Chapter 15

The Outlook For China

by Russell

In this chapter I take the standpoint of a progressive and public-spirited Chinese and consider what reforms I should advocate.

China must be saved by her own efforts. It cannot rely on outside help.

In the international situation, China has had both good and bad fortune.

The Great War was unfortunate because it temporarily gave Japan a free hand. The collapse of Tsarist Russia was fortunate because it ended the secret alliance of Russians and Japanese.

The Anglo-Japanese Alliance was unfortunate because it compelled us to abet Japanese aggression even against our own economic interests.

The friction between Japan and America was fortunate. But the agreement arrived at by the Washington Conference, though momentarily advantageous as regards Shantung, is likely to be unfortunate in the long run since it will make America less willing to oppose Japan.

For reasons which I set forth in Chap. X., unless China becomes strong, either the collapse of Japan or her unquestioned ascendency in the Far East is almost certain to prove disastrous to China.

One or other of these is very likely to come about.

All the Great Powers have interests which are incompatible, in the long run, with China’s welfare and with the best development of Chinese civilization.

Therefore, the Chinese must seek salvation in their own energy, not in the benevolence of any outside Power.

The problem is not merely one of political independence. A certain cultural independence is at least as important.

The Chinese are superior to us in certain ways. It would not be good for them or us if they had to descend to our level just to preserve their nation.

However, a compromise is necessary.

Unless they adopt some of our vices to some extent, we shall not respect them. They will be increasingly oppressed by foreign nations.

The object must be to keep this process within the narrowest limits compatible with safety.

First of all, an enlightened patriotic spirit is necessary. It should be willing to learn from other nations while not allowing them to dominate. This spirit is not the bigoted anti-foreign spirit of the Boxers.

This attitude has been generated among educated Chinese, and to a great extent in the merchant class, by the brutal tuition of Japan.

The danger of patriotism is that it turns into foreign aggression as soon as it has proved strong enough for successful defence.

China, by her resources and population, can be the greatest Power in the world after the United States.

It is much feared that the Chinese might become strong enough to embark on a career of imperialism.

Patriotism should be only defensive, not aggressive.

But with this proviso, I think a spirit of patriotism is absolutely necessary to the regeneration of China.

Independence is to be sought, not as an end in itself, but as a means towards a new blend of Western skill with the traditional Chinese virtues. If this end is not achieved, political independence will have little value.

The 3 chief requisites are:

  1. The establishment of an orderly Government
  2. Industrial development under Chinese control
  3. The spread of education

All these aims will have to be pursued concurrently, but on the whole their urgency seems to me to come in the above order.

We have already seen how large a part the State will have to take in building up industry, and how impossible this is while the political anarchy continues.

Funds for education on a large scale are also unobtainable until there is good government. Therefore good government is the prerequisite of all other reforms. Industrialism and education are closely connected, and it would be difficult to decide the priority between them.

I have put industrialism first, because, unless it is developed very soon by the Chinese, foreigners will have acquired such a strong hold that it will be very difficult indeed to oust them.

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