Britain and the Last Tsar: British Policy and Russia, 1894-1917

By Keith Neilson | Go to book overview

6
Concessions, Conflict, and Conciliation: China, 1895-1899

WHILE Salisbury had reason to be unhappy with the position that he inherited in Anglo-Russian relations about Armenia, the same could not be said about the position in China. At the end of the Sino-Japanese War, Anglo-Russian relations in the Far East were on a relatively friendly footing. During the next four years, the situation fluctuated greatly. From 1895 until 1897, the Great Powers sought railway concessions in and the right to make loans to China. This involved the British government to some extent, but it was largely an issue of secondary importance. The Foreign Office had confidence that British commercial interests could hold their own unaided. The German seizure of a naval base at Kiaochow in 1897, which prompted a similar Russian acquisition of Port Arthur, was viewed quite differently. This threatened the strategic balance in the Far East. When these actions were combined with a Russian attempt to gain undue influence over China by means of offering her a big loan, the British had to take action. The result was Salisbury's failed attempt in 1898 to reach a general agreement with Russia. However, while this wider initiative was not successful, in April 1899 Salisbury was able to reassert Britain's influence in the Far East through a limited Anglo-Russian agreement over Chinese railway concessions.

After the successful coercion of Japan by the Great Powers, the immediate question arose: where were the Chinese to obtain the money to pay the indemnity that they owed Japan?1 The immediate contenders were the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, the largest British financial power in the Far East, and the Deutsche-Asiatische Bank, the quasi-state bank created to provide funding for German commercial efforts in China.2 However, in the wings were both the French and Russian governments, with the latter quite willing to accept the burden of the entire loan in order to strengthen its influence in China. The Hongkong Bank

____________________
1
E. W. Edwards, British Diplomacy and Finance in China, 1895-1914 ( Oxford, 1987), 8-30.
2
F. H. H. King, The History of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, ii, The Hongkong Bank in the Period of Imperialism and War, 1895-1918: Wayfoong, the Focus of Wealth ( Cambridge 1988),258-312; R. A. Dayer, Finance and Empire: Sir Charles Addis 1861-1945 ( New York, 1988), 35-46.

-178-

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Britain and the Last Tsar: British Policy and Russia, 1894-1917
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Maps viii
  • List of Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • PART I SETTING THE STAGE 1
  • 2- The Élite's Russia 51
  • 3- The Public's Russia 84
  • 4- The Bear and the Whale: Russia in British Defence Planning 110
  • Part II- RIVALRY 1894-1905 145
  • 5- Problems Old and New: China And Armenia, 1894-1896 147
  • 6- Concessions, Conflict, and Conciliation: China, 1895-1899 178
  • 7- Anglo-Russian Relations, 1899-1903: China and Central Asia 205
  • 8- The Russo-Japanese War 238
  • Part III- RECONCILIATION? 1906-1917 265
  • 9- Forging the Anglo-Russian Convention 267
  • 10- Alliance Firmed, 1907-1910 289
  • II- Alliance Under Fire, 1911-1914 317
  • 12- Alliance in Action, 1914-1917 341
  • Conclusion 367
  • Bibliography 373
  • Index 401
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