Asia Pacific 1898: Far Eastern Crisis

When the Japanese defeated China in 1895, France, Germany, and Russia quickly pressured them to abandon most of their gains. Those three powers then pushed for their own concessions from China, with the Russians obtaining Chinese Eastern Railway rights and Port Arthur, the Germans Kiautschou Bay, and the French Kwangchowan. The British, caught off guard, grabbed Weihaiwei when the Japanese pulled out in May 1898. For a time, it looked as though the Chinese Empire would be partitioned among the Great Powers.


Treaty Ports

Treaty ports - the small unlabelled circles on the map - were towns opened to foreign trade by unequal treaties in China, Japan, and Korea. Foreigners operating within treaty ports enjoyed extraterritoriality, being subject to their home country's laws. Unlike concessions such as Hong Kong, these territories were not directly leased by the foreign powers and did not have sizable foreign garrisons.

Only treaty ports that were opened by treaty and used are shown on the maps. Treaty ports are also not generally shown in places which are already covered by concessions or under occupation. Treaty ports are not shown after the 1911 Chinese Revolution, although they continued on into the 1940s.

Yangtze River

By the terms of the Treaty of Tientsin (1858), foreign vessels including warships had the right to free navigation on the Yangtze River. In practical terms, this right extended only as far as Yichang until 1900, when advances in steam navigation allowed access as far inland as Chongqing.

Main Events

13 Oct 1897 Korean Empire

King Gojong of Korea proclaimed the Greater Korean Empire, declaring the new era name Gwangmu (“warrior of light”). This action—a reaction to increasing foreign pressure following the Japanese victory over China in the 1894 Sino-Japanese War—officially marked Korea’s full independence, both ending its historical status as a tributary of China and rejecting Japanese wikipedia

14 Nov 1897–6 Mar 1898 German seizure of Jiaozhou

In retaliation for the 1 November 1897 murder of two German priests in southern Shandong, China, by the Big Sword Society, the German navy seized control of the nearby ports of Jiaozhou and Qingdao in Jiaozhou Bay (‘Kiautschou’ Bay in German). From this position, the German Empire entered into negotiations with the Chinese and, on 6 March 1898, accepted the Kiautschou Bay concession—a 99-year lease on Jiaozhou Bay and its wikipedia

14 Dec 1897 Pact of Biak-na-Bato

By December 1897, the Spanish had largely reduced the Philippine revolution to the Republic of Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan, inland Luzon. Not believing he could completely stamp out the revolution with force, the Spanish Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera arranged the Pact of Biak-na-Bato with Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo. By the terms of the pact, Aguinaldo and his followers were granted amnesty; in return he and his revolutionary government withdrew to exile in Hong wikipedia

27 Dec 1897–27 Mar 1898 Russian seizure of Lushunkou

Russian naval forces entered Lüshunkou harbor—internationally known as ‘Port Arthur’—on the Liaodong Peninsula, northeast China, occupying the area to use as a forward base for patrols into the Yellow Sea. On 27 March 1898, the Russian Empire formally leased Port Arthur and the southern Liaodong Peninsula from China for 25 years. A few months later, the Chinese agreed to a new Chinese Eastern Railway branch extending to the wikipedia

22 Apr–29 May 1898 French seizure of Guangzhouwan

French forces occupied islands and villages in the Bay of Guangzhouwan (in French, ‘Kwangchowan’ or ‘Kouang-Tchéou-Wan’), in southern China. On 29 May 1898, they signed a convention with the Chinese government to lease the territory, administering it as part of French wikipedia