Towards the Rising Sun

Article excerpt

Russian Ideologies of Empire and the Path to War with Japan

David Schimmelpenninck Van Der Oye

DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2001, xv, 329pp,

US$40.00, ISBN 0-87580-296-1

David Schimmelpenninck's monograph is a welcome addition to the few studies of Russia's relationship with China. Schimmelpenninck's task is the deconstruction of Russia's schizophrenic attitude towards China and the contribution of these ideas to the 1905 Russo-Japanese war. Employing a theoretical position informed by Said and post-colonial studies of empire Schimmelpenninck's work opens the subject of Russia's conflicted views of China and heralds a more critical debate on the Sino-Russian relationship.

His introduction is a fine review of the historiography on the 1905 war. He identifies two principal causes for the outbreak of the war - first an ambitious and territory-hungry Russian court and second a failure of Russian diplomacy to gauge the effects of its imperialist policies on both China and Japan. Schimmelpenninck's aim is to provide the missing analytic variable - Russian stereotypes of China and the Chinese motivating the tsar and his ministers.

The study would have benefited from less reliance on broad European, especially German, examples of Orientalism and 'Yellow Peril' and more interrogation of Schimmelpenninck's Russian sources. …