By Antony Best (auth.)
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Additional resources for British Intelligence and the Japanese Challenge in Asia, 1914–1941
They have enjoyed complete immunity and they are encouraged to look up to Japan as the champion of the Asiatic races against the white …63 Here he touched upon the point that, from 1916, was to become central to British concerns about Japan – the rise of pan-Asian sentiment as a factor in Japanese expansionism. In the ﬁrst half of the war, Japan’s pretensions to regional leadership based upon race had received relatively little attention, even in the context of Japan’s interest in Tibet and Yunnan, but a change came about in late 1916 when increasing evidence emerged of close ties between pan-Asianists in Japan and the Indian revolutionary movement.
One of the most important decisions was to attack Japan’s diplomatic ciphers. In March 1916 the Gaimusho– requested that its consul in Yunnan be allowed to use the British-owned Bhamo telegram cable to send reports to Tokyo. O. ’41 The India Ofﬁce, with its fears about Japan’s presence in Yunnan, quickly agreed to this suggestion. 42 Cardew’s work proved useful, for his decrypts revealed that the Japanese were using their cable privileges to allow the rebels in Yunnan to communicate with other Chinese revolutionaries, including the veteran nationalist and leader of the Kuomintang (KMT), Sun Yat-sen.
One major effect was that it stimulated the rapid evolution of Britain’s regional intelligence-gathering network, thus setting precedents for the inter-war period. Even more signiﬁcant was that the proliferation of intelligence-gathering played a crucial role in eroding the foundations of the 22 The Erosion of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance 23 Anglo-Japanese alliance, for Britain’s increased vigilance appeared to reveal that Japan, as well as Germany, was involved in clandestine activities that ran counter to British interests.