Defeat of China. Russia was cleverly framed. They pushed forward and directed at her both the discontent of the Japanese elite, which had previously tried to find a common language with St. Petersburg, and the Japanese popular masses, which were very nationalistic at that time. This will become the foundation for future Russo-Japanese disputes (first of all, it was the lease of ports on Liaodong) and the Russo-Japanese War.
Panic broke out in Beijing. The “party of peace” finally took the upper hand - the Grand Duke Gong, Li Hongzhang and others. Back in October 1894, London offered to mediate in the conclusion of peace. The British feared that the war would affect their sphere of influence in China (Tanjin, Hong Kong and Shanghai). The British offered an international guarantee of Korea's independence and China's reimbursement of Japan's military expenditures. However, Beijing did not yet consider the war lost and rejected these proposals. The Chinese did not want to give up Korea, admit they were defeated, and pay an indemnity. Tokyo also wanted the war to continue in order to achieve new successes. So, the Japanese were still planning to capture Taiwan.
In November 1894, the United States offered its services in the peace negotiations. Up to this point, the United States was happy with the ongoing events: the expansion of Japan was supposed to weaken the positions of England and Russia in the Far East, the Americans were going to take their place. But further successes of the Japanese could cause a revolutionary explosion in China, which could lead to unpredictable consequences. In particular, the rebels could destroy all settlements and all the privileges of foreigners. The United States, like other Western powers, was satisfied with the current weak, completely predictable and controlled Qing regime.
After the fall of Port Arthur, the mood in the Chinese capital fell completely. Beijing decided to ask for peace and was ready to make serious concessions. The victorious Japanese were in no hurry to make peace. However, they did not want to spoil relations with the Western powers. At first, they played for time, and then agreed to negotiate. The meeting took place on February 1, 1895 in Hiroshima, where the Japanese headquarters was located. At the very first meeting, it became clear that the Japanese wanted to disrupt the negotiations. Premier Ito immediately found fault with the powers and insufficiently high rank of the Chinese delegation. The Chinese were basically just sent home.
The Japanese demanded that Li Hongzhang represent the Qing Empire in the negotiations. The old dignitary was hastily removed from disgrace (in the first period of the war he was commander-in-chief, and after the fall of Port Arthur he became a "scapegoat"), all his awards were returned to him and he was appointed ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary for peace negotiations. Obviously, the Japanese authorities were counting on the "flexibility" of this Chinese dignitary, connected with the comprador bourgeoisie and marked by a number of deals to surrender China's national interests. Moreover, Tokyo was now ready to negotiate. The negotiating positions were strengthened (Weihaiwei was taken). In addition, Ito now feared a popular explosion in China. The head of the Japanese government believed that if the Japanese took Beijing, the Manchu dynasty could collapse, and confusion would begin in China. This may be followed by the intervention of the Western powers, which will take away from Japan most of the booty. As a result, Ito took over the military, who offered to march on Beijing. This was also helped by objective factors that hindered the continuation of the war: a long war depleted Japan's material resources, and a cholera epidemic began in the army.
The Japanese made it clear through the Americans that negotiations would be impossible if the Chinese delegation did not have the authority to make territorial concessions and pay indemnities. After much hesitation by the Qing court, Li Hongzhang was empowered to make territorial concessions. The negotiations took place in the Japanese city of Shimonoseki. Li Hongzhang arrived there on March 18, 1895. The negotiations themselves began on March 20. Japan was represented by Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi and Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu.
At the first meeting, Li Hongzhang proposed a truce. However, Japan did not want to stop hostilities during negotiations. At the second meeting, Ito said that Japan agreed to a truce, under the conditions of the occupation of Dagu, Tanjin and Shanhaiguan, and the Tianjin-Shanhaiguan railway. These were absolutely extortionate demands; Beijing could not accept them. On March 24, Li Hongzhan fell victim to an assassination attempt. A supporter of the war tried to kill him in order to disrupt or delay the course of negotiations. This assassination attempt caused a lot of noise, and Ito, fearing foreign intervention in China, was forced to lower his demands somewhat. The Japanese prime minister persuaded the generals to an unconditional cessation of hostilities. On March 30, a truce began in Manchuria. However, Taiwan and the Pescadores (Penghuledao, Penghu) were not included in the ceasefire. The Japanese wanted to keep the possibility of capturing them.
Negotiations resumed on April 1. China had to recognize Korea's "complete independence". In fact, this meant that Korea came under Japanese rule. The most difficult for Beijing were the demands for territorial concessions: the Japanese demanded that the Liaodong Peninsula with Port Arthur, the southern part of the Mukden Province, including Liaoyang, Taiwan, and the Pescadores be transferred to them. China was subject to an indemnity of 300 million lan (600 million rubles). Japan demanded the conclusion of a trade agreement on the same terms as with Western states, that is, unequal. Access of foreign capital to China expanded. By this the Japanese tried to bribe the West.
The conditions were extortionate. There were heated debates in the Chinese ruling elite. While Li Hongzhang waited for a response from Beijing, he tried to object and soften the Japanese demands. The Japanese, on the other hand, threatened to renew the war and to march on Beijing. Finally, Beijing responded by proposing to limit Japanese demands to one area and reduce the contribution to 100 million lan. On April 9, the Chinese delegation presented its draft agreement: the independence of Korea was to be recognized by both powers; China ceded the Liaodong Peninsula and the Pescadores; contribution of 100 million LAN. Chinese diplomacy has focused its efforts on protecting Taiwan. Li Hongzhang hoped that Russia would not allow Japan to occupy Port Arthur.
On April 10, the Japanese side proposed their new project. The Japanese slightly reduced their claims in southern Manchuria, and reduced the contribution to 200 million lan. Ito refused to discuss the Chinese project. All attempts by the Chinese to soften the peace terms were in vain. Ito stubbornly repeated that this was his last word, there would be no new concessions. The Chinese were presented with an ultimatum: Li Hongzhang was given 4 days to respond. On April 14, the Qing court authorized Li Hongzhang to accept Japanese terms.
On April 17, 1895, the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed. It consisted of 11 articles. Beijing unilaterally recognized the independence of Korea. Japan received the Liaodong Peninsula with Port Arthur and Dalniy (Dalianwan) along the line from the mouth of the river. Yalu to Yingkou and Liaohe (Liaoyang remained with China). Taiwan and the Pescadores were transferred to the Japanese. China paid an indemnity of 200 million lan. The Chinese agreed to an unequal trade agreement, opened 4 more cities for foreign trade. The Japanese received the right to build industrial enterprises in China and import machines there, etc.
The rejection of Chinese territory in favor of Japan caused a wave of popular anger. Thus, during the war, the Japanese did not capture Taiwan. On May 24, a republic was proclaimed there. And when Japanese troops landed on the island, the local residents resisted. Fighting between the Japanese invaders and local formations continued until 1902.
The Japanese blitzkrieg in China showed Russia the scale of the Japanese threat (unfortunately, it was still underestimated). In St. Petersburg, they began to decide: what should Russia do in the new conditions in the Far East? Several special meetings were devoted to this issue. In the ruling circles of the Russian Empire, two political courses competed. The first, cautious, was not to prevent Japan from realizing the fruits of its victory, but to get compensation. In particular, it was possible to occupy an ice-free port in Korea or to receive from China a part of Northern Manchuria to straighten the track of the Siberian Railway. The second, forceful, offered protection of the independence of Korea and the integrity of China, in order to prevent the Japanese from taking positions in the Russian Far East and in the Chinese capital.
They also discussed the issue of Russia's independent actions, or as part of a coalition. In particular, the Minister of Finance Witte proposed to act in the Far East together with England. Petersburg held consultations with London and Paris. All three powers agreed that it was first necessary to know the terms of the peace. The British and French agreed on the need to maintain Korea's independence. The envoys of Russia, England and France in Tokyo suggested that the Japanese remain "moderation." They especially warned Japan against the Beijing operation, which could cause a popular uprising and damage to the foreign presence in China.
Only on February 21, 1895, when a decision was made in Beijing to agree to territorial concessions, the Japanese informed Petersburg that they were claiming Port Arthur or Weihaiwei. Petersburg for more than a month could not determine its position on this matter. This was partly due to the absence of the head of the Foreign Ministry. Only in March was the ambassador to Vienna appointed head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky. He was an experienced diplomat and he was also careful. At first, he was inclined towards the idea of "cooperation" with Japan (due to the lack of forces in the Far East). To appease Russia, Japan had to provide "compensation." Emperor Nicholas II approved this idea. The port of Lazarev (modern. Wonsan) in Korea with a strip of land connecting the port with Russian territory was considered as compensation. The sea in the harbor never freezes completely, so this port was an excellent anchorage for the Russian Pacific Fleet.
Also in St. Petersburg, they considered the idea of forcing the Japanese to abandon Port Arthur, since it was a powerful foothold against China. Russia began to look for allies to put pressure on Japan. London refused to help Petersburg. Everything was in the interests of Great Britain anyway. The Qing empire was defeated, it was possible to strengthen its influence in the country, get more profit. Japan refused to march on Beijing, which threatened the fall of the Qing regime and the semi-colonial regime, in which British capital at the end of the 19th century received the greatest benefit. In addition, London saw that the strengthening of Japan at the expense of China violated the interests of Russia in the first place. British interests were mainly concentrated in southern China. Now London was able to play the Russians against the Japanese.
Thus, the British did not intend to interfere with Japan's actions. They left this case to the Russians. London received great benefits (strategic and material) from playing off Russia and Japan.
Having clarified the position of London, Lobanov invited Paris and Berlin to jointly protest the capture of Port Arthur. Germany up to this point evaded any participation in the Sino-Japanese war. However, St. Petersburg's request was made at an opportune moment. Berlin's course of rapprochement with London failed, and the trade, economic and colonial rivalry with Britain intensified. Kaiser Wilhelm II and the new head of the German government, Hohenlohe, decided to go for rapprochement with Russia. The customs war was ended, in 1894 a trade agreement was concluded. At the beginning of 1895, the German emperor proposed that St. Petersburg, through the ambassador in Berlin, Count Shuvalov (he was leaving his post at that time), to restore the former allied relations. In the next conversation, already with Lobanov-Rostovsky, Wilhelm said that he would support the occupation of the Black Sea straits and Constantinople by Russia.
Thus, it was a historic chance for Russia and Germany for a powerful strategic alliance directed against the "democracies" of the West - England, France and the United States. So the Russian and German empires could avoid death, destruction and total robbery by the Western "financial international." With such an alliance, Russia could avoid active participation in the world war, becoming the strategic rear of the Second Reich and having the opportunity for large-scale radical reforms inside the "top" (industrialization, monarchical Russian socialism, the development of science and technology, infrastructure, etc.). Russia could solve a thousand-year national task in the southern strategic direction - to get the straits and Constantinople-Constantinople. Make the Black Sea a "Russian lake", blocking access to it for any enemy, gaining a strategic foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean.
However, in St. Petersburg the ruling circles were dominated by Westerners, people holding a liberal-Westernist position. In particular, they had strong positions in the Russian Foreign Ministry. For example, Foreign Minister Nikolai Girs (who headed the ministry from 1882 to 1895), his closest assistant Vladimir Lamsdorf, was a Westernizer. They adhered to an orientation towards France. Lobanov-Rostovsky did not believe in friendship with Germany either. The influential Minister of Finance Witte was the conductor of the policy of the masters of the West in Russia. Therefore, the chance for rapprochement and alliance with Germany was not used. Both great powers continued to march boldly towards the slaughter.
In 1895, Berlin definitely showed signs of attention to Russia. On April 8, the Germans reported a positive answer: Germany was ready, together with Russia, to take a demarche towards Tokyo. Kaiser Wilhelm emphasized that Germany was ready to act without the support of England. France, after the categorical consent of Germany, could no longer refuse to support Russia. A different position could have dealt a blow to the Franco-Russian alliance. On the whole, France and Germany were not themselves interested in a sharp strengthening of Japan, which hindered their own activity in China and the Far East.
Having secured the support of Germany and France, Petersburg now showed determination. On April 11, a new special meeting was convened. Most of its members, led by Witte, were in favor of expelling the Japanese from China. On April 16, Nikolai II approved this decision. Russia has decided to take on the role of "China's defender" against Japanese encroachments. On April 23, 1895, Russia, Germany and France simultaneously, but separately, appealed to Tokyo with a demand to abandon the annexation of the Liaodong Peninsula ("in order to avoid international complications"). The German note was the harshest, most offensive. At the same time, Russia strengthened its Pacific squadron. And France and Germany could deploy their own naval units. Russia, France and Germany together could deploy impressive naval forces, and threaten the naval communications of the Japanese army. And without naval support and naval supplies, the Japanese ground forces in China were doomed to defeat. In such conditions, China could resume hostilities.
The joint performance of the three great powers made a great impression on Tokyo. Japan was forced to abandon the seizures on the mainland. The Japanese Emperor Mikado expressed gratitude to the three "friendly powers" for their "helpful and friendly advice." On May 5, 1895, head of government Ito Hirobumi announced the withdrawal of the Japanese army from the Liaodong Peninsula. On May 10, the Japanese announced the return of the peninsula to China. In return, the Japanese bargained for an additional contribution of 30 million lan (liang) from China. In November 1895, a Japanese-Chinese agreement was signed to revise the Shimonoseki Treaty.
Bleeding off Russia and Japan
Soon Russia itself occupied Port Arthur. First, St. Petersburg gave Beijing a loan to pay the indemnity to Japan (the money was sent by the Japanese for armaments, that is, Russia, in fact, financed the war against itself). At the end of 1895, on Witte's initiative, the Russian-Chinese Bank was established. In 1896, an allied defense treaty was concluded with China. To facilitate the transfer of troops, Beijing granted St. Petersburg the rights to build a railway through Northern Manchuria to Vladivostok (Chinese-Eastern Railway, CER). The construction and operation of the road was carried out by the Russian-Chinese Bank. In 1898, China agreed to transfer Port Arthur to Russia on a 25-year concession. Negotiations with the Chinese (Li Hongzhang) were led by Witte, a protege of the "financial international".
The Western powers have also grabbed good chunks. France won the right to build a road from Tonkin to Guangxi. Germany will soon seize the Jiaozhou Bay area from Qingdao on the Shandong Peninsula on a leasehold basis. And the area of Weihaiwei on the Shandong Peninsula, which was occupied by the Japanese, is "temporarily" and for a long time "rented" by the British.
Thus, Russia was cleverly set up. They pushed forward and directed at her both the discontent of the Japanese elite, which had previously tried to find a common language with Petersburg (it was proposed to delimit spheres of influence), and the Japanese popular masses, which were very nationalistic at that time. This will become the foundation for future Russo-Japanese disputes (first of all, it was the lease of ports on Liaodong) and the Russo-Japanese War.
The masters of the West were masterful in solving strategic problems. First, they defeated China by the hands of Japan and captured new regions in the Celestial Empire, enslaved a huge civilization even more.
Secondly, they pitted the Russians and the Japanese, creating a new hotbed of instability in the Far East (and it still exists), which could be used for "fishing in troubled waters." They were preparing the Russo-Japanese War, a rehearsal of the World War. After the victory over China, Japan from a possible semi-colony of the West became a potential rival in Asia. A sensible nationalist Japan could find a common language with Russia. Such an alliance dealt a powerful blow to the policy of Britain and the United States in the region. This was dangerous for the masters of the West. Therefore, if in Europe England, France and the USA were strenuously quarreling and playing off Russia and Germany, then in Asia - Russia and Japan. However, the Anglo-Saxons were able to once again make Japan their "ram" and confront Russia.