AN EMPIRE'S AWAKENING.
THE DESTTNY OF f CHINA. A MISSIONARY'S OBSERVATIONS. Fourteen years spent in the heart of the Chinese Etatpire—fourteen years devoted tp the "task of endeavouring t<? j improve;* and expand the ' conditions- of I the Chinese if anything would, qualify a man to understand and Bpeak of these conditions, and to j gauge the tremendous advances and sweeping changes through which that .'nation is passing - on its path -towards the goal of Wfestern civilisation. The I Rev. T. R. Kearney, of the Church of Scotland Mission, at I-chang, China, j has now completed such a term in that office, and is at present visiting relatives in New Zealand on his way home | to Scotland on ' furlough, being accompanied on his trip by Mrs. Kearney. i On his arrival in Auckland, Mr. Kearney related to a "Star" representative some interesting particulars of the progress of ' art, science, industry, and civilisation I during the last decade in the Chinese Empire. | Mr. Kearney proceeded to I-chang in , 1894 to take up mission work. He describes the work as being very progresI sive, there being now over 500 converts tp Christianity in the district, and the j.results of the labours in this field may ' well be appreciated when it is remembered that the Chinese Race is one of . the- most difficult of all for the endeavours of the missionary, and that the question of language is always a great obstacle in this direction. GROWTH OP INTERNAL CCOcIMERCE. Speaking of the attitude of the na. tives to the European, Mr. Kearney stated that the strong anti-foreign feeling which had once seemed to peraieate every fibre of the people, has, to a large extent, passed away. "The Chinese find," he said, "that they can learn much from the foreigners, and they are •taking advantage of this extensively. One never hears now these opprobrious epithets hurled at the European as was almost invariably the case not so many years ago. We have now four steam navigation companies trading regularly ' right up as far as I-chang, 1,000 miles from the mouth of the Yang-tse-Kiang, two of these being British owned, another Chinese, and the fourth by a Japanese syndicate. Railways are going ahead, although there are none near | I-chang, and a concession has been granted for a big line between Hankow and Canton. A Belgian company constructed a trunk line from Bekin. to Hankow, and so impressed are the Chinese with the value of the railway, and the desirability of its purchase by the Sbate, that negotiations are now in hand for a loan for the purpose. The lines are, as a rule, constructed under the supervision of Europeans, but one or two the Chinese are building themselves, and, of course, bungling : it badly. As 'yet, it is certain that, in this direction, they must be under foreign supervision." " The people have not yet faced the question of roads, and, in fact, in the I-Chang district, there are only bridle paths. What they would call a big road there would really be only a track, two or three feet wide, and impassable in winter. When we travel there we have to use Sedan chairs carried by either two or four men." " The Chinese have always been great merchaßts'i'f jwid, in China, are thoroughly to be trusted in matters of business. Commerce is, of course, increasing everywhere, and with so many natural resource* hitherto practically undeveloped or even opened up at all, it cannot be doubted that trade must advance rapidly with the progress in means of inter-conr-munication. The population is only equal to the resources, and the people work for a very small return, the wages of a tradesman in Central China being only about Cd. a day, of which some 3d. or 4d. goes for food." THE MARCH OF EDUCATION. "Just now," continued Mr. Kearney, there is a great awakening in China, and the Government is taking up the matter of State education and gradually getting it into its hands. Formerly this was ail in the hands of private schools aad colleges. Large numbers of Chinese students have been pursuing their education in Europe, and at the present day there are about 15,000 in Japan. This educational problem is a great one for the missionaries. We have at I-ehang a boys' school and a training institute for girls. At tha latter institution arc two ladies from Dunedin—Misses Moore and Fraser—who take great interest in the work. The •children are well educated and exercised in physical drill. There is, in fact, a general desire for education right through the country." CLOSING THE OPIUM DENS. "About two years ago," Mr. Kearney continued, the Emperor issued an edict to the effect that the use and sale of opium was to dis continue within 10 years time, and to meet the Chinese Government, the British Government promised that it would reduce the importation of the Indian grown article in the same proportion as the consumptioa of the I home-grown opium decreased. In Shanghai, the municipal authorities have I directed the closing of all opium divans j wzthin two years—a quarter every six n-.onths—and the full half were shut down in under one year. There ha 3 j 'been no difficulty with the proprietors, although there may be so with the opium farmers. In I-chang the dens I were all closed last September, but the sale of opium in bulk in the shops still continues. The Chinese Government is j grappling with the subject, and although rt means a considerable loss of revenue —the amount of opium passing through I I-change each year is enormous—there seems every possibility that this curse which ihas beset the Chinese nation in the ! past, will be stamped out in its entirety in the near future." A POPULAR CONSTITUTION. • "Another matter at present before the people is that of a constitutional government. Formerly China's government was autocratic, each official being responsible to a senior. Now they are to have a Government and Parliament in ' about ten or twelve years' time, and the aim of the country's rulers is to educate the people up to this. The Chinese have | already advanced so far that they feel the necessity for the introduction of such a system. The Young China party is I already in the field, urging the iuitugura- ' tion of a constitution as soon as pos- i sible, and great were, the rejoicings when this was granted. In this direction the signs of a-wakening are of the healthiest, and tho people are looking eagerly forward to the day of the inception of an Empire Parliament." IS THERE A YELLOW PERIL? " And do you consider the awakening of China spells danger of any kind to other lands of the Pacific?" ' ' "' I dyn't think there is anything to be "feared from the Chinese race in that respect. They have a whole Empire to themselves to develop, and it is one of
"the most maghificerit'" empires in : Hk« w ° r *f P?r have quite sufficient wog}ft within their, own borders to keen- S there, and the thorough that country can never be properly li fected for many, many years to co,S" Iron, coal, srfver, gold, copper arid mony are all there in abundance working. There is a great future for tat country, and it is our duty to give thorn all the advantages of Western Christk?civdasation to enable them to work mS£ enlightened and better conditions Xw! are immense tracts of territory thiisil the empire practically undeveloped and m places, not populated. The dines, have now turned to soldiering, and' at• I-ehang the troops are drilled daily and exercised in manoeuvres. They have never yet had proper opportunities, hrit when they do, there is no reason - they should not make as good soldiers as the Japanese. If China went on the sania "' road as Japan, indeed, there is no reason why she should not almost dictate to the world. The people are standing up for their rights, and now fewer concessions ' are given up to foreigners. But Ido not think Australia or New Zealand have .anything to fear. The Cantonese -mightlike very much to come down to settle*- 'ft and the Japanese are certainly great nists, but there is yet illimitable room' for expansion in the Chinese Empire for this vast people, which is only now awafc ening to the call of civilisation—and re. sponding well." . ; ..- ftft<
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