Sino-Japanese War

Sino-Japanese War
   The result of a dispute between China and Japan over influence in Korea, which was rooted in an ongoing rivalry between the two nations for dominance in the region. Through the Treaty of Kanghwa in 1876, China had de facto allowed Japan to recognize Korea as an independent state - although it was technically Chinese territory - and the subsequent attempt by the Chinese to reassert influence over the peninsula became a source of dispute between the two nations. To avoid open conflict, the Li-Ito Convention was concluded in 1885, requiring both nations to withdraw their armies from Korea and to provide notification of any new military deployments there.
   In 1894, a rebellion occurred in Korea in the wake of the assassination of its pro-Japanese reformist prime minister, prompting China and Japan to intervene militarily. Having crushed the rebellion, Japan refused to withdraw its forces and instead sent further reinforcements. War was officially declared on August 1, 1894, and Japanese forces handily defeated the Chinese armies at Seoul and Pyongyang and proceeded north into China proper. By November 21, the Japanese had advanced and captured Port Arthur on the Liaodong peninsula. At sea, the Chinese Beiyang fleet lost 8 of 12 warships in an engagement in the Yellow Sea and was forced to retreat behind the fortifications of the naval fortress at Weihaiwei. The remnants of the fleet were destroyed in harbor by Japanese forces in a flanking landward attack from the Liaodong peninsula, which then proceeded to besiege Weihaiwei.
   With the easing of harsh winter conditions and the fall of Weihaiwei on February 2, 1895, Japanese armies continued their advance into Manchuria. This advance prompted the Chinese to sue for peace and the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ended the war, was signed on April 17, 1895. In China, the humiliating defeat at the hands of an “inferior” state and the harsh terms of the peace treaty prompted calls for further reforms and accelerated modernization. For Japan, victory in the war was viewed as vindication of the modernization programs of the Meiji Restoration and would encourage further encroachment into China.
   See also <>; <>.
    Morse, H. B. The International Relations of the Chinese Empire. 3 vols. New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1918;
    Nish, Ian. Japanese Foreign Policy, 1869–1942: Kasumigaseki to Miyakezaka. London: Routledge, 1977;
    Paine, S.C.M. The Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895: Perceptions, Power, and Primacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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