Page:Frontiers.djvu/33

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31
Frontiers

national existence of its own, which is fortified by the territorial and political guarantee, either of the two Powers between whose dominions it lies and by whom it would otherwise inevitably be crushed, or of a number of great Powers interested in the preservation of the status quo. The valley of the Menam, which is the central portion of Siam, has been thus guaranteed by Great Britain and France; Abyssinia has been guaranteed by these two Powers and Italy: in the Agreement just concluded between Great Britain and Russia about Central Asia the integrity and independence of Persia are once more guaranteed by the two great contracting parties—thereby constituting that country a true buffer State between their respective dominions: but a new provision is introduced in which, while rival spheres of interest, Russian and British, are created on the north and east respectively, a zone is left between them of equal opportunity to both Powers. This is an arrangement wanting both in expediency and permanence, the more so as the so-called neutral zone is carved exclusively out of the regions in which British interests have hitherto been and ought to remain supreme. The same Agreement contains a further novelty in international diplomacy, in the shape of a neutralizing pledge about Tibet made by two Powers, one of which is contiguous while the other has no territorial contact whatever with that country. Tibet is not a buffer State between Great Britain and Russia; the sequel of the recent expedition has merely been to make it again what it had latterly ceased to be, namely, a Mark or Frontier Protectorate of the Chinese Empire. There is a second type of buffer State lying between two great Powers in which the predominant