to work mines, and the mineral wealth has been very inadequately exploited. Mining operations are controlled by the Board of Commerce. In 1907 this board drew up regulations respecting the constitution of mining and other companies. They contained many features against which foreign powers protested.
Coal, iron, copper and tin are the principal minerals found in China; there are also extensive deposits of coal and other minerals in Manchuria. In China proper the largest coal measures are found in Shan-si, Hu-nan, Kwei-chow and Sze-ch‛uen. There are also important coalfields in Chih-li, Shan-tung, Shen-si, Coal. Ho-nan, Yun-nan, Hu-peh and Kwang-tung—and almost all of the seven other provinces have also coal measures of more or less value. The lack of transport facilities as well as the aversion from the employment of foreign capital has greatly hindered the development of mining. Numerous small mines have been worked for a long period by the natives in the province of Hu-nan. There are two principal local fields in this province, one lying in the basin of the Lei river and yielding anthracite, and the other in the basin of the Siang river yielding bituminous coal. Both rivers drain into the Yangtsze, and there is thus an easy outlet by water to Hankow. The quality of the coal, however, is inferior, as the stratification has been much disturbed, and the coal-seams have been in consequence crushed and broken. The largest coalfield in China lies in the province of Shan-si. Coal and iron have here been worked by the natives from time immemorial, but owing to the difficulty of transport they have attained only a limited local circulation. The whole of southern Shan-si, extending over 30,000 sq. m., is one vast coalfield, and contains, according to the estimate of Baron von Richthofen, enough coal to last the world at the present rate of consumption for several thousand years. The coal-seams, which are from 20 to 36 ft. in thickness, rest conformably on a substructure of limestone. The stratification is throughout undisturbed and practically horizontal. As the limestone bed is raised some 2000 ft. above the neighbouring plain the coal-seams crop out in all directions. Mining is thus carried on by adits driven into the face of the formation, rendering the mining of the coal extremely easy. The coalfield is divided into two by a mountain range of ancient granitic formation running north-east and south-west, termed the Ho-shan. It is of anterior date to the limestone and coal formations, and has not affected the uniformity of the stratification, but it has this peculiarity, that the coal on the east side is anthracite, and that on the west side is bituminous. A concession to work coal and iron in certain specified districts in this area was granted to a British company, the Peking Syndicate, together with the right to connect the mines by railway with water navigation. The syndicate built a railway in Shan-si from P‛ingyang to Tsi-chow-fu, the centre of a vast coalfield, and connected with the main Peking-Hankow line; lines to serve coal mines have also been built in Hu-nan and other provinces. The earliest in date was that to the K‛aip‛ing collieries in the east of the province of Chih-li, the railway connecting the mines with the seaport of Taku. The coal at K‛aip‛ing is a soft bituminous coal with a large proportion of dust. The output is about 1,500,000 tons per annum. A mine has also been opened in the province of Hu-peh, about 60 m. below Hankow, and near the Yangtsze, in connexion with iron-works.
Iron ore of various qualities is found almost as widely diffused as coal. The districts where it is most worked at present lie within the coalfield of Shan-si, viz. at Tsi-chow-fu and P‛ing-ting-chow. The ore is a mixture of clay iron ore and Iron. spathic ore, together with limonite and hematite. It is found abundantly in irregular deposits in the Coal Measures, and is easily smelted by the natives in crucibles laid in open furnaces. This region supplies nearly the whole of north China with the iron required for agricultural and domestic use. The out-turn must be very considerable, but no data are available for forming an accurate estimate. The province of Sze-ch‛uen also yields an abundance of iron ores of various kinds. They are worked by the natives in numerous places, but always on a small scale and for local consumption only. The ores occur in the Coal Measures, predominant among them being a clay iron ore. Hu-nan, Fu-kien, Cheh-kiang and Shan-tung all furnish iron ores. Iron (found in conjunction with coal) is worked in Manchuria.
Copper is found chiefly in the provinces of Kwei-chow and Yun-nan, where a rich belt of copper-bearing ores runs east and west across both provinces, and including south Sze-ch‛uen. The chief centres of production are at the cities of Tung-ch‛uen-fu, Copper, tin, &c. Chow-t‛ung and Ning-yuen. The mines are worked as a government monopoly, private mining being nominally prohibited. The output is considerable, but no statistics are published by government. Rich veins of copper ore are also worked near Kiu-kiang. Tin is mined in Yun-nan, the headquarters of the industry being the city of Meng-tsze, which since 1909 has been connected with Hanoi by railway. This is an important industry, the value of tin exported in 1908 being £600,000. Tin is also mined in Hai-nan and lead in Yun-nan. Antimony ore is exported from Hu-nan; petroleum is found in the upper Yangtsze region. Quicksilver is obtained in Kwei-chow. Salt is obtained from brine wells in Shan-si and Sze-ch‛uen, and by evaporation from sea water. Excellent kaolin abounds in the north-eastern part of Kiang-si, and is largely used in the manufacture of porcelain.
The Chinese government has opened small gold mines at Hai-nan, in which island silver is also found. A little gold-washing is done in the sandy beds of certain rivers, for instance, the Han river and the upper Yangtsze, above Su-chow (Suifu), Precious metals. which here goes by the name of the “Goldsand” river. The amount so extracted is extremely small and hardly pays the labour of washing, but the existence of gold grains points to a matrix higher up. The whole of south-western China has the reputation of being highly metalliferous. Gold is obtained in some quantities on the upper waters of the Amur river, on the frontier between China and Siberia. The washings are carried on by Chinese. Gold has also been found in quartz veins at P‛ing-tu, in Shan-tung, but hardly in paying quantities. There are silver mines in Yun-nan.
Manufactures.—The principal native manufactures before the competition of western nations made itself felt were—apart from the preparation of tea and other produce for the market—those of porcelain and silk. The silks and gauzes of Su-chow Silk and porcelain. and Nanking in the province of Kiang-su, and those of Hang-chow in Cheh-kiang, are highly esteemed throughout China. Silk-weaving is still carried on solely in native looms and chiefly in the cities named. The greater part of the silk spun is used in China, but a considerable export trade has grown up and 27% of the world’s supply of raw silk is from China. The reeling of silk cocoons by steam-machinery is supplanting native methods. There are filatures for winding silk at Shanghai, Canton, Chifu and other cities.
The most famous porcelain came from the province of Kiang-si, the seat of the industry being the city of King-te-chen. Imperial works were established here about the year A.D. 1000, and the finest porcelain is sent to Peking for the use of the emperor. At one time 1,000,000 work-people were said to be employed, and the kilns numbered 600. The Taiping rebels destroyed the kilns in 1850. Some of them have been rebuilt. “Activity begins to reign anew, but the porcelain turned out is far from equalling in colour and finish that of former times. At the present day King-te-chen has but 160 furnaces and employs 160,000 workmen.” The common rice bowls sold throughout China are manufactured here. The value of the export sales is said to be about £500,000 yearly.
The spinning and weaving of cotton on hand-looms is carried on almost universally. Besides that locally manufactured, the whole of the large import of Indian yarn is worked up into cloth by the women of the household. Four-fifths of the clothing Cotton, &c. of the lower classes is supplied by this domestic industry. Of minor industries Indian ink is manufactured in Ngan-hui and Sze-ch‛uen, fans, furniture, lacquer ware and matting in Kwang-tung, dyes in Cheh-kiang and Chih-li, and varnished tiles in Hu-nan. Paper, bricks and earthenware are made in almost all the provinces.
Of industries on a large scale—other than those indicated—the most important are cotton-spinning and weaving mills established by foreign companies at Shanghai. Permission to carry on this industry was refused to foreigners until the right was secured by the Japanese treaty following the war of 1894–95. Some native-owned mills had been working before that date, and were reported to have made large profits. Nine mills, with an aggregate of 400,000 spindles, were working in 1906, five of them under foreign management. There are also four or five mills at one or other of the ports working 80,000 spindles more. These mills are all engaged in the manufacture of yarn for the Chinese market, very little weaving being done. Chinese-grown cotton is used, the staple of which is short; only the coarser counts can be spun.
At certain large centres flour and rice mills have been erected and are superseding native methods of treating wheat and rice; at Canton there are sugar refineries. At Hanyang near Hankow are large iron-works owned by Chinese. They are supplied with ore from the mines at Ta-ye, 60 m. distant, and turn out (1909) about 300 steel rails a day.
The foreign trade of China is conducted through the “treaty ports,” i.e. sea and river ports and a few inland cities which by the treaty of Nanking (1842) that of Tientsin (1860) and subsequent treaties have been thrown open to foreigners for purposes of trade. (The Nanking treaty recognized five ports only as open to foreigners—Canton, Amoy, Fu-chow, Ning-po and Shanghai.) These places are as follows, treaty ports in Manchuria being included: Amoy, Antung, Canton, Chang-sha, Dairen, Chin-kiang, Chinwantao, Ch‛ungk‛ing, Chifu, Fu-chow, Funing (Santuao), Hang-chow, Hankow, I-ch‛ang, Kang-moon, Kiao-chow, Kiu-kiang, K‛iung-chow, Kow-loon, Lappa, Lung-chow, Mengtsze, Mukden, Nanking, Nanning, Ning-po, Niu-chwang, Pakhoi, Sanshui, Shanghai, Shasi, Su-chow, Swatow, Szemao, Tatungkow, Tientsin, Teng-yueh, Wen-chow, Wu-chow, Wuhu, Yo-chow.
- Richard’s Comprehensive Geography, &c. (1908 edition), p. 144.
- In the 18th century foreign trade was restricted to Canton. In the 17th century, however, the Dutch traded to Formosa and Amoy, and the English to Amoy also. The Portuguese traded with Canton as early as 1517. For the early intercourse between Portugal and China see the introductory chapter in Donald Ferguson’s Letters from Portuguese Captives in Canton (Bombay, 1902).