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The China QuestionGreat Power Rivalry and British Isolation, 1894-1905$
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T. G. Otte

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199211098

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199211098.001.0001

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‘Some Curious Conversations’: Alliances and Agreements, 1898–9

‘Some Curious Conversations’: Alliances and Agreements, 1898–9

(p.133) 3 ‘Some Curious Conversations’: Alliances and Agreements, 1898–9
The China Question

T. G. Otte (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The events of 1897–8 had revealed growing opposition to Salisbury's policy within the Cabinet. This chapter re-examines the clandestine efforts by a group of ministers, led by colonial secretary Joseph Chamberlain, to prepare the way for an Anglo-German alliance. Based on new material, it demonstrates that Chamberlain's talks with the German diplomats Eckardstein and Hatzfeldt had the support of an influential section within the Conservative Party, and can no longer be written off as meaningless amateur dramatics. Even so, Chamberlain overreached himself, and his alternative imperial and foreign policy strategy remained abortive. Reasserting his influence over foreign policy, Salisbury concluded a more limited agreement with Russia: the Scott–Muravev agreement. Ostensibly on railway concessions, it effectively recognized British and Russian spheres of influence in Northern China. This agreement helped to stabilize the politics of the Far East.

Keywords:   Anglo–German alliance, Joseph Chamberlain, Conservative Party, Eckardstein, Hatzfeldt, Salisbury, Scott–Muravev agreement

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