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Foochow

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FOOCHOW, a treaty port of China and the capital of the province of Fukien. Its population, estimated at 322,725, ranks it among the larger cities of China. The position of Foochow near the mouth of the Min river (26° 7' N., 20' E.), which gathers up the drainage of fully two-thirds of Fukien, marks it out as the capital of a province which is separated from the rest of China by high forested ridges and to some extent constitutes an independent regional division of China. This remoteness from other centres of population, and the separateness of the provincial life of Fukien, was the reason, for example, for the foundation at Foochow in 1921 of the Fukien Christian university, one of the five Union universities of China. But although its communi cations are virtually limited on the landward side to the province, Foochow lies on the sea route which was developed early from the South China coast and by way of the Spice islands to India and ultimately to Europe. It was because of this position that Foochow was created one of the original five treaty ports by the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. Foochow does not seem to have participated much in the earlier phases of this maritime com merce but with the development of the tea trade, especially in the early i9th century, it grew rapidly to be one of the fore most Chinese tea ports.

At its most prosperous period it exported not only the teas of Fukien but also teas brought over difficult mountain tracks from the interior provinces. Eventually these interior supplies were cut off by the opening up of the Yangtze route to foreign trade and with the decline in the China tea trade as a whole Foochow suffered heavily. Much, too, of its camphor trade has been lost to Formosa. Foochow is therefore engaged in adjusting its trade to changed conditions. The bulk of its foreign trade now passes through one or other of the entrepots of Hongkong or Shanghai, each with a vast hinterland behind it. Some compensation is being found in the increase of the coastwise trade which is con cerned with such articles as paper, canned foodstuffs, bamboo shoots, soap and the like. The industries of the city are engaged mainly in the production of these goods.

The total trade of the port in 1926 was Hk. Tls. 34,284,967 and it then stood i9th among Chinese ports. The navigation of the Min river is being improved (Foochow stands 35 miles from its mouth) so that vessels drawing 17 ft. of water will be able to reach the city instead of, as hitherto, having to discharge at the Pagoda anchorage, ten miles downstream. But Foochow is not likely to regain the importance it possessed when the tea trade was at its height and its significance will lie in coastwise rather than in international trade.

trade, china, fukien and tea