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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Not only regarding Persia but including China


We

are told that our aggressive--by which is meant retrogressive--policy towards Russia is due to our inability to effect an entire reversal of our policy towards that country, but this is not the case at all. At any rate, as times and circumstances have changed, our policy need not be altogether reversed, but it must necessarily be subjected to modifications in order to meet changed conditions. If we stand still while Russia is going fast ahead, we are perforce left behind. The policy of drift, which we seem to favour, is bound to lead us to disaster, and when we couple with it inefficacious resistance and bigoted obstruction we cannot be surprised if, in the end, it only yields us bitter disappointment, extensive losses, enmity and derision.

The policy of drift is merely caused by our absolute ignorance of foreign countries. We drift simply because we do not know what else to do. We hear noble lords in the Government say that the reason we did not lend Persia the paltry two and a half millions sterling was because "men of business do not lend money except on proper security, and that before embarking on any such policy the Government must be anxious to see whether the security is both sufficient and suitable." Yes, certainly, but why did the Government not see? Had the Government seen they certainly would have effected the loan. Surely, well-known facts, already mentioned in previous pages, have proved very luminously our folly in taking the advice

of incompetent men who judge of matters with which, to say the least, they are not familiar. But the real question appears to be, not how to make a safe and profitable financial investment, which is no part of the functions of the British or any other Government, but rather whether it is not better to lay out a certain sum for a valuable political object than to allow a formidable competitor to do so to our prejudice.

Hence the disadvantageous position in which we find ourselves at present, all over Asia, but particularly in Persia. It would no doubt be the perfection of an agreement if an amicable understanding could be arrived at with Russia, not only regarding Persia but including China, Manchuria, and Corea as well. A frank and fair adjustment of Russian and British interests in these countries could be effected without serious difficulty, mutual concessions could advantageously be granted, and mutual advice and friendly support would lead to remarkably prosperous results for both countries.

Russia, notwithstanding all we hear of her, would only be too glad to make sacrifices and concessions in order to have the friendship and support of England, and Russia's friendship to England would, I think, be of very great assistance to British manufacturers. It must be remembered that Russia is an enormous country, and that her markets both for exports and imports are not to be despised. In machinery alone huge profits could be made, as well as in cloths, piece goods, fire-arms, Manchester goods, worked iron, steel, etc.

Articles of British manufacture are in much demand in Russia and Siberia, and, should the British manufacturer see his way to make articles as required by the buyer, very large profits could be made in the Russian market. Also huge profits will eventually be made by the export of Siberian products into England and the Continent, a branch of industry which the Russians themselves are attempting to push into the British market with the assistance of their Government.


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