1932 Chinese Manuscript Map of Jilin Province, Manchuria, China

吉林省 / [Jilin Province]. - Main View

1932 Chinese Manuscript Map of Jilin Province, Manchuria, China


Manchuria just after the establishment of Manchukuo.


吉林省 / [Jilin Province].
  1932 (undated)     10.5 x 16 in (26.67 x 40.64 cm)     1 : 2675200


A unique c. 1932 manuscript map of Jilin Province, Manchuria, China, issued just after the establishment of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. It highlights the critical rail infrastructure, the backbone of Japanese influence in Manchuria even before the establishment of Manchukuo.
A Closer Look
Adorned with a decorate border, this manuscript map depicts Jilin Province in the early days of Japanese imperial control. The area covered is considerably larger than modern day Jilin Province, here incorporating much of Heilongjiang Province as far as the confluence of the Amur (Heilongjiang) River and Ussuri (Wusuli) River, at top-right, and taking in Harbin (abbreviated here as 哈), towards left-center.

A legend at bottom-right indicates symbols used for lakes, rivers, mountain ranges, and administrative information. However, the most important features indicated are the railways, the foundation of Japan's control of Manchuria. Though not labelled, at bottom-left is the growing city of Changchun, soon afterwards rechristened as Xinjing ('new capital'), when it became the political center of the entire puppet state. Changchun's prominence originated from its being the break of gauge point between the standard gauge used on most of the South Manchuria Railway network and Russian gauge, used on the China Eastern Railway and the portion of the South Manchuria Railway between Harbin and Changchun. As the junction point between the two railway systems, Changchun was designated as the headquarters of the South Manchuria Railway Company (Mantetsu), which no doubt played a role in its later being chosen as the capital city of Manchukuo.

Yongji (永吉), noted here as the provincial capital, is used synonymously with the former county seat of Jilin, known in contemporary Western and Japanese sources as Kirin. Aside from the Amur (Heilongjiang), several other rivers are labelled, most importantly the Songhua, whose two branches formed, respectively, the northern border of the province and cut through it in a northwest / southeast direction, including straight through Yongji.
Japanese Influence in Manchuria
The Treaty of Portsmouth that ended the Russo-Japanese War (1904 - 1905) granted to Japan, among other rights, the southern section of the China Eastern Railway, from Changchun to Port Arthur (Lüshunkou), which became known as the South Manchuria Railway. The company created to manage this section, the South Manchuria Railway Company (南滿洲鐵道株式會社), soon developed into a mega-conglomerate, akin to the chartered corporations of early modern Europe. The company oversaw hotels, mines, mills, power plants, publishing, and much more that expanded Japanese influence in Manchuria to the point that it became a virtual colony. By the 1930s, Mantetsu was the largest company in Japan and by itself formed a significant portion of the Japanese economy.

Although Japan already exercised an informal empire in much of Manchuria, the territory was still under the control of a group of Chinese warlords known as the Fengtian Clique led by Zhang Zuolin. Meanwhile, a sizable Japanese garrison occupied the southern portion of Liaodong Peninsula, known as the Kwantung Army (or Kantō-gun in Japanese).

The Kwantung Army was a hotbed of ultranationalism, militarism, and anti-democratic secret societies, and produced several of Japan's future wartime leaders, including Tōjō Hideki. Although the Kwantung Army had initially supported Zhang Zuolin as a bulwark against Chiang Kai-Shek, who was seen as pro-Communist, he was assassinated in 1928 when a bomb exploded under his private train while it was traveling on the South Manchuria Railway in a plot hatched by junior Kwantung officers. Zhang was succeeded by his son, Zhang Xueliang, initially seen as a playboy and feckless military commander, but who later became a national hero for his opposition to Japanese imperialism.

Three years later, on September 18, 1931, a group of Kwantung Army officers staged a false flag incident (another bombing along the South Manchuria Railway) to provide a pretext for invading and occupying Manchuria. Although Japan's political leaders and likely even the military leadership was unaware of the invasion plot, they did not force the Kwantung Army to retreat despite international condemnation because the invasion was extremely popular domestically and was a convenient solution to Japan's long-term problems with resource constraints and overpopulation.
The Birth of Manchukuo
Rather than make Manchuria a formal colony, as with Taiwan, or annex it outright, as with Korea, a puppet regime was established, led by the exiled last emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Aisin Gioro Puyi, who had been living in the Japanese Concession in Tianjin. Puyi had expressed his desire to be re-enthroned and had support from the now-minority population of Manchus, who felt discriminated against in China since the Qing Dynasty's collapse in 1912. After being denounced as a traitor by the Chinese government, Puyi was smuggled out of Tianjin in the trunk of a car and conveyed to Manchuria, where he became the nominal head of the new state.

A vast, sparsely populated region that was tremendously rich in resources, Manchuria became a wild, violent, multiethnic imperial frontier in some ways akin to the American Old West. Forced labor was employed on a mass scale under brutal conditions. All manner of warlord troops, bandits, and rebels were present in Manchuria following Japan's invasion, and extremely harsh methods were used to suppress resistance. A special military unit (Unit 731) even engaged in horrific experiments on living subjects (often captured rebels and enemy troops, though also randomly selected civilians), such as biological weapons, chemical warfare, and vivisection.
Japan's Incremental Imperialism in Northern China
Despite the creation of a government led by Manchus and other non-Han ethnic groups for Manchukuo, real power rested with Japanese military officers, bureaucrats, and the South Manchuria Railway Company. Manchukuo quickly became a steppingstone to further Japanese aggression throughout China, just as Korea had been a steppingstone to Manchuria. By 1933, Manchukuo had expanded up to the Great Wall of China and a Japanese 'informal empire' expanded throughout northern China. The discontent of ethnic minorities in China, particularly the Mongols, was also a convenient tool to exploit, and by 1936 a Japanese-aligned government was established in Inner Mongolia. Thus, by the end of 1936, Japan already controlled most of northern China through puppet regimes.
Publication History and Census
This manuscript map was drawn by a cartographer named Cui Wende (崔文德), about whom no other information is available. It is undated, but the use of the name Liaoning for the neighboring province to the southwest indicates a date later than 1929. The administrative capital of Jilin Province is noted here as Yongji, which suggests a date between the establishment of Manchukuo in 1932 and the administrative reorganization of the country in 1934. This map is one-of-a-kind.


Good. Hand-colored. Scattered dampstaining and foxing.