The Development of Telephone Communication in China, Part Two

HF: Peter Crush kindly sent me the following article published in October 1931. While it does not mention the history of phones in Hong Kong I thought it would be of general interest.

I have occasionally changed the script when I though it was a little old fashioned. And indicated where the script was illegible or missing.

The original article did not contain any images. I have added a few, chosen somewhat at random, to add a little ”colour.”

Thanks to SCT for proofreading the following retyped copy of the original article.

The Development of Telephone Communication in China

China Telephone 1

Date, Location & Source unknown

Telephones in the Concessions in Shanghai were inaugurated by …(the next line was missing from the script) …ship of the British merchants. Extensions of lines were frequently beyond the boundaries of the concessions into the city. For the purpose of preserving its sovereignty, the Manchurian Government established the Shanghai Telephone Administration at Nanshih in which the equipment, being at first of the magneto type, were changed into the common battery type in 1922. Branch offices were also installed in Chapei, Kiangwan, Wusung, and Nanhsiang. In 1925 a contract was made between the Telephone Administration and the Mutual Telephone Company to the effect that the telephones of both concerns may be interconnected. At the same time the Shanghai-Nanking Toll Line was completed. So telephones in Shanghai are rapidly developing. At present the main and the branch offices have a total capacity of more than 3,000 lines.

China Telephones Hoodline2

Source: Hoodline

The telephone exchanges in Nanking and Soochow were established by the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce of the Manchuria Government, and taken over by the Provincial Government at the beginning of the Republic. Since 1914 they passed into the control of the former Ministry of Communications. New office buildings were constructed in 1919 and common battery equipment was installed in 1922. The Soochow Exchange has a capacity of 2,000 lines and the Nanking Exchange, together with branch offices at Shiakuan, Pukow and Puchun has a total capacity of 3,100 lines. Since Nanking became the capital of the Nationalist Government the subscribers have been enormously increasing and consequently the original equipment has proved inadequate to meet with the demand. At the end of 1928 a contract was made between the Ministry of Communications and the American Automatic Electric Co. For the purchasing of 5,000 lines of automatic equipment. It is predicted that the new installation will be completed in the autumn of this year.

In addition to those telephone administrations already mentioned there are offices in Chingkiang, Yangchow, Wuhu, Pengpu-Kiukiang Shiashih, Chefoo, Taiyuan, Kirin, Changchun, Taonan, etc. As these offices are operated on a comparatively small scale, no detailed descriptions are necessary.

Toll Telephone

The Peping-Tientsin Toll Lines were also built by Mr Poulsen, the Dane, and were taken over together with the local telephones in Peping and Tientsin by the Manchurian Government. At first there were only two circuits, but through successive extensions there are altogether eleven circuits at present.

The Tientsin-Mukden Toll Lines were built on telegraph poles in three stages from 1924 to 1927. There are two circuits of 200 lbs. copper and one circuit of 400 lbs. copper wire.

The Tsinan-Tsingtao Toll Lines were built by the Japanese during their occupation of Tsingtao, and were put under the control of the former Ministry of Communications on 1923 when that port was surrendered to China. Through repeated negotiations with the Tsingtao and Tsinan Telephone Companies an agreement was made in 1924 for the interconnection of the toll and local lines.

The Kirin-Changchun-Harbin Toll Lines were put with two pairs of wires on telegraph poles and with two others on telephone poles newly planted.

The Shanghai-Nanking Lines were put on telegraph poles in 1925. At first two pairs of wires were laid between Shanghai and Wusih and one of them was extended to Nanking in 1927. At the beginning of 1929, one more circuit was added between Shanghai and Nanking and another between Wusih and Nanking.

The above stated toll lines are all main lines of copper wire. Besides, many toll lines have been built in Chekiang, Kiangsu, Shansi, the Eastern Provinces etc., having a total length of about 20,000 li. Most of them are built with iron wire on telegraph poles and need no construction and further improvement.

Source: The Far Eastern Review, October 1931

This article was first posted on 28th July 2023.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. The Development of Telephone Communication in China, Part One


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