British Relations with China: 1931-1939

British Relations with China: 1931-1939

British Relations with China: 1931-1939

British Relations with China: 1931-1939

Excerpt

A study of British relations with China since 1931 presents certain peculiar problems. Legally China is an independent, sovereign state, enjoying the rights and duties flowing from this status; but actually during the period under review China was still in some respects in a quasi-colonial relation to the Western Powers. Furthermore, China was in constant danger of losing her independence because of Japanese aggression. Great Britain's attempt to maintain her position in China during this period, in which Japanese aggression threatened Chinese independence and British interests in China, forms the main thread of this story.

Throughout the period from the "Mukden Incident" to the outbreak of the present war in Europe, the Conservative Party was in control of the British Government. Britain's China policy was the policy of the Conservative Party, and the opposition had little influence upon it. Accordingly, little space has been given to opposition opinion, but considerable attention has been paid to conflicting attitudes within Conservative circles. Special emphasis has been placed on the opinions and attitudes of the British commercial groups in China which have the most immediate and deepest interest in the affairs of China. The safeguarding of their interests is the primary purpose of British policy in China, although always subject to the larger problems of imperial defense and world politics.

British relations with China from 1931 to 1939 have been the subject of much comment and discussion, but not of serious and scholarly work. The story had to be written from very diverse and, at times, controversial materials, without the benefit of any previous compilation of sources. Because of the contemporary nature of the subject, care had to be taken in the evaluation and treatment of the great amount of available materials. The pitfalls which await those dealing with contemporary topics such as the temptation to use sensational but unsubstantiated reports, have been borne in mind with the hope that they might thus be avoided. However, until certain sources . . .

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