Chuang Guandong

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Chuang Guandong (simplified Chinese: 闯关东; traditional Chinese: 闖關東; pinyin: Chuǎng Guāndōng, literally "Crashing into Guandong" with Guandong being an older name for Manchuria), is descriptive of the rush into Manchuria of the Han Chinese population, especially from the Shandong Peninsula and Zhili, during the hundred year period starting at the last half of the 19th century. Previously, this region was outside China proper, but was sometimes under direct control and/or indirect influence, of the ruling Chinese dynasty. During the first two centuries of the Manchu Qing Dynasty, this part of China, the traditional homeland of the ruling Manchus, was, with few exceptions, closed to settlement by Han Chinese civilians, with only certain Manchu Bannermen, Mongol Bannermen, and Chinese Bannermen allowed in. The region, now known as Northeast China, has an overwhelmingly Han population.

Historical background[edit]

Migrants and other travelers on a kang in a one-room inn in a then-wild area east of Tonghua, Jilin, as seen by Henry E.M. James in 1887

Inner Manchuria, also called Guandong (literally, "east of the pass" referring to Shanhai Pass at the eastern end of the Great Wall of China) or Guānwài (關外; "outside of the pass"), used to be a land of sparse population, inhabited mainly by the Tungusic peoples. In 1668 during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor, the Qing government further decreed a prohibition of non-Eight Banner people getting into this area of their origin.

Han Chinese farmers were resettled from north China by the Qing to the area along the Liao River in order to restore the land to cultivation.[1] Wasteland was reclaimed by Han Chinese squatters in addition to other Han who rented land from Manchu landlords.[2] Despite officially prohibiting Han Chinese settlement on the Manchu and Mongol lands, by the 18th century the Qing decided to settle Han refugees from northern China who were suffering from famine, floods, and drought into Manchuria and Inner Mongolia so that Han Chinese farmed 500,000 hectares in Manchuria and tens of thousands of hectares in Inner Mongolia by the 1780s.[3] Qianlong allowed Han Chinese peasants suffering from drought to move into Manchuria despite him issuing edicts in favor of banning them from 1740-1776.[4] Chinese tenant farmers rented or even claimed title to land from the "imperial estates" and Manchu Bannerlands in the area.[5] Besides moving into the Liao area in southern Manchuria, the path linking Jinzhou, Fengtian, Tieling, Changchun, Hulun, and Ningguta was settled by Han Chinese during Qianlong Emperor's rule, and Han Chinese were the majority in urban areas of Manchuria by 1800.[6] To increase the Imperial Treasury's revenue, the Qing sold formerly Manchu only lands along the Sungari to Han Chinese at the beginning of the Daoguang Emperor's reign, and Han Chinese filled up most of Manchuria's towns by the 1840s according to Abbe Huc.[7]

The sparse population of the Qing Empire's northeastern borderlands facilitated the annexation of the so-called "Outer Manchuria" (the regions north of the Amur and east of the Ussuri) by the Russian Empire, finalized by the Treaty of Aigun (1858), and the Convention of Peking (1860). In response, the Qing officials such as Tepuqin (特普欽), the Military Governor (jiangjun) of Heilongjiang in 1859-1867, made proposals (1860) to open parts of Guandong for Chinese civilian farmer settlers in order to oppose the conquest of Russia.[8] The Qing government subsequently changed its policy, encouraging poor farmers from the nearby Zhili Province (the present-day Hebei) and Shandong to move to and live in Manchuria, where one district after another became officially opened for settlement.

The exact numbers of migrants can't be counted, because of the variety of ways of travel (some simply walked), and the underdeveloped government statistics apparatus. Nonetheless, based on the reports of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service and, later, the South Manchurian Railway, modern historians Thomas Gottschang and Diana Lary estimate that, during the period 1891-1942, some 25.4 million migrants arrived to Manchuria from China south of the Great Wall, and 16.7 million went back. This gives the total positive migration balance of 8.7 million people over this half a century period.[9] This makes the scale of the migration comparable to the westward expansion in United States, the advance to Siberia in Russia or, on a smaller scale, the move to Hokkaido in Japan.

Present-day significance[edit]

Those who moved to Manchuria were poor farmers mainly from Shandong who traveled through the land of Shanhai Pass or by sea, using the Yantai-Lushun ferry that was in service due to the Beiyang Fleet who were stationed in Weihaiwei in Shandong Peninsula and Lushun in Liaodong Peninsula. Because of this movement, the majority of older people in Dalian City are from Shandong and the Dalian Dialect is part of the Jiaoliao Mandarin, the Chinese dialect group spreading from Qingdao to Dalian and Dandong.

In the present-day China, the Chuang Guandong migration is well researched.[vague]

In popular arts and literature[edit]

A television drama series, Chuang Guandong, made by Dalian TV Station[clarification needed], using the scenarios[clarification needed] written by Gao Mantang, was broadcast in Dalian, China, in January and February, 2008, and was later broadcast throughout China by China Central Television.

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