« PreviousContinue »
The second great lesson is that the government, state and national, and every person connected in any way with education, should strive by every means to mould the youth of foreign ancestry into true Americans as fast as possible; to stimulate in them the spirit
of nationality, to inspire them with intelligent pride in our history and political institutions; above all, to implant in their deepest consciousness the truth that their country may justly demand of them the supreme sacrifice, and that patriotism is the noblest of the virtues.
CHINA, JAPAN, AND THE HUNDRED DAYS
BY E. BRUCE MITFORD
WHILE the nations of the West have been raging furiously together, for all the world like the Psalmist's heathen, the East has had an affair of its own, - a by-product, as it were, of Armageddon. To the long list of their differences, dating far back into the past, China and Japan have added one more. Unlike all that went before, however, this quarrel, originating in the action of an Occidental power, has stirred the West almost as profoundly as the East. So close has become the interdependence between those who-the poets have assured us - can never meet.
Peking, headquarters of Orientalism of the age-old type, was the theatre of strife. Ever the home of intrigue, the Chinese capital, on this occasion, excelled itself. Never was such a maze of contradictions, recriminations, imputations, and hard swearing. Men are still asking where lay the rights and wrongs of the matter. What, in truth, was China's attitude? Which of the European powers pulled the strings? As for the aims of Japan toward her vast, lethargic neighbor, must they be written down as selfish and sinister, or altruistic and benign?
The trouble was not of yesterday. In the late nineties, Germany, established in Shantung, menaced the Middle Kingdom from the south; Russia, with a trans-continental railway behind her, was coming down from the north. Clearly a danger to China, this 'forward policy' was also a challenge to Japan. The Western powers aimed at the political and commercial domination of the Middle Kingdom. Like a lion in their path lay the Island power, which had just won its naval and military spurs. So with a cry of 'Hands off!' Japan was hustled out of her fairly won position in Liaotung. But 'the little people' (as the globe-trotter loves to call them), undaunted by the odds, rose to the crisis of their history. To insure the keeping of the ring, they allied themselves with Britain more truly great than when she extended the right hand of fellowship to the yellow man. Then, with a sublime audacity, they measured themselves with the colossus, and, at an all but ruinous cost, stayed the Muscovite advance. That was in 1905. The danger from the north headed off, there still remained the reckoning with Germany
the power which, posing as the Heaven-sent champion of Christendom, sought the ostracism of the Japanese as 'yellow barbarians,' enemies of civilization. The opportunity came last year, when the invitation to retrocede KiaoChao, conveyed, with such delicate irony, to Berlin, was sullenly ignored. As the result of naval and military operations, conducted with the skill and thoroughness which have become proverbial of Japan's war-work, the FarEastern outpost of Germanism, beloved of the Kaiser, is no more. The signatories of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, posted at Wei Hai Wei and Port Arthur respectively, remain the deliverers of China and the joint guardians of her integrity.
Thus, for the second time in a single decade, China had been laid under a great obligation to her neighbor. What was Japan's reward? Glory, a 'special position' in Manchuria, and—from those whom she had succored-the winter's wind of ingratitude. It was little enough to show for an outlay of a billion dollars and half a million lives. When, therefore, by their third war in twenty years, they had rid Shantung of the incubus of Germanism, it seemed to the statesmen at Tokyo that, with the exGerman lease on their hands, the time was ripe for a general settlement of outstanding questions. Such a settlement, it was hoped, while satisfying claims old and new, would remove all future cause of friction and set the peace of the Far East upon a permanent basis.
Let us try to realize the Japanese point of view. By virtue of their military achievements, the Island people have attained to the status of a great power; but in material resources they are far behind. To the commercial eye - however it may delight the æsthetic - Japan is no land of promise: only the eighth of it has been, or can be, redeemed from the unprofitable hills. In
no other way can a national competence be acquired than by a large development of oversea trade. Near at hand lies China, with well-nigh illimitable possibilities from this very point of view. Japanese commercial circles believe that, in open competition with the West, thanks to their twin advantages of position and cheap production, they can hold their own, or more, in that vast field of activity. Thus, they believe, can be remedied the chief weakness of their national economy. But, with all this, there is no idea of 'peaceful penetration,' absorption, or territorial expansion of any sort. Japan recognizes that China is not only the greatest, but the freest, of the world's markets; that practically every Western nation has a stake therein; and that, were she fired with the insensate ambition of acquiring the whole for herself, she would speedily lose that general good-will which she prizes and has long sought to win. Nay more, she would find against her a world in arms.
Commerce without amity soon runs dry. This industrial expansion in China which the Japanese consider of such vital importance to themselves could never be achieved in the teeth of Chinese ill-will- and they know it. So, conquest being out of the question, coöperation must take its place. The concessions for which Japan asked in February of this year were expressly designed to meet this end. They may be said to fall under three heads: (1) the encouragement of commercial intercourse in general; (2) the introduction of the principle of joint Chino-Japanese enterprise; (3) the prevention of future causes of dispute.
The demands were arranged in five groups, officially designated articles.' The first four related, in order, to Shantung, South Manchuria, Eastern Inner Mongolia, and the Han-Yeh-Ping
Company an important railway and mining concern largely supported by Japanese capital. They had for their objects, respectively, the adjustment of the new conditions arising out of the expulsion of Germany from KiaoChao; the extension of the leasehold privileges already enjoyed by Japan in her specially recognized sphere; trading and other facilities requisite for the opening of Eastern Inner Mongolia; and the confirmation of the joint status already in existence at Han-Yeh-Ping. Next followed a proviso that China should not 'cede or lease to any foreign country any harbor, bay, or island' on her sea-coast-a stipulation clearly suggested, and rendered expedient, by the events of recent years. The fifth group, or article, — to which the strongest exception has been taken, — embraced all the three principles enumerated above. Concessions for railway construction were asked for in Southern China, subject to the assent of other powers; China was urged to agree to the establishment of a joint ChinoJapanese arsenal, to the propagation of religion by Japanese missionaries, and to the formation of a joint Chino-Jap anese police force; and, finally, the Peking Government was requested (a) to engage Japanese advisers 'in case of need' (I quote from the revised text); (b) to pledge itself not to permit the establishment of a naval or military base on the coast of Fukien, opposite the Japanese island of Formosa. Farreaching though these demands were, they must be viewed in the light of history and of the unique conditions prevailing in the Far East. China's weakness has led to so much trouble that that very weakness is, in large measure, their justification. Nor is there any thing in them incompatible with a sincere desire to set China on her feet in a world where she is still a stranger to the advantage, not only of the two
neighboring peoples but, ultimately, of the West.
Confronted with this new situation, what was China's attitude? She resorted to the policy which has so often stood her in good stead - that of playing off one power against another, in the hope, Micawber-like, that something would turn up. Thus predisposed, she fell among evil counselors, only too ready to work upon her prejudices the German intriguers at Peking and the representatives of the foreign commercial interests in general. Among the latter, anti-Japanese sentiment is perennial. The Japanese are their most dreaded rivals, and any and every extension of Japanese influence, commercial or political, is opposed to them as a matter of course. In the German minister at Peking, Von Heincke, they found an able coadjutor. Skillfully utilizing the favorable circumstances, German agents, under the direction of their minister, caused the dismissal of the editor of the only paper published in English at Peking, for no other reason than that he was English, and, by substituting for him a pro-German Chinese, secured control of its policy. A similar manœuvre in Japan, carried through with the aid of German residents there, was promptly countered by the Japanese authorities - the paper was suppressed and the entire staff deported; but the Peking journal was permitted to pursue its mischievous work unchecked. Here, as elsewhere, German gold was freely used for German ends. Circulars, printed in Chinese, were sent gratis to all parts of the country, containing accounts, on the one hand, of dazzling German victories, and, on the other, of such disasters to the Allied cause as the total destruction of the British fleet. Exaggerated and distorted versions of Japan's demands were spread broadcast. With Machiavellian
cunning it was made to appear that these demands were specially aimed against Britain and America. Thus, British advisers throughout China were to be dismissed and replaced by Japanese; while a sort of Monroe Doctrine was to be set up by Japan with regard to China, as a check to American enterprise in the Pacific area. It was useless for Sir Edward Grey, on the one hand, to declare that Japan was keeping well within the let ter of the law, and for Mr. Bryan, on the other, to aver that 'neither Japan nor China' had suggested anything which could involve the surrender of American treaty-rights. The stream of misrepresentation continued to flow, and, merely because of its provenance, held the field. Even journals of repute were found complaining, with touching naïveté, that the versions of the situation cabled from Peking did not tally with those officially communicated by Japan to the governments concerned!
The results of the German-inspired anti-Japanese campaign exceeded the wildest hopes of its propagators. The humane onlooker is wont to side with the weaker combatant, irrespective of the merits of the case. So the assumption became general that the Japanese were taking advantage of the preoccupation of the powers to set up what amounted to a hegemony of the Chinese Republic. As a matter of fact, moderation in the conduct of the negotiations was all on the Japanese side. After the accepted Oriental manner, they had begun by asking more than they expected; but concession after concession on their side brought no response from the other. Among other modifications, the proposals for the propagation of religion and for the formation of a joint police force were withdrawn. Twice the entire list of the demands was revised in accordance with the wishes of the Chinese; but
when presented afresh, they were pronounced as unacceptable as ever. Even the Tokyo government's offer of the voluntary retrocession of Kiao-Chao was met by Peking with a counter-demand that Japan should pay for all damage suffered by the Chinese in the operations undertaken for its capture. It at last became evident that the Chinese had no intention of coming to terms of any sort. And the explanation of this extraordinary attitude is not far to seek. So successfully had the German agents at Peking done their work that the final victory of the Teutonic powers in the Great War was believed, by the Chinese, to be assured. In that event, of course, Kiao-Chao would revert to German hands, and there would be nothing for China to disburse. Japan, indeed, would have to look to herself. So, they argued, it was obviously unwise to make concessions - whether for the purpose of gaining Japanese good-will or notover an issue not yet decided. Pro-German Chinese went so far as to suggest that the Japanese, well aware of this, were merely making haste to secure in advance what they might be unable to get if they waited till the war was over.
Thus a matter for the adjustment of which a few weeks should have sufficed, was dragged on into months. No less than twenty-five meetings of the plenipotentiaries took place, with no practical result. Others arranged for had to be postponed through the illness of one or another of the Chinese officials. Popular opinion in Tokyo, well accustomed to Chinese dilatoriness, rose against this unprecedented and unmistakable delay. The staff of the Foreign Office, remembering the assassination of Mr. Abé, not many months ago, for alleged weak handling of Chinese affairs, went in fear of their lives. In these circumstances, the Cabinet called to its aid the Supreme Council of the Genro, or
Elder Statesmen, a measure resorted to only in times of grave national crisis; and it was decided though not without the greatest reluctance to use the final argument.
At the eleventh hour Chinese opinion showed a cleavage. Some, foreseeing the next Japanese step, were in favor of yielding before an ultimatum could be sent. Others were for yielding to the threat of force, and to that alone. This, they urged, would have the effect of placing Japan in the worst possible light. While under no delusions as to obtaining armed assistance from the West, they would thus insure the largest measure of sympathy from that quarter. Yuan Shih-kai, there is good reason to believe, was not with the extremists. But the sands of Japanese patience had run out. Upon all this strife of tongues Mr. Heki, the Japanese minister, broke with his government's ultimatum, on May 6. To make its acceptance less difficult, in the interests of Far Eastern peace and in deference to the wishes of a certain power,' Article 5 - comprising, in the main, questions not directly concerned with the situation in Manchuria or Shantung was separated from the main body of the demands, to be held over for future discussion. As to the remainder, a reply was requested within forty-eight hours. It came in the
shape of an unreserved acceptance; and the crisis was ended. The war of patience against intrigue, of progress against reaction, had lasted just a hundred days.
Whether viewed from the historical standpoint or from that of modern po
litical development, Japan's position with respect to China differs radically from that of any Western power with the exception, in part, of Russia. The motives which govern her policy are not altogether altruistic; this, as we have seen, she cannot afford to be; but neither are they sordid. It is true that, were the Chinese market to be closed against her, she would suffer irreparable ruin and she knows it. It is no less true that she takes a higher view of her relationship with China, as of her rôle in the Far East. In the words of her venerable Prime Minister, Count Okuma, uttered years ago, she has a mission in the Oriental world. It is a mission calling for a new way of life. China has been saved from external enemies; she has yet to be saved from herself. Corrupt, weak, and lacking in national spirit, the whilom Celestial Empire is in danger of disintegration and decay. Such a collapse (which to Japan would be a calamity) can be averted only by China's regeneration on Western lines. Yesterday Japan trod that path; she would have China tread it now. But, as the task is infinitely more difficult than in her own case, she would advise, guide, coöperate. Who, indeed, more fitted for the work? Could she accomplish it, future generations of a transformed Cathay would yet arise to call her blessed.
Such, in spirit, is the policy of Japan toward her Chinese neighbor. It is a great and worthy policy. And, because it is both great and worthy, her statesmen may be trusted to pursue it, as far as in them lies, through good report and evil, to the end.