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China and the West: The Maritime Customs Service Archive: Units 1-7


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Introduction: The Maritime Customs Service Archive from the SecondHistorical Archives of China, Nanjing

Introduction: China and the West: The Maritime CustomsService Archive from the Second Historical Archives of China, Nanjing

 

PART ONE: Maritime Customs Service Archive: InspectorGenerals Circulars [Chinese Characters]

 

The set of microfilms draws on the rich archives of theMaritime Customs Service of China [Chinese Characters] and collects itsCirculars [Chinese Characters] from 1854, when the Maritime Customs Service wasestablished, until the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949.Circulars were issued by the Services head, the Inspector General [ChineseCharacters]. They were confidential documents to which only senior Customsofficials such as Customers Commissioners [Chinese Characters] hadaccess. Like Imperial Edicts, they were law until explicitly supersededby a new Circular. They were the key texts of the Customs Service.

 

The activities of the Customs Service were wide ranging. Itassessed duties on Chinese trade, established and maintained Chinaslighthouses, mapped Chinas coast and major rivers, and ran a PreventiveService that combated smuggling. It policed rivers, harbours and railroadlines. It published not just monthly, quarterly and annual Returns of Trade,but also a regular series of Aids to Navigation and less regular reportson meteorological conditions and medical phenomena. The Service furtherinvolved itself in Chinas diplomacy, organised its representation of nearly 30world fairs and exhibitions, and ran various educational establishments.

 

Circulars tell us how the Customs Service organised itself,discharged its routines and responded to events. More than 7,000 Circulars wereissued in the course of the Customs Services pre-1949 existence. Only somehave been made public before, and then only in a strictly limited edition.Therefore, this microfilm collection is the first time that all are madepublic. Given the centrality of Circulars in the Customs Service and theServices importance to China as it struggled with foreign invasion, civilwarfare, modernisation, globalisation and revolution, the publication of thisset of Circulars is critical to the effective exploration of the 55,000 filesof the Maritime Customs Service Archives held in Nanjing at the SecondHistorical Archives of China. This is an invaluable new resource for the studyof China, and the publication of the Circulars will help historians makeeffective use of it.

 

As a foreign-staffed service, the Imperial Chinese MaritimeCustoms originated in the establishment at Shanghai on 12 July 1854 of a Boardof Inspectors to oversee the re-establishment of trade after months ofdisruption caused by the Taiping rebellion. Other aims were to break upexisting patterns of taxation in which personal connections had been importantand to prevent countries without treaty relations with China, and hence noobligation to pay duty, from driving the British, French and Americans from theChina trade. In 1858, the Tianjin treaties extended the Shanghai system to alltreaty ports. Horatio Nelson Lay was the first Inspector General (IG), but itwas his successor, Robert Hart, appointed in 1863, who oversaw the developmentof the service until the first decade of the twentieth century. He was followedby Francis Aglen (1911-29), Frederick Maze (1929-43) and Lester Knox Little(1943-50). Acting and Officiating IGs had full authority to issue Circulars.1

 

The bedrock of the Customs Service consisted of regularflows of information in tables, forms, reports and letters from CustomsStations to the Inspectorate in Peking, and of instructions from Peking to theports. The intricate repertoire of different communications - among themDespatches [Chinese Characters], Semi-Official Letters [Chinese Characters] andMemoranda [Chinese Characters] - was surmounted by the IG Circular, firstissued by Hart in 1861. The Circular dealt with issues of relevance to allCustoms Houses and Commissioners. Until it was withdrawn or explicitlysuperseded it remained in force. The corpus of IG Circulars therefore formed aworking set of instructions covering all aspects of Customs work. Numbered insequence, they were eventually issued in three series. Series 1 contained thoseissued between 1861-75, and these were numbered in sequence for each year.Series 2 was issued from 1875, and numbered in one continuous sequence. Atleast 7,500 of them had been issued by 1949. Series 3 Circulars (FactoryProducts Circulars) passed on instructions about duty treatment of certainproducts from the Shuiwuchu [Chinese Characters] (Bureau of Fiscal Affairs), towhich the Customs Service was responsible from 1906, and its successor, theGuanwushu [Chinese Character] (Bureau of Customs Affairs) from 1928.

 

Circular 9 of 1875 announced that henceforward all Circularswould be printed and authenticated by the signature of the StatisticalSecretary. About 100 Circulars were issued a year. They were reissued in boundform in batches of 200 by the Statistical Departments press about once everytwo or three years. These bound volumes formed the core of every Commissionerslibrary. They outlined the philosophy of the Service, signaled importantchanges in overall Customs policy or in political circumstances, introduced andregulated changes to the scope of the Services activities, and circulateddecisions about its administrative or taxation routines. Some are general anddiscursive in tone, while others are highly technical and specific. From 1911onwards Semi-Official [Chinese Characters] Circulars were also issued. After1944, a Chungking Inspectorate General Series [Chinese Characters] wasinitiated to convey instructions for general information only. This wascontinued until 1946 as the General Series [Chinese Characters] with no changeof sequence.

 

War disrupted this system. After the onset of theSino-Japanese war in 1937, Frederick Maze maintained the Inspectorate inShanghais International Settlement, not occupied by the Japanese until afterPearl Harbour. The Wang Jingwei National Government sponsored by the Japanesedismissed Maze. Chiang Kaisheks National Government in response ordered C.H.B.Joly to establish the Inspectorate in Chongqing, the wartime capital, which hedid on 16 December 1942.

 

From 1942-45 two Inspector Generals - Horiuchi Kishimoto[Chinese Characters] in Shanghai, and successively Joly, Maze and Little inChongqing - issued IG Circulars. To demonstrate the legitimacy of the Kishimotoregime (known in Chinese as the wei, or bogus) customs, the Circularsissued, starting with No. 5769 on 11 December 1941 (announcing the appointment ofthe Japanese IG) maintained the existing sequence down to No. 5918, 23 August1945, which announced his resignation. In Chongqing, Joly began a ChungkingInspectorate Series (C.I.S., [Chinese Characters]) in December 1941. InDecember 1945, precisely to demonstrate the illegitimacy of theKishimoto customs, the Deputy Inspector General ordered the C.I.S. Circulars tobe renumbered for future publication starting at No. 5769. The bogusCirculars were thereby removed from the record, although they were not removedfrom the archive and they can be found here as well.

 

Circulars were restricted documents. They formed part of theconfidential archives of each Commissioners office. They belonged to theOffice Series of Customs publications, not to be sold, retained privately orlent to others for perusal (see Circular No. 179 of 2 February 1882). Althoughconfidential several of them are intended for the information of aCommissioners subordinates generally, and are to be dealt with as directed.However, the point was reiterated periodically that they were confidential,indeed more so than despatches (Circular No. 902). Circular No. 179 was quiteclear about this: unauthorised possession of copies of official documents willentail dismissal from the service. Documents leaked, of course. In 1919 Aglennoted that excerpts from Circulars were being printed in the treaty port press.He restated the 1882 injunction, and threat.

 

The archives of the Maritime Customs Service amount tonearly 55,000 titles. They are an unexplored resource for the study of modernChina. Circulars were the texts that underpinned the Service, and all it did,from 1854 until 1949 (and beyond). Without a thorough knowledge of theCirculars, it will be difficult to develop an understanding of any depth of theCustoms Service and consequently it will be difficult to make full use of theCustoms Service archives themselves.

 

How to use the Circulars

 

Reel 1 reproduces the latest index to the Circulars producedby the Customs Service itself. Although it was printed in 1936, subsequentCirculars were issued with small slips for pasting into the index. This copyhas references to Circulars numbered into the 7000s. Part I of the Index,arranged by subject, provides the Circular number, which can then be traced tothe relevant volume. Part II concerns individual and general staff matters.This is arranged following the hierarchy of the service, starting with theInspector General, and then alphabetically by subject. The wartime ChongqingCirculars can be approached through the Index to Inspector GeneralsCirculars, Nos 1-1012, Chungking Inspectorate Series (Reel 2). This followsthe same conventions. Reels 1 and 2 reproduce some other indexes and registerswhich also might be useful. Very late period Circulars are less easy to trace,although each bound volume contains its own index to the Circulars within.

 

Hans van de Ven
Cambridge University

Dr. Robert Bickers
University of Bristol

 

 

PART TWO: Maritime Customs Service Archive: London Office Files

 

The London Office of the Chinese Maritime Customs Serviceserved successive Inspector Generals and the Service from 1874 until 1948. Itwas at once a recruiting centre, funneling recruits from across Europe intoposts in China, an office of the Inspectorate General (IG) abroad liaising onthe IGs behalf (and per his instructions) with the British Foreign Office, andalso the bureau which dealt after 1895 with the banks and consortia whose loansto China were secured on Customs revenues. The Non-Resident (or, less formally,London) Secretary secured equipment and supplies, but also ran an officewhich, in the eyes of one later Customs observer, was to some extent duringthe early part of its historyan agency of the Chinese Empire in England andEurope.2

 

A London Agency of the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customswas established in July 1867, and was run by Henry C. Batchelor until 1874. On17 January 1874, Robert Hart (the IG) informed him that the Agency was to beclosed, chiefly on the grounds of its failure to come up to the standard ofgeneral efficiency, by which he in fact meant that he needed a man he couldentrust confidential business to, not just a commission agent.3Harts aims for the Customs Service were greater than the mere business ofefficient revenue collection, and the internationalised context of his workalso required more delicate handling than Batchelor could deliver. James DuncanCampbell (1833-1907), formerly Chief Secretary and Auditor of the Service, wasappointed Non-Resident Secretary (NRS) from 31 March 1874.4

 

Campbell had left a promising career in the Treasury to jointhe Customs Service in 1862, and so knew Whitehall well. He had been mainlybased in London after 1870, on various missions, and the new appointment formalisedand regularised his position there and greatly broadened the scope of his work.He was to act as the Services London agent until his death in 1907, attendingto the procuring and forwarding of all official supplies as well asperforming the special duties confided to him by the Inspector General(Circular 3/1874, 30 January 1874). The London Office [Chinese Characters] wasa formal branch of the Inspectorate, and listed as such in the Service List[Chinese Characters]. You are to carry out the IGs orders, wrote Hart, andare to keep him supplied with information on all matters of interest, butyou are to refrain from all initiative.5

 

This London Office served the practical development of theCustoms Service in all its activities, but also underpinned what waspolitically the most important foreign diplomatic relationship in the decadesbefore Pearl Harbour. In premises at 8 Storeys Gate, St. Jamess Park, andthen, from 1892 at 12 (later renumbered 26) Old Queen Street, Westminster, the (officiallytitled) London Office of the Inspectorate General of Chinese Maritime Customsfunctioned as a purchasing and recruitment centre. Candidates were examinedthere, and the papers (and photographs) of successful applicants were sent outto Hart. But it was also a quasi-diplomatic outpost, most notably serving toprovide a back-door route for Hart and his successors (notably, butproblematically, Sir Frederick Maze) to correspond with British diplomats andother officials, as well as financial interests. Sir Frances Aglen requiredC.A.V. Bowra (NRS 1924-26) to stick to Customs Service business, and not tothink his office an alternative Chinese Legation, but Maze bombarded his NRSappointees with documents for forwarding on to the Foreign Office and others hethought influential and helpful.

 

From the London Office J.D. Campbell was involved in anumber of diplomatic missions, but he also served as Harts private secretaryin London, spending Sundays in the office dealing with the IGs private correspondenceand financial affairs, ordering new clothes to Harts designs, procuring sheetmusic and violins, and buying and selling shares for him. This privatecorrespondence has already been published (and none of it is replicated here.)6Those letters, edited by John Fairbank and his team in the 1970s, proved to bea goldmine of information about the Customs Service itself, and about Hart ofcourse, and also about the international relations of China and the developingrole the Customs Service played as the Qing state struggled to order andnormalise its foreign relations. Hart confided in his distant Secretary, letoff steam, surveyed his own position, and issued instructions. No other IG/NRSrelationship was in itself as distinctive as that of Hart and Campbell (nor aslong-lasting - for there were 11 different holders of the post after thelatters death), but there is still a great deal to be learnt from theexchanges which are now made available for the first time.

 

Seen as effectively a luxury from the 1930s onwards, theOffice closed on 5 August 1948, although E.N. Ensor remained as LondonRepresentative thereafter. Financial reasons underpinned this decision, whichwas ordered by the Guanwushu [Chinese Characters] which oversaw Customs affairsin the Ministry of Finance as a way of saving foreign currency holdings, butthe diminished British role in the Service generally was a key factor in thedowngrading of the importance of the connection. A cancelled draft of CircularNo. 7497, announcing the closure, noted that the elimination of thistime-hallowed establishment signifies the final withdrawal of one phase ofCustoms activities and shifting of emphasis on other directions - an AmericanIG looked elsewhere for diplomatic support.

 

The London Office files

 

The formal Archives of the office itself were eitherdestroyed or sent to the Inspectorate Archives in China when the office wasclosed in 1948 (details and packing lists are in SHAC file 679 (1) 31486 - Reel101). This unit of the Maritime Customs Service Archives collection isorganised in six sections: 1) Three runs of registers of Dispatches and IGSletters to and from London and the IG; 2) Surviving London Letter Books (twoseries, 1874-1905, and 1883-98, 1906-26); 3) Semi-official correspondencebetween the NRS and the successive IGs, 1908-49); 4) Confidential, private andpersonal correspondence between them (1908-20, mostly with Aglen, and after1938, mostly with Maze); 5) Sets of Pacific War-era memos and telegrams, and 6)A selection of materials concerning the history of the office, its archives,staff, office procedure and premises. The collection overall goes well beyondthe activities of the London Office, and provides vital materials forunderstanding the broader history of the service and its activities.

 

The Dispatch Registers serve as a resource in themselves,outlining the broad concerns and the multifaceted minutiae of Customs Servicework, and can be used to track correspondence and issues - and locate detailsof pertinent files in the Archive itself. The Letter Books are a melange ofcorrespondence and a lively guide to the activities and concerns of the NRS.The third, fourth, and fifth sections are incomplete, as is the archive,because Aglen, Maze and also Little (to varying degrees) retained possession oftheir correspondence with the NRS (and others) when they left office (or inMazes case, when the Pacific War loomed). Some of what they removed from theInspectorate archives can now be found in the collections at the University ofLondons School of Oriental and African Studies (Aglen, Maze), and at HarvardUniversitys Houghton Library (Little), but what is now made available hereextensively supplements those holdings, and with the Semi-Official seriesprovides a chronologically broader as well as deeper context for thosematerials. The Maze papers in particular have been widely used by historians ofSino-British relations in the run up to war, but another 15 files ofcorrespondence are now made available here, and as Maze, notoriously, censoredand shaped his archive, there is likely to be much that throws new light on thelast British IG.

 

The Semi-Official correspondence, formally complete for theyears 1908-49, contains the fortnightly letters sent from London to the IG (asfrom all formal Customs stations). These contained reflections on events andtrends that were likely to be of interest to the IG, and in particular issuesthat might develop into the formal subject of a Dispatch, or which might notfind an appropriate alternative forum for communication. The series forms analternative commentary on British diplomatic policy towards China, loans andthe Customs Service, but particularly also on IG policies and concerns. Mazeliked to keep his NRS informed about his policies and thinking, especiallyafter the onset of the Sino-Japanese war in 1937, sending copies of hiscorrespondence with embassies and his superiors.7

 

The twentieth century record of the London Office isstrongly represented in these documents, which shed new light on the CustomsService after Hart, and on the Aglen and Maze eras in particular, but there isalso much here more generally concerned with the multifaceted and non-politicalworld of Customs Service work. The collection also includes three albumscontaining photographs of all new recruits sent out from London between 1903-33- taken together these photographs provide a unique and enigmatic record of themostly fresh, young, foreign faces of the customs Service in the twentiethcentury.

 

Dr. Robert Bickers
University of Bristol

 

 

APPENDIX 1: Non-Resident Secretaries (officers In Chargeinset)

 

James Duncan Campbell,1874-1907
Edgar Bruce Hart, 1907-14
Paul King, 1914-20
A.G.H. Carruthers
G.F.H. Acheson, 1921-24
C.A.V. Bowra, 1924-26
J.H. Stephenson, 1926-31
F. Hayley Bell
P.R. Walsham, 1931-33
L.A. Lyall
J.H. Stephenson, 1933
J.H. Macoun, 1933-38
W.O. Law
Stanley Wright, 1939
J.H. Cubbon, 1939-43
Foster Hall, 1943-46
C.A. Pouncey, 1946-48

 

APPENDIX 2: Sources of further information

 

Robert Ronald Campbell, James Duncan Campbell; A memoirby his son (Cambridge, MA: East Asian Research Center, Harvard University,1970)

 

Chen Xiafei and Han Rongfang (eds), Archives of ChinasImperial Maritime Customs: Confidential Correspondence between Robert Hart andJames Duncan Campbell, 1874-1907 (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press,1990-93)

 

John King Fairbank, Katherine Frost Bruner and ElizabethMatheson (eds), The I.G. in Peking: Letters of Robert Hart, Chinese MaritimeCustoms, 1868-1907, 2 volumes (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,1975)

 

Paul H. King, In the Chinese Customs Service: A PersonalRecord of Forty-Seven Years (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1924), 45-59, 98,270-303

 

Cancelled Circular No. 7497, 1948, in SHAC, 679 (1) 17341,General Matters Concerning Organisation Reorganisation and Closing of LondonOffice (Reel 104)

 

London Office: Handing Over Charge Memoranda, 1914-46,SHAC, 679 (1) 17580 (Reel 105)

 

APPENDIX 3: London Office Dispatches in the SecondHistorical Archives of China, Nanjing

 

These excerpts from the catalogue of the Customs ServiceArchive at the Second Historical Archives, refer to files which can becross-referenced with the Dispatch Registers filed in this part.

 

1. Dispatches; London Office copies

All pre-1902 files were transferred to the Customs ReferenceLibrary in Shanghai, in 1933. This complied with an instruction issued to allCustoms Stations in Semi-Official Circular No. 91.8 These files weretransferred from London as a result.

 

Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1201
Title: London Office: Dispatches from IG
Period covered: 1892-93
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1202
Title: London Office: Dispatches from IG
Period covered: 1904-95
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1203
Title: London Office: Dispatches from IG
Period covered: 1896
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1204
Title: London Office: Dispatches from IG
Period covered: 1897
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1205
Title: London Office: Dispatches from IG
Period covered: 1898-99
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1206
Title: London Office: Dispatches from IG
Period covered: 1900
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1207
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1874-75
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1190
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1874-75
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1191
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1876-77
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1208
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1876-77
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1192
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1878-79
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1209
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1878-80
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1193
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1880
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1194
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1881
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1210
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1881-83
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1195
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1882-83
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1196
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1884
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1211
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1884-85
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1197
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1885
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1212
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1886-87
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1198
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1886-87
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1219
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1887-92
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1199
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1888-89
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1213
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1888-90
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1200
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1890-91
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1214
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1891-92
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1215
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1893-95
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1220
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1893-1901
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1216
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1896-97
Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1217
Title: London Office: Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1898-1901

 

2. Dispatches: Inspectorate copies

 

Classmark: 679(2)
Call number: 1311
Title: Dispatches from London Office, Ningpo Customs
Period covered: 1867-88
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7612
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1874-78
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7613
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1882-84
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7614
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1885-86
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7615
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1887-89
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7616
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1890-91
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7617
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1893-94
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7620
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1895-97
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7619
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1898-1900
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7618
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1898-1900
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7621
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1898-1902
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7622
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1901-06
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7624
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1902-08
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7623
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1905-06
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7625
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1909-10
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 7626
Title: Dispatches, etc., from NRS
Period covered: 1910-14
Classmark: 679(9)
Call number: 8050
Title: NRS Dispatches Advising Shipment of Stores
Period covered: 1915-20
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1579
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 2488-3032
Period covered: 1896-1900
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1580
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3033-3061
Period covered: 1900-01
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1581
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3062-3106
Period covered: 1900-01
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1582
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3107-3164
Period covered: 1901-02
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1583
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3165-3216
Period covered: 1902
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1584
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3217-3230
Period covered: 1902
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1585
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3231-3270
Period covered: 1902-03
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1586
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3271-3300
Period covered: 1903
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1587
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3301-3340
Period covered: 1903-04
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1588
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3341-3370
Period covered: 1904
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1589
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3371-3390
Period covered: 1904
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1590
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3391-3420
Period covered: 1904-05
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1592
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3446-3470
Period covered: 1906
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1593
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3471-3520
Period covered: 1906
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1591
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3521-3545
Period covered: 1905
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1594
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3546-3579
Period covered: 1907
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1595
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3580-3600
Period covered: 1908
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1596
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3601-3670
Period covered: 1908
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1597
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3671-3710
Period covered: 1909
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1598
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3711-3750
Period covered: 1910
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1599
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3751-3800
Period covered: 1910
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1600
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3801-3860
Period covered: 1911-12
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1601
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3861-3950
Period covered: 1912-13
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1602
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 3951-4020
Period covered: 1913-14
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1603
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4021-4100
Period covered: 1914
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1604
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4101-4170
Period covered: 1914-16
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1605
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4171-4265
Period covered: 1916-18
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1606
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4266-4315
Period covered: 1918-19
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1607
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4316-4342
Period covered: 1918-19
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1608
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4343-4385
Period covered: 1919-20
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1609
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4386-4399
Period covered: 1920
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1610
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4400-4434
Period covered: 1920
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1611
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4435-4450
Period covered: 1920
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1612
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4451-4501
Period covered: 1920-21
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1613
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4502-4508
Period covered: 1921
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1614
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4509-4543
Period covered: 1921
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 16151
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4544-4545
Period covered: 1921
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1616
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4546-4585
Period covered: 1921-22
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1617
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4586-4587
Period covered: 1921-22
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1618
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4588-4600
Period covered: 1922
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1619
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4601-4640
Period covered: 1922-23
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1620
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4641-4654
Period covered: 1923
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1621
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4655-4720
Period covered: 1924
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1622
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4721-4770
Period covered: 1924
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1623
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4771-4830
Period covered: 1924
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1624
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4831-4885
Period covered: 1925-26
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1625
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4886-4930
Period covered: 1926-27
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1626
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 4931-5037
Period covered: 1927-29
Classmark: 679(3)
Call number: 1627
Title: NRS Dispatches, Nos. 5038-5211
Period covered: 1929-32
Classmark: 679(1)
Call number: 26259
Title: NRS Dispatches to IG
Period covered: 1941-45
Classmark: 679(1)
Call number: 26215
Title: Dispatches to NRS
Period covered: 1942-44
Classmark: 679(1)
Call number: 26537
Title: Dispatches to NRS
Period covered: 1944-45

 

 

PART THREE: Maritime Customs Service Archive:Semi-Official Correspondence from Selected Ports

 

The Chinese MaritimeCustoms Service operated with a strictly delineated and strictly limitedrepertoire of official forms of internal communication including Circulars,Despatches, Memoranda and Returns, as well as Semi-Official letters [ChineseCharacters]. Surviving runs of the latter type from four important ports arereproduced here, and provide a significant and unique new resource for thestudy of national and local events, their reception and their representation,in each of the four cities concerned (Hankow [Chinese Characters], Harbin[Chinese Characters], Shanghai [Chinese Characters], and Swatow [ChineseCharacters]). They also reveal much about the official - and notably theunofficial - history of the workings of the Customs Service and the lives ofits personnel.

 

The first officialdocument dealing with Semi-Official Correspondence (Circular l15/1874, seeAppendix 1, and Part 1 Reel 2) drew attention to the existing standingrequirement in letters of appointment issued to Commissioners that they:

 

address [the InspectorGeneral] semi-officially or privately every fortnight, as well to supplementyour despatches as to keep me informed of interesting or important occurrencesat your port or in its vicinity - occurrences which it might be expedient tobring to my notice, but which could not properly form the subject of officialcorrespondence.

 

In this Circular the Inspector General (IG),Robert Hart, went on to clarify what he wanted to find in these letters:

 

any non-customsbusiness, whether affecting foreigners or natives, that is causing a referenceto Peking or that is likely to evoke the intervention of the Peking officials,- any local occurrence tending to the benefit or detriment of local interests,or specially affecting interests elsewhere, - and any sayings or doings ofindividuals which, in the interests of the Service, ought to be brought to theInspector Generals notice[.]

 

The resulting files ofletters offer a very rich insight into the activities of the Customs in eachport, and to local politics and events of greater or lesser importance. Theycame from the Commissioners in each and every port, and from all branches ofthe Customs Service. The Second Historical Archives of China at Nanjingcontains some 1,800 files of correspondence with Semi-Official status in theclassmark 679 series, but the material of greatest general interest is theincoming correspondence from station Commissioners.9

 

From 1900 the letterswere addressed as a matter of routine to the Deputy Inspector General, SirRobert Bredon (Circular No. 1213, 23 January 1905), although, Hart added inthis latter Circular to Commissioners, When special circumstances seem torequire it, or you desire to do so, I shall always be glad to hear from youdirect. Aglen, when IG, reinstituted the pre-1900 system. Under Maze theSemi-Official became more formalized, and so important a channel did theSemi-Official become, that Commissioners were upbraided for not crossreferencing them properly with prior correspondence.10

 

The files reproduced hereare confined to the twentieth century because the destruction of theInspectorate archives in the Boxer war of 1900 wiped out the surviving copiesof this correspondence from the nineteenth century. Although, for example, manyruns of nineteenth-century Despatches were preserved in Customs Stationarchives and were transferred to the Customs Reference Library in 1933 -Semi-Official Correspondence, in spite of the injunctions in Circular 15/1874 -retained an ambiguous official status in the eyes of Commissioners which meantthat very few copies of letters survived. Swatow Commissioner Edward Gilchrist(served 1890-1923), put the problem clearly in a 1910 - Semi-Official - letterresponding to an instruction from Sir Francis Aglen to maintain copies of thecorrespondence in station safes:

 

[N]one of mypredecessors have left any record of their semi-official correspondence, up todate, for the inspection of their successors, because it has been preparedentirely without such prospect in mind

 

Moreover, he made clearthat the correspondence was copied into his personal press-copy volume (nottaken from official stationery). Commissioners did not regard thiscorrespondence as properly belonging to station archives, and so took theirpersonal copies with them when they were transferred to new posts, or left theService. This habit was in many senses an aspect of the intensely personalnature of the relationship that developed between the IG and Commissioners inthe Hart and Aglen years. Harts much commented-on autocracy engenderedstrong personalised relations - and loyalties - between the IG and hisCommissioners. These overlaid, if at times they did not obscure, the formal andprofessional hierarchies and relationships within the Service.

 

Some nineteenth-centuryletter books have survived, however. John King Fairbank donated transcripts ofH.B. Morses Letter Books to the Customs Reference Library (679[2], 1222-1225).These are lodged, together with the correspondence from Commissioners in Korea(679[2], 1005-1077), and a few volumes from Hangzhou (679[2], 1329-1333). Butoverall the nineteenth century record of this correspondence is not availableunless still held in private hands or in libraries and archives overseas withthe other papers of former Commissioners.

 

Semi-OfficialCorrespondence can give a richly-detailed and often much more personal view ofevents and personalities than the formal Despatches. As the letters were notpreserved in Station archives until the 1910s they also escaped the eyes ofChinese or foreign subordinates, and so the Commissioners could write morefreely than in other forms of correspondence with the IG. Detail came at thecost of the effort and time required for composition, however. London SecretaryBruce Hart registered his complaint about this duty in 1913:

 

this latter class ofcorrespondence has, I know, its value (though, as a matter of personal view, Idont place it very high seeing how frequently its hap-hazard information isincorrect and consequently misleading), but, just as every man has hisabilities and disabilities, so, small-talk and chatty script are inherentlyabsent from my make-up.11

 

Bruce, Sir Robert Hartsson and a difficult character, was deliberately courting an order to depart theservice (he resigned 3 months later), but the view may have been more common.12I have not written for some time, wrote Commissioner Ohlmer from Tsingtao[Chinese Characters] in March 1911, the last two months have been very trying- work has been heavy and troubles many.13 Expressive too, though for different reasons, wasone letter from Nanning in 1908:

 

23 February 1908

 

Dear Sir Robert,
No news of any interest to report.
Yours obediently,
E. von Strauch14

 

Such forlorn pithinessaside however - and the Customs life, especially in such smaller ports, wasoften lonely and dull - the Nanning correspondence gives a lively sense of thevalue of this type of record for understanding local events, debates andchanges. A survey of Nanning Semi-Officials for the first years after aCommissioner arrived at this voluntarily opened mart (1908) finds themreplete with detail of topics such as a massacre of lepers, reports onprovincial developments seen as evidence of westernisation, which stretchedfrom the more obvious developments - a new military academy opens, Japaneseadvisors arrive, foreign steamship companies experiment with new services - tothe more private and subtle, but no less important changes that shaped the newworld of goods and practices in twentieth century China:

 

While at my place [theprovincial governor] told me his Yamen was so hot, and as he had beenindisposed for a few days, it was not so easy to sleep these hot nights. So Ishowed him a fan, run by methylated spirits, which took his fancy so that heasked me to telegraph for one to come up as soon as possible.15

 

Then there are thereports of local rumours, some of which involve the Customs, and some Frenchactivities in the region, while others reflect the concerns and fears of theinhabitants of Nanning, and lie behind the events and details recorded inDespatches or other reports.

 

Material in Semi-Officialletters complements the official business recorded in the Despatches. Sometimesissues are first raised in the Semi-Officials, as a prelude to a Despatch, atother times the Semi-Official Correspondence contains reflections and detailsfor which a Despatch would be an inappropriate vehicle, or too public adocument. But as Hart noted in 1905, what you wish to have done, or attendedto, or answered, must be sent forward in a despatch.16 They also acted as a forum for letting off steam,for grumblings about local personalities or subordinates: Mr. Mansfield,wrote von Strauch in 1907, is quite unfit for life at a lonely place. He isaccustomed to gay company and the loneliness here makes him unhappy and nervousand the result is, he is a very difficult companion.17

 

The Selected files

 

Twentieth centurycorrespondence from four stations has been included in this unit: Shanghai(1900-1941, 1946-49), as the biggest and most important of the Customs posts;Swatow (1900-1941, 1945-49), as a representative smaller coastal station;Hankow as a Yangzi river port (1900-49), and Harbin (1900-1928, 1930-32,1945-47) by way of representing Manchuria and the inland stations. The Hankowselection includes correspondence from the Classmark 2085 Series at the SecondHistorical Archives of China which contains materials from the Pacific War-eracollaborationist Customs Commissioner to Japanese IG Kishimoto Hirokichi. Eachof these stations had its full complement of the events that unfolded in Chinain these years, and each covers many incidents which directly affected theCustoms - such as the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the seizure of Customsstations there - one of which was Harbin - by the collaborationist Manzhouguoauthorities.

 

The letters are oftenannotated by the IG and sometimes a response is drafted on the letter itself,but in most cases a bare acknowledgement was sent. The runs of material includedhere represent a fraction of the information flowing into the Inspectoratethrough this form of communication.

 

Professor Robert Bickers
University of Bristol

 

 

APPENDIX 1
CIRCULAR No. 15 of 1874

Concerning Semi-official Correspondence

 

INSPECTORATE GENERAL OFCUSTOMS,
PEKING, 10th April, 1874.

Sir,

1. - In your sealed letter of appointment to the Commissionership of the port(I.G./F.I.), paragraph 6 reads thus: -

You will address me semi-officially or privately every fortnight, as well tosupplement your despatches as to keep me informed of interesting or importantoccurrences at your port or in its vicinity - occurrences which it might beexpedient to bring to my notice, but which could not properly form the subjectof official correspondence.

 

2. - On the whole, I haveto thank all who have had charge of ports for the attention to the instructionscontained in the paragraph quoted. A growing tendency, however, is becomingperceptible, on the one hand to substitute semi-official letters for despatches,and on the other to leave it to the Inspector General to find out for himself,from newspapers or other sources, what is occurring in the locality: on the onehand, the result is that questions asked and perhaps instructions sent in reply- both one and other semi-officially, or in letters relating to private orpersonal business - are not recorded, while, on the other, matters at the port,which the Inspector General ought to be the first to know about, are frequentlythose which, to the surprise of others and the disadvantage of Serviceinterests, he is the last to learn.

 

3. - As regards theoutside matters which ought to be communicated to the Inspector Generalsemi-officially, each Commissioner must judge for himself; but, generallyspeaking, any non-customs business, whether affecting foreigners or natives,that is causing a reference to Peking or that is likely to evoke theintervention of the Peking officials, - any local occurrence tending to thebenefit or detriment of local interests, or specially affecting interestselsewhere, - and any sayings or doings of individuals which, in the interestsof the Service, ought to be brought to the Inspector Generals notice, - theseand kindred matters may properly form the subjects of semi-official correspondence.In this connection it ought to be remembered that it is in the interest of theService generally, and therefore as much in their - the Commissioners -interest as in his own, that the Inspector General requires such intelligence;further, the communication of it in this semi-official way is as much a part ofa Commissioners official duty as attention to the current work of the CustomHouse.

 

4. - In respect to theother matter, semi-official reference to business matters to be dealt with bythe commissioner, there is no objection to such reference as long as it does nomore than supplement, or rather comment upon or explain the official treatmentof the same subject or question in a despatch; but when such semi-officialreference is made or allowed to take the place of the official treatment of thesubject in a despatch, the result is often embarrassing. Semi-official lettersreceived are, of course, preserved by the Inspector General, but copies are notkept of the Inspector Generals private or semi-official replies; hencesubjects are lost sight of that ought to be borne in mind, and advice orinstructions forgotten, if not officially contradicted on some subsequentoccasion. It is therefore desirable that you should remember, and be guided bythe explanation: business questions, the statement of cases for the InspectorGenerals opinion or instructions, applications for the Inspector Generalsauthority or sanction, &c., &c., &c., - these and kindred mattersought to be dealt with officially in despatches, so that the statementsubmitted and the instructions issued may be properly recorded for futureguidance or reference; and when such business matters are treated of insemi-official letters, it is to be borne in mind that such semi-officialtreatment of them must not take the place of official reference, but is merelyto be complementary or explanatory of what has been already written on the samesubject in official despatches.

 

5. - I trust that theseexplanations will be of use, and assist in making semi-official letters whatthey ought, as well as preserve them from becoming what they ought not, to be.

 

I am &c.,

(Signed) ROBERT HART, IG

 

APPENDIX 2

 

Officers in Charge of Hankow, Harbin, Shanghai and Swatow,1900-49

 

1. Hankow Commissionersor officers in charge, 1900-49

 

J.H. Hippisley(Officiating Commissioner)
23 May 1901
R.T.F. de Luca (Commissioner)
10 February 1902
E.T. Pym (A.W. Cross assumed charge vice Pym died)
10 March 1907
F.A. Aglen (Commissioner)
A.H. Sugden (Commissioner)

1 May 1912
F.A. Carl (Commissioner)
20 October 1913
F.E. Taylor (Commissioner)
5 December 1914
F.A. Carl (Commissioner)
6 May 1916
J.F. Oiesen (Commissioner)
4 November 1918
H. Unwin (Commissioner)
17 November 1919
E. Lowder (Commissioner)
29 September 1920
R.A. Currie (Commissioner)
24 October 1921
F. Maze (Commissioner)
6 October 1925
J.W.H. Ferguson (Commissioner)
19 December 1927
R.C.L. dAnjou (Commissioner)
3 November 1928
H.E. Prettejohn (Commissioner)
11 June 1930
E.G. Lebas (Commissioner)
24 August 1932
[Chinese Characters] Lu Shou Wen (ActingDeputy Commissioner in charge ad interim)
23 November 1932
A.S. Campbell (Commissioner)
31 May 1934
B.E. Foster Hall (Deputy Commissioner incharge ad interim)
22 April 1935
W.R. Myers (Commissioner)
1 October 1936
M.C.D. Drummond (Acting Deputy Commissioner incharge ad interim)
21 October 1936
L.H. Lawford (Commissioner)
17 April 1937
E.N. Ensor (Commissioner)
30 June 1941
A.C.H Lay (Deputy Commissioner in charge)
2 February 1942
[Chinese Characters] Lei Chung Pin (Assistantin charge)
26 May 1942
[Chinese Characters] Fang Po (Assistant incharge)
30 April 1943
[Chinese Characters] S. Suetsugu
7 September 1945
[Chinese Characters] Hwa Chin Tsan
31 October 1945
[Chinese Characters] Fan Hao (ActingCommissioner)
18 March 1946
[Chinese Characters] K.K. Chen (Commissioner)
7 May 1947
[Chinese Characters] Tu Ping Ho (Commissioner)
[Chinese Characters] Liu Pang-lin (Deputy Commissioner in charge temp.)
25 January 1949
[Chinese Characters] Tsai Hsioh Tuan(Commissioner)

 

2. HarbinCommissioners or officers in charge, 1907-32, 1946-49

 

February 1907
N.A. Konovaloff (Commissioner)
30 November 1910
W.C.H. Watson (Commissioner)
16 April 1913
R. de Luca (Commissioner)
15 April 1915
R.J. Grevedon (Commissioner)
21 October 1919
R.C.L. dAnjou (Commissioner)
1 May 1924
U. Marconi (Acting Commissioner)
21 April 1927
P.G.S. Barentzen (Acting commissioner)
31 March 1931
R.C.L. dAnjou (Commissioner)
15 April 1931
E.J. Ohrnberger
10 March 1946
V. Muling

 

3. ShanghaiCommissioners or officers in charge, 1900-49

 

F.A. Aglen (OfficiatingCommissioner)
c. 1 April 1901
H.E. Hobson (Commissioner)
c. 1 December 1909
H.F. Merrill (Commissioner)
c. 1 July 1913
F.S. Unwin (Commissioner)
1 May 1917
R.H.R. Wade (Commissioner)
15 April 1919
L.A. Lyall (Commissioner)
4 October 1920
H.G. Lowder (Commissioner)
17 April 1922
C.N. Holwill (Dep. Commissioner in chargetemp.)
14 October 1922
L.A. Lyall (Commissioner)
8 October 1925
[Chinese Characters] H. Kishimoto (OfficiatingCommissioner ad interim)
31 October 1925
F.W. Maze (Commissioner)
10 January 1929
W.R. Myers (Commissioner in charge temp.)
1 June 1931
L.H. Lawford (Commissioner)
12 July 1932
F.D. Goddard (Officiating Commissioner)
6 October 1932
L.H. Lawford (Commissioner)
7 March 1933
A.C.E. Braud (Commissioner)
8 January 1935
L.H. Lawford (Commissioner)
15 October 1935
P.G.S. Barentzen (Commissioner)
21 April 1937
L.H. Lawford (Commissioner)
22 November 1941
[Chinese Characters] Y. Akatani
5 October 1942
[Chinese Characters] K. Oyamada
9 February 1943
[Chinese Characters] K. Tanioka
18 October 1943
K. Oyamada
23 November 1943
[Chinese Characters] Lu Shou Wen (Commissionerin charge ad interim)
18 January 1944
[Chinese Characters] J. Kurosawa
20 August 1945
[Chinese Characters] Chiu Tso Chi
13 September 1945
[Chinese Characters] K.T. Ting (Dep. InspectorGeneral and Commissioner)
18 June 1946
E.A. Pritchard
25 October 1946
[Chinese Characters] Liu Ping yi
30 December 1949
[Chinese Characters] Chang Yung Nien

 

4. SwatowCommissioners or officers in charge, 1900-49

 

W.M. Andrew
J.W. Innocent (Assistant in charge)
September 1900
C.H. Brewitt-Taylor (Acting Commissioner)
April 1901
S. Campbell (Commissioner)
26 March 1903
P.B. von Rautenfeld
E. Gilchrist (Assistant in charge)
9 June 1903
F.A. Morgan (Commissioner)
15 October 1903
Frank Smith (Acting Commissioner)
12 March 1907
R.A. Currie (Acting Deputy Commissioner temp.)
17 May 1909
E. Gilchrist (Commissioner)
December 1912
W.G. Lay (Commissioner)
14 September 1915
D. Percebois (Deputy Commissioner in chargetemp.)
16 February 1916
W.G. Lay (Commissioner)
A.G.H. Carruthers
B.D. Tisdall (Acting Deputy Commissioner in charge temp.)
10 June 1918
J.H.M. Moorhead (Commissioner)
31 March 1921
P. Kremer (Deputy Commissioner in charge adinterim)
17 May 1921
C.E.S. Wakefield (Commissioner)
27 December 1921
R.M. Talbot (Acting Deputy Commissioner incharge ad interim)
20 February 1922
R.A. Currie (Commissioner)
3 May 1924
W.C.G. Howard (Deputy Commissioner in chargead interim)
28 May 1924
F.W. Carey
13 October 1925
E.A. MacDonald
17 December 1925
R.F.C. Hedgeland
23 November 1926
J. Klubien (Commissioner)
15 October 1929
B.E.F. Hall (Acting Deputy Commissioner incharge ad interim)
23 October 1929
A. Sadoine (Commissioner)
13 August 1930
E.A. Pritchard (Deputy Commissioner in chargetemp.)
13 April 1931
H.G. Fletcher (Commissioner)
15 April 1933
H.D. Hilliard (Commissioner)
1 April 1935
G.N. Gawler (Chief Assistant A Acting DeputyCommissioner in charge ad interim)
20 May 1935
C.G.C. Asker (Commissioner)
15 October 1936
H.St.J. Wilding (Commissioner)
15 April 1937
A.L. Newman (Acting Deputy Commissioner incharge ad interim)
1 May 1937
Y.H.J. Cloarec (Commissioner)
13 October 1937
A.L. Newman (Acting Deputy Commissioner incharge ad interim)
15 November 1937
J.C.OG. Anderson (Commissioner)
28 March 1938
C.G.C. Asker (Commissioner)
19 June 1942
[Chinese Characters] A. Takahashi (3rdAssistant A Acting Deputy Commissioner in charge temp.)
25 February 1943
[Chinese Characters] K. Matsuoka
13 May 1943
[Chinese Characters] A. Takahashi
[Chinese Characters} Huang Chih Chien (Acting Commissioner)
28 September 1946
[Chinese Characters] Yang Ming Hsin(Commissioner)
February 1947
R.C.P. Rouse
31 March 1949
[Chinese Characters] Shih Eng How (Acting Commissioner ad interim)
26 April 1949
E. Bathurst (Commissioner)

 

 

PARTS FOUR and FIVE: Maritime Customs Service Archive; ThePolicing of Trade

 

The previous units ofmicrofilm in this collection consisted largely of runs of certain types ofCustoms documents, such as the Inspector Generals (IG) Circulars (Part 1,reels 1-62) and Semi-Official Correspondence (Part 3, reels 106-173). In thecase of Part 2 (reels 63-105), we included series of Letters, Semi-OfficialCorrespondence, private Z Letters, as well as Confidential Letters generatedover time between the Non-Resident Secretary in London and the InspectorGeneral in Beijing or Shanghai. For Parts Four and Five, we have opted for athematic approach, as we will do for Parts Six and Seven. Parts Four and Fiveconsist of files relating to the Chinese Maritime Customs Services involvementin the policing of Chinas trade. The next two will deal with the Customsduring the Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) and the Civil War (1945-1949) periods.

 

To understand the role ofthe Customs in the regulation of Chinas trade, it is important to realise thatthe Services responsibilities were initially limited. Only after the 1911Revolution did it begin to collect the duties on Chinas international trade,something which until then had been done by the Superintendent, a prominentChinese local official for whom the oversight of the Customs Service was onlyone of his responsibilities. Until 1912, the Service mainly recorded the valuesof Chinas imports and exports as reported by merchants, assessed the duties onit in accordance with the Tariff stipulated in agreements between China andforeign countries, checked cargo manifests and import export applications, andonce a designated bank had notified the Customs that the relevant charges had beenpaid, it issued documents enabling merchants to proceed. Customs personnel alsowatched goods as they were moved between vessels and the shore. Similarly,although the Customs assisted local officials in the suppression of trade incontraband carried on foreign vessels (initially especially arms) low tariffrates made the smuggling of non-contraband goods financially unattractive. Inthe prevention of smuggling, Commissioners of Customs had to cooperate withlocal Chinese officials who had their own policing forces as well as foreignconsuls, whose cooperation was necessary because foreign merchants enjoyedextraterritoriality and were hence immune from Chinese jurisdiction.

 

Due to the significanceof the Superintendents in the management of Chinas international trade, thefirst section of this set of microfilms consists of communications between themand Customs Commissioners in Ningbo, Xiamen, Winzhou, and Wuhu during thesecond half of the nineteenth century. The documents in these files are rare owingto the destruction, by the Boxers, of the Inspectorate archives in 1900 andbecause archives of Superintendents themselves were either destroyed duringvarious instances of warfare during the twentieth century or remain locked awayin the archives of Chinas contemporary Customs Service, as at Shanghai,Tientsin, and Xiamen. This is doubly so because woodworms have eaten their waythrough many of these documents made from rice paper. Before they could bemicrofilmed, they had to be painstakingly restored by the PreservationDepartment of the Second Historical Archives. In a number of cases the damageproved too extensive and unfortunately we therefore cannot provide long runs ofdespatches between the Superintendent and Commissioner of any given place. Nonetheless,the documents we reproduce here have much to tell us about the relationshipbetween Superintendents and Commissioners, the range of concerns addressed intheir communications, the way that the Customs Service fitted into the broaderQing bureaucracy, and cooperation between Superintendents and Commissioners inthe suppression of the smuggling of contraband.

 

The next section concernsthe Shanghai River Police. Its origins go back to 1868, when Robert Hartinstructed his London agent to hire seven men from England from the ThamesPolice chiefly in the hope of being thereby able to put a stop to the theftsfrom which cargo boats are constantly suffering in the Shanghai anchorage(Despatch of 4 May 1898, Documents Concerning the Shanghai River Police, file679/824). As Shanghais trade grew in the late nineteenth and early twentiethcenturies, the Shanghai River Police expanded accordingly. As late as 1912,though, its constables and sergeants had to rely on sampans - small flatbottomed wooden boats propelled by an oar thrust into the water from its side -to perform its major functions of regulating traffic in the harbour and alongSuzhou Creek, keeping waterways clear, and watching cargo as it was loaded andunloaded.

 

As Shanghai developedinto one of the five largest ports of the world in the 1920s and 1930s, theShanghai Police Force rapidly increased in size, acquired motorized launches,and became responsible for tasks ranging from the enforcement of regulationsgoverning waterborne traffic and the safe storage of flammable or explosivematerials such as kerosene, to the prevention of the dumping of waste, fightingfire in the harbour, assistance with raids on shops suspected of involvement insmuggling, and apprehending smugglers on the Huangpu River and in the SuzhouCreek. The files reproduced here give information on the internal organizationof the Shanghai River Police; the scope of its activities; court cases in whichit was involved, including some arising from acts of brutality inflicted by itsown staff on members of the public; smuggling; and conflicts with other policeforces in Shanghai, including the Municipal Police of the Shanghai MunicipalCouncil as well as various policing arms of local Chinese authorities.

 

When the Nationalistsseized power in 1928, the tasks of the Customs Service and its reach changedradically. The aim of the Nationalists was a nation with a clearly definedborder, a national economy, a tariff protective of Chinas industry, and asingle set of rules governing trade throughout the country and applieduniformly to foreigners and Chinese alike. Despite the fact that the CustomsService was dominated by foreigners, the Nationalists nonetheless found ituseful to exploit it in the attempt to realise their vision. In 1930, theNationalists ordered the Customs Service to police not just the Treaty Portsbut the entire 5000 plus miles of coast. The Customs was also ordered to takeover the management of the Native Customs [Chinese Characters] and LijinBarriers [Chinese Characters] in order to eliminate them and so achieve acontinuous border and a single market. The Customs was a useful tool because itwas backed by foreign countries with gunboats in Chinas harbours andwaterways, while the reach of the Nationalists themselves was limited to thelower Yangtze area.

 

Lijin Barriers had beenestablished during the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864) by local authorities totax trade and so finance local contributions to the suppression of the Taipinginsurgency. Afterwards they proved difficult to abolish. The Customs Servicehad been ordered to assume control over some within a 25 kilometre radiusof Custom Houses after the BoxerRebellion when their revenue had been allocated to service the Boxer Indemnity.But the Service had not been able to make that control effective. As civilwarfare spread during the 1920s, local military and civil authorities stoppedremitting assigned quotas of Lijin revenues.

 

When the ForeignInspectorate was established, its task was to supervise the recording offoreign trade at the Maritime Stations [Chinese Characters] of the Qingbureaucracy that collected duties on domestic as well as overseas trade. Itsother stations from then on became known in Chinese as [Chinese Character](Old) or [Chinese Character] (Standard) Barriers and as the Native Customs inEnglish. Following the issue of new international and domestic loans after the1911 Revolution, the revenues of some Native Customs were hypothecated to theservice of these and were to be remitted to the Inspectorate. As in the case ofLijin revenues, however, these revenues were also increasingly retainedlocally. Thus, when the Nationalists ordered the Customs to assume control overLijin Barriers and Native Customs stations, their goal was not just a unifiedCustoms administration and a single market; they also sought to make use of theCustoms Service to eliminate the revenue flows on which their opponentsdepended.

 

If these newresponsibilities and the extension of its geographical span of operationsincreased the burdens of the Customs Service, so did the rapid increase insmuggling that followed the introduction of high import tariffs, announced on 1February 1929. Previously, most imports had been taxed at a nominal 5% ofvalue, although in reality rates were lower, both because the value of silverfell over time and also because for a significant number goods tariff rateswere expressed not in terms of value but at a set rate, often lower than actualmarket values. A further problem for the Customs was that in Manchuria, northChina, Guangdong and Guangxi, and Fujian, regional authorities, sometimes incollaboration with foreign countries such as Japan, resisted the NationalistGovernment in Nanjing. Not infrequently, their own armed forces shipped goodson government transports from which Customs personnel were barred, or declaredimports to be government material exempt from taxation.

 

The ConfidentialCorrespondence between the Inspector General and the Kuan-wu Shu [ChineseCharacters] (pinyin Guanwu Shu), an agency of the Ministry of Finance thatoversaw the Customs Service, is valuable because these confidential lettersdiscussed the ramifications of the introduction of the new tariff, the creationof new institutions under the Customs Service (such as the Preventive Serviceand the Chief Inspection Bureau to deal with smuggling as well as minor andmajor incidents such as the seizure in 1930 of the Tientsin Custom House bynorthern warlords) the consequences of the Japanese occupation of Manchuria in1932, the Fujian Rebellion of 1933-34, and the outbreak of total war in 1937.This series of documents then is fundamental to understanding the developmentof the Customs during a new phase of its history.

 

The Preventive Serviceand the Chief Inspection Bureau were the most prominent new institutionsdeveloped by the Customs in the 1930s to combat smuggling. The PreventiveSecretariat was formed in 1931, following investigations of smuggling all alongthe China coast. It developed a substantial fleet of nearly 100 ships, of which13 were over 140 feet in length. Assigned to four commands along the Chinacoast, their movements were directed centrally. Rapid communication was madepossible by a radio net managed by the Customs wireless Service, some of whoseradio masts continue to adorn the China coast. The idea was to throw up acoastal cordon to prevent smugglers from even reaching Chinas ports. ThePreventive Service frequently acted on information supplied by informers (whoreceived substantial rewards) as well as an embryonic intelligence service,with agents for instance operating in Japanese-occupied Taiwan. Plans for aCustoms air force existed, but were never realised. Files reproduced heredetail the development of the Preventive Service and illustrate its activities.

 

According to PreventiveService reports, by 1935 the Customs Service was beginning to win its war onsmuggling between south China and Hong Kong and Macao as well as between Taiwanand Fujian Province. However, the Customs was barred from operating insignificant parts of north China because of the 1935 He-Umezu agreement betweenJapan and China whereby the Nationalists agreed to withdraw their armed forcesand government institutions from parts of Hebei Province. Tientsin became amajor centre of Japanese-sponsored smuggling. In response, the Customsestablished the Chief Inspection Bureau with the task of checking cargo carriedby rail southward from north China. This required the cooperation of railroadauthorities, which was not always forthcoming, and involved the Customs inregular conflicts with well organised gangs of runners, who simply occupiedwhole train carriages to carry their wares. Nonetheless, according to Customsreports, even if the Service could do little about smuggling in north Chinaitself, by 1937 it had succeeded in stemming the most significant flows ofgoods southward. The files reproduced here consist of Handing Over ChargeMemoranda and the Semi-Official Correspondence generated by the Bureau.

 

With respect to theCustoms Services take-over of Native Customs stations and Lijin barriers, weinclude documents relating to its management of these at Tientsin, Shanghai,and Canton from after the Boxer Rebellion into the 1920s and 1930s as well as itsassumption of control over the Fengyang and Yangyu (Yangyou) Collectoratesafter the beginning of Nationalist rule. The last two were among the largestNative Customs Collectorates in China. The nineteen barriers operated by theFengyang Native Customs collected duties on trade flowing through north andnorthwest Anhui Province along the Huai River, the Long-Hai and Jin-PuRailroads which intersected at Bengbu, and roads and rivers connecting northernAnhui to the Yangtze River. The Yangyu Collectorate, headquartered in YangzhouCity in Jiangsu Province, covered northern Jiangsu. The files included hereprovide insight into the Native Customs themselves and the difficulties theCustoms Service encountered as it attempted to establish control over them.

 

During the 1930s, theCustoms Houses filed monthly reports on smuggling. These offer discussions ofthe most prominent categories of smuggled goods, details of major smugglingcases, illustrations of the most prevalent modes of smuggling, and reports on relationswith other local military and civilian authorities. They also provideinformation on responses of local merchants and populations to the Customsefforts to prevent smuggling. We have selected runs of reports from CustomHouses at Canton, Kowloon, Macao, and Shanghai to provide details ofcounter-smuggling operations by the Customs Service during the 1930s.

 

The opium trade was asignificant feature of Chinas modern history. Nationalist policy wascontradictory. The opium trade was illegal, but its licensing through a statemonopoly brought in much needed revenue. Actual policy therefore opted formallyfor eradication over time after it had been brought under state control. Withopium grown in many areas where the control of the Nationalists was limited,permits to ship to coastal markets were also a tool the Nationalists used intheir management of relations with warlords. The Customs therefore faced acomplicated situation of considerable danger as smugglers, parts of theNational Anti-Opium Suppression Bureau, and the forces of local military andcivilian authorities could be well armed.

 

The opium trade threatened the Customs Service in other waysas well. The temptation of Customs personnel to hunt for smuggled opium washigh, as they received as seizure reward a large part of the proceeds of thesale of confiscated opium (see Appendix 2 for files of reports on seizures andrewards). This could embroil them not only in serious armed conflict, but alsolead to overzealousness and diversion from less lucrative assignments. Thefiles relating to opium included in this collection include some that relate tothe Customs approach to the opium trade during the second half of thenineteenth century, but most concern the complicated situation of the 1920s and1930s, in which not a few Commissioners argued that the wisest course of actionwas to remain as detached as possible. It should be noted that the archivescontain many files dealing with individual cases of opium smuggling, but thesehave not been reproduced here.

 

These two parts, in short, illustrate the activities of themost significant Customs organisations involved in the regulation of Chinastrade and focus especially on the suppression of smuggling after theintroduction of high tariff rates and before the outbreak of the War ofResistance against Japan in 1937. Due to space limitations, significant topicshave had to be omitted. The Quarantine Service was important in the combat ofepidemics which spread as communications facilities improved within China aswell as between China and other areas of the world. Files relating to fraud andbribery by Customs members themselves have also been excluded. We have omittedfiles illustrating the Marine Department, responsible for the erection andmaintenance of lights and buoys along Chinas coast and rivers; the survey ofits routes of navigation; the publication of maps; and the issue of Noticesto Mariners. Corruption became a major issue during the War of Resistancedue to the financial collapse of the Nationalists and the general scarcity ofeven basic commodities. Hyperinflation during the Civil War undermined Customsdiscipline even further, despite the best efforts of Lester Knox Little,Inspector General from 1942 to 1949. Parts Six and Seven will provideinformation on these developments.

 

It should finally be stated that researchers should notforget that previous units contain much information relevant to the topics setout in this introduction. IG Circulars laid down general principles that guidedthe staff of the Customs Service, while the Semi-Official correspondencewritten by Commissioners frequently discussed issues relating to smuggling andthe policing of trade. The files made available here, therefore, should not beconsulted in isolation, but read together with those already made available inearlier units and those that will be included in units six and seven.

 

Hans van de Ven
Cambridge University

 

 

PARTS SIX and SEVEN:The Maritime Customs Service Archive: The Sino-Japanese War and its Aftermath,1931-49

 

Parts 6 and 7 of this collection highlight the richness ofthe files in the Second Historical Archives of China relating to the period ofthe Japanese invasion of China after 1931. Significantly more than half of the55,000 files in Nanjing cover the period of the full-scale conflict whichdeveloped after 7 July 1937. Others cover the Japanese seizure of Manchuria in1931-32, and the tensions caused in north China thereafter, when Japaneseforces had expanded their influence and control. We have selected filescovering the outbreak of the conflict and its progress to 1941; the impact ofPearl Harbor on the Service; and Customs functions in unoccupied China (notablyits new role collecting Wartime Consumption Tax, and its planning for, and resumptionof, its functions at the end of the conflict). These units also contain fileson the careers of key leadership figures in this period: the Inspector Generals(IGs) - Sir Frederick Maze (1929-43), Lester Knox Little (1943-50) andHirokichi Kishimoto [Chinese Characters], as well as the leading departmentalsecretaries, notably Ding Guitang [Chinese Characters] (Ting Kwei Tang), theleading Chinese employee in the Service. To these we have also added filesrelating to the seizure of Manchurian stations in 1932, and its aftermath.

 

The Customs at War

 

After 1937 Sir Frederick Maze worked in an increasinglydifficult situation to maintain the integrity of the Service, as he saw it, andthe period between July that year and Pearl Harbor highlights the continuingoddness of the Customs and its position despite its subordination to Guomindangcontrol. Maze attempted to retain its integrity as an agency of the Chinesestate under the control of the Ministry of Finance via the Guanwushu [ChineseCharacters] (see Part 4, reels 209-215), while at the same time continuing tooperate offices in Chinese ports under the control of the Japanese, withinwhich some established puppet Chinese administrations. He aimed to retain itsintegrity as the agency securing and servicing foreign loans, which whilstimportant for the Nationalist state, had often been seen as asupra-governmental activity. He also tried, somewhat obsessively, to maintainthe integrity of the Service as an institution to prevent it from being brokenup and to ensure that it continued to run as a nationwide service. Theseconcerns are threaded through the extensive correspondence with diplomats andpolicy makers filmed here.18

 

The files also allow us to see the impact across the Customsestablishment of the unfolding conflict, and the process that followed asJapanese pressure to increase the number of Japanese in the Customs, and theirseniority, steadily mounted. The full range of Customs correspondence isincluded; despatches to and from stations, semi-official correspondence,confidential letters and reports, career files (the closest that the Servicegot to what we might think of as a personnel file), as well as documentswhich demonstrate the changing nature of the Service. In 1937 for the firsttime we have minutes of Secretaries Meetings - conclaves of the Secretariatheads - and these become more routine as the war progresses (although theirsurvival is patchy). They indicate how far the autocratic system developed byHart had changed as the service became more and more embedded in the civilservice of the Nationalist state. In many ways, as the subject files in theCustoms series at the Second Historical Archives of China in Nanjing show,there was much by way of business as usual. Indeed, because of the diplomaticpressure that Maze could try and bring to bear through his correspondence withBritish and American diplomats, the Customs just about retained asemi-privileged position - as a Nationalist state organ which managed tofunction behind enemy lines. However as stations fell under Japanese control,and as its staff suffered in the face of the Japanese advance and aerialbombing, it was also clear that the days of its observer status were drawing toa close.

 

On 8 December 1941, as the Pacific War erupted, theInspectorate fell into Japanese hands, its archives just about intact. Keystations in treaty ports not previously occupied by the Japanese were seized:Canton, Tianjin and, of course, Shanghai amongst them. Maze and his entire seniorstaff, and the bulk of Service personnel, were in Japanese hands. Maze wasformally dismissed by the collaborationist Wang Jingwei government, which hadits own Guanwushu in the Ministry of Finance, and replaced on 11th December byKishimoto, who had joined the Customs in 1905, and who since 1935 had beenChief Secretary, effectively second in command. Kishimoto worked thereafterwith all semblance of legitimacy: he had the archives, he had the bulk of thestaff, including numbers of remaining neutral or Italian axis nationals, and heheld the greater number of stations. His service recruited an additional 470Japanese into the Customs between December 1941 and July 1944. There were atleast 500 already in the Service at Pearl Harbor, the majority of them havingbeen appointed since July 1937 in response to Japanese diplomatic pressure onMaze to appoint Japanese staff to ports in occupied China. But some of thoserunning the Service had long been working for it, and were imbued with itsethos, and perceptions of its role.

 

As a Kishimoto Customs produced outline history of theService notes, On account of special circumstances prevailing at present,some of its stations were closed. The key role the Kishimoto Customs foundfor itself was the collection of interport duties, that is duties on internaltrade around Shanghai and other Japanese-occupied ports and cities. As a resultit opened some new stations solely for the collection of interport duties andto deal with the changed geography enforced by the war.19 Theroutine business of the Shanghai-based Bogus [Chinese Character] Service iscaptured in its Circulars (Part 1), and Semi-Official Correspondence from keyports (Part 3). In August 1945 the Services of nearly all Japanese weredispensed with. A few technical staff remained in post, and although Kishimotohimself resigned on 23rd August, he was still being sent for interrogation inregard to matters concerning Customs revenue, property, archives and otherunfinished affairs in October. He was not repatriated to Japan until 8th March1946.20

 

At the outbreak of the Pacific campaign and with the seizureof the Shanghai headquarters of the Service, the Nationalist Ministry ofFinance instructed the Chongqing Customs Commissioner to establish areplacement Inspectorate. With Maze incommunicado, C.H.B. Joly, was appointedOfficiating IG in late December, and had to recreate the Service almost fromscratch. Severe practical issues aside (there was no paper, and no typewriters,there were no files and no books), there was also little apparent reason forthe Maritime Customs to continue to exist, and much hostility to it, as anagency still in the British orbit at a time of abject British failure in HongKong and Southeast Asia. Nevertheless it had useful friends. One of these wasSong Ziwen [Chinese Characters] - T.V. Soong - Foreign Minister and Presidentof the Executive Yuan. A key internal friend was the very well-connected DingGuitang, a native of Liaoning province, who had joined in 1916, and who wasChinese Secretary at the Inspectorate on the eve of the Pacific War. After abrief imprisonment in occupied Shanghai, Ding made his way to Free China inDecember 1942, taking the position of Chief Secretary, and later DeputyInspector General. Dings connections and energy were vital to the prolongationof the Foreign Inspectorate.

 

The Service was hit in other ways. Of key importance was theapplication to the Customs of the National Governments 1938 Public TreasuryLaw from 1st October 1942. Under this legislation Service offices were requiredto hand over on a daily basis all revenues collected to local Public TreasuryOffices.21 The Ministry of Finance would then set and issue a budgetto the Customs to enable it to function. In this way the Customs was finallynormalized as a Chinese state agency. It also found a new role for the durationof the war, which is charted here. From April 1942 onwards interport duties inunoccupied China were abolished, and the Service was delegated to collect a newWartime Consumption tax on foreign and Chinese goods in transit.22 Ministry of Finance adviser ArthurYoung lobbied for this to be a job for the Customs, partly because he felt thatwhat looked like a new form of lijin(likin, local transit taxes, abolished in 1931 - see Parts 4-5) ought to be theresponsibility of an institution which had no vested interest in perpetuatingit.23 For the following three years this excise function was theprimary activity of the Maritime Customs, as it was still styled, andrequired the establishment of new stations in the interior, and many newcheckpoints. The scale of its contributions to state finances did not matchthose of peacetime, but they were enough to keep it in business, and we haveextracted here all the files relating to this, its most important wartimefunction. We have also filmed files of semi-official correspondence from thenew wartime stations - Xian, Luoyang, and in Xinjiang (all unlikely sites ofwork for the Maritime Customs) as well as from the other Customs stations ofthe Chongqing service.

 

Back in Shanghai Sir Frederick Maze was arrested in 5thMarch 1942. He had been living comfortably enough in his French Concessionflat, but he then had four less-comfortable weeks with other senior staff inthe Bridge House Kempeitai (Gendarmerie) headquarters. Maze was lucky enough,however, to be one of the British nationals released in an exchange ofinternees with the Japanese, and sailed to Lourenco Marques in Portuguese EastAfrica, arriving on 27th August. He then made his way to Chongqing, in the faceof Chinese opposition. Ostensibly his intention was to report in person ondevelopments between 1937 and the outbreak of the Pacific War, and onoccurrences in Shanghai after that date. Maze arrived on 3 December. Heannounced on his own authority on 14th December that he had resumed command ofthe Service. The Minister of Finance was outraged. Mazes notification wascountermanded and he was required to submit a formal written report accountingfor his actions since 1937. Negotiations were obviously undertaken about hisfuture, and Maze was permitted to resume charge on 1st March 1943, butapparently only on the understanding that he simultaneously submit hisresignation. He left office on the last day of May, handing it over temporarilyto Ding Guitang. In August 1943 Ding then handed over to former CantonCommissioner, American L.K. Little, who had also been repatriated in August1942.

 

The task facing the Customs in 1945 was huge. It had toretake control of the Bogus Service and its staff, reconstruct its materialassets - notably reconstituting its fleet - and repair war damage to the lightsinfrastructure that it managed (much of the lights system had been destroyed).In addition to regaining control of the ports lost after 1937, it was taskedwith resuming control of the Manchurian ports lost in 1932, and of the ports inTaiwan, which had been lost in 1895. If this was not enough of a challenge,given that other military and civilian agencies were jockeying for scarceresources (and formerly-Japanese pickings) at the end of the conflict, theninflation and the developing crisis of the Communist-Nationalist civil warthrew up new hurdles. Planning for this process took up much Customs energies,and files from the committee creating the Rehabilitation Plan have beenincluded here, telling us much about pre-war practices and processes as well.

 

Resumption of administrative control over the Bogus Servicewent smoothly enough. DIG Ding flew to Shanghai with a team of senior staff andopened an office of the Inspectorate General. Reports on the takeover of eachcollaborationist Secretariat on 12th September show an orderly process.24 Mostarchives survived intact. Most Japanese staff had gone. Post-1941 appointeeswere sacked and new staff were recruited to keep offices running. Once thetensions raised by the reuniting of staff from free China, Bogus Customsstaff, and internees had been negotiated, then the Service as a whole resumedwork along many of its existing patterns.

 

Nationalistic tensions remained a problem for the ForeignInspectorate after the war. When Little proposed appointing American CarlNeprud as Shanghai Commissioner in late 1945, there was opposition from thosewho pointed out that with an American IG, and an American Coast Inspector (whoran the Marine Department: the lights, river police and preventive fleet) theremight be adverse political and public reaction. Edwin Pritchard, a Briton with30 years of Service experience, was appointed instead, and then, after hisdeath in October 1946, a Chinese Commissioner. Some in the Ministry of Financekept up their attack, and there were certainly Chinese staff who wanted an endto foreign employment in the Service.

 

Parts 1-5 contain a great deal of material also relevant tothe theme of this collection - Inspector Generals Circulars for both Services(Part 1: reels 29-37 and 62 amongst others), London Office correspondence (Part2: reels 80-84, 89-100, 103), and the Semi-Official Correspondence from selectports (Part 3: reels 120-22; 144-45; 158-59), while Parts 5-6 have manyoverlapping files. We have also taken the opportunity here to rescue from theobscurity of mis-cataloguing files of Sir Francis Aglens outgoingsemi-official correspondence for the early years of his control, and inparticular the year of the 1911 revolution and its aftermath. From such apriceless archive we have inevitably had to be selective. The rich files ofdebriefing reports from staff who crossed the front-line having served underthe Kishimoto customs, are one example of the material that awaits researchersin Nanjing. The confidential IGS correspondence between the Inspectorate andCommissioners is another. The post-war Staff Investigation Committee files fleshout many of the stories of men who served in occupied China throughout theconflict. We present here, however, the foundations of an understanding of theChinese Maritime Customs as it faced its toughest test, and much detail fromthe ground. Altogether this provides a rich set of new sources from across thecountry for understanding what scholars are beginning to understand astwentieth-century Chinas defining experience: the war of resistance againstJapan.

 

Professor Robert Bickers
University of Bristol

 

 

NOTES

 

1 The most prominent of thesewould be: Sir Robert Bredon (1908-10), A.H.F. Edwardes (1927-29), and C.H.B.Joly (1941-42).

 

2Cancelled draftCircular No. 7497, 1948, in SHAC, 679 (1) 17341, General Matters ConcerningOrganisation, Reorganisation, and Closing of London Office. (Reel 104)

 

3SHAC, 679 (2) 1190,London Office: Dispatches to IG, 1874-1875, Robert Hart to H.C. Batchelor, 17January 1874.

 

4Harts musings on theoffice and formal offer to Campbell are in John King Fairbank, Katherine FrostBruner and Elizabeth Matheson (eds), The I.G. in Peking: Letters of RobertHart, Chinese Maritime Customs, 1868-1907, 2 volumes (Cambridge, MA:Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975) I, Letter 63, 31 August 1963.

 

5I.G. in Peking, I, Letter 133, 21 July1875.

 

6 Harts letters, now in thearchives at The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London,were published as Fairbank, Bruner, and Matheson (eds), The I.G. in Peking.Campbells side of the correspondence, and the telegrams the men exchanged, arein the Archives at Nanjing, and have been published as the four volume ChenXiafei and Han Rongfang (eds), Archives of Chinas Imperial MaritimeCustoms: Confidential Correspondence between Robert Hart and James DuncanCampbell, 1874-1907 (Beijing; Foreign Languages Press, 1990-93).

 

7 SHAC, 679 (1) 31476, IGSand Confidential Letters to NRS, 1939-40, IGS 4, 24 September 1939 enclosescopy of Maze to Wright, 24 September 1939. (Reel 92).

 

8DocumentsIllustrative of the Origin, Development and Activities of the Chinese CustomsServiceVol. V, (Shanghai: Statistical Department, Inspectorate General of Customs,1939), 118.

 

9There are just over900 files of Semi-Official letters from station Commissioners. Other files containthe same type of correspondence from Secretaries (Non-Resident [London]),Statistical etc, as well as from the Marine Commissioner.

 

10Second HistoricalArchives of China, 679(1) 32372 Swatow Semi-Official, 1935.

 

11Second HistoricalArchives of China, 679(1) 31840, E. Bruce Hart to Aglen 19 November 1913.

 

12London Semi-Officialsare to be found in Unit 2, London Office Files.

 

13Second HistoricalArchives of China, 679(1) 32013, Tsingtao Semi-Official, 1905-14, Ohlmer toAglen, 17 March 1911.

 

14 Second Historical Archivesof China, 679(1) 32516, Nanning Semi-Official Correspondence, 1907-1912.E.A.W. von Strauch, a German national appointed in 1899, served until hisresignation in September 1916.

 

15Second HistoricalArchives of China, 679(1) 32516, Nanning Semi-Official Correspondence,1907-1912, 8 June 1908.

 

16Circular 1213 (SecondSeries), 23rd January 1905.

 

17Second HistoricalArchives of China, 679(1) 32516, Nanning Semi-Official Correspondence,1907-1912, 5 September 1907. R.D. Mansfield had joined in October 1903 as a4th Assistant, and served until his death in 1925 when Acting Commissioner atChungking and Wanhsien.

 

18 See,in addition, the Maze papers at the School of Oriental and African Studies inLondon.

 

19 Interport duties had been introduced in 1931 at theabolition of lijin and other internaltransit dues. Revised in 1937 they were payable on all native goods moved inChina, irrespective of the place of shipment or destination which are loadedor discharged at, or pass through, places where there is a Custom House orMaritime Customs station. Postal parcels were exempt, as were goods on whichother taxes had been levied (tobacco, wine, minerals etc). IG Circular No.5585.

 

20 SHAC, 679(6),634, [Chinese Characters], Despatch to Caizhengbu 3724, 29 Oct 1945.

 

21 CIS Circular287.

 

22 CIS Cir. 131.

 

23 Arthur N.Young, Chinas wartime finance and inflation, 1937-1945 (Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity Press, 1965), p. 36.

 

24 SHAC 679(1),25573, Inspectorate General of Customs, Removal of to Shanghai or Nanjing(Reel 360).

 

 

Publishers Foreword

 

Primary Source Microfilm is proud to present China and the West: The Maritime CustomsService Archive from the Second Historical Archives of China, Nanjing. Thismicrofilm collection draws on the rich archives of the Maritime Customs Service(MCS) from 1854, when it was established, until the founding of the PeoplesRepublic of China in 1949. The MCS was the only bureaucracy in modern Chinawhich functioned uninterrupted throughout all the upheavals between 1854 andthe Communist takeover in 1949. Its records and reports give invaluable andoften unique evidence of Chinese life, trade and politics through the BoxerRebellion, the 1911 Revolution, the May Thirtieth Movement, the Sino-JapaneseWar, the Japanese Occupation and the Nationalist period.

 

The microfilm collection is accompanied by a printed guideand the first-ever electronic catalogue to the complete archive, which willopen the contents of the Maritime Customs Service Archive to closer inspection,making this extraordinary historical material available to a wider public.

 

A special thank you is due to Dr. Robert Bickers and Dr.Hans van de Ven whose comprehensive knowledge and generous advice have very substantiallycontributed to the preparation of the collection for publication.

 

Technical Note

 

Primary Source Microfilm has set itself the higheststandards in the field of archivally-permanent library microfilming. Ourmicrofilm publications conform to the recommendations of the guides to goodmicroforming and micropublishing practice and meet the standards established bythe Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) and the AmericanNational Standards Institute (ANSI).

 

Attention should be drawn to the nature of the printedmaterial within the collection. This sometimes consists of documents printed orwritten with a variety of inks and on paper that has become severelydiscoloured or stained rendering the original document difficult to read. Occasionallyvolumes have been tightly bound and this leads to text loss. Such inherentcharacteristics present difficulties of image and contrast which stringenttests and camera alterations cannot entirely overcome. Every effort has beenmade to minimise these difficulties though there are occasional pages whichhave proved impossible to reproduce satisfactorily. Conscious of this we havechosen to include these pages in order to make available the complete volume.