" Meddle-and-Muddle" Policy Foments War
From Our Diplomatic Correspondent In the whole of the Eastern hemisphere Europe has " lost face."
As anyone with knowledge of the Oriental mentally could have foretold, China's resistance, bolstered up by the lukewarm support of European and American Powers, has involved Japan into an adventure which may have not been anticipated at the outset of the conflict.
As in the case of Italy and Abyssinia, when the Hoare-Laval mediation might have saved the Empire of the Negus, so Japan's claims in China, if seriously examined at the Nine-Power Conference, might have brought about negotiations between the two belligerent powers and ended a war which might easily develop into a world-wide conflict of first magnitude.
But the Brussels pacifists found nothing better than to repeat the time-worn shibboleths of censure, whilst protesting that none of the Powers intended to .go any further. Thus, without actually supporting China, the Powers offended Japan and encouraged the Chinese to further resistance.
Japanese Strategy Japan replied by completely disregarding the Brussels decision. Having invested Shanghai on November 12 the Japanese forces developed their success with astonishing energy. Three columns advanced along the Yangtze, the ShanghaiNankin railway, and round the lake TaiHu, whilst a fourth. having landed at Haining and flanked the Chinese lines near Shanghai, marched upon Kwangteh to Wuhu on the Yangtze to cut the Chinese line of retreat from Nankin. As usual the Japanese military command manifested its tactical skill and the 200 odd miles to the capital of China were covered less than in four weeks with heavy fighting along the whole front. Justice must be rendered to the Chinese—they fought gallantly, and the defence of Nankin and other fortified places witnesses to the courage and selfsacrificing spirit of the Chinese officers and men. Nevertheless the Chinese army, numbering some 3.00,000 men on the direct defence of Nankin and 400,000 in its outer circle, was completely defeated by a Japanese force of a much inferior strength.
Not Mere Vainglory The Shanghai parade of the Japanese forces had a much greater significance than mere " vainglory," as The Times and other papers imagined it to have been. It was an open challenge to the Powers, a demonstration to the East that all European counsels, censure, warnings may be safely disregarded.
As a French expert, M. Brenier, has recently written in the Journal des Debats Europe " has lost face" in the East, her prestige has received a blow train which she will never recover. The bombing of British craft and the sinking of American ships may have been accidental, but ri0 apology or punishment of the culprits will efface their effect.
Japan will pursue her conquest of China —it has become now a question of her very existence, and the Japanese nation will not stop before any sacrifice: nothing but China's complete surrender can stop the advance of the Japanese armies.
Further Developments Depend on China The development of further military operations will depend upon China's attitude: if resistance continues, Japan may advance as far as Hankow along the Yangtze, some 300 miles from Nankin after capturing Canton.
This would demand a great display of forces but the objective makes the risk worth while as, in case of success, it means the domination of almost the entire China, Hankow being the most important railway and water junction the occupation of which would isolate North China from the South.
European powers and America will have to weight all the consequences before making any irreparable decision.