A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 29

Jump to navigation Jump to search


whatever her ultimate aim may have been, ranged herself along with Russia and France, and Great Britain could not encourage Japan to defy that combination. Japan submitted with dignity, and bided her time.

China, however, did not love the foreign devils. A year later (1897) two German missionaries were murdered. Germany demanded compensation, and got it in Kiao-chau. France and Russia demanded equivalents for the concessions to Germany, and got them; on the same principle, Weihaiwei was leased to Great Britain. The concessions intensified the popular Chinese hostility to the foreigners, and to the emperor Kuang Hsü, who was deposed next year by the dowager-empress, Tzu Hsi, the incarnation of the anti-foreign reaction while north China was seething with the Boxer rebellion.

All the foreign Powers had legations at Peking (Peiping), and in 1900 came the news that the legations were either in the hands of the Peking mob or were on the point of falling into them. All the Powers, Japan and the United States included, took joint action, and dispatched to China contingents which marched on Peking, where they found that the legations had, after all, held out successfully. The Chinese government submitted, with professions that it had done its best but had been unable to control the rebels. The allies refrained from demanding further concessions, though insisting on effective guarantees for security in the future; and in the following years it appeared that the progressive or westernising element predominated in the Chinese government, though Tzu Hsi continued to reign.

The conduct of Japan throughout had more than established her right to recognition on an equal footing with the Western Powers, which was sealed by a treaty of alliance with Great Britain in 1902. The treaty meant that, if and when Russia and Japan should come into armed collision, Great Britain would not join Japan against Russia by herself, but would intervene if anyone else joined Russia against Japan.

The collision was not long postponed. Russia wanted both Manchuria, where she had established herself, and Korea, where Japan had established herself. Japan proposed mutual accommodations; but Russia claimed that the compromises should not be reciprocal. Japan proposed control for Russia in Manchuria and for Japan in Korea. Russia returned no answer, and in February, 1904, Japan declared war. She had only the

← 28   ·   29   ·   30 →
(page index)