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By Stephanie P.Y. Chung

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Extra info for Chinese Business Groups in Hong Kong and Political Changes in South China, 1900-1920s

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After passing through Hong Kong, Li travelled northward, and stayed in Shanghai for three months before departing for Peking. Li led a greatly respected life in the North before he passed away in 1901. Yuan Shikai, a recruit of Li’s, replaced Li and established himself as one of the most influential men in the Qing court. For the Hong Kong Chinese, the plan for an independent South China eventually fell through but all kinds of possibilities were still ahead. Even though the endeavour in 1900 had no immediate effect, we learn from the incident that, as early as in 1900, the Chinese leaders in Hong Kong had shown interest in supporting an independent Guangdong.

35 The surplus from Maritime Customs was the only stable and reliable source of income for the governments during the Republic. It was stable because the Maritime Customs Service was headed by a senior staff of foreigners, and the funds collected were kept in custody by the foreign diplomatic corps. The Maritime Customs Service was established in 1842 after the opening of the five treaty ports following China’s defeat in the Opium War. From 1865 onward, the Service was under the administration of three British inspector-generals: Sir Robert Hart (1865–1911), Sir Francis Aglen (1911–29), and Sir Frederick Maze (1929–37).

It is in the distribution of domestic loans that one can see the growing power of the mercantile community. The Peking government issued two sets of government loans in 1914, when Yuan’s esteem was at its peak, and both loans were over-subscribed. $631 million. The major operational arms for these loans were the two government banks: the Bank of China and the Bank of Communications. The loans were distributed by the two banks to various native banks, which accepted the arrangement in return for high commissions.

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