« السابقةمتابعة »
A YEAR'S DIPLOMACY IN
The new China blue-book is the fitness of the choice. We a handsome offering of the now understand that in those fruits meet for repentance. The days he had the dead-weight Government has answered to of his Government paralysing the spur, and overcome its in- all his efforts. The events of disposition to take action re- last year, however, the sharp garding our interests in the experiences, and the humiliating Far East. Slowly indeed, and rebuffs which this country had not without great reluctance, it to put up with in the earlier has learned the lesson which the part of 1898, have happily pressure of events has been for changed all that; and now we some years forcing on it, and have the cheering spectacle of apparently made up its mind to an active and energetic Minister deal henceforth with facts and backed by a Government that not with phantoms. We need is beginning to know its own not dwell on the deplorable con- mind and intends to have its sequences of previous neglect.
own way. We have indeed given away the In its selection of correspondvantage-ground which we held ence for publication Governfifteen months ago; but all has ment has implicitly, if not not been lost, and though we explicitly, acknowledged its have now to fight an uphill indebtedness to the press, and battle, it is something to have we have rarely known an inthe nerve to fight it.
stance of the leading organs of We think the record now public opinion rendering such submitted to the public will be persistent services to the counreceived with satisfaction. It try as they have done in conis a great point gained that at nection with the Chinese crisis. last the policy of the Govern- But for their diligence in supment is pointing in the right plying the best information and direction : what remains is for the best reasoned comments the country to apply the im- thereon, our interests in the Far petus from below and from be- East would indeed have been hind, to make sure of continuous in a parlous state. Where all progress on the course which is have done their duty it may now being set. We are pleased seem invidious to make distincalso to be able to congratulate tions; but the Times' newsthe Government on the achieve- paper may well be excused a ments of their Minister in little self-congratulation on the Peking. It was a hazardous part it has played in the enexperiment sending a man of lightenment of the public. Its his official record to such a correspondent in Peking has no critical post, and the first half doubt been favoured by circumof his time of office in China stances and opportunities; but did not afford much evidence of his industry in collecting and
salting down” his informa- effect to them, it was true that tion from diverse sources, and fear and not reason guided her in a few terse words giving the deliberations; but we are now gist of the most important ne- learning the further lesson gotiations, prove him to be a which was impressed on close man of capacity who has risen observers four years ago, that to the occasion. Whatever "there is no longer a China to value we may attach to the negotiate with. This takes services of our accredited Minis- some time to realise ; but
every ter, those of the Times line in the new despatches respondent will always claim at makes it clearer
clearer that the least an equal share of appre- Chinese rulers are getting into ciation, and we have little doubt the condition of a person in the that the things which have not last stage of sea-sickness, when been given to the public would even the influence of fear ceases be found quite as interesting as to operate. What is there left those that have been printed. for them to fear? Their country But for further enlightenment is potentially in the possession from that source on the maze of_foreigners, they themselves of Eastern diplomacy and the are under the protection of by - ways of intrigue, we shall foreigners; the more practical probably have to wait a little of them have considered the while.
situation, and have made their It is no new lesson which the selection of what they deem Government and their Minister the strongest protector: which have learned; it is but the old may be the explanation of lesson frequently learned, and what Sir Claude Macdonald as often forgotten, the one lesson found to be the anti - British which stands out in bold relief policy of Li Hung-chang. That throughout our whole inter- the influence of fear has not encourse with China. It is the tirely ceased to act upon the same which Lord Elgin had to Government is probably true learn by his own experience enough. The effect generally forty years ago, and which he survives the cause, and even put so tersely into the epigram, scientific convictions do not that “ China yields nothing to entirely dislodge inherited reason but everything to fear.” superstitions. But it is eviThis sentence might be put as dently a disappearing phantom a motto at the head of every so far as the collective Governdespatch of Sir Claude Mac- ment is concerned. The old donald's; but while this has al- forms may be kept up, and the ways been the leading char- foreign Powers continue to go acteristic of Chinese diplomacy, through the pantomime of nethe proposition has in these gotiation, but under such deslatter days to be considerably perate conditions that it must extended in its application.
application. more and more become with While China was an entity, the Chinese a question of Sauve with a will and a purpose qui peut ! a
This no doubt is and a certain power to give what Russia has understood
long ago and acted upon with from Peking to Hankow, on such striking effect.
behalf of the Russian and The transactions recorded in French Governments. This the blue-book1 began on the concession, running right into morrow of the Russian acquisi- the heart of the Yangtse Valtion of Port Arthur. It was ley, which had been assumed as a then for the first time that her British sphere of influence, was Majesty's Government saw the a bold but insidious attack necessity of action in China in
on this country. Consequently order to safeguard British in- Sir Claude Macdonald made the terests. The whole position was strongest remonstrance with changed by the establishment the Tsungli-Yamên against the of Russia in a Chinese fortress, ratification of the contract. actually in the inner waters, not The Ministers of the Yamên on the Pacific at all, except in appeared to be quite ignorant the sense that the Gulf of Fin- of the nature of the concession land is on the Atlantic. As and of the consequences ina counterpoise, Great Britain volved in it. Only one man, claimed the naval harbour we are told, understood it, and which faces Port Arthur on the that was Li Hung-chang, who southern coast of the Gulf, and
credited with rushing after certain peremptory ne- through the ratification under gotiations, the lease of Wei-hai- strong pressure on the part of wei was extorted from the Russia, France, and Belgium. Tsungli-Yamên. Without ven- On his failure to bar the conturing on any estimate of the clusion of this contract, Sir value of that position, we may Claude Macdonald makes the at least claim for its seizure pertinent and obvious remark that, as a definitively aggres- that, “if heavy payment is not sive action on the part of her exacted from the Chinese GovMajesty's Government, taken ernment for their bad faith, Li avowedly to preserve the bal- will persuade his colleagues that ance of power in the Gulf of it is easier to slight England Pechili between Russia and than any other Power," and he Great Britain, this stroke was formulates a set of demands the herald of the new policy on which ought to be made on the which the British Government Chinese Government as a punhas launched.
ishment for their bad faith, The other matters attempted which, however, he adds, “it and done, treated of in the would be impossible to obtain correspondence, are chiefly con- without bringing great pressure nected with the progress of to bear.” This is the recurring railway concessions on the part note throughout the whole of the various countries. The three hundred and sixty pages: most interesting of these is no it is not right nor wrong, good doubt the concession granted to faith or bad faith, injury or a Belgian syndicate for a line benefit, but pressure, that is
of any account in all these ways, and the secret machinnegotiations. If the fact that ery which has been at work this railway concession into the to procure such tremendous very centre of China, with the concessions to Russia, we, oblarge powers of control granted tain no light from the deto the Russian agent-or whe- spatches,—perhaps for the good ther granted or not, certain to
that the writer had be exercised, if these consid
none to give. But that Chinerations, plainly placed before ese intelligence is not blind to the Chinese Ministers, did not the ulterior consequences of deter them from granting this what they are now doing, is concession, it must be
clear shown in memorial from that no argument but force, or the Viceroy of Central China, the belief in it, will have any Chang Chi-tung, in conjunction influence on their minds. The with a no less celebrated official defeat of our Minister in Peking called Shêng Hsüan - huai, Dion this question seems to have rector - General of Railways. made a sharp impression upon They say, her Majesty's Government, who promptly instructed Sir Claude “If England is allowed to build
the Hankow and Canton line, afterMacdonald to put forward de
wards when the Russian line admands for other concessions, to
vances southwards and the English be enforced, if necessary, by an line is continued to the north, alappeal to the Admiral. In though we shall be in possession of carrying out these instructions, the Lu-han line (Hankow to Peking),
we shall be stified and our profits Sir Claude Macdonald seems to curtailed, for being between the have had some rough passages other lines we shall not be able to with the Chinese Ministers. defend our own. It is also greatly They repudiated his charges of to be feared that our own line
would breach of faith, and disclaimed hands. In this case, not only is our
pass into either English or Russian any intention of giving offence throat stopped by the foreigners to Great Britain.
As far as
being in possession of our ports, writing a note went, they were
but our vital parts are injuriously
affected.” quite willing to do so; but they would not name the Belgian agreement, because it was cer
They addtain to lead to trouble with
"Your memorialists are distressed other Powers. The coincidence when they consider the extreme of this explanatory and apolo- danger of the situation ; but they
think that the best method of meetgetic note of 7th September ing it is to proceed ourselves at once last with the dismissal from the with the construction of the HankowYamên of the Grand Secretary, Canton railway.” Li, is remarked upon by Sir Claude Macdonald; but the con- Here are the views of two nection between the two events Chinese officials antithetical in seems insufficiently established. personal character; but, what
On the real opinions and ever their respective failings, feelings of the Chinese with men of first-class intelligence, respect to these trunk rail- yet they affect to speak of the
Lu-han line as in their posses- tical inference that it is vain sion, and even imply that it is a to play with players into the kind of defence against Russian unfathomed depths of whose designs ! And find the sleeves we are unable to peneTsungli-Yamên, with all these trate ! arguments before them, fur- The dispute about the extively, and in desperate haste, tension of the settlement in –because they had given their Shanghai forms a very importword to Sir C. Macdonald that ant subject of comment.
The they would not do it,-rushing French have always separated through a contract which gives themselves from over the possession of that very politan community of Shangline to Russia ; for, as the China hai, maintaining their Association pithily puts the jurisdiction within the elastic matter, “the real control rests limits of their settlement. In with the predominant partner area it is out of all proportion in the alliance, which seems to to that which has for so many hold China in its grip." years been sufficient for the
The remedy proposed for accommodation of all other these dangers to China is to nations; but since the recent build a line from Hankow to commotion in China, the French Canton. It is not plain to the have considered that large as common understanding in what their settlement (or way that line is to counteract sion as they like to call it) is the effect of all the others; but now, it is not nearly sufficient for if we consider that Shêng him- their purpose. Hence they have self is the promoter of the Can- claimed an enormous extension, ton line—and very far from dis- which, if granted to them, would
interested — we may read the include much property at preswhole memorial as a mere plea ent owned by British subjects for that project, the denun- and others.
denun- and others. At the same time, ciations of the craft and sub- the real needs of the cosmotility of foreign countries being politan community, which is a but a Chinese form of preamble. growing one and transacts The association of two men with practically the whole business such different records as Shêng of the port, have become very and Chang can only be appre- pressing. They also require a ciated by those who know large addition to the ground which will be the dominant they at present occupy, not for partner in the firm when there political purposes, which by the is “money in it." Such dis
mere presence of mixed nationcussions afford us a glimpse of alities are precluded, but solely what Chinese statesmanship is for business accommodation - a glimpse, however, which and residence. The claims of carries
further than the general community conthe conclusion of the poet that flict with the special claims “the heathen Chinee is pecul- of the French, and while iar.” Could but draw Great Britain protests against from the exhibition the prac- the unwarranted extension of