As there is no insuperable difficulty whatsoever as regards the acceptance of copper coins by the Chinese as tokens pure and simple, the only thing that remains for the Government to do is to regulate the supply. The success that originally attended the issue of the ten-cash or the one-cent piece and the large profits which the provincial governments were able to make out of such coinage led to the flooding of the country during the past twenty-five years with innumerable ten-cash pieces. The trouble was accentuated by the fact that while there was no one-cash coins in sufficient numbers except old and debased coins, there were none at all between the denominations of the one-cash and ten-cash pieces. In a country where the majority of families are able to live with a tolerable amount of comfort at an expenditure of about fifty to sixty cash per day, it is necessary to have coinage intermediate between the one-cash and the ten-cash. Of course, it is not to the advantage of anybody to revert to the coinage of the cash once again. But a fairly large number of five-cash or half-cent pieces would bring about a considerable freedom in the regulation of copper currency. The introduction of a five-cash or half-cent would also help toward throwing into the melting pot the existing cash coins, including the counterfeit ones. In any case, the first step of the Government, simultaneous with the attempt to regulate the supply of the newly minted coins, should be the withdrawal of the existing cash coins - which would only be possible when there is a sufficient number of five-cash pieces. In spite of all the harm the inordinate issue of the ten-cash piece has done, there has, however, been one advantage; people are accustomed to the use of this one-cent piece, the weight and fineness of which are practically uniform throughout the country. They have already displaced the use of the cash considerably; if they have not altogether displaced the cash, it is because they are too big for the daily life of the people of the interior.
I believe I have explained sufficiently the necessity for not losing sight of, and taking full advantage of, the old traditions.
When this is understood, the surprise that one should begin with the cash in any proposals of currency reform for China, would be easily got over. In every country in the world, which has more or less an independent life and trade, currency reform has been built up on the foundations of the existing values. For instance, in England the sovereign existed long before it was worth twenty shillings, no more or no less; in Japan and India Yen and Rupees predated the assignation of fixed gold values. So in China one has to begin with what has been existing for ages. A careful study of the history and the traditions of China shows that from time immemorial the only recognized coin in China was the cash. Even when paper money was issued, as under the Mings, as early as the thirteenth century, - as a matter of fact even under the Mongol dynasty at an earlier period - notes were in denominations of from ten to 2,000 cash. The tael, of course, existed from time immemoral and its regulation value was 1,000 cash, although at various times the value has fluctuated considerably. But the tael has always been a weight, and never a measure or standard of value. The cash, of course, had a certain fixed value, and the weight has varied in different parts of the Empire at different periods. Nevertheless it has remained the only standard for China, although it has no right to be called a standard, in the modern sense of the word.