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THE CRISIS IN THE FAR E'AST NORMAN MACKENZIE T .HE importanc'e of the'present crisis in the Far East , ,is not only due to the serious consequences likely to follow as a result of it for ·Japan and China, and incidentally for the other countries interested there. It is important also because it is the first occasion on ~hich the League, of Nations and other post-war methods of preventing war have been put to the test. For this reason I propose to discuss o~ly incidentally the quarrel between Japan and China and to devote most of my ; attention to the position of the League and its members, as well as of the United States and Russia, in the struggle; and as this ,may best be done in the light of our own British and Canadian position and policy I propose to 'deal first with them. Some time ago Sir John Simon summed up British interests in the Far East in the words "Peace and Trade'~ arid it may be assumed that British policy throughout has been one of so-called "enlightened self interest" in promoting the'se ends. With this in mind it is worth reviewing briefly the history of that policy during the '. past century. In 1842 Brita~t'1, ' after a long period of unsatisfactory relations with Chlna, 'declared war on China in order to open up that country to British trade. Britain's policy 'ever since has, in the main,' been devoted ' to e11-1arging the opportunities for trade, and to breaking down Chinese opposition and obstacles to commercial ' penetration. It is only natural in view of the opposition and obstacles encountered that the feeling of many of those engaged in trade with China, and even of many ,British offi~ials) should be one of criticism and ~ostility 3 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY toward"the Chinese who have made dtfficulties for theq1. Britain, too, .in common with the other European powers and Japan, toyed with the idea of dividing China up after the manner of Africa, and the Yangtse Basin was generally acknowledged as a British sphere of influence. The later policy of the United States, in the words of ·one of her statesmen, was "to seek a solution of the difficulties in China which might bring about permanent safety and peace to China, preserve China as a territorial and administratiye entity., protect all rights ·guaranteed to friendly powers by treaty and international law, andsafeguard for the world the principle of equal and impartial trade with all parts of the Chinese Empire." The reasons for this attitude are so obvious to every student of American history that I need not repeat them here. However, it is only fair to state on behalf of Britain that Lord Salisbury, then British Prime Minister, expressed himself "most emphatically as agreeing with the policy of the United States." " The relations of Britain with Japan on the other·hand .' have for a number of reasons been entirely different. In the first place it was the Americans who .were responsible for forcing Japan to open her doors to the foreigner; secondly, Japanese leaders"were quick fo realize that they could not withstand the West save by adopting Western methods-which they did very rapidly; thirdly, having been Westernised-in externals at least-.Japan became the obvious ally for Britain in her opposition to Russian· expansion; and fourthly, Japan did not offer as attractive opportunities for exploitation as China. For these reasons it is easy to understand British pre-war policy toward Japan and China, and the situation in "the Far East generally. The Great War, however, changed all that, as it did 4 THE CRISIS IN THE FAR EAST ' so many other things in international relations, and it is ~ssentiaI to look at the post-war situation in the Far East. In the first place, there is a very real difference of opinion between the Chinese and the other powers 'chl.iming rights in China as to the cha~acter of those rights. The Chinese feel that they are not in the best interests'of China and that they were acquired by force applied in an unfair manner...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 3-20
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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