From the onset of the First Sino-Japanese War senior Chinese officials, including Li Hongzhang (李鴻章) under Empress Dowager Cixi (慈禧太后), were never truly committed to fighting the Japanese. After losing the battles in Pyongyang and the Yellow Sea, the Qing government became more indecisive and sought the help of foreign powers. In March 1895, Li Hongzhang was sent as an envoy to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi and Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu in Shimonoseki, Japan for official peace negotiations.
The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed on April 17. The terms included: 1) China would recognize the autonomy of Korea; 2) China would cede Liaodong Peninsula (遼東半島, which China bought back for 30,000,000 silver dollars after Russia, Germany and France intervened), Taiwan (台灣) and the Penghu Islands (澎湖列島); 3) China would pay 200,000,000 silver dollars in war indemnity and open the ports of Shashi (沙市), Chongqing (重慶), Suzhou (蘇州) and Hangzhou (杭州) to Japan; 4) China would grant Japanese merchants favored status so they could import machinery, manufacture and set up a tax-free inventory in these trade ports; and 5) China would allow Japanese military occupation of Weihaiwei (威海衛). From China’s perspective, it was the ultimate national humiliation and a deeply shameful loss of sovereignty. Additionally, by allowing Japanese factories to operate in China, imports of foreign goods became imports of foreign capital.
Defeated soundly both on land and at sea, the Qing court was forced to send Li Hongzhang to Japan to sue for peace. The picture
shows Li Hongzhang departing Beijing in March 1895 for the voyage to Japan.
Key Japanese representatives at the negotiation: Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi and Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu.
On March 21, 1895, negotiations commenced at Shimonoseki, Japan. The peace treaty imposed harsh terms on China, which had no bargaining power in the wake of its devastating defeat.
On April 17, 1895, representatives of China and Japan signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki at Shunpanrō Hotel in Shimonoseki, Japan. In the picture, Li Hongzhang is sitting on the right of the brazier, opposite Itō Hirobumi. Mutsu Munemitsu is on the right of Itō Hirobumi.
Signatures of China and Japan’s representatives on the Treaty of Shimonoseki: (from right) Itō Hirobumi, Mutsu Munemitsu, Li Hongzhang, Li Jingfang (李經方, Li Hongzhang’s nephew and later adopted son).
Modern-day Shunpanrō Hotel in Shimonoseki, Japan. Shunpanrō Hotel stood witness to the Sino-Japanese negotiations and the subsequent signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The Treaty of Shimonoseki consisted of 11 articles which obliged China to cede land, pay an indemnity and open ports for trade with Japan, among other concessions.
Deoksu Palace in Korea and King Gojong of the Korean Joseon dynasty. The First Sino-Japanese War broke out during the reign of Gojong who was the 26th king of the Korean Joseon dynasty. The first article of the Treaty of Shimonoseki asserts: “China recognizes definitively the full and complete independence and autonomy of Korea.” In effect, it severed the China-Korea tributary relationship and allowed Japan to control Korea.
In accordance with Article Two of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, China ceded to Japan the Liaodong Peninsula, Taiwan and associated islands and the Penghu Islands.
According to the first line of Article Four of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, China was obliged to pay Japan 200,000,000 silver dollars in war indemnity, an amount that far exceeded the total reparations paid under all the unequal treaties since the Opium War.
The Treaty of Shimonoseki forced China to open the ports of Shashi, Chongqing, Suzhou and Hangzhou to trade with Japan, in addition to granting economic privileges to the Japanese.
Source of most photos used in this feature piece: Fotoe (pictures 1, 2, 4-7), Visual China Group (picture 3), misc. photo sources.