Fight for the pacific

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Fight for the Pacific


 6. The development of British aggression in China and the expansion of the United States

The foreign policy trend of the United States, which sought to a certain extent to establish cooperation with Britain and use the results of its aggression in Asia, was reflected in particular in American policy in China.

The first American preachers of the Anglo-American political union substantiated its expediency by mutual benefit in the exploitation of the Eastern countries. At the same time, the Americans agreed to the role of a junior partner if the City agreed to cooperate with them.

More than a hundred years ago, in 1849, W. Trescott outlined such crazy plans: “The United States and Great Britain, coordinating their actions in the Pacific Ocean, can take control of world history ... Since both England and the United States are interested in maintaining a monopoly their trade with Asia, the governments of both countries have all the cards in hand to achieve this important goal. Bound by common interests with England, the USA can become her support against the whole world, support her power in India and, without striving for territorial acquisitions themselves, thanks to an alliance with England, take part in further common activities ” (1) .

Trescott also called for joint Anglo-American action against Russia.

Departing for China, the American Commissioner Parker proceeded in 1855 through London, where he exchanged views with Lord Clarendon on the prospects for creating an Anglo-American alliance and cooperation in China. He strongly recommended to the Washington government to take part on the side of England in military operations against China in the second Opium War. In 1860, American warships landed sailors in Shanghai and Canton "to maintain order." During the attack on the Taku forts in June 1859, the commander of the American squadron Tatnall ordered the ships to take part in the actions of the British against the Chinese. The Chinese government, having been defeated in this war, was forced to agree to the demand for the legalization of the opium trade.

In relation to the Taiping people's uprising, the policy of the British and American capitalist robbers who broke into China was full of vile maneuvers. Its essence was that both Britain and the United States sought to further weaken China, to use the internal war for their predatory purposes, and then jointly took part in the suppression of the anti-Manchu peasant movement.

The Taiping Rebellion, which shook China from 1850 to 1864, was directed not only against the Manchu dynasty, its officials and Chinese feudal lords: it was also directed against foreign invasion and subjugation of China. Marx, pointing out the reasons for the uprising, wrote: “The immediate causes for the unrest were obviously: European intervention, the opium wars, the shock they caused to the existing government regime, the leakage of silver abroad, the disruption of the economic balance as a result of the importation of foreign goods, etc. d.” (2) .

A few years after the start of the uprising, the Taipings captured almost all of southern China, as well as the Yangtze Valley. Like dozens of other peasant popular uprisings against the feudal lords, the Taiping uprising involved the urban poor in its course, but it did not have a proletarian leadership: there was no industrial proletariat in China yet. This predetermined the defeat of the heroic rebels; soon a fierce struggle began in the new state of Taiping-Tien-guo, as the feudal elements began a struggle for power and sought to push back those leaders who defended the class interests of the peasantry and the poor.

Agents of the British and American colonialists, who had gained confidence in the Taipings, contributed to civil strife by inciting the landlord elements who took part in the movement against the radical peasant leaders who had come from the ranks of the people. In 1856, as a result of a reactionary conspiracy in Nanjing, the most talented leader of the Taipings, Yang Xiu-ching, was killed. Power was seized by the leaders of the landlord-merchant cliques. The Taiping state was in deep crisis.

Meanwhile, the British and French, with the support of the Americans, having started the second "opium war", sought to use the circumstances and force the Manchu dynasty to sign an agreement under which foreign rapists would actually become the rulers of China.

Using as a pretext a minor incident - the delay by the Chinese authorities of the Chinese smuggling ship Arrow, which raised the English flag - the English squadron in October 1856 bombarded Canton. But since an uprising broke out in India soon after, the British only at the end of 1857 were able to launch military operations in China, they destroyed most of the city of Canton to the ground. In 1858, together with the French, they captured the port of Taku in northern China and began to threaten Tianjin. In June of the same year, the Manchus, unable to defend China, signed new unequal treaties in Tianjin at gunpoint, containing further concessions to foreign capital. The United States, whose military squadron actually participated in the hostilities, was not slow to force the Chinese government to sign the same enslaving treaty.

The British included in their agreement with the Manchus a number of points on the basis of which they received the right to free trade throughout China, in particular in the Yangtze River basin, where the Taiping state was located.

The landlord-feudal and merchant elements among the Taipings, who pushed the representatives of the peasant and urban poor out of the leadership, actually made it easier for the interventionists to seize this richest region of China - the base of the Taiping revolution. An unprincipled internal struggle was going on among the decomposed leadership elite. These leaders entered into relations with foreign invaders, thus trying to create a foothold for themselves. This further undermined their position; the degenerate Taiping state began to suffer more and more defeats.

The struggle dragged on, however, because the masses continued the people's war against the feudal lords and the hated dynasty, which capitulated to the onslaught of foreign aggressors. One of the surviving associates of Yang Xiu-ching, the outstanding commander of the Taipings, Li Xiu-chen, led the masses of the people and in 1860 again began to inflict sensitive blows on the Manchu troops.

Shortly after the signing of the Tientsin Treaties, the Anglo-French robbers came to the conclusion that they had not sufficiently exploited the weakness of feudal China. In the summer of 1859, when an exchange of ratifications of treaties was to take place, the Anglo-French squadron provoked a new incident at the Dagu fortress, on the outskirts of Tianjin. Having prepared a military campaign against the capital of China and seized several coastal ports, the British and French, with the support of the Americans, began a new predatory expedition into the interior of the country.

The Manchu troops, armed with medieval weapons, died by the thousands in battles with the Anglo-French troops, equipped with rifled artillery and other types of improved firearms. However, if the struggle dragged on and turned into a general people's war against the aggressors, the latter would inevitably be defeated.

However, traitors from among the feudal elite of China came to the aid of the colonialists who invaded China. Prince Gong, who led these elements, signed in October 1860 new surrender treaties with England and France. The robbers again received a large indemnity. England also forced China to cede to her the southern tip of the Kowloon Peninsula, located opposite the island of Hong Kong. The export of Chinese coolies was also legalized, which in fact was tantamount to the slave trade.

During the war, and especially during the campaign against the Capital, the troops of "civilized" robbers committed indescribable atrocities, killing and robbing the Chinese population. These barbarians became especially "famous" for plundering Yuan-ming-yuan, the summer city of Chinese gods, in whose palaces hundreds of rooms were filled with the greatest works of art. To hide the traces of shameful robbery, the British command ordered to burn this city of palaces, which in itself was a rare work of art.

Even among the feudal elite of China, many demanded further struggle against the Anglo-French invaders. Emperor Xian Feng, who died in August 1861, before his death appointed a regency council, which was inclined to continue the fight against foreign invasion.

The foreign colonialists understood that they could not endure a long struggle with China. With the help of a bloody palace coup, however, they managed to remove and partly destroy those who demanded to resist the pressure of the invaders. Prince Gong and the concubine of the deceased Emperor Cixi plotted to overthrow the regency council, declare themselves regents and execute their opponents, accusing them of "intractability" with the Europeans. The enslavers of China triumphed. Now they directed all their efforts to suppress the Taiping uprising, which had clearly taken on the character of an uprising directed against foreign imperialists as well. The leader of the people's lower classes, Li Hsiu-chen, occupied many cities; he advanced on Shanghai three times, trying to wrest it from the hands of foreign invaders. British, Americans and Manchu, as well as Chinese feudal lords, led by Tseng Guo-fan and Li Hong-chang, jointly launched a struggle against the Taipings. The British and Americans supplied the Chinese-Manchurian feudal lords with weapons, including artillery, provided their officers (Gordon, Ward, etc.), troops.

The interventionists, the Manchus and the Chinese landowners burned entire cities captured by them, massacred the population in order to deprive the Taipings of support. Of the total number of 20 million people who died in China during the Taiping uprising, especially many were destroyed in these recent years. In July 1864, the last important Taiping stronghold, Nanjing, was taken. Here, within a few days, about 100 thousand people were slaughtered. Li Xiu-chen, captured, was subjected to a cruel execution.

After the defeat of the Taipings, the struggle of the peasant masses against foreign dominance and feudal oppression did not stop. In northern China, "torchlighters" acted, in distant Xinjiang, Muslim peasants tried to alleviate their situation by creating the state of "Jety-shaar". But the rebels lacked organization, clear political leadership, and political determination.

Despite the mistakes made, the Taiping uprising had a progressive character. It was a peasant war against unbearable feudal oppression and the dominance of foreign capital.

The British and Americans who arrived in China and sought to gain and plunder treated the Chinese in the same way as they treated the Indians in America or the local population in Australia and Africa. In the eyes of merchants and entrepreneurs, adventurers and military men, this was an "inferior race", intended only so that "cultural traders" could grow fat due to its work. The life of the Chinese was not put in anything. The writer Goncharov, who visited China even before the second “opium war” (in 1853), wrote in his book “Pallada Frigate”: “... the treatment of the British with the Chinese, and with other peoples, especially subject to them, ... rude, or cold contemptuously so that it hurts to look. They do not recognize these people as people, but as some kind of working cattle ... ”Goncharov adds:“ I don’t know which of them could civilize whom: are the Chinese English ... ”(3) .

The English newspaper The Daily Telegraph, in connection with the second Opium War, wrote in 1859, referring to the English bourgeoisie: “Great Britain must attack the entire sea coast of China, occupy the capital ... We must whip every official with the Order of the Dragon, who dares to insult our national symbols ... Each of them (Chinese generals) must be hanged, like a pirate and a murderer, on the yards of a British warship ... One way or another, terror must be used, enough concessions! .. The Chinese must be taught to appreciate the British who are above them and who should become their masters...” The newspaper called for the capture of Peking and Canton, demanded “to lay the foundations of a new possession” (4) . It was a kind of manifesto of the British colonial enslavers.

Anglo-American cooperation directed against China was also expressed in the unification in 1863 of the British and American concessions in Shanghai. As a result of the unification of these concessions and the formation of the so-called "international settlement", Shanghai turned into a stronghold of foreign capital in the Middle Empire. From here, from the Shanghai "international settlement", the British and American capitalists have been spinning a web of imperialist subjugation of China for more than 80 years.

Despite the Anglo-American cooperation, the US government, due to the sharp contradictions between the two countries on the American continent, could not bind itself with any definite obligations with England and her power politics in China. But the US bourgeoisie, acting like a jackal, immediately used all the privileges that the British received in China thanks to the "opium wars" and the unequal treaties concluded as a result of these wars. The American bourgeoisie at the time tended to avoid extensive involvement in military action against China. Using this position, American politicians already at that time tried to play the role of a "friend of China." As the American press itself ironically wrote, the Americans in China "creeped behind the British guns" and presented their demands as soon as the question of booty arose.

The duplicitous policy of the United States also affected the behavior of the American colonialists during the Taiping uprising and when concluding treaties with China (5) . US Commissioner in China Marshall insisted on supporting the Manchus against the Taipings. He feared that England or another power, taking advantage of the unrest, would seize control of China and put an end to American privileges in that country. McLoin, who succeeded him as commissioner, was instructed to study the situation, meaning the de facto recognition of the Taiping government by Washington. The Americans, at the same time, provided their flag to ships carrying troops and weapons for the reactionaries past the Taiping fortresses along the Yangtze River (6). Under the Tientsin Treaty, the United States pledged to provide "friendly mediation" if any power pursues an unjust policy towards China; but when the Anglo-French troops in 1860 again began to plunder and robbery, the Americans did not even think of defending China. On the contrary, they again took advantage of the results of the Anglo-French atrocities and violence - the opening of new ports for foreign trade, the right to export coolies from China, etc.

Even more crude selfishness, hypocrisy and the absence of any moral principles characterized American politics during the period of the activity of the American envoy Burlingame. Subsequently elevated by the Peking government to the rank of a Chinese mandarin of the first rank, Berlin-game crumbled like a petty demon, praising the reactionary regime of the Manchu dynasty. The American expansionists tried by such methods to strengthen their positions in opposition to the British. But with all this vile politicking, the Americans could not hide their real goals in China. The American envoy Brown, who succeeded Burlingame, was forced to admit that the Chinese viewed the Americans as direct accomplices in the hostile policy pursued by foreigners towards their country.

At the same time, England and the USA were direct competitors in the struggle for the Chinese market. England occupied for a long time the first place in China's foreign trade; The USA, although they lagged significantly behind England, is the second.

The situation changed during the civil war in the United States. The US share of China's foreign trade has fallen sharply. In 1864 China's exports to the British Empire through treaty ports amounted to nearly 17 million. Art., about the same amount was imported. The United States imported only 150,000 worth of goods into China this year. Art. and exported 1,400,000 worth of goods. US trade with China remained at a low level for a considerable time after the civil war. On the eve of this war, in 1860, US trade with China amounted to 22.5 million dollars. Even by 1890, American trade with China had not yet reached this figure.

During the American Civil War, the British took over Chinese customs. The representative of English capital, Robert Hart, began to manage the maritime customs of China in 1863 and since then for 35 years has been the chief foreign adviser to the Manchu dynasty; he played a large role in the spread of English domination in China. The Hong Kong-Shanghai Bank, founded in 1865, soon became the City's main financial agency in China, penetrating its tentacles into every pore of the country's economic life.

Finding fault with the murder of the English intelligence officer Margaery in Yunnan in 1875 and the clash of the population there with a reconnaissance expedition that tried to penetrate Yunnan from Burma, the London government, threatening China with a new war, achieved the signing in September 1876 of the so-called Chifu Convention, expanding the extraterritorial rights of the British. Under this convention, a number of new Chinese ports were opened for foreign trade and other concessions to England were stipulated, including the right to send an expedition to Tibet by England (7) . The British big bourgeoisie at that time cherished the dream of the complete enslavement of China, of its gradual transformation into an English colony.

After the end of the American Civil War, Anglo-American relations in the Pacific were hung for several years by the hostility that had been established during the war years. Conflicts on the Canadian border and American claims that arose because of British aid to the southerners also contributed to the preservation of hostile relations. The hostility of the ruling classes in both countries, for its part, intensified the contradictions of interests in the Pacific, which were growing increasingly.

The US Secretary of State during the Civil War and after it (from 1861 to the spring of 1869) was the famous expansionist and Anglophobe William Seward, who openly cherished plans to capture Hawaii, Cuba, Porto Rico, Canada, Iceland, Greenland and even part of China. In the summer of 1867, Seward stated in a speech: "Give me ... another 50, 40, or at least 30 years of life, and I undertake to give you the American continent and control of the world" (8) .

Under Syuord in 1867, American military expeditions to Taiwan were equipped twice. The American consul in Amoi, Legendre, took part in organizing the expedition and proposed the creation of an American fortified point in southern Taiwan. However, during the first expedition, the Americans were afraid even to land on the island. The second expedition, consisting of two ships under the leadership of Bell, landed; having been defeated in battle with the population, the Americans were forced to return to their ships.

Seward's supporters in the US Congress at that time demanded the "acquisition" of Alaska, assuring, among other things, that if Alaska was not occupied by the United States, it would fall into the hands of England; if the United States took possession of Alaska, they said, then Canada would be pincered and in the near future an American flag would be hoisted over this English colony.

The British began to covet the possessions of Russia in America again. In connection with the aggravation of Anglo-American relations during the civil war, a whole knot of Anglo-American contradictions was created around these possessions, which was connected with the whole tangle of Anglo-Russian-American relations.

Assuming that England would take a more favorable position in relation to Russian policy in the Middle East, the St. Petersburg government allowed the Russian-American Company to conclude in 1839 a contract with the Anglo-Canadian Hudsonbay Company to lease the latter from July 1840 for 10 years of part Russian territory on the northwestern coast of America. It was a strip from 54 40' north latitude to Cape Spencer. For all this territory, the English company paid only 2,000 otters a year. The contract was then renewed for the next decade.

When the Crimean War broke out, the measures taken by the tsarist officials to possibly ensure the security of Russian America went in two directions. The board of the Russian-American Company, with the permission of the government, entered into an Agreement of Neutrality with the Hudsonbay Company. At the same time, the latter secured appropriate guarantees from the British government. The tsarist government believed that in this way it ensured the security of Russian possessions in America. An agreement with the Hudson Bay Company to extend its lease on Russian territory was sanctioned by both the British and Russian governments.

At the same time, in Novo-Arkhangelsk, the administrative center of Russian possessions in America, a fictitious agreement was signed between the Russian-American Company and the American-Russian Company in San Francisco on the transfer of all property and privileges to this latter company. The contract was concluded for three years - until May 1, 1857.

In fact, at that time, England would hardly have attacked Alaska. If the British government decided to take this step, then, given the state of Anglo-American relations, this would, in all likelihood, lead to a sharp aggravation of these relations, to the diversion of British forces to the Western Hemisphere, and possibly to military operations between the United States and England.

Even at the time of the conclusion of the treaty in Novo-Arkhangelsk, the Russian envoy in Washington, Stekl, reported to St. Petersburg that American politicians, “despite their desire to patronize our colonies and even their interest in this ... it seems impossible to prove to the British that this contract is not fictitious. .. and thus it cannot be of any real use.” This was essentially the demand of the American expansionists to give Alaska to the United States.

In the same year, 1854, California Senator Gwin and US Secretary of State Mercy asked Glass's envoy about the possibility of Russia "selling" Alaska.

At the end of the 1950s, an American company also claimed to lease the territory leased to the Hudson Bay Company. Both the Russian envoy in Washington and the Russian ambassador in London insisted on leasing this territory: the first to an American company, the second to an English company. They motivated their proposals by the fact that the possessions of Russia could be captured.

Although direct negotiations on the sale of Alaska to the United States began as early as 1859, they were not completed due to the fact that a civil war broke out in the United States and the pressure of American expansionists on Russia's possessions in North America temporarily weakened.

In 1867, an agreement for the sale of Alaska was signed. It was ratified by Alexander II on May 15, and on October 19, 1867, the Russian flag was lowered in Alaska, after this flag, hoisted by Russian sailors and travelers, fluttered over the vast territory of North America for three quarters of a century.

Russia received a ridiculous sum of 7.2 million US dollars for Alaska. dollars, i.e. 5 cents per hectare!

After the transition of Alaska under the authority of the United States, it was transferred to the control of the military department. Seekers of easy money were engaged in plundering natural resources, exterminating sea animals. Until the end of the XIX century. - before the emergence of the "gold rush" - the region fell into disrepair. Not only was agriculture and the workshops and enterprises built by the Russians abandoned, but the seal herd on the Pribylov Islands, which before the establishment of American domination numbered several million heads, was almost completely exterminated; the sea beaver was almost completely destroyed, and the whales were also exterminated. Frequent hunger strikes became a lot of the Eskimos and Indians.

Even the American bourgeois historian Doll was forced to note that the history of Alaska from 1867 to 1897 "rarely anyone can study without indignation."

(1) James Callahan, American Relations in the Pacific and the Far East. Baltimore 1901, p. 91.

(2) K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., vol. XII, part II, p. 360.

(3) I. A. Goncharov, Frigate "Pallada", M. 1949, p. 410.

(4) See K. Marx and F. Engels, Works, vol. XI, part II, p. 261

(6) Lindley, Tiping Tien-Kwoh, London 1866, p. 352.

(7) Treaties, Conventions, op. cit., p. 491.

(8) V. Farrar, The Annexation of Russian America to the United States, Washington 1937, p. 113. Op. no Bailey, p. 392.