André Tardieu.

France and the alliances: the struggle for the balance of power online

. (page 16 of 22)
Online LibraryAndré TardieuFrance and the alliances: the struggle for the balance of power → online text (page 16 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


" 1°. That, without incriminating the French Gov-
ernment's good faith, she was of opinion that the
latter's orders had been insufficiently executed.

'' 2°. That, since her observations had been acted
upon, after the things complained of had occurred,
it was regrettable no better surveillance had been*
carried out before.

" 3°. That, while not ignorant of the complexity of
maritime neutrality questions and of the reasons
France had for adhering to her own special regula-
tions, she — Japan — considered that the aid given
to the Russian fleet, through no proper surveillance
being exercised, had greatly facilitated the accom-
plishment of its mission and had enabled it to
reach the China seas."



226 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

Mr. Motono concluded : —

"What Japan defends against France is her very
existence.

" What she invokes is the spirit of the duty of
neutrahty against the quibbles of the letter.

" What she affirms is that, on many distinct
and successive occasions Rodjestvensky has utilized
French waters, during his voyage on a war-expedi-
tion, either for staying to re victual his ships or else
for the purpose of awaiting in safety the arrival of
his reenforcements."

The French Government replied that in law they
were completely covered by their neutrality regula-
tions, drawn up, not on the occasion of the Russo-
Japanese war, but at the beginning of that between
Spain and the United States ; that they had taken,
in spite of the letter of these regulations, all the meas-
ures in their power to secure complete impartiality ;
that, except at Algiers, and there only in very small
quantities, there had never been any direct pur-
chase of coal in French ports; that purchases made
even from French private persons, through the me-
dium of trading vessels accompanying the squadron,
had been insignificant; that all the stock of coal
used by these vessels had been bought in England
and Germany, without Japan's having made any
protest on the matter ; that it was impossible to ex-
ercise permanent surveillance along the whole of
the Indo-Chinese coasts ; that, moreover, the Japan-
ese had done in the Dutch Indies and the Philip-
pines the same things that they reproached the



ASIATIC AND EUROPEAN UNDERSTANDINGS 227

Russians with doing in French waters. This dis-
cussion between the two Governments had no defi-
nite conclusion ; but it left traces. A report, which
was false, was published by some newspapers to the
effect that the Japanese military Staff had elabo-
rated a plan of invasion against Indo-China; and
this produced a certain amount of sore feeling in
France. Consequently, just after the end of the
war, Franco-Japanese relations were less cordial '
than they had been before it.

Finally, if the Anglo-Japanese Alliance can be
considered as one of the causes of the war of 1904, ■
this cause subsisted more than ever on the morrow
of the conclusion of peace. For the Alliance was
renewed in London on the 12th of August, 1905,(
while negotiations were in progress and before they
had finished. The common principles to which the
two Governments subscribed were : —

1°. The consolidation and preservation of general
peace in the regions of Eastern Asia and India.

2°. The upholding of the common interests of all
the Powers in China, while assuring the indepen-
dence and integrity of the Chinese Empire and the
principle of equality for the commerce and industry
of all nations, in China.

3°. The maintenance of the territorial rights of
the high contracting parties in the regions of East-
ern Asia and India.

Japan's political preponderance in Corea was rec-
ognized by England. On the other hand, Japan
recognized that Great Britain, by virtue of ''her es-



228 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

pecial interests along all the Indian frontier, had the
right to take, in the neighbourhood of this frontier,
such measures as she judged necessary for the pro-
tection of her possessions in India." The clause
respecting military cooperation remained the same
as in the first treaty, except that Article 7, relative
to 'Hhe means by which help should be rendered
available," allowed it to be understood that such
military cooperation might be given in Europe as
well as in Asia. The Alliance was concluded this
time for ten years, and was consequently extended
and strengthened. The article referring to the Ind-
ian frontiers and their '' neighbourhood" lent itself
to all sorts of interpretations, even to that of a plan
of military action against Russia in Central Asia.
The Alliance was generalized in its object and made
more precise in its means.

For France, it brought out the disquieting possi-
bility of a conflict no longer between Russia and ,
Japan, but between Russia and England. The
rivalry of the '^elephant" and the ''whale" was em-
phasized by the very precautions taken in London
to protect English possessions in Asia. In the course
of the war, the Dogger Bank incident had shown how
great the tension of minds was both in England and |
Russia. The Saint Petersburg papers openly ac- ■
cused Great Britain not only of having excited Japan
and let loose the war, but of fostering Russian revo-
lution with her gold. The English had not concealed
their sympathies for Japan, and had even given
them a distinctly aggressive form against the ''heredi-



ASIATIC AND EUROPEAN UNDERSTANDINGS 229

tary enemy," saying as the Glohe did : ''We shall not
deviate from this line of conduct through fear of giv-
ing umbrage to Russia's friends on the Continent or
through complaisance to the sentiments of Continen-
tal Powers." It was Lord Curzon's earlier policy
which had riiost efficaciously contributed to prepare
the way for the first Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The
second one had the same character, in spite of the
letter in which, on the 6th of September, Lord Lans-
downe had announced it to Sir Charles Hardinge, the
British Ambassador at Saint Petersburg. Notwith-
standing the euphemisms in which the English guar-
antee was expressed when publicly spoken of, its
consolidation of the Japanese victories caused the
Russians an anxiety which was quite legitimate. The
situation of France between Russia, her ally since
1891, and England, her friend since 1904, was about'
as difficult a one as could be conceived. The con-
ciliation of our Alliance and our friendship might
become impossible. And our entire policy risked
being paralyzed in the attempt.

Whilst, through the conflict of alliances, which,
in the month of September, 1905, was developing in
Paris and Berlin, Germany derived an immediate ad-
vantage from her intervention, as proved by Mr.
Delcasse's resignation and the forthcoming meeting
of the Algeciras Conference, she was, therefore, bene-
fited indirectly, but very appreciably also, by the
events that had occurred in the Far East, although
taking no part in them. The result for France was
a false, precarious situation, perhaps even a danger-



230 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

ous one. Between an enfeebled Alliance and a tri-
umphant friendship, our country must expect any-
thing. In the past ten years, the intrusion of Asiatic
affairs into European policy had always been
prejudicial to us; and when the crisis closed, Asia
weighed upon us more than ever, burdening our fu-
ture with heavy uncertainty, all to Germany's profit.

II

It is to the honour of France that she succeeded
in less than two years in warding off the three dan-
gers threatening her — a conflict between Russia and
Japan, a conflict between France and Japan, and a
conflict between England and Russia — by means
of three reconciliations, Russo-Japanese, Franco-
Japanese, and Anglo-Russian.

The Russo-Japanese was the first one that needed
securing; and, consequently, it was the first one
essayed. Not to speak of the resentments already
alluded to, the Treaty of Portsmouth had left mate-
rial incertitudes subsisting. Arrangements it had
provided for were still to be negotiated ; and certain
things remained to be defined more clearly, while
there were also measures to be taken for the Treaty's
execution. Between the month of December, 1905,
and the end of 1906, the report was spread several
times that these supplementary negotiations, which
had commenced immediately after the signing of
the Treaty, were making no progress. On the 1st
of January, 1907, Mr. Motono, the Japanese Am-



ASIATIC AND EUROPEAN UNDERSTANDINGS 231

bassador at Saint Petersburg, protested publicly
against such rumours, in which the wish was father
to the thought, being circulated both by Japanese
and Russian newspapers. Thanks to the concilia-
tory spirit shown by the Ambassador, as also by Mr.
Isvolsky, the year 1907 witnessed the conclusion of
the necessary agreements. On the 13th of June, the
Convention relative to the exploitation of the East
China and South Manchurian railways was signed at
Saint Petersburg; and also the protocol relative to
the station in common at Kwang-Chung-tse.

On the 28th of July, 1907, an arrangement was
made respecting the Fisheries question, which
granted to Japanese subjects the right to fish,
gather, and treat sea produce, seals and walruses
excepted, in the seas of Japan, Okhotsk, and Behr-
ing, excluding only rivers and bays. Portions of
land were to' be offered on public lease to Japanese
and Russian subjects, without distinction, for the
preparation, etc., on shore of the fish that was caught.
On the same day, a Treaty of Commerce and Navi-
gation reciprocally recognized, on behalf of the sub-
jects of both countries, rights and privileges which
did not normally accrue from the most-favoured-
nation clause. Finally, on the 30th of July, Mr.
Isvolsky and Mr. Motono signed an agreement of
more general scope. ''Being desirous," it was said,
''of fortifying the pacific, amicable, and neighbourly
relations which have been happily reestablished be-
tween Russia and Japan and to do away with the
possibility of future misunderstanding between the



232 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

two Empires," the contracting parties made the
following stipulations : —

Article 1. — Each of the high contracting parties promises
to respect the present territorial integrity of the other, as also
all the rights accruing to either the one or the other of the high
contracting parties from the treaties in force, agreements or con-
ventions in application at present between the high contracting
parties and China, the texts of which have been exchanged be-
tween the contracting Powers, this in the measure in which such
rights are not incompatible with the principle of equal treat-
ment enunciated in the Treaty signed at Portsmouth, on the 5th
of September, 1905, and in the special conventions concluded
between Russia and Japan.

Article 2. — The two high contracting parties recognize the
independence and territorial integrity of the Empire of China,
as also the principle of equal treatment with regard to trade
and industry for all the nations of the said Empire. They like-
wise pledge themselves to uphold the statu quo and the respect
of this principle by all the pacific means at their disposal.

With praiseworthy clear-sightedness, Mr. Isvolsky
thus drew the inevitable consequences from a war
which had, indeed, cost Russia neither a kopeck of
indemnity nor an inch of her territory, and from
which, therefore, resulted no imperious duty of re-
venge. The Asiatic policy, as it had been practised
at Saint Petersburg since 1896, embraced more of a
chimera than a reality. It is not in the seas of China
that Russia has to seek for the free port promised
her by Peter the Great ; not at four thousand kilo-
metres from her Capital that a great Continental
Power must place the centre of her action. The
agreements of 1907, which recorded accomplished
facts and substituted friendship for distrust, were
consequently inspired by just views. Having played



ASIATIC AND EUROPEAN UNDERSTANDINGS 233

a discreet and friendly r61e in the conclusion of these
agreements, France saw the Russian Alliance re-
placed by them, on its proper basis, that is to say, in
Europe. The more immediate peril existing for her
in the Far East was removed by the sincere recon-
ciliation of those who so lately had been adversaries.
And the field was thus opened for the pursuit of
other guarantees.

If intellectual and moral ties have any value in
the formation of international combinations, they
should contribute something to the rapprochement
of France and Japan. As was well said by the Jap-
anese newspaper, the Kokumin, in the autumn of
1906, France, among the nations of Europe, was one
of the most eager to encourage the Mikado and his
people in the evolution which has made Japan a
great Power. It was to France that the Japanese
officers came who were sent to acquire instruction in
military organization. And it was a Frenchman,
Mr. Bertin, who created the Japanese fleet. The
Japanese Code was modelled on that of Napoleon.
Even during the course of the war, and in spite of
the incidents mentioned above, a Japanese states-
man of mark, Baron Suyematsu, son-in-law of the
Marquis Ito, said to me : —

^'No one in Japan is surprised at your sympathies
for your allies. But we do not forget either — and
we hope that France does not forget — the ancient,
cordial relations uniting us to you, the services you
have rendered us, the friendships you have formed
among us. However ferocious a war may be, it is



234 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

only an incident in the history of the world. This
one has created between France and Japan a situa-
tion which is false and somewhat embarrassing. But
let us recollect two things — first, that France has
never been wronged by Japan, and secondly, that
Japan has never been wronged by France; and let
us in confidence wait for better days."

These days arrived. On the 5th of May, 1907, the
Havas Agency announced that a Franco-Japanese j
understanding was about to be signed. The next
day, Mr. Pichon said: —

''The object of our negotiations with Japan, which
indeed are not yet terminated, is the signing of a con-
vention which is calculated to add fresh guarantees
to those existing for the preservation of peace in the
Far East. They are the logical continuation of the
absolutely peaceful policy of France, a policy whose
only aim is to prevent all complications in whatso-
ever parts of the world, and more especially in those
where we have particular interests."

On the 7th of May, Baron Kurino, Japan's Am-
bassador, characterized the approaching agreement
as follows : —

"Our wish has been to achieve a work of good
sense and peace. The interests of France and Japan
are not at all contradictory. And the agreement will
set seal to their harmony. This arrangement com-
prises, on the one hand, a guarantee for the inde-
pendence and integrity of China, and, on the other,
a security for the possessions of the two contracting
Powers. It gives sanction to the territorial status



ASIATIC AND EUROPEAN UNDERSTANDINGS 235

accruing to Japan from the last war, and to France,
from her situation in Indo-China. It constitutes a
decisive proof of the moderation of our pohcy. The
legend of the Yellow Peril and Japanese ambitions
will, I hope, be definitely dissipated by the event
now preparing. The old relations of friendship
uniting Japan and France increase the value of this
loyal arrangement, which the two countries have
decided to conclude, by promising each other mutual
support on the basis I have indicated to you."

The agreement was signed on the 10th of June
following. It was conceived as hereafter: —

Declaration

The two Governments of Japan and France, while reserving
to themselves the liberty to enter into •pourparlers with a view
to the conclusion of a commercial convention in regard to rela-
tions between Japan and French Indo-China, agree on the ensu-
ing stipulations : —

The most-favoured-nation treatment shall be accorded to
Japan's subjects and functionaries throughout French Indo-
China in all that concerns their persons and the protection of
their property; and this same treatment shall be applied to
the subjects and proteges of French Indo-China throughout the
Empire of Japan, and this, until the expiration of the Treaty
of Commerce and Navigation signed between Japan and France
on the 4th of August, 1896.

Arrangement

The Government of the French Republic and the Govern-
ment of his Majesty, the Emperor of Japan, being animated by
the desire to fortify the amicable relations existing between
them and to remove for the future all cause of misunderstand-
ing, have decided to conclude the following arrangement : —

The Governments of France and Japan, while agreeing to



236 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

respect the independence and integrity of China, as well as the
principle of equal treatment in this country for the commerce
and things touching the jurisdiction of all nations, and while
having a special interest in securing order and a state of tran-
quillity, notably throughout the frontier regions of the Chinese
Empire that are contiguous to territories over which they have
rights of sovereignty, promise to support each other mutually in
assuring peace and safety in these regions, with a view to pre-
serving the respective situation and territorial rights of the two
contracting parties on the Asiatic continent.

One has only to remember the anxiety experi-
enced by France during the Russo-Japanese war, to
appreciate rightly the diplomatic guarantee thus ob-
tained from Japan for the integrity of her posses-
sions. True, this guarantee depends only on the
word of the Tokio Cabinet ; and, whenever it might
please Japan to attack Cochin-China, Annam, or
Tonkin, it would be difficult for us, at so great a dis-
tance, to defend them. But to doubt of Japan's
sincerity would be an insult. Her foreign policy
has always been vigorous, and at times brutal. It
has never been disloyal. It has kept the engage-
ments to which it has given its seal. It has consist-
ently announced in advance any decisions it intended
to take. Moreover, everything dictates to Japan the
advisability of maintaining amicable relations with
France. The war having terminated without Rus-
sia's paying an indemnity, the financial situation of
the Mikado's Empire has been rendered somewhat
difficult. Japan's debt, which, in 1903, was 559
million yens, amounted, on the conclusion of peace
at Portsmouth, to 1859 millions, this being an in-



ASIATIC AND EUROPEAN UNDERSTANDINGS 237

crease of 1300 millions. France, therefore, being
an inexhaustible reservoir of capital, can be to Japan
the most useful of friends. Two loans of twenty-
three millions sterling have already been subscribed'
by the French market. Provided the Japanese Gov-
ernment grants equitable advantages to our industry
in return, these operations are likely to be renewed.
The agreement, taken in itself, is, consequently, a
profitable one for both contracting parties. And it
becomes more valuable still, when taken in conjunc-
tion with the Anglo- Japanese Alliance, the Franco-
English friendship, and the Russo-Japanese con-
ventions. It makes, in fact, an integral part of a
system of arrangements, the advantage of which for
France is twofold. In Asia, it eliminates all imme-
diate risk of war, since three out of the four Powers j
that have the greatest interests there have come to
an understanding for the maintenance of the statu
quo. In Europe, it removes risks of complications
arising from an Asiatic conflict. In order that such
a conflict, already rendered improbable, might be-
come impossible, there remained one necessary con-
dition to be fulfilled, and the one was sufficient: to
wit, the reconciliation of London and Saint Peters-
burg. Within less than three months after the
signing of the Franco-Japanese agreement, this last
condition was realized in its turn.

A few years ago, between August, 1900, and De-
cember, 1901, an English statesman published in the
Fortnightly Review, under the pseudonym Calchas, a
series of articles on British policy. In opposition to



238 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

current opinion, Calchas maintained that Great Brit-
ain might and should come to an understanding with
Russia. ''Why not a treaty with Russia V he asked
in October, 1900. And he drew the conclusion that,
whether on the Bosphorus, or in the Balkans, or in
Asia Minor, or in the Far East, there was room for
the two countries, room also for an agreement be-
tween them. This press campaign, which attracted
great attention at the time, may be considered as the
origin of the oft-thwarted movement which, after
seven years' waiting, resulted, in 1907, in the con-
clusion of the Anglo-Russian convention. In order
to get so far, many prejudices had to be overcome.
Since the mutiny of the Sepoys and its thorough re-
pression, the Russian invasion had appeared to Eng- >
land to be the only peril with which India was
threatened ; and the history of Mediterranean Asia
or Oriental Asia had, during half a century, been
nothing but the record of Anglo-Russian disputes.^
After the Crimean war, there was the struggle against
Schamyl, the Caucasian Iman ; that against Yacoub,
the Sultan of Cashgar; then, there were Tcherna-
ieff's, Romanowsky's, and Kaufmann's campaigns,
the Turkestan campaign in 1870, that of Khiva in
1873, of Khokand in 1876, of Merv a few years later,
and finally the Afghan war. Behind each of these
native resistances, Russia thought she saw England.
In 1885, just after the successes of General Komar-
off, war appeared to be inevitable between the two
Powers. However, it was avoided by the agree-

1 See Rouire's book, Anglo-Russian Rivalry in Asia.



ASIATIC AND EUROPEAN UNDERSTANDINGS 239

merits of 1885, 1887, 1895, and 1899. Russian ex-
pansion had slackened, and had to some extent
turned aside. Still, it had not stopped. And soon,
indeed, it was seen advancing over the plateaus of
Mongolia and along the plains of Manchuria, filtering
through into China and as far as Thibet, troubling
once more the Hindu frontier, the defence of which
dominates England's Asiatic policy, and adding the
peril of the North to that of the Northwest. It was
the time of the Transvaal war. On the 30th of Jan-
uary, 1902, the Anglo- Japanese Alliance was signed.
The policy advocated in the Fortnightly Review
seemed more than ever impossible. Anglo-Russian
antagonism was at this moment aggravated by the
rivalry raging between Russia and Japan ; and a col-
lision seemed to be imminent.

The very greatness of the peril acted as a brake.
In spite of the occurrence of certain awkward inci-
dents, — the Dogger Bank cannonade, for instance,
— Great Britain and Russia remained at peace.
For one thing, there was to be considered the impor-'^
tance of Anglo-Russian trade, which had grown'
continually since 1882. The English had increased
their sales in the Empire of the Czars from eight to
fourteen millions sterling, and their purchases from
fifteen to twenty-five millions. Their consuls pointed
out that Russia was an admirable field opened to
their commercial progress, which everywhere else
was hampered by Germany. Moreover, although
Japan's Ally, England had no intention of handing
the Far East over to her, Russia might be a useful



240 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

counterweight against a friend that was too strong,
while also offering an outlet for English industry.
Last of all, the settlement of the Franco-English
quarrel, on the 8th of April, 1904, gave a pertinent
example to those partisans of a reconciliation who,
though deeming it desirable, did not think it possible.
In 1905, the Russian press, when examining into the
causes of the Manchurian defeat, opined in favour
of an agreement. The Novoie Vremia, in the Sep-
tember of this year, manifested a conciliatory atti-
tude, which the Times at once took occasion to
praise. In 1906, during the long weeks spent at
Algeciras, the Russian Plenipotentiary, Count Cassini,
had frequent chats with his English colleague. Sir
Arthur Nicholson, and with Sir Donald Mackenzie
Wallace, the king's personal friend, who subse-
quently paid a visit to Saint Petersburg. On being
called to the Foreign Office in the May of the same
year, Mr. Isvolsky, whose diplomatic skill was incon-
testable, showed his firm determination to place
questions concerning the Far East in their proper
relation to other Russian interests, without allowing
them to encroach unduly, and his equally firm desire


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryAndré TardieuFrance and the alliances: the struggle for the balance of power → online text (page 16 of 22)