Treaty of Shimonoseki between China and Japan

The Treaty of Shimonoseki, also called the Magoan Treaty among the Chinese, is a treaty signed on April 17, 1895 in the Japanese city of Shimonoseki between the Empire of Japan led by Emperor Meiji and the Chinese government of the Qing Dynasty, ending the Sino-Japanese War that took place between 1894 and 1895, which ended in victory Japan.

Under this treaty, China ceded the island of Taiwan and the surrounding islands, the Pescadores archipelago, the Liaodong peninsula (formerly Liao Tong), as well as the city of Port Arthur in favor of Japan.

Under this treaty, China also recognized the independence of Korea, which then became under Japanese protection, in addition to paying financial compensation to Japan for this war, opening 7 ports to Japanese merchants, and other privileges.

Origin and roots

The Sino-Japanese War broke out between the Qing Dynasty in China and Emperor Meiji of Japan, between 1894 and 1895, with the aim of controlling the Korean Peninsula, which was called Joseon.

China has maintained sovereignty over Korea for several centuries and provided it with protection, in exchange for compensation for that, but the treaty ended all that and China recognized Korea's independence.

In addition, China ceded the Liaodong Peninsula, Taiwan, and the Pescadores Islands to Japan, and paid it war reparations.

A trade treaty similar to that signed by China before that was signed with various Western powers after the so-called Opium Wars, in addition to opening a number of ports and rivers in China to Japanese trade.

The treaty signed on April 17, 1895, after 4 weeks of negotiations, entered into force on May 8, 1895, and granted several new economic opportunities to Japan. Japanese merchants had the right to open factories, rent warehouses, and transport goods without paying any taxes to the government. Chinese.

The treaty constituted an important turning point, a change in the balance of power at the level of Asia and the world as a whole, and ended the first Sino-Japanese war, confirming Japan's position as a great power in the Far East.

compensation value

Japan's victory in its first war with China cemented its imperial status and established itself as a power to be reckoned with, and the First Sino-Japanese War was seen as evidence of the expansion of the Japanese Empire's sphere, which was seeking a more aggressive stance in foreign policy and territorial expansion, which lasted until World War II.

According to the terms of the treaty, China paid compensation of 200 million silver yang to Japan (the yang was the official currency of the Korean Empire at the time), over a period of 7 years, or about 7.45 million kilograms of silver.

But after Japan was forced to retreat from the Liaodong Peninsula to Russia later, Japan demanded an additional compensation of 30 million silver yang (equivalent to 1.12 million kilograms of silver) from China, bringing the total amount of compensation to more than 8 million kilograms of silver, which is An amount estimated to be more than 4 times the total revenue of Japan at the time.


The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed by Japanese Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi and his deputy Mutsu Munimitsu, and Li Hongzhang and Li Jingfang on the Chinese side. The treaty was drawn up in the presence of John W. Foster, then US Secretary of State, who acted as an advisor to the Qing Dynasty.

Before the treaty was signed, Li Hongzhang was attacked by a Japanese right-wing extremist on March 24, 1895, when he was shot on his way back to his residence at Enjuji Temple.

The public outrage aroused by the assassination attempt caused the Japanese to moderate their demands and agree to a temporary armistice, and the conference was temporarily postponed before resuming on April 10, 1895.

The signing of the treaty was the first nail in the coffin of the Chinese Empire, which was living its last days, due to the state of weakness that it became known after the death of Empress Mother Cixi in 1908, especially with the absence of an adult heir to assume the throne, which opened the way for the revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen. and his supporters to found the new Republic of China in 1911.

The most prominent stations

Since 1870, Sino-Japanese relations have known great tensions due to the state of Korea located between these two countries, and several military confrontations broke out between them between 1882 and 1884, which ended with the signing of the Tian-Tsin Agreement in 1885, which called for the non-interference of the two countries in the Korean Peninsula.

In 1894, King Gojong of Korea asked China for his help in suppressing a peasant revolt, during the Donghak Peasants' Revolt, also known as the Donghak Peasants' Movement.

The Japanese used this matter as an excuse to intervene in the Kingdom of Korea, because the Treaty of Tian-Tsin between China and Japan obliges the two countries to conduct diplomatic consultations between them in the event of any intervention in the Korean Peninsula.

Although Japan knew about the Chinese intervention, it sent 18,000 people under the pretext of wanting to help Korea, which sparked the Sino-Japanese war that lasted for two years, which witnessed violent battles between the two countries, especially the naval battles that ended with the destruction of the Chinese fleet at the mouth of Yalu River on September 17, 1894.

In March / May 1895, after several military defeats on the Chinese side, the Chinese Empire found itself forced to sign the Treaty of Shimonoseki with Japan.

Effects and reflections

The conditions imposed by Japan on China during this treaty, only 3 days after its signing, led to the tripartite intervention of the Western powers of Russia, France and Germany, which were then very active in China and established their ports and spheres of influence.

The European powers demanded that Japan withdraw its claim to the Liaodong Peninsula, fearing that Lushun, then called "Port Arthur", would fall to the Japanese. Because Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany were trying to take possession of the "port city" Port Arthur.

In addition, Russia believed that controlling this city was necessary to strengthen its navy.

In November 1895, Japan ceded control of the territory and withdrew its claim to the Liaotong Peninsula, while the Russian Empire began to control the area.

To calm the protests in China, Russia agreed to cede the Kwantung region to the Chinese Empire, while paying a symbolic rental fee to China to use the region instead of completely annexing Manchuria, which allows China to save face while Russia retains its right to full control of the region.

Within two years, Germany, France, and Great Britain had similarly taken advantage of the economic and political opportunities in the weakening Chinese empire, each taking control of important local territories.

At the same time, Japan was working to transform itself into a modern industrial country and a major military power, which was largely achieved in the Russo-Japanese War less than a decade later.

In Taiwan, pro-Qing officials and elements of the local gentry proclaimed the Republic of Formosa (Taiwan) in 1895, but failed to gain international recognition.

For the Chinese, the Shimonoseki Treaty was considered a national insult and greatly weakened support for the ruling Qing dynasty, and voices in the country began to demand radical changes at the level of the Chinese political and social system, which led to what was called the "Hundred Days Reform" in 1898, and was followed by a series of The uprisings that culminated in the fall of the Qing Dynasty itself in 1911.

A number of Japanese historians consider that the tripartite intervention represented a decisive historical turning point in Japan's foreign policy, after which it began directing its foreign policy towards economic dominance.

Both the Republic of China on Taiwan and the Communist People's Republic of China considered that the terms of the treaty under which China ceded Taiwan to Japan had been amended by Japan's Instrument of Surrender, signed on September 2, 1945, to confirm Japan's defeat in World War II.

Another treaty was signed, the Treaty of Taipei on April 28, 1952, between Japan and the Republic of China on Taiwan, which formally annulled all treaties concluded between China and Japan prior to December 9, 1941.

Russo-Japanese war

After the tripartite intervention of France, Germany and Russia, the latter began to transfer workers and materials to Liaodong to start building a railway between the cities of Port Arthur and Harbin, where construction of railway lines was underway through northern Inner Manchuria to shorten the way to the only Russian naval base in the Pacific Ocean On Sakhalin Island.

Russia also improved the port facilities at Port Arthur and founded the trading port city of Dalny.

When China granted de facto rule of Port Arthur and the Liaodong Peninsula to Russia, in addition to other rights it had acquired in Manchuria (particularly those in Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces), 550 miles of railways were laid in Manchuria.

Then Russia got what it was aiming for in its quest to become a world power since the time of Peter the Great, the natural ice-free port of Port Art, which would make Russia a great sea power, in addition to the power it was already exercising as the largest land power.

Russia needed this ice-free port to achieve its goal as a global power, as it was fed up with the obstacles of the balance of power policies in Europe, as the Ottoman Empire and its allies thwarted Russia's strategic goals in the region by becoming a global power.

Because of the geopolitical reality and the privileges granted to Japan under the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Russia had to dominate and control hundreds of additional miles from eastern Manchuria (Fengtian Province of the Empire of China, modern Jilin and Heilongjiang) to Harbin, but Japan considered the entire territory parallel to the Korean border part of its sphere of influence. The Strategist.

This was an additional motive for provoking Japanese anger, which was increasing day after day due to the interference of Western powers in Japan's internal affairs, in addition to the repercussions of the tripartite intervention of Russia, France and Germany.

Japanese popular dissatisfaction with Russia's cunning and its government's perceived weakness in yielding to Western foreign pressure led to riots in Tokyo, in addition to unrest that nearly brought down the government, as well as precipitating the strengthening of imperial and expansionist factions within Japan.

In addition to other events that eventually led to the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905, which Japan started with a modern and renewed army unlike what it was before, which contributed to its victory in this war.

For Japan, this victory was a push it needed to expand further in Asia, and it only stopped with its defeat in World War II.

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