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CONDUCTED BY EDWARD SHERWOOD MEADE.
Massachusetts Labor Legislation, An Historical and Critical Study.
Handbook of the Academy. Supplement, May, 1901.
THE CAUSES OF THE UNPOPULARITY OF THE
FOREIGNER IN CHINA.' The subject under discussion—the cause of the unpopularity of foreigners in China-is a delicate one for me to handle. When I was asked to come to this meeting and give my views, my first impulse was to keep out of the way as far as possible. The reason did not lie so much in the difficulty of pointing out the causes as in the disagreeable features of the subject. I felt that, no matter how impartial and dispassionate I might be in treating it, I could not help stirring up a hornet's nest, and that, in any event, it would be a thankless task. But, after giving the matter due consideration, and seeing the various reasons given from time to time by different writers and speakers, some of which are correct while others seem to me insufficient, I considered it my duty, in view of the importance of the subject, to do my part in ascertaining the real causes and suggesting remedies for their removal. I felt that I ought not to shirk the task, however unpleasant. So I have come here to-day to speak for myself as a Chinaman who has lived among foreigners and can speak from personal knowledge. I will endeavor to be impartial and just to all parties and not allow prejudice and bias to warp my judgment. My sole aim is to state all the facts and tell the truth and nothing but the truth.
1 Address before the American Academy of Political and Social Science delivered on the evening of November 20, 1900. The other addresses delivered at the same time are summarized in the January Bulletin of the Academy.
We find that China, in ancient times, was not indisposed to trade and intercourse with the outer world. The foreigners who happened to set foot on Chinese soil in those days came from the neighboring countries in Asia. They traded with the people of China, intermingled freely with the natives, and were considered during their sojourn as Chinese. Thus they gave us no trouble, politically or socially. In fact, they adopted our customs and manners. All accounts agree that they lived peaceably with the natives. On the other hand, the Chinese never manifested any ill-feeling or animosity toward a foreigner who happened to be within their gates. We find this to be one of the injunctions of Confucius, who flourished in the fifth century before Christ: “ Be kind to strangers from afar."
Coming down to later times, we find that foreigners in China were treated not only with kindness and consideration but with great respect. Even official posts were open to them. To give you one instance out of many, I will only mention Marco Polo, the celebrated Venetian traveler of the Middle Ages. He visited China in 1274. He was so well received and respected that he obtained an official position under the government. He successively held the offices of privy councilor, assistant envoy and governor of Chihkiang. When he afterwards determined to return to his native country, his popularity was so great that the court was very reluctant to let him go. There is at the mouth of the Canton River in the southern part of China an old temple, known by the name of “Polo Temple." The inhabitants of the neighborhood say that it was dedicated to the
memory of some foreigner. But whether Marco Polo was that foreigner or not, I am not in a position to say. Thus it is apparent that the Chinese people originally were not opposed to the coming of foreigners to their country. Now it is an indisputable fact, as evidenced by the recent deplorable occurrences in North China, that there is a strong feeling against foreigners at the present day. The question is, How has this change come about? In order to find out the causes, we have to go back to the events that have taken place within the last half century. We find that foreigners from the west, though they were mostly honorable men, did not belong to the same class of persons as we had been accustomed to deal with. They came to China with their goods and wanted trade. They were different in color, in race, and in language. They did not observe our customs and manners. No sooner had they made their fortunes than they left China for good. Under these circumstances, it was natural that difficulties and disputes should often arise from misunderstanding, which, unfortunately, resulted in warfare.
It is not my purpose here to go into the causes which led to one war after another. Nor do I wish to be understood to say that China was always in the right. It is not to be expected that a nation which had lived in seclusion for centuries and had not learned the art of war as practiced at the present day, orthe use of the modern engines of destruction, could come out of the struggle with any other than disadvantageous results. When the treaty of peace was made, China had to give her consent to many stipulations and conditions, granting extraordinary privileges to foreigners, not to mention the heavy indemnities she had to pay to the other side for the cost of every war. I do not, however, blame the western nations for resorting to force. No doubt, they had some provocation. But supposing you were in the position of the Chinese people, would you, after such an experience, bear no ill-feeling but still entertain friendly sentiments, toward those who had thus treated you? This,