This is the Map Book presented to me for my comments on its mapping and cartography as well as historical background. It is understood that I have no religious faith. I was perplexed on turning to the first page of the book, published in 1908, which proclaims that “1907 would be the Centenary of Protestant Missionary effort in China”. I am sure this statement is correct from the Protestant’s point of view. However, for a common student who learned Chinese history, Chinese treatise showed there were three waves of Christianity missionary efforts in China: the first one in Tang Dynasty. A priest from Dai Chin (大秦), thought to be a Nestorian from Syria, sought the permission from the Chinese Emperor to propagate his belief. The event was engraved in a stone stele that was unearthed in Changan(長安) in late Ming period. The second wave was in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368CE) in the form of Nestorian and the Roman Catholic but both groups were labeled as Yelikewen (也里可温) in Chinese; the third wave involved Catholicism that was brought in through the Portuguese enclave of Macao in late Ming Dynasty. The religious priests this time brought with them not only the religion but also the advanced knowledge on astronomy, earth sciences, surveying and so on. They were deployed by the early Qing Dynasty Emperor Kangxi to carry out a nationwide survey of the territories of the Empire while others were working in the royal observatory to monitor celestial phenomena and were responsible to compile the calendar. However, Kangxi was unwilling to accept the Vatican order that the Chinese faithful must give up the practice of ancestral worship. This argument turned out to be the breakpoint. In 1707, on the Emperor’s order, except for those working in Peking, all other Catholic priests were to leave the country or be banished to Macao.
The Map Book, “Atlas of the Chinese Empire”, is a record of the fourth wave after China had succumbed to two Opium Wars. The resultant treaties not only legalized opium but also Christianity. On the religious side, this time it was the Protestants, and Catholics from Western Europe and North America that were at the forefront of the missionary campaign. To go into mainland China, most of the groups started from newly established colony of Hong Kong. According to records in Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Catholic Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception laid the foundation for its first Church as early as 7th June 1842 while a Baptist Church was built and completed on 19th July 1842. The Treaty of Nanking for ceding Hong Kong to Britain was signed on 29th August 1842. The British soldiers in fact landed on and seized Hong Kong in 1941, before the Treaty was even concluded. The speed these religious logistics were completed testifies to the fact how closely the churches were working with the British military, and their government.
An Alphabetical List of All Protestant Missionary Societies in China, 1908, as well as a List of Protestant Mission Stations are shown on Page xi and xii of the Map Book giving readers a clear idea of the missionaries involved and the date of their entry into China. (Plate 1 & 2)
As Christianity Missions started to “return” to China after the First Opium War, the area where the gospel was to be preached must be subject to the accessibility of its human settlements. To this end, the acquisition of Hong Kong as a British Colony provided a base from where the missionaries could enter China, and the five Treaty Ports that foreign missionaries could move around as per their wish became major conduits for the missions to choose to locate their operations. Travel and transports in those days in China depended very much on rivers. After a rush of the missions to go inland to find their choice location of operations, this map book gives a fairly good idea of the distribution of Chinese population in these provinces. Going through each map carefully, one probably will find most mission societies were situated in towns along the major rivers. As rivers are the means of movement, one will find that the city of Shanghai harbored a total of 18 Mission Societies, probably as their base stations, and there were numerous other sub-stations upriver of Changjiang as well as its tributaries. All provinces along this main artery, from Jiangsu (Kiangsu), where Shanghai is the biggest hub, to Anhui (Anhwei) where Lake Tung Ting is located, Hupei (Hupeh) which hosted the major city of Wuhan (Hanghow), then the important basin province of Sichuan (Szechwan), were all crowded with the Red Cross that signaled the location of the Christian Societies. Of the five Treaty Ports, apart from Shanghai having 18 societies, Guangzhou (Canton), in the proximity of Hong Kong and being the vital transportation hubs of the province, became the operation centre for a whopping 62 mission societies, not counting those in Hong Kong. The next Province of Fujian, which had a population with strong maritime traditions, ranked on top for having a total of 85 mission societies, excluding those sent by the American Episcopal Mission.
It must be reminded that the Treaty of Nanking 1842 only concluded the first phase of English aggressions in China. In 14th November 1860, after the Franco-English armies had ransacked the Summer Palace and the Emperor Xian Feng having fled Beijing, the Treaties of Tientsin (Tianjin) and Convention of Peking were concluded on terms and conditions that still have consequences today:
- In additional to the 5 Treaty Ports opened for foreign trade in the Nanking Treaty, the following ports in China’s inland waterway as well as in the north were open for trade: Tianjin, Niuzhuang (Yingkow), Dengzhou (Yantai), Tainan, Nanjiang, Jiujiang, Hankow. The City of Kashgar in Xinjiang was also open for foreign trade.
- In the Sino British Agreement, the British high officer would be at liberty to select a British subject to aid him in the administration of the customs revenue. (the British in effect controlled the office of customs of foreign trade)
- Opium became a legitimized item of imports.
- Chinese citizens were permitted by the Government to emigrate to British/France colonies or other places as indentured laborers. (i.e. slavery)
- Foreign Missions had the right of conducting missionary activities in China. French Missionaries, acting as translators during the Treaty negotiations, inserted a Statement: French Missionaries have the right of purchasing land and erect buildings as they please in the various provinces of China.
Let us now turn to the maps:
The first map of China surveyed and drawn according to modern day cartographic principles was master-minded by Emperor Kangxi who in 1705 deployed a group of Jesuit priests to cover and later plot the entire domain of China at that time. But Kangxi was not able in his time as Emperor to sort out the confusion brought about by the warring Mongol tribes fighting for domination in the far west of China. The job was finally completed by Emperor Qianlong who sent several expeditions to secure the area. Survey work continued in 1756, this time led by Chinese surveyors who learned their trade from the Jesuits. Their survey work was also extended to Tibet. In 1759, after having obtained 1711 pieces of data on longitude and latitude covering the entire nation, they finally achieved producing the first surveyed map of China in 1761. The map was so big that it was printed by copper plates each measuring 71cm by 46 cm, and the map was arranged in 13 horizonal row by the latitudes. The reason for this arrangement is that latitudes can be more accurately captured by sighting the noon day sun but longitudes had to be compared by the prime meridian (Greenwich London) and the passage of time.
The Atlas of Chinese Empire does not appear to rely on survey data. Its accuracy can be checked using the location of several big cities as example. Beijing was marked in the Index of Atlas of Chinese Empire (hereunder “Atlas”) as La.39.55N Lo.116.22E, whilst Google’s figure is La.39.9075N, Lo.116.39723E;
Lhasa (Atlas) La.29.44N, Lo.91.0E (Google) La.29*38’59”N, Lo.91*05’59”E
Yili (Kuldja) La.43.57N, Lo.81.12E La.44.402393N Lo.86.154785E
Yichang La.30.40N, Lo.111.21E La.30.71444N Lo.111.2847E
(Kweiyang) Guiyang La.26.53N, Lo.106.47E La.26.58333N Lo.106.71667E
It appears that some of the figures, especially on longitudes, have some major discrepancies to those of Google which is believed, as they declare, to be using the latest official figures available.
The Map of Xinjiang (Sinkiang)
The origins of the border between today’s Kazakhstan and China can be traced to 19th century when Russia started expending its territory to Central Asia. Russia first sliced off Lake Zaysan up in the northwest and not seen on this map in the Atlas. Russia finally agreed to the establishment of the border with Qing China after China’s military General Zuo Zong Tang (左宗棠) dispatched a formidable army equipped with strong fire power that matched into Xingang to quell the rebellious Mongol tribes and hastily regained the control of Yili(伊犁), later renamed Yi Ning(伊寧) in 1876. The present map in the Atlas, though made in 1908, does not seem to realize this change. The map marked the name of Yili as Kuldja which is probably the Mongol name when the Mongol Chieftain Agubai was occupying the city. This region of Xinjiang was a subject of contention as Britain intended to extend its tentacle from India northward to share part of Xinjiang with Russia. The border of Sino-Kazakh was finally sorted out in the Treaty of Saint Peterburg 1881, with some readjustments in the Yili basin in Russia’s favor. The other parts of the Chinese western border, with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, basically still followed the line that was drawn by Russian surveyors. The use of this old Russian drawn line is clearly discernible on the map in the Atlas. It is equally clear that the borderline depicted on the north of Xinjiang, almost like an east/west straight line, was probably drawn freehand, in the faulty information that to the north of Xinjiang is Mongol territory. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Yili’s northern border goes to latitude 49 degree north, where it meets Russia’s border at the landmark “Peak of Friendship”.
Another major problem with this map in its southwest is that it was drawn too much in Britain/India’s favor. The border separating China from India (Kashmir) was made in this map to follow the “Raskem daria” River while the true border should be the watershed of the Kara Kunlun, much further to the south, which runs southeastward to meet the border of Tibet at “La na ke shankou” (拉那克山口). A war erupted in 1958 between China and India as India did not accept this mountain pass as the Sino-India border while Chinese insisted that it was a traditional border-point between Tibet and India in history. Modern Chinese maps all show the China-Kashmir border ends at this point.
In this remote part of western China, there were three Mission Stations, one in Yarkand which was a caravan transit station, one in Urumchi which was to become the capital of the province. The third mission was in Kashgar, where the British set up a consulate in 1890 to monitor Russian movement in Xingang as well as other areas on the west flank of China. The young wife of the Consul General George Macartney, who accompanied her newlywed husband to take up the position, recorded her experience in this far-flung territory of China. Her diary, which was later published as a book, confirmed that the Swedish Mission in Kashgar was active in their missionary duties.
The Map of Tibet
In the Preface of the Map Book, it was mentioned that the following materials were utilized in the preparation of the Map of Tibet:
- For regions in the north-west of Tibet, Carl Flutterer’s and other traveler’s routes.
- For the Chinese-Tibetan border, some charts drawn by Messrs. W.N. Ferguson and E. Amundsen of the British and Foreign Bible Society and Messrs. J.H. Edgar and J.R. Muir of the China Inland Mission. Also, local details from missionaries on the field and some at home on furlough.
In other words, no professional surveyors were involved in the making of this map. Other extemporaneous information from traveler’s charts produced by missionaries on passing through the area could hardly give the correct data to produce a map which must be drawn to scale, properly orientated and technically right to represent a three-dimensional high mountain on a plain paper. The last sentence about getting details from Missionaries “on the field” could hardly be true as the map had shown no missionary station within the Tibet boundary at all.
Even nowadays, due to the exceptional difficult terrain, especially in the Nagchu region of north Tibet, Chinese map makers had to rely on aerial survey to get their data. With an elevation of over 4700 meters in the average, perennially covered by ice, and simply no roads, hardly any traveler was able to traverse this region and provide any useful information.
If one moves northeast from Nagchu, the elevation starts to descend into a basin which is more habitable. This Atlas map called the area “Kokonor”. That region was partitioned off in 1928 to constitute a new Province called Qinghai and hence the size of Tibet was drastically reduced.
To the southeast of Tibet on the map, an arc form was drawn, freehand, as the boundary line connecting Bhutan with Menkong, being part of the Sino-Indian Border. The way this arbitrary line was drawn is testimony that the map maker was unsure where the exact boundary should be. In 1908 when this map was produced, no one seems to know the answer. By 1914, British India arranged to meet with some Tibetans at Shimla, after which the British claimed they had signed a Treaty with Tibet and had agreed the national boundary should be at the top of the mountains of Tibetan plateau, leaving Tawang, or Arunachal Pradesh, on the southern slope of Tibet, as part of India. China objected, pointing out that Tibet had for centuries been within the sovereignty of China. The region has never had legitimately declared itself independent. Local authorities in Tibet therefore had no authority to negotiate, let alone sign, an international treaty. To China, this area in question is called South Tibet (藏南). The argument continued until after India was given independence in the aftermath of World War 2 in August 1947. As no agreement could be reached and both sides were driven by nationalism, war finally broke out in 1962 in which the Indian army suffered heavy defeat. Both sides now hold on to what is called “LAC” or Line of Actual Control. Until this day, brawls and skirmishes occurred unabated.
Many countries with long border now realize that lines casually drawn on maps based on physical geographical features can have not only territorial and political confrontations, but also fatal consequences years later. It may take generations to rectify and often with much loss of lives.