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PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT]
183
CHINA

conduct of public affairs. They were: (1) Li Pu, the Board of Civil Appointments, controlling all appointments in the civil service from the rank of district magistrate upwards. (2) Hu Pu, the Board of Revenue, dealing with all revenues which reached the central government. (3) Li Pu, the Board of Ceremonies. (4) Ping Pu, the Board of War. It controlled the provincial forces. The Manchu forces were an independent organization attached to the palace. (5) Hsing Pu, the Board of Punishments. It dealt with the criminal law only, especially the punishment of officials guilty of malpractices. (6) Kung Pu, the Board of Works. Its work was limited to the control of the construction and repair of official residences.

As rearranged and enlarged there are now the following boards, given in order of precedence:—

1. Wai-wu Pu.—This was established in 1901 in succession to the Tsung-li Yamên,[1] which was created in 1861 after the Anglo-Chinese War in 1860 as a board for foreign affairs. Previous to that war, which established the right of foreign powers to have their representatives in Peking, all business with Western nations was transacted by provincial authorities, chiefly the viceroy at Canton. The only department at Peking which dealt specially with foreign affairs was the Li Fan Yuen, or board of control for the dependencies, which regulated the affairs of Mongolia, Tibet and the tributary states generally. With the advent of formally accredited ambassadors from the European powers something more than this was required, and a special board was appointed to discuss all questions with the foreign envoys. The number was originally four, with Prince Kung, a brother of the emperor Hien Fêng, at their head. It was subsequently raised to ten, another prince of the blood, Prince Ching, becoming president. The members were spoken of collectively as the prince and ministers. For a long time the board had no real power, and was looked on rather as a buffer between the foreign envoys and the real government. The importance of foreign affairs, however, especially since the Japanese War, identified the Yamên more with the grand council, several of the most prominent men being members of both. At the same time that the Tsung-li Yamên was created, two important offices were established in the provinces for dealing with foreign commercial questions, viz. the superintendencies of trade for the northern and southern ports. The negotiations connected with the Boxer outbreak proved so conclusively that the machinery to the Tsung-li Yamên was of too antiquated a nature to serve the new requirements, that it was determined to abolish the Yamên and to substitute for it a board (Pu) to be styled the Wai-wu Pu, or “board of foreign affairs.”

2. Board of Civil Appointments.

3. Board of Home Affairs.

4. Board of Finance and Paymaster General’s Department.

5. Board of Ceremonies.

6. Army Board or Ministry of War (instituted 1906).[2]

7. Board of Judicature.

8. Board of Agriculture, Works and Commerce (instituted 1903).

9. Board of dependencies.

10. Board of Education (instituted 1903).

11. Board of Communications (instituted 1906).

Each board has one president and two vice-presidents, with the exception of the Wai-wu Pu, which has a comptroller-general and two presidents, and the Boards of War and Education, each of which has a comptroller-general in addition to the president. According to the decree of 1906 no distinction, in filling up the various boards, is to be made between Manchu and Chinese.

Besides the boards named there are other departments of state, some of them not limited to any one branch of the public service. The more important are those that folllow:—

The Censorate (Tu Ch‘a Yuen).—An institution peculiar to China. The constitution provides a paid body of men whose duty it is to inform the emperor of all facts affecting the welfare of the people and the conduct of government, and in particular to keep an eye on the malfeasance of his officers. These men are termed Yü shih (imperial recorder), generally translated censors. Their office has existed since the 3rd century B.C. The body consists of two presidents, a Chinese and a Manchu, 24 supervising censors attached to the ministries at Peking, and 56 censors, divided into fifteen divisions, each division taking a particular province or area, so as to embrace the whole eighteen provinces, besides one metropolitan division. The censors are privileged to animadvert on the conduct even of the emperor himself; to censure the manner in which all other officials perform or neglect their duties and to denounce them to the throne. They receive appeals made to the emperor, either by the people against the officials or by subordinate officials against their superiors. They exercise, in accord with the Board of Justice, an oversight over all criminal cases and give their opinion whenever the death penalty is to be pronounced. They superintend the working of the different boards and are sometimes sent to various places as imperial inspectors, hence they are called êrh mu kuan (the eyes and ears of the emperor). The censors exercise their office at times with great boldness;[3] their advice if unpalatable may be disregarded and the censor in question degraded. The system of the censorate lends itself to espionage and to bribery, and it is said to be more powerful for mischief than for good. With the growth in influence of the native press the institution appears to lose its raison d’être.

The grand court of revision (Ta-li sze) or Court of Cassation exercises, in conjunction with the Board of Justice and the Censorate, a general supervision over the administration of the criminal law. These bodies are styled collectively San-fah sze (the Three High Justices).

The Hanlin College (Hanlin Yuen, literally Forest of Pencils) is composed of all the literate who have passed the palace examination and obtained the title of Hanlin or imperial academist. It has two chancellors—a Manchu and a Chinese. Its functions are of a purely literary character and it is of importance chiefly because the heads of the college, who are presumably the most eminent scholars of the empire, have the right of advising the throne on all public affairs, and are eligible as members of the grand council or of the Wai-wu Pu. The Chinese set fire to it during the fighting in Peking in June 1900 in the hope of burning out the adjoining British legation. The whole of the library, containing some of the most valuable manuscripts in the world, was destroyed.

Each of the eighteen provinces of China proper, the three provinces of Manchuria and the province of Sin-kiang are ruled by a viceroy placed over one, two and in one instance three provinces, or by a governor over a single province either under a Provincial government. viceroy or depending directly on the central government, the viceroy or the governor being held responsible to the emperor for the entire administration, political, judicial, military and fiscal. The most important viceroyalties are those of Chih-li, Liang-kiang and Liang-kwang. The viceroyalty of Liang-kiang comprises the provinces of Kiang-su, Ngan-hui and Kiang-si. The viceroy resides at Nanking and hence is sometimes called the viceroy of Nanking. Similarly the viceroy of Liang-kwang (comprising the provinces of Kwang-tung and Kwang-si) through having his residence at Canton is sometimes styled the viceroy of Canton. The three provinces adjoining the metropolitan province of Chih-li—Shan-tung, Shan-si and Hon-nan—have no viceroys over them; seven provinces—including Chih-li—have no governors, the viceroy officiating as governor. In provinces where there are both a viceroy and a governor they act conjointly, but special departments are administered by the one rather than the other. The viceroy controls the military and the salt tax; the governor the civil service generally.

The viceroy or governor is assisted by various other high officials, all of whom down to the district magistrate are nominated from Peking. The chief officials are the treasurer, the judicial commissioner or provincial judge, and the commissioner of education (this last post being created in 1903). The treasurer controls the finances of the whole province, receiving the taxes and paying the salaries of the officials. The judge, the salt commissioner, and the grain collector are the only other officials whose authority extends over the whole province. Each province is subdivided into prefectures ruled by prefects, and each prefecture into districts ruled by a district magistrate, Chih-hsien, the official through whom the people in general receive the orders of the government. Two or more prefectures are united into a tao or circuit, the official at the head of which is called a Taot‘ai. Each town and village has also its unofficial governing body of “gentry.”[4] The officials appointed from Peking hold office for three years, but they may be re-appointed once, and in the case of powerful viceroys they may hold office for a prolonged period. Another rule is that no official is ever appointed to a post in the province of his birth; a rule which, however, did not apply to Manchuria. The Peking authorities take care also in making the high appointments to send men of different political parties to posts in the same province.

The edict of the 6th of November 1906 initiating changes in the central administration was accompanied by another edict outlining changes in the provincial government, and an edict of the 22nd of July 1908 ordered the election of provincial assemblies. The edict made it clear that the functions of the assemblies were to be purely consultative. The elections took place according to the regulations, the number of members allotted to each province varying from 30 (Kirin province, Manchuria, and two others) to 140 in Chih-li. The franchise was restricted, but the returns for the first elections showed nearly 1000 voters for each representative. The first meetings of the assemblies were held in October 1909.

  1. Yamên is the name given to the residences of all high officials. Tsung-li Yamên = the bureau for managing each (foreign) kingdom’s affairs.
  2. An edict of the 15th of July 1909 created a naval and military advisory board. Up to that time the navy was controlled by the viceroys at Canton, Nanking, Fu-chow and Tientsin; the viceroys at Canton and Tientsin being ministers superintendent of the southern and northern ports respectively.
  3. Thus in 1910 Prince Ching, president of the grand council, was, for the third time, impeached by censors, being denounced as an “old treacherous minister,” who filled the public service with a crowd of men as unworthy as himself. The censor who made the charge was stripped of his office (see The Times of the 30th of March 1910).
  4. For details of local government see Richard’s Comprehensive Geography, 1908 edition, pp. 301 et seq.