In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Manchuria is Number 69 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, and economic conditions. A note indicates that the section on political history is to be read in conjunction with Number 67 in the series, China. The study describes Manchuria as “the north-easternmost dependency of China” and notes that the Qing dynasty, founded by the Manchus in 1644, ruled China from then until the overthrow of the empire in 1911. From the 19th century onward, however, China’s internal weakness made Manchuria the target of the imperial designs of outside powers, Russia and Japan in particular. In this period, China was forced by foreign powers to cede territory and grant commercial concessions in Manchuria. The historical section includes coverage of developments during World War I, notably the additional demands made by Japan following its seizure from Germany of Kiaochow (now Jiaoxian) early in the war. The economic section discusses the three main railroad systems of Manchuria and their political and commercial importance: the North China Imperial Railway, the Chinese Eastern Railway, and the South Manchurian Railway Company. The foreign interests involved in the construction and financing of these railroads, the gauges of their tracks, and their rolling stock, carrying capacities, and annual revenues are all discussed. The population of Manchuria is given as 17.8 million (1918). The appendix contains tables of statistics on shipping and foreign trade.

Last updated: November 14, 2017