History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Manchuria (1833-2022)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-67-0

Publication Date: 2022 Jan. 16

Number of References in Bibliography: 2317

Earliest Reference: 1833

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Brief Chronology of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Manchuria

Manchuria, which is now generally called Northeast China, is most often associated with the three Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning.

The former Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo further included the prefectures of Chengde (now in Hebei), and Hulunbuir, Hinggan, Tongliao, and Chifeng (now in Inner Mongolia).

The region of the Qing Empire referenced as Manchuria originally further included Ussuri and Primoskiy Krais and the southern part of Harbin Oblast.

1644-1912 – The Qing or Manchu dynasty; Manchurians rule China. On 1 Jan. 1912 the Republic of China is proclaimed by Sun Yet-sen.

1830 – “The first recorded exports of soy beans from Manchuria took place… about the year 1930 (USDA Bureau of Plant Inventory No. 27. 31 May 1912. See #30595.

1833 – The soybean (Soja hispida) is first mentioned in connection with Manchuria by Alexander von Bunge in his Enumeratio plantarum, quas in China boreali collegit, anno 1831 [Listing of plants collected in northern China in 1831] (See p. 94). His brief statement in Latin means that the plant numbered 118 is frequently / widely cultivated and flowers in June. The symbol means that the plant is an annual. It was collected in 1831.

1861 – The German botanists Regal and Maack visit Manchuria, find a wild soybean species, and name it Glycine ussuriensis.

1901 – Manchuria: Its People, Resources, and Recent History, by .Alexander Hosie is published. He was in charge of the British consulate at Newchwang in Manchuria from Nov. 1894 to July 1897 and from April 1899 to April 1900. In 1900 he made the earliest known careful estimate of soybean production in Manchuria, calculating the amount at 600,000 tons.

1904-05 – As a result of Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War (4 Feb. 1904 to 5 Sept. 1905), Japan replaces Russian influence in the southern half of Inner Manchuria. Most of the southern branch of the Chinese Eastern Railway (the section from Changchun to Port Arthur (called Ryojun in Japanese) is transferred from Russia to Japan, and becomes the South Manchurian Railway. This is Japan’s first foothold in Manchuria.

1907 – The area of Manchuria is converted into three provinces by the late Qing government.

For decades the Manchu rulers tried to prevent large-scale immigration of Han Chinese, but they failed and the southern parts developed agricultural and social patterns similar to those of North China. Manchuria's population grew from about 1 million in 1750 to 5 million in 850 and 14 million in 1900, largely because of the immigration of Chinese farmers. The Manchus became a small element in their homeland, although they retained political control until 1900.

By the early 1900s soybeans are by far the most important cash crop of Manchuria (Deasy 1939).

1908 – Mitsui & Co., a Japanese conglomerate (Zaibatsu), makes its first considerable trial shipment of soybeans from Dairen to Liverpool, England. This marks the beginning of a new industry in England, Germany, Denmark and Holland. The major portion of the beans destined for Europe is for the mills at Liverpool and Hull, England; for those at Copenhagen, Denmark, and Rotterdam and Amsterdam, Holland.

1908 Feb. – A cargo of 9,000 tons of soybeans is received at Hull, England. The selling price of the beans is $32.00 per ton C.I.F. It is soon found that by importing in cargo lots, the price could be lowered to $4.40. (Piper & Morse 1923, p. 17). Why were soybeans imported to Great Britain? The traditional oilseeds, linseed and cotton seed, were in short supply worldwide; this sent their price skyrocketing. Soybean supplies in Manchuria were abundant after the Sino-Japanese War – which Japan won. So soybeans began to be imported from Manchuria. Most of the oil was used in soaps and the meal in mixed livestock feeds. During the next few years, soybean imports to Europe rose dramatically and crushing began on the Continent.

1911-1931 – Manchuria is nominally part of the Republic of China. In practice it is controlled by Japan, which worked through local warlords. Manchuria is a rich source of soybeans and other resources.

1917 – In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Japanese influence extended into Outer Manchuria.

1925 – Outer Manchuria comes under Soviet control. Japan takes advantage of the disorder following the Russian Revolution to occupy Outer Manchuria, but Soviet successes and American economic pressure force Japanese withdrawal.

1930 – William Morse and P.H. Dorsett travel in Manchuria, and report in great detail about soybean production and utilization there.

1931 Sept. 1 –“Manchurian Incident,” also called the ‘Mukden Incident,” takes place on the night of 18 September 1931. A bomb exploded on the tracks of the Japanese railway north of Mukden. A Japanese Colonel ordered a full-scale attack against the Chinese troops in Mukden, and General Honjô, hearing of the crisis, called out the whole Kwantung Army – which proceeding to take over Manchuria. “By early 1932 the conquest of all Manchuria had been completed. In March 1932 Manchuria was proclaimed an independent state named Manchukuo or Manchoukuo under the last Ch'ing ruler (P'u-yi).

The Lytton Commission of the League of Nations visited Manchuria in the spring of 1932 and condemned Japan as an aggressor. The report was adopted by the League of Nations, from which Japan withdrew in protest the following year. By this time the Japanese armies had already moved west from Manchuria to occupy about 5,000 square miles of the Inner Mongolian province of Jehol.” (Fairbank, Reischauer, and Craig. 1973. East Asia: Tradition and Transformation. p. 707-08).

1949 Oct. 1 – Mao Zedong officially proclaims the People’s Republic of China. Manchuria becomes part of China, where it is called the Northeast Provinces. Yet, worldwide, historians, authors and journalists continue to refer to “Manchuria.”

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