The First Sino Japanese War August 1, 1894 - April 17, 1895
other pre-dreadnaught wars
Overview of the Sino-Japanese War
Battle of Pyongyang
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing China and Meiji Japan officially from
Aug 1, 1894 to April 17, 1895 ( fighting broke out on July 25, 1894 ) over control of Korea,
which was a Chinese tribute state . Many foreign observers expected China to win, as
its navy was stronger on paper with its ironclad battleships and the Chinese army was
assumed to be massive. While China had modernized somewhat under
the Self Strengthening Movement, it could not match the rapid progress made in
Japan under the Meiji Restoration.
The war started in the Seoul area of modern South Korea. Both China and Japan had the right to send troops to Korea under the Tientsin Convention of 1885. A rebellion broke out in Korea in 1894, known as the Tonghak Rebellion. Japan used this as a pretext to try to start a war with China in Korea,which China and Japan had been ruling as a co-protectorate, with China playing the leading role. Soon, both China and Japan had troops in Korea, and this explosive situation soon led to conflict .Japan felt it was strong enough at this point to challenge China in a war over Korea.
Battle of the Yalu
After losing a minor battle at Seonghwan near Seoul, the main Chinese force concentrated
in Pyongyang and was defeated, despite outnumbering the Japanese. The following naval
Battle of the Yalu was one of the first modern naval battles in history with ironclad
ships, quick-fire guns and torpedoes used. The Chinese lost five ships and retreated
to Port Arthur, then to Wei Hai, never to threaten the Japanese in the Yellow Sea again .
After the defeat in Pyongyang, there was no more Chinese resistance in Korea
and two Japanese armies invaded Manchuria, with Port Arthur, Newchang,
Yinkou being taken . While taking Port Arthur, the Japanese found the mutilated remains
of Japanese prisoners and went on a frenzy of killing in Port Arthur in which
almost all of the remaining Chinese population of the city was massacred, known as
the Port Arthur Massacre .
The Beiyang Navy base at Wei Hai fell to the Japanese in early 1895 and the ships in the
Chinese Beiyang Fleet were sunk or captured, while the Japanese lost no major ships.
Battle of WeiHai
movie about the Sino-Japanese War with English subtitles
In Manchuria, Qing forces under General Sung Qing battled furiously to recover Hai Cheng,
even though the Japanese were outnumbered 60,000 to 25,000, they managed to hold the city
inflicting heavy loses.Japan was poised for a two prong attack on Beijing from Manchuria
and Shandong , leading the Chinese to seek peace.
Li Hong-zhang, the viceroy of Chili (Hebei) drilled his armies in western techniques and stressed officer-soldier ties , Confucian values and tried to modernize the Chinese forces against the foreign menace .
The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed on 17 April 17,1895. China
recognized the independence of Korea and ceded the strategic
Liaodong Peninsula ( also called the ' Regent's Sword' in many books of the period )
with Port Arthur, Taiwan and the Pescadores(Peng Hu) Islands to Japan and was to pay
an indemnity of 263,176,701 taels of silver (about 150 million U.S.dollars ) , most
favored nation trade status and opening of Shashi, Chungking, Soochow and Hangzhou
to Japanese trade. Japanese could move freely in the interior and set up businesses.
The Japanese war indemnity and loans to fiance the war of almost 120 million taels
to fiance the war were a large drain on the economy .
During the peace negotiations, there was an assassination attempt against Li Hong-zhang, the
Chinese plenipotentiary and the Japanese emperor Meiji declared an unconditional armistice on March 29, 1895 Japanese guilt over this led the Japanese to accept more moderate concessions(they had wanted to occupy Shan-hai-kwan, Taku, and Tien-tsin(Tianjin) and some costal forts as well ).
Russo-Japanese War monument at Port Arthur, site of a battle in the Sino-Japanese War as well . Shortly after the treaty was signed, Russia, France and Germany united under the Triple
Intervention and threatened war with Japan if it did not withdraw from Port Arthur, which it did in the face of this triple threat. Shortly afterward, Russia occupied Port Arthur .
Japanese Sino Japanese War Medal
The major consequences of the war were that Japan was recognized as a rising world power,
increased xenophobia in China leading to the Boxer Rebellion in 1899 and Korea
becoming a colony of Japan .The success of the armed forces lead to increasing power of the
militarists in Japan .
Estimates of Japanese killed very from 800 to almost 14,000 . Cholera killed more Japanese troops than battle, and Japanese troops brought the disease home, which killed and estimated 30,000.
Chinese losses are estimated to be 35,000 killed or wounded .
The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perceptions, Power, and Primacy
by S. C. M. Paine
Listen to an audiobook on the Battle of the Yalu
Story of the American naval adviser Philo McGiffen
Article on Japanese wood block prints of the war
The adventures of James Allan, who smuggled arms for the Chinese and witnessed the fall of Port Arthur.
Dick Wilson's book on the land war in China during world war two is one of the exceedingly few comprehensive volumes on the subject in English