THE BEGINNINGS OF THE FOREIGN SETTLEMENT, 1843
The British Expedition up the Yangtze
The British expedition passed on up the Yangtze River and bombarded Chinkiang, an important city at the junction of the Yangtze and the Grand Canal. Although the place was defended with courage by the Manchu garrison, after a severe struggle, in which many were killed, it was forced to yield.
From Chinkiang an advance was made on Nanking, at which place the expedition arrived on August 9, 1842. This occupation of the Yangtze led the Chinese to sue for peace, inasmuch as the blockade of the river hindered vessels carrying the tribute rice from proceeding to the capital by way of the Grand Canal.
Ilipu and Ki-ying, both Manchus, were appointed Imperial Commissioners to treat with Sir Henry Pottinger, the British Plenipotentiary, who had come up from Hongkong.
The Treaty of Nanking
The first treaty between China and Great Britain, known as the Treaty of Nanking, was signed on board the "Cornwallis" on August 29th,1842.
Among other provisions of the Treaty, Canton, Amoy, Foochow, Ningpo and Shanghai were opened to foreign trade and were to be known as Treaty Ports. It was agreed that fair tariff rates should be imposed.
In the wording of the Treaty no direct mention was made of settlements, and the only safeguards provided for foreign merchants were that "they with their families and establishments shall be allowed to reside for the purpose of carrying on their mercantile pursuits, without molestation or restraint" in the five ports.
The Treaty was ratified at Peking, and was brought to Hongkong by Commissioner Ki-ying in June, 1843. A careful study of the Treaty shows that in many ways it was unsatisfactory and that it did not take account of many of the problems which were sure to arise. At the same time, it reveals that the object of the British was not conquest, but solely to obtain a footing so that trade might be carried on more freely than had hitherto been possible.
American and French Treaties
The fruits of England's victories were shared by other nations. The Hon. Caleb Cushing was appointed Commissioner and Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States, for the purpose of negotiating a treaty with China. On July 3, 1844, the Treaty of Wang-hsia was signed, Ki-ying acting as representative of the Imperial Government. It was so called because the negotiations were carried on in a village of that name outside Macao.
The French Government despatched Monsieur Theodore M. M. J. de Lagrene to China to negotiate a treaty and one was signed at Whampoa on October 24, 1844. Thus these two countries also obtained the right of trade for their merchants in the five Treaty Ports.
Appointment of First British Consul
Captain George Balfour, formerly of the Indian Artillery, was selected by Sir Henry Pottinger to be the first Consul at Shanghai and held this office for three years. He came up from Canton and arrived in Shanghai on November 8, 1843.
On the following day he called by appointment on the Taotai, Kung Moo-yun, accompanied by his staff, Mr. W.H. Medhurst, interpreter, Dr. Hale, surgeon and assistant, and Mr. A. F. Strachan, clerk, and the Taotai duly returned the call on board the "Medusa," Consul Balfour's ship.
The first question to arise was that of a residence for the Consul, and for a time it seemed as if no one would venture to rent a house to the unwelcome foreigner, but eventually he secured the lease of a large dwelling house, containing 52 rooms, in the city, on a street between the East and West Gates at a rental of $400 per annum
. Shanghai was declared open to foreign trade on November 14th, 1843. Sir Henry Pottinger, having neglected to make any agreement about the site of a foreign settlement, the matter had to be arranged between Captain Balfour and the Taotai.
The Chinese authorities immediately raised the point that it was illegal to sell outright any land belonging to His Imperial Majesty, but this obstacle was surmounted by permission being given to rent in perpetuity, an annual land rent being paid by the renters.
Land was bought from the native proprietors at rates varying from 50,000 to 60,000 cash a mow, the actual value being from 15,000 to 35,000 cash a mow, or $15 to $35 Mex. The annual rent or land tax was fixed at 1,500 cash a mow.
First Settlement Boundaries
No very definite boundaries were made in the first delimitation of the Se ttlement. The Whangpoo River was to mark its eastern and the Yangkingpang its southern boundary. The west was left entirely undefined, while on the north, what is now Peking Road was the first boundary.
Later the western boundary was put at the Barrier Road (the present Honan Road). Altogether about 150 acres were contained within the first boundaries.
The main portions of the land were fairly well raised and were under cult ivation; other portions were lower and marshy. There were numerous creeks, ditches and ponds, and the lower grounds in summer were covered with reeds. Innumerable grave mounds dotted the land and the purchasers were obliged to agree that the former owners could visit them at stated periods and perform the customary religious rites.
For several years after the establishment of the Settlement, all west of the present Szechuen Road was regarded as being in the country. The Bund was a towing path with a wide foreshore, covered or uncovered according to the state of the tide.
There were other difficulties connected with the acquisition of land in this area, for the owners sometimes demanded exorbitant prices or were unwilling to sell. Even after they had sold the land, for one excuse or another, they refused to move or went only when forcibly ejected.
For a considerable period the foreign residents had to be content to live in native houses in Nantao, outside the city walls, on the shores of the Whangpoo. The conditions of life were not very pleasant. One of the early residents, Mr. Fortune, gives the following description of the state of affairs in 1843: "Often in the mornings we would find ourselves drenched with rain; and if snow fell, it was blown through the windows and formed wreaths on the floor."
The foreign population was then something over 100, of whom seven were ladies. There were 25 mercantile firms engaged in business. It was not until 1849 that the residents generally moved into the Settlement.
Arrangements for trade
The Taotai appointed six "partners" in the shroff shop to grant receipts for export and import duties and tonnage dues, and there was considerable danger lest trade should fall into the hands of a few monopolists, as at Canton. Consul Balfour protested vigorously against such a development, as contrary to the Treaty. An early attempt was made to introduce a bonding system by which goods could remain in bond without paying custom duties until sold, but this was opposed by the Imperial Commissioners.
Although it was a day of small things, it is interesting to note that during the first six weeks after the port was opened, from November 14 to December 31, seven vessels entered the harbour. Their imports totalled in value Tls. 433,729 and the exports Tls. 147,172. As import duty they paid Tls. 16,564.80, and for export fees Tls. 7,537.19. Their tonnage dues amounted to Tls. 985, a marked contrast to the large "squeezes" formerly enforced on vessels at Canton.
Before the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, there was constant friction between foreigners who came to Canton and the local Chinese authorities. The Chinese refused to recognize the rights accorded by International Law (for example, in regard to the status of ships of war in foreign ports), and the foreigners refused to recognize the due authority of the local law courts.
The Treaty of Nanking marks the legalization of extraterritorial rights as well as the formal treaty relations in regard to commerce. Extraterritoriality was not expressly granted in the Treaty, but provision was made for the functioning of British consular officials, with the understanding that extraterritorial rights should be enjoyed by British traders.
Article XIII of the General Resolutions issued in connection with the Treaty reads as follows:
Whenever a British subject has to complain of a Chinese he must first proceed to the Consulate and state his grievance. The Consul will thereupon enquire into the merits of the case and do his utmost to arrange it amicably. In like manner, if a Chinese have reason to complain of a British subject, he shall no less listen to his complaint, and endeavour to settle it in a friendly manner. . .
If unfortunately, any disputes take place of such a nature that the Consul cannot arrange them amicably, then he shall request the assistance of a Chinese Officer that they may together examine into the merits of the case, and decide it equitably. Regarding the punishment of English criminals, the English Government will enact the laws necessary to attain that end, and the Consul will be empowered to put them into force and regarding the punishment of Chinese criminals, these will be tried and punished by their own laws, in the way provided for by correspondence which took place at Nanking, after the concluding of the peace.
The exercise of extraterritorial rights received a still more explicit statement in the Treaty made between the United States and China in 1844. Article XXI of that Treaty reads as follows:
Subjects of China who may be guilty of any criminal act towards citizens of the United States shall be arrested and punished by the Chinese authorities according to the laws of China, and citizens of the United States who may commit any crime in China shall be subject to be tried and punished only by the Consul or other public functionary of the United States thereto authorized according to the laws of the United States; and in order to secure the prevention of all controversy and disaffection, justice shall be equitably and impartially administered on both sides.
Another article of the same Treaty applies this arrangement to civil cases. In Article XXV it was declared:
All questions in regard to rights, whether of property or person, arising between citizens of the United States in China, shall be subject to the jurisdiction of, and regulated by the authorities of their own Government, and all controversies occurring in China between citizens of the United States and subjects of any other Government shall be regulated by the treaties existing between the United States and such Governments, respectively, without interference on the part of China.
According to what is known as the "most favoured nation" clause, these ex traterritorial rights could be claimed by all nations entering into treaty relations with China. By the phrase "most favoured nation" is meant that China undertakes to extend to all the Treaty Powers those special rights which from time to time she has granted to particular Powers. In other words, it is agreed that no one Power shall enjoy privileges to the exclusion of other Powers.
The Chinese authorities appear to have entered into this arrangement in regard to extraterritoriality without protest. They were glad to be freed of the responsibility of controlling those who appeared to be turbulent foreigners and to hand them over to their own authorities.
It was natural for the British authorities to regard the Settlement as ex clusively under the jurisdiction of the British, and this was the attitude assumed by Consul Balfour, and no land in the Settlement could be acquired without his consent. After the signing of the American and French Treaties, the merchants of these two countries claimed that they had equal rights in the Settlement with the British. This led to many misunderstandings and controversies which might have been avoided if the Treaty of Nanking had been a little more explicit in its statements.
Mr. H. G. Wolcott, the first Acting American Consul in Shanghai, established his consulate in the Settlement and raised the American flag. This was objected to by both the British Consul and the Taotai, as it was held that no national flag, except the British, could be raised in the Settlement. Mr. Wolcott persisted and for a considerable time the American was the only national flag displayed in the Settlement as the British Consulate was still situated in the native city.
The view held by Consul Balfour was not shared by the British authorities in Hongkong, who, in a despatch to the British Consul, made the following statement:
It is doubtful whether a British authority can assume a ceremonial jur isdiction over foreigners, in which case the act of hoisting a national flag loses much of its importance.
First Land Land Regulations put forth in 1845 by the Regulations Taotai, Kung Moo-yun, by agreement with Consul Balfour, are important, as they form the basis of the subsequent enactments governing the cosmopolitan community of the Settlement.
The boundaries of the Settlement were again roughly defined, the western boundary being extended as far as the Defence Creek. Foreigners were not allowed to employ police, but could engage watchmen, subject to the approval of the Chinese officials. Native domiciles were forbidden in the then existing Settlement, or its further extension. Natives in the Settlement were prohibited from "renting to each other, nor may they again build houses there for the purpose of renting to Chinese merchants."
The land-renters as a body were to be responsible for the upkeep of the S ettlement and its revenue was to be derived from contributions from the r esidents. The assessments were to be made by a committee of the merchants, nominated by the Consul, to be known as the Committee on Roads and Jetties. The land-renters were vested with the control of the revenue and expenditure.
Foreigners, other than those of British nationality, were subject to the same regulations, the revision thereof being possible only by the consent of the British and Chinese authorities.
Four large roads were to be made in the Settlement - the present Hankow, Kiukiang, Nanking and Peking roads, running east and west. Kiukiang Road was to be 25 feet wide and the others 20 feet wide.
M. Montigny, first Consul for France at Shanghai, entered into an agreement with Ling Taotai on April 6, 1849, for the establishment and government of a French Concession.
The tendency of the British to claim exclusive jurisdiction over the territory of the Settlement was also manifested by the French in regard to their Concession. The principle was adopted that no Chinese or foreign official would be allowed to exercise his power within the boundaries of the French Concession.
The boundaries of the Concession were clearly defined. On the south a part of the moat along the city wall, on the north the Yangkingpang, on the east the river side from the Canton Guild to the Yangkingpang, on the west from the creek named after the war god's temple, Kuan-ti Miao, up to the Bridge of the Chow family, subject to further extension if desired.
This settlement has always been known as the French Concession, and attempts were made from the beginning to place it on the same footing as the concessions that afterwards came into existence during the period of 1858-1863 (Newchwang, Tientsin, Hankow, I Kiukiang, Chinkiang, and Canton).
As Mr. H. B. Morse points out in The International Relations of the Chinese Empire, "The American Settlement was not created but just 'growed.'"
The merchants lived in the English Settlement, but some of the missionaries, seeking cheaper land for residences, purchased property in the outskirts. The American Episcopal Church Mission, under Bishop William J. Boone, established itself in Hongkew, across the Soochow Creek. On the arrival of the first official Consul of the United States in February, 1854, he made his residence and raised his flag in this American Settlement. It was some time, however, before its boundaries were defined.
When Bishop Boone was asked what he considered the south boundary of his property, he replied, "the tow path in front of the Mission buildings." Had he said the edge of the river, legally all the property afterwards accreted would, upon payment of the Sheng-ko - fees - would have belonged to his Mission.
At first neither the French Concession nor the Amerjean Settlement flourished. The Jesuit missionaries alone showed any interest in the new site, and, in the neighbourhood of the Concession, at once started to build Tung-kia-tu Cathedral, the corner stone being laid on November 21, 1849. This contains an organ constructed by the French Fathers, which is unique, as the pipes are made of bamboo, and, as far as we know, is the only one of its kind in the world. It is pointed out as an object of curiosity to the traveller who visits the Cathedral.
The Americans found their situation so unfavourable that for a time even the Consul was obliged to establish his office in the British Settlement. Undoubtedly, the exclusive privileges claimed by the British authorities for their Settlement was the chief reason for the French and American Governments wanting territory for the residence of their own nationals.
The dissension between the first residents in regard to jurisdiction was not, however, of so serious a nature as to cause real trouble. A healthy feeling grew up among the foreigners, and they recognized from the start that they had similar interests, which could only be attained through a spirit of unity.
As we shall see later, in 1863 the American Settlement was amalgamated with the British, and the present International Settlement came into existence.
Consul Balfour, who at first was obliged to live in the native city, was anxious to acquire property in the Settlement for the site of the British Consulate. At that time, according to the ruling of the Home Government, the Consuls to foreign countries were not allowed to purchase land or erect buildings, but were obliged to carry on their work in rented premises. In spite of this, Consul Balfour determined to secure a proper site for the erection of consular offices.
On April 28, 1846, five months before he resigned, he made arrangements for the purchase of the Li Chia Chang property, north of the boundary of the Settlement, consisting of over 100 mow of land, for $17,000. Not having authority from the Government, he advanced 84,000 of his own money. His successor, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Rutherford Alcock, upon his arrival, proceeded with the matter and after much difficulty persuaded the Home Government to sanction the purchase. In this way the splendidly situated piece of land now occupied by the consulate buildings was obtained and, on July 21, 1849, the consular offices were removed to this site.
The first Consulate, built in 1852, was destroyed by fire on December 23, 1870, and most of the records were lost. The present building was erected in 1872.
From time immemorial, trackers had used the tow path along the shore of the Whangpoo River and the Chinese authorities in the first Land Regulations issued by them reserved this right. A space of 30 English feet was to be reserved between buildings erected on the foreshore and the edge of the river. Foreigners, therefore, when putting up their buildings on river lots, drove in piles to that distance in front of each lot, and filled it in. This was the origin of The Bund, now a beautiful promenade, but then a muddy road, not fit for walking. One of the features of Shanghai to-day is the wide open space between the river and the buildings on the water front. It was secured, in the first place, not from any aesthetic sense, but because of the necessity of leaving a path for the trackers.
The foreign population of the Settlement gradually increased. In 1844 it was 50, in the following year, 90, and after five years it had grown to 175. In addition there was a floating population, consisting of the men on shore from the ships in harbour.
Compared with the life in the factories of Canton where the merchants were confined in a small circumscribed area, the residents of Shanghai enjoyed considerable freedom, but they were not allowed to penetrate into the country around the Settlements so far that they could not return to Shanghai the same day. As the shooting was excellent, and the villagers friendly, these expeditions into the country were most enjoyable.
The Committee on Roads and Jetties experienced difficulties in carrying out their functions. As was perhaps natural, the early residents of Shanghai were not far-sighted and did not plan much for the future. They were satisfied with a few jetties for the landing of goods from the ships and did not see much necessity for roads, as the native paths were sufficient for the coolies who carried the bales of silk and boxes of tea. Where roads had to be made, they decided that they must be at least 25 feet wide, and in those days that looked over-generous. Following the line of least resistance, the roads followed the banks of the creeks, and this accounts for their somewhat serpentine windings.
The buildings erected had little claim to architectural beauty and have been wittily described as of the "compradoric" order. Many of them were bungalows and all had deep verandahs. They were adapted to a tropical climate, and the builders seemed to have had only the four months of hot weather in mind, and to have over-looked the need of sunshine in their homes during the rest of the year.
Very little was done in regard to sanitation, and for a long time refuse was disposed of by depositing it on the shores of The Bund.
On March 8, 1848, three missionaries, Drs Medhurst and Lockhart, and the Rev. William Muirhead, made a visit to Tsingpu. a town about 25 miles from Shanghai. It so happened that at that time the town was crowded with some 13,000 men who had recently been discharged from the junks carrying tribute rice, because the Government was sending a large amount of it to Tientsin by the sea route. While the missionaries were preaching and distributing tracts, a dense crowd gathered around them and an attack was made by a party of junkmen armed with poles, bars, and an iron chain. They were rescued by some runners from the Magistrate's Yamen, who arrived just in time to save their lives.
When the matter was reported to Mr. Alcock, he decided to take strong measures to bring those who were guilty of the assault to justice and take the affair up with the Shanghai Taotai. Failing to receive prompt redress, he informed the Taotai that until justice had been done, no British ship would pay duties, nor would any grain junks be allowed to leave the port. The Commander of the "Chiltern" detained 1,400 rice junks, while the "Espiegle", with the British Vice-Consul on board, was despatched to Nanking to bring the matter to the attention of the Viceroy and to lay before him a formal complaint. In this way the matter was speedily settled. The ten leaders in the assault were cangued1 in front of the Custom House, 8200 were paid as damages, and the junks were released. The Viceroy blamed the Shanghai Taotai for having erred and failed in the discharge of his duties.
The British Government was at first inclined to censure Mr. Alcock for exceeding his authority, but when his measures proved successful, its rebuke was considerably softened. The Taotai was removed from office, and another - Wu - known to foreigners as "Samqua," was appointed in his place.