25 MARCH 1899, Page 2

The debate on the Chinese question which was raised later

in the evening by Mr. Walton, was from many points of view extremely interesting. We cannot deal with the individual speeches, which were numerous and long, but Member after Member admitted that we could not now insist upon maintaining the integrity and independence of the Chinese Empire, or upon the milder expression of the same idea, the " open door," but that we must fall back upon the policy of "spheres of influence" or "interest" in some shape or other. Mr. J. Lowther put very well a view which we expressed on several occasions last summer. He wanted our "sphere" clearly defined, though he did not desire that we should either annex it or administer it, but merely that we should ear-mark it. No doubt the maintenance of the "open door" would have been theoretically better, but since that cannot be obtained without defying all Europe or protecting all China, we must be content with the lees heroic policy of keeping an "open door" in a portion of China. The ear-marking of our " sphere" need not in effect mean more than that. Sir Edward Grey very usefully pointed out that the understanding which we all want to establish between the various Powers cannot be accomplished without "spheres of influence."