1902 Encyclopedia > China > Government Boards. Provincial Governments.

(Part 57)


Government Boards. Provincial Governments.

Government Boards

In all affairs of state the emperor is assisted in his deliberations by the Nuy ko, or privy council, which, according to the regulations of the present dynasty, consist of nine Manchoos and seven Chinamen ; and the administrative departments are presided over by six boards, namely, the Board of War, the Board of Punishments, the Board of Office, the Board of Ceremonies, the Board of Ceremonies, the Board of Revenue, and the Board of Works. Besides there are the Board of Music and that of the Censors; and this last, though an inferior office, exercises considerable influence, since its officers, both in the capital and in the provinces, are encouraged to criticise freely the actions of the mandarins and even of the emperor himself. Like many of the other branches of Government, this one has fallen a victim to a great extent to the corruption which prevails throughout all the departments, but it is still at times instrumental in bringing to light official misdeeds ; and only lately a general in command of an army, acting, against the Mahometan rebels in North-Western China, was degraded and dismissed from his post for crimes with which he was first charged by a censor.

Provincial Governments

The provincial governments are mainly self-governed. Each province (in a few cases, two conjointly) is presided over by a viceroy, who is supreme within his jurisdiction, and who has, in cases of emergency, the power of life and death in his hands. Next to him comes the governor, whose authority in all matters relating to the province is second only to that of the viceroy. After these two officials the treasurer holds the highest rank. He controls the finances of the whole province, receiving the taxes and paying the salaries of the mandarins. The judge, the salt commissioner, and the grain collector are the only mandarins whose authority extends over the whole province, the remaining officials being charged with the government of the various divisions into which the provinces are divided. The chief of them is the Taoutai, or intendant of circuit, who has a direct general superintendence over all the affairs of the circuit intrusted to his charge. Each circuit is divided into a number of prefectures and sub-prefectures which are administered by prefects and sub-prefects, and these, again, are subdivided into districts over each of which s placed a magistrate. Subordinate to this last-named officer are a host of petty officials, among whom the coroner is one of the most important. Each province collects its own taxes, pays its own expenses, and supports its own army and navy. Its officials are held responsible for the preservation of peace within its borders, and are compelled to contribute a fixed sum annually to the expenses of the Peking Government. Mandarins of all classes are divided into nine ranks, each distinguished by the button worn on the top of the cap. These buttons follow thus in order or superiority—first and highest, a plain red button; second, a flowered red button; third, a transparent blue button; fourth, and opaque blue button; fifth, an uncoloured glass button; sixth, a white glass button; seventh, a plain gilt button; eighth, a gilt button, with flowers in relief ; ninth, a gilt button, with engraved flowers. These buttons are no indication of the office held by their wearers, but simply of their rank. The peacock’s father, again, which is worn in the hats, has nothing to do with either the office or the rank of the wearer, but is like the European orders, and is specially granted to individuals as a reward for merit.

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