Ashburton Guardian MAGNA EST VERITAS ET PRÆVALEBIT. SATURDAY, JANUARY 9, 1904. HOW RUSSIA FORCES ON WAR.
Tub " Times'" reminder to Great Britain that, in the event of war, circumstances might forbid her standing idly by, apart altogether from the Treaty of Alliance with Japan, is quite the most significant commentary upon events in the Far East, which has yet found place in the Europeau press. The balance of power the " Times " asserts, must not be materially altered to Great Britain's prej udice, her duty to her trade with fijdia and Australasia forbids it. Tne warning may be regarded as having a double purpose. In the firet plice, it comes as a reminder to tbe people of Great Britain, that their interests in tba Tar ikst are in dangep, and that Britain's prestige is likely to be severely shaken if she allows Russia to.continue her encroachaiGtits upon Chinese territory, and to engage single handed, the OB.c. Power whifih is opposing so resolute a i font to Russian pretensions. And then ag;iiri it is evidently intended as a warning: ij Russian Statesmen that they are overstepping the limits of safety, and the bounds'of prudence, in presuming too much upon the position their craft and scheming has secured for Russia in Manchuria, aud on the Liao-tntig Peninsula. And .the warning will probably carry all the greater weight, in that ifc is ngt the first time , *w many that British Ministers have used the columus of the great London daily fco administer rebuke to foreign Statesman, '' who have been playing fast and. loose with British interests. Without actually taking the force of an official utterance, there can bb very little doubt that the reminder ha? been officially inspired, and is intended fco arouse in the public mind a true sense of the dangers of the position. It is well known that British and French diplomats have beeu alike at work endeavouring to reconcile the divergent interests of Russia and Japau, and to thus avert the threatened conflict, and it is quite possible, and even probable, that diplomatic efforts having failed, the " Times" has been used to convey to the Czar's advisers another view of the question, which has hitherto been kept in the background. It is pretty evident that British interests in China and the Far Kast generally will be imperilled s.h.ou!4 Cyroafi Britain allow her ally ro be worsted in the impending conflict with Russia. Under the AngloJapanese truafcy, Britain, equ-dly with Japan, is pledged to maintain the status quo both in China and Korea. 4*+ d despite her protests to the contrary, it is easily that the disturbing influence in the Far East to-day is Russia, whose Ministers are boldly declaring that Manchuria is now part and parcel of Russia, and will no more be surrendered than Siberia it?elf. M. dern diplomacy affords no more glaring example of double dealing and, broken pledges than is suppliad by Russia's attitude ou .this question. Over and over again the Powers have been assured that " Russia has no designs of territorial acquisition l in China," and that the Russisn troops would be withdrawn from China. Solemn assura-Rf-es havo been given by the Czar's advisers to the American and British ambassadors on this point, and the pledge was repeated in the Secret Convention, which Russia sought to conclude with China in 1901, the first clause of which set forth that " The Emperor of Russia, being desirous to manifest his kindly feelings, agrees to restore Manchuria completely to China without keeping in mind the fact of tbe recent warfare in that province. The Chinese administration shall be restored iq. all respects to the status quo ante \" Count Lam?dor/?, the Russian Foreign Minister, assured Lord Lansdowne in March 1901, that" his Government had no intention of seeking any acquisition of territory or an actual or virtual protectorate over Manchuria," and similar assurances were reported to have been given to the American Government on April 4th of the same year. The events of the last few weeks have shown how much such solemn assurances and pledges are worth when made by a Russian Minister or by tho Ruseian Government in the name of the Czar himself. In her dealings with Japan, Russia has been guilty of equally bad faith. In 1898 she pledged herself in a protocol to which both .Powers vvere signatories, to: recognise " the complete independence of Korea and to in no way directly interfere i •with, the domestic Government of fchut country, and to do nothing to injure tbe .development of the commercial and industrial relations between Japm and Korea." Yet Russian intriguing in Korea has continued from that day to this, and the Japanese are neither so simple nor so blind that they fail to recogni?e t&afc Eussia is endeavouring to absorb Korea, in the same way that she has absorbed Manchuria. And Russian aggrandisement; in Northern China is so closely interwoven with the future of Korea that it must necessarily wear a siuch more serious aspect for Japan, than £or any other Power. So serious was the position regarded even in 1901, that many Japanese deemed the time to be close at hand when Japan eswuld retort upon Russia in precisely the same terms which the latter used in 1895, and demaisd the evacuation of territories where her presea#e mu?t be a permanent threat to .the independence of the Chinese Empire and the peace qi' the . Far East. Aud that fcime is apparently ' now.
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