This chapter begins with a brief examination of the process of China's gradual incorporation into a Western system of international relations, and the rise of the ‘China Question’ since the 1860s. It then analyses the wider impact of Far East developments on Great power relations. Britain, the only truly global Power of the period, was particularly affected. The chapter examines the scholarly debate surrounding Britain's assumed policy of isolation, and stresses the importance of a range of relationships and factors — commercial, cultural, financial, diplomatic, and strategic — in analysing British foreign policy before 1914. It is rounded off by a discussion of the mechanics of decision-making. Particular attention is paid to the role of the prime ministers and foreign secretaries of the time — Lords Kimberley, Rosebery, Salisbury, and Lansdowne — and Britain's senior diplomats and Foreign Office officials.
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