§ MR. W. H. SMITH
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If, having regard to the present relations between Russia and China, and the recent increase of the Russian Naval force in the China Seas, it is intended to strengthen the British Squadron in those waters?
Perhaps I ought to say, in replying to the right hon. Gentleman, that we have not received any confirmation of the reported defeat of the Russian Forces by the Chinese, and that the reports of such alleged defeat are not believed, so far as we are 1896 able to understand, by the Diplomatic Representatives of either Russia or China in this country at the present time. If a war should unhappily break out between Russia and China, we should at once avail ourselves of an offer made by the Russian Government to enter into communications with us as to questions seriously affecting British interests in Chinese waters. The British Naval Force in Chinese waters is large at the present time; but the course of affairs will be closely watched by the Admiralty with a view to increasing it if necessary.