chapter  3
10 Pages

Early Days—Adapted Buildings

Sailing into anyone of China's Treaty Ports at the turn of the twentieth century and judging by the skyline, one could be forgiven for assuming China, like India, was a European colony. Building and town planning are often the most obvious symbols of colonialism and in China, as in India, the foreigners had indelibly stamped their presence on the country by this time. China, though, at the turn of the twentieth century was not a colony of any European power.1 That is, it was not a colony in the strict political sense: there had been no "establishment and maintenance, for an extended time, of rule over an alien people that is separate and subordinate to the ruling power.,,2 The European powers had entered China and although they had fought and won military encounters and had exacted concessions under various treaties, the Chinese government remained in power. Similarly, the relationship between the European powers and China could not be branded simplistically as imperialism. Foreigners were certainly living in China, by far the majority of them in foreign enclaves they had established in the socalled Treaty Ports protected by (mainly British) gunboats, and in a limited number of major cities. Doubtless the foreign powers, particularly Britain, had imperialist designs on China and may have hoped, and indeed anticipated, that the situation would develop along similar lines to that which they had experienced in India. It did not. According to Murphey, in his book comparing the British experience in India and China, this was due in large part to the fact that China had a more highly developed economy, system of management, cultural pride, and sense of self-sufficiency than India. As well, the Chinese had "proved themselves adept at both diplomatic negotiation and at resisting the implementation of concessions once granted because of their conviction that foreign incursion was something to be resisted."3