south-east coast. Those factors made Samsah Bay very attractive to acquisitive foreign powers. In 1897 there had been rumours that China had off ered Germany Samsah Bay for helping to remove the Japanese from the Liaodong Peninsula.² The Germans conducted a thorough examination of the bay³ but chose to lease Tsingtao (Qingdao) instead. The Chinese decided it preferable to declare Santuao an open port rather...

  63. Shanghai (pp. 196-209)

    Mongol encroachments into northern China, particularly in the 13th century, forced the Han Chinese to flee southwards. This led to Shanghai’s prominence both as a coastal port and a terminus for an inland shipping network. On the edge of a large alluvial plain and near the mouth of the Yangtze, the town became a distribution centre for the products of the surrounding area. In the Ming period, much of this land grew cotton, and many were engaged in cottage-based spinning and weaving operations. Shanghai’s city walls were built in the 16th century to protect what had become a thriving town...

  64. Shanhaikwan (pp. 209-210)

    Its name means ‘Barrier between the Mountain and the Sea’. Shanhaikwan is where the Great Wall meets the ocean, and where China used to meet Manchuria; it was the required entry port for bringers of tribute.¹ When the British captured Shanghai in 1842, the Chinese assumed they would approach Peking (Beijing) by way of Shanhaikwan, the way barbarians always did. Th e garrison was strengthened accordingly.² Instead the British arrived via the Taku (Dagu) forts. In 1894 the Japanese used Shanhaikwan as a base from which to threaten the capital, and a reported 100,000 Chinese troops were mobilized.³

    Another crisis...

  65. Shasi (pp. 210-211)

    A newspaper in 1876 proclaimed that Shasi was ‘beyond all doubt the largest mart on the Yangtze beyond Hankow [Hankou]’.¹ This seemed possible as its riverbank was hidden by a densely packed line of junks stretching several kilometres. Shasi was made a port-of-call by the 1876 Chefoo Agreement, enabling foreign steamers to take on and set down goods and passengers, and then given full treaty port status by the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki. Japanese Consul Eitaki performed the opening ceremony on 1 October 1896 and established a consulate with three staff. In 1897 Britain sent Walter Clennell as acting consul;...

  66. Soochow (pp. 211-212)

    Soochow flourished for almost 2000 years as a centre of civilization, beauty and learning, then was almost totally destroyed by the Taiping rebels in the mid-19th century. When it opened as a treaty port in 1895 one of the first foreign firms was a brickworks; repairs and rebuilding had been slow and there was a ready market for the products of E. Brass and his Wuli Brick Factory.¹

    Treaty port status was conferred by the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Soochow was a major centre for producing the finest silks and satins in China. Its clientele included the Imperial household.² In the...

  67. Swatow (pp. 213-223)

    The early history of Swatow as a treaty port is defined by the less desirable activities in which foreign merchants were heavily involved. The east coast of China is heavily indented with bays, estuaries and islands, hiding places for the conduct of nefarious activities with little fear of official interference. One such place was Namoa (Nanao).

    When the European and American opium traders started running their fast clipper ships up the coast from Canton (Guangzhou) in the 1820s, the island of Namoa was one of the bases they chose for unloading their goods. About 20 kilometres north-east of Swatow and...

  68. Szemao (pp. 224-224)

    The conviction that Yunnan Province had trade potential was strong but misplaced. France had ‘collected’ Mengtse (Mengzi) and Manhao as treaty ports in 1887. Szemao, 250 kilometres to the west, was added eight years later.¹ This brought the French within 100 kilometres of British Burma. Britain responded by also nominating Szemao as a treaty port in its 1897 Burmah Convention.² The Most Favoured Nation principle would have sufficed, but its specific inclusion raised Szemao’s status. It was a hollow gesture.

    A village³ on a malarial plain, Szemao’s only function was strategic; the two powers could watch each other’s movements. Even...

  69. Tachienlu (pp. 225-225)

    The town of Kangding, in Sichuan Province, lies 200 kilometres west-south-west of Chengdu, huddled in a steep river valley at an altitude of 3000 metres. The town was known as Tachienlu and in 1913 became one of the most remote of Britain’s Chinese consular stations. On the geographic and ethnographic boundary between China and Tibet, all trade between the two passed through Tachienlu. Lord Curzon, British Viceroy of India, pursued a ‘forward policy’ with respect to the northern frontier of the Raj, culminating in the invasion of Tibet and the occupation of Lhasa in 1904. Until then, the Chinese had...

  70. Taiwan-fu (pp. 225-229)

    Taiwan-fu became a treaty port in the 1858 Treaty of Tientsin (Tianjin). As the capital of Formosa (Taiwan), it naturally attracted foreign interest. The Dutch built Fort Zeelandia on the coast in 1624 during their brief occupation of the island.¹ Remnants of this rambling fortification still stand, as do those of a smaller fort, Provintia, built in 1653² inside the walled city. From these bases, the Dutch eliminated Spanish and Japanese opposition and ruled for almost 40 years. They were forcibly removed in 1662 by the Ming loyalist Koxinga (Zheng Chenggong), who, fleeing the mainland, chose to make Formosa his...

  71. Taku (pp. 229-229)

    Taku holds a special place in China’s history, now represented by the solitary remains of one tiny fort, overlooking a vast expanse of reclaimed land, massive docks, container-handling facilities, multi-lane highways and soaring bridges. The forts, originally a large complex, guarded the mouth of the Peiho (Hai) River, the sea entrance to Peking (Beijing). In some respects the entrance did not need much guarding, being very difficult to spot from the sea. To the north and south of the river’s mouth was a bleak, flat and muddy wasteland. The British fleet managed to find it in 1840, before being persuaded...

  72. Tamsui (pp. 230-234)

    The Japanese tried three times to establish a colony at Tamsui in the 16th and 17th centuries.¹ Where Japan failed, Spain succeeded. In 1627 the Spanish built Fort San Domingo to deter Japanese designs on the Spanish Philippines. The Spanish were unwelcome and their wooden fort was burned down in 1636. A stone structure replaced it, but no sooner was it finished than the Spanish themselves dismantled it, recognizing their exposed position in relation to Holland’s rising regional dominance. These fears were justified when the Dutch defeated the Spanish in a sea battle off Keelung (Jilong) in 1642. The victors...

  73. Tengyueh (pp. 234-235)

    Britain’s empire in South Asia reached its zenith in 1885 with the annexation of Upper Burma, bringing British interests to the Chinese frontier. Not until nine years later did Britain and China reach agreement about the definition of the border. The Burmah Convention of 1894 provided that Manwyne (Manghuan) be opened as a treaty port.¹ An agreement in 1897 settled further details about the frontier, and allowed Britain to substitute Manwyne for either Shunning-fu (Fengqing) or Momein, whichever it preferred.² Manwyne was about ten kilometres from the Burmese border and infamous as the place British official Raymond Margary was murdered...

  74. Tientsin (pp. 235-250)

    Historically, Tientsin was a gatekeeper for Peking (Beijing). The city’s Chinese name translates as ‘Heavenly Ford’, meaning the river crossing on the way to the seat of the Son of Heaven. Access to the capital was rarely granted to foreigners, and Tientsin was often as close as was allowed. This happened in 1858 when a combined British and French force, under Lord Elgin, disabled the forts at Taku (Dagu) and came up the river to Tientsin, arriving on 30 May.¹ The Chinese, to avoid the humiliation of foreign armies in their capital, agreed to negotiations. Treaties were concluded in June...

  75. Tsinan (pp. 250-252)

    The lease of Kiaochow (Jiaozhou) to Germany in 1898 included the right to construct a 320-kilometre railway from Tsingtao (Qingdao) to Tsinan, the provincial capital of Shandong. It was completed in 1904. In an attempt to limit Germany’s influence, and prompted by Japan, an Imperial Decree of 18 May opened Tsinan to foreign trade.

    Tsinan and Shandong were of great interest to Japan as well as Germany. Along with Britain and, somewhat later, America, these countries established a significant consular presence. Land for a German Consulate had already been acquired in 1903. The chief engineer of the Shantung Railway, Heinrich...

  76. Tsingtao (pp. 252-258)

    Tsingtao sits at the mouth of a bay that is one of the best harbours in China. When it was opened by Germany as a free port on 2 September 1898, flags flew from every hut.¹ Tsingtao was tiny but potentially important, not least because the quality of the locally brewed beer was about to improve. The Germans were not the first to be interested in the area. William Jardine badgered Lord Palmerston in 1840 to include Kiaochow (Jiaozhou) Bay in his list of desired treaty ports.² German interest was first aroused in 1866 when Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen, uncle...

  77. Wanhsien (pp. 258-259)

    Situated on the Yangtze halfway between Ichang (Yichang) and Chungking (Chongqing), Wanhsien was listed as a treaty port in the 1902 British Commercial Treaty. The relevant clause depended upon China abandoninglikin. When this proved impossible, the clause lapsed. In 1917, the Chinese government opened the port on its own initiative and on 16 March a foreign-managed Custom House was established.¹ The small walled town was a distribution centre for eastern Sichuan. Except for the import of kerosene, business was exclusive to Chinese merchants. The dominant export was wood-oil.²

    Apart from a few customs men and missionaries, the only foreigners...

  78. Weihaiwei (pp. 259-271)

    The British were not strangers to the Territory of Weihaiwei when, in 1898, they signed the lease. In 1816 Lord Amherst, while on his ill-fated mission to Peking (Beijing), had dropped anchor in ‘Oei-aei-oei’ bay but moved on, unable to obtain supplies.¹

    Lindsay’s mission of 1832 concluded that Shandong had little to offer in exchange for foreign imports, describing the walled town of Weihaiwei as ‘merely a small village’. An inscription indicated that the town and its wall had been built in 1400 to protect the area from Japanese pirates.² As Chinese walled cities go, Weihaiwei was tiny, despite the...

  79. Wenchow (pp. 271-276)

    The modern, affluent city of Wenzhou lies on the south bank of the River Ou, 30 kilometres from the sea. Its location is attractive, but in former days it was isolated. Meandering through a plain, interspersed with canals, but surrounded by hills, only the river allowed entry to the provincial interior. Small vessels could travel west from Wenchow for 50 kilometres, the tidal limit, until meeting impassable rapids. The city developed as the collection and distribution point for the produce of south-east Zhejiang Province. Many of its streets were and are lined by canals.

    Sir Rutherford Alcock signed a convention...

  80. Whampoa (pp. 277-279)

    The places collectively known as Whampoa served, in the early days of European commercial intercourse with China, as the port for Canton (Guangzhou), 20 kilometres upstream. An observer in 1844 noted that there were seldom fewer than 30 or 40 sailing vessels lying there, and often more than a hundred,¹ because they were unable to sail further.

    Over many years, all aspects of the complex river system were minutely charted by foreign navigators, with every headland, water passage and island identified and named. French Island, now Shenjing Island and almost entirely occupied by the South China Normal University, was the...

  81. Woosung (pp. 279-281)

    Woosung might have been chosen as one of the first treaty ports if being near an existing city had not been a priority. Whereas Shanghai was 25 kilometres up a small and hazardous tributary, Woosung village was at the mouth of that waterway and on the banks of the Yangtze itself.

    In 1865 the Woosung Road Co. was formed, with Jardines as managing agent. Permission was obtained to widen and straighten the military road from Shanghai. The construction of a railway line, the real intention of the promoters, was not mentioned but the project became too expensive and the company...

  82. Wuchow (pp. 281-283)

    The Burmah Convention of 1897 between Britain and China opened Wuchow as a treaty port. Almost 300 kilometres up the West River from Canton (Guangzhou), Wuchow was the head of navigation for ocean-going vessels, just inside Guangxi. Wuchow was not expected to be a significant centre of foreign trade, but the principle of opening the West River was important. In Britain’s view, the main thrust of the 1897 Convention was to stem French influence in south-west China, diverting trade down the West River rather than overland to French Indo-China. In this respect, Wuchow was a success.

    The port was opened...

  83. Wuhu (pp. 283-286)

    Wuhu was occupied by the Taiping rebels in 1853. The distribution centre for the vast rice crop of Anhui Province, it was considered to be the most prosperous of their possessions.¹ When Lord Elgin’s mission called in for supplies in October 1858, they found that it had been almost totally destroyed.²

    Frederick Bruce requested in 1862 that Wuhu be opened to British steamers for the collection of tea exports, the overland route to Shanghai having been closed by the Taipings.³ His request was refused, but in 1876 the Chefoo Agreement added Wuhu to the list of treaty ports. By then...

  84. Yochow (pp. 286-288)

    The wealth and river network of Hunan, a centre of anti-foreign sentiment, was irresistible to foreign commercial interests. Britain was negotiating opening Siangtan (Xiangtan) as a treaty port, over 200 kilometres up the Xiang River from where it joins the Yangtze. Instead the Chinese government opened Yochow by Imperial Decree on 5 April 1898.¹

    As often happens with compromises, neither party was satisfied. The British saw it as at least a step in the right direction, even though Yochow was only just inside the Hunan border—but British merchants protested that penetrating deeper was preferable. The Chinese were unhappy about...

  85. Yunnan-fu (pp. 288-288)

    British interest in Yunnan-fu was prompted by French designs on south-west China, thought to threaten British concerns in Burma. In a convention of 7 August 1896, France secured the opening of Szemao (Simao) as a treaty port, close to the Red River, to encourage trade between China and French Indo-China. Even if this had happened, Szemao would only have been a step on the way to the provincial capital, Yunnan-fu. In 1897 France was granted permission to build a railway to Yunnan-fu from Haiphong. The British felt obliged to match this with one from Burma along the route investigated by...

  86. Russian Frontier Stations (pp. 288-289)

    The first recorded treaty between China and a foreign power is the 1689 Treaty of Nipchu (Nerchinsk in Russian). This dealt with border delineation (a matter agreed only over 300 years later), and reciprocal rights of trade and travel. A second attempt to settle the boundary was the 1727 Treaty of Kiakhta, an agreement opening two trading stations on the frontier—Kiakhta (now just inside Russia on the border with Mongolia) and Nipchu (700 kilometres to the east and now well inside Russian territory).

    Cross-border trade with Russia had been conducted since 1847 at Ili (also known as Kuldja or...

  87. Japanese Stations in the North-East (pp. 289-290)

    Japan had been pressured into signing its own onesided treaties with the major Western powers in 1858 and felt the need to restore national pride by exerting itself over its larger, yet enticingly weak, neighbour. In 1871 Li Hongzhang refused to grant Japan the same concessions won by the Europeans and Americans. However, he did sign a treaty in Tientsin (Tianjin) giving Japan trade and commercial privileges, plus extraterritoriality for its citizens. For the first time, grudgingly, China treated Japan as its equal.¹

    Japan’s wholehearted embrace of Western technology, particularly military, led to victory over China in 1895. The resulting...

  88. Yangtze River Ports-of-Call (pp. 291-292)

    In the twilight of both the 19th century and the Qing dynasty, Britain found itself in danger of being outflanked by its rivals among the Treaty Powers. Dominant since its first treaty in 1842, Britain wished to demonstrate it remained so. Accordingly, it declared a sphere of influence over the entire Yangtze valley, including Shanghai’s hinterland and effectively half of China. The 1858 treaties of Tientsin (Tianjin) had opened Chinkiang (Zhenjiang), Nanking (Nanjing), Kiukiang (Jiujiang) and Hankow (Hankou), stretching 1000 kilometres upriver from Shanghai. However, Lord Elgin’s goal was that the privilege should not be restricted to the named ports....

  89. West River Ports-of-Call (pp. 292-292)

    Since the creation of Yangtze River ports-of-call in 1876, much had happened in China’s south-west. In particular, France had defeated China in a brief war over control of Tonkin, which in French eyes was a step towards opening trade in China.¹ The French had threatened to annex Hainan Island and the entire Guangdong coastline, which at that time bordered the French colony. Paul Doumer, the Governor-General of Indo-China, even drew up plans for the invasion of Yunnan.²

    Seeing the West River as potentially drawing trade from the Upper Yangtze and directing it away from French territory, Britain established a foothold...

  90. Tibetan Ports (pp. 292-294)

    The British in India wanted to establish trade ties with Tibet on their northern frontier. Such a move would help to keep Russian interest at bay, a constant fear. Tibet, nominally a vassal of China, was ruled by a powerful lama elite, who for centuries had isolated their population from corrupting foreign influences.

    An article in the 1876 Chefoo Agreement allowed for a British exploratory mission to Tibet. The first attempt was countermanded by an Anglo-Chinese convention in 1886 which, while mainly concerned with matters relating to Burma, agreed trade with Tibet would not be pressed ‘unduly’.¹ Interpreting this as...

  91. Appendix (pp. 295-296)
  92. Notes (pp. 297-328)
  93. Glossary of Terms (pp. 329-330)
  94. Bibliography (pp. 331-346)
  95. Index (pp. 347-359)

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