But the most serious aspect of the position of currency during the latter years of the Manchu rule was that relating to the issue of paper money, especially during the last fifty years - mostly by the provincial governments and banks. Ever since the final suppression of the Taiping revolt foreign trade has steadily increased. While the advance in foreign commerce has brought in its wake a good deal that China has to be thankful for, it has certainly been responsible for difficulties with regard to the regulation of currency. As I have already pointed out in the previous chapter, China has never had enough coins to cope with the volume of foreign trade. The result has been the import of a large amount of foreign coins and dollars, besides a great deal of bullion. Even so, with the progress of years, it was found that trade was advancing so rapidly that the old methods of currency did not fit in with the change in conditions. In Modern European countries the progress of trade has been responsible for the growth of the complicated system of banking, and the latter in its turn has helped largely the advance in trade. Credit, drafts, cheques and clearing houses are a few of the facilities that have followed in the wake of the growth of trade and banking in Europe. On the other hand conditions in China, especially the lack of a suitable unit of coinage besides want of communications, have tended towards retarding the progress of any possible development in banking. It should not be inferred that banking in China is a new development, or the result of foreign intercourse with this country. China has had some sort of banking from time immemorial; but business was restricted almost entirely to loans on mortgages of immovable property or pledges. But foreign intercourse has certainly led to a vast development in banking. The system of issuing drafts as practised now by Chinese banks, was for all practical purposes unknown in this country before the establishment of the hong merchants in Canton. The latest system of balancing accounts instead of the tedious process of dispatching and re-dispatching silver was also due to lessons learned from foreigners. It was, however, very common among the Chinese, especially before the latter half of the nineteenth century, usually to dispatch silver; and it took a long time before the Chinese traders could be convinced of the advantage of balancing accounts. The Chinese had at no period anything corresponding to the modern bank cheque and it is mainly owing to the fact of their not having a proper comprehension of value of a cheque that their issue of paper money proved to be a fiasco. I will go in detail into the system of banking and all questions connected with it in the later chapters, but the present reference is in connection with their issue of paper notes. Those Chinese banks that issued notes brought about a new problem in currency. It was mainly the banks operated by the provincial authorities that were deluging the country with bank notes. They adopted this way of raising money because it was momentarily cheaper, as also facile. Like Micawber, they thought that something would happen to set their affairs right when the day of reckoning came. Before proceeding to detail the fate of these bank notes, which were at one time an immense problem for the Chinese Government, I must make a brief reference to some of the efforts made to set currency right - especially during the reform wave in the reign of the Emperor Kwang Hsu. It is well known, of course, that the Emperor listened to a group of energetic reformers headed by Kang Yu-wei; the latter projected many comprehensive and radical schemes for the reformation of currency; and the whole country received a great shock by the coup d'etat of 1898, which led to the virtual dethronement of the Emperor Kwang Hsu.