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Russia and China in Central Asia.
(From the Times.)
The various telegrama that have recently been published with reference to the authorised Chinese embassy to St, Petersburg call attention to the fact that the Kuldja question, which waa raised by the Chinese re-conqueit of the Tungan country and of Kastern Turkestan, may be ex- pected shortly to come on for discussion and solution. Although little understood in thia country, this question is not without ita im- portance, and bears a very significant aspect indeed when the futuro of the relations between Russia and China in Central Asia is the matter in discussion. The pvorthrow of the Tuugani, who had erected in the various cities of Hamil, Barkul, Gucheu, Urumtsi, and Manas a con- federacy of no mean power, was consummated with the capture of the lost of these cities in No- vember, 1876. In theearly springof 1877tho first stop towards the recovery of Eastern Turkestan was taken by tho defeat of Yakoob Beg outside Turfan and the occupation of that city. Yakoob Beg died at Koria either in May or Juno; and in September following the Chinese com- menced their forward movement agaiuBt Kucha and the western portion of Kashgaria. Suffice it hero to say that the movements of the Chinese Viceroy and General Tso Tauug Tang were crowned with complete success, and that the capital, Kasbgar, surren- dered before Christmas, l8'7, and that the remainder of the State had come to terms with the Chinese long before the month of February in the present year. By these brilliant successes a Chinóse army, flushed with victory, found itself on the Russian frontier, and closo to its old pos- session of Iii, or Kuldja, with only the Tian Shan, pierced here by several passes, intervening. It was generally understood that this campaign in the north-west had only been undertaken for tho express purpose of restoring all the loat pos- sessions of China to the Emperor ; and conse- quently, so long as Russia retained possession of Hi, the task remained unaccomplished. In view of this fact, and admitting, as in face of recont events it is impossible to deny, that the Chinese are not to be turned aside by danger or natural obstacles from attaining what they desire, it may be interesting to say something of this Kuldja question, of which we shall shortly be hearing bo much. Whereas ChinacrushedtheTunganiundthe Atalik Qhazi alike by the exercise of force, it is by diplomacy in the first place that she aspires to recover Iii, the most prized of all her Ceutial Aaian possessions. It would be rash, however, to assert that, peaceful means failing, the Chinese will decline to proceed to force, although it ¡a probable that they would postpone their action until Russia was embarrassed elaewhere. Of oue tiling we may be quite certain, and that ¡3 that the Chinese will nover rest content in Central Asia until thoy regain possession of Hi. We purpose, then, to tmco back the history of the relations between Russia and China in this portion of Asia, in ordor that the present diffi- culty may bo correctly appreciated.
Up to the year 1882, Russia and China were cIobs neighbors from the Arnoor to the Narym. They were also friendly neighbors. There ure treaties between the two Governments bearing on all points of intercourse from Manchuria to Hi There are special treaties between the Viceroy. of Hi and the Russian Government. The great Treaty of Kuldja, ratified in 1851, threw open the rich marts of Iii aud Cbuguchak (Tarba gatai) to the enterprise of Russian merchants. The treaty of Pekin in 1860 more than ratified those provisions and emphasised the good un- derstanding which had previously existed along the whole frontier. The cession of the western portion of Iii to Russia, in- cluding as it did the important place of Verno, enabled Russian merchants to reap the fullest benefit of their good understanding with China. When, therefore, the Tungani revolt broke out iu the country lying between the Great Wall and the Pamir and Lake Issik Kui, it was a great blow to Russian commerce to find that the friendly Chinese had been supplanted by fana- tical, and consequently hostile, MahomodaiiB. Yet the Russians held aloof from those intestine disturbances, and slowly proceeded with the absorption of Western' Turkestan. They pre- served neutrality while the Atalik Ghazi was subduing Altyshahr, the land of the bíx cities, aud while the Tungani were establishing a firm rule between Kasbgar and China. But iu Kuldja the question was molo intricate. There were two rival elements almost equal in strength and resources, and when the Chinese had been maasacred the question arose which of the two factions was to be supreme. These factions were the Tungani and tho Tarantchis. The for- mer were of the same nice as the Tungani and Kasbgar and further east, and the latter were the descendants of the old inhabitants of Kasbgar, who had been at various times compelled to Bettie in Iii by order of the Chinese. Between these in 1864-67 a bitter contest ensued, and although the former appear to have had the best of the fighting, a compromise was agreed upon between thom. They elected a chief, a Tungan, we believe, named Abul Oghlan, and during some years this irregular sort of government existed in 111 But it was only a veiled anarchy, and Russian merchants feared to enter the province on ac- count of the outspoken antipathies of Abul Oghlan. All Russia's previous diplomatic arrangements became a dead letter, and all Igna tieiï's skill and taut of no avail in face of Tungan truculence. It was impossible for RuBsian cara- vans to proceed to Kuldja during the existence of such confusion, and it was equally uselesa for them to think of reaching Chugucbak, whore a sanguinary war had brokcu out between Kirghiz and Calmucks, resulting iu the triumph of the latter, who have ever since retained possession of it for China. But although Russia's trade lan- guished, she, so occupied was she in Khokand, Uokhara, and Khiva, still abstained from iuter fereuce either in Kuldja or Kasbgar ; but in the year 1870 the question asiumed a more signifi- cant aspect on account of the astonishing «ucceos of Yakoob Beg. When Kucha fell into his pos- session, and the rulers of Turfan and Urumtsi Bent an humble embassage to the conqueror, the Russians began to be nervous about the future fate of Kuldj-i. This doubt increased when the Atalik Qhazi fortified Uah Turfan, in the moun- tains, and began to push his outposts cloBer in towards Kuldja. The Russians had held aloof when it was simply a question of commerce, but Yakoob Beg's threateuiug attitude in 1870-71 acted as a spur to tbeir inclinations, and it was resolved to forestall thoir dangerous neighbor. In May, 1871, the Rubsíhub crossed into Kuldja, and during the next month General Kolpa kovsky followed with the main army, some 2000 strong. The Tungan-Tarantchi Government offered little opposition, and Abul Oghlan sur- rendered to General Kolpakoveky on the 4th of July. The disappearance of this hybrid rule in Kuldja was an unqualified benefit to all con- cerned. Seventy-five thoueand slaves were re- leased by order of the Russians, and commerce once more ventured to return in the rear of vic- tory and good rule. In the proclamation Russia annexed Kuldja " in perpetuity," and formed out of it the Government of Priilinsk ; but this "in perpetuity" was explained at Pekin to mean until the Chinese were strong enough to reassert their sway. On several occasions that definition has been repeated, and the Chinese have now natu- rally requested the Russians to be ¡is good as their word. Russia has replied with a demand for compensation, and has fi- ed it at a figure which the Chinese declare to be exorbitant, and to exceed the total cost of the north-west campaign. It ia to arrange thia little difficulty that the Chinese have sent
special embassy to St. Petersburg, and tome time will yet elapse before the discussion can come on. There is good reason for believing that Russia is loth to surrender Kuldja, and that she regards the recent Chinese successes in Central Asia with dislike, as tending to lower her own prestige, is not less clear. The retro- cession of Kuldja would undermine Russian rule in the eastern part of Central Asia, accord- ing to the St. Petersburg Journal, and it would no doubt be highly inconvenient to abandon the admirable frontier Rutsia holds in the Tian Shan, so long as she retains Hi. The Russian Press evidently consider that the peopleB of Ceat-al Asia would construe such an act as a confession of weakness, and that it would tend to revive all the old prestige that formerly belonged to China. The Russian authorities in Central Asia are loth.to surrender Kuldja for the same reasons, as well as for the fact that Kuldja has become in their hands a highly pros- perous and productive region. But whether the home Government will care to break its plighted word is another matter, upon which we should not like to pasB an opinion. But, unless it does, Russia will scarcely be able to foil the
ChineBe, who are greatly in earnest over this Central Asian question. And it Bhould be re- membered that China has at this very moment a disciplined force of close on 50,000 men in Kaahgaria and Tungaria, a force, moreover, flushed with the success of two campaigns, and armed with breech-loading rifles aud Krupp's artillery. The Russians would probably be able to overthrow this " ever victorious " army if it came to the last appeal ; but it would require an effort, and that is exactly what Russia is un- able at the present moment to make in Central Asia. In all pro' ability moderation will sway the counsels ou both sides, and Borne compro-' mise will be suggested by which each will secure its object or ita equivalent as well as its honor.