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of arbitration when studied in the light of the various treaties which had been made by Korea beginning with the Japanese treaty in 1876, and also when considered in the light of existing treaties between Japan and China. China had surrendered too much by 1894, and had acquiesced in too much, ever to regain a position of suzerainty over Korea.
On October 6th, the British Chargé approached the American government with a proposition for joint intervention by the United States, Germany, France, Russia and Great Britain on the basis of an indemnity to be paid by China to Japan, and the guarantee by the powers of the independence of Korea. 43 A month later, China formally invoked the good offices of the United States, citing the treaty of 1858, and asking for joint action with the other foreign powers. Before this invitation from Peking was received, the United States directed Dun in Tokio to inquire whether good offices would be acceptable to Japan, and the same day Gresham carefully defined the position of the United States in a note which clearly explained why the United States had been unwilling to join the European powers in intervention, as follows:
The deplorable war between Japan and China endangers no policy of the United States in Asia. Our attitude towards the belligerents is that of an impartial and friendly neutral, desiring the welfare of both. If the struggle continues without check to Japan's military operations on land and sea, it is not improbable that other powers having interests in that quarter may demand a settlement not favorable to Japan's future security and well-being. Cherishing the most friendly sentiments of regard for Japan, the President directs that you ascertain whether the tender of his good offices in the interests of peace alike honorable to both nations would be acceptable to the Government at Tokio.**
In the above friendly warning to Japan, one reads between the lines that Gresham clearly understood the international situation. The proposal which had been made for joint intervention had been by no means disinterested. Every one of them had been directed against Japan with a view to repressing her advancing power and influence in Asia. These proposals had not been, primarily, in the interests of any Asiatic state, but in the interests of European political and commercial ambitions in Korea. Dressed in their best clothes, these proposals looked in the direction of a protectorate in Korea ; viewed more cynically, and critically, they looked in the direction of dismemberment not merely of Korea, but also further dismemberment of China, and perhaps of Japan.
Japan, however, disregarded the admonitions of the United States, and, instead of pausing at a point where the good offices of the United States might have been valuable in saving Asia in general from a large increase of European influence, over-reached herself by continuing the war so successfully begun. Japan thus invited the very intervention which Gresham had expected.
43 Foreign Relations, 1894, Vol. 2, p. 70. 44 Ibid., pp. 73, 74, 76, 77.
The subsequent services of the United States in the actual negotiations leading towards peace need not be detailed. From the beginning of the war the United States had stood in a unique relation to both China and Japan since the American legations in Tokio and in Peking, respectively, had taken charge of the Chinese and Japanese archives. The United States became the natural channel of communications between Peking and Tokio, and a peace conference was brought about by the good offices of the United States.45
In summary, one may note the following points: (1) The United States fulfilled its treaty obligations both to Korea and to China in the offer of its good offices, and it was by means of the United States that the conflict was terminated. (2) The United States declined to join with other powers in what looked to be an effort to save Korea, but which actually was a plan to repress Japan with a view to the increase of European advantages on the continent of Asia.
The policy of the United States was as follows: First of all to favor peace between the Asiatic states but, if peace were impossible, to favor the growth of Japanese, rather than of European, influence in Asia. 46
THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR AND THE ANNEXATION OF KOREA
While the discussion of the Russo-Japanese War and the annexation by Japan does not fall within the limits of this study, and cannot, until more authentic and official documents are available, be studied with precision, so far as they relate to the good offices of the United States promised to Korea under the treaty of 1882, it is not difficult to define the principles and the policy of American action. They may be outlined as follows:
(1) The good offices of the United States could be exercised only with the consent of both parties to the dispute. Without such consent the good offices of the United States would become forceful intervention. Such intervention would, in turn, result in the exercise of the powers of a protectorate-a function which was farthest removed from the disposition or the intention of the United States in its relations with Asia. While Korea was, theoretically, not a party to the war between Russia and Japan, the United States, when such a service became acceptable, was glad to extend its good offices to both the combatants and thus to restore such a peace to Asia, as resulted from the Portsmouth Conference.
45 Charles Denby, China and Her People, Vol. 2, p. 130 ff.
46 China seems to have been prepared as early as 1895 to accept arbitration as a method of settling international disputes. It is believed that at Shimoneseki the Chinese Commissioners submitted to Japan for inclusion in the peace treaty an article drafted as follows: “In order to avoid future conflict or war between China and Japan, it is agreed that should any question arise hereafter as to the interpretation, or execution of the present Treaty of Peace, or as to the negotiation, interpretation, or execution of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation and the Convention of Frontier Intercourse provided for in Article VI of this treaty, which cannot be adjusted by the usual method of diplomatic conference and correspondence between the two governments, they will submit such questions to the decision of an arbitrator to be designated by some friendly power to be selected by mutual accord of the two governments, or, in case of failure to agree as to the selection of said power, then the President of the United States shall be invited to designate the arbitrator; and both governments agree to accept, abide by and carry out in good faith the decision of said arbitrator." The Japanese declined to accept this article.
(2) But the United States was governed by a more fundamental consideration in its attitude towards the Far East. Peace and the independence of Korea were desirable, but even more important was the checking of the growing power of European nations on the western shores of the Pacific. Gresham's policy in 1894 had clearly included this consideration. It is quite evident that Mr. Roosevelt was moved by a similar motive, as was also Great Britain after 1900. The interest of Asia, it was believed, could best be served by the use of the good offices of the United States not only on behalf of an individual state, but also on behalf of eastern Asia as a whole, in the effort to check the advance of Europe. Thus, when it came to the application of this policy at the time of the annexation of Korea, the claims of Korea as an independent state appeared small when compared with the claims of Asia as a whole. The choice, unless an American protectorate were to be established over Korea—a chimerical and quixotic alternative—was between Korea as a source of strength to Japan, or as a part of Russia. With such a choice before it, there could be, if traditional policy were followed, but one answer from the United States.
There is, perhaps, room for speculation as to whether Mr. Gresham, in October, 1894, would not have achieved a greater ultimate good for Korea and for Asia as a whole if he had acceded to the proposition which came from Great Britain to join with the European powers in guaranteeing the independence of Korea. The intervention which the United States declined to support in 1894 is seen, in a somewhat different form, to be necessary in 1922, in the interests of peace in Asia. Yet, one has but to review the relation of the United States to the European powers in the years immediately following Gresham's decision, to realize that such intervention as Great Britain then proposed, could hardly have resulted in good for any party concerned. The United States was not prepared in a naval or military way, or in the condition of public sentiment, to assume such responsibilities as would have been involved. On the other hand, the part played by the United States at the time of the annexation of Korea is certainly not fairly open to the criticisms to which it has been subjected. While seeming to acquiesce in an injustice to a weak nation, the United States actually gave its tacit approval to a step in the direction of justice to Asia as a whole, for in the annexation of Korea to Japan the aggressions of Europe in Asia were curbed.
More recently it has seemed as though this traditional American policy of fostering a strong Asia had defeated its original purpose which was to safeguard American trade in an open field of competition. Japan, having profited as much by American support and assistance in the period before 1900 as she has since by the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, has shown a tendency to over-reach and to defeat the purpose which led the United States to support Asia against Europe. One may hope this is a temporary phase of purely contemporary history. Traditional American policy remains unchanged. The United States desires to see developed on the continent of Asia strong states which shall be able to meet the powers of the world on a footing of the most complete equality and sovereignty, and in the accomplishment of this purpose is as ready to use its good offices today, as it was at any time in the last century.
Indeed, is not the present conference in Washington, in so far as it is concerned with problems of the Pacific, a “good office" to Asia which is quite in accord with the Treaty of Tientsin, of 1858, as well as with traditional American policy !
AMERICAN DIPLOMACY AND THE FINANCING OF CHINA
BY GEORGE A. FINCH
Secretary of the Board of Editors
In his last annual message President Taft thus described the diplomacy of his administration: “The diplomacy of the present administration has sought to respond to modern ideas of commercial intercourse. This policy has been characterized as substituting dollars for bullets. It is an effort frankly directed to the increase of American trade upon the axiomatic principle that the Government of the United States shall extend all proper support to every legitimate and beneficial American enterprise abroad."1
His official experience in the Philippine Islands had naturally given Mr. Taft a wide knowledge of Oriental affairs and his strong feelings on the subject of American participation in them were indicated in his inaugural address of March 4, 1909 where, as a reason for advising against the reduction of the expenses of the Army and Navy, he said: “In the international controversies that are likely to arise in the Orient growing out of the question of the open door and other issues the United States can maintain her interests intact and can secure respect for her just demands. She will not be able to do so, however, if it is understood that she never intends to back up her assertion of right and her defense of her interest by anything but mere verbal protest and diplomatic note.
Thus holding the belief that the United States would be justified in resorting to force if necessary to keep open the door of equal commercial opportunity for its citizens in China, it was logical for Mr. Taft to justify at the close of his administration as a policy which had “substituted dollars for bullets" the activities of the State Department in behalf of American enterprise in China which had become so intensified as to become popularly characterized as “dollar diplomacy.” That diplomacy, it is believed, represents the maximum point to which diplomatic assistance to private investments abroad has been extended by the American Government. It will therefore be taken as a starting point for this outline, which will briefly cover also the diplomacy before that time and of the present time.
The opportunity for the application of Mr. Taft's views occurred soon after he assumed office. In May 1909 the press reported an understanding between English, French and German financial groups for a loan
1 Congressional Record, Vol. 49, Part I, p. 9. 2 Congressional Record, Vol. 44, Part I, p. 3.