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she had seized Port Arthur she indicated a feebleness of purhad made it practically im- pose inconsistent with the fixed pregnable to attacks from the policy of a great Power which sea, and by the month of possesses vast interests in China December had 16,000 troops –interests which surpass those there, so that even a greatly of all other nations combined. superior army acting from the It was not to be supposed land side would have had a that Great Britain could for tough job to get the Russians ever continue to hold the pracout of it. Six months after tical monopoly of the trade of Great Britain had taken pos- the Far East which she has for session of Wei-hai-wei, she sent many years enjoyed. No sen150 marines out there to guard sible men (with the exception the island and the mainland ter- of the British China merchants) ritory: and now, twelve months could imagine that other nations after the occupation, there is would not sooner or later strive not a fort reconstructed nor a to get for themselves a fair gun mounted! This compari- share of such a lucrative busison of the action of the two
It would have been too Powers cannot possibly pass much to expect from poor without comment from the other weak human nature Great Powers (including Japan, commercial human nature—to which is certainly a Great suppose that the British China Power in the Far East), and it merchants would acquiesce is small wonder if we hear quietly in an invasion of their them expressing doubts as to trade monopoly in their own whether Great Britain is in special field of operations. earnest, and intends to remain They did not acquiesce quietly, at Wei-hai-wei, even the but, on the contrary, filled the very peculiar terms upon which world with their outcry at the she has obtained her lease of it. iniquity of foreigners in wishSo long as any shadow of a ing to trade with China. Their doubt remains on this subject, ostensible grievance was based capital will not flow towards upon the well-known fact that our new territory, and it will all foreigners hedge in their not be developed. People re- spheres of influence with a member Port Hamilton. cheval - de - frise of tariffs in
The insertion in the lease of tended to exclude all competithe clause, that we only intend tion with their own merchants, to stay at Wei-hai-wei so long and especially to exclude Great
Russia remains at Port Britain, with its hateful prinArthur, was undoubtedly a feeble ciples and practice of free act, unworthy of a strong Con- trade; but their real grievservative Government, and thus ance was the prospect of any unworthy of the country. Not competition with their practhat there is the smallest doubt tical monopoly of the China about the permanence of Rus- trade. Their alarm was probsia's occupation. That is not the ably in great point: the point is, that the in- founded.
other sertion of such contingent terms good and modest men, they
underrated their own powers, the British, the presence there and forgot, or failed to take of a few hundred white troops, note of, the fact that British a few thousand British-drilled merchants have proved them- yellow ones, and half-a-dozen selves capable - when they first-class battleships riding in wake up—of holding their own the roadstead or cruising in in trade, even against hostile the Gulf of Pechili, hinder the tariffs.
Russians from marching on Our able Minister at Peking Peking, with a result which had a most difficult game to play,
be for there can be very
little doubtful ? doubt now that the absolute Whether this will take place seizure of Port Arthur by the in five, ten, or twenty years Russians was
a surprise for from the date of the seizure of the British Government. The Port Arthur we do not pretend Government probably thought to prophesy. There are physiin a vague sort of way that cal and political difficulties to Russia would eventually get
be overcome. That the enPort Arthur: but it was not gineers will overcome all the prepared for the sudden grab; physical ones there cannot be and, like an unexpected check doubt. If they come at chess, it took them flat an utterly impracticable river aback. They talked big about which cannot be bridged, they the
open door "; sent a will just burrow under it, like powerful squadron to Chefoo the Severn tunnel. Give them (opposite to Port Arthur, and money enough and they always about seventy miles from it); win against nature in the longand finally they pounced upon
And as to the political Wei-hai-wei, and took posses- difficulties, — the unswerving sion of it upon the terms above tenacity of purpose of successive mentioned.
generations of Russian statesWhen the Russians' carefully men, the apparently inexorable laid schemes are ripe for execu- law of her expansion wherever tion, their strategic railways she impinges on a softer or finished, Manchuria Russian- more loosely organised comised, Vladivostock and Portmunity, the ambition of her Arthur rendered absolutely generals, and the undoubted impregnable from sea attack, richness of the prize to be and the Czar, irritated and played for, point to the probdisappointed at the general ability of all political difficulties rejection of his disarmament being overcome also. proposal (we fully appreciate Of one fact we may be perthe rashness of prophecy), and fectly certain, Russia has not urged onwards by the advice spent enormous sums of money of ambitious Ministers and on the construction of the generals thirsting for glory, trans-Siberian railway for the shall make up his mind to purpose of developing the remarch his armies on Peking sources of her barren posses-how, we ask, will the mere sions in north-eastern Asia ! occupation of Wei-hai-wei by A distinguished British naval
officer, who lately visited China remotest provinces thrown open on “a purely commercial mis- to foreign trade. China, as sion,” advocates the organisa- hitherto known to Western tion of the Chinese army by nations—that is to say, as a British officers, and an alliance self-governing Power-has albetween Great Britain, America, ready ceased to exist. She is Germany, and Japan, with the no longer independent. She view of preventing Russia from must do
she is told encroaching on the Chinese em to do by foreigners. She pire from the north, whilst her can exercise no will of her ally France is nibbling at the own,-if she could she would south. This would mean the shut the door in all our faces; division of the Powers men- but she knows now that her tioned into two great hostile powers of resistance are gone. camps, each trying to thwart For fifty years she has been the other at every turn—using struggling against the forces all the wiles of diplomacy and of civilisation (barbarism from the still more persuasive argu- her point of view), and with ment of threats upon a feeble that object has strenuously reChinese Government to further sisted railways, but the game their own interests and frus- is up now. The barbarians have trate the schemes of their leaped the great wall and are rivals. There are others, again, inside the citadel : further direct who think that Great Britain resistance is useless, and she and Russia being the two can only now exercise her miserprincipal parties concerned — able tactics of dilatoriness, demight, without loss of dignity lay, and obstruction, by preand with much gain to their tending that she does not unmaterial interests,
to derstand. The only active terms as to the disposal of policy at all open to her is the the yellow man's land; for it well-known tactics of our friend can scarcely be doubted that the Sultan—that of trying to the rapid process of disintegra- stir up discord amongst her tion which has set in since tormentors, with the hope that the disastrous defeat of China while they are employed in tearwill lead ere long to large ing each other's eyes out, she tracts of that ancient empire may be left in peace until they passing under the complete con- have finished ; but it behoves trol, if not under the actual the statesmen of Europe to see government, of alien Powers. that this policy does not sucThere can be no more closing ceed. It will be recorded in the of China. The oyster has been pages of history to the everopened now once for all, and lasting credit of the present cannot be shut again: all the generation of European statesancient traditions of exclusive- men if they can divide decently must
be swept away. the carcass of the deceased Before many years are passed dragon without falling out the whole country will be about it. It was undoubtedly riddled by railways, and the St George who wounded him
unto death, though he did not mud easily removed. Thus the give him the coup de gráce: harbour as a harbour (a shelter this was reserved for the sturdy from the weather) can be inexlittle pagan of his own blood. pensively made a first-class one ; The Great Bear smelt the blood but this is not the whole quesfrom afar, and came hurrying tion. Wei- hai - wei is within across a frozen continent to get ninety miles of Port Arthur, a share of the spoils. He is which Russia is rapidly turnmaking a bid for the Lion's ing into a first-class fortress, share: but if the Lion, and the the harbour of which, though German and American Eagles small, is completely landlocked, (both of whom are hovering is capable of being made abover the carcass), are wise solutely impregnable from any enough to keep the peace sea attack, can easily be closed amongst themselves and to pull with boom defences, and the together, the Bear will have ships within it thus rendered to be satisfied with a moderate safe from torpedo-boat attack, share, and will then, no doubt, And the harbour itself is adpretend that he never wanted mirably adapted to shelter a more. He is a wily Bear, and hundred torpedo-boats, or say, likes to get all he wants with- fifty destroyers of the sokol out fighting; in fact he hates type, - a condition of affairs fighting (just at present), and which would in time of war considers it a barbarous and render the anchorage at Weidisgraceful way of settling dis-hai-wei untenable by an enemy's putes. Yet, while he invites ships, no matter how strongly all the other animals to cut the island might be fortified. their claws, he takes good care In order to place Wei-hai-wei not to clip his own; and he in a condition of equality with never leaves one of his numer- Port Arthur, it is necessary
that ous dens unguarded.
a breakwater should be built, To drop metaphor and to re- the estimated cost of which turn to the subject of our article, ranges between one and two the name Wei-hai-wei belongs millions sterling; and this would properly to a miserable, decay- be exclusive of a dock, factory, ing, sixth-rate walled town, at repairing-shops, or any of the the bottom of a shallow bay op- other adjuncts of a naval depot. posite to the western end of the It may be that the Governisland. The so-called harbour of ment hesitates to propose the Wei-hai-wei is of very wide ex- expenditure of so large a sum of tent, though shallow throughout money upon this remote island the greater part of its area, and in the China Sea; and it has there are only three safe berths been authoritatively stated that for heavy ships during the win- they intend to make of it a ter months; but dredging opera- “secondary naval base," with tions have already been com- repairing-shops, &c. So far so menced, and the deep water good; and if the said secondarea will be rapidly increased, ary naval base did not hapas the bottom is soft and the pen to be within ninety miles of the first-class naval base would no doubt go out and and torpedo depot of a possible try to fight a decisive battle enemy, there would be no strat- in the open sea; but it is exegic error in the pursuance of tremely unlikely that the wily such a policy
. But taking Russians would accept any into consideration the geograph- such tactics, or fight in the ical situation of the two open at all, unless they felt places, and the steps which that they had time to concenRussia has already taken, and trate their forces from Vladiis following up with all haste, vostock and Port Arthur at a in the fortification of Port rendezvous well to the eastward Arthur and Ta-lien-wan, the of, and out of sight of, land dredging and improvement of from the Shantung promontory, the former, the ordering and and then fall upon the British rapid construction of a large with overwhelming force before number of sokols (i.e., the
the the latter could be reinforced torpedo-boat of the immediate from the south. And in this future) specially intended for connection it must not be forPort Arthur, and, last but not gotten that France and Russia least, the general drift of her are allies (for the present at railway policy in Manchuria, — any rate), and that France has taking all these things into con- a not inconsiderable force of sideration, we are unable to see modern warships in the vicinity how a secondary naval base, of Saigon, which place is directly with an inadequately protected on our trade - route between harbour at Wei-hai-wei, can Singapore and Hong-kong; so prove to be aught but a danger- that it would be impossible to ous trap in which British ships denude the South China seas will be caught in case of war of a force at least sufficient to with Russia.
meet the French, and it would It is not a question of com- take time for reinforcements to mand of the sea-we may have arrive from Australia and the a far more absolute command Eastern Pacific. of the sea than we have at Assuming, however, that the present, or are at all likely to British force in North China is have on the outbreak of war: sufficiently powerful to keep the Wei-hai-wei without a defen- Russians shut up in Port Arthur, sible harbour (defensible against and to prevent a junction of the torpedo attack) will be a veri- ships from Vladivostock, what, table trap. A British admiral then, is the situation ? Still with a squadron of warships extremely awkward for the at Wei - hai - wei, caught, British, as the Russians could without much warning, by a remain perfectly secure from all sudden outbreak of war with attacks either by ships or torRussia, would find himself in pedo-boats in Port Arthur hara very tight place. If his bour, whilst the British, in their force
equal, or indefensible position at Wei-haislightly inferior, to that of his wei, must either put to sea enemy in Northern China, he every night, or be subject to