THE BEGINNINGS OF AN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
. Cotton Mill
Cotton manufacturing in China, according to modern methods, did not begin until comparatively recently. China is a great cotton producing country, and this can be easily understood when we consider that the clothes worn by the people are for the most part made of cotton cloth. As a rule, only the rich wear silk, and China has rightly been called "the land of the "blue (cotton) gown." It has been estimated that the annual consumption of cotton cloth is worth about $1,000,000,000, and that four-fifths of the amount used is produced by the Chinese themselves and manufactured by the hand loom.
It was in 1889 tnat Li Hung-chang undertook the erection of a modern cotton mill, under the name of "Foreign Cloth Factory." Unfortunately after three years of careful planning and construction, the mill was destroyed by fire.
The Modern Spinning and Weaving Factory, started at the same time, was completed in 1890.
Sheng Hsuan-hwai (Sheng Kung Pao) realized the importance of introducing machinery for the manufacture of cotton, and undertook to organize a joint stock company with a capital of Tls. 800,000. Only one-third of the amount was ever paid up, but the balance was arranged for by other means, and a mill was erected in 1894 with 65,000 spindles and 600 looms, and was called the Hwa Shen Cotton Mill.
After the Sino-Japanese War, by the Treaty of Shimonoseki, as already stated, foreigners obtained the right to engage in manufactures in the Treaty Ports, and this led to increased activity in the erection of mills. Firins like Jardine, Matheson and Company, Ilbert and Company, and Arnhold, Karberg and Company, which were originally dealers in piece goods and cotton yarn, immediately took up cotton manufacturing enterprises, and cotton mills under the names of Ewo, Laou Kung Mow, and Shui Kee were built along the northern bank of the Whangpoo.
In a short time the Japanese followed suit and before long surpassed the British in the number of mills erected. Shanghai at the present time has 58 cotton spinning and weaving mills, with 1,865,344 spindles.
Some of the factors that have led to the establishment and development of the cotton manufacturing industry in Shanghai are as follows:
(1) It is surrounded by a prosperous cotton growing section of the country, and the cotton can be easily transported to Shanghai.
(2) There is a great demand for cotton goods throughout China, and Shanghai is the principal distributing centre for Central and North China.
(3)M/B> Shanghai has an abundant supply of both Chinese and Japanese coal.
(4) Shanghai has better financial facilities than any other city in China.
(5) Shanghai has a good supply of labour and has trained up a number of hands who have become experts.
(6) It has a cheap supply of electricity.
Importation of Machinery
Of course the erection of mills resulted in increased demand for machinery, and the Customs statistics show a gradual ascent for this import. Inasmuch as the modern cotton spinning and weaving industry started in the British Empire, where cotton machinery was first invented, it was natural that British machinery should be used in the beginning.
Recently, however, with the return of American-trained students, there is a growing demand for American machinery.
Some time during the early "nineties" the first roller process flour mills were brought to China by Fobes and Company. The modern flour milling industry dates from 1897, when the late Mr. Sun Tao-sung became especially interested in the matter, being convinced that flour made by machinery could be sold at better prices than native ground flour.
Hearing that American machinery was cheaper than British, he sent his brother, Mr. Sun Tao-shing, with Mr. Yen Ts-ching as interpreter, to America. With $22,000 a fully equipped American plant was procured, and in 1899 the Fou Foong Flour Mill was organized. There were many difficulties at the beginning, but these were overcome and at the end of the first year the success of the new mill was assured.
The Fou Foong Mill had one rival in 1899, the China Flour Mill Company, established by some German merchants with German machines. Owing to lack of support this enterprise resulted in a failure.
The success of the Fou Foong Mill encouraged others, and to-day in Shanghai and vicinity there are 16 modern flour mills, with an aggregate daily producing capacity of 10,500 bags.
One of the most valuable of silk products exported from China is raw white, steam filature silk. China's steam filature silk realizes a better price than any other in the market, and that produced in Shanghai is considered better than that from Canton.
Among the oldest of the silk filatures in Shanghai is Jardine, Matheson and Company's Ewo Silk Filature, situated in Chengtu Road. It was established in 1882 and has now about 500 bassines.
One of the principal silk filatures founded by Chinese capital is the Sin Chong in Wuchow Road. At present there are in Shanghai over 15 large steam filatures and several smaller ones.
The Kiangsu Chemical Works
Among the first industrial establishments founded in Shanghai was the Kiangsu Chemical Works, started by the Major Brothers in the early "sixties," near the old stone bridge which crossed the Soochow Creek. In 1875 it was converted into a limited company, and new buildings were erected some distance above the old premises. Great care was expended on the purchase of the most up-to-date plant, and the whole equipment cost Tls. 230,000. There is a department for the refining of gold and silver, and sulphuric and nitric acids are manufactured.
The shipbuilding industry in Shanghai began at an early date. We find Boyd and Company in 1862 and then S. C. Farnham in 1865. These two companies united to form a new company known as the Shanghai Engineering, Shipbuilding and Dock Company, Limited. The present name of the company, The Shanghai Dock and Engineering Company, Limited, was adopted in May, 1906. The company owns the Pootung Engine Works, the Old Dock, the Cosmopolitan Dock, the International Dock, and the Tungkadoo Dock.
Other forms of industry followed in successive years and Shanghai gradually developed into a great manufacturing centre. Starting as a treaty port for trade, it became a city of factories, and the general appearance of the place greatly changed in consequence.
The mills and factories were first built in the Yangtszepoo region on the Whangpoo, and then, on the Soochow Creek. On the latter waterway they now reach to several miles beyond Jessfield.
As the traveller enters the harbour of Woosung, his attention is attracted to the numerous high chimneys belching out their smoke, and he becomes conscious that he is nearing the great industrial port of the East.
It is impossible here to do more than refer briefly to the social and economic con sequences of the beginnings of an industrial revolution. Industry has attracted a large number of labourers to Shanghai from different parts of the country. It has led to the gathering together of men, women, and children in the mills and factories, breaking down the old strict family life and customs, especially bringing women out of their former seclusion. It has made the young girls wage-earners, adding to the family income, instead of being an economic burden.
The standard of living has tended to rise, as a result of the larger earning capacity of the families. It has brought about the formation of labour unions, and to the conflict between capital and labour with which we are familiar in the West, resulting often in disastrous strikes.
Owing to the absence of factory laws at that time, many evils developed in connection with a cheap labour market, such as the employment of young children, and the injury to life and health, but we must postpone the consideration of these until a later chapter.