Activities per year
The origins of the Foreign Inspectorate of the hinese Maritime Customs are well known; the succession crises after Inspector Generals Hart and Aglen well covered in the literature; and the Maze Inspectorate has received a good deal of attention. However, one significant feature of the newly opened Inspectorate Archives is the weight of post-1937 material it contains, and the light it can throw upon the administration of Lester Knox Little, inspector general in 1943–50, on the Japanese-controlled Customs in occupied China, and on the erosion of foreign and especially of British dominance in the service. This paper outlines the rocky transition from Sir Frederick Maze to Little (and in Japanese-occupied China to Inspector General Kishimoto Hirokichi), and explores the impact of this transition and of the Sino-Japanese war on the position of the Customs and on its activities between 1941 and 1945. The Customs found a role for itself in unoccupied China, and remained a useful tool for the Guomindang state, although British diplomats surrendered their long-held claim that a British national should run the service. What preserved a foreign role in the Customs after Pearl Harbor was not the support of foreign diplomats, but the relations of senior staff with high-ranking Chinese government officials.