Russian Colonization and Chinese Competition

18 may 2005

Dmitry Schreider

Resume: Starting from the mid-19th century, Chinese competition has been a perennial and incessantly pressing issue for Russian tradesmen and manufacturers in the Russian Far East region. But not much has been done in practical terms to sort out its essence, and, as years pass by, it is getting more and more complicated and obscure.

In the very first days of my arrival to our Pacific province, I continuously heard a phrase that accurately and vividly described the role the manzi – the local word for the Ussuri Chinese – were playing in that young and sparsely populated territory of Russia.

Strictly speaking, the Manzi (a Russian derivative from the Chinese words ‘man zi’) come from Manchuria and Mongolia. According to Archimandrite Palladius, an acclaimed researcher who visited the area in the 1870s, ‘manzi’ was once a derogatory name that the Mongols of the past used to describe the people from South China. Now it is applied to all the Chinese living in Russia’s Ussuri area.

“Were it not for the Manzi, we’d have died of hunger here,” the locals would say to me.

As I continued to gather details of the local life, I discovered that there was no exaggeration to the stories I heard. In the present situation, civilized life in the Ussuri territory would simply cease to exist should the Chinese vanish for some calamitous reason.

This is easy to understand: the presence of the Manzi is essential for maintaining a basic level of living standards for the Europeans; the province has practically no permanent Russian population. Without the presence of the Chinese, those same Europeans would have no food, water or fuel and would face a shortage of basic social services.

A European colonizer cannot make a step without a Manzi. Whether you need a servant, a supplier of meat and vegetables, a workman for odd jobs, a carpenter, or a contractor, you must turn to a Manzi. A Manzi is a jack of all trades, and can perform the job of carpenter, gardener, meat trader, commissioner, shop salesman, and a farmer. Just about anything you want. The Manzi keeps a hand on virtually all spheres of manual labor and local manufacturing.

A surprising thing is that the Ussuri territory did not have a settled Manzi population before becoming a part of Russia. Immigration from the neighboring regions of dormant China only began after the Russians had spread their influence over the province [that is, after Russia and China signed the Peking Treaty of 1860 – Ed.] and established firm state power there.

This immigration grew stronger year by year, and was intensified by the level of poverty that was overwhelming the Chinese nation. Also, the Russian government required workers in the land it had just acquired. The number of new arrivals reached an apogee in recent years during the construction of the Ussuri Railroad; up to 12,000 Chinese were arriving annually to fill the ever-growing demand for labor.

At first, the Russian authorities accepted the immigration of the Manzi people – the Russian territory was practically void of people, while the scattered military bases and local administration outposts were separated from one another by vast spaces, many of them totally unexplored.

It was then that the peaceful Manzi, who had begun pouring in from China’s border provinces, were viewed as being immensely convenient. With their arrival, trade began to flourish in the Ussuri territory. These people gave birth to local handicrafts and farming, or became workers at the construction sites of various buildings and installations that could not be built by the rather limited numbers of soldiers and sailors.

The Manzi enjoyed amazing success over a period of just ten to fifteen years. Step by step, and without drawing much attention to themselves, their emaciated but prehensile hands came to grab all the trading, industrial, and manufacturing ventures in the territory. There might have been no serious purpose on their part; nevertheless, they became an integral element of civilized life in the new province.

A few years passed and the Ussuri’s economic dependence on the Manzi had become intensified. The Chinese firmly settled on the Ussuri soil, sometimes accumulating large fortunes in all areas of labor and manufacturing. They bought land and homes and seemed to have assimilated themselves into the Russian province. At the same time, however, they never severed connections with their historical homeland – they remained the subjects of the Chinese emperor de jure and were alien to Russian life de facto. From a definite point of view, their accumulating strength in the region was not a promising situation for Russia. The Manzi were undemanding beyond compare, but they left behind only a meager share of their revenues in Russia, while taking the bulk of their money back home. This meant their earnings were useless for Russia.

Although the contribution of the Manzi was not altogether “useless,” this was one of the main factors responsible for breeding a hostile attitude toward “the Chinese element.” While bringing back home the gold the Manzi had obtained in Russia, they left behind the tangible and precious equivalent of their labor, namely, the products of their work.

Other circumstances which proved highly disadvantageous for the Manzi soon emerged. In 1883, the Russian government decided to begin colonization of the territory by sea. The Russians had learned the Manzi’s habits quite well by this time, and realized that to compete against them was next to impossible. The Chinese workers could be content with almost nothing. Whereas a Russian or a German, for example, would be leading a life of misery under such conditions, a Manzi would thrive – be it in trade, craftsmanship, or hard manual labor. This should not come as much of a surprise, however. After all, how big can a man’s demands be if he is willing to eat mice and rats back in his home country?

There were growing fears that Russia’s colonization of Ussuri would meet with disaster if the surprisingly undemanding and hardworking Manzi continued to enjoy similar conditions in the future. Very soon, such fears were transformed into a set of measures. Starting in 1885, the Manzi began to be gradually but persistently forced out of the region’s internal districts. The Caucasians [Europeans, representatives of the white race – Ed.] found themselves in a more favorable legal position due to the change of views of the territorial administration toward them and anticipated a quick victory over the yellow race.

They had good reason for optimism – the changing conditions made the contention between the two races unbalanced, as the amount of rights bestowed on the yellow race, which is still an essential element of civilized life in the young Far-Eastern province, began to shrink. The Manzi began to lose one right after another. First, they were denied the right to purchase land. Second, they were prohibited to build private houses in local towns. A European victory over the Manzi was beginning to look like an accomplished fact, yet there are hitches that keep the bugbear of a “yellow encroachment” in the minds of the upper classes even now.

The problem is that the Manzi’s rights have been slashed to an extent that makes living still possible for them – the Ussuri territory cannot do without them now, as it could not do in the past. The Manzi are gradually losing their preferential positions as the Russian colonization of the territory proceeds. This means that the first day when the Europeans fully occupy the territory will likely be the last day for the Manzi settlers.

The Manzi, however, are perhaps the only people who find it possible to live in a region where they are denied almost all of their rights. People of all other nations would flee, or would simply return home. A Manzi, however, will not do this. He has at least a handful of rice a day here in Russia, while back home he will be doomed to starve.

The policies that were begun in the 1880s, however, began to produce an effect. The numbers of the settled Manzi population began to decrease sharply in the inland parts of the Ussuri territory. Eventually, Vladivostok, where the seasonal Manzi workforce is concentrated, became the center of the Manzi population.

Five years later, God seemed to shed a new grace on that hitherto remote and half-forgotten province as construction began on the Ussuri section of the “great Siberian railroad.” And shortly before that, the construction of the Vladivostok dock was begun. These two projects ushered in a new stage of life in the Ussuri territory; thousands of new workers were needed. Naturally, immigration from China shot up immediately. Rumors about the high demand for workers spread far beyond the borders of the Ussuri territory, prompting crowds of hungry people from neighboring provinces of the Celestial Empire to cross over into the Russian Far East. These people were lured by the stories of abundant and well-paid work in the “golden” land. The inflow of immigrants intensified to the extent that three years later the number of Manzi coming to Vladivostok during a single navigation season exceeded 10,000 people!

These newcomers differed from the previous Manzi, however. They were not the unrestrained vagabonds or courageous hunters of the past. Nor were they like their compatriots who had been arriving in the hope of becoming rich. These were the outcasts of their motherland whose labor resources were unwanted at home. They came to earn their daily bread in Russia.

As it turned out, too many new arrivals entered that year – much more than the territory actually needed and much more than Vladivostok’s Chinese barracks could handle. Thus, the daily pay of work fell to just 30 kopecks from one ruble the previous year.

Yet many Manzi remained in the Ussuri territory. There, the exiled Russians, convicts and the military were not enough to meet the swelling demand for labor. Even now, Manzi in the capacity of unskilled workers are a crucial factor for the region’s development, and Russian colonization will obviously need quite some time to attain the successes that will make it possible to rely solely on Russian workers and thus remove the dependence on the Manzi – an alien and haphazard element.
In the years that followed – or more precisely, three years later – the authorities made a first attempt to secure a reliable source of Russian workers in order to curb the endless Manzi immigration.

In January 1893, the defense minister issued permission to the lower ranks of army men to find private jobs locally. He also gave them the right to return home for free during the twelve months following their discharge from the army. His order allowed more than 400 retiring servicemen of different ranks to get jobs in the Ussuri territory that year, as seen from a resolution by the Amur Governor General, Dukhovskoi. These former servicemen secured employment at the Ussuri railroad, as well as in other places.

While making an inspection of the railroad works in the same year, Gov. Dukhovskoi “got convinced that the measure was useful and that it would be desirable to continue with the practice in the future.” Also in 1893, the governor asked for the Emperor’s consent to allow retiring army men to temporarily settle in the territory and to enjoy a free return home within three years upon retirement. This privilege was soon applied to naval retirees, as well.

The above measures mark the first step to rid Ussuri of dependence on Manzi laborers. As a regional newspaper commented, they apparently aim to “give patronage to regional colonization and put it on a new footing, and to ease the Russian workers’ competition with the Chinese engaging in manual labor.”

The earlier system of thwarting the ever-increasing immigration of the Manzi boiled down to containing the spread of the Chinese across the country; it let the competition between Russian and Chinese labor take its own course. That stance has obviously given way to a direct patronage of the Russian worker.
Adepts of the new system view it as a firm guarantee of a future domination of the Russian element over the Chinese element in the remote eastern province. They may cherish the hope that the low-rank military personnel who remain in the area after retirement will annually produce a small percentage of the regular population, as has been the case from instances in the past. Their hopes may have some basis, as work will be thriving there for many more years. Incidentally, labor costs in the Ussuri territory are still rather expensive.

And yet the system gives rise to certain doubts, and its proponents make no secret of them. Will the soldiers and seamen who voluntarily remain in the area live up to the expectations that the others pin on them? Will they stay as workers or will they eventually shift to higher-earning trades, such as craftsmen, farmers, kitchen gardeners, house servants, traders, etc.? Some people fear that this is exactly what will happen. They say the government’s measures will only have a provisional effect that will last as long as the size of construction projects keeps up the demand for workers, and will vanish right after those facilities are commissioned and the shortage of labor disappears. Critics argue that the servicemen of lower ranks will unlikely remain in the territory after the need for workers and the price of their labor fall. Thus, as the argument goes, the authorities will have to accept Manzi labor once again. At the same time, a different solution envisioning barriers to Manzi immigration is impossible, as the need for workers totals several thousand a year, while only a few hundred decommissioned servicemen remain in the Ussuri territory. This means the Russian population alone will be unable to complete the projects.

The issue also has a different side. As stated earlier, Manzi labor is extremely cheap, which makes competition against them impossible, while the Russian worker, including the former military personnel, gains no benefits from competing with the Manzi. The absence of benefits explains why this way of solving the Manzi problem is viewed as a doomed one.

Chinese competition is a perennial and incessantly pressing issue for Russian tradesmen and manufacturers in the Ussuri region, and that is why the local media have been debating it endlessly over the past several years. But not much has been done in practical terms to sort out its essence, and as years pass by, it is getting more and more complicated and obscure. Debates on the issue involve too much frustration and emotion, the two things that deny unbiased judgment.

Anyone who has lived in the Ussuri territory knows that Russian employers always give preference to the Manzi, whose labor is cheap beyond parallel. This fact has led to the conclusion that the province will entirely depend on Chinese workers for many years to come, if not forever.

“The labor productivity of the Manzi people is far lower than that of the Russian workers,” say the rank-and-files. “The Chinese are too small and weak. In a single day, a Manzi can do just 40 or 50 percent of what a Russian worker can do. But he has some really invaluable assets, too, and they make it possible to forget about his shortcomings. The Manzi don’t drink, don’t observe holidays, they work one day after another, they don’t demand much, and they are obedient.”

“But a Manzi loses half of the work for you,” some may object. “The way he works means you actually pay him two rubles for a job that is worth one ruble, because he spends two days doing an assignment instead of just one day.”

“Arithmetically speaking, what you say is true,” the employers reply with a smile. “But reality is altogether different. The Manzi’s work actually costs us not a ruble but 50 kopecks. Russians who enter into contract with us work 26 days a month, on average (usually the amount is 24 days, as two days are taken up by holidays, apart from regular days off on Sunday). A Manzi works 30 days, which means we get a surplus of six days to our benefit. Food for a Russian worker costs us 30 kopecks a day and we feed him 30 days a month, but they only work 24 days. Feeding a Manzi costs five kopecks,  he doesn’t need much, indeed. Once again, this is simple economy. Russian workers living here don’t agree to less than 25 to 30 rubles a month, or one ruble per day. And why should they, after all? Any business where the Manzi are losing positions – craftsmanship, trade, market gardening, farming – will mean more earnings for the Russians. And if you take the Manzi, they’re left with nothing else to do than to engage in hard manual work. The reason is the Manzi are arriving by the thousands, and the competition is so high between them that we offered them 30 kopecks a day this summer and they rushed to accept those jobs all the same. Remember now, just one year ago they charged a ruble a day or 80 kopecks as a minimum. The only thing we don’t like about the Manzi is they’re slow and love smoking. Don’t expect fast work from them. But their results are always nice – accurate and very clean. The Manzi show taste for work and give their products model finishing.”

I eventually got a chance to witness the Manzi’s special ability for work, so much praised by local employers (most of them vehement adversaries of the Chinese element, by the way). I went to a site not far from Vladivostok where a large stone bridge was being built, and work was in full swing when I arrived. Everyplace near the bridge, which included a small dell nearby, the bare backs of the Manzi workers were visible. They were sitting astride huge stones and striking them with small hammers. That was how they prepared stone for the facing of the bridge. The Russian laborers worked nearby. The difference in the methods of work struck me at the very first glance. I saw tall muscular men. On the other side, small lean males with narrow chests and with hair braided tightly on their napes. With the Russian workers, there were powerful and deft blows of hammers. Strike after strike pounded away at the stone blocks, producing sparks and metal chips that flew sideways. On the other side, by comparison, were the seemingly shy, diffident and slow strokes of the Chinese workers, similar to grownup children in an imitation of work. Compared with their Russian counterparts, the Manzi looked like gnomes stirring a heap of stones.

But on closer inspection, the scene revealed details that gave the Europeans a far more disadvantageous characteristic. It is true that the Manzi produced a much smaller amount of stone, but all of their produce went straight into the construction process. Their strokes did look rather feeble, barely touching the stones, and yet they did not spoil a single rock. They worked as if half-asleep, yet one of the Russian supervisors described their facing work as “heavenly.” On the contrary, the Russians made fascinating blows of the hammer worthy of being painted on canvas. And yet, instead of rough-hewing the stone, they often beveled the cut. As for the facing – “a subtle thing” – it looked considerably worse than the product made by the men with long hair. There was the stunning realization that those mighty men had problems controlling the power of their hammer blows.

“They’re not fit for this laborious work,” the supervisor who escorted me said. “It’s only the Manzi who can cope with such unrewarding tasks. He will sit for hours upon a lump of rock and hammer slightly at the same place, and not a single line will be out of place.”

As I listened to those two men and watched the stirring Manzi, an observation on the Chinese that the Russian traveler Sergei Maximov had made 30 years before came to mind. I believe he highlighted the specific traits of that bizarre people that are made manifest even in things quite trivial.

“The reason why China is motionless lies in the fact that, having made great achievements once, the Chinese have immersed themselves in further developing them to the tiniest possible details, in a minute polishing of what has already been done,” Maximov wrote. “A Chinese does not paint a picture in broad brushwork on canvas, he fashions hundreds of figurines instead, and he does this on a spot so small that it would not be big enough for a European painter to sign his name. The Chinese do not create plastic beauty of marble and granite, but rather cut astonishingly detailed landscapes on stone plates. One needs a European-made microscope to appraise the ugly laboriousness of that temperamental southern nation, whose veins contain intrepid blood and whose character is marked by tropical passions. One is puzzled while trying to identify what is most amazing about it – the cheapness of the notion of time in China, the uselessness of life predetermined by that cheap, senseless and obliterated labor, or the excessive population, which the government finds appropriate to load with strange, unproductive work.”

Meanwhile, these scruples concerning labor go hand-in-glove with the incomprehensible laziness that is duly called Chinese sloth.

I spent three hours in the place where the bridge was being built, and during that brief period of time each Manzi stopped working six or more times to have a smoke. No one would have made any complaints about smoking had they done it in the process of their work, but the problem was that each Manzi treated smoking as a kind of sacred ritual. Each worker would unhurriedly stuff his pipe with finely meshed tobacco, then squat with comfort, light the pipe, and draw in a bluish smoke for five minutes or longer without paying much attention to the people around him. “As if stones could be rough-hewed without them at the same time,” the displeased supervisor said.

“Hey you, Manzi, why are you sitting?” the supervisor would shout at the Chinese. The latter would unhurriedly shake tobacco out of his pipe by beating it against his shoe, spit and answer indifferently: “Me smoka little-little.”

Then he would just as slowly rise to his feet, take up the hammer and get down to his delicate task once again.

All their actions seemed rather reluctant and sluggish. During the lunch break, they would slowly return to their barracks. There was not a loud word or joke from them, nor a fast movement. They would walk while looking down at the ground melancholically – half-naked, not uttering a sound, never looking directly in front of themselves. It seemed their thoughts were hovering high above the earth, in a realm that is free of work or any other things around them.

As they passed by in files of two or three, the meagerness of their bronze bodies struck me even more. They were so lean, overworked, and exhausted as if they had withered. Their motherland had apparently never caressed them, and life in general had not been kind to them. This conviction of mine intensified when I visited them at lunch, which was served to them in small Chinese cups by a little grayish Manzi.

Frankly speaking, lunch is too great a word for what they were given to eat – some rice, herbal seasonings, and lots of ramson. But the workers looked quite content with it – back home, even that meal might look wonderful. Is it really astonishing then that an average Manzi is so weak and lean while his labor productivity as well as consumption demands do not compare with any other nation in the world? I had heard before about the modesty of the Manzi’s demands, and yet the scene of their “lunch” shocked me.

As if to forestall a question that was perched on the tip of my tongue, a Manzi contractor, a man with a good belly and a semi-silk shawl over his shoulders – a kind of labor agent who was always near me – pointed with a smile of superiority at his subordinates and said with a good deal of irony: “He don’t needa muts. In Tsina he don’t eata muts before.”

That fat and merry Manzi was very close to the truth. Those impoverished men who had been born at the low depths of Chinese society, did not see much sweetness at home. Maximov wrote in this connection: “Not a single remote province in the world offers as revolting a picture of popular mischief and suffering as the colossal Celestial Empire.”

…Upon their arrival to the Ussuri territory, the companies or, rather, the crowds of continuously hungry people discovered that they had gotten out of the frying-pan and into the fire.

The newcomers do not know a word of Russian, and have no idea about the conditions of the territory that has become their provisional home. They immediately become dependent upon the person who takes patronage over them. In most cases, this patron is a Chinese who has already established himself in Russia. He recruits the workers in China and brings them to Russia at his own risk. The person is usually a contractor who has become accustomed to the local situation. For the new arrivals from China, he is a landlord, a liaison with other people, an employer, and a translator.

Incidentally, the lack of knowledge of the territory and the dominating language has paradoxically generated a class of people with a strange social status of “translators” or “interpreters.” Most of these are Manzi who have spent some time living in the Ussuri territory. They have learnt a handful of Russian phrases and are building their welfare on that shaky ground. The uneducated masses of the semi-beggar workers have the same trust in their “trung-lators” [translators] as they would have in God. In many ways, they entrust their fate to those dubious representatives. Frankly speaking, they have no other option. Their lack of understanding the native language of this new land denies them any opportunity to make direct transactions with Russian employers.

The absence of language skills and knowledge of local life puts up an insurmountable barrier between the workers and their new world. In one way or another, they become actual serfs of the labor agents or translators, without whom they cannot make a step. The essence of their relationship remains an enigma for many, but many signs indicate that the Manzi’s position is a difficult one and they are practically enslaved by their compatriots who have had more luck in Russia.
The situation has opened the door for the brutal exploitation of the poor Manzi by their smarter fellow countrymen. I have heard that except the labor agents and translators, the vast majority of Manzi return to their homeland after a summer of toiling, eventually becoming even poorer than they were before coming to Russia.
The contractors manipulate the Manzi’s poor knowledge of Russian, while using their rapport with employers as an iron rod for handling their vassal teams. While the hardworking Manzi are subsisting hand to mouth, some of the agents and translators have turned into millionaires. One of them is Ti Fungtai, well-known to the entire Maritime Region [a businessman who offered to organize a Far-Eastern intelligence network for the Russian Army for three million rubles; the Army command turned down the proposal, saying the price was exorbitant. – Ed.].

Occasionally it happens, however, that even the philosophers with braids, the Manzi, lose their plentiful patience. Outbursts occur when the more enterprising contractors begin exploiting the Manzi too unscrupulously, or when the Chinese contractors themselves become subject to exploitation by the still more enterprising European businessmen and there is no money to feed the hordes of workers. Punishment is quick in that case. Unless the contractor or translator manages to escape from the outraged Manzi, he will face a bizarre punishment that occasionally ends tragically.

Once the Manzi workers exhaust the resource of verbal arguments, they will hang their guilty compatriot “little by little.” They tie a knot over his neck and hang him at a height barely allowing his toes to touch the ground. The poor man’s body becomes elongated unnaturally as he tries to stand on his toes, and this continues until he meets all the demands of the outraged mass of workers. If he does not comply, he is bound for a slow and painful death.
The punishment is called “hanging a little” in Chinese, or “doing little killy-killy.”

The Manzi will be worse off, however, if he reports to a small labor agent or translator and not to a large-scale entrepreneur. Part of the reason is that the smaller labor agents have to pool together their efforts to find work for their teams, in which case the laborers have to work for the labor agent, his companions, and the translator. Incidentally, the agent’s asset is not the size of the business handled but, rather, the presence of acquaintances among the Russian inhabitants and “knowledge” of the tongue. And if unemployment begins, the Manzi have only two options – to return home or to press the contractors, companions, and translators for better terms with the aid of the above-mentioned lynching.

The prospects for becoming a labor agent or translator may be a temptation for the Manzi, yet he understands that the roses lining his masters’ paths have thorns. A Chinese labor entrepreneur must have a great maneuvering capability, shrewdness, craftiness, and slyness; otherwise he may eventually fall back to the position of a worker. Chinese agents and translators often have to maneuver between two fires, between Scylla and Charybdis; any collision could break their unsteady skiffs to pieces. Sometimes the risk could be as great as the loss of their lives, the greatest asset given to a human.

On the one hand, a translator must work through the disadvantages of being situated on the outskirts of a big country, but on the other, he always must remember the possibility of “being hanged a little.”

The real problem, however, is the general risk associated with his work. This list includes his poor command of the Russian language, which creates opportunities for all sorts of mishaps. This, in turn, jeopardizes his situation.

The translator has a very limited vocabulary, a mix of confused Russian-Chinese-Manchurian words, which he pins his welfare on. Of course, even this limited knowledge provides him a huge advantage and propels his status amongst the Manzi. When it comes to dealing with the Europeans, however, those advantages disappear. His standing in the eyes of a European is as lowly as the worker’s standing is to him. No doubt, the lessons the translators have drawn from life, together with their natural cautiousness, have compelled them to make most transactions in writing – “writa-writa” as the Manzi call it. They feel more secure when they receive written documents, since they have much greater trust in “writa-writa” than in themselves. In the meantime, I saw cases when the authors of those documents replaced the terms of, say, the delivery of firewood with witty phrases like “O ye, the woeful human word, of which the wrath defies the Lord.” The issuer of this particular contract, which was made out in copperplate handwriting, took the trouble of clearing himself of possible charges of plagiarism. He indicated in the “writa-writa” that the quotation had been borrowed from the 18th century Russian poet, Gavriil Derzhavin. In another instance, a no less witty counteragent used the text of a post office receipt for dispatching the telegram as the “official document.” To produce a more impressive effect on the Manzi, the issuer attached a cancelled postal stamp with the double-headed eagle to the paper. Incidentally, the Manzi place unwavering faith in those stamps.

The Chinese agent or translator does not spare the workers under their control in a bid to make up for the losses – and avoid lynch at the same time – that they incur from poetic exercises of his European counterpart. If an occasion comes his way, however, an agent or translator will gladly make up for the losses at the expenses of some other European and will exploit him extensively, even though the latter was unconnected to the humorist inclinations of his fellow Europeans.

The instruments of exploitation are the same as anywhere in the world – deceit, shrewdness, and slyness, but contrary to the traditional stereotype it would be wrong to call them the traits of the Chinese national character. Like many others who have lived in the Ussuri territory and had immediate contacts with the Manzi, I can attest to their amazing trustworthiness. The same Chinese that will cheat you in everything concerning weight and measure, will never let you down and will keep his word without any kind of written pledge when it comes to returning his debt. The latter is proved by an extraordinary fact that astounded me. Out of all the lawsuits filed with the Ussuri territory courts, nine lawsuits in ten are initiated by the Manzi seeking justice in their relations with the local populace, whereas only one in ten of the cases involve a lawsuit that a local launches against a Manzi.

The conclusion is clear – the Manzi, and not the residents of the territory, are victims in nine cases out of every ten, and the commonly held belief that the Manzi are wily and unscrupulous exploiters is thus a far cry from truth.

Last updated 18 may 2005, 16:51

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