Chinese Soldiers: 0050.0182

CHINESE SOLDIERS – A Remarkable Promotion – How the Officers Rob the Government.

            A young man from my native town entered the army and by dint of hard fighting and real merit rose to the rank of brigadier general, but with him at every promotion rose his brother, whom I will call X., who had not met him for years and who was peacefully occupied as cook in a distant opium den.  This is how it was done.  The soldier, after each engagement in which he distinguished himself, reported imaginary deeds of valor performed by his brother, and his word was taken.  One day the cook in the opium den, who had never seen a battle, read his name in The Gazette and found to his surprise that he had attained the rank of colonel in the imperial forces.

            Military service is in many ways very remunerative to the officers.  They enroll any men they like, and they always draw the pay for many more men than are actually in the army.  About 70 per cent of the full number of men nominally serving and for whom pay is drawn is the average strength of the forces, even under Li Hung Chang’s comparatively honest officers, while elsewhere 100 men on paper usually means but 40 or 50 in the flesh.  On review days the officers engage a sufficient number of soldiers by the day to make the army look all right.  But there are other sources of profit besides dealing in dummy soldiers.  The live ones have to wear uniforms and to eat, and both food and clothes are supplied at extortionate prices by the officers,  so that of the 5 taels per month paid by the government for each soldier, about one-fifth or less reaches the pockets of the men.  All this refers  to the “braves” who are only engaged during wartime and are disbanded the moment the fighting is over wherever they may happen to be and nearly always without the means of returning to their homes, thus keeping up the supply of armed robbers all over the empire.

            As to the soldiers of the standing army in times of peace, they are, with the exception of the Mantchoo [sic.] garrison, so wretchedly paid that its strength exists only on paper.  The men enlist and regularly draw their pay – 8 shillings per month – and have scarcely any further connection with the military service.  The few that go on duty in the city gates live entirely on bribes.  The Manchu force under the Tartar general, on the other hand, is well paid, but those soldiers do no fighting.  They are only engaged in guarding the city against Chinese rebels.  They live in a separate quarter to that occupied by the Chinese and the Tartar soldiery are of common occurrence, and as these Tartar soldiers are not under the jurisdiction of the civil law their outrages invariably go unpunished.  Naturally there is no love lost between the city guards and the native Chinese. – English Exchange

0050.0182: Chinese Soldiers

English Exchange describes conditions and pay of Chinese soldiers in their own country.

Medium:  Newspaper - Text
Date:  October 7, 1897
Publisher:  The Ledge (New Denver)
Collection:  Columbia Basin Institute (0050)


soldiers officers army brigadier general promotion opium den colonel taels manchu tartar


Social arrow Ethnic Groups arrow Chinesearrow


For additional features, including access to full text resources, become a member.

Find out more about Memberships.

Share what you know

Share what you know

Do you have additional information about this resource?

Please share what you know.

This resource may be protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History.