Courtesy Reuters

Omens in the Far East

THE balance of forces in the Far East has been shifting for a year, and now the shift has become decisive. It has been a shift in the direction of what can be called the larger political good -- meaning, in this case, the development of an international equilibrium on which peace can be based without injustice to any nation. In this sense the Far East seems to be nearer a régime of lasting peace than it was a year ago or five years ago. The weakening of Japan in the course of her abortive attempt to subjugate China; the further attenuation of Japanese power in the course of Japan's extension into the South China Sea; the rapprochement between Japan and Russia (even if temporary); the deflection of Russian power from the Far East to Europe, and its depletion in the struggle with Germany; the strengthening, meanwhile, of the military position of British, Dutch and American possessions in Southeastern Asia -- these are some of the factors which have operated to shift the balance of power in the Far East and to facilitate the establishment of a political order in which international conflict may cease to be endemic.

What are the elementary sources of conflict in the Far East? First, and mainly, there is the rivalry for domination over a weak China. Second, and only latterly, there is the dispute for possession of the more valuable colonies in Southeastern Asia. With respect to the first, it is plain that either there must be a strong China capable of safeguarding its independence by its own efforts or that some other empire will appropriate China permanently and beyond possibility of challenge. With respect to the second, either the Netherlands East Indies, French Indo-China, British Malaya and the Philippines must be independent (which is hardly practicable in the near future, except in the case of the Philippines), or one or more empires must control them definitely, with or without the kind of outside

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