many people do become rich because of these colonies, but not all the colonies are attractive to investors. Although these colonies did provide raw materials for European industry and markets for European goods, these resources were often too few and the market was often too small.

French caricature: Imperialism divided China

in the early 20th century, with the completion of the colonial division, the day of financial liquidation came, so there was a strong anti imperialist sentiment in Europe. The Boer War plunged the British government into criticism, a series of scandals involving colonial officials also made the German government precarious, and the movement against the policy of King Leopold II of Belgium (who actually turned the Congo into his personal property) was in full swing. After the frenzy of colonial guafen ended, in 1902, John Atkinson Hobson published his criticism of British imperialism, which had a wide impact.

at that time, under pressure, European politicians were demonstrating the correctness of large-scale territorial expansion in the past 20 years. They argued that colonies were of great significance to trade and investment, so they contributed to economic development. At the same time, the black and brown people in the colonies will not only become consumers of European products, but also suppliers of European industrial raw materials, so European workers do not need to worry about losing their jobs. They also said that once other countries began to abandon their colonies and turn to foreign trade and investment, these colonies became crucial to the survival of their own countries. In fact, the reason why European workers are not threatened by the colonies is that most colonies are still in a tragic backward state and have no attraction to European capital. People are becoming more and more aware of this situation.

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economic egoism, nationalism and humanitarianism formed a strong combination, so the criticism from all aspects was soon calmed down. Although some socialists and liberals continue to criticize some colonial policies, they have to admit that at this stage, the existence of colonial rule is a great good thing even for the colonial people.

1886 areas controlled by the British Empire in the world (red).

Why are European countries keen to carve up colonies?

did Europe really benefit from imperialism? Of course, many people do become rich because of these colonies, but not all the colonies are attractive to investors. Although these colonies did provide raw materials for European industry and markets for European goods, these resources were often too few and the market was often too small to be directly controlled and developed by Europe. The “imperial preference” system encourages intra imperial trade, but it may increase consumer spending. At the same time, taxpayers must also bear the expenses of the army and navy to protect their property far away. So, if expansion and conquest are not profitable, will these countries do so?

the answer to this question may lie in the increasingly tense diplomatic atmosphere in Europe. In the 1980s and 1990s, the diplomatic atmosphere of European countries was very tense, and many competitions among countries were reflected in the division of colonies. Among the great powers, only Russia and Austria did not participate in the competition to carve up Africa. However, Russia is actively engaged in its expansion in Asia. Having a colony seems to enhance the dignity of a country, especially for France. We know that France was greatly humiliated in the Franco Prussian War from 1870 to 1871. At that time, people took it for granted that to become a powerful country, they must have huge colonies. Britain, as the largest colonial empire, is deeply admired by other European countries. The British occupation of Egypt in 1882 aroused the anger of France, so France deliberately competed with Britain in West Africa, Southeast Asia and the Nile basin. Despite its lack of enthusiasm, Germany continued its colonial policy, which annoyed the British. At the same time, Germany’s allies Italy and Portugal cooperated closely with Britain. All the powers were worried about Leopold II’s activities in the Congo. They were worried that the river leading to Central Africa would be occupied by him.

cartoon: the ambition of the British Empire in Africa.

colonial melon division and the outbreak of World War I

of course, many of these countries participated in the first World War, which broke out in 1914. Did the partition of the colonies lead to the war? It may not be so. Some people even argue that because the Western powers released the demand for aggression overseas, it actually delayed the occurrence of World War I. However, these two things are indeed interconnected.

the Boer War caused Britain to fall into the condemnation of other countries and seriously damaged the relationship between Britain and Germany. Soon after that, Britain and France mended their differences. The 1904 Anglo French entente was based on France’s acceptance of the British occupation of Egypt in exchange for Britain’s recognition of France’s privileges in Morocco. France’s activities in Morocco caused dissatisfaction in Germany, which led to the Algeciras conference held in 1906. The meeting further confirmed France’s control over Morocco, while Germany was ashamed of it. Since then, the Agadir crisis, which broke out in 1911, once again confirmed the conclusions of the algesilas conference.

in 1911, Italy’s invasion of Libya indirectly led to the outbreak of the First Balkan War in 1912. The Balkan War opened the prelude to the war between Austria and Serbia, and the Ossetian war triggered the first World War. We must understand that competition in colonies has never led to armed conflicts among European countries. although